The views below do not necessarily reflect those of Everton
EVERTON’S FA Cup despair was compounded today as Marouane Fellaini was ruled out for the rest of the season.
The Belgian, widely regarded as one of Everton’s key performers, requires an operation on the ankle injured against Sunderland at the weekend, and will not feature again this term.
David Moyes must come to terms with the setback, and the potential three week absence of Tim Cahill with a foot injury, as he plans how to salvage a season which saw its last hope of silverware vanish after a 1-0 FA Cup fifth round defeat by Reading at Goodison last night.
He said: “Marouane Fellaini is going to be out for the season now, he’ll have an operation on Monday.
“Most people will tell you he’s been a key key player for us this season.
“Tim Cahill will miss two or three weeks with a foot injury just now, but that isn’t a reason for tonight’s result.”
“We had a great opportunity with a home game after doing so well in the previous tie so it’s a feeling of disappointment.”
Moyes was unable to start with his twin strike force of Louis Saha and Jermaine Beckford, after the former Leeds United striker missed the 7.30pm kick off due to delays on the M62 as he travelled to Goodison.
But Moyes, who saw his team booed off by the home crowd, refused to blame Beckford. He said: “I hadn’t named the team yet (when Beckford was late) but obviously you want your players here. It was a crash. It could happen to you, me or anybody.
“(The fans reaction) was quite right. We didn’t play well. This was a competition we had high hopes in after Chelsea, so I totally understand.”
The Everton boss was eventually able to introduce Beckford, along with Victor Anichebe, at half time but the changes were to no avail as his side were sent crashing out of the competition.
He said: “I felt like we needed to make a change and try something at half time. We hadn’t created anything in the first half and needed to get a goal back. We had no real craft at the top of the pitch.
“We knew what we’d have to deal with, with their centre forwards running about but we had no ability to break them down at the other end. Once they got the goal it gave them something to hang onto.
“We’re not hiding it, we’re majorly disappointed but you have to credit Reading. “I’ll pick myself up and get back on it come Thursday.”
Cardiff boss Dave Jones is trying to hijack Preston keeper Andy Lonergan’s move to Everton.
Jones wants to take highly-rated Lonergan on loan for the rest of the season, with a guaranteed transfer at the end of the spell if the Bluebirds reach the Premier League.
Lonergan is currently out of Phil Brown’s North End side and has been training with Everton as he lines up a move to Goodison in the summer when the market re-opens.
However, Cardiff want to take Lonergan on loan first instead and offer him a long-term move to Wales if he wants one - with the clubs haggling over the terms of the transfer.
Lonergan will leave Preston one way or another, but still prefers the Everton option unless Cardiff come up with a more attractive package.
To a list topped by Gary Neville and Boris Johnson, add Brian McDermott. Last year, his Reading side humiliated Liverpool in the FA Cup. On Tuesday night they did the same to Everton. Some people are destined never to be welcome on Merseyside.
That is not to say McDermott is not respected, or admired, in these parts. Indeed, he and his side were applauded from the field by Everton’s fans. They recognised that while Reading required a little good fortune to hang on to the lead handed to them by Matt Mills’s goal, this was no clandestine raid.
It was a meticulously planned, expertly implemented operation. The only factor McDermott cannot have prepared was the tail-back on the M62 which delayed Jermaine Beckford’s arrival at Goodison Park.
After Louis Saha wrote off his Ferrari on Sunday night, this was the second time a car-crash had hit David Moyes’s plans for this game. Now a roadblock has ended his season. Out of the FA Cup, jeered from their own pitch, adrift in the Premier League and facing three months of off-pitch inquests, rather than on-pitch interest.
The fingers of blame will be pointed at Moyes’s innate caution and Bill Kenwright’s endemic poverty, as they always are. Questions will be asked over whether the manager can continue, whether the owner should be permitted to do so.
This defeat lent rather more proof to the latter argument than the former; Everton lack the guile, the quality to break down sides who set out to frustrate them. Acquiring that trait comes at a hefty price, and one which Kenwright simply cannot afford.
Moyes knows that; he has known all along what he lacks. In his post-match post-mortem of the game that ended his side’s campaign, his answers were curt, brief. This was not simply the disappointment of seeing his last chance of silverware disappear for a ninth year, but the sight of an entire campaign’s work crumble into dust.
And the knowledge that his team did not deserve anything else. Where their opponents were disciplined, determined, Everton lacked cohesion and identity. This was a side who were supposed to have turned a corner, beating Chelsea to set up this game and then overcoming a Sunderland side seemingly set on committing seppuku.
Any positivity engendered by those results dissipated in a first half in which Everton’s performance was so anodyne that the mood in Goodison Park’s stands was mutinous long before Reading opened the scoring.
Mills half-volleyed the visitors into the lead after 26 minutes after Leon Osman failed to clear his lines; Jimmy Kebe, a torment to Leighton Baines all evening, might have doubled the advantage immediately afterwards.
Everton, for all the possession they enjoyed, threatened little more than their Championship guests. Osman teed up Seamus Coleman, whose header beat stand-in goalkeeper Alex McCarthy, reared up from the floor but landed on the roof of the net; Osman then achieved the same feat.
Moyes acted - to some, he might have panicked - bringing on the delayed Beckford and Victor Anichebe at half-time; the former went close immediately, scuffing his shot after an exchange of passes with Saha, but the impact was fleeting.
So too Everton’s chances. Mikel Arteta went close, Beckford headed over, Osman miscontrolled when well-placed. Ian Harte and Jay Tabb reminded Moyes of the delicate balance of fate. Everton were not left hanging for long. First Beckford blocked a goal-bound Saha shot, then McCarthy produced a breath-taking save to deny Osman at point-blank range.
“I was looking at it and thought it was in,” said McDermott. “That was a match-winning save.”
It certainly drew the life from Everton. As Reading celebrated with their supporters, Moyes’s players trudged from the field, desperate to avoid the glares of theirs. McDermott may be persona non grata here now. Everton’s players will not be welcomed back in a hurry, either.