Saturday 25 May 2019

Funes Mori red card sums up Everton's 'horrible' night

Everton's Ramiro Funes Mori after being sent off. Photo: Carl Recine/Action Images via Reuters
Everton's Ramiro Funes Mori after being sent off. Photo: Carl Recine/Action Images via Reuters

Jim White

At the end of what must have been the most one-sided Merseyside derby in a generation, Anfield resounded to the name of the Everton manager. "Bobby Martinez," chanted the Kop. The pity for the personable Spaniard is that the intent of Liverpool's red hordes was entirely ironic. They were relishing his discomfort. For them, Roberto Martinez had just become a joke figure.

If this was the start of the most important five days in Martinez's career, you shudder to think what lies ahead for the Everton manager.

After as sobering a defeat as he can have experienced, a game in which his team demonstrated all the resolve and battling spirited of a damp paper bag, Martinez looked shot although his post-match description of the defeat as "embarrassing" and "horrible" was one of the few things Everton got right all night.


Needing to demonstrate effectively to his club's followers this week that he is the man to take Everton on, that he has a plan, that he is in charge, by the end of this match he was standing alone in his technical area, arms folded, looking precisely what he is: someone apparently unable to control his own destiny. Woebegone, silent and abject, here was a man staring down the barrel of his own demise. And seemingly incapable of doing anything to stop it.

Rarely in the history of this most vivid of derbies have the two teams approached the encounter in such disparate mood. This may have been the battle of the semi-finalists, two clubs with half a mind on impending last-four encounters. But there was just one problem for those of a blue persuasion: all the excitement, passion and zest generated here came from their opponents.

After the breathless drama of victory over Dortmund last week, a result achieved in the proper Liverpool way, around Anfield there is a bounce in the collective step, an upward march being persuasively orchestrated by Jurgen Klopp. In the shadow of the giant stand nearing completion, those on the red side are convinced by their manager. Behind his expansive grin they only see progress. The Europa League semi against Villarreal next Thursday is but part of the development, a staging post in the march upwards.

For the blue side, things are altogether darker. Optimism is no longer currency around Goodison. Amongst Evertonians, Saturday's FA Cup semi-final is a tipping point, a moment of stark reckoning, a last chance for their manager to deliver with a team that has been woefully underachieving under his control. The blue side have lost patience with the growing gap between Martinez's talk and his delivery. Klopp is reckoned the real thing by his following; the Spaniard regarded as a vessel rapidly emptying.

And the pattern of the game absolutely followed the trajectory of the respective managers. In a five-minute burst at the end of the first half, Klopp's Liverpool tore a further hole in Martinez's bluster with two goals which would have caused Everton defenders of the past to wince at their simplicity.

The extent of their haplessness was demonstrated when Ramiro Funes Mori (below), who had looked an accident waiting to happen throughout the first half, was dispatched from the pitch for a wretchedly ill-timed assault on Divock Origi with 40 minutes still remaining.

What hurts Evertonians is that a season which promised so much is slipping away like candyfloss in a shower. How, they wonder, can a team featuring such talents as John Stones, Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku underperform so often?

The Evertonians in the Anfield Road end had begun with a show of loyalty, insisting they were still on the march with Bobby's army. But their presence grew ever less evident as Liverpool grew in ascendancy. When the substitute Daniel Sturridge supplied a sublime finish to score the third goal with half an hour remaining, they were pouring for the exits. By the time the fourth rattled the netting, there were few remaining.

But those who were there knew who to blame. At the final whistle, the last few poured out their invective in the direction of the technical area. Martinez, though, was not listening. He appeared to be a man lost in his own thoughts. And they cannot have been happy ones. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

The Left Wing: Leinster's succession plan, Munster's missing piece and the art of contract negotiations

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport