Is it safe to look yet?
Have they stopped scoring?
Just where do you start with a night like that?
Remember against Queens Park Rangers, when we said that Antolin Alcaraz looked like a drunken uncle playing footy in the garden against little kids? Well imagine if that self-same fella got woken up from his hammock and told to play against Luis Suarez.
Clearly the responsibility for one of the worst humiliations at Anfield in living memory – and boy there’s some stiff competition there – doesn’t lie with the paceless Paraguayan. His selection in such a big game though, in a defence that also featured rookie centre-half John Stones at right-back, gives some indication of the cobbled-together nature of the first Everton side that Roberto Martinez took across the park.
As suspected, a number of other players whose fitness was in question were deemed fit enough, but as we feared beforehand, Ross Barkley and Steven Pienaar looked lacking in match sharpness after a bright enough opening 15 minutes.
It was a night when almost everything that could go wrong did, apart from Daniel Sturridge blazing a penalty over the bar. By that point though, four goals up, Liverpool could more or less laugh that off.
Imagine that. In the derby.
Liverpool’s opener came on 21 minutes when Steven Gerrard connected with Luis Suarez’s excellent corner to crash a header in at the near post.
To add injury to insult, Gareth Barry not only lost Gerrard’s run but he also slipped and crashed into Romelu Lukaku, taking his leg out like a skittle. The Belgian striker hobbled off with ankle ligament damage, replaced by the willing but ineffective Steven Naismith, and our fate was pretty much sealed.
A load of coins also got lashed at Suarez as he took the corner and the police are now involved. It’s not clever, and neither is trying to convince a magistrate that ‘Banzai! You horrible fucking crab!’ is a term of endearment where you come from.
The only players to come out of the game with any real credit for the Blues were Kevin Mirallas and second half substitute Leon Osman. Mirallas has been accused of being something of a fair weather player in the past but despite Everton’s glaring deficiencies in this hopeless encounter he almost singlehandedly took the game to Liverpool at times and nearly equalised with a low shot that skimmed narrowly wide, just before the roof completely caved in.
On 33 minutes Phillipe Coutinho released Sturridge into the space where Everton should theoretically have had a defence and the England striker finished easily past the helpless Tim Howard.
If that one wasn’t bad enough, the next, less than two minutes later, essentially killed the game stone dead.
Sturridge again latched onto a high, straight ball out of defence, unencumbered by anything as gauche as a blue-shirted marker. He still had some work to do though, to bring the big hoof down and get himself facing the goal, but Howard spared him all that by legging out towards a ball he could not possibly reach. Only one of them golf sale signs with LOB ME written on it would have been more inviting.
3-0 at half time, they are all going bananas, understandably, while the Everton team shuffle down the tunnel with the haunted look of men who should be wearing necklaces made of ears.
After the restart Osman comes on and they pin Liverpool back initially, but as they say, it’s the hope that kills you. The hope, and suicide passes by Phil Jagielka.
Suarez cut out the England defender’s lazy sideways pass, surged from just inside his own half and slotted past Howard as everyone knew he would.
All that remained, as if that wasn’t enough, was for Sturridge to toey the penalty over. We could complain about the supposed foul itself by Howard on Raheem Sterling – it’s getting to the point where referees might as well point to the spot the moment a player is put through now – but that wasn’t really the night’s big talking point.
Liverpool were very good. They pressurised Everton expertly, they broke ruthlessly and when the Blues did pose a threat, which they did on occasion, red shirts crowded them out.
For Everton the result was an absolute disaster in itself – 4-0 at Anfield for fuck’s sake – and also as an indication of where the present injury crisis has left the team.
This certainly represents the first big test of Martinez as an Everton manager and he may well need the help of the supporters to get through it. Let’s face it, we knew it wasn’t always going to be brown shoes and ‘Bring Me Sunshine’.
The style of play Martinez demands from his players is one that is more dependent on confidence and assurance than perhaps more traditional British methods and when it works, as we have seen for most of this season, it is spectacular. When it doesn’t though, as occurred at Wigan on many occasions and now at Anfield, well, it’s still pretty spectacular to be honest.
Aston Villa, one of the division’s best counter-attacking teams, will come to Goodison on Saturday and seek to exploit the same weaknesses as Liverpool and play on any residual fear and self-doubt that lingers from Tuesday night.
Everyone at the club – the group, if you will – has to pick themselves up then, as hard as that is in the wake of what was an absolute fucking massacre, and pull together again for the remainder of a season in which there is still so much to play for.
However, that said, until 3 o’clock Saturday:
JUST FUCK OFF EVERTON