Let’s take a look at the primary causes of discussion from last night’s humiliating thrashing at Goodison Park, as David Moyes made a very unhappy return indeed to his former stamping ground.
Referee Oliver Blasted For Blues Penalty Decision
Premier League Referee Michael Oliver was plunged into the spotlight last night for the part he played in Everton taking the lead for the first time on 18 minutes.
Chasing a loose ball that had come off Cheikhou Kouyate in midfield last, Dominic Calvert-Lewin advanced into the box to be hauled down by Joe Hart between The Hammers sticks.
In real-time, the majority gut feeling was that it looked like a clear penalty as Hart protested to the young Referee that he had got a touch on the ball to no avail.
However, replays clearly showed that he was not wrong in getting a fingertip to it before clattering the young forward to the ground, thus winning the ball first and not the man.
Pundits and fans were among those to criticise Oliver but it’s clear to see that the Referee would not have had a clear view of the Three Lions shot-stopper touching the ball from where he was situated.
The general consensus was that from his angle, no Referee would not have pointed to the spot and most members of The Claret & Blue Army agreed with this, 61 percent of them in favour of the call in an anonymous Poll.
But, if there ever was a case for the use of VAR in The Top-Flight, last night’s incident, which eventually would cost us a lot more than just points, is surely the best we are going to get.
Hammers Defensive Frailties On Display Once More
While the team are noticeable working harder, one thing that clearly hasn’t changed too much since the Slaven Bilic era is the level of defensive performance.
David Unsworth’s men, who have struggled for goals in recent weeks, were able to cut open Moyes’ defence time and time again with another string of mistakes from the back four.
It all started very early on once more when midfielder Kouyate got an unfortunate deflection that eventually played Calvert-Lewin in to win a penalty, both centre-backs were very slow to react.
But, if the hosts got slightly fortunate in that instance, nothing but schoolboy defending could account for Rooney getting his second just before the half-hour mark.
Not only was youngster Tom Davies left free on the right to cross, so too was Jonjo Kenny to pull his scuffed assist off and Rooney to finish the move at the far post, no defender or keeper for that matter, in sight.
Whilst the home side’s third was a moment of unrivalled wonder from Rooney, questions have to be asked of Hart’s poor clearance and the slow reaction of several midfielders to allow the former England Skipper to pull something like that off.
To add insult to injury late on, Skipper Winston Reid was forced off with injury and replaced by Declan Rice.
The Irish youngster was blocked off by Michail Antonio in trying to stop the head of Ashley Williams from putting the cherry, or Toffee, on the cake in the final ten minutes.
One would dread to think just what Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City would do to such a torrid defensive showing, however, one thing is for sure, whether it be back to basics or not, if Claret & Blue defending doesn’t improve, we could have a major Relegation issue on or hands.
“You Just Don’t Get The Luck When You Are In A Relegation Fight”
For all the components of our under-par all-round display, there is no doubting that The Blue Boys of Merseyside had their fair share of luck at certain stages of the 90 minutes.
This was never truer in the early stages when Hart saved brilliantly from Rooney’s penalty, the ball rebounding to fall on a tee for the former Manchester United man to tap it in easily.
Early in the second period, there was yet more misfortune but this time at the other end of the pitch with Aaron Cresswell working space well, having exchanged passes with Manuel Lanzini before unleashing a thunderous effort that seemed destined for the top corner.
But, it somehow managed to strike the bar and rebound out of danger, something that you wouldn’t feel would have happened had a player in a blue shirt had the effort.
Despite this, surely the most agonising moment of the second-half was yet to come, it would lay in the moments that followed Williams fouling Diafra Sakho in the area and The Referee pointing to the spot.
Lanzini, scorer of three previous PL penalties all in the bottom left-hand corner, stepped up to send the ball hurtling towards that area of the goal.
Clearly, Jordan Pickford had been doing his homework and he was able to get down and push the ball out of danger, no rebound for the Argentine to feast on whatsoever, much to the delight of the on-watching soon to be Toffee and familiar face Sam Allardyce.
It’s not hard to see that a goal in this period could have really changed the complexion of the game, although, it didn’t come and Moyes’ boys remain 18th, just one point above 20th and deep in a Relegation rut.
Rooney Magic Sums Up Evening To Forget On Merseyside
If there was one man to further our misery and open up our wounds a little bit more in Liverpool yesterday evening, it surely had to be the former England Skipper Rooney.
Having haunted The Claret & Blue Army time and time again down the years with a number of memorable strikes, most notably his volley from the halfway line region at Upton Park in 2014 whilst playing for The Red Devils, and already scored two on the night, it was just written in the stars what would happen on 66 minutes.
Seeing a Hart clearance, that left the keeper 30 yards off his line, roll perfectly into his feet, the midfielder unleashed an inconceivable effort from his own half, looping high over anyone in a Hammers Shirt and finding the back of the net.
Pure disbelief was the feeling from both the touchline and the away end as Rooney completed his first hat-trick in six years on a night where the age-old phrase “this could only happen to West Ham” summed things up better than any number of words could hope to.
So, now have covered everything there was to touch on after an action-packed night in the North-West of the Country for all the wrong reasons, will there be more positive points to draw on come Sunday evening? When we make the daunting trip to face The Citizens at The Etihad.