If frustration were currency Everton would not be searching for a billionaire takeover.
IIt may only be the Carling Cup but it was realistically Everton’s best hope of silverware, and unless they start rising up the fair play table, it was also their only realistic chance of getting back into Europe.
Often dismissed as the Mickey Mouse competition you only have to look at the teams in the draw for the quarter final to see that Mickey has some street cred these days. The Carling Cup is a maiden Everton have never conquered, coming close in 1977 and 1984 only to be twice beaten to the bedroom door, and due to the Toffees habit of not hitting form until January it is probable Moyes’ men will never know her delights.
Chelsea in the Carling Cup fourth round is not the most attractive of ties for a team dreaming of Wembley, but in the 58th minute the West London team took on the role of gift horse, and Everton were all too happy to look them in the mouth.
When Ross Turnbull felled Louis Saha, resulting in red card for the former and penalty for the latter, a strange, alien sensation surged around Goodison – optimism. But balance in the universe was quickly restored as Leighton Baines found Petr Cech’s midriff from both the spot kick and rebound.
Numerically superior Everton looked, dare I say it, good, fluent even, with chance after chance created in distinctly un-Moyesian style. Saha’s late header – us Evertonian’s are becoming worryingly expectant of a save-the-day goal – restored the optimism, which teetered close to expectant for surely these Royal blue heroes would now go on to put Chelsea to the sword. Denis, could and should have settled it in the 90 minutes, squandering a free header just yards out. But not to worry, it was inevitable now Everton would overrun Chelsea in extra time.
Or not. Royston Drenthe’s sending off 17 minutes into extra time exposed the magnitude of the diminutive winger’s impact on the game, and after a subsequent nine minutes of inviting Chelsea to score, Daniel Sturridge – who is making an annoying habit of bulging the Everton net – accepted, slotting home to send those Chelsea fans who have not already switched allegiances to Manchester City into delirium. In doing so he made a generous donation to Everton’s wealth of frustration. If only frustration were currency.