Everton manager Sam Allardyce marked his 1,000th game in English football with the grimmest of 1-1 draws at home to West Brom on Saturday. This 97 minutes of football felt like 970, a match so desperately short on quality, it is a wonder Match of the Day did not just strike it from the schedule completely.
The home side already trailed by the time sarcastic cheers and chanting arrived not long before half-time as right-back Jonjoe Kenny forced West Brom goalkeeper Ben Foster into a save, ending a run of 251 minutes of Premier League football without an Everton shot on target.
When Allardyce suggested -- without a trace of irony or self-awareness after the 4-0 defeat at Tottenham in the previous match -- that Everton may need to be more boring and less adventurous, the statement was both bewildering and seemingly impossible. But this seventh successive game without a win proved Allardyce true to his word as boredom and a lack of adventure did in fact plumb new depths.
So poor for so long against a visiting team arriving at Goodison with one win in their last 20 league games, Everton should be thankful for their barely deserved point which inched them closer to safety and nearer to the necessary gutting needed at every level of this football club in the summer.
While the overall tactics are shambolic, the way players shirked responsibility in this match was the latest example of a squad carrying far too many passengers, particularly in midfield.
Instead of stepping up, players continually offloaded the ball to the nearest teammate merely a few yards away. At one point a cluster of players aimlessly passed the ball among themselves in the left-back area, each less interested in possessing the football than the preceding player.
Manager rating out of 10
4 -- Rightly critical of his players afterwards but also oddly ignorant toward his share of the blame for this utterly miserable display. Lack of faith in certain players while persisting with others hopelessly out of form continues to grate.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Jordan Pickford, 6 -- While fortunate that some of his parries evaded onrushing opponents, the Everton goalkeeper was there when needed with a handful of saves late on before the crossbar helped him out at the death.
DF Jonjoe Kenny, 5 -- The young right-back is beginning to look tired as the matches stack up and his performances are suffering as a result. Some mystifying decision-making at various times in the match.
DF Ashley Williams, 5 -- Frequently out of position and too often caught up the pitch while trying to do the work of an absent central midfield. The worst example of this was the build-up to the West Brom goal.
DF Mason Holgate, 5 -- Off the pace from the first whistle, never more so than when hopelessly trying to play offside as West Brom opened the scoring with alarming ease.
DF Cuco Martina, 6 -- Given no support by the players around him in either defence or attack at any point in the match. Average at best but far from the worst on the day.
MF Morgan Schneiderlin, 2 -- Unforgivably bad as a catalogue of half-hearted challenges stacked up while the away side gained control without any resistance in midfield. This looked like the performance of a player who did not want to be on the pitch.
MF James McCarthy, 5 -- Usual endeavour off the ball but poor with it before a horrific leg break brought his afternoon and season to an abrupt halt. H rotten luck with injuries continues.
MF Theo Walcott, 7 -- Thrust straight into the team for his debut and marked his first league start of the season with a well-judged header to assist the Oumar Niasse equaliser.
MF Gylfi Sigurdsson, 6 -- Returned to his preferred central role behind the striker and proved tireless in his attempts to inspire something in attack, but little worked, and his influence fizzled out before the end.
MF Nikola Vlasic, 5 -- A surprise inclusion in the starting XI, making only his second start in the last 10 matches, and the midfielder lacked sharpness as too many passes went astray before his half-time withdrawal.
FW Cenk Tosun, 5 -- Isolated, starved of even the slightest hint of a meaningful pass in his direction, the striker worked hard without reward.
MF Yannick Bolasie, 5 -- The winger seemed indecisive throughout and oddly reluctant to attack the opposing full-back.
MF Wayne Rooney, 5 -- Involved in the equaliser, but this was mostly a performance littered with backwards passes or cheap giveaways.
FW Oumar Niasse, 6 -- Made an immediate impact and briefly livened Everton up in the final third, scoring 56 seconds after his introduction.