Worse than anger, there was apathy at Goodison Park when Wolves substitute Sasa Kalajdzic hammered the 87th-minute nail into Everton’s coffin.
Many passionate Bluenoses who usually bellow out, ‘It’s a grand old team to play for’ headed solemnly for the exit, not even bothering to wait and see their team forlornly chase a late equaliser.
There is an inevitability about Sean Dyche’s team at the moment. Play well, as they did on Saturday, and lose narrowly. Or play poorly and get stuffed.
It’s not a great combination which is why Everton are still without a point or a goal after three matches.
They have come through critical moments before, most notably dramatic relegation escapes in the last two seasons, but this final week of the transfer window feels huge.
Everton striker Sasa Kalajdzic hammered an 87th-minute nail into Everton’s coffin on Saturday
Everton’s 1-0 loss to Wolves was there third defeat in a row without scoring a single goal
Sean Dyche’s side face the risk of dropping to the Championship if they don’t sign a striker
Unless owner Farhad Moshiri can secure some new signings, the club look as though they will be heading to the Championship to launch their shiny new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock.
A striker is essential with Beto from Udinese and Southampton’s Che Adams heavily touted. The £45million received for Anthony Gordon in January remains virtually untouched because of the club’s poor financial health. The squad is being stretched beyond its limit by injuries to Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Alex Iwobi and Dwight McNeil.
They are dark blue days indeed, and former captain Alan Stubbs — icon of the David Moyes era — didn’t hold back during a phone-in on BBC Radio Merseyside.
‘I know how the fans feel. It’s frustrating,’ he said. ‘I think the manager is frustrated as well because there are players they haven’t been able to get across the line.
‘Unfortunately, it’s where Everton are. This is a result of the last five years. We are paying the price for mistakes made.
‘It’s a tough watch right now. We have seen that with the squad and lack of quality. Everton did all right at times against Wolves but can’t get the ball in the net.’
Even Dyche, a master of crisis management, sounded exasperated having to explain another defeat in which Everton had chances but were hit by a late sucker-punch. You would love to be a fly on the wall of his manager’s office but publicly he’s not turning on Moshiri or claiming he was fed broken promises.
‘There’s arguably been around £500m put into the club. There comes a time when you go, “We can’t be doing that” and therefore the cloth has to be cut accordingly,’ Dyche assesses.
Che Adams (pictured) and Udinese striker Beto are two players considered by the Toffees
‘I thought that was quite apparent but people keep asking me about it. It’s tricky to bring in loan players and try to construct deals when there is a stadium around the corner that costs a few quid. If I was an Evertonian, I’d be a bit understanding. What expectation is there to constantly keep putting money in.
‘I’ve always tried to manage reality. It was made clear when I came that this was likely to be how it panned out over the coming months.’
That won’t be much comfort for Everton fans who stayed until the bitter end and booed at the final whistle.
They know the XI they watched against Wolves are a pale imitation of the club greats.
Lewis Dobbin, 20, struggled out of position in his first start. At the other end of the age scale, 38-year-old Ashley Young gave the ball away cheaply for the winner, Pedro Neto crossing for Kalajdzic to score.
Loanee Arnaut Danjuma was asked to fill the Calvert-Lewin role down the middle despite being short of match fitness.
Arnaut Danjuma (pictured) was asked to fill the Dominic Calvert-Lewin role while Michael Keane was sent on as an emergency striker instead of struggling forward Neal Maupay
Defender Michael Keane was sent on as an emergency striker instead of Dyche using forward Neal Maupay, who has gone 28 games without a goal.
Dyche has been here before, both at Burnley and Everton. He’ll take heart from good chances falling to James Tarkowski and Abdoulaye Doucoure and Wolves goalkeeper Jose Sa having to make seven saves in total.
But the visitors would also point to Fabio Silva missing a sitter and a world-class reflex stop by Jordan Pickford.
Everton won’t have a better chance to get their first win when they play 92nd-place Doncaster in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday which is followed by what already looks a six-pointer against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.
Dyche will just pray to have more firepower on the pitch by then. ‘I think there were strong signs again against Wolves. It’s those details that are missing which I know are massively important,’ he said.
‘We have to keep working. The reality of spending £200m isn’t there so we have to nurture, cajole, change, help, analyse and train until we do score goals.’
MATCH FACTS AND RATINGS
Everton (4-2-3-1): Pickford 7; Patterson 6, Branthwaite 7, Tarkowski 5.5, Young 5; Onana 6, Gueye 6 (Keane 90min); Doucoure 6.5; Garner 6.5, Dobbin 5 (Chermiti 66, 5); Danjuma 6 (Cannon 90).
Booked: Garner, Branthwaite, Chermiti
Manager: Sean Dyche 6.
Wolves (4-2-3-1): Sa 8; Semedo 6, Dawson 6, Kilman 6, Bueno 7 (Toti 85); Lemina 6, Gomes 6; Neto 7, Cunha 5 (Kalajdzic 85), Hwang 5.5 (Ait-Nouri 45, 6.5); Silva 5 (Sarabia 74, 6.5).
Scorer: Kalajdzic 87.
Booked: Gomes, Semedo, Lemina, Dawson. Manager: Gary O’Neil 7.5.
Referee: Craig Pawson 7.
Attendance: 38,851 .