What Everton supporters did at half time was justified - Chelsea hammering was an embarrassment

Everton deserved every boo they received after the worst half of Sean Dyche’s reign. They would not have been able to complain should they have received the same treatment at full time. The only reason they did not was because the away end was all but empty.

And who could blame the thousands who had spent hundreds in a cost of living crisis in the mistaken belief they would be rewarded by fight and desire, if not quality? Their team gave them no reason to stay.

For two years those supporters have pulled a club through its troubles. It was against Chelsea that they mustered so incredibly for the first Goodison coach welcome that kickstarted the run to safety under Frank Lampard. If they are to do the same for a third campaign then they need to be given some inspiration. Instead, the only applause from the travelling supporters on Monday night was from a handful of fans who acknowledged Cole Palmer as he left the pitch having scored four goals. He could have had six. His team, in total, eventually did.

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Sean Dyche had spun away from his players and flailed in disgust as this turned from disappointing to disaster. The ball had not even hit the back of the net. The assist had not even been struck. But he knew what he was seeing was not good enough. It had not been five minutes earlier, when Palmer danced through Everton tackles before stroking past Jordan Pickford to open the scoring.

It was not when Dyche turned back around to watch Palmer head in after Pickford pushed out Nicolas Jackson’s effort. Nor was it when Pickford sought Amadou Onana but only picked out Palmer, whose first time effort sailed into the night sky and drifted in for a hat-trick in fewer than 30 minutes. Was it any better when Jackson had the time to control, turn and shoot for the 44th minute fourth goal? Of course not.

This was a first half shambles at a time that Everton needed better. It was an embarrassment that sucked the life out of a fanbase that is needed now more than ever.

In their last game, Chelsea failed to beat Sheffield United - a team stranded at the bottom of the table. That offered hope to the travelling Blues. The club record winless league streak ended this month. Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s tortuous wait for a goal ended this month. Why not the 30 year wait for three points at Stamford Bridge?

Instead they were hit with Dyche’s worst-ever defeat as a manager. Laughably, the away side almost landed the first blow. James Garner stole the ball from Malo Gusto on the Everton left and the ball was worked to the right. Ashley Young picked out the overlapping Seamus Coleman who crossed to Beto, in because Calvert-Lewin was absent - along with Idrissa Gueye - with an injury the club does not believe is serious. Yards out and with the goal gaping. Beto struck the ball over. The offside flag spared his blushes but it looked close and the finish should have been applied so the question could at least have been asked of VAR.

Instead it was not and the game quickly moved beyond Everton’s grasp. Palmer and Noni Madueke had looked threatening from the early minutes. The chaos of the early stages created opportunity for Everton but it also provided freedom for Palmer, this season’s most impressive attacking midfielder in the league. Everton hoped they could cause problems for a team lesser than the sum of its very expensive parts - just like it had done to earn a point here last season and an emphatic win over in L4 in December. Instead, one cog in the billion pound machine tormented the Blues. Palmer nutmegged Jarrad Branthwaite before a one-two with Madueke created the chance for him to score his first. Sixteen minutes later he had a hat-trick.

Dyche turn in anger had been as Chelsea were given time and space to retrieve a lost cause by the corner flag. Mykhailo Mudryk skipped a tackle and pulled back to Jackson, whose effort was bundled in by Palmer after Pickford saved.

Dyche spent most of the rest of the half deep in conversation with assistant Ian Woan and Steve Stone. No solutions emerged. Palmer, who had cleared off the Everton line when he could not contort enough to add another, stole in when Pickford played a short ball to Amadou Onana. Palmer read the pass and sent a looping effort into the back of the net.

In between these efforts Everton had moments. But they were air-clutching moments of a team being allowed to push forward because Chelsea knew this game was won, a feeling epitomised by Moises Caicedo flicking his way around Everton midfielders and, at one point, through Abdoulaye Doucoure’s legs. Beto found the net with an incredible header but the flag again went up. James Tarkowski flashed agonisingly across goal from a deep free-kick earned when Seamus Coleman showed a glimpse of fight but Jackson rounded off the half by drifting free of Branthwaite and Tarkowski and earning the time to control a cross that was behind him, turn, and add Chelsea’s fifth.

Dyche rang the changes at half-time, Nathan Patterson, Andre Gomes and Jack Harrison on for Onana, Coleman and James Garner. It made little difference. Chelsea were so comfortable they fought among themselves as they sought competition from somewhere. The game was neatly summed up by the home side’s penalty on the hour mark. Vitalii Mykolenko missed as he tried to stop Madueke but Tarkowski did not. Madueke, Jackson and Palmer squabbled for the ball. Palmer won and scored his fourth and Chelsea’s fifth. Having, minutes earlier, seen a one-on-one saved by Pickford it could easily have been his sixth.

While the final half an hour drifted towards a tame conclusion there was still time for things to get worse as Branthwaite left the game early with a knock. Few will want to contemplate what next week’s crucial three games without the one bright spot in another dismal season. Amid months of frustration and that record breaking winless streak the one saving grace Dyche could cling on to was that Everton were rarely humiliated, the late December defeat at Wolves the only significantly bad performance in an otherwise traumatic run.

Chelsea youngster Alfie Gilchrist underscored how emphatically that claim can no longer be used when he hammered in a sixth in stoppage time.

This was a game Everton entered with hope. That was extinguished within 30 minutes and the side deserved to be booed off at the break. There was no-one left to boo at the end. Who can blame them?