THE NOTEBOOK: Gary O'Neil FUMES as Everton snatch survival

THE NOTEBOOK: Gary O’Neil FUMES at ‘terrible’ refereeing decisions as Everton snatch survival on the last day of the season… while David Brooks – recovered from cancer – playing so well transcended the tension

  • Everton maintained their Premier League status on the last day of the season
  • Gary O’Neil fumed at refereeing decisions throughout the season at full-time
  • There was joy for David Brooks who shined at Goodison 12 months after cancer 

Everton survived being relegated from the Premier League by the skin of their teeth as for the second consecutive season they found themselves in a relegation dogfight.

This time it went all the way down to the final day of the season with Abdoulaye Doucoure’s stunning strike handing the Toffees their most valuable points of the season against Bournemouth.

The single-goal affair produced plenty of flashpoints as the home crowd inside Goodison Park went through all the emotions on their way to victory, ecstasy, tension and finally relief.

Meanwhile, Leicester and Leeds were relegated from the Premier League as they joined Southampton in the bottom three where the Championship awaits them next season.

Mail Sport’s Dominic King covers some of the things you may have missed at Goodison Park on the final day of the season. 

Bournemouth boss Gary O’Neil was not happy with the officiating on show against Everton

Everton players celebrated at full-time after Abdoulaye Doucoure’s goal sealed their safety

Gary O’Neil’s thunderous ref rant 

Gary O’Neil had spent the season bottling up his frustrations but they all came flooding out at Goodison Park. 

Bournemouth’s manager, whose reputation has been enhanced by keeping his side up against the odds, was booked after taking on referee Stuart Attwell.

Some decisions here had O’Neill flummoxed, continuing a long-running theme.

‘The fact we got 39 points with the level of officiating is incredible,’ O’Neil thundered. ‘The refereeing was terrible. We are the first team since VAR was introduced not to get a penalty. I’ve spoken to (referees chief) Howard Webb a lot. It can’t always be us that suffers.’

Old saying rings true for Everton 

Everything changes but everything stays the same. It’s an old saying but it was certainly true about Everton. Only two outfield players who started this game – Abdoulaye Doucoure and Alex Iwobi – began in the do-or-die clash with Crystal Palace in 2022.

That represents a remarkable overhaul for no discernible improvement. Not all the signings have been duds, though. Keep an eye on James Garner. He was excellent in an unfamiliar wing-back role and will thrive when he gets into central midfield.

Abdoulaye Doucoure (middle) and Alex Iwobi (right) were the only two players who had been in the XI that began in the do-or-die clash with Crystal Palace 12 months ago.

Joy for David Brooks 

What a pleasure it was to see David Brooks playing with such freedom and enjoyment. He was outstanding in the first half, a constant source of menace down Everton’s left, and was only replaced when he ran out of steam in the second period. 

He overcame stage-two Hodgkin lymphoma 12 months ago and for him to be on a pitch, reminding everyone of his ability, is the biggest success of all. Let us hope he continues to go from strength to strength. 

It was great to see David Brooks (right) thriving against Everton after overcoming stage-two Hodgkin lymphoma 12 months ago

Everton’s lowly bench 

Sean Dyche said recently that he would never be disrespectful and not name a substitutes bench without a full complement of options but a sign of how bad Everton’s injuries have been came in the fact they were only six outfield players and two goalkeepers. 

He only made one change in the game – Ellis Simms for Demarai Gray.

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