IT WAS ice cold in Merseyside on Saturday, November 27 but most supporters exited Goodison Park bubbling over with red-hot rage.
And when that anger after a 4-1 humiliation by unfancied West Bromwich Albion had subsided, Evertonians faced the bleak prospect that their hopes of a ‘special season’ were not just on ice, they had already melted away.
The Baggies had just recorded their first league win in Walton since 1979, and the blow to David Moyes’ morale was almost as sharp as the elbow Gonzalo Jara delivered to Leighton Baines’ jaw that afternoon.
It was not as if things had previously been going to plan either. Before Roberto Di Matteo’s men marked a new low point on a season that had promised so much, Everton had gone five games without a win, and Wolves and Newcastle had already left Goodison smarting.
And the Blues were already out of the Carling Cup courtesy of a stinking result away to League One side Brentford.
But lying just two points from relegation and facing the prospect of missing Mikel Arteta for three games, after his red card for a stamp on Jara, and with Tim Cahill’s month-long Asia cup duty looming, there was little room for optimism.
Seamus Coleman is one Everton player who can afford mixed emotions over the season. While the Irishman will be disappointed with the team’s failure to qualify for Europe, he has enjoyed a fruitful individual campaign culminating with a PFA Young Player of the Year short-listing.
But Coleman, an unused substitute against West Brom, recalls that afternoon with regret ahead of a chance to get one back in the Black Country on Saturday.
Moyes’ side have lost only four of their 21 Premier League games since that humbling in November, and the Republic of Ireland international is hoping for a victory on Saturday, knowing a win would secure seventh spot for the Blues.
“It’ll obviously be different, but they (West Brom) came here and turned us over,” he says.
“We weren’t at our best that day but we’ll definitely be going there remembering what they did to us at Goodison and trying to put that right.
“It’s going to be a tough game, I know everybody says it but there are no easy games in the Premier League.
“But the way we’re playing at the moment we’ll be quite confident of going there and getting a result.”
Saturday’s game sees a clash between two teams who are transformed since Christmas.
Everton’s impressive come-back win over Manchester City on Saturday means it’s just one defeat in their last 11 league games, and Roy Hodgson has guided West Brom to safety after losing just two out of 10 games since replacing Di Matteo in February.
Coleman is determined to play his part in keeping the Blues curtain-closing form strong, even if he does share his manager’s exasperation at another season hampered by a slow, painful start.
“It’s the same old story over the last couple of years, it’s been a slow start but towards the end we’ve picked up form and we’re playing quite well,” says the full-back turned right midfielder who has scored six goals this season.
“We’ve got two games left and we’ll be looking for maximum points. The game against West Brom is coming up first and we’ll be looking for three points there and then a big one against Chelsea.”
Coleman is aware of another recent irritating Everton trend – namely the club’s habit of rising to the occasion against top four clubs while underwhelming against supposedly inferior opponents.
The Blues have at least started to put that right in recent months, beating Newcastle, Fulham, Blackburn and Wolves.
But with Everton’s last away game another frustrating slip-up against relegation strugglers Wigan, Coleman senses a steely resolve in the squad to finish their last two league games with six points – a feat that will see the Blues finish on 57 points and a place higher than last time around.
“We know we can do it against the big teams so hopefully we can finish the season with two wins,” he says.