OK, the excuses will be made. Did Noble connect with the ball before he was sent off? Probably yes. Should he have been sent off therefore, even if a foul was awarded? Probably no. Did he even deserve the first yellow for the tug on Mirallis? Some referees would have considered the free kick punishment enough, especially given the fact that Reid cleared the ball anyway.
However, moan as much as we like, we lost because Everton played us off the park in the second half and Noble ended up with an early bath because we were chasing shadows throughout that second period.
So, the West Ham fans who took issue with my warning about relegation, made as soon as Carroll's injury was confirmed and we failed to buy a replacement, might now like to think again. True Petric came on and made an instant impression by chasing a lost cause and setting up Nolan for the penalty award, but it is unlikely he will be fit and available for every game, and Maiga, once again, looked out of his depth. In fact, depth is the key word because when you bring on Taylor to protect a lead in the Prem, you admit that your squad is paper thin.
That second half was every bit as depressing as our performance against Stoke. As soon as Collins fouled Barkley within Baines shooting range, you knew Everton would equalise. Jussi's positioning was awful, but with Baines going for the opposite corner for his second, you can understand the Finn's muddled thinking. Of course, the solution was obvious, to put a tall man on the unprotected post, but you need players with brains to work that out, or a manager that thinks outside the box, which Allardyce doesn't.
Once Noble was dismissed, the game was up, but we were lucky to lead because the only objective in the second half was to protect what we had. Petric did brilliantly to win the ball on the dead ball line and play it back to Nolan, and Nolan bought the penalty like the old pro he is, but we offered absolutely nothing going forward apart from that in the second period. And the midfield were clearly shattered 60 minutes into the game because of the pressing tactics. Everton simply bided their time and then passed the ball through the gaps that inevitably appeared.
Meanwhile, Lukaku showed what we missed as Sullivan and Gold fiddled as Upton Park burned. Financial Fair Play? Cobblers. We were just trying to save on wages for a few weeks, and because of Carroll's injury, it exploded in our faces. Also, of course, Allardyce's one dimensional Plan A policy of the lone striker meant that Lukaku didn't fancy keeping the bench warm, waiting for Carroll to pull up lame.
So, the relegation struggle was confirmed today. It's going to be a long, difficult, painful season and God only knows the implications to the club if we go down.
Player ratings: Jussi 4; O'Brien 5 Collins 6, Reid 8, Rat 6; Noble 5, Morrison 5; Jarvis 5, Nolan 5, Diame 6; Maiga 4 Subs Petric 6, Taylor 5