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Contagious thing, poverty. Chairman Bill Kenwright may have painted a stark picture of Everton’s enduring penury this week, but it contained no surprises to those at Goodison Park.

David Moyes has long been used to seeking solace in the fact that the club’s wealth exists only on the field. Judging by their opening act of the Premier League season, even those riches may be starting to dwindle.

True, poor starts to the season may be endemic this side of Stanley Park, and true, Moyes’s team can count themselves unlucky to have found their commencement of the campaign interrupted by civil strife. But in delayed opening day defeat to Queens Park Rangers, newly promoted and freshly dismantled by Bolton, lay a harbinger of particular gloom.

The siege mentality that Moyes would hope to foster in times of financial hardship was peculiarly absent. The simple efficiency the Scot wanted to infuse into his side with his warning that Everton’s first task was to avoid relegation failed to materialise. The sense of purpose characteristic of his teams, too. This did not look like a Moyes side. It did not look like Everton.

The hosts had chances, but they were fleeting. The immensely disappointing Jack Rodwell might have had a penalty, the infuriating Jermaine Beckford might have done better with a scissor kick. Leighton Baines saw a curling free kick crash on to the bar and down, agonisingly, into the six-yard box.

Neil Warnock’s side might have crumbled even under this most gentle of sieges. Their confidence low following their 4-0 humbling by Bolton last weekend, their fans joyous only in their paeans to Tony Fernandes, the entrepreneur who has rescued them from the clutches of Flavio Briatore. This is a club whose wealth is very definitely not on the pitch.

But Warnock, spluttering with rage at every decision on the touchline, fashions canny teams, at the very least. When Phil Jagielka gave the ball away in his own box and Akos Buzsaky found Tommy Smith, and Smith’s clipped shot found the bottom corner, it was evident the visitors would not cede their lead lightly.

Tim Cahill should have equalised, from two yards out with the goal at his mercy, and Beckford should have beaten Paddy Kenny from six, but there was no concerted threat, no consistent menace, particularly after the interval.

What little purpose that was injected into the hosts came from the player who should have felt the least responsibility: 17-year-old Ross Barkley, on his competitive debut, infusing Goodison with hope, a shaft of light in the deepening gloaming. Tall, strong, athletic, blessed with two good feet, tremendous balance and no little grace, Barkley looked as though he had been a part of this Everton midfield for years. In that respect at least, Goodison Park will end the summer a little richer.

Barkley went close three times, even as his youthful zest faded. Cahill, too, might have done better when slipped through by Marouane Fellaini; the Belgian himself drew a save from an inspired Kenny in injury time. Moyes was jeered by the Gwladys Street End when he removed Beckford, his supporters annoyed by the apparent lack of ambition. So sparse are his resources, though, that he had little choice. That comes down to a lack of finance. It is beginning to impact on the pitch. The poverty is catching.

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