It may have only been the Capital One Cup but Everton suffered a second defeat in three days against Swansea City last night, as they continue their slow start to the season.
Roberto Martinez made nine changes to the side that lost at home to Crystal Palace but their fortunes did not change as they were humbled by the Welsh side 3-0.
Martinez smashed Everton’s transfer record to bring Romelu Lukaku back to the club, for £28 million, after a successful loan spell last season.
Gareth Barry also returned to Goodison Park after his contract with Manchester City expired.
But are we seeing stagnation from a side whose only fresh faces for the current campaign are Samuel Eto’o, Muhamed Besic and Chelsea loanee Christian Atsu?
Not the easiest start
Everton have faced a tough start to the season in fairness, with home fixtures against Arsenal and a rampant Chelsea.
They also travelled to the King Power Stadium and as Manchester United found out at the weekend Leicester can be a dangerous outfit on their home patch.
However a home slip up against Palace at the weekend led to questions being asked of their defence and in particular goalkeeper Tim Howard, who has now conceded seven goals in three games.
The Blues were stunning in their 4-1 demolition of Wolfsburg in the Europa League but will be striving hard to make sure competition on the European front doesn’t affect their domestic form.
We will see what Everton are made of in the Merseyside derby on Saturday, when they travel to face a Liverpool side that are embroiled in their own mini-crisis.
Lack of new faces
Lukaku and Barry were both brought back to Goodison as Everton looked to improve on their fifth-place finish last season, but they are both players that were at the club last term.
As Manchester City showed following their title winning season of 2011-12, if you wish to strengthen as a club new players must be brought in to improve the starting line-up.
New faces give other players a boost and improve the competition for places meaning that everybody takes their game to a new level in order to secure a spot in the XI.
Eto’o, Besic and Atsu were the other new players brought in but they are not walking in to the starting line-up and all were involved from the start in last nights Cup match.
The team that lost to Palace only contained three changes to the side that beat Hull on the last day of the season, and one of them was forced through the absence of Seamus Coleman.
Martinez massively over-achieved last season as he took Everton to the brink of Champions League qualification, finishing seven points behind Arsenal.
But over the summer the top four sides took massive step to strengthen their line-ups as they go in search of Premier League glory and Manchester United splashed the cash in a hope of reclaiming their spot amongst Europe’s elite.
However the Toffees were forced to fork out £28m just to ensure their team were as strong as last season.
Martinez showed at Wigan and now at Everton he is capable of getting the best out his sides and will have to do the same this season if Everton are to harbour any hope of making the top four.
It is still early days but their next two fixtures, away trips to Liverpool and Manchester United, could make or break their season as early as October 5th.
There is always the avenue of winning the Europa League but for the fans it is domestic form that matters most. The fans won’t want to see a sacrifice in league performances in hope of Europa League glory.
Chairman Bill Kenwright is not blessed with the riches possessed by Roman Abramovich or Sheikh Mansour and his managers are forced to work under a budget that restricts expectation within the club.
David Moyes did a fantastic job of making Everton a consistent top ten side without having the money that was made available to Martinez over the summer.
The sale of Marouane Fellaini last summer financed their Lukaku deal but there was nothing left in the bank to bring in another high profile signing or strengthen their most vulnerable areas such as the centre of defence.
Compare that to Chelsea, who spent over £90m to improve all areas of their side, and Manchester United, who spent over £100m, Everton are light years behind in financial pulling power.
Evertonians were quick to put the boot in to David Moyes following his move to Manchester United, claiming Martinez has taken them on to a new level with his style of football.
But if the Spaniard can not maintain the high standards of last season and reach this so called ‘new level’ he could soon find himself under pressure from the crowd at Goodison.
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