Everton’s winless streak stretched to six league games as The Toffees were held to a goalless draw by West Brom at Goodison Park on Monday night.
The result leaves Roberto Martinez’s side languishing in twelfth place in the Premier League, just four points above the relegation zone, and with a huge battle on their hands for the rest of the season.
They trail fourth placed Manchester United by 17 points, leaving a Champions League place firmly out of their reach for this season.
Everton were not helped by a well-organised West Brom side, under new manager Tony Pulis, and a first-half penalty miss by Belgian Kevin Mirallas. The penalty miss was a huge blow as Everton searched for a much-needed breakthrough to lift the mood around Goodison Park.
To add to the issues it appeared that Mirallas had decided to take the penalty himself rather than allowing Leighton Baines, the regular penalty-taker, to continue his form from the spot.
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The left-back had converted 15 of his previous 16 penalties, therefore Mirallas's move was a strange decision which left everyone, including manager Martinez, baffled.
In the dark
This year’s results have been in stark contrast to their performances last season, when Everton were a real force in the league, feared by many and challenging for a place in Europe. They are already out of the FA and League Cups but are into the last 32 of the Europa League.
How times have changed. Although Everton have a similar squad to last season they are suffering a collective crisis of confidence this term, and manager Martinez is under pressure for the first time in his tenure at the club.
However, he must be reassured by Everton’s preference to stick with a manager for a length of time rather than the habit of hiring and firing a manager at will, that is a feature of modern day football. Martinez has proven already that he is a very good manager with a huge future ahead of him so Everton must look beyond their current form.
Too good for relegation?
Are they too good to be relegated? No. No club is too good to be relegated and Everton are no different. They are in the position they are because of some poor displays, frailties at the back and the inability to convert their chances at the other end.
Their confidence is low but one good result can change their season for the better. They will hope that that one good result will come sooner rather than later.
They do have a serious amount of quality all over the pitch and I am sure Martinez and his squad are working very hard on the training ground to reverse their current fortunes. There are enough teams below them to feel safe for now but they must not rest on their laurels as the Premier League is a tough place at the best of times, and can be cruel if things start to go against you.
It is a shame that there have been signs of growing impatience amongst the Everton faithful but it is also understandable given their current plight. Supporters have a right to show their dissatisfaction but what Everton do not want is the anxieties on the terraces to transfer onto the pitch and affect their players.
Youngsters like Ross Barkley have huge futures ahead of them but are currently struggling for form. For one so young he was always going to suffer a dip in his form as expectations of him are so high. He will hopefully look back on this experience as character building and will, I have no doubt, emerge as a better player for it.
Will Martinez and Everton now use the January transfer window to try and bolster their squad and improve confidence around the club? If so, which areas of the team need strengthening?
Everton will have to wait until January 31 for their next game, a crucial clash against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.