Enough is enough… and if it isn’t it, we’re not far from it.
We’re fifteen games into the 17/18 season and right now, it’s nigh on impossible to pick a game where this current Everton have come even close to excelling.
With the benefit of hindsight, the one-all draw away to Manchester City is beginning to look like an absolute masterclass given the form City have shown since that balmy Monday evening back in August.
But even that night, somehow we managed to snatch a draw from the jaws of victory largely due to safety-first, defensive tactics against a team reduced to ten men.
Why didn’t we go at City in that second half? Why didn’t we use the width of the pitch to our advantage, stretching a short-handed defence, making them chase us around?
Instead we chose to sit back and allowed City to come at us and given the offensive weapons they have, that was quite frankly an inane game plan to employ. Imagine if we were playing City now and employing those tactics, it would likely be embarrassing.
Now though, we’re having to endure failings against just about everybody, and with absolutely no disrespect to the likes of Burnley and Brighton, for a club of the magnitude, history and expectation of Everton to be losing and scraping a draw is totally unacceptable, totally.
The summer transfer window that began so brilliantly ultimately stumbled badly.
To put it bluntly, Everton caved in to the want-away demand of Romelu Lukaku – we had no need to sell!
He issued a statement, while still contracted to Everton, proclaiming he knew where he’d be playing this season. Everton should have responded instantly and emphatically to say, “Yes Rom, and it’ll be with Everton!!” And then Everton should have hauled him over the disciplinary coals.
It’s a World Cup year, was he going to down tools like a spoilt brat and risk not going to Russia with Belgium, was he fiddlesticks. We had no need to sell yet we did and whilst it was for a massive fee, that one piece of business has bit us in the proverbial rear end.
We paid a handsome fee for Davy Klaassen when I don’t actually recall there being a queue of other clubs chasing his signature. Klaassen has had a rocky start to his career in Royal Blue and hopefully will come good, but it looks like it’s going to take some time.
Sandro Ramirez arrived for a bargain price – in today’s wacky transfer market – but like Klaassen is finding it difficult to adjust and come to terms with life in the Premier League.
We wasted far too much time, energy and maybe money as well on the overly protracted deal for Gylfi Sigurdsson, and we utterly and miserably failed to use the Lukaku fee to recruit a replacement goalscorer, putting too much emphasis and hope on Olivier Giroud swapping the Emirates for Goodison.
But rather than blame our current malaise on a somewhat botched summer transfer window, let’s look at the role our current manager is playing.
Ronald Koeman had a stellar playing career, his managerial record isn’t half as impressive.
He did quite well at Southampton taking them to a seventh place finish, and again with no disrespect to the Saints, probably the best they could have dreamed of. But while at Southampton, he went through a period where team performances went pear-shaped and a not inconsiderable winless streak was endured.
In his first season with Everton and after a decent start, we too went on an awful run of results before the rot was finally halted and we recovered sufficiently to comfortably finish seventh despite a woeful final few games with diabolical performances away to West Ham and Arsenal two particular lowlights.
And now this season, we’re on another shocking run of results and even worse performances.
To have one bad run is disappointing. To have a second the following season is a cause for concern. To have a third successive bad run looks like a very worrying habit forming, a habit our football club needs to exorcise and quickly.
Tactics and team selections are baffling just about every Evertonian week after week.
Why do we persist with two defensive midfielders whether at home or away?
Why are we so, so slow at moving forward never mind actually launching a true attacking threat?
Why do we not employ true pace and width in the first team?
Why is there no energy?
Where is the on-field leadership?
Does Ronald Koeman know his eleven and their best positions – some of us are truly beginning to doubt whether he does?
These questions become even more critical when you look at the results, performances and indeed style of play exhibited by the U23 squad.
They play at pace, with width, with pressure. They have movement, purpose and most importantly they appear absolutely riddled, overloaded with self-belief and confidence – can that be said of the first team?
Ronald Koeman talks of being pleased with the effort and draws against (no disrespect) heavyweights like Brighton, he talks of not (really) knowing why we lost our way after a bright start against Burnley. He’s even suggested the players are scared when playing at Goodison – as Peter Kay might say, “What’s all that about?”
David Unsworth talks of his U23 side thus, “we expect to win every game, we’re Everton Football Club. We work all week on a plan and the lads will tell you they expect to win every game and the staff feel that way too. We’ll never ever get carried away with any run that we’re on but at the same time, we demand wins and we expect wins”.
The difference in attitude is stark to say the least and the degree of positivity that Unsworth exudes is becoming ever more appealing to a growing number of Evertonians, frustrated at the apparent rigidity and inflexibility of Koeman.
Farhad Moshiri has defended Koeman, somewhat bizarrely using words of a seemingly similar accepting second best nature… ‘the loss to Burnley was the only unexpected one’… are words that shook Evertonians to their very core.
Since when did any loss become expected/acceptable if you employ a motto of Nil Satis Nisi Optimum – right now we’re a million miles from NSNO and the blue blood coursing through our veins is fast approaching boiling point.
Throughout last season, I and many others were prepared to give Koeman every opportunity to endear himself to the club and us the fans, but he always seems somewhat aloof and that doesn’t sit well with many.
This season though, I and many others are finding it extremely and increasingly difficult to accept the performances we’re watching and results we’re getting.
Whether David Unsworth should be considered for the first team role just yet is up for debate, but he certainly voices what Evertonians want to hear and his U23 team right now play a much more entertaining and successful style of football.
Having said that and despite what Mr Moshiri said, surely the sands of time are running out for Ronald Koeman.
Everton cannot lose to Lyon on Thursday if we harbour any realistic designs on progressing further in the Europa League.
Everton cannot fail at home next Sunday against Arsenal, the stigma of continually coming up short against ‘the big six’ is becoming much too much to bear.
And these before we have to take on Chelsea in the Carabao Cup, supposedly the easiest domestic trophy to win – we’ll we’ve never won it have we?
Lose those three and Mr Moshiri must surely act and act decisively.
If enough isn’t enough right now, and poor results and performances continue, we surely are not far from it.