Roll back the clocks a month and things were going swimmingly for Everton. A 1-0 win over Cardiff was their third victory in five and fourth unbeaten. One of those games had been a highly credible draw at Chelsea.
They were heading into the Merseyside derby confident they could end their Anfield hoodoo. Then fate conspired to ruin things. Jordan Pickford’s moment of madness handed Divock Origi a simple goal and Everton an undeserved defeat.
Daily Football Tips
Since that loss, the Blues have gone four games without a win and failed to put in a convincing performance in any of them. Home draws against Newcastle and Watford were both poor. Defeat to Manchester City was expected but another disappointing showing.
A 6-2 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur at Goodison Park was the culmination of those performances. Describing Everton’s performance as shambolic wouldn’t be going far enough. Pickford was poor again. His defence may as well have not been there. Most weren’t when Dele Alli and Harry Kane tapped home in the box, never mind when Son Heung-min made any kind of movement.
Goodison has seen some bad performances down the years but this goes in the top 10 comfortably. It was sheer capitulation. Words such as gutless and spineless have been used to describe the players. Marco Silva did not avoid the criticism either.
Most questioned the sanity in going toe to toe with a Spurs side far superior to themselves. They questioned it further considering they were without Idrissa Gana Gueye to protect the defence. The bigger questions, though, are now being asked.
18 games into the season and nobody knows what Everton are. On the one hand, there are plenty of positives. Silva has injected a brand new style of football that is very pleasing on the eye. They play a brand of football that is as far from the drudgery served up by Sam Allardyce as can be. It is what the fans wanted.
They also wanted to see their team show ambition, particularly when it came to facing the big teams. The Portuguese manager has also shown that in abundance. It cannot be levelled at him that Everton have not tried to play football in all their dealings with the ‘top six’ this season.
Sometimes it has been highly effective, such as in that draw at Chelsea. Other times it has been utterly disastrous, as against Spurs. On most occasions, Everton have been desperately unlucky. They deserved far more from games at Old Trafford, the Emirates and Anfield but left all three grounds with zero points.
That’s a negative whatever way it is viewed. So is the fact they are currently one point worse off and two places further down the table than they were at this stage last season. That apparently was a disastrous campaign. Ambition is all well and good but the Premier League is a place where points matter most.
The negatives do not end there. Too often this team is extremely naïve. The confidence in the squad is as fragile as a house of cards. It collapses quickly when they are met with a setback of any kind.
Nobody truly knows what Silva is about either. He plays nice football and sticks to his philosophy. He is determined to make a point and push Everton forward. Yet, in reality, it is hard to work out if he is the real deal. Everton’s bad performances far outweigh their good performances so far.
The style is there but the substance has been sorely missing. So far the Portuguese boss looks like something of a one-trick pony. His team can attack and pass the ball around but they often can’t do the basics.
Fortunately for him, he will be given time to dispel the creeping doubts. Evertonians know it will take more than six months to rid the club of the deadweight. It took Valencia five years to recover from Ronald Koeman’s disastrous spell. Everton may need two or three proper transfer windows before they are where they want to be. They have more issues than the striker role to solve.
Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp is a perfect example of that. Look how long it has taken them to be where they are today. World record transfer fees and years of implementing the German’s ideas into the club has elevated them to the top of the table.
Everton need similar time and patience. Rome was not built in a day and Silva needs time to lay the foundations. The humiliation at the hands of Tottenham has shown just how far behind Silva and his Everton team are. It has also raised questions about him as a manager.
18 games into his reign the Blues have undoubtedly improved. However, they are also still very far behind. As a result, it is hard to determine Silva’s tenure so far.
Until they can rid themselves of their two-sided nature, that will remain an impossible task.