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New year, new Everton?

The Toffees begin 2015 as one of the clubs most in need of turning over a new leaf

Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Everton fans head into the New Year with a sense of trepidation few expected after a largely memorable 2014.

Indeed it is only the last few weeks that has seen the blip in form escalate into a full-blown crisis and fuelled debate about what has gone wrong and what can be done about it.

There are myriad reasons why Everton have struggled this season and most of them have been furiously debated on internet forums and social media. Injuries, loss of form, loss of confidence, silly mistakes and poor refereeing decisions being but a few of the things to go against the Toffees so far.

Thankfully the majority of supporters still back Roberto Martinez and feel he deserves the chance to turn things around given what he achieved last season. A welcome dose of considered long-term thinking among the rabid and reactionary short-termism usually found elsewhere in the Premier League.

It will, though, take several factors coming together in order to lift the club out of its current malaise and get the campaign back on track. Most of those centre around the manager Martinez, who is perhaps going through the most testing time of his managerial career and looks to have lost faith in his abilities.

His determination to stick to the same tactics is proving counter-productive as sides have worked out how to counter Everton's attacking threat. Wary of changing course Martinez has doggedly stuck to his guns, but gone is the dynamism from last season, meaning he is making the same mistakes again and again.

That has trickled down to the players, who appear to lack confidence and self belief. This has been highlighted by the excellent Executioners Bong who points out that Everton now press the ball less than any other side in the division. It seems they are just too nice.

The hope is that the players' drop off in form is just that and not symptomatic of a breakdown in relationship between themselves and the manager. Petty squabbles are always magnified when the team is struggling and there may well be some unrest in the camp - the departure of head of medicine Danny Donachie certainly points in that direction. It is hard to tell from the outside though and I'm sure most players will tell you that even the most successful sides have divisions behind closed doors.

But with the club sliding down the league it is time for the players to channel any frustration they have into an aggressive, energy filled performance. Winning ugly is the sign of a good team so Martinez should not be afraid of taking a minor detour from his footballing principles in order to get a result.

Life suddenly becomes a happier place when the team is winning and that can form the cornerstone of a recovery. A return to fitness of key players - most notably John Stones - is also crucial. While Martinez would do well to pressurise Bill Kenwright into loosening the purse strings slightly as fresh blood in January can have an equally galvanising effect.

It is a shame that the dying embers of 2014 will tarnish 12 months that on the whole has produced some thrilling football and some memorable moments. But the dawn of the new year allows the players and manager to start anew with renewed vigour.

We, as fans, can only cross our fingers and hope they take that chance.