A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article speculating if Everton were in a must win situation. At the time the club was coming off of the international break with two league matches against teams from the bottom of the table (along with Everton) in West Bromwich Albion and Crystal Palace. The break was also a good time for many of the players to rest up, get healthy, get back into form and for the new boys, get up to speed with the club's tactics. I, along with many others felt optimistic about the Blue's chances in the coming weeks.
They got off to a good start by taking down West Brom 2-0. Romelu Lukaku got on the board quickly by scoring within the first two minutes. After scoring with such ease, I had expected a comfortable win. Alas, the scoring dried up and a few tense moments ensued until Kevin Mirallas scored the second goal in the 66th minute sealing the victory. Not a spectacular match but it would do for the Toffee's first with of the league campaign.
Next up was the club's return to European action against the team expected to be their biggest rival in the group, VfL Wolfsburg. Instead of the close, tense match that was predicted, Everton fans were treated to a 4-1 which included an own goal from Wofsburg's Ricardo Rodriguez - who also somewhat redeemed himself by scoring for his own team at the end of the match. Tim Howard looked very sharp and recorded twelve saves; easily playing his best match since returning from the World Cup. The squad looked like a proper contender; Roberto Martinez praised them, calling them "clinical". Things were looking good heading into the weekend.
Then came Sunday and we were treated to a new Everton team; the bad one. The one that forgot how to play defense. It did not help that Roberto decided to rest some of the club's top players in a league match instead of waiting until the Capital One Cup on Tuesday. Alex wrote a good article explaining why the Blues fell short of beating a club that lost their manager on the eve of the season and who is still trying to gel together.
We all know what happened Tuesday night in the Capital One Cup. It wasn't pretty and it's time to move past it. With that said, I'm ignoring the Cup's existence.
So with that said, it's time to revisit the question - Is Everton in a must win situation? In short, the answer is "yes". They're a professional football club; every game is a must win situation. There is likely the feeling that the club need to prove that their record financial spend over the summer will pay off in the short-term as well as down the road. Most important at the moment though - they are coming up against the red team from across town this weekend; that's definitely a must win match, not just for the points but also for Mersey bragging rights.
It's still early in the campaign, but the club needs to pick up the pace and start accumulating points. A couple of early season draws help but if the Toffees truly have their eyes set on a Champion's Cup spot, they need to get to work and start picking apart the top tier clubs while shutting down the mid-table and lower level clubs. The argument has been made that it is a good thing to get out of the Capital One Cup early, it's one less tournament for the Blue's to be involved in, it will save the players and allow them to focus on their other matches. All good points but I can't help but feel that if the club had progressed, it could have served more as a stage for the younger talent to gain exposure to top-flight football. It's done though and it's time to move one. Time to focus on the other team in the city this weekend and treat every match as a must win going forward.
Please feel free to leave your thoughts as to how the club should proceed below.