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Unsworth preparing for Everton’s “cup final”

Here we go again....

West Bromwich Albion v Watford - Premier League Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Another game, another defeat, Everton’s season continues to spiral uncontrollably towards the abyss.

I’m sure I’m not the only supporter finding it hard to pick myself off the floor to look ahead to the next game after each horrendous result.

Supporting Everton feels like one long, relentless cycle of misery at the moment - the upcoming international break will bring some blessed relief.

David Unsworth’s hopes of claiming the job permanently look to be over after suffering three successive defeats, exiting two cup competitions in the process.

There is mitigation when you consider the fixtures were all away from home against the last two Premier League champions and a side that finished fourth in Ligue 1 last season.

However, the meek surrender after Lyon’s opening goal suggests even Unsworth’s positive attitude is not enough to lift the team’s morale off the floor.

The side actually did ok for 70 minutes at the Groupama Stadium, albeit offering precious little up front (which is no surprise if you’re shoving a midfielder up there). But they totally collapsed after going 1-0 down, appearing to lack any stomach for the fight.

It’s clear any semblance of team spirit evaporated a long time ago, meaning the game is virtually over if the opposition score first.

The result is a run of five straight defeats in all competitions – the worst run for 12 years. Since beating Hajduk Split in August it’s 12 defeats in 14, an almost comical collapse in form.

The Premier League is no respecter of reputation, history or money spent. Everton deserve to be in the bottom three and unless there is a dramatic shift in form and attitude, that is where they will stay.

The opposition

What a difference six months make.

Back in May, Everton, comfortably ensconced in seventh place, eased to a 1-0 win over a hapless Watford at Goodison Park.

It was the third of six straight defeats for the Hornets, who ended the campaign just one place above the relegation zone.

Walter Mazzarri was sacked (not really a surprise given Watford’s regular turnover of managers) and the highly-rated Marco Silva arrived in his place.

Silva had impressed during his short stint at Hull, where he very nearly saved them from relegation.

The Portuguese has enhanced his growing reputation still further after an impressive start to the new campaign for Watford.

The Hornets are currently in eighth place, four points outside the top four, though they do come into this game off the back of successive defeats.

Silva’s exploits at Vicarage Road have put him in the frame for the Everton job, though I highly doubt the 40-year-old would move just months after joining.

Though if Everton do appoint a “short-term” manager it would be interesting to see whether they go in for Silva next summer.

A win for Everton on Sunday would narrow the gap between the clubs to just two points, a reminder of how early we still are in the season.

Defeat, though, and, well…....lets just not go there, shall we?

Team news

Unsworth has confirmed Wayne Rooney, Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines will return to the squad after being rested for the Lyon game.

Michael Keane could also return after resuming training following an infection in a foot injury.

Cuco Martina avoided serious injury after being carried off on Thursday but is likely to miss the next two weeks as a precaution.

Predicted starting XI

Pickford, Baines, Jagielka, Keane, Holgate, Beningime, Gueye, Rooney, Vlasic, Mirallas, Calvert-Lewin.

Final word

Unsworth’s first home game in interim charge is likely to be his last, but boy does he need a win.

It’s hard not to get caught up in the sense of panic and despair as Everton plummet to depths not experienced since the mid 90s.

It’s little surprise then that Unsworth is treating this game like a “cup final”.

Three points wouldn’t make all team’s problems go away but it would certainly be the first step towards some sort of recovery.

We can then look towards a pivotal fortnight as the board decide who to appoint as new manager.

I don’t care how it happens. Just win. Please.