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Under-pressure Allardyce needs win to keep the fans onside

Angry supporters made their feelings known towards the Everton manager at Burnley last week, he desperately needs a win on Saturday to avoid an uncomfortable afternoon in the Goodison dugout

Burnley v Everton - Premier League Photo by Lynne Cameron/Getty Images

Last weekend’s chastening defeat to Burnley and the stinging reaction from supporters appears to have jolted Sam Allardyce into life, perhaps realising that the situation is on the brink of turning very ugly indeed.

The last dregs of support for the former England boss looked to have disappeared at Turf Moor, with Allardyce walking off the pitch to a chorus of boos and verbal abuse.

It was Everton’s seventh defeat from 10 games in all competitions, a miserable run that’s as bad as anything served up by Ronald Koeman in the dying embers of his reign at Goodison Park.

It means the lingering threat of relegation has yet to be extinguished, with the Toffees needing at least two wins to be sure of staying up.

It makes you wonder where the team would be had it not be for that seven-match unbeaten run at the start of Allardyce’s reign.

Sadly that run has proven the exception rather than the rule, with the players performing dreadfully under three different managers.

Last weekend was particularly bad, with the Toffees crumbling in the second half, battered and bruised by Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood.

Sky Sports produced a graphic on the Monday night showing that Everton have the second worst away record in the Premier League over the past two years.

To have a record so bad proves there is something fundamentally wrong with the mentality of the squad.

Burnley v Everton - Premier League Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images

The team lacks true leaders and contains too many players who are weak and fragile. It’s not just in the dugout where an overhaul is needed in the summer.

The only good news this week is that Everton are back at Goodison Park, where 26 of their 34 points have been claimed this season.

But given their perilous league position and the level of animosity towards the manager, it’s going to be far from straight forward.

The atmosphere will be teetering on the brink of mutiny if they go a goal down, and even a victory is unlikely to be greeted with little more than blessed relief.

The opposition

Brighton may have the same amount of points as Everton, but the atmosphere at the two clubs couldn’t be starker.

Chris Hughton’s side are buzzing right now and with good reason. The Seagulls are unbeaten in seven matches in all competitions, with last weekend’s win over Arsenal lifting them seven points clear of the relegation zone.

They are also through to the quarterfinals of the FA Cup for the first time since 1983, the same year they were last in the top flight.

It’s little wonder that Chris Hughton picked up the Manager of the Month award this week.

Considering the club was on the brink of extension during the mid-90s and spent 12 years playing their home games at an athletics track, it’s a real feel good story and one that should give hope to fans of sides currently experiencing hard times.

West Ham United v Brighton and Hove Albion - Premier League Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images

Glenn Murray has claimed most of the headlines, with his eight goals in ten games even sparking rumours of a shock England call-up.

However, it is their sold defence that has proven the bedrock of their success, with their 38 goals conceded comfortably the best outside the top seven.

Depressingly, one of their key centre backs is Shane Duffy, sold by Everton to Blackburn four years ago.

The reverse meeting at the Amex stadium saw Wayne Rooney earn Everton a late point courtesy of a penalty after Anthony Knockaert’s opener.

That was just the 12th meeting ever between the sides and the first since a 2-1 Toffees win at the old Goldstone Ground 35 years ago.

Team news

Sam Allardyce has confirmed Leighton Baines, Ramiro Funes Mori and Phil Jagielka will be available for selection.

One of Jagielka or Funes Mori are likely to start with Ashley Williams suspended, though given Michael Keane’s poor performance last week both may be recalled.

If Funes Mori does play it will be his first appearance in an Everton shirt for nearly a year following knee surgery.

Predicted starting XI

Pickford, Coleman, Funes Mori, Jagielka, Baines, Schneiderlin, Gueye, Rooney, Sigurdsson, Walcott, Tosun.

Last word

Everton are making their quest to avoid the drop far harder than it should be, with the team seemingly unable to avoid being constantly on the brink of crisis.

We all just want this campaign to end and the much-needed changes to begin in earnest. But that cannot begin without securing their place in the division next season.

The sooner that’s done, the better.