Everton’s desperate season plunged new depths this week - and the team wasn’t even playing.
‘Survey-gate’ put the strained relationship between the fans and manager Sam Allardyce firmly in the spotlight, with the media queuing up to have a dig at the club.
I do have some sympathy with the marketing department given a very similar survey was sent out last year and the club are often criticised for not connecting with the fans enough.
But given the current unrest amongst the fanbase it was an easy opportunity for the media to kick the club while it’s down.
Allardyce has developed too thick a skin to be affected by such reports, though throwing director of marketing Richard Kenyon under the bus was unnecessary and a prime example of the kind of crass behaviour that has alienated him from the supporters.
Social media has also played a part in whipping up hysteria amongst the fans, with Allardyce now firmly public enemy number one.
The former England boss is an easy target for fans to direct their anger and frustration at following the club’s troubles this season.
As I’ve mentioned on these pages before, Allardyce is a symptom not the cause of our woes and simply getting rid of him won’t suddenly make things better.
Farhad Moshiri was petrified of Everton going down so panicked and brought in a man who specialises in grinding teams to safety.
Whether Everton were truly in a relegation battle is a moot point, but Allardyce steadied the ship and has done what was expected of him in the style we all knew he would.
Everton made their bed, now they must lie in it.
Does Allardyce deserve the amount of abuse and vitriol he is currently receiving? In my opinion probably not. But that doesn’t mean the club should hesitate in replacing him at the end of the season, maybe even before then now safety is secured.
If we do have to wait until the end of the season then there’s four more games to endure, starting with one of Allardyce’s former clubs, Newcastle, on Monday.
Allardyce admitted last week he still feels he was harshly treated at Newcastle when he was sacked after just seven months in charge in January 2007. Though he also insists any ill-feeling towards the club has dissipated over the years.
I’m not so sure the feeling is mutual amongst the fans, who were as unhappy with life under Big Sam as Evertonians are now.
It will be interesting to see just how both sets of supporters react when Allardyce takes to the dugout on Monday.
In sharp contrast to Allardyce, the present incumbent at St James’ Park, Rafael Benitez, is arguably the most popular Magpies manager since Kevin Keegan.
The former Liverpool boss joined the club too late to save them from relegation two seasons ago but stayed loyal in order to win automatic promotion.
Benitez has since secured Premier League safety with four games to spare, despite operating on a shoestring budget.
Newcastle have pretty much the same squad that won the Championship last season, but crucially they all seem to be fighting for their manager and pulling in the same direction, allowing the team to become greater than the sum of its parts.
As a result they go into this game on the back of a four-match winning run and with just one defeat in their last nine matches.
Given the lack of resources and off-field uncertainty it is an impressive effort by Benitez, who will now be eyeing a top 10 finish.
Victory at Goodison Park on Monday would see Newcastle overtake Everton and move level on points with eighth-placed Leicester.
Everton have no fresh injury concerns going into Monday’s game, with Gylfi Sigurdsson still a few weeks away from a return from a knee injury.
Mason Holgate could play again this season after an ankle operation but isn’t quite ready for a return.
Ramiro Funes Mori made his comeback after nearly a year out with a knee injury last weekend and will be hopeful of more minutes on Monday.
Though there is little to play for, with around £2m per place in prize money up for grabs Everton could do with finishing as high as they can to bolster their summer transfer kitty.
Whether the team or manager have the motivation to try and achieve that remains to be seen. Apathy reigns supreme around Everton Football Club at the moment.
That includes the atmosphere on the terraces, though off-the-field events this week may galvanise the fans into a response, with their frustrations aimed squarely at one man in particular.