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Everton v Southampton - is this Allardyce’s not so fond farewell?

The season is nearly over as the Toffees prepare for the final home game of the season

Southampton v Everton - Premier League Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Not long to go now Blues, hold on!

The 2017-18 season is slowly drawing to a close, with Everton taking on Southampton in their final home game of the season on Saturday.

The reverse fixture in November was arguably the nadir of what has been a long, torturous campaign.

Most of the autumn was spent wondering when the team’s form would bottom out, with performances plummeting to new depths with each passing week.

Their shambolic display against the Saints sparked a worried Farhad Moshiri into action. Moshiri - petrified that his asset could drop out of the Premier League - went cap in hand to Sam Allardyce just hours after Everton had crumbled to a 4-1 defeat at St Mary’s.

The rest, they say, is history.

Southampton v Everton - Premier League Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Allardyce has done what he was brought in to do - steady the ship and keep the team away from danger.

That has led to some pundits (many of whom obviously haven’t watched Everton much this season) to call Everton fans ungrateful for wanting Allardyce out.

That ignorant, misguided and quite frankly lazy view neglects the fact that they style of play employed by Allardyce is dreadful and given his track record, is unlikely to change if he were to stay.

Everton have been plucky underdogs for decades but the fans have been sold a dream by Farhad Moshiri.

They want a team that strives to live up to the club’s history and tradition. That simply won’t be served under a manager like Allardyce.

Ambition isn’t a dirty word and the supporters shouldn’t be criticised for wanting more.

I remain convinced he will leave at the end of the season anyway, despite what he may say in news conferences.

I just hope the club have got a succession plan in place behind the scenes as we cannot afford to dither in what will be a contracted summer break.

For now though, it’s just about getting through to the end of the campaign.

Saturday evening could be an awkward occasion, with the supporters set to make their feelings about the manager known. While the ‘lap of appreciation’ is likely to be in front of a sparse crowd who feel let down following a season that promised so much, but delivered so little.

The opposition

While Everton looked crushed at St Mary’s in November, Southampton appeared revived and primed to turn their campaign around under Mauricio Pellegrino.

Sadly for Saints fans is proved to be a false dawn, with the team winning just twice since then.

That poor run saw the club slide down the league, culminating in Pellegrino’s dismissal in March.

Southampton v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

Much like Everton, Southampton turned to a well-worn Premier league managerial warhorse to takeover.

Mark Hughes, ditched by Stoke in January, returned to the club where he once played to try and steer them away from danger.

The Welshman has one just one of his five games in charge, though that victory - against Bournemouth last week - has given them a fighting chance of survival.

The Saints are just one point adrift of Swansea and travel to south Wales in what will be a huge relegation six-pointer on Tuesday before hosting champions Man City next week.

That places further pressure on the team to get a result at Goodison, if they are to avoid a return to the Championship for the first time since 2012.

Team news

Everton will be without Dominic Calvert-Lewin after the striker suffered a stress fracture in his back.

Mason Holgate is back in training after an ankle problem but won’t be risked. The same applies to Gylfi Sigurdsson has he continues his recovery from a knee injury.

Projected starting XI

Pickford, Baines, Jagielka, Keane, Coleman, Gueye, Schneiderlin, Rooney, Bolasie, Walcott, Tosun.

Final word

With little to play for, the presence of the new 2018-19 home kit will be the main attraction for Toffees fans on Saturday, while the opportunity to send the fans home on a high after a troubled season is an obvious motivation for the players.

But given the mood amongst the fans, the underlying sense of anger and frustration is unlikely to dissipate until there’s a change in management, whatever the result.