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Everton seem stuck in a death spiral and even a change of manager may not get them out it

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All that investment, all those managers, and things stay the same - why should we believe that it will ever be different?

I’ve never known the Everton fanbase to be so dispirited and downbeat than it is right now.

A depressing run of four straight defeats has seen the Toffees plunge into the relegation zone and once more the supporters’ hopes and ambitions have evaporated before the clocks even go back.

There were, of course, plenty of low moments in the mid-1990s, which was all I knew growing up. But expectations were far lower given the club was up to its eyeballs in debt while the playing staff was suffering from years of under-investment.

There is no such excuse now.

The team that lost to Burnley on Saturday cost nearly a quarter of a billion pounds to put together yet turned out the kind of limp, soulless performance befitting of the Walter Smith era.

Burnley FC v Everton FC - Premier League Photo by MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

What made things worse was the misery at Turf Moor formed part of possibly the worst set of weekend football results Everton have had to endure in a long time.

While Everton always is and always will be our sole focus, a last-minute win for Liverpool courtesy of a disputed penalty only compounded the frustration.

That meant we went into Sunday knowing a Wolves victory over Manchester City and Newcastle win over Manchester United would not only push Everton into the relegation zone but leave our city rivals eight points clear and seemingly on course for a first title in 30 years.

Was any Evertonian surprised at the ensuing turn of events?

Just like when Everton were presented with the chance to go top and third in the table earlier this season and blew it spectacularly, so we knew things would go against us when the opposite scenario occurred.

It is like we are stuck in some sadistic sequel to the Truman Show, with a beret-wearing Ed Harris lurking in a studio behind the moon, quietly wondering what misery to pile on to us next.

Much of the sense of disappointment probably stems from the hope generated during the David Moyes era (and before you start, I am in no way advocating he ever return, his time at Everton is done).

Moyes continually battled against the financial odds to build a team that was greater than the sum of its parts, difficult to beat and one that rose to the cusp of the top four. Part of that defiance came from the ‘us vs them’ underdog mentality perpetuated by Moyes as a way of firing up his players and maintaining the support of the fans. After repeatedly coming within touching distance of the Champions League it seemed that all that was needed was a little investment in key areas.

Except it didn’t happen.

Roberto Martinez hinted towards a brighter future during that marvellous 2013-14 campaign, but since then Everton have been stuck in a cycle of raised expectation followed by crushing disappointment.

Exactly two years ago Everton were one point and two places better off than they are now. Ronald Koeman would last just three more matches before he was sacked.

Everton v Burnley - Premier League
Two years on and nothing has changed
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Two managers and two summers of considerable investment later and we are in exactly the same position. Though this time Silva has had a much easier fixture list and no European football to deal with. Is it any wonder we are exasperated?

It seems they have been stuck in a death spiral for years now and no amount of managers or cash spent in the transfer market can shake them out of it. The parallels with the slow, painful decline of Aston Villa between 2008 and 2016 are worrying.

As Silva trudged his way from the field at Turf Moor on Saturday, eyes reddened, brow furrowed, he looked a broken man, every inch a manager on the brink.

That is backed up by what we witnessed on the field, with little evidence to show he is capable of turning things around.

The same errors the team were making during their poor run last season have crept back into their game. The defending for Burnley’s goal was humiliatingly bad and seemingly so easy to correct even with an amateur’s eye. His persistence with 4-3-2-1 is infuriating, but what is more worrying is when he does try to change things mid-match there appears no coherent alternative.

The Sheffield United game is a case in point, with Silva lobbing on any old attacking player in the closing stages with no semblance of formation or plan.

The same can also be said with his predecessors Koeman and Martinez, who stubbornly stuck to one plan and had no idea how to change things when it didn’t work.

Is it really that hard to find a manager who plays attacking football but can also organise a team to defend set pieces? Is there no middle ground between Silva and Martinez on one side and Sam Allardyce on the other?

Aside from the tactical deficiencies the team also seems to have no spirit or identity. At least previous Everton sides were known for being tough to beat and commanded a bit of respect. But this lot are are soft touch and, more worryingly, becoming increasingly irrelevant.

Everton v Sheffield United - Premier League - Goodison Park Photo by Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images

Watching that week in, week out just isn’t fun any more, hence the plummeting morale amongst the supporters. Though there was plenty of anger at the final whistle on Saturday that quickly ebbed away and was replaced with a more concerning overriding emotion – apathy.

The fans are emotionally spent after investing so much of their time, money, heart and soul into following this football club. There’s only so many times you can be let down before you begin to question whether it is all worth it.

So what can Everton do?

Sacking yet another manager would cause yet more instability and go against what the club has been preaching for the last two years. But doing nothing could also be just as destructive.

So now is the time for decisive leadership – and I’m looking at you Marcel Brands.

Farhad Moshiri may hold the purse strings but he is not a football man and has shown in the recent past his decision-making can be questionable.

Brands needs to sit down with Silva, look him in the eye, and try and eke out some credible evidence that he is good enough to turn this situation around.

If so they need to back him, publicly or otherwise, and give him the breathing space in which to do his job, rather than with the threat of dismissal hanging over him.

If that isn’t the case then decisive action is needed and a new man needs bringing in sooner rather than later. What the 2017-18 campaign told us was sacking a manager without a replacement lined up is disastrous.

And, more importantly, any new manager simply has to be the right appointment – we simply cannot afford to make the wrong choice again.

Everton v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League - Goodison Park Photo by Nick Potts/EMPICS/PA Images via Getty Images

All the talk of dealing with other manager’s players and differing philosophies is valid, but they are also excuses. The best managers can build a winning team with the players they have, being innovative, showing adaptability and not being overawed with the challenge in front of them.

If Brands’ scouting network is as comprehensive as we are all led to believe, let’s hope the same applies to hunting down managers. Because if we make yet another failed appointment I dread to think where we will end up.

The next few weeks could be some of the most decisive in Everton’s recent history. Whatever path the board takes, it will have a huge bearing on whether the club can finally escape the seemingly never ending downward spiral it finds itself in.

But given what we have seen over the past five years, I don’t have much belief in their ability to do so.