Everton are off to a slow start in the 2019-20 Premier League, having picked up only seven points from their first six games despite having faced only one team so far that finished in the top ten last season.
Even more disturbing for the fanbase though has been how the players on the pitch looked disinterested and in disarray when falling behind at AFC Bournemouth, and then at home against Sheffield United, despite dominating possession. Indeed, the Blues are only behind defending champions Manchester City in ball possession metrics, tied top for most crosses per game, but fall to 9th in shots per game, 9th in passes and key passes per game, and a miserable 16th in goals per game, primarily on the back of the 32 times per game they turn the ball over to the opponent, by far the worst in the league.
The manager Marco Silva has been under the spotlight for his tactics in the three losses thus far, but the players have also come under fire for what appears to be lethargy this early in the season.
Last year’s Player of the Season Lucas Digne has been talking to evertonfc.com, and insists that Silva’s preparation for opponents has been meticulous and the players have been given all the information required in the lead-up to the games, reiterating Morgan Schneiderlin’s recent comments.
“He is one of the best, no question. He gives you a lot of confidence.
“We work a lot during the week. Set pieces, tactics, organisation, our system, our opponents. We work on everything.
“The manager understands his job perfectly. He is excellent at communicating what he wants and every player understands exactly their role.
“You can see how many players have improved under him.”
On a personal level, Digne’s debut season with the Toffees was one of unmitigated success, and he created the most chances  of any defender in Europe’s top five leagues, while delivering a Premier League-best 280 crosses and showcasing his shooting boots with four goals from outside the box. Asked if he could replicate, or indeed better that, the Frenchman struck a confident note.
“For sure. Last season was one of my best and I want to continue like this.
“I start every season aiming to do better than the last. I have to improve and progress and develop myself.
“And I want better for the Club, too.
“I love to work and I love football. It has been my passion since I could walk. My job is the best in the world.
“I want to develop every day. If you work, you can develop yourself and do better.”
His leadership on and off the pitch was acknowledged at the beginning of the season with the fullback being named one of the vice-captains for the season, and he led the Blues to a win in his first game as stand-in captain, 2-0 away at Sheffield Wednesday midweek in the Carabao Cup Third Round.
“If you are on the pitch, you are there to win. It is part of me. I hate to lose. I am like this and I don’t want to change for anything.
“I want to give myself every chance to do what I want… to push myself to achieve the maximum I can. I want to win everything.”
Everton certainly could use more leaders as they look to arrest this dip in form, and face a daunting visit from champions City this weekend to test their resolve.