A Continuation of Bad Habits
Stricken soon-to-be former Everton manager Rafa Benitez has repeatedly insisted that the team is working on starting games more aggressively and with concentration. But once again, at Carrow Road the Blues conceded first - and second, a matter of a minute or so later - the 16th time this has happened now across all competitions and we are only halfway through the season. Now, it is clear that Benitez has recognized this as a major problem and taken steps to rectify it, but it is not working, for reasons that are not at all clear.
Everton have conceded the first goal in 16 of their 22 games in all competitions this season, including each of their last 9 games. #EFC— EFC Statto (@EFC_Statto) January 15, 2022
Benitez has talked often post-match and in pre-game press conferences about how the best efforts of the team are being undermined by individual errors. It would be churlish to suggest that he is incorrect in this assertion, considering the Toffees lead the league in the undesirable category of errors leading to the opposition scoring, with six costly mistakes. Considering this statistic is quite lenient, only attributing an error to something like an own goal or an intercepted pass that directly leads to a shot, rather than a blown marking assignment, or losing possession earlier in the opposition build-up, it is apparent that the Blues have been architects of their own misfortune this season.
Everton have committed at least 2 more errors leading to an opposition goal (6) than any other team in the Premier League this season— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) January 16, 2022
⏱️ Time looks to have run out for Rafa at Goodison Park... pic.twitter.com/nGjvVUkPaP
Not Necessarily Road Warriors
As erratic as Everton have been at Goodison Park this season, their performances on the road have been truly pitiful, the latest flop against then bottom of the league Norwich City being their fifth loss from six away fixtures, with a solitary unlikely, backs-to-the-wall draw against Chelsea to their credit. The Merseysiders have failed to take all three points as the visiting team since the end of August, when they managed an impressive 2-0 victory over Brighton & Hove Albion. Attempting to play on the counter, combined with a bad habit of starting soporifically and shipping the first goal are some of the factors that have resulted in this failure.
Everton have now lost five of their last six away games in the Premier League:— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 15, 2022
❌ 1-2 vs Wolves
❌ 0-3 vs Man City
❌ 0-1 vs Brentford
❌ 1-3 vs Palace
1-1 vs Chelsea
❌ 1-2 vs Norwich
They have not won away from home since August. pic.twitter.com/mxe8qxUNuO
The Writing was on the Wall
A lot of the media narrative leading up to the announcement by the club of the decision to relieve Benitez of his duties, 24 hours after the abysmal defeat by Norwich, revolves around how he was an unpopular figure foisted upon restless Blues fans. Of course, an element of the fan base was never going to accept the Spaniard, for historical reasons, but the overwhelming bulk was content to give him a chance to earn their support. But, after a bright start Benitez’ Toffees have collapsed, with a run of form unprecedented for the team in the Premier League, just six points over a 13 match period. Such a dismal spell, constituting more than one-third of the season and with almost no redeeming moments, or signs of the team turning it around, is not survivable by any manager, irrespective of who they happen to be.
Everton have 6 points in their past 13 games.— Matchday365 (@Matchday365) January 15, 2022
It's their fewest-ever in a 13-game stretch in the Premier League era. pic.twitter.com/F18v5jRRhY
Failure upon Failure
Rafael Benitez’ term as Everton manager comprised a mere 200 days. Under de-facto owner Farhad Moshiri, no manager has lasted more than the little over one-and-a-half years posted by Marco Silva. This constant managerial churn has resulted in a Frankenstein’s monster of a squad, players bought for one style of football then left over almost as a spare part, often on big wages, even when a joined-up attempt to construct a team has been attempted, such as under Silva or Carlo Ancelotti. Now we have the ludicrous situation of a Benitez being dismissed halfway through a transfer window, with a gutted scouting department and no director of football to guide operations. A disaster.