Even for Everton standards, slipping into full blown crisis in mid-August just two games into the new season is pretty special. But after the week we have endured, it is not really a surprise.
It started with that horrific thrashing at Aston Villa, which finished 4-0 but could have easily been more, leaving the club bottom of the table for the first time since 2010 and having lost their first two games of the season without scoring since the 1950s.
The game also saw the luckless Dominic Calvert-Lewin potentially fracture his cheekbone in a freak accident before being jeered, inexplicably, by his own supporters. After the game it emerged Amadou Onana had been racially abused on social media.
But wait, there’s more!
News of a bid for Che Adams raised hopes of finally having a senior striker available to act as back-up to the stricken Calvert-Lewin, but as the week wore on no agreement could be reached, with the Toffees reportedly haggling over how much to pay up front.
Then late on Thursday it emerged that MSP Capital had pulled out of their proposed investment deal, potentially leaving the stadium financing (and even the club’s future) in doubt and killing off any hope of loosening the transfer purse strings before the deadline.
Oof. How many more low blows can Toffees fans endure?
The wider media seem to have suddenly woken up to the miserable existence being an Evertonian has been over recent years. Plenty of fans, and I include myself in this, feel weary and tired of all the drama.
Yet, we still can’t quite let go.
Goodison will once again be packed on Saturday in the hope that a positive result and performance can lift some of the gloom. I actually think the team is slightly better than some in the media portray, even if the Villa performance was pretty damning evidence to the contrary, so are more than capable of getting some points on the board.
Or maybe I’m just delusional?
Everton and Wolves fans will be able to bond over their team’s inadequacies when they meet on Saturday, as the Midlands club looks to be in a similar mess.
The owners have been forced to be tight-fisted with transfer funds over the summer over FFP concerns, leading to a mass exodus of players. That was too much for manager Julen Lopetegui, who turned their season spectacularly last season but quit on the eve of the new campaign, frustrated by the restraints place on him in the transfer market.
Gary O’Neil, ditched rather harshly by Bournemouth in the summer, was his replacement, and he has overseen two defeats, albeit against Manchester United, where they performed admirably, and Brighton, who have dismantled plenty a side in recent years.
Wolves’ main problem is scoring. They were the only side to score fewer goals than Everton last season, which is saying something. They are unbeaten in their last four matches against the Blues, including wins in their last two matches at Goodison.
Wolves 1-1 Everton, 20 May 2023
Everton’s penultimate game of last season saw them scramble a point deep into stoppage-time (over nine minutes in!) thanks to Yerry Mina’s close-range finish from a Michael Keane set-up.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin is ruled out because of the facial injury he suffered at Villa, which requires a visit to a specialist. Alex Iwobi is also sidelined with a hamstring strain suffered in the same match.
Sean Dyche says Arnaut Danjuma and Lewis Dobbin could start after impressing off the bench at Villa, while Ben Godfrey and Jarrad Branthwaite are also in contention.
Dwight McNeil, Dele Alli and Seamus Coleman are all still unavailable.
What they said
Everton boss Sean Dyche: “Footballers aren’t as thick as people think, especially about their profession. It doesn’t take a lot for me to point out what was wrong [at Villa], they know.
“So, therefore, it’s about talking to them about it more than anything. I wasn’t screaming and shouting at them. They come off the pitch and know what has gone wrong, what is shouting going to prove?
“They know they weren’t collectively up for it, so we spoke more about that, the bigger picture of it. It was a conversation with some analysis and a repointing in the right direction.
“Football gives you a jolt now and again. If you look, the first few games of a season often bring odd results, it’s not brand new to me, but you have to react to that.”
Wolves boss Gary O’Neil: “It’s a tough place to go. Everton at home always have a good atmosphere there, they’re always very aggressive in front of their home fans and a direct team, a lot of long balls and balls into the box and a big set-play threat.
“But hopefully we can impose our style and our game on them, keep creating these big chances and I’m pretty sure if I give the team the right structures and we keep arriving in the right areas then the lads will start to do their bit on the end of it and start to take some chances.
“I don’t agree with the big game [rhetoric], ‘Everton vs Wolves’. I don’t believe it’s bigger than any other game we’ve played or the one that we’ll play the following week. We probably have about 34 games to go before you can start talking about some games being bigger than others.
“At this moment in time, we’re desperate to put our first win on the board and hopefully we can start taking our chances because we’ve created an unbelievable amount of opportunities so far. If we can start taking them, we can get a bit more control and structure and I’m sure we’ll be fine.”
We do need to keep some perspective here, it is only two games into the season. But with Everton seemingly in a tailspin to destruction I will not be surprised if they slip to another miserable defeat. It would wrap up an already grim week.