Another fixture, another defeat, and yet more misery and anguish heaped on a fanbase that deserves so much better. With season ticket renewals over 90 per cent ahead of a season the vast majority of Evertonians feared would be a very difficult one, the loyalty yet again shown by the Goodison faithful is astounding and testament to supporters who have been sold short for too long.
And from the early goings, it looks as though this campaign will be no different. Three defeats already at home, a thrashing at the hands of Aston Villa, Everton’s solitary point has come against newly promoted Sheffield United, suggesting that the 2023/24 campaign has all the hallmarks of yet another relegation dogfight.
So who needs to be held accountable for this? First port of call for many is the manager. Sean Dyche, a pragmatist who is all about the basics, is the latest tasked with turning the fortunes of the Blues around, on the field. In charge since January of this year, the football has been less than inspiring for the most part, with a number of fans already turning against the former Burnley boss.
His faith in playing Michael Keane, coupled with his tactics of often setting up not to lose rather than go out to win, has been just some of the gripes Evertonians have with the 52-year-old.
On the plus side of the former, it looks as though Jarrad Branthwaite’s form has seen Goodison’s current gaffer become less dependent on the centre-back he also had under his charge when in at Turf Moor.
Dyche’s first game was at Goodison when the Blues produced a dogged display to beat Arsenal by a single goal. Fast forward nine months later, the very same scoreline again decided the fixture, only this time it was Mikel Arteta’s men that came away with all three points.
And this time, Dyche’s decision not to introduce two strikers, particularly when the Toffees went a goal down, as well as a general lack of ideas in taking the game to the Gunners, has caused a number of fans to really question whether the former defender really is the right man for the job.
But, for me, Dyche has to stay.
Everton’s last 100 league games has seen 26 wins, 24 draws and 50 losses. That period covers four permanent bosses and one caretaker. Thank you to If You Know Your History for that stat.
So when does a blip become a pattern? Has Everton simply recruited appalling managers or is this something deeper?
I look at our once great club and see it as a decaying building, complete with rotten foundations and a landlord who simply won’t accept he is part of the problem, let alone take responsibility! I’ll let you figure out who I might be describing there.
And if what we are hearing regarding the Blues and 777 Partners is to be believed, we may even be struggling to pay the gas and electric bills.
So who is currently Potter-ing about?
It is always asked: So who do you bring in if you sack the manager? Graham Potter seems a popular choice. The former Chelsea boss worked wonders with Brighton & Hove Albion and his style of football is certainly more entertaining than that of Dyche’s.
But this is also the man who was another failure in West London. Much like Everton, Chelsea are a team with a number of players who have played under a number of coaches with different ideas, systems and preferences.
They are though, on the whole, much better players.
Looking at the current crop of Everton’s playing personnel, Potter may well be a new coat of paint that brightens up the building, but how many would be able to adapt into his preferred system?
Frank Lampard wanted possession football, and he failed at both Everton and Chelsea.
What the Goodison faithful are left with is a collective group of individuals cobbled together by several managers dating back to the days of David Moyes. A group who has talent, no doubt, but one devoid of confidence, initiative, togetherness, and leadership.
And all of this has been overseen, since 2016, by owner Farhad Moshiri. A man with little to no footballing knowledge who has employed a scattergun approach to recruitment and finance which has seen individuals appointed to Director of Football, before being paired with managers who don’t work well with those in that position.
Rafa Benitez, anyone!
In short, Everton Football Club and its fans are paying the price for a directionless, rudderless approach to almost everything. An approach that has seen us fall foul to financial fair play, thus hamstringing player acquisitions the side so desperately required. And still do.
But we won’t forget who brought the British-Iranian businessman through the Goodison doors. The man who, by his own admission, is the best man to sell the club.
Stupidly, I thought that when ‘Good Times’ Bill was out for the ‘right’ billionaire, he was referring to it being right for Everton rather than himself. Silly me!
Going slightly off my initial point at the start, whoever is in the Goodison hotseat must contend with a poor group of players and an even poorer boardroom. The latter impacts the task of improving the former, which invariably leaves the Goodison faithful crossing everything they have and preparing for more last day drama.
If we are even that lucky come May of next year!
With that in mind, is anyone better than Dyche at handling that situation that the club can realistically obtain?
I’d say no.