How can Everton go forward after catastrophic Watford defeat

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 23: Everton manager Rafael Benítez during the Premier League match between Everton and Watford at Goodison Park on October 23, 2021 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 23: Everton manager Rafael Benítez during the Premier League match between Everton and Watford at Goodison Park on October 23, 2021 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images) /

As Everton fans still try to come to terms with that appalling 5-2 defeat to Watford on Saturday, the question is how can this club go forward after such a loss?

In my view every one of those fans who attended Saturday’s game should get a full refund from Everton of the hard-earned money they spent to watch that disgraceful display.

I thought that I might feel more sanguin after the weekend, but it’s still hard to believe that what happened at Goodison Park on Saturday was real.

There was hope that perhaps finally a manager with an obssesive attention to detail who is a renowed coach of players and a shrewd tatician could get the most out of this group of players. But, if Saturday is anything to go by the answer ultimately might still be no.

And to compound matters Liverpool then go and score five again themselves dismantalling Manchester United at Old Trafford to emphasis the enormous chasm between the two Merseyside teams. The upcoming derby fills me with even more trepedation than usual.

So, where does this football club go from here? The return of first-choice players Yerry Mina, Abdoulaye Doucoure, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison will surely help, but there are deep-seated problems here that another decent start have it appears papered over, just as it did last season. We thought that maybe these problems were behind us, but apparently not.

Of course, we’ve seen other hugely embarrasing and dreadful home results in recent years with Arsenal in particular handing out some severe beatings at the Grand Old Lady and Chelsea and even Spurs both scoring six in recent seasons.

One of those Arsenal losses was a five goal home defeat that ultimately cost Ronald Koeman his job almost exactly four years ago.

But while the Gunners and Chelsea had some excellent teams who were competing for honours and the Champions League places and played the Toffees off the park, with all due respect that was Watford at the weekend not a top four team?!

Before the game on Saturday the Hornets had won one of their last seven matches and that was against bottom club Norwich. And in that time they had only scored five goals. They matched that tally in one game against the hapless Blues. Again, only Everton could be so accomodating.

It was the manner of Saturday’s collapse and the abject, almost comically incompetent and gutless efforts of some the players in royal blue that was so depressing.

If you get totally outplayed and outclassed by an obviously superior team in blistering form then maybe you can put it aside and move on. But to lose in such a manner to a team struggling for confidence and unsure where their next win is coming from, is utterly absurd.

Everton players were literally falling over in a keystone cops style defending display and the Toffees concede so many goals from set-pieces it’s embarrasing.

It was a return to all the worst aspects of this team that we’ve seen too many times in the recent past. It raises alot of questions again for the board, Director of Football Marcel Brands and most of all those players.

The immediate collapse in confidence and a total unwillingness to fight and find a way to stay in a game when your not playing well and are under pressure, are characteristics of this squad of players we’ve witnessed time and time again. How can that be turned around when it seems that there’s no money in the kitty to strengthen now?

Manager Rafa Benitez has had, up until this past weekend anyway, a good start to his tenure as manager at Goodison Park.

He brought in two attacking players in Andros Townsend and Demarai Gray who have been excellent and the side have been creating plenty of chances while Benitez’s tactical shifts have unleashed Doucoure to contribute so much more in attack.

However, as well as making the wrong calls in terms of substitutions against Watford, he also has to take some responsibility for the failure to defend set-pieces.

Just as in the last campaign when the Toffees under Carlo Ancelotti started well and then fell away after a raft of injuries, even while the team were scoring plenty of goals this season they were also conceding a fair few as well.

Benitez has always believed in a zonal marking system as did one of his predeccessors Marco Silva. But the evidence from Silva’s time and now seems to be this doesn’t suit the players at his disposal. It was also an approach Benitez used at Liverpool and it got them into trouble at times too.

Generally, the Blues boss has gone back to basics at Everton and I think he might have to recognise that the simpler the better as far as defending goes, particularly from set plays. Hopefully the return of Mina will help here.

Thinking about the defenders the decline in form and confidence of Ben Godfrey is another huge worry. Last summer’s deadline day signing was superb for most of last season when he came into the team especially as he was asked to play out of position at left-back for most of that time.

He was back at his preferred position in the heart of defence on Saturday but he had a very poor game against Watford.

Whether it’s his recent absence for illness or discomfort in Benitez’s defensive system I don’t know but the Blues can’t afford him to be in such bad form along with the erratic Michael Keane and an injury-prone Yerry Mina. Might it be time to revert to that defence used last season?

So, an awful lot of very difficult questions for Benitez to deal with this week as he tries to get past this result and prepare for a hugely challenging and important away trip to Molineux.

Lose that game and I reckon all bets are off for him surviving in the job for much longer simply because I imagine the pressure on him will build so quickly. And it’s then hard to see where this club goes from there.

What do you think can Everton turn it around and win at Wolves?