Everton suffered a second consecutive dreadful defeat on the South Coast as they lost 3-0 at Bournemouth this afternoon following the week’s EFL Cup defeat there.
It is the worst possible end to what has become the first half of the season and this awful performance leaves the club’s season in tatters, once again.
Thank goodness the World Cup starts in a week’s time as that at least gives long-suffering Toffees’ fans a month’s respite from all this dross.
Today’s defeat added to the Carabao Cup loss to the same opponents on Tuesday night, and it seems as though the last few weeks has undone whatever limited progress may have been made in this campaign. Perhaps now it leaves Frank Lampard’s position in considerable doubt too.
It might seem premature to be thinking of yet another managerial change, but there is little time to turn this around with the Blues’ now just one place and one point above the relegation zone and a succession of matches to be played in late December before the transfer window is upon us again.
This scenario feels a little similar to last season. Then, after a decent start under Rafa Benitez, the wheels fell off and with injuries to key players also affecting the team, results nosedived in November.
The club waited and waited hoping things would improve, but they didn’t. In fact things were getting worse with fans almost in mutiny, before eventually, inevitably, the axe fell on Benitez in January.
There are some significant differences. Most importantly, unlike Benitez, Lampard has respect for how he has handled himself and even genuine affection from some Evertonians to draw upon in these difficult times.
However, the truth is that results are ultimately everything of course in football and regardless of how much support the manager might have, this will decide how long that affection lasts and the outcome of his future.
Does today mark the turning point and the beginning of the end of his tenure?
The scenes at the end of this afternoon’s match with understandably furious fans – who have spent their hard earned money to travel all that way twice in a week and see their team thrashed – remonstrating with the players who were so poor again today, does not bode well.
Once this sort of toxic feeling sets in, it is very difficult for the situation to be turned around, as we saw last season.
I thought there was a real difference and improvement in the squad and the mentality of the players this season, but perhaps after these recent games and results, I was wrong.
It looked as though Lampard had genuinely shored up the defence in the summer with the additions of James Tarkowski and Conor Coady on free transfers and had strengthened midfield bringing in the returning Idrissa Gueye and young talents Amadou Onana and James Garner.
Of course the one area of the team that wasn’t improved adequately was the team’s attack and this has left Everton shot-shy all season and severely lacking in the necessary threat up front. Perhaps it was always going to catch up with them eventually.
Now, in the two matches at Bournemouth that defence has shipped seven goals added to the two against the Foxes and the Toffees’ have been comprehensively outplayed in all three games too.
In fact, they were also very lucky to escape with a draw at Fulham in the previous game to Leicester and have only scored one solitary goal in those four fixtures.
Even the key performers at the back, including Jordan Pickford who has generally been solid, had a poor game today and was at fault for at least one of the goals.
If the defence, which has been the basis of how the Blues’ have secured most of their points this season is no longer secure, then where does that leave the team?
Lampard’s main goal threat, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, is again out with injury and there’s no chance of improving the side’s chronically anemic attack until the January transer window.
In truth, I just don’t know how on earth this football club can overcome the seemingly endless malaise that surrounds it.
Managers and players come and go year on year but Everton just seem trapped in a perpetual groundhog day of failure and underachievement, season after season after season.
This is the consequence of so much wasted time and money and the hugely inept way the club in football terms has been run for years.
I said it last term as many did, but as we all know the board is always ultimately where the buck should stop for all this failure. These people simply aren’t up to the job and in an ideal world they would go before even the manager.
That though won’t happen of course and again Lampard will carry the can if anyone is going to lose their job.
In some ways the next month is an ideal time to de-construct this first half of the season and decide if Lampard stays or goes before the season starts up again with a rush of games and then the transfer window is upon us.
I’m not saying getting rid of him is the answer and the obvious problem is who would come in to replace him as there doesn’t seem to be an obvious candidate? And anyway, will any manager be able to get a consistent tune out of these wretched players.
There does seem on paper at least to be a potentially solid spine to the side with Pickford, Tarkowski, Coady, Gueye and Onana providing some sort of base to build on.
But, several of the players who aren’t performing, in particular Dwight McNeil and Neal Maupay who were Lampard’s choices, I assume, cost the club £35 million. So, he has to be held accountable for them at least.
Maybe it’s just impossible to turn this Titanic of a football club around and perhaps the only solution is to just wind Everton up and be done with it. It would certainly save us supporters so much angst and endlessly infuriating frustration.