Everton fell to a second consecutive Premier League defeat yesterday as the Blues’ lost 3-1 at home to Fulham after defeat at Manchester United last weekend.
These two setbacks, following a four game unbeaten run, seem to me to indicate that the bounce that the Toffees’ have seen since Sean Dyche took over as manager, is over.
Before the trip to Old Trafford, I, and I think many other Everton supporters, were beginning to hope that the recent response from the team to Dyche’s methods, training and tactics, might be sustainable.
There had been indications that the Blues’ were absorbing those changes and adapting to them successfully. In particular, the comeback from twice behind at Stamford Bridge and the draw at Goodison against Spurs’.
On both those occasions the Toffees’ had responded to adversity well, finding a way to level twice at Chelsea and then equalising and salvaging a point after behind and losing a man sent off against Tottenham.
Everton had exhibited a new-found vigour, energy and resolve to respond to setbacks positively rather than shrink or collapse in adversity as had been the case so often in the recent past.
It’s true though to recognise that we have seen this before, albeit not in quite as sustained a way, under previous managers.
At Manchester United and then again yesterday the momentum which Dyche appeared to have engineered, despite occasional setbacks, was comprehensively checked.
I personally felt that the defeat on Saturday represented a potential turning point in the battle to avoid relegation.
Dyche’s tactics and team selection contributed significantly to that reverse.
After largely succeeding with a 4-5-1 formation that was built on a five-man midfield, he has moved away from that formula in the last two fixtures.
Abdoulaye Doucoure’s red card and Amadou Onana’s absence had massively impacted his ability to continue with that approach and so he went with a 4-4-2 in both matches.
Although technically, the loss yesterday isn’t decisive, the manner of it was depressingly familiar and makes me feel very pessimistic about Everton’s chances of staying up.
Everton probably need another eleven points to be sure of Premier League football next season.
Can Dyche reivigorate this team and find a way to return to the stubborn resistence which charaterised recent games before the United trip, and secure those points?
If he can’t, then looking at the Blues’ upcoming fixtures in the context of yesterday’s defeat, it now seems a very tall order for the Toffees’ to secure enough points for survival.