Saturday’s defeat at Goodison Park to Luton Town was truly one of the lowest points Everton FC have reached in all their recent troubles.
That is saying an awful lot when you consider how many disasters this Blues team has experienced over the last three or four seasons in particular.
But, despite so many other examples of this side’s almost infinite capacity to find a way to lose football matches they could and should win, this weekend’s loss was arguably the worst Everton supporters have witnessed.
It came after four defeats in their first five games (including three consecutive at home without even scoring a single goal) the worst start to a top flight campaign in the club’s history, which had put the team right in a hole straight away.
Scoring chances had been gratutously missed and the performances at Goodison had got steadily more tepid and lacklustre.
However, the Toffees had it seemed finally found some form with two away wins in a row at Brentford and Aston Villa in which they had scored five goals and played some decent attacking football at last.
We should have known better than to expect the Blues would sustain such positive performances when they returned to the Grand Old Lady on Saturday afternoon. It was such a deflating day.
So many times they have flattered to deceive and then produced a specially woeful and uniquely inept effort at home losing to a weak and struggling side. And so it was again against Luton.
I have written that manager Sean Dyche’s tactics and approach are becoming a major problem undermining any fleeting gains made on the pitch.
He had tried a much more adventurous and attacking system at Villa and it worked well, although in truth the home team might not have been as determined to win as Everton were.
Despite that positive momentum, Dyche reverted back again to his 4-5-1 formation on Saturday starving his lone striker of service and cluttering his midfield with too many defensive players past their best, so conceding the tactical initiative to the opposition.
But, I think there is more to this problem. There seems to be an almost psychological element to these defeats, one that keeps recurring regardless of the endless succession of new managers coming and going or players arriving.
There have been so many of these sorts of losses over the years. Norwich City, Watford, Southampton, Wolves (both this season and last) and now Luton.
The team appears to be trapped in a sort of mental torpor after so many bad defeats and upheaval both on and off ther pitch that constantly resurfaces and undermines any tentative signs of progress, especially now at the Grand Old Lady.
Almost as if there is a script that is written in stone.
The Toffees have only won two games at Goodison since February; one nil wins over Brentford and Bournemouth, and haven’t scored more than a solitary goal there since a 3-0 victory over Crystal Palace almost exactly a year ago.
It is a truly pitiful record for a home team at one of English football’s great grounds and a place that used to be such a fortress for the Blues.
How is this to be tackled and resolved?
I don’t have an exact answer but perhaps the primary task confronting Dyche, or any future manager if he is removed at some point in the near future, is to find a way to overcome this issue.
The Everton boss has intimated at something similar when he revealed his own perplexed response to the defeat to Luton.
He needs to act thoough and sort this out or it will cost him his job. And, setting up his team to play in a negative and overly cautious way at home is massively reinforcing the issue.
In the end maybe unlocking the psychology or mentality of this more than tactics or even individual players is the key to reviving this club’s fortunes before it is too late.