Everton sunk to arguably their worst performance and result of the season against lowly Sheffield United at Goodison Park.
The match itself needs little description. The hosts were timid and clueless. The visitors were sharp and ambitious. Those dynamics saw The Blades take an early lead, with former Everton trialist and Sheffield United debutant Daniel Jebbison tapping home from close range, and see out a comfortable, convincing victory.
It happened against Newcastle. It happened against Fulham. It happened against Burnley. It happened against Aston Villa. It happened again.
What requires further analysis is where it has gone so devastatingly wrong for Everton in the second half of the season. The bottom line is, despite wins at Anfield, Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester City, the players are simply not good enough. Since the arrival of Farhad Moshiri in January 2016, The Toffees have spent millions, both in fees and contracts, on players who do not have the mentality or the ability to push the club above mid-table mediocrity.
If Gylfi Sigurdsson cannot cut it at Spurs, why should he be deemed good enough to cut it at Everton? If André Gomes could not make it at Barcelona, why do Everton’s hierarchy have faith he can do it for them? This list could go on and on. After signing a new contract in recent weeks, director of football Marcel Brands must change the model of recruitment. Look for young, hungry players exceling in the leagues below (e.g. Ben Godfrey) rather than mercenaries who have impressive highlight reels but cannot deliver when it really counts. It’s not sustainable and will catch Everton out, both on and off the pitch.
In addition, the complacency and inaction in the boardroom must be uprooted. What Everton do in the community is absolutely superb but it should not be what defines the football club, nor be at the forefront of those in office’s campaigns or propaganda. They have to be more proactive in trying to take Everton away from the ‘family’ image, as this has welcomed too many passengers into the changing room, too many average ex-Evertonians into ambassadorial and coaching positions and, especially this season, too many opposition teams to three easy points.
I have friends who support football clubs in lower leagues or who have experienced greater hardship in recent times who criticise me for moaning about Everton’s fortunes. But when the one thing that means more to you than anything else in your life continues to crush you, despite changes upon changes throughout those twenty two years, you cannot help but be sympathetic rather than spiteful.
The broken record keeps on spinning. It’s about time that changed.
Full Time: Everton 0-1 Sheffield United