They pride themselves on being a club of firsts at Everton.
Founder members of the Football League in 1888, same with the Premier League 104 years later. The first club to be presented with the League Championship trophy too.
On Saturday, as an icy winter wind whipped around Goodison Park, English football’s first purpose-built stadium, there were two unwelcome additions to the list. The first time Everton’s board had been told not to attend the ground for their own safety and the first time the team had lost four home games in a row since 1958.
If there was shock on Boxing Day with that late sucker-punch by Wolves, then fury as Brighton rampaged there on January 3, it was an alarming mix of disgust, despondency and fear that settled upon the famous old ground on Saturday when rock-bottom Southampton became the latest team to twist the knife.
Everton slipped a place down to 19th, now level with the south-coast club and West Ham on points. Yet even with half the season still remaining, the valid fear is this could be the start of their Premier League farewell.
Opposition manager Nathan Jones afterwards compared the contest to a Championship game with its physical nature. What will cause sleepless nights on the blue half of Merseyside is there’s every chance next season could be played in the second tier.
The grim statistics pile up at pace. That’s 10 defeats in all competitions for Everton from their last 13 games. Just three victories after 19 league fixtures this season — the joint-fewest in their history.
Their desultory 15-point tally is, when adjusted to the modern three points for a win, also their joint-lowest ever. It was only matched the last time they were relegated in 1951.
Add to the omens a fanbase increasingly beset by rage and a toxicity that threatens to stub out the defiance and spirit which helped the club beat the drop last term and little sign that Frank Lampard has the funds to bring in new players to help. Owner Farhad Moshiri offered the manager some job security in a rare interview last week, but even that will not stop the question marks stacking up against Lampard’s suitability; with the magic touch and clarity of tactical approach that worked last season seeping away in the mire.
How he must wish for a burst of momentum and confidence. Even credible displays against Manchester City and United have failed to provide any, and so a team that had five days less rest than Everton before this vital fixture overcame tired legs and rode the momentum of their triumph against City in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday (a competition Everton exited disastrously when Lampard fielded an over-rotated side against Bournemouth) to win on Merseyside.
The unlikely return of Alex Iwobi to the starting line-up despite sustaining what appeared to be a serious ankle injury at Old Trafford should have offered an uplift. So should the excellent Amadou Onana header that gave Everton the lead.
But when James Ward-Prowse levelled so…
Read More: Everton: A broken football club 2023-01-15 15:09:52