Everton were battling it out with Liverpool for a place in the top four this time last year. Having amassed 27 points in their opening 14 games, the Toffees were level on points with their Merseyside rivals and the curse of the poor start, which had dogged them under former boss David Moyes, seemed to be a thing of the past. Life under Roberto Martinez was going very well indeed.
Letting Points Slip
Twelve months on, having taken an early lead in each of their last two games but having been unable to hold out for the win, Everton are sat down in 11th place. Sunday’s defeat at Tottenham Hotspur was no great surprise. Mauricio Pochettino has put together a capable and willing side and Everton were always going to find it tough at White Hart Lane.
But Wednesday night’s performance will be a real cause of concern for the Spaniard. Very few experts in the press or the likes of Paddy Power gave Hull City a hope of coming away from Goodison Park with anything. But Sone Aluko’s second-half strike was enough to secure a vital point in a 1-1 draw.
Everton Must Focus
With the busy Christmas period to come, Everton must re-focus. If they continue to drop points to the likes of Hull, then they will be relying on a Europa League or FA Cup win to have any chance of European football next season. Having re-established themselves as a European force, Everton can’t afford not to be in the picture again next season.
What was clear in both the Spurs and the Hull games was that Everton will create chances and are comfortable in possession. What they must focus on is finding the back of the net. With the attacking weapons at Martinez’s disposal, goals should be of little concern but the Everton boss has acknowledged a busy winter schedule already appears to be hampering his side’s performances.
However, if things continue in the way they have over the last few weeks, the manager may have to look at changing his approach. If Martinez doesn’t adapt, Everton may have to settle for a return to mid-table mediocrity come May. Everton’s next fixture is about as tough as it gets; Manchester City away on Saturday.