Copy of 2022-04-06T201938Z_520831846_UP1EI461KGOIB_RTRMADP_3_SOCCER-ENGLAND-BUR-EVE-REPORT-1649336256712
Burnley's Maxwel Cornet celebrates scoring their winning goal against Everton. Image Credit: REUTERS

With 68 consecutive seasons in the top flight, not to mention 9 league titles, 5 FA Cups and a European Cup Winners’ Cup, Everton are without a doubt a cornerstone of English football.

They have been a top-tier club since 1955 – bettering the records of Liverpool, Manchester United and even Chelsea. Formed in 1878, the founder members of the English Football League were the dominant force in the 1980’s, brilliantly lead by the late Howard Kendall and boasting legendary stars such as Neville Southall, Kevin Ratcliffe, Peter Reid and Andy Gray.

But, since their heyday, they have only had 1 cup success which came in 1995. Worryingly, they also have had several close calls with relegation but had players with character whom they were able to count on to beat the drop. The likes of Dave Watson and Barry Horne were key to their last day survival back in season 1993-94 when they came back from 2-0 down to beat Wimbledon 3-2. Horne scored the goal of the season in that tense encounter and they survived the drop again in 1997-98 in their final match.

Flaky defense

Now, they are facing another battle to beat the drop but lack players with a never-say-die attitude and following last night’s 3-2 defeat against Burnley, they find themselves just 1 point above the bottom three. Burnley had failed to hit the back of the net in their last 4 games and had only scored 8 in the past 4 months — but they still managed to breach Everton’s flaky defense 3 times.

Next up on Saturday is a visit from Manchester United whilst at the same time, Burnley, who are just 1 place below the Blues, face rock-bottom Norwich City. Sean Dyche’s men will certainly fancy their chances against the Canaries and will be boosted by their comeback win over Frank Lampard’s brittle side. With Ronaldo and co looking to get back in the Champions League race, it will be a tough afternoon for Everton and nothing but another defeat looks to be on the cards. And if Burnely win they will leapfrog Everton with both sides left with 8 games to save themselves.

Everton’s run-in could not be worse. They have to play Leicester twice, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal. Even the most confident Evertonian would say not even a single point is possible from that list of fixtures. And the games against Watford, Brentford and Crystal Palace will not be easy either. The Toffees have won just 3 points from their last available 21 and have the look and feel of a team going down. The confidence has been draining away not only from the players but from Lampard too who only took over as coach in January.

Wrong man

The Chelsea legend was the wrong choice and I feel the job, when Rafa Benitez was sacked, ought to have gone to Duncan Ferguson. The club’s former fearless forward is exactly the personality the team needs to fight this battle, his no-nonsense, bullish character and touchline antics would get the Blues faithful pumped and the players would react. Right now, they are going down like a lead balloon. Lampard had a great career winning all manner of titles but he has never been involved in a relegation scrap. It is a totally different type of pressure and so far he has shown he doesn’t know how to handle it.

Everton would be the Premier League’s biggest ever casualty if they were to lose their top-flight status for the first time since 1951. They sure look to be going down having now lost 10 of their last 12 matches whilst their last 23 have seen them lose 17 and win just 3. That is relegation form and the current crop are going to have to dig deeper than ever if they are to miraculously survive.