Optimism seems to be draining away from Everton fans following this weekend’s sour-tasting defeat in the Merseyside derby, which saw the Toffees tumble into the bottom three with just six games left to play this season.
Few readers may remember the last time Everton were in such a precarious position. In 1994, the blues escaped on the last day of the season after coming back from 2-0 down to beat Wimbledon 3-2. The winner came on 81 minutes when Graham Stuart sneaked a shot past Hans Segers from the edge of the box.
Sheffield United were relegated courtesy of a late Brian Stein goal for Chelsea, which saw the blades go down 3-2. It was the most dramatic finish to a season that I can remember and not one that Everton fans will want repeated on May 22nd when they travel to Arsenal. The Gunners may have the added incentive of Champions League qualification to play for and I dread to think of the impact that this could have on an already difficult away day.
But hope, Alexander Pope once wrote, springs eternal. To survive, Everton may need another nine points and with home matches against Brentford and Palace, immediately following a winnable away contest at Watford, surely there is some room for optimism?
The general consensus among the Everton fans, who I have been in conversation with on social media, is that decisions haven’t been going in their favour. Alan Baillie, raged on social media, “Decisions go against us routinely, doubly bad when we’re playing Sky’s beloved LFC. Mane would have to have snapped off Holgate’s head to get a red card.” The feeling of injustice is palpable. Everton applied themselves well at Anfield and were unlucky not to come away with something.
Most are getting behind Frank Lampard but the toffees may need their luck to change, if they are to survive. Interviewed this morning on Talk Sport, Sam Allardyce explained the importance that confidence plays in a relegation battle. Lampard will hope that he can keep spirits high and that fear does not impact on his players’ decision making.
Everton fans will be hoping that Leeds United get hauled back into the mix. Crystal Palace did them a small favour last night when they restricted Leeds to a single point at Selhurst Park. Burnley, on the other hand, seem to be coming into a rich vein of form, recording four wins and a draw in their last five matches. Watford and Aston Villa are next up for The Clarets and, based on recent results, they must fancy getting some more points on the board.
As someone who follows a team that is no stranger to relegation scraps, I have learned that you can’t rely on other teams to get you out of trouble. Frank Lampard will need to get a tune out of his squad over the remaining games if they are to have a chance of avoiding the unthinkable. The rest can only be left to fate.