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HomeSport'A dark day for Everton - and now the pressure is on'

‘A dark day for Everton – and now the pressure is on’


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It was worrying to see exactly how bad Everton were at some of the basics in their 4-0 defeat at Aston Villa on Sunday.Afterwards, when Toffees manager Sean Dyche talked about how his team had lacked sharpness, I felt he was maybe questioning their mental toughness, but everything about their performance appeared incredibly naive.Even when Villa were three goals up and the game was gone, I still wanted to see the Everton players fight to keep the scoreline down, but it seemed to me that message was not getting through.I was left wondering where their leaders were – I could not believe this was the same group of players that went to Brighton at the end of last season and played magnificently to win 5-1.Against the Seagulls, Everton played a little bit deeper but they were compact and solid and when they got the ball they attacked with real energy and exploded forward. Their reward was a spectacular result that went a long way to keeping them in the Premier League.Eight of the players who started that game began this one too, but this time it was far too easy to play through them. Again, they got what they deserved – but this time it was a painful defeat.Dyche must find the answers againEverton are one of only three top-flight teams to have played two games this season and lost both of them – and the Toffees are the only team yet to score after playing twiceIt already feels like it is going to be a very long season for Everton, who are bottom of the table without a goal or a point from their first two games.They are under pressure already, and that will only increase if they don’t beat another struggling side, Wolves, at Goodison Park next weekend.It is down to Dyche to find a way of doing that, just as he did when he came in and kept Everton up.He managed that despite only winning five of the 18 league games when he was in charge, so he already knows the importance of dealing with disappointment and focusing on the next test – which is something the whole team have to do this week.This is basically the same Everton side that struggled last year, so they are bound to struggle again – but we also know they are capable of playing like they did in that Brighton game, and now they need to show it.’This wasn’t what you expect from a Dyche team’After a reasonable start against Villa, where I actually thought they did OK for the first 15 minutes, Everton began to give far too much space away in midfield.Villa were very clever in the way they got John McGinn and Moussa Diaby into pockets in front of the Toffees defence, but Dyche’s side never really seemed to work out a way to stop them and, in the end, they just couldn’t cope.When Newcastle played Villa last week, the Magpies really got about them and pressed them high. Even if Everton did not have the players to pull off the same gameplan, their aim had to be to make things hard for Villa – but they never got close to doing that.I was really surprised to see the ball keep on coming into the Everton box so often and there was some very poor marking at times, which is really not what you expect from a team managed by Dyche.Everton were beaten very cheaply after making some awful defensive errors in what was probably the worst performance we have seen from them since Dyche took charge at the end of January.It was a particularly dark day for them when you think they also lost two key players, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Alex Iwobi, to injury too.’Calvert-Lewin is immensely unlucky to get hurt’Calvert-Lewin had to come off in the first half after injuring his cheek in a collision with Villa keeper Emiliano Martinez.He is criticised by Everton fans because of his injury record but I think he is an excellent player who was immensely unlucky to get hurt.Calvert-Lewis was very brave, almost too brave really, to attack the ball in the box the way he did and I think anyone who questions him should remember that – and the fact he didn’t want to come off afterwards.He played on despite having a swelling like you would see in a comic strip and eventually it was clear he could not continue.Most of the time players get injuries that are not visible, but you could certainly see this one. He tried everything to play on, but he should not really have been allowed to stay on for as long as he did.Without him, Everton lacked a focal point in their attack although I did think Arnaut Danjuma ran the channels well when he came on. I suppose if you an Everton fan you are scratching around for positives right now – there are not many of them admittedly, but Danjuma is one.Dyche clearly needs reinforcements, however, and he was already trying to strengthen his attack before the Villa game.He is in talks with Southampton striker Che Adams and is reportedly trying to sign Leeds United forward Wilfried Gnonto too. Both of those players are in the Championship but that is where Everton are shopping right now, because they do not have much money to spend. They certainly cannot go out and buy expensive players to try to turn things around, so they are going to have to rely on hard work again to make that happen.Martin Keown was speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.

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