Connect with us


Benitez feeling the pressure as Everton crumble

Everton weren’t expected to take anything from the Etihad Stadium against the reigning Premier League champions. Indeed, a 3-0 defeat to Manchester City was no disgrace for the Toffees, but the manner of their performance prompted questions about the direction that the Goodison Park club is heading under Rafael Benitez.

While Everton started their Premier League 2020/21 campaign with three wins and a draw from their opening four fixtures. As recently as October, the Toffees appeared to be on course for a top eight finish with some even suggesting that Benitez’s side could even challenge for a spot in the top six.

Since then, though, Everton’s season has fallen apart. Saturday’s away loss against Brentford was their fifth defeat in six games with the Toffees now slumped in the bottom half of the table. Not so long ago, Benitez looked to be guiding Everton through a potentially difficult season. Now, the Spaniard appears to be short on answers to the growing list of questions.

Injuries have undoubtedly been a factor in Everton’s recent poor run of form. After a good start, Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been missed as Benitez’s first-choice frontman with Abdoulaye Doucoure, Lucas Digne and Yerry Mina among others sidelined for periods of the season. Any side would be worse off for this absence of talent.

Benitez, however, was appointed for his ability to maximise talent. The 61-year-old handled difficult circumstances during his time at Newcastle United which led Everton to believe he would be the right man to guide them through a spell of austerity related to the Covid-19 pandemic and the construction of the club’s new stadium at Bramley Moore Dock.

At first, Everton’s summer transfer business suggested and their start to the season hinted at a holistic approach, even if the purse strings has been pulled tight. Demarai Gray and Andros Townsend hit the ground running with Benitez quickly forging a team that looked comfortable in its own skin.

See also  Is Julian Alvarez the next Pep Guardiola project?

Under Benitez, Everton started as a well-organised team that made good use of wingers and a physical and aerially threatening frontman. With Calvert-Lewin, Gray and Townsend all missing, though, the Toffees have been unable to maintain their shape and approach and with confidence so low there’s no guarantee that the slide will stop even when they return. They have dug a deep hole for themselves.

“We know that we have to go to January in a good position, then with players coming back it will be easier for us to compete against anyone,” Benitez said after the defeat to City. “In the meantime, we have to try to stick together, be strong and then be sure we approach the games with the confidence that we can win and get points. Then, go to January with a good position in the table.”

The busy winter period will be key for Benitez and Everton. Following their defeat to Brentford, Liverpool visit Goodison Park for the Merseyside Derby on Wednesday. This will be followed by a home match against Arsenal with fixtures against Chelsea and Leicester City before the turn of the year. Everton might slip even further down the Premier League table.

What was not so long ago a season that could have ended in European qualifying has become a campaign that is merely about staying afloat. Benitez’s first point of order must be to re-establish the shape and structure that was evident in Everton’s opening performances of the campaign. If he can’t find that, though, the Toffees might find themselves in a sticky situation.



You could earn up to £10 (or currency equivalent) in bonus funds by joining Colossus with our New Player Bonus. Click here to join the action.


Recent Posts

colossus bets

More in Sport