Everton hope international break can revive faltering season
The international break is usually a time of frustration for club football fans.
October 7th, 2014
Not only do they have to endure a fortnight without seeing their team in action, but also put up with the tedium of international matches – all while crossing their fingers in the hope none of their key players return back injured.
Most Evertonians, however, are glad of the break as it gives the squad and management time to take stock after a difficult opening to the season.
The Toffees find themselves fourth from bottom in the Premier League with just one win from their opening seven games, and have already been dumped out of the Capital One Cup by Swansea.
The Europa League has been a rare bright spot, with Roberto Martinez’s men taking four points from their opening two matches to sit top of Group H, but even that can’t hide the general feeling of disappointment at the opening few weeks of the campaign.
It is difficult to pinpoint one reason behind Everton’s struggles, instead a combination of factors – minor when taken in isolation – have combined to pose significant problems for Roberto Martinez.
Injuries have played their part, with Ross Barkley’s knee injury on the eve of the new season starting a trend that has seen one key player after another pick up some sort of knock or niggle.
John Stones twisted his ankle on Sunday to become the latest player to join a casualty list that already contains Barkley, Kevin Mirallas, James McCarthy and Seamus Coleman.
Match fitness has definitely been an issue too; leads were thrown away late on against Leicester and Arsenal thanks to tired minds and even wearier legs, suggesting the players were not yet match fit and ready for the season.
Individual errors have also crept into Everton’s game, the form of the usually reliable Tim Howard, Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin in particular disintegrating in front of our eyes, resulting in Everton having the league’s most porous defence so far.
Key players off the field injured and the remainder playing out of form is a bad combination, while poor fortune and a challenging fixture list merely adds to the uneasy concoction.
Four of last season’s top seven lurked in Everton’s opening seven games, with the Blues unlucky in defeat at Man Utd, taking a point each from Arsenal and Liverpool and losing to runaway leaders Chelsea.
They opened the campaign with a draw at Leicester and beat West Brom, leaving the 3-2 home defeat to Crystal Palace as the team’s only inexplicable result.
When broken down like that it certainly appears talk of a crisis is wildly premature so there is certainly no need to panic.
A kinder fixture list awaits Everton later this month, so if they can get some of their injured players back fit and those already on the field can rediscover their form, there is no reason why the Toffees cannot kick-start their spluttering season into life, making this international break well worth the wait.