As someone who started supporting Everton during the early 1990s, I didn’t get to see the Kevin Brock back-pass in 1984 that has gone down in Evertonian mythology. I did however witness the way a small step can turn things around for an Everton manager well and truly under the cosh.

At the turn of the year in the 2005-06 season, David Moyes’s Everton side was in the relegation zone, having produced a horrendous first half of the season, culminating in a Christmas period where they lost every match – including a home derby defeat and two 0-4 collapses against Sam Allardyce’s detestable Bolton team and Aston Villa.

During that time, the games seemed to be never ending and didn’t exactly have me brimming with festive spirit. I can vividly recall the dire Hogmanay game against Sunderland and how despairing I felt until the (very) late Tim Cahill winner that turned out to be a pivotal moment – both in the short and longer term – for Everton under Moyes.

Will the Romelu Lukaku equaliser in the first cup game against West Ham be that moment for this season and Roberto Martinez?

Since that game, there have been clear signs that Everton are at least regaining some of the fighting spirit that they are known for, but which has seemed totally absent from their performances this season. We aren’t putting in consistent displays yet, but that is still an improvement on the consistently awful ones we produced throughout most of the first half of the season. My guess would be that the much-discussed meeting between Martinez and the players over the approach to games cleared the air. Moyes admitted he had made mistakes due to stubbornness and inflexibility during his early years at the club and tried to learn from them – hopefully the same will prove to be true of Martinez.

It seems strange to talk in terms of turning the corner when we’ve just gone out of the cup, but it’s about performances as well, and a draw at home to Man City followed by an unlucky exit in a gripping FA Cup replay at least offer grounds for cautious encouragement. The fact is, just a couple of weeks ago, we would not have fought back in either of those games – least of all with ten men on the pitch.

After the tricky but winnable home and away games against West Brom and Crystal Palace, we should have a much clearer idea of what the rest of this season is liable to be like. It all feels pretty fragile right now, and will do until we start winning again, but that’s better than the way it felt two weeks ago.

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Reader Comments (15)

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Robin Cannon
1 Posted 15/01/2015 at 05:36:17
The West Brom game is a huge deal. We've shown a lot more passion, togetherness and better performances for the past three games. The question is, can we take a "heroic" defeat and turn it into a catalyst for success?
Kunal Desai
2 Posted 15/01/2015 at 06:43:29
The next two games will tell us a great deal. WBA at home is a must 3 points. New manager or not if we fail to win this and fail to beat Palace we are deep in the shit. Looming on the horizon thereaftet is the RS and Chelsea which I don't see much change out of those two games either. It's not unrealistic to think bottom 3 by mid Feb. 4 points minimum from the next two. Nothing less will do.
Mike Green
3 Posted 15/01/2015 at 07:09:44
Martinez must be rueing that we meet both WBA and Palace during new manager honeymoon periods but if we lose these, then get beat at home by Liverpool we are well in the mire as you wouldn't expect us to get much change out of Chelsea.

For me Martinez has to target 7 points out of the next 4 games. The derby game is massive for both valuable points and morale. Draws will not do in the next three games.

Adam Luszniak
4 Posted 15/01/2015 at 07:51:11
If we can put in a performance like we did against West Ham like we did in the cup, we will beat our next two opponents. Most important for me is to field an unchanged team, West Ham was the first time Martinez has done that this year which is ridiculous. I'm a big fan of Martinez but I do think this is one of his failing this season, albeit perhaps one that is slightly mitigated by injury.

It's all about momentum. If we beat these two teams, we have a chance of putting in a performance against the RS and Chelsea. Liverpool's defence is shakey, and Spurs showed that Chelsea are not infallible.

Adam Luszniak
5 Posted 15/01/2015 at 07:56:52
sorry meant this season not this year.
David Hallwood
6 Posted 15/01/2015 at 11:32:37
Clean sheet, clean sheet, just gimme a clean sheet. In addition we're over reliant on one or two players to score goals. So for me I'd jump for joy if the next four games were 1-0, 1-0, 0-0, & 0-0.

Then you could claim that the corner had been turned.

Brian Harrison
7 Posted 15/01/2015 at 12:04:29
There is no doubt that the last couple of games we have seen better performances from the team, lets hope the better performances now translate into points.

Since the players requested a change in style the football has been better, and more importantly the players look happier and more confident since the changes.

The question is: How does a manager committed to his preferred style suddenly adopt a new philosophy? So what happens now at Finch Farm – who decides how the changes will be implemented? Does he now encourage players to play it forward quicker or will he still want possession to be the main criteria as in the past?

I personally can't see how someone like RM can change his style to accommodate what the players want. He has played this possession football with every club he has managed – so now we are to believe that he will change his style? I can't see it.

Paul Kelly
8 Posted 15/01/2015 at 15:35:35
The only thing thatÂ’s turning is my stomach at the thought of relegation.

DonÂ’t think weÂ’ve turned a corner yet, far from it, but the last two performances should give us much needed confidence regardless of results. Only wins in our next two games should save Bob from the axe.

Paul Hewitt
9 Posted 15/01/2015 at 22:38:45
Lose Monday and sorry he has to go.

No more "he needs more time"... time is one thing we don't have.

Alan Bodell
10 Posted 16/01/2015 at 14:53:11
I think with the renewed effort the lads are putting in (about fucking time) that we should beat WBA (Victor Anichebe – how did we get ٤M for him ?) but both them and Palace will fancy their chances so itÂ’s down to bravery, even this early in the run out of the season.

We surely canÂ’t win the Europa but we should get past the Swiss Young Boys so more wonga in the pot for a clear out and a rebuild for next season will be very nice.

John Keating
11 Posted 16/01/2015 at 15:59:29
It could start turning if Martinez does not return to type and maintains the progression we have witnessed since the players had words.
One game at a time - one Cup Final at a time !
At least 4 points in the next two games at a minimum if not, taxi for Roberto !
Winston Williamson
12 Posted 16/01/2015 at 16:06:44
I think we’ll beat West Brom (2v1) and Palace (2v3). The momentum will take us to beat Liverpool (3v2) and then a brave point at Chelsea (1v1) optimistic as I feel (atm), a clean sheet is a few steps too far for Roberto.

To be honest though, I cannot believe we are even contemplating relegation. I thought those days were long gone. For this alone I want Roberto gone. Relegation is a word we should never have to contemplate again...ever.

Harold Matthews
13 Posted 16/01/2015 at 16:34:43
Winston. Your last paragraph says it all.
Mark Tanton
15 Posted 16/01/2015 at 21:15:50
My prediction is:

West Brom: 1-1 we score late and they score straight after to much restlessness and booing.

Palace: 3-1 Pardew revival continues.

Liverpool 0-2 Kenwright caught looking very gloomy on big screen and pulls the trigger on Sunday morning.

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