In March 2018, Sam Allardyce had to face the wrath of the travelling Everton fans following a 2-1 defeat at Burnley.
Such is the set-up at Turf Moor, with the tunnel to the dressing rooms in the far corner, that players and manager must stride past the visiting supporters. It is impossible to make a quick and quiet getaway.
For Allardyce, that afternoon marked the beginning of the end of his spell as Everton manager. His difficult relationship with the hardcore supporters ensured that.
On this occasion, Marco Silva was the manager walking the plank after Everton slipped to a 1-0 loss – their fourth consecutive defeat in the league, their worst run since January 2015. The message from irate fans was clear: what is being served up is not good enough.
Under Silva, Everton have brought in 12 first-team players, but the general direction of the team is unclear.
Vulnerable at the back, and especially from set-pieces as they showed in conceding Jeff Hendrick’s winning goal from a corner on Saturday, they are also struggling in attack, with neither Dominic Calvert-Lewin nor Moise Kean quite of the age to play the lone frontman role in the Premier League.
Having expected to be challenging for the top six, their position in the table is a worry. But Silva is channelling the spirit of his fellow Portuguese Jose Mourinho and offers fighting talk.
Ever since he arrived as an unknown quantity at Hull City, Silva has lacked neither confidence nor ambition and that is not an issue now as he tries to resolve this mini-crisis.
“I never lose my focus,” he said. “Never, never never. I never lose my desire, and I never lose what is important in my job.
“In some moments, you have to be the most calm person to change the team, so you can think and react and show your players what is the way.
“Of course, we’re not worried at the moment. I have the same confidence I had at the beginning of the season. The same confidence about our quality and what we’re doing every single day.
“We are not being clinical like we should be in some moments, and that is going against us, but I’m not worried.
“Of course, I’m not happy with the results and the position that we are in the table. But by working hard and being braver, more clinical and assertive up front to score goals, we can win the games.”
As for Burnley, it was wryly pointed out to Sean Dyche, the manager, that they had as many points (12) as after the corresponding fixture last season.
That was a 5-1 defeat by Everton on Boxing Day, which left Dyche’s team in the bottom three, and since then they have amassed 40 points from 27 games. That average of 1.48 points per game over a whole season would equate to 56.
If Burnley achieve that, it would have them challenging for a repeat of their seventh-place finish two years ago, which earned a spot in the Europa League.
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