Should Everton defeat Leicester City in their next home league fixture on April 9, it will mean they have won seven games in succession at Goodison Park and no Everton team has done that since Dixie Dean’s era, back in 1932.
In beating Hull City on Saturday, Everton initially moved above Manchester United and within five points of the Champions League positions. But before Everton start thinking about records being broken, before they start thinking about finishing in the top four, indeed, there is the Merseyside derby to deal with.
Everton have been here before: facing Liverpool in the form of their lives, only to fall flat against their greatest rivals. Liverpool at Anfield is followed by Manchester United at Old Trafford. So it is fair to say a lot more will be known about Everton by the time they host Leicester.
Listen to Ronald Koeman and you realise why he is not getting carried away. He was pleased with the reception offered to Romelu Lukaku, who announced last week that he will not be signing a new Everton contract, and yet he reminded everyone that for Everton to become a contender for trophies, individuals like Lukaku must be retained.
“Everybody knows he is a professional and he will do everything for the club until his contract is ended and nobody knows what will happen in the future,” Koeman said. “We like to keep our best players because we need them to make the next step.”
Everton will probably go to Anfield – and maybe to Old Trafford – without Morgan Schneiderlin in their midfield due to a calf injury that led to his early withdrawal against Hull. He has been excellent since signing from United in January, so good in fact, you begin to question why United allowed a player in his peak years to leave.
Though the scoreline would suggest Everton battered Hull, it was not the case. Without Schneiderlin, Everton’s team did not seem as balanced and as Koeman pointed out afterwards, it contributed towards several of his players “running too much,” which meant they were chasing the ball and not in control of what was happening.
After Dominic Calvert-Lewin had given Everton the lead, Hull were pushing for an equaliser when Tom Huddlestone was sent off with 17 minutes to go and, with the extra space, Everton’s victory became emphatic: Enner Valencia scored within 90 seconds of his introduction and then Lukaku added another two.
Koeman was asked whether Everton were top-four candidates. He was not happy with Everton’s performance so perhaps this was still playing on his mind.
“As always it depends on yourself,” he said. “I think we did the first step to win the two home games and we know our schedule. We have the opportunity now to come closer to the teams above us but we play Liverpool away and Man United away but still we have the chance to make the next step and be closer to the teams above in the table.”
Marco Silva, the Hull manager, confirmed that he will look at video evidence before deciding whether to appeal Huddlestone’s dismissal for a tackle on Idrissa Gueye.
He was right to claim Hull had “competed for 70 minutes against a very good team and controlled some moments of the game.” But when you end up losing 4-0 and you are in the relegation zone and time is running out, it is difficult to see how Hull’s players will take “confidence” over smaller details.