Sam Allardyce’s back-to-basics plan has lost its way at Everton and the manager has urged the players to refocus to avoid a slide back into relegation trouble.
The 1-1 draw with second-bottom West Brom at Goodison Park, marred by James McCarthy’s horrific double fracture of his right leg, saw the Toffees claim their first point since Boxing Day but it extended their winless run to six matches in all competitions.
Allardyce’s early success in taking 12 points from his first six league matches in a month from late November already seems a long time ago and Everton have now gone five games without a clean sheet.
Fans who were sceptical about his appointment voiced their frustration at the end of each half and the Everton boss could not disagree with them.
“That has stopped the run of defeats but it wasn’t very pretty,” he said.
“For me it was very disappointing – as it was for all and the fans showed their disapproval at the end.
“The boo at the end was well deserved by everyone – and the boo at half-time.
“The performance was well under par from what we expect but that is for us to speak to the players about and for the players to take more responsibility on.
“The first (West Brom’s) goal I think an under-11 team could have scored it against us it was that poor.
“We’ve lost the focus of the basics of how you play in and out of possession and I think we were a little fearful of ourselves.”
The goal in question came after just seven minutes when Grzegorz Krychowiak’s outside-of-the-foot ball over the top sent Jay Rodriguez clear to score his third in five appearances.
However, McCarthy’s terrible second-half injury – purely accidental after Salomon Rondon kicked his leg as the midfielder nicked the ball off him in the act of shooting – shocked everyone inside Goodison.
Oumar Niasse scored the fastest goal by a Premier League substitute this season, 56 seconds after coming on, but there was still chance for Rondon to win it late into seven minutes of stoppage time when his long-range shot cannoned back off the crossbar.
Baggies manager Alan Pardew praised the Venezuelan, who was in tears for several minutes after witnessing McCarthy’s injury close up.
“Rondon was terrific in everything he did and it was a shame about that incident because that affected Salomon at lot,” he said.
“We were discussing on the sideline whether he would be able to continue as he was really distraught but we managed to claw him back.
“Once he got his head right he went back to how he had played.
“Being a striker is about confidence and in our two strikers (Rondon and Rodriguez) you saw confidence turning as they were a handful for Everton.”
Stay updated with the latest news, gossip and football stories by following us @Football_P