Phil Jagielka has dismissed fears of a Goodison crisis – but admits Everton have to pull their socks up if they are to avoid a winter of discontent.
Only troubled West Ham United stand below David Moyes’ side in the embryonic Premier League table after four games.
Everton have already lost twice this season – the same total as in the final 24 top-flight games of the previous campaign – and were on the brink of a third before their remarkable late comeback against Manchester United earned a thrilling 3-3 draw on Saturday.
The Goodison outfit will seek their first league win of the season tomorrow when they host promoted Newcastle United.
And while keen to impress there is no panic among the Everton squad, Jagielka accepts the team will have to work hard to earn the change in luck he believes is required to kickstart their campaign and move them away from the relegation zone.
“If you have watched our games, we still can’t understand how we lost the Villa match – maybe we were just missing a little bit of luck,” said the England international.
“Against Man United we played well for spells and against Blackburn, there was nothing in it except for a couple of mistakes.
“It sounds easy for me to say, but we have literally just been a little bit unlucky.
“I don’t think there is a crisis, but at the same time, we need to address the situation that we are in.
“We don’t want to be here come November or December and be in the bottom three still. We have to start pulling our socks up and picking up results.”
Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta scored during injury time on Saturday to secure an unlikely point and avoid a worst start to a season in 16 years for Everton.
And Leighton Baines, who provided for both goals with crosses from the left wing, has revealed that comeback has lifted everyone.
“The result and the manner of the United game have done so much for us,” said the left-back. “I think this week in training would have been so different had we lost that game.
“It has done a lot for us confidence-wise and hopefully we can use that as a platform for the Newcastle game.
“I still think we need to have a bit more devilment in front of goal and be a bit sterner at the back and the results will come.”
Saturday’s late show means Everton have not lost at Goodison in the league for almost 10 months, and Baines believes Moyes’ men are becoming a feared outfit on their own turf.
“I think teams come to Goodison Park and pay us a little bit more respect now,” said Baines. “I think you even saw Man United do it last week with an extra man in their midfield.
“You get used to that now when you play at home with teams being that bit more defensive.”
Meanwhile, David Moyes and Steve Round have admitted FA charges of improper conduct.
The pair were charged over their behaviour following Everton’s 3-3 draw with Manchester United, when they confronted referee Martin Atkinson at the final whistle over the amount of injury time played.
Moyes will pay a £8,000 fine, Round has submitted a plea in mitigation.
WITH goal-scoring strikers currently not quite happening for Everton, it’s interesting to see James Vaughan being allowed to go on loan to Crystal Palace.
It’s the right move though.
The lad simply needs football, and he needs to build up the right kind of fitness by playing games – not sitting on the bench.
There is still a belief that James will come good at Everton, hence why he has been loaned out again instead of sold for a quick buck.
He can learn and improve at another club, like he has shown with that nicely taken hat-trick against Portsmouth, and come back to Goodison as an even better young player.
His progress will be worth following.
On an incident-packed evening capped by a controversial 41st‑minute sending off for the Everton goalkeeper Rachel Brown, England booked their place at next year's World Cup finals with a comfortable aggregate victory though not without some on-the-night scares in an often fractious second leg at Wohlen's tiny stadium some 35 miles from Zurich.
Brown was sent off for allegedly hair-pulling and pushing Ramona Bachmann to the floor as the striker tried to retrieve the ball after she had scored from 15 yards to halve England's two-goal lead. But TV replays clearly showed that after minimal contact on her torso, Bachmann clutched her face and threw herself to the ground. England will tomorrow appeal to Uefa to overturn the red card, which rules Brown out of the first three matches of next year's World Cup finals in Germany.
"To me it looks quite evident that she dived," said Hope Powell, the England manager. "Hopefully when we appeal they will see what we see and the decision will be reversed. It was bizarre but it had the desired effect. It's a real shame it happened – that's not the way to go about playing football – and we have to appeal."
The captain, Faye White, asked the Romanian referee at the time to explain her decision. "She told me she had sent her off for hair-pulling but that's clearly not the case," White said. "It's so obviously not a sending-off. I can't believe."
Goals by the striker Kelly Smith and the right‑winger Eniola Aluko had given Powell's team a four-goal advantage on aggregate before Bachmann's strike. The midfielder Fara Williams eased any nerves with a penalty just after the break and though the right winger Selina Zumbuhl's goal kept the home side in the game they never looked likely to wrest the tie from England's grasp.
"The girls were magnificent," Powell added. "We knew exactly what we had to do after the sending off and we went into the second half with a clear plan. The girls were so disciplined and worked their legs off. It was a bit of a roller-coaster but we were confident we'd come through if we kept our shape."
Powell's team went ahead through Smith in the 32nd minute, the striker making amends for having shot wide from a ninth penalty in an opening spell of England pressure that also saw the Boston Breakers player hit the bar and Aluko twice denied by the goalkeeper Marisa Brunner.
When Aluko slid in the second goal from Smith's 34th minute pass a clear-cut victory seemed assured. Not quite. Powell's team had to play the final 48 minutes with 10 players and though Williams successfully converted a 50th-minute penalty to stretch the aggregate lead, the Swiss pushed hard to get back into the game and did so when Zumbuhl expertly curled home a 64th minute free-kick.
The substitute Isabelle Meyer then hit the bar direct from a 79th minute corner, but England played out the closing stages with no further problems and next year in Germany will make their second successive World Cup finals appearance.
"I'm relieved," said Powell. "It's certainly been a challenging campaign. We've not played particularly well in most of the qualifiers and right now it's an odd feeling but what we've achieved will probably sink in later when we've had a glass of wine or two. Or three."
Everton manager David Moyes and his assistant Steve Round have admitted to improper conduct charges, the Football Association have confirmed.
Moyes and Round were hit with the charges for their behaviour towards referee Martin Atkinson at the full-time whistle in the Toffees' thrilling 3-3 draw with Manchester United on Saturday.
Everton had trailed 3-1 heading into injury time at Goodison Park but struck through Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta to level matters. But the Blues management team were left furious when Atkinson blew his final whistle with Phil Jagielka closing in on goal in the dying seconds, with Moyes walking on to the pitch to speak to the official.
Moyes had indicated that he would plead guilty to the charge and he has received an £8,000 fine over the incident.
Round, meanwhile, has submitted a plea in mitigation against the fine, which will be heard by a Regulatory Commission hearing on Monday.
An FA statement read: 'Everton manager David Moyes and assistant manager Steve Round have both admitted improper conduct charges.
'The charges related to Moyes' and Round's conduct towards referee Martin Atkinson on the pitch following the final whistle at Everton's match against Manchester United on 11 September.
'Moyes has accepted the £8,000 fine which is the standard sanction offered for this charge under the FA's new fast-track disciplinary procedures.
'Round has submitted a plea in mitigation with relation to the standard sanction. This will be heard by a Regulatory Commission on Monday 20 September.'