David Moyes has urged fans to stay positive as Everton enter what he feels could be a defining fortnight in their season.
The Blues face an FA Cup fifth round replay against Oldham on Tuesday evening (kick off 7.45pm) before welcoming Reading to Goodison Park at the weekend.
Should the Blues overcome the first of those hurdles, a sixth round home tie against Wigan awaits, with champions Manchester City also on the horizon.
Moyes cut a frustrated figure following Saturday's disappointing 2-1 defeat at Norwich and speaking yesterday said: “I think it [Oldham] is a big game, because these two weeks we are in now are big weeks. Norwich was a big game in the league, and we now move into Oldham, then Reading, then we don’t know if we have a Cup game after that.
“It is maybe not against the top teams but it is still a period of tough games coming up. We have to try and knock one off at a time.
“I think we are in a period of maybe seeing what direction our season is going a little bit, so we have to look at that and see.”
Despite the reverse at Carrow Road, Everton remain sixth in the Premier League table with European qualification still a satisfyingly real possibility.
Whatever happens tonight, the Blues boss insists it's important supporters maintain a level of perspective.
He said: “I don’t know how many defeats we’ve had in the past year, but it’s not many and you know something, I think there’ll be very few teams with a record similar to us, and very few teams who have done as well as us, so hey – the players may be entitled to a wee dip.
"As soon as we get a negative result, people are trying to write off our season. I have been expecting somebody to ask me what happens if we don’t get through against Oldham.
“I’d say, look at our situation – how many clubs don’t have anything to play for at this stage of the season? We have, we are still in a really good position. We are sixth in the table, we have a replay in the Cup at home to get into the quarter-final.
“If we’d just gone sixth and had this game to get into the quarter-final, we’d be saying ‘hey, this is good’. So we have to try and look at it in another fashion."
Moyes is aware, however, just how big a boost cup success can be.
Having led his side to the final in 2009 and the semi-finals 12 months ago, he remembers well the wave of momentum those Wembley trips created.
“The cup does galvanise the place, it is difficult to explain but it keeps you on the way up,” he added. “A good run can really lift the place, and that is what we are hoping to do.
“We haven’t seen games out lately, and we all know we have to be a bit tougher to see those games out and win games, and we have to try and show that a bit more than we have been doing.
“But maybe the season is beginning to take a wee bit of a toll on the players now. I’ve always said we’ve had to be grafting at it constantly and grit it out all season, and that may be having an effect.
“But we’ll get a second wind I think soon and kick on again.”