Leighton Baines says Everton are a “good side with a good manager” and is backing the Toffees to turn around their form in the “very near future”.
Everton started this season by claiming four Premier League points from six available and successfully navigating two Europa League qualifying rounds.
Ronald Koeman’s men have since suffered a dip, however, losing successive top-flight games against title-chasing trio Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester United. A victory over Bournemouth provided some respite, but a 1-0 loss to Burnley on the Sunday prior to the current international break left the Blues 16th in the embryonic league table, albeit only five points adrift of Burnley in sixth.
Baines, in his 11th season at Goodison Park, is understandably refusing to panic, instead trusting that his team’s inherent quality will surface imminently.
Indeed, the left-back cited the case of last season, when Everton emerged from a run of one victory in 10 Premier League matches to win nine and lose only two of their next 14, to explain how very few teams are immune to the vagaries of form.
“There are always times in a season when you have a sticky patch,” Baines told evertonfc.com. “We had one last year – we started well but then we could not win for a while.
“But I think the season overall was still viewed as a good season. And there is still so much football to play, there is no reason why this cannot be a good season.
“We are a good side, we have a good manager. All of the players will have been through this type of thing many times before in different periods of their careers and under different managers.
“We know the only way out of it is to keep working hard and I am sure it will turn in the very near future.”
After beating Sunderland in the Carabao Cup and the Premier League success against Bournemouth, Everton were two minutes from sealing a third victory on the bounce, when Hector Yuste’s glancing header rescued a Europa League draw for Cypriot team Apollon Limassol at Goodison.
Three days later, Burnley midfielder Jeff Hendrick scored the only goal of the game after 21 minutes that had belonged almost exclusively to the Blues.
Baines can recall being part of the Everton squad that claimed nine points from its opening nine Premier League games in 2008/09.
In the last of those matches, a 1-1 draw with Manchester United, Phil Neville’s bone-shuddering tackle on Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo roused Goodison and proved the catalyst for a campaign that saw Everton win 15 and draw nine of their remaining 29 league matches to finish fifth – and reach the FA Cup final.
“It is just football, it is those fine lines,” said Baines. “Sometimes when you are not playing well, it is about being able to grind out a result.
“That little header against Limassol did not just affect the result, it had a knock-on effect leading into the next game.
“But it looked like we had shaken that off – we started well in the game against Burnley and had a few half-chances.
“Against a side like Burnley, normally, if you get the first goal and they come out, you have a good chance of going on and winning the game.
“But we did not take those half chances, they are very good at defending a 1-0 lead and, unfortunately, we could not break them down. But there is nothing happening that people have not seen before and we try to not get caught up in the furore of it all.
“You just continue with your day-to-day job and look after yourself – and know things will improve.”