It's fair to say that Everton have had a dire season so far. Marco Silva struggled to get the best out of his side as they slumped towards the bottom of the league, and was sacked for his troubles.
However, courtesy of Duncan Ferguson and the classic 'new manager bounce', results began to improve with a win over Chelsea and draws against Manchester United and Arsenal. Legendary manager Carlo Ancelotti was then appointed, and he guided them to a 1-0 win against Burnley in his first game.
Despite the recent good form, it doesn't hide the fact that the Toffees have had a torrid time, especially with the high expectations and money spent. Ancelotti will now attempt to guide them up the table but, meanwhile, here is 90min's review of Everton's first half of the season. Warning: it won't be positive.
Note: We're talking first half of the season here, so Saturday's win – good as it was – will be skimmed over.
Let's get this straight. The fact that Everton were sat in 13th at the halfway point was hugely deceptive. These are the real facts. Just three weeks ago, the Toffees were sitting in the relegation zone. They lost nine games of their first 19 games, just one fewer than a Watford side who have been abysmal, and the same amount as a West Ham side who have been utterly woeful.
Everton were expected to compete for a place in the top six this season. They've spent a lot of money in the last two seasons. This has been a really bad league campaign so far. They've lost 5-2 to Liverpool, 2-0 at home to Norwich, 2-0 at home to Sheffield United and 2-0 at Aston Villa.
However, recent form has been better. With Duncan Ferguson taking over from Silva in the short-term, he inspired good results against United, Chelsea and Arsenal. The appointment of Ancelotti also bought about a good performance against Burnley, but things will have to keep getting better.
Everton had a decent run in the Carabao Cup. After victories against Sheffield Wednesday and Watford, the Toffees were knocked out in the quarter-finals by Leicester in an agonising defeat on penalties. They had even staged a late comeback after being 2-0 down in the first half, making the defeat an even tougher pill to swallow.
Unfortunately for the Toffees, they have been drawn with Liverpool in the FA Cup third round. To put this bluntly, they should be heading for an early exit.
Everton have been leaking goals. Everton have been struggling to score goals. Stating their biggest strength isn't straightforward. But despite how good Djibril Sidibe has been since he signed for the club, the biggest strength has to be the goals of Richarlison.
Look, he hasn't been great. But he's been decent, and his goals have been important at times. When he's not rolling around on the floor grabbing his knee after someone has brushed him, he can do some good things on a football pitch.
With six goals and two assists in the first half of the Premier League season, his ability to score goals has been their biggest strength.
This was also pretty difficult, purely because they've had so many weaknesses this season – but the main problem is their midfield. With Andre Gomes suffering a horrific leg break, their midfield has lacked someone who has the ability to dictate games.
As well as that, they don't have a real, top class holding midfielder. They have simply failed to replace Idrissa Gana Gueye since he left for Paris Saint-Germain in the summer.
As a result, their defence has been left horribly exposed, meaning they have leaked too many unnecessary goals. On the other end of the spectrum, they have also failed to create many chances for their strikers, with Gylfi Sigurdsson falling out of favour with the management. Ancelotti may look to get the best out of the Icelandic international though.
Areas to Address in January
As well as bolstering the midfield, Ancelotti has to sign a top centre-back. With Michael Keane and Yerry Mina struggling, they need to acquire someone who can shore things up immediately.
The owners need to back someone of the calibre of Ancelotti, and he can make Everton a serious force to be reckoned with if they can bring in the right players.
As mentioned earlier, Richarlison has been good this season, scoring a number of goals for the Toffees. Jordan Pickford has also been relatively consistent in goal, while Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been extremely impressive in recent weeks.
However, Sidibe has been Everton's best player by a country mile this season. It took him a while to get into the team as he adapted to England and got fit enough to start after signing on loan from Monaco. But now he's playing, he's an absolute colossus. His aggression is phenomenal, and his strength makes him a powerhouse defensively.
As well as that, he is a huge threat offensively, and has picked up four assists in the Premier League this season. He even played as a right-sided midfielder against Burnley in Ancelotti's first match, and put in a man of the match performance which included a cracking assist for Calvert-Lewin's late winner.
Everton fans will be absolutely desperate to sign him permanently.
Ancelotti will undoubtedly improve Everton, and he should be able to get them up them up the table if he can sign a couple of players this January. However, with Wolves performing sensationally well and Arsenal surely set to improve, a place in the top eight may be too far away for them.
In terms of the FA Cup, it is looking likely that they will be heading out in the third round.
Premier League - 9th
FA Cup - Third round
If Everton had been graded a month ago, they'd have received an F – but with a recent upturn in form under Ferguson and Ancelotti, they can go up a grade. Their performances under Silva and the fact that they were giving little effort was unacceptable, and the teams below them being somehow even worse than them shouldn't mask from the fact that they have been really poor.
Ancelotti has some work to do. But to turn this club around he needs to be backed. If there is anyone who can make Everton compete at the top of the Premier League, it is this man.
Source : 90min