MORE uncertainty - and it seems to be affecting the players yet again; players can't be allowed to use managerial doubts to hide behind poor performances.
Byline: PHIL KIRKBRIDE Everton FC reporter firstname.lastname@example.org @PHILKECHO
THEY had, in historical parlance, crossed the Rubicon. Because the moment it became obvious some members of the Everton squad thought it acceptable to prey on the uncertainty around the man in charge there was no going back.
They were always capable of doing it again.
And to mangle a well-known phrase: is this a case of once a manager cheater, always a manager cheater? It was caretaker boss David Unsworth whose hopes of landing the job on a permanent basis were undermined by the uncertainty in which he worked - and the belief that a number of players used it as an excuse not to bother.
Unsworth didn't get the job, Everton appointed Sam Allardyce as their new manager but two-and-a-bit months on the suspicion is he may be experiencing many of the same problems.
The alarm bells have been ringing for a few weeks but after 20 minutes at the Emirates Stadium last weekend the noise was deafening.
It wasn't that long ago that Unsworth was bemoaning an "unacceptable" performance after a 5-1 defeat and pouring shame on his senior players by saying 18-year-old Beni Baningime was the team's best player.
On Saturday night, after another 5-1 thumping, Allardyce used the phrase "pathetic" and said it was 19-year-old Tom Davies, off the bench at the break, who was Everton's leading light.
The parallels are scary yet, given what went before, hardly surprising.
Allardyce, the relegation sharpshooter, was handed an 18-month contract at the end of November but nobody was looking beyond the end of the season.
Not even Big Sam. "My length of stay at Everton is purely based on two things - results and entertainment - and we've got to put both things together, we've got to be entertaining and we've got to win football matches," he said recently.
When he was appointed Farhad Moshiri said Allardyce would "give us a platform to move on" but whether that's with him at the helm remains to be seen.
And it is in that vacuum of the unknown that too many Everton players seem to be ambling rather than sprinting, being out-muscled, outthought, bettered, battered and leaving the fans - and club - embarrassed.
Everton are in mid-table, seven points clear of the bottom three and facing a final 12 fixtures that offer ample opportunity to ensure they finish nowhere near the relegation dogfight.
But whether just doing enough will be enough for Big Sam to stay in the job is far from clear and the concern is that too many of the Blues squad know that too - and too many are exploiting the fact.
Allardyce ultimately carries the can and, as he says, his fate will be decided on results, style, tactics and formation.
And after a splurge of close to PS200million the heat remains firmly turned up on director of football Steve Walsh.
EFC LIVE But when the post-mortem is carried out the players cannot escape scrutiny and if Sam, or anyone else for that matter, ends up going in May, it would only seem right that some of the squad follow.
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