Sam Allardyce did not mask the precariousness of his situation ahead of what he called a ‘big moment’ in Everton’s season and for his long-term Goodison prospects against Brighton this weekend.
“Whatever Farhad (Moshiri) says is very positive, but I am under no illusions about my position,” said the manager. “There is no point beating around the bush.”
Allardyce may earn credit for honesty. He will take all that is on offer after finding himself in the same vulnerable position that eventually saw off Roberto Martinez and Ronald Koeman, where disenchantment with the direction of the Everton team can swiftly turn to rage. Not for the first time in the last two years, Goodison Park will be on edge.
The difference is the speed with which the disillusionment has spread, although Allardyce – unlike his predecessors – has been fighting against public disapproval since his first day in the job. Allies are difficult to locate when the only division in the fan base is between those who did not want you appointed and those who never even wanted you short-listed.
“I have always said that managers stay in a job when they win football matches. I can’t continue to lose football matches. It is as simple as that, really,” said Allardyce.
“There is great backing from the owners but I have to win matches to reassure them that I am the right man for the job. While that support is there, it is my responsibility to alleviate the pressure on everybody – him included – by winning.”
Allardyce struck a measured but resilient tone ahead of Saturday’s game, recognising the fury that will be unleashed if there is not a stark improvement from the dire away form.
“We all do, you as much as me,” he said. “We are absolutely aware of that and I’m sure the players are. They have to draw on their experience to deliver a performance to that level and deliver under the pressure they’ve put themselves under. We have to live with that pressure.
“This is a huge game, one of the biggest I've had in my short time here, I would say.”
Whether his tenure is a symptom rather than cause of this season’s problems is worthy of deeper discussion.
You will not hear many around Goodison argue he will or even should stay long-term – that would not be politically savvy given the weight of opinion – but plenty feel the more pertinent question is what did majority shareholder Moshiri expect when he made the appointment?
There were enough warnings how the campaign would evolve if there was not a marked improvement, any hint of tolerance dissipating with every colourless defeat.
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Given the imbalance in the Everton squad ruined the reputation of Koeman and wrecked the chances of a Goodison hero David Unsworth getting the post permanently, could anyone have overseen a radical transformation prior to serious rebuilding this summer?
If your face fits and you are seen as the modernising coach, the clock is ticking until you can get to the end of the season and oversee a clear-out.
If it doesn’t, every utterance and facial expression is interpreted as a misstep and the expectation is you will be discarded with the under-performing players.
Much is made of Allardyce’s style of football, although he largely delegates day-to-day coaching to his assistants like Sammy Lee who is schooled in the finest footballing principles. Allardyce’s emphasis on sports science is as one expects from a modern club, contrary to the perception he is an emblem of old school methods.
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It is the six successive away defeats – and the manner of them – that removed protective layers. Only the minimum expectation of keeping Everton in the Premier League is achievable now. More was needed to extend the patience of the fans and satisfy the board he deserves longer, regardless of the arguments as to whether the quality in the squad made that achievable.
Allardyce still believes there is time to finish the season positively and shift the mood.
“It is my responsibility to change that (poor run) and to always try to grow,” he said.
“There was a lot of pressure on the team, then they had a great run but then don't get complacent lads, don't think you can't give less than 100 per cent to win a game of football.
“There are areas where we have slipped up, particularly on our defensive resilience. It hasn't been the case at home – we have conceded a couple of penalties in our last two home games – but away from home the resilience to stop the opposition from scoring hasn't been the same. Performances have to be better.”
It would be easy to say the Everton supporters have made up their mind, but there is no hindsight at work. They made those feelings known when Allardyce was first linked with the job. Can he really still convince them?
“If you win, you win fans over,” he said. “This position is difficult but I have had difficult positions at other clubs I have been at, you know?”