By Ben Greenwood
Six games, three points and bottom of the League. David Moyes must be feeling the pressure but is his time up at Goodison Park?
Everton's start to the season has been, by last season's standards at least, nothing short of disastrous. After finishing 8th last season and only just missing out on Europe with a squad hampered by injury, hopes were high for the 2010/11 season.
Mikel Arteta, Tim Cahill and several others were fit to start the season and club captain Phil Neville is back after a couple of injuries too. Yet creditable draws against Manchester United, Wolves and Fulham most recently have been tempered with defeats to Aston Villa, Blackburn and newly promoted Newcastle.
That leaves the Toffees with just three points from a possible 18 and languishing at the foot of the Premiership table.
According to manager David Moyes the results have not reflected the performances and having seen the 3-3 draw with Manchester United I have to say he's right. Both Neville and defender Sylvain Distin have said the spirit is high within the camp despite the position of the club, though they both know it's time that spirit and those performances were turned into points before a slow start turns into a crisis.
Moyes has done enough in his 8 years at Goodison Park that he won't be under pressure from the chairman or board as far as his job goes – at least not yet – but the supporters have already showed their discontent by booing the team off the field after their 1-0 defeat to Newcastle.
What I'm wondering is whether Moyes has taken Everton as far as he can. That's not a slur on his managerial talents. The Scot is clearly a very, very good manager. He has to be to have achieved what he has with an Everton club that has been strapped for cash throughout his reign and one that, until recently at least, has sat in the shadow of European giants and near neighbours Liverpool.
Eight years is a fairly long time though and Everton haven't managed to break into the top six consistently, let alone get near the top four. It's not quite been a yo-yo period for Everton, but it's not far off.
Moyes risks damaging his blossoming career if he presides over an Everton side that slowly slips down the table season after season. Tipped by Sir Alex Ferguson to be a serious contender for his eventual replacement at Old Trafford, that would be the last thing Moyes would need.
On the the hand, would moving on to another club in the Premier League be a good idea? Unlikely to be appointed to a top six side any time soon he would have to try to repeat his Everton performance with a team that has sat around the middle or lower reaches of the Premiership. That could be an even bigger risk.
Everton's current position is a false one. It doesn't reflect the talent in the squad Moyes has built or the skills of the man himself. It's a worry though and he cannot afford to let it go on too longer.
An eighth place finish and an FA Cup final should be built upon, not allowed to slip into history.
That said, I believe with a victory and the subsequent boost in confidence – not to mention the return of Louis Saha and Victor Anichebe to add a cutting edge to a so far blunt attack – will see Everton return to where they should be and there still remains the possibility of a Europa League place this early in the season.
What Moyes decides to do then, especially if a job at the top end of the table comes up, remains to be seen. He has some difficult decisions to make at the end of this season no matter what happens to Everton. If he really wants to manage a top club like Manchester United or Arsenal one day he needs to protect the reputation he has so brilliantly built so far.
It would be a huge disappointment if he were not given a chance to manage club capable of winning trophies and with a transfer budget of note.