Several key pre-season signings remain injured while those that are fit are suffering from shattered confidence and Moyes himself seems to be running out of ideas on how to rebuild it. "Extra training, days off. You name it, we've tried everything," he said after their eighth Premiership defeat in nine matches. "But I've got something special planned for this week." He will need it. Next up are Chelsea.
Everton were last relegated in 1951. Then they claimed eight points from their first nine matches. It may be thought that a team which includes Tim Cahill, Nigel Martyn, Mikel Arteta and Phil Neville is too good to go down but that 1950-51 side included Tommy Eglington, Tommy E Jones, Ted Sagar and Peter Farrell, all names which would still bring warm recognition at Goodison Park.
At White Hart Lane on Saturday, Everton never looked like winning and, once Mido put Spurs ahead early in the second period, it was game over. In 90 minutes Everton had two chances. James McFadden, who scored a sublime goal for Scotland in midweek, shot tamely when presented with the ball by Michael Carrick at 0-0. Duncan Ferguson drew a brilliant reaction save from Paul Robinson at a corner at 2-0. Nothing was created in open play. Despite the presence of wide players such as McFadden, Kevin Kilbane and Simon Davies at no stage did Everton get round the back of Spurs and with Cahill a shadow of last season's performer the midfield never got beyond the isolated Marcus Bent.
Defensively they are error-prone. A scrappy first half contained a welter of misplaced passes from both teams but all went unpunished until Joseph Yobo attempted an ambitious cross-field ball out of defence. The impressive Aaron Lennon cut it out and, via Paul Stalteri, the ball reached Jermaine Jenas. He had time to pick out Mido rising above Yobo to head in. Six minutes later Mido outjumped the inappropriately named Matteo Ferrari (Matteo Trabant would be better), the unmarked Defoe crossed, and Kilbane, having tracked Jenas back, stopped running, enabling the midfielder to head in.
Moyes' fury over the opening goal betrayed his awareness that, once behind, Everton are sunk. He said: "We were OK until we had to come out and start chasing the game but we remain confident and positive. It's only a couple of months ago that these players were getting applauded for what they had achieved in finishing fourth. They must remember that but they must also move on and realise we need to show strength."
A return to fitness for the likes of Andy van der Meyde, Per Kroldrup, Arteta, Beattie and Lee Carsley would help but, as Moyes intimated, the test is mental as much as physical.
Neville, one of the better players this season, revealed the difficulty the squad are having in comprehending their plight. "I don't think anyone - and I mean outside the club, not just at Everton - can believe the position we are in with the players we have got," he said. "It gives us confidence to believe we are good enough to climb up the table but at the moment things just aren't going right for us."
Daft as it may seem Neville then suggested next week's match against the champions should be viewed as an opportunity rather than an ordeal. "We need a result sooner rather than later and next week there'll be no pressure on us. Everyone will write us off. Without the pressure and the expectations we can go out there and give it a right good go." They will, though, have to hugely improve their performance.
Goals: Mido (56) 1-0, Jenas (62) 2-0.
Tottenham (4-4-2): Robinson; Stalteri, Dawson, King, Lee; Lennon (Reid, 72), Carrick, Jenas, Davids; Mido, Defoe (Keane, 79). Substitutes not used: Naybet, Kelly, Cerny (gk).
Everton (4-5-1): Martyn; Ferrari (Ferguson, 65), Yobo, Weir, Nuno Valente; Davies, Neville, Cahill (Beattie, 75), Kilbane, Bent; McFadden (Osman, 80). Substitutes not used: Wright (gk), Kroldrup.
Referee: D Gallagher (Banbury).
Booked: Everton Cahill, McFadden.
Man of the match: Lennon.
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