Everton, on the pitch, have achieved varying degrees of success this campaign.
Having enjoyed lofty highs and crushing lows, this has largely been a season of progression, mired by the off-pitch trauma initiated by the Premier League.
It is worth noting that, were it not for their ten-point deduction, the Toffees would be in 12th, 11 points clear of the relegation zone.
Sean Dyche has worked veritable miracles, but there remains one key weakness.
Unfortunately, it seems that it has permeated its way down through the club, now polluting the U18s. Leighton Baines outlined such frustration just yesterday.
How did Everton’s U18s play vs Chelsea?
Facing Chelsea in the FA Youth Cup was always bound to be a tough task for Baines’ plucky side of hopeful stars.
However, things were made far easier when an opposition player was dismissed after just nine minutes for the denial of a clear goalscoring opportunity.
Despite that man advantage, they could not make their chances count, and in the end it was the West London outfit who ran out eventual 2-0 winners, prompting the following statement from the former Everton and England left-back: ‘I think both teams adapted, and we looked comfortable on the ball, but lacked a cutting edge.
‘I think in the end, that’s what prevailed – them being clinical in the final third, and us not having that cutting edge. We didn’t manage to find a way through a body of players in a mid to low block and probably didn’t have the quality in the final action that they showed.’
Why do Everton struggle in front of goal so much?
This profligacy is not new to Everton, who can attribute much of their recent relegation struggles to their persisting inability to find the back of the net.
Under Rafa Benitez, there was a distinct lack of any patterns of play. This led to a style where they would neither defend nor attack, and scored just 24 goals across his 19 Premier League games in charge whilst shipping 34 before getting the sack.
Frank Lampard fared no better, and his 34 goals scored in 38 league matches proved even more abysmal.
Under Dyche though, healing has begun, but even he has struggled to crack this issue despite coaxing out the best goalscoring form of Dwight McNeil and Abdoulaye Doucoure.
It feels like their failures throughout the club seem to stem from a lack of confidence, as the chances are certainly being created.
Everton’s expected goals tally of 34.99 in the Premier League is the ninth-highest, and yet the disparity between their actual figure (10.99) is also by far the most.
It feels like there is a blend of a lack of confidence and little quality within the senior squad, which is trickling down now through the club. If they can solve it, they might just be able to progress forward away from these battles for survival.