In Everton’s 4-0 loss to Aston Villa on Sunday, it was disconcerting to see just how inadequate they were at some of the fundamentals.
I thought Toffees manager Sean Dyche was possibly challenging his team’s mental toughness when he said afterward that they lacked sharpness, but everything about their performance seemed terribly stupid.
Me wanted to see the Everton players battle to keep the score down even when Villa was three goals up and the game was over, but it didn’t seem like the message was coming across.
I couldn’t believe this the same set of players who travel to Brighton at the end of the previous season and perform superbly to win 5-1, and I left wondering where their leaders.
Everton played a little bit deeper against the Seagulls, but they were still compact and strong, and when they received the ball, they attacked with genuine vigor and rushed forward. They were rewarded with a sensational outcome that helped retain them in the Premier League.
Eight of the people who started that game also started this one, but it was much too simple to play through them this time.
They received what they deserved once more, but this time it was a bitter defeat.
Everton, who sit at the foot of the standings without a goal or a point after two games, already feels like it will be a very long season.
They are already under pressure, and it will only get worse if they lose to Wolves, another struggling team, at Goodison Park the following Saturday.
Dyche must figure out how to accomplish it, just like he did when he joined Everton and kept them in the league.
He accomplished it despite only winning five of the 18 league games under his direction, so he is aware of how crucial it is for the entire club to deal with disappointment this week and concentrate on the upcoming challenge.
However, we also know they are capable of performing like they did in that Brighton game, and now they need to demonstrate it. This Everton team is essentially the same one that struggled last year, so they are sure to suffer again.