For a side that conceded fewer goals than all-but two teams in the Premier League last season, Everton’s ‘Goals Against’ column in the league table this year doesn’t make pretty reading.
And according to former captain Phil Neville, a man who played over 250 games in the Toffees’ back-line, that is not good enough.
“The league form this season has been disappointing and the disappointment has been the defensive record,” he told Ladbrokes News.
“A defensive record for a team that I think has got some brilliant defenders and consistent defenders.”
The Goodison Park outfit have now conceded two more goals in their 30 Premier League fixtures this season than they did throughout the whole campaign last year.
But Neville doesn’t put it down to a lack of quality in the ranks:
“There have been too many individual errors and it’s cost them dear this year.”
One aberration in the Everton squad that has made the news lately has been Antolin Alcaraz’s showing against Dynamo Kyiv in the Europa League.
The Paraguayan’s performance was even voted as the worst defensive display ever by Ladbrokes News readers, but Neville sees it as a wider issue.
“It’s not just Alcaraz that has made mistakes this year. You could probably say that a lot of the players have made mistakes at one time or another.
“It’s a collective thing; it’s not just been one player. In terms of individual errors, I think it’s up to 15 or 16 individual errors now that have led to goals this season.”
The change in their showing in front of their own goal is something that the full-back is at a loss to explain:
“You think back to last season when Roberto Martinez came in and Everton were up there in the top three or four defensive records in the league.
“Something drastic has happened this year and I can only put it down to maybe a lack of concentration and poor defending.”
If Roberto Martinez’s men can pull it together and continue on from their two straight domestic victories, a top 10 finish is not out of the question.
A price of 12/5 that they break into the upper echelons of the table remains unlikely, but with a relatively easy run-in, their fans will be hoping for one big final push.
Phil Neville was speaking at the re-launch of football prediction platform Predikta, a football prediction game that connects you with your mates, colleagues and even ex-players. To back your predictions seamlessly with Labrokes visit www.predikta.com.
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