Everton’s poor form has manager Sam Allardyce wary that an upturn in form is required if he is to save his job.
Appointed on November 30 following a turgid start to the Premier League season under Ronald Koeman, the Toffees initially enjoyed an improvement under the former England boss, but seven defeats in their last 10 in all competitions have seen them fall back into the middle of the table.
Should the slump continue, it is not inconceivable that the Goodison Park side may be dragged into the relegation dogfight, as they are only seven points clear of Crystal Palace in 18th, and their boss knows that is not an acceptable situation.
“I am under no illusions about my position,” Allardyce said. “I have always said that managers stay in a job when they win football matches. I can’t continue to lose football matches. It is as simple as that.
“There is no point beating about the bush and saying you can have as much backing as you want. There is great backing from the owners, but I have to win matches to reassure them that I am the right man for the job.
“While that support is there, it is my responsibility to alleviate the pressure on everybody – [leading shareholder] Farhad Moshiri included – by winning football matches.”
“It is one of those big moments again this season of having to turn the season around,” he warned his players.
“The position we have allowed ourselves to get in has put us under enormous pressure to do that. It is a huge game, one of the biggest I’ve had in my short time here, I would say, with the pressure that has been heaped upon us all by the lack of away results.”
The 63-year-old has won six of his 17 matches in charge.