It has been a tough season for Everton fans as their side battle to avoid relegation from the Premier League – but there is optimism for the women’s team, who are continuing to make strides.
Everton’s men have now gone 10 games without a win in all competitions and defeat on Saturday led to boos at the final whistle and banners proclaiming ‘sack the board’.
Harmed by three managerial changes and inconsistent performances last season, Everton were near the bottom of the Women’s Super League before eventually confirming safety.
But, following the arrival of manager Brian Sorensen this summer, they are undergoing a resurgence in the league table and hope has been restored for desperate supporters.
Their latest victory – to 3-0 win over mid-table rivals West Ham – saw Everton jump up to fifth in the WSL table.
It was an impressive display of control, confidence and identity as Sorensen, who is from Denmark, continues to stamp his mark on the team.
There was a buzz before kick-off among supporters who had already witnessed defeat by West Ham 24 hours previously when the men’s team lost 2-0 in London.
Within 12 minutes on Sunday, Everton had rekindled some optimism in front of a home crowd at Walton Hall Park when they went 2-0 up.
“Everyone knows it’s a tough place to be when the men’s team are in the position they are in but we try to focus on us and bring joy to the community by doing the best we can,” said Sorensen.
“The men’s team try to do that too but it’s hard with the competition. We’re in a good position and we’re happy for that so we will try to keep that going.”
‘We felt in control’
When Everton announced Sorensen’s appointment in April, they were 10th in the WSL table, having picked up 18 points from 19 games and under the guidance of their third manager in a season.
The club had gone from playing in an FA Cup final at Wembley to battling at the wrong end of the table in the space of two years.
However, Sorensen’s arrival brought intrigue and when he addressed supporters at an open training session at Goodison Park this summer, he vowed to provide them with enjoyment.
Since then, his side have won six of their 11 matches in the WSL this season, their latest victory over West Ham being a solid one.
“Yeah, I am happy. We looked in control and we felt in control for the majority of the game,” said Sorensen.
“I was a little nervous actually going into the game. You cannot see exactly what [West Ham] are going to do. I try to be prepared and structured but it is hard to read them.
“They have extraordinary players, especially in the final third so we dealt with it well. We gave the ball away in parts but with 3-0, I can’t be too negative.”
‘Building something takes time’
Improvements are still needed, as Sorensen admits, but Everton’s rise up the WSL table proves they are heading in the right direction following Sunday’s victory.
Billed as a battle between the ‘best of the rest’, the two sides were level on points and side-by-side in standings at the league table before kick-off.
Outside of the WSL’s recognized top four – Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United – there are several clubs, including Everton, hoping to claim a competitive fifth spot in the table.
“I don’t think it’s about putting pressure on [the top four]it’s more about looking at our form and seeing whether we can get closer in terms of performances,” said Sorensen.
“Coming in, for me, it was not about doing any crazy stuff. I am realistic about where we are at and know that building something takes time.
“We will see where we end up but we are happy with where we are now and we will try to improve our performance. It’s a continuous process of getting those little details better and better.”
Everton’s progress has not gone unnoticed.
Paul Konchesky, who also took over his West Ham side in the summer and has seen encouraging signs of progression, was wary of Everton’s improvements since the sides last met in September.
“We knew they would be a lot better and more organized now with the new manager. I think he’s done a fantastic job and you can see the improvements,” said Konchesky.
“He’s got some fantastic players. It’s not an easy place to come and there will be teams who will struggle [against Everton].”