David Moyes in bid to lift the blues at struggling Everton

Time to get tough: Moyes knows he can only back failing players for so long

Time to get tough: Moyes knows he can only back failing players for so long

David Moyes fears he will be forced to write off Everton’s season unless his players show a dramatic improvement over the next month.

From being tipped by Sir Alex Ferguson on the eve of the Barclays Premier League campaign as being dark horses for a Champions League place, Everton head into Christmas teetering on the brink.

Moyes still has great faith that the squad he has painstakingly assembled can deliver.

But the manager is aware the time has come for the faith invested in them to be repaid.

Everton face Manchester City tonight and, while Moyes enjoys a harmonious relationship with his board of
directors, he is aware of his duty to provide good results.

‘I’m not quite at the point yet of giving up and I am still thinking that I can have a good year,’ said Moyes.

‘But that point is going to come shortly if we do not pick up.

‘It’s not just Christmas which will determine that. It’s how you do after Christmas and where you are going into
January and a bit further down the line.

‘If we get a few good wins and start moving forward, we will have a bit of a better idea. I believe we can still get to the level where we want to go but, if not, then we will look at it differently.’

So how has it reached this stage?

Everton are two points off the relegation zone, and three wins from 17 League matches is clearly unacceptable, given the players Moyes has at his disposal.

The most worrying aspect for Moyes, though, has been the manner in which Everton’s strikers have malfunctioned and how reliant they have become on Tim Cahill.

The Australian midfielder has always been a huge influence on Everton but the statistics this season have been extraordinary.

Hard to replace: Cahill has scored eight goals this season

Hard to replace: Cahill has scored eight goals this season

His tally of eight goals dwarfs the contribution of forwards Louis Saha, Ayegbeni Yakubu and Jermaine Beckford, and Cahill is effectively responsible for 10 of the 18 points Everton have accrued.

No wonder, then, Moyes is frantically trying to find a way of solving the issue, particularly as he could be without Cahill for all of January due his commitments with Australia in the Asia Cup.

Even if Moyes does manage to find cover — he wants to bring in ‘two or three’ players on loan — there is nothing to say Everton will suddenly be revitalised.

Some have wondered whether Everton have lost their ability to surprise opponents and, certainly, there is reason for believing their play has become a little too predictable.

The manager said: ‘Until I find out whether it is just the strikers, I won’t know whether the squad need breaking up.

'I might get a great striker in January and find that something else is wrong.

‘But I have got to plug that gap first. I hope somebody other than Tim Cahill can score goals for us.

'He leaves us early January so we need others to step up to the plate.’

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