It was important for Everton that they didn’t throw the towel in against West Ham on Sunday, but they are not in a situation where they can lose like that and say ‘well, the performance was OK’.
So, while Toffees manager Frank Lampard says he took a lot of positives from their defeat, it was the result that really mattered.
Everton played reasonably well against the Hammers and the energy they needed was there, but some of the issues they have had all season came up again – they made mistakes at the back, they didn’t take their chances and they ended up being beaten, again.
That feeling will weigh on their players before Wednesday’s crucial trip to Turf Moor because they know they are still on this run where they are getting absolutely nothing away from home.
It is just going to be a dogfight against relegation rivals Burnley because of what that game means to the Clarets too.
Michael Keane’s suspension after his red card won’t help Everton and it’s not the first time that has happened – it feels like they always have key men missing through injury or suspension for important matches like this one.
Even so, Everton’s players are still capable of going there and winning, I have no doubt about that – but their away record means everyone doubts them, including themselves.
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Misses are as costly as any defensive error
I’ve been in the position the Toffees players are in now – playing in a team so badly out form away from home that when you fall behind it is very hard to convince yourself that everything is going to be all right.
Everton have lost all five away games they have played under Lampard in the Premier League and FA Cup, and have picked up only six points on the road all season.
When you are on a run like that, then it is almost a case of the players thinking ‘here we go again’ as soon as you concede.
If your team is playing well, then going behind doesn’t matter. You just say to each other ‘come on, let’s just keep going’ but it’s not a case of Everton keeping going, because they have never really played to their best level away from home.
Since beating Brighton in August, they’ve only been ahead during one away league game – against Newcastle in February – and even then, that lead only lasted a minute.
They had chances against West Ham when the score was 0-0 and those misses felt as costly as any defensive error, because of how they could have changed the feel of the game.
Going in front against Burnley, however they do it, would not only give the Everton players a huge lift, it would also apply pressure to the Clarets instead of it being forever on them – which is what it must feel like at the moment.
Why do some teams struggle so badly away?
The correct mindset is so important when you play away in the Premier League – it’s the difference between stepping on to a pitch expecting to win, or going somewhere just thinking you are going to lose.
I experienced that with QPR in 2011-12, when we stayed up on the last day of the season but had the worst away record in the top flight.
We were awful on the road but at home we had some amazing results – we beat Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham at Loftus Road. All sides who were expected to beat us, anywhere.
Sometimes, when there is a difference between home and away performances like that, it’s because the team’s collective mentality isn’t strong enough, or just isn’t there at all.
It’s a totally different task to go up against any opposition on their home ground instead of yours, to go up against their fans and feel that level of pressure – and understand that going a goal behind or having any sort of setback isn’t the end of the world, even if it feels like it.
Certain teams have a style of play that helps, of course, but it’s not just ability or tactics that gets you through those difficult situations.
That’s what Lampard was alluding to when he criticised his side after they lost heavily at Crystal Palace in the FA Cup last month, because you can work on things with players all week but they still need to be able to dig in when things aren’t going well.
If you don’t have a bunch of players who are all very good at that, playing away from home can become very difficult, and it seems Everton are stuck in that cycle at the moment.
Some good news – Everton are still above the line
The biggest positive for Everton right now with the form they are in is probably their league position – and the fact they aren’t in the bottom three.
It is a massive bonus for them to be above the red line at this point because, if they were below it on the run they are on, and the teams above them were getting away from them, things would be far more concerning.
For now, they are the ones being chased and the people below them are worrying that should Everton win then the gap will get bigger.
I’ve been just above the line and just below it at this stage of the season, and it makes a huge difference. When you feel like you are dropping down towards the relegation zone it is a horrible feeling but, believe me, it is far worse when you are in it, with time running out.
That is the key thing to remember here – for all of Everton’s problems, they are still in a position that the other teams below them would happily trade.
Nedum Onuoha was speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.
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