Christopher Chang: Toffees coming unstuck

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When your top scorer is a left back, the most prolific striker has netted three times in the league, and your best player has scored as many goals as your 'keeper has, you know there are some serious problems.

David Moyes can't be accused of not trying to find a perfect formula for his Everton side this season. In each of the 22 games played, he has tinkered with his starting lineup by using all of the three available substitutions. The search for an impact off the bench has not yielded results.

After failing to overcome Blackburn at Goodison Park, Everton are now hovering four places above that perilous red line. They are not in trouble yet, but slowly the Toffees look like coming unstuck. At home, they have gathered only 12 points.

Unless you're from the Anfield side of Stanley Park, it's hard not to like Everton. The club is steeped in rich tradition and claims to be "The People's Club" in Liverpool. They are one of the increasingly few top-flight clubs to be British-owned. Under Howard Kendall in the 80s, the Toffees were a force in England - league titles in 1984-85 and 1986-87 highlighted the most successful period in the club's history.

Despite Moyes' success in managing a shoestring budget, recent seasons have brought mixed placings in the league. The lofty heights of Champions League qualification in 2004-05 were followed by a comfortable spell of UEFA Cup qualifications. After holding it all together for so long, Moyes may now be overseeing a steady decline in fortunes.

A friend of mine at primary school always wore his number 17 jersey with 'Kanchelskis' printed on the back. That was a time when the club had just won the FA Cup - 1995 was the last time Everton won a trophy - and achieved moderate success, but could still call on players like the Russian winger and Gary Speed.

What Everton would pay to have a player with that creativity at the moment, or the brute strength of big Duncan Ferguson up front.

This year, talisman Tim Cahill has fallen too short of expectations. He has scored just once in the league - a total matched by goalkeeper Tim Howard. The pressure on the Aussie's shoulders could be lifted with transfers from the sale of Diniyar Bilyaletdinov to Spartak Moscow, although that will only recoup around £5m in funds. Moyes had £17m in the bank from summer sales but has so far failed to recruit, bar Darron Gibson from Manchester United.

Everton represent what is good about English football, from the strong relationship between manager and chairman, to a grand old stadium filled with loyal followers. Sadly, they also exemplify the plight of teams in the modern Premier League: struggling to keep up with the nouveau riche and desperate to turn back the clock to relive the romantic, glorious years.

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