Rafa Benitez’s Everton problems laid bare as form the fourth worst in Europe’s top five leagues

Everton are edging closer to a relegation battle after their 3-2 loss to Brighton, having won just once in 12 matches.

<p>Everton manager Rafa Benitez. Picture: PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images</p>

Everton manager Rafa Benitez. Picture: PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images

The ringing boos around Goodison Park at the final whistle laid bare the feeling of swathes of supporters.

This was no knee-jerk reaction. Fans did not express their ire just because Everton had lost at home to Brighton and Hove Albion for the first time in their history.

The riposte following the 3-2 loss was quite simply because patience is beginning to wear thin. In fact, plenty have lost it entirely.

Pressure growing

The vast majority of jeers were aimed at Rafa Benitez, whose position as manager has come under intense pressure.

The encouraging start to the Spaniard's reign feels long gone. Calls for Benitez to be removed from his post have swollen markedly.

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Even those who felt stability in the hot seat was required against the backdrop of a turbulent few years are now beginning to concede change is needed.

No-one can deny Benitez got off to a decent opening at Everton.

After a 2-0 defeat of Norwich on September 25, the Blues sat fifth in the table on 13 points. Talk of a push for Europe was even mooted.

Andros Townsend celebrates scoring for Everton against Norwich. Picture: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

However, since that victory, results have jettisoned in their subsequent 12 matches. The Blues have plunged to the lower echelons of the table.

Everton find themselves languishing in 16th after picking up a solitary win and accrued just six points from a possible 36.

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There have been several mitigating circumstances. A scant summer transfer kitty amid financial problems, as well as injuries to key men simultaneously, have played their part.

Regardless, there are sections of supporters fearing the Toffees will be hauled into a relegation battle.

It doesn't matter how big of a club Everton is. Aston Villa, West Ham, Sunderland and Newcastle have found themselves in similar situations in the past and failed to avoid the drop. Status and history means nothing.

Meek performances

What Benitez's side have shown on the pitch reflects such sentiment.

Meek losses to Watford, Brentford, Wolves, Crystal Palace and now Brighton are the stark evidence. In truth, clubs of those ilks should be put to the sword.

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Against Brighton, Everton were yet again slow out of the blocks and fell behind after three minutes. Yet again, defending set-pieces was haphazard. Dan Burn’s closest marker was team-mate Neil Maupay when he headed home at the back post to double the visitors’ lead.

The decision to deploy a wing-back system and a failure to bolster the midfield at half-time when 2-0 down, as the Seagulls ran amok, was also scrutinised. As was waiting until 76 minutes to bring on a substitute.

Dan Burn heads home Brighton’s second goal unmarked against Everton. Picture: PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images

As the form book goes, no team in the Premier League has been worse than Everton since they beat Norwich.

Watford have taken six points in the same period but have a plus-two better goal difference.

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How Everton’s form ranks with those on the continent

And when comparing Everton's form to the top five divisions in Europe, it makes for worrying reading.

In the same period, only three clubs have picked up fewer points.

Bundesliga minnows Greuther Furth have clinched four points in their previous 12 matches.

The current Bundesliga table from the past 12 matches. Picture: Transfermrkt

They're in the German top flight for just a second time in the club's history and were always going to be up against it.

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In La Liga, Levante - who are winless all season - have managed four draws in their past 12 outings.

And in Ligue 1, FC Lorient have collected the same tally despite a similarly bright start to Everton.

Genoa, who are 18th in Serie A, have garnered six points in their past 12 games, although they have a plus-two better goal difference than the Blues in the same period.

The current La Liga form table. Picture: Transfermrkt

It's a worrying predicament Everton find themselves in.

While fans aplenty want to see Farhad Moshiri wield the axe, recent structural changes at Goodison suggest that won't be the case.

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The departure of director of football Marcel Brands, coupled with Benitez bringing in his own medical and fitness staff, indicates the owner's backing the manager for the meantime.

Moshiri is also providing Benitez with a decent war chest in this month’s transfer window, which strengthens such argument.

Benitez will be hoping that January signings Vitaliy Mykolenko and Nathan Patterson - along with any other potential recruits - can provide the fillip to get the Toffees out of the mire.

A return to fitness for the likes of Richarlison, Yerry Mina, Andros Townsend and even the much-maligned Fabian Delph - who can provide the experience required - is also a necessity.

Otherwise, Everton could slip in a dogfight they might not be able to escape.