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Everton: Latest defeat puts Everton firmly in the relegation scrap

There's still time left to turn their fortunes around, but Everton's current campaign could not have gone much worse.

The Toffees made the controversial decision to hire Rafael Benitez in the summer before bringing in five new players and after a strong start to the campaign, everything looked rosy on the blue side of Merseyside.

While Everton did not have to splash the cash to sign Demarai Gray, Andros Townsend, Salomon Rondon, Asmir Begovic and Andy Lonergan, they spent heavily in January.

Vitaliy Mykolenko and Nathan Patterson arrived for £33.75million, while Anwar El Ghazi joined on loan.

The chaotic scenes at Goodison Park continued when the board sacked Benitez, bringing Frank Lampard on transfer deadline day.

Lampard ensured they signed Dele Alli for a fee potentially rising to £40million, while Donny van de Beek signed on loan until the end of the campaign.

While the club have been busy finding new targets, results have not improved and they are now dangerously close to the bottom three.

Saturday's FA Cup success over Brentford appeared to be the start of a new dawn, or was it just papering over the cracks that Lampard must quickly repair?

Newcastle defeat should ring alarm bells

Lampard took his team to St James' Park for his first league game in charge, and after celebrating their 4-1 FA Cup win, he was brought back down to earth on Tuesday night.

The Toffees are 4/1 to be relegated this season, which would be the first time they have dropped out of the Premier League since its inception in 1992.

Everton took the lead against Newcastle, but they ended up losing 3-1 as the Magpies climbed out of the bottom three.

Eddie Howe's side were "doomed" according to some sections of the media before the January transfer window, and yet back-to-back wins have now lifted them to within one point of the Toffees.

Everton may have some fresh new faces within their ranks, but the table does not lie.

Should results go against them, the Toffees will find themselves in the bottom three in the coming weeks, with 18th-placed Norwich City just three points behind them.

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Could Lampard's lack of experience come back to haunt the Toffees?

The jury is still out on Lampard as a manager, and the pressure will only build the longer the club stays in its current predicament.

The former Chelsea midfielder will feel his squad has too much quality to go down, and while their rivals will envy the options at his disposal, Everton have won one of their previous fifteen league matches.

While relegation rivals Watford have hired an experienced campaigner in Hodgson, Everton have taken a massive gamble in hiring Lampard.

The Toffees board have planned for the future with their decision, clearly believing the former Lampard man is the man to take the club forward, introducing the club's best youngsters along the way.

But the manner of Tuesday's performance will not help their cause, and at the moment, the club are conceding too many goals.

All eyes on Saturday's six-pointer

Sadly for Everton, Newcastle and Norwich have managed to improve their position at the wrong time.

While Burnley look to be the team that needs the most help, the Clarets have games in hand on their rivals, so they still have every chance of closing the gap.

Lampard and his coaching staff will not look at the fixture list too fondly, with games against Manchester City, Tottenham and Everton on the horizon.

That run of fixtures makes Saturday's game against Leeds even more important.

Marcelo Bielsa's side, who can be backed to grab all three points at 23/10, are one win better off than Everton.

Anything less than a draw for Everton would put them in a precarious position, and if the Merseyside outfit did not feel they were in a relegation scrap, Tuesday's result proves they could be in for a bumpy ride.

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