A joke doing the rounds on Merseyside suggests Everton manager Marco Silva is one game from the sack: "If he stops Manchester City going above Liverpool, they will definitely get rid of him."
However light-hearted the sentiment, mixed feelings in the stands are symptomatic of the conflicting emotions across the club as Silva seeks to reverse deteriorating form ahead of a brutal run of fixtures.
The manager needs an immediate upturn in results and performances, especially as there has been no improvement since majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri branded the season "not good enough" last month. There have been three defeats - including in the FA Cup at Millwall - since.
After City tonight, Everton travel to Watford and potentially wicked symmetry given the ill-feeling following the Merseyside club's approach for Silva last season.
Then, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United are the next Goodison visitors.
Yesterday, Moshiri appeared to offer support to his coach, although the statement was hardly emphatic.
"It's a project. The Everton fans quite rightly demand good football. We want young players to develop and they need to play," Moshiri told Talksport. "Marco Silva is a talented coach but he is planning long-term.
He will develop those young players and every year they will become stronger. In this business, you have to hold your nerve."
When asked if he felt he had the backing of Moshiri, Silva replied: "Yes. When you have the possibility to meet, we do; when not, we speak on the phone."
Everton will have Idrissa Gueye available for the first time since his move to Paris Saint-Germain was rejected.
© Daily Telegraph, London
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