Frank Lampard has told his struggling Everton players to take responsibility for the Merseysiders’ slide into the Premier League relegation zone.
Lampard’s second-bottom team faces relegation rival West Ham on Saturday looking to arrest a dismal run that threatens to send them spiralling into the Championship.
Everton, without a win in its last nine games in all competitions, hasn’t played outside the top-flight since 1954.
Last weekend’s dismal defeat at home to basement club Southampton sparked post-match protests from supporters at Goodison Park.
Everton defender Yerry Mina and team-mate Anthony Gordon were also confronted in their cars by furious fans after the Southampton debacle.
But amid calls for Lampard to be sacked and Everton owner Farhad Moshiri to sell up, the former Chelsea boss won’t let his players blame others for their predicament.
“One of the earliest things I learned in professional football was that the minute you make excuses or try to apportion blame to anything else is the minute you fail,” Lampard told reporters on Thursday.
“The first thing I’d say to the players is not to look anywhere else but themselves. And don’t get me wrong, I have to manage people not just players.”
Everton is off the bottom of the table only on goal difference and defeat at third-bottom West Ham, the club where former England midfielder Lampard started his career, would be a huge blow to their hopes of avoiding relegation.
Lampard knows Everton’s morale is low after 10 defeats in its last 13 matches, but insisted his players must face the stark reality of their situation.
“I understand when things are difficult, a lack of confidence. You have to show them what the situation is and what the way out of it is,” he said.
“But it is not kids football, there is a lot on, it is a job, it is business, it is professionalism, so you have to find a way out of it.
“It can’t all be nice. We need a confident group to try to get momentum and start getting better results.”
Lampard is confident Mina and Gordon won’t be affected after their fan confrontations last weekend.
“Nothing as far as I know. I’ve spoken to them both,” Lampard said. “I’ve been at teams where similar things have happened to myself and other players, so let’s not make this an Everton conversation.”