Michael Keane says Everton are “doing everything we can” in an effort to engineer an upturn in results – but paid the price for a lack of ruthlessness in the final third as they suffered a 1-0 defeat by Burnley.
Ronald Koeman fielded two strikers in the shape of Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Oumar Niasse against the Clarets and the Blues started the match brightly, with Gylfi Sigurdsson’s low shot kept out by visiting goalkeeper Nick Pope.
Nevertheless, it was Burnley midfielder Jeff Hendrick who opened the scoring on 21 minutes and, despite pushing Sean Dyche’s team back for extended spells, Everton could not conjure up an equaliser.
“It is very disappointing,” said Keane. “I thought we played some good stuff today – we had the ball in a lot of good positions in the final third but just lacked that bit of quality when needed.
"Overall I thought we were quite solid. But we need to score more, create more chances and get more shots on target. We are doing everything we can. We played two up front today, we wanted to get the ball forward, we even went a bit more direct than we normally would.
“But when Burnley got the goal... I know more than anyone how difficult they make it for teams to break them down. They work really hard, have good shape and put their bodies on the line. And we just could not break them down.
“We have been one-nil down previously and collapsed but I did not feel like we did that today. We got back on the front foot.
“But sometimes you need the ball to fall for you and maybe it did not a few times when it could have done. We just need to keep working hard and, hopefully, it will come.”
Keane joined Everton from Burnley in the summer to become one of nine new arrivals at Goodison Park. And the centre-back, who will now join up with the England squad for World Cup qualifying matches against Slovenia and Lithuania, insists he is enjoying his football with the Blues.
But he accepts the team’s results have not so far lived up to pre-season expectations. Sunday’s loss was a fourth in the Premier League this term, albeit the first against a team outside of the top four.
And Keane says the responsibility for turning things around falls on the shoulders of him and his teammates.
“It is down to the players to carry out the gameplan,” said Keane. “I thought the gameplan was good today. We had them on the back foot, we just lacked that final bit of quality, that good cross or good finish.
“We have had a pretty bad run of results and that lowers confidence. The only way to get out of that is to keep working hard and win some games.
“We have the international break now and it is not a good way to go into it. But the lads need to stay fresh and come back strong. We have some big games when we come back and, hopefully, we can get a few wins and move up the table.
“I think everyone expected more than we have given so far: the players and the staff, not just the fans.
“We know we have been disappointing as a team and need to improve. Expectations from fans is one thing – but the main thing is what we expect of ourselves. And in a few games this season we have fallen below those standards.
“I did not think that was the case today. We just need to show that bit of quality and, hopefully, we will do that soon.
“It is a great set of lads here and the staff have been brilliant with me. It has not been the best of starts with results but I am enjoying my football and, hopefully, there is more to come.”