Frank Lampard says Everton must show greater resilience when suffering tough moments in games and has demanded the squad “get their heads down and fight” for the remainder of the season.
Everton suffered a disappointing FA Cup exit at Crystal Palace on Sunday, with the Blues unable to build on a promising start to the Selhurst Park contest.
Everton bossed the opening 20 minutes of the game but were hit with a sucker punch when Marc Guehi headed home from a corner to convert Palace’s first genuine chance of the game.
Jean-Philippe Mateta doubled the home side’s advantage shortly before half-time and late goals from Wilfried Zaha and Will Hughes took the tie away from the Toffees.
“The players performed at 70 per cent today and it’s not good enough,” Lampard said.
“We started really well and controlled the game. Then we allowed a goal from a corner, then another average goal, a fluke goal and another average goal.
“We came here to try to get to Wembley and we gave Palace a pass to get into the semi-final. Palace didn’t play that well and they won 4-0. The players have got to take responsibility.
“We’ve told the players to be tough, resilient, strong, and to trust in themselves – and we back them to be confident. The players have to do that in games.
“Since I’ve come in, we’ve had some good and bad moments and, a lot of the time, I’ll defend the idea of the players. When I came in, I knew we were on a losing run and what the mentality may be. But now it’s the end of that story and we have 11 games left to show character.
“If anyone doesn’t want to show character and doesn’t want to fight, they won’t be part of it.”
Everton’s early momentum in the game was stalled by a knee injury to Andros Townsend after 16 minutes. Lampard confirmed he expects the winger to miss a significant period.
“I don’t think it will be weeks out, I think it will be more than that,” he said. “But I’ll reserve judgment until we find out more.
“We’ll scan him tomorrow [Monday], but it looks like a bad knee injury. I’m devastated for him.
“He started the match well, we started well as a team.
“Our game was spot on and they couldn’t get out of their half. We had opportunities and Andros was a part of that.
“It was a setback in terms of losing a player after a good start, but we shouldn’t have ended up how we did.”
Everton's focus now turns exclusively to their crucial 11-game Premier League run-in.
The Blues are back in action on Sunday 3 April at West Ham United before travelling to Burnley three days later.
Lampard added: “I wanted to get to Wembley – it would have been amazing for the fans and this club has a deep history at Wembley – but those two games are absolutely huge for us, as all 11 games remaining are.
“We have to get our heads down and fight. That’s what the fans want to see.
“I’ll fight until the very end – not just in these 11 games but for the future, to keep getting better.
“Some of the things today [against Palace] are not that tangible. Tangible is a tactic or things that you see that are not working in the right direction. But if their [the players] heads go down 20 per cent, that loses you a game. That is something has to be worked on culturally – short-term to stay up and over time to get even better.”
On what Everton’s priorities will be on the training pitches at Finch Farm during upcoming the international break, Lampard said: “Some individuals need fitness.
“We haven’t had loads of time [to train consistently], so there will be something positive in the fact we haven’t got a game [until West Ham in a fortnight], so we can work repetitively on defending and how we attack with conviction – and not just attacking for the sake of it, we want to attack to go and score.
“And also on defending our box, throwing your body on the line and blocking shots, things that win or lose you football games.
“I’m fed up of talking about momentum or confidence. I’ve spoken to the players about that – it’s about winning football matches, simple as that.”