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Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
Michael Ball

Everton players 'not good enough' and need to take account for club 'mess'

The only people who are going to get Everton out of this are the players and they need to start earning their crust and forget about what’s going on upstairs because it’s a mess. How many players can say they came off the pitch against Wolves, Brighton or Southampton and say ‘I gave everything’, I can’t think of one which is very concerning.

To get out of this situation we’re in, we need players to start taking accountability. I’m calling out each and every player, it’s your fault we’re in this mess.

You can blame Frank Lampard and blame the board but you’re bottom of the league because you’re not good enough and not showing enough passion and desire to win football games because you’re too comfortable. It’s only January but the fans feel they need to do big bus welcomes outside the ground because we know how poor you are but we’re trying to back you.

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You’re not that good. I was there as a young kid in the 1990s and we weren’t that good.

You’ve got to be brave and find a solution. Everyone is hiding in a shell right now, petrified of making a mistake but you’re not going to win football games like that and you’ve got to change your mentality as football players.

We’ve got a difficult four-and-a-half months, every game is going to be horrible, it’s going to be like being in prison, you’re crossing off each day but the players have got to do their job.

I remember last season when we were putting tackles in, the players were giving absolutely everything to get a result and when the final whistle went, they would collapse on the pitch, they’d fall over because they were zapped and their energy had gone having given everything for the shirt. They couldn’t even celebrate as they were that tired but I don’t see that now.

Our football intelligence is zero from the goalkeeper all the way through to the strikers and whether it’s Anthony Gordon or anyone, don’t give silly fouls away within striking range because they’re a threat from free-kicks, Frank must be banging his head against the wall. I think Conor Coady is really struggling right now, our full-backs can’t stop crosses and our midfielders can’t pass the ball forward so the strikers aren’t getting a chance.

We all want Frank to do well, we all know that he’s come into the football club at a difficult time and we want to give him all the backing under the sun but as soon as I heard the owner say he had faith in him, I thought the end was near because I’ve never known a football club to come out and back a manager and for him to still be in his job a month later. Unfortunately since the World Cup, Frank seems to have got a lot of things wrong.

In my head he seems to be a people pleaser. He listens to fans but they don’t know Everton’s best team, he does, he trains with them every day.

We’d played well using five at the back at Manchester City and Manchester United but we can’t do that at Goodison Park against a side that are bottom of the league. The personnel wasn’t right for that formation either.

Seamus Coleman is 34 and while he’ll put everything into playing for that shirt, he hasn’t got the ability or energy to play wing-back. Dominic Calvert-Lewin isn’t fully fit up front so he needs feeding but we started the game without any wingers.

How is Calvert-Lewin going to score a goal without any wingers on the pitch? Vitalii Mykolenko can’t cross a ball and Seamus has never crossed a ball, so that’s where Frank got it really wrong for me.

We’ve got Jordan Pickford, he’s England’s number one but he thinks he’s David Beckham, screaming at his centre-halves to pass him the ball when they’re on the halfway line. As a player I was told the last thing you want to do is pass it back to your goalie because it shows you’re negative and it gives the opposition a chance to reset.

What are you going to do with it Jordan? When you get it, you kick it out of play.

If you keep passing the ball back the opposition are going ‘wow, these are taking the easy option, they’re scared.’

Demarai Gray, while he’s our biggest attacking threat, he reminds me more and more of Ross Barkley. The amount of talent he’s got is unbelievable but his decision-making is ridiculous.

He sees two defenders and tries to take them both on. No, you should just cross it in, you’ve got five yards, he’s done it so many times.

What’s with these little chipped balls by Gray? I did them myself as a player because I had Duncan Ferguson in front of me but we haven’t got anyone like that.

If I was a centre-half I’d be made up, you’ve just played right into my hands. I’d be scared if Big Dunc was up against me but as a centre-half you’ve got a chance of winning the ball and nobody attacking is going to get any power on it but we did that about half a dozen times.

Idrissa Gueye needs to shape up. Since he came back to the football club he’s been hopeless.

After being at Paris Saint-Germain he’s come back strolling around the pitch like he’s Franz Beckenbauer. He’s brilliant at tackling and putting fires out – that’s what earned him his move to PSG, he was like N’Golo Kante – but he’s never been able to pass the ball.

We were 1-0 up against Southampton just seconds into the second half, but as a team we’re too soft and lost concentration because we weren’t prepared to put in the hard yards. James Ward-Prowse was able to leave Gueye in his wake but if our player had done his job then it wouldn’t have happened.

That’s not Lampard’s fault, you can’t blame him for Gueye being asleep again after losing the ball three times against Brighton but who is he going to play instead of him?

It’s not rocket science, we only just sold up, sold our best player and the replacements that have been brought in have not been good enough.

I’ve been hard about players, managers and the football club in my column but I think I’ve been honest. If I’ve been proven wrong I’ll apologise but I don’t think I’ve ever had to do that because what I’ve said has been shown to be right.

I hope I am wrong. As fans we just have to keep believing. #AllTogetherNow


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