Frank Lampard has told his Everton players to use the hurt of Wednesday night’s late defeat to Premier League relegation rivals Burnley as a positive ahead of Saturday’s match against Manchester United.
Maxwel Cornet struck five minutes from time to condemn Everton to a costly 3-2 defeat, the final twist in a match in which the Toffees had cancelled out Nathan Collins’ early goal through two Richarlison penalties before Jay Rodriguez brought Burnley level early in the second half.
It meant Everton blew the chance to move seven points clear of the bottom three – instead they go into the weekend just one point above Burnley, who travel to bottom side Norwich on Sunday, hoping by then they will have ensured they have the opportunity to climb out of the relegation zone.
“Manchester United will be a completely different game at Goodison, with an understanding of the pressure that’s now on it,” Lampard said.
“We can’t pretend (Wednesday) didn’t happen. We have to use it as a positive, which means being on an edge until Saturday, on a good edge. We know what’s on the game. We believe in ourselves at Goodison.”
Lampard may still preach belief and confidence, but pessimism is growing amongst the club’s fanbase.
A seventh-consecutive away defeat in all competitions – Everton’s worst run since 1961 – has ramped up the pressure on their manager, who has so far been unable to arrest a miserable run of form which has seen them pick up just 12 points since October 1, their 68-year top-flight stay now in real jeopardy.
“The only talking we can do is on the pitch,” Lampard said. “We’ve got nine games to play. All (the fans) need to know is that from my point of view, I’ll give everything in these nine games to prepare right.”
Lampard has won only two of his 10 league games in charge of Everton, with the 43-year-old facing the toughest test of his still young managerial career.
But as he tries to pick up his players once again, he insisted he did not need lifting himself.
“That’s the job of a manager,” he said. “I’ve been in it a few years now. It’s a difference between playing and managing. You can affect things on the pitch, you can affect around it. You have to be ready.
“No, I don’t need picking up. I’m the one that has to pick up. I understand completely what it is because I’ve been in the game a long time.”
Everton’s misery was in stark contrast to the huge relief within Turf Moor as Burnley ended a run of four-straight defeats to breathe new life into their survival bid.
Cornet, starting ahead of Dwight McNeil, sent in the corner for Collins’ opener and created a number of late chances before Matej Vydra capitalised on a Ben Godfrey error to set up his winner – the first goal Cornet has scored since returning from the Africa Cup of Nations in January.
“It was important to win because we know every game until the end of the season will be important,” the Ivory Coast international said. “That’s why we need to win every game.
“It’s been a long time (since the last goal). That’s why it was very special for me because I want to score every game. I was unlucky the match before so I’m very happy. The celebration was unbelievable because Turf Moor was unbelievable.
“(Norwich) is another big game. Every game until the end of the season will be a big game for us. We don’t want regret at the end of the season that’s why we have to do the maximum now.”