Carlo Ancelotti admits he is embarrassed by Everton’s form at Goodison Park after relegated Sheffield United dented the Toffees’ hopes of European football.
Seventeen-year-old Daniel Jebbison became the Premier League’s youngest-ever scorer on his full debut as the Blades condemned Everton to a ninth home league defeat of the season.
Since Christmas, Everton have lost games at home to Newcastle, Fulham and Burnley but defeat to already-relegated Sheffield United, whose second away win of the campaign still left them 18 points behind 17th-placed Brighton, was a new low.
Everton missed the chance to move level on points with sixth-placed Tottenham and seventh-placed West Ham in the race for European qualification, and Ancelotti was left bewildered after seeing his side squander a great opportunity to stay in the hunt.
“With this defeat, we’ve lost the opportunity to fight with more possibility of being in Europe next season,” the Everton boss said.
“We lost a great opportunity; our chances are less now than before. We have two games left to play; we need to see which position we are in at the end.
“It’s really difficult to explain what is going on here at home; we’ve lost a lot of games, all the same kind of games.
“I have to take the responsibility of this, I hope the players also take the responsibility. I am really embarrassed.”
Everton supporters will be inside Goodison for their final home game of the season against Wolves on Wednesday, and Ancelotti hopes their presence can wake his players up.
“Fortunately we have supporters at our next game, I really hope that they wake us up because we need to wake up at home,” he added. “The supporters can help us to be more focused, concentrated.
“What is difficult to explain is why we did so well away from home and so bad at home. This is the same team, the same players. We have to improve soon and quickly.”
Three-quarters of Everton’s 12 Premier League defeats have now come at Goodison Park, a record which has left their once promising challenge for European football hanging in the balance.
Ancelotti believes his squad is short of players with quality on the ball and hinted that reinforcements will have to be made to address an element of their game that is clearly lacking.
“We don’t have players with strong personality with the ball,” Ancelotti said. “We are a team with different characteristics and are more direct.
“One of the technical reasons for this poor run is that, when we try to build up from the back, we have difficulty and are a bit slow because we don’t have the confidence with the ball compared to the confidence we have without it.
“We try to play more attacking football, but it didn’t work as well as the direct attack and counterattack in the away games.
“This has never happened. Usually when you have difficulties in periods at home or away but then you react. This season has been really bad at home and a great reaction away.
“We need to look at this for next season and maybe try to have a better squad.”
Heckingbottom hails Jebbison
Sheffield United caretaker manager Paul Heckingbottom was delighted for his teenage goalscorer Jebbison.
“Fantastic moment. It couldn’t have worked out better for him on his first start in the Premier League,” he said.
“He deserved his start. He’s a hard-working lad and we know him through how well he has developed at the academy.
17 – Sheffield United forward Daniel Jebbison (17y 309d) is the youngest player to score a match-winning goal in a Premier League game since Federico Macheda for Man Utd against Sunderland in April 2009 (17y 232d). Claim.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 16, 2021
“The fact I know how hard he works for the team changed my mind to pick him.”
Heckingbottom felt the performance also answered questions which had been levelled at his players.
“It’s a good reflection on them,” he added. “The questions I got asked when relegation was was confirmed early on were, ‘Will the boys keep the fighting spirit to keep the integrity for the league?’
“I took that as being disrespectful and an insult to the players.”