Everton captain Phil Jagielka has defended manager Roberto Martinez by admitting players cannot only take credit for good performances but must shoulder a fair share of blame for poor ones too.
Toffees fans are on a high after booking a first trip to Wembley in four years, where they will face Manchester United or West Ham in the FA Cup semi-final after beating Chelsea at the weekend.
But in the preceding seven days the number of dissenters calling for Martinez to be replaced grew to its highest level after a late collapse from 2-0 up against West Ham saw them lose 3-2 in the Premier League, with Kevin Mirallas sent off.
Reports also began emerge claiming the players were losing faith in Martinez’s open approach to football and wanted to be more pragmatic at times.
There were obviously no such criticisms following the win over Chelsea, in which striker Romelu Lukaku, Aaron Lennon and Jagielka all starred and after which chairman Bill Kenwright spoke out publicly in support of his manager.
But Jagielka knows it will only take another poor display – with Arsenal the visitors this weekend – for the tide to turn against Martinez again.
“In that position you are judged on how you affect the game and unfortunately, with the way criticisms went and what happened last week, conceding three goals in the last 12 minutes, obviously people were quick to forget we were down to 10 men for the majority of the game,” said the Everton captain.
“Obviously the manager has to take some responsibility because that’s his role but to the same extent, we’re the people out on the pitch and we have to perform.
“You can’t throw all the blame the manager’s way, there has to be a pretty even split between him and the players.
“I understand that people will do that, because that’s the way football is.”
Everton’s inconsistencies, having won just four Premier League matches at home this season and just eight in the last 12 months, have undoubtedly affected the atmosphere at Goodison.
However, there was no issue on Saturday with the old ground rocking in the closing stages.
There could have been no better introduction for new majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri, attending his first match since acquiring a 49.9 percent stake in the club.
“He picked the perfect game to come to!” added Jagielka.
“That’s what we’re always about, it’s what I’ve always said, but it’s difficult to make that sort of incredible atmosphere we had when the performances have been so inconsistent and the results haven’t been what we expect.
“We certainly haven’t been sat in the dressing room blaming anyone, that’s for certain.
“We know we need to perform for the fans to make it a fortress, and we know that’s not been the case for the majority of the season.
“It’s the way it’s gone for us, we’ve had disappointments and reacted well to them. We did that, and being in the quarter-final of the cup made it that much more special.
“The fans played a big part. We played well, kept it going and showed we have something.”