Frank Lampard was in no mood to debate his side’s 4-0 FA Cup elimination at Crystal Palace after making clear his only objective for Everton this season.
The Toffees started brightly at Selhurst Park and were looking to take their momentum into the game generated by Thursday’s 1-0 win over Newcastle. That was only the second win since Lampard replaced Rafa Benitez in the dug-out. And their start in Croydon suggested a second win in a matter of days would be soon to follow.
However, their early pressure ultimately counted for nothing as Palace showed how it should be done in front of goal. And strikes from Marc Guehi, Jean-Philippe Mateta, Wilfried Zaha and Will Hughes earned the Eagles a semi-final spot.
But for Everton, it was once again a case of one step forward, two back. Indeed, glaring defensive errors were brutally exposed by Palace and it is the south-east London side who can now make the trip to Wembley.
Lampard, however, offered something of a glib response when asked if he felt his side had missed their Wembley chance.
Speaking to ITV Sport, he suggests the sole focus of his reign is purely to ensure Everton avoid the drop.
Prem games matter
And asked how their survival hopes are affected by Sunday’s result, the grumpy Toffees boss had this response.
“It’s nothing to do with this result. This was always going to be difficult anyway. Players go away for a period now, [other] players are training.
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“The 11 games that we’ve got left are the ones that matter for us.
“The dream of getting to the semi-final and playing at Wembley, they’ve gone.
“As far as I’m concerned, the biggest prize this season was staying in the Premier League – I came to the club knowing that. That’s the focus now. ”
Lampard needs to keep Everton fans onside
Next up for Everton after the international break is a tricky trip to West Ham on Sunday April 3.
And with a tricky set of games to follow, Lampard will hope to take something from his former club and to keep the fans onside.
He spoke earlier about the passion they have for the club and expects they will have a big role to play in the coming weeks.
Lampard remarked: “Some bits I was aware of, some bits you need to learn quickly. I have been taken in a positive way by the passion around the club.
“I know it has not been there every week. The minute it dropped off against Wolves and the fans were a bit more negative it was made into a big deal. You try to learn and to lead.
“The players have to be robust. In terms of the football side of it, I realised why we were where we were.
“There had to be a reason. Some of those reasons I can affect quickly to keep us up, and some of them I need a longer-term view. The beauty of Thursday night was the fight and character.
“The task for me longer-term is to get this squad how I want it to be. That is not simple. It is a nice challenge. So overall I have been surprised by little bits, but also nicely surprised. I am enjoying it.
“People find that hard to believe when you lose a few on the bounce. That is a difficult part of the job, but it comes with the territory. Moments like last night (Thursday) remind you why you do the job.”