Michael Keane recognises a “lack of creativity” caused Everton’s 1-0 defeat at Watford on Saturday.
Even amid their hosts’ limitations the Toffees struggled to convince at Vicarage Road, where they rarely showed any desire to score, let alone threaten on goal.
Since his appointment their manager Sam Allardyce has been consistently criticised for Everton’s pragmatism.
He also blamed their defeat on an inability to take chances, but Keane told Everton’s official website: “We lacked creativity.
“We got in good positions and could have caught them on the counter a few times. But it didn’t quite happen for us. All we can do is keep working hard.
“We were more solid in general but we didn’t create a lot. They punished us when they got a chance.
“The lads are distraught in the changing room.
“We have no excuses: we have to do better. We know that. We had the right mentality coming into this game and we were desperate to do well and turn our away form around.”
Of their struggles away from Goodison Park, he added: “We can’t explain our form away.
“We have shown it at home this season but away it has gone missing. We didn’t show that quality.”
Since his arrival to succeed the sacked Marco Silva, Watford’s new head coach Javi Gracia has overseen an encouraging run of two victories, two defeats and a draw from his five fixtures in charge.
Saturday’s win took them to the relative safety of 10th place, but the Spaniard said: “I am only focusing on the next match: that is the best mentality.
“Everybody speaks about how many points you need and I only say one thing: ‘I don’t know’. What I am sure of is that we need three points in the next game versus West Brom.
“When we play at home we feel the backing of our supporters. We play with another man at home.”