Everton manager Frank Lampard does not believe one result will determine their Premier League future but knows this week’s visit of Newcastle is crucial for confidence.
Sunday’s 1-0 home loss to Wolves was an eighth defeat in nine matches and their nine-point return from the last 60 available has left them above the bottom three on goal difference only, with a first relegation in 71 years a genuine fear.
Thursday’s home game against a revitalised Newcastle, who were 19th in late January and are now 14th and nine points clear of danger, is effectively a must-win game ahead of an April which includes matches against top-six sides Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and West Ham.
Lampard is keen to stress Everton have 12 matches remaining – more than all of their relegation rivals – and there should be no sense of panic, but his side cannot afford another devastating defeat this week.
“It is my job to be confident, to be positive, to be realistic and the realistic view is we have 12 games and some games in hand on other teams around us,” he said.
“Of course they are only any good if win them and we are waiting for that moment when something turns in our favour.
“If things go in our favour on Thursday, it will look very different (to the Wolves game).
“When we are where we are at, there is a longer road to try to get out of this.
“We can’t rely on one result to change it for us in a positive manner, just the same as we can’t take on one result that we really wanted to win that didn’t go our way.
“Maybe it will turn in our favour but all we can can do is work. We can’t think about ‘maybes’ and ‘what ifs’ and what happens, about home games or away games.”
Everton’s away record is so woeful – they have won just once on the road this season – Lampard was hoping to get a lift from Goodison Park but the atmosphere on Sunday quickly turned toxic.
That inevitably has an impact on the players but, with the pressure increasing, Lampard will not be telling them to try to remain cool.
“Staying calm is not the thing,” he added. “I think being on edge is not a bad thing,
“We and the players have to stay brave. We have to stick to how we want to play.
“You saw us play that way against Leeds here and Manchester City, the best team in the country, and we can play through lines and be a really effective team.
“To be fair to the players, it has been a long time that we haven’t been winning enough games and it is impossible to think that changes overnight without work and without fighting for something to go in your favour.
“We have seen it with teams round us: very quickly they are look like they are out of trouble or very quickly they look in trouble.
“We have to keep working to be the team that gets the right results.”