Everton manager Frank Lampard says the club’s tense off-field situation had no impact on him and his players in Saturday’s 2-1 home loss to Southampton where they let a first-half lead slip.
The defeat worsened the Toffees’ relegation concerns, having won only once in their past eight games, leaving them 19th ahead of only Southampton on goal difference. Everton’s last league victory was on October 22.
That situation has created a tense environment, with Everton’s board of directors opting not to attend Saturday’s fixture due to a “real and credible threat to their safety and security”.
Disgruntled Everton fans staged a ‘sit-in’ protest after the game against how the club has been run.
“I’m completely focused on what we’re doing on the pitch,” Lampard told BBC. “The off-field noise is there but the things we can control as staff and players is on the pitch – and today we got beaten.
“It’s a difficult period. There is so much passion at this club for the right reasons, everyone wants the best for the club.
“Of course, over the years we’ve come in a direction where we were in a relegation battle last year and again this year.”
Everton had taken the lead in the 39th minute from Amadou Onana, but the Saints responded with James Ward-Prowse equalizing shortly after half-time, before netting a trademark free-kick for the winner in the 78th minute.
“It’s obviously difficult and disappointing, especially when you go 1-0 up,” Lampard said. “It’s a tough game, there’s a lot of tension for both teams I think.
“We deserved to be 1-0 in the first half with the passion in our game. It wasn’t a tactical game, it was more of a fighting game.
“We showed spirit and then an early goal in the second half changes the tone of the game. We came back, created some things, we hit the bar but then, typically at the moment, we concede a free-kick and it goes in our net.
“Obviously, it’s disappointing. It was a big game for us and we lost.”
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