(Reuters) - Everton have lacked fight since their hopes of qualifying for Europe faded, manager Carlo Ancelotti said on Wednesday, adding that he was still surprised by how poor his side have been recently.
Everton, 11th in the standings on 45 points with three games to play, are all but out of the race for Europa League qualification and were beaten 3-0 by Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday, their third game in a row without victory.
“I agree, it’s three poor performances,” Ancelotti told a news conference ahead of Thursday’s home game against second-bottom Aston Villa. “First of all, I think that we didn’t have a lot of time to recover properly.
“Second, we lost a little bit of fighting spirit. Maybe the fact that it’s quite difficult to reach the position of Europe, I think the players lost a little bit of motivation and concentration. I was surprised.”
The Italian has spoken to his players about their attitude and expects a reaction against Villa.
“It’s not acceptable,” Ancelotti added. “We expect... a different attitude, different mentality, different character.
“A big part of the DNA of this club is that everyone wants to see players fighting. It’s the most important part. When there’s no fight, that’s not the DNA of this club.”
Defender Mason Holgate and midfielder Andre Gomes, who were out with shin and ankle injuries respectively, will return for the game at Goodison Park but centre back Yerry Mina misses out with a muscle problem.
Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis