Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder accused his experienced players of not giving enough after another defeat on Boxing Day.
Wilder watched on as his team lost 1-0 at Bramall Lane, leaving the Blades with the depressing return of only two points from their first 15 Premier League matches.
His team were a revelation last season as they finished ninth on their return to the top flight but Wilder is at a loss to try to explain why those same players are failing to perform this time round.
“It was a tight game but I’m disappointed with our quality again. It’s like a broken record and I’m saying the same things over and over,” said Wilder.
“For me, my experienced players and main men are not playing anywhere near what they are capable of and how they have played for me in the past. I know they can do it as they have shown it and it’s the reason why a lot of them have signed new contracts.
“I know we have it in us but nobody can give them a magic pill, they have to find it in themselves.
“We are a team who can move it around and play but we can never build any momentum and pressure on the opposition because we make too many poor decisions and it’s all stop-start.
“I’ll go away again and scratch my head and try to pick a team for Burnley.”
For Everton, they climbed two places up to second in the Premier League and finished in the top four at Christmas for the first time in 16 years after Gylfi Sigurdsson’s 80th-minute strike gave them a fourth straight league win.
The result left the Toffees on 29 points from 15 games, two behind reigning champions, leaders and Merseyside rivals Liverpool, who are at home to West Brom on Sunday.
“I am really pleased,” said Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti. “It is a victory for the spirit of the team, rather than the quality. The defence of the team was solid and we didn’t give opportunities to Sheffield. We scored a fantastic goal with a good combination.
“We knew we had to be patient and not give them opportunities to be in the game, so this was the plan. We knew we wouldn’t have many opportunities to score.
“The fact all these players are out and we win means the squad is good, the ambition is good and we are motivated. The three subs – Bernard, Andre Gomes and Seamus Coleman – helped a lot the team to win this game also.
“We are pleased we win a lot of games and we have won away five times this season and this is really good, but we have another game in two days’ time and we must try our best to prepare for this game. It is nearly impossible, but we try.”