Everton manager Sean Dyche has cautioned his squad to focus on their own performance rather than the outcomes of their relegation rivals as they strive to climb out of the bottom three.
With a 10-point deduction for violating financial regulations, Everton finds themselves in a fierce battle alongside Luton, Burnley, and Sheffield United at the lower end of the table. Positioned third from the bottom, Everton faces Newcastle on Thursday with the opportunity to rise above the relegation zone with a victory.
Despite the struggles of the teams around them, Dyche emphasises that his team cannot afford to be complacent. He insists that Everton must engage in a challenging fight to avoid relegation, regardless of others' perceptions.
Dyche commented on Wednesday, "People refer to the newly promoted teams as likely to have a tough season. I don't see it as 'We are okay because these teams are deemed to be struggling.' They have earned the right to be in the Premier League, and we have to earn the right to be above them, at a minimum."
While the outcome of an appeal against the points deduction could impact Everton's fortunes, Dyche stresses the importance of his players earning their Premier League status on the field. He believes that focusing on their own game and blocking out the results of fellow strugglers will make the task easier.
"The 10 points have changed the situation. The idea of an appeal and whether we get some points back is in no-man's land, so it's up to us to figure out ways of winning games," Dyche stated.
Expressing his belief in positive realities and the team's capabilities, Dyche refuses to make excuses. He acknowledges the challenge and emphasises the need to confront it head-on.
Everton, a nine-time English champion, has maintained a continuous presence in the top flight since 1954 and has never been relegated from the Premier League. However, they narrowly avoided relegation by two points last season and have been overshadowed by city rivals Liverpool, last securing a trophy in 1995.