Sam Allardyce has risked driving a wedge between himself and his Everton stars after he claimed they weren't giving the Blues 'value for money'.
Allardyce was quoted in the Liverpool Echo on Monday as he explained why he didn't feel that his first-team squad was doing enough to justify their price tags.
The Toffees boss oversaw yet another away defeat last weekend as Everton fell to a lacklustre 1-0 loss at Vicarage Road to Watford - a result which means it's now just one win in the past 22 Premier League trips away from Goodison Park.
Everton have splashed out over £200m on new players in the past 12 months but have struggled to make good on their desire to break into the top four of England's top flight and currently find themselves in ninth position in the table.
Despite Evertonians becoming increasingly perturbed at Allardyce's defensive tactics, the 63-year-old opted to shift the blame game from his own misgivings and claim that his senior stars weren't showing their best form or their talents.
He remarked: “Yes, no doubt about that (they should be playing better).
“But you see Everton is in an inflated price bracket because everyone knew it had got money to spend so every player they went for ended up at a certain price for Everton.
“If it was Man United it would be even more, but if it’s less than Everton it’s less. We are in that bracket now so we either say we pay that price and bring the player in or we don’t. And that’s what you live with today.
“Yes I would say the players need to be dealing with it more for the money we’ve paid for them.”
Sam Allardyce continues to offer a compelling case for why he should have no part in Everton's future— Richard Buxton (@RichardBuxton_) February 24, 2018
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In quotes that have further alienated Everton's fanbase, 'Big Sam' also threw the blame for his team's current poor form solely at the feet of his players for being unable to carry out basic instructions.
He added: “They get the ball and pass it, not me.
“So, if you get the ball and move it forward to one of your front men, your front men get in the game and they attack the other teams defence. But you can’t blame me if they don’t pass the ball to each other.”