Everton manager Sean Dyche has tried to keep things consistent this week as the club head into arguably the biggest game in their history.
There have been no rousing speeches or trying to artificially boost player morale ahead of the visit of Bournemouth as Dyche does not believe that would not make as much difference as reinforcing the same messages he has been giving since taking over from Frank Lampard in late January.
“I think all games are important but it stands to reason with it being the last game and what’s on it that of course it is a massive game,” he said.
“A lot of these players were here last season in a similar position so I think they are aware of it. It comes down to a big performance on Sunday.
“But I don’t have to emphasise that: I know it, the players know it, the fans know it, so we go into it open-minded.
“I don’t think positivity can win you football matches, performances win you matches.
“Inner confidence is a different thing but I’ve always been confident with the group, we go into every game confident so that doesn’t change.
“I think I have a good measure of what it is to be a manager and a player and the feeling in the group is consistent from myself and the staff, that’s all I try to bring.
“The consistencies I talk about are in performance, the mentality to perform, and then clarity. Consistent level of behaviours on and off the pitch I think pays you back.
“There will be some key pointers about the team and the way we perform of course but we will stick to the level of performance we expect from the players and the level we expect in training.”
Everton have a two-point cushion over 18th-placed Leicester but an inferior goal difference so only a win will guarantee safety, although as long as the Foxes and Leeds do not get a better result then the Toffees will be safe.
Home advantage will be key for all three teams but the pressure on the game is huge and, even if backed by a raucous Goodison Park, Dyche knows he will have to lean on senior players despite a large number of holes in his squad due to injuries, with striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin and defenders Nathan Patterson and Ben Godfrey all added to the unavailable list.
“We have worked hard to get in this position; two points in front doesn’t sound a lot but it is at this stage of the seaosn – but only if we capitalise on it,” added Dyche.
“With the senior players it is more about their experience.
“It’s unlikely unless you really have to you put a young player into a situation like that – we’re not in a position quite where we have to – but it’s fair to think a couple of the young lads will be involved in the squad.”
The effect of relegation on a club which has posted cumulative losses of over £430million over the last four seasons – and with a new stadium more than half-built – is almost unthinkable for a club which has enjoyed such a long spell in England’s top division.
But the repercussions of not avoiding the drop is not something Dyche is thinking about just yet.
“I’m not worried about that at the moment, trust me the game will be the focus,” he said.