Everton manager Roberto Martinez insists there is no disharmony within the squad despite an obvious disagreement over who should take a penalty against West Brom.
Kevin Mirallas stepped up ahead of spot-kick regular Leighton Baines, who has missed just one of the 16 he has taken, but his shot hit the outside of the post.
It was Everton’s best, if not only chance, a minute before half-time and the misery was completed for Mirallas when he was substituted at the interval with what Martinez said was a problematic hamstring.
However, the sight of Steven Naismith and Romelu Lukaku appearing to try to tell Mirallas to hand the ball over to Baines did not look harmonious and England assistant manager Gary Neville, on duty in the Sky Sports studio, condemned the Belgian.
“What he’s done there at 0-0, taking it off the major penalty taker, which is what it looks like has happened, is a despicable breach of team spirit,” Neville said.
“To go against team orders, you do not do that.”
But Martinez said there was no falling-out.
“Not really. If Leighton Baines is the one who wants to take the penalty he will take it,” Martinez said.
“He is the number one penalty taker but if it had been the other way around and Leighton says no, the issue would be why Kevin was not allowed take the penalty. We are a team that is very together. I expect a few players to be able to take penalties and convert them.
“Leighton was quite happy to let him take it because he felt confident and right in that moment. There is no big issue in that.
“It became an issue because he couldn’t find the back of the net.”
Martinez said Mirallas’ hamstring became a problem during the interval and that was why he could not continue.
“When he gets into half-time and the body temperature changes he felt his hamstring was starting to give him a bit of a problem,” Martinez said.
“He has been carrying a problem in that area and that is why he didn’t start against Manchester City and West Ham. He felt 100 per cent but at half-time he felt that hamstring was starting to give him a bit of a problem and he wasn’t 100 per cent to start the second half.”
West Brom manager Tony Pulis made it three matches unbeaten since taking over earlier this month and they have yet to concede a goal under him.
“It was a resilient performance, the lads worked really hard,” said Pulis, who revealed he will speak to chairman Jeremy Peace about whether to make an improved £4m bid for Wigan forward Callum McManaman.
“We had good shape at times. We have to be better on the ball and it doesn’t come overnight. The midfielders gave the ball away too cheaply at times and they are good players.
“We need to get good passes off to get us up the pitch. It was a fantastic effort, showing good resilience and I am really pleased.”