Alan Stubbs has absolutely no doubt over who is to blame for Everton's decline

The former Toffees captain insists the club's players should be shouldering the responsibility rather than under-fire manager Roberto Martinez.

Former Everton captain Alan Stubbs has made his opinion known in no uncertain terms as to who should be taking the responsibility for the club's poor season, telling talkSPORT that they players have to stand up and be counted.

The Toffees' underwhelming campaign reached a new low on Wednesday night as Roberto Martinez's side were thrashed 4-0 by rivals Liverpool at Anfield in an utterly one-sided affair.

Martinez has been under pressure for some weeks now due to his side's below-par performances and poor results, and he admitted after the match that he was left with "a feeling of embarrassment" after the disastrous loss.

However, Stubbs has insisted that the result was shaped by Ramiro Funes Mori's reckless red-card challenge early in the second half, something upon which Martinez could have no influence.

Speaking to talkSPORT, the former skipper went on to insist that the players should be shouldering the burden of the blame rather than the manager for their insipid displays and unwillingness to take responsibility.

The current Hibernian manager said: "There’s been a bit of discontent of Merseyside for a number of weeks now, the fans have not been too happy. But when you look at the one incident that changed the game last night, the red card, it was a naughty tackle and they’re the kind of decisions that, as a manager, you can’t envisage.

"You want the players, especially the senior players, to take responsibility. This is potentially the best group of Everton we’ve seen in the last ten or 15 years, and they need to pull themselves together now.

"The one thing [the fans] expect as a given is for the players to go out there and give 100 per cent every week. It’s a proud club with a proud history, and it’s up to the players to make the fans proud. At times like this it is very easy to point the finger and lay the blame, and it always comes to the manager’s door.

"But as players you have to look at yourself in the mirror and say to yourself, ‘am I doing everything I can possibly do?’ If the answer to that is ‘yes’, then fair enough. But if the answer is ‘no’, you’ve got to do something about it. The players just need to respond now. It’s as simple as that."

Everton's latest defeat leaves them 11th in the Premier League table, three points off a place in the top half with five matches of the season remaining.

More importantly, however, it has dealt a crushing blow to their morale ahead of their biggest match of the season on Saturday, the FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United at Wembley.

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