Sylvain Distin believes it is unfair to criticise Everton's recent poor form in the Premier League, with the defender suggesting his side have spent only a fraction compared to the teams above them in the transfer market.
The Toffees started the 2012-13 campaign well, but two wins from 11 games has seen them slip into sixth position, leaving a gap of 15 points between themselves and Manchester United at the top.
But, despite the recent results, the 35-year-old suggests it would be unreasonable to expect David Moyes' side to be in the top four regularly with a budget way below the teams around them.
"If you want to make a big deal of it then yes, we should win at places like Stoke [1-1 draw] last weekend," he told the Liverpool Echo.
"But if you want to be realists you look at it; we faced good opposition and how much did we spend during the summer? I think less than £10 million.
"The teams above us spent big money, maybe £30m. I don't know where the problem is. People say they're not happy if we're not in the top four, as if we should always be there. That's not the case."
A win over West Ham on Saturday and favourable results would lift Everton to third position, and Champions League qualification is still a possibility providing form and fitness hold up in Moyes' squad.
Victories over Manchester United and Tottenham as well as draws against Manchester City and Arsenal show the Toffees can compete with the best sides in the league, and Distin is relaxed about the team's fortunes so far.
"We've lost only two games and we've played some big teams so far. Personally I don't see a problem," he added.