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Everton have base to build on as Ancelotti's European quest continues

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Everton's win over Norwich is exactly how I thought games were going to pan out following football's return.

Coming back after lockdown, adrenaline is pumping and we got a hard-fought draw against Liverpool. A few days later, we've got a big trip away to Norwich, so you're not expecting us to be dominant and firing on all cylinders.

Carlo Ancelotti has gone about it the right way. Concentrate on ourselves, when we're in the game be difficult to break down, keep strong defensively. And then, when we're on the attack, try to create more chances and put them under pressure.

It went that way. It's two games back from lockdown, two clean sheets and an away win, so it's positive.

We know we can improve and there are areas to do that, but because of this long layoff it's so difficult to be picky on how the lads are going about things. I feel sorry for the players who have got to make the best of the situation.

Now what we want to see from here until the end of the season is slight improvements, game-by-game. Hopefully we stay injury free as well, so a couple of players can return and make us stronger.

More quality going forward is key. In midfield particularly we're losing the ball a little too easily for my liking, but hopefully that will improve as new personnel can come back.

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We still need to have more bravery and belief in that final third as well. We need to have an impact in the game, make that perfect pass or that shot to put pressure on and find the net.

Yes that leaves us more open defensively, but while we're set up to be difficult to beat you've got to be brave enough to go on and win the game. The leaders in this squad can then start stepping up to make it an easier 90 minutes for us to watch at home!

Because of the lockdown, you can give the players a sense of freedom, but between now and the end of the term I want to see us being a bit more positive in the final third and showing that belief.

We have got the quality, and we've shown that in parts this season. I feel that Carlo and the coaching staff will want to start bringing that fluidity from the back throughout the rest of the side.

The players have got an opportunity, without fans, to practice the way the manager wants to play. I wonder if Jordan Pickford would play some of those risky passes in front of 40,000 people?

They're obviously doing it at Finch Farm but in a competitive game it's a different story. If there are fans showing a bit of frustration, they might have a different decision. But this is why we brought Carlo to the club.

Let's improve on that. We've got a good base now, but let's go forward. Instead of the safe passes, let's make those passes between the lines to cause defences problems.

You can pick out Alex Iwobi's performance against Norwich in that sense.

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Throughout the first half there were many players under-performing, and you were left wondering how we would put pressure on. And it was through performances like Alex's in the second half.

Hopefully that will give him more confidence because that's why we brought him to the club, to bring those displays in.

That's his level and that's what he can do. Asking for the ball, driving through the lines, it's great to see.

Now, can he bring consistency to his game and bring that from now until the end of the season?

We understand that it's after lockdown and things take time, but now we've seen what he's capable of and it's up to him to do that game-on-game.

The push for Europe is on

Since we've come back we've had two positive results and, if you look at the league, qualification for Europe does seem possible.

But we're not going to know where we are until we start playing teams in and around us, fighting for the same sort of goals in the league.

We've got two big games coming up in Leicester and Spurs, and we've got to look to put a marker down.

It's up to the players to step up. We've had a good start after the lockdown, but can we kick on again?

We've had a difficult season, but we've got the capabilities to go and beat teams like this - and we should be confident. Every player at the club should be fighting for their future and it's an opportunity for everyone to show Ancelotti why they want to be here.

When teams come to Goodison we should make it difficult. They've played an extra game this weekend, they'll be tired, and we should make it even more difficult for them.

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Make the game fast, put pressure on them high up the pitch and don't let them settle down. I feel we've been guilty of that under a few managers in the past even at home.

Hopefully, Carlo can get that mindset out of the players, and for the first 15 or 20 minutes we should make things difficult for Leicester. Any advantages we can take, we need to grab.

We haven't been successful for a while, and that's down to mentality. If you want to be successful, you've got to have that ruthless mentality for 90 minutes.

That's what the crowd will demand when they're there, but even with us not being there we'll still demand that.

The most frustrating thing is that we have rose to the occasion at times over the years, but then we've thrown it away again by not getting the results.

Consistency is what we're crying out for. We can see the ability we've got in the squad but we've not seen it on a consistent basis.

That's what I'm hoping for between now and the end of the season, show what we're all about on a consistent basis - against every team.

Every time a team plays Everton, they should know they have a battle on their hands.




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