David Unsworth has challenged his Under-23 side to follow up their Premier League 2 success with more silverware in the new campaign.
The Young Blues’ boss has taken his squad away to La Manga, Spain, as their pre-season preparations go up a gear with a week of heavy training in hot and humid conditions.
Having already visited the resort in his playing days, Unsworth knows the surroundings are ideal to refuelling his champions with more desire and hunger for glory.
And while only friendly matches accompany the summer schedule, that winning mentality is still demanded each and every day by the former Everton defender.
“We always want to win - that never changes,” he told evertontv the morning after their late night arrival.
“We always want to win every competition we enter because at this level, this age group, they need to learn how to win.
“This is a lovely facility and a great place to come. It’s really, really hot so the lads are going to benefit from a tough week. It’s quiet as well so it’s the perfect place for a perfect week where the lads need a lift in the volume of intensity. We’re looking forward to it.
“They’ve come back in great shape which I’d have expected anyway, but we’ve had two tough weeks [at USM Finch Farm] and a couple of games so they’ve got some minutes under their belts, but this is going to be a real step up in intensity this week - training three times a day, every day and then finish with a game on the Saturday.
“I want them to stay injury-free, to not miss a minute of any training sessions and I want them to go back thinking it was a really tough week but an enjoyable one as well. The group living together under this intensity will bring them even closer together.”
It’s a first trip away with the side for new signings Josh Bowler, Boris Mathis and Anton Donkor, as well as Academy prospects Danny Bramall and Alex Denny.
With the squad sharing adjacent apartments on the complex, that close-knit community will serve to help them settle within the squad.
“It’s really important for new signings when you come away to know what we’re all about and they get to know the other lads,” Unsworth added. “It’ll be a really good week for them to integrate into the way we do things and get their relationships going with the rest of the players.”
Having seen several of his league-winning squad travel with the first team to Tanzania and now Holland, the work never stops for the Under-23s coaching staff as they look to see how they can ensure the next batch make the same transition.
And with the influx of new senior arrivals on Merseyside, that task has only increased in difficulty.
Yet Unsworth is delighted with the backing in the transfer window both he and Ronald Koeman have been afforded and says the Club’s motto of ‘Nil Satis Nisi Optimum’ underlines why everyone must give their all to reach the top with the Toffees.
He said: “We still want to develop and see these lads go out on loan, challenge them and see them train with the first team and hopefully at the end of that, get an opportunity with the first team - but they have to be good enough. Nobody will get in our first team any time if they are not good enough.
“The bar has certainly been raised and will continue to rise with all the new signings we’ve got. The lads are aware of that; they know they’ve got to step up and be even better than they are.
“It’s great to see the quality of players we’re bringing in. It gives everyone a lift, including us because the standard keeps going up - and that’s what we’re all about at this Club. We want to consistently improve and we never want to settle - and that goes for staff as well.
“We always want to continue to be better and to be the best.“