Ronald Koeman says Everton’s Carabao Cup victory over Sunderland must act as the “first step” on a positive run of form for his team.
The Toffees had endured a tough month prior to beating the Wearsiders 3-0 in what was the first of four successive matches at Goodison Park.
And with Everton’s cup progress secured – thanks to Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s double and Oumar Niasse’s late strike – Koeman is targeting Saturday’s visit of Bournemouth to kick-start the Blues’ Premier League campaign.
Asked if seeing off Sunderland would prove a turning point in his side's season, manager Koeman said: “Let’s hope it will be positive – and what we need.
“The first step was yesterday. Now this Saturday is really important. If you play for titles, or for European football, the next game is always the most important. That is this Saturday.
“After our past few results in the Premier League, we need a good feeling and that comes from winning games.
“If you compare the results we had last season against the teams we have played until now, there is not a big difference.
“But we need to show we are still strong and confident. Winning is always the best medicine – to get that confidence you need to put in good performances.
“And good performances normally mean you are winning games.”
Koeman says Everton can approach successive Goodison Premier League matches - Burnley are due to visit next Sunday - fuelled by memories of last season's form on their own turf.
The Blues won 13 and lost only two of their 19 home top-flight matches in 2016/17. But the boss identified his side’s fractured pre-season preparations as one possible explanation for them needing time to slip into gear this term.
And Koeman also cited the youthful age of a number of his players as reason for patience – which he expects to be rewarded down the line.
“Everybody gets time, everybody signs new players,” said Koeman.
“We had a strong run at home (last season), with goals and good results. This season is totally different. Our pre-season was different. We played in qualification for the Europa League in pre-season and the fixtures were difficult.
“When we reached the Europa League group stage – and got three points at home against Stoke and then one point against Manchester City, maybe everybody expected much more than we showed up to now.
“With the new players we signed and young players who played yesterday – we have six or seven boys aged between 19-22 – that is a future.
“And that needs time. That is normal.
“Let’s make the next step. That doesn’t mean we do not have ambition. If one person in football has ambition, then it is the person sitting at this table.
“But I am realistic and in football being realistic is sometimes difficult.”
Koeman also revealed he hoped James McCarthy would be fit to figure in first-term training next week following the midfielder's layoff with a knee problem.
And the Dutchman, who reported Yannick Bolasie and Seamus Coleman were "heading in the right direction" in the pair's respective recoveries from long-term injures, said Niasse would come into contention to face Bournemouth following his midweek goalscoring cameo.
"He was and is in my thinking," said Koeman.
"That has not changed because of yesterday. In the second half he scored a great goal and, of course, he is in my mind for the weekend – but we have 29 players. Some are injured but every weekend these are tough decisions."