David Unsworth says his Everton players are “running harder and faster than they have all season”.
Unsworth has overseen the Toffees’ past five matches and, after taking charge of the team last month, quickly identified a need for them to establish a “fighting spirit”.
Everton have taken four points from the past six available in the Premier League and tonight return to European action with a home game against Italian team Atalanta.
And despite the Blues being unable to progress to the Europa League’s knockout rounds, Unsworth insists there has been no let-up in their customarily energetic and meticulous training ground approach, ahead of the meeting with the Serie A outfit.
“We want to win the game and prepared exactly the same as we normally would do," said Unsworth.
“It is a game in which we represent Everton and, for me, that is really important – that we put on a performance and try to win the game.
“I can assure all the Everton fans that these players are working so hard, and have probably not worked as hard for a long, long time.
“I believe in the way I want to play and the way I like to train. I believe that the players giving absolutely everything in every training session will translate in to what they do in matches.
“I see that in the physical stats we are producing. These players are running harder and faster than they have all season. So I believe in what I am doing.
“I have a way of playing, which demands a high tempo in training and maximum effort. I want to play in a certain way, with a certain type of pressing game.”
Everton needed to summon all of their gutsy, persevering qualities to beat Watford and then draw with Crystal Palace on their two most recent outings.
Unsworth’s side equalised twice to return home from Selhurst Park with a point at the weekend, a fortnight after they had turned a two-goal deficit on its head to beat Watford 3-2 at Goodison Park.
Palace boss Roy Hodgson spoke of the Toffees’ combative approach on Saturday. But with Everton determined to make rapid strides up the Premier League table, Unsworth explained his team’s feisty display in south London fitted the bill exactly.
“What I saw during the game – and when I watched it back – was a wholehearted and committed Everton performance,” said Unsworth.
“I would rather have that than losing the game.
“I think we have needed a bit of fighting spirit. When you are in the position we are, that is what gives you wins and puts points on the board until the confidence is as high as it should be, which is when the players can express themselves as individuals.
“We cannot play as individuals at the moment because we are in a perilous position. What we want is team performances, and within that a strong unity, a team spirit and a desire and fight to win every single game.”