Shakespeare 'Delighted' To Be A Blue

by Paul McNamara

Craig Shakespeare says he is “delighted” to be at Everton and has set himself the target of “improving the players and the football club”.

One of Sam Allardyce’s priorities after being appointed Toffees manager last week was to persuade former Leicester City boss Shakespeare to join him at Goodison Park.

But Shakespeare, who briefly worked with Allardyce as part of the England national team set up last year, admitted he did not need his arm twisting to accept the role of Everton’s first-team coach.

The 54-year-old was an integral member of the Leicester City coaching staff who oversaw the Foxes’ staggering 2015/16 English title triumph under Claudio Ranieri.

Shakespeare replaced Italian Ranieri at the East Midlands club’s helm in February and, after launching his reign with a 3-1 win over Liverpool, promptly masterminded a run of five successive Premier League victories.

He also guided Leicester past Spanish giants Sevilla in the Champions League last-16, before his side lost a tight two-legged quarter-final to Diego Simeone's Atletico Madrid.

Shakespeare is making an unexpectedly swift return to managerial duties for Everton’s match with Apollon Limassol tonight, with Allardyce forced to miss the trip to Cyprus due to a prior medical arrangement.

But his focus beyond the Europa League encounter is on thriving in his new position.

“It (the job with Everton) came through a phone call from Sam asking if I would join the management team,” said Shakespeare.

“I was delighted to do so. I am really excited to be here and it is a great opportunity for myself. We have a very, very good squad here – you have seen the last two results (victories over West Ham United and Huddersfield).

“From my point of view, I am looking forward rather than back.

“This match is an opportunity for me to get to know the players even better, talking to them one to one and collectively. And it is a chance for them to get to know me, as well.”

Shakespeare worked closely at Leicester with Everton director of football Steve Walsh, who fulfilled the same role at the King Power Stadium prior to switching to Goodison in summer 2016.

And Shakespeare – a former midfielder with a string of clubs including Walsall and West Bromwich Albion – hopes the duo can help engineer further success on Merseyside.

He said: “We all have to have those aspirations. You have to have that drive about you. But regardless of where you are, you want to make a difference. That is the aim.

“I know my role and responsibilities. I want to try to improve the players, improve the football club and improve myself, as well.”

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