Sam Allardyce says positive results are encouraging Everton’s players to jump on board with his methods – as he revealed "there is no doubt" the Blues job is his biggest in club management.
Allardyce oversaw a supremely disciplined display in the Merseyside derby on Sunday, when Everton smothered Liverpool’s battery of attacking stars to earn a 1-1 draw with their city rivals.
The 63-year-old is now formulating a plan for Wednesday night’s visit to Newcastle United, the club he managed in 2007/08.
And the north-east side’s recent defensive travails have not escaped Allardyce’s attention. Following a strong start to the campaign, Newcastle have shipped 15 goals in their past five Premier League games – including three against Leicester at the weekend.
Everton, by contrast, have won one and drawn three since Allardyce was announced as the Club’s new boss last month. And he admits that run of results acts as a powerful tool when it comes to persuading his players to buy into new ideas.
“I do not think there is any doubt about that,” Allardyce told evertontv. “We have to expand on what we are doing week by week, and results help promote what you are doing – and what the players are trying to do with me and the coaches, and the rest of the backroom staff, to make them better,
“We look at the whole package of the player and what they can deliver. Everybody talks about their ability, but we talk about their mindset, their physical application and qualities, their tactical and technical quality.
“We ask, are they great in that position? Can we help them be more aware of what they can get better at in the position they play in?
“Newcastle lost their last game at home and conceded three goals. The opportunity is there to do what Leicester did and expose those weaknesses, score a goal and try to win the game. But we cannot forget that solidarity we have created out of possession, by being difficult to score against.
“We want a better balance on Wednesday: to defend the right way, as we have been doing, but to be more attack minded in possession.”
Newcastle owner Mike Ashley removed Allardyce eight months into the manager's St James' Park reign in January 2008 – a decision Ashley confessed earlier this year remains one of his biggest regrets in football.
Allardyce, though – who says he is relishing being back on the managerial front line – insists the Everton job represents his greatest opportunity in club management.
“There is no doubt about that, with the history and passion of this football club,” said Allardyce. “My old mates who played here told me about the fantastic time they had under Howard Kendall… but to try to replicate what those lads did will be much more difficult than it was then.
“But you have to aspire to the highest possible level you can achieve. At this moment, it is to finish in the top half but, eventually, it should be to aim higher.
“It is great to see all these managers again and be back among them. I have known nearly all of them for quite a while. When we come across each other, it is about how can we plan to beat you, and for them it is about how they can beat us.
“That is how we challenge each other as managers, coaches and backroom staff.
“It will be interesting on Wednesday night – how much better can we be in possession to get to Newcastle’s defence, which conceded three goals in their last game?
“That will be one of our main aims, without losing our defensive responsibility in transition.”
Returning to the weekend duel at Anfield, Everton were breached only once by Klopp’s enterprising side – this two weeks after conceding four goals against Southampton.
Allardyce has admitted his priority was to contain a Reds forward line that had scored 12 goals in its previous two games – but he was reluctant to expand on how he had engineered such a remarkable sea change in the Blues’ form.
“I would be giving secrets away – why would I want to give away the secrets that have stood me in good stead over the years,” he smiled.
“But I ask the players: What is your responsibility, what are your strengths and weaknesses?
“We promote our strengths and cover up our weaknesses.”