Sam Allardyce has revealed the “small things” that have helped transform the Everton defence since his arrival earlier this month.
It is well documented that the Blues are much improved at the back, conceding just twice in their last eight games and keeping six clean sheets in that run.
The likes of Ashley Williams, here
, and Michael Keane, here
, have both recently hailed the impact Allardyce has had in terms of the resiliency within the side when they are out of possession, and the Blues boss has revealed what’s been behind it.
“I’ve been working with the defenders in small groups and chatted to each of them individually about what they need to do,” he said. “A few clear weeks on the training ground would have helped with that a bit more, but I have been pleased with the take up from those sessions.
“Its small things like body position in certain areas, whether you are in the right positions, and I am a big advocate for looking over your shoulder and being side on.
“I also say that the worst thing in football for a defender is ball watching. Probably 25 times a week I will talk about ball watching to put it in their sub-conscious! I want them to make sure that I’m not stopping the video the day after and say ‘you’re ball watching!’
“The sooner we stop doing that, the more capable we are in our defending.”
Everton’s defensive record will be put to the test on the south coast against Bournemouth on Saturday. The Cherries have struggled in the Premier League so far this season and currently sit in the bottom three, a point from safety.
Allardyce is no stranger to what is required when it comes to negotiating the dangerous waters surrounding the drop zone, having steered the Toffees into ninth from their previous position of 13th prior to his arrival, and sees enough within Eddie Howe’s squad to suggest they can pull themselves away.
“Eddie believes in what he is doing. He has done a fantastic job but now he has got his concerns over how they can get over this little run of results. That is always a big test for you as a manager, keeping the players believing that you are doing the right things and asking them to do the right things. If you can do that, then you are able to turn things around.
“The squad he has got this season looks like it is one of the best and strongest he has ever had. You look at his frontline and he has got [Josh] King, [Callum] Wilson, [Jermain] Defoe and [Benik] Afobe.
“We know we have a tough task on our hands, and as I’ve said, for Everton to get a result anywhere every player has to be 100 per cent. It is the same against Bournemouth, irrespective of where they are in the league.
“We have to make sure we give our top performance. We have to put them under pressure and make sure it is us who are trying to win the game.”