Nikola Vlasic is vowing to do everything he can to impress Sam Allardyce after the Croat attacker made his first Premier League start under the new Everton boss against Manchester United.
Vlasic was one of his team’s brighter performers as the Blues went down to long-range second half strikes from visiting pair Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard.
The 2-0 defeat represented the first time Everton have conceded more than once at Goodison Park since Allardyce took charge in late November.
It also means the Toffees have lost successive game following Saturday’s defeat at Bournemouth – after the 63-year-old had started his reign with an unbeaten seven-match run.
Vlasic, one of seven players manager Allardyce brought into the team for the clash with United, had not started a top-flight fixture since the meeting with Arsenal back in October.
He had previously featured once from the bench during Allardyce’s reign – in the 1-0 victory over Newcastle – and completed 90 minutes in last month’s Europa League win at Apollon Limassol, where he scored the Blues' third and final goal.
“We have many good players at the Club, so I was waiting for my chance and I knew I’d get that because there are many games, especially in this period,” said 20-year-old Vlasic.
“I will always continue to work hard and hope for my chances to impress. Every player needs to show their best in training in order to get into the manager’s team for the games.
“Before [Allardyce was appointed] we had really bad results but the new manager has come in and we got some good results. Now after this we need to go back to training, work hard and put things right.”
Everton competed on an even footing with United throughout a competitive opening 45 minutes, albeit the Toffees created few clear openings.
Jose Mourinho’s side had shown little as an offensive force, however, until Martial stroked home from 20 yards, 12 minutes after half-time.
Allardyce introduced James McCarthy and Aaron Lennon to positive effect after his team had fallen behind. But with the Blues steadily gaining a foothold back in the game, England international Lingard strode forward and belted a powerful shot beyond the helpless Jordan Pickford.
The New Year's Day loss leaves Everton still in ninth spot, three points behind Leicester City – with a trip to Tottenham next up in the Premier League, eight days after Friday night's FA Cup third round tie at Liverpool.
“We created some chances but if you don’t score against a team like Manchester United, they will punish you,” added Vlasic.
“I think we could have scored in the first half and even in the second half as well.
“But they are a very good team. They didn’t have chances inside the box but they got a little space and scored two goals.
“I think in the first half we were good, we played well – but in the second half we didn’t start well. They had their shots and scored with them. They probably deserved to win in the end.”