Jordan Pickford acknowledged he was beaten by two world-class strikes against Manchester United – but admitted Everton have slightly come off the boil in their past two games.
The Toffees had not lost in eight matches before suffering successive Premier League defeats to Bournemouth and Jose Mourinho’s United around the turn of the year.
Goalkeeper Pickford was beaten only twice during his side’s unbeaten run and it took a pair of crackerjack efforts from Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard to get the better of him in the New Year’s Day encounter with the Red Devils.
The 23-year-old highlighted the influence of Sam Allardyce on his side’s renewed defensive resolve – and accepted Everton must quickly return to the solid principles implemented by the manager since he took charge five weeks ago.
The Blues currently sit ninth in a concertinaed Premier League table, three points adrift of eighth-place Leicester and two points ahead of Watford in 10th.
“He [Allardyce] has brought a good structure and balance to the side,” said Pickford. “I feel like we know where we stand with him. He is all about the basics and that is where we need to start.
“If we get the basics right, then we can go and play our football.
“We know what Manchester United are capable of doing and they scored two ‘worldies’. But the first goal was a mistake from us up the other end of the pitch and we needed to stop it at source.
“The past couple of games have been a bit sloppy from us. We do enough with the gaffer on the training ground two or three days before the game. We do attack vs defence, which is about blocking shots and stopping crosses.
“He has brought in great staff: Craig Shakespeare, Sammy Lee and the new goalkeeping coach, Martyn Margetson.
“We all know what we need to do. The luck is not going our way at the top end of the pitch to get a goal and I think we had enough chances [against United] as well.”
Manchester United forward Martial bent his 20-yard finish into Pickford’s top-left corner, leaving the Everton number one with absolutely no chance.
The former Sunderland player was equally helpless to prevent in-form Lingard’s thundering drive from nestling into the same part of the net previously found by Frenchman Martial.
And it has required something special to defeat Pickford of late, with the goalkeeper in superb nick. Indeed, he has seamlessly adapted to life at Everton since his summer switch from the Stadium of Light.
Pickford has played every minute of the Toffees' Premier League campaign, turning in a succession of terrific displays and winning his first full international cap in England’s 0-0 Wembley draw with Germany in November.
"Jesse’s goal was a good strike, it did not catch me off guard but there was just enough power to beat me,” said Pickford.
“I thought I was in a good position to get there but it was more the pace [which beat me].
“I feel in a good place. I have had a lot of loan moves throughout my career so far, which helped me take this step. I don’t feel under any pressure – I just want to keep getting better each week in training and in games. That is all I can do and as long as I can keep putting on performances I am happy.
“We know we need to work hard – and when we work, we work properly. It is about getting the balance right on and off the pitch. The gaffer is good at that: he has a joke when it is the right time and when we need to work hard, we work hard.
“As a group of players and staff that is the best thing for us.”