Everton legend Graeme Sharp is encouraged by the Blues’ pre-season progress under Marco Silva.
Sharp was in Portugal to watch Everton play Lille and Porto over the weekend and believes new manager Silva will be pleased with the purposeful strides taken by his team.
The Blues travel to Blackburn Rovers for their latest friendly fixture on Thursday and two days later take on Rennes in France.
Sharp insists the outcome of the games pales in importance against the opportunity a demanding round of fixtures provides for Everton’s players to familiarise themselves with Silva’s instructions – and gain fitness in match conditions.
The Toffees, who wrap up their preparations for the new campaign against Valencia at Goodison Park on August 4, created a succession of openings against Portuguese champions Porto without being able to apply a decisive touch.
They ultimately went down to Moussa Marega’s second-half strike, 24 hours after sharing a scoreless draw with Lille. Everton beat Austrian team ATV Irdning 22-0 and drew 1-1 with Bury at Gigg Lane in their opening two warm-up encounters.
“I do not think the lads deserved to lose the game against Porto, there were a lot of good performances,” said Club Ambassador and two-times title winner Sharp.
“Sandro’s fitness and energy levels were fantastic [for example]. We moved the ball forward quicker, we were trying to probe and get in behind them. Cenk Tosun, Sandro and Kieran Dowell had chances.
“The full-backs were getting forward. It was an attacking performance… I think Marco Silva will be pleased with what he saw.
“It was probably the toughest test we have had but I thought we coped very well with them. There was a definite step up from the game the night before, which is what you want to see at this stage.
“We did not deserve to lose but that is what happens in pre-season. Fitness is the most important thing. The players will have benefited hugely from playing against a good team in hot conditions.
“I do not think you could fault anyone. All the lads played really well and put in a good shift.”
Silva has spoken of the imperative of squeezing every ounce of value out of the six weeks he has to ready his team for the Premier League season, which Everton launch with a visit to newly-promoted Wolverhampton Wanderers on August 11.
That preparation period has reached its mid-point and the manager is delighted with how his players have taken on board his ideas since starting work at USM Finch in early July.
And Silva revealed Everton’s games in Portugal presented him with a timely opportunity to study the team in action against quality opposition.
He told evertontv
: “It is going well and our boys are working really hard. I wanted to play in the tournament [Algarve Football Cup] to have some hard games.
“It is a good time to look at the squad and take important decisions for the team.”