Kevin Campbell says Everton are developing a “winning mentality” under “forward-thinking and aggressive” manager Marco Silva.
The Blues beat Leicester City 2-1 on Saturday – but it was their “sensational” performance as much as the result in the East Midlands which had former Everton striker Campbell purring.
He had seen Silva’s men go for Arsenal’s throats last month when a fearless offensive display went unrewarded, with Everton consistently cutting through their hosts without applying the kill.
The Toffees adopted a similarly positive approach at Leicester and deserved their three-point bounty, earned with goals from Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson.
“When you are in a good spot as a player and have a forward-thinking and aggressive manager, you do not worry about the opposition,” Campbell told evertonfc.com.
“You let them worry about you. That is a winning mentality.
“It is the mentality Evertonians want their team to have – and it is what the Club wants moving forward, aggressive and winning football.
“And it is great that Marco Silva and Marcel Brands are in place to implement what they want to do.
“Everyone at Everton would have gone into the international break on a high after that performance at Leicester.
“We can see what the manager is doing and how the team is playing with purpose and going out to win games.
“Everton have approached every away game this season with the intention of winning – starting at Wolves, even when they were reduced to 10 men.
“It shows Marco Silva’s methods are working. He is improving the team and they are going in a clear direction, which gives everybody a shot in the arm.”
Everton drew 2-2 against Wolverhampton Wanderers on the Premier League season’s opening day despite being a man down for 50 minutes.
They were similarly numerically disadvantaged at Bournemouth following Richarlison’s 41st-minute red card but again drew 2-2, having raced 2-0 ahead with 10 men.
Arsenal dealt the Blues a sucker punch with two goals in three second-half minutes after the home team had spent substantial periods of the opening 45 minutes on the back foot.
Silva stuck to his guns at Leicester – staying true to his vow to try to win regardless of the identity of his side's opponents – and fielded an electrifying front four in the shape of Richarlison, Sigurdsson, Theo Walcott and Bernard, that quartet playing together for the first time.
The switch in personnel meant a shift from the wing for Richarlison, who was deployed as Everton’s central striker at the King Power Stadium.
“Good players gravitate towards each other,” said Campbell, who scored 51 goals in 164 appearances for the Club and was instrumental in Everton avoiding the drop following his arrival on an initial loan from Trabzonspor in March 1999.
“Seeing the way those four played together, there was a cohesiveness to it and nothing selfish about anything they did.
“They were looking to play each other in and complement each other’s games.
“They are all quality players, all smart. And to be able to do that to a decent Premier League side in Leicester was sensational, it could have been more.
“Leicester away is a tough game and it was the way Everton won it – getting the most out of Richarlison, Theo, Bernard and Sigurdsson – that was so impressive.
“Richarlison has the attributes to do very well at centre-forward. He is very mobile, he knows where the goal is and is the ultimate team player.
“He will cause all sorts of problems with his movement and mobility. I see that Everton team which played at Leicester carrying a threat from all angles.”
Brazil international Richarlison was the Club’s first signing following the summer arrivals of Silva and Director of Football Brands.
Compatriot Bernard was brought in from Shakhtar Donetsk on August’s transfer deadline day, while Lucas Digne’s form since signing from Barcelona two months ago has won the left-back a recall to France’s World Cup-winning squad. Kurt Zouma is also back in the French party for games against Iceland and Germany after establishing himself in the middle of Silva's defence following his loan move from Stoke City.
“You can see a clear strategy with Everton’s recruitment and the type of football the manager and Marcel Brands want to produce,” added Campbell, who spent close to six years at Goodison Park.
“I saw Everton go to the Emirates Stadium and give Arsenal more than they could really handle.
“If Everton had scored first they would probably have won the game. They were on the front foot and did not give Arsenal time to settle, I was really impressed with them.
“I could see the manager’s mentality in that performance – and you sometimes learn more in defeat than victory.
“Everton knew they needed to be more clinical and they were at Leicester. I see a lot of good things ahead for the Club, I really do."