Willie Kirk believes back-to-back league wins would be “a big statement of our intent” as Everton Ladies prepare to welcome his former club Bristol City to Southport on Sunday (2pm kick-off).
After beginning his tenure as Everton manager with a 2-1 win over Liverpool in the Merseyside derby, Kirk and his squad have been hard at work on the training grounds at USM Finch Farm.
Having moved off the foot of the WSL table with that success over their city rivals, the Toffees have the chance to pull further away from the drop zone when they tackle the Vixens at the Merseyrail Community Stadium.
Bristol sit two places and six points ahead of the Blue Girls in the table but Kirk insists a second successive win would show Everton have turned a corner, and, for the players, would provide a huge boost as they look to catch those teams above them.
“In this league it is very difficult to put a run of results together,” he said. “The WSL is so competitive even the top teams will struggle to do that at times. But if we can first of all put back-to-back league wins together then that would be a big statement of our intent and would do a world of good for the players.
“Not being disrespectful to Bristol but I think should be looking to catch them. They have made a fantastic start to the season under new management. They had to make a few changes given there were a few departures, so they have done really well.
“It will be a tough game but I certainly think they are a team that we can set our sights on catching throughout the rest of the season.
“We are only one game into it so we won’t get carried away with ourselves. We have two more games before the end of 2018 – against Manchester United and Liverpool - and we need to have the target of being unbeaten.
“But we have to be realistic. With the changes that we are trying to implement and the three games we will have in a week, things will take their toll. We will be ready for the Christmas break at that point. If we can get to that point while staying unbeaten, that would be a fantastic short-term objective.”
Having picked up their first league win of the season, the mood in the camp is high ahead of Sunday’s game.
Kirk admitted he has thoroughly enjoyed getting to know his new squad and has been pleased with what he has seen so far.
“Things have settled down a now, but they bounced into their recovery session on Monday. They were tired and that wasn’t just from the game but from the emotions and the euphoria of the result.
“We have analysed the performance and even those who didn’t play have been so positive. We have capitalised on the Liverpool result as much as we can.
“The players have been very coachable and hard working. They now recognise the intensity we want to work at in training but they are responding to it very well.”