Marco Silva wants his Everton players to direct their rising confidence levels into a performance laced with “pace, ambition and intensity” at Southampton on Saturday.
Silva’s team is aiming for a third straight victory on the south coast after successive home wins over Lincoln City and Bournemouth.
Those results, admitted the manager, have infused the squad with renewed belief. And Silva is convinced his team is not far off replicating the stirring football which yielded a stack of points earlier this term.
“This week I felt our players had more freedom – they kept working hard like always – but with more confidence,” Silva told evertontv.
“It is up to us to show it [confidence and freedom] in the next match and the match afterwards.
“It is something we always want – but when you talk about confidence and enjoyment, sometimes it is not just about touching a button and the players will be confident.
“We have to achieve good things again to give these good feelings to them.
“We know now – and we knew before – the good things we already did and what we have to learn from our performances as well.
“My confidence in our players and our squad is always really high and I am sure we will reach the same level again.”
Silva identified the incisive passing of forward pair Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson as crucial in swinging last week’s clash with Bournemouth in Everton's favour.
The duo are leading the way in Everton’s scoring charts with nine apiece in all competitions this season and have both established themselves as pivotal figures in Silva’s expansive football model.
No outfield player in the Blues’ squad has started more than Sigurdsson’s 21 Premier League games this term. Indeed, he would likely have been selected for all 22 were it not for the necessity to give the Icelander a breather during the congested festive period.
Operating in his accustomed position behind the striker, Sigurdsson married his imaginative offensive game with characteristically unstinting industry in Everton's success over Bournemouth, the Icelander covering seven miles in the course of his dynamic display.
“He is a really important player for us, playing this season in a different role,” said Silva.
“He has achieved some very, very good performances, helping the team – not just with the ball but without the ball as well. He has shown his quality and scored important goals.
“No doubts [he is the profile of footballer I want in my teams]. In football, this mix is really important for a club and for my model.
“Football today is not just with the ball, it is without the ball as well: being clever and having the knowledge of what we must do when the team does not have the ball.
“And, after, with the ball, to have quality, to find the right spaces to receive the ball in our model and make the difference.
“Gylfi is working really hard every time to help the team.
“Our defensive organisation will be stronger if everything starts up front. Just like you can play better and create more chances to score if everything starts well in your backline.”
Everton sit 10th in the Premier League but only two points adrift of Watford in seventh. Southampton, meanwhile, have enjoyed a significant upturn in form following the appointment of Ralph Hasenhuttl as manager last month.
The Austrian has claimed 10 points from his six games in charge, a return which has lifted Southampton out of the bottom three.
Silva, then, is expecting a stern test – but is promising his side will tackle it with purpose and intent.
“We never changed our mind, our way or our ambition, playing home or away," added Silva.
“We have shown since the first game at Wolves, our ambition and style.
“We did not change anything but in some games the opponents did well and blocked us as a team.
“It is up to us again to show this ambition, this pace in our game, this intensity in our game and this quality to achieve a good result against Southampton.
“It will be tough, they are a good team and improving, so we have all the conditions to see a good game.”