Willie Kirk says Everton Ladies’ impressive 2-1 victory over Ajax on Saturday represented another positive step as his team continues to make “steady progress” ahead of the 2019/20 WSL campaign.
Everton came from behind to beat the Dutch giants in Amsterdam, with second-half strikes from Hannah Cain and Meg Finnigan seeing Kirk’s team lift the NexGen Women’s Series Trophy.
Ajax were runners-up in the Dutch top-flight last season and manager Kirk believes overcoming such quality opponents will add to the belief among his squad.
Everton begin their WSL season with an away clash at Birmingham City on 8 September.
“Pre-season is all about getting into habits, that habit of winning, scoring goals and creating chances,” Kirk told evertonfc.com.
“We’ve had seven pre-season matches and won six of them, and I think the players will be taking from that confidence every week.
“There has been steady progress.
“Not all performances have been perfect and we had a poor first half [against Ajax]. We made some changes and the second-half performance was really, really strong.”
Manager Kirk added he has been encouraged by how his players have implemented his ideas and methods over the pre-season period.
He has also been heartened by how the Toffees’ summer arrivals have integrated into the group. Everton signed six new players during the transfer window: Kika van Es, Tinja-Riikka Korpela, Lucy Graham, Maeva Clemaron, Molly Pike and Esme Morgan.
“I think most of the things we are working on in training are coming through on the pitch,” Kirk added.
“We have been strong on those principles and it’s allowing the players to make corrections on the pitch at the time, instead of the coaching staff doing it from the sides.
“The new players have all settled in great, too.
"We have got a team building camp over the next few days. We are going to have a couple of days away – it will be really challenging for the players, in terms of getting them out of their comfort zone, and the activities we’re doing.
"I think it will be very beneficial for us.
“As a whole, we are very pleased with the way pre-season has been going.”