Carlo Ancelotti is demanding Everton channel the motivation and mental uplift gained from beating Arsenal into a compelling fight for European football.
Everton will target successive victories when Aston Villa visit Goodison Park on Saturday after the win in London last week ended a six-match wait for three points.
Manager Ancelotti enters the season’s final month armed with his strongest hand for a long while, with only midfielders Abdoulaye Doucoure and Jean-Philippe Gbamin unavailable.
The Italian, then, wants his team to play with “more ambition” in a bid to cure home ills – although not at a cost to defensive solidity.
Ancelotti, who unequivocally backed this weekend’s sporting social media boycott, added that contract talks with players including Seamus Coleman and James Rodriguez are in the offing – but won’t distract from the objective of European qualification.
“We are still in the fight and that is really good for us,” said Ancelotti.
“We have good momentum and all the players available.
“The victory against Arsenal was really important… we didn’t have good results in the previous few games, so to win was important for our mentality and motivation.
“When we want to play more attacking football [at home] we need balance, to avoid counter-attacks and opportunities for the opposition team.
“[We need to play with] more ambition, totally agreed, and more focus on the balance of the team.
“We have to be strong and focused and do our best.
“Every game is vital for everyone.”
Everton have competed in European competition in only two of the past 10 seasons.
Ancelotti, then, understandably maintains qualification will count as meaningful progress for the Club.
He is certain, nonetheless, that the outcome of this campaign won’t have any bearing on plans for shaping Everton into a team capable of competing at the sharp end of domestic and European football.
“It is a club that has a clear project,” said Ancelotti.
“In this clear project you need to invest because you want to improve.
“We are going to talk in the next few weeks to try to improve the squad and be better next season.
"This is the idea of everyone in the Club.
“I don’t know how we are going to finish this season but, until now, we have improved a lot.
“We have a better position and more knowledge and are more competitive than last season.
"We can step up quickly if we have a position in Europe for next season.
“But also, we can step up and put in place a good programme for next season [without qualification].”
Ancelotti, speaking to the media at his pre-match press conference on Friday, was strong on the significance of this weekend’s social media shutdown.
Every Premier League and Football League club, in addition to governing bodies the FA and UEFA and clubs and individuals from a range of sports, are stepping off the platforms between 3pm on Friday and 11.59pm on Monday.
The united stand is designed to help combat the spread of online discrimination and abuse.
“I think it is an important campaign,” said Ancelotti.
“We have two big problems; one is racism, the other is online abuse.
“If you look at social media, you can find abuse and insults everywhere.
“Most of the people are covered by an anonymous name.
“This is not tolerable.
“You cannot have anonymous people who can talk and insult you.
“We would like the social media companies to take strong action to try to cut this problem.”
Everton full-back Coleman’s current Everton contract expires at the end of 2021/22.
James, meanwhile, has one more year, in addition to a one-year option in Everton’s favour, on the deal he signed when joining from Real Madrid on the eve of this season.
“Our technical director, Marcel Brands, is involved in this and is going to talk directly with the players in the next few weeks," added Ancelotti.
“Seamus Coleman is the perfect example of how a player has to be… focused in training, doesn’t complain when he’s not playing, always focused on the performance of the team and the behaviour of his teammates.
“He is a perfect example of how to be a captain, first, and second, a player.”