Seamus Coleman says maintaining dressing room unity and desire is essential for Everton to turn a winning start into a prosperous Premier League campaign.
Irishman Coleman was this week confirmed as manager Rafael Benitez’s captain for the season.
The job is a “massive honour”, says Coleman, who insisted Everton would resist falling into the trap of eyeing longer-term prospects.
Everton go to Leeds United on Saturday aiming for successive victories after overcoming Southampton at Goodison Park in Benitez’s first match in charge.
Coleman wore the armband against Southampton, with Benitez subsequently revealing the 32-year-old – a “great player and great captain,” in the Spaniard's view – would keep the position.
“Whoever the manager is, it doesn’t change for me,” Coleman told evertontv.
“I work hard and am committed to the cause – committed to playing and training hard for Everton Football Club.
“It is a massive honour to play here again in front of the fans and every time I put on that armband is a massive honour, as well.
“We need to always improve and do the right things around the training ground. To be committed and work hard on a daily basis, rather than looking at the bigger picture all the time.
“We need to be pushing in one direction – that is the key to success, no matter the level you play at.
“In football, the way I have been brought up, and with the managers I’ve played for, you are on time, you work hard and leave everything you can on the training pitch.
“That is all we expect from everyone at Everton and what the fans expect, too.
“When you’re winning, it is easy.
“When you’re not winning, it is a bit more difficult to keep everyone on the same page.
“I, as captain, and a few other players, really need to stay on top of that.
“I have, maybe, been guilty of not staying on top of it when things haven’t been going well – so let’s go, we won [against Southampton] and will look to the next training session… that is as far as we can go."
Everton expect to encounter a white-hot atmosphere at Elland Road this weekend, with Leeds poised to play a Premier League game in front of a capacity home crowd for the first time since May 2004.
For Everton, a near-18 month wait for a full Goodison was ended with Southampton’s visit.
That match, in Coleman’s opinion, heralded the return of “proper football” following more than a year of behind-closed-doors fixtures.
And the defender waited all of 13 minutes before launching into a fierce – and legitimate – tackle to send Southampton left-back Romain Perraud cartwheeling through the air.
“We got used to having no fans here quite quickly,” said Coleman.
“You get fooled into thinking you are playing proper football.
“But you realise, when the fans are back, that is proper football.
“It is about the fans and the atmosphere and the tackles. Everyone enjoying it and getting wins here at Goodison Park in front of all those people is why we want to play football.
“I have been around long enough at this ground to know they like a tackle.
“Sometimes, it is what the stadium needs.
“I was well aware of that when I went into the tackle [on Perraud].
“We didn’t start as well as we’d have liked but we finished comfortably and the win was just reward for the dedication of the fans... in doing all they’ve been asked to finally get here again and see us win."
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DEPARTING MAIER & SEVECKE THANK BLUES
Everton forward Richarlison is expected to feature at Leeds after a dynamic performance against Southampton utterly belied the 24-year-old’s non-stop summer of action, which culminated with Olympic success this month.
The Brazilian had Goodison in the palm of his hand by the time he was replaced with 60 seconds remaining after scoring one goal and assisting another to cap a sizzling individual display.
“He is [a phenomenal player] and first and foremost congratulations to him on a great achievement for him and his country,” added Coleman.
“We knew what we’d get from him.
“He loves playing in front of crowds and with atmospheres – you could see that and he left it all out on the pitch.
"Leeds showed in the Premier League last season they are a very good side.
“They are very fit and work very hard. We need to prepare well tactically and I am sure we will.”
“He was fantastic, he got his goal and assist and, hopefully, can rest up for a few days because we are going to need him."