Holgate: Everton A Part Of Me For Life

Mason, you must be in confident mood after a strong start to the season - individually and collectively?

Yes - we couldn't have asked for much more, obviously a couple more points from the Leeds game but apart from that it's been a really good start. 

But we know it's not about the start, it's about what we can do all the way through the season. 

Consistency is what we're aiming for, so we're not getting too carried away - we're just taking each game as it comes.

Last year we did really well against the big teams and then against teams that we felt like we should be beating, we weren't picking up wins. Our home form wasn't great, either. We're focusing on that.

You mention consistency is key - have things changed in order to try and gain that?

Obviously, a lot has changed with the fans coming back, so playing at home is a lot different and it's going to help. Then, playing away is obviously a lot harder. 

We're very focused and I feel like we've made a couple of great signings in Demarai Gray and Andros Townsend, who are both already having an impact. Solomón Rondón has just come in as well. They're all good players and going to improve us.

But, ultimately, we have to be focused - to not get carried away when things are going well and to never expect to beat anybody before we get out on the pitch. And, at the same time, sticking together and not getting too low when things aren't going for us. 

We've shown we can challenge with anyone but it's about performing in every game and getting the points.

How are you finding life under Rafa Benitez?

It's been really good. It's very detailed - that's something I picked up on early doors. We're working on things every single day and getting to know his ways more and more. Everything is so meticulous and planned out with him and I think ultimately that is helping us.

There are no grey areas. We know what he wants from us and what's needed to go out there and perform on a matchday.

What expectations has he put on the group?

Just to be competitive. I think we put our own expectations on ourselves with the quality of the squad we have here. 

We know ourselves how good we can be as a team and we know where we should be and want to be. 

It's all about the fine details of achieving that and getting the consistency - and we're working on those things.

As a squad, did it feel like you had a point to prove after a disappointing end to last season?

Definitely. We all know with the quality of the team we have, some of the performances we put in last year and our final league position - 10th - was not good enough. It's as simple as that.

It's something that isn't going to be changed in a few games. It's about what we can do through the course of a full season - what we can do when the games are coming thick and fast over Christmas and every other month as well. 

We need to keep churning points out throughout it all. That's ultimately what makes you successful or not.

You very honestly mentioned earlier this week that you felt you fell below the standards you set yourself last season. How have you been working to turn that around this time around?

I don't want to hide behind anything - I know last year I wasn't good enough and it's as simple as that. 

There are certain things that you can't help, for example missing pre-season with injury and playing out of position to help the team, but they're not excuses. 

With the faith I have in my own ability, I felt that I should have performed better. 

It's not something I can put my finger on and say it's this exact reason or another but things didn't go so well. That's part of football and nothing I can do now is going to change it.

Now it's all about pushing on to this new season and showing what I can do. I still have the belief in my ability, so I have no fear around it. It's just about going out there and consistently proving it.

I'm up for doing just that.

You're still only 24 but this is your seventh season with Everton now. How do you feel about your role within the squad?

It's obviously changed a lot over the years.

Only Seamus [Coleman] has been here longer than me now. It's obviously a massive honour to be at this great club for such a long time but I like to think it's down to my hard work and going out and proving people wrong constantly. 

There has always been question marks over certain things but to be here for that many seasons under a number of different managers and still be playing, shows I must have something. It's about going out on the pitch and proving that.

It means a lot to me being at this club. I came here when I was 18 and it's been part of my whole adult life. I've been here for a long time and I get on so well with the people and the staff here. I know what it means to them. 

Everton has been a massive part of my life and it's always going to be, whether I ended up leaving tomorrow or way down the line.

Finally, Burnley next up on Monday Night Football. A big, physical team and a different type of test from what we've faced so far. How are you preparing for it?

You know it's not going to be easy but - and I know it's cliché - but it's the Premier League and it never is.

It's just a different kind of difficult. Every striker brings something that is going to be a challenge, obviously Burnley bring physicality. 

It's going to be a tough game and a different challenge. 

I'm looking forward to it, because it's about rolling your sleeves up and being ready for a battle.