Duncan Ferguson says he is “on the floor” following Everton’s single-goal defeat by Aston Villa on Saturday – but couldn’t fault his players’ work ethic and desire to fight for the Club.
Emiliano Buendia’s looping header shortly before half-time at Goodison Park settled the opening game of Ferguson’s caretaker tenure.
Everton built up a head of steam after the restart, pinning the visitors into their defensive third and aiming a succession of shots at goal.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison were both off target from Anthony Gordon deliveries and Emiliano Martinez produced an excellent reflex stop to deny Ben Godfrey.
“I think I got a reaction from the players, you saw that, particularly in the second half,” said Ferguson.
“We had a couple of half chances, one right good chance in the second half.
“There wasn’t a lot in the game, Villa didn’t have many chances either.
“We were much the better team in the second half.
“I am on the floor, gutted, I was kicking every ball, trying my very best to motivate the team and get them across the line.
“I am sick for the fans, that is the main thing, I was so desperate to get a result for them.
“I feel for them, I am one of them, I have been here a long time.
“It is a bad moment for me.
“But I am proud of the players, they stuck at it and kept going and gave me everything.
“I can’t fault one of the players for their effort, I am just gutted about the result.”
Everton have more than a fortnight’s wait before resuming their Premier League campaign with a visit to Newcastle United on 8 February.
Meantime, there is a home FA Cup fourth-round tie with Brentford in two weeks.
Ferguson is poised to take charge of those fixtures after being appointed for the Club’s “upcoming games” on Tuesday, although there was an acknowledgment that “you never know in football”.
The Scot’s bid to launch his caretaker reign with a positive result included two substitutions in quick succession shortly after half-time.
Allan and Gordon replaced Andre Gomes and Andros Townsend, respectively, and were instrumental in a concerted second-half effort to draw level.
Everton, whose starting XI featured five changes from the match at Norwich City last week, had 15 attempts to Villa’s eight but couldn’t make any of them count. Buendia’s front post header from a right-wing corner, then, was enough for the away side to claim three points.
“I tried my best and so did the players,” continued Ferguson.
“We made quite a few changes, we had Allan who’s not trained for a week and put him in.
“You have to do the best you can.
“We were a bit off it in the first half and didn’t create many chances.
“The boys gave everything in the second half, we just needed that bit of quality in the final third to stick one in.
“I don’t know if you just change [form and mood] with a win, you need a number of wins.
“But I don’t think the fans will be complaining about the team’s effort today, in the second half, particularly, they had a right good go.”