Andros Townsend has praised manager Frank Lampard and Evertonians for their crucial roles in giving the Blues renewed optimism heading into the new season.
Everton preserved their proud 68-year top-flight record after a strong end to the campaign was completed by a memorable come-from-behind 3-2 victory against Crystal Palace at Goodison in the penultimate match of the campaign.
The bond that Lampard forged with Blues fans since his appointment as Everton manager at the end of January proved key to the Club’s survival, with Evertonians providing breathtaking support both home and away, and at the team’s Finch Farm training base, during the run-in.
Townsend admitted Lampard picked up the Blues’ “broken squad” to help instil a winning mentality when it was needed most – and that the experience can benefit the squad heading into 2022/23.
And the 30-year-old winger – who joined the Club last summer after his contract expired at Crystal Palace – revealed the backing from Everton’s passionate fanbase gave him one of the highlights of his career.
“Frank came in, he inherited a broken squad. Mentally, we were broken,” said Townsend, who is currently recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament injury sustained at former club Palace on 20 March.
“For some reason, we couldn't get out of that losing mentality, that losing run - we couldn't shake it.
“Now we've survived, the manager will admit himself it's the best thing that could have happened to us.
“He's seen which players he can trust, which players he can't, which players are mentally up for the battle. He knows what he needs going into the summer.
“Normally, when a new manager comes in, you get a bounce and we might have finished 10th and he wouldn't have really got to know the players.
“He knows exactly what we need now going into the summer. Hopefully we can use this experience of a relegation (battle) - first and foremost never be there again but use it as a springboard to go on next season.”
On Evertonians’ superb support, Townsend added: ““It was one of the best experiences of my life.
“The fans came around and really played their part. An away game seeing off the coach, literally thousands lining the streets for home games and giving us a hero’s welcome.
“It was weird because we knew we didn’t deserve a hero’s welcome… but these fans realised the situation and worth to the team.
“Although it was a tough season, it was one of the best experiences of my life.”