Manager's Programme Notes For Brentford Clash

We are looking forward to being back at Goodison Park today after two matches on the road, and we hope to connect with our passionate fanbase once again, which has helped the team play with real energy and spirit since I had the honour of becoming Everton manager.

I feel our performances have been improving in recent weeks and there has been a lot to be pleased with. The statistics show that the physicality of the side has got stronger, along with the willingness to put that physicality into play with our work ethic and team belief. There has also been a strong will and desire - a real commitment to keep a clean sheet and then a desire to attack, get into good areas and create chances.

That was evident last weekend when, but for small margins at both ends of the pitch, we came close to beating a Nottingham Forest side that have not lost at home in the league since September. In the end, we came away with a point that was some reward for our efforts and was a step in the right direction to getting better on the road, while scoring two goals instils belief, too.

The challenge now is to take the positive work we have done and show that consistently, while continuing to build and improve; from finding that last pass in our attacking sequences to cutting out mistakes. As I’ve said before, we have to keep raising the minimum, and the only people who can do that is us.

Of course, the glue that helps bring all that together is our work and squad mentality aligned with you as fans. We travelled in numbers once more to sell-out the away end at Arsenal for a midweek fixture, before doing so again four days later at the City Ground.

Your loyal support makes a huge difference and, as we return to Goodison this afternoon, we need to harness that incredible passion and take advantage of the feel and intensity when we are all together.

Today’s fixture will also acknowledge Level Playing Field, an initiative that promotes a positive, inclusive experience for disabled sports fans. 

I’ve already got to learn about Everton’s All Together Now campaign which celebrates diversity and equality, and I fully support the message that football is a game to be enjoyed by everyone.

We welcome Thomas Frank and the Brentford players and staff for today’s match.

Thomas is someone I know a little and has rightly received a lot of plaudits for the excellent work he has done as Brentford manager. His team have a clear identity and they are enjoying a fine season.

We are well aware of the threat they pose. Our focus, however, has to be on implementing our game plan and building on our encouraging home performances since I joined Everton.

That has included deserved victories over league leaders Arsenal and Leeds United and, while we did not get the reward our display warranted in our previous home outing against Aston Villa, there was a lot about the performance that was right.

In all three matches, our players have shown bravery, effort and a real commitment to fight for Everton. The shape, work ethic and energy of the team has been positive. It’s imperative for us to maintain that and build on it this afternoon and then add in the big moments which can make a difference and lead us to victory.

Enjoy the game.