Abdoulaye Doucoure insists Everton must start looking to improve for next season after securing their Premier League status.
The midfielder’s match-winning strike against Bournemouth on the final day of the season ensured the Blues extended their proud run in English football's top-flight since 1954.
Despite his delight at scoring the goal to earn a crucial victory on a dramatic afternoon at Goodison Park, Doucoure knows the Toffees need to start building towards next season to avoid another difficult year.
“I’m so happy,” said a relieved Doucoure, speaking to evertonfc.com as he discussed his vital goal. "Obviously, I love to score goals and this one was maybe the best and most important of my career, so I’m very happy.
“I’m delighted for my teammates and for the Club, but we must now look forward.”
After Sean Dyche was appointed Everton manager in late January, Doucoure was reintroduced into the Blues' starting line-up, providing impressive attacking output from midfield.
The 30-year-old finished the season as the Toffees’ second-highest scorer in the Premier League, while recording seven goals and assists during his past 10 league matches.
Although Doucoure has provided impressive individual displays in recent months, the Mali international understands Everton must improve in order to finish higher up the table in 2023/24.
“We’ve been in this position for two seasons now, so we can’t go back to this every year,” he acknowledged. “We are going to reflect on what happened and the mistakes we made. For each player, I don’t think the season was good enough.
“When you play for Everton, you need to be much better than that. I don’t think Sunday was our best game, me included, but you have to believe. When you represent Everton, you have to always give your best.”
Following weeks of impactful displays from the midfielder, his potency proved vital once again in the Blues’ most recent outing. However, Doucoure suggests the squad’s belief was the key factor in the essential victory over Bournemouth.
“The manager always believed in us, and every player believed in each other,” he said, describing the feeling amongst the squad at half-time when the match was scoreless. “I did hear Leicester were winning, but I was always just focused on winning our game.
“In my head I was thinking of maybe scoring a winner and thank God, I scored that one. We knew we needed to win the game, no matter what the others were going to do. We needed to win at home, especially.”