Sam Allardyce took the stage for the first time as Everton manager today, speaking to the media in a pre-match press conference as the Blues get ready to host Huddersfield Town in a game where both sides will be desperate to win.
The nature of the setting meant that Big Sam would not be able to get into too much detail with his thoughts on any particular topics, but he did mention several aspects of Everton’s performance and squad.
On taking the job with Everton -
“It is Everton, the name of the club says it all. I am big mates with (ex-Everton trio) Reidy (Peter Reid), Andy Gray and Paul Bracewell. And they eulogise about this football club.
“The coaching staff here talk about the Club with great affection. I could not say ‘no’, I did not have a tough decision to make.
“It was a very quick phone call when I was in Dubai, saying it was ‘ready to roll’.
“Everton was always going to be a temptation to come out of retirement and take up the challenge. I was offered more jobs when I said I had retired than I had ever been offered in my life.
“Then Everton came along and it was done within 48 hours, even with me being in Dubai.
“The phone call came from Everton and brought a great end to that holiday. I flew back and came straight from the airport to see an outstanding performance against West Ham on Wednesday.
“I am delighted to come into a club of this magnitude, size and history.”
On the brand of football he’s hoping to have at Everton -
“A winning brand, hopefully. But that will be determined by the players producing their best performances within the context of the team we are playing, so we cannot play the same way every game.
"That would be naïve, so we set out to look out at the opponent’s weaknesses and make sure we nullify their strengths – and if we do that in the right manner, and make less mistakes than the opposition, we have a good chance of winning.
“It is my job to get Everton moving back in the right direction, then back in the European places, and (to an) FA Cup final.
“But, first and foremost, the job is to get the team back to winning ways. To get them back to playing as well as they can, consistently.
“Hopefully, that will happen tomorrow (against Huddersfield). I was so impressed on Wednesday night. To come back after the two previous results shows we have an outstanding character.”
On the role Wayne Rooney will play for him -
“It was an outstanding performance (from Rooney). Wayne has set his standard again – now he has to try to live up to that standard.
“He has outstanding quality. You could see that in the way he drifted into the box for the second goal, and then the way he took his third goal.
“It was a performance we needed to stop the run we were on. And there were many outstanding performances.
“And most importantly, for me, it was only the second clean sheet we have achieved. Everybody knows the defensive solidarity of any team defines the success of a football club.”
⚽️ | First training session for the Blues under new manager Sam Allardyce. #EFC pic.twitter.com/bdJaRvC4TL— Everton (@Everton) December 1, 2017
On wantaway Ross Barkley, who remains a crowd-favourite -
“I haven't spoken to Ross yet because he is injured and I have to focus on Saturday's game, and that focus is to put all my attention the players available.
“Down the line all the players who are here will sit down and have a one-on-one with me and I will find out where people lie in terms of their position at the club.
“At the end of all that I'll have a much better picture to talk to the board about how I see the squad and where it is at the moment, who is and who isn't quite as happy as I thought they were.
“They've tried [to keep him] haven't they? There's only so far a football club can go. I don't know exact details. The most important thing for me and for Ross is to not worry about a contract, it's to get fit and perform to the levels that he has performed before.
“If he stays here, that'll be great – if he goes somewhere else then he's going to need to get back to his sort of level to get the contract he's looking for.
“The first thing he needs to do is get fit.”
On his expected transfer market activity in January -
“We’re certainly short of defenders and I think we’re short of full-backs.”
“Look, you’d have Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman all day long but we’ve got young Jonjoe Kenny, who is outstanding.”
“We have to be careful with him and we haven’t really got a left-back other than Bainesy.”
| With the world's media waiting with cameras for the official unveiling of Sam Allardyce, in walks... @YannickBolasie! pic.twitter.com/Mwkv8kirZA— Everton (@Everton) December 1, 2017
However, the real winner from Allardyce’s first press conference has to be Everton’s resident joker Yannick Bolasie!