Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti was pleased to see his side bounce back from that horrific FA Cup derby defeat to Liverpool with a win over Brighton, but concedes there is still plenty of room for improvement.
Richarlison scored the only goal of the game in the first half at Goodison Park to earn all three points and lift the gloom that had enveloped the club over the past few days.
A failure to score a crucial second goal meant for a nervy finale, with Glenn Murray twice going close for Brighton late on, but the Toffees clung on for a morale-boosting victory.
Speaking after the game Ancelotti admitted his side had once again failed to perform for the full 90 minutes, but says a positive result was crucial after a difficult few days.
“The most important part of the day was getting the result but also the performance for 60 minutes was good.
”We were a little bit slow in the beginning building up from the back but after that we were in the game, we could score the second attempt but, naturally, at the end when we are only one nil up the game is more difficult to control.
”But in the end, everything was ok, we defended well - suffering a little bit - but absolutely normal.”
Everton had strong claims for a penalty turned down early on when Theo Walcott was tugged back in the box by Lewis Dunk, but their appeals were turned away even after a VAR check.
Ancelotti believes Walcott was punished for staying on his feet and attempting to get a shot away instead of going down looking for the spot-kick.
”The fact that Walcott didn’t fall down I think influenced the referee, that was the reason. It’s a difficult job for the referee.”
With Christmas out of the way and Everton out of both cups, their schedule between now and the rest of the season lightens significantly, with the Blues rarely playing more than once a week.
Though I’m sure Ancelotti would prefer the side to still be in the cups or in Europe, he is looking forward to having some proper time with the players on the training ground after a hectic start to his Toffees tenure over the Christmas period.
”This is a part of my job to give continuity to the team. Because I think this team can be competitive with more continuity, more intensity in the game and playing better. But we have time to work.
”The fact that we don’t have a game in this period, during the week, can help us to improve quickly.”
Ancelotti also reiterated his delight at becoming Everton boss, insisting he is not overawed by the challenge facing him, which was put into even sharper focus this week.
Despite last weekend’s blip, the experienced manager remains optimistic for the future and excited about the club’s potential.
”To be a manager is a challenge every week, every game is a challenge, nothing special.
”I am really proud to be here and I know the atmosphere we can breathe here, it is a fantastic atmosphere and the facilities we have are really fantastic for me. I am really happy to be here.
”There are difficulties, but that is normal, but before I was here [during Duncan Ferguson’s caretaker spell] the team was doing really well.”