Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti believes his new team were taught a harsh lesson last time out as they conceded two goals in stoppage time to throw away a home victory over Newcastle United.
The Blues had been in total control for almost the entire match up until Florian Lejeune’s 94th-minute strike, which was followed by an equaliser from the Frenchman moments later.
Tomorrow’s trip to Watford is Everton’s first game since this draw on January 21, and speaking at his pre-match press conference on Friday, Ancelotti said that his players will be better for the harsh experience:
“Everything can happen in football. That’s the only lesson we learnt from this. We have to consider the fact that we played well, and also the fact that, with a little bit more attention, we could have two more points.
“But it’s gone, so we have to be focused on the game tomorrow.”
Prior to Newcastle’s late two goals, Everton delivered arguably their most complete performance since Ancelotti’s appointment on December 21, with Moise Kean breaking his duck and Dominic Calvert-Lewin continuing his recent goal glut.
And the Italian reiterated that he took great encouragement from how his team played for the first 93 minutes of the match, and would like to see that level of performance replicated at Vicarage Road tomorrow:
“This is the idea that we want to show on the pitch. I think we showed that against Newcastle; we played more vertically. We have worked on this in this period that we didn’t have a game, and I would like to see the same tomorrow.”
Everton have made no first-team additions during the January transfer window, with Ancelotti keen to continue to assess the squad he has inherited for the remaining 14 games of this season.
He admitted that Everton may have done more business in what is a typically difficult market had the right move for the club appeared, but said nothing worth following up transpired:
“We are not anxious to find a new player because the squad we have is a big squad. Some players that I didn’t really know, I know better now, like Calvert-Lewin, [Mason] Holgate, Michael Keane, all the young players that are here. If there was an opportunity, we could consider it, but I don’t think the market showed a really good opportunity.
“We have to do well this season, and after that, we are going to have a period where we are going to improve the squad.
“We can improve, we can play better, and I think we can have a good final part of the season.”
With young centre-backs Morgan Feeney and Lewis Gibson allowed to leave on loan to League One clubs Tranmere Rovers and Fleetwood Town respectively, Everton are even shorter of options in this department now.
But Ancelotti reaffirmed his faith in his only three senior centre-halves; Holgate, Keane and Yerry Mina, and said he feels that will be enough until May.
The manager also confirmed there have been no offers so far for Oumar Niasse and Cuco Martina, both out of contract in the summer:
“As i said, we don’t have a lot of games until the end of the season. We have three centre-backs who I am really confident in. We don’t need other centre-backs at the moment.
“We haven’t received any official offers [for Niasse] so he’s here with us and he trains with us. If there are offers for him, we’ll have to consider it but until now, no offers. Cuco Martina the same.