Carlo Ancelotti believes Everton are on the right track again despite being held to a frustrating draw at Burnley on Saturday.
The Toffees have struggled for any fluency in recent weeks, not helped by a chronic weakness at the back.
It took Burnley all of three minutes to open the scoring at Turf Moor, meaning it is now 12 games in all competitions without a clean sheet for the Blues.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s golden season continued with an equaliser just before the break, but a failure to snatch a winner means Everton have now won just one of their last seven matches.
Despite that disappointment, Ancelotti was keen to look at the positives and insisted the team’s display in Lancashire was much better than what we witnessed in defeats against Southampton, Newcastle and Manchester United immediately prior to the international back.
As a result the Italian is not too concerned as he believes results will soon come if they team maintain that standard of performance.
He told the official site:
“We were better after the defeat against Manchester United, we worked on this and changed the shape a little bit.
“I am positive because I saw the team react really well [after the goal], showing a good spirit, sometimes showing good football.”
Next up is a home clash with Chelsea, the start of a breathless festive period that will see Everton play six games in 16 days and test the depth of the squad.
Ancelotti, though, is confident the team is in a good place.
“We have to be ready for this tough period. The table could be better… but we are where we want to be.
“We want to fight for a position in Europe and we are there.
“The spirit was good against Burnley, what the players did all together was good.
“I am quite satisfied. I was not satisfied with [performances in defeats at] Newcastle and Southampton.
“With this spirit [we showed at Burnley], we would be able to draw those games.
“It was not a win, we wanted to win, but for the performance we have to be positive.”
Ancelotti was inadvertently handed a favour in Saturday when Fabian Delph limped off with a hamstring injury, forcing him to abandon the three-at-the-back experiment that never really worked.
Instead, Ancelotti reverted to a flat back four, with Alex Iwobi and the impressive Ben Godfrey at full-back.
The team immediately looked much more comfortable, but they could not fully recover from that horrific opening.
“We did better with four at the back, with two players not used to playing right-back and left-back.
“But we were really better because the performances of [centre-backs] Yerry Mina and Michael Keane were really good,
“Alex did well offensively and Ben had a good performance on the left.
“But the two centre-backs were really good.
“Burnley play a lot of balls for their centre-forwards and they [Mina and Keane] did well avoiding unnecessary fouls.
“Their performances were, honestly, very good.
“In the end, our performance was acceptable, it was a good performance: not top but not bad.”