Theo Walcott has praised Carlo Ancelotti for instilling fresh confidence into the players while revealing they cancelled their Christmas party during what was a difficult start to the festive period.
Walcott scored a dramatic 90th-minute winner as Everton came back from 2-0 down to beat Watford at Vicarage Road on Saturday.
The result was Ancelotti’s fourth win in seven league games since taking charge, a run that has yielded just one defeat - away at champions Manchester City.
Walcott, who has started five of Ancelotti’s seven league games in charge, says the 60-year-old’s calm approach has had a positive impact on the squad.
He told the Telegraph:
“He is a winner. Our manager gets a sense of calmness around the players. He brews confidence in you. He is so relaxed when he talks to you, he just talks to you like a human being, he doesn’t treat you any differently.
“We’ve not had a game for 10 days, so we have been working on the training ground and the manager has been able to get his message across to the players. Not just that. We have been able to socialise off the pitch as a team. It’s nice to see each other outside of football. That brought us together a little bit more; we are very together anyway but you could see people coming out of their shell a little bit more.”
If you take in Duncan Ferguson’s caretaker spell the Toffees have collected 19 points from a possible 30, only Liverpool have taken more in that time.
That remarkable run has lifted Everton up to ninth in the Premier League, less than nine weeks after they dropped into the relegation zone after that 5-2 hammering at Anfield.
Walcott has revealed the players cancelled their Christmas party given the poor results they were suffering on the pitch, but insists morale amongst the players has improved.
The stinging criticism they received in wake of that FA Cup defeat Anfield at the start of last month has only strengthened their determination to repay the fans for their continued loyalty.
“We ended up not having a Christmas party, things weren’t great at the time, so we made the right decision. It [the night out] was a sort of private event and it worked so maybe we will do more.
“We want to be together. If we want to push on and go somewhere we have to all be together, players, staff, fans everyone in the community. I feel that is really important to the club.”
I think it is fair to say that Walcott’s time at Everton is one of infuriating inconsistency, with the former Arsenal forward capable of moments of brilliance before making a silly mistake, often within the same move.
He didn’t have the best of games on Saturday, though he have to give him credit for sprinting the length of the pitch in the final minute to score the winner after Richarlison’s pass had been scuffed into his path by Moise Kean.
“I have been doing a lot of stuff outside of football in the gym and everything to keep myself up with these young pups.
“I feel relatively young to be fair and still have a lot of football to play in these legs, even if the groins are feeling tight now. I was pleased to keep up with Moise [Kean], who’s 19, and Richarlison is 22 and I am 30, so it’s not bad. If they can run at that pace at my age they will be doing well.”