Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti has demanded a response from his players after a dreadful week saw the Blues pick up just one point in three games.
The final of those matches was Sunday’s 3-0 thumping at Wolverhampton Wanderers, which saw Everton thoroughly outplayed, and the Italian has said his side must change their attitude, starting with tomorrow’s visit of relegation-threatened Aston Villa.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference on Wednesday, Ancelotti said:
“We expect a reaction from the bad game against Wolves; different attitude, different mentality, different character.
“A big part of the DNA of this club is that everyone wants to see players fighting. This is the most important part. We have to fight and to try to play well and win games, but when there is no fight, this is not the DNA of this club.”
Ancelotti remains unbeaten at Goodison Park in his eight home games in charge so far, but has seen Everton’s poor away form which predated his December arrival continue into his reign.
The 61-year-old has presided over three away wins and league defeats at half of the current top six, as well as at Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, and in the FA Cup to an under-strength Liverpool side at Anfield.
And Ancelotti admitted he is not satisfied by Everton’s form on the road, though said the current absence of travelling fans due to COVID-19 is not to blame.
“I think mostly it’s that we feel more protected when we play at home than away. I think it’s a problem of mentality. We have to improve our mentality and our knowledge to be more comfortable when we play away in the future.
“I don’t think this is a problem of the crowd or not. This team has to improve its personality in away games. I’m really satisfied by what we were able to do at Goodison Park. Of course, I’m not satisfied with what we’ve done away.
We competed well against some strong teams, Arsenal, Manchester City, but to be more competitive, we have to improve on the mentality aspect.”
Ancelotti also stressed that, while it is of paramount importance that Everton develop a stronger mentality on the pitch, it will not be a quick fix. He added:
“It takes a period of time. You have to work hard, to increase your knowledge of what you want to do on the pitch. This is the only way I know; to work hard, to try to give ideas to the players because when the players go on the pitch, they have to be comfortable and know what they have to do.
“We have to keep a fighting spirit, and to have players who can show more personality and character on the pitch, that are not afraid and worried. That can be the key to being competitive.”
Ancelotti confirmed that Mason Holgate has recovered from the shin injury which forced him off in the 1-0 defeat at Tottenham on July 6, while André Gomes is fit again after being substituted due to an ankle issue sustained in the 1-1 draw with Southampton last Thursday.
But as well as long-term absentee Jean Philippe Gbamin, Fabian Delph is still not ready to return from a muscle strain which has kept him out of Everton’s entire post-lockdown programme so far.
The Villa clash will also come too soon for Yerry Mina, who was taken off in the Wolves defeat due to a muscle problem.
“Mason Holgate is available. André Gomes is available. We are without Yerry Mina and Fabian Delph. The other players [besides Gbamin] are all available.”