Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti was refreshingly frank and open about where the Toffees need to improve after their much-needed 3-2 win over Fulham.
The victory over the Cottagers ended a four-game winless run and took Everton back into the top six of the Premier League.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin netted twice and Abdoulaye Doucoure scored his first Premier League goal for the Blues amid a game which saw a bold, unorthodox tactical reshuffle from Ancelotti.
Everton were not without their defensive frailties, though; Jordan Pickford was almost completely exposed on one flank for Fulham’s equalising goal, before Yerry Mina’s poor positioning allowed for a major deflection as Ruben Loftus-Cheek opened his account with Scott Parker’s side for the season.
Ancelotti told BBC in quotes obtained via TEAMtalk: “The most important part of the game was to be back to winning.
“We lost energy in the second half, the players were tired. I changed to put more fresh legs on the pitch but we lost a bit of quality and we had to defend as a result but in the end it went well.”
Ancelotti took the bold step of playing Alex Iwobi at left wing-back in a move which detracts from the Nigerian’s traditional wide attacking role, with the manager saying: “Alex Iwobi played well, like the others played really well. I am pleased for him. In that wing-back position he can show his quality.”
However, the Italian’s comments on Everton’s defending offer the best insights into where he will seek to instil greater attention and discipline.
He insisted: “We have to improve (defensively) for sure. We were not so compact and not so close to the line. We have time this week to work on this.”
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It is clear that Everton need to improve at the back – the Toffees have failed to keep a clean sheet in the league since September’s 1-0 win over Tottenham.
It should be encouraging for Everton fans that Ancelotti has explicitly pinpointed his willingness to make improvements where they are patently needed.