The first home game of a new Premier League season is always a special occasion and I am particularly looking forward to our match this weekend because we face one of my former clubs, Southampton, at Goodison Park.
Over the summer there has been lots of changes at Everton, including the appointment of Marco Silva as our new manager and the arrival of seven new signings during a busy transfer window so this feels like a fresh start for everyone at the football club.
From day one in pre-season, the players could see exactly what the new manager wants and expects from us and he has spent the last six weeks implanting those ideas within the squad at our USM Finch Farm training base.
One manager I liked working with very much was Mauricio Pochettino during our time together at Southampton and, in many respects, Marco reminds me of him. Possession, pressing, working hard – I like this idea of football and it’s what I relate to most.
Our manager is very ‘hands on’ and attentive to details. He tries to make progress collectively and individually.
He has shown me videos of my games and highlighted areas where I can improve, and I know he has done the same with other members of the squad too.
That’s great for football players as you need to see yourself after the game and understand what the manager wants from you. Personally, I welcome and need to have that regular communication with a manager, then it’s easier to implement his ideas on the pitch.
Of course, it takes time for any manager to put his stamp on a team but I think we showed signs of how he wants us to play in our opening game against Wolverhampton Wanderers last weekend.
It was always going to be a difficult task against a Wolves team that has momentum following promotion from the Championship and that challenge became even harder when we had a man sent off in the 40th minute.
However, we showed great desire and lots of fighting spirit to take a point with 10 men and, with a bit more luck in front of goal, we might have won it so there were plenty of positives on the day.
Perhaps the biggest plus was the performance of Richarlison, one of the new signings to join the club this summer, who scored two goals on his debut.
I remember watching ‘Richy’ last season and in the first five or six months, he really caught my eye because he had some amazing games for Watford.
All of his game is top drawer – his technique, the way he keeps and moves the ball and the hard work he puts in for the team.
Off the pitch, he is quiet around the place because he doesn’t speak much English but when he pulls a shirt on he is a warrior and a great player to have on your side.
If he can do what he did last weekend on a regular basis then I really believe he can score 15-plus goals for us this season and become one of the stand-out players in the Premier League.
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