LIVERPOOL, England- David Unsworth says he feels “a lot more positive about where we are heading” following Everton’s “hard-earned” draw against Crystal Palace FC.
Unsworth saw his team recover from a “disastrous” start in south London, with Leighton Baines’ precision penalty quickly equalising James McArthur’s first-minute strike for the hosts.
Oumar Niasse levelled on the stroke of half-time after Wilfried Zaha had fired home to restore Palace’s slender advantage, and Unsworth felt Everton’s refusal to buckle in the face of their dual setbacks was indicative of a side that is “starting to come round”.
Nevertheless, the ex-Toffees defender insists he has plenty of work to do with his troops.
“Any point you earn away from home has to be well fought and hard earned,” Unsworth told evertontv.
“I thought, on the whole, apart from the disastrous start, we gave a good account of ourselves.
“There is spirit and desire there. This team, I feel, is just starting to come round.
“There are a lot of good signs. I feel a lot more positive about where we are heading, because performances are starting to improve.
“We need more time on the training ground, more results, and more performances like that, which are hard fought.
“The battle, desire and commitment were there, everything you would want and know you would get from an Everton player.
“We got that as a team, not just from certain individuals, so I was happy with that. But there is loads to work on, absolutely loads to work on.
“I am desperate to get this group of players on the grass for a period of time, so we can do some serious training. And we will improve.”
Everton’s twin fightback against Roy Hodgson’s Palace arrived hot on the heels of a barmy Goodison Park victory over Watford a fortnight earlier, when the Toffees overturned a two-goal deficit to win 3-2.
The Blues have now claimed eight points from losing positions this term, following their come-from-behind victory over Bournemouth, and the draw at Brighton salvaged courtesy of Wayne Rooney’s last-gasp penalty.
“There was a lot of character (in the performance against Palace),” said Unsworth.
“It is not ideal to start any game like that. We have shown in the past couple of games, we do have a bit of resilience – we do not crumble.
“We have spoken to the players about that: not going to pieces if we concede, and staying on the front foot.
“And you saw that. Evertonians at the match or watching at home will have seen a committed performance.
“At the moment, we will take that, we will move on and try to get better every day and every week.”
Unsworth’s bench at Selhurst Park was brimming with attacking options. He ultimately opted to throw forward duo Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Sandro Ramirez into the fray, along with Tom Davies, who replaced stricken fellow midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin at the interval.
And the Everton boss was especially pleased to see Sandro back in action. The Spaniard last featured against Lyon more than four weeks ago, and had not appeared in the Premier League since an eight-minute outing against Burnley on 1 October.
Unsworth, who revealed France international Schneiderlin required an injection in his injured toe to start against Palace, also admitted he had the utmost faith that Baines would convert his penalty – the left-back’s 25th success from the spot for Everton.
“It is never in any doubt… I am very, very confident when Leighton steps up and he tucked it away beautifully,” said Unsworth.
“I was delighted Sandro got some minutes on the pitch. He had half a chance right at the end, as well (a header over the bar from a Jonjoe Kenny cross).
“He had trained well all week and we had a feeling he might come on and produce a moment for us. It was not to be – but it nearly was!”
-Report by evertonfc.com. For more on the Toffees, click here