Michael Keane has lifted the lid on a turbulent few months at Everton as the centre-back revealed he had struggled with his form at Goodison Park.
Howwever, the £25m summer arrival from Burnley told the club's official site that the arrival of Sam Allardyce, following a difficult start to the campaign under Ronald Koeman, has seen an upturn in fortunes for both him and the Toffees following their sticky start.
Keane began life at Goodison in decent nick but, as the Blues' troubles mounted throughout the early months of the campaign, saw his displays take a nose dive before a foot injury put paid to any further appearances for a while.
Having been reinstalled for the draws with Chelsea and West Brom in the past week, however, Keane is now looking forward with optimism after a difficult time.
He said: “I’ve had a few good games earlier this season but then it tailed off and it’s been a tough few months, but I’ve kept working hard, kept the belief in myself and hopefully today will give me that confidence to kick on.
“It’s been difficult and it’s never nice not playing. At the same time, I can’t complain because Ash and Mason have done fantastic, kept a lot of clean sheets so I couldn’t complain. All I can do is try to play my best when I get a chance.
“I came in against Chelsea and you don’t want that momentum to stop. We want to get to where Chelsea are. Coming into the team I was just really focused, I knew my role, knew what to do and I think the gaffer’s made that very clear and I thought I did alright.”
Keane also took time out to thank Allardyce for helping him get back to basics over the art of defending - advice that has paid off with Everton keeping six clean sheets in their past eight matches.
He added: “The manager has been brilliant in training, simplifying a lot of things which were going wrong previously and I think it’s showing.
“A lot of work has been put in on the training ground and then getting the results breeds confidence. We’re doing a lot of good stuff at the minute but we can’t rest on our laurels. We need to keep working hard and I’m sure more points will come.”