Seamus Coleman has revealed raised standards off the pitch are behind Everton’s improvement on it after a fine start to the new Premier League season.
The 27-year-old full-back, currently on international duty with the Republic of Ireland, has contributed to a return of 14 points from the first 21 on offer which has left Ronald Koeman’s men sitting in fifth place in the table.
He has put the upturn in fortunes, at least in part, down to stricter discipline under Roberto Martinez’s successor Koeman.
Coleman said: “It’s been good. We have had a disappointing two seasons, unfortunately. Finishing 11th isn’t where a team of our players should be.
“But the manager has come in and he’s worked hard, and I think you always get a reaction when a new manager comes in and just sets a few standards that should have happened in the previous campaign, by the players as well, just time-keeping and that, making sure people are in on time.
“They are little standards which should be the case, and it has just sharpened the place up all round. The lads on the pitch now know we have to perform or we won’t be in the team, and it’s just the way it should be, really.”
Coleman’s attention for the next few days will be on helping his country build upon a positive start to their World Cup qualifying campaign by adding to the point they brought back from Serbia last month in Thursday’s home clash with Georgia, and the trip to Moldova which follows it three days later.
The Game in Belgrade was Ireland’s first since talismanic skipper Robbie Keane’s retirement, and the loss of a man who scored 68 international goals is one which will be deeply felt.
Daryl Murphy’s equaliser against the Serbs snatched a draw after Jeff Hendrick had fired the visitors into an early lead, and manager Martin O’Neill is hoping Burnley’s big-money signing will contribute more often in Keane’s absence.
He said: “If you look at any reasonably successful team, you will find you will have a goalscoring midfield player amongst that.
“The encouragement is there, now that Jeff has actually broken his international duck as it were, scored a goal, followed it up and scored a goal for Burnley as well, so in terms of confidence and actually playing in the biggest league of all, then that should give him a great boost.”