BBC Sport pundit Noel Whelan has claimed that some senior Everton players are fighting for their futures at Goodison Park under Carlo Ancelotti.
The former Leeds United striker was taken back by how well the first-team faired at Watford over the weekend, having played the final stages of the game with ten-men following Fabian Delph’s red card.
Whelan was also impressed by the ‘never say die’ spirit to come back from two goals down, after Yerry Mina struck twice in first-half stoppage-time to ensure we entered the break level at Vicarage Road.
But what has inspired the first-team to be able to reach the levels needed to achieve results like the one recorded against the Hornets? Well, Whelan has hinted that a need to impress Ancelotti is playing a part with some players knowing their futures may be elsewhere if they do not make the grade this term.
“There is massive belief and character in the changing room at Everton,” Whelan told Football Insider. “It is not easy at any level to play with 10-men or come back from 2-0. It shows the fighting spirit and they are going to need that.
“Ancelotti is a strong man with a strong character and he will install that into his team. Usually, your team plays the way the manager is. They have got that fighting spirit and never say die attitude.
“You can see the influence the manager is having on the players already. They are fighting for him and for their futures between now and the end of the season. There is a lot riding on it for the players.”
Which area of the side should be most concerned?
Ancelotti has called on 20 players to feature over the eight games played across all competitions since his appointment in December, with a further four occupying spots on the bench without entering the action at some stage.
Striker Cenk Tosun and goalkeeper Jonas Lossl were two of the four not to be awarded any minutes by the Italian, and will not be this season either following their respective loan moves to Crystal Palace and Huddersfield Town.
Players like Michael Keane, Morgan Schneiderlin and Anthony Gordon may be fearing for their futures, though, as Keane and Schneiderlin have only featured three times under Ancelotti while Gordon has 45 minutes of action to his name following his half-time introduction against West Ham United.
In other Everton news, the club will reportedly revive a failed pursuit of a £13.5m-rated defender come the summer.