By Phil Casey, PA
Caretaker manager Duncan Ferguson will demand Everton players “run themselves into the ground” after dishing out a few “home truths” following the sacking of Rafael Benitez.
Benitez spent less than seven months in charge at Goodison Park and lost his job following Saturday’s 2-1 loss at Norwich, a ninth defeat in 12 Premier League games.
The Toffees now sit just six points above the relegation zone, with former Liverpool boss Benitez paying the price for the poor run of form and Ferguson taking charge for the club’s “upcoming games”, starting with Saturday’s visit of Aston Villa.
💙 | “We are Evertonians, we love our club and fight as hard as we can for it.”
Caretaker boss Duncan Ferguson outlines his ambition as he looks to install displays bursting with energy, intent and aggression.
— Everton (@Everton) January 20, 2022
It is Ferguson’s second spell as caretaker boss after taking charge of three games during December 2019 following the dismissal of manager Marco Silva and the combative former Everton striker has made his intentions clear.
“The players have always worked hard but I am pushing them as hard as I possibly can, then they will feel great coming off the training pitch, as we all do when we put in a good day’s work,” Ferguson told evertontv.
“They are upbeat sessions, with hard work and clear and simple messages. I am getting among the players and telling a few home truths because the past has not been good enough.
“But it is in the past. We move forwards, the game is coming and let’s get ready for it. They [Everton players] should give everything. They should run themselves into the ground.
“They should roll up their sleeves and fight for the club in every single game. Imagine if you asked a fan to put a shirt on and get on the pitch, what would they do? Well they need to do that.
“I have confidence in the players and the team and think they can win every game and that will be no different on Saturday. We have a lot of great players in there and they will step up, I am sure.”
Ferguson’s first stint in caretaker charge began with a 3-1 win over Chelsea at Goodison Park and the 50-year-old Scot has called on the club’s fans to recreate a similar atmosphere against a Villa side managed by former Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard.
“We need everybody in our corner and to make sure we are all together. Everybody at Finch Farm, everybody at the stadium and everybody in the city,” Ferguson added.
“I feel very honoured the club turned to me again. I have spoken to the owner and chairman and they have been very supportive.
“And we are all willing for us to get a result on Saturday. It is a difficult time, results have been really poor, to be honest.
“It was an electric atmosphere [against Chelsea], one of the best I’ve experienced at Goodison, and I am sure they [the supporters] will be well, well up for it this weekend.
“We really need them to push us across the line for the whole game.”
It has been reported that Wayne Rooney – the former Everton forward currently managing Derby – and ex-Chelsea boss Frank Lampard are set to be interviewed for the full-time job.
Ferguson said he is happy with his caretaker role, adding: “I’ll only be in charge for the upcoming games. The club are in a process of going through their candidates.
“They will go through that process and I am sure they will get the best man for the job.”