Carlo Ancelotti says Everton must win their four of their remaining five games to stand any chance of qualifying for next season’s Europa League.
Monday’s 1-0 defeat at Tottenham dented Everton’s European hopes and Ancelotti admits time is running out as they try to close the eight-point gap to the top six.
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“We still have a chance,” said the Everton boss ahead of Thursday’s game with Southampton at Goodison Park.
“We have to win games. It will be really important to win the three home games that we have, and to win (away) at Wolves or Sheffield United. It will be difficult but we still have a chance.
“Against Tottenham, a strong team, you can lose. Our disappointment was that the performance was not how we expected.
“Not only on the technical and tactical aspect – we could show more intensity in play but I don’t know if we are able to improve this season, as this season is at the end.
“But next season, improving our knowledge, spirit and intensity will be important to compete better against the top six teams in the Premier League. It’s true we competed but we could compete differently.”
Irrespective of whether they qualify for Europe, Ancelotti says “the plan for the future is quite clear” and is planning a busy transfer window.
“We are going to improve the squad, 100 per cent, to improve the quality of this team,” he said.
“We would like to be more competitive at the top of the table. This season we are closer to the bottom. Next season we would like to be closer to the top.”
Ancelotti will be without defender Mason Holgate for the visit of Southampton because of a knock he sustained against Tottenham.
Holgate’s replacement at Spurs, Yerry Mina, could make his first start since February.
Winger Theo Walcott is available again, having not featured since March after abdominal surgery, but midfielder Fabian Delph, out since February, is still absent with a muscle injury.
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Everton won 2-1 at St Mary’s in November while still under the stewardship of Ancelotti’s predecessor Marco Silva, a result which piled the pressure on Saints boss Ralph Hassenhuttl.
The Austrian has since steered Southampton away from the relegation zone and their upturn in form came as no surprise to Ancelotti.
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