He hasn’t kicked a ball for the club since March, but Seamus Coleman’s influence at Everton is still enormous.
Even though he is still recuperating from the horrific broken leg he sustained on international duty last season, the Republic of Ireland captain made a point of going into the dressing room following Thursday’s Europa League capitulation to Atalanta.
And he wasn’t shy in delivering his verdict.
Blues midfielder Idrissa Gana Gueye, an unused substitute in the 5-1 demolition by the Italians, explained: “We have strong leaders like Phil Jagielka, Wayne Rooney and Seamus Coleman.
“Seamus can shout every time – that’s the truth. But we need it.
“Seamus is the best example.
“He has great spirit even though he doesn’t play. He comes in every game into the dressing room and tries to talk to everyone.
“Like on Thursday.
“He is with the team every time and we need this spirit.
“You can hear his shouting!”
While the Goodison fans still sing about Coleman’s cut-price £60,000 signing, Gueye was also a bargain buy arriving from Aston Villa in the summer of 2016 for £7.2million.
But after finishing seventh at the end of his first full season at Goodison, his second season has started in turbulent fashion.
But Gueye is confident the Blues can still turn the campaign around.
“It is very difficult for everybody,” he admitted. “It’s difficult for the fans and it’s difficult for the players because we know how good we can be.
“Last season was a great season and this season it is tough for us. But we will keep working hard on the training ground. That’s the problem. We work hard but we aren’t getting the results so if we started winning games it would help us get confidence and move up.
“We know it’s a difficult time but we have to be ambitious and to look forward. We have to believe in our team and know we can do it. There is not a reason we cannot do it. We have everything. We have a good club, we have a good atmosphere, we have good players. We have good fans. We have to do it.
“Of course it’s a big surprise for everybody because at the start of the season everyone thought we would be fighting for fourth or fifth place – but we are down and everyone is surprised.
“We have a good team and good players but it’s not working at the moment.”
Gueye left an Aston Villa team who were relegated in 2016 to join Everton, but he insists that the two situations are not comparable.
“No, I don’t think they are the same situations,” he added.
“At Aston Villa in a whole season we won just three games.
“It was a hard season but I am here at a big team like Everton and we have good players and I think if we just start to win games we can start our season again.
“It’s hard to get confidence. At this moment we have the players to get to the top of the league because we have spent a lot of money to fight for fourth or fifth place.
“I believe we have the players to fight and to start winning games.
“We are trying to keep the positive vibes. Everyone tries to keep smiling. When we are on the pitch we work hard and we try to bring something to end this situation.
“It’s not just about hard work. We can work hard on the pitch but outside the pitch we need to talk, we need to keep the spirit and stay like a team.”
In partnership with Everton, the club’s main sponsor SportPesa has launched ‘Kits For Africa’, a kit donation campaign to support underprivileged grassroots football teams across the African continent. For more information visit www.evertonfc.com/KitsForAfrica
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