Tarkowski Sets Demand To Everton Squad

Tarkowski Sets Demand To Everton Squad

James Tarkowski says a strong pre-season is a must for Everton, insisting “there’s a lot of work to be done” to continue the improvements made under boss Sean Dyche.

Signed by Dyche at Burnley, and now starring under the same manager on Merseyside, Tarkowski has been a bright spark for the Blues since joining last summer, playing every minute of all 38 Premier League matches last season.

Everton’s form under Dyche was crucial to preserving the Club’s proud top-flight status, losing just one of their final five matches – to treble-winners Manchester City – while making clear progress away from home and creating more chances and scoring more goals both at Goodison and on the road.

Despite the positive steps, though, Tarkowski recognises his side must keep pushing forward to enjoy a better 2023/24 campaign, starting from the moment the squad return for pre-season training next month.

“There’s a lot of work to be done,” admitted the 30-year-old centre-back. “We need to do a lot of work in the training ground and a lot in pre-season, too.

“We had games last season where I felt like we played well, but not won or got a result. So we need to score more goals – that’s for sure. It’s a big pre-season for us because we can’t be in a position again when we’re at the wrong end of the table.”

Tarkowski, who scored Everton’s first goal under Dyche in the 1-0 victory over high-flying Arsenal in February, has proved to be a valuable addition throughout his debut season at the Club. The Blues’ centre-back recorded the most blocks of any player in Europe’s top five leagues, as well as winning the second-most aerial duels in the Premier League.

His participation in the season finale against Bournemouth was a landmark appearance for Tarkowski, as the Everton ever-present became the only outfield player to play every minute of the 2022/23 Premier League season. He was the first outfield player for the Blues to achieve that feat since Leighton Baines in 2012/13.

Following his 38th and final appearance of the campaign in the vital 1-0 victory over the Cherries at Goodison, where Abdoulaye Doucoure netted the precious second-half winner, Tarkowski praised his teammates while detailing the importance of remaining focused on their own game.

“It was and credit to the lads because I thought we played pretty well,” he added. “It’s tough without playing with a real focal point of a striker with our style of play, but it was a great finish for the goal. I’m just relieved.

“It’s been a tough season, a disappointing season, and it was an emotional day. We needed to do our job and we got there in the end. It was a great finish by Doucs, and we stuck in there and defended our goal for our lives, but it was more relief than an elated feeling because it was such a difficult season.”

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