REUTERS - Everton are finally playing in the manner that manager Ronald Koeman wants and the progress has been reflected in their climb to seventh in the Premier League table, according to left-back Leighton Baines.
Koeman inherited a team with a poor defensive record when he took over in June, but Everton got off to a good start to the season under their new manager, getting through their first five league games without defeat before losing momentum.
A run of two wins in 12 league games followed, culminating in a 1-0 loss to Liverpool in the Merseyside derby on Dec. 19, before Everton turned the corner, going on an eight-game unbeaten run to challenge for a Europa League spot.
"What we've shown comes from the manager," Baines told the club website (www.evertonfc.com).
"Of course, it takes time but the team starts to reflect the manager out on the pitch. The manager wants intensity, a bit of aggression and good football as well.
"We can improve in all of those departments -- you always can -- but I think he has been more pleased in what he is seeing in that respect."
Everton host basement side Sunderland in the league on Saturday, and Baines said the team was keen to keep the momentum going.
"We're on a good run at the moment and, obviously, we've been working hard this week to extend that," he added.
"At this level, there are fine lines at times. We work hard every week, we've been on a good run, a bad run and now we're back on another good run -- but, generally, the work we've done has been the same."
Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty