Everton left-back Leighton Baines has praised David Unsworth’s efforts as caretaker boss, stressing the win the Toffees secured on Sunday was the least he has deserved.
Unsworth stepped up from the under-23s two weeks ago to take temporary charge following the sacking of Ronald Koeman and oversaw three away defeats before Sunday’s dramatic 3-2 victory over Watford at Goodison Park.
Baines, scorer of the decisive goal against the Hornets, told evertontv when asked about winning for Unsworth: “It makes it extra special.
“He has been top drawer. I’ve loved the training sessions he’s put on and the way he has conducted himself. His talk before the game was special.
“We would like to have given him more, and achieved better results – but we have got him a win, which he deserved, at the least.”
Ahead of an international break that appears a likely period in which Everton will appoint a permanent boss – be it Unsworth or someone else – it was a remarkable contest that brought the Merseyside outfit’s first win since September.
After goals from Richarlison, in the first minute of the second half, and Christian Kabasele put Watford 2-0 up, Everton hit back with efforts by Oumar Niasse and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
There were subsequently 13 minutes of time added on at the end, during which Baines’ penalty completed the turnaround before Watford’s ex-Everton midfielder Tom Cleverley missed a spot-kick at the death.
It saw Everton move out of the Premier League relegation zone, up from 19th to 15th.
And Baines, who now stands alone as Everton’s record penalty-scorer on 24, one clear of Unsworth and Trevor Steven, said: “We know we have good players, players that are better than the league table and our performances at times have been showing.
“It was nice to get a win. It was dramatic, so it feels great. But it is nothing to get too carried away with. It is the type of win we should be getting here.
“It’s a definite momentum builder, with the manner of it, the emotional roller coaster. I am sure it was a tough watch.
“It was really emotional and the type of game that can definitely give us something to build on.”
Watford boss Marco Silva is one of the managers to have been linked with Everton, along with the likes of Sam Allardyce and Sean Dyche.
When that, as well as him being linked with West Ham, was put to him after Sunday’s game and he was asked if he would see the season out with Watford, Silva refused to be drawn on the matter.
He said: “I’m here to talk about the match. You can understand, it was a really disappointing afternoon for us.
“We had a fantastic chance to make it 3-3 and missed the penalty. Everything happened in this game, and in a bad way for our team after it was 2-1.
“We need to understand why and work on that. It is not the moment to talk about this (other) situation.”