Defender Mason Holgate remains focused on making Everton better as his improving form has started to get noticed.
The 23-year-old has established himself as first-choice centre-back, starting 18 of the Toffees’ last 19 league matches, and has been mentioned for a potential England call-up.
National team manager Gareth Southgate was at Goodison Park to watch the controversial 1-1 draw at home to Manchester United where Holgate partnered Michael Keane, with £27million signing Yerry Mina relegated to the bench.
Last week Holgate was linked with Manchester City, and while Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti has stressed there is “zero possibility” of him leaving, that association alone shows his displays are getting attention.
Holgate, however, is ignoring the interest now being shown in him and is concentrating on getting Everton up the table.
“It’s not really what I think about my personal form, it is more about the team and where we are going as a team,” he said.
“I am glad we have started getting results. Last week (the 3-2 defeat at Arsenal) we were upset with our defensive play and the gaffer came out and said that.
“I am more than happy with how things went (against United). We looked quite solid as apart from the goal I think we defended quite well.”
Everton’s form has improved markedly in Ancelotti’s 10 matches since he took over on Boxing Day, with 18 points accrued, and Holgate said it was mainly due to being given clear instructions.
“There has been lots of things. He is so experienced: the teams he has worked for speaks for itself and everyone has a clear mindset of what they are doing and everyone knows their jobs and that helps us a lot,” added the defender.
Everton were denied the chance to close the gap to fifth-placed United to two points after VAR ruled out Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s stoppage-time goal for offside as Gylfi Sigurdsson was sat in front of goalkeeper David De Gea when the ball deflected in off Harry Maguire.
Ancelotti’s protests at full-time led to the manager being shown a red card, and Holgate admits that summed up the frustration felt by everyone.
“For it to be a little bit disappointing not to have come away with three points shows the direction we are going in,” he added.
“It’s massively disappointing because VAR is there to stop mistakes, but I feel like you can argue either way all day with that, especially with the deflection, so I don’t see it as a massive mistake.
“I feel like it is something that if I was watching it I wouldn’t see it as a clear and obvious mistake.
“It is disappointing that something that has been brought in to help people is getting involved in something which is not a clear and obvious error.
“On the pitch I never saw the deflection from Maguire which wrong-footed De Gea, but after watching Maguire touch it De Gea has gone, so whether Gylfi is there or not it is still going in, so I don’t think he has affected the play.”
Holgate also came out in support of goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, whose error in allowing Bruno Fernandes’ shot under him cancelled out Calvert-Lewin’s opener – following a mistake from De Gea – and denied them victory.
“As frustrating as it was, Jordan has made an unbelievable save he probably shouldn’t have made (from substitute Odion Ighalo late on) to keep the score at 1-1, so it’s swings and roundabouts,” he said.
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