Heitinga issues rallying call to team-mates
John Heitinga has told his Everton team-mates they must keep up the intensity that powered them to victory over Manchester City in order to qualify for Europe.
David Moyes' side bounced back from the despair of their FA Cup quarter-final exit at home to Wigan last week by beating Premier League champions City 2-0 on Saturday. It was a win that lifted them back above neighbours Liverpool into sixth place, and kept alive their European ambitions.
With nine games to play, Everton are only two points off fifth place, which would guarantee a spot in next season's Europa League.
And Heitinga, 29, filling in at centre-back for ankle-injury victim Phil Jagielka, insists Saturday's victory is evidence that the spirit at Goodison Park is as strong as ever.
"I think we showed that the team spirit is still here. We had to come back after a difficult week," he told the Liverpool Echo. "It was hard for us, because everybody wanted to go to Wembley. For the first couple of days, everybody was disappointed, but we bounced back, which was the only thing we could do.
"The way I see it now is that we have to play nine finals. Before this match, I told myself we had ten finals, and now we have nine left. I want to go and play with Everton in Europe. We have nine finals, and we must see it game by game. The squad is really strong, and the focus must only be on the next game."
Heitinga admitted that the squad had spent a lot of time analysing the reasons for their 3-0 defeat at home to Wigan nine days ago.
"Everybody was frustrated after the game," he said. "Normally you don't bring defeats home with you, but it stayed a little bit longer than normal last week.
"We had some meetings. More meetings than normal. We were shown some bits of the Wigan game, and we saw that too many players didn't play the level they normally do. But the manager was positive, he said we needed to realise how good we were.
"The training was good, and I think the meetings we had last week were positive. On Friday when we played a 'young versus old' match, as we always do before games, you could see that the team was fresh and ready to go again."