Jake Daniels came out as the first gay male footballer since 1990 this week, what do you make of the statement and him speaking out?
I think it takes a lot of courage and personality to come out and express himself. And I think the support that he has received so far from football and from society, in general, has been really positive. And that shows that the world is improving. it’s good. And if that can be a positive example, I think that is good.
Is football becoming more inclusive now?
Yes, but I think football is not different from our society. I think we are in a better place than 30 years ago. It’s always difficult to just put football inside this box because it is a reflection of our society. So we are in a better place, even if I believe there’s still a lot to do.
How much education is still needed?
I think education is based in respecting each other. I think the power of the game allows us to educate the majority of the people. I think we can use football to promote education. And there’s still a lot to do. And hopefully, in the next couple of years, we will be even in a better place.
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Is education made more difficult because of how multicultural and multi-diverse football is?
No, I don’t think it makes it more difficult. I think it has to be more positive because you just have to look in the dressing room and you see different cultures, different ethnicities and different religions but players live and work together. So I think that can be a positive tool to promote education.
What did you make of Cheikhou Kouyate’s posts?
Do you know what support he was giving?
You can possibly tell me?
I can’t tell you because I don’t know.
He [Gueye] has refused to wear a certain shirt that had rainbow colours.
He refused? Did he make a statement or did Paris Saint-Germain make a statement?
This is what we understand to be the case
This is the biggest problem because there is a lot of noise coming out from France and I’ve been reading the news and never seen any kind of statement from PSG or any kind of statement from the players so people are assuming. So before we get into conclusions, we have to be sure about what we are talking about before creating something really negative. So obviously, what is clear from myself and the football club is that we are supporting Cheikhou and we are fighting and we are against any kind of discrimination. This is the bottom line.
A positive point against Aston Villa, is the challenge to now finish in the top ten?
Yes, it is a challenge. And there is a possibility as well to go over 49 points that can be a target for us. But again, what I was really pleased with against Aston Villa was the performance. Because when you get to the end of the season like that, you always do less and you are in a comfortable zone and you’re just waiting for the end of the season. The challenge for us was to keep being competitive until the last game of the season. I was really pleased with the attitude that the players showed on the pitch because we competed well we fought well and we played some good football at time and that made me really happy.
What atmosphere are you expecting at Goodison Park?
The last couple of games that they played at home the atmosphere was unbelievable. They are in a really difficult position, they need to win and we expect a tough game – a difficult one. But we will want to play of course as best as we can and the objective is always to try to win the game.
Was the 4-0 FA Cup win over Everton the perfect performance?
It was a game that I learned a lot about the players because there’s always a question mark about how you manage the game when you are in a really difficult period and in that game I was really pleased because especially in the first 20 minutes we didn’t play well and I think they were really good. We remained calm and we managed that difficult period really well and then we went and scored that goal on the set-piece and after that, I think we managed the game really well and we started to play with more belief and confidence and we managed to go through. That was a really good game because of the way we managed it and that is something that we will have to keep in our mind for the game tomorrow.
What’s your relationship with Frank Lampard like?
We played against each other and we worked together when he was at Manchester City and we worked together again when I was coaching him in New York. There is respect. Both of us were players and are now going into a job that is really tough and really difficult. Hopefully, we will do well. I’ve been looking at how he has been during the season since taking over at Everton and of course, it is really challenging and difficult when a manager goes in during the middle of the season when the team does not have much confidence. It is tough, it is really difficult. And I wish him good luck.
Players that will not travel are James McArthur, Nathan Ferguson and James Tomkins. [Tomkins] just started training with the team in the last few games so it is too late for him to be part of the squad. Michael Olise [is unavailable] too.
PSG have told BBC that Gueye refused to play because of the rainbow on the shirt, will you be speaking to Cheikhou about it?
If that is the case then yes, I will speak to Cheikhoy about it. It will be an in-house conversation.
Will you use 3-5-2 next season?
I think this is something that we will take next season as well because it’s quite interesting to have this kind of flexibility. Every time that we’ve played that system I’ve felt that players feel comfortable playing in that system as well so it’s always good to have these kinds of options and what is important for me is that choosing one or the other – the players feel comfortable to play that way.
Does the size of the game for Everton help with your preparation? Does it add extra?
We always try to prepare the same way because that is the challenge that we give ourselves – to perform until the last day of the season. So far, I think we’ve been really good on that and tomorrow it won’t be different. We will try our best, we will compete. That will be enough. I hope so because we want to win the game, but we will compete, there is no doubt about it.
15 draws this season – missed opportunities or happy with that?
When you lead and you concede a goal did I look at it in a bad way but when we manage to get back into a game then it’s a positive. But at the end of it, we are where we are and we’ve got this number of draws because we concede too late or we didn’t do enough to win the game. But there are some answers that we need to find to improve the team and find out how can we turn those draws into wins.
How do you think Everton will approach the games?
I think it will be no different from the last game that they played. I think they will be playing with a lot of pressure. They will be really aggressive. And I think from the first minute, they will be up in our faces. So we are expecting a tough, tough game.
You’ve got a positive goal difference where most teams around you don’t, how have you managed it?
It’s about always trying to find the right balance between attacking and defending. We’ve managed to score a couple of goals but I think we should score much more. And on the other side, I think defensively we are more solid because our front players are doing their part as well. And collectively that makes us more strong.
Wilfried [Zaha] is the perfect example. The way that he’s working out of position, helps us to be more solid as a team. This is why I think it’s important for us to take all these kinds of positive elements to the next season and try to be a little bit stronger.