Wayne Rooney has hit 'purple patch', says Craig Shakespeare
By Alice Piper
Last Updated: 14/12/17 5:17pm
Craig Shakespeare says Wayne Rooney has hit "a purple patch" at Everton, as the first-team coach expressed delight at the side's resurgence in form.
The former Leicester boss joined the Toffees last month following Sam Allardyce's appointment as manager, with the pair having previously worked together during a four-month spell with England.
Allardyce and his backroom team have led Everton to three wins and a draw, continuing their revival of the side that looked to be heading towards an unexpected relegation fight, and Shakespeare says summer signing Rooney has played a key role.
"I'm very impressed with Wayne," Shakespeare said of the 31-year-old, who scored the winner in Everton's 1-0 victory over Newcastle on Wednesday to take his tally to nine Premier League goals this season.
"We know what his pedigree is about but his goalscoring record of late is very, very good.
"To score the winner, being in the right place at the right time last night, obviously he is in a purple patch but the team as well is performing well."
Shakespeare cites 'team ethic' as crucial in producing positive performances and revealed Allardyce has placed huge importance on registering clean sheets.
"The big ask of the team is that the individuals make sure that, if they perform, hopefully the team collectively perform," said Shakespeare.
"We want to be better with the ball, let's be honest, but at the moment we are doing okay as a team.
"The manager has stressed to the squad about clean sheets and that's the basis of it. Team ethic, work ethic.
"We have to make sure that the team ethic is there and the basis of that is to defend as a team, make sure we are compact, the distances between.
"If you can get those results, as you've seen with us, the confidence comes along and then hopefully you can build on that."
With wins this month over Huddersfield, Apollon Limassol and Newcastle, Shakespeare instead singled out Sunday's 1-1 draw at Merseyside rivals Liverpool as a particularly satisfying point.
"Everybody, all the pundits, had Liverpool as favourites," he said.
"We knew that, going there, we could cause them problems when we had a chance. We would have liked to have caused them more problems but to come away from there with a point, I think, has to be satisfying."
The 54-year-old, who was sacked by Leicester in October after four months in permanent charge, says he is enjoying getting to know the Everton squad and believes the younger players are key to the club's future success.
Shakespeare oversaw an experimental and youthful side claim their first win of the Europa League group stages as 20-year-old Ademola Lookman scored twice and Nikola Vlasic netted the third in a 3-0 win over Apollon Limassol earlier this month.
"I think it's supporters, fans, and us as coaching staff, we want to try and promote from within," he said.
"The kids need the opportunity. Once they are given the opportunity, if they can take that, then I'm sure they will keep "their place.
"It's about their development, it's about the team, it's about the whole squad improving.Youngsters can play a massive part in that."
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