Mason Holgate believes that Everton will be able to maintain some of their best players throughout the summer despite what he admits has been a disappointing campaign for the club.
The Blues secured Premier League safety in their penultimate match of the season in dramatic fashion on Thursday, coming from 2-0 down to beat Crystal Palace 3-2 at Goodison Park. Goals from Michael Keane, Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin were enough to seal all three points and spark a huge outpouring of emotion from everyone connected with the club.
Rumors have already begun about the long-term futures of some players in the squad with Champions League contenders linked with some of Everton’s top talent. However, Holgate does not believe “one bad season” should change the perspective of the Blues and their position in the Premier League when considering potential summer transfers.
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The center-back remarked: “We have had one bad season, it is easy to overlook us where we are. We are under no illusions there are teams like the top four or five who are going to be appealing to players who are good enough because they are challenging for things and playing in the Champions League.
“I think if you look underneath that certain bracket, there are teams doing well one season and then not, I wouldn’t class them as a step up. It would be a sideways step. There isn’t a big pool of other clubs in the Premier League who would be more appealing because ultimately it’s not a step up.
“Obviously you have teams who are that step up for people who want to play Champions League but if you look outside of that, it’s not that major a step so people will want to stay here. It is what people know and they can help push the club in the right direction and try to win things. “
Everton confirmed their Premier League status with one match to spare on Thursday. However, the relief of the result will quickly turn to questions of how the Blues found themselves in that situation.
Holgate knows that he and his team-mates have to learn from the last few months – and he’s adamant that it’s something they never want to go through again.
The 25-year-old added: “I think it has been a real eye-opener and a shocker for everyone. I do not think anybody really expected to be in this position. We kind of, did not take it for granted, but expected to be in a different position and it’s not like that.
“For most of us, it is the first time we have come close to relegation in our careers so it is something that we have been through and the pressure is not something we want to go through again.
“Now we’ve learned from that, we have got away with it if you will, it is something we are going to try and build on and not be in this position again.
“I think the feeling around the place from everybody is one of relief. Ultimately it is still disappointing the way this season has gone. But to where we were a few weeks ago, the pressure that has been on us every game, to get through the other side is going to be a relief from anybody’s shoulders so that is the over-riding feeling. “
A feeling of unity has been felt throughout recent weeks as manager Frank Lampard has tapped into the huge amounts of support from the fans. And Holgate maintained that has seeped through to the squad as well.
He said: “I think when you go through so much as a team and you’re up against so many things, that naturally brings everybody closer together anyway. I’d say over the last few weeks we’ve got closer as a team and as squad with the staff because, at the end of the day, we all needed each other to get out of the situation we were in. Thankfully, we’ve done that.
“Obviously there was the relief of winning the game which in itself meant we were staying up and was a massive feeling for us. But I just think the way the game went made it a little bit more special than if we’d gone out and won 3-0. But it ‘s definitely something that I do not want to be going through again. “