Ronald Koeman applauds improved home form as Everton look to dispatch Hull
Everton manager Ronald Koeman is delighted his players have learned to love Goodison Park again as the old ground has regained its fortress reputation.
Last season they lost eight times at home, winning just six matches and claiming 23 points, with an increasingly toxic atmosphere in the final few weeks of Roberto Martinez's reign impacting performances on the pitch.
However, since Koeman took over in the summer he has enjoyed an extended honeymoon period as home fans have been rewarded with some impressive performances.
At home the Dutchman's more pragmatic, direct approach has already garnered 31 points from a possible 42 and they have lost just once there in the league in the last 12 months - against Liverpool in December.
In front of their own fans Everton have scored 30 league goals in 14 matches and conceded just 10, bettered only by runaway Premier League leaders Chelsea, second-placed Tottenham and on a par with Manchester United.
It seems rather fitting then that the club have a community-based initiative this season called 'Home Is Where The Heart Is', with their under-23 side trying to raise £230,000 to fund and develop a supported living initiative for young people in Liverpool.
"If you are afraid to play at home that is the worst thing you can have as a football player," said Koeman.
"But at home we are producing really good performances and clean sheets and I think it is important.
"The results, they have brought confidence to the team and the fans have confidence in the team.
"It is difficult to always keep that momentum at home but we'd like to do it."
Relegation-threatened Hull, who have won just five points on the road all season, visit on Saturday and Koeman has warned them to expect a tough time having confidently dispatched West Brom at Goodison last weekend.
"We would like to continue the momentum. The team is strong and really playing well," the Toffees boss added.
"We know every Premier League game is difficult and what happened last week doesn't count any more.
"We are the big favourites at home and the pressure is on Everton this weekend, but it is always dangerous because they fight against relegation and they need points.
"If we keep our concentration in games it is difficult to beat Everton - but it is even more difficult to beat Everton at Goodison Park."
Koeman will start striker Romelu Lukaku, the Premier League's joint top scorer with 19 goals, despite the Belgium international's outspoken comments about the club and revelation he will not sign the new contract on offer which would make him the highest-paid player in the club's history.
The manager was upset by the 23-year-old's words but insists he has not noticed a difference in his attitude in training.
"If any player is not interested in Everton then he will not start. If he shows his commitment to the team, the club and the fans (then) even not signing a new contract is no problem for myself," Koeman said.