Koeman demands Everton ‘wake up’
Ronald Koeman arranged a noholds-barred emergency summit with his senior Everton players after admitting his deep concerns about the poor start to the season.
An angry Koeman described the 3-0 Europa League defeat by Atalanta on Thursday as a “wake-up” call for his team. It was his side’s third consecutive loss and a reaction is needed before visiting Manchester United tomorrow.
Long-serving players such as
Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines, as well as recent-signing Wayne Rooney, met the manager to discuss the dire form, Koeman demanding the same enraged response he showed when addressing the side in Italy.
“It was a lot of anger at half-time,” said Koeman. “I prefer to keep my mouth shut after the game because the problem is the first half and not in the second half.
“I think you need always personalities in players and it’s not always about how the manager needs to react or who the manager likes to change. We also need personalities who talk and criticise to make the team better, get a better understanding, and to show everybody we will fight for the better period. We need to change and that’s the most important thing for Sunday.
“It’s different than it was 30 years ago. But I know and believe we have enough of those people in our dressing room. Sunday is a game for men and experience. They need to show it. Thursday was painful.
“I will have a meeting with the players. It is the time for experienced players to stand up. I am worried about what I saw. It was a wake-up call.”
Koeman accepted heightened expectations added to the pressure, and a number of new recruits need to adjust, but he was not in the mood for excuses. “I am worried about our aggression and how we defend,” he said. “I see how many spaces we give, letting them turn, not following your man, not defending your man, not aggressive.
“And, of course, confidence. Michael Keane is normally our best centre-back in our ball possession. Maybe now he has doubts in his
football. If you have doubts instead of going front in defending you make a step back.
“That’s all about confidence. You don’t go, always you step back if you are afraid. And I can name more players who are not performing. That altogether makes the team weak at this time. I don’t like to make individuals because it is always a team. But we need to be more aggressive.”
Koeman was asked if he was worried about his own future because of the current form – Everton are known to be the most patient and supportive of boards. “If it is the board of Crystal Palace, maybe not,” he said. “I am too long in this job to think different.
“I have the experience. I had a bad run at Southampton. We came out of that. I believe that we have the confidence to come out of this.
“Maybe it is good that I have had good results at Old Trafford, but Man United is really strong and a stronger side than last season and we are not at the level of last season. If we are defending how we defend in the last few games it will be Lukaku’s afternoon.”