Ronald Koeman was understandably pleased with Everton's 4-0 win over Hull City, even if he admitted that his team weren't at their best.
The Blues led the visitors by Dominic Calvert-Lewin's goal for 65 minutes, containing the visitors' pressure as they tried to find an equaliser but were able to break the contest open in the final quarter of an hour after Tom Huddlestone was sent off for a foul on Idrissa Gueye.
Enner Valencia came off the bench to double the lead from Romelu Lukaka's brilliant assist before the Belgian scored his 20th and 21st Premier League goals of the season in stoppage time.
It was Everton's sixth consecutive league win at Goodison Park — a run that has seen them score 22 goals and concede three — and it moved them into sixth place ahead of Manchester United who have played three fewer games.
“Yes, it's great,” Koeman said when Everton's impressive run of home results since the turn of the year was reeled off to him. “You like to be confident, you like to be comfortable at home, you play for the fans and that's really good.
“It's a really run at home but I think the final result today didn't really reflect what happened on the pitch.
“I think it was too hard that red card. OK, that killed the game and they made it really tough. Everton today was not at the best. I think we had a lot of good opportunities but our final ball was not good.
“But we are strong and 10 against 11 there's more space and we have a team that will punish them for [making] mistakes or. We know we will get chances and score more goals.
The manager was asked about his two strikers on the day, one of which scored his first goal for the club after just eight minutes and the other became the first Everton player to score 20 league goals since Gary Lineker in the 1985-86 season.
“It was fantastic [for Dominic Calvert-Lewin]. He was out for six, seven weeks with an ankle injury and, okay, Kevin Mirallas wasn't available today so I took the decision because you need to give young players a chance.
“He deserves that chance because he is working hard and doing well and you know that it doesn't matter whether you're 18 or 35, the best will start and he deserved his start today and he scored a fantastic first goal.
“[Romelu] is a great finisher and can be frustrated for 85 minutes but that is what he did well — he was focused until the last second to score the goal and to get that movement in the last 10 minutes.
“Of course it was 11 against 10 but our final pass was really good where it wasn't good before but we really killed the game perfectly.
Asked if he could offer Evertonians any hope that both Lukaku and Ross Barkley would still be at the club next season, Koeman smiled:
“You need to have hope in life because that's the best. Both are key players in our team I think that Ross is improving and has really deserved his call-up to the national team and we will do the maximum to keep these two players.
“But always, the final decision is with the players themselves.”
Reader Comments (36)
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1 Posted 19/03/2017 at 07:19:44
2 Posted 19/03/2017 at 07:28:22
3 Posted 19/03/2017 at 07:33:04
It really is back to what it should be, a fortress that visiting teams now almost look beaten upon kick-off which is a big contrast to last season when Everton's players looked scared running out at Goodison.
Koeman must take the credit for this record and if he can get the away form someway decent then we really can be an even bigger force, at the moment the away form has been the big letdown, a few more wins on the road we would have been above Liverpool, shame.
4 Posted 19/03/2017 at 07:47:04
5 Posted 19/03/2017 at 07:47:23
I think he stumbled onto his best combination and formation (injuries or unavailability of certain players Robles coming in and proving himself during Stek's injury, ditto Davies), but to be fair, he has learnt along the way and made adjustments to his strategy and got players playing at their best now.
The next step for me would be Koeman showing boldness in his tactics and team selection for the crucial away games at Liverpool and Man Utd. At least 1 win out of this 2 games and I would very much turn into a Koeman fan.
6 Posted 19/03/2017 at 08:25:00
7 Posted 19/03/2017 at 10:04:54
Ajay you are right the next two games are critical two draws are not enough, a win in one is critical. If he sets up like he did against Spurs and Chelsea expect the worse.
8 Posted 19/03/2017 at 10:19:41
9 Posted 19/03/2017 at 10:22:02
10 Posted 19/03/2017 at 10:59:36
Of course there have been low points the cup defeats and the Derby defeat were hard to take. Overall we just have to hope he learns from his tactical mistakes and adds quality at each transfer window. I can't think of anyone who could do a better job given our finances.
He's working well with the new owner, who deserves credit for bringing him to the club. I'm confident we will give a good account of ourselves in the next two big games, something that was unthinkable last season.
Next season the pressures on him will increase along with our expectations of finally winning some silver ware, please god after all none of us are getting any younger.
11 Posted 19/03/2017 at 11:13:21
I'm in agreement with Ajay unless we perform against some of the top sides in the end of season run in, the objective analysis will be that we have improved compared to the previous two seasons, but really are in no better position than Everton's performance under Moyes in his last season. Even Martinez actually got us to fifth in his first season with a record points total.
I want Koeman (as I want every Everton manager) to stay and be successful I am a bit baffled by the veneration some on TW hold him in. If he delivers the goods then he will deserve the acclaim then, I am sure the £6m a year gives him enough of a cosy glow to get by on.
12 Posted 19/03/2017 at 11:20:51
We didn't play badly as such, but as Koeman said, we could do better. A sign of a good team.
13 Posted 19/03/2017 at 11:33:02
I can't recall any other Norwich chances; alas, we had at least 6 or 7 chances we failed to convert. The Norwich game wasn't a Ron failure it was misfortune.
14 Posted 19/03/2017 at 11:52:09
My view of the derby was Liverpool came to frustrate defend and nick one. It took a little bit of luck to achieve that but contained us well by shutting down our attacking midfielders.
They will come at us at Anfield but will leave spaces behind. Their intensity has dropped, ours has increased. We now have two or three threading forward passes so less easy to stop.
Question is: Can we stop them scoring early on?
15 Posted 19/03/2017 at 11:55:48
Hull 'controlled' most of the second half, yet how many chances did they have? Bit like us last two seasons.
When Schneiderlin was on, there was much pressing and energy; when he went off, it dropped and we looked a bit rudderless. If we're going to progress, we're going to have to learn to handle these setbacks quickly.
Koeman must be cursing his luck; of all the wide men to get injured, it's Bolasie; now, of all the midfielders, it's the excellent Schneiderlin.
Big thanks to Rom, as his goals secured my bet, which cancelled out my losses from Cheltenham!
16 Posted 19/03/2017 at 13:52:13
I believe we need to approach every game like it's a home game, going out to win, regardless of the opponents. Yes, fine tune the tactics and team for the style of the opponents, but take an attacking rather than containing approach. This will be crucial at Anfield.
17 Posted 19/03/2017 at 14:13:36
18 Posted 19/03/2017 at 14:17:31
19 Posted 19/03/2017 at 14:26:47
20 Posted 19/03/2017 at 14:29:36
Koeman should be lauded for a huge improvement in home form. Confidence looks assured at the Old Lady.
Away from home we've been a shadow of ourselves, only Palace (controlled) and City (effort) linger as decent performances.
The root, the manager, he accommodates opposition too much. This makes us hesitant and rarely have we started a game well. We have a poor recrord of scoring in the first half of away games. Scoring actually full stop.
His pragmatism may work with better players but hes been accountable for damaging defeats at Burnley, Bournemouth, Watford.
So the next two games should be about Everton, we have enough points and momentum not to worry about finishing lower than seventh.
Punishing Liverpool early in would really puncture the tempo they play at and make them worry we are actually a threat.
United are a dour side we should be able to have decent possession in that game.
So two puzzles to solve for Koeman, does he have it in his psyche to go for it? Setting up to defend, is in this position, would be criminal.
21 Posted 19/03/2017 at 14:34:53
Out of those four games, three of them are away from home. It looks like it will be our away games that define our season.
22 Posted 19/03/2017 at 14:37:50
The present doesn't change history and make all that irrelevant. We were playing horrible football, we were not getting any results. And we very recently went into a match against Spurs far too conservatively. We're seventh, not like we're challenging for any honors. And again, current form doesn't excuse the first half of the season and the cups, don't have too short of a memory.
23 Posted 19/03/2017 at 14:40:53
Koeman needs (as others have pointed out) to take the game to them in these remaining games. How he approaches these last games will tell us a lot about his standing as a manager.
A win against Liverpool next will have the media in meltdown and upping the ante in touting our best players to their darling 6.
24 Posted 19/03/2017 at 14:45:59
I distinctly remember telling you I would not have that bet with somebody else's money, but you were confident from the off and put your money were your mouth was.
I know you've known for some time that he would get his 20th, but nagging doubts that he may get injured must have played on your mind.
Good to see you over the line.
25 Posted 19/03/2017 at 14:49:03
I think during that two months the players were not motivated and didn't show any fight in them at all. I was telling my mate that I was not sure about Koeman. He reminded me of OFM during the Christmas period of both 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons. He lost the dressing room.
I thought the same happened to Koeman. Credit to Koman, he managed to turn that around.
26 Posted 19/03/2017 at 14:58:05
A summer rebuild tweak, players fitter for the start of next season and could be an interesting season.
If only we had got rid of Bobby Brown shoes weeks before, it would have given time to address the issue, even if it was big Joe and Unsworth, the feel good factor would have returned, just like our last league game last season.
27 Posted 19/03/2017 at 14:59:35
Even if we lose both I would want Koeman here next season but would want to see real progress then. It always seem to be 'next season' for us and that needs to change (ahem) next season.
28 Posted 19/03/2017 at 15:48:50
We have one or two who don't look quite at the races in fitness terms: Williams and Coleman being the two most obvious ones. Seamus is a mystery, sometimes this season he has looked back to his best but, for the most part, I still think he's a couple of levels short of 3 years ago. Williams looks like a man whose body has crossed a line and I fear we may have got him just as he was failing physically.
Overall though, we're starting to look a lot stronger and more durable (though in my view still short of serious pace) – next season I expect we will see a marked further improvement.
29 Posted 19/03/2017 at 15:58:26
On a serious note, he scores goals. That's his job. Not to tell us we're wonderful, not to kiss the badge, not to pledge undivided loyalty, not to pull the wool over our eyes.
Score goals. He's done it against them, Arsenal, Chelsea, City, Spurs and pretty much everyone else.
If he wants to tell the board to get their fingers out and buy better players, that's fine by me. If he stays, I'll be chuffed, but if anyone leaves anywhere for a better offer, the only people I ever blame are the management for not doing enough to keep them.
30 Posted 19/03/2017 at 16:35:36
The key word, the key factor for the next two games... Mentality.
We know we have the tools to badly hurt a mediocre Liverpool defence but if we freeze as we have done there on virtually every visit since 1999 then it won't make a blind bit of difference what goalscoring form we are in.
It's a load of old bull that cliche that form goes out the window in derbies, fact is it doesn't and if it does it's when Liverpool are in rotten form and us good, they still beat us up.
We need to see belief and bravery in that game and say enough is enough, it's gone on far too long at Anfield.
31 Posted 19/03/2017 at 18:35:42
Koeman will have a full pre season and with signings. Makes for an interesting season. We are still a work in progress. What we must remember is we will spend in the summer but so will the teams above us.
32 Posted 19/03/2017 at 19:17:42
I wholeheartedly agree. We had posters who believe Martinez is one of the worse managers in our history who then went on to give Koeman abuse because he didn't turn the Martinez team into top four challengers inside 15 games.
They can't have it both ways surely. I believed in him from the off and continue to do so.
33 Posted 19/03/2017 at 20:19:44
34 Posted 19/03/2017 at 20:57:30
Rom will score if given the chances unless he freezes, like at Wembley last year. Barry must not start we need energy, work rate and courage with belief that we can beat them, please!!!
35 Posted 19/03/2017 at 21:27:56
Watched Liverpool today, and I think they can break very fast, so I think an extra defender might come in handy, plus if we give Lukaku, some help upfront, I think it would scare the fuckin life out of them?
Play without fear by all means, but I'd sooner play savvy, because this is how teams really learn, and is something that long-term will give us the extra belief that we really do need?
37 Posted 20/03/2017 at 19:27:54
This summer it will be goodbye to some of our aging stalwarts who are now way off the pace Jags, Barry, Baines. Bus fares will be handed out the no-hopers like Lennon, Kone, Niasse, Cleverley, Deulofeu and McGeady.
More young class players will be coming in and a couple more kids will be coming up. The new stadium will be being worked on. I haven't felt this good since the '80s.