Koeman: Lukaku not far off the best in Europe

, 30 September, 27comments  |  Jump to most recent

In the build-up to his 100th game managing in the Premier League, Ronald Koeman was interviewed by Jamie Carragher for Sky Sports where he talked about the size of the club he has joined, reiterated his emphasis on the pressing game and spoke of the small details he's trying to add to Romelu Lukaku's game to elevate him into the elite category of European strikers.

Koeman has overseen the best start by an Everton manager in the Premier League era but while he is aware of the size of the club and the fans' lofty ambitions, just two months into his first season at Goodison Park, he is keeping his feet on the ground when it comes to the team's prospects this season.

“Everton is a big club, with a big history and great fans and they cannot accept the positions in the table of the last few seasons,” Koeman began.

“We know that it's difficult because you're fighting against big clubs with a lot of money, maybe more money still than we have.

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“But I really believe we can bring Everton back and to fight for European football and, maybe, in the future bring the club back into the Champions League.”

“It's not bigger than I expected,” Koeman continued, describing how in his first dinner with the club's hierarchy he was briefed on the club's history and expectations. “What they mentioned was the passion of the fans and that's one of the reasons why we like to press at home.

“[The fans] don't like a team that is waiting. Of course, sometimes, I need to play football from the back but sometimes direct play can be more dangerous and if you can to change within the game, that's an [important] quality.

“But I like it when the team is pressing … and you need players for that. Sometimes we are struggling because we have some technical players but to have that type of pressing you need to improve and you need to learn.”

Lukaku's new responsibiilties

That need for his team to press from the front has been a constant them of Koeman's recent interviews and it inevitably came up again when the conversation turned to Lukaku and Carragher asked if he could be as good as some of the great strikers the Dutchman has managed in the past.

“He's not far away [from emulating the likes of Ibrahimovich, Villa, Morientes and Kluivert],” Koeman said. “In my opinion, he's one of the best strikers in the Premier League, but sometimes you forget that the boy is only 23 years old.

“I had a good discussion with him about last weekend. Sometimes you take a risk in the wrong position in front of the right centre back and you're not taking a risk in the middle of the centre backs.

“Those are little details in the game that he needs to improve because the first quality of pressing is by the front players. If they fail in pressing, it gives more problems to the midfield players and, finally, the worst problem for the defence.

“And he needs to realise that he is the first to do that pressing and that's different from what he's used to doing in the last two seasons.”

Pressing game also incumbent on Barkley

Carragher also asked the Blues' boss about Barkley, a familiar line if questioning that prompted a frustrated reaction from the Dutchman in his press conference after last weekend's defeat at Bournemouth as he felt they were dwelling too much on the form of one player.

“That stuff has already been mentioned [internally] to the player,” Koeman explained, referring specifically to the midfielder's performance at Sunderland earlier this month. “I showed him the clips, we had a discussion because I think in several moments of the game, he's losing balls he simply cannot lose at that time and he needs to work, he needs to press and that's what I told him.

“You can criticise with full respect and I don't like to lie to the press. Why? My body language will sometimes provide the answer to that question!”


Reader Comments (27)

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Alan Bodell
1 Posted 30/09/2016 at 14:15:10
Good luck getting Lukaku to do the pressing game.
Liam Reilly
3 Posted 30/09/2016 at 15:10:10
The players can't say they haven't been warned about Koeman's desire to press from the front and win possession back quickly.

Colin Glassar
4 Posted 30/09/2016 at 15:58:53
"Either shape up or ship out" seems to be his philosophy. If he can get more out of Ross and Lukaku, then we can have a great season.

I've heard that the players are knackered after training which is something they weren't used to. I also heard that some of the Man City and RS players are moaning about their tough training routines. Wimps!!

Rick Tarleton
6 Posted 30/09/2016 at 16:07:01
The problem with the pressing game as practised by teams like Spurs, Liverpool and Man City is that it works early in the season. By the end of last season Spurs were knackered and Kane was a shadow of the player he can be when he reached the Euros. On the Continent it works well because teams play weaker opposition quite often, the leagues are less competitive, and rotation of the squad is feasible in these games.

The players who thrive in "pressing" teams are the cross-country runners, Lallana, Henderson, Fernandinho and their ilk. I'm not convinced it can work in the long term in England, but it's possible that I'll be wrong. Not for the first time.

Thomas Surgenor
7 Posted 30/09/2016 at 16:10:31
He says all the right things. Let's hope he can get the players to play his way.
William Cartwright
8 Posted 30/09/2016 at 16:18:57
Interesting point, Rick, it is a long hard season and pressing in every game requires super-fit players, a deep quality squad for rotation, and a natural level of athleticism, like Vardy, for example. The big heavier bulk players, such as Ross and Lukaku, may struggle. It is up to the manager's training regime to get them up to speed and keep them there.

All things considered, it is such a better prospect than letting the players find their own level and style of play, and it makes the passing it around at the back just a bad memory!

Chris Gould
9 Posted 30/09/2016 at 16:30:51
I hear what you're saying Rick, but you don't see Barcelona rotating their front men. I will bet that Suarez puts in more miles and sprints than Lukaku does in every game he plays right through the season. It's not just fitness, it's desire and attitude.

Vardy probably presses more than any striker in the league and he didn't tire, but he's a certain type of athlete. Some players can't do it, some won't. Koeman will get those in that can.

Darren Hind
11 Posted 30/09/2016 at 18:33:46
Grandson just pulled on his Lukaku shirt... ready for the walk up, but which Lukaku will turn up?

A lot of excuses were made for the big fella last week – "fantastic save" they said... My missus would have buried that header.

We need the beast tonight

Rick Tarleton
12 Posted 30/09/2016 at 19:02:59
Interesting that quote about your missus, when Harry Redknapp said it about Darren Bent, he lived next door to my brother-in-law. Bent came home that night and drove across my brother-in-law's lawn in his four wheel drive and was to say the least rather upset. To be fair to Bent, he did repair and pay for all the damage caused.
Maybe Lukaku will awake from his lethargy, we can but hope.
Terry Underwood
16 Posted 01/10/2016 at 09:14:29
Just what Rom needed, another boost to his ego.
Ray Roche
17 Posted 01/10/2016 at 09:16:14
...or his confidence.
Damian Wilde
18 Posted 01/10/2016 at 10:12:14
Lukaku pressing? He's lazy and won't do it.
Mike Allen
19 Posted 01/10/2016 at 10:26:49
Far too much media hype for players in all sports. 24-hr sports channels need to fill in time with endless interviews and meaningless stats. Managers bombarded with endless stupid questions all trying their best to say the right thing... As soon as they slip up, bang! Crucified by all and sundry.

TV is killing sport; it's becoming more like so-called reality shows... gone are the days when you try and find a telly on a Saturday night to watch a 30-second snipit on the news.

Mike Allen
20 Posted 01/10/2016 at 12:36:12
I didn't think he played that bad last night but far far away from being the best in Europe. I would rather have Benteke.
Peter Murray
21 Posted 01/10/2016 at 15:25:11
Our supposed "blue"... just not an Evertonian, only here until some club – bigger & with more cash to inflate his ginormous ego – takes him on. Get rid asap, regardless of his scoring record.

Lazy, offside more than any other Premier League forward, getting back a nonentity. Total contribution to team effort "0"; not a Koeman type player. Harassing opposition players? Wishful thinking... What else? Only scoring is his obvious forte – but this obviously counts for everything!!! Unfortunately another Lineker – no more to say!!!

We are just "renting" him – surely any blue understands this, he's not here for the long road... and our manager definitely knows this???

We just deserve blood, sweat & E F F O R T always – deserve so much more.

Alan J Thompson
22 Posted 01/10/2016 at 15:27:48
I'm not sure it is necessary to run half the length of the pitch at the speed of Usain Bolt to press the opposition into hurried passes or just to cut off some of the options. Pressing or harassing the opposition is best worked in packs to either force the player with the ball to play it long or backwards as no short or preferred passes are available or to slow the play in order to give your own defence time to re-organize. If the pack mentality is not immediately possible then players should know what the oppositions preferred/usual attack is and try and force them into something else or just slow them down.

As for improving his finishing, well, let's start by asking him to put his head and body in where it might get hurt and to throw his weight around occasionally. Oh, and ask him to work out with his co-striker who will move to the front post and who will take the back post and when they may vary it.

Baz Williamson
23 Posted 01/10/2016 at 20:02:13
I think that Lukaku's time that has recently been spent with Tierry Henri has been great for the Lad. Very impressive free kick, and he seems to be building a partnership with Bolasie.
Colin Williams
24 Posted 02/10/2016 at 08:07:19
The guy is embarrassing, Best in Europe? My arse! JUST GET RID!!!! The guy is piss-poor! (And that's on a good day.)
Kenneth Dixon
25 Posted 02/10/2016 at 10:13:30
I can't help thinking that, if Lukaku plays, we are going out there with ten men every week... unless he scores. He does absolutely nothing else to help the team. A paradox and a worry.

I'm afraid my thoughts on Romelu vary quite a bit from others. I personally think he is crap and we should replace him with a hard-working team player asap. If you add this conundrum to Barkley's, we are getting close to a nine-man team every week and so we can be beaten by anyone with a bit of organisation. Anyone else you can think of???

Alan J Thompson
26 Posted 03/10/2016 at 04:48:05
Kenneth (#25); I suppose that begs the question whether it is easier to get Lukaku to assist in tracking back and closing down or to teach someone hard-working to put the ball in the back of the net.

I'm of the opinion that high pressing needs several players working together and is therefore better sold/implemented as a team thing rather than just asking individuals to do more although all things have their time and place.

Peter Roberts
27 Posted 03/10/2016 at 12:45:59
I see the lad gone in January and I hope that he is.

He has no place in a team that is supposed to press. His idea of pressing is to jog over to the defender on the ball allowing him just enough time to pick his pass – in a 'going through the motions' kinda way (see Belgium versus Italy). Rather than sprinting over to the defender, making himself big, anticipating his next pass and actually trying to win the thing.

All talk about this lad is just that – talk. "I'm working hard on this and that"; "I want to play for a top team"; "I had a chat with the manager" – it's all about him. I'm sick and tired of having a player whose only concern is himself.

We would look a far more potent side with a striker who actually moved. He's 5 kg overweight, he sweats after 10 minutes of jogging, he jumps like he has lead in his boots... who does he think he's kidding?

Alex Fox
28 Posted 03/10/2016 at 13:27:20
"I personally think he is crap and we should replace him with a hard-working team player asap."

Take off your Denis Stracqualursi shirt for a second, and actually think about that statement.

We've had hard-working centre forwards before. Plenty of them. In fact - pretty much everyone who played under Moyes would fit the bill. Andy Johnson, Marcus Bent etc could run about, pressing defenders all day long.

They were also bang average.

The legendary Bob Latchford scored 0.48 goals a game for Everton.

Lukaku is already at 0.49 a game.

You want to sell an ambitious 23-year-old international with a just shy of 1-in-2 record, and replace him with some badge-beating workhorse?

It's funny that the three players that have faced the most criticism from our own fans over the last year (Lukaku, Barkley, Stones) have also been unquestionably our most talented.

If the Boo Boys get their way, we'll watch them all develop into gems elsewhere, while we cheer on a team of Tom Cleverleys.

Ray Roche
29 Posted 03/10/2016 at 14:26:17
Alex, good points there. Latchford didn't move about much but he'd walk into any Premier League side with his goalscoring record.

And as an aside, all those spouting about getting Bony in last window... I just hope you all saw his "efforts" yesterday. If you think Lukaku is lazy, Dixie's statue would be more effective, and move more, than that lump did against Man Utd. Maybe some people have more knowledge than some posters on here, eh?

Terry McLavey
30 Posted 03/10/2016 at 18:43:31
Best in Europe?! I know there's a brother but is there another one we don't know about? That must be the one?
Peter Roberts
31 Posted 04/10/2016 at 14:50:35
I do chuckle when I see Lukaku and the word "ambition" – as if for some reason those who question his loyalty are missing the fact that he is putting his career on hold temporarily to help us out... it's like he's saying to us "I may stay if you could suddenly turn into the type of team that haven't decided I'm good enough to play for them".

I don't know who is more deluded – Lukaku who seems to believe he puts in 100% every game or the fans who seem to think that his apparent lack of effort isn't him – it's the other mugs on the team running round trying to get the ball back after he's shinned it to one of their players.

Anyway – it's international break... I await his next interview.

Jay Wood
32 Posted 04/10/2016 at 15:09:15
Peter @ 31

And I do chuckle that you only post on TW to make derogatory remarks about Lukaku (and fans who are more tolerant of him than you evidently are).

Peter Roberts
33 Posted 04/10/2016 at 15:38:49
Not exclusively, Jay – majority of posts, yep. Then again, so do many others.

The most divisive player at Everton – means one thing, he can't be anywhere near as good as many try and make him out to be. It also says he probably isn't as bad as the likes of myself make out. I'm good with that. He's a 7/10 player – nothing more; that's about right.

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