Koeman sees United clash as potential catalyst for Everton's flagging season

Friday, 2 December, 2016 39comments  |  Jump to most recent

Ronald Koeman says that his players need to show their strength and commitment in the coming weeks, starting with Sunday's match against Manchester United, in order to end a dismal sequence of just one win in eight Premier League fixtures.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, the manager suggested again that he was happy with the team's place in the table but agreed that his side is on a bad run that must improve.

To that end, he was asked if he and his coaching staff had been approaching training any differently. While he initially said they hadn't, he did eventually reveal that the forwards have been working on their movement, something that has been conspicuous by its absence for a while now.

“Not really different because we believe in how we train, how we communicate to the players, how we show the players in meetings about mistakes, about positive strengths of the team,” Koeman explained.

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“But, of course… maybe a lack of confidence is difficult because you can support the players and give them the confidence to start again but, it's football – first of all, you need to work hard; that's the best way to turn things around .

“We know we play a big game at home on Sunday against a big club but still we are in a good position in the table. If someone asked me at the start of the season if by the beginning of December, Everton is 7th and if they beat Man United at home they will be sixth, above Man United, I would be happy at that stage.

“Of course, I realise we need a win, I realise away performances were not good but we're still unbeaten at home and that's also positive. Of course, you need to be realistic and it's a difficult time because one [win] out of eight is a long time and [we're] not winning enough.

“But OK, you need to accept it and you need to work hard. That's always the first message of what we need to do.”

Asked if he thought Everton's current berth in the table was representative if what the club should be achieving at the moment, Koeman more or less agreed, while reiterating that results have to improve.

“One question is about the performances of the team, the development of the team, or if it's the players individually that are important. But finally, if it's about this position at the end of the season, that's something really positive because it's not realistic to expect, right now, much more.

“Of course, we need to show more than we've shown in the last few weeks but in every season you have a difficult time and that's when you really understand what you need as a team.

“Now we need to be strong. Now we need personality in the team because it's easy to follow everybody after winning the game but it's more difficult to show your commitment in this difficult time.

“And maybe [this Sunday's game] is a fantastic one to play because we can really change a lot of things.”

That would appear to have been a nod towards how the Blues can change the course of their season and the perception of their chances for the remainder of the campaign rather than a hint at major personnel changes for the visit of the Red Devils.

Koeman intimated as such when he continued: “If you look at some of the defeats in the last few weeks, it's really the team performance and it's not by one player or by one part of the team.

“The team wasn't compact against Southampton. The team did not start with the aggression we needed. [If it did] then they do not score after 40 seconds. But also, in front we need to be more clinical and [have] better movement.

“That's [an area] we gave attention to this week, to make things better.”


Reader Comments (39)

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Joe O'Brien
1 Posted 02/12/2016 at 22:05:33
If we start we the same team and same formation, it'll do my head in. Fair enough that he's been a good servant for us but Jags needs to be dropped. McCarthy benched and neither Cleverley nor Lennon should be in the squad – never mind the bench. Changes need to be made.

A win on Sunday will put us 6th, unreal with the football we've been playing. In the same breath, a loss would see us mid-table very fast.

Looking forward to the match but also dreading it.

Paul Hewitt
2 Posted 02/12/2016 at 22:11:26
Surely it's time to make changes to the team. Holgate and Davies, for Coleman and Barry. Then we might beat this average Man Utd side.
Jon Cox
3 Posted 02/12/2016 at 22:42:59

Sorry but so obvious.

Mick Davies
4 Posted 02/12/2016 at 22:54:25
Asked if he thought Everton's current berth in the table was representative if what the club should be achieving at the moment, Koeman more or less agreed,

So he's happy with 7th place? He did better with Southampton. This is Everton and we're sick of mediocrity: he should only be happy with top spot. What happened to managers demanding 100% from their team?

Damian Wilde
5 Posted 02/12/2016 at 23:29:51
A lot of us think Davies & Holgate should start, but there is NO CHANCE with this miserable idiot in charge.
Stan Schofield
6 Posted 02/12/2016 at 23:43:15
I'm not an 'expert' like Koeman, but nevertheless it does baffle me why he feels the need to say things that are (1) strictly speaking, unnecessary, and (2) potentially de-motivating to the squad.

He's basically said we've got no chance of winning the league, and that some of the players are not good enough. Now, we might not win the league, and some players may prove not good enough.

But at the moment, surely you work with what you have, and do your utmost to motivate and get players to believe they can do what any other team can do.

At this stage, anything is possible, and probabilities shouldn't enter into it when trying to motivate players. We can win the league, and we have the players to do so. Our players are better than Leicester's, and they won the league last season. Our squad is at least as good as Liverpool's, and some people are talking about them winning the league.

Either Koeman or I are not understanding the basics of motivating people. Or should I say, the basics of not demotivating them. I don't think it's me.

David Booth
7 Posted 03/12/2016 at 00:15:19
Er, I thought Swansea and Southampton were 'catalyst' games?

How many can there be before Koeman's much-awaited chemical reaction completely fizzles out?

Make some changes then, Mr Manager, and don't keep hoping that perpetually repeating the same formula will somehow yield a different result.

John Raftery
8 Posted 03/12/2016 at 00:22:33
If we are still 7th a month from now, I think we will all be very happy. Given a continuation of our recent form, however, we are more likely to be 17th.

Our manager needs to get a grip and stop talking the club and the players down. Whereas Roberto was ludicrously positive in his utterings, with Ronald we seem to have gone a long way to the other extreme.

Alun Jones
11 Posted 03/12/2016 at 01:02:44
I think we cannot start to criticise Koeman so early into his tenure, calling him a miserable idiot is just not fair in December of his first season in charge. Sure, we are in the middle of a poor run right now... but we have to have a bit more faith in Koeman to put it right.

I think the team has certainly got more watertight at the back since his arrival but up front I agree he does need to address our poor strike rate and our plodding build-up play which is still in evidence as a hangover from the Martinez regime. So please let's keep things a bit more in perspective

Mark Andersson
12 Posted 03/12/2016 at 02:41:39
Stan (#6) – you make a good point; however. both Liverpool and Leicester have managers who know how to get the best out of their players.

Looks like Koeman has already lost the dressing room. The fans on here are getting frustrated with him.

A win against Man Utd will ease the pressure. Let's see if the team up their game.

Mark Andersson
13 Posted 03/12/2016 at 04:01:15
Every manager lives or dies by his decisions. Koeman believes that the youngsters are not good enough to step up to the Premier League and that he is basically protecting them from the pressure. What he say's about the Dutch league when he blooded youngsters is interesting.

We all suspected that when he took on the job it was a big task, after all the other manager, because of Billy big balls left an almighty mess. I think the reality for Koeman has kicked in.

My reality sees the season being like last season, unless we bring in some good players in January, which is highly unlikely.

The powers that be will dangle the stadium carrot every time the fans get restless. Has anything really changed? Not from where I sit.

The only light at the end of the tunnel is, if the younger players coming through continue to progress, then we have some foundations to build on in a few years time. Unless they are so good they will be sold off to the highest bidder. Interesting times ahead.

William Cartwright
14 Posted 03/12/2016 at 07:06:42
Koeman's public mutterings and self-defeatist crap are not what I expected from him when he joined the club. There's something rotten in the state of Goodison and I haven't a clue what is the root of the problem.

One week we talk up the youngsters (Holgate at the start of the season) and when they do well (Holgate at the start of the season) they go no further?

What is becoming clear is Koeman wants to mould the club as he sees fit. Okay, I go along with that. Perhaps we all need to be ultra-patient in the long term and unambitious in the short term and see what happens . . . . . . .

Brian Porter
15 Posted 03/12/2016 at 07:25:35
Stan Schofield (#6), I completely agree with your point regarding motivation/demotivation. Bear with me please with this illustration.

Some years ago as a,qualified English Hockey Association coach, I worked with the colts at an EHL (English Hockey League) club. As the season drew to a close, I was asked to take a group of players to an annual one day 7-a-side tournament as their regular coach was sick.

Now, our club had never won what was the stand-out trophy for this age group and,I was told by the Head Coach "Don't be too concerned about trying to win it. It's basically good experience for the lads."

I thought to myself, what an awful way to approach an important tournament. So, on arrival, I registered our team and was given a print out of our qualifying group. I then proceeded to tell my players,

"Forget what you've been told in the past. We're here to win, not to take part. You're all good players or you wouldn't be here representing ######### Hockey Club. Now, anyone who doesn't think we're good enough, put your hand up and you can sit out the tournament."

Not a hand went up. The group stage began with a,resounding win, 4-0 against another EHL youth team. Suddenly my young players had belief. Two more wins followed, and we topped the group, making it to the quarter-finals.

A tough match brought a 2-1 win, the first goal we'd conceded that day. The semi-final was a tough one, but a single goal meant we were in the final for the first time in the club's history.

Clever rotating one or at most two players per game had brought dividends and for the final, I sent out my strongest team and we won 5-1. When we walked back into our own clubhouse later that day with the cup, nobody could believe it. I was asked to continue working with that particular age group and we went on to win that same tournament for the next two years.

Now, I may not be the greatest coach in the world and my group of lads, while having a couple of lads who would go on to represent GB at the Olympics weren't the best I'd ever seen, but I knew how to motivate them, give them confidence and self-belief.

Add those qualities to a group of good players,and we ended up with a team that won its league for two years running, before I left due to ill health. Sadly they never repeated those great years, some grew older and went on to the first team, or went to universities where most played at representative level.

Maybe the new coach couldn't motivate them to achieve success. But, my point is simply that even average players can be motivated to punch above their weight and achieve great things. Koeman doesn't appear to have that skill and just wants ready made experience that he can play musical chairs with from week to week. It ain't gonna work like that, Ronnie K.

Paul Kennedy
16 Posted 03/12/2016 at 07:45:51
Champions League place?? I will be happy when we get 40 points to give us another season of hope and expectation.
Martin Nicholls
17 Posted 03/12/2016 at 08:20:24
Stan (#6) and Mark (#12) – with many on this site suggesting that of our current squad, only Coleman and Gana are worth keeping, I question your claim that our squad is "at least as good as" that of the Red Shite and better than that of Leicester. Beginning in goal, exactly which of our players are superior to theirs?
Anthony Hughes
18 Posted 03/12/2016 at 08:41:54
Not exactly the most inspirational guy in the world is he?
Peter Murray
19 Posted 03/12/2016 at 09:05:54
Before Christmas, we play Man Utd, Arsenal and Liverpool. These three games will provide the yardstick by which our progress – or lack of it – will be measured. They should be the impetus the players need to throw off their lethargy and lack of focus.

If not, and we go in with the same attitude as against Chelsea, we will slide.

Stan Schofield
20 Posted 03/12/2016 at 09:11:10
Martin @17: I know they are better, because I've seen them perform to great effect in the recent past. They have the ability. If they've done it before, they can do it again.

Take an example, Coutinho of Liverpool. He's great at the moment, barring an injury. But a year ago he wasn't playing well. Barkley, on the other hand, is not playing well at the moment, but a year ago he outshine Coutinho easily. Things can change if you make them.

Leicester are a group of fairly average players who gelled brilliantly as a team last season. We are a group of better players who are not gelling as a team.

I'm patient with Koeman, have been from the start. But the devil is in the detail, and he needs to get some details better, including not saying things he doesn't need to say.

Stan Schofield
21 Posted 03/12/2016 at 09:13:51
Brian, great post, says everything.
Dave Abrahams
22 Posted 03/12/2016 at 09:32:46
Brian (#15) – great story. Motivation is a big part of being a great coach and manager.

There was no one better at motivation than the late, great Brian Clough. He took a bunch of players, gathered them together from various clubs and one or two who hadn't been performing at Derby County and then Nottm Forest and mounded them into consistently very good teams, season after season. He made players believe in themselves, gave them confidence, made them want to give their all for him, the club, the fans and most of all for themselves.

It can be done, but the manager has to give them that confidence and more importantly the players have got to believe and give their all every game.

Tony Abrahams
23 Posted 03/12/2016 at 10:14:34
Very good story, Brian; how can a team win, if it doesn't have self-belief?

I have heard two rumours this week that the players, don't want to play for Koeman, with the second rumour saying he basically told 5-6 players that he didn't really fancy them in the summer.

Who knows? It is a city of rumours after-all, but they started the season well enough and everything seemed rosy until the going got a bit tougher.

One thing I will say about Clough, Dave, is that having got off on the wrong foot with the players at Leeds, then he never really stood a chance. I hope when Koeman talks about players showing personality, that he's sat them down this week and said that this is what he was looking for off certain players, and was why he said what he did in the summer to try and get the right response!!

Pie-in-the-Sky, I know, but so is trying to get Lukaku to play a pressing game, so I hope he adopts one thing off Clough and gets us defending from the half-way line because it's the only way this present team of ours can really be compact.

George McKane
24 Posted 03/12/2016 at 10:33:28
Motivation – mmmm....

I listened to a few interviews on Radio 5 this week with Eddie Jones, England Rugby Union Coach. Absolutely fascinating and open and honest and inspiring. He mentioned that he wanted only 'desperate' players.

He said when players moan or call in not motivated on a Monday, he just says "Okay, you're not in the squad for the next game". He wanted them to be "desperate" to play for England.

Tough and honest but the players apparently love him.

Oh my, oh my, how much we would love someone of that ilk anywhere near the first teams at our Club.

Coincidentally, I just watched the 1985-86 game against Southampton – Derek Mountfield's handball. I was with Derek last week and he was talking about that game, but what movement off the ball and fantastic forward play and you could feel the sense of camaraderie among the players even now.

"I wish, I wish, I wish in vain
That we could sit simply in that room again
Ten thousand dollars at the drop of a hat
I'd give it all gladly if our lives could be like that."

Thank you, Mr Dylan.

Tony Abrahams
25 Posted 03/12/2016 at 13:24:44
The only positively from this present lot, George, would come from 64th Street!
Peter Roberts
26 Posted 03/12/2016 at 13:31:55
Maybe Jamie Carragher's excellent article about Lukaku can be a catalyst for fat head to shut his trap and focus on getting our lard-arsed goalscorer to put a shift in.

Maybe all the players behind pinball boots will follow his lead instead of seeing him lose pass after pass and allow the opposition's defence to walk the ball out.

Andy Meighan
27 Posted 03/12/2016 at 13:35:13
Another beauty from George. It looks like our players have downed tools and ain't gonna work on Maggie's (Finch) Farm no more...
George McKane
28 Posted 03/12/2016 at 13:37:58
Nice one, Tony.

So by tomorrow, late afternoon, we will know if we are Knocking on Heaven's Door or indeed on Desolation Row.

But oh for a motivator, tactician and brave manager like Jones.

Patrick Murphy
29 Posted 03/12/2016 at 13:55:51
Broken lines broken strings
Broken threads broken springs
Broken idols broken heads
People sleeping in broken beds
Ain't no use jiving
Ain't no use joking
Everything is broken.

Broken bottles broken plates
Broken switches broken gates
Broken dishes broken parts
Streets are filled with broken hearts
Broken words never meant to be spoken
Everything is broken.
(Dylan - Everything Is Broken)

We need somebody to step up and start fixing stuff.

George McKane
30 Posted 03/12/2016 at 14:23:20
Totally, Patrick. I'm a great believer in the effect that a fresh thinking, motivated thinker can do — I believe in magicians.
Peter Fearon
31 Posted 03/12/2016 at 15:40:42
Brian, great illustration. What Koeman is really saying, which Everton managers have been saying ever since Joe Roylelleft, is that the problem isn't the team performances but the fans' expectations. If only we would stop expecting them to play attractive, attacking entertaining, winning football, and be happy with their incessant mediocrity, everything would be OK.

It is about time a manager said Everton isn't Stoke or Burnley or West Brom and we have a right to expect more from them but you will never hear that. It is easier to try to convince us that 7th is something to be proud of than to coach a team to honours.

Paul Conway
32 Posted 03/12/2016 at 15:56:19
Brian, what can I say that hasn't already been said? Bravo!
Patrick Murphy
33 Posted 03/12/2016 at 16:13:04
We like to think we are not Stoke City, however, despite not being in the Premier League for it's entirety, Stoke have outspent Everton in nett terms.

Stoke £120,785,000 vs Everton £83,959,500.

Obviously Everton have spent more often and sold a greater number of players at big profits but the bottom line tells it's own story — how can we compete with Man Utd, Man City et al on a regular basis, with that sort of limited spending power? Perhaps Everton's money has been spent on wages; if so, why are this current group struggling to turn up most weeks?

Eugene Ruane
34 Posted 03/12/2016 at 16:28:57
George (#24). As soon as I saw the line, 'I wish, I wish, I wish in vain' I presumed you were going to reference the old Dubliners' song 'Love is pleasing' Link as it starts the same line and contains few lines that will ring true for most Blues..

But the sweetest apple is the soonest rotten,
And the hottest love is the soonest cold.
And what can't be cured love, has to be endured love

Maybe the Christmas spirit will help pull us out of our misery.

I hadn't been feeling very 'festive' myself but then I saw this and the sheer joy, passion and exuberance just... well take a look.


Tony Abrahams
35 Posted 03/12/2016 at 18:52:14
They don't show much passion on the video, Eugene, but they have done their talking where it matters most today!
Eugene Ruane
36 Posted 03/12/2016 at 19:01:40
'They don't show much passion on the video, Eugene, but they have done their talking where it matters most today!'

Thank you, Kenneth Tynan.

Tony Abrahams
37 Posted 03/12/2016 at 19:08:18
Never heard of him, Eugene, but thank you for the link!
Patrick Murphy
38 Posted 03/12/2016 at 19:35:33
Perhaps I'm reading this article wrong but I get the distinct impression that Ronald is advocating change but some of the players don't seem to think they need to?

Difficult Job

Dave Abrahams
39 Posted 03/12/2016 at 19:49:51
Tony (37), you know Eugene is a gentleman, he is paying you a complement, Kenneth Tynan was a famous theatre and book critic, known for his acid comments.

After giving one of Noel Coward's plays a terrible review, he was having dinner in a New York restaurant when Noel Coward walked in, he couldn't get out of Noel's sight, Coward walked over to Tynan's table and said 'Tynan, you are a cunt, come and have dinner with me.'

He then proceeded to have a long conversation with Tynan covering everything except the play that Tynan had lambasted. Nice man, Noel Coward... maybe Tynan learned something from that encounter.

Tony Abrahams
40 Posted 03/12/2016 at 19:54:03
I did google Tynan, Dave, born in Birmingham, and he had a stammer. A Brummie, with a stammer? That's some compliment that isn't it!
Dave Abrahams
41 Posted 03/12/2016 at 19:56:29
Tony (#40), No-one is perfect!!!

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