3 things Everton need to do to succeed in Europe
Koeman has plenty of work to do
After Everton’s disastrous trip to Atalanta, the Toffees need to get some points on the board in Thursday’s Europa League game against Apollon Limassol.
Everton were totally outclassed in Italy and ended up losing 3-0. That was followed by a humbling 4-0 defeat to Manchester United.
Ronald Koeman’s side have now regained their footing with successive wins against Sunderland and Bournemouth.
Everton are aiming for a top-four spot, but the Europa League could give them a more realistic chance of securing Champions League qualification this season.
However, they’ll need to be much better than they were against Atalanta to have any chance of European success.
The Coral News Team have identified three areas where they can improve.
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Everton brought in plenty of quality over the summer.
Gylfi Sigurdsson and Davy Klaassen offer creativity and goals from midfield. Wayne Rooney’s experience could be vital amongst a young squad. And once Sandro Ramirez settles, he could prove to be a bargain up front.
But none of those players possess real pace. It means Everton’s play can be one-dimensional and easy to defend.
They scored more than a single goal in a league game for the first time this season in last weekend’s 2-1 win against Bournemouth.
Both goals came from Oumar Niasse, who’d been completely frozen out by Ronald Koeman until the club failed to bring in a striker to replace Romelu Lukaku.
Niasse’s impact highlights how badly the club needed someone who can get behind defences.
Yannick Bolasie and Seamus Coleman both have the legs to stretch teams in wide areas. Their return from injury can’t come soon enough.
Another issue with the summer recruitment is that Sigurdsson, Klaassen and Rooney all like to operate in similar areas. Sigurdsson and Klaassen are natural number 10s, while Rooney often comes deep in search of possession.
Koeman awkwardly fit all three of them in the starting XI against the Cherries. Sigurdsson was on the left, Klaassen in the middle, and Rooney to the right.
It didn’t work. There was no cohesion or width to Everton’s play and they struggled to create anything until the manager changed things around.
Klaassen and Rooney were replaced by Niasse and Tom Davies after 55 minutes, allowing Sigurdsson to take up his best position in the centre.
The team looked much more comfortable with the former Swansea ace there and came from behind to win.
Koeman needs to find a system that gives his attacking players the platform to excel.
European games are often decided by very fine margins. And being solid at the back is especially important when away goals become a factor in the knockout stages.
Everton have already conceded 11 goals in the Premier League this season. Only three sides have a worse defensive record.
The club spent around £60m on Jordan Pickford and Michael Keane to strengthen the spine of the team during the summer. Koeman needs more from them.
A midfield pairing of Morgan Schneiderlin and Idrissa Gueye should offer plenty of defensive protection but it’s not been working so far.
If they don’t improve defensively their European adventure will be over sooner rather than later.
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