Slicker Saints show Koeman just what he's been missing
Southampton 1 Everton 0
Published 28/11/2016 | 02:30
Ronald Koeman returned to St Mary's with boos and taunts ringing in his ears. By full-time, they were the least of his problems.
For the 89 minutes his side trailed, the gulf between the club he helped build and the club he is trying to build was painfully evident. Southampton were sharper, slicker and quicker, and deserved to win this game by more than a single goal.
Charlie Austin's strike after 43 seconds proved to be the last word and, although Everton toiled in search of a response, you never quite felt confident of their ability to do so.
Koeman, characteristically implacable on the touchline, waited more than an hour to make a change, even when it was clear that Everton's attacking lines were becoming too predictable.
Meanwhile, their flimsy defensive line was being broken time and again and, for all Everton's experience in this area, Koeman will identify this as a part of his team that needs urgent attention.
Ashley Williams is 32. Leighton Baines is 31. Phil Jagielka and Maarten Stekelenburg are 34. Gareth Barry is 35.
In isolation, all of them still have plenty to offer. As a defensive collective, it is unsustainable.
In a game like this, with both sides struggling for momentum, an early goal was always going to prove decisive.
Koeman had barely taken his seat in the away dugout before his side were behind.
Everton kicked off; Southampton won the ball more or less instantly, and launched an attack. Jagielka misjudged Cedric's cross from the right; the ball hit a startled Seamus Coleman and rebounded to Sims, who teed up Austin to head it into an empty net for his ninth goal of the season. © Daily Telegraph, London.