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Monday 24 April 2017

Ronald Koeman focused on family rather than derby misery this Christmas

Everton manager Ronald Koeman is having a difficult time balancing the players' training and family needs over Christmas
Everton manager Ronald Koeman is having a difficult time balancing the players' training and family needs over Christmas

Everton manager Ronald Koeman is more concerned about the players having enough family time over Christmas than he is by the after-effects of a morale-crushing Merseyside derby defeat.

Liverpool's goal in the fourth minute of added time to win 1-0 on Monday was a devastating blow for the Toffees, who had dominated the first half, as their unbeaten home league record dating back to April was ended.

However, Koeman had no issues with the performance or the attitude of his players since and is more worried about how he can adequately balance training with downtime during the festive period.

Everton head to Leicester on Boxing Day, Hull on December 30 and host Koeman's former club Southampton on January 2.

"I enjoy working but everyone knows it is also family time and you need to find that balance during Christmas and New Year and that is difficult," said the Dutchman.

"But first of all we need to play and we need our preparation for the next game.

"That impact is still bigger if you lose the derby after 94 minutes than if you lose a different game at home because impact is so important.

"But there is no time to stop, we need to continue and I was very pleased about the last two home performances.

"If you get two draws out of the games against Arsenal and Liverpool maybe the feeling is different but we have one more point than that (having beaten Arsenal).

"We need to be the same and we need that aggression we showed in the last two games at home."

Koeman will be without midfielder James McCarthy, one of the factors in the positive first-half derby performance, after he was ruled out for at least a fortnight with a hamstring problem.

Goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg is doubtful with a dead leg but otherwise the Everton boss is happy with the state of his squad - even if he does believe they need a short rest at this time of year.

"There was no reason not to start James against Liverpool but I am worried about his fitness and several muscle problems," he added.

"Two years, one year ago he needed to improve the intensity of the whole week of a training programme and that is the next step for him.

"Fitness-wise we have a number of players who were stronger than they were and we showed that against Arsenal and Liverpool.

"Maybe the big teams have more players on the same level to make more rotations but for the individual player in my opinion they need a break.

"They play with their national teams, every competition, and I think stopping the league for at least one week (would be advisable)."

Koeman, however, is not advocating stopping the festive programme but thinks some time off in early January would be a viable alternative.

"They (fans) pay good money, the stadium is full, and it is good competition so I don't have any problem with that," he said of the festive schedule.

Press Association

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