Saturday 16 November 2019

It's ludicrous to think my position was under threat, says Everton boss Koeman

Two goals from Everton's Oumar Niasse spared manager Ronald Koeman another week under the spotlight.
Two goals from Everton's Oumar Niasse spared manager Ronald Koeman another week under the spotlight.

Everton manager Ronald Koeman insists suggestions he was under pressure were ridiculous, but knows he is indebted to a player he tried to force out the club a year ago for easing the scrutiny.

The Dutchman was staring at a fifth successive Premier League defeat without a goal to their name when he sent on Oumar Niasse to rescue a game they were losing due to Bournemouth striker Josh King's goal.

What transpired was another remarkable chapter in the rapid rehabilitation of the January 2016 £13.5million signing - made an outcast by Koeman and told to train with the under-23s 12 months ago - as he scored twice in five minutes late on to secure a 2-1 victory.

A second win of the season lifted Everton out of the bottom three, which would have been a welcome relief to the Toffees boss after spending £150million in the summer with little reward so far.

"For me, the players, for everyone it is important. Everyone knew it was a must-win game," said Koeman.

"Sometimes we go too fast - if you win you are sure about your job and if you lose you are not sure about your job, but that is ridiculous."

That may be the case, but things would not have looked good for Koeman without the intervention of Niasse, making his first Premier League appearance for Everton since May 2016, and fellow substitute Tom Davies.

Koeman threw both on shortly after going behind, sacrificing Wayne Rooney and Davy Klaassen, and switched from his preferred lone striker to playing two up front and enjoyed success.

He was forced into a formation change before the game, with centre-back Michael Keane on crutches with a gashed foot and Phil Jagielka nursing a hamstring injury which will keep him out until after the international break, prompting a switch to four at the back.

It did not help with their cohesion and, had it not been for a pivotal save from Jermain Defoe by goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, Koeman's one stand-out summer success so far, with the score at 1-0 Niasse's heroics would probably not have occurred.

"You expect to have goalkeepers who in key moments in the game have those kind of saves at 1-0 down," said the Everton manager.

"If we had gone 2-0 down it would have been really difficult."

Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe, who is coming under similar scrutiny, with his side second bottom with just three points, agreed, but was heartened by the display.

"From our perspective we have to be very pleased with the performance, even though the result has gone against us," he said.

"Hopefully the momentum of the performance change has not been lost because that was our best performance of the season."

Howe has been criticised for sticking to his passing style when results have not been good, but he rejected claims he should have killed the game at 1-0 up with 13 minutes to go.

"You can't score and then say, 'Shut up shop and smash the ball long', the players would be confused as they would know you wouldn't have true belief in what you were doing," he added.

"We have won plenty of games playing that way and we looked like we were heading to win 1-0 and everyone would have said what a great performance."

PA Media

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