Sport Premier League

Tuesday 22 May 2018

Rooney rescues a point and hands Koeman reprieve

Brighton 1 Everton 1

Everton's Wayne Rooney. Photo: Reuters
Everton's Wayne Rooney. Photo: Reuters

Jason Burt

Goodness knows what they made of this in India, although Ronald Koeman is probably more concerned of the reaction in Monaco, where Everton's majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri resides.

Having given the manager a vote of confidence going into the international break, after Everton's woeful start to the season, Moshiri added an important caveat - the supporters "deserve better".

Everton's Nikola Vlasic keeps possession from Brighton’s Solly March. Photo: Reuters.
Everton's Nikola Vlasic keeps possession from Brighton’s Solly March. Photo: Reuters.

That already amounts to the ultimate get-out for a club owner navigating between publicly supporting a manager and giving himself sufficient wriggle-room to still make a change if he has to do so.

When Anthony Knockaert scored his first Premier League goal with just eight minutes to go, all eyes moved to the touchline and to Koeman.

Despite his protestations and his dismissive reaction when questioned about Everton's significant spending last summer, Koeman must be under pressure now.

The Dutchman has laid out his ambition at the club and is falling alarmingly short of that with a team who are simply failing to impress.

Everton manager Ronald Koeman (left) and Brighton & Hove Albion manager Chris Hughton. Photo: PA
Everton manager Ronald Koeman (left) and Brighton & Hove Albion manager Chris Hughton. Photo: PA

This fixture was moved to a 1.30pm Sunday kick-off, but not shown live in the UK. Instead it was only on Star Sport in India.

Until the last 10 minutes, it did nothing to further the league's plans for global expansion. But, as always seems the way in this division, even the dullest of encounters can explode into life.

Chris Hughton's newly-promoted Brighton will take a point - even if he understandably said it felt like a defeat - but this sort of result is just not good enough for Everton.

This result leaves them in 16th place, with Brighton two above them on goal difference. An even more damning statistic is that the Toffees' last away league win was on January 21 at Crystal Palace.

Pace

In a sense Wayne Rooney sums the side up. The 31-year-old appeared off the pace and out of touch, yet he had the coolness to roll the ball into the net from the penalty spot to salvage a point, with what was his last kick of the game before he was substituted.

That goal also meant only Frank Lampard (39), Andy Cole (38) and Alan Shearer (37) have scored against more different clubs in the Premier League than Rooney. Brighton are number 36 for him.

Not that he deserved the headlines. He too has to do better than this.

The penalty was a gift. It came follwing a free-kick when Brighton captain Bruno stuck out an arm and caught Dominic Calvert-Lewin. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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