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Koeman satisfied with Everton’s overall work rate

Manager’s comments after draw in season opener

Everton v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League
Koeman during today’s game
Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

The Ronald Koeman era at Everton got off to an unbelievable start after a great free kick from Ross Barkley dribbled past Tottenham goalie Hugo Lloris at the far post after just six minutes.

The Blues looked good creating chances despite not having Romelu Lukaku, and should have counted themselves unlucky to not have more to show at the break than their one-goal lead.

Visitors Spurs came into their own in the second half, but it was not until the introduction of new signing Victor Janssen that they really began making inroads into the three-man Toffees backline. They tied the game with a Erik Lamela header midway through the half, and were on the front foot after that.

Two excellent saves from Maarten Stekelenburg ensured Everton would get at least a point on the day, while Idrissa Gueye looked like a younger, snippier James McCarthy as he hounded the Spurs midfield all game long.

In his post-match comments to evertontv, here is what Koeman had to say -

“We lost a bit of control of the game in the last part of the second half, but overall I am very happy with the performance.

“The first 45 minutes was really excellent - the energy we put in the game and the reaction of the fans supporting the team. We had the best chances. Before half-time we had a big opportunity to score the second goal which would have made it a totally different second half.”

He also had good things to say about three players who were all making their Everton full team debuts - Gueye, Stekelenburg and defender Mason Holgate.

“The cleverness on the ball in midfield comes from Gareth Barry but one of Idrissa’s qualities is to put that energy in the team, to win second balls and to press at the right moment.”

Stekelenburg rewound the years with a pair of instinctive saves that had the crowd roaring -

“His saves were very important in that stage of the second half. Tottenham created the best chances in the final stages and you need to have a good goalkeeper to make saves in key moments and he has that quality.”

Defender Holgate also got a pat on the back from the manager. The 19-year-old was beaten by Lamela to the ball, but will only get better from here.

“He’s doing well and that’s not age dependent. We have some injuries which meant we chose this system today. Maybe he was one second too late for the equaliser to close the gap on Lamela but overall he had a very good performance.”

In the open media segment of his interview, he commented -

"I am happy with the team performance, the first 45 minutes was really excellent. We had a big, big chance close to half-time, and then it is a different game and we knew it would be difficult up until the end because they have really good players.

"But overall we worked very hard. They had two big opportunities and Maarten Stekelenburg made two great saves, but at least what we showed what we like to see, and the mental resilience and the reaction of the crowd was fantastic.

"Ross Barkley's first goal is one of his qualities. I want the players to work hard and the pressing starts from the strikers.

"Romelu was not fit. If the player was okay he would start, the issue was he was not fit enough. So Deulofeu had to play there and he showed in pre-season he can play in that number nine position, and because of Tottenham's high line and our good pressing there was a lot of space for him.

"But he got some big chances and he needs to score in positions like that. And players like him and Kevin [Mirallas], I like the players, but they need to work hard, and they did which is sometimes hard because those type of creative players are sometimes sloppy in that area.

"The same is with Ross [Barkley]. There is no question about his first touch or his skill, but he needs to take more responsibility in the team and that makes the team stronger, and he will learn that."