Ronald Koeman provoked some ire on the part of Everton fans on Saturday in his post-match comments when he said
"I'm proud, I'm really proud of the team, in the way how we played today.”
Today he stood by those comments in another combative press conference in the lead-up to the Everton game away at Manchester United tomorrow, having to defend his young side that lost the Merseyside Derby.
RK on Seamus: "He's at home. Day-by-day his mood will be better. Next week i'll go and see him." https://t.co/wBGHuSC2Q5— Everton (@Everton) April 3, 2017
“I knew the team to start, really young team. The team is different, than if I had all the players available. I know that, to compete against a strong team it’s always difficult. I try to be realistic about the situation and the progress of the team and the project of Everton. It’s only one game, and to take some conclusions only from Saturday is not good.
“What I don’t like is to talk too much about individual performances of players. It’s a team, and every individual is part of the team, and the team was not good enough.
“But I was really proud, and that is not to defend my team. I am a manager who sees football realistically. Some have some problems to see that. It is easy to give your opinion in front of the TV without responsibility.
I’m happy, I see a lot of progress in the club, and the team. It’s a whole season, not one game.”
On the singling out of Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku among many quarters -
"Not too much individually, but maybe some players didn't perform at the level that they showed in the last few games.
“I spoke to Romelu. He was not sharp, maybe a little tired.
“Ross played in a little bit of a different position. He lost several balls in midfield instead of playing faster, and no dribbling with the ball. He needs to improve on that.
“It’s not fair to take out one or two and say that was the problem on Saturday. That’s not fair.”
When asked how he could get the best out of the Blues’ young stars, Koeman sounded irritated -
“If you speak about Lukaku, he’s the top scorer of the League. Why now after the Liverpool game do we need to criticize Rom? He’s a great striker, he’s working hard.
“He is a human being. He cannot always be a 10. That’s football. If you don’t play football then maybe you don’t understand it.”
On how much of a learning experience the Merseyside Derby loss would be for his young squad -
“We had six players 22 and lower. Maybe it’s something to see that instead of expecting a Champions League team.
“The best experience is to improve and to play and get game time. I am a manager who if a young player is developing and we have injury problems it is an opportunity for the young players. That’s the future of the club.
“Of course we’d like to make the team stronger. Everybody is always talking about the Academy of Everton. I’m the right person to give them that opportunity. I’m Dutch, I’m not afraid to give a chance to young players.”