Everton manager Ronald Koeman chose caution in resting summer signings Sandro Ramirez and Jordan Pickford for Thursday’s first leg Europa League qualifier tie, but expects the pair to be ready to start the upcoming return leg at MFK Ruzomberok on the coming Thursday.
Forward Sandro came on for the last half an hour of the game and almost immediately made an impact with his running and speed, traits that did not go unnoticed by the Goodison Park faithful.
Speaking with the club website, the Dutchman said -
“Sandro is a different type of number nine from Wayne Rooney. We put Wayne on the right (after Sandro had replaced Dominic Calvert-Lewin) with a bit more freedom, and pushed Cuco Martina further up that side.
“We had some more pace up front - what Sandro showed in 30 minutes was good. In one more week, normally, he would be ready to start.
“Maarten played half a season last year. We signed Jordan Pickford but he was one of three players with only eight or nine days of training and it was too soon for him to start. Maybe he will start next week.”
The Toffees won the game 1-0 thanks to a deflected striker from Leighton Baines, and Koeman was satisfied with the result though he bemoaned some missed opportunities that he talked about -
“We knew they would drop back and we would get a lot of possession. There was not really any space and you need to be at your best to create chances.
“We started with Dominic on the right side, because their left full-back was not really a defender and there was a lot of space behind him.”
He went on to add that he made some tactical tweaks at the break, but there was still room for improvement.
“I showed the players three clips at half-time, where we had won the ball and there was a lot of space to attack and set Dominic free - but we did not pass the ball.
“We had a lot of possession and played aggressively. We had some good chances to score the second goal and get the perfect result. But in European football, 1-0 with the clean sheet is a good result.
“That is positive after four weeks of pre-season. But after one more week of training – and when Ružomberok need to do more than they did in the first game - it will, maybe, be a totally different game for us.”