Speaking to the media ahead of tomorrow’s key return leg fixture in Croatia, Everton manager Ronald Koeman said the Blues would go out to win the game and not nurse the two goal advantage over home side Hajduk Split.
All quotes via the Echo -
“Should we go on the pitch with a defensive attitude to keep the result defending? No.
“Our way to play is to control the game, to score goals. We have a good advantage but still there is 90 minutes to go.
“It will be difficult. It’s a tough week after City on Monday, then travelling today, but we need to be strong tomorrow to get into the group stage.”
When asked if challenging the top four would be harder with the additional European games, Koeman responded -
“It’s difficult to give competition to the strongest teams in the Premier League with or without European football. European football makes it even tougher.
“But it’s what we like to have. It’s no reason to play differently or prepare differently for tomorrow.
“Everton's history means it is important to be part of Europe. We know it’s even more difficult but we have enough players.
“We have some injuries which makes it tough this week but we will fight and do our maximum to get into Europe.
“It’s the ambition of the club and the manager and the players to be part of European football.
“I have been watching European football for the last three years – Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday - but I like to be involved.
“Sunday at 1.30pm, we hear the next whistle from the referee against Chelsea. We will prepare, go one by one and give our maximum to get the best result in every single game.”
Koeman also talked about the scheduling issues with the Premier League that Manchester United faced last season, especially like we saw this week when Everton had to play on Monday, followed by this game on Thursday and then again on Sunday.
Jose Mourinho, whose side went on to win the Europa League despite the fixture congestion, complained very vocally last year saying that he had received no help from the Premier League with regards to moving fixtures to maximize rest for his squad.
“Maybe they don’t care enough for European football, I totally agree with Jose about what happened to Man United last season. The same happened this week.
“We know the TV money decides a lot. It is even more difficult to play Thursday and we played Monday night. The commercial side of football makes it even more difficult.”