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“If we defend like we have, it will be Lukaku’s afternoon”

Koeman’s pre-match press conference highlights crisis at Everton

Manchester United v FC Basel - UEFA Champions League
This guy is up next for the Blues
Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Everton manager Ronald Koeman spoke to the media this afternoon ahead of the trip to Manchester United on Sunday. The Blues go into the game with the league leaders in a miserable run of form, have conceded eight times without scoring even once in their last three games, and even more worryingly, being thoroughly outplayed in the process too.

The Dutchman is unbeaten in his last three trips to Old Trafford, and was asked whether this away game came at a bad time for the Blues.

“It’s how you look at the Sunday game. Maybe it’s good that I have in the last three seasons good results at Old Trafford.

“But United are a stronger team than last season and at the moment we aren’t at the level we were last season.”

When asked if Wayne Rooney had anything to prove in going back to his old stomping grounds -

“He has nothing to prove, of course not.

“Everybody knows his quality, what he did for United. He’s and Everton player now and he’s one of the players who needs to react and bring the level of the players we expect from players like Wayne.”

On how Everton will cope with former striker, the lethal Romelu Lukaku -

“We know him really well. He’s one of the best strikers, like I mentioned last season. He is a great finisher, and I hope we know how to defend him.

“But there is a lot of quality to the player, and a lot of quality around him. But in the box he is really dangerous, fast and strong.

“If we defend like we have the last few games, maybe it will be his afternoon.”

The Blues failed to replace the Belgian in the transfer window -

“It’s not the time for frustration. You can’t do anything about it at this time.

“Yes, it’s different in possession now for us if you have a target man up front. It gives the team time to get up, we have different types of striker with Dominic and Sandro.

“Sandro needs time. He has pace, yes, but he is not the strongest yet.

“But it’s too easy to talk about the striker. Defensively we are making mistakes and that’s not the job of the striker.”

How difficult is his job as a man-manager to lift the players out of the current slump?

“I have the experience. We had a bad run last season, we came out of that, and I have confidence we can get out of this run.

“We knew at the start of the season, with the Europa League and the Thursday nights and the games away at City and Chelsea.

“We have one point less from last season from the same games against Chelsea, Man City and Tottenham.

“But yesterday really was a wake-up call.”