After Everton sold star striker Romelu Lukaku, manager Ronald Koeman insisted that the Blues would have a hard time replacing his goals. It turns out, Everton are also having quite the challenge replacing him as an outlet for the ball to relieve pressure on the defence and midfield as well.
With the Toffees lack of pace and inability to go vertical, more and more teams are pushing up higher on the pitch against Everton, forcing mistakes and causing turnovers. After the lame draw against Apollon Limassol, Koeman was livid, accusing his side of playing “afraid”.
Speaking later to the Liverpool Echo, Koeman added -
“I think it is coming out of making mistakes at the beginning of the game. They don’t have enough options.
“They try to keep the ball, they run with the ball….you need to make it simple. Play the long ball and run and press.
“Sometimes we make it so difficult for ourselves. With confidence we don’t make mistakes in our ball possession.
“The first goal? It is a ball from Schneiderlin to Holgate. Control the ball, he is dribbling, dribbling; the striker of Apollon is pressing the ball and the ball goes out for a throw in.
“That….that’s the way we start the game! That makes the opponent even more confident! That is what happened to a young player. It is weak. Weak in that type of confidence. That is football but it is normal. Normal.”
Which then brought the conversation back to having a striker upfront who can help as an outlet to play the long ball Koeman mentioned. Did he feel Everton were missing that target?
“Yeah. That is possible if you don’t have a target man in front, maybe you play more short. That was the message to the players. Sometimes we make it so difficult for ourselves. If you lose the ball in that way it is no problem. But we lost it around our box and then that led to the first goal for Apollon.”
Olivier Giroud appeared to have been identified as that player, but the move fell through, and it appears numerous approaches for other players to fill that void didn’t come to fruition either.
“We were unlucky in that. And you need to believe that you don’t get everyone as a striker in.
“No, you make that the main issue. When we sold Lukaku I didn’t think at that time we would get a striker in who would score at least 25 goals because maybe it is impossible to find that striker.
“If I can sign Messi I will sign Messi. Or I will sign Alexis Sanchez or I will sign Ronaldo. Yeah.
“You cannot always sign somebody to replace Lukaku.
“What I expected was to get more goals from other players around the striker and we have now three strikers. Niasse is the third and we have Dominic and Ramirez. Totally different types.
“That was the reason we needed a target man because that gives options for the team and finally we did not find a good target.”
Asked if that made signing a centerforward in the January transfer window a priority, his answer was simple -
“For me, yes.”