Everton slumped to a third consecutive loss at Atalanta on Thursday when, despite Koeman demanding a reaction to Saturday’s 3-0 home defeat by Tottenham Hotspur, his expensively-assembled side trailed by the same scoreline at the interval.
The Everton manager took responsibility for the woeful performance in Italy but having had time to reflect on the Europa League reverse – the club’s chartered flight home after the game was delayed – he insists it is also time for “the experienced players to stand up.” To that end, he has summonsed clear-the-air talks with the likes of Wayne Rooney, Morgan Schneiderlin and Phil Jagielka at Everton’s Finch Farm training base on Friday.
“What I don’t like is to go out and tell the media what I tell the players,” said Koeman. “Later on after this press conference I will have a meeting with most of the players, with the key players. Not a young talent of 18 or 19 because it’s time for the experienced players to stand up.
“I am worried about what I saw yesterday. I wasn’t so worried after Chelsea. It starts with the reaction in the second half against Tottenham. That 45 minutes and the first 45 minutes of yesterday are enough reason to worried.”
Rooney returns to Manchester United on Sunday for the first time since rejoining Everton and Koeman admits the former England captain – who has scored the side’s only Premier League goals this season – is one who needs to raise his level.
“He doesn’t have anything to prove, of course not,” the Everton manager added. “Everybody knows what he did for Manchester United but he’s an Everton player now and he is one of the players who needs to react and bring the level that we expect from people like Wayne.”
Sunday’s fixture will also reunite Koeman with Romelu Lukaku, who has flourished for José Mourinho’s team this season and whose goals Everton failed to replace in the transfer window.
Koeman said: “I know how we have to defend against him. He has a lot of qualities. He is dangerous in the box and fast and strong but if we defend how we have defended in the last few games it will be his afternoon. We have different types now in Dominic (Calvert-Lewin) and Sandro (Ramírez). Sandro needs time to adapt to the Premier League. It is too easy to talk about the strikers though because we have made a lot of mistakes in defence and with our defensive organisation.
“Thursday was painful because Atalanta showed more ambition, more aggression and in the way they defended so close and tight. There was a big difference. Yesterday was really a wake-up call.”
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