EXCLUSIVE COLUMN: Koeman - 'Only Barca are better at home'

Ronald Koeman 00:03 22/04/2017
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Koeman is delighted with Everton's form.

The challenge for us at Everton is clear. We have five games to play and we will try to win every one of them.

The battle we are in is really difficult because Manchester United and Arsenal are teams which normally compete for Champions League football every season.

If we focus on our own game, however, and do what we have to do, then we have an opportunity to challenge for fifth or sixth place this season in the Premier League.

Given our 11th-place finishes in each of the past two seasons, this is real progress. At the beginning of the season we set our objective to be one of the teams fighting for European football.

I believed this to be a realistic target. Developing a style of play which would appeal to our fans was important, too, for we wanted to make it difficult for teams to come to Goodison Park and the atmosphere in the stadium is a key ingredient in this, of course.

Since the beginning of 2017, I believe that Barcelona is the only team out of the top five leagues across Europe to have scored more goals at home than Everton.

When we beat Burnley last weekend it was our eighth consecutive Premier League win at Goodison, our best sequence in the Premier League era. I like good organisation in my team – it is key – and defensively we have been solid, the fourth best defensive record in the Premier League this season, I believe.

Especially at home we have been able to combine this with real penetration and productivity going forward. The offensive movement of the players is on a really high level and this means more creativity and more goals.

What we need to do now is close the gap between our effectiveness at home and away from home.

Three of our five remaining games we play away, beginning with our game at the Olympic Stadium against West Ham, and the target must be to demonstrate that same level of productivity and ruthlessness. With our final game being against Arsenal at The Emirates, there could be a lot to play for in that game.

If I compare our football now to what it was like at the beginning of the season, I think we’ve improved our ball possession and that’s down to the daily work we do in training.

That helps players on an individual basis and it also helps the team and it’s part of the reason why we now have 57 points.

We love to do technical exercises in training around passing, possession games, one-touch and two touches, and we train with the same intensity that will be required in the games. How you train is how you play.

Playing young players is something I am not afraid to do. It is how I have been throughout my career in management, whether in Holland, Spain, at Southampton or now at Everton.

I’m a manager who gives young players a chance when they deserve to get a chance and this season Tom Davies has taken his chance. He’s a very down to earth boy, he works hard and he takes on board the advice from the rest of the players and from the technical staff.

It is always good to have young players such as Tom come through the Club’s Academy into the first team. At Everton we have been able to do this and it augurs well for our future. Always it is about the talent of the player.
European football will be central to our development as a club and it is not something to shirk away from, the demands that will be placed on us through playing Thursday nights and weekends.

We know we have to be prepared in terms of our numbers and our overall quality in order to be able to battle in all of the competitions as we want to do. It will test us as we seek to take that next step.

That’s the challenge and I’m not afraid of it because it is what everyone at Everton wants – playing our football in Europe.

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