Heat on Koeman as Everton slide continues

Reuters
To rub salt into the wounds, Romelu Lukaku, who joined United from Everton in July, made it 3-0, appearing to enjoy kicking his old side when it was down.
Reuters
AFP

Striker Romelu Lukaku celebrates after scoring Manchester United's third goal against Everton during their English Premier League match at Old Trafford in Manchester, northwest England, on September 17, 2017. United won 4-0.

Until the 83rd minute at Old Trafford on Sunday Ronald Koeman must have thought his Everton side had turned an important corner, before a late capitulation left it in the English Premier League relegation zone.

Everton was trailing 0-1 to Antonio Valencia's early stunner but playing well and threatening an equalizer.

Then Ashley Williams gifted United a second goal scored by Henrikh Mkhitaryan and the floor gave way on Everton.

To rub salt into the wounds, Romelu Lukaku, who joined United from Everton for 75 million pounds (US$101.85 million) in July, made it 3-0, appearing to enjoy kicking his old side when it was down.

Anthony Martial's injury-time penalty completed the rout, meaning Everton has conceded 10 goals without scoring in eight days. It has lost its last four games and has not won since beating Hajduk Split in the Europa League on August 17.

Few would have expected Koeman's name to feature highly on the "managers at risk" list after the club's spending spree in the close season which saw players such as Gylfi Sigurdsson, Davy Klaassen and Michael Keane arrive for big fees.

Now, Wednesday's League Cup clash at home to second-tier Sunderland takes on huge importance with bookmakers William Hill making Koeman second favorite to be the next manager sacked.

"After today we have four home games and we have to win, otherwise we'll have problems," the Dutchman said.

Everton, who in mitigation has played Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United already in the league, slipped below West Ham United on goal difference to 18th spot. Its next league games are at home to Bournemouth and Burnley.

Koeman said his side was "afraid" and lacking confidence in the early stages at Old Trafford but that he was encouraged by the way the players responded, especially after a dreadful Europa League display away in Italy to Atalanta on Thursday.

"We grew in the game and in confidence and not many teams will get two big chances like we got today. We didn't score the goal and after a personal mistake it was 2-0," he said.

"From what I saw today from the team it made me happy. More happy than Thursday."

Stoppage-time penalty

Everton midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin, who conceded the stoppage-time penalty, said had Everton taken its chances, most notably two good ones for Wayne Rooney, it could have been a very different outcome.

"If we had pulled back to 1-1 it would have been a different game," he said. "We have to take the positives. Our show on Thursday was horrendous. It was a case today that we were fighting for the shirt.

"No one wants to lose 4-0 but we found our aggression again."

Koeman's United counterpart Jose Mourinho said that EPL clubs are becoming increasingly defensive and he is glad his side is able to score goals freely this season.

Joint leaders in the league with Manchester City with 13 points from five games, United has defeated West Ham and Swansea with identical 4-0 scorelines.

Mourinho, whose side drew 15 games last season as it finished sixth, was pleased with the "clear difference" in its style of play and the ability to push on for wins this season.

"I think the Premier League is becoming defensive... many teams try to play with five at the back plus two or three in the middle," he told the club's website (www.manutd.com).

"Two teams try to match each other and play the same system and it's 0-0 or 1-0."

Mourinho said his team must now shift its focus to the League Cup where the defending champion faces Burton Albion in the third round on Wednesday.

"Every match is a different match and the next one, against Burton, who come on the back of an important result against a good team like Fulham," said the Portuguese manager.

"It will be another difficult match."

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