Liverpool, Sep 29 (IANS) Everton FC manager Ronald Koeman has come down heavily on his players following their 2-2 draw with Apollon Limassol in a group match of the Europa League football tournament here.
Everton were leading 2-1 till the 88th minute of the Group E game here on Thursday night when Héctor Yuste headed in an equaliser to earn a point for the visitors.
Everton, were thrashed 0-3 by Atalanta in their previous game in this tournament, have made the worst ever start by an English team to a Europa League campaign.
“I cannot say they are not running or fighting but they are afraid of playing. It is in the head of the players. As a manager, you can help the team and select the team but when the whistle goes you are not the one who plays the ball back. It is about giving the players options but we are scared to play forward,” Koeman was quoted as saying by the Guardian.
“Sometimes there are not enough options for the forwards but, in that case, play the ball into the channels instead of the goalkeeper. We know the fans like us to go forward, not back, back, back. Then it is difficult to create chances,” he added.
The visitors from Cyprus had enjoyed a bright start, taking an early lead following a mistake by Everton’s Ashley Williams.
Although Everton managed to score twice and Apollon Limassol were reduced to 10 men in the second half, the visitors still managed to force a draw.
“You saw the first 20 minutes — every ball was back instead of playing forwards. Analyse the first goal. We gave away an easy ball and we didn’t defend the striker. The players are under the level they can bring. They have difficulties on the ball,” Koeman rued.
“You can take the positives out of individual performances like (Nikola) Vlasic but he is 19 and that is sometimes difficult to understand. He brought energy, he brought football. It is so difficult if you have so many players struggling. They are looking for the safe option. It is a difficult situation,” the Everton manager added.