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Koeman is challenging Barkley to answer his critics after derby flop

 

By Robert Jones

Everton boss Ronald Koeman has urged Ross Barkley to respond to his critics with more performances like those he was producing before Saturday's Merseyside derby.

Barkley and Romelu Lukaku have been focused upon in much of the criticism of the Toffees' efforts in the 3-1 defeat at Liverpool at the weekend.

Koeman feels it is unfair for the pair to be singled out from a team display he admitted yesterday was "not good enough".

But the Dutchman did say about Barkley: "Ross played in a position that was a little different to where he played for the last few weeks.

"And, of course, he lost several balls in the midfield instead of playing a little bit faster. He needs to improve on that."

Koeman, who on Saturday acknowledged Barkley may have been fortunate not to be shown two yellow cards, added of the 23-year-old England midfielder: "He needs to show the type of player he is. He is now a full international player. That is what I look for out of his performances.

"On Saturday he was not at the level that he can perform - in the last two or three months he was that type of player we like to see."

Koeman, speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of tonight's trip to Manchester United, also admitted that Premier League top-scorer Lukaku under-performed at Anfield, describing him as having been "not really sharp and also a little bit tired".

But he questioned the need to criticise the Belgian, saying: "He is a great striker, he is working hard. He is a human, and it is not always a 10 (out of 10 performance)."

Koeman stressed that "to take out one or two and (suggest) that was the problem on Saturday is not fair".

And he reiterated his statement from the weekend that he was "really proud" of his side, which featured several youngsters in the absence of various injured players.

Koeman said he understood some comments that had been made but not others, and said: "I am a manager who sees football realistically, but some have some problems to see that.

"It's easy to give your opinion in front of the television without any responsibility. I am happy. I see a lot of progress. The whole season is not one game."

Koeman spoke out ahead of the Liverpool game about his Republic of Ireland counterpart Martin O'Neill, accusing him of failing to protect midfielder James McCarthy. And after Saturday's match he criticised the Liverpool bench over their reaction to tackles.

Asked on Monday why he had felt the need to assert himself in that way, Koeman said: "To defend the club."

Victory for seventh-placed Everton tonight would see them move above fifth-placed United. Koeman added: "We know they have difficulties at home. They are still a really strong team.''

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