Everton boss Ronald Koeman expects improvements as he targets Manchester United
Everton manager Ronald Koeman expects improvements from his trimmed-down squad as he targets sixth-placed Manchester United.
Three wins in as many games in January, plus the offloading of Darron Gibson and Bryan Oviedo and the arrivals of Morgan Schneiderlin and Ademola Lookman, has given the Toffees a new focus.
The gap to United is five points following Wednesday's 1-1 draw at Stoke and Koeman does not believe that is insurmountable - providing his players can maintain their momentum.
"The first goal for us is Man United," said Koeman, whose side host Bournemouth on Saturday. "They did not win at home against Hull (on Wednesday) which means also for them it is difficult to win every game.
"It is possible but it starts always by ourselves. We play Bournemouth and maybe they have been struggling a little bit in the last few weeks but in the away game they showed they were a really good team."
While the window closed without any further additions to those of Schneiderlin and Lookman, Koeman declared himself happy with their transfer business and the positive effect it had on the squad.
"We had some players without any good future to get game time and they are now away from the club because they like to play more and have more game time and that is good," he added.
"We have a small squad but enough numbers to compete and to have competition and a little different spirit now because all of them have opportunities."
However, it was not all good news for another player who arrived in January, with Koeman underwhelmed by the performance of Anton Donkor.
The on-loan Wolfsburg winger played in Monday's reserve-team win over Manchester United and is likely to feature primarily for the under-23s.
"He did well in the first half but I wasn't impressed. I expect more from everybody," he added.
"I spoke to the boy. He took that opportunity to be with the under-23s and maybe sometimes he will be involved in the training session with the first team."
Another player who will have limited first-team chances for the remainder of the season is Arouna Kone after a deadline-day move to Crystal Palace collapsed late on.
"I don't know enough about the situation because I heard from the board there was interest from a few clubs," Koeman said.
"Arouna's role is difficult: he isn't involved in a lot of games during this season as he's had some physical issues but I like the boy as I know him well and had him at PSV in Holland.
"Things change very quickly and if we get injuries then maybe we need Arouna and he needs to wait for his opportunity."