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Koeman checks Everton expectations as he admits Toffees still behind big six

Date Posted,August 11, 2017

Ronald Koeman has added a touch of realism to ­ Everton’s fantasy football summer, by admitting his team still do not bear comparison with the Premier League’s big six.

The Dutch boss is determined to gatecrash the bunfight for a Champions League place, but he knows that one successful ­transfer window alone cannot bridge the gap to some of the richest clubs in the world.

And as he prepared for the visit of Stoke to Goodison on the ­opening weekend of the season, he offered cautious comparison between his own threadbare forward line and the powerful ­attacking units that last season’s top six can boast.

“I know the expectations are higher than last season, but I ­always look to be realistic. We can improve and spend money but everyone can improve and is spending money,” he explained.

Rooney came back to Goodison this summer (Image: Everton FC via Getty)
Sandro was another new arrival (Image: AFP)

“It is difficult still because we really have one striker.

“Sandro is a striker and ­Dominic Calvert-Lewin is a striker of 21. He needs to i­mprove. He has a lot of talent.

“But compare that to the big teams and what they have on the bench – or even in the stands – it is a big difference to Everton. If you look at my team this weekend, and the bench, you can not compare it to the big six. That is difficult.”

Koeman fears he is further handicapped by the long-term loss of key players ­Seamus ­Coleman and ­Yannick Bolasie to ­injury. “If we get in all the players we want, and have Bolasie and ­Coleman back, then it is a totally different picture,” added ­Koeman.

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“Then I ­believe we can fight against them.”

He still wants more ­recruits before the transfer ­window closes at the end of August, with a left-sided defender, a creative midfielder and ­another goalscorer a priority.

And if he gets those signings – with a deal for Swansea’s Gylfi Sigurdsson close to completion – he believes there is a chance to crack the top four.

“If we can do the business that we want, we will be stronger than last season,” he said.

“We are changing a lot on the pitch at ­Everton, but also off the pitch, too” he said. “It is really ­important to grow. But we need one or two of the big clubs to struggle, then maybe we can make the next step up.”

Koeman has Ross ­Barkley back in training, but he is not ready for first-team action, and long-term ­injuries aside, he has a full squad to choose from.

While the manager was dampening down expectations, ­influential midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin believes Everton now have the players with the appetite and desire to make a Champions League charge.

“For myself, when you have a taste of the Champions League, and that feeling, you want to taste it again.

“I have every confidence that I can play there and that I will play there in the future,” he said.

“So now I want to play in that competition with Everton.

“It is up to me and my team-mates to show this season that we deserve to play there.”

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