The Old Trafford manager admits to liking trips to Goodison Park and this visit may be perfectly timed as his improving side face one stuttering
José Mourinho enjoys going to Everton. “Always difficult, always beautiful,” he says. The Manchester United manager’s reasons include old-fashioned stadium architecture, passionate fans and the fact that Goodison Park was the setting for some of Portugal’s most famous victories in the 1966 World Cup. Mourinho was only three at the time Eusébio was banging in the goals against Brazil and North Korea, but he will not find it too difficult to re-imagine the atmosphere as the ground has hardly changed since.
A more pragmatic reason for Mourinho to look forward to Sunday’s kick-off is that it breaks a disappointing sequence of league games at Old Trafford. The last time United earned three points was away from home, at Swansea. Due to a combination of the international break and the fixture computer United have not had an away Premier League game in almost a month while three home fixtures since the emphatic defeat at Chelsea in mid-October have yielded one point each.
• We need next summer to make changes, says Goodison manager • Everton have had one win in nine, with Manchester United up next
Ronald Koeman has said Everton’s miserable run has opened his eyes to the changes required at Goodison Park but insisted the club’s academy prospects are not yet the solution.
Everton host Manchester United on Sunday having won only once in nine matches and failed to respond to their manager’s demands for a reaction to poor displays against Chelsea and Swansea City. Koeman’s requests for more pressing, greater penetration and more aggressive starts have gone ignored in recent weeks, to leave the manager admitting: “We need at least this winter and we need next summer to make changes in this club.”
Form hardly indicates a quality affair at Goodison Park – the hosts have won once in eight league games, the visitors once in seven – but at least José Mourinho can draw confidence from a United team who are gradually clicking into shape and showed they do know where the goal is located in the midweek EFL Cup victory over West Ham. Ronald Koeman, in contrast, appears to be losing belief in the talent at his disposal by the week but insists “a lot of things can change on Sunday”. Andy Hunter
Everton manager Ronald Koeman says he is worried after losing 1–0 to former club Southampton on Sunday. Speaking after the game, Koeman discussed his side’s current run, stating he is not so much concerned about poor results but rather how his team are performing on the pitch
For Ronald Koeman it was the return to Southampton he probably expected but that did not make it any easier. After hearing some less-than-kind chants from a section of the home supporters the Dutchman then had to watch his new side being deservedly beaten by his old one. Stood on a touchline from where his reputation burgeoned, Koeman may well have wondered if he made the right decision swapping the south coast for Merseyside after all.
The goal that decided came early – after just 41 seconds in fact, as Charlie Austin struck from close-range and the truth was Everton never really recovered. As was the case against Swansea last week, their approach play was sluggish and limited but unlike in that fixture they could not muster a late equaliser. Indeed the visitors did not produce a shot on target and it came as no surprise to see a majority of the away supporters heading for the exit long before the final whistle had blown.
Charlie Austin's first-minute goal was the difference as Ronald Koeman's return to St Mary's ended in defeat
Charlie Austin’s 41st second goal is enough for a good three points. It wasn’t the easiest game on the eye, despite promising otherwise but that’s a well earned win for Claude Puel’s team. Everton and Ronald Koeman have much to do.
90 min +2: Gareth Barry, on his 800th senior appearance, hits a tame half volley at Forster. That should be it.
90 min +1: Mirallas is played in by Lukaku but scuffs his shot wide. That was a decent glimpse for Everton.
90 min: There will be three minutes added time.
89 min: Enner Valencia gets in front of Van Dijk and almost finds the target with a header from Deulofeu’s cross.
89 min: Shane Long is on for Charlie Austin.
88 min: Van Dijk clears a threatening cross from the left and then asks the Saints fans to make some noise. They are suddenly sitting very deep.
84 min: Sims comes off to a standing ovation. McQueen, another highly-rated Southampton academy product, is on for the final six minutes plus added time.
82 min: Coleman goes close for Everton after Mirallas squared for him from the right. It is blocked by Fonte but you sense if it was Lukaku the end result would have been different. Everton’s last change sees Baines sprint off and Enner Valencia come on in his place.
80 min: Soares sends in yet another brilliant cross from the right. Ward-Prowse chests the ball down and shoots but is denied by Stekelenburg. Jagielka then gets rid for a corner.
79 min: Redmond is replaced by Romeu.
77 min: Sims sends a teasing cross in from the right, where Baines clears. But Southampton come back on the attack right away and Ward-Prowse shoots at Stekelenburg. The keeper spills it into the path of Austin, who then squares back to Ward-Prowse – but he cannot finish.
76 min: Hojbjerg, the best player on the pitch today, commits a foul on Bolasie about 30 yards from Southampton’s goal and slightly to the right. Baines is eyeing it up but opts for a cross … where Williams almost connects only to be denied by Fonte, who turns the ball out for a corner. That ends up being cleared.
71 min: Ten minutes after saying the game was opening up, Everton’s performance level has dropped again.
69 min: Mirallas is on in place of Barkley, who was again ineffective, seconds after Bolasie found the roof of the net with a curling effort from about 25 yards.
68 min: Sims races down the right, beating Baines and then Williams but he cannot compose himself upon reaching the final third and is unable to find Austin with a pass.
65 min: Deulofeu comes on from Lennon, who I don’t think was given a single mention in 65 minutes. He was anonymous.
64 min: Bolasie connects brilliantly with an overhead kick, but Forster saves well with his feet. In any case the linesman’s flag goes up for offside.
62 min: Hojbjerg tries to find Sims after the latter cleverly ran behind Baines but there’s a little too much on the through ball.
61 min: The game is opening up now. I’d be very surprised if there is not another goal in the remaining half hour or so.
58 min: Austin almost doubles Southampton’s advantage. Soares picks him out with a wonderful outswinger and the striker rises to powerfully head goalwards only for Stekelenburg to react quickly and palm the ball away. That’s a great save.
56 min: Bolasie shoots high and wide but Everton are certainly improving here.
53 min: Lukaku hammers a free-kick well over. Dreadful.
50 min: Sims forces Stekelenburg to save again with a drive from outside the area.
48 min: Bertrand wins a corner after a rampaging run down the left.
We’re back underway again. Everton can hardly be any worse, but will they be able to improve enough to get back into this game?
Charlie Austin’s 41st second goal gives Southampton a deserved lead at the interval.
45 min: … and Baines’s delivery is half cleared, reaching Gueye. He blasts well over again. Koeman looks in pain on the touchline. There will be one minute added on.
44 min: Bolasie wins a corner off Redmond. Williams and Jagielka are coming up …
43 min: Sims is caught out for the first time and Bolasie picks out Barkley with a great cross from the right. The midfielder’s effort has plenty of power, but no accuracy. It goes about 20 yards wide. Poor.
43 min: Austin and Williams square up to each other near halfway. But tempers cool quickly.
42 min: Koeman, one senses, will hammer his players at the break. This is a dismal performance and they are lucky to be only a goal behind.
39 min: Hojbjerg has been excellent in midfield. Soares finds the former Bayern man at the back post with a cross from the right but his header goes wide.
37 min: Redmond earns a corner for Southampton but Gueye eventually hacks clear after Van Dijk knocked down Ward-Prowse’s delivery.
36 min: A pretty unanimous response from all four of you about Van Dijk, though Matt Loten rightly points out that Fonte may feel a tad hard done by.
30 min: Everton are showing some signs of improvement but, really, Forster could have been sleeping throughout this game so far.
27 min: Van Dijk has been smothering Lukaku so far. A question for the floor: is Van Dijk the best centre-half at a non-title threatening team?
26 min: Everton finally put a decent move together. Barry’s through ball picks out Coleman, who squares to Gueye. But the former Villa midfielder shoots well over. It’s the type of poorly executed shot that leaves opposition fans to bellow “Wahey!”
24 min: Austin is picked out by Hojbjerg but scuffs his shot a tad and Stekelenburg makes the save.
23 min: I’m not being lazy, it’s just there are only so many ways to describe Southampton patiently passing the ball without Everton putting them under nowhere enough pressure.
18 min: Southampton are bossing this and Everton look so sluggish. Hojbjerg shoots way over from range but that is already Saints’ fifth attempt at goal. Everton have not had a single sniff.
17 min: Sims is left all alone in the middle of the box but cannot get enough behind his header to beat Stekelenburg following Redmond’s dinked cross.
14 min: Coleman is penalised for a shove on Redmond. Ward-Prowse’s delivery from the left is punched away unconvincingly by Stekelenburg and Hojbjerg’s follow up attempt is well over.
10 min: Southampton are so compact here, making it very difficult for Everton to feed Lukaku unless he drops so deep he is unable to have any genuine impact.
7 min: The visitors finally settle and enjoy some time in possession. Coleman motors forward down Everton’s right and centres to Lukaku, who had dropped deep to get involved in the game.
5 min: Sims is really making things difficult for Baines down Southampton’s right. Meanwhile, the home fans are chanting rude things about their former manager.
3 min: And now Saints have a corner, won by Sims. Barkley heads clear. Everton appear shell-shocked by the early concession and the hosts look hungry for a quick second.
1 min: It’s only taken 41 seconds. Soares crosses from the right and Sims, the debutant, bundles the ball into Austin’s path from four yards. The striker finishes with ease. What a start for Southampton and the 19-year-old Sims!
1 min: Everton begin, playing from left to right as we watch.
Koeman is warmly embraced by members of Southampton’s technical staff.
The teams are out. We’re moments away, and it promises to be a cracker. Prediction: Southampton 1-1 Everton.
“What are the rest of the MBM’ers up to this afternoon that you have to pull a double shift?” asks Matt Loten. “Not that I’m disappointed to see you back or anything; I’m just worried that there’s a cracking party going on at Guardian HQ or something and you don’t get to attend.” It’s just that I love MBMs so much, Matt (or, er, maybe there are just not enough bodies to cover all this live sport!). But there is definitely no party. This is a fun free zone. Sport is Serious Business.
Going back to St Mary’s holds no worries for the manager who has Champions League ambitions for his new club
Ronald Koeman pauses for a moment to think of a succinct answer to the question that has been bothering Southampton supporters since his summer departure and is already hovering over his return to St Mary’s with Everton on Sunday. Are the prospects at his new club really that much better than at his old one? Southampton are already in the Europa League, after all, and that seems to be the limit of Everton’s realistic aspirations, always assuming they can regain consistency after almost falling to an unexpected home defeat against Swansea last week.
“Everton is a big club but not an easy project,” he admits, before going on to outline the reasons why. One is that for all the club’s history and stature it is surrounded by bigger, wealthier neighbours. It used to be just Liverpool and Manchester United but, now Manchester City have joined in, it is hard to see what Everton can do to be anything other than fourth best in the north-west. Then there are the London clubs to consider. Chelsea are back in contention along with Arsenal this year while Tottenham are finding out just how hard it is to break into the Champions League echelon and stay there.
• Dutch manager returns fore first time to club he left behind in June • ‘I cannot change opinions or the feelings of the fans’ says Koeman
Ronald Koeman has said he hopes for respect from Southampton supporters when he returns to St Mary’s Stadium but is unafraid of any hostility that awaits.
The Everton manager faces his former club on Sunday for the first time since moving to Goodison Park on a £6m per year contract in the summer. Koeman guided Southampton to sixth- and seventh-placed finishes in his two Premier League seasons in charge but, having made overtures about extending a contract that had 12 months remaining, angered the club by accepting Everton’s offer of a bigger salary and transfer budget. Farhad Moshiri, the major shareholder at Goodison Park, also met Southampton’s demands for £5m compensation for their manager, the assistant Erwin Koeman and the coach Jan Kluitenberg.
A heavy defeat at Chelsea followed by a frustrating home draw with Swansea City means Ronald Koeman could do with a win on his return to St Mary’s with Everton. His successor at Southampton, Claude Puel, will hope that his team overcome their profligate streak. They need to start scoring more, as bad finishing jeopardised their Europa League campaign in mid-week and has cost them a lot of points in the Premier League this season. Paul Doyle
Squad, led by coach David Unsworth, to sleep at Goodison on 25 November
‘Looking after the homeless is the right thing to do,’ says Unsworth
The Everton Under-23 manager, David Unsworth, has signed his entire squad up to take part in a sleepout at Goodison Park in aid of a homeless charity.
Everton in the Community (EitC) have organised the Goodison Sleepout on 25 November to raise money for vulnerable people across Liverpool. The under-23s will be joined by fans and business partners in sleeping in the Park End Stand.