Everton’s players should be friends off the pitch but not during games says Ronald Koeman after Ashley Williams’ row with Romelu Lukaku.
Ronald Koeman is far from concerned over Romelu Lukaku and Ashley Williams’ on-field row at Manchester United and feels his Everton players are often too nice to one another.
Centre-back Williams remonstrated with Lukaku during the second half of Tuesday’s 1-1 draw at Old Trafford, apparently unhappy with his colleague’s efforts in defending from the front.
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The Belgium international responded by gesturing in Williams’ direction, raising a finger to his lips.
Amid the backdrop of Lukaku refusing to sign a new Everton contract and being linked with a move away from Goodison Park, the sight of him arguing on the field with a senior team-mate could be viewed as ominous.
Not in the eyes of Koeman, who is keen for the Toffees to develop a harder edge.
“What I like to see is passion and they need to understand we need to support each other, but finally I saw a reaction because in this case I think we are too nice together,” the former Netherlands defender said at a news conference to preview Sunday’s match with Leicester City.
“You have to ask, you have to talk and maybe sometimes you need to shout. I don’t have any problem with that because it’s also an emotional part.
“The two boys spoke already to each other and there’s no problem. I like this because you need to do everything to win the game and after you can be friends, but not on the pitch.”
Everton lie seventh in the table, seven points ahead of West Brom immediately below them, and Koeman is relishing having a tilt at the big guns above during the closing weeks of the season.
“We are fighting for European football, maybe that is something to realise for everybody,” he said. “If you finish seventh, it’s a really successful season. If we get more out of that, then it’s fantastic.
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“I expect if we get six points out of the next two home games with Leicester and Burnley that we will fight for the fifth and sixth places.”
Everton will assess the fitness of Morgan Schneiderlin before they face the reigning Premier League champions. The midfielder missed the trips to Liverpool and United with a calf injury.