Southampton manager Ronald Koeman has revealed his surprise at Everton’s indifferent Premier League season. The pair meet at Goodison Park later today, with the visitors looking to consolidate their spot in the top seven.
Everton have struggled to cope with the added demands of playing in the Europa League on top of their normal domestic fixture-list, with a poor run of results since the turn of the year leaving them in a disappointing thirteenth place in the top flight table.
They can at least all but end their relegation fears with victory today, as three points likely to take them 12 points clear of the bottom three.
However, Koeman, who was speaking ahead of the match-up, believes his side will deal better with the additional games next season, should his side qualify for European competition.
With Chelsea having won the Capital Cup, a potential Liverpool vs Arsenal final in the FA Cup will mean that both the sixth and seventh place teams in the Premier League will also qualify for the Europa League, leaving the door wide open for Southampton.
Koeman told the Daily Star: “It is always good to have that example if you go to Europe. It’s a tough test because I think Everton deserve a higher position in the table and I like the way they play football.
“I like how Roberto Martinez is doing his job. They have good individual qualities in the squad, but it has been a difficult season for them. I think one of the reasons is because they played in the Europa League and that is more difficult than the Champions League.
“You play on Thursday and you have to travel maybe on Friday and Sunday, it’s only two days. If you play Tuesday or Wednesday in the Champions League you still have three or four days.
“But for the club it’s important and for the players it’s important, because it’s a nice experience and you have to handle the squad. It is about freshness of the players and of course you will have more risk about injuries.”