Ronald Koeman’s new-look Everton side comfortably saw off Slovakian minnows MFK Ruzomberok on Thursday evening to secure their spot in the Europa League play-off round.
In a match that mirrored the slow tempo of the first-leg, both teams failed to register an attempt on target in the first-half and it was the home side that went closest with a free header at the near post.
Morgan Schneiderlin had Everton’s best chance prior to the goal, heading wide from Sandro Ramirez’s corner, but it was substitute Dominic Calvert-Lewin who ensured the Toffees’ safe progress into the next round after slotting neatly into the far corner just 11 minutes after coming on.
The draw for the play-off round takes place on Friday afternoon, with the winner advancing to the Europa League group stage, and the ties will take place consecutively on August 17 and August 24.
The Boot Room takes a look at three things we learnt from an easy European night for Everton…
Tempo of play needs to improve
From their laboured victory over MFK Ruzomberok at Goodison Park last week it was clear to see that there was a lack of pace and tempo in Everton’s play, and this didn’t improve last night either.
Despite Koeman’s claims pre-match that his side would play with attacking intent their second-leg encounter was arguably even more tedious than the first, barely testing their goalkeeper all match.
And it was evident to see that there’s a lack of pace in the Toffees’ side, missing the attacking player that will drive at defenders with intent and cause problems, and it just showed how desperate they are for Yannick Bolasie to return from his lengthy injury lay-off and add another attacking dimension.
The arrival of Calvert-Lewin from the bench significantly upped the tempo – and it’s no surprise that he made the telling impact on the night – but there’s work to be done before the new season begins.
Tom Davies at wing-back doesn’t work
Ronald Koeman is understandably still going through an experimental stage with his squad after his summer spending spree, but utilising young Tom Davies as a wing-back is one of his weirder try-outs.
The void of Seamus Coleman is huge heading into the new season, and although new signing Cuco Martina didn’t particularly impress during the first-leg it doesn’t seem that Davies is the correct alternative to the role, as he is far more effective at Everton as a marauding box-to-box midfielder.
The 18-year-old was perhaps one of Everton’s better players on the night but, up against Premier League standard opposition, he may struggle to be potent in attack and be caught out at the back.
And at such a young age he needs all of the education he needs in one position to develop his potential as a future England international player, so Koeman would be wise to end this experiment.
Rooney and Sandro Ramirez could be a formidable partnership
Heading in to the match last night Everton’s chosen strike duo for the evening may be forgiven for thinking it would have been a competition for who could score the most goals, and although it didn’t transpire into a goal-fest there were signs that Rooney and Sandro are building chemistry.
Especially during the first-half the duo were constantly on the look-out for each other, with the former Manchester United man in particular pulling on some intricate flicks and passes at times.
Sandro’s ability to stretch the defensive line with his runs to the edge of the box could prove to be incredibly useful in the Premier League, opening up space for midfield runners through the middle.
It was by no means vintage Everton, and the new signings will want to open their accounts sooner rather than later, but Koeman’s side are still in pre-season mode – the real test begins next Saturday.