By Alex Stevens
Ronald Koeman has revealed he hooked Ross Barkley at half-time during Everton’s demolition of Sunderland because he was guilty of losing possession too often.
With the score locked at 0-0, the Goodison manager tore into his players during the break for their lack of composure on the ball and made the surprise decision to replace talisman Barkley with Gerard Deulofeu.
Everton delivered a far improved showing in the second half, with Romelu Lukaku scoring an 11-minute hat-trick as they ran out convincing 3-0 victors at the Stadium of Light.
“I was really disappointed about our first 45 minutes,” Koeman told Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football programme afterwards. “It was not the Everton I want to see.
“I said to the players I was really angry about our team. The problem was when we were in possession. In the midfield and up front we lost too many balls.
“Sometimes at half-time you need to make decisions and hope for a good reaction.
“The second half was what I like to see. We had good opportunities and good pressing, and could have scored more goals.”
Lukaku scored his first Everton goal since March, dating back 13 matches, when he broke the deadlock with a header at the hour mark against David Moyes’ team.
The Belgium international added a second with another header soon afterwards and completed an 11-minute hat-trick when he coolly slotted in to wrap up the three points for the visitors.
Lukaku’s return to form will be a huge boost for Everton, who have accumulated an impressive 10 points from their opening four league matches, including three consecutive wins.
In other Everton news, this is how director of football Steve Walsh has already made a huge impact at Goodison Park.