Wayne Rooney and middling Everton continue woeful run in Europa loss
Everton miserably slumped to a second 3-0 defeat in five days, this time against Atalanta on Thursday. Despite all the talk beforehand about the need to react after losing to Tottenham on Saturday, this Europa League loss lowered the bar further.
Manager Ronald Koeman spoke about delivering attacking football, playing to win and controlling the game. Everton offered precisely nothing in all three departments, while a ragged defence shipped three first-half goals for the first time since losing 5-0 at Chelsea in November. This display ranks among the worst since Koeman took charge.
The only party worth mentioning in this section is the travelling support venturing to Italy to sit through this shambolic outing.
In their last three matches in all competitions, Everton have scored none and conceded eight. While facing 21 shots on target in that time, those in royal blue have managed just four attempts on target.
This mixture of zero attacking threat combined with sieve-like defending leaves the team facing an unwinnable challenge. Add in the lack of spirit shown in recent matches and it is clear why performances are far below expected levels.
Manager rating out of 10
2 -- Koeman repeated the same setup that was so ruthlessly exposed by Tottenham before returning to the three-man defence that also suits none of the starting XI. Results are unlikely to change unless Koeman formulates a plan beyond shoehorning players into two ill-fitting formations.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Maarten Stekelenburg, 7 -- A smart early save was a sign of things to come as his workload continued throughout the match. His selection raised some eyebrows, but the experienced goalkeeper kept the score down.
DF Mason Holgate, 5 -- Shifted around from full-back to wing-back as Koeman altered the formation at the interval, the young defender never really settled in either position and struggled to limit the impact of Atalanta's Alejandro Gomez.
DF Michael Keane, 5 -- Still the best option among scant central defensive choices, but the malaise surrounding him seems to be catching. His communication needs to improve while positioning for the third goal disappointed.
DF Phil Jagielka, 4 -- Dreadful pass and his role thereafter for the Atalanta third left a lot to be desired. After sitting out the weekend loss, this audition for a bigger role in the team was a bust.
DF Leighton Baines, 5 -- You get the impression matches like this hurt Baines as much as they hurt supporters. Isolated again at left-back, he found it difficult to influence the game, though his work rate remained undimmed.
MF Muhamed Besic, 4 -- Deserves some credit for wanting the ball, especially during an increasingly desperate first half, but the accuracy and timing of his passes and decision-making were poor and his lack of discipline is a constant factor.
MF Morgan Schneiderlin, 4 -- Carried on from where he left off against Tottenham, and not in a good way. Complete lack of concentration gifted the home side the opening goal from a corner and his evening did not improve beyond that.
MF Nikola Vlasic, 5 -- Some sharp footwork and neat turns offered glimpses of his potential, but the remainder of the match was a mostly chastening experience. It is debatable whether this was the right environment for a 19-year-old making his full debut for the club.
MF Gylfi Sigurdsson, 5 -- There was a well-struck effort from distance in the first half, and the record signing provided quality set pieces that went unrewarded as teammates failed to attack the ball, but his lack of preseason football is showing as the midfielder attempts to play catch up.
MF Wayne Rooney, 5 -- A delightful chip sailed narrowly over after one of the very few passing moves fashioned in the match. A surprisingly effective presence when defending set pieces in the Everton penalty area, but that his best work came in his own half told its own story.
FW Dominic Calvert-Lewin, 5 -- Back in the starting XI in his preferred striking role for the first time in four matches, the 20-year-old held the ball up well early on before fading. Complete isolation from his teammates also a factor.
MF Davy Klaassen, 5 -- With Schneiderlin substituted and Besic dropped into defence, Klaassen faced an impossible task in the middle of the pitch.
FW Sandro Ramirez, 7 -- The 22-year-old was a significant improvement on most of his teammates as the former Malaga striker actually looked interested. A lively presence with the ball at his feet -- he was the only member of that exclusive club.
MF Kevin Mirallas, N/R -- Recently left out of the squad for a poor attitude and linked with a move away on deadline day, his continued use in the squad at the expense of others is confusing.
Luke is ESPN FC's Everton blogger. Follow Luke on Twitter @lukeofarrell.