David Unsworth: Everton 'hurting' after capitulation against Atalanta
A "hurting" Everton caretaker manager David Unsworth criticised an unacceptable performance in the 5-1 Europa League home defeat to Atalanta and called on his players to start shouldering some responsibility.
The result was the heaviest home defeat by an English side in the various guises of this competition since Nottingham Forest lost by the same scoreline to Bayern Munich in 1996 and one point from five matches extends the worst Europa League record by an English side.
Having already been eliminated from the competition, there was nothing but pride for a side featuring nine changes to play for, but Unsworth was disappointed those he gave chances to failed to deliver.
"The players who have been asking me for opportunities to play in the first team were given that tonight," he said.
"I asked the players to make it difficult for me to leave them out of the team on Sunday and the majority have probably made it very easy for me.
"I know there wasn't anything riding on the game, but we had paying Evertonians tonight and I stressed we had to compete -- the manner we capitulated just isn't acceptable and the players know that.
"What you can't do at this level is carry players. When you're best player is an 18-year-old kid [Beni Baningime] who's only had a couple of first-team appearances, that tells you all you need to know.
"Players need to take responsibility -- senior players, foreign players, young players.
"Everton fans will be disappointed with what they saw tonight and so am I."
A month to the day since Ronald Koeman was sacked the Toffees appear to be no nearer finding a replacement.
But Unsworth, who has lost four and won just one of his six games in temporary charge, conceding 16 goals, insists that should be no excuse.
"I'd like to think every single player is hurting the way I am the moment and if they are not then they shouldn't be here at this great club," he added.
"The minimum requirement is 100 percent effort. Only those players will know themselves when they look themselves in the mirror at night."
Asked what damage had been done to his reputation, as a coach who guided the club's under-23s to the Premier League 2 title last season, and his chances of getting the job on a full-time basis, Unsworth said: "It is an honour for me to be a manager and lead this great club, but at the same time you need your players to come with you and give you everything they've got and we've had that up until tonight.
"Other people will make decisions about who is the manager, but I take that responsibility. At the same time when the players cross the white line they have to take responsibility.
"I've learned a lot about numerous players tonight and that's good -- but it doesn't feel good."
A double from Bryan Cristante put the visitors, who also missed a penalty, in control early in the second half.
Summer signing Sandro Ramirez pulled one back with his first for the club, but goals from substitutes Andreas Cornelius (two) and Robin Gosens in the last four minutes plus added time typified Everton's haplessness -- even if Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini was more generous.
"I don't think it was easy, although the result may give that idea. For long periods it was a tough battle," he said.
Meanwhile, veteran forward Wayne Rooney gave Unsworth a ringing endorsement, despite the heavy defeat, and Rooney reckons there has been an overall improvement since the former defender took over from Koeman.
"There's been a change of manager, it's been a positive change I believe in terms of performances, tonight aside," Rooney said on BT Sport.
"You can see that on the pitch. We have to keep trying to pick up points in the Premier Legaue and try and climb up the league.
"It's down to the board. That's their decision, since David Unsworth has come in there has been a great atmosphere amongst the players, some positive results and the players are enjoying day-to-day training, so the board have got a decision to make and I am sure they are working on it."
Rooney added: "It's our pride, it's not nice to lose games in the manner we lost it, it;'s very disappointing and upsetting.
"There's nothing much more to add. We wanted to win the game, we haven't and that has hurt us."