Ronald Koeman accused his Everton players of being ‘too afraid’ as their Europa League hopes were left in the balance.
Everton were booed off after they conceded an 87th-minute equaliser to 10-man Apollon Limassol. They are bottom of Group E with one point from two games — the worst start ever made by a Premier League side in this competition.
Koeman was appalled by the way Everton began, particularly the opening goal which followed a mistake by Ashley Williams.
Everton manager Ronald Koeman believes his side are currently ‘too afraid to play football’
The Blues were held to a 2-2 draw at home by 10-man Apollon Limassol in the Europa League
He believes Everton’s ambitions are being crippled by a confidence crisis and said: ‘We are too afraid to play football. If it is one player? Ok. But it is several players and football is really difficult.
‘If you analyse the first goal we conceded, it is shocking. We are scared, we are afraid to play forward. They are running, they are fighting but they are scared. The team is really struggling.’
The Everton boss admitted that the result means his team head into this weekend’s clash with Burnley feeling as though they have lost.
‘The challenge is get the team full of confidence, but then you need to start better than we started today,’ he told BT Sport after the final whistle.
‘If you win the game, maybe it’s a good medicine to play with more confidence for the weekend. Now it will be the same.
Wayne Rooney looks on in dejection as Everton throw away a 2-1 lead with just minutes left
Nikola Vlasic’s goal had looked like securing a vital three points for the home side on Thursday
Koeman did, however, suggest there were positives to take from Thursday’s draw, such as the goalscoring display of Nikola Vlasic.
The Everton manager accepted, too, that there is no lack of effort among his squad. But Koeman believes their confidence issues, as well as injuries to the likes of Phil Jagielka and Michael Keane, are proving difficult to overcome.
‘You can take the positives out of individual performances like Nikola Vlasic but he is 19 and that is sometimes difficult to understand,’ Koeman said.
‘He brought energy, he brought football. It is so difficult if you have so many players struggling. They are looking for the safe option.’
He added: ‘They are fighting. I cannot say they are not running or fighting but they are afraid of playing. That is difficult. In the situation we are in, and yes I can tell it, we are missing seven or eight players. That’s too much in the situation we are in. ‘