Koeman wants fans to support Lukaku

If that is back to Chelsea, is he really going to be better off than he is now?

EVERTON boss Ronald Koeman is not prepared to be held to ransom by his players, insisting he is "not afraid" by Romelu Lukaku's contract stand-off and warning Ross Barkley he needs to sign a new deal or be sold. If Everton's position in the table matched their form as the best in the division since the turn of the year, perhaps Lukaku would reconsider his stance on the thorny issue of contractual commitment, having announced this week that he will not sign a new one. "I don't think they will boo him, because we need the support - every player needs the support", said Koeman.

Lukaku then took centre stage to register his 20th and 21st league goals of the season, the first time an Everton player has reached that tally since Gary Lineker in 1985-86.

"Then you are talking about Champions League and whatever types of games".

"We are the big favourites at home and the pressure is on Everton this weekend, but it is always unsafe because they fight against relegation and they need points".

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And Koeman, who is in his first year at the Goodison helm, believes his team can improve upon this season's encouraging results.

Ronald Koeman had gone public with his frustration at Lukaku's comments, but pragmatism won the day as the manager named his rebellious forward in the starting line-up.

'See the difference between this season and last season - that's the first step. Can we show more ambition, stronger team, more points?

BBC reports that Lukaku started the week by turning down the most lucrative contract offer in Everton's history before ending it at the top of the Premier League goalscoring charts.

The win puts Everton close to the top four, five points behind Liverpool with the Merseyside derby at Anfield up next after the global break. "You can't do it in one".

  • Regina Holmes