Tom Ferguson previews Everton v Hajduk Split.
It hasn’t been the prettiest, definitely not the tidiest, but boy it’s been effective.
Ronald Koeman’s men are yet to taste defeat this season, competitive game or not.
No Evertonian will remember these clashes with great fondness but the job is getting done, time and time again.
The Blues haven’t looked great, but if they keep it up no one will bat an eyelid or care.
And winning is just what Everton want when they welcome Hajduk Split to the Grand Old Lady on Thursday evening.
Their Europa League playoff opponents finished third in the Croatian top flight last term.
Split have already played eight competitive fixtures this season, so Koeman will be aware the Croatians could be further ahead in terms of fitness.
HAJ, as they’re known, are famous for their fans’ crazy support and it’s fair to say they’ll have manic backing on Thursday.
The supporters are so well thought of at the club that they have officially retired the number 12 jersey and made the fans their ‘twelfth man’.
Hadjuk Split fans.
Everton will face them in the Europa league. 🔥😧 pic.twitter.com/5vqXlu8cra
— Footy Away Days (@FootyAwayDays_) August 4, 2017
So a break from Premier League action after just one game, and what an important tie it is.
A two legged affair stands in the way of the Toffees and the group stages of the UEFA Europa League.
A European adventure is what everyone wants, but it’s going to be tough.
Koeman reports Sandro Ramirez has picked up a knock and is doubtful for the tie, but besides that it’s the same squad that saw off Stoke last weekend.
The battle with the Potters would’ve told Ronald much more about where his troops are at. Hopefully the lessons learnt are taken into this crucial European showdown.
Three at the back with the current crop of centre halves is not the best.
Dominic Calvert Lewin is most effective deployed as a central striker.
It’s clear too that Wayne Rooney needs to be behind the centre forward to show what he is truly capable of.
— Wayne Rooney (@WayneRooney) August 12, 2017
Got to be Rooney, got the all important goal and was immense in that second half, controlled the game when he was put behind the striker
— Tom Ferguson (@TomFerguson) August 12, 2017
Serious thought may be given by Koeman whether to rest players for showdown with Manchester City on Monday.
Or maybe they will go full strength aiming to get a sizeable advantage going into the second leg?
Who knows? We will find out around 7.05pm on Thursday.
Come on, you Blues.