Furious Unsworth questions Everton squad's commitment after Europa League thrashing

The Toffees boss delivered a passionate press conference in the aftermath of his side's 5-1 humbling at home to Atalanta

Furious Unsworth questions Everton squad's commitment after Europa League thrashing
Everton caretaker boss David Unsworth watches on against Atalanta | Photo: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Everton caretaker manager David Unsworth delivered a scathing assessment of his side's performance after their 5-1 thrashing at home to Atalanta on Thursday night, questioning the commitment and desire of his squad.

The Toffees were in the match in the first half but second best all over the pitch in the second, and three late goals saw the evening turn from disappointment to humiliation. 

Bottom of their Europa League group with one point from five games, Everton have a task on their hands to turn their disastrous season around, and Unsworth admitted that the squad was in a 'fragile' state of mind after the game.

Players have made themselves 'easy to drop'

"I asked the players to make it difficult for me to leave them out of the starting team for Sunday," Unsworth began. "The majority have probably made it very easy.

"I thought we started okay, we conceded a really sloppy goal - it's really easy at the moment to play down the side of us, and that's a disappointment.

"We changed a few things around and got ourselves back in the game. We were on the front foot, but we can't concede the way we have done in the last five minutes. It's unacceptable, and really disappointing."

With the match having no competitive meaning for Everton, Unsworth handed first-team opportunities to a number of fringe players but few came away with any credit at all - goalkeeper Joel Robles was one of the best performers on the night despite conceding five.

 

Fringe players didn't take their chance

"Those players who have been moaning, chomping at the bit, asking me for opportunities to play in the first team were given that tonight," Unsworth continued.

"I know it was a strange game, with nothing riding on it for us tonight, but we had paying Evertonians there tonight. I stressed to the players before the game that we had to compete, perform, and win a game of football.

"Okay, we haven't won a game of football but the way that we capitulated at the end of the game just wasn't acceptable. The players know that, but they're very fragile at the moment. You have to be careful with them.

"Thankfully there are some players to come back into the fold who have shown over the last couple of games that they're not fragile, they're willing to be courageous, and shown a work ethic and desire to play for that shirt.

"I've learned a few things about a few players tonight."

Unsworth's press conference was Man of the Match material, but he doesn't look the right man for the job

After such an embarrassing spectacle from Everton on the pitch, it would probably be fair to say that Unsworth's press conference was the most impressive performance of the night from a blue perspective.

The caretaker boss had every right to be furious - he was badly let down by his players in what was one of the best chances he will get to stake a claim for getting the job on a permanent basis.

But, and full credit to him, Unsworth's anger was directed in all the right places and translated into a clear passion for the club. He clearly feels that some in the dressing room don't want to be there, and don't deserve to be there as a result. It was evident to all in the room that the 44-year-old will relish every day he has in the manager's seat, and would deeply love to have the job full-time. 

Yet, for all his eloquence and desire in the face of adversity, this match has put a huge nail in the coffin that those chances look to be occupying. 

Everton were abject. A decent enough first-half performance was swiftly forgotten after a second 45 in which they simply gave up, and at no point was there a clear plan of action in attack or defence.

They are a club in deep, deep trouble, and for all Unsworth's admirable intentions there has been little to support his claim that he is the best man to change that.

The January transfer window is only a few weeks away, and represents probably their best chance to transform their fortunes. Everton need to have a permanent manager by then.