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Don't leave us in fixture jam for Euro adventure.

Byline: PHIL KIRKBRIDE Everton FC in Split philip.kirkbride@trinitymirror.com @PHILKECHO

RONALD Koeman hopes Everton avoid the same raw deal Manchester United experienced over the scheduling of fixtures last season if they qualify for the Europa League group stages.

The Blues hold a 2-0 lead over Hajduk Split ahead of tonight's playoff round second leg in Croatia. Everton's squad land back on Merseyside in the early hours of Friday and immediately turn their attention to Sunday's 1.30pm kick-off against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge - the team's third game in six days.

Last season United boss Jose Mourinho accused the Football Association and Premier League of not giving a "s**t" about clubs playing in Europe as he reacted angrily to a particularly tough run of games in March.

Manchester United went on to win the Europa League last season.

But Koeman says he agreed fully with Mourinho's frustration and wants the authorities to be more sympathetic to Everton - should they book their place in the next stage of the competition - despite the "commercial" pressure from the Premier League's huge television deals.

"Maybe they don't care enough for European football, I totally agree with Jose about what happened to Man United last season," Koeman said at his pre-match press conference.

"The same happened this week.

"We know the TV money decides a lot. It is even more difficult to play Thursday and we played Monday night. The commercial side of football makes it even more difficult." Koeman went on to say: "It's difficult to give competition to the strongest teams in the Premier League with or without European football.

"European football makes it even tougher. But it's what we like. Everton's history means it is important to be part of Europe. We know it's even more difficult but we have enough players.

"We have some injuries, which makes it tough, but we will fight and do our maximum to get into Europe.

"It's the ambition of the club and the manager and the players to be part of European football.

"I have watched European football for the last three years - Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday - but I like to be involved.

"Sunday at 1.30pm, we hear the next whistle from the referee against Chelsea. We will prepare and give our maximum to get the best result."

Koeman has promised that Everton will not attempt to sit back and protect their advantage at Stadion Poljud.

"Should we go on the pitch with a defensive attitude to keep the result defending? No," he said.

"Our way to play is to control the game, to score goals.

"We have a good advantage but still there is 90 minutes to go.

"It will be difficult. "It's a tough week after City on Monday, then travelling today.

"But we need to be strong to get into the group stage."

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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Aug 24, 2017
Words:474
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