“They were striker’s goals - two good headers and a nice left-footer.”
Romelu Lukaku’s quick-fire treble against Sunderland last week was met with the seal of approval by man who developed a penchant for netting hat-tricks of his own during his Everton career.
Bob Latchford scored three or more times in a match on five occasions during his legendary stay with the Toffees in the late seventies and early eighties.
One of Latchford’s trebles was recently put into the spotlight by Lukaku’s match-winning contribution at the Stadium of Light.
Lukaku fell just one minute short of equalling the Everton Giant’s Club record for the quickest post-war hat-trick, when he hit the net in the 49th, 58th and 59th minute against Crystal Palace in September 1980.
It isn’t just the Belgian’s finishing prowess that grabbed the attention of Latchford, who has noted marked improvements in the 23-year-old’s all-round game since he first joined Everton three years ago.
“The last couple of seasons, Romelu has improved as a player and under Koeman he will develop again and become even better,” he told evertonfc.com
“He’s improved with his back to goal, in terms of his link-up play, holding the ball up and bringing other players into the game. His awareness of where and when to run has got better.
“He’s a big, strong boy and is dangerous in and around the box. If you get a decent ball into him - like his two headers against Sunderland - defenders can’t get near him. He’s a natural goalscorer who knows how to finish.
“I also think he is very dangerous when he is running behind the defence, with or without the ball. That’s where I actually think he is most dangerous, when he gets in on goal.”
Latchford boasted a prolific goalscoring ratio as an Everton player, averaging almost one every two appearances. His 289 games brought about 138 goals.
Since joining Everton, initially on loan in 2013, Lukaku has plundered returns of 16, 20 and, most recently, 25 goals each season in all competitions.
Latchford believes that if Lukaku is to beat his personal tally this term, the former Chelsea and Anderlecht man will be reliant on the service received from the teammates on the wing, just as he was.
“We had the likes of Ronny Goodlass, Davie Thomas and others,” Latchford added. “I knew what they could do - I knew their abilities and they got to know mine.
“As a striker, you do rely on other players to provide you with the service. Having the right quality of players around, you build up an understanding.
“Obviously Romelu knows the lad from Crystal Palace [Yannick Bolasie], so that will only add to the quality of the team in an attacking point of view.
“They will develop an understanding of when to time a run, when to deliver a cross into a certain area. That understanding in the last third is very important.”
Everton’s 3-1 victory against Middlesbrough last weekend matched another feat relating to Latchford.
The comeback win over Boro equalled the best start to a league season since 1978/79, when Latchford was leading the forward line, as Gordon Lee’s team claimed four wins and a draw from the first five league games.
That season, Everton managed to continue the momentum through to December, eventually suffering a first league defeat of the campaign 19 games in against Coventry City.
“It’s very early in the season but this Everton team is playing well and that breeds confidence,” Latchford, now based in Germany, said. “The players will believe in themselves and what they are doing.
“You like to think that the team will be able to keep this run going for as long as possible. The more games you win, every week you get that bit stronger mentally. It’s like a snowball effect.
“It’s always good getting off to a good start but then it’s about maintaining it.”