Sam Allardyce bemoaned two “avoidable” defensive errors after watching his Everton side begin 2018 with a 2-0 home defeat against Manchester United.
After a hotly-contested and even opening period, the visitors began the second half on the front foot and opened the scoring through Anthony Martial’s 20-yard effort.
The Blues rallied, buoyed by a sell-out Goodison Park crowd, following the setback but Jesse Lingard put the result beyond doubt with a strike from similar range to the opener with nine minutes remaining.
“We need to strengthen our frontline - I think we all know that," said Allardyce. "We’re trying to do the hardest job of all by securing a player in that position. It wasn’t achieved before the season and it may not be achieved this January, but we’re trying.
“Until that happens, we have got to maintain our defensive solidity and I was very disappointed how we conceded the two goals by really giving them the opportunity to score when we didn’t need to. Both goals were down to our errors, really, rather than Manchester United’s great play.
“When they picked up the ball just outside their half after we’ve given it away, they went from one end of the pitch to the edge of our 18-yard box with five or six of our players behind the ball - but not any of those players decided to go and challenge the ball and shut the opposition down. Ultimately, in the end, we end up with five of our players six yards inside our own box where they shouldn’t be and by the time someone decided to shut Martial down, he’s put it in the back of the net. That was very avoidable in the first place, from basic defending.”
James McCarthy was brought on shortly after Martial broke the deadlock - and Allardyce praised the Republic of Ireland international for his display, describing him as “the shining light” on an otherwise disappointing evening.
“We recovered from going a goal down,” said Allardyce. “James McCarthy, for me, was the shining light of the recovery, because he actually went and tackled somebody and showed the rest of our team how we had to go about our job.
“We’d worked our way back into the game. We looked a threat again which we hadn’t for that 20-minute period in the second half and the game was in the balance with 10 minutes to go.
“We have a throw-in, in our half, and we throw it straight to Manchester United and they go and score. Maybe it’s fatigue with all the games we’ve played, maybe it’s a lack of concentration - but certainly it will not go without me dealing with those sort of situations when I get the opportunity to do so.
“Overall, I don’t think the performance was too bad apart that 20-minute or so spell in the second half. We’ve got to keep trying to improve and grow from here.”
When asked about the Club’s search for a striker, Allardyce added: “Obviously, we need a bigger goalscoring threat than we’ve got at the moment and that may help us in many ways to achieve more results and certainly will if whoever we get scores goals.”