Ronald Koeman has defended Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku following their performances in Everton’s Merseyside derby defeat to Liverpool.
Toffees boss Koeman admitted his team under-performed in the 3-1 loss at Anfield and accepted the pair could have played better.
But the Dutchman felt it was unfair for Barkley and Lukaku to be singled out.
Speaking to reporters ahead of Tuesday’s Premier League trip to Manchester United, Koeman said: “What I don’t like is too much individually about the performances of the players because it is a team, every individual is part of the team and the team was not good enough.
“I said not too much individually but maybe some players didn’t perform at the level what maybe they showed in the last few games. Maybe, yes.
“Romelu, it was difficult. I spoke to Romelu, he was not really sharp, he was a little bit tired.
“(But) he’s the top-scorer of the league. Why now about the Liverpool game (do) we need to criticise Rom? He’s a great striker, he’s working hard. It’s a human boy, it’s not always a 10, that’s football and if you don’t play football, maybe you don’t understand it.”
Moving on to England midfielder Barkley, Koeman added: “Ross played in a little different position than he played in the last few weeks. Of course, he lost several balls in the midfield, instead of playing a little bit faster and no dribbling with the ball.
“He needs to improve in that, but not to take out one or two (players for criticism) and that was the problem last Saturday, that’s not fair.
“It’s easy to give your opinion in front of the television without any responsibility. I’m happy, I see a lot of progress in the club, in the team, it’s a whole season, it’s not one game.”
Seventh-placed Everton can move above their opponents with victory at Old Trafford.
Koeman expects a tough match, despite United’s struggles in front of their home fans this season.
“We know that they have difficulties at home, maybe in the last few home results, but they had a lot of ball possession and were the better team in every game,” he added. “They had chances to score.
“They are still a really strong team.”