Ronald Koeman is sure Everton will not to turn on Romelu Lukaku following the Belgian striker’s decision not to sign a new deal at the club.
Koeman knows a section of the Merseyside club’s support will not take too kindly to Lukaku’s stance, but his manager hopes there is no dissent directed at the 23-year-old when he faces Hull at Goodison Park on Saturday.
In fact, although Koeman criticised the player for the interview he gave after informing the club of his position, many Everton fans broadly sympathised with the striker’s comments and - like their club – think Lukaku can still be convinced to change his mind.
For years Everton supporters have been craving more ambition, and there were even echoes of the comments new majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri made at a recent AGM.
Nevertheless, it has been a difficult week for the club and Koeman called for some perspective, pointing out Lukaku’s commitment has never been in doubt when selected.
Asked if he was worried Evertonians will jeer Lukaku, Koeman said: “I don't think so because we need the support - every player who is starting needs the support.
“If the player shows his commitment in his football, then everybody can make mistakes. Then you realise it's no problem.
“But I think everybody needs to understand ambitions, and his situation I tried to explain - he's a professional player and his commitment maybe looks different because of two or three quotes in the press but he is young and we can see these things.”
Koeman says patience is needed as he continues to develop his squad. Everton are on course to qualify for the Europa League, but Liverpool are hardly out of sight in fourth place. A win today and victory in their next fixture – the Merseyside derby – could conceivably revive Champions League aspirations.
“If I look to this season so far, I think we can make the next step next season,” said Koeman.
“If we can move on and get in what we want to make the team really strong, I think we can battle with them (the top four), yes.
“See the difference between this season and last season. That's the first step. We have the same points now than last season. Can we show more ambition, stronger team, more points? Everybody knows you can’t do this in one year.
“It takes time. How long did it take for Tottenham to be where they are now? Three or four years. You can't do it one year.”