Ronald Koeman admitted he would have made ten substitutions at half-time after his Everton side failed to secure the win at West Ham United that would have moved them up to fifth in the Premier League table.
With sixth-placed Arsenal on FA Cup duty and Manchester United, who lie fifth, not due to face Burnley until 24 hours after Everton’s visit to the London Stadium, Koeman’s side had the opportunity to maintain the progress they have shown this season.
But a drab scoreless draw meant they were able to only move above Arsenal, who have played three games fewer than the Goodison Park club.
Koeman had attempted to inject life into his side’s display by introducing Gareth Barry and Ademola Lookman for Idrissa Gueye and Tom Davies at half-time and the manager admitted he would have preferred to make a complete overhaul.
“The half-time substitutions were tactical, I made a signal to the team to change," said Koeman
“I feel sorry for Tom, I feel sorry for Gana, because if it was allowed to change 10 I’d have changed 10 players after the first half.
“I’m disappointed about the performance, we were not the team that we can be, far away from the level in every aspect of football. One positive thing: a clean sheet. And we go home.
He added: “Maybe you try to find some reasons why the team wasn’t at the level we expect but it’s difficult.
“I’m not worried because it’s possible, it’s football, they are human beings."
Everton striker Romelu Lukaku had scored in his nine previous meetings with West Ham but never looked like extending that run.
And Hammers manager Slaven Bilic was pleased with the way his side contained the threat of the 24-goal Premier League leading scorer.
He said: “It wasn’t just about stopping Lukaku, but he has scored 24 goals and is a major threat of course. We stopped the service to him. And when he got the ball, we tried to double him up. The whole team but in particular the three centre-backs did an amazing job on him.”
Bilic took the decision to drop keeper Darren Randolph in favour of Adrian following last weekend’s 2-2 draw at Sunderland.
“I spoke to both of them individually. We have two really, really good keepers and when Darren deserved his chance, he got it. And now it was Adrian’s chance to step in," explained Bilic.
“It’s not easy to come back after a long absence, especially against a team as strong offensively as Everton.”