Coleman: Jelavic takes pressure off

  • Last Updated: September 30 2012, 13:22 BST

Everton defender Seamus Coleman admits Nikica Jelavic's form in front of goal is making life easier for his team-mates.

Nikica Jelavic: Two goals against Southampton

The Croatia international scored twice in the 3-1 win at home to Southampton to take his tally to 10 in his last 11 league matches stretching back to last season.

His arrival from Rangers in a cut-price deal in January has coincided with the Toffees' upturn in fortunes which has seen them bettered only by champions Manchester City and runners-up Manchester United in terms of points accrued in 2012 (48 in 27 matches).

Jelavic could have had a hat-trick had goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga not brilliantly clawed out his first-half header after Leon Osman had cancelled out Gaston Ramirez's early opener.

Coleman, whose far-post cross set up Jelavic's second, was full of praise for the effect the striker has had on the team.

"I was delighted to have an assist - it is a while since I've been playing right-back and I am really enjoying it," said the Irishman.

"I just put the ball in the area and thank God Niki got the goal. He has been massive since he joined in January.

"He scored a lot of goals in Scotland and people may have wondered whether he could do it here but he's come down and made it just as easy.

"He is a fantastic striker and if you give him half a chance he'll score a goal.

"It is great he has been scoring regularly.

"As players it's great that if you put the ball in the area there is a chance you'll end up with a goal from Niki - it gives the whole team confidence." With Everton second in the table, three points behind leaders Chelsea, Coleman admits the problem the players now have is coping with expectations.

"It has been a good start and that is what we aimed for at the start of the season," he said.

"If we can go into the international break with another win (at Wigan next week) that is what we are aiming for now - we are not setting any long-term targets.

"We just want to win games and see by January where we are.

"The manager and a lot of experienced players have been telling us we've had a great start but we have to take it one game at a time."

Manager David Moyes admits maintaining their run while keeping players grounded will be difficult but feels beating Southampton is, in its own way, a significant stepping stone.

"The expectations are rising here and you could see the way the crowd react to the way we are playing," said the Scot.

"Some of the football in the first half was scintillating and we deserved more goals.

"But we are still learning and are still a side who, in most people's eyes, finish seventh or eighth in the league - we are trying to improve on that if we can.

"In the last two or three years we've tended to lose games like that: like QPR at home last year or Wolves, Bolton or Burnley - round about this time of year we've had a slip-up.

"I was conscious of that and made the players aware of it because I didn't want to be looking back in January thinking 'If only we'd won that game'.

"But they went and won the game and did everything I asked of them."

Southampton manager Nigel Adkins, whose side have won one and lost five of their first six matches, insists he has not set his team any points targets for any stage of the season.

"You just know every game is going to be competitive and you have to do everything you can in your preparation for games," he said.

"Our preparation was good again - demonstrated by the first 25 minutes and in the second half.

"It is about trying to find a way to win, especially away from home.

"We believe we are very good at home, we play good football there and we win a lot of games at home - it is just about going away and winning games."


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