Former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has criticised Everton's summer transfer dealings and does not think the Reds' city rivals have adequately replaced Romelu Lukaku, who left early in the summer.
Ronald Koeman's side spent almost £150m in the summer on a host of new recruits but failed to bring in a direct replacement for Lukaku and also missed out on a left-sided central defender that the Dutchman seemed intent on bringing in.
Gylfi Sigurdsson, Wayne Rooney and Davy Klaassen all arrived, and while all three pitched up to Everton with certain degrees of pedigree, Gerrard, now coach of Liverpool's Under-18s, does not think the trio are capable of covering Lukaku's goals and believes the absence of the Belgium international is why the Toffees have "stuttered" during the embryonic stages of the campaign.
Klaassen, Rooney and Sigurdsson all started Everton's 2-1 win over Bournemouth on Saturday (23 September) but both the Dutchman and Englishman were withdrawn early in the second half by Koeman, whose decision to play three central playmakers backfired once again. The Blues managed to salvage a victory thanks in no small part to Oumar Niasse, but Gerrard was less than impressed.
"They bought three number 10s," Gerrard said on BT Sport. "Now they're all good players, Rooney Sigurdsson, Klaassen, they've still got hold of Barkley, but they haven't replaced Lukaku's goals and that's why they are stuttering at the moment."
Glenn Hoddle echoed Gerrard's sentiments regarding Everton's summer recruitment drive, and believes the Toffees hierarchy can have no excuse for failing to replace Lukaku, who has scored six goals in six Premier League games for Manchester United, including the winner against Southampton at St Mary's Stadium on Saturday.
"You could excuse them a little bit if Lukaku went in the last week of the transfer window," Hoddle said. "But they knew he was going to go and they knew there was going to be good money coming in and they didn't do their business early doors knowing that was going to always happen. if it was last couple days, you're on the back foot, but I'm surprised."