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Where did it go wrong for Ronald Koeman at Everton?

Jake Jackman

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Koeman

Everton announced on Monday that Ronald Koeman had left the club after a run of poor results. The Dutchman had a good first season in charge and led the Toffees to a 7th place finish, which earned them a Europa League spot. However, a bad summer of recruitment and a start to the season that leaves them in 18th position after nine games has caused his early sacking.

The last week has been a bad one for the club and the final straw came yesterday as the team were convincingly beaten by an out-of-sorts Arsenal team. The Gunners had lost in their previous Premier League match, but they came to Goodison Park and ran out 5-2 winners. It wasn’t even close and the home side were fortunate to go in level at half-time. Koeman did nothing to change the match and the dominance of the away side showed after the break, with the red card to Idrissa Gueye compounding issues for the hosts.

At this stage of the season, Everton have won only two of their nine Premier League matches and have the second-worst goal difference in the division. They have scored seven and conceded 18, which is a terrible record for a team that was tipped for a top-four push this season. In addition to their struggles domestically, the Toffees find themselves rooted to the bottom of their Europa League table and their chances of progression look slim.

Where did it go wrong for Koeman?

There are a number of factors that have gone wrong for Everton and Koeman takes a large share of the blame for the team’s failure. The summer recruitment was very poor as they spent over £140 million according to transfermarkt.co.uk. Although they brought in £96.6 million in sales, their spending was significant and put pressure on the manager to deliver success.

They may have spent a lot of money, but they didn’t recruit wisely. Michael Keane, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Jordan Pickford were all signed from teams that were fighting relegation last season. They were all impressive in their own right, but if you sign a lot of players from the bottom-half of the league, you will become one and that has happened at Everton.

Another issue was the profile of player that was signed as three of their highest-profile additions play in the same position. Davy Klaassen, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Wayne Rooney are all good players, but it is a huge ask to fit them into the same team. Koeman has learned that the hard way by losing his job. Their choice to focus on creative midfield players rather than strengthen at full-back and source a replacement for Romelu Lukaku was a huge mistake.

Last season, they finished 7th and were the best of the rest. They were in a great position to push on even after the sale of Lukaku, but they failed to improve the squad despite spending £140 million. Although it is unknown how big an influence Koeman had on the recruitment, he has to take some responsibility for the poor spending.

The recruitment isn’t the only reason for the sacking of Koeman. There is still a lot of talent in the squad and they should be doing a lot better than they are. One criticism of the current Everton team is a lack of pace and energy, which makes them too predictable in attack. There is some truth to that and the Dutchman has failed to correct that even though there are some good options in the squad.

Kevin Mirallas has played on 28 minutes in the Premier League, while Ademola Lookman has only featured in one cameo appearance. These two players would offer pace and dynamism to the front-line. There may be doubts about their ability, but Everton would be less predictable with them in the side. Another option to add creativity and drive in the centre of the park would be Tom Davies.

The midfielder has started in only three of the Premier League matches as Koeman favoured a defensive shield of Idrissa Gueye and Morgan Schneiderlin. They are both very good players, but as a pairing, they are too defensive-minded and given the weaknesses of the Everton attack, it was a mistake to continue playing both.

Koeman’s mentality and the way he carried himself in the job didn’t help earn him more time at Goodison Park. There was always a feeling that he thought he was too big for the job as the following comments to Sport suggest:

“Look, in my life as a professional coach I have two dreams to fulfil. One, coach the selection of my country, Holland. I have been able to do so, but my obligation to Everton has prevented me.

“My other wish, my other dream, is to train one day at Barcelona. That’s the truth.”

These comments don’t sound like a manager that is committed and invested in his current position. During the summer, the rumours regarding Barcelona refused to go away, but the suggestions in Spain were that they were fuelled by the Dutchman’s camp rather than the Nou Camp. It is difficult to succeed in a job that you aren’t passionate about and Koeman’s self-belief that he was destined for greater things was another reason for his underperformance this season.

What is next for Everton?

At the time of writing, Sean Dyche leads the betting odds to be the next manager at Goodison Park. David Unsworth, David Moyes and Sam Allardyce feature in the top five alongside Carlo Ancelotti. Graeme Bailey reports that Everton are keen on landing a British boss to replace Koeman and the betting odds reflect that.

There is a huge appeal to going for Dyche as he continues to develop as a manager and has achieved wonders at Burnley with one of the smaller budgets in the Premier League. The lack of pace in the Everton squad wouldn’t be a huge issue for him as his Clarets squad doesn’t have a lot of it. He is very good at organising teams and getting the best from what he has at his disposal. As the Toffees are currently underachieving, he would be a good solution.

However, it remains to be seen whether he would be open to leaving Turf Moor right now. It would be a risk to move to Everton and that is true for any manager currently in a job. For this reason, Unsworth or Moyes on a short-term contract could be the best solution for the club. The current squad has enough talent to improve under new direction and it would give the board time to carry out an extensive search for a new manager.

The next few days will provide a lot of new information regarding what is next for Everton and it is a huge test of the board at Goodison Park. They must get this appointment right if they want to become real competition for the top six.

Jake is a journalist based in the South East. He is a Newcastle United fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann.

Chelsea

Willian could hold key to Tottenham landing Anthony Martial

If Manchester United land the Brazilian it would undoubtedly improve Tottenham’s chances.

Jamie Watts

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Manchester United are reportedly preparing a £60 million bid to bring Chelsea winger Willian to Old Trafford this summer, according to reports from the Daily Mail, with manager Jose Mourinho having been linked with an approach for his former star for some time.

Chelsea were unwilling to sell at that time, but it is possible that Willian could be interested in a new challenge after apparently growing frustrated with life at Stamford Bridge, according to recent reports from Sky Sports. He managed a combined 25 goals and assists in 55 appearances in 2017/18, but only 20 of his 37 Premier League outings actually came as a starter.

Photo: Getty Images

Tottenham meanwhile, have become frustrated at United’s assertion that Anthony Martial will not be sold this summer (Sky Sports), after Mauricio Pochettino made the Frenchman his priority target last month (the Sun), as he looks to bolster the supply line to Harry Kane next term.

However, Martial’s revelation that he wants to leave the club could be vital for Spurs, as Mourinho has previously stated that he would never stop a player from moving if they really want the move and the money is right. And he’s backed up his words, selling two-time Chelsea Player of the Year Juan Mata to his current club in 2014.

Photo: Getty Images

The Red Devils are currently stacked in terms of depth for the left wing, with Marcus Rashford struggling to start games over January signing Alexis Sanchez, but wide-right is somewhat scarce and Willian would undoubtedly improve United’s balance for the better.

Although the manager would prefer the Frenchman went abroad, if he asked for the move to north London, Willian’s transfer to United would undoubtedly improve Pochettino’s chances of securing his key man. United will also be buoyed by their recent business with the west Londoners, having surprisingly secured the signing of Nemanja Matic from Stamford Bridge last summer.

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Everton

Gylfi Sigurdsson shows why Everton splashed £45m on his services

Everton fans will hope they see Sigurdsson in fine form next season.

Mathew Nash

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Iceland pulled off another shock at a major tournament, as they managed to hold out for a draw against Argentina. Alfred Finnbogason scored the equaliser after Sergio Aguero had given the Albiceleste the lead. Lionel Messi then saw a penalty saved as Iceland fully deserved a share of the spoils.

One man who was in sensational form throughout the game was Everton midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson. Only recently returned from a knee injury he was the beacon of quality that Iceland needed. When they needed a player to keep possession he was there and he was a constant thorn in the side of Argentina’s defensive generals.

It was a performance that will remind Everton fans just why they spent £45 million to bring him from Swansea City last summer. It also highlighted that, used correctly. The ‘Iceman’ could be Everton’s talisman.

(Photo by Lynne Cameron/Getty Images)

When Sigurdsson arrived last season he did so at the same time as two identical players. Davy Klaassen and Wayne Rooney also joined Everton last summer leaving them overbooked in that area of the field.

With Everton failing to bring in sufficient wide options, Sigurdsson also found himself playing wide left for much of his time at Goodison Park.

What is clear from the Iceland game is that Sigurdsson is best in the number 10 role, playing off of the front-man and hopefully next season that is where Everton will see him. With Cenk Tosun ahead of him, pace out wide and reliable generals behind him in midfield the Icelander will be free to roam and play his best football.

If Everton do that, then they will see more and more of the real Sigurdsson next season.

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Manchester United

Chicharito shows he’s capable of replacing Marko Arnautovic at West Ham in brilliant Mexico performance

The striker was unrecognisable from last season at West Ham.

Jamie Watts

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West Ham United striker Marko Arnautovic is still heavily linked with a move to Manchester United, although the club have attempted to deter interest by slapping a whopping £60 million price tag on the Austrian, according to the Daily Star.

Although the price is considerable, it’s conceivable United could match the fee, or something close and Manuel Pellegrini may have to begin lining up replacements, in case a switch to Old Trafford materialises. But the Chilean coach may very well have his man already on yesterday’s evidence, ironically, in the form of former United fan favourite, Chicharito.

Photo: Getty Images

Chicharito made a name for himself throughout his career for his impressive ability to improvise a finish in the penalty area, and his movement, which has led to countless poacher goals. However, his performance for Mexico yesterday could indicate a change of responsibilities for the striker in the future. And West Ham will be thrilled.

Against Germany, he did everything but put the ball away. Non-initiated viewers may have been shocked to find out that the striker went into the match one goal off a career tally of 50 for his country, as he plied for the 90 minutes as a forward linch-pin, connecting play in the final third for almost every counter-attack. His general touch, awareness of approaching defenders, vision to see runners and execution of passes were all sensational on the night.

Photo: Getty Images

It could be argued that his national pride conjured this new style. but now there can be no doubting he has the ability to play the Arnautovic-type role, and in emphatic fashion. And if Pellegrini can tap-into this style, he could already have the Austrian’s ready made replacement at the London Stadium.

Last term the 30-year-old struggled to break into the team on a regular basis under David Moyes, making 33 appearances in all competitions, bagging eight goals and an assist, but his contribution next year could be far more valuable.

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