Connect in the back of the net

After starting the weekend in an already precarious sixteenth place in the Premier League, Everton now find themselves in the relegation zone after suffering a five-two loss at the hands of Arsenal.

Questions over the job Ronald Koeman had been doing had been ongoing for a while after a series of poor results but this most recent loss turned out to be the final straw. Now, after just nine games in the new Premier League season, Everton find themselves managerless and Koeman finds himself out of the job but did the Everton board make the right decision?

Last season, Ronald Koeman led Everton to a very respectable seventh place during his first season in charge and even at times threatened to put those already in the top four under pressure. This meant that they qualified for the third round of the Europa League qualifiers.

During phases of the second half of the campaign this promise started to fade resulting in Everton only finishing in seventh which at the start of the season I’m sure many Toffees fans would have been happy with.

 

The significance of losing Lukaku

One of the significant factors for Everton’s success was the fine form of Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku who finished second top scorer in the league behind Harry Kane after netting 25 Premier League goals.

Lukaku’s performances were even enough to earn him a spot in the PFA Team of the Year in addition to the Player of the Month award that he had won in March. Since then though, Lukaku has left Merseyside to play for Premier League giants Manchester United with Everton receiving approximately £90m in return.

This move left Koeman with a significant void to fill and equally significant funds with which to do so. Over the course of the summer transfer window Everton invested just short of £150m on new players in an attempt to improve the squad including the return of Premier League icon Wayne Rooney after thirteen years away from the club.

Other talented players such as Davy Klaassen, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Sandro Ramirez also joined the club over the summer. It’s difficult to tell in the modern world of football how much authority over such transfers Koeman had but it is likely that at least most of these new signings were players that he had had his eye on prior to their arrival.

 

Failure to gel the new signings

Regardless of this it was Koeman’s job to gel together the likes of new and old players in his squad in a bid to replace the gap left by Lukaku and this is inevitably where Koeman seems to have fallen short.

After nine Premier League matches Everton sit eighteenth having won just two of those fixtures. As Koeman pointed out in his post-match interview on Sunday, five of the sides they have played made up the top six last season.

It is certainly fair to say that the Toffees have been up against it from the start but this does still not justify the performances that they players have been turning out of late. In Koeman’s final fixture against the Gunners at the weekend too many of his players failed to turn up with the likes of Sigurdsson looking totally off the pace against a dominant Arsenal side.

The red card of Idrissa Gueye midway through the second half only served to represent the recent calamities at Goodison Park. In many ways the departure of Koeman seemed inevitable even at this early stage of the season despite Koeman claiming to have the backing of the board just a week earlier.

 

His undoing

In an interview earlier today, ex England and Everton defender Michael Ball claimed that Koeman did not know how to get the best out of his players when things were going poorly. Ball said that, “when results go bad he doesn’t seem to know how to improve and lift players.”

This has inevitably proved his undoing of late as his inability to turn things around at Everton this season have been his downfall despite what was a promising first campaign. Everton’s new signings, players that Koeman was responsible for getting the best out of have failed to replace the goals of Lukaku.

The club’s failure to sign key striker target, Olivier Giroud, has put a great deal of pressure on the likes of Sandro and Dominic Calvert-Lewin to replicate the deadly Belgian’s heroics which under Koeman they have been simply unable to do.

It remains to be seen whether sacking Koeman was the right move from the Everton board, especially when one considers his successes last season but at the end of the day football is a results business and so far this season, whether in Europe, or domestically, Koeman’s side have failed to produce the performances that earn you points at this level.

 

Written by James Bairstow

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