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Sunday’s home defeat to a spirited Burnley was a disaster for Ronald Koeman and Everton, it was understood and accepted that the team had been handed a tough start to the season with away trips to Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea coming before October, however in matches the team should have won, they have been way short of the mark.
Everton were embarrassed by a technically superior Atalanta and hammered by Tottenham Hotspur at Goodison Park all before Koeman’s charges slipped to a 2-2 draw with lowly Apollon Limassol at home.
Results have been slowly sliding in the wrong direction and there are signs that the Dutchman’s control at the club is beginning to wane.
Shows of support don’t matter
Farhad Moshiri has publicly backed his coach, reaffirming his belief that the former Barcelona defender is the right man for the job, although such a show of support rarely works out well for a coach in the Premier League.
Everton were supposed to have won the transfer window, the £75 million sale of Romelu Lukaku allowed the club to strengthen in several positions, on paper the squad was greatly bolstered but actually replacing the Belgian was the most important task and it didn’t get done.
This is through no fault of Koeman’s own making, he desperately wanted another striker signed and the club worked incredibly hard to try and sign Diego Costa, this was always going to be impossible but even renewed efforts late on to secure him on loan until January fell through.
In the difficult away matches Everton have lacked any presence in attack that can hold the ball up and take pressure off their defence. It is little surprise that Everton’s best away results in recent years have come with Lukaku playing a selfless role as the focal point for the team.
With this no longer present, the team has had no answer to superior teams, they have folded and this has created a negative atmosphere that is now plaguing Everton in matches they really should be winning.
Burnley have improved this season, it would be disingenuous not to acknowledge that, however they are still an ordinary team who survived last season with a dreadful away record.
The Toffees never looked like getting anything from the game, especially once Jeff Hendrick gave the visitors the lead. Everton passed the ball around comfortably enough but there was no cutting edge, it was as close to a Manchester United performance under Louis van Gaal that anybody would want to get.
Koeman’s substitutions didn’t work, despite the fact a week earlier his introduction of Oumar Niasse saved the match against Bournemouth. Whilst his exterior will never show it, the former Southampton coach seems to be panicking.
Unsure of who to start and bench
He doesn’t know his best team, Wayne Rooney has been impressive in flashes but doesn’t contribute enough in overall play, Sandro Rodriguez is a hard worker but doesn’t look anywhere near ready for Premier League football in a physical sense and there also seems to be a lack of confidence amongst the defensive line.
On the pitch the Toffees are a mess. One of the main reasons for hiring Koeman was his ability to play attractive football in a way that also got results. He was the obvious step up from Roberto Martinez in that regard, unfortunately at present he is slipping into the same mire as the Spaniard.
With Everton just two points above the relegation zone, Koeman’s interactions with the media have also become a little bizarre.
He has started discussing his own future, in addition the Dutchman has implied his players are ‘scared’ to play a more direct style, yet surely this directive must come from him?
Koeman is panicking and losing control
Koeman cuts the figure of a coach who has lost control and is trying to distance himself from the issues before the axe is inevitably swung in his direction.
This may be incredibly unfair, especially without knowing what goes on behind closed doors at Finch Farm, but it is abundantly clear that all is not well at Everton. Performances rarely lie.
Following the owner’s insistence that he will be given time to turn the club’s fortunes around, it is worth looking at Everton’s upcoming fixtures, they don’t make for too pleasant reading.
After the international break Everton travel to face newly promoted Brighton and Hove Albion, a game they should win on paper but it will be a test. There are then back-to-back meetings with Olympique Lyon and Arsenal, both at Goodison Park.
A forlorn figure, who seems to be biding his time
Ronald Koeman has to get a lot of points out of these three matches otherwise the club will be heading into the winter period in the relegation zone and out of the Europa League.
Obviously, there is time to turn things around for the Dutchman, it does however remain to be seen if he can, at present he cuts a forlorn figure and usually there is little way back from that.
Written by Chris Winterburn
Follow Chris on Twitter @cmwinterburn
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