Sticky Toffees Need a Clear Direction
Brought to you by our Guest Sports Writer – Jason Coulter
In hindsight, many Everton fans have begun to see Ronald Koeman’s original appointment as deeply flawed. He moved from a fledgling Southampton side which had finished in the top 8 four seasons in a row to a side who had become mentally fragile under the guidance of Roberto Martinez.
A question of loyalty
Koeman’s decision to move from one upper-mid-table side to another was undoubtedly motivated by the recent takeover by billionaire Farhad Moshiri. A decision which should set off alarm bells at any club who longs for stability. Loyalty is clearly not an important attribute to the Dutch gaffer after he spent just two years at the Saints.
There were growing concerns among Evertonians that Koeman was simply using Goodison Park as a stepping stone to a bigger job. Fans criticised him for appearing aloof and even complacent when it came to representing the club’s community ethos. Perhaps this was to be expected. After a decade of overachievement under David Moyes, and three years of enthusiasm with Martinez, very few could come in and build an instant rapport with the expectant Everton fans. For all his tactical faults, no one could accuse Martinez of not caring enough. No surprise then, that it did not take long for Koeman to feel under pressure, and there were few tears shed when he got the boot.
Summer of excesses
Much had been made of the club’s free-spending attitude during the summer. With money to burn, owner Moshiri was keen to show the footballing elite that he could flash the cash like the best of them. And so, millions were spent trying to improve an already well-established side. There has been little to show for it.
It was clear from Koeman’s early team selections that the club’s enduring legacy of nurturing young talent was being thrown out the window. Tom Davies, Ademola Lookman, Mason Holgate and Dominic Calvert-Lewin were to be sidelined for players brought in to suit Koeman’s needs. It was only when things started to go wrong did the promising youngsters see time on the pitch.
Caretaker boss David Unsworth is adamant he is the man to take Everton out of its current slump, but in reality it will take a lot of time to change the club’s fortunes. There is a plethora of attacking midfielders and wingers (nine in total) – a stark contrast to the slim pickings in attack.
Failing to replace Romelu Lukaku is an unforgivable oversight by the staff, while the nonsensical hoarding of ‘number 10s’ such as Gylfi Sigurdsson and Davy Klaassen, despite the talents of Kevin Mirallas, Aaron Lennon and the recovering Yannick Bolasie – not to mention the youth prospects – show the clear lack of direction in the transfer policy.
It is unlikely Unsworth will be given the job. Despite success with the Under-21 and Under-23 sides, he has no senior experience. And with Moshiri bankrolling the club now, simply being ‘Everton through and through’ will not be enough. There is plenty of talented players at the club and the new manager will have plenty of different styles of play to choose from. But what Everton need most is a manager who has a clear vision of what he wants to do. A top-half finish should still be the minimum requirement this season.
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