In the immediate aftermath of Roberto Martinez’s sacking, Ronald Koeman was immediately installed as the favourite to replace the Catalan following simultaneous reports in almost all of the national newspapers that he was the man that new investor Moshiri had pin-pointed as the man to lead Everton forward.
The British-Iranian billionaire had taken the lead in dismissing Martinez after a run of awful results had capped two disappointing seasons and Moshiri was similarly decisive in first earmarking the Dutchman as his preferred successor and then making sure he secured him despite an initial reluctance to leave Southampton.
It took some tough negotiating with the south coast club who were hugely reluctant to lose him but a reported deal worth £5m to bring Koeman, his brother Erwin and fitness coach Jan Kluitenberg to Goodison Park was eventually hammered out in early June 2016. He was finally announced as Everton's seventh managerial appointment of the Premier League era during the first week of Euro2016 in France.
A versatile defender as a player who came to embody a powerful combination of sweeper, deep-lying playmaker and goalscorer, the Zaandam-born coach is the son and brother of fellow Netherlands internationals Martin and Erwin Koeman respectively. he made his name in his native Holland, particularly after moving from Groningen to Ajax in the mid-1980s where he won the Eredivisie title in 1985 before moving on, somewhat controversially, to rivals PSV Eindhoven the following year. That brought him three successive championships between 1987 and 1989 and a European Cup.
It was the recognition he earned there and on the international stage for the Netherlands — he was an important member of the Dutch side that won the European Championships in 1988 — that earned him a career-defining transfer to Barcelona and a reunion with Johan Cruyff. Barça’s “Dream Team” of the early 1990s would win the Spanish title four years in succession between 1991 and 1994 and the European Cup in 1992 when Koeman famously scored the only goal in extra time.
A shining example on the field, it was no surprise that Koeman moved into management not long after hanging up his playing boots and undertaking assistant manager roles under Guus Hiddink for the Dutch national team and at Barcelona under Louis van Gaal. He took his first post at Vitesse Arnhem in 1999 and led them to Uefa Cup qualification under difficult conditions before moving on to his old club Ajax in 2001.
There, he steered de Godenzonen to the Dutch title twice in three seasons and helped bring through some of that club’s — and indeed Holland’s — most recognisable players from the past decade, including Rafael van der Vaart, Wesley Sneijder, Nigel de Jong, and ex-Blue Johnny Heitinga but he resigned in 2005 with Ajax well behind PSV in the race for the title and out of the Uefa Cup.
He spent just one season at Portuguese giants Benfica, leaving after managing them to a third-place finish to take up an offer to manage his former club, PSV. He won the Eredivisie title in his only season in Eindhoven but it was a championship his team almost spurned after a collapse in form in the second half of the season and, facing criticism from the club’s owner, he moved on to succeed Quique Sanchez Flores at Valencia in the summer of 2007.
His experience in Spain was a chastening one with the team falling from near the top of the league to 15th and Ronald was sacked just days after winning the Copa del Rey following an awful run of league form. A win percentage of just 18% in La Liga and a poor showing in the Champions League were enough to have him dismissed with the locals declaring him a disaster.
Koeman wouldn’t work for another year until he took the reins from Van Gaal at AZ Alkmaar in 2008 when the elder manager was appointed as Bayern Munich’s head coach. He was gone from AZ Stadion by December that year, however, and would spend another 18 months out of the game before completing the same hat-trick of the three big Dutch clubs as he had as a player when he was hired by Feyenoord as replacement for Mario Been.
Initially hired on a one-year contract, he ended up staying for three seasons, turning Feyenoord’s fortunes around in impressive fashion by shoring up their defence, getting them back to playing attractive football and leading them back to the Champions League in his first season. He wasn’t able to bring the title back to the club, losing out each time to Frank de Boer’s Ajax, but he announced his intention to leave in 2014 to pursue his next challenge.
That was when he answered Southampton’s call following the departure of Mauricio Pochettino who had been lured away by Tottenham Hotspur and the bright lights of the Capital that summer. However, he would find himself in charge of a squad gutted of some of it’s best players — most of their stars left for big fees for Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal — and widely tipped for a relegation battle in 2014-15.
Defying those pessimistic predictions for the Saints that season, Koeman’s impact was as impressive as it was rapid. Quickly helping to bring in talented or hard-working players like Graziano Pellè, Dušan Tadić, Shane Long and Ryan Bertrand to plug the gaps and implementing a fresh 4-3-3 line-up involving two wide players and Pellè as the target man, he had Southampton up among the early pace-setters in the Premier League within weeks of his appointment.
It was a pace they were ultimately unable to sustain but Koeman still steered them to seventh place and Europa League qualification in his first season and, despite seeing midfield linchpin Morgan Schneiderlin and fullback Nathaniel Cyne sold last summer, we one better by finishing sixth, just three points off the top four.
|Date of birth||21 March 1963|
|Played for||Groningen, Ajax, PSV, Barcelona, Feyenoord|
|Previously managed||Vitesse, Ajax, PSV, Benfica, Valencia, AZ, Feyenoord, Southampton|
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