We’ve started the season well, managed to get some early points on the board and shown that we can really turn on the style, or grind out a win if necessary. The games have all been different, but the early signs are that Koeman has got his players well-drilled, organised and hungry. With the Everton good invariably comes the Everton bad, and a piss-poor display against Norwich resulted in us crashing out of the EFL Cup last week and made our 4-0 thumping of Yeovil in the previous round count for nothing. This was tough to take, I’ll admit; I felt angry last Wednesday morning at the fact that again this competition had slipped through our fingers. It is a fast way to silverware, a competition that could have ended our drought, but on so many occasions we’ve blown it.
It is safe to say the game on Tuesday was Koeman’s lowest point of his Everton tenure to date. Unfortunately that defeat has then been followed by a 1-0 reverse at Bournemouth, who are a side we simply shouldn’t be beaten by. But we have been, and we have to put that in the past now and the only way we can do that is by beating Palace on Friday night, winning games tends to put things right.
I started this piece in a positive fashion and I intend to focus on the Everton good. I do believe some perspective is required, I’ve seen many Blues losing their rags after the week that has just ensued but personally I am remaining grounded and patient this time around. From what I have witnessed since the season kicked off on August the 13th, the signs are good, the foundations for success are in place and I am confident that we can go on to have a good season and continue to build for the future.
Of course we are far from the finished article, we need more new players and to be rid of the average crust of our squad, but this is very early days in terms of Koeman’s stewardship. It is easy for fans to get overly excited or carried away when Everton win a few games – I found myself guilty of this when Martinez first took charge, but under Koeman I’m not getting ahead of myself. I am excited and upbeat about what I’ve seen, but I am also prepared for the fact that we will lose games and endure some disappointments along the way. This may be an Evertonian trait of mine, but I believe it is a fact of modern-day football and the Premier League.
It’s never easy, nobody gets a smooth ride, and Everton will be no different this season, because we are not the finished article and improvements do take time. It is more about how we respond to those disappointments that is of an interest to me. Koeman obviously hates not winning, and over the course of the season we will see how is players respond to his methods, but if I was to assess the season to date and measure how our players are taking to the Dutchman’s leadership, then I’d have no reason to worry.
His apparent strictness around the training ground and change in methods appears to be having a positive effect at the Club, and some of his in-game management of certain situations have also stood out from the early weeks of his regime. Koeman is a winner, he has shown a ruthless side and will not stand for passengers or under-performers, and this can only benefit Everton as we go forward.
In terms of our recruitment Koeman quickly identified where we needed to strengthen, and measuring his transfer dealings throughout the summer I don’t believe he would just sign players to make up the numbers. Instead he signed players who will make a difference, players who can have the required impact and help get Everton back up the table. Stekelenburg has already made a positive impact, as has Idrissa Gueye, I’m sure over the course of the season we will also see the best of Ashley Williams and Yannick Bolasie too. Although Enner Valencia looks rusty, he may still play a part, we just don’t know.
Ideally we would have added two or more quality names to the squad but it didn’t happen, but we have January to come and next summer when we will build again. Don’t forget Koeman inherited this squad, we are in transition. Do you think the likes of Bryan Oviedo, Tom Cleverley et al would be at the Club if Koeman had been in charge for the past five years? I don’t. He will add his own blend to what we have until he is fully happy, and we’ve got the money to help him do this.
Obviously there are concerns over the form of certain players – Ross Barkley has come under fire and he does need to wake up and realise where he is, the lad lacks confidence and it shows. He needs to forget about everything else and just enjoy his football, because it is painful to watch at times. If Ross does one bad thing in a game then he does twenty bad things, but on the other hand he can bang in a peach of a goal or provide some silky assists too, he just needs to find a level of consistency to do the latter as a regular as possible.
Others like Mirallas and Deulofeu are yet to really get going this season and Bolasie can also frustrate too – he needs to swerve the stud roll tricks and just do the simple things – like when he skinned that West Brom left-back and crossed for Barkley to miss that sitter at the Hawthorns. Sometimes that’s what Evertonians want to see, a winger taking on a player and getting a ball over, leave the tricks and flicks for the right time and place. I have every faith that he can do well for us, and when he and his colleagues get into gear they have the capabilities to tear teams apart.
Think back to that second half against Sunderland, or the way in which we reacted to going a goal down at West Brom, beating Stoke 1-0 at Goodison (felt like years since we had won by this score line at home), we do have the ability to fight back but also turn the volume up a level and go at teams. Again it is all about consistency and showing this as regular as possible. I do have confidence that we can do this under this Manager.
I have mentioned the players above who have come under fire but what about the players who have impressed. Idrissa Gana Gueye is the name on everybody’s lips and you don’t need me to tell you why, his relationship with the ever-impressive Gareth Barry has clicked immediately; however, across the team there are others who cannot go unnoticed.
Stekelenburg has been a revelation in goal: no fuss, no nonsense, just a good solid ‘keeper who can kick the ball over the half-way line. At 34, many of us thought he might be brought in to be a back-up to Robles or an additional body in the goalkeeping department but this isn’t the case. Koeman is obviously a fan and the lad has hardly put a foot wrong since getting his chance. It has also been refreshing to see Coleman and Baines re-emerging and showing signs of their former selves. Those two players have been huge assets to Everton over the years but we haven’t seen the best of them for two, maybe three seasons now, but this season they appear to be turning things around and demonstrating their key attributes again.
The Bournemouth game aside I believe as a whole our defence has looked better. Jagielka is enjoying having Williams alongside him and Stekelenburg backing him up; if we keep this settled defence in place for as long as possible, then this should prove to be a benefactor in keeping ourselves up the table. Up top, Rom has shown positive play and got off the mark with an impressive hat-trick against Sunderland and with better service on Saturday the result may have been different against Bournemouth but it wasn’t to be. The thought of Rom going at Palace on Friday night is a tasty one, especially with Bolasie facing his old club and previous fixtures with Pardew’s side historically lively.
As I said earlier, the Palace game offers us the chance to right the wrongs of the past week and potentially go second in the table if we take all three points. That would be especially nice going into the international break. A Friday night game at Goodison under the lights with the chance to go 2nd in the League, what’s not to be excited about?
Off the field, there are positive noises too: the stadium talk is more than talk this time and the rumours about Bramley Moore appear to be more than rumours too. There has been an air of positivity off the field as well as on it in recent months and because of a disappointing couple of results it is vital that this positivity is not completely lost.
Don’t get me wrong, I get as angry as the next Evertonian when things don’t go our way but, as previously stated, perspective is required. It is so easy to go on a Twitter rant, slate everyone and feel sorry for yourself, but when you wake up the next day and have a think about things as a whole I do believe you feel better. Nobody said being an Evertonian was easy, and you get signed up for life when you support this club, but you wouldn’t have it any other way.
Koeman is a man who wants to win and wants to make a difference, but as familiar as the expression goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day and making Everton right again after a horrific two years will take time. Koeman inherited a side in recovery from such a disappointing period, and the task of turning things round will take a lot more time than six games in the Premier League and not even two months into the season.
The base is there and it is about building on it; from new coaching staff and methods, a new way of recruiting under Steve Walsh, new plans for the future of our training facility and the land being purchased for a new stadium, to new players on the pitch and a change in the mentality of how we operate as a Football Club as a whole. The tide appears to be turning at Everton FC and a few disappointing results along the way won’t make me to forget that, and I certainly hope that you don’t forget this too.
Reader Comments (35)
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1 Posted 27/09/2016 at 11:20:44
Lost away from home. It happens.
Generally the team is in better shape physically but still not on a par with the top six squads, not surprising given the time the manager has been in place.
Chins up. Win the next game and it's all rosy again.
2 Posted 27/09/2016 at 11:33:23
In the first half against Bournemouth, we were not able to compete with the level of intensity that the home team brought. The speed of the pressing game employed did not suit our team and in particular Gareth Barry, not sure if he was playing with a knock. Despite the poor first half, if Lukaku and Ross had better directed two headed chances, we would be here celebrating a victory, even though undeserved. Cherries fans could point to hitting bar and post in first half and wondering how they didn't win 3-0. That's football.
We have to take the ups with the downs, prepare the team to play well, and hope the breaks go with us. We are going to have to get to grips with this 100-mile-an-hour pressing game, which seems to be employed more regularly now.
3 Posted 27/09/2016 at 12:47:12
The Bournemouth game was a throw back to last season. We are short in attack, but there are reasons for optimism, such as our defending and pretty much all of our signings under Koeman.
Within a couple of months, our fitness, organisation and attitude will be what Koeman is looking for. If we can then get a few in and a few out in January, we will be in a better position again.
There is going to be a few bumps, particularly between now and January. I also dread to think what will happen if Lukaku gets injured. But what is needed is indeed perspective. We will be a bit up and down until we get better players in, particularly players who are more mobile. But we should still finish in the top 10, and after the last 2 seasons of bottom half finishes, that would be progress.
If we can have a good run and qualify for Europe, that would be great. Koeman could then see for himself next year how many fans we bring away in Europe. But if we were to finish, say, 8th, it shouldn't be viewed negatively. Koeman is having to rip up a lot of what the previous regime put in place, where players were told that every move was phenomenal. It is going to take time.
4 Posted 27/09/2016 at 14:34:55
The Palace game has now become a pressure game. If they start well then Goodison graveyard kicks in. We need the crowd to be on good form. Stop moaning and start cheering the boy's on to victory...
5 Posted 27/09/2016 at 15:50:34
If the players look interested and are trying, the Goodison crowd will react in a positive manner, like they did in the last league home game against Boro, when every tackle seemed to mean something to the team, particularly when we went a goal behind.
Stop finding fault with the people who actually take the time and trouble to attend Goodison Park and start focussing on the real villians of the piece, namely the half-hearted, self obsessed footballers who seem to believe they are doing everybody a favour by just showing up at Goodison or elsewhere.
6 Posted 27/09/2016 at 20:36:17
The squad just isn't nearly good enough and we've had decades of people trying to be positive with little effect.
7 Posted 27/09/2016 at 21:56:45
8 Posted 27/09/2016 at 21:59:58
With the money that was available for transfers and a new part-proven manager of top class playing pedigree, I expected us to start this season with some verve and serious intent. Martinez did as much in his first season.
Thus far, Koeman has not really done anything to show he can definitely return us to the upper echelons, and there is an argument that our points haul was out of kilter with the actual performances. Fortunately I am not out to judge him in the short-term and I am happy to wait until the end of the season before I pass judgement.
There are those who have proclaimed him as messiah pretty much as soon as he signed up, and those who seem convinced even a very average manager couldn't fail to get more out of this squad than Martinez. On the evidence of the last two games, we can't be confident that Koeman can get anything significantly more out of the squad when his smattering of key performers are absent or just not on peak form.
I'm not saying he won't be the success we hope he will be, just that so far there is nothing to be gained from jumping to conclusions about what lies ahead.
9 Posted 27/09/2016 at 22:09:32
Everton can lose I can accept that but I cannot accept a display such as the one at Bournemouth. Koeman now knows what he's up against and I sincerely hope he can sort it out. It could be worse though, we could be England supporters!
10 Posted 27/09/2016 at 22:13:44
Also, Koeman was not able to secure another midfielder on transfer deadline day. Because against Norwich and Bournemouth, Everton could not dominate the middle. And if Everton cannot dominate in midfield, the only way is downward in the league.
11 Posted 27/09/2016 at 23:35:44
Talking about perspective, just read how most of these so-called "great coaches" put things right when they hit a bad spell (Conte at Chelsea for example) they get rid of the dross and spend a fortune on new "world class" players.
Koeman is unlikely to be able to avail himself of the necessary funds so don't get too optimistic just yet. Give him time and enjoy watching a coach doing a proper job at a real club developing youth, instilling discipline, team spirit and an excellent work ethic, peppered with real coaching skills, and maybe we'll win something.
12 Posted 28/09/2016 at 00:27:46
Surely this direct style of play is coming from the instruction of Koeman. Surely our players are better than this? I really hope I'm wrong but am not at all convinced by what I've seen despite our high position in the league.
13 Posted 28/09/2016 at 03:59:52
As for Saturday, if Barry had a knock, why risk him? I think that was a mistake... and he was too slow in making changes – it was obvious things needed changing after 20 mins. In this season of ups and downs, he needs to be more decisive earlier in games.
And let's have our strongest squad in the FA Cup each round when it starts and give it a go.
But, all-in-all, the article will gain concurrence with most Evertonians, I think.
14 Posted 28/09/2016 at 05:01:00
15 Posted 28/09/2016 at 08:02:44
The only thing that brings you success in this league now is cold hard cash and lots of it. You don't spend, you don't progress. Leicester last season was 5000-1 freak occurrence it will never happen again.
16 Posted 28/09/2016 at 09:00:36
Martinez liked us to play out from the back but changed it to a more direct style when we struggled in the lower half of the table. He often drove us mad with his selections, playing square pegs in round holes and his unwillingness to change things until too late.
Koeman's team has improved and is looking tighter at the back. However apart from Spurs, we have played sides that I doubt will finish in the top half of the table. The acid test will come when we face Arsenal, Liverpool and the Mancs. This team let Martinez down on many occasions and we have seen either a lack of quality or a lack of application from this group.
It will take time and although we have said goodbye to some of the older brigade, we are still lacking in midfield and attack. Until Koeman has had at least two windows to bring in his choices, then we realistically can't expect to stay in this league position. We might improve a couple of places on last season, but I think even the Europa League places will be beyond us.
It is early days, and Friday will give us a chance to show some character; whether we do or not will be illuminating.
17 Posted 28/09/2016 at 09:25:59
I don't think there are many who will be throwing their toys out of the pram if we don't get top 4 as most know that our squad does not compare that favourably with most of our rivals. Leicester was likely to be shown an anomaly rather than the start of the trend.
To call for calm is tad patronising In my book. There's no panic. Yet.
18 Posted 28/09/2016 at 11:40:58
Whether Koeman is a good manager or not at Goodison remains to be seen. Improving the discipline and attitude does help, it won't make Cleverley the new Xavi, or turn Jagielka into Bobby Moore.
The Crystal Palace game is a key one, a test of Koeman's managerial and coaching skills. They are doing well, had a good result at Sunderland, whereas we are coming into the game after to quote one correspondent "a bad day at the office". A good result, a convincing win, would be a great statement.
19 Posted 28/09/2016 at 11:45:17
There are players on notice that will be sold if they cant perform. It's important that we get a replacement for Barry both full backs can go along with Mirallas and Barkley if they don't improve. Rom will go and I imagine others will be tempted away.
One person happy to see out a five-year contract will be Niasse who can then can retire.
20 Posted 28/09/2016 at 12:18:49
21 Posted 28/09/2016 at 12:30:40
If the players run their hearts out, and try then lose, fair enough. But to not put a shift in is inexcusable for me.
Only half-a-dozen games into the season, and already a crunch match.
22 Posted 28/09/2016 at 12:59:17
I haven't seen a penny spent on players yet and the old lady has had a lick of paint. We have been beaten in successive games by Norwich's second eleven and Bournemouth. The promising youngsters that trounced Norwich at the end of last season have been relegated to the U23s and replaced by underperforming senior pros. Please don't expect me to be happy about it.
You need to take out a new mortgage to buy a pie and a cup of tea. It's £10 to park within a reasonable walking distance of the ground. We have not won anything for 30 years. I'm happy to believe we're not in danger of relegation (shifts around nervously in chair) but what else is there to be cheerful about?
I suppose Ron is getting the players to run around a lot more and has at least addressed some of the absurdities of the Martinez era (calamity goalkeeping) and we've bought someone from a relegated team that is plainly better than anyone else we have had in midfield but contentment and happiness still seem elusive. We need to start winning football matches, preferably at a greater frequency than our nearest neighbours, if I am to be convinced of any real progress.
23 Posted 28/09/2016 at 13:23:13
I expect that the top three this season will be City, Liverpool and Arsenal. City and Liverpool are playing quicker than everyone in the league at the moment, and teams look unable to cope with the speed and movement in the main although defensive issues will cost them points. Arsenal have a great squad, and an incredible array of passers (I was at the Emirates on Saturday and a midfield of Xhaka, Ozil and Santi offered the kind of passing and first touch we can only dream of). I think United and Spurs will compete for fourth and Chelsea will fall short, because of a woeful defence. I have no idea how Ivanovic is still starting.
I think we will compete for sixth/seventh, in a Premier League season which becomes a lot more predictable than the last. Leicester's season was the anomaly not the new rule, even if the spread of money allows the likes of us, West Ham etc to bring in talented players capable of competing with the teams above us.
We have issues we didn't finish in the bottom half for two seasons running without reason. It was principally the result of Martinez's tactics, and the eradication of our defensive strength, but it was also a product of inconsistent players.
Chief among those is Ross Barkley, who must bring more to the table. I do not think he will ever be the player some imagine, and I think swapping him for someone like Mata could be the difference between a couple of league positions. I don't think he is a bad player, but we need someone to dictate the pace of the play and play others in at the right time.
Our speedy attacking players would be benefited immeasurably by a playmaker behind. Barkley, whichever way we look at it, does not measure up with the creative options of our rivals. Deulofeu is the best bet in terms of chance creation, but he is inconsistent and marginalised by Koeman's preference for Bolasie and Mirallas.
I think Koeman is a wonderful manager, and his tactical flexibility at Southampton was magnificent, and marked him out as far superior to an inflexible Martinez. But he needs time and he needs a better squad than we have to make a dent at the top of the table. He is also unfortunately competing in a league against two of modern footballs great innovators in Klopp and Guardiola, with a fading Mourinho with a bottomless pit of money, with one of the great Premier League managers in Wenger and an extremely youthful and energetic Spurs side. He needs time and any hopes of top four football this season are wide of the mark in my opinion. But we will improve, and we must be patient.
24 Posted 28/09/2016 at 14:29:07
My thoughts exactly, I do believe Koeman is a very good manager, and he will need time and money to put right what Martinez did. It also won't happen overnight, and if he looks at these pages he will see that some expect the impossible.
But a good start and he should not be judged by one bad result against Bournemouth. If you weren't aware of our league position and only read some of the posters on here you would think we were in the bottom 4.
Let's at least see where we finish at the end of the season before judging Koeman. Let's also remember although Klopp seems to be flavour of the month and you can't deny that they are playing well, he was there all last season and they had a very average season, even missing out on a Europa League spot.
25 Posted 28/09/2016 at 16:42:05
For most of the Martinez era and recent beyond, I have been sold on the myth that we do have a really good team, one of the best groups of players in our history etc. Well this season has been a wake-up call, even though we are doing very well after a good start but a sudden implosion for the last 2 games.
Let's consider the following:-
1. Our new goalie is good, very good, and I am grateful for that. He was brought in from Fulham where he was not first choice. He still merits his place above our 'No. 1' from last season.
2. We bought a 33-year-old centre back from Swansea. Again Williams is great and he has helped to shore up the defence, last 2 games apart.
3. We bought a defensive mid fielder for a knock down price from a relegated team. Idrissa is now a fans favorite, and has been the player of the short season so far. He has made our previous ball winner look poor by comparison.
4. We bought an attacking forward who is unpredictable but he knows how to cross a ball and he has kept boy wonder Geri out of the side.
5. Gareth Barry is quality. We bought him in the evening of his career. He is now theoretically past it but is playing better as well as any time during his career, and is up there with Idrissa as the best player in the team.
6. Rom has accepted he will have another season with us. He was not chased by another club simply because Everton played hardball and overpriced him. Rom is professional and has decided to play accordingly and not sulk.
7. What is left? Ross is brilliant on his day but there is not enough of them. His glittering career is in danger of passing him by, and that would be a great shame.
8. We still lack quality across the team and if the examples of Stekelenburg, Williams, Gueye and Bolaisie, are anything to go by, all good buys but brought for the exchange value of our previously star defender, who did not even figure in the Eurpoas!
The message behind all of this is Koeman has a massive challenge and he has set the timetable for 2 years which is reasonable. If 4 to 1 exchange players can improve us (but not as much as we like to think they have) then I have to acknowledge the squad is, man for man, bang average, ageing as well, and lacking in fitness and mental toughness.
When Koeman and Walsh follow through with their task we may all be well happy, but the familiar faces of the playing staff will have long since gone they simply are not good enough to get us to where we need to be. It has become painfully obvious, and for an Evertonian the feel that is very sad.
26 Posted 28/09/2016 at 17:29:19
You make a very good point about consistency which IMO has been the hallmark of this group of players for the last 2 years. They can really turn it on when they apply themselves but look very ordinary when they don't.
There is obviously some fundamental flaw which needs addressing probably with a change in personnel which regrettably may lead to the departure of Barkley and/or Deulofeu.
27 Posted 28/09/2016 at 18:01:15
29 Posted 28/09/2016 at 19:09:01
you have to calculate the huge elements of luck we have had so far, coupled with the good performances, albeit against weak opposition, including an off colour Spurs. Although we came up against a good Bournemouth and on form Norwich side.
I think that up until now RK is doing a fantastic job , as he has strengthened the squad and gave us hope. I think we got somewhat carried away pre Norwich match, given the results and the performance.
The players that Koeman brought in and the form of Lukaku, were the catalyst in our positive start. They played well and were consistent. Whereas, 3 or four players have remained consistent in being inconsistent.
This element is Hugely frustrating and if we are to be taken seriously and advance towards a top six finish, consistency is the crux. I can hang in for the 2 years its going to take RK to transform the team.
I have more faith in RK's 2 year plan than the length of time its going to take to get the inconsistent players to become consistent!
30 Posted 28/09/2016 at 19:48:42
We are not Man City or Chelsea that can go and overpay for the odd player who's currently with a Champions League club. The only time we have used the January window wisely is when we got in Jelavic and Pienaar. That probably was one January window in about 10 years.
We are not going to attract players in January, sadly the summer was the time when we should have prioritised getting in a decent striker and playmaker.
We all will have to be patient. The aim this season has to be getting a European spot in the hope that Everton are able to to bring in better players and push on from there.
31 Posted 28/09/2016 at 21:28:51
I have disagreed with one or two of your posts since the start of the Season. But, I absolutely agree with you, word for word, comma for comma... Koeman has his work cut out!
32 Posted 28/09/2016 at 21:45:30
33 Posted 29/09/2016 at 01:10:44
Now a pitiful plea from Jags who never has a hard word for his lazy arsed team mates almost begging them for a wee bit of effort this Friday.
Oh' for a Roy Keane type of captain
34 Posted 29/09/2016 at 03:03:47
35 Posted 29/09/2016 at 07:08:09
36 Posted 29/09/2016 at 07:11:06
The Crystal Palace game is massive for Koeman after their comeback against Sunderland and Everton's poor show against Bournemouth. It is also on Sky which means the publicity level will treble. The players need to try, but sheer effort only wins odd games. Tactics and efficiency win more. Let's keep our perspective and hope that Everton win well, but that alone won't make them into a real top team.
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