Premier League

Was Everton’s Transfer Window Really A Success?

 • by Simon Collings
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When the transfer window slammed shut at the end of August, it was the opinion of many that Everton had done the best business.

They may have sold star striker Romelu Lukaku to Manchester United, but their incomings appeared to stand them in good stead.

At the back, young England hopefuls Jordan Pickford and Michael Keane looked like promising buys – even if their price tags may have been a little high.

Further forward, Davy Klaassen arrived from Ajax with a growing reputation and Wayne Rooney seemingly had his mojo back after returning to his boyhood club.

Throw in Swansea playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson into the mix and it was difficult to find a Premier League side who had strengthened as well as Everton.

However, just eight games into the new season, and suddenly that early optimism has faded away.

Everton manager Ronald Koeman has confessed to have doubts about his team selection, while he has also added that the players are suffering a crisis of confidence. Indeed, Koeman has already held a meeting with senior players to address issues within the squad.

“Every manager in life has doubts,” says Koeman. “There is no one who has no doubts in life in football as a manager.

“And if you don’t win, you know you have a big number of players in your squad who have doubts about how you need to start the system to play. That’s normal.

“You can support the players, you can give the players confidence. You can keep the players on the pitch, but still we started afraid.”

Everton have claimed just two Premier League wins from their opening eight games, and only one since the opening day of the season against Stoke City.

Since then they have claimed just seven points after a run of fixtures which, for Koeman at least, may explain their stuttering start.

“Maybe it is normal if you play in a difficult start of the season,” he says.

“In my opinion the fixtures, we knew we don’t win all [of them]. We played, in my opinion, against four teams – [Manchester] City, [Manchester] United, Chelsea away, Tottenham at home – in my opinion four really, really title contenders.”

However, a look to past experiences may tell us that in fact Everton’s transfer window was not as successful as first thought.

They may have brought in the likes of Klaassen, Rooney and Sigurdsson but against Manchester United it was impossible not to notice the absence of Lukaku – particularly as he was putting the ball in the net for the opposition.

Without the Belgian, Everton seemed devoid of a focal point to their attack and instead a congestion is occurring with so many playmakers on the field.

It is all very well bringing in Klaassen, Rooney and Sigurdsson – but if they do not have pace in front of them then their threat is severely weakened. The team on show at the moment feels lopsided and skewed towards an 11 that is lacking the pace required to unlock opposition defences.

In truth, Everton’s decision to sell their star man and sign a number of replacements is nothing new.

We have seen it before from other clubs, such as when Tottenham sold Gareth Bale to Real Madrid in the summer of 2013.

That brought about a similar spending spree to Everton’s from Spurs as, in their fans’ opinion, they sold Elvis and bought the Beatles. Sadly, it turned out they had booked a cover band and not the real deal.

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Of the seven signings that came in to White Hart Lane that summer only two now remain, Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela.

The rest, the likes of Roberto Soldado and Vlad Chiriches, have instead been swiftly shipped out as part of Mauricio Pochettino’s revamp.

Tottenham’s rivals Arsenal had a similar issue the year before, albeit on a smaller scale. After selling star striker Robin van Persie to Manchester United, they decided to bring in two players rather than one marquee signing to replace him.

Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud arrived for near enough the exact £24m Arsenal sold Van Persie for, but they couldn’t replace him.

The Dutchman had scored 30 league goals in his final season before he left for Old Trafford and it was thought Giroud and Podolski could in theory replace that by weighing in with 15 each. In they end, the mustered 11 apiece.

Like Tottenham, it is just an example how a star player cannot be replaced by a number of individuals of slightly lesser quality. Unlike the likes of Bale and Lukaku, they do not have that special X-Factor that makes them stand out from the crowd.

Koeman, however, is still hopeful that this theory will prove to be wrong and his new recruits can gel.

Undoubtedly it takes time for several new signings to click and, while the critics knives maybe sharpening now, Koeman has told them to be patient.

“Let’s talk at the end of the season,” he says.

“I am not happy, I am not [happy] with how we start the season. But please a little bit of realism about Everton with everybody – fans, press.

“We need time, but it is difficult in football.”

However, having watched his fellow Dutchman Frank de Boer get just four games to state his case at Crystal Palace, Koeman will be well aware the clock is already ticking.

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