Premier League

Where Has It Gone Wrong For Ronald Koeman?

 • by Dan Ludlam
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Football can be a funny old game.

One minute pre-season expectations drastically rise with the arrival of several new big-money summer signings.

The next, supporters are calling for change following a dismal start to the new campaign which is falling well below the levels desired.

For Ronald Koeman, the man tasked with bringing the feel-good factor back to Goodison Park, this dramatic contrast in emotions couldn’t ring more true.

A net-spend of £54.2million during the summer transfer window set pulses racing on Merseyside as Everton set about rebuilding their squad following the departure of Romelu Lukaku.

Their transfer record was smashed as Gylfi Sigurðsson arrived from Swansea City just two weeks before the window slammed shut and early-season optimism was rife as Stoke City made the trip to Goodison on the opening day.

Wayne Rooney‘s homecoming was complete as the former Manchester United star grabbed the match-winner on day one and the positive reverberations were continuing to spread.

Indeed, the Toffees’ merited start was improved further by a creditable draw at Premier League title favourites Manchester City in their first away fixture of the campaign.

August drew to a close with defeat at Chelsea, sparking a dramatic reversal in fortunes with Koeman baring the brunt of fan dissatisfaction.

A staggering ten goals were conceded in the next three matches in all competitions, with Everton’s new boys struggling to make their mark.

Where has it all gone wrong for Koeman?

It would be fair to point out that the Toffees have been dealt a rather harsh hand in terms of their opening fixtures.

Trips to Stamford Bridge, the Etihad and Old Trafford were daunting enough, while Tottenham‘s visit to Goodison wasn’t the easiest of tasks.

But with each bad result, confidence has slowly ebbed away and Everton’s style of play has suffered drastically as a consequence.

Burnley proved on their latest away day success that the Toffees are fairly predictable to play against and lack that surprise element that has served them so well under Koeman to date.

Time for a change in tactics?

Arguably Koeman’s biggest error in judgement has been the oversight in the way he has set his team up so far this season.

The Dutchman has consistently opted for the preferred 4-2-3-1 formation which seems to vary in styles from match to match.

Narrow in its set up, Everton are forced to sacrifice pace in the wide positions and are often caught out on the counter attack as a result.

Long-term injury absentees Seamus Coleman and Yannick Bolasie would be the perfect foil for Koeman to adopt his preferred formation, but it wasn’t as if he was unaware that the pair would be sidelined before the start of the season.

Does the buck stop with Koeman?

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In terms of results and errors in judgement in team selection, the 54-year-old is a fundamental part of Everton’s desperate start.

It’s obvious, though, that not enough work behind the scenes had been done during pre-season to find the replacement for Lukaku that was so badly needed and, as a consequence, the board must shoulder some of the blame.

Patience is starting to run very thin on the blue half of Merseyside and the Koeman dissenters will not shy away from voicing their displeasure should results not dramatically improve.

It doesn’t get much easier for the Toffees with newly-promoted Brighton, Arsenal, Lyon and Chelsea next up in all competitions.

And although Koeman is expected to be afforded time to reverse Everton’s struggles, the opportunity to manage a club of such great stature will not be overlooked by those hoping to get back into the hot-seat.

Therefore, Koeman will be well aware that this funny old game that we know and love can so easily come back to bite you on the backside.

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