It all looked so promising for Everton just a few short months ago.
A new dawn appeared on the horizon with their new majority shareholder promising a new stadium and willing to spend big money on new signings – an unbeaten pre-season which also saw the side get through two Europa League qualifiers and into the group stage of the competition only provided greater hope.
Then the Premier League campaign began and things started to unravel. And it isn’t just results which have been a let down, the manner of the performances during these games is arguably a greater cause for concern.
Even during wins displays have been unconvincing, but at the moment there isn’t even anything to gloss over the cracks which are starting to appear.
Everton look like a team without balance. When their creative players are on song it appears as though they don’t have the right amount of pacy players or intelligent forwards ahead of them to play their passes and through-balls to.
And once their quicker, more forward thinking players, such as Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Sandro, and Oumar Niasse are in the side, the remaining players struggle to play the ball to them in good attacking positions.
Attacking contributions from both full back positions are also poor, and even the usually reliable Leighton Baines is struggling to make things happen down the left side of the pitch he once made his own.
This imbalance can be traced to something as simple as team selection. Koeman’s side lack a target man and back-up on the left side of defence, but in all other areas of the pitch they have various options which allow them to play different systems and styles.
While he’s tinkered with several formations, from a back three used against Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, and their opening game of the season against Stoke; to the occasional use of 4-2-3-1, and then the 4-2-2-2 used against Burnley; Koeman has changed shape but still not found the right personnel to operate within any of these formations.
Tom Davies looks like the best central midfielder at the club at the moment, and should be the perfect foil for Gylfi Sigurdsson’s considered creative play, but the 19-year-old has only started four of the club’s 11 games in the Premier and Europa League.
Ademola Lookman is yet to feature beyond the League Cup or Europa League qualifiers, and there are even rumours that the talented attacker, who was part of England Under-20’s summer World Cup win, is looking for a way out of the club in order to get first team football.
Lookman has the pace and unpredictability that the side are currently lacking, and should at least be featuring regularly from the bench, especially when the side find themselves stuck in a rut as is often the case in recent games.
Another Under-20 World Cup winner, Jonjoe Kenny, is also being left out of the side despite encouraging performances when he has featured. Cuco Martina, on the other hand, has retained his position at right back despite some below par displays since joining on a free transfer in the summer.
Mason Holgate, meanwhile, won’t know whether he’s coming or going after starting twice at right wing-back and once at centre back, meaning the 20-year-old has been unable to settle in the side.
Elsewhere, Ashley Williams retains his place despite being one of Everton’s worst performers, and although Wayne Rooney looked good during a few of his early games back at his first club, he’s tailed off dramatically and has recently found himself dropped.
Rooney will hope that he’s able to recover the form he showed glimpses of at the start of the season, and he’s another player who could benefit from a bit of balance.
Lookman, Niasse or Sandro are able to make the runs to create space for Rooney and Sigurdsson, but at the moment they seem to be last resorts rather than plan A.
New goalkeeper Jordan Pickford would also benefit from a fast forward line as he looks to play his trademark, pinpoint kicks to launch counter-attacks.
At the moment the young Englishman is looking up and finding no runners, instead opting to throw the ball out into midfield or to a full back. On the rare occasions he does find an attacker, usually Calvert-Lewin, it often leads to a good chance for the side.
Only Bournemouth and Crystal Palace have scored fewer goals than Everton this season, and the Toffees are yet to net away from home in the Premier League or in their Europa League group.
It’s not a good sign for a club who spent over £130million in the summer, and though they could point to the departure of Romelu Lukaku, they have ample options in the squad even while they wait for that elusive target man to sign in January.
If Koeman is to keep his job until then he’ll need to start changing things up and drop poor performers regardless of their profile and reputation.