There’s a suggestion that Ronald Koeman is under more pressure than Wayne Rooney’s solicitor. Jose Mourinho claimed that Everton should be aiming for the top four, after his side romped them by four goals to nil. But, as has become the norm, Mourinho’s talking out of his arse.
We’re five games into a new Premier League season. That’s naturally too small a sample size to judge anyone. Unless you’re Crystal Palace – the absolute embarrassment.
But if people constantly insist on reviewing it, then maybe we should.
The Toffees have played Stoke City, Man City, Chelsea, Spurs and Manchester United. The games against City, Chelsea and United were away from home. They took a point at the Etihad and beat Stoke. I’m not sure how many more points people would have expected from those games.
A minor blip in the shape of a hammering away to Atalanta may provide the ‘Koeman Out’ brigade with ammunition, but in reality – it’s trivial. Away wins in Europe aren’t easy to come by and their progression in European competition was always going to depend on their home form.
If you don’t buy into that argument, maybe his transfer window will give you an insight into his best-laid plans. The most high-profile signing was Wayne Rooney. It was a free transfer and a move that happened more out of sentiment than anything else.
He’s still a terrific player with bundles of experience in big games, so it was a no-brainer.
In a footballing universe where long-term plans will pay off due to the fragmented nature of managerial tenures at clubs, Everton will do well to note just that. Their transfer business suggests they already have. We’ll look at figures first, then the individual players.
Romelu Lukaku was dubbed ‘lazy’ in some quarters. He’s lazily coasting his way to a Golden Boot at Manchester United, so there’s that. However, £75m is a lot of money – and entitles them to spend. Add in another ten for Deulofeu, eight for Cleverley, bits and bobs elsewhere else, and you’re looking at a big window.
You then have two choices: you can overspend on aging players that won’t give you a return on future transfer fees as a trade-off for finishing fifteen points behind Man City, or you can invest in youth and develop a cohesive unit that moulds itself over time. He did a bit of both, but more of the latter.
Wayne Rooney’s no role model off the football pitch. His moral compass is about as useful as Danny Dyer in a book club. He does know how to adapt to situations, though. He does know how to get to Europe. He knows how to grind out results against unfamiliar opposition and he definitely knows how to carve out a successful career in football.
But Rooney’s role is more than just that of a footballer. Koeman is building from the ground up, as opposed to the usual managerial approach of signing big named played to pacify nonsensical board members through merchandise sales.
Lewis Gibson – the highly sought-after wonderkid – is exactly that.
He was born in 2000. Even the thought of that makes us feel sick. Nikola Vlasic is a full Croatian international at the age of nineteen. Dennis Adeniran is eighteen; Josh Bowler – eighteen; Boris Mathis – twenty; Henry Onyekuru – twenty. Cuco Martina cost nowt. Even moving upto the first team – Sandro is 22. Michael Keane is 24, as is Davy Klaassen and Jordan Pickford is a year younger.
The club could be claiming child benefit for half of their squad. The signing of Gylfi Sigurdsson is the only majorly inflated transfer figure, all things considered. It was the one that Everton fans were happiest with.
The thing about Everton is that it hasn’t lost its community feel. While their neighbours and league table superiors are becoming global brands in order to afford big-name players to further enhance their reputations, Goodison Park is home to a football club.
Failing to replace Lukaku will cost Everton in the short-term; Koeman’s signings will benefit the club in the future once he’s given the time to keep that group together.
If Mourinho genuinely thinks Everton should be in the top four, that’s a slight on his judgement, not Everton’s league position.