Although there has been no actual announcement from the club, it seems almost certain that the Southampton manager is ending his tenure on the south coast for a trip up to Merseyside. For some reason I seem to be among the small minority that just don’t see this as a big step forward for Everton. It doesn’t seem like a good match and here’s a few reasons why I’m not all that excited for the announcement of Koeman as the next Everton manager.
Firstly it’s a real low move to be poaching another Premier League manager from a rival club when he’s on the verge of signing a new contract. He seemed happy at Southampton and luring him away in the way that they have makes him look really bad. The Southampton fans aren’t happy with him and I can understand why. Don’t say you’re going to commit to a team and then trade that in for a team who has a much worse season than you. A lot of the Southampton fans are making the point that if he can do it to them he will probably do it to us if he does well with us in the first year or two and bigger clubs come sniffing around him. You can’t disagree with that point with the way this appointment is being made.
Everton fans are making the point that he’s simply moving because Everton are a ‘bigger’ club, something you can’t disagree with. Southampton don’t have a history that includes League titles, cups, and European success. We have a bigger global fanbase but more importantly from a managerial point of view we’re not a selling club, something we have proved in the last couple of years. We invested big money to bring Lukaku to the club and made sure no amount of money was going to lure our talented young players away. Southampton on the other hand have done the complete opposite over the last few years. Although they have an excellent youth system and do re-invest some of the money they make from selling players, it seems inevitable that their best players get sold eventually. They sold 3 players in one sitting to Liverpool for over 50 million, as well as both of their first choice full backs to Arsenal and Manchester United. They re-invested well and under Pochettino and Koeman achieved consistently high finishes including 2 consecutive seasons qualifying for the Europa League. So with a good squad and European football next season, why would Koeman leave Southampton for a team that finished 5 places and 16 points below them this season?
Well most people just seem to think it’s because of the money. It’s no secret that our new owner/investor Farhad Moshiri isn’t afraid to splash out a bit of money to get what he wants and that’s what he’s done to get Koeman away from The Saints. It’s far too early to say whether it’s worth it or not but there’s far too many Everton fans who seem to be proud of the fact that we’re trying to become a team that buys our way to success. For a long time our team has made us proud by having players that aren’t worth a lot of money but play with passion and that’s what has made us a good team. What makes it worse is that we’ve just finished a season where Leicester have proved that money doesn’t buy you the title. They had players that were desperate to prove themselves week in week out and loved playing for their team and that’s what won them the title. Yet now Everton have money, our supporters are acting that it’s a given that we’ll buy all these World class players and become an instant threat to the top 4 and challenge for the title overnight.
The other problem I have is also with fans more than Koeman at the moment because there’s no actual signs that he will try and do this but I keep seeing all these ‘Dream Teams’ full of current Southampton players like they’re all amazing. Firstly Fraser Forster in goal. Personally I don’t rate him all that highly. He had a good season and he’s big and commands his box well but I just don’t think he’s that good. He’s also on a 6-year contract and getting him away from Southampton is not going to be cheap. If we’re going to splash out big money on a goalkeeper, why go for the England number 3 when the England number 2 is a much better goalkeeper and an equally attainable player. Also do we really need a new number one? Robles is young and impressed on a number of occasions last season. He needs to work on his consistency and his commanding presence but replacing him won’t help that, a coach will. Secondly is Virgil Van Dijk, the big dutch centre back. We have some good centre backs in our youth academy including Pennington who impressed massively towards the end of the season so we’re not lacking in numbers in that department. However if Stones does end up leaving we will need a replacement and Van Dijk has certainly impressed since joining the Premier League. James Ward Prowse is another name frequently mentioned. Again he’s very young and has a lot of potential but he’s not close to being a World class player and I really don’t see him fitting into the Everton team at all. Sadio Mane and Graziano Pelle are two more names mentioned and the two I actually welcome. If Lukaku leaves which looks more and more likely every week we’ll need one or two players to replace him and these two scored and created a lot of goals for Southampton last year and have brilliant chemistry. With Deulofeu on the right crossing balls in and Mane on the left cutting inside with Barkley behind Pelle we’d have two very strong ways of attacking, something we lacked last year. If Lukaku ends up staying I would still very much like Mane at the club. I think he’s an exceptional footballer with bags of talent and a lot of goals to contribute and would fit in nicely. The only other name I’ve seen was Shane Long but that must have been a joke because he’s more the type of player a newly promoted team would buy for a few million to get them important goals to stay in the league.
Non-Southampton players I’ve seen mentioned include Yarmolenko and Juan Mata. If Mourinho doesn’t want Mata at United I would happily take him, I can even see him in some sort of swap deal with Stones or Lukaku. I feel like if Yarmolenko was going to come to Everton he would have done so last season. He’s obviously a class player but do I really want him at Everton? Not particularly.
Finally regarding Koeman’s appointment I just think there were better options, especially for the money. If we were going to lure a manager away who’s contracted to another club why not Benitez? He has more Premier League experience and more European experience than Koeman and quite frankly is just a better manager even if he has managed Liverpool before. Manuel Pellegrini was also an option. Not contracted to any club at the moment and won the Premier League only 2 years ago. Also more European experience than Koeman and loves to play attacking football. He’d definitely be able to bring good players to the club because he’s a massive name and I think he’d do wonders with our squad. I do like Koeman as a manager. Tactically he’s brilliant and he has an eye for talent and hopefully will continue the brilliant work that’s being done in our under 21’s. He’ll definitely have the plan B that we lacked so much last year and will make our team better, I just think there’s better choices out there.
I’m sorry I don’t share the enthusiasm most of Evertonians have for Koeman I’m just massively happy about the way its been done and think we could have done better. Do we really want to become another Liverpool, United, City, or Chelsea and just pump money into the club until we have a stadium we can’t fill cheering a group of individuals who don’t care about the team and have ridiculous delusions of winning everything every year? I wish I could get behind this decision but I don’t want the club to go in that direction so Mr Moshiri hasn’t made the best impression on me I’m afraid.
Also a quick mention to Ossie, Hibbert, and Pienaar who have all been released this week. I understand Pienaar wants to end his career in South Africa so best of luck to him, I hope Osman still gets to play football at a high level until he feels like he can’t anymore, but I think it was the right time for him to be let go. Hibbert will always be loved at Everton and I thought he was excellent in the few games he played this past season. He’s not fast and won’t ever be a world class full-back in modern football but I would have liked to see him stay at Everton. Hopefully he returns in a coaching capacity when he’s done playing, but for now I wish him the best of luck recovering from his injury and finding a club to play for if he decides to continue playing.