The inevitable became reality on Monday as Everton finally parted company with their under-fire manager Ronald Koeman.
The Dutchman, who watched his side crumble to a 5-2 defeat against Arsenal on Sunday, has looked bereft of ideas as his side endured one of the worst starts to a season in recent memory. Everton had won just two of their nine league games so far but Koeman had hoped that Wednesday’s Carabao Cup clash against Chelsea could offer a last ditch attempt to save his job.
In a statement, the club said: “Everton can confirm that Ronald Koeman has left the club. Bill Kenwright, the board of directors and Farhad Moshiri would all like to express their gratitude to Ronald for the service he has given over the past 16 months and for guiding the club to seventh place in last season’s Premier League campaign.”
A Long Time Coming
It’s been a long time coming. Fans on Merseyside have grown increasingly restless in recent weeks and a febrile atmosphere turned violent on Thursday night as players clashed angrily with their opponents Lyon during a heated Europa League fixture.
It should all have been so different. Backed by the cash of major shareholder Farhad Moshiri, Koeman spent big in the summer, splashing out £140m on the likes of Gylfi Sigurdsson, Davy Klaassen and Sandro Ramirez. But a failure to replace Romelu Lukaku was terminal for Koeman’s hopes of replicating last season’s finish.
It’s not that he didn’t try. Olivier Giroud would have been the perfect replacement for Lukaku’s bustling energy up front. But in allowing Lucas Pérez to leave the Emirates, Arsène Wenger decided to retain Giroud’s services so that his team wouldn’t be left short up front.
Koeman has also been let down by his director of football, Steve Walsh. Leicester’s transfer hero has hit every bum note in possible so far, and it remains to be seen whether Everton will retain his services going forward.
Clueless in the Dug Out
It’s not just about signings though. Grumbles about Koeman’s detached management style have grown as results worsened at Goodison Park, and the 54-year-old departs with his former club mired in the relegation places.
Ross Barkley might have wanted away in the summer but the Englishman’s creativity has been sorely missing at times, particularly as the new signings have struggled to impose themselves.That Koeman has made 9 halftime substitutions in the last 15 games suggests that he is a man unsure of what he wanted his team to be.
There is also a sense that his ambition was perhaps a bit too naked. After the departure of Luis Enrique from Barcelona, Koeman’s name was listed among the possible successors. Since then, he hasn’t exactly been determined to quash the rumours.
Where Now for Everton?
Koeman becomes the third managerial casualty in three months in the Premier League, following compatriot Frank de Boer and Craig Shakespeare out the exit door. Under-23 coach David Unsworth will likely take temporary charge, as Moshiri and Kenwright set their sights on a permanent successor.
Sean Dyche is among the early favourites for the job but it remains to be seen whether the Burnley man will be tempted by the job on Merseyside. Other candidates include Carlo Ancelotti, Rafa Benitez and – intriguingly – former manager David Moyes.
The Scot, who has been out of work since failing to stave off relegation for Sunderland last season, would be available immediately and has experience of rescuing the club from difficult league positions.
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