The January transfer window can be a very difficult time to do business. Experts will tell you that high quality players are not available and the window is usually reserved for panic buys or squad filling players. Everton’s January window, for me, gave as many clues as to the thinking of Ronald Koeman as we have seen from our candid, yet reserved manager.
A former manager once said: “You have to end the window stronger than you begin it” and whilst this is an obvious statement in some regards, it leaves open to debate the definition of stronger. I am convinced we are much stronger after January for two reasons. First the acquisition of both Morgan Schneiderlin and Ademola Lookman, an experienced Premier League player who adds class and energy to an already strong midfield and in the youth of Lookman, a player who excites and sets the mind wandering at the potential he offers.
However, more intriguing and telling for me were the departures of so many during the window. Players such as Darron Gibson and Bryan Oviedo, two who have at certain times served the club very well. I won’t forget Gibson’s daisy-cutting winner against City and the arguably more memorable winner at Old Trafford, which gave birth to the “Oviedo Baby” song. It is clear though that these players and more, have not been and never will be in the future plans of this manager, he is very much in a rebuilding frame of mind and I believe he knows exactly what he wants Everton to look like in the near future.
To be successful in anything you have to have the ability to see the end product before it exists, I’m firmly of the belief that Koeman has seen his vision of the team his Everton will be. In the early months I read many comments that this manager was only here as a stepping stone to better things, that may or may not be the case but however long he is in attendance of the “greatest job on Earth” he has a project, which he will complete if he’s allowed to.
To allow so many players to leave the club and bring in just two replacements (and two U23 additions) are the actions of a man who knows what he wants from his players and that they can deliver it. I would suggest that’s not a huge demand at this point; finish as high as possible in the league, always play with drive and energy and try to entertain will be the main requirements of Koeman from now till the summer when the heavy recruitment will come. That said, Everton can finish in the top four, it’s possible if not probable and if that was to happen, of course the specifics change but not the general direction.
Another plus from the January window for me is the clear message that Koeman and his director of football Steve Walsh seem to have a relationship. This is crucial for the project to work and also acts as the glue to stick together the varied relationships in the club’s structure.
All in all, I believe the future is tremendously bright at Goodison Park and of course at the new stadium expected at Bramley Moore Dock. But all of this depends on everyone involved; the owner, chairman, board, manager, players, staff and significantly the fans coming together as one and believing it can happen. When you build a house you don’t just start putting bricks on top of each other and hope for the best, there is a plan, a vision and a project. Koeman has his plan, let’s allow him to build an Everton house which we can all call our home.