By Elliott Cuff
Ronald Koeman’s outburst after Everton disappointingly bowed out of the FA Cup to Leicester City was a refreshing reaction from an Everton manager, one that Everton fans haven’t see in quite some time.
Those who remember Roberto Martínez well enough will not have forgotten all of the irritating small idiosyncrasies over his three-year tenure; from his over reliance on superlatives to his failure to ever criticise the club who employed him. Koeman though, isn’t here to massage any egos. He’s certainly not here to play by anyone else’s rules but his own.
Koeman’s prestige and respected reputation as both a player and a manager allows him to command an audience, unlike his predecessor. In fact, Martínez is the complete antithesis to Koeman – they couldn’t be further apart in character or in confidence.
Koeman’s method is the way forward. Without trying to sound too much like a preacher, too long have Everton sat in the shadows. But for a single successful season on the back of a defensive mould laid down by David Moyes, Martínez did little to advance Everton as a global brand, neither did he bring the club closer to winning silverware than in previous seasons.
With Koeman at the helm though, things are moving in the right direction. Koeman brings to Everton the big club mentality, the idea that sometimes niceties won’t get you where you want to be. Such mentality is a sentiment shared by majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri, whose financial muscle pried the Dutchman from Southampton, despite the unlikelihood and the adamant nature from the south coast club that Koeman was going nowhere.
Times are changing on Merseyside; the club’s transfer business alone highlights that. Just over ten days into the January transfer window, and already two players have come in for an excess of £30million, with more to follow on the not-so-distant horizon. Morgan Schneiderlin has become only the third £20million plus player to sign for Everton, and the second was only six months ago.
Moshiri is building something, a project which should be treated with patience. Certain players need time to adjust to their new surroundings, and the same could be said about Koeman and Steve Walsh. As cheesy as the idiom is, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day.’
Another major positive that a number of fans haven’t credited the Everton hierarchy for is their speed to remove the hangers-on. Everton fans have unanimously agreed this season that the club possesses far too much deadwood, and with Tom Cleverley, Oumar Niasse, Darron Gibson and Bryan Oviedo already having been shipped out, the club are certainly wasting no time in dispelling those who lay a burden on the wage bill.
I’d hasten to say things are looking positive, as Everton will undeniably let me down in a couple of weeks with a dreadful performance against a poor side, but it seems Everton are definitely headed in an upwards trajectory.
With nothing really left to play for this season, save the off chance that Everton can put pressure on Manchester United in sixth place, Koeman can focus on really developing his team and formulating how and who he wants to move forward with.
Personally, I choose to see the positives from Everton’s early cup exit. With Martínez, it was clear that the two cup runs in his final season were the only reasons he kept his job as long as he did. With Koeman though, there is a larger plan in place.
Realistically, Everton’s chances of winning the cup were slim this season, with the club often struggling to turn out good performances. Having no real competition to play for means Everton can start to mould a team that can challenge for European qualification, come the start of next season.