September 22, 2021, 14:37

Ronald Koeman sacked: Where did it go wrong for him at Everton?

Ronald Koeman sacked: Where did it go wrong for him at Everton?

Everton have sacked manager Ronald Koeman with the team in the Premier League relegation zone following their 5-2 home defeat to Arsenal on Sunday.

The Dutchman had guided the club to a seventh-place finish in his first season in charge but despite high hopes in the summer, a miserable start has cut short his time at Goodison Park.

Here, we pick out five reasons why it went wrong for Koeman…

Loss of Lukaku

It may seem trite to point out that Everton have missed Romelu Lukaku but any assessment of the problems that dogged Koeman’s campaign must begin with the loss of a striker who scored 25 goals last season – the most by an Everton player in Premier League history.

Needless to say that Oumar Niasse is not a replacement of the same calibre and that is proving costly. Only three teams have scored fewer goals so far this season with Lukaku scoring as many for Manchester United as his former club has managed in total.

It is also worth noting that Lukaku was not the only key player from last season that Everton are without. Experienced midfielder Gareth Barry was moved on, while Ross Barkley, the team’s most creative player and their second-highest scorer, is still injured.

Summer signings

While Lukaku’s sale presented a problem for Koeman, he did have the opportunity to invest. Everton spent £144m in the summer but that does not look money well spent at this point. Fears that Gylfi Sigurdsson was overpriced remain, while Davy Klaassen has failed to settle.

Graeme Souness and Thierry Henry spoke about Koeman's future on Sunday

Even if every single one of Everton’s buys had performed to the best of their ability, that still might not have been enough given their unbalanced squad. Three high-profile No.10s have come in but it was a target-man and the wide options to feed him that was required.

Koeman is a coach who relied on crosses from wingers in the past but with Kevin Mirallas out of favour he found himself using club record signing Sigurdsson in wider areas. Spending so much but failing to recruit in the right areas will surely be a key regret.

Fixture misfortune

There will be little sympathy from supporters but Koeman could point to a tough fixture list too. After starting with a win over Stoke, Everton had to face the current top four in back-to-back games so it was perhaps not a huge shock to take only one point from those games. It came at Manchester City – the only points that the league leaders have dropped this season.

Koeman insisted it was not too late for him to turn Everton's form around

With Everton involved in the Europa League too, that proved an added complication for Koeman to deal with. After playing Hajduk Split away, they had to visit Chelsea. After travelling to Atalanta, they were away to Manchester United. It was tricky.

Only the home loss to Burnley stands out as a shock result. Even so, Everton did pick up twice as many points from these corresponding fixtures last season and it is the manner of some of the defeats that will have been the biggest frustration for fans.

Team selection

Koeman could have retained greater support were it not for increasing confusion over his selections. Tom Davies’ energy is an asset that was overlooked in favour of out-of-form alternatives, while neither Ademola Lookman nor Jonjoe Kenny were trusted.

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Dominic Calvert-Lewis and Nikola Vlasic were played out of position and Koeman just could not settle on a system. The manager made a half-time substitution in more than half of Everton’s matches this season. It only added to the feeling that he was picking the wrong starting line-up.

Confidence gone

Ultimately, Koeman was the man who lifted the club back above the Premier League pack following the collapse of Roberto Martinez’s reign at Goodison Park. But despite the excitement sparked by a change of ownership, he could not capitalise on that potential.

In fact, Koeman leaves with Everton in the bottom three. This is a club that needs to go through a period of transition but any notion that Koeman was the man to oversee that change had long since disappeared by the time that the axe fell.


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