Former Everton manager Ronald Koeman says that the seeds for his departure were sown when Arsenal forward Olivier Giroud decided against a move to Goodison Park.
Giroud was seen as a player who could compensate for the loss of Romelu Lukaku and Koeman thinks the failure to adequately replace the Belgian forward, combined with a tough fixture list, sealed his fate.
The Dutch manager was fired on Monday, after a 5-2 home defeat to Arsenal on Sunday left Everton 18th in the table, with just eight points from their first nine games.
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And, although the club spent £140m in the summer, they also received around £90m for Lukaku alone, and Koeman told Dutch football magazine VI that a plan to replace the striker with Giroud fell through.
“I had Olivier Giroud in the building,” said Koeman.
“He would have fitted perfectly but, at the very last moment, he decided that he’d rather live in London and stay at Arsenal.
“That was really hard to swallow. You tell me, where you can get a better striker?
“Lukaku was so important for us, not just because of his goals. If things were not going well in a game, if we could not play the way we were used to, there was always the option to use the long ball towards him.
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“All of a sudden, we were missing such a player. With Nikola Vlasic and Wayne Rooney, we had attackers who want the ball at their feet.”
Everton were also handed a tough run of fixtures to start the season and, although they kicked off with a win over Stoke and a draw at Manchester City, losses to Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester United followed.
Koeman added: “I was on holiday when I received the Premier League fixture list by e-mail.
“I looked at it and saw that five of our first nine games would be against clubs from last season’s top six: Chelsea, Tottenham, Man City, Man United and Arsenal.
“I looked at it again and I said to myself, ‘Phew! That is not going to be an easy run, in particular with a Europa League run at the same time’. And, most of all, because I had lost my striker Lukaku.”