It would be wrong to label Ronald Koeman a bad manager – clearly, Everton’s biggest errors this season trace back to their recruitment strategy during the summer – but it would also be wrong to ignore how his Toffees side were desperately short of enthusiasm, energy and aggression towards the end of his tenure.
That’s inherently linked with confidence but is exactly what the Merseysiders now need to restore a season that has seen them slump to 16th place, standing three points above the relegation zone, and caretaker manager David Unsworth has turned to the club’s promising array of youngsters to provide it.
Few performances have quite epitomised what those young players can offer Everton quite like Jonjoe Kenney’s against Crystal Palace on Saturday, a high-octane affair in south London that saw the Toffees claim a 2-2 draw with just 31% of the ball.
Accordingly, the 20-year-old’s performance wasn’t the most polished; he completed just 56% of his passes and committed three fouls.
But his commitment and aggression was more than evident by making the most interceptions of any player on the pitch alongside the second-most tackles.
If Everton are to turn their wayward season around, dogged performances like Kenny’s will be vital – especially away from home – and Unsworth clearly appreciates that. The lingering question though, is whether his successor will value the Toffees’ impressive batch of youngsters in the same way.