It’s a big season for Everton. New majority shareholder, new manager but potentially the same problems.
Ronald Koeman has been the man charged with resurrecting Everton after Roberto Martinez’s time at Goodison Park ended in somewhat acrimonious circumstances with the club seemingly regressing under the Spaniard’s stewardship.
The 53-year-old had been in charge for Southampton for two seasons and in both campaigns has led The Saints to a Europa League place, so it’s fair to say that this move has come as somewhat of a surprise but is Koeman making the right move.
Historically Everton are certainly a big club but their league position wouldn’t have suggested so at the end of the season. A miserable campaign was ultimately the undoing for Roberto Martinez as a season of underachievement was only slightly lessened by getting to two domestic Cup semi-finals.
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That 11th place finish coupled with fan resentment towards the end was the death knell for Martinez, with the pressure arguably being raised on the Spaniard once Farhad Moshiri purchased his 49.9% share in the club. Riches were promised once Moshiri bought into the club, but it was obvious that Martinez was never going to be the man to be trusted to spend the Summer warchest
And perhaps that very warchest has tempted Ronald Koeman to make the move to Merseyside. He has been promised £100m to spend, although does that come with a caveat that the promised funds will be offset by sales of any combination of Ross Barkely, Romelu Lukaku and John Stones?
That will be the first challenge for Koeman in making sure he can keep that trio of names at Goodison Park, although it looks as though he may be too late in terms of Lukaku, and if Stones and/or Barkley have a good European Championships – the former being the more likely of the two – then they will have a number of suitors ready to prise them away from Goodison Park.
Koeman has already gone on record and said that it will take £50m to prize away John Stones. But to potential suitors Manchester City that will be a drop in the ocean, so could we be seeing Stones playing in a different shade of the blue at the start of the season?
However, if Moshiri is good to his word and there is £100m to spend regardless of additional sales, then all of a sudden the Merseyside club does become a very attractive proposition. Arguably the last real “big club” in the traditional sense of the word to have found the riches of a wealthy backer, but that’s not to say Southampton don’t have their own billionaire backer
But with Southampton you get the feeling that the funding and the expenditure is all a bit more reserved. They’ve done fantastically well over the last couple of Summers to keep rejuvenating and a lot of credit must got to Koeman for that but have they peaked in terms of ambition.
Do the Southampton board really want to spend the funds to push the club further and into the reaches of the top four? From the soon to be departing manager’s point of view it seems as if the club has reached the end of the road and certainly can’t match Koeman’s vision of the club over the next few years
One thing that will certainly have tempted Koeman will be the fact he will be earning £6m-a-year. That puts him in the top half dozen earners in the world in terms of club management. Quite the pay rise, but you do have to wonder if Everton have perhaps paid over the odds.
If Koeman can get Everton in the top eight next season then he can straight away point to an improvement on last season. Although that wouldn’t be difficult after such a miserable campaign, and it would still paint the ex Barcelona defender in a positive light, so it could be a shrewd move in terms of boosting his own stock.
But he has to be careful. This is someone who was on the radar of both Barcelona and Holland in terms of being their next manager, so a bad spell at Everton could undo his hard work and send him down the pecking order. There will be a lot riding on this appointment
As for Southampton, it’s a case of the more things that change, the more they stay the same. Once again they’ve been plucked of either playing or managerial personnel.
After losing Sadio Mane and Victor Wanayama, new Saints boss Calude Puel may have £45m to spend but he is charged with another rebuilding job at St Mary’s.
Koeman may have managed to do this twice but is a third time going to be too big an ask for the new Southampton incumbent?
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