When Ronald Koeman left Southampton to join Everton this Summer, many looked at the decision with a sense of bemusement, wondering whether this really was a step up for the Dutchman.
But up to now, Koeman has done brilliantly to silence the naysayers as his side have made an unbeaten start to the season, winning three and drawing just one.
One of the main attractions of a move to Everton in the summer was an increased budget, which coincided with Iranian businessman, Farhad Moshiri taking a 49.9% stake in the club at the end of last season.
The new owners promise of investment in the squad has come to fruition with the signings of Yannick Bolasie and Ashley Williams from Crystal Palace and Swansea respectively as well as Idrissa Gueye from Aston Villa, who was one of their only shining lights last season. These three players together are rumoured to have cost the Toffees around £45 million.
Gueye has been particularly impressive in the opening weeks of the season. He is similar to N’Golo Kante in that he goes unnoticed as he quietly controls the game, never seeming to run out of energy as he breaks up play in defensive areas while starting moves for his attacking teammates.
He is a constant nuisance to his opponents and his partnership with midfield veteran, Gareth Barry, seems to grow stronger with each week that passes.
But the best ‘signing’ Everton made this summer in my view was to keep a hold of their talisman, Romelu Lukaku.
The forward made a slow start to the season, failing to find the target in his first three games, but after a hat-trick at Sunderland and another goal in their 3-1 win over Middlesbrough on Saturday, he is back to his usual self.
On his day, the 23-year-old is one of the most formidable strikers in Europe and is unplayable at times. The Belgian will be vital to Everton and their chances of finishing in one of the European positions.
Koeman’s fluid and aggressive style of play has proved to be a success with his new team so far, like it did with Southampton.
The Dutchman has been unlucky to have not been offered a job from one of the so-called elite clubs in England or Europe so far.
He has consistently impressed since his move to England. Despite losing several key players each summer in recent seasons, Koeman managed to both replace and surprisingly improve his squad each time, this being proven with them finishing in 7th and 6th place in his two seasons with the Saints.
The 6th place finish in the 2015/16 season was Southampton’s highest league finish in the Premier League era.
Everton, a club who should be in Europe, will be hoping for a top six finish after finishing in 11th place in each of the last two campaigns. From their early showing, the Toffees look to be capable of finishing in the European places.
It would be a brilliant achievement if they manage to do so, considering the level of competition at the top of the division, with Liverpool, Leicester and Tottenham strengthening. While Chelsea, Arsenal and the two Manchester clubs should definitely make it into Europe as they look to challenge for the title.
Koeman is a manager who already has an illustrious résumé, but it will undoubtedly improve further should he restore Everton as one of English football’s top clubs.
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