About last night Ronald… It was a mistake. A horror show. An absolute disaster if I’m being honest, and it’s making me think our entire relationship was a mistake.
I’m starting to get worried.
Worried when you spend nearly £50 million on Iceland’s star player but end up looking more like England.
When you buy the TWO captains in last year’s Europa League final and end up looking like you’ll drop out in the group stages.
When you spend millions on a host of players but don’t replace Lukaku. And all these fantastic ingredients somehow make a very stodgy meal.
To be honest, Koeman’s lineup yesterday against Appolon Limassol looked OK to me. Kenny was starting, as was Tom Davies – both things I have been screaming for. I was even hoping for Sandro to get a few goals and snap out of his funk. I don’t think Koeman’s problem is *always* his lineup, sometimes it’s the lack of fire in any bellies. For long stretches of the game, especially in the first half, we had eleven Sunday morning drivers, casually pootling down to the newsagents in their black VW Beetles.
Ronald Koeman is full of strong, forceful declarative statements. The kind of statements that should be chiseled into a massive monolith, or brought down from a mountain on tablets of stone.
“Niasse needs to leave if he wants to play.”
“[Insert young player’s name] is good but he isn’t ready.”
“Good players can play in one team, good players like Sigurdsson, Klaassen and Rooney can play out of that position but they need more understanding and also support from other players.”
“The boy needs time. He’s a quality player but he is 21.”
At first we loved this. The pendulum had swung away from Martinez and his woolly ramblings, and now we had someone prepared to tell it like it is… But now we realise that he shares the same problems as Roberto did. Forget about what comes out of their mouths, both managers are equally stubborn.
The Guardian’s Sid Lowe wrote this during the final throes of Koeman’s reign at Valencia in 2008:
He lost Joaquín when he dropped him from the squad for arriving two minutes late to a team-talk, even though he had included Ever Banega, who’d been picked up by the police for drink-driving, prompting the winger to snipe: “Maybe next time I’ll get pissed and run a red light instead.” And he lost Iván Helguera and more when he publicly berated the players for not being good enough, prompting Helguera to bemoan a “lack of respect”. “I don’t know if I have the squad behind me,” shrugged Koeman, “but I reckon four or five of them are on my side.”
While we’re crying out for pace, width and dynamism, Ademola Lookman is either tearing up trees for the U23’s or sitting on the bench in the first team. Could it be that he’s done something to upset the Dutchman, much like Joaquín at Valencia?
Koeman seems to use the substitutes bench as a way of exerting his authority over certain players, dangling the chance of a first team appearance under their noses but rarely giving them that reward. Lookman seems to be one of the main recipients of this cruel and unusual punishment – as does Mirallas – both left on the bench yesterday.
I don’t think Koeman’s “lost” the changing room at Everton, but equally I’m not sure he’s ever had its backing this season either. I think any effort there is, is being wasted. Sandro and Rooney were charging around like maniacs last night, closing players down like ebullient terriers, but they never seemed to get close to the ball. Both would often stray deep, sometimes into our own half, in search of the ball, desperate to ignite something but usually failing. Rooney’s over-exuberance saw him leap into a bicycle kick, miss the ball and have his arm trampled. Likewise, Sandro seems to hyperventilate at the sight of goal, slashing the ball deep into the Park End, something that’s fast becoming his signature move.
Most of the time we look hypnotized by the ball, and it wasn’t until Calvert-Lewin and Vlasic came on that things started looking up. Two pristine unsullied squares of cement in a pavement otherwise littered with steaming dog turds. Vlasic has the wonderful gift of being able to turn into trouble, to head towards crowds of players, and still come out with the ball. Calvert-Lewin is a fantastic option up front, players suddenly sense that there’s a viable sentient being to pass to, he pulls defenders out of position, he’s fast and strong and Limassol’s red card on him shows just how scared they were by his presence.
Koeman came out of the game with a flock of excuses. Apparently we were hurting from the six or seven players that were out, apparently our group is tough, and most damning of all, apparently we are scared of playing football. That’s a big problem Ronald. We’re Everton Football Club. Football is literally our middle name.
Next up, Burnley at Goodison. They’ve claimed bigger scalps than us this season already.
Europa League: Thurs 19 Oct (20:05); Lyon at Goodison
Premier: Sun 22 Oct (13:30); Gunners at Goodison