The Premier League has undergone quite the transformation over the past 12 months. New managers for Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea have been brought in to compete with the most unlikely champions in Leicester City.
Everton look set to be the next team to join the revolution and have targeted Southampton manager Ronald Koeman as the man to lead them into a new age. The majority shareholder for Everton Farhad Moshiri is reportedly offering the Dutchman an annual salary of around £6m with a transfer war chest of £100m to kick start the Toffees’ revolution.
Should Koeman take the job he will no doubt be under enormous pressure to deliver but with the management he has shown in his two years in England so far he will no doubt be the prime candidate to succeed.
Much like Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham, Koeman is seeing his stock skyrocket after back to back impressive seasons and leading Southampton to their highest ever Premier League finish in sixth. The 53-year-old is now in his managerial prime to undertake a huge project – perhaps it is just a stepping stone but Everton are planning to strike when his stock is at it’s highest.
One of the key reasons former manager Roberto Martinez now finds himself on the unemployment line was his inability to coach defending. A stark contrast to the prime candidate for the job this time. Koeman’s Southampton conceded only 33 goals in 2014/15 season with only champions Chelsea, under the defensive mastermind Jose Mourinho, conceded less (32). In the same season Everton under Martinez shipped 50 goals.
While Martinez often brought swashbuckling attacking play to the blue half of Merseyside his imbalanced approach often ruffled the feathers of Everton supporters. Koeman by contrast presents a much more balanced mantra. In fact Southampton matched Everton for league goals scored last season while also conceding 14 less than The Toffees. And in 2014/15 Koeman’s Saints side netted 54 times in contrast to the 48 the supposed attacking Martinez’s team scored.
The statistics are on Koeman’s side but what else is on his side is his strong man management style. Martinez often presented the picture of a nice man but not a strong personality which may dry up and wilt like an malnourished sunflower if the heat got too intense for him. The 53-year-old was a well respected player playing for some of the world’s biggest clubs and has developed his management style into one which is now equally as respected as his playing career was. Having dealt with some of the biggest clubs in the countries he’s worked in: Benfica, Ajax, Valencia to name a few the former Barcelona player has experience in dealing with huge egos and big personalities. Perhaps something Martinez could not cope with as he tried to man manage the likes of Romelu Lukaku.
Koeman is a straight talker with the press and hard on his players but loves them at the same time. Martinez could often cut the figure of a parent making excuses for their naughty child while Koeman will make his squad accountable for their actions – a trait all winning managers must and do have.
Should the former Feyenoord head coach take up the reins at Everton he may well be faced with another revolving door situation in terms of personnel. A joking tweet sent in the pre season of 2014 with nothing but cones laid out on the field was a tongue in cheek reaction perhaps to the mass exodus that had occurred at St. Mary’s Stadium. Yet even with £100m to spend he may have to yet again stable the ship should key members of the squad uproot and leave.
Lukaku, John Stones and Ross Barkley are the three key players linked with moves away from Goodison Park. With other important members such as Seamus Coleman, Gerard Deulofeu and James McCarthy also being linked with moves away from the club.
Part of the thinking in Everton wanting Koeman has to be his ability to keep a squad competitive despite losing key players. The hope will be that this is the last summer Everton will be pressured to sell key players with this new era being ushered in. Over Koeman’s time at Southampton so far he has been has seen eight of his key players leave and has just kept making astute signings and blending them together expertly.
Southampton made around £90m from the sales of: Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana, Calum Chambers, Ricky Lambert and Dejan Lovren in the summer of 2014. Many clubs often squander the vast amounts of money they get from transfers – Tottenham wasted a lot of the £85m they received for Gareth Bale and Liverpool’s use of the fee they received for Luis Suarez is still very questionable.
Koeman is an astute businessman as well as a sound tactician and good man manager. No doubt a potential raid on his current employers would be on the cards if he swapped red and white for blue. With so many big changes to the playing squad almost certain to happen perhaps Koeman’s first task will be to simply stabilise Everton for one season before kicking in the turbo.
Martinez took Everton as far as he could get them. Attacking football and two domestic cup semi-finals showed what he can do. However with such a huge financial injection coming The Toffees’ way it seems the time is now for a change and to break the glass ceiling which is winning silverware that so far has eluded them. While Koeman is yet to taste any silverware of his own in England he has a chance to wave in a era littered with finals and cups – perhaps Premier League contenders in four or five years. A huge project is in the offing in Merseyside and there is no doubt that should Koeman oversee such a large project he will succeed.