The Koeman era came to an end just like an old tub of mayonnaise, sour and fucking stinking. His hopes fried just like a plate of his favourite chips, his dream of managing the love of life Barcelona in the shitter. And there ultimately lay the problem with the Koeman and Everton relationship. For him, it was only ever a means to an end. For him, the ultimate destination was to manage the team he had the most success for as a player. I personally don’t have a problem with that. I’m under no illusions that no matter who we bring in their ambitions may very well be beyond Goodison Park, and there is no greater lure in world football than to manage the Catalan giants.
But as a manager Koeman did very little to justify the flirtations of leaving when he wasn’t even a year into the job at the blues. His biggest problem, it seems, lies in his inability to get the best out of players when things aren’t going right. The Barkley situation is a perfect example of this. As much as I’ve been a critic of Barkley throughout the whole saga, you have to wonder how Koeman can justify a £6 million a year contract if he can’t convince a boyhood Evertonian to play for the team he has represented for nearly the majority of his life.
Whether it’s his version of tough love or public slander, it’s clear that Koeman struggles as a manager when the team is struggling on the pitch. He never seemed able to inspire a team, often radiating bad vibes even when standing on the sidelines, completely devoid of hope. How were the players meant to trust the managers tactics when it seemed he didn’t fully trust them himself? How can a player regain confidence when the first poor game he has results in him being dropped, only to watch players who consistently fail to perform play every single minute? How can players be expected to adapt to a new system, especially those who are told to play out of position, when the following week the system is once again changed?
It’s a shame for me because like a lot of Evertonians, I was taken in by Koeman’s ruthlessness and the winning mentality that he came with, but that high expectation of himself only served to weigh him down. Everton’s motto in the past couple of decades may very well have been lost in disappointment but with the arrival of investment, we really can ill afford to accept mediocrity, hence the club had to act and act swiftly. Any manager coming in has to respect the club, it’s traditions, the fans expectations and most of all, wear the clubs motto as a badge of honour. It should serve as a warning that anything less than your best is not accepted.
Koeman learned this the hard way, and it ultimately cost him.
So what’s next? Unsworth comes in from his extremely successful stint as U23’s boss to manage Everton on a temporary basis – for now. I have no doubt that he will swiftly get the message across to all of what’s expected from the club, the obvious issue is does he have the experience to manage a team in such a dire situation. He’s best placed to get the best out of the young players who he has previous with, and I’d be surprised if he doesn’t turn to the likes of Davies, Lookman, Holgate to try and breathe life into what looked like a soulless Everton team that was sweated aside by Arsenal on the weekend. A tough ask to come into against Chelsea away in the cup, but time waits for no one. No matter how well Unsworth does in his second stint in the caretaker role, he strikes as someone who is honest with himself, and wouldn’t want to take the role on permanently if he didn’t feel ready for the set up. One thing is for sure, he won’t accept anything less than full commitment from anyone to the Everton cause.