Often football managers are treated harshly in what is a pressurised environment where the scrutiny is rarely off. Even when things are going well, it only takes a couple of poor result or insipid performances for the worm to turn.
These days ‘supporters’, and we use that term loosely, are simply unable to manage their expectations. But occasionally the pressure mounts on a manager and all we can do is nod our heads and go ‘yep, your time is all but up.’
Ronald Koeman was given sympathy at Everton due to the difficulty of their early season fixture list – the computer had not been kind to the Dutchman with games against both Manchester sides, Chelsea and Tottenham serving up the worst possible start.
So patience was the watchword for the blue half of Merseyside, although that is evaporating rather quickly after a trio of hapless performances.
Cherries Popped….But Only Just
The home game with Bournemouth a fortnight ago was Everton’s first opportunity in a while to relax, play their natural game and assure their fans that all was well in the camp.
What actually transpired was an inept showing, with the Cherries taking the lead and missing a golden opportunity to go 2-0 up via Jermain Defoe.
Koeman changed things up in the second half, sending on Oumar Niasse and playing with two up top. A more direct style paid dividends as Niasse bagged a brace to claim the three points for his side.
Football is an emotional game, and at this point the Everton fans would have gone home mostly happy – that’s what the euphoria of a late winner can do.
But the rational and the realists would have noted that their side had gotten out of jail with sheer brute force rather than any great skill or tactical nous, and that the inability of their traditional 4-2-3-1 system to create any noteworthy chances against a fragile Bournemouth side was indicative of a lack of progression.
Apollon Count Costs Toffees
Perhaps the problem at Everton is low confidence – that wouldn’t be a huge surprise, and would explain why they weren’t able to see out victory against Apollon Limassol in the Europa League on Thursday.
After going behind to a 12th minute opener, the Toffees bounced back pretty well with goals from Wayne Rooney and Nikola Vlasic. But as time dragged on, you could sense a nervousness around Goodison Park, and that was compounded by an 88th minute equaliser from the Cypriots.
Plenty of Everton fans will tell you that they aren’t bothered by their side’s antics in the Europa League, citing it as a distraction. But even so, this was another morale-sapping loss of points from a match they should be winning at a canter.
Clarets Spill More Bile Towards Koeman
When you are under fire, the last team you want to be playing is Burnley. The perception is that this is a team you should be beating nine times out of ten, so if you do then no eyebrows are raised.
But Sean Dyche is a wily campaigner and his side have taken points off Chelsea, Spurs and Liverpool already this term. This was the archetypal ‘no win’ game for Koeman.
So was anybody really surprised when Jeff Hendrick fired the Clarets in front early on, and they held on to claim the three points? Not the Everton fans present, that’s for sure, who must have experienced something approaching Groundhog Day as their side enjoyed 64% possession but could only fashion four shots on target – two of which were tame efforts from 25 yards. The boos at the end of the game literally spoke volumes.
It’s easy to point the figures at various factors when analysing Everton’s dismal start, but the simple fact is Ronald Koeman has failed to adequately replace his talisman and top goalscorer, Romelu Lukaku.
The manager brought in four players to cover for Lukaku’s goals, but three of those are not prolific goalscorers (Wayne Rooney, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Davy Klaasen) while the other, Sandro Ramirez, is a young man still learning the game. The fact that the Toffees’ top scorer is Oumar Niasse, a man that Koeman fancies so little he didn’t even hand him a squad number last term, just adds further fuel to the ‘Koeman Out’ brigade.
Whether the Dutchman is solely to blame for recruitment or not, he must have the final say on transfers in and out of the club.
So what does this all mean? Well, Koeman will be lucky to still be in a job by the end of the international break – a fact recognised by some, but not all, bookmakers.
So SkyBet have him as short as 1/3 to be the next Premier League manager to leave their post, but others are less stingy with the likes of SunBets (5/6) and Paddy Power (8/11) offering huge value on a market that seems almost a formality. Smart punters know to pull the trigger here.