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Koeman: “I had Olivier Giroud in the building”

Manager knew his end at Everton was nigh before the season started

Swansea City v Everton - Premier League Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Now that Ronald Koeman is not part of Everton anymore, he has opened up to the media regarding what happened over the summer transfer window with regards to the search for a striker, and when he knew the enormity of the task ahead of him for this season.

Speaking with the Mirror, Koeman said the Blues had just about gotten Olivier Giroud wrapped up before the French forward decided to stay at Arsenal instead.

“I had Olivier Giroud in the building. He would have fitted perfectly, but at the very last moment he decided that he’d rather live in London and stay at Arsenal.

“That was really hard to swallow. You tell me, where you can get a better striker?

“Lukaku was so important for us, not just because of his goals. He had a certain way of playing as a striker — strong. He could hold the ball, he always had an eye for the goal, he was fast. If things were not going well in a game, if we could not play the way we were used to, there was always the option to use the long ball towards him.

“All of a sudden (when Giroud did his U-turn), we were missing such a player.

“With Nikola Vlasic and Wayne Rooney, we had attackers who want the ball at their feet.

“When you are struggling as a team with the build-up from the back, and we no longer had the option to kick it long, you know you have a problem.’’

His other indicator that this season would not start well for him or the Blues was the Premier League schedule that Everton were presented with, especially having to face five of last year’s top six in just a matter of weeks.

“I was on holiday when I received the Premier League fixture list by e-mail.

“I looked at it and saw that five of our first nine games would be against clubs from last season’s top six: Chelsea, Tottenham, Man City, Man United and Arsenal.

“I looked at it again and I said to myself, 'Phew!'

“That is not going to be an easy run, in particular with a Europa League run at the same time and a really early start with all the players because of the European games. And most of all, because I had lost my striker Lukaku.’’

One of the biggest criticisms of Koeman’s tenure has been the amount of money spent over this last summer, but the Dutchman argued that Lukaku’s transfer fee should have softened that blow.

“We sold Lukaku for £90m. Our most expensive signing, Gylfi Sigurdsson, cost half of that amount.

“Of course it is a lot of money, but in England the football world has different figures. All players in England cost more than what they are worth really. That is how this market operates here.”

Koeman went on to add that he understood that the Blues had high expectations and justifiably so after last year’s seventh-place finish and financial outlay over the summer.

“Absolutely, because this Everton was much more our own team than last season. We were allowed to buy players and it was me who said that I had the ambition to attack the top six in the Premier League.

“I have never shunned big challenges, even knowing that there are no guarantees that we would actually fulfill the expectations.

“When we had to face Burnley at home, after a poor start, everyone expected an Everton victory. But I knew that Burnley had beaten Chelsea away, I knew they had drawn against Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool. We lost 1-0. That is the Premier League for you.

“The strength of all the clubs in the Premier League makes it really difficult to climb out of a crisis, once you land in it.’’