Since Ronald Koeman’s arrival at Everton, he has strived to change things around drastically on the playing side of things. The Dutchman has altered the playing squad, the playing style, and is still working on changing the mentality to go with it.
Improvements have been made, the Blues are currently four places and eight points better off than they were at this stage last season. They have also won four more games, drawn four fewer and lost the same amount. Their goal difference is also improved under the former Southampton boss.
There is one major change he has brought about, though, and that is getting rid of the perceived ‘niceness’ that has plagued the club.
For a long time, Everton Football Club has been perceived as nice, and dare I say it, soft, both on and off the pitch. That is now gone.
It has been most evident on the pitch. Away at Crystal Palace the side played on and got a winner while Jeffrey Schlupp was down injured. In the past, they would have kicked the ball out.
Against Stoke City, again away from home, the squad argued vehemently with the referee and his assistant to ensure Ryan Shawcross’ own goal was not ruled out.
It worked, the decision was overturned and they gained a decent point away from home. Potters boss Mark Hughes complained about Everton’s player's protestations after the game. Good.
Koeman has been asking for aggression from his players for some time now, and he’s getting it both in their play and in their behaviour. The Toffees are no longer happy to lie down and be nice. If they intend to compete with the big boys, they must start to act like them.
Some will lament this change in mentality but you won’t find those protestations from me, as far as I’m concerned it is long overdue.