Regardless of where Everton finish this season, it is fair to say that Ronald Koeman’s first season in charge has been a successful one. While there is no silverware to show, there has been a tangible improvement both on and off the pitch under the Dutchman.
The failings of the old regime have certainly been swiftly removed, the playing squad has been significantly improved and there is a greater sense of purpose at the club than there has been in the last 30 years.
The challenge next season will be for him to help the Blues to break into the elite. European football is a must if the club is to continue progressing.
First, though, he has a bigger challenge on his hands and that is removing Everton’s ability to spoil their own party.
On several occasions, this season Everton have had the opportunity to mount a serious push for a place higher up the table but have not taken them.
A win over either Liverpool or Manchester United several weeks ago could have seen them pushing for the top four rather than the top six. Similarly, a win over West Ham United could have improved their chances of securing sixth.
On both occasions, they failed to get the results they needed. The 0-0 draw at the Olympic Stadium was arguably the most frustrating instance of it.
In truth, it’s not something that’s been limited to his reign. Roberto Martinez and David Moyes suffered the same fate on numerous occasions. In fact, the failure to take the next step ended up defining the Scot’s reign.
It’s something Koeman must find a way of overcoming, especially if he is to lead Everton into a bright new future under Farhad Moshiri. The club is progressing at a rapid pace off the pitch and there must be similar speedy developments on it. The new ownership won’t accept anything less.
How he does it is anyone’s guess. Starting with the mentality of the players would be a smart starting point. If he can overcome that challenge then everyone, including Evertonians, might start believing Everton are the real deal once more.