When your competitive season starts in late July there will always be an element of balancing transfer business with game preparedness, and nowhere was that more evident than in Ronald Koeman’s pre-match press conference:
Speaking about the overall feeling in Goodison heading into tomorrow’s Europa League qualifier with Ruzomberok, Koeman noted the challenges in starting the season this early:
“We are very excited. It is a strange feeling to have named the squad already after three weeks of preseason, but we know that we play for a European place.”
He also noted that the Toffees upcoming opponent have been impressive, and more importantly, resilient.
After losing at home 1-0 in the first leg, Ruzomberok earned a 2-0 road win as HUGE underdogs.
They showed in the second leg to be the stronger team. They have already played a competitive game. It is a third tound for them. It shows in Europe you don’t have easy games. You need to work, you need to be aggressive. You need to put your qualities on the pitch.
As always, the Dutch manager showed reverence for his opponents while noting that while favorites, anything can happen.
Normally we are the stronger team. But (anything) can happen in football, you need to be prepared for tomorrow.
In regards to injuries, Koeman said that outside of the long-term injuries to Seamus Coleman, Yannick Bolasie and Funes Mori, plus Ross Barkley, the entire squad is healthy.
Moving onto transfers, there was plenty to talk about.
When asked if he’d known a busier summer than this one, Koeman had kind words when comparing it to his start at Southampton:
When I signed at Southampton we lost a lot of players, but now we signed a lot of players. Of course it is always busy.. but it is a better feeling to have new signings in than if you lose good players. That of course is more busier than it was last season.
Koeman went on to say that while the new players are being asked to do a lot, they have done a great job of integrating themselves into the side.
I am really happy how the new players adapt to the new team, to the new teammates, to the new teammates, to a new club. I think we really signed some great players with some experience. That makes the team stronger. That gives the team, the squad, more competition. What we need, what we like. That is all about to get everybody to 100% to start the season.
Of course, while there was plenty of interest in the players who have already signed, there was also lots of discussion on those who have yet to be signed.
First, there was Gylfi.
When asked about the reports that Everton had recently had a bid rejected, Koeman simply stated.
Of course we have interest in the player.
However, when asked if the Toffees would return for another attempt to snatch up the Icelandic playmaker, Koeman was less assured.
Will we go back? I don’t know.
Koeman was happy to talk more openly about the positions on the field that he is still looking to strengthen, which includes everywhere from center back:
We know we lost Funes Mori to a knee injury, we are also looking to replace him.
To another striker:
We know we lost Lukaku, we brought Sandro Ramirez in, and we are trying to get another striker in.
Then finished up his shopping list in the vaguest of terms:
and maybe one more, that is all about the business.
Koeman, as always, spoke frankly about the increased expectations on the Toffees, and the impact the fans can have moving forward
We have a sold out tomorrow, that is really what we like, what we need, and it is really excit[ing] to play tomorrow [in] our first game.
Finally, Koeman finished things up by declaring that the captaincy would be staying with Phil Jagielka, with Gareth Barry and Leighton Baines deputizing him in that order.
Of course, with Jags and Barry slated to see limited minutes one can expect to see Baines with the armband fairly regularly, including most likely tomorrow.