Former Everton boss Ronald Koeman has opened up about his time at Goodison Park and believes the club were too hasty in sacking him.
The Dutchman was dismissed in October 2017 after a disastrous start to the season including a run of seven defeats in 11 matches in all competitions. There were some mitigating circumstances including a tough set of Premier League fixtures that saw the Toffees face four of the division’s so-called big six in their opening five matches.
They also had to cope with a shortened pre-season due to the Europa League qualifiers while also looking to bed-in eight new players. Koeman therefore feels he should have been given a bit more time.
When asked about his sacking in a revealing interview with a small number of British media this week, Koeman, who is now manager of the Netherlands, said:
“Yeah, ok, I feel like why on that moment?
“Because sometimes that kind of decision is taken too quick, too early by the responsibility of that people and the presidents, but we know most of the time, I don’t know exactly how much, but most of the time it is not a good decision because the team is not doing better and the problem for Everton is they like to be part of the Champions League, but how you compete to the Big Six and the crowd historically-wise expect more, and that’s really difficult for Everton.”
While Koeman maintains his sacking was premature, you are unlikely to find many supporters who agree.
Yes, the club had a tough start to the season but the team’s performances were shambolic.
The club’s wild summer transfer policy was also quickly exposed, with the squad wildly imbalanced with no clear style of play or identity.
Koeman’s rather cold, distant demeanour also proved a source of frustration with the fans. It was felt that he never really embraced the club and saw it is a stepping-stone.
As a result he was afford little leeway from the supporters when things started to go wrong.
“I remember that period as a difficult period because you feel it.
“You feel it from the crowd, from the fans, from the media and that is normal. You feel it.
“But ok, that is normal because if you don’t do well – and even with the excuses that it was a difficult start to the season where we played the top six in the first nine games, and we had Europa League qualification early in the pre-season and we had new players, but that happened.
“I look back to a great period of three-and-a-half years in the Premier League, as a total picture, and those two seasons at Southampton were unbelievable and the first season at Everton was really good. Only the start of the second season was not so good, and if that is three or four months they will discuss about the manager, I do not have any problem with that.”
Speaking of those questionable transfer decisions, no player embodied that ineptitude more than Dutch midfielder Davy Klaassen who came in from Ajax Amsterdam.
Koeman went on to defend the player, saying that he also needed more time to settle in. Despite his improved form with Werder Bremen, the 26-year-old is not in the Netherlands squad to the Nations League.
“He is doing well. I watched him a couple of weeks ago, it was Bremen v Dortmund. He is playing a little bit different in the midfield. He is playing in a diamond on the left side. I told him that I am happy he is playing in a good competition.
“But comparing him to Wijnaldum or Van de Beek, I have to make decisions. It was difficult for him at Everton. Most of the time – and I heard those stories as well – people say that you need a year to settle in the Premier League. You cannot say after one month, two months ‘he is not good enough’.
“Some players need adaptation time. You need that time. If they come to the Premier League, it is different – the intensity, the decisions by the referees. The Premier League will have VAR next season. Phew! That will be difficult for the referees. Normally you can let it play but with VAR it will change. Players need adaptation time.”
Blues were also unhappy with how Koeman treated Ross Barkley, as the Dutchman varied from a strict disciplinarian authority to kindly paternal figure almost on a week-to-week basis with the Wavertree-born player.
Many believe that Barkley’s experiences under the 56-year-old manager paved his way for an exit from his boyhood club, and remain displeased with his departure for Chelsea.
“I worked really well with Ross but sometimes it was difficult.
“I was always honest, it was nice to see what he said about me, that we had a good relationship, that he learned. I think the problem sometimes for Ross was… he needs to have a little bit more effectiveness in his football if he is the player between the midfield and the strikers, he needs instead of dribbling back, dribbling back, go forward, make decisions, shoot, give the pass, give the assist.
“I think that part of football he needs to improve. But the rest of the qualities – he’s strong, he’s fast, he’s a good boy, he likes football, he likes training. That is all really positive. That part, to be more effective in his football from midfield to forward, I think that’s important for him.”
In the end, it appears that moving on from Koeman was best for both parties as the relationship between the club and the manager had soured beyond a point of redemption.
Quotes courtesy of the Liverpool Echo,