The game against Atalanta marked Ronald Koeman’s 50th in charge and the tone for his tenure has never been more dour than it was last night. Everton fans are legitimately discussing “Koeman out” and while it may (still) be a bit premature for that, it’s certainly a striking contrast to where the manager’s security sat with the fans before the year started. Two straight games of narrow 4-2-3-1’s that resulted in us getting pelted from all sides have left fans a mite jumpy and who can blame them?
For better or worse, little gets past Twitter, and comparisons through 50 games between Koeman and his predecessors have been inevitable:
Ron K's 50th game as #EFC boss tonight— Steve Johnson (@stevejohnson95) September 14, 2017
Record so far: W22 D12 L15 - F74 A55
1st 50 records:
Martinez: 27-11-12 91-61
Moyes: 22-10-18 73-78
On the surface, here, things do not look great for Koeman. More losses than Martinez and fewer goals, on the heels of current form it is not a great look at all. But I think these numbers need a little bit of context.
First of all, let's throw the Moyes stats out entirely. There was zero continuity between Moyes’ first 50 games and the first 50 of Martinez or Koeman. They were a decade plus apart, everything about those situations was different save the club being represented.
Second, in the comparison between Koeman and Martinez, let’s look at what they inherited. David Moyes left Martinez a team that had collected 63 points and scored 55 goals, +15 goal differential. He turned that into 72 points and 61 goals, +22gd.
We all know how things went from there. Koeman inherited a team that had 47 points and scored 59 goals with a +4 gd. He turned it into 61 points, 62 goals and a +18 gd.
Here’s how I am interpreting these numbers. Based on how the ‘rest of the story’ played out for Martinez, it looks like he rode the positive momentum created by Moyes for a year before his mark on the team ultimately killed that momentum forcing us into a change. Having to replace a manager because a bigger club hired him based on his good performances is an entirely different world than having to replace a manager because the club was going in the wrong direction under his control.
The difference in goal differential brought by Koeman was dramatic, and a large portion of that came from his transfer policy. Bringing in Ashley Williams and Morgan Schneiderlin had a profound impact on our ability to defend last year.
Every managerial career reaches a point of crisis at some point or another. Arguably, we are currently in the midst of the first major crisis of Koeman’s tenure, but it remains to be seen where the club will go from here. We don’t need to compare the first 50 games to know whether Koeman is outperforming Martinez, we can see where the team was before Koeman and where the club finished last year and know he’s been an improvement. That being said, the tactics must improve or else we’ll have a second consecutive manager who started well before ultimately being shown the door because of a lack of competence.
Two different times now, I’ve preached patience. Before that I’ve said it isn’t time to panic. I’m not at all happy with the fact that Koeman’s tactics are making that position harder to defend, but our lot is cast with him for the time being, and I think once our schedule hits a soft stretch some normalcy will yet return to Goodison.
Ronald Koeman is a better manager than Roberto Martinez, we see that by comparing his first full season to Martinez’ last full season. Now we’ll find out whether he’s the right manager for this club, and knowing that will take more time.