Ronald Koeman may be joking, but Everton’s table position does not appear to be humorous.
The Dutch boss, under fire for the Toffees poor start to the season that sees them in 16th through the first eight matches of the season, has done little to endear himself to Everton fans. His latest stunt won’t help his cause.
Koeman, hoping to make light of his dire situation, joked at Everton’s pre-match press conference ahead of their Europa League match against Lyon on Thursday. When asked if he is four matches away from a crisis, Koeman answered, “Maybe I’m in the crisis.”
The comment came with a wry smile and a chuckle, clearly making light of the situation. However, the words were far more ominous. The question made reference to comments former Leicester City boss Craig Shakespeare made just a day before his recent sacking, saying “It’s the reality, we all understand that you can draw four games on the trot and the spin becomes that you haven’t won for four games.” He was fired the next day.
Koeman was pressed on his job status further, and he responded with a more level-headed answer. “Everybody knows in football the manager’s job is a really difficult job because things change really fast,” Koeman said Wednesday. “Most of the time, the manager doesn’t get time to improve the team.”
The Dutchman confirmed he met with Everton majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri on Friday while his boss was in town, and that he received their backing verbally. “We spoke about football,” Koeman said. “There was not really a message but the feeling is that they (the board) are behind the team, they are behind the manager. Everybody knows in football that’s a nice thing but in football always, finally, it’s all about results. Until now it’s full, total support from the board, yes.”
Not only does Everton rest just two points above the relegation zone, but they also sit bottom of their Europa League group with a single point through two matches.
While there will come a time for mulligans, and perhaps a predictive reboot, I’m here this Sunday to admit my wrongs (and maybe wrongs).
Course correction is to be expected in some manner with at least three of these sides, but not to the extent expected before the PL season.
I was wrong!
— Burnley — Current position: 7th place; My prediction: 20th; Staff average: 19th
With respect to the Clarets’ fan podcast, they would’ve been right to scream “No Nay Never” at my thought that Sean Dyche‘s men were too challenged in talent to again defy Premier League relegation. Michael Keane was gone to Everton, and Andre Gray was preparing to leave Turf Moor. The Clarets had added Jonathan Walters and Jack Cork, but had yet to sign Chris Wood.
Well, the Kiwi striker has been impressive and Dyche has rallied the troops (especially James Tarkowski in Keane’s stead, as well as Ben Mee and ). In what looks absolutely comical now, I expected the wealth of money spent by almost everyone else to doom Burnley to under 20 (!!!) points. Had you told me Tom Heaton would go down and Nick Pope, who’s been great, would take over, I might’ve bet even lower.
Clearly I underestimated the consistency of Dyche at the helm and the way he explains his system to players. I don’t expect the Clarets to maintain their top half pace, but clearly trusting me is an error when it comes to Burnley. Sean, I’m sorry. I should’ve known better. Call me.
— Everton — Current position: 16th place; My prediction: 6th; Staff average: 7th
Another disappointing Sunday for Everton is one thing, but the Toffees’ big expenditures have largely failed to move the meter in the Europa League as well.
My expectation that down years for Liverpool and Arsenal would allow Everton join them in the Top Seven was only two-third possible. Ronald Koeman has been indecisive in his use of Wayne Rooney and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, and several players like Gylfi Sigurdsson and Morgan Schneiderlin are not adapting to playing non-starring roles (though surely the Toffees would be fine putting the focus on Sigurdsson were he producing, and he should’ve claimed a penalty on Sunday).
How to fix it? Well, keeping Ashley Williams on the bench is a bit of a bother, so why not a back three with Keane and Phil Jagielka? I don’t know, but Davy Klaassen remains on the bench, too, and I’m not sure Everton’s players know what to expect heading into a weekend.
— Watford — Current position: 4th place; My prediction: 17th; Staff average: 16th
Joe Prince-Wright said Watford would finish 12th, which was outlandish considering the rest of us had the Hornets escaping relegation by one or two spaces at best. The highlight reel video of Richarlison almost had me boost the Hornets higher when predicting the table, but that would’ve been offset had I known Nathaniel Chalobah would be hurt.
But betting against Marco Silva has been a mistake so far, and the Hornets boasts a win home to Arsenal and away to Southampton plus a home draw versus Liverpool. The 6-0 home loss to Man City, sadly, is more common than we thought, and JPW’s 12th place feels correct right about now.
I was wrong?
— Crystal Palace — Current position: 20th place; My prediction: 12th; Staff average: 15th
Roy Hodgson’s men looked a lot like Frank De Boer‘s men until Wilfried Zaha returned from injury, and that probably shouldn’t surprise us. The Eagles just suffered through the worst goalless start in Premier League history, but beat Chelsea with their first extended look of Zaha this season (Andros Townsend also looked great). I had Palace at 48 points, and that feels a bit laughable when they have three through eight matches, but I’m not so sure they won’t rebound over time.
BRIGHTON — Like a bug knocking into a light bulb on the porch on a summers night time and time again, we know what the outcome will be. We are still watching.
Even though the bug will soon succumb to failure, they are the only ones who don’t realize it. That’s what it feels like watching Everton and Ronald Koeman at the moment.
And Sunday was a damning indictment on the team Everton have become under Ronald Koeman, even though Wayne Rooney scored an 88th minute penalty kick to grab a point after Anthony Knockaert‘s looked likely to give Brighton and Hove Albion a deserved victory.
“Sacked in the morning, you’re getting sacked in the morning!” sang the Brighton fans after they went 1-0 up.
Rooney’s late goal will save Koeman that embarrassment but he is the bookies favorite to be the next Premier League manager fired and if he doesn’t get positive results against Lyon in the Europa League and Arsenal in the PL next weekend, next Monday morning could mark the end.
The Toffees were totally devoid of any confidence throughout their trip to Brighton and Everton’s fans had little to cheer. They broke into full voice on no more than two occasions as their team of expensive individuals played like, well, a team of expensive individuals.
Much has been made of Koeman’s big summer of spending with $193 million spent on new talent, but the lack of planning with that spending is what will ultimately cost him his job as no replacement for Romelu Lukaku points to a toothless, sluggish attack.
Everton have now scored just seven goals in their last 13 matches in the Premier League, failing to score on seven occasions. They’ve had just 21 shots on target in eight games so far this season.
Like the bug, Koeman’s time is running out.
“My whole football life is pressure, if I don’t get pressure from outside I put pressure on myself,” Koeman told Sky Sports after the game.
Unshaven, and dare I say looking slightly disheveled, Koeman’s demeanor told the story on Sunday at Brighton.
Two hours before kick off and with the stadium empty, Koeman stood tentatively on the sidelines as a handful of his players surveyed the playing surface. His brother and assistant coach, Erwin, sat on the bench. They looked at each other with a glum expressions on their face. Koeman then turned and walked down the tunnel without looking up.
During the game he trudged back and forth to his seat on the bench from the technical area with, like his team, little vigor.
To the second half, which held very little promise until Vlasic slipped in attempting a rip at goal in the 57th.
And hope? At the other end, Pascal Gross cued up Solly March for a left-footed shot collected by Jordan Pickford. That wasn’t the end of Pickford’s day by any stretch of the imagination, and Brighton really amped up its attack in the final 20 minutes.
Everton should have been given a penalty when Gylfi Sigurdsson was tugged back in the 80th minute.
Fiery all game, it was Knockaert who put Brighton ahead, celebrating emotionally after bagging an 82nd minute goal.
Bruno started the charge, and a moment’s hesitation from Morgan Schneiderlin inside his own 18 helped Knockaert get his shot.
But Bruno turned Everton ally with an elbow to Dominic Calvert-Lewin in the 88th minute, and Rooney converted his PK.