Ronald Koeman has been talking about his 16-month spell in charge of Everton and where it all went wrong.
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And the failure to sign Olivier Giroud over the summer is clearly his biggest, and most damaging, slip-up as Everton boss.
Speaking to Dutch magazine Voetbal International, Koeman revealed how close he came to getting the final piece of the jigsaw.
“I had Olivier Giroud in the building,” Koeman said. “That was hard to swallow. That would have been perfect but at the very last minute he decided he’d rather live in London. You tell me where you can get a better striker.”
I understand that Giroud’s hold-up play would have been ideal for Everton, but was there really no Plan B for Koeman and Everton’s Director of Football Steve Walsh in the transfer market? Chris Wood? Fernando Llorente? Islam Slimani?
Hardly household names but all three players were available in the summer and would’ve done a similar job to Giroud to replace the Romelu Lukaku-sized hole in their attack.
Koeman also, predictability, pointed to the summer sale of Lukaku as the main reason for Everton’s struggles and defended spending a club record $55 million on Gylfi Sigurdsson as well as spending big on numerous other No.10s in Wayne Rooney, Nicola Vlasic and Davy Klaassen.
“Lukaku was important to us, not only because of his goals, but because of his way of playing – strong, quick, direct,” Koeman said. “There was always the option of the long ball to him. Now we missed such a player, we had Nicola Vlasic and Wayne Rooney, players who want the ball in to feet.”
“We sold Lukaku for £90m. Our most expensive purchase, the Icelander Gylfi Sigurdsson, cost half. It’s a lot of money, but in England you work in a world of different numbers. Players here all cost a lot more than they are actually worth. That’s how the market works.”
Again, Koeman’s defense of Everton’s summer of spending seems like he is making excuses for failing to find a striker.
Yes, Everton had been handed a tough schedule to start the season but it was the manner of the performances rather than the defeats which were most concerning for the fans and the board.
“I was on holiday when I received the Premier League fixture list by e-mail,” Koeman said. “I looked at it and saw that five of our first nine games would be against clubs from last season’s top six: Chelsea, Tottenham, Man City, Man United and Arsenal. I looked at it again and I said to myself, ‘Phew! That is not going to be an easy run, in particular with a Europa League run at the same time’. And, most of all, because I had lost my striker Lukaku.”
All in all, when we look back at his time in charge of the Toffees we will think about how different it would’ve been had one man decided to swap London for Merseyside.
Giroud will not be on Koeman’s Christmas card list for quite some time…