Ronald Koeman has been installed as the new Everton manager – but as we investigate, the Dutchman faces a number of tricky challenges at Goodison Park.
Koeman has signed a three-year deal to replace Roberto Martinez on Merseyside – but after the side endured a difficult 2015/16 campaign, the former Barcelona defender will have a tricky task on his hands to revive Everton’s fortunes.
Here, we look at five of his biggest issues….
ROMELU LUKAKU’S FUTURE
The striker is away at Euro 2016 with Belgium but Koeman needs a swift decision on the man who became the first player since Gary Lineker in 1985-86 to score 20 league goals in a season. All indications point to the 23-year-old leaving Goodison Park and if that is to happen Koeman could really do with it taking place as soon as possible to prevent a drawn-out transfer saga. In any case, he should be looking for potential replacements now as Everton’s options up front are limited any way.
The player put in a disappointing display as Belgium opened their campaign with a 2-0 defeat to Italy, with Lukaku’s performance slammed by TEAMtalk’s readers.
BUILD A TEAM AROUND JOHN STONES AND ROSS BARKLEY
The two 22-year-olds both under-performed in the last campaign and any residual unhappiness or frustration cannot be allowed to linger. A new face at the helm will help but both players are coveted by bigger clubs and Koeman has to make the duo feel part of a new era and persuade them to stick around long enough for his methods to have a positive effect.
MAKE QUALITY SQUAD REINFORCEMENTS
Koeman has been promised a club record transfer kitty of £100million – plus the profits from any Lukaku sale – and he will need it. Outside of Everton’s starting XI there is a lack of quality in depth. There is little competition for places in goal, at full-back, central midfield and up front and this needs to be addressed if Everton are to avoid falling further behind teams like West Ham, Southampton and Stoke – who last season all looked better contenders for a European spot, which is the minimum the Toffees should be aiming for.
Signing a new goalkeeper will be an immediate priority, with Tim Howard having left for Colorado, with the Toffees having already been linked with Fraser Forster and Kasper Schmeichel.
MAINTAIN PROGRESS OF ACADEMY YOUNGSTERS
A number of youngsters made their first-team debuts last season with the likes of Matthew Pennington, Kieran Dowell, Tom Davies and Jonjoe Kenny impressing in brief spells. This group should be expected to supplement the squad again but they need regular football, while the academy conveyor belt needs to be maintained even if the first team remains the priority. Koeman at least has experience of this with Southampton’s youth system admired throughout the Premier League.
MAKE THE MOST OF GOODISON PARK
As a new manager Koeman will enjoy a considerable honeymoon period and he needs to utilise that to regain home advantage. Goodison became an area of fear and anxiety both on and off the pitch in the final throes of Roberto Martinez’s reign and just six home league wins in the last 13 months is what eventually cost the Spaniard his job. The Dutchman needs to make the most of a fresh start to make Goodison a fortress again.