Ronald Koeman’s strict approach ‘scares’ Everton players, but his approach is reaping the rewards according to captain Phil Jagielka.
The Toffees had undoubtedly gone soft under previous boss Roberto Martinez and there were accusations in the final few months of his reign he had lost the dressing room completely.
His replacement arrived with a big reputation both as a player and a manager and immediately laid down the law, introducing a tougher line on standards at the training ground and taking a harder line with players, but it is already paying off on the pitch.
Everton have had their best start to a season since 1978 and are second in the Premier League after four wins and a draw.
“Yes there is a fear, definitely, just down to the fact that there have been people who have had good pre-seasons and they haven’t started a game yet,” said Jagielka.
“He is not scared of making changes. James (McCarthy) was really unlucky at West Brom, playing out of position and he got brought off before half-time because we needed to do something different tactically.
“He is not afraid of making decisions before and after the game. It is like being back at school with a new headteacher who is trying to be a little bit stricter.
“You only have to look at the jobs he has done. That proves he has not done a bad job.
“At the moment it is going well. I wouldn’t say we are playing amazing, but we are getting fantastic results and that breeds confidence.”
Koeman’s handing of Ross Barkley is a case in point. The England midfielder was hauled off at half-time in Monday’s win at Sunderland and in the following days the manager told the 22-year-old he had to improve.
Barkley responded with a better performance in Saturday’s 3-1 win over Middlesbrough and Jagielka believes that says as much about the player as it does his manager.
“Ross took what happened on board and it was great for the manager to give him another opportunity to perform,” added the centre-back.
“It may not have been Ross’ most dazzling of games but he got around the pitch, put tackles in and that is what we want from him.
“He is not going to go and crawl into a hole or hide. He has had such a lot of expectation from a young age but he has learnt to deal with it.”