Everton supremo Ronald Koeman is the latest subject of Manager Files as we take a look at the tactics, mannerisms, demeanour and touchline antics of the game’s top bosses.
Koeman – a European Cup winner as a player – stood squinting pitch side early on Saturday evening as he and the fans in attendance at Goodison basked in the last throes of summer sunshine. Adorned in a modest suit and blue tie, Koeman looked more mortgage advisor than high profile Premier League boss. The hair has not changed a great deal since his playing pomp and he retains a fresh faced disposition despite the fact the Dutchman is now 53.
Koeman sent Everton out playing 4-4-1-1 against Middlesbrough and they looked nervous early on as Middlesbrough took the ascendency and then the lead courtesy of a Maarten Stekelenburg own goal. Old warhorse Gareth Barry – playing in his 600th Premier League game – soon lashed them level and after that the Toffeemen were always in control. It was another polished display from the Blues who have really bought into Koeman’s vision since he took over from Roberto Martinez. There is a solid look to Everton these days and they are beginning to look a fantastically functional side.
Koeman famously made an uncharacteristic dash down the touchline with the arms aloft when boss of Southampton to celebrate an unlikely come-from-behind victory over Liverpool earlier this year. He vowed after that never to celebrate as crazily again and so far has been as good as his word. The Dutch word for calm is ‘kalmte’ and the former Barcelona defender was his usual ice cool self on Saturday. He studiously watched the action but is not a manager who will rant and rave from the dugout as a rule.
What they said
On Monday Koeman said he would be considered ‘crazy’ to think Everton can sustain their title bid this season – despite the fact that the Toffees currently occupy second spot in the table after five games. When asked whether he thought his team could challenge Manchester City the straight-talking Koeman shot back: “I don’t think so. You never know, but normally not. I am realistic.
“If I tell you we will fight for the title, most people will say that man is crazy. Even if I mention it I am crazy.
“Leicester was an exception, so you have the EFL Cup and the FA Cup. We need to improve and then fight for Europe.”
Unhappy with Ross Barkley’s first-half contribution against Sunderland last week Koeman dragged the young playmaker off and made him watch some video clips of where he went wrong on Wearside. Against Boro Barkley’s contribution was much improved so it’s clear that the disciplinarian approach Koeman prefers is working.
Phil Jagielka also admitted recently that the players are scared of their new boss and that he is “not afraid to make decisions before or after a game.” He brought them all back early for pre-season and this hardline approach seems to be reaping rewards early on. The word round the campfire is that Koeman keeps his players at arms length and is fairly ruthless and calculated when it comes to making decisions around Goodison Park.
Koeman did however show a softer side to his character late on Saturday when he substituted Barry after 91 minutes so the former England man could enjoy a standing ovation from the crowd.
Given that Everton have enjoyed their best start to a season since the 1978/79 campaign there is little chance of Koeman leaving Merseyside anytime soon. The Dutchman is a whopping 66/1 to be the first Premier League manager to leave his post this season but even odds as big as that make no appeal at present as it seems Koeman is definitely in it for the long haul. And that can only be good news for Merseyside fans of a blue persuasion who after a few years in the doldrums are suddenly daring to dream again.