Can Ronald Koeman's Everton challenge the top-6?by Mike Holden / 10 August 2017, 15:12Tweet
Mike Holden (@Ratings_Mike) looks at what we can expect from Ronald Koeman and Everton during the 2017/18 Premier League season.
Everton invested heavily and early in the summer, as they look to bridge a 15-point gap on the top six. Wayne Rooney’s return to Goodison was headline news but Ronald Koeman will also have high hopes for Jordan Pickford, Michael Keane and Davy Klaassen. They arrived for a combined fee of roughly £75m, the same amount recouped by the sale of Romelu Lukaku. Since 2005, the Toffees have never finished higher than fifth or lower than 11th. In three years on these shores, Koeman has finished seventh, sixth and seventh.
Koeman is a tough operator with a head for long-term strategy and an instinct for self-preservation. He’s a commander and his authority over players is without question but there’s also a simmering appetite to fight bigger battles and control more than just the dressing room. Behind closed doors, the Dutchman has a talent for short, sharp training drills known to stimulate more intellectual players. During his early days at Southampton, the players once appealed to have a day off cancelled so they could learn some more.
"I heard every time that 'Everton is spending £100m, £100m, £100m' but I think we're 16th in the Premier League for spending. We got £95m for Lukaku. We've only spent £7m. It's a different picture than the media is talking. We still need players in three positions and we cannot give fuel to all these high expectations. Wayne (Rooney) has shown me that ambition that we need, and that winning mentality. He knows how to win titles and I’m really happy he’s decided to come home."
There was a 30-point gap between sixth and eighth last season with Everton nestled perfectly in between, so a dramatic shift either way might still not be enough to break the monotony. Each major signing has been eye-catching in isolation but the reaction owed much to the lack of activity elsewhere. The net sum doesn’t appear to be much different and the new players need time to gel. Given some of the outlandish media projections, don’t be surprised if crisis talk engulfs Goodison before Christmas.