Could A Koeman Inspired Everton Emulate Leicester This Season?by Andy Dillon / 14 September 2016, 13:52Tweet
EVERTON fans will no doubt bristle with indignation at the suggestion their club could be the next Leicester City.
But just four Premier League games into the new season and the questions are already being raised given Everton’s tremendous start.
They sit third in the table and have yet to lose a match. Three wins and a draw equals that of Chelsea under new boss Antonio Conte.
The difference between Conte and Koeman though is that Everton’s manager has not spent a healthy £90 million in the transfer market.
And that’s where clear comparisons with Leicester and their stunning run to the title last season kick off.
Eyebrows were raised when Koeman decided to leave Southampton and join Everton.
Indignant Saints supporters were quick to sneer and ask was the Dutchman actually leaving for a bigger club?
But just a few weeks into his new job and Koeman is already showing why he jumped ship and how he spotted the potential at Goodison Park which maybe didn’t exist at St.Mary’s.
One of the first tasks Koeman had to deal with was flogging John Stones to Manchester city for £47 million.
He filled his place quickly enough with Ashley Williams, formerly captain of Swansea and current captain of Wales.
Hardly a marquee signing and again doubts were raised whether it would be an ideal replacement.
Conceding only two goals so far seems to have put that to bed and all for just £9m.
Like Leicester last season Koeman is building from the back four outwards. City let in only 18 goals away from home on their epic title run. At home it wasn’t the best in the division but still impressive.
And that wall of muscle was constructed around Robert Huth and Wes Morgan. Hardly two superstar names but men of steel with solid characters.
Williams’ defensive partner Phil Jagielka is another stoic Yorkshireman with vast experience and yet remains firmly grounded.
Koeman is picking his players wisely without having to bust the bank for stellar names.
He persuaded Crystal Palace’s flying winger Yannick Bolasie to leave South London in a deal worth £20 million. A relatively small deal in today’s terms and it still leaves Everton with plenty of change from flogging Stones.
What Koeman is doing is knitting together team spirit and an encouraging mix of youth and seniority to balance his squad - just as Claudio Ranieri did at City last season.
In midfield Koeman is already being celebrated for nicking £7m Idrissa Gueye from Aston Villa - a player already favourably compared to Leicester lynchpin N’Golo Kante.
Last season Kante was the only player who made more interceptions and tackles than Gueye in England’s top four divisions - yet Conte shelled out £30 million for the Frenchman and Gueye was less than a quarter of the cost.
And again, here’s a player who could walk down any street unmolested by autograph hunters.
Up front Koeman is blessed with Romelu Lukaku already in situ. He’s the one player who may just get ideas above his station and upset the harmony if the hint of a top four finish or even winning the league sneaks over the horizon.
Yet the Romantics among us are praying that doesn’t happen and that maybe Koeman can do a Claudio - after all both teams also play in blue.