Great optimism naturally greets the arrival of several quality players to a football club.
The return of England’s record goal scorer, along with the acquisitions of multiple other talented individuals, has greatly improved Everton’s squad.
In addition to Wayne Rooney and Gylfi Sigurdsson, manager Ronald Koeman also had available to him goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, fellow Dutchman Michael Keane, Davy Klaassen, Nikola Vlasic and Sandro Ramirez.
Despite the sale of Romelu Lukaku to Manchester United for £75m, Koeman and Everton’s director of football, Steve Walsh, worked diligently during the summer to enhance the group of players available to them.
Not only was the money received for Lukaku reinvested but more spent in a bid to try to enhance the club’s prospects of challenging for a top four place and Champions League qualification.
The last time they played in Europe’s elite club competition was in 2005. On that occasion, they lost in the final qualifying round to Villarreal 4-2 on aggregate.
Their consolation was a place in the UEFA Cup. However, they were eliminated from that in the first round after suffering a heavy 5-1 defeat to Dinamo Bucharest.
Just as Everton started that season – 2005-2006 – poorly, they have struggled similarly at the outset of this campaign, and Koeman has paid the price, being shown the exit door.
As well as their crushing UEFA Cup loss, they have earned just four points from nine league games.
The players now need to step up and show that the owners were right to offload Koeman, and that it’s not the players themselves who have failed to perform. The time for excuses will disappear, as despite ackowledgment that the transfer campaign was unbalanced, this is not a side who should be in the relegation zone.
Wayne Rooney needs to prove he still has his heart in being a top level footballer, on and off the pitch. Sigurdsson needs to stamp his authority on games and not be the peripheral figure he became at Tottenham. Ashley Williams in defence needs to pinpoint what it is that has seen his level fall so far after previous seasons linked with the likes of Liverpool.
They will not be afforded much time for that however. The demands of playing in European competition dictate little time to recover before returning to Premier League action. T
here is no place for dwelling upon the disappointment of a loss, just the need to regroup and show solidarity as a collective unit for a highly talented Everton side.
This season will prove to be a great test of the players, and some may not come through it successfully. What is for sure, is that the time for excuses has ended.
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