A desire and drive to escape the mediocrity which defined their club’s last two seasons, inspired Everton’s owners to replace Roberto Martinez with Ronald Koeman in June.
Subsequently following Koeman’s appointment the 53-year-old Dutchman has overseen a spell of steady progress at Everton, as he aspires to orchestrate an improvement upon the two successive 11th place finishes that Martinez led the club to prior to his departure.
Although they were surprisingly eliminated from the League Cup, after a 2-0 home loss in the fourth round to Norwich, aside from a 1-0 away defeat against Bournemouth, Everton’s league form has been excellent under the guidance of Koeman.
Development of an efficient team by Koeman
The former Southampton manager has instilled a confidence and belief among his players, with that being abundantly evident in the overwhelming majority of their performances so far this season.
In addition to being assured defensively, with goalkeeper Marteen Stekelenburg confidently marshalling a well organised back four, Everton have attacked with enterprise and inventiveness, as Koeman continues to develop an extremely well balanced side.
Defensive solidarity represents a strong base for success
Whilst Phil Jagielka has formed a formidable central defensive partnership with Ashley Williams, continuing to perform well as they have done consistently throughout previous seasons are the full back duo of Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines, although the England internationalist is currently out injured. Nevertheless Bryan Oviedo is currently proving to be a reliable deputy for Baines in the left back role.
Just as Everton’s defensive base if solid, the team’s back four is being well protected by the holding midfield duo of Gareth Barry and Idrissa Gueye. The 27-year-old Senegalese internationalist was one of five summer signings made by Koeman, along with Stekelenburg, Ashley Williams, Yannick Bolasie and Enner Valencia.
Both Barry and Gueye exert a calming influence for Everton, as the pair have the ability to both pass with composure and tackle with authority in order to not only loyally shield their defence but also begin attacking phases of play, which have then been intelligently cultivated by a number of more offensively minded players.
Lukaku superbly spearheads Everton’s dynamic attack
At present Koeman has a wealth of attacking options from which to choose to play in his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation. Despite enduring a difficult start to the season, after scoring a hat-trick to inspire Everton to a 3-0 victory over Sunderland, Romelu Lukaku has brilliantly spearheaded Everton’s attack.
In Everton’s last five league games, Lukaku has scored six times, which represents all but two of the goals that his team have scored during that period.
As such of late the 23-year-old Belgian striker’s finishing has been superb, as Lukaku’s relationship with Everton’s attacking midfielders and wider players has prospered. Ultimately Lukaku has been the beneficiary of some wonderful service, with competition to support the Chelsea player being fierce, given the wealth of talented midfielders and wingers which occupy Koeman’s squad.
Whilst Ross Barkley, Gerard Deulofeu and Kevin Mirallas are all excellent options available to Koeman to play as a central playmaker or support striker beind Lukaku, the trio are all proficient at drifting to fulfil wide midfield roles. So too are Aaron Lennon and Yannick Bolasie, with the 27-year-old DR Congo internationalist having established himself as a regular in Koeman’s side.
Therefore a great depth of quality characterises Everton’s squad, with Koeman having shrewdly strengthened the group of players which he inherited from his predecessor Martinez.
Aspiration of continuous improvement for Koeman
In stark contrast to the manner in which their progress stagnated during the latter part of the Spaniard’s managerial reign, Koeman has engineered an improvement Everton’s fortunes to such an extent that they are currently 6th in the English Premier League, whilst possessing the potential to consolidate that position and challenge to qualify for a place in European competition next season.
That remains the case, despite Everton having failed to win any of their last three league games. After suffering their first defeat of the league season to Bournemouth, Everton then earned successive 1-1 draws against Crystal Palace and Manchester City.
As such, of primary importance to Koeman is to guide his team to a return to winning ways in their next league fixture against Burnley, as the Dutchman aspire to ensure a continuation of the steady progress which he has overseen during his first four months as Everton manager.
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