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The rise of Ronald: Why Koeman is the perfect fit for Everton

Thursday 18th August 2016
The Dutchman brings a wealth of experience to Goodison Park and early signs hint at a long, successful reign.
After finding such unexpected success at Southampton, it was surprising to some to see Ronald Koeman pick up his things and head for Merseyside, taking on an Everton side that had struggled to progress under former boss Roberto Martinez.

Certainly, Southampton have the tools to become a force in English football; a wonderful youth set-up, a selection of quality players, and a south-coast location. Frustratingly for Koeman, they are a selling club.

When he arrived at St. Mary's Stadium in June 2014, the spine of the squad were on their way out; Rickie Lambert, Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Calum Chambers, and Jack Cork would all leave over the course of the summer. Many predicted this exodus would result in a relegation battle for The Saints.

Instead, Koeman quietly rebuilt. Dušan Tadić, Graziano Pellè, Fraser Forster, Sadio Mané, and Ryan Bertrand all came in to guide Southampton to a surprising 7th placed finish. A year on and again it was the loss of Morgan Schneiderlin and Nathaniel Clyne that frustrated the 53-year-old. He recruited Virgil van Dijk, Jordy Clasie, and Cédric Soares to keep the ball rolling.

A 6th placed finish last season was testament to Koeman's ability to adapt but the writing was on the wall. This summer has been very much the same. Southampton opted once again to their stars; Mané, Pelle, and Victor Wanyama.

He left for Everton with his head high and his ambitions still in tact.

In Everton, Koeman has found a club who hold the same desires as he does. For too long, The Toffees have failed to push on; trophy-less since 1995 and unable to break into the big four since 2005. The club were declining under Martinez, finishing 11th two seasons in a row after nearly a decade of battling the top five.

So far, The blues have backed him. Koeman has managed to keep hold of striker Romelu Lukaku, whilst spending £44m on Yannick Bolasie, Ashley Williams and Idrissa Gueye to bolster his team.
Saturday's 1-1 home draw to title-chasing Tottenham showed early signs of promise from The Toffees. The new look home side pressed their opposition up the field from the kick-off and were rewarded with a fifth-minute goal from the mercurial Ross Barkley. The 22-year-old is a player that Koeman no doubt has an eye on to progress after showing flashes of potential in the last few seasons.

Though Erik Lamela went on to grab an equaliser for Spurs, Koeman was quick to point out that his team were only at "70% physically" after a tough pre-season.  It's clear to see that whilst full fitness might not have been there, Koeman's style of fast-paced football is.

In Idrissa Gueye, Everton has a player who can physically shield the back-four, allowing the forward men to press higher up the pitch and give their opposition no room to breathe. Speaking after the game, Koeman alluded to this whilst keeping his standards high, saying, "I want the players to work hard and the pressing starts from the strikers. The players need to improve in that."

It's been all change in England's top flight and Everton have quietly gone about their business. With such intense focus on Mourinho, Guardiola, Conte and Klopp, Everton and Ronald Koeman have slipped under the radar, not that they will mind.

Together, they are the perfect storm, ready to take on an unsuspecting Premier League.
John Howell

A graduate of Media & Cultural Studies from the University of West of England, I am a 26-year-old sports fanatic based in Bristol and an avid supporter of Newcastle United. I have written for several sites before joining It's Round and It's White and although I write primarily on the subject of football, you can catch me playing rugby on the weekends, no pun intended.

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