For Everton and Ronald Koeman the January transfer window is less than a few days away and all the indications are that the Dutchman will be sufficiently backed in order to bring in reinforcements.
And with the way results and performances have turned sour for the man just 15 league games into his Everton project, the window will be a welcome relief.
Creativity and goals will be high on his wish-list, but willing runners will be just as much of a priority, both high up the pitch and in central midfield.
Idrissa Gueye has been an exceptional signing – Evertonians shudder to think of the club’s league position without him – but it seems Koeman craves a similarly relentless pair of legs in the final third, someone to occupy opposing defenders and support the isolated Romelu Lukaku.
While January windows are often the coldest for attracting number one targets, there’s at least evidence that the funds are warming the pockets of Everton’s manager and new Director of Football, Steve Walsh.
News broke recently that Farhad Moshiri has cleared much of Everton’s longstanding debt and injected the club with an interest-free £80 million loan. According to Robert Daniels, member of Everton Shareholder’s Association it means Everton are set for their busiest January window in history, and an opportunity for Koeman to re-ignite an already dwindling season.
Not all Blues are convinced, but Koeman will get time
Koeman’s Everton are hardly a force to be reckoned with, and with the current set of players there’s no reason to believe that will change any time soon. Players not being good enough; Koeman not ‘getting’ Everton; and players not willing to adapt to the manager’s style have all been cited as reasons things aren’t as they should be at Goodison Park.
But to suggest the manager should either resign or be relieved of his duties is extremely premature. He was not every Blue’s first choice in the summer, but that won’t matter to Moshiri. Everton’s new majority shareholder has chosen his man and spent the best part of £15 million (plus the Dutchman’s salary) to get him here. There won’t be any knee jerk reactions at boardroom level, so get used to seeing Koeman shouting Dutch expletives on the touchline till at least the summer.
12 months on, are Everton better off?
But that’s not to say that the questions raised by Evertonians aren’t valid ones; regardless of the board’s feelings towards the man in the hotseat, criticism is part and parcel of management.
Despite a record start for Koeman, Everton have the same amount of points they did this time last year, when a string of bi-polar performances saw the Blues squander leads and points at Bournemouth and Norwich, and struggle to draws or worse at home to Crystal Palace, Stoke and Leicester City.
So, it’s reasonable to ask whether the Toffees have improved since last year? The answer: clearly not. At least not on the pitch. But the club are undoubtedly in a stronger position in many other aspects.
The club has received an interest-free loan from it’s majority shareholder, the same shareholder who has already invested £46m in the playing squad, is tackling the millstone of long-term debt and made the club’s manager the highest paid in it’s histor; has improved the facade of an ageing stadium they look set to leave within the next five years; and are close to announcing the purchase of land (hopefully, dockland) on which they will build a new world-class stadium.
Is this club better off than 12 months ago? Undoubtedly so. But it will take time, new players and coaching to translate this onto the pitch.