Everton’s start to the season has exceeded everyone’s expectations including their own as they currently sit 2nd in the Premier League table just two points off of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. The first five matches see them unbeaten with their only dropped points coming on the opening day at home to Tottenham
Naturally there was always going to be a lift with a new manager coming in over the Summer but in all fariness no-one quite imagined it to be of this magnitude.
It’s been a very impressive set of performances for The Toffees since the season began so let’s now look at three key areas where it’s going right for Everton.
The best summer singing was the new manager
There’s no doubt that a large part of this rapid transformation is down to the appointment of Ronald Koeman as Everton manager. After a season of massive underachievement under Roberto Martinez, one that ultimately cost the Spaniard his job, Koeman was headhunted after his work at Southampton with the task of awakening this sleeping giant.
And the blue half of Merseyside has every right to feel bullish right now as they are yet to taste defeat since the start of the season. Koeman’s meticulous planning is giving Everton a new dimension and the planning doesn’t just stop when the opening whistle blows.
As he showed against Sunderland he is not afraid to make changes throughout the game, his decision to haul off Ross Barkley may have raised eyebrows but Everton then went onto win 3-0 once that tactical and personnel change was made. A sign of a good manager is someone who just doesn’t rely on a pre-match plan to get them through the 90 minutes, instead they are ready to adapt and make changes as and when they are needed.
The changes that Everton have made in such a short space of time are massive and it’s largely with the same personnel that had such a torrid time under the last few days of the Roberto Martinez era. So it also shows you don’t have to be a chequebook manager to get results
Koeman’s purchases have been astute
Many felt that now Everton have a new majority shareholder in Farhad Moshiri that there was going to be a massive outlay of funds in the Summer as Koeman looked to rebuild the Everton squad and many fans were somewhat disappointed as there wasn’t a flurry of new faces that arrived at Goodison Park.
But let’s not forget that Everton squad is an incredibly talented one so even for all their faults last season there wasn’t really the need for a huge overhaul. Koeman has rightly identified that and therefore deemed it unnecessary to wildly spend the warchest that was promised to him by Moshiri.
But what he has spent he has spent wisely. Some felt that Everton were going to struggle once John Stones departed but they’ve hardly noticed his absence now with Ashley Williams plugging the gap. While in midfield the additions of Yannick Bolasie and Idrissa Geuye have bought a much needed balance of flair and grit to what was a fancy but not functional area of the team last season.
If Everton can sustain this form going in to the January transfer window then Koeman will still have the funds to make any necessary additions to the squad in a bid to return to European Football. Koeman’s astuteness could prove dividends later in the season.
Keeping hold of Romelu Lukaku
If the best bit of business was signing Ronald Koeman then the second best bit must have been making sure that Romelu Lukaku stayed at Goodison Park. After a summer long saga of transfer rumours and nothing really coming close to a concrete bid for the Belgian international, everyone connected to the club would have been delighted that he once again pulled on the blue of Everton this season.
What will be more pleasing is the fact that Lukaku is back amongst the goals, he didn’t start the season in peak condition and perhaps there was still the lingering possibility of a move away before the transfer deadline day but now all that is behind him he has found the net four times in the last two seasons.
He looked at his best away at Sunderland as he scored a second half 11 minute hat-trick to give The Toffees all three points and after adding another at home to Middlesbrough he has point the rest of the Premier League on notice. It’s a big season for Lukaku as another successful campaign will once again put him in the shop window.
But that said if he finds the net with the regularity that we all know he is capable of and we can combine that with the continuation of Everton’s early form then there is no reason why The Toffee’s couldn’t stick around in the Top 4 and give Lukaku the Champions League football he craves.