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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 September 2018

'Big-spending Ron' Koeman pays the ultimate price for wasting Everton's budget 

Dutchman became the third Premier League managerial casualty of the season on Monday when he was dismissed by Everton.

Ronald Koeman, right, brought Wayne Rooney, left back to Everton in the summer as part of a £140 million summer outlay on players. Following Sunday's 5-2 defeat at home to Arsenal, a result that left the club in the relegation zone, the Dutchman was dismissed as the club's manager. Tony Marshall / Getty Images
Ronald Koeman, right, brought Wayne Rooney, left back to Everton in the summer as part of a £140 million summer outlay on players. Following Sunday's 5-2 defeat at home to Arsenal, a result that left the club in the relegation zone, the Dutchman was dismissed as the club's manager. Tony Marshall / Getty Images

Ronald Koeman used to have contact with Farhad Moshiri after every game. Sometimes Everton’s manager and majority shareholder spoke. Sometimes they texted. On Sunday afternoon, after a 5-2 thrashing by Arsenal left the Merseysiders in the relegation zone, Koeman anticipated that would continue.

And whether directly or indirectly, he heard from Moshiri the following day. He was sacked, 16 months into a reign that began auspiciously and ended disastrously after seven defeats in 11 games. Koeman will not be the manager who brings the glory days back to Goodison Park; David Moyes and Roberto Martinez came closer, both on smaller budgets.

Because if Ron Atkinson was "Big Ron", Koeman was "Big-spending Ron": he may be remembered for the summer’s £144 million (Dh677.5m) outlay. Spend a lot at a club not accustomed to that budget and it can define a reign. It can end one.

Andre Villas-Boas arguably never recovered from the sale of Gareth Bale at Tottenham Hotspur, even though more than £100 million was invested in others. Nor did Brendan Rodgers from Liverpool’s loss of Luis Suarez, despite a similar spending spree.

Which brings us to Koeman, who lost Romelu Lukaku and, in circumstances that have not been fully explained but for which he is far from the only culprit, failed to sign a centre-forward at all while paying out a fortune for other players.

Strikers’ importance is invariably apparent, yet it is rarely so clear. Everton’s seventh position last season came on the back of Lukaku’s 25 goals. Without him, they are in 18th with only two scorers: Wayne Rooney, whose four-goal haul is admirable but whose return meant the club record buy Gylfi Sigurdsson rarely played in his preferred position, and Oumar Niasse, the player Koeman had binned on the basis of 45 minutes in a friendly.

Niasse’s recall was a sign that desperate times called for desperate measures, and Everton were desperate this season. Shorn of either pace or width, playing a different formation by the game, displaying an inability to defend while being managed by one of the great defenders of his generation: their problems were many and manifest.

Money was wasted on a colossal scale, paying way over the odds for Sigurdsson and buying Davy Klaassen at all, while Everton were left looking forward to the January transfer window to try and remedy their problems. And that is some 10 weeks away, while the evidence of the last two months is that Koeman was increasingly powerless to halt their slide.

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Moyes invariably rebounded from them. It can be a cliché to say that blue-collar clubs require players who put a shift in, but Moyes extricated Everton from slumps with relentless hard work.

Koeman did not understand that their supporters appreciate urgency and intensity. Too often this season, his Everton had neither. There were times when he seemed to view Everton as a stepping stone. Hark back to the end of last season when Koeman admitted his dream was to manage Barcelona. It seems improbable now.

Instead Everton need a realist to steer them to safety.

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