Sunday 16 December 2018

Jamie Carragher - Everton acted too quickly but should wait to add Silva lining

Romelu Lukaku’s departure from Goodison has hastened the exit of Ronald Koeman from the Everton hotseat. Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images
Romelu Lukaku’s departure from Goodison has hastened the exit of Ronald Koeman from the Everton hotseat. Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images

Jamie Carragher

You can name the date it started to go wrong for Ronald Koeman at Everton. It was September 1, when the transfer window closed. Koeman looked around the dressing room and saw the lack of an adequate replacement for Romelu Lukaku. That killed the team and, ultimately, led to his demise.

It has been a deficiency he was unable to overcome, and it is the same problem Koeman's successor will face. It does not matter how good you are as a coach - and I believe Koeman has proven himself to be a very good Premier League manager during his three full seasons in England - no team can function proficiently without the ability to score goals.

People will say it was not just a striking problem in the end. That is true, but the main issue infects everything else, and that is precisely what has happened at Goodison Park, with the defence and midfield looking as poor as the strikers.

That is why I believe it was premature to sack Koeman, irrespective of a horrific run of results and performances. It would have made more sense to keep him until Christmas and give him a chance to turn it around. There is as much chance of being drawn into a battle at the wrong end of the table by making this change as there would have been had Koeman been retained.

Koeman's record since moving to English football has been good, particularly defensively. The nine league games this season are an anomaly.

Defensive

You only have to look at his defensive record in two years at Southampton and the first season at Everton to recognise he knows how to organise his back four.

Southampton conceded just 33 goals in his first season; 41 in his second. Last year it was 44 for Everton. Last season's tally of 61 points has been bettered just four times by Everton in 24 years.

I will not judge Koeman only on this season, given his previous record in England. But Farhad Moshiri has made up his mind - or, should I say, changed it on Koeman - after these nine league games. It seems harsh. Do not forget what Moshiri said about Koeman last season: "For our club to compete in the North-West of England, which is the new Hollywood of football with Guardiola, Mourinho and Klopp, we needed a star to stand on the touchline, so we got Koeman."

How that star has fallen.

Obviously serious mistakes have been made. Both Koeman and Steve Walsh, the director of football, must accept responsibility for those transfer failings. It is not that Everton did not sign strikers, after all.

Sandro Ramirez has proven to be too raw to start regularly. They signed Henry Onyekuru from Kas Eupen and immediately loaned him to Anderlecht.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin arrived a year ago and has done reasonably well, but it is too soon for him to be a senior striker.

Wayne Rooney's return made sense. He still has the ability for the highest level, but Koeman quickly realised he was the only player capable of consistently scoring.

Those signed to add what Koeman called "productivity" have badly let him down. I was amazed the club paid so much for Gylfi Sigurdsson but, to be fair to him, the lack of a top-class striker has impacted on his assists tally. He needs to get his act together for the new manager. Davy Klaassen has found the adjustment to English football too difficult. Koeman's exit will impact on these players. They will all be wondering if the next man sees their future at Everton.

One of the criticisms is Koeman had signed too many of a similar ilk, his squad full of number 10s, but I understood the strategy.

Last year Everton's best form post-Christmas was in a 4-3-3 and he obviously saw Sigurdsson replacing Ross Barkley, with Klaassen taking Tom Davies's role as first choice. Neither have proven to be an improvement.

This has exacerbated the defensive issues. Michael Keane is a young defender who needs an experienced player to guide him through his improvement. At the same time, two of Everton's best ever Premier League defenders - Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines - are now at that age where it looks too much to play every week.

Ashley Williams, who did OK last season, is at a similar point in his career. At 33, he looks to be feeling the effects even more. This is why Koeman's defensive record is not matching previous years.

The pressure would be relieved on them if Everton were able to create and score more often, but instead it has shifted as much to the other end of the pitch. Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford has been a success - but the fact he has had so many chances to save shows there is an issue.

When Everton were completing their summer business, I joked on Twitter how none of those signed would get into the Liverpool team. There was some truth to the wind-up.

Too often clubs who receive serious investment from a new owner or shareholder believe they are in a game-changing era. I saw it at West Ham and Aston Villa when I was a player, and never once felt threatened. Only financial input of the levels at Chelsea or Manchester City truly change the game.

Opted

None of the signings Everton made opted to move to Goodison ahead of the top six. The expectation level rose unrealistically and that has not helped Koeman, either.

The next manager must also deal with that.

Everton are now faced with two options. Replace Koeman immediately, which makes Sean Dyche look the most realistic target. Or give U-23s manager David Unsworth temporary charge, trust him to banish any relegation fears and wait until the end of the season to appoint full-time, when there will be far more options available, which could bring a target like Marco Silva into the equation.

My choice would be Silva, who in a short period at Hull and Watford has shown he has something about him. The kind of star quality Moshiri thought Koeman had nine league games ago. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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