Monday 22 January 2018

Ronnie Whelan: Ronald Koeman has made a complete clown of himself over the last few weeks

Read Ronnie Whelan every week in The Herald

Ronnie Whelan

Ronnie Whelan

RONALD Koeman has made a complete clown of himself over the last few weeks, reaching an inglorious conclusion at Anfield.

Jurgen Klopp grinned whilst the Toffees melted before his eyes.

This was a very big three points for Liverpool. It lifted Klopp and his players out of the traffic jam in the Europa Cup battleground and gave them something to hold on to heading into the biggest month of the season.

I’m sure Klopp expected a bigger fight from Everton but it was almost as if Koeman gave up, threw on a couple of young lads and rolled the dice.

It looked to me like he was making a point to someone about his squad because if he truly believed that slinging on reservists in a game this big was a good idea, he was quickly put right on that.

Liverpool were crisp, full of energy and good football and were never in any danger. For all my talk about strikers and the fact that Klopp doesn’t have any, Liverpool are at the top of the scoring charts and that is some achievement.

My reservations about Klopp’s defence remain strong but this was not a game where that was an issue.

Liverpool were on the front foot for most of the game, prompted by red-hot Philippe Coutinho.

He was angry when he was subbed and that was a pleasant surprise. There has always been a lingering question in my mind about his willingness to get his hands dirty and this was a sign that Klopp has made some progress with him.

So a good day for Liverpool and the Kop and a very bad one for Koeman.

I think that behind that stoic, dogged Dutch face there’s a lot going on at the moment and not all of it is what Everton fans would want to hear.

His fight with Martin O’Neill over James McCarthy is ridiculous and irrational and jars with the image I had of a very solid manager who doesn’t let the highs and lows impact on him and maintains an even personality at all times.

That’s the way he was at Southampton and that’s the way he was with Everton until the McCarthy saga kicked off.

He has gone from a self-confident, almost arrogant Dutchman to a petty, point-scoring, social media troll and I don’t see any gain for him in the transformation.

Sure, there’s pressure. He must have been furious that he lost key men in advance of such a big game and they were playing for teams other than Everton.

But football does that to you sometimes and all you can do is grit your teeth and move on.

Klopp was under serious pressure just a month ago but he kept his calm, kept talking sense and, eventually, results improved. Now Liverpool are in a decent position.

I just wonder whether Koeman has bigger fish to fry and that his current distracted state is as much about whether he will be worrying about Everton’s problems at all next season or working somewhere else.

To me, Everton was never a final destination for him, just a step up from Southampton on the road to somewhere bigger and better.

But it doesn’t look great to future employers when he unravels over something which is, after all, both his and Everton’s responsibility.

For what it’s worth, I thought O’Neill handled himself very well but I think everyone involved would be far better off putting a sock in it now and focusing on McCarthy’s hamstring.

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