Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Changing Perceptions: Blues Appoint Koeman

No. 3 in a regular series of Everton articles
Koeman deal done
Everton announced the signing of Ronald Koeman on Tuesday morning 
The acquisition of Southampton’s Ronald Koeman by Farhad Moshiri is a very interesting and equally significant one to say the least.

It would be fair to say that managerial appointments reflect the financial position and attitude of the club doing the appointing. Roberto Martinez’s signing in June 2013 by Bill Kenwright and the board very much reflected the financial position and attitude of Everton Football Club at that time: limited funds and trying to make the most of it. While Kenwright may have played the Champions League card in order to try and convince the masses, he had ultimately appointed a relegated manager (and we all know how that turned out).

Fast-forward three years and the story could not be more different. The poaching of Ronald Koeman from Southampton who (as we have been reminded continuously by the media and a never-ending stream of Saints fans) finished above Everton for two consecutive seasons under the Dutchman, is a real statement of intent. It represents Everton’s powerful financial position in the Premier League and the new, ambitious attitude that Farhad Moshiri has brought with him. While Koeman may not have the status of Jose Mourinho, the club’s new investor has demonstrated that he has the ability to recruit his number one target.

And not only is it important that Moshiri has got his man – it sends out a powerful message that Everton now have the ability to persuade a manager to trade a tempting project and upcoming Europa League campaign for a squad which is in need of considerable amending and without European competition.

Moshiri, from Arsenal, evidently admires the Dutchman’s work. Koeman has been touted numerous times as the successor to Arsene Wenger, and so if he is choosing Everton over not only Southampton but perhaps the chance of managing the Gunners in the near future too then this adds to the significance of his signing. I’m not convinced whatsoever Koeman is tempted only by the large payday Moshiri is offering; there is evidently something special beginning at Goodison Park and the new manager has jumped at the chance to be able to play a central role within it.

Moshiri and the club are actively looking to resuscitate Everton's more successful days
Amidst the ‘bigger club’ debate that has not only been discussed sufficiently on Twitter of late but also by media personalities such as John Motson, there arises the issue of perception and just how exactly Everton are seen through the eyes of the football world.

Throughout the Premier League era the Toffees have been mainly average. This helps to explain why fans and media outlets naively believe Everton to be nothing special. Since 1992 the top flight has been dominated by Manchester United and an exclusive, accompanying handful of clubs with only Leicester and Blackburn proving the real anomalies; in the modern climate, ultimately, if a club desires to mount consistent challenges for the top four and the title, those at the club have to find serious investment from somewhere. Only Leicester appear to have found an alternate route to success.

While this method of buying glory is often frowned upon, if you can’t beat them, you really do have to join them.

Perceptions of the Toffees have been confused for some time – however now the Blues are steadily beginning to conform to modern-day ‘big club’ status, this will begin to shift. Since the 1980s Everton have slipped from European heavyweights and England’s finest to being a plucky club who frequently overachieve in the eye of the media. The huge change in the landscape between then and now certainly contributes to this and the relatively recent success of clubs such as Manchester City and Chelsea (in addition to Roberto Martinez’s final two years) has not helped the Blues’ cause whatsoever.

It has been hard to justify and argue that Everton are a ‘big club’ when the modern-day understanding of such a concept revolves around recent success. This is exactly why John Motson’s recent comments surrounding the Koeman story were quite so irritating: “I guess Everton is a big club if we can use that expression” he stated, “but I don’t know why we say that because they’re not in the top six”. 

What is most surprising about Motson’s views is that he has been commentating on English football since the early ‘70s and yet still does not feel that a ‘big club’ can be one which has finished outside the top six – despite one of the biggest and most decorated clubs in English football history, Aston Villa, finishing rock bottom of the Premier League this season.

It almost appears that Moshiri’s arrival at Everton, the investment he has brought and the ramifications of this has gone very much under the radar until now – and, brilliantly, it is ruffling a few feathers to say the least.

This is where the signing of Ronald Koeman comes in. This is the man who has accepted the task of restoring Everton’s reputation and correcting the skewered perception of the Blues which many in the media and countless football fans seem to hold. Ending the Toffees’ trophy drought and breaking into the top four is unlikely to be a straightforward venture and may well take some time. But one thing is for certain – Moshiri’s investment will certainly help Everton to do that.

It’s finally time for NSNO to truly mean something once again.  


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