When Everton looked set to miss out on Ronald Koeman, the man anointed as the club’s top target to fill the vacancy left by the dismissed Roberto Martinez, there would have been a collective shrug of the shoulders from the majority of those of a blue persuasion.
This was, after all, adhering to the recent Everton way—we tried, we nearly succeeded, we’ll try again, it’s all alright. Other potential candidates were mooted in local and national media, on blogs and in forums. But the most important man tied to the football club, new shareholder Farhad Moshiri, evidently had other ideas.
Not long had Koeman stepped off the plane following his holiday in the Caribbean had odds suddenly been slashed on him taking over at Goodison Park. Stories of a £6 million/year salary and £100 million to spend this summer began to gather pace; Everton, against the odds, ensnared their main target.
And it was a move so out of character with the club’s standard dogma. The pursuit of Koeman, who seemed intent to sign a contract with his former team, was an aggressive one; it had to be to pull him away from a progressive club with fine players. But the brash Toffees lured him nonetheless.
It is a huge statement; taking an illustrious coach from a team that have finished above Everton for the last two seasons.
When questions came on television, radio and social media debates about why Koeman would trade Southampton for Everton, supporters, engulfed by a malaise after two passive seasons under the Dutchman’s predecessor, were emboldened.
Nine league titles. Five FA Cup wins. A loyal, passionate fanbase. Eight out of every 10 seats sold already for next season. A city on the pulse of the English game. No glass ceiling. The prospect of a stadium on the banks of the River Mersey; all buzz phrases trotted out. Fans were beginning to wake up to what Everton are again, with the unmistakable glow of ambition bristling in plenty. It was an infectious show of strength.
There is a sense of pride in snaffling Koeman too. While the Dutchman may not have been the first choice for all, he was Moshiri’s. And he got him. For too long the club has been patronizingly patted on the head and encouraged to accept their lot, now there is tangible evidence to suggest they’re calling the shots again.