Ronald Koeman have revealed that he knew he will not be staying at the helm at Everton for too long.
The Dutch tactician who spent his summer holidays at his Villa in Portugal told Dutch football magazine VI, that the Toffees’ inability to replace £90m striker Romelu Lukaku with Olivier Giroud was part of the problem.
The second was, the Premier League fixtures for the new campaign which pitied Everton against last season’s top six teams.
Koeman, speaking for the first time since his Goodison Park sacking on Monday, revealed: “I had Olivier Giroud in the building. He would have fitted perfectly, but at the very last moment he decided that he’d rather live in London and stay at Arsenal.
“That was really hard to swallow. You tell me, where you can get a better striker?
“Lukaku was so important for us, not just because of his goals. He had a certain way of playing as a striker — strong.
He could hold the ball, he always had an eye for the goal, he was fast. If things were not going well in a game, if we could not play the way we were used to, there was always the option to use the long ball towards him.
“All of a sudden (when Giroud refused to sign), we were missing such a player.
“With Nikola Vlasic and Wayne Rooney, we had attackers who want the ball at their feet.
“When you are struggling as a team with the build-up from the back, and we no longer had the option to kick it long, you know you have a problem.’’
And on the terrifying opening games, he explained: “I was on holiday when I received the Premier League fixture list by e-mail.
“I looked at it and saw that five of our first nine games would be against clubs from last season’s top six: Chelsea, Tottenham, Man City, Man United and Arsenal.
“I looked at it again and I said to myself, ‘Phew!’
“That is not going to be an easy run, in particular with a Europa League run at the same time and a really early start with all the players because of the European games.
And most of all, because I had lost my striker Lukaku.’’
He added: “We sold Lukaku for £90m. Our most expensive signing, Gylfi Sigurdsson, cost half of that amount.
“Of course it is a lot of money, but in England the football world has different figures.
All players in England cost more than what they are worth really. That is how this market operates here.”
Koeman accepts that Everton fans were entitled to have big expectations.
“Absolutely, because this Everton was much more our own team than last season.
We were allowed to buy players and it was me who said that I had the ambition to attack the top six in the Premier League.
“I have never shunned big challenges, even knowing that there are no guarantees that we would actually fulfill the expectations.
“When we had to face Burnley at home, after a poor start, everyone expected an Everton victory. But I knew that Burnley had beaten Chelsea away, I knew they had drawn against Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool.
We lost 1-0. That is the Premier League for you.”
“The strength of all the clubs in the Premier League makes it really difficult to climb out of a crisis, once you land in it.’’
“I have been racking my brain. Sometimes in football you just can’t get a grip on something. I was not doing anything different from what I have been doing in all the years before as a coach.
“During my last season as a manager of Feyenoord, we had a similar awkward period, where we lost the chance to become champions.
“I woke the team up with a different tactical formation, I changed to 5-3-2 and we won seven of our last eight games and qualified for the Champions League. The tactical change woke-up the players.
“That is what you need in tough times, players staying close with the manager. You must not lose them and I always make sure I keep the squad together and keep the right connection with them.
“If I look at the intensity of our training sessions (at Everton), I had no fear at all that I would lose my grip on the players. But at some stage you do need to get something in return from them on the pitch in the shape of a good victory.
“When that does not happen, you know as a manager that your job will depend on the verdict of those above you.’’