Just a few weeks ago fans in the blue half of Merseyside were looking forward to the new season quietly confident that this could be a good year.
Following a highly impressive 7th place in Ronald Koeman’s first season in charge and bolstered by £140 million pounds worth of new talent, Everton fans were dreaming of better days, a top six place and perhaps even a return to the halcyon days of the mid eighties when the Toffees were the best team in England and one of the best in Europe.
Seven games in and all those hopes and dreams have been dashed in spectacular fashion. The Goodison Park club lie in 16th place in the Premier League with just two wins and seven points.
Performances have been so bad that speculation about Koeman’s position, which would have seemed ridiculous just two months ago has begun, although the club came out on Monday and gave the 54-year old Dutchman the dreaded vote of confidence.
So what has gone wrong at Goodison? FOX Sports Asia takes a look at some of the reasons behind the Toffees sticky start to the season.
Failure to replace Lukaku
The most obvious factor. The departure of last season’s leading scorer to Old Trafford in the summer has left a big void in Everton’s attack that has not been filled by either the returning Wayne Rooney or their other summer signing Sandro, while Dominic Calvert-Lewin is not quite ready to lead the line on his own.
Missing you already.
Koeman has become so desperate for goals that he has brought back the previously frozen out Senegal striker Oumar Niasse in a bid to provide some goals. Bringing in a proven goalscorer will no doubt be a priority in the January transfer window for Koeman, should he still be in a job.
New signings failure to gel
Of all Everton’s new signings, it’s hard to point to one who has really shone this season. Rooney, Sandro and midfielder Davy Klaasen all started on the bench on Saturday after some indifferent showings, while £45 million man Gylfi Sigurdsson has failed to settle despite a stunning goal-of-the-season on his full debut for the club. There is no doubt that these players are all good enough to lift Everton to better things, but players often take time to settle at a new club.
Klaasen: In and out of the squad.
The problem for Everton is that perhaps Koeman threw too many of these new players into the fray before they were ready (seven out of 11 players were new signings in their home game against Spurs) and now he has taken the underperforming ones out of the firing line their confidence has been affected.
Manager undecided on best formation
Seven games into the season and it is quite apparent Koeman is unsure of his best starting line-up. He started the first three league games with a different XI and has continued to chop and change for each game. He has also favoured underperforming new signings over the club’s young talent such as Tom Davies, Jonjoe Kenny and Ademola Lookman. Squad rotation is part of the modern game, but Koeman has made far too many changes. A bit of stability would probably be welcome and would also help the new players to integrate faster.
The team’s terrible start to the campaign has obviously affected the confidence of the players and now they are locked in a downward spiral that needs to be broken. Fans booing the team obviously doesn’t help (new defender Michael Keane recently admitted as much), but supporters have paid their money and are entitled to voice their disapproval at a poorly performing team.
Keane: Confidence has been affected.
True, Everton have had some tough fixtures, they faced Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham, and Manchester United in four of their first five league games, but Koeman did not help matters by paying his opponents too much respect and setting up negatively for these matches in an attempt to snatch a point. This strategy failed and the successive losses on the back of disappointing overall performances have taken a big toll on the players.