Since the story began to break around a week or so ago, I've been thinking more and more about Ronald Koeman's seemingly backward step in management. Leaving Southampton, who were 4 points off a Champions League spot, to join Everton, who finished last term in the bottom half of the table and 10 points off relegation, has raised eyebrows. But not only is it a good move for Koeman and Everton, but it's one that should make the rest of the Premier League sit up and take note.
Everton changed direction after David Moyes' functional side was slowly disassembled, going instead with a more adventurous and supposedly easier on the eye appointment with Roberto Martinez. Koeman's defence-first mentality is a hark back to their former approach, though – systematic and pragmatic as we have come to know Everton over the last decade. Unlike Moyes, who had to work with low-budget signings and his best players sold out from under him every transfer window, Koeman arrives at a side that is bursting with potential. In the right hands, this side could cause chaos in the league. John Stones, Ross Barkley, Romelu Lukaku & Gerard Deulofeu need only a tweak to be top level players. That tweak, I think, comes in the form of Koeman and his 'defence by possession' style of counter attacking.
Koeman's Southampton side were a slick machine, good with the ball and better without it. Their pressure came from the midfield, where high energy and a natural tenacity to win back the ball was coupled with quick counter attacks and a large target man. If we overlay that on Everton's current squad, you'll see a tenacious middle in Gareth Barry and Barkley, coupled with the quick outlets of Deulofeu and Aaron Lennon and the obvious target man in Lukaku.
In a league that doesn't have enough success to go around next season, already, Everton and Koeman are about to enter the fray. They will not finish in the bottom half. The 2016/17 Premier League season is about to be the best one yet. Hold on to your seat!