Opinion: Ronald Koeman's top five priorities as Everton manager

As the Dutchman officially starts his reign at Goodison Park, what are his priorities?

Opinion: Ronald Koeman's top five priorities as Everton manager
Ronald Koeman officially began work in his new role on Monday. (Image: Everton)

The appointment of Ronald Koeman as Everton manager marked the start of a new era at Goodison Park, an era that everyone connected with the club will hope will bring success back to the Merseyside club.

The former Southampton boss officially began work in his new role on Monday, but what will be the Dutchman's main priorities as the Blues boss?

1) Making Everton a force to be reckoned with again

In luring Koeman from Southampton, Everton could not have made a more forceful statement reaffirming their standing as one of the Premier League's aristocracy. The outcome of the Goodison managerial chase has shown that Farhad Moshiri can restore Everton's appeal.

The Blues are, of course, the club of Dixie Dean, the Holy Trinity of Ball, Kendall and Harvey, and arguably the finest team in Europe during the mid-1980s, when they won the FA Cup, two league titles and the European Cup Winners' Cup under Howard Kendall.

However, fourteen other clubs have won major trophies since Everton last lifted silverware in 1995, including Portsmouth, Birmingham City and Wigan Athletic and 20 years without a trophy does not conform to a club that remains one of the most successful clubs in the country.

It is now down to Koeman and his players to prove that Everton can not only compete with the major clubs in the transfer market, but also on the pitch. The next step is to end their trophy barren spell, while taking Everton into the Champions League, something they have not achieved since 2005.

This is going to be no easy task; the Premier League is arguably more competitive than ever. All four of last season's north-west clubs now have different managers than a year ago and the standard is exceptionally high. Everton finished fourth of that quartet by a distance last season and they would like to do much better. Not just to finish by a shorter distance, but perhaps to return to troubling the top four in the division.

The appointment of Ronald Koeman as Everton manager marks the start of a new era at Goodison Park. | Image: Everton
The appointment of Ronald Koeman as Everton manager marks the start of a new era at Goodison Park. | Image: Everton

2) Keeping Everton's best talent

Arguably Koeman's biggest and most obvious task and priority this summer is to keep hold of the clubs star names. Romelu Lukaku, Ross Barkley and John Stones have all been linked with a move away from Goodison Park this summer and are rumoured to be attracting a number of suitors.

If the players are sufficiently impressed by Roberto Martinez's successor they may be persuaded to stay at Goodison and Koeman must prove to the club's leading players that he is the man to move Everton forward and take the club to the next step and secure Champions League football.

There is no doubting that Koeman along with Farhad Moshiri and Bill Kenwirght will do all in their power to keep the club's best talent and it will be high on Koeman's priorities over the next few weeks.

Where Everton would have finished in the table without Lukaku's goals last season hardly bears thinking about and, while reliable goalscorers are a rare commodity in football, the Toffees have arguably one of the best in Lukaku. John Stones is a defender of pedigree and potential and is only going to keep on developing as a footballer, while Koeman will be hoping to bring the best out of Ross Barkley.

3) Utilising Everton's greater financial clout

Lukaku is still relatively young and he is entitled to feel that after five seasons in English football he should by now be winning trophies, Koeman will now have to persuade him and other key talent that he can put other players of similar quality around him so he does not feel he is carrying the team.

The new-found financial power at Everton with the arrival of Farhad Moshiri offers the opportunity to strengthen his squad and boost the club with marquee signings. Funds are at Koeman's disposal, with an anticipated outlay in excess of £100million. That is a sum that would allow the new man to significantly reshape the squad.

Everton have already been heavily linked with a £28million move for Zenit St. Petersburg midfielder Alex Witsel, while Manchester United attacking midfielder Juan Mata and Southampton striker Graziano Pelle have also been linked over recent days. A new goalkeeper will also be high on most supporters' agendas and the need to find a long-term replacement for Tim Howard.

Koeman's transfer record at Southampton was extremely impressive. In his first summer in charge at the St. Mary's Stadium saw him tasked with replacing £91million worth of talent. While, Saints supporters were mourning the losses of several key players, Koeman seamlessly integrated new signings such as Fraser ForsterRyan BertrandVirgil van DijkSadio Mane and Dusan Tadic to great success.

Is Juan Mata swapping United red for the blue of Everton? | Photo: Getty Images
Is Juan Mata swapping United red for the blue of Everton? | Photo: Getty Images

4) Improving defensive record

One of the problems for Koeman's predecessor, Roberto Martinez, was his blinkered approach, blind faith in underperforming players and tactics that no longer stood-up to scrutiny. His unwillingness to be flexible and adapt his philosophy and tactics when things were not going Everton's way ultimately cost him his job.

Everton's defensive record under Martinez was a particular area of weakness and something that Koeman is expected to improve. As a former defender Koeman understandably favours defensive solidity and he showed at Southampton that he is capable of building a highly resolute side.

Southampton conceded only 33 goals in the Premier League in Koeman's first season on the South Coast, just one more goal than the best defensive record in the top-flight, held by Jose Mourinho's title-winning Chelsea side. There was a slight step back in that department last season as the Saints conceded 41 goals, but outside the top-three, only Manchester United conceded fewer goals than Koeman's last season.

5) Developing young players

Everton take great pride in their young talent and integrating their young players into the first-team with five academy graduates making their senior debuts for the first-team under Roberto Martinez last season. Koeman is keen to give youth players at Everton a chance in the first-team and the next batch of young players waiting in the wings can be equally optimistic about their prospects.

Wayne Rooney and Ross Barkley both progressed from Everton's academy, while Brendan Galloway and Matthew Pennington made the step up from the Under-21 side last season. Teenagers Tom Davies, Kieran Dowell and Jonjoe Kenny all impressed in the Toffees victory over Norwich City on the last day of last season and, while they will be hoping for more opportunities under Koeman, the club's other young players will be hoping to impress the Dutchman and get the chance of playing for the first-team.

Koeman is known for bringing through young players, helping to develop the careers of Wesley Sneijder, Thomas Vermaelen and Nigel de Jong while in the Netherlands. He was not afraid to field youngsters at Southampton, with Matt Targett, Jake Hesketh, Harrison Reed and Lloyd Isgrove all given first-team experience.