FourFourTwo’s 50 Best Football Managers in the World 2017: No.16, Ronald Koeman
As a Barcelona cult hero who has played for and managed all three of Ajax, PSV and Feyenoord, Ronald Koeman is a genuinely big name in football. His legendary status as a player seems to have offered him some impunity as a manager, even if his experience is arguably yet to translate into truly incredible football or results.
Koeman has brought Everton to the highest position they could have realistically expected to finish in last season, just behind the top six, improving an 11th-placed finish and alarming decline under Roberto Martinez in 2015/16. Yet simply being the 'best of the rest' when there has been reasonable investment in the squad won't completely satisfy him - particularly when the football has not always been dazzling.
Starred at Saints
Koeman’s vision at Southampton was one of quick attacking play focused on his team's midfield distributing the ball to either a creative player in Dusan Tadic, or a pacy dribbler such as Sadio Mane in the final third.
His Saints side were set apart by the amazing equilibrium they achieved - a tidy outfit at the back, with a well-balanced midfield duo, and the capability of producing excitement in attack. He exceeded expectations, taking the club to Premier League finishes of seventh and then sixth.
There’s no doubt that the Everton squad has the potential to deliver this attacking verve, alongside Koeman's clear desire to integrate and help develop the club's younger prospects. Having blooded the likes of Mason Holgate, Tom Davies and Dominic Calvert-Lewin in his first team last season, Koeman has encouraged further investment in Jordan Pickford and Davy Klaassen, with former Barcelona striker Sandro Ramirez set to follow. Even without Romelu Lukaku, who is expected to join Chelsea, the Toffees should be playing more open, fast-paced football next season.
Koeman is capable of making smart tactical changes, as the 54-year-old showed with both Feyenoord and Southampton, and is a coach with three Eredivisie titles to his name. Perhaps to find the breakthrough success with Everton that he craves, Koeman must explore and find ideal middle ground between the haphazard attacking days of Roberto Martinez, and the more cautious era of David Moyes. The signs from last season suggest he's well on his way to doing just that.
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- FourFourTwo's 50 Best Football Managers in the World 2016