LONDON (Reuters) - Everton manager Ronald Koeman dined at the same restaurant as Pep Guardiola on Sunday although comparisons with Manchester City’s all-conquering boss end there as the Dutchman faces calls for his dismissal after the 5-2 defeat to Arsenal.
Koeman pitched up for work as usual at 7am on Monday and was later pictured deep in conversation with brother Erwin and the Everton coaching staff on the training ground, preparing for Wednesday’s arrival of Chelsea in the EFL Cup.
Former Everton striker Kevin Campbell became the latest pundit to demand his removal by Tweeting “change needed” although Koeman showed no signs of being rattled by the criticism.
“I still believe I can change the whole situation,” he told reporters after Sunday’s harrowing defeat at Goodison Park.
Koeman’s inclination is clearly to trust the methods, and the personnel which have delivered results in the past. The 54-year-old has an excellent record in the Premier League, finishing seventh and sixth in his two seasons with Southampton and seventh in his first campaign on Merseyside.
But Everton have won just two games in 13 and their worst start to a season since 2005-06 has dropped them into the relegation zone with eight points from nine games.
Beyond the poor results, Everton’s supporters have been discouraged by a series of muddled displays with formations and players frequently switched as Koeman struggles for cohesion.
“I haven’t seen a worse Premier League side this year,” said former player and BBC pundit Steve Claridge. “It feels like it’s stale, the players here aren’t of the quality needed, there’s not a set system, not a pattern of play.”
No wonder Everton chairman Bill Kenwright was pictured with his head in his hands in the directors’ box on Sunday. Alongside him, owner Farhad Moshiri, who oversaw a net summer spend of 54 million pounds ($71 million), must decide whether to again sack his manager 17 months after terminating the contract of his predecessor Roberto Martinez.
Koeman has every right to have expected more from some of his new recruits with Michael Keane and Gylfi Sigurdsson established Premier League performers and Davy Klaassen voted Dutch player of the year last season.
Of the incomers, only Nikola Vlasic and keeper Jordan Pickford have lived up to expectations, which, given Everton’s defending, is just as well. In the first half on Sunday Pickford pulled off more saves than he has ever done in his career and overall made more passes than any Everton player.
Publicly the players are supportive with Keane absolving Koeman of blame despite the many tactical curiosities.
“I think it is down to us at the end of the day, the manager can only do so much. We have 100 per cent belief in the manager - we have done all season - and we hope we can get this right for him,” said Keane.
“We feel like we have let him down as a bunch of players and we are working hard to sort it out.”
One British media report linked former manager David Moyes, who is currently without a job, with a surprise return but Under-23 boss David Unsworth is the bookmaker’s favourite to take over if Koeman goes.
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Reporting by Neil Robinson, editing by Ed Osmond