When Ronald Koeman arrived at Everton he was promised that things were about to change at Goodison Park. In particular, the Dutchman was assured that – with the financial muscle of billionaire shareholder Farhad Moshiri behind them – the Toffees would be more competitive in the transfer market than at any other time in the Premier League era.
He certainly wasn't short-changed: the club broke their transfer record three times, beating Premier League and European competitors to the signings of several high-profile players, and created a genuine optimism among supporters that Everton are heading in the right direction.
Ultimately though, those raised expectations – coupled with a poor run of results at the start of the season – cost Koeman his job in late-October, with fire fighter Sam Allardyce stepping in. A top six finish and a run to the latter stages of the Europa League would certainly have been the minimum the Dutchman expected of his players but, given present form, the Toffees have an unexpected scrap on their hands.
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Everton transfers: new look Blues hoping to break into elite
Everton have spent over £140m on nine first-team players this summer, with most (if not all) set to be regular starters. The swift acquisitions of Jordan Pickford from Sunderland and Michael Keane from Burnley – two of England's brightest prospects – was an early signal of Everton's intent to buy big; but with an eye on the future too.
Davy Klaassen, the 24-year-old elder statesmen of Ajax's very young Europa League final-losing side, scored 14 goals and provided 10 assists in the Eredivisie last season and should help to answer Everton's need for the goals to be spread more evenly across the squad. Record signing Gylfi Sigurdsson also has an eye for goal, while Sandro – a product of Barcelona's famous La Masia academy – proved his pedigree with 14 La Liga goals last season.
In terms of funds spent and the decisiveness with which Everton have operated, Koeman was backed in the transfer market like no Everton manager before him; and while the Dutchman may have failed, Sam Allardyce will be relishing the chance to work with such a talented group of players.
Rooney returns to Everton
The headline-grabbing addition, however, has to be the return of prodigal son Wayne Rooney after 13 years at Manchester United. Rooney returns to Everton as England's all-time leading goalscorer and was treated to a spine-tingling reception as he walked out in a blue shirt at Goodison.
Ronald Koeman believed the 31-year-old to have been written off prematurely by Manchester United and that his leadership and winning mentality will be key to helping Everton flourish in the coming years. If the start to Rooney's second spell at his boyhood club is anything to go by, it could prove to be a masterstroke.
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