During a recent trawl of Everton related media, I came across an interesting commentary by a Saints fan that has been making the rounds on their fan sites.
I'll reserve my personal opinions until the end but I decided it was definitely something worth discussion by the ToffeeWeb faithful.
At the end of the season, Koeman verbally agreed to a new contract with Saints, even down to such details as what players would be leaving [Wanyama (most likely to Spurs), Pelle (most likely to Lazio), Juanmi (to Sociadad, already done) lol, I didn't even know he had gone! and Mane (most likely to Man. Utd)] – as well as discussing our transfer targets into the Club. This was all verbally agreed upon, leaving the finer details of Ron's actual contract itself to be sorted by his agent and settled when he returned from [his first] holiday.
Whilst he was away however, Everton approached Ronald's [now former] Agent, Guido Albers, to sound him out on Ronald's interest in taking up the Everton Job. His agent, taking Ronald at his word - "I like to honour my contract, I like to shtay at Saints" - [bear in mind that the agent had been involved in negotiating Ronald's new Saints contract, and therefore believed that he wished to stay] flatly turned down the Everton approach on behalf of Ronald, and instead put forward the name of another of his clients, Frank De Boer, who was indeed interested in the Everton job. [Two agent pay-days for the price of one!] lou_wink2
Everton, having already been turned down by their first choice, Unai Emery from Sevilla [who is off to PSG] were determined to get their second choice [Ronald Koeman] – and so used Dutch agent Rob Jansen to approach Ronald with an "offer he could not refuse" – i.e. Â£6-7 mill a year, and Â£100m transfer kitty to splash. Ronald was furious that his own agent [Albers] had refused the offer without even speaking to him first, and sacked him, taking on Rob Jansen in his place. And here is where things get interesting.
Koeman was not entirely dishonest – as he wasn't really that interested in the Everton job. Who would be, when you've just got your team into European football for the second year running, already enjoy substantial backing from your board, the adoration of your loyal fan-base – and Everton are nowhere? But what Koeman wanted to do, was to use this interest and concrete offer as a bargaining tool when he returned from his holiday, to say to the Saints Board "this is the kind of 'ambition' I am talking about". He wanted to "use" the Everton interest to get himself more spending money with Saints – but he grossly overestimated his own "value" to the Saints Board.
For quite a while now – Saints have not been entirely happy with Koeman. Many of the agreements he had previously made when he first signed, he had not been honouring. The style of football, formation, and most importantly – the much vaunted "pathway" to the First Team from our famed Academy – which under Ronald has been said inside the Club to have become "blocked". His attitude toward our young players, never bothering to involve himself with the Academy or even watch their games [he sees himself very much as a "First Team Manager only" whereas we want our manager to take a keen interest in helping develop our burgeoning talent], often discouraging them, blankly stating that most of them are simply not good enough, and at one point launching into a very nasty tirade of abuse to young Matty Targett, that is said to have stunned those who were there in its cutting spitefulness and completely unnecessary severity. The "esteemed" Ronald Koeman callously tore a sensitive young lad to shreds in front of all his mates, and has since been widely regarded as a complete cunt.
Ronald Koeman, despite his very well presented and controlled public image in the media, is not particularly well liked by many at the Club, to make a sweeping understatement. His aloofness and arrogance on the training ground, his unapproachability, and tendency to snap at players and speak to them in a disrespectful tone has not gone down well. Mane, JWP, Harry Reed, and Tadic in particular have an immense dislike of Ronald Koeman, and others only tolerate his tactless approach as they're regularly in the Team, were enjoying an element of success under him, and don't want to rock the boat. But you get the general idea.
We are also greatly peturbed at some of Ronald's training methods, i.e the lack and short duration of them, the low intensity, and lack of commitment to training in general. He gives the players a lot of time off, and is prone to "disappearing on golfing breaks" when we feel that he should be spending his time coaching our players!
The Board have been questioning a lot about his management style and not honouring his commitments to playing "The Southampton Way" and his stifling of the pathway for our young players for a while now – but whilst he has been enjoying success and has the firm backing of the fans, they have been loathe to take any firm course of action. Ronald got very lucky during our disasterous run of form over the Christmas period, where we lost seven out of nine games, and we were persisting in that horrendous hoofball style of football, lumping long balls up to a woefully out of form [yet constantly picked anyway] Pelle, and privately among the Board, questions were being asked by some, of whether to get rid of Koeman then. But as I say, he got lucky: Pelle got injured, and Ronald was forced to play the excellent Shane Long [who he previously never game a proper chance to show his qualities], and change back to a style of play more suited to our philosophy. Shlong pretty much saved Koeman's job at that time.
So that's the background. Ron thought his "gravitas" in the game deserved a certain respect, and coupled with the success he has brought us – he badly misjudged his importance to our Board. He thought he could use the Everton interest, believing his value and position at the Club to be unassailable – to effectively blackmail the Board into agreeing completely to his own terms to sign a new deal. It wasn't so much about the personal money on offer, but more with getting more to spend on new players than was on offer – and forcing Sadio Mane to stay again against his will. Sadio hates Koeman [the phrase used (by Sadio) was "fucking arrogant asshat"], and the irony is, we now have a higher likelihood of keeping him [Mane], without Koeman around. Not to say that will definitely happen, just that it might.
Koeman gave us an ultimatum, that we could either make him an offer much closer to what Everton were offering – or he would simply not sign the new deal, and see out the last year of his contract as promised. This effectively massively backfired on him, as our Board were really not that fussed. We have other excellent candidates on our shortlist who we feel would stick much more closely to our Club philosophies, and therefore be a better fit with the Club – and as stated – many players who'd be happy to see the back of him.
So the Saints Board effectively called his bluff, and said sorry Ron – either you sign the deal you've already verbally agreed to – or you can take the Everton job and we'll get in someone who will do things the way we want, according to our Club philosophy. What we won't have, is a "lame duck" manager seeing out the last year of his contract, when what we want, is for someone committed to our new Five-Year Plan and hungry to build on what we've already achieved. Ronald simply wasn't showing the kind of commitment we were looking for, so we gave him the choice to either do so, or fuck off to Everton. Lol.
We gave him two weeks to decide what to do; sign the new contract, or go fuck himself. Ron stormed off in a huff on holiday number two after this, and we shall await the final outcome. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that he yet may end up staying, so don't burn any effigies just yet – although to be honest – I suspect that bridge has now been burnt sufficiently from both ends to be unlikely in the extreme. Though, stranger things have happened – like Ronald Koeman being interested in a club like Everton for example, lol. lou_wink2
And this is why the whole sorry saga has been playing out now for so long. Ronald doesn't really want the Everton job – but his own duplicitous conduct has ended up forcing him down a path he was entirely not expecting! He badly misjudged the situation and his own worth to the Club – and thought that we would bend to his will, to keep such an esteemed figure at the Club at all costs. And now – if he doesn't take the Everton job – he looks like a complete cunt, as he [almost certainly] won't be staying at Saints. Well, he looks like a complete cunt either way now, whatever he does, lol.
He's completely blown the reputation he carefully established for integrity, decency, and being a man of honour and respect.
Another thing, is that we will not budge on the finer details of his compensation package with Everton. Some of which (including guarantees that they will not make offers for any Southampton players once Koeman arrives) are proving to be a real sticking point, as is the contract on offer to his brother Erwin, and the fact that both Erwin and particularly Jan Kluitenberg (our fitness coach) are pissed off at Ronald, as they both love being at Saints, and didn't want to leave. Erwin, ultimately, will be loyal to Ron – but Jan (and his family) really love living in the area, have settled really well here and don't particularly want to leave. (He may yet even end up staying). If Everton do not agree to absolutely everything that Saints want – we are quite happy to deny Everton permission to take our under contract manager, and essentially "hang him out to dry" for a year whilst his contract runs down, and we'll get on and appoint someone who does want to commit to us fully.
Moving on to that now – and some details of our shortlist:
Most of the names in the press are not our preferred targets. Don't worry at some of the horriffic options that have been bandied around. The likes of Moyes and McClaren are nowhere near consideration. I've heard Pellegrini linked in the media, and he is on our list, but only as an albeit very decent back up option if we don't get one of our preferred candidates. Eddie Howe I've also seen linked, he is on our long-term watch list of potential managers that is constantly updated, and Les Reed in particular is a big fan – but overall we don't feel that he yet has the required level of experience or "gravitas" to impress our Europe-bound Squad or the names we're looking to bring into the Club. Frank De Boer has also been linked everywhere, and is on our list – but some way down the pecking order, as we prefer someone with experience and evidence of implementing their philosophy across a range of Clubs to show consistency in application, whereas Frank has so far only managed at Ajax.
My friend [indicated to the existence of, but] will not reveal the names - of two of our most favoured options at the top of the list, as they do not want to risk alerting other Clubs to the possibility of their availabilty, but other than those, I can say that Murat Yakin [currently out of contract after parting ways with Spartak Moscow] Vitor Pereira [of FenerbahÃ§e], Paco JÃ©mez [of Rayo Vallecano] are all managers who are thought of very highly by the Club, sharing in our philosophy and playing the brand of football we like, and have long been on our watch-list. So if we don't get one of our two unrevealed names, those three are high on our appreciated list. So too very much is Thomas Tuchel, but the fact he's only just recently replaced Jurgen Klopp at Dortmund crosses him off of our potential targets for now, [he's unlikely to be interested].
A good read on Koeman.... Seems he left himself short.
Firstly, I feel a distinct amount of betrayal in this piece, which reinforces my view that this is a hit piece against a man who has scorned this insiders team.
But secondly, some of the points raised do grow a level of concern in me. The training issues, the blocking of the academy, the potentially over-inflated sense of self worth.
Thirdly, as a side issue almost, I find the nerve of some of references to Everton galling, and find it painful to see our standing with other fans at a recent low after the last 10 years.
So what do we think Toffeeweb? Who is our future manager really? Is he the much vaunted guiding hand we have view him as, as a majority, or is he the character much maligned in this piece.