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With Koeman in charge, Everton fans want more new signings

Ronald Koeman's era at Everton will get underway at home to Tottenham. Koeman left Southampton to move to Goodison Park earlier this summer, with fans expecting a much better campaign than 2015-16.

Roberto Martinez lost his job after Everton finished 11th. Is Koeman the man to turn Everton's fortunes around? Here's a look ahead to 2016-17.

At a glance

New manager Koeman needs time to rebuild a damaged Everton squad attempting to bounce back from successive bottom-half finishes.

Quick predictions

Premier League: ​8th
FA Cup: Quarterfinals
League Cup: Fourth round

Transfer business

A new manager and the promise of considerable transfer funds whetted the appetite of supporters, who expected a summer splurge and a wave of marquee signings to signal Everton's newfound spending power.

Three new faces is the reality at this stage, and one of them, Shani Tarashaj, was signed by Martinez in January. Goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg and midfielder Idrissa Gana Gueye appear upgrades on the alternatives in their positions, but there is work to do before the close of the window.

The other activity of note is Koeman stamping his authority on the squad and leaving several players without a squad number. Oumar Niasse's £13.5 million nightmare appears over after no goals and just 142 minutes of Premier League football. Others without a shirt for the new season include winger Aiden McGeady, left-back Luke Garbutt and forward Conor McAleny.

The squad remains short on leaders willing to impose themselves on games, not to mention game-changing quality. Even with the impending arrival of Swansea's Ashley Williams set to counter John Stones' £47.5m move to Manchester City, further depth in central defence is desirable, as is cover at right-back.

A surfeit of right-sided attacking midfielders distracts from a lack of options centrally and on the left, while quality backup for Romelu Lukaku remains a pressing concern. Several new faces are imperative in the weeks ahead.

Koeman Everton
Ronald Koeman is set for his first season as Everton manager.

Key questions

Three increasingly misdirected seasons under Martinez leaves a squad versed in his slow passing, minimal aggression approach. Moving on from those methods and embracing this proactive and more direct style is vital to any progress this season, although preseason has shown some players adapting quickly but others still repeating old habits. Such a considerable transition will take time.

Koeman has already criticised his players for being "too nice" and highlighted the need for significant improvement without possession, with Gueye recruited specifically for his pressing and combative style. This team requires backbone and a tough exterior that shows opponents Everton do not know when they are beaten.

Too many teams easily outworked and outmuscled them in recent seasons and one of the most frustrating aspects under Martinez was the unfortunate knack of switching between the excellent and the ordinary, both individually and collectively and sometimes on a weekly basis.

Koeman must also tackle a leaky defence and use his defensive acumen to stabilise a backline that conceded more than 100 goals across Martinez's last two seasons. Improvement on set pieces and a decrease in avoidable individual errors is necessary.

Potential pitfalls

Frustration at a quiet summer is building among some supporters and the worst-case scenario is Lukaku following Stones out the exit door.

Koeman has enough quality at his disposal to navigate the opening matches of the new campaign, with the centre-forward position beyond Lukaku perhaps the obvious exception, but this unbalanced squad is not equipped for a full league season in its current state.

Players taking too long to adapt to new instructions and methods is another potential pitfall. If Everton cannot break from previous habits within an acceptable timeframe, a third successive season of underachievement surely beckons. Such an outcome would only increase the likelihood of key players feeling they must leave.

Slow progress could also encourage opposing sides, especially those visiting Goodison Park. Any audible frustration in the stands will encourage visiting teams. On the back of the worst home season in the club's long and illustrious history, a strong campaign on home turf is paramount.

Injury concerns and speculation about his future have overshadowed Romelu Lukaku's preseason.

One to watch 

Youth development has often padded out the Everton squad and this season looks set to continue the theme; talented youngsters tend to find a path through to the first team through player shortage as much as ability.

The departure of a handful of senior players and a lack of transfer activity has seen several promising youngsters handed a chance to impress during preseason. Of those to feature, 18-year-old defender Mason Holgate, who has played a part in all six fixtures, has produced the most convincing case to remain in the first-team setup.

Holgate has seamlessly switched between right- and centre-back, with his best performance coming as part of a three-man defence against Manchester United in Wayne Rooney's testimonial. His man-of-the-match display saw the young defender outshine many of his more experienced teammates and earn post-match praise from Koeman.

Luke is ESPN FC's Everton blogger. Follow Luke on Twitter @lukeofarrell.


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