Everton have had another poor league campaign by all accounts where they ended up in the bottom half for the second season in a row after a sensational fifth place finish in 2013/14. A string of horrific defeats including the 4-0 derby drubbing at Anfield might have ultimately led to them parting ways with their manager Roberto Martinez, but the supporters and everyone associated with this grand old football club seem to be excited about the new era under Ronald Koeman – who has had a very successful time with Southampton against all odds.
There’s no denying that one of the key contributing factors to Everton’s demise in the last season was their lack of organization at the back. Many would put this down to Martiez’s emphasis on being expansive – to the point where it can be detrimental to themselves – which was what ultimately happened. Everton scored plenty of goals thanks to another prolific season from Romelu Lukaku, but also conceded for fun at the back which saw them struggle to find the right balance, damaging their ambitions to finish higher or as high as they did in the Spaniard’s debut season.
It’s not as though Everton lack genuine quality in that department. John Stones, still very young and raw is already touted as one of the future leaders of club and country (provided he stays at Everton). What Stones needs now is a Phil Jagielka who is fitter to guide him through the rough patches which any young player would have to come across, in their pursuit to grow as a footballer. While the actual Phil Jagielka is not getting any younger, a fresher pair of legs with similar experience and leadership qualities has been made a priority and it’s no surprise that Koeman, for all the brilliant success he’s had with player recruitment, has prioritized Swansea captain Ashley Williams as his number one signing.
Ashley Williams has everything that Koeman wants in a center half. Quick, strong in the air, can bring the ball out from the back – although with John Stones on his side he might resort to sticking to his position and patrol the area. Williams, has been on the radar of top teams ever since his debut season in the Premier League, and his numbers for last season look as impressive as they go. He’s won more tackles per game, made more blocks, clearances and interceptions than any of Everton’s regular center halves and this suggests he could massively improve an area where the Toffees have been showed up in the last two seasons.
Add to it the fact that Koeman’s sides have generally conceded in the low 40’s – staggering 33 in 2014/15 (only Chelsea conceded less) and 41 in 2015/16 compared to Martinez’s 50 in 2014/15 and an abysmal 55 in 2015/16 – it’s clear why Koeman is the right man to trust with a signing of this nature.
There have been conflicting reports in the last two days regarding the status of the deal – but confirmed reports from the BBC claim that a £10m bid for Williams has been rejected by Swansea and a spokesperson has released a statement that reads,
“Ashley Williams is an important part of our squad and club and we are not looking to sell him, and therefore we have turned down the offer currently on the table.”
Reading between the lines, Swansea have basically revealed that they would probably agree a deal for an ‘improved’ bid which is expected to come from Everton in a few days’ time considering the strong intent from Koeman to bring the player to Merseyside which is vitally important for them to finally make steps in the right direction after two years of underachievement.