Ronald Koeman clearly feels a little bruised and unfairly treated right now, and has a point.
Everton may well have spent over £140m during the summer transfer window, but they also brought around £100m in, and lost their most important player.
Romelu Lukaku rammed Everton taunts back down blue necks on Sunday, but it was a comment before the match which underlined how the striker felt.
In his role as a pundit, Thierry Henry explained Lukaku, who he works with for the Belgian national team, had been looking forward to the game more than any other.
Lukaku felt a constant doubt from Everton fans, and wanted to show them what they’d lost. In reality, Everton fans knew what they’d lost, and for well over a year knew what they were set to lose.
The Belgian striker never made an effort to openly sound committed to Goodison Park and whilst a string of comments to the Belgian media were brushed off as mistranslated, often after being perfectly translated, Everton fans knew Lukaku would soon leave.
It must have stung, and for a proud club like Everton, Lukaku’s openness about moving on will have left a bitter taste for many. Therefore, it’s really no surprise the player’s impact was talked down, that’s just nature.
You’re not all that anyway.
In reality, Everton would find it almost impossible to find a replacement. Lukaku was leaving to play at a higher level, and any comparable player would surely want the same.
Man United lose Ibrahimovic, they get Lukaku. Chelsea lose Costa, they get Morata. Arsenal lose patience with Giroud, they get Lacazette. Everton just aren’t in that arena.
Tottenham’s poor spending of the Gareth Bale funds has been repeatedly referenced when Everton’s business has been criticised, and Spurs were in a similar situation… losing a player who was irreplaceable.
With Lukaku last season, Everton finished 7th, and yet there’s been at least some expectation they’d push into the top four this season. Ronald Koeman believes that’s unrealistic, and he’s right, achieving that would be the improbable, a reasonable expectation would be staying where they were… 7th.
Some brush off net spend as if it were a social media invention used to mask the real truth during ‘debates’. But it’s plain as day: Everton’s net spend is relevant, it’s around £40m (other figures are available, this isn’t an exercise in the precise maths of it all) because they lost Lukaku.
If Everton had kept Lukaku, plus spent £140m then they’d be a better team than they are now. There’s no smoke and mirrors, it’s plainly, and painfully, obvious.
Ronald Koeman doesn’t escape blame, although on transfers he will argue he was asking for another, senior, striker right until the end of the window. His own comments to the Dutch media back this up, so it’s not only through the benefit of hindsight.
A fearsome run of fixtures also has to be taken into account when assessing the reality. Playing Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham, and Manchester United as four of the opening five fixtures is perfect ‘crisis’ ingredient.
Every club has to play every other twice, but there’s no getting away from the fact Everton have played a far more difficult Premier League season so far than others. Now come the easier games, but unfortunately for Koeman his side is being ushered into crisis, and confidence will be low.
There’s no escaping the calamitous performance against Atalanta, no real mitigating factors there, and among everything perhaps that should be a real signal for worry.
Currently second favourite to be the next manager sacked, Koeman has pressure beyond what his situation actually deserves.
When actual factors are considered outside of a clamour, Koeman’s Everton reign shouldn’t be under serious question. But the noise and the pressure of the creeping wave can on its own be a factor to drown out sense and turn exaggerated gloom into something more real.
That’s not fair, Koeman is right to feel hard done by. But then that’s football, and the Dutchman needs to deal with all the injustices, perceived or real, coming his way at the moment.