Ronald Koeman has revealed how close he came to signing Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud for Everton in the summer and how that failure contributed to his sacking.
The Duchman, who was sacked this week by the Tofees, has opened up about his exit, and says he feared his days as Everton boss were numbered during the summer.
He ha two major concerns: one was the Premier League fixtures for the new campaign. The second was the Blues’ inability to sign an adequate replacement for £90million striker Romelu Lukaku.
Speaking for the first time since his Goodison Park sacking on Monday, he said: “I had Olivier Giroud in the building. He would have fitted perfectly, but at the very last moment he decided that he’d rather live in London and stay at Arsenal,” he was quoted by the Mirror.
“That was really hard to swallow. You tell me, where you can get a better striker?
“Lukaku was so important for us, not just because of his goals. He had a certain way of playing as a striker — strong. He could hold the ball, he always had an eye for the goal, he was fast. If things were not going well in a game, if we could not play the way we were used to, there was always the option to use the long ball towards him.
“All of a sudden (when Giroud did his U-turn), we were missing such a player.
“With Nikola Vlasic and Wayne Rooney, we had attackers who want the ball at their feet.
“When you are struggling as a team with the build-up from the back, and we no longer had the option to kick it long, you know you have a problem.’’
Turning to the foibles of the Premier League computer, he explained: “I was on holiday when I received the Premier League fixture list by e-mail.
“I looked at it and saw that five of our first nine games would be against clubs from last season’s top six: Chelsea, Tottenham, Man City, Man United and Arsenal.
“I looked at it again and I said to myself, ‘Phew!’
“That is not going to be an easy run, in particular with a Europa League run at the same time and a really early start with all the players because of the European games. And most of all, because I had lost my striker Lukaku.”
But he insists accusations that he blew the club’s biggest ever transfer budget should be tempered by the fact he brought in £75m, rising to a potential £90m, for Lukaku.
He said: “We sold Lukaku for £90m. Our most expensive signing, Gylfi Sigurdsson, cost half of that amount.
“Of course it is a lot of money, but in England the football world has different figures. All players in England cost more than what they are worth really. That is how this market operates here.”