Back in October last year, Everton striker Oumar Niasse told The Guardian that manager Ronald Koeman had forced him to train with the reserves, as well as stripping away his shirt number and locker, in an attempt to shove him out of Goodison Park.
11 months on, however, via a semi-successful loan at Hull and a collapsed move to Crystal Palace, Niasse was finally handed his first appearance by Koeman and marked it with what the Dutchman described as a ‘perfect goal’ in Wednesday’s 3-0 EFL Cup trouncing of Sunderland.
It’s fair to say the Senegalese hitman could not have netted his long-awaited first Everton goal, a year-and-a-half after arriving from Lokomotiv Moscow for £13.5 million (BBC), in more satisfying fashion.
Koeman's best decision this season
A number of Everton supporters have been clamouring for Koeman to swallow his pride and give Niasse a chance in recent weeks – particularly with The Toffees paying for their failure to replace Romelu Lukaku with four straight goalless games before Sunderland came to town.
And while Niasse, whose brilliant curling strike followed two from Dominic Calvert-Lewin, deserves praise for his performance in the face of such scrutiny, Koeman too warrants some degree of credit for backing down and allowing the striker a chance to prove his worth.
“Everyone knows it was a difficult situation for him but it is about taking your chance when you get an opportunity. He showed tonight that he is part of the team,” Koeman told the Liverpool Echo.
This is not to say Niasse is the answer to Everton’s goalscoring woes but not giving him the chance to help out was little more than counterproductive.
Now, Koeman will be more than happy to be proved wrong.