Former Everton manager Ronald Koeman has told The Mirror that he had Olivier Giroud all ready to sign for the club – but the striker changed his mind at the last minute.
The Toffees decided to sack Koeman on Monday afternoon, less than 24 hours after the Dutchman had overseen a 5-2 home defeat at the hands of Arsenal.
Koeman's 16-month reign at Goodison Park is now over, and few fans could say they are surprised, after a dismal start to this season.
With five defeats in nine Premier League games, Everton sit in the relegation zone, and they also claimed just one point from three Europa League games as Koeman failed to turn round a slow start.
That wasn't how many supporters had imagined Everton's season panning out. Whilst the Toffees did lose top goalscorer Romelu Lukaku to Manchester United, Koeman was backed heavily with funds for new signings, with Jordan Pickford, Michael Keane, Davy Klaassen, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Wayne Rooney among the players to arrive.
Koeman's side were ultimately found wanting, lacking pace and goals in attack, whilst seeming completely disorganised and slow at the back as well, and the Dutchman has now spoken for the first time since his exit.
Koeman has revealed to The Mirror that Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud actually arrived to sign for Everton, but changed his mind at the least minute - and he feels that the failed deal for the Frenchman massively hurt the Toffees, as they didn't have a centre forward to play up to.
Koeman added that Everton's fixture list - which has seen them play Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham already this season - cost him massively, and he knew over the summer that the start to the season would be difficult.
“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,” said Koeman. “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.’’
“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,” he added.