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TOFFEE TALK

Attacking play and youth Koeman's focus

In this exclusive column, the new Everton manager speaks about his targets for the English Premier League club and what kind of football philosophy he is planning to instil in the Toffees.

It is a great feeling to be Everton manager. From the beginning, I got the feeling from the chairman, Bill Kenwright, and from Farhad Moshiri, the club's major shareholder, that I was their No. 1 choice and that is always a great feeling.

Everton, of course, are a club with a really big history. In terms of league titles, we are the fourth most successful club in the history of English football with nine championships, as many as Manchester City and Chelsea combined.

Now it is about what we can do to claim our own special part in this history. We want to make the team strong and we will do this with all the people who are at Everton.

In general, Everton had a strong squad last season. Of course, there will be changes in the squad but that is the same for every club ahead of a new season.

For me, it's really important to get a good view about young players. I'm a manager who likes to give young players a chance to become part of the first team and Everton have a good academy with some very good young players. It's important for the club to give young players the chance to come through to the first team.


Ronald Koeman after being named Everton manager last Tuesday. While the Dutchman accepts that players will be unhappy when dropped, he believes in competition within the squad. PHOTO: COURTESY OF EVERTON FC

Dutch coaches like to dominate games and not wait. I like to play attacking football and to press the opposition, to make it difficult. That's what we like to do and that's how we will do the (training) sessions. It's all about trying to dominate the game and giving the fans enjoyable football.

I will be talking to people at the club over the weekend to make a plan over the next couple of weeks, then start pre-season and make sure we have a really strong team so we can fight for a high position in the Premier League table.

My approach, my philosophy is very straightforward. I hate to lose and I like to have a really good relationship and respect with the players. Ultimately, the one who is responsible is the manager.

I like to do things in a good, positive way because I believe, if you enjoy your job, you get the best out of yourself and we need to show that we are a strong team not just on the pitch but also off it. We will respect everyone.

We know it's sometimes difficult for the players to accept different decisions of the manager because you can't play a game with 20 players, but you need real competition in the squad always.

The best 11 will start and you win your place in the team every day by training and how you behave - that's very important.

I'm a Dutch coach, of course, and Dutch coaches like to dominate games and not wait. I like to play attacking football and to press the opposition, to make it difficult. That's what we like to do and that's how we will do the (training) sessions. It's all about trying to dominate the game and giving the fans enjoyable football.

In my own playing career, I had some very good coaches leading me. I had Johan Cruyff for seven years as a player and learnt a lot from him. In my opinion, he was the best. I was also very fortunate to be managed by Guus Hiddink, Dick Advocaat and also Rinus Michels when we won Euro 1988 with the Dutch national team.

All of those managers taught me a lot but the most important thing is to keep your own character and to not play or show something different. I've always been myself and what I will need in the rest of the people in the technical staff is to give a good direction to the team.

It's interesting because about two weeks ago I saw the picture of myself in an Everton shirt from the game in 1995 when Everton and Feyenoord played in the second round of the European Cup-Winners' Cup. Feyenoord beat Everton over the two legs and I swopped shirts after the game, so it was nice to see that picture.

I like the fact that Everton are a community club with a strong community focus. We are a club of the people. This is important because you need this kind of thing to have a really strong club.

Of course, the first team is the most important thing but it is also important to be involved in the academy and with our charity as well. I'm part of that now and I will support everybody in that because it makes us stronger together.

Of course, I grew up with my brother, Erwin, in a football family. Our late father, Martinus, played football for 15 or 16 seasons in the first division in Holland. He played once for the national team, and that's important when you're a young boy who is starting out playing football because you need good advice.

My father was not that father shouting and talking about his son because he was the best out of everybody. Actually, our father was always very critical and that was important because it made sure my brother and I were normal people with our feet on the ground. My father's experience in football helped us a lot.

So I am looking forward to this, of course. It is interesting, too, because people are talking about the managers in the north-west of England - me, Jurgen Klopp, Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola.

Pep is a good friend of mine and it's nice to have those managers here because in the Premier League, we try to have the best players and the best managers. Mourinho is back in the game and with Manchester United, it's nice to get maybe the best coach from Germany and then Guardiola to Man City makes the Premier League more exciting for everybody.

To be part of this is amazing and I'm very proud to be manager of Everton. We will do all we can to bring success here to the club.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 19, 2016, with the headline 'Attacking play and youth Koeman's focus'. Print Edition | Subscribe