LONDON • Ronald Koeman became the third English Premier League managerial casualty of the season yesterday, when he was sacked by Everton after a string of bad results.
The Toffees have dropped into 18th place and are in the relegation zone following Sunday's 5-2 home defeat by Arsenal - their seventh loss in 17 matches in all competitions this term.
Everton have also won just two out of nine league games and drawn two in their worst start to a Premier League season since 2005-06. In that campaign, they won one and drew one in their first nine matches under Scot David Moyes.
Koeman was informed of the decision, taken by major shareholder Farhad Moshiri and chairman Bill Kenwright, yesterday morning.
It was only three weeks ago, following a home defeat by Burnley, that Moshiri, who took control in February 2016, insisted that Koeman retained his "total support".
David Unsworth, the Under-23s head coach, is likely to take charge for tomorrow's League Cup tie at Chelsea.
A club statement read: "Everton can confirm that Ronald Koeman has left the club. Bill Kenwright, the board of directors and Farhad Moshiri would all like to express their gratitude to Ronald for the service he has given over the past 16 months and for guiding the club to seventh place in last season's Premier League campaign."
Everton's Premier League goal difference. Only Crystal Palace have it worse, -17.
Everton's win rate, with seven losses in 17 matches in all competitions this season.
The 54-year-old Dutchman was hired on a £6 million-a-year (S$10.8 million) contract in June last year and led Everton to a Europa League qualifying spot in his first full season in charge.
However, following an investment of almost £140 million in players this summer, Everton's form has nose-dived.
Despite persuading former golden boy Wayne Rooney to return from Manchester United, the Merseyside club have failed to adequately replace Romelu Lukaku after the striker was sold to United in the summer. But the problems have run deeper.
Some £55 million was spent on the goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and defender Michael Keane, yet Koeman's team conceded 18 goals in nine league games, while scoring only seven, and only bottom-placed Crystal Palace have a worse goal difference (-17).
The most notable other purchases were of Gylfi Sigurdsson and Davy Klaassen for a total of almost £70 million, yet neither has had the anticipated impact.
Beyond the poor results, Everton's supporters have been discouraged by a series of muddled displays with formations and players frequently switched as Koeman, an increasingly distant figure, struggled for cohesion.
"I haven't seen a worse Premier League side this year," said former player and BBC pundit Steve Claridge. "It feels like it's stale, the players here aren't of the quality needed, there's not a set system, not a pattern of play."
Koeman joins compatriot Frank de Boer, sacked by Crystal Palace after just four Premier League games, and Craig Shakespeare, dismissed by Leicester last week, as top-level managers to have departed this season.
He had more than 18 months remaining on his contract and will walk away with a handsome payout, as did Roberto Martinez when he was sacked by Iran-born British billionaire Moshiri last year.
THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS