Toffee Talk

Toffee Talk: Everton ready to get down to business

In this special edition of Toffee Talk, Everton manager Ronald Koeman analyses the club's new signings and how each of them can contribute to the club in the upcoming Premier League season

It is an exciting time for Everton football club.

We have just arrived back from Tanzania where we played a tough, intense opening pre-season game against the Kenyan side, Gor Mahia, who made it difficult for us for long periods before we created the chances to score two goals. And we may have had more.

The warm welcome we received from the people of Tanzania and our new main partner, SportPesa, was incredible. Although our time in Dar es Salaam was short, it left a really great impression on all of the players and Everton staff.

Hopefully, we left something of Everton there, too, through some of the local community activities we supported and the game at the National Stadium in which Wayne Rooney scored in his first game back and Kieran Dowell secured the winning goal in front of a crowd estimated to be 40,000. It was the first match involving a Premier League team in East Africa and we are really proud of this.

We know how deeply Rooney feels about Everton and how much he wanted to come back home. Scoring such a good goal on his return will have meant a lot to him.

Of course, I never doubted Rooney's qualities, which is why I brought him back. He has that winning mentality and the ambition and hunger still. He will also bring all of his experience to the rest of the team and this will help everyone.

Everybody knows he can play out of different positions up front. He's a smart player, he has real quality on the ball and one of the key functions for Wayne will be to show his team-mates why he is - and still is - that player.

Wayne Rooney scoring Everton's first goal in their pre-season friendly against Kenya's Gor Mahia on Thursday. The Premier League club won 2-1 with teenager Kieran Dowell netting the winner. Rooney aside, Everton have been spending big this summer, si
Wayne Rooney scoring Everton's first goal in their pre-season friendly against Kenya's Gor Mahia on Thursday. The Premier League club won 2-1 with teenager Kieran Dowell netting the winner. Rooney aside, Everton have been spending big this summer, signing six players for combined fees of more than £90 million (S$161.7 million). PHOTO: REUTERS

Of course, I never doubted Rooney's qualities, which is why I brought him back. He has that winning mentality and the ambition and hunger still. He will also bring all of his experience to the rest of the team and this will help everyone.

But Rooney is not our only new arrival this summer. We have also brought in Davy Klaassen, Michael Keane, Jordan Pickford, Sandro Ramirez and Henry Onyekuru, who will play next season on loan at Anderlecht.

Klaasen plays most of the time in the offensive midfield position and he knows really well the right time to be in the box - he's really the type of player that we missed last season in our midfield.

Keane is one of the best centre-backs in the Premier League and everybody knows he's really a key signing for Everton. He's a strong defender and he's young, only 24 years old, so he will continue to develop.

So, too, will Pickford, who is 23 and had a really good season for Sunderland even though the Black Cats did not enjoy a good season. He likes to come out of his goal, he's not afraid, his left foot is fantastic and he can initiate a fast counter-attack, which is a real positive for a goalkeeper.

Like Pickford, Ramirez will join us when we continue our pre-season build-up next week in the Netherlands.

I knew of him because he was in the academy of Barcelona and I followed his development as a striker. He's an aggressive player and he's a scorer - he scored 16 goals last season in Spain. He's a player who will do well for Everton, I believe.

We also know who our opponents will be for the Europa League third qualifying round to be played over two legs in the last week of July and first week of August, either Ruzomberok of Slovakia or SK Brann of Norway.

Whichever team comes out the winner after the second leg next week - Brann, of course, lead 1-0 after the first leg in Slovakia - we will look forward to the tie and we will be really keen to mount a strong challenge this coming season in Europe.

That is part of the next step now for us as a club and we will embrace the challenge we face with purpose, optimism and, most of all, ambition and pride.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 16, 2017, with the headline 'Everton ready to get down to business'. Print Edition | Subscribe