Former Manchester City midfielder Joey Barton believes that Everton made a massive mistake in failing to replace Romelu Lukaku over the summer.
The Toffees sold Lukaku – their top scorer for four years in a row – to Manchester United for £75m in July and the Belgian has made a storming start to life at his new club, netting 11 goals in ten games.
Everton, meanwhile, have made a pitiful start to the campaign, failing to score in over half of their games and, in turn, slumping to 16th in the table.
And Barton, speaking on talkSPORT, noted that Everton’s demise stems from Ronald Koeman’s failure to find a like-for-like replacement.
“They never replaced Lukaku,” he said.
“You can’t have somebody in your side that scores 20+ goals a season and not replace him with a like-for-like centre-forward, he talkSPORT.
“Sometimes I feel Evertonians were harsh on Lukaku. Some of them wanted to cash in on him because of his work-rate. I remember saying you have to be careful what you wish for.
“How Everton have sold him and not have somebody in the number nine jersey come in and replace him is outrageous.
Somebody somewhere in the club is culpable for that. But do I believe that is Ronald Koeman? No I don’t.”
As things stand, Lukaku has seven Premier League goals and Everton have six. There really couldn’t be a greater indication of the 24-year-old’s impact than that.
Lukaku has not just scored goals since coming to United; he has actively added to the physicality and mental toughness – a real sense of ruthlessness – now pervading Jose Mourinho’s squad.
Koeman’s utopian side got the better of him over the summer. He saw the sale of Lukaku as a chance to assemble a team that aligned with his vision and he duly went out and made an array of ostensibly positive signings.
But there was no sticking point. No nucleus. Koeman had lost the precision and final touch so necessary to any successful side, rendering those further back as a somewhat irrelevant.
Everton, put simply, have done a Tottenham Hotspur in 2013, but this isn’t really concerning for United supporters, who will look forward to seeing Lukaku continue his ruthless streak following the international break.