Ronald Koeman pinpoints his failure to replace Romelu Lukaku as one of the main reasons for him failing to succeed at Everton while another reason, the Dutchman says, was the tough fixture list handed to the Toffees.
The Dutch coach was shown the exit door earlier this week after Everton's 5-2 loss at the hands of Arsenal, which made it just two wins in their opening nine games in the Premier League. It left the Goodison Park outfit in 18th place just five points above bottom-placed club Crystal Palace.
Olivier Giroud was Koeman's priority target to replace Lukaku, who joined Manchester United in the summer, and the manager revealed that the Toffees were close to signing the Arsenal forward. However, a late change of heart from the Frenchman saw him remain at the Emirates.
Koeman feels his failure to sign Giroud was one of the main reasons his future at Everton was always in doubt. The Toffees are now reliant on youngster Dominic Calvert-Lewin and a well- past-his-best Wayne Rooney for goals and they have struggled to find the net on a consistent basis – scored seven and conceded 18 in nine games.
Giroud also has revealed that he was close to leaving Arsenal following the arrival of Alexandre Lacazette, but chose to stay as he feels that his story with the north London club was not yet over.
"I had Olivier Giroud in the building," Koeman said, as quoted on Sky Sports. "He would have fitted perfectly but, at the very last moment, he decided that he'd rather live in London and stay at Arsenal.
"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. 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," the Dutch coach explained.
"All of a sudden, we were missing such a player. With Nikola Vlasic and Wayne Rooney, we had attackers who want the ball at their feet."
Koeman, meanwhile, also put the blame slightly on the Premier League fixture list, which saw them play five of the top six clubs from last season in their opening nine games that saw them concede 15 goals and score just three.
"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," the former Everton manager added.
"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, most of all, because I had lost my striker Lukaku.''