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Koeman a manager “you want to play for” says pal Gullit as Everton enter huge week

Date Posted,March 29, 2017

There are only two words on the lips of most football fans in Holland right now: Ronald Koeman .

The Everton boss is the man they want to turn the fortunes of the Dutch ­national team around. And given he has made it clear he doesn’t fancy the role at the moment, that speaks volumes for the job he is doing at Goodison Park.

Almost by stealth, Koeman has taken the Blues to the fringes of the battle for the top four.

He will send his team out in the Mersey derby on Saturday with the battle cry that victory at ­Anfield for the first time in 18 years will catapult Everton into the Champions League qualification race for real.

That comes as no ­surprise to many back home – not least his ex-international team-mate and friend Ruud Gullit, who made a ­powerful case for Koeman to become the next Dutch boss .

Six points over the next week, and Lukaku and co can start thinking top four (Photo: Liverpool Echo)

Gullit said: “He’s a guy who is very straight. Not a shouter, but someone who lets you know exactly how things are – he’s just a good, genuine guy.

“He’s done a very good job in England and it is not ­difficult to see why.

“I think that when you are a player you want to play for him. I’ve said before, the experience he has with the European Cup demands respect. He can man-manage because he can make a point quietly and in a good way.

“I did my coaching badges with him, and I saw him take it very seriously. But really, he hasn’t changed as a person from when we played together. He was a very astute player who read the game, and he’s the same as a coach.

“I don’t know how successful he can be with Everton because of the competition in the Premier League, but he has shown already he can do a very, very good job.”

By virtually all measures, Koeman has exceeded what was expected of him this season.

Holland sacked Danny Blind this week and many want Koeman to take over (Photo: AFP/Getty)

He looks certain to deliver seventh place at the least — which could well be good enough for a European place.

That is precisely what he managed at Southampton and, according to Blues ­legend Graeme Sharp, it would be some achievement to repeat the trick on Merseyside.

Sharp said: “After last ­season, just to settle things down here would have been considered a success. But to go from 11th, and now look a side capable of beating anyone, it shows he understands ­Everton and already has the players on his side.”

Koeman wants more.

He has set his players the target of beating both Liverpool and then ­Manchester United at Old Trafford on Tuesday night.

If they get six points from those two games, he genuinely ­believes they can crash the top four.

Ronald Koeman runs along the touchline as Sadio Mane celebrates with team mates after he scored the third goal for Southampton
Koeman guided Southampton to a Europa League spot before leaving last summer (Photo: Getty)

But for one famous former Everton fan, that may just be a dream too far.

Boyhood Blue turned Liverpool FC icon Jamie Carragher said: “Getting into that top four, it’s so difficult.

“Liverpool have been in once in seven years and they spend massive money, lots more than Everton.”

Yet in Holland, they believe in Koeman miracles.

And if Everton can win at Anfield on Saturday, they will start believing in them on Merseyside too.

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