Everton boss Ronald Koeman: 'Precise, pragmatic and likes different coloured pens'

Match of the Day 2 analysis

I got an idea of how precise Everton boss Ronald Koeman is as a manager when we did our coaching qualifications together in the Netherlands in 1998, and he got his pencil case out.

I had just been sacked as player-manager by Chelsea and, along with Ronald, Frank Rijkaard and Marco van Basten, I went on a special fast-track course that the Dutch FA had put on for former top international players that allowed us to get our badges in only a year.

Koeman, who had retired in 1997, had always wanted to become a manager when he was a player and you could tell then he wanted to make the most of this opportunity.

We were all enthusiastic but even his note-taking was extremely systematic - it still makes me laugh that he wrote everything down very carefully using lots of different coloured pens.

How you train is how you play - true then, and now

Ronald Koeman takes an Everton training session
Koeman gives instructions to his players during an Everton training session

That course was 18 years ago but Koeman is still a very pragmatic guy who loves to have a structure in place, which is part of the reason he has made a successful start at Everton after his impressive two-year spell at Southampton.

One of his sayings is "how you train is how you play", which has been his mantra since we played together for PSV Eindhoven and the Dutch national team in the 1980s.

I was always used to that approach too. It was rule number one under the best coaches I played for and the idea is that during the week you mimic the conditions you will play under on Saturday, so you get used to them.

I am sure Everton players have found out already what is expected of them - Koeman will not let them switch off during training games or think they can only give 70% effort. It has to be 100%.

He has increased the intensity of their sessions but there is more to his approach as a manager than just hard work and discipline.

Technically and tactically he is very strong too, and part of that is linked to how he was as a player.

Koeman always thinks ahead

Everton have conceded two goals from set-pieces this season
Under Koeman, Everton have conceded from a set-piece on average once every five matches. Under his predecessor Roberto Martinez, Everton conceded 14 goals from set-pieces in 2015-16, an average of one every 2.71 matches

Koeman was a brilliant defender but he was not very quick. If you are the slowest player on the pitch then you always have to be thinking what will happen next.

He needed to anticipate things all the time, but he did it so well he never made any slide tackles because he never had to, he always saw things coming. In fact, he saw slide tackles as a last resort.

So I know he always understood the game very, very well. He was always in the right place so he never got in any trouble.

That made him a very intelligent player and it is also why he is such an intelligent coach - he thinks ahead.

One example of that is when he took charge at Everton in the summer, he knew how they had conceded too many goals from set-pieces last season, so he has been trying to improve that, and it has worked.

Leadership is one of his strengths too

He is quiet, considered and thoughtful and his whole personality is like that - even away from football too - although he is not afraid of raising his voice when he has to with his players.

Those communication and man-management skills were obvious when we were players. I was captain of the Dutch team that won the 1988 European Championship, but we had a couple of players who took responsibility for their area of the team and he was one of them.

Koeman was captain of our defence and leadership was one of his strengths.

Gullit and Koeman celebrate winning the 1988 European Championship
Gullit and Koeman celebrate winning the 1988 European Championship with the Netherlands

In that era, we had a lot of strong personalities right through the Dutch team. People now say that we were always fighting but that is not true.

We could argue at times, though, because ultimately we always wanted to win and, if somebody did not do their job at the back then I needed Ronald to tell him that.

How Koeman tried to sting Barkley into action

Media playback is not supported on this device

MOTD2 Extra pundits questioned Ross Barkley's form on 16 October

Sometimes I watch Premier League games here and when people make mistakes they say nothing to each other - they just let it go and it is like happy families. I don't understand it.

If you want to win, you have to wake people up and I have seen Koeman do it already at Everton. With his treatment of Ross Barkley in the past few weeks, he has been trying to sting him a little.

That is also our way - the Dutch way - a little bit. He has high standards and he has been saying to Barkley that if you don't want to listen to me, then you have to learn the hard way.

By leaving him out, or taking him off, then Koeman is thinking that maybe he will learn.

He is trying to show Barkley that this is how you will end up if you don't do what is necessary for me, but for sure he will also have told the player that he is only doing it because he wants him to become better.

Koeman has done it to get a reaction and he got one against West Ham on Sunday, when Barkley scored his first league goal since the opening day of the season.

How far can Koeman take the Toffees?

Media playback is not supported on this device

Everton were different team after break - Koeman

It was not a great game, or a great performance by Everton but they took their chances against the Hammers and got the win.

They also got a clean sheet, and Tottenham are the only top-flight side to have conceded fewer goals in their first 10 games. That is something else Koeman will have worked on, although you would not say Everton are a defensive-minded team.

In terms of his style of play, I think he is very versatile. He played for so many great teams and had exposure to many different styles, with the ultimate being Johan Cruyff's Barcelona.

But of course he cannot play like Barca did when he is with Everton, and he understands that you have to adapt your style to the players you have got.

As a coach you learn that, although you have a philosophy, that doesn't mean you have a set tactical philosophy. That can be something totally different each week.

You also have to adapt to the league you are in. Koeman has experience across Europe but he also knows the Premier League now after his two seasons with Southampton.

Top of the Premier League

He knows how to get results in England but he also knows to stay calm when they do not come. Before Sunday, Everton had suffered a little drop in form after their good start to the season but he believes in his players so there was no need for him to panic.

Koeman finished seventh and sixth in his two seasons at Southampton and it is going to be hard for him to improve on that with Everton, especially when you consider the other teams above them.

It will be a fantastic achievement if they do manage it and under Koeman I know they will fight hard, so they have a chance.

Ruud Gullit was speaking to BBC Sport's Chris Bevan.

Top Stories