Ronald Koeman says Everton have “big ambitions” for the new Premier League season following a busy summer of recruitment.
The Blues have added seven new players since the conclusion of the 2016/17 campaign and Koeman insists he has a “stronger” team than the one which finished last season.
Speaking ahead of Everton’s opening day clash with Stoke on Saturday, Koeman said he was expecting a “battle” against Mark Hughes’s side – and revealed he had a strong squad at his disposal, with the exception of long-term injured trio Seamus Coleman, Yannick Bolasie and Ramiro Funes Mori.
“We have big ambitions,” said Koeman. “That is what we like to show everybody, but the end of the transfer window is when it is more realistic to speak about targets and what is possible (for the team to achieve).
“We spent money… but everybody is spending money and looking for the best players. It is a big competition and we will see what happens.
“Saturday will be a difficult game. We followed Stoke in pre-season, they had a lot of games. They have made some changes to their team, they lost Marko Arnautovic and brought in some new players. Playing Stoke City is always a battle, home or away.”
Koeman provided an update on his injured players and insisted he was ready to tackle a demanding start to the season, which sees Everton take on Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester United, in their four Premier League games immediately after facing Hughes’s Stoke at Goodison Park.
The trip to Chelsea later this month is sandwiched by home and away games against Hajduk Split in the Europa League.
“Seamus is doing well, and Bolasie really well – we know that will take time,” said Koeman. James McCarthy is back training but will not be ready for Saturday.”
“We know it is a tough start – but it is about 38 games.
“In the Premier League, if you think you have an easy start you will pay for it – and if you think it is really tough then, maybe, it is different. Not everyone is at their best at the end of pre-season. The difficulty is we have the two Hajduk Split games as well.
“If we can do the business we want, then we are stronger than last season. It is difficult, we are changing a lot on the pitch, but also off the pitch, with the new building and facilities.
“We want to bring more structure to the club. It is really important to grow.”
It is 25 years since the dawn of the Premier League and Koeman believes the revamped English top-flight has been a force for good in world football.
“The Premier League has had a big, big impact on football worldwide,” added the Dutchman. “There was already a lot of attention on the Premier League 10 or 15 years ago – and it is greater now than it was then.
“It is a big and difficult competition, with a lot of money - and it is good to be part of that. It is a pleasure to be here.”
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We need to close games out , the defensive signs are encouraging , I think Keane and Pickford have already impressed. The lack of pace in midfield is at times alarming though. Playing the so-called SKY Lovies early in the season could be a plus tbh.