The speculation has begun and the rumour mill is going into overdrive as to who is going to be the new manager of Everton after Rafa Benitez was finally sacked yesterday.
Many names are of course floating around as Everton try and decide who is going to be the club’s sixth manager in the last six years. Just repeat that, the Toffees are contemplating a sixth permanent coach in six years!
Can you imagine a football club being run as shambolically as this? It’s difficult to imagine that this is actually real and I feel as though we have all slipped into a parallel universe at times.
And as if to underline that feeling, the favourite according to the bookies is Roberto Martinez to return to the club he last managed in 2016, when Farhad Moshiri took over.
This is truly bizarre and it must be a joke, surely?! Do the people that run this club actually want to alienate as many fans as possible? Maybe, it’s a ruse to make Evertonians think the worse before someone else is unveiled.
The idea of bringing back the first coach that Moshiri actually sacked is beyond words. The one thing that we all learned from Martinez’s time at Goodison Park was that apart from an almost insane and delusional over-optimism, his sides simply couldn’t defend.
Everton have already conceded thirty four goals so far this season. Only four sides in the league have let in more and they are all in or around the relegation zone. The sort of Sunday league-style defending that we saw against Norwich City (which we also saw too often under Martinez) will almost certainly send this team down. No, Martinez is not the solution.
There are a number of other names who have been touted for the job. We’ve looked in detail at them and the pros and cons of each potential candidate.
While some of these individuals like Graham Potter have quite a lot going for them, I think that perhaps what this club needs in such desperate times is another David Moyes.
There are actually some similarities between the situation when Moyes became Everton manager and today’s crisis.
Then, the club had been owned for a few years by a wealthy individual who had spent lots of money on big name signings who had failed to deliver and placed the club in financial peril without getting the results on the pitch.
The fact we have almost come full circle and are back to something like that situation after two decades of change and upheaval is a very depressing reality.
Immediately prior to the time Moyes took over, almost exactly twenty years ago, the Toffees had been managed by a man with a big reputation who had won trophies and enjoyed sustained success in the past but couldn’t replicate that success at Everton.
The team were mired in a relegation battle when the club sacked Walter Smith in March 2002 and turned to another Scot, but one who was relatively unknown and came from Championship club Preston North End.
Moyes went on to establish an clear approach and strategy to his football and a strong culture and a fiercely competitive mentality at Goodison Park.
After some early hiccups, he turned things around and made the Toffees a tough side to play while bringing a level of consistency to the team, which regularly challenged for Europe. He even got the Blues into the Champions League for the first and only time in 2004-05.
It wasn’t always pretty and ultimately Everton failed to win anything under him, partly because he couldn’t spend much money to take his hard-working but limited side to the next level.
There was also some justified criticism that he was too defensive-minded and that his teams choked in big games.
However, I think the majority of Evertonians would acknowledge he was the right man at the time and did a pretty good job overall. A few seasons and finishes such as those the club enjoyed under the Scot would be very welcome now!
Given the dire straights the team is in today that emphasis on getting back to basics like defending properly from set-plays and creating a strong mentality is what this side really needs again. Together with a more modern tactical approach than we saw under Benitez.
Finding another current version of Moyes isn’t easy, but perhaps Everton need to look at the Championship again for the man to try and revive fortunes on the pitch.
There is one Championship manager who is being linked strongly with the job; Wayne Rooney of course. Rooney has done well at Derby dealing with another club in crisis and he played for both Moyes and another Scottish manager the hugely successful Alex Ferguson, but is it perhaps too soon for him to take over at Goodison Park?
Of course, there was in the past another ex-player who became a player/manager with a second tier club and then returned to Everton before eventually guiding the Toffees to it’s most successful era in the eighties. That man obviously was Howard Kendall.
But, could another Championship manager cutting his teeth in that harshly competitive league, Nottingham Forest’s Steve Cooper be that left-field shout?
The Welshman has gained a good reputation recently having taken a very limited Swansea City side to consecutive play-offs before leaving and then joining Forest.
Since taking over, the Midlands club have been competitive under him and just a few days ago they defeated Arsenal in the FA Cup. Cooper is a progressive and still young coach who was considered by Crystal Palace last summer for their vacant manager’s position before Patrick Viera got the job.
If he were to move to the Premier League he would be following a well-troden path from Swansea to the top flight, one previously taken by coaches like Brendan Rogers and Graham Potter, another well-regarded young manager apparently on the short-list for the Everton job. Both have undoubtedly done well since then.
It would of course be a risk to go for a manager unproven in the top flight, but the Blues have had a series of high-profile and experienced managers none of whom have turned out to be a success. Perhaps it’s time to move on from appointing big names and go for youth and potential. Would it be that much of a punt to consider someone like Cooper?