Finding The Right Toffee: Who Should Be Everton’s Next Boss?

Alex Caple

Everton have sacked Ronald Koeman – a manager who took much praise last season after a comfortable, promising campaign that saw the team hoping to make strides this season. Here we are, however, not even three months into the season, and Everton are looking for something new. With both the state of the club and the squad difficult to judge, who should be next?

Koeman has been under pressure for a few months now, and the heavy defeat to Arsenal on Sunday simply moved his departure from ‘probable’ to ‘imminent’. It’s been expected given the start to the season, especially after the expectations surrounding Everton when the season kicked off.

Money has never really been available for Everton the way it was this summer. They spent over £150m – a huge amount even in a summer as over-the-top as 2017’s. They spent the fourth most of any Premier League side, hoping to build on a season where they had been the closest challenger to the top six, without ever feeling apart of it. This was supposed to be their year – the season Everton finally arrived at the top.

Is it too surprising that Everton haven’t managed that when you consider the signings they made? Arguably not. Their key defensive signings were Jordan Pickford and Michael Keane – two players who have made their names at clubs battling at the other end of the table. They signed Wayne Rooney, a player firmly on his way down who showed at United that he can’t quite be relied upon at the top end. £45m on Gylfi Sigurðsson asked much the same questions – is he going to be the same player at the top of the table, with less space, more pressure, and without being the main man? The squad Everton have been left with is full of promise – their youth products coming through have shone, and Koeman undoubtedly deserves credit for bringing through the likes of Davies, Calvert-Lewin, and Lookman – but has become a mix of inexperience and ill-fitting.

And that’s not to mention the depth of the squad. Everton have at least three high-profile number 10’s in Rooney, Sigurðsson, and Klaasen, but only really Sandro as a striker. They lack depth at centre back and will be crossing everything that Bolasie comes back okay as they still haven’t covered his absence on the wing. It’s a jumbled squad that struggles to fit itself together.

And so, with Everton currently sitting in the relegation zone, exactly who can come in to deal with that? It’s a job that comes with difficulties all over the place, and almost certainly requires further investment in January just to get something together that makes sense.

The favourite right now looks like Sean Dyche. He’s certainly proven that he should step up from Burnley as, with all respect to Burnley, it’s difficult to see how much further he can take them. Honestly, it could work out better for both parties, should Burnley have the ambition as well. But then Dyche’s strengths lie in solidity and fight – traits that thrive at smaller clubs looking to upset the big teams and stay in the Premier League. Is that what Everton want? No, it undoubtedly isn’t – this is a club that wants the glamour of Champions League football. Is it what they need? Possibly. They are 18th, after all, and with a squad that a more expressive manager would struggle with. Taking a chance on Dyche to steady things for this season and build on it next year may work well.

It’s certainly worth getting David Moyes out of the way. That really shouldn’t happen, as badly as every non-Everton fan likely wants it to (or possibly just Liverpool fans). Moyes enjoyed great years there, but he isn’t the man for the job no matter what perspective you hold. He can’t fight relegation (he made sure to prove that without any doubt at Sunderland, intelligently ruling himself out of jobs battling relegation forever), and can’t be trusted with a squad that isn’t his – especially one that needs work.

There are the incredibly ambitious appointments in Carlo Ancelotti and Thomas Tuchel. Both names have been mentioned, and both will continue to be mentioned. It feels safe to rule out the 3-time Champions League winning manager whose last clubs have been AC Milan, Chelsea, PSG, Real Madrid, and Bayern Munich – this really doesn’t feel like the job to tempt him out of sabbatical. Tuchel, however, might be worth trying. He’d take a ton of persuasion, but if Everton still have the belief they had in the summer, someone of his stature at ambition would be perfect. Whether that ambition was misplaced or not is the big question, and the situation is obviously off-putting to someone with a genuine stature in the game. Certainly, one to keep the fans onside – if it’s at all possible.

David Unsworth – The Everton Under-23 Coach, and Everton hero. There has been a ton of excitement around his tenure with the U-23’s, and making the step up from that role has been working well for coaches in recent years. Let’s be honest – he’s unlikely to have the impact Guardiola and Zidane have had for about a thousand reasons, but the young squad features players he’s helped bring through. From that perspective at least, he’d make some sense. This isn’t the squad or time to make such an appointment though, and Unsworth should probably continue his education and wait.

Sean Dyche isn’t the only young English manager looking to step up – Eddie Howe has worked wonders at Bournemouth, and most importantly, might fit Everton’s ambitions a little better. His football is a little slicker, which might provide a little higher of a ceiling, but may also not be as safe a bet if Everton’s current league position is in any way accurate. He ticks a lot of Dyche’s boxes – young, English, successful but looking to move up – but would likely be accepted by Everton fans more than Dyche’s pragmatism.

All in all, Everton have some incredibly interesting choices for their next manager. There’s ambitious appointments, pragmatic appointments, and certainly even more than the few mentioned here. Everton are a club in a strange position – arguably the strangest in the league. They’re not quite a ‘big’ club, but have more about them than most, offering great prospects and time to a manager, but also asking for a lot of work to be done. Koeman found it too much, unable to rebuild a club in that position after losing his best player, but that isn’t to say the next guy can’t give the fans what they crave.

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