David Unsworth

Before appointing a manager, Everton must decide what they want to be

A glance at the bookmakers’ list of contenders for the Everton job makes for interesting reading. The selection of names is even more diverse than usual, from Thomas Tuchel to Sean Dyche, Carlo Ancelotti to Sam Allardyce, Marco Silva to David Moyes. Former Toffees captain Phil Neville had his say at the weekend, insisting caretaker boss David Unsworth should be entrusted with the role on a full-time basis.

“I think David Unsworth has got a fantastic opportunity to become Everton manager,” Neville said during a punditry stint on Match of the Day 2.

“Everton is a special club and you have got to have a special quality to be a manager. You have to understand the people. You have got to understand the crowd, what they want, and the style of football that has made Everton great over the years.

“David Unsworth has got more experience than any of the other candidates who are applying for that job when it comes to Everton. He has been at the club as a player, he has been at the club as a supporter, and now he has been at the club as Under-23s coach.

“I find it disrespectful. I am a big fan of Sean Dyche and he’s probably the one Everton will go for, but I find it disrespectful that someone who has done the hard work in the academy, produced all these players, gets an opportunity and people say he has a lack of experience. He is more experienced than any of the other candidates on that list.”

It is not publicly known what the club’s hierarchy are thinking, although reports of a split between chairman Bill Kenwright and majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri have circulated in the media in the last few days: the former is supposedly keen on a British name, while the latter would prefer a foreign coach to succeed Ronald Koeman.

Unsworth will probably be considered, but his candidacy – along with that of the names mentioned above – gets to the very heart of Everton’s predicament. Before the Merseyside outfit appoint a new manager, they must first decide what they want to be.

Looking at the Premier League table as it stands right now, the Toffees would appear to be in a relegation battle. Most sides in such a position would put any long-term plans on hold and go for someone like Allardyce, but Everton’s expectations are higher than mere survival and they may therefore lean towards finding a coach who they believe can push the club into Champions League contention in the next few years.

The lack of a clear on-field identity is another problem. Leicester City may have found themselves at the wrong end of the standings before recent victories over Swansea City and Everton, but they at least had a counter-attacking blueprint in place and a squad which has proven it can excel in the right collective context.

This Everton side, conversely, have yet to show any signs of cohesion on the pitch. The players are not solely responsible for that and questions must be asked of those individuals who were responsible for assembling the squad, yet it is another issue which complicates their current search. Whichever way you look at it, Everton have a massive decision to make.


By Greg Lea

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