With only 19 points on the board, just 6 points clear of the relegation zone, Everton have had a dismal season and the club’s manager, Rafa Benitez, was duly sacked on Sunday after a shocking 2-1 defeat to Norwich City. The club has had six managers in as many years and the 61-year old Spaniard had only been in post for six months before chief executive Denise Barret-Baxendale forced him out on behalf of owner Farhad Moshiri and chairman Bill Kenwright. Everton fans are undoubtedly relieved that the club has made the decision to oust Benitez and may regret that he wasn’t removed earlier. But there is no time now for navel-gazing as the season is in full swing and swift action is needed to bring in an effective replacement manager in order to rescue the situation. A few hats have already been thrown in the ring and there is an active betting market for who will be the next permanent manager at Goodison Park.
Duncan Ferguson, appointed caretaker manager on Tuesday, is the frontrunner with the bookies. SportNation offer odds of 5/2 that the 50 year-old Scot will be offered the job on a permanent basis. Ferguson played for the Toffees from 2000 to 2006 and he did a great job last time he was interim manager at the club. Undoubtedly, Ferguson would be a popular choice with fans but he does lack experience of managing a team on a full-time basis. If he can deliver a home win over Aston Villa on Saturday and then beat Brentford in the FA Cup on 5 February, the case for his appointment will be overwhelming.
But the club’s short list includes two other big names, Rooney and Lampard, who will both be in the running too. The agents of 36-year old Wayne Rooney have already been approached and there is no doubt that the former captain of England will be interested in managing the club he first joined at just 9 years old. His love of the club is undimmed and this would be a timely moment for a move from Derby which is struggling at 23rd place in the Championship after a 21-point penalty was imposed when the Rams went into administration earlier this season.
Rooney does not yet have significant managerial experience, and his former Manchester United teammate, Mikael Silvestre, has cautioned the Derby County Manager that he “isn’t ready” for the job at Everton, adding “He should give himself more time – opportunities like this might not ever come back, so that’s something to consider.It’s still early doors, he’s done a good job at Derby despite the circumstances. But my advice would be to keep learning his craft and learning about himself before going into the hot seat. He is a very young manager, still playing not long ago. Jobs like this will come in the future if he carries on like this because his name is huge in the Premier League”. Silvestre may have a point but Skybet offers best odds of 9/4 that Wayne Rooney will be the next permanent manager of Everton, experienced or not.
The same criticism can be leveled at Frank Lampard, who coached at Derby County (there’s a theme here!) before a 18-month stint at Chelsea which ended in January last year after a series of poor results. The 43-year old, who enjoyed a highly successful playing career as midfielder at Stamford Bridge, is currently looking for a new managerial role and Everton may be a good fit for him. Paddy Power offers odds of 3/1 that Lampard will be appointed at Goodison Park. Lampard has a strong belief in nurturing youth talent and the younger Everton players would undoubtedly benefit from his appointment. His name has been associated with other Premier League jobs – at Crystal Palace and Norwich City – but Lampard would need reassurance from Everton that his appointment would be for the long term, not just part of the revolving door ethos that the club management has been known for in recent years.
Roberto Martinez is a controversial contender for the job. The 48-year old Catalan managed the Toffees from 2013 until his sacking in 2016, but retains a good reputation with club management who are keen to lure him from his current role as head coach of the Belgium team, world number one ranked side . But the Belgian Football Association are understood to be reluctant to release Martinez from his contract, particularly as the World Cup in Qatar starts in November. Everton fans, too, may be reluctant to support the appointment as Martinez’s prior tenure ended in protests and banners demanding his removal. Bookmaker Coral offers odds of 10/1 that Martinez will rejoin Everton as the new permanent manager.
Another possible contender for the job is Graham Potter, currently manager of Brighton & Hove Albion. The 46-year old has been in post with the Seagulls since 2019 so is it time for a move to a bigger club? Potter gave the idea a big thumbs-down earlier this week when he said “The first thing is it’s not nice when somebody loses their job. I only met Rafa when we played Everton so I don’t know him that well, but he came across as a real gentleman. I wish him well. I can’t comment on speculation. I’m focused on my job here. I am very happy here, at one of the best run clubs in the Premier League, with a fantastic owner, chairman, CEO, sports director, great people at the club. A nice environment to work in. An ambitious club. So I just get on with my job here and do my best”. But the bookies still think there’s an outside chance he may be appointed, with BetVictor offering best odds of 20/1
Potter made a good point when he referred to the positive working environment at Brighton. In contrast, Everton has recently lost its Director of Football, Scouting Manager and Head of Recruitment and Development. Last month the Board said “A strategic review of the football structure will now take place which will inform the best model for the Club to proceed with in the long-term”. With the departures of these post-holders, the new permanent manager of Everton will face considerable challenges both on and off the pitch.