After finishing the 2016-17 Premier League season in a promising 7th position, there was plenty for Everton fans to look forward to heading into the 2017-18 campaign. The club was back in European competition, Wayne Rooney had returned to Goodison Park, and Farhad Moshiri was continuing to fund ambitious ideas for the future.
Plans for a new stadium at Bramley Moore Dock have gathered pace, while £150 million in transfer spending last summer seemed like a serious statement of intent, making Everton the fifth highest spending club in Europe. However, a disastrous start to the season and equally disappointing performances in the Europa League soon had the alarm bells ringing, and in October, Ronald Koeman was sacked.
David Unsworth couldn’t steady the ship. While, in the background, Everton thought they had a suitable managerial replacement in the shape of Marco Silva, but Watford bluntly refused to release the Portuguese coach, leaving hasty decisions needing to be made. Having already been interviewed for the job, and after first walking away without a decision from the club, Sam Allardyce was eventually brought into the fold.
While the appointment of Allardyce didn’t exactly enthuse Evertonians, he promised a “back to basics” approach that initially delivered the results the team desperately needed, with an encouraging run of seven league games unbeaten, thanks to four wins and three draws. Although the team hasn’t produced the same kind of consistency early in 2018, over at William Hill the odds suggest that Everton are considered to be safe from relegation, which is precisely the job ‘Big Sam’ was brought in to do.
Nevertheless, travelling Everton fans were far from impressed with the dismal form of their team on the road, enduring a run six straight away defeats which also included the FA Cup exit at Anfield. Those who made the trip up to Burnley at the start of March vocally made their feelings more than clear to Allardyce. However, back-to-back wins prior to the international break have effectively guaranteed enough distance from the relegation zone, as the team also looks fairly certain to finish in the top half of the table.
Although there has been talk of the future at Everton from Allardyce, he admitted that hasn’t included transfer strategy, which has lead to increasing speculation the club will be looking to hire a new manager for the 2018-19 season. ‘Big Sam’ will likely get a pat on the back, thanks for his efforts, and the remainder of his contract paid off as Everton look elsewhere.
There’s no doubting that Moshiri will probably want a high-profile manager at the helm, with the name of Carlo Ancelotti once again surfacing amidst the rumours. The Everton majority shareholder is thought to prefer someone younger and more dynamic, with the likes of former Barcelona boss Luis Enrique linked, and even mention of current Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone; although it’s unlikely either will be arriving at Goodison for next season.
Marco Silva could yet be considered again, although his name has understandably lost some of its lustre following his acrimonious departure from Watford. Perhaps the most likely candidate is another Portuguese coach, Paulo Fonseca, who has achieved excellent results during his stint with Shakhtar Donetsk. Indeed, the 45-year-old was amongst the candidates when Koeman was sacked and he’ll be out of contract in the summer – plus, he’s already expressed his desire to manage a Premier League club.
Whichever direction the club turns its focus for their next managerial appointment, Everton fans will no doubt hope that any move is done quickly and decisively following the end of the current season, ensuring that any potential new boss has plenty of time to help shape his team for the 2018-19 campaign.