Next Everton Manager Odds: Seven candidates assessed in this market
The wrong manager, at the wrong club, at the wrong time.
That’s a short, succinct summary of Rafa Benitez’s controversial stint in charge of Everton; a club left wounded by Carlo Ancelotti’s sudden exit in the summer, who just seven months later must now seek out the services of yet another manager; their seventh since David Moyes’ exit in 2013.
Benitez actually enjoyed a bright start to life at Goodison - at least on the pitch anyway - where he won five and lost only one of his opening eight matches in all competitions.
Yet a return of only one win from 13 league games since September - culminating in a 2-1 defeat at Norwich - saw Everton wield the axe on Benitez, who leaves with a 31.8% win rate; the worst of any permanent Everton manager since Mike Walker (1994: 17.14%).
As a result, seven Premier League managers have now departed this season, and we’re only just over half-way, with Watford’s Claudio Ranieri the new frontrunner in the betting.
But while Benitez, a former Liverpool manager, was an extremely unpopular appointment at rivals Everton, this is a dysfunctional and directionless club who are enduring widespread failings. From the dugout, to the pitch, and up to the boardroom. Not only are they now managerless, but there’s no Sporting Director, Head of Recruitment, Scouting Manager or Medical Director either, while they’ve just sold one of their most popular players in Lucas Digne.
So, who on earth will Everton, 16th, turn to next? We’ve taken a look at seven contenders for the Toffees job…
The Favourite: Roberto Martinez
Could Everton turn back to the manager that Moshiri sacked nearly six years ago?
Roberto Martinez is the early favourite in the betting, he can even be found at odds-on with a couple of bookmakers, while various journalists are reporting that his current employers have been contacted by the club.
The Spaniard wasn’t deemed good enough by Everton back in 2016 - with heated fan protests occurring in the build up towards his departure - so what’s changed?
He's actually not even managed at club level since leaving Goodison, instead venturing into the international arena with Belgium. Whether he’s been a success at the helm or not depends on the person you ask.
On one hand Martinez has accumulated an impressive 75% win rate from 68 matches - losing just seven times since 2016. Belgium finished third at the 2018 World Cup, reached the semi-finals of the 2020/21 Nations League, and the quarter-finals of Euro 2020, while they are currently ranked No.1 in the world. Yet despite overseeing a unique generation of talent Martinez has so far been unable to win anything.
Martinez was believed to have been the Everton board's No.1 choice in the summer but whether the 48-year-old is the right manager for the troubled club right now is open to debate, and who's to say he even wants to return given that the World Cup is now less than a year away.
However, with Belgium currently scheduled to play only once until June, perhaps a short-term contract could be negotiated until the end of the season?
Short-term or permanent, it’s a move that would split the fanbase.
The Former Player: Wayne Rooney
Could the answer be Wayne Rooney? The former Everton player who has just celebrated one year in management at Derby where he’s doing a pretty spectacular job in horrible circumstances.
Rooney saved the Rams from relegation on the final day of last season. He's had to deal with an awful lot since, including administration, transfer embargoes, points deductions, salary delays and many more obstacles.
But while the club were smacked with that brutal -21 points deduction earlier this season, he's just remarkably moved his side off the foot of the table and to within eight points of safety: if they hadn’t have been punished by that points pummelling, they’d be up in the top-half knocking on the door of the top-six.
Rooney’s not only showcased his trademark fighting spirit and passion but impressed through his development of young players and tactical acumen; outwitting multiple promotion-chasing managers so far this season including Valerien Ismael (West Brom) and Scott Parker (Bournemouth).
With just a year’s experience under his managerial belt there will obviously be question marks about whether Rooney is ready to make the step up into the Premier League, however if Everton did come calling the 36-year-old would find it incredibly difficult to turn down.
It would be both exciting and intriguing in equal measure, while it’s worth noting that a certain Howard Kendall was appointed Everton manager after two years in management at Blackburn, and he didn’t do too badly!
The In-House Option: Duncan Ferguson
Rewind two years ago when Everton sacked Marco Silva. In stepped the popular Duncan Ferguson who in the space of four unbeaten games got Goodison Park absolutely rocking.
He's an ideal caretaker. The club legend pulsates passion. Last time the Scot didn’t overcomplicate anything, implementing a 4-4-2 formation which produced a 3-1 win over Chelsea in his first game, and frustrated Man Utd, Leicester and Arsenal in his subsequent three matches through to Carlo Ancelotti’s appointment.
He’s shown he can step in when asked, but while he may harbour hopes of a permanent gig as manager it seems likely that the club will once again look for an external boss to come in.
The High-Profile Option: Frank Lampard
In a week’s time it will be a whole year since Frank Lampard left Chelsea.
While he’s since expressed a desire to return to management at various points, the lure of the dugout doesn’t appear to be as strong as it is for other managers.
His profile means he will always be linked with jobs, but he appears to be waiting for the ideal opportunity which is a dangerous game in management.
In his previous two spells Lampard led Derby to a Championship play-off final, then oversaw a transitional period at Chelsea where he gave opportunities to young stars and took them to a top-four finish and FA Cup final under a transfer ban. This was lifted after a year in charge and he subsequently splashed the cash, only to suffer the sack mid-way through his second season.
The Attacking Option: Paulo Fonseca
Another manager who was in the mix for the Toffees job six months ago.
A 25/1 outsider this time around, Paulo Fonseca remains out-of-work since leaving Roma at the end of last season.
Fonseca previously led Shakhtar Donetsk to a hat-trick of league and cup doubles, and employs the type of exciting and attack-minded style of football that Evertonians crave.
He’s also overachieved at less fashionable clubs such as Portuguese side Paços de Ferreira, whom he took to a 3rd place finish - 12 points above Sporting Lisbon - and into the Champions League qualifying rounds.
Fonseca is, however, untested outside of England while he’s not exactly known for his longevity at clubs with six spells in the last eight years.
The Unlikely Option: Nuno Santo
Like Benitez, Nuno Santo proved to be the wrong manager at the wrong time at Tottenham.
Appointed in the summer following a successful tenure at Wolves, the Portuguese coach lasted all of 17 games in North London before being replaced by Antonio Conte.
While it's important to note that Nuno previously propelled Wolves into the Premier League, recorded back-to-back 7th place finishes, and had a venture through to the Europa League quarter-finals, he was linked with Everton back in the summer but a move never materialised.
On top of that his style of play has drawn comparisons to Benitez, which given the timing may not work in his favour, while given Everton's problems and the toxicity surrounding the club, appointing a manager after a recent confidence-shattering stint may not be the best option for the club right now.
The Intriguing Outsider: Niko Kovac
If you’re after an outside bet then Niko Kovac could catch your eye at 33/1.
The Croatian has enjoyed a varied managerial career which includes overseeing his homeland at a World Cup, taking German side Frankfurt from the threat of relegation to challenging for the European spots, followed by seven months at Bayern, and most recently a successful spell in France at Monaco.
In his first season at the latter he propelled a club that had finished 17th and 9th in their last two seasons into title challengers; finishing in 3rd, five points behind champions Lille. Monaco also reached the Coupe de France final. His ability to improve players was a huge factor behind the club's transformation.
Kovac was then rather harshly sacked a couple of weeks ago - he reportedly fell out with sporting director Paul Mitchell - but could Monaco's loss be Everton's gain?
Brighton boss Graham Potter (10/1) would be an ideal appointment to many but is unlikely to make a mid-season swap from a well-run club for a club lacking any sort of direction with a fondness for sacking managers.
Another manager linked to Everton in the summer - it’s become a recurring theme here - is former Dortmund boss Lucien Favre who is still available and priced out at 33/1.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is also a 33/1 long shot alongside Rudi Garcia and Sean Dyche.
Full odds below…