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Unsworth still in charge for relegation scrap at Crystal Palace

The failure to appoint a permanent manager means Unsworth has another opportunity to prove himself

Crystal Palace v Everton - Premier League Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images

The end of the international break is usually welcomed by most supporters. But for Evertonians, I suspect they wish it could go on for a little bit longer.

The breathless win over Watford a fortnight ago was supposed to give everyone a bit of breathing space and ease the pressure that was threatening to engulf the club.

Most fans expected a new manager to be in place by now. But instead we’ve witnessed more dithering from a board that is struggling to make up it’s mind.

The result was a late and rather move for Watford’s Marco Silva earlier this week. But with no break clause in his contract the Hornets are perfectly within their rights to turn down their approach.

Everton’s response was to throw even more money on the table, but with Watford standing firm and threatening to report the Toffees for “tapping-up”, there’s not much more the club can do.

The indecision means David Unsworth will continue in interim charge for Saturday’s trip to Crystal Palace.

There’s no denying Unsworth is a likeable bloke whose passion for the club is there for all to see. But question marks remain over whether he is good enough t o guide the club out of trouble.

I imagine the board are desperate for Unsworth to succeed as he is the obvious short-term solution.

If Rhino can steady the ship until the end of the season it will make the hunt for a new permanent manager infinitely easier.

But with the club already in a precarious position and some vital fixtures ahead, Unsworth has precious little breathing space.

If he fails to reverse the team’s fortunes and the club slip back into the bottom three, the situation will become desperate. To the point where an SOS call to Big Sam may become the only solution.

The Opposition

Speaking of Big Sam, how much would Crystal Palace fans give for the former England man to be still at their club?

Allardyce successfully lifted the Eagles away from danger last season but quit over the summer, suggesting he was finished with club management.

Frank De Boer - who was linked with the Everton job before Ronald Koeman arrived - was his replacement.

However, the former Ajax boss would last only 77 days, the Eagles losing their first four league games without scoring.

De Boer’s dismissal seemed harsh when you consider he was attempting to revolutionise the way Palace played football with a set of players more used to a direct approach.

But time is a commodity rarely afforded to Premier League manager’s these days so in came another former England manager, Roy Hodgson.

It’s not been the best of starts. Hodgson has lost five of his seven league games in charge, the only victory coming against Chelsea last month.

It leaves the club four points adrift at the bottom of the table and six points away from safety.

They are well and truly in a relegation scrap and so will need to fight for every point between now and the end of the season.

Team news

Unsworth has confirmed Kevin Mirallas and Morgan Schneiderlin will be available after they were both dropped for the Watford game following a training ground incident.

Cuco Martina is also available after recovering from a head injury suffered at Lyon.

Ross Barkley, Yannick Bolasie and Seamus Coleman are stepping up their recovery but are not yet ready to return.

Crystal Palace have been boosted by the return of Christian Benteke after two months out with a knee injury.

Predicted starting XI

Pickford, Baines, Keane, Jagielka, Kenny, Baningme, Gueye, Sigurdsson, Rooney, Lennon, Calvert-Lewin.

Final word

Both sides desperately need a victory at Selhurst Park, which could lead to a rather scrappy, desperate encounter.

If Everton can take the points it would relieve a bit more pressure on the board and hopefully take the heat out of their increasingly desperate manager hunt.

Unsworth knows this is a glorious opportunity to prove himself as a Premier League manager.

But with the consequences of failure disastrous, the board are playing a high-stakes game through their continued inactivity.