With Everton’s disappointing season finally done we can get a real look at how all three men in charge of the Toffees in 2017-18 actually did. We’ve talked a lot about why this manager should stay, be given a chance, or be fired. And a lot of it has to do with aesthetics. This article isn’t about that. This is all about the numbers and what actually happened on the field. Managers are ultimately judged by results and performance, something Everton lacked a lot of this year.
The chart below shows the points (Pts), goals scored (GS), goals allowed (GA), expected goals scored (xGS), and expected goals allowed (xGA) per game for all three managers the Blues had this season: Ronald Koeman, David Unsworth and Sam Allardyce.
20117-2018 Everton Manager Performance
Numbers courtesy of UnderStat
It isn’t a surprise to anyone here that Koeman had the worst numbers. We can talk about injuries, the difficult schedule, or needing time for the squad to gel; it really doesn’t matter. Koeman was not able to get it done against the good teams and the bad teams. And that sealed his fate. Even the advanced statistical numbers back his dismissal. Twenty years ago Koeman might have gotten a chance to turn this around, but with so much money and hope on the line that wasn’t going to happen.
But what is interesting is how things change immediately after his removal. Unsworth seemed clueless at times, but he improved Everton’s points per game by 50% and Everton immediately began to score more even while conceding at the same rate. That 4-1 loss to Southampton hastened calls for his departure, Allardyce didn’t really improve things.
And that’s the rub, Allardyce would have outperformed Unsworth by .76 points over an entire season. But Everton also saw a dramatic decrease in goals scored. Big Sam was able to improve the defense, but not enough to overcome the dramatic fall in goals. Even the statistics bear this out. Everton under Allardyce saw a drop in expected goals scored and expected goals allowed.
This is why it isn’t Allardyce that saved Everton. There is no doubt Everton were headed for a true relegation battle with Koeman at the helm, but hiring Allardyce didn’t save the Toffees. The club had already begun to turn things around with Unsworth at the helm. Maybe it would have tapered off, but based on the data we have it is fair to say that sacking Koeman was the true catalyst to salvaging this Everton season from ending up in complete ruins.