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Everton Women manager Willie Kirk has left the club

Stunning development, but not entirely surprising after difficult start to season

Arsenal v Everton - FA Women’s Super League - Meadow Park Photo by Adam Davy/PA Images via Getty Images

After a difficult start to the season, Everton Women have sacked manager Willie Kirk.

The announcement came out of the blue, but it's not entirely a surprise when you look at the results to start the season. Two heavy 4-0 losses to Manchester City and Chelsea in the first fortnight, and then a 3-0 reverse at Arsenal before another 5-1 hiding against City in the Continental Cup pretty much sealed Kirk's fate.

Everton spent heavily this summer, with Director of the Women's team Sarvar Ismailov aiming to bridge the gap with the top four sides by bringing in eight new players.

However, Kirk has appeared out of his depth in the early going, making some dubious squad selections and tactical choices despite having this much talent at his disposal.

In a statement on the club website, Everton announced -

Everton can confirm that Willie Kirk has left his position as manager of the Club’s Women’s team.

The Club would like to thank Willie for his service and wish him well for the future.

Willie was appointed in December 2018 and has played a key role in the progress of our Women’s team and structure, making the Club more competitive in the Barclays FA WSL and reaching the 2020 FA Cup final.

Everton is aiming to have a new manager in post ahead of the Club’s next match away to Leicester City in the Continental Cup on 3 November.

Kirk, who had joined from Manchester United, thanked the club in his farewell message -

“I am thankful to the Club for the opportunity that they gave me three years ago. During that time, we have made tremendous progress both on and off the pitch and I leave the Club in a better place. Without a doubt, the highlight was the FA Cup final less than a year ago, a memory that will stay with me forever.

“Unfortunately, this season has not started the way we anticipated, due to a very tough opening fixture list and the re-building of a squad with eight new players.

“I have no doubt the talented squad that I leave behind can go on to have a very bright future.

“I wish the Club, the staff and the players my very best wishes.”

This development for the women's team is very reminiscent of the summer of 2017 for the men's side under Ronald Koeman. Then two, Everton had spent heavily bringing in a number of new faces. However, a difficult early schedule and some poor results due to the new faces not bedding in quickly enough led to the sacking of Koeman.

Ironically the men's side is yet to recover from the excesses of that summer, continuing to fall foul off FFP and Premier League profit & loss regulations to this day.

The women side are not back in action for another fortnight which gives the club some time to find Kirk's replacement and get him starting to settle in. So far there have been no names mentioned though highly successful Lyon’s former manager Jean-Luc Vasseur has been mooted as a possible candidate.