We knew things would start badly for Everton this season. Seamus Coleman is out long term, and so is Yannick Bolasie. That’s £27,060,000 worth of starting level talent not at Ronald Koeman’s disposal. Four out of the Blues’ first five league games included both Manchester clubs and the two best teams in London.
Everton have four points in the league so far, and frankly, five from the first five matches was my optimistic hope, so I’m not really upset about the point total at all.
However, just how abysmal Everton’s offense has been, and the fact that the Toffees got torn apart in Italy by a side far less talented has me thinking thoughts about Koeman out.
Even if you are still firmly in the camp of Koeman in, the thought has to have crossed your mind at this point. Everton approach a crucial domestic cup game against Sunderland this week that could well define whether Koeman stays or goes. Everton should win that game and the offense should look good while they do it.
What if the line gets crossed and the Blues cut loose the ineffective Dutchman? What if they’re hung out in the wind and looking for a new manager? What do the options look like?
Really good options who don’t have jobs
This list would include the recently departed from Borussia Dortmund Thomas Tuchel, or possibly someone like Manchester United reject Louis Van Gaal. Perhaps Laurent Blanc, who could’t make things work at PSG, or Luis Enrique who decided he had enough at Barcelona. All these men are available for work.
The problem is that every last one of them were last at bigger clubs than Everton. Champions League clubs.
All but Dortmund have a larger budget than Everton, and even Dortmund has a much larger international profile. It’s hard to see what about this current roster would cause any of these men to come and take the job at Everton, barring Farhad Moshiri just throwing gigantic piles of cash at one of them. Possible, yes. Likely? Not really.
Strong options who have jobs
When you look at managers like Quique Sánchez Flores at Espanyol, Eusebio at Real Sociedad, or maybe Marcelo Bielsa at Lille, there are managers out there who are skilled enough tacticians to handle the Everton job. They could come in and right the ship.
Quique has won the Europa League as manager of Atletico Madrid, taken Watford to 13th place in their initial year in the Premier League, and taken that same club to the semifinals of the FA Cup. Marcelo Bielsa has been to the final of the Europa League, too. But the struggle here is whether or not Everton is enough of a step up to voluntarily make a midseason switch?
Someone like Sanchez Flores, for instance, has a strong reputation in Spain. He can coach in La Liga at one club or another for basically as long as he wants. If you think about it, there are similar managers in England, guys who make up the ‘usual suspects’ every time there’s a vacancy. He would damage that reputation in Spain by taking a job in England so unless he thought Everton was where he could make all his dreams come true, why take the risk?
Someone like Bielsa from Lille would be the most likely candidate of this sort, but he’s more proven as a national team manager than he is as a club manager. That’s why he’s at a club that Everton would be a giant leap up from to begin with.
More realistic options without a job
Here we come to the English ‘usual suspects’. The Big Sams of the world, the Alan Pardews. Not exactly pleasant thoughts. They might stabilize the ship but they do not represent the ambition that we would like to see from our club at this juncture.
In this category, someone like Ryan Giggs, (particularly with his ties to Wayne Rooney) would be a more ambitious move, but even then you’re taking a significant shot in the dark because you don’t really know what you’re getting from him.
Ya know, come to think of it, Gary Neville... nope, sorry, forget I brought it up.
Everton could get any number of managers from this pool, but the trouble is precisely that this is the sort of manager the club is probably going to end up with if they fire Koeman right now.
It’s one thing to get the catharsis of getting rid of a manager that things are going poorly for, it’s quite another to have a better option to replace him.
This team was designed by Ronald Koeman, and for better or worse, the best option right now is probably to stay the course with him. That’s not exactly comforting, but even the spiral Everton are currently in isn’t enough to certify that they have better options elsewhere.
For now, Koeman in.