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Everton – The Goodison Park Candidates

Throughout all the tears, chants and well-wishing at Goodison Park on Sunday there was an elephant in the corner, slowly growing and slowly getting more and more blue. How do Everton replace a manager who brought stability on a shoestring budget, without the compensation usually given when a manager is poached by another club?

“I’ve spoken to the chairman and he asked me and I said I will help Everton as much as I can if he asks me for my advice” said David Moyes prior to the match against West Ham, except by running down his contract and leaving for Old Trafford the Scot has left Everton without any form of compensation which will be crucial for the club in looking for a new manager.

The financial difficulties the club face are well known, the need to be prudent with transfers and salaries a point that does not need making again, but it is understandable for those on the outside looking-in, or indeed for members of the People’s Club to wonder how a man, who was known to be close to Ferguson and admired by him, could claim that the biggest job in British (perhaps world football) could sneak up on him and in the process seriously weaken Everton’s ability to get a new manager.

The problem now for Everton is whom will they get to replace Moyes, do they attempt to find somebody in the lower leagues and hope they can strike gold as they did in unearthing Moyes from Preston North End or do they turn to one of their Premier League competitors and spend a sizeable chunk of their budget in the process.

The contenders:

Roberto Martinez

A really likable manager, not one prone for trying to create dramas (Mourinho), or complaining about what he has got (Benitez). He gets his teams to play an attractive style of football and proven on comparable budgets at Swansea then Wigan. Winning The FA Cup in style against Manchester City will have boosted his appeal considering Everton have become a bogey team for oil-rich club, the only question mark resolves around do Wigan actually progress, four seasons in a row they have gone into the final 8 league games facing relegation and would Martinez be ready to leave for Everton – Dave Whelan certainly seems to think not. Personally I think Martinez would be a great manager at Everton, he is proven to manage well on tight finances and the style of play suits the Goodison faithful. Likelihood rating 8/10

Michael Laudrup 

A stylish manager with an eye for a bargain buy (Michu’s price will have gone up tendfold this season) who brought instant success at Swansea in the Capital One Cup. Unfortunately he then signed a new contract and pledged to stay at the Swans. He seems destined to go to the top fairly quickly, however plenty of new managers have impressed in their first season and then disappeared and it’s important not to put too much pressure on the Dane. He’d cost too much to get from Swansea and himself has stated he’d love to stay there, he seems to have only been linked in the press because of the style and Swansea lost Brendan Rodgers after his first season in the Premier League. Likelihood rating 2/10

Malky Mackay

Another who seems to be linked with no real substance in the story. The media seem to have stumbled upon the fact that Mackay has been a Scot for all his life and spent most of his managerial career in the lower leagues – you can see how the comparisons with Moyes are being drawn up. However Mackay is his own man and will relish the chance to test himself in the Premier League with Cardiff having done what Dave Jones couldn’t and won promotion. Cardiff would want a considerable amount in compensation too which makes it seems all the less likely, perhaps at a different time this could have been more of a likely option. Likelihood rating 3/10

Neil Lennon

An impressive performance north of the border with Celtic to win back-to-back titles, as without Rangers the pressure and expectation was unreal, let’s not forget sending on young Tony Watt against Barcelona who then etched his name into Celtic and Champions League history with the winner. The question is whether a former Celtic player and now manager will want to leave the club he loves and test himself in the Premier League without European football. Personally I Lennon is at Celtic until they request otherwise and his fiery temper with everybody who isn’t Celtic in the SPL will do little to persuade Bill Kenwright this is their man. Likelihood rating 4/10

Alan Stubbs 

Could Everton be ready to follow the Barcelona model and promote from within a former player who is now part of the coaching set-up? It seems unlikely, as much as Stubbs would love to be the manager and the fans would like to see somebody who really understands the club, his distinct lack of experience makes it unlikely.  One to watch for the future when the next Everton manager is gone. Likelihood rating 4/10

Rafael Benitez 

Until 9 months ago this would have seem an outrageous suggestion, but then Chelsea did what Chelsea always do and dispatched of a manager and hired a stop-gap fix for the remainder of the season. When Benitez took the Chelsea job it was a huge signal to Liverpool that although he is still fond of the club, he could not let that prevent him from working again. You cannot deny his credentials after winning the Champions League with a Liverpool team that had Djimi Traore in the defence and he has done well at Chelsea given the conditions of the fans hating him and the club’s bizarre decision to try and get rid of Frank Lampard, guaranteed Champions League next season and the Europa League final later this week. The problems that come with Benitez are quite big for Everton however, especially since he seemed to thrive at Liverpool in attacking the former owners Hicks & Gillett over a perceived lack of transfer funds and the occasional comment about Everton’s stature after a derby defeat. Quite how the Gladys Street end would react to seeing him in the home dugout and Moyes in the away end is an amusing thought, he also wins trophies, has a home in Liverpool and stated he wants to stay in the Premier League.  Likelihood rating 5/10

The verdict is that Martinez will be chosen by Everton to lead them from next season although in football, as they say, you can never be sure, apparently this time last week Moyes expected to remain as the Everton manager next season. Don’t be surprised if Bill Kenwright dips into the Championship and plucks a manager from relative obscurity to take over, from a neutral point of view I’m hoping to see Ian Holloway in the big time once again.



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