O'Neill favourite to take Everton reins as club say an appointment is 'close'
Speculation linking Ireland boss Martin O'Neill with the managerial vacancy at Everton intensified last night after Watford priced first-choice target Marco Silva out of contention.
O'Neill has yet to formally sign a contract for the verbal agreement he reached with FAI chief executive John Delaney to remain in charge for the 2020 European Championships, admitting he would have a "real think" about his future following last week's disastrous World Cup play-off defeat to Denmark.
With the Derryman out of contract, and the Premier League managerial merry-go-round in full swing, it was inevitable O'Neill would pop up on the shortlists of some clubs in need of impetus. Last night, he was installed as favourite by a number of betting companies.
Everton sacked Ronald Koeman four weeks ago but their fortunes have failed to improve under caretaker boss David Unsworth and remain 16th in the table heading into tomorrow's visit to Southampton.
Attempts by owner Farhad Moshiri and chairman Bill Kenwright to prise Marco Silva to Goodison Park came unstuck when Watford placed a €15m compensation cost on their boss. With no sign of the Portuguese resigning, Everton would be made wait until the end of the season to land their man.
That's a non-runner, given the club's perilous position despite spending heavily in the summer, and Kenwright, a long-time acquaintance of O'Neill, could be tempted to plump for what he'd consider a safe pair of hands.
Yesterday Morshiri suggested the Toffees are close to confirming their new boss.
"The first priority is to stabilise the club and finalise the appointment of a manager. We are close," the businessman told talkSPORT. "It is really best to say nothing more until a new management team is appointed and we climb up the table."
It is not known whether Roy Keane, who Kenwright criticised over comments he made regarding injuries to Ireland players Seamus Coleman and James McCarthy, would be interested in following O'Neill to Merseyside.