As Carlo Ancelotti returns to Real Madrid, Everton owner Farhad Moshiri will be wondering when he will next get the chance to appoint a former Real Madrid manager and Champions League winner with Premier League experience.
How about immediately? Of the names instantly linked with Everton, who is more qualified than my former Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez? Rafa is available, settled in the area and I am sure he is ready if Moshiri is prepared to consider one of the more shocking managerial appointments in Merseyside history.
At the very least, Benitez should be under consideration as Moshiri begins yet another managerial quest. And not for the first time, before the owner decides the right candidate, he has to be clear of the football direction he wants to take.
As an outsider looking into any club’s recruitment process, it is confusing and worrying when you hear so many candidates mentioned who are different in their personality and playing style.
If a shortlist includes, say, Eddie Howe or Graham Potter, you can tell the club’s board are looking for a young, progressive coach. If that same shortlist consists of Nuno Espirito Santo, it suggests the club are not sure what brand of football they want, Wolves being a well-organised but defensive, counter-attacking side.
With Ancelotti, Everton pursued the tried-and-tested, proven experienced manager and stellar name. If that is what Moshiri still wants, Benitez is an obvious candidate. Everton must also be tempted to look at David Moyes, who was overlooked for Ancelotti 18 months ago but outperformed the Italian with West Ham last season. Or maybe Duncan Ferguson should be given the chance to step up from assistant.
Any of the above could do a good job at an underperforming club, especially if progress next season is measured against the disappointment of finishing 10th.
The danger is Everton will make the same mistakes as before, shifting philosophy again and being forced into another change if the supporters lose patience, as they did with Roberto Martinez, Ronald Koeman and Marco Silva.
Ancelotti’s arrival was exciting because he made Everton fans dream, his presence showing that the owner was thinking big. Despite some notable away victories, what may turn out to be Ancelotti’s only full season in charge proved to be average. It was proof that there is no quick fix. Whoever gets the Everton job must have at least two years to make progress. They need to be given a chance by the fans, too. I have often heard Evertonians dismiss the talents of up-and-coming coaches such as Howe, or even sneer at the prospect of Moyes returning. Why? There is a reason why such coaches are so highly regarded in the game.
The best Everton manager will be someone who feels he has something to prove – motivated to show he should never have been written off, or overlooked for top jobs. There are several who come in that category. With nothing to prove, Ancelotti never did.
Everton need someone who will see the club as their home for the next four or five years, not a pit-stop until they get a better offer.
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