Roberto Martinez has emerged as the clear favourite to make an extraordinary return as Everton manager following the sacking of Rafael Benitez, with the club having been in contact with the Belgium FA.
Martinez, currently manager of Belgium’s national team, is not the only candidate and there is an expectation that Everton will again place assistant Duncan Ferguson in temporary charge to provide the stability to give them time before they make a permanent appointment.
It is understood that Jose Mourinho has already turned down an approach to leave Roma and take over at Goodison Park while Ferguson would like to be considered on a full-time basis having been overlooked for Benitez last summer.
Ex-Everton striker Wayne Rooney – who has impressively led Derby County through a turbulent season in the Champions – has also been tipped for a Goodison return and has his supporters among the hierarchy. Niko Kovac, the former Bayern Munich manager who recently left Monaco, is a possible candidate.
There has even been talk of Everton re-appointing Marco Silva but it is not only understood there has been no approach but that the Portuguese would not be interested and wants to stay at Fulham who he has taken to the top of the Championship.
Benitez has been dismissed Everton just six months into a three-year deal, leaving the club looking for their sixth manager in six years. Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Norwich City proved the final act of a reign which has been stumbling towards an inevitable conclusion for weeks, Everton having lost nine of their last 12 Premier League fixtures and sitting just six points above the relegation zone.
Martinez, who was considered for a return last summer, has strong boardroom backers although it remains to be seen whether he can be released from his job as coach of the Belgium national team with a World Cup at the end of this year. The Spaniard spent three years in charge at Goodison from 2013 and has made no secret of his keenness to eventually return to the Premier League.
Nevetheless turning back to Martinez would represent a remarkable u-turn. He too was the subject of fans’ protests before his dismissal.
Everton’s majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri was determined to ride out the storm of fans’ unrest and give Benitez time. He sanctioned three signings in the last fortnight, as well as allowing popular left back Lucas Digne after his fall-out with the manager.
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