If Everton and Moshiri are as ambitious as we all perceive them to be, that should be mirrored in their recruitment. Caretaker David Unsworth’s abilities are largely unknown outside of Finch Farm and just maybe they have a gem from within. Although, so far, endorsements of his suitability seem to revolve around the term, “he bleeds blue”.
The clamour for a character dramatically different from the cold, distant, aloofness of Koeman is understandable but as romantic as that is, Premier League football requires more than than someone who’ll do a Gary Neville-esque celebration now and again.
Which essentially leaves, of the names mentioned so far: Sean Dyche, Thomas Tuchel and Marco Silva and a couple of slightly more left-field names in Julian Nagelsmann at Hoffenheim and Christian Streich at Freiburg. What links them all has been their ability to overachieve at various clubs (although it could be argued Tuchel, post-Mainz, underachieved at Dortmund).
Everton’s requirements should be for a hands-on coach, capable of working with experienced players and academy graduates and just as importantly, which could preclude Dyche from the conversation, experience of and desire to work within a director of football model. Tuchel and Nagelsmann are the premier names but are believed to be in a shootout for the Bayern Munich job that should emerge in June next year when Jupp Heynckes retires for a second time.
That may put Everton off, as neither may be willing to commit to a non-Champions League club with such a superpower on the horizon. But if Everton and Moshiri are as ambitious as we all perceive them to be, that should be mirrored in their recruitment. Just who they pursue will tell us everything as to where Everton really are as a club.
The concept of ambition and its many levels ended up defining Ronald Koeman’s failed tenure as Everton manager. The Dutchman, after all, left Southampton in 2016 amid frustration over an apparent lack of transfer funds to transform the Saints from a solid mid-table side to consistent European challengers. Everton was different. This was a project. A sleeping giant with greater potential than the role he left behind on the south coast.
Except Koeman’s own personal ambition came, in part, to be his own undoing because of a seemingly careerist attitude to the job at Goodison Park. This made fans increasingly sceptical about his loyalty and love towards a club he was using as a stepping stone to the large rock marked, ‘Camp Nou’.
Paradoxically, though, his decision to move to Merseyside and enhance his CV also came with reservations from within. After leading Everton to seventh last season the accepted next step was to target the top four, but Koeman forever seemed reticent about the Toffees’ ability to join the elite despite the sizeable investment made on nine players this summer. The 54-year-old also joined the growing number of Premier League managers who viewed the Thursday-Sunday churn of the Europa League as an irritation.
Which all the begs the question: if Koeman couldn’t get Everton into the top four but didn’t want to play in the Europa League, what was the overall point? With Koeman gone, the contradictions remain as majority stakeholder Farhad Moshiri’s desire to turn Everton into a consistent force in the Premier League certainly fits into the category of ambitious. Ditto, that aforementioned summer spend.
However, the major caveat to those nine figures was the £75 million (Dh366m) sale of Romelu Lukaku and the favoured economic term of Arsenal fans the world over: net spend. In reality, £54.2m was spent on strengthening a squad that finished 15 points behind fourth-placed Liverpool last season. It, of course, paled in comparison to the figures of Manchester United (£136m) and City (£138m), was still below Chelsea (£89.75m) and along the same lines of Liverpool (£54m).
Which begs the second question: what is it Everton really want to be? If they truly want to compete with the now-established and unlikely to change ‘Big Six’ there are only really two routes to success: massive squad spend or some kind of managerial miracle akin to what Mauricio Pochettino has done at Tottenham. Spurs are no longer a punchline when it comes to clubs with exaggerated opinions of themselves.
Finding a Pochettino – arguably in the top-five best coaches in the world right now – isn’t easy but it’s still possible. But if that’s the route they do want to go it would almost certainly rule out established names such as Sam Allardyce, any murmurings of a return for David Moyes, Chris Coleman or even Carlo Ancelotti; linked to every remotely high-level vacancy in world football.