With Ronald Koeman relieved of his duties and David Unsworth handed the reins, the search begins for the dutchman’s successor. A couple of names have been banded around but arguably, no one is suited to this job.
In the summer Everton recruited a number of players, spending over £150m. Criticisms fell at the feet of Koeman when the club didn’t secure a striker to replace the Manchester United bound, Romelu Lukaku. An unsuccessful courting of Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud proved unfruitful, with the club suffering as a result.
The signings of Wayne Rooney, Davy Klaassen, Nikola Vlasic and Gylfi Sigurdsson left onlookers confused. These are four players with similar attributes, in similar positions, for varying sums of money. From the outside looking in, it looked as if there was a lack of a plan – when it came to transfers at least.
With money spurned in the summer, Koeman was left with a squad that was severely lacking in pace. Many questions where asked by supporters and pundits alike:
- What was the plan?
- What is Everton’s style of play?
- Is there enough youthful exuberance in this team?
- Have the more experienced players still got the physical endurance?
- Can you have too many players of similar quality?
- Why didn’t Everton buy a striker?
In hindsight, it was the colossal imbalance in the team that caused all of these issues. The sheer amount of signings ensured that regardless of team selection, teething problems were guaranteed. The eventual introduction of youth prospects such as Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Jonjoe Kenny – whilst offering the team a better balance – merely prolonged the inevitable.Embed from Getty Images
So, with a squad that isn’t befitting to a specific style of play – be that counter attacking, possession oriented or otherwise – Farhad Moshiri and Bill Kenwright now have the tough job of finding a replacement. The typical preferences and styles of the candidates will be paramount in employing Koeman’s successor.
Sean DycheEmbed from Getty Images
After gaining a second promotion in three years with Burnley last season, Dyche set his sights on retaining Premier League status. The 16/17 season saw the Englishman’s stock go through the roof. Burnley finished 16th in the league with a total of 40 points. The Englishman got particular credit for making his side difficult to beat, especially at home. With Burnley gaining a massive 33 points of their 40 point total at Turf Moor.
Dyche’s teams tend to have a number of qualities and attributes that lend themselves to a direct style of play. With time on the ball, the Englishman expects his team to distribute the ball to the wings before bombarding the box with a continuous flow of crosses. When his defence find themselves in tight spaces a direct pass forward – either to a target man like Sam Vokes or into the channels for past strikers such as Andre Gray to chase – allow them to move up the pitch and support the potential counter attack.
Another feature to Dyche’s style of play – without the ball – is defensive shape. Duel banks of four hold a low block on the 18 yard line conceding possession and ground. The back 8 outfield players stay within the width of the penalty area, allowing the space in wide areas. Confident in his sides ability to defend balls aerial, the opposition are forced to attempt high amounts of crosses or play through the densely populated central areas.
This style of play elevates his team’s output on statistics such as clearances, shots blocked and aerial duels won. Defensive metrics like these are used in the acquisition of players – For example, Michael Keane who transferred from Burnley to Everton. Having worked with Keane previously – being instrumental in the English defenders development – it would seem the right fit, at least defensively, for the Merseyside club.
Thomas TuchelEmbed from Getty Images
Tuchel really is on the opposite end of the spectrum to Dyche. A student of the eulogised Pep Guardiola, Tuchel focuses more on enacting his plan than the final result.
I believe that Barcelona’s outstanding performance based on the way the whole team with abandon and passion tried to win the ball back after a turnover.” Thomas Tuchel – 2009
Although Tuchel enjoys the technical players, he has a great affiliation for work rate and intelligence. He asks a lot of his players with and without the ball. The gegenpressing style of his teams demands tremendous physical endurance, as well as having the guile to enact the pressing traps dictated throughout the week.
Innovation is a word synonymous with Tuchel. Although his final product shows re-enactments of philosophies held by other coaches, the German’s innovative musings come off the pitch. Very much a student of the game, Tuchel attempts inventive projects that may allow his team an edge on match day. An example of this is the style of pitches he compels his team train on. A stereotypical pass for a full back to attempt is the chipped ball down the line when under pressure, this is something Tuchel wanted to eradicate in his time at Mainz. He did this by removing all four corners of the training pitch, allowing his defenders no option but to play diagonally.
Another contrast to that of Dyche is his defensive approach. Tuchel’s defensively philosophy is heavily based around possession of the ball. Again similar to Guardiola, in that the idea of having the ball means the opponent does not.Embed from Getty Images
“People say that ball possession might not be the most important thing but for me, it is the most important thing,”
“It’s the first step and then the second, third and fourth steps can come after. With the ball, you have more possibilities to create something and to concede fewer chances.”
Pep Guardiola – November 2015
Tuchel improves his sides ability to defend from the front and play from the back. He found that training his players in the timing of movement and roaming from a structured position, allowed his free flowing attacking football to flourish. Overloading in central areas was a key principle in his teams success. This allowed multiple passing lanes to open up, consequently providing a quick and effective transition.
“Under Thomas Tuchel we learn a lot about ball possession. It is really all about details. With which foot do I receive the ball; how should I pass the ball.” Neven Subotić – ex-Dortmund defender
A reason that the Everton board may opt for the German is his track record with improving young players. Tuchel tends to get his ideas across quickly, helping the more youthful members of the squad feel encouraged to play his expansive brand of football. A balanced approach to both expression and tactical knowledge gives the less experienced members of the team the foundation required to grow.
David UnsworthEmbed from Getty Images
A former player, Under 23s Manager and two time Caretaker manager – you could say that Unsworth is part of the furniture at Everton. The Englishman began his senior career at Everton in 1992, eventually making 312 appearances for the Toffees scoring 34 goals.
Upon retirement, he began coaching at Preston North End. This is where his management career began, becoming Caretaker manager on two occassions. He returned to Merseyside in 2013, becoming assistant coach to Alan Stubbs at the Everton under 21s. Upon succession of Stubbs in 2014, Unsworth began work on turning his Everton youth side into a direct avenue to the first team.Embed from Getty Images
“Before the West Ham game, he came up to me and said ‘Whatever happens, just know that you are ready’. That gave me a lot more confidence going into the game. He’s helped me a lot this season, and I’m thankful for that.” – Brendan Galloway on David Unsworth
Not only did Unsworth excel in the development of players for the first team – with debuts for Tom Davies, Brendan Galloway and Matthew Pennington to name a few – he also took his squad from 11th (13/14) to league champions (16/17).
For the purpose of these comparisons in tactical ideals, it seems only fair to judge Unsworth on his performances as a first team manager. Unsworth’s first match as first team coach came against Norwich City in May 2016. A game that saw his Everton side win 3-0. A structured 4-1-4-1 with the inclusion of the more experienced members of the squad, Unsworth was trying to bring an air of stability to Goodison Park. However, the Englishman supplemented his experienced side with some youthful buoyancy. Debuts where given to Tom Davies and Kieran Dowell, the latter going on to earn the Man of the Match award.
Unsworth continued these ideals in his next match as Caretaker manager, over 15 months later. He began the game with an experienced back line and attack in addition to youthful endurance in midfield. Two out and out wingers in Aaron Lennon and Mirallas allowed defensive cover for full backs whilst giving attacking intent in possession. Even though his team lost 2-1, signs of improvement were evident.
Unsworth’s structured approached allows his defenders to defend and his attackers to attack. Although this analysis may seem reductionist or rudimentary, not many managers approach games this way. Modern football is always evolving, with the prospect of playing football ‘the right way’ seemingly essential. A real ‘back to basics’ style of football can really galvanise a team, and allow younger members to learn and propser.Embed from Getty Images
Experience being key in the appointment of managers, he is hindered by his lack of time as a number one at senior level. His greatest advantage over the other candidates are the games in which he takes charge between now, and when a decision is to be made. Unsworth has made it clear he wants the job, reiterating his thoughts from his previous stint as Interim coach. Ultimately, results along with his teams performances will dictate whether or not he is to take charge permanently.
“From that, performances will dictate any future for me as Everton manager. I want to manage and this is an amazing club to be manager of.” David Unsworth – 2017
Assuming the bookmakers are correct in their view on the favourites for the managerial position at Everton, it seems there may be some dispute within the board on appointment characteristics. The contrasting styles of the three favourites points to a lack of direction. Not just a direction on Koeman’s successor, but a direction of where to take Everton Football club.
With the January transfer window still over 9 weeks away – and the traditional hectic Christmas schedule to come – it seems supporters may have to be conservative with their expectations of the eventual manager. Not only will January be vital in righting the summer’s wrongs, but imperative for the successful candidate. The current Everton squad isn’t set up to facilitate the current managerial options. In fact, this Everton squad isn’t set up to facilitate any manager.
Josh Jones – Trigger the Press