It’s a poisoned chalice at the moment.
Everton’s league position shows you what trouble the Toffees are in, and although you can mitigate that by pointing to the fact that all five of their defeats this season have come to a side currently in the top eight, and that all but one has come to a side in last year’s top six, that doesn’t really tell you about the manner of the defeats.
Perhaps the best illustration of that is Everton’s Europa League performance.
But whoever does take the job permanently, after the sacking of Ronald Koeman, will have a very difficult job on his hands for two reasons.
One is the expectation around the club. This is a team who will be expecting to break into the top six in the next few seasons, though the chance to do it this year does seem to have passed. That doesn’t mean top six should be out of reach in the next few seasons, but clearly better recruitment will be needed in January and next summer for that to happen.
The other problem is that the squad is wildly unbalanced. Despite knowing well in advance what the problems in the squad were going to be before the start of the summer – the goalkeeping situation, an ageing back-line, the long-term injury to Seamus Coleman, and the inevitable sale of Romelu Lukaku – Ronald Koeman and his backroom staff could only really address one or, at best, two of those problems. Instead, they fairly inexplicably toploaded the side with number 10s and were left of a side bereft of pace apart from Oumar Niasse, who they attempted to offload the summer before last.
That means whoever comes in now – assuming that David Unsworth isn’t given the job on a permanent basis or as a long-term caretaker – is that there’s really not much that can be done until January at the earliest. And even then there’s no guarantee of being able to bring in a striker of the quality needed to start up front for Everton.
Worryingly, though, the talk seems to be that the Toffees wanted to sign Olivier Giroud before the end of the transfer window, and Ronald Koeman has partly blamed the failure to land the Arsenal striker for his side’s poor start to the season and the attacking midfield-heavy squad he left the club with.
That’s worrying as Giroud, for all his qualities, certainly does not possess the pace that Everton quite clearly lack in attack. A target man with a canny knack for bringing others into play is certainly a great thing for any squad to have, but when the runners around him are also lacking in pace, that seems less than ideal.
What’s worrying about this, given that Koeman has now gone, is that Steve Walsh, signed from Leicester City to much fanfare a year and a bit ago, is still in charge of the club’s recruitment. Any new manager will have to have a good relationship with him, but if his answer to the Toffees’ lack of attacking penetration was Olivier Giroud, you have to wonder how much better recruitment will get even after the departure of the manager.
And if that’s the case, then who would want to take what should, otherwise, be a very exciting job?