Ronald Koeman’s position as Everton manager is looking increasingly precarious after another underwhelming weekend saw them draw away at newly promoted Brighton.
Bookmakers have slashed the odds on the Dutchman being the next Premiership manager to leave his post and he is now just 4/7 to be axed. That leaves him well ahead of Slaven Bilic and Craig Shakespeare in the betting and highlights what a miserable start to the season Everton fans have had to endure.
Rewind a few months and optimism abounded at Goodison Park. Romelu Lukaku had left but a raft of exciting talent had come in: Gylfi Sigurdsson, Michael Keane, Jordan Pickford, Wayne Rooney. Everton were expected to finish in seventh as a bare minimum and many were tipping them to break into the top six. That now looks like a pipe dream. And if you check a review of betting sites and find the best odds, you will see that Everton are at pretty long odds to finish seventh in the table. Right now they just two points above the drop zone and will end up having to fight against relegation this season if they are not careful.
Koeman talks a good game and maintains that Everton will soon improve and surge up the table. “I said to the players, ‘if you show this belief and commitment in every game, you will get the luck on your side,’ and that is how we need to continue,” he said after the Brighton game, where his team only salvaged a point thanks to Rooney’s late penalty. “We showed great character from the beginning of the game, and even when we were in difficult situations. With a bit more luck we could have won it but that was not for today, maybe next week.”
Many fans hope he will not be around next week. Even the Mayor of Liverpool has laid into him and call for him to be relieved of his duties. Four defeats out of eight games and a goal difference of -8 is a pretty dreadful start to the campaign and Koeman is running out of chances to turn things around. The trip to Brighton was a great opportunity to seize three points against a team low on confidence, but the Toffees were limp and unadventurous and only narrowly avoided another humiliating defeat. In mitigation, it was always going to take a while to bed in so many new players and it is reminiscent of the problems Tottenham faced some years ago when they sold Gareth Bale to Real Madrid and replaced him with several new players.
But fans expect and deserve better than this and the fixture list going forwards looks pretty gruelling: Arsenal and Chelsea are next and if those teams play to the peak of their abilities, Everton will lose both and find themselves in the relegation zone going into November. Things are looking bleak and Koeman may be out of a job soon.
A book has been opened on who might replace the Dutchman if he is ousted, and former Bayern Munich boss Carlo Ancelotti is the 4/1 favourite. He would be a great appointment as he has won the Premiership while at Chelsea, the Bundesliga at Bayern, Ligue 1 at PSG and the Champions League at Real Madrid, among various other trophies during a long and distinguished career. Whether the prospect of heading to struggling Everton would appeal to the Italian is another matter. A more realistic option might be academy coach David Unsworth, who has done well as under-23 manager this season and is a 6/1 shot. However, he does not really have the calibre to excite the Goodison faithful. Shakhtar Donetsk boss Paulo Fonseca is 8/1, Rafa Benitez and Sam Allardyce are both 10/1 along with Eddie Howe, while Sean Dyche and Chris Coleman are both 12/1. There are plenty of intriguing options among that list and fans may be crying out for a change soon.