Ronald Koeman was promptly sacked after the 5-2 loss to Arsenal that left the Toffees in the bottom three, but the Merseyside club took their time in appointing Sam Allardyce as the Dutchman’s successor. Allardyce is traditionally brought in to save struggling clubs from the drop, and is able to boast that he’s never had a club relegated. With time and a January transfer window to come, can the 63-year-old turn this into a fruitful campaign?
Indeed, as things stand, barring a complete disaster, fans can start gazing up the table now under Allardyce. Prior to the Merseyside derby, Everton were at 22/1 to be relegated in the online football betting on UK licensed sportsbook site Guts, following a promising start to December and life under the new boss. Everton find themselves up to tenth in the league and seven points adrift of sixth-place Tottenham Hotspur. With over half the season still to play, this gap is by no means insurmountable. There are a number of factors which are certainly working in Everton’s favour as well.
One of the main sources of encouragement for fans will be Big Sam’s track record in the Premier League. While he recently saved Crystal Palace from sinking last season, Allardyce’s heroic tenure at Sunderland, where he narrowly rescued them from dropping down into the Championship two seasons ago, is perhaps the most notable of the great escapes.
When the former Bolton Wanderers defender walked into the Stadium of Light job in October 2015, the Black Cats were 19th in the top flight with only three points from their first eight games. At Sunderland, Allardyce inherited a terribly weak squad and wasn’t given much of a budget to strengthen in the January transfer market. He did identify some key targets on the cheap, though, who were Lamine Kone, Jan Kirchhoff, and Wahbi Khazri. These signings, along with Allardyce’s tactical changes on the pitch, allowed Sunderland to go on to retain their place at the top table at the expense of local rivals Newcastle United.
It will be interesting to see what Allardyce can do at Everton with the backing of major shareholder Farhad Moshiri. In the past at other clubs, the one-time England manager had to scour the market for bargains. Now, he may be able to dip in and pull out some proven players with star quality.
Although Big Sam seems to have taken a shine to Dominic Calvert-Lewin as the focal point of his attack, the 20-year-old Sheffield-born forward may only have until the New Year to make his mark. As soon as the transfer window opens, Allardyce’s priority will doubtlessly be to secure a dominant striker to suit his style of play. The player will certainly be someone with a strong aerial threat, and names being thrown about at the moment include Cristian Benteke and Andy Carroll. The Belgian would be the preferred choice for Toffees fans, as he has already shown that he has what it takes to trouble top-flight defences under the stewardship of Allardyce.
The other major change that Allardyce will enforce is stronger defensive rigidity. With quality defenders at his disposal in Ashley Williams and Michael Keane, Goodison Park should be about to see a drastic increase in clean sheets over the coming weeks.
Allardyce’s football philosophy is by no means pretty, but he does know how to get the job done and take away vital points from games. With financial backing in January and a few strong players in the squad already, the new manager may be able to turn Everton’s season on its head and have them challenging the top six again.
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