In Focus: Five candidates to replace Benitez at Everton

Matthew Hill
Wayne Rooney is among the leading contenders for the Everton job
Wayne Rooney is among the leading contenders for the Everton job

Everton laboured to a 1-0 defeat against Aston Villa in their first game since giving Rafa Benitez the boot.

Controversially appointed last summer despite links to bitter rivals Liverpool, the Spaniard made a fast start but a dire run of results saw things unravel quickly.

With the Toffees languishing 16th in the Premier League, the new manager will need to hit the ground running on Merseyside to lift spirits and get points on the board.

As managerless Everton continue their search for a new manager, we take a look at five of the leading candidates for the role.

Roberto Martinez

Everton’s first choice to replace Benitez is reported to be their former boss Roberto Martinez.

Currently in charge of the Belgium national side, the 48-year-old tactician spent three seasons in the Goodison Park hotseat between 2013 and 2016 before being axed.

Though his tenure ended on a disappointing note, Martinez led the Toffees to fifth in 2013-14, as well as two domestic cup semi-finals in his last campaign.

The Spaniard remains extremely fond of the club and is thought to be open-minded on a return, though it should not be forgotten his previous stint on Merseyside ended with fans calling for his head. 

Adding in the fact that Belgium are now just 10 months away from kicking off their 2022 World Cup campaign in Qatar, significant compensation would likely be required to terminate that contract early.

Duncan Ferguson

Few candidates know Everton as a club better than Duncan Ferguson
Few candidates know Everton as a club better than Duncan Ferguson

Although he possesses limited managerial experience, Everton legend Duncan Ferguson is a leading contender to take the reins at Goodison Park until the end of the season.

Netting 60 goals in 239 Premier League appearances for the club during his playing days, the fiery Scot has been a mainstay in the Toffees’ coaching set-up over the last decade and is a popular figure with most fans.

Wearing his heart on his sleeve, Ferguson’s no-nonsense approach yielded positive performances during a four-game caretaker spell in December 2019 and he has shown an interest in the role previously.

Reports have even suggested he turned down a position in Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid coaching staff, showing a level of loyalty to the Toffees that is a rare commodity in modern football. 

Having received public backing from former team-mates including Ally McCoist, Don Hutchinson and Trevor Steven to land the role, 50-year-old Ferguson may soon see that commitment rewarded but will need to see performances pick up.

Wayne Rooney

Another club icon linked with the hotseat is Wayne Rooney, with the 36-year-old former striker having worked wonders at crisis club Derby this term.

Born and raised in the heart of Liverpool, Rooney is arguably Everton’s greatest ever product — even if he did achieve his playing honours in a Manchester United shirt.

Still England’s record goalscorer, Rooney is a boyhood supporter of the Toffees and has certainly been earning his managerial stripes the hard way in the Championship.

Despite seeing the Rams placed into administration, having his playing squad decimated and being hit by a 21-point deduction, Rooney continues to spearhead the club's unlikely charge towards survival with four wins in their last six league games.

Though seemingly as committed to the cause as anyone in the East Midlands, would Rooney really be able to resist if Everton came calling?

Frank Lampard

Frank Lampard has been out of work since being sacked by Chelsea in January 2021
Frank Lampard has been out of work since being sacked by Chelsea in January 2021

One man who is very keen to get back on the touchlines is ex-Chelsea boss Frank Lampard.

Axed by his beloved Blues 12 months ago, the 43-year-old former midfielder appeared certain to land the Norwich job last November before the Canaries moved for Dean Smith at the last minute instead.

Lampard’s managerial career to date has been mixed, narrowly failing to get Derby promoted before guiding Chelsea to an FA Cup final but ultimately coming up short in his time at Stamford Bridge.

Unquestionably one of the great players of his generation, Lampard would certainly command respect in the dressing room and has shown a penchant for working with young, homegrown talent.

Should he opt to throw his hat in the ring, his glamorous profile may give him an edge with Everton’s decision-makers — do not rule the former Three Lions star out of the running.

Vitor Pereira

A left-field option for the Merseysiders would be 53-year-old Portuguese coach Vitor Pereira.

Currently out of work after a failed six-month spell at Fenerbahce, the former Porto coach has been previously linked with the top job at Goodison.

He last spoke with the club in 2019, when the Toffees were then exploring replacements for Carlo Ancelotti.

Having won league titles in Portugal, Greece and China, Pereira has an impressive CV, but no Premier League experience as either a coach or a player.


EvertonPremier League

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