Everton: Is it time for Allardyce to go?
The Toffees boss was criticised for his tactics on Saturday, but is it time for him to leave the club?
There’s no shame in losing to Manchester City. Everton’s 3-1 defeat at home to the Champions-elect wasn’t a shock, and it won’t be the last time Pep Guardiola inspires a steamrollering of a Premier League side this season.
In the context of the Toffee’s ambitions, however, the result feels like a nadir.This time last April, Ronald Koeman was inspiring his upwardly mobile players into a seventh-place finish. Plans for a crack at the Champions League were bankrolled by Farhad Moshiri’s wallet; Michael Keane, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Sandro Ramírez were keen-eyed purchases at a club that felt like it was going places.
Under Sam Allardyce, however, they have stagnated. There was something limp about the way his side surrendered the result on Saturday, an unacceptable inferiority at a ground that, for even the biggest sides in the country, used to be a difficult destination.
ESPN’s Luke O’Farrell perhaps summed it up best when, trying to highlight the positives from this result, pointed out that “there are now only 540 minutes of football left to endure this season”.
Allardyce might not even get that much. Finally, given the tools he’s spent a career lamenting the absence of, the former Bolton man has botched it. His January business, with the honourable exception of Cenk Tosun, has been woeful. Theo Walcott’s flagrant inconsistency was no secret, whilst the decision to allow Ademola Lookman to depart for Leipzig was astonishingly short-sighted.
It’s the tactics, however, that Everton fans find most galling. Their players were allergic to the ball throughout this game, ceding possession and territory with an alarming regularity. Morgan Schneiderlin, left stranded by a coterie of teammates whose sole instincts are to attack, had arguably his worst game in English football. With Yannick Bolasie, the aforementioned Walcott and Wayne Rooney alongside him, it begs the obvious question; what did Allardyce expect? For a coach with such experience, it seemed inexplicably naïve.
The good news is that Paulo Fonseca is still available. The Portuguese coach has won a swathe of plaudits on the continent for his buccaneering Shakhtar side, and he is undoubtedly ready for the step up to a major league. Everton, ten points from the relegation places with just six games left to go, are nestled safely in mid-table. Allardyce’s contribution shouldn’t be overlooked in that regard, but the club simply has to go again for the 45-year-old this Summer.
That means that Allardyce’s unhappy tenure will end. The way the former England coach justified the result on Saturday, however, makes the need for change even more pressing.
“They are such a wonderful side that for me the second half was making sure we didn’t get beat by any more” he blustered to reporters after the game. The problem was, his lamentable 4-4-2 had caused the massacre.
Everton fans have every reason to think their club can make a push for the Champions League places. It will never be a reality, however, until they change the dugout. Fonseca or not, Allardyce’s future should be uncertain.
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