“I want this to be a long-term appointment.”
Well, that makes one vote.
Times are hard for Sam Allardyce. Seven losses in Everton’s last ten games have left him without a friend on Merseyside.
It’s a far cry from earlier in the season, when the former Bolton man arrived like a jowly Messiah to save the Toffees from a screeching fall into the relegation zone. Everton were stabilised and stultified but, after going seven games unbeaten, they stopped.
They haven’t got going again either, winning just two points from their last twelve fixtures.
The Toffees’ support, having witnessed the long-running debacle of Ronald Koeman’s final year, is short on patience. A routine all-too-familiar at both West Ham and Newcastle is now being trotted out at Goodison Park: Sam Allardyce isn’t good enough for our club and has to go.
“There are tough times and there are times when you have to draw in and close the doors and stay focused on what you want to try to achieve,” said the Everton boss as a collection of vultures circled overhead.
“I came out of retirement because there’s a long-term plan that I was excited to be part of.”
Everton fans may well wish that their pudgy manager was still splayed out on some Marbella decking but are they being realistic in wanting him go?
Ambitions on Merseyside were heightened after a tremendous season last year. Fired by the goals of Romelu Lukaku, who finished second only to Harry Kane in the scoring charts, Everton finished comfortably ahead of Southampton in seventh place.
The Belgian striker duly left, but a massive spending spree felt like enough to offset his loss; Sandro Ramírez, Gylffi Sigurdsson and Davy Klaasen promised a more probing and mobile attack.
None of them has lived up to expectations. Ramírez has been loaned to Sevilla and Klaasen has made just four appearances, whilst Sigurdsson has looked confused alongside a battered and knackered Wayne Rooney.
Allardyce addressed the forward problems adroitly in January. Theo Walcott was a proven Premier League goalscorer whilst Cenk Tosun had looked lethal for Besiktas in the Champions League.
Once again, however, the imports haven’t worked. Tosun is no longer guaranteed a start after some bustling but blunt displays, whilst a change of scenery hasn’t ironed out Walcott’s inconsistencies.
Not just the forwards
It’s not just the forward signings that have the Toffee’s piqued, however. Eliaquim Mangala was an eyebrow-raising solution to Michael Keane’s problematic season but after one appearance, five goals conceded and an injury, the Frenchman has hobbled back to Manchester City.
Fans can forgive a poor signing if a manager and his players give their all under a coherent tactical plan. Allardyce, however, set the tone for this campaign by declaring it a “write-off” after a devastating away loss to Arsenal in February.
Many Everton supporters, view a second seventh-place finish as an achievable aim. Their main competitors beat them in a recent 2-1 victory at Turf Moor but it was Allardyce’s decisions during the game against Burnley that had the supporters floundering.
After taking an early lead, the Everton boss responded to Ashley Barnes’ equaliser by instructing his team to defend for a point and taking off his most impressive performer, Sigurdsson. Inevitably, Burnley got a late winner.
Change is coming
One could argue that Everton fans are expecting too much; after all, Allardyce is just six points behind a manager for whom the accolades continue to flow.
Sean Dyche, however, is a man performing above expectations with a limited squad. Allardyce, backed by the money of Farhad Moshiri and a team of quality internationals, is barely treading water.
There is a growing call, then, for Allardyce to depart his contract long before the expiration date a year from now. He might have stopped the bleeding, but the patient is still lying on the operating table with the scalpel trembling in his hand.
Everton fans will be hoping that they can wrest it out of his grip and finally send him on a long-deserved retirement.
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