Eight clubs, one nation and a track record of keeping things ticking over, Sam Allardyce is now managing his ninth side in England, as he took over from interim David Unsworth. After the dismal season Everton have had so far, Ronald Koeman was sacked with immediate effect. Now Allardyce has taken over his highest profile club management job with a team full of potential, but with a serious lack of motivation. The question remains on everyone’s lips – is he the right man for the job?
Allardyce’s recent record suggests there could be some mixed views. Even though he has never relegated a Premier League club, a remarkable feat in this era of highly-competitive Premier League football, his history suggests he’s simply a man who enjoys the fight at mid-table. As good as the Englishman’s record is of keeping teams afloat, unfortunately that is the ultimate peso he had reached. In fact, finishing 8th is the best finish he had ever achieved in top-flight football.
So how can he be expected to manage a club who have consistently tried to break into the Top 4?
A tough nut to crack
One thing Allardyce is famed for is his tough managerial style and his saviour attitude, doing everything to ensure a club’s safety. He’s normally been in charge of clubs needing points to stay above the relegation zone and this will be a completely different job. Not only does he have to stabilise Everton’s season so far, ensuring they do not slip up further, but he also has to propel them into the Top 6, at the very least, to keep the fans happy.
What would actually help the cause is that despite this horrible season so far, Everton actually accumulated 15 points before Allardyce’s first game, and now with the 2-0 victory over Huddersfield in his first game in charge, the Toffees are in 10th place, ten points behind Arsenal in 5th. That is not an unreachable amount if they can keep up this form. However, playing against Huddersfield at home wasn’t the real tough task, as they are a team Everton are expected to beat. The real test will be when Big Sam comes up against the big teams and especially, the ones above them in the table.
In games when Everton are drawing with lower opposition, will Allardyce settle for a point or will he have the ambition to go for the win and really take points in games from unwinnable positions. That will be the key decider in whether Allardyce will be a success.
The right appointment?
Looking at this Everton side and the individual talent at his disposal, this will be brand new territory for the Englishman as this is not a typical Sam Allardyce team. Usually, Allardyce plays a style that is very pragmatic, picking up necessary points and not exactly displaying a formation that would suit to entertain the crowd and get the most of the individuals.
The real risk of appointing Allardyce is that Everton have frankly gone backwards in terms of innovating their squad. With Koeman in charge, they had a manager eager to push into the Top 4 and really stake a claim to make Everton a successful side. Even though he had lost the team and ultimately his way, the appointment at the start of last season was the right decision as he really did make the Toffees an entertaining side to watch.
However, with Allardyce, they don’t have a manager who is young and energetic and will come to the club with new ideas. Instead they have someone who will do the same tactics which have helped lower-placed clubs do well. This act of hiring Allardyce seems like the safe option for the club, an opportunity to play it safe survive this turmoil of a season. There may not be a lot of options out there to bring to Everton but hiring Allardyce does seem more like a temporary step sideways, as it’s definitely not a step forward.
What will this mean for Everton?
Undoubtedly, one of the first things Allardyce will improve is fixing the basics of the side, making sure the defence is stable and they don’t make too many mistakes at the back. He will have the team working as if they are a unit and this will be vital as they have really lacked any signs of playing as a collective unit this season.
What he’s taking over is a team who have really struggled defensively this season, having conceded the third-most in the league, after West Ham and Stoke City. Formidable centre-backs Phil Jagielka and Ashley Williams have looked a shadow of their normal selves as they have struggled with pairing with Michael Keane. However, this is a dip in form so with the class they each have, Allardyce should be able to turn things around defensively.
Even though this doesn’t look like the ideal appointment for the Toffees, it definitely beats watching how they were playing before. This however should only be a temporary job for Allardyce and sticking with someone who hasn’t got the experience of managing a side who should be consistently fighting for Europe will not be ideal in the long-run.