Everton appoint Big Sam
Six months after declaring his coaching career was over, Sam Allardyce is back in the English Premier League (EPL) as Everton manager after being offered a long-awaited opportunity to take charge of one of English football's storied clubs yesterday.
Allardyce was not Everton's first-choice pick to take over from the fired Ronald Koeman, but after a frustrating and fruitless five-week search for a replacement, the Merseyside club accepted that the former England coach was the best solution for its current troubles.
Allardyce signed an 18-month contract and takes over a side that has had a dreadful start to the season and is five points off the relegation zone after 14 games. Following an outlay of nearly £150 million on new players last summer, Everton was expected to be challenging for the top four, not fighting against the drop. The team has already been eliminated from the Europa League, too.
"Obviously, the club has gone through a difficult spell," Allardyce said, "and hopefully I can put that behind us as quickly as possible and start looking upwards again."
The appointment of a manager with a track record of rejuvenating struggling teams is likely to be greeted with a mixed reception at Goodison Park. Allardyce's style of football pragmatic and direct is not what many of Everton's fans or the club's ambitious new majority shareholder, Farhad Moshiri, really wants.
Then there's the identity of Allardyce's probable right-hand man, Sammy Lee, who played for cross-city rival Liverpool for 10 years.
In the end, the unexpected possibility of relegation from the lucrative EPLe might have spooked the Everton hierarchy and Allardyce, available since quitting Crystal Palace in May, fits the bill at the moment.
Over the past two years, Allardyce has managed to keep up Sunderland and then Palace despite the teams being in serious danger of relegation when he took over. He will have a better quality of player at his disposal at Everton, plus likely a hefty transfer kitty in January and next summer to mold a squad.