Sunday’s 4-1 defeat at Southampton was a low point in the recent history of Everton Football Club, with fans dejected at such an emphatic defeat against close rivals in the Premier League table.
Fast forward to Wednesday night at Goodison Park and the atmosphere was completely different in what was David Unsworth’s final game in caretaker charge of the club.
The Toffees ran out 4-0 winners on the night against David Moyes’s West Ham, the performance completely contrasting that of Sunday.
The big talking point leading up to that match was the appointment of Sam Allardyce, the 63-year-old attending the game having agreed in principle to take over the following day.
The announcement that made Allardyce’s appointment official was met by mixed views by the club’s fans, with many noting the ex-England manager’s reputation as someone who helps clubs avoid relegation, although that reputation isn’t entirely fair given his successes at Bolton.
Everton themselves obviously do not want to be associated as that sort of team, with owner Farhad Mohsiri having spent nearly £200 million on transfers during the summer window.
However, there is no doubting that despite Wednesday’s win and performance, Everton find themselves in a difficult position compared to previous seasons, with some senior players underperforming and the team low on confidence following an early Europa League exit and a poor start to the Premier League campaign.
Whatever Everton’s current position and the regard the fans hold Allardyce in, he will need to get off to a good start and record wins in what is a challenging period coming up for the Toffees.
Allardyce kicks off his reign at Goodison Park with a home game against Huddersfield this Saturday, followed by a Merseyside derby away at Liverpool.
Everton have not won a Merseyside derby at Anfield since 1999 so a negative result may not affect Allardyce too heavily but it is key that Everton perform well in that match given how they have capitulated at Anfield in recent years.
One of the most famous encounters between the two sides in recent times came two seasons ago, when Liverpool racked up 37 shots in total compared with Everton’s 3, in what ended in a 4-0 rout for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Allardyce will give Everton a fighting chance of shutting out Klopp’s attack at least, with the ex-England man known for his defensive coaching prowess.
That prowess will be much needed when he addresses Everton’s defensive concerns now and in January, which have been present almost since the start of the season.
Ashley Williams has bared the brunt of the criticism this season, with the Welsh centre back struggling to recapture the form that he showed at Swansea, where he was rated as one of the top defenders in the Premier League.
The absence of Seamus Coleman has left a big hole in Everton’s defence, with right back being a position that Allardyce must consider addressing in the January transfer window. He faces similar problems in the left back role, with Leighton Baines’s injury meaning that Everton currently do not have a natural left back registered in their Premier League squad.
They, therefore, enter January in desperate need of quality recruitment, something Allardyce has been known for on the whole during his managerial career.
He revolutionised Bolton by bringing in star players from foreign leagues such as Jay-Jay Okocha, Ivan Campo and Youri Djorkaeff, with all three becoming cult heroes amongst Trotters fans.
At Crystal Palace, he signed Luka Milivojevic and Mamadou Sakho, two players who were major reasons for the London club staying up last term.
Working alongside Steve Walsh, the man who brought the likes of N’Golo Kante and Riyad Mahrez to Leicester, Allardyce could do a similar task at Everton and transform them back into European contenders.
Even though his record of signing strikers isn’t as high profile as his defensive recruitments in recent times – he signed Dame N’Doye for Sunderland, who only scored once, and Modibo Maiga for West Ham – he has done so on a much lower budget than the one he will surely be presented with at Goodison Park.
Whilst scoring has been a problem for Everton this season – before Wednesday night they had scored just 13 goals in 14 Premier League games – their defensive instability has been a bigger factor in their struggles.
Overall, although Allardyce’s reputation has him labelled a negative, relegation saving type of manager, he will bring a brand of football to Goodison Park which will give Everton more stability and perhaps the chance to push on towards the European places – if that doesn’t happen next season, there is a high chance of it happening next season, if recruitment is good enough.
His style of football is viewed upon negatively by fans but it is worth noting that Allardyce was one of the first managers in world football to use the Prozone stats system, which served Bolton well during their most successful years between 2003-07 and brought them within 1 place of the Champions League spots in 2005/06 before Allardyce resigned.
It is true that the majority of jobs he has taken have involved him staving off relegation, and his records at Newcastle and West Ham was mixed despite promotion with the latter, but a job with such a big club as Everton is one that can allow him to prove to the doubters that he can successfully handle a top club.