30 Nov Sam Allardyce’s in-tray at Everton
Everton have a new man at the helm after Sam Allardyce was confirmed as manager on Thursday.
A 4-0 victory over West Ham has eased the immediate pressure but there are several clear issues that Allardyce must address if he is to turn around the Toffees’ form.
Here, Press Association Sport looks at Allardyce’s to-do list.
Replace Romelu Lukaku
Allardyce’s predecessor Ronald Koeman spent plenty of owner Farhad Moshiri’s cash in the summer but it was the one high-profile departure that has had most influence on Everton’s miserable start to the season. Romelu Lukaku scored 83 goals in three seasons at Goodison Park before leaving for Manchester United and no one has been able to fill that chasm. Wayne Rooney’s hat-trick against West Ham took his tally to seven in the Premier League, making him the club’s leading scorer. But Rooney is no longer an out-and-out goalscorer like Lukaku while summer signing Sandro Ramirez has only found the net once. Top of Allardyce’s shopping list in January must surely be a striker.
Sort out the defence
When Everton signed two of England’s hottest young players in goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and defender Michael Keane, it seemed an already solid defence would be bolstered. But instead the Toffees have leaked an average of two goals a game in the Premier League and 15 in five games in Europe. Without Pickford, it would have been even worse while Keane should go on to prove himself a good signing in the long run. He has not been helped by the lack of a settled partner. Both Ashley Williams and Phil Jagielka have looked past their best. Allardyce must either decide on a steady partnership or look to the transfer market.
The Gylfi Sigurdsson mystery
Koeman presented playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson as the final piece of the puzzle after the club shelled out a reported £40million for the Icelander in August. But the player so central to Swansea’s attacking threat has so far failed to have anything like the same impact at Goodison Park, scoring just one Premier League goal and creating two more. Sigurdsson was a player Everton did not really need but he undoubtedly possesses great quality and, if Allardyce can get the best out of him, that will be a big step in the right direction.
Win over the fans
It is safe to say the appointment of Allardyce has not been met with any great enthusiasm on Merseyside. For a club at the start of the season who were potentially looking to challenge for the Champions League, bringing in a manager famous for his ability to keep clubs in the Premier League and a pragmatic style of football could be seen as a negative move. Ultimately a manager will always live or die by results, and it is clear Allardyce needs some quick wins to appease the doubters.
Will Ross Barkley stay or go?
The Ross Barkley transfer saga looks set to be reignited in January. Tottenham and Chelsea have been heavily linked with moves for the playmaker, who is yet to feature this season because of a hamstring injury. Barkley turned down a new contract at his boyhood club in the summer and, prior to being appointed, Allardyce said in an interview that the 23-year-old was putting his career in severe danger. Whether he stays or goes, Everton and Allardyce must resolve the situation as quickly as possible before it becomes even more of a distraction.