May 9, 2013, 9:08 AM EDT
With David Moyes’ bags packed for Old Trafford the issue now turns to who Everton will bring in to replace the Scottish gaffer. Roberto Martinez tops Everton’s list of candidates, which includes Phil Neville, Neil Lennon and Michael Laudrup.
Here’s a look at the top candidates and some insight as to how well they might fit at Everton.
- Roberto Martinez: The Wigan manager is the favorite to take the reins at Goodison Park this summer. The Spaniard has led Wigan to Saturday’s FA Cup final against Manchester City and has managed to keep the Latics playing top flight football despite having one of the lowest budgets in the Premier League. With rumors that he denied Liverpool last year during their search for a manger, it could be harder than one thinks to separate Martinez from his beloved Dave Whelan.
- Phil Neville: Everton’s club captain, who’s contract with the Toffees expires at the end of the season, has made no secret of his desire to step into management, and Moyes would support the decision. Some believe, however, that Moyes may take Neville with him to Old Trafford, setting up a dramatic return to his boyhood club. While recognized by the Everton faithful as a proven leader, Neville’s managerial inexperience is a major worry.
- Neil Lennon: The Celtic manager famously led the Scottish club to the latter stages of the Champions League, defeating Spanish giants Barcelona along the way. That run led many to believe Lennon could be in line for a move to a club in a bigger league. That sentiment is strengthened by the fact that this could be a tumultuous summer for Celtic, where rumor is the Hoops may need to sell top talent like Victor Wanyama and Gary Hooper and could be further hamstrung by a diminished transfer budget. Lennon’s brash nature isn’t appealing to some Evertonians but the Scot could be just the type of personality that Everton needs to reach the next level.
- Michael Laudrup: Some believe the Swansea manager may top the Toffees list to replace Moyes after the former Barcelona and Real Madrid player has enjoyed huge success at the Welsh club this season. In addition to playing attractive, free-flowing football, Laudrup famously guided their first piece of major silverware in the club’s 100 year history when he hoisted the Capital One Cup earlier this season. The Dane also has proven he can successfully identify undervalued talent such as Michu, Pablo, Chico Flores and Ki Sung-Yueng. The stumbling block here is Laudrup’s hopes for the future as many believe he is one to two years away from a return to La Liga.
- Rafa Benitez: The Chelsea interim manager has declined to answer whether Everton is a viable future management option for him (claiming he still has “to concentrate on [Chelsea's next match at] Aston Villa”) but the Spanish manager will be out of a job this summer and does already own a home in Wirral. The major issues with Beintez are two fold: 1) he’s expressed his undying love for Everton’s rival, Liverpool, where he previously coached, and 2) he’s obsessed with managing clubs that possess the resources to help him pad his CV, which just isn’t the case at Goodison.
- Roberto Di Matteo: Out of work but a Champions League winner, Di Matteo was sacked by Chelsea last November despite winning Europe’s most prized possession as well as the FA Cup. His long wait to return to managing could make the job at Goodison too tempting to turn down. Di Matteo’s unassuming nature could fit in quite well at Everton, although he is a huge under-dog for the position.
- Vitor Pereira: The Porto manager has already alerted Everton as to his availability and is considered yet another exciting up and coming in European football. The 44 year old’s contract expires at Porto this summer. Pereira
won the Primeira Liga title in 2011-12, was a runner up in the 2011 UEFA Super Cup in 2011 and is believed to be the next young Portuguese manager (following Jose Mourinho and Andre Villas-Boas) hungry for a shot to prove himself in the Premier League. A relative unknown in England, Pereira would be a wild card for the position and many critics downplay his accolades at Porto given the club’s massive stature in the Premieira.
- Mark Hughes: The former Everton man fancies a return to Goodison Park and admits he is one of the candidates to replace Moyes. “[Everton] is a great club, a club I had the fortune to play for and I really enjoyed my time there,” Hughes said on Thursday. The former Blackburn/City/Fulham/QPR boss has a long list of dissenters however, including Joey Barton, who threw in his two cents, noting, “Worried about what happens at EFC, if/when Moyes leaves. Mark Hughes would be suicide!”
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