Everton need a reality check: Moyes is the best they can get
Two weeks ago, as Marco Silva's reign as Everton manager lurched towards its inevitable ending, graffiti was daubed on the walls of Goodison Park. Sprayed in white on the blue-painted brickwork, it read: "No Hughes, Moyes, Howe - SILVA OUT - F---Moyes."
The views of one disgruntled supporter don't reflect the position of every Evertonian, but if radio phone-ins and message boards are a true gauge of the supporters' feelings, whoever used that spray can at Goodison certainly understood the sentiment running through the Everton fanbase right now.
Following Silva's dismissal last week, less than 24 hours after a 5-2 Merseyside derby defeat against Liverpool at Anfield, Everton are looking for their fourth permanent manager in the space of three-and-a-half years.
Ronald Koeman lasted just 16 months as manager, before Sam Allardyce came and went in seven months. Silva then arrived, amid much controversy following his acrimonious exit from Watford, but lost his job after 18 months in charge.
Such is the chaotic state of Everton as they attempt to find Silva's replacement that they are interested in speaking to the newly-unemployed Carlo Ancelotti and Mauricio Pochettino, but are likely to end up with former boss David Moyes.
Few clubs are more difficult to define than Everton and that is why their managerial search is beginning to resemble a fantasy football game. Traditionally, they are one of England's biggest clubs, with a huge, passionate fanbase. Only three teams -- Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal -- have been champions of England more often than Everton and no club has spent more time in the top division than their 116 seasons.
But on the flipside, Everton have not won a trophy of any kind since the 1995 FA Cup and they haven't beaten bitter rivals Liverpool at Anfield this century. (And yes, having a resurgent Liverpool as neighbours is not ideal at this moment in time.)
Everton are a club with a glorious history, but a distinctly average modern era. Yet, under Iranian owner Farhad Moshiri, they possess the financial power to rediscover the glory days. Since Moshiri acquired a 49.9% stake in the club in February 2016, Everton have spent just short of £450m on new players and over £30m on compensation to sacked managers, but they are still no closer to challenging at the top end of the table than they were when Moshiri arrived.
- ESPN Premier League fantasy: Sign up now!- VAR in the Premier League: Ultimate guide- When does the transfer window reopen?- Premier League winter break: All you need to know
Everton's problem is that their owner and supporters expect the club to be competing with the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United, Man City and Chelsea but, from the outside, they remain a club viewed as being nowhere near the teams they considered rivals in the 1960s, 70s and 80s.
Moshiri and the fans may believe that Everton can attract an elite coach like Ancelotti or Pochettino, or even former Arsenal boss Unai Emery, but the painful reality is that they are currently only an appealing option to the likes of Moyes or Mark Hughes -- out of work, old-school managers who will take on a difficult job simply to get themselves back in the game.
Hughes was once the next big thing, which is why City lured him from Blackburn in 2008, but that was over 10 years ago and he has been sacked five times as a Premier League manager since. As for Moyes, since ending an 11-year reign as Everton manager to take charge of United in 2013, it has been a depressing tale of woe including three sackings and a relegation (with Sunderland) before failing to earn a permanent stay at West Ham in 2018 following a six-month stint at the London Stadium.
Moyes divides opinion among Everton fans, perhaps harshly, because of his failure to win anything during his previous spell in charge. His style of football was also viewed as too cautious and negative, but the Scot brought stability to Goodison Park, as well as a top four finish in 2005 and an FA Cup Final appearance in 2009.
Sources have told ESPN that Moyes is keen to return to Everton and that he has some support within the Goodison hierarchy. However, Moshiri and the club's director of football, Marcel Brands, have yet to be convinced by the prospect of turning to him, even on a short-term basis.
Those supporters who were energised by the sight of a passionate Duncan Ferguson guiding Everton to a 3-1 win over Chelsea in his first game as caretaker manager last Saturday are also unlikely to greet a returning Moyes with the kind of affection with which they afforded "Big Dunc." But maybe Everton need a reality check and Moyes is the man to deliver it.
They are two points above the relegation zone, have a squad packed with mediocrity, playing in a stadium that, to be kind, is creaking. Everton are not an attractive proposition to a top coach or manager right now, which is why Moyes might be the best they can get.
It may even be a backwards step, but sometimes that is better than another stumble forwards. And Everton have had far too many of those in recent years.