Everton’s summer restructuring is under way after manager Sam Allardyce was sacked and PSV Eindhoven’s Marcel Brands arrived to replace director of football Steve Walsh.
Both departures were expected as the pair paid the price for poor performance on the field and disappointing business off it, after the biggest transfer spend in the club’s history – almost £200million – backfired.
Brands spent eight years at PSV and signed players like Georginio Wijnaldum, Kevin Strootman and Dries Mertens relatively cheaply. He will be tasked with the search for a new manager along with new chief executive Denise Barrett-Baxendale and deputy chairman Keith Harris, whose promotions were only announced on Tuesday evening.
Marco Silva is the favourite to take over after a failed bid to secure him from Watford in November.
The Portuguese was sacked in January with Watford stating the catalyst for their slump in results was Everton’s “unwarranted approach” which they felt contributed to a significant deterioration in focus.
Press Association Sport understands should Everton ultimately appoint Silva they anticipate having to pay Watford substantial compensation, having had their £12million offer rejected six months ago.
Brands will have a big say in that appointment and the future direction of the club.
Brands said: “The fantastic passion of the fans for their club, the magnificent history of the club over the years and the ambition and purpose we have as people tasked with driving the club forward all mean that we need to be competing for honours against the Premier League elite.
“It is no straightforward challenge but this must be our motivation each and every day.
“Now we will look to build something really strong and lasting here at Everton.”
With a clean slate in key positions, major shareholder Farhad Moshiri will hope for more stability in a long-term plan and much better results, having already sacked three managers in Roberto Martinez, Ronald Koeman and Allardyce at considerable cost in the space of barely two years.
Allardyce was an unpopular choice with fans from the start but, having failed to lure Silva from Watford to replace Koeman, Moshiri took a pragmatic decision and went with chairman Bill Kenwright’s recommendation to steer the club away from any potential relegation trouble.
The decision – Everton were actually 13th, five points clear of the bottom three by the time Allardyce took charge – has been debated ever since.
Allardyce guided the club to eighth in the Premier League but the atmosphere at Goodison Park had become so toxic as fan discontent grew that he has been jettisoned with 12 months still remaining on his contract, which is likely to cost Everton a further £6million.
Later on Wednesday Walsh was also dispensed with after just under two years’ service, with last summer’s transfer business and particularly the failure to find a proven goalscorer when Romelu Lukaku was sold costing him his job.
Allardyce’s backroom staff of assistant manager Sammy Lee, first-team coach Craig Shakespeare and goalkeeping coach Martyn Margetson have also been released from their contracts.
“Sam was brought in at a challenging time last season to provide us with some stability and we are grateful to him for doing that,” said Barrett-Baxendale.
“However, we have made the decision that, as part of our longer-term plan, we will be appointing a new manager this summer and will be commencing this process immediately.”