The former England boss was only appointed at the Merseyside club in November on a one-and-half-year contract after they endured a terrible start to the season under Ronald Koeman.
Allardyce, though, has borne the brunt of considerable criticism from the Everton faithful recently, with the club recently sending out a survey to members of the Fans’ Panel to rate his management of the club. The PR faux-pas has heaped yet more pressure on Allardyce and he now seems closer to the exit door than ever.
Whilst the 63-year-old is not the most glamorous name in the Premier League, it could be argued that he has completed the mission he was assigned on Merseyside – to stabilise a flailing Everton side. He has done just that. He led the club away from the relegation zone – a position most could scarcely believe that they were in considering their outlay of a reported £125m in the 2017 summer transfer window.
He has also fixed one of the most glaringly obvious problems at Everton this season – their inability to keep clean sheets. In his time at the club, the Toffees have notched six shut-outs including credible 0-0 draws with Chelsea and a rampant Liverpool. Before his arrival, they only had two clean sheets in league action.
He has also improved the team in an attacking sense too. The Toffees only averaged 0.78 goals-per-game under former boss Koeman. They are now scoring exactly one per game. Whilst still not great, it is a marked improvement.
While these raw statistics on their own are not enough to support Allardyce’s time at Goodison, if the basics of the game are applied – to score goals and not concede – his impact is nothing other than positive.
On the other hand, their results have somewhat soured recently. A run of only four wins in their last 16 games has left the Toffees stranded in mid-table, a position they look likely to occupy until the end of the season.
They have failed to find the net in six of those games, a characteristic that has been symptomatic of their campaign so far after failing to replace the goals of Romelu Lukaku.
Allardyce has suggested that he understands the fans’ frustrations at Goodison. Talking after his side’s recent 1-1 draw with Swansea City, he said: “I never get annoyed by the fans, personally, because they wanted to see us play better.”
The majority of Everton’s problems this season have come from their poor recruitment in the summer transfer window. Extortionate fees were splashed on the likes of Michael Keane, Davy Klaasen and Gylfi Sigurdsson, not to mention Wayne Rooney returning on a free transfer. The majority of them have not worked out but Allardyce cannot be blamed.
Their transfer business was better in January. Numerous fringe players were either moved on or loaned out, with Cenk Tosun and Theo Walcott joining the club. The duo have already made an impact, especially the Turkish forward who, despite a slow start, has found his feet in English football with four goals in his last seven Premier League games.
While the doubt around Allardyce’s future continues to intensify, uncertainty will grow within the dressing room. Players will maintain that their focus is on the current situation but it would only be natural for them to wonder who, or indeed where, they will be playing their football next season. Sticking by Allardyce would surely allay these creeping doubts and could even improve the fortunes of the Merseysiders throughout the last four games.
But if Everton do indeed move Big Sam on, however, the importance of making this decision is more important now more than ever considering the looming 2018 World Cup, which will only complicate the appointment of a successor.
After his miracles in recent years with Crystal Palace and Sunderland, Allardyce deserves time to work his magic. After all, he does have experience of European football with Bolton Wanderers where he assembled a team of gritty campaigners of English football mixed with the likes of Jay-Jay Okocha and Nicolas Anelka. Everton need exactly the same, and Big Sam is the man to do that.
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