Former Porto boss Vitor Pereira is now the favourite to be appointed the next Everton manager following further talks, as Frank Lampard remains a possibility for the job.
However, a final decision has yet to be made with an announcement expected in the next 24 to 48 hours.
Everton are searching for a replacement for Rafael Benitez, after the Spaniard was sacked last week.
Former Fenerbahce manager Pereira has held further discussions following an initial meeting with owner Farhad Moshiri this week, while former Chelsea boss Lampard is still being considered.
No contact has been made with Derby County with regards to Wayne Rooney, who has also been linked with a possible return to his boyhood club.
Pereira was a candidate for the Everton manager’s job twice before but missed out to Roberto Martinez and Marco Silva respectively.
Belgium head coach Martinez was wanted by the club, but that will not happen as the Belgium FA do not want him to leave ahead of the World Cup in November.
Duncan Ferguson is currently the Everton caretaker manager, but he could not guide them to a positive result on Saturday after a 1-0 home defeat against Aston Villa.
The loss leaves Everton 16th in the Premier League, just four points above the relegation zone.
However, with important games against Newcastle and Leeds on the horizon, a decision on a permanent successor to Benitez is expected to be made this week.
Why would club return to Pereira?
Analysis from Ben Grounds
When Silva was dismissed just over two years ago, one man who was heavily linked to becoming his successor was Pereira. The 53-year-old had been in negotiations with the Toffees across a seven-day period and was understood to be the leading candidate before he removed himself from the application process.
While managing in the Chinese Super League, Pereira exclusively told Sky Sports: “It’s always an honour and I am utterly grateful to be considered on a list by a club that I have so much respect for. At this point, I am still the coach of SIPG – a club close to my heart in a country that is growing immensely in football.
“Currently I am not in a position to make any other commitments. I cannot decide now, I need time to think and plan my future by looking at all the options I have.
“It’s a league I love and yes for sure I would love to consider an opportunity in the future.”
Pereira was also under consideration by Everton in 2013 before Martinez replaced David Moyes, and the opportunity appears before him again now, with reports in Portugal this weekend claiming he is on his way to Merseyside for advanced talks.
Pereira is available having most recently endured an unsuccessful stint at Fenerbahce, leaving the Turkish giants in fifth position in the table and 14 points off the leaders. If he wasn’t appointed in 2019, why is he in the frame again now?
His admirers will point to the fact he has managed a number of top European clubs including Porto, where he won back-to-back Portuguese top-flight titles, and Olympiakos, where he won a Greek domestic double in 2015.
But he also has the unwanted record of having relegated 1860 Munich to the German third-tier during his six months as manager in 2016/17.
Pereira only arrived in the January of that season but could only win six of his 20 games, leading to recriminations over who was responsible.
“Nobody around the club ever expected or wanted that we dropped to the third division,” an 1860 Munich club statement read at the time. “We know that this scenario is not acceptable. In such a situation, there are only losers unfortunately.”
There were no winners either at Everton from getting the Benitez appointment horribly wrong.
1860 Munich consulted Kia Joorabchian before appointing Pereira, and the super agent was spotted in owner Moshiri’s director’s box at Goodison Park on Saturday.
Whether Pereira is the right profile to take over Everton now, in the midst of an identity crisis and at the wrong end of the table, is far from obvious – especially at a time when the club are set to do away with their obligation to hold annual General Meetings with shareholders.
His previous experience of a relegation battle suggests he is not the firefighter Everton currently require.
A search which started with Lampard, Rooney, Jose Mourinho and Martinez being sounded out for a return before the Belgian FA blocked an approach – and even had Fabio Cannavaro’s name added out of nowhere – has now predictably come back to the perennially-linked Pereira being on the shortlist.
He will, like Benitez and those before him, want to prove his best days in the dug-out are still to come. An unusual international break in January has provided Everton with some much-needed breathing space to consider their next move.
The dilemma Moshiri has is that the manager he needs right now to get them out of trouble is probably not the man required to turn around an eight-year decline at a club currently without an established internal football structure and undergoing a strategic review.
Everton have no director of football, head of recruitment or scouting chief – so effectively no expert football knowledge at the top of the club. It means Moshiri will again have the final say.
He does not have to make any snap decisions, but he cannot afford to get it wrong again.
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