Everton: Would Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard, Niko Kovac or Roberto Martinez be best as next manager

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Everton are working to a four man shortlist as they aim to recruit a manager who can save their season.

Rafael Benitez was sacked over the weekend, after a dismal defeat at Norwich left them just six points above the relegation zone.

Now the Everton board are looking for yet another new manager before they slide even further down the table.

Wayne Rooney is open to taking the Everton job

Frank Lampard is another name in the frame

Wayne Rooney (left) is open to a shock return to Everton after he and former England team-mate Frank Lampard (right) emerged as contenders to replace Rafa Benitez 

Roberto Martinez, the current manager of the Belgian team, has been linked with a return

Roberto Martinez, the current manager of the Belgian team, has been linked with a return

Former Bayern Munich and Monaco coach Niko Kovac is another on the Everton shortlist

Former Bayern Munich and Monaco coach Niko Kovac is another on the Everton shortlist

Duncan Ferguson has taken caretaker charge as he did back in 2019 with Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard, Niko Kovac and Roberto Martinez the principal names in the frame to be the next permanent manager.

But how do this quartet measure up? Sportsmail assesses them in several key areas as the Toffees look to make the right choice.

PREMIER LEAGUE EXPERIENCE

Rooney – As a manger, none. Rooney’s one and only job in a fledgling managerial career has seen him take charge of 65 games at Championship strugglers Derby County.

So the Premier League would be a whole new ball game for the former England captain in that regard.

But take into account Rooney’s playing career and his Premier League experience is vast. 98 top-flight games for Everton and 393 for Manchester United, with 25 and 183 goals respectively.

In terms of what is required to survive and thrive in the Premier League, Rooney certainly wouldn’t be under any illusions. 6/10

Wayne Rooney's first taste of management at Derby County has been a baptism of fire but the former England captain relishes the challenge

Wayne Rooney’s first taste of management at Derby County has been a baptism of fire but the former England captain relishes the challenge 

Lampard – The former England midfielder does have some experience of managing in the Premier League from his season-and-a-half in charge at Chelsea. Of 57 league matches he took charge of, he won 28, drew 11 and lost 18.

While his first season at Stamford Bridge was decent enough as they took fourth place, things unravelled very quickly in his second despite big squad investment.

Chelsea were ninth, having won only twice in eight league matches, when Lampard was fired in January 2021. He has since been linked with top level jobs, such as Norwich back in November and Crystal Palace last summer, but he hasn’t returned to the dug-out.

There’s also his extensive Premier League experience with West Ham, Chelsea and Manchester City. 609 games in total, the third-highest ever in the competition. 7/10

Lamprd has been linked to the Crystal Palace and Norwich jobs since his Chelsea sacking

Lamprd has been linked to the Crystal Palace and Norwich jobs since his Chelsea sacking

Kovac – No Premier League experience either as a player or a manager. Kovac’s playing days were spent predominantly in Germany and the Croatian has since coached in Croatia, Germany and France. His most recent job was a season-and-a-half with Monaco in Ligue 1.

So his only exposure to the English game comes from a handful of European ties though he did score for Croatia against England at Euro 2004. 1/10

Martinez – The Spaniard has considerably more experience of managing in the Premier League than the other three. He has taken charge of 265 games in the division when at Wigan Athletic between 2009 and 2013 and during his first stint as Everton boss (2013-2016).

When at Wigan, he guided them to finishes of 16th, 16th, 15th and finally 18th with that final season seeing them achieve the rare double of relegation and an FA Cup win.

Previously at Goodison Park, he led Everton to an impressive 5th position in his first season and 11th in the second. They were 12th in his third campaign when he was sacked with one match of the season remaining.

So his managerial experience in the Premier League certainly eclipses the other three candidates – and by some distance. 9/10

Roberto Martinez was Everton manager between 2013 and 2016 with varied success

Roberto Martinez was Everton manager between 2013 and 2016 with varied success

TROPHY CABINET

Rooney – Nothing yet in management, with Derby toiling at the wrong end of the Championship during Rooney’s first season, surviving by the skin of their teeth on the final day.

This season has been even worse, with the club’s very existence under threat and a 21-point deduction for entering administration and breaching EFL financial rules.

So trophies are a long way from Rooney’s mind at the moment. As a player, however, he was a serial winner and having played under the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson, he knows what it takes to win regular silverware.

Five Premier League titles, an FA Cup, three League Cups, the Champions League, Europa League and a Club World Cup were the rewards for a sparkling playing career. 6/10

Rooney won pretty much everything there is to win as a player at Manchester United

Rooney won pretty much everything there is to win as a player at Manchester United

Lampard – Trophies have so far evaded Lampard in management but there have been some close calls. He took Derby to the Championship Play-off final in 2019, only to lose 2-1 to Aston Villa at Wembley.

And he returned to Wembley with Chelsea in the 2020 FA Cup final, losing to Arsenal.

Like Rooney, Lampard was familiar with the taste of success during a hugely successful playing career. He won three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two League Cups, the Champions League and the Europa League at Chelsea.

So he too knows what is required from a team to win trophies. 7/10

Lampard reached Wembley with Chelsea but they lost to Arsenal in the 2020 FA Cup final

Lampard reached Wembley with Chelsea but they lost to Arsenal in the 2020 FA Cup final

Kovac – The Croatian does have some trophies from his managerial career. His Eintracht Frankfurt side beat Bayern Munich to win the German Cup in 2018.

Even before that, Bayern had chosen Kovac as their next manager. His time in charge there wasn’t great but they still won the Bundesliga title and the German Cup Double, which really has become the minimum expected of a Bayern coach.

He guided Monaco to the French Cup final last season as well, but they lost 2-0 to Paris Saint-Germain. So Kovac is a man with fresher knowledge of reaching finals and winning things as Everton dream of ending a trophy drought dating back to 1995. 9/10

Niko Kovac guided Bayern Munich to a Bundesliga and German Cup Double during 2018-19

Niko Kovac guided Bayern Munich to a Bundesliga and German Cup Double during 2018-19

Martinez – There have been successes for Martinez the manager. He won promotion into the Championship with Swansea in 2008 and led Wigan to an improbable FA Cup final win over Manchester City in 2013.

But he didn’t take Everton any closer to silverware the first time around and he has been criticised for not winning anything with Belgium’s ‘Golden Generation’ during his latest posting.

They finished third at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, having lost to France in the semi-finals, and lost to Italy in the quarter-finals of Euro 2020.

So some success but a little time ago now. 7/10

Roberto Martinez memorably led Wigan Athletic to FA Cup glory by beating Man City in 2013

Roberto Martinez memorably led Wigan Athletic to FA Cup glory by beating Man City in 2013

AVAILABILITY

Rooney – In employment at Derby County but the future of the club is so uncertain at the moment, who knows how much longer that will last.

With the EFL asking for assurances that Derby’s administrators have the funds needed to see out the remainder of the season, the threat of the club being liquidated looms unless investment and new ownership comes in quick.

While Rooney has repeatedly stressed his commitment to Derby no matter how hopeless the cause, nobody would really begrudge him an escape route to a former club.

Given Derby’s parlous financial situation, any compensation for a manager whose contract expires next year could be a welcome boost. 6/10

Despite a 21-point deduction, Derby moved off the bottom of the table at the weekend

Despite a 21-point deduction, Derby moved off the bottom of the table at the weekend 

Lampard – Out of work since his sacking by Chelsea on January 25 last year. Lampard has been linked with various vacancies but hasn’t found the right fit.

Assuming he is interested in taking the job on, would be available to start work straight away which is desirable for Everton amid a busy schedule in league and cup. 10/10

Kovac – Sacked by Monaco at the start of this month after 18 months in charge despite the team being well within touching distance of the Champions League places in Ligue 1.

Reports suggested that Kovac had lost a power struggle with the French club’s sporting director Paul Mitchell rather than being fired because of results on the field.

After all, they had also made it into the knockout stages of the UEFA Europa League. He may not wish to return to management so soon and would require a work permit but is otherwise free. 9/10

Kovac was fired just after the New Year following a power struggle behind the scenes

Kovac was fired just after the New Year following a power struggle behind the scenes 

Martinez – It would be complicated and expensive for Everton to fully extract Martinez from his job with the Belgian national side, especially in a World Cup year.

He is contracted until after the tournament finishes in December and the Belgian FA are reluctant to let him even job-share for the remainder of the season.

That’s despite Belgium having a relatively light workload of two March friendly matches between now and the end of the club season.

Of the quartet, getting Martinez would unquestionably be the most difficult, even on a temporary arrangement. 3/10

Martinez's Belgium came up short at a major tournament again when they lost to Italy in the quarter-finals of Euro 2020 last year

Martinez’s Belgium came up short at a major tournament again when they lost to Italy in the quarter-finals of Euro 2020 last year

WOULD THE FANS WANT HIM?

Rooney – The support for a Goodison return for Rooney appears to be pretty lukewarm. There is acknowledgement for the excellent job he is doing under difficult circumstances at Derby but no universal fervour for his appointment.

Quite a few Everton fans on social media point out that he can’t really lose at the moment given the dreadful state of affairs at Derby and so isn’t under the kind of pressure he’d face at Goodison.

Many feel it’s too soon in his managerial career to be taking on such an emotionally-charged and pressured job given their position in the table.

You sense the supporter base would be broadly happy to have Rooney come in and they feel he has the best interests of the club at heart but he certainly isn’t more popular than caretaker Ferguson if you’re going down the legend route. 6/10

Rooney endeared himself to the Everton fans when he broke through as a teenager in 2002

Rooney endeared himself to the Everton fans when he broke through as a teenager in 2002

Everton fixtures 

Premier League unless stated

Saturday Aston Villa (H)

February 5 Brentford (H)

FA Cup fourth round

February 8 Newcastle United (A)

February 12 Leeds United (H)

February 19 Southampton (A)

February 26 Manchester City (H)

Lampard – Again, there isn’t any outright enthusiasm for Lampard to get the role and he certainly wouldn’t be favoured over Rooney or Ferguson if it came to a straight choice.

He lacks the same emotional connection but there is a sense it would be the easiest option given his availability. The club are 16th in the Premier League and sliding, they urgently need a new manager bounce.

A poll of supporters on one of the popular Everton fan forums had Lampard on just eight per cent of the vote. 4/10

Kovac – Remarkably, the same vote on the Grand Old Team forum has Kovac a long way out in front as the favoured option on almost 40 per cent.

That seems pretty unrepresentative of true fan feelings but there is respect for his track record at a high level in European football and a low-risk option.

It may also be beneficial to have someone come in who doesn’t have the same emotional connection to the club to shake things up. 7/10

Martinez – There appears little appetite for Martinez. Not only is he likely to be job-sharing with Belgium in a World Cup year and therefore not fully focused on the task at hand.

There’s also his previous spell at the club, which started promisingly but ended in disappointment and his sacking having been given a large budget to bring in new players. 2/10  

Everton are in urgent need of a boost in form as they sit just above the relegation zone

Everton are in urgent need of a boost in form as they sit just above the relegation zone

RECENT FORM

Rooney – Absolutely brilliant considering the pretty unique situation at Pride Park. While Derby face an existential crisis, Rooney is delivering amazing results on the field with a threadbare squad that gets smaller by the week.

The Rams have won four of their last five Championship games and actually moved off the bottom of the table when they beat Sheffield United last weekend.

If not for the 21-point deduction, Derby would be sitting comfortably in mid-table. Not that there’s any guarantee this good form would translate if he came to Everton but Rooney is working wonders at Derby. 9/10

The Rams still have a chance of survival in the Championship despite a 21-point deduction

The Rams still have a chance of survival in the Championship despite a 21-point deduction

Lampard – No recent form to speak of having been out the game for a year but things didn’t end well for Lampard at Chelsea, the latest set of results he can be judged on.

It ended with a dire sequence of just two wins in eight Premier League games as they slumped to ninth in the table. It took an excellent turnaround under his replacement Thomas Tuchel to haul them to a fourth-place finish.

A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then – and Chelsea had started Lampard’s second season pretty positively. But it’s hard to judge whether he’d immediately get results for Everton. 5/10

Kovac – Monaco’s first half of the season prior to Kovac’s sacking just after the New Year was decent enough without being spectacular.

They’d already lost six league games but were in touch with the European places. They also went unbeaten in the six matches of their Europa League group with Real Sociedad, PSV Eindhoven and Sturm Graz.

It wasn’t on the basis of bad results that Kovac was dispensed with at Monaco. 7/10

Monaco were doing pretty well in Ligue 1 and the Europa League before Kovac was sacked

Monaco were doing pretty well in Ligue 1 and the Europa League before Kovac was sacked 

Martinez – 2021 was a good encapsulation of Belgium under Martinez. Coasting through the straightforward games in qualifying but falling short when it comes to the crunch of the major tournaments.

They eased through qualification for the 2022 World Cup, remaining unbeaten to top a group also containing Wales, Czech Republic, Estonia and Belarus by a comfortable five-point margin.

Euro 2020 proved a let down though, especially as hopes had been high this talented group could finally win something. They won all three matches in their group then knocked out the reigning champions Portugal in the last-16.

But they then went out to eventual champions Italy in the last eight. No shame in that, of course, but Belgium hoped for more.

The Nations League in October also proved a disappointment. Two goals up against France in their semi-final, they somehow lost 3-2, conceding a last-minute goal. 6/10

Belgium were left stunned by late defeat to France in the UEFA Nations League semi-finals

Belgium were left stunned by late defeat to France in the UEFA Nations League semi-finals 

WORKING ON A BUDGET

Rooney – He really can’t be faulted on this one. Derby have literally no money to spend on new signings, are again under a transfer embargo and their players have not known whether they’d be paid from month-to-month.

And yet, despite all these continuing and worsening problems, Rooney has been getting results on the field.

Of course the flip side is doubt over how Rooney would handle having money to spend. Everton are still searching in the bargain bin as they try and avoid falling foul of Financial Fair Play but even a very limited budget would be a novelty for Rooney.

If he was given the job and told there isn’t any money to spend, it really wouldn’t be an issue for him. 8/10

Lampard – The opposite to Rooney really. Initially under a transfer ban when he came in at Chelsea, Lampard wasn’t afraid to promote young players like Mason Mount and Reece James, reaping the rewards.

But in the summer of 2020, he was handed a blank chequebook, spent over £200million on the likes of Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech, Timo Werner, Ben Chilwell and Edouard Mendy, and still couldn’t prevent a mid-season slump.

One of the reasons for Lampard’s departure was disagreements behind the scenes over the transfer policy and his apparent lack of authority over it.

There was tension with director Marina Granovskaia because Lampard wanted to sign other targets such as Declan Rice. So perhaps a more modest budget would suit him better. 6/10

German striker Timo Werner was one of several big money signings under Lampard at Chelsea

German striker Timo Werner was one of several big money signings under Lampard at Chelsea

Kovac – At Bayern Munich, Kovac went through a similar situation to Lampard at Chelsea. Barely anything was spent in the first summer – through choice rather than any embargo – with £9m Alphonso Davies proving to be a real gem.

Ahead of his second season, the purse strings were loosened with £72m spent on Lucas Hernandez to replace the departing Mats Hummels in central defence and £31m on right-back Benjamin Pavard. Unfortunately, Kovac would only last three months of the season though both those big money buys still play regularly.

At Monaco, the signing of Kevin Volland for just under £10m proved a masterstroke ahead of his first season. The German forward scored 18 times to help Monaco finish third in Ligue 1.

Their big January signing, the Senegal midfielder Krepin Diatta, who cost £15m, has been unfortunate with injuries.

Monaco’s main buy ahead of the current season, the £15m forward Myron Boadu, has scored just twice in 27 matches.

So a mixed transfer market record for Kovac, it’s fair to say. 6/10

Kevin Volland proved to be an excellent signing for Niko Kovac during his time at Monaco

Kevin Volland proved to be an excellent signing for Niko Kovac during his time at Monaco

Martinez – Everton fans will naturally judge Martinez on the signings he made during his first stint at the club and he was certainly given plenty of cash to spend in pursuit of European football and silverware.

This included the £30m buy of Romelu Lukaku from Chelsea in 2014, a definite free-scoring success, and many less successful ones like Oumar Niasse (£16m) and the injury-prone Ramiro Funes Mori (£11m).

In fairness to Martinez, his signings look both frugal and cheap compared with the extraordinary waste of the Farhad Moshiri era that followed. Martinez was the first of the managers sacked by Moshiri. 6/10

Romelu Lukaku was the most high-profile of Martinez's signing during his first Everton spell

Romelu Lukaku was the most high-profile of Martinez’s signing during his first Everton spell

COULD HE GALVANISE A DISJOINTED SQUAD?

Rooney – Absolutely. Just look at the way he’s got a tune out of a demoralised group of players at Derby, who have gone through such constant uncertainty over their futures.

Rooney may be a managerial novice but he has shown a steely side as well and is unafraid to take under-performing or misbehaving players out of his matchday squad.

Creating a backs-to-the-wall mentality has been essential at Derby this season and, perhaps drawing on the techniques of his old boss Sir Alex Ferguson (with whom he speaks regularly), he has created spirit and unity.

It helps that Rooney has been dealing much of the time with young, malleable players who look up to him and respect him because of his playing career.

We don’t really know how Rooney would handle a Premier League dressing room with greater egos and huge salaries. You suspect he would command plenty of respect as a proven winner but he is still inexperienced. 8/10

Rooney has drawn on the advice of legendary boss Sir Alex Ferguson but has no 'hairdryer'

Rooney has drawn on the advice of legendary boss Sir Alex Ferguson but has no ‘hairdryer’

Lampard – Has experience of handling with some of the biggest names in football from his year and a half at Chelsea though it wasn’t entirely successful.

Towards the end of his tenure, there wasn’t a great deal of unity within the dressing room and Lampard had fallen out with a number of players.

He banished Marcos Alonso, for example, after the defender didn’t want to return to the subs bench after being taken off at West Brom.

Lampard also didn’t endear himself to the Chelsea board when he dropped club record signing Kepa Arrizabalaga in favour of veteran Willy Caballero.

A number of players were stung by his public criticism of them and felt the manager lacked empathy.

While a new broom is clearly required at Everton, there are doubts as to whether Lampard would be the right person to oversee the change. 6/10

Marina Granovskaia welcomes Lampard to Chelsea as manager - but things would sour

Marina Granovskaia welcomes Lampard to Chelsea as manager – but things would sour

Kovac – Bad results proved the undoing of Kovac in his second season at Bayern. While the players probably didn’t warm to him as much as beloved predecessor Jupp Heynckes, they did achieve success together with that league and cup double.

In the end, it’s doubtful many in the Bayern dressing room were too sad to see him leave, especially when Hansi Flick came in and achieved instant success.

At Monaco, there was a good rapport with most of his player and quite a few were brought on by his coaching during that good first season. They tried to play a fluid and exciting brand of football.

It was behind the scenes disagreements rather than dressing room disharmony that led to him going. So there’s good signs he could pull Everton together though Kovac hasn’t seen the bottom half of a league table since he kept Frankfurt in the Bundesliga after a relegation play-off in 2016. 7/10

Kovac was fired as Bayern manager off the back of a 5-1 defeat at his old club Frankfurt

Kovac was fired as Bayern manager off the back of a 5-1 defeat at his old club Frankfurt

Martinez – During the early stages of his managerial career at Swansea and Wigan, Martinez did brilliantly to achieve success with unfancied clubs.

Taking Swansea up through the leagues and Wigan to FA Cup glory certainly didn’t happen with a divided dressing room.

Things didn’t pan out nearly as well at Everton last time with the fanbase eventually growing tired of bad results and excuses. But the club praised Martinez for his ‘integrity and dignity’ when he left suggesting not too many bridges were burned.

Could he rally Everton again in their hour of need? Yes, you’d imagine so. At least in the short term. 7/10

HOW WOULD THEY MANAGE MOSHIRI?

Rooney – Having dealt with Mel Morris at Derby, handling Everton owner Farhad Moshiri would be a breeze.

Rooney was left exasperated by poor communication from Morris over the true state of the club’s finances and has been openly critical.

Moshiri has plenty of detractors but surely Rooney would feel more comfortable operating under him with backing and a bit more security. They’re things he hasn’t known at Derby. 7/10

The new Everton manager will have to work with owner Farhad Moshiri to turn things around

The new Everton manager will have to work with owner Farhad Moshiri to turn things around

Lampard – Lampard also worked under Morris at Derby, albeit in happier times when they were pushing hard to reach the Premier League.

When at Chelsea, he was backed by Roman Abramovich in the transfer market in terms of capital but not necessarily in terms of the right players.

There was friction with Granovskaia over some of the signings and this ultimately weakened his position when results started to falter.

It was notable that Abramovich did write a personal note of appreciation when Lampard was sacked, conscious of his club legend status and fan discord.

Having dealt with that, Lampard would surely be able to get on with Moshiri and you’d imagine would have a bigger say in how football matters are run.

Director of Football Marcel Brands left Everton back in December

Director of Football Marcel Brands left Everton back in December

Things have become a little less complicated since director of football Marcel Brands left the club in December. In theory, anyway. 7/10

Kovac – There was always a creeping sense that Bayern’s hierarchy were never fully convinced that Kovac was the right appointment.

They may have won the Bundesliga title in 2019 but it was only by a slender two-point margin from rivals Borussia Dortmund. It may sound daft, but that isn’t the dominance they are used to.

Bayern also crashed out of the Champions League in the last-16 to eventual champions Liverpool, which didn’t help his cause.

And at Monaco, he left because of tension with the sporting director Mitchell and director of performance James Bunce, whose fitness programmes apparently caused conflict.

This is less promising as it suggests Kovac likes to enjoy a lot of control and doesn’t like sharing it. But with Brands gone, things may be better. 6/10

Martinez – It’d have to be a case of forgive and forget because it was Moshiri who sacked Martinez just a few months after he took over as majority owner.

But that was almost six years ago and it isn’t as if any of the successors to Martinez have delivered the success craved despite enormous squad investment.

Football has an odd way of things coming around the track again and Martinez wouldn’t be in the frame if Moshiri didn’t get on with him.  

But the fanbase aren’t warming to a Martinez return, so you imagine Moshiri won’t want to take the risk. 5/10

TOTALS

Adding up the totals, it’s Rooney that comes out on top by a slender margin from Lampard and Kovac. 

The former Everton striker has shown at Derby he is a good man in a crisis, can galvanise a dressing room and can get results on a tiny budget. He does also have the best interests of the club at heart. 

Lampard is available to start right away but the manner of his exit from Chelsea and clashes over transfer policy does raise a red flag. 

Kovac is also free but lacks experience of English football – but he has won silverware in Germany and could bring an emotion-free detachment from Everton that may prove beneficial.

There seems little appetite among fans for Martinez to return even though he could get them back on track.

Rooney: 56/80

Lampard: 52/80

Kovac:  52/80

Martinez: 45/80  

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