If managers in the Premier League hold the position which many view as nowadays carrying the least stability and that which is the toughest to stretch into a term for more than a year, then caretaker managers are surely the ones who, when given the chance to fill the number one role and take on board the duties of head coach, are at the very top of the pile of those most likely to be sacked within a limited period of time.
Steve Carver was put in temporary charge of Newcastle United in January of the 2014/15 campaign following Alan Pardew’s decision to leave and fill the managerial vacancy at Crystal Palace. The five months that followed was a period Carver probably does not like to think back on too frequently. He spoke often of his pleasure to manage a club he held such strong association with, but Newcastle’s results did nothing to please the fans despite his ties and loyalty to the club.
Carver, during his spell as manager in the second half of that season, at one point oversaw a run of eight successive league defeats, a club record. Despite this however, Newcastle escaped relegation, although the fans had to wait until the final game of the season to have their safety confirmed. A 2-0 home win against West Ham meant the Magpies would remain in the top flight for another season.
During Carver’s spell in charge, the only positive thing people could think of to justify his appointment was the fact that he was Newcastle to his roots, that he knew the club inside out, that his loyalty to the club was undeniable. Despite avoiding relegation, in June Carver was thanked for his efforts and his contract was terminated.
Comments made about Carver and his knowledge to the club as well as his loyalty were quite similar to those made about Ryan Giggs when the club legend had taken charge of Manchester United for the last four league games of the 2013/14 season following David Moyes’ departure.
The debate was whether the former United winger should be considered for the job full-time. Despite being Moyes’ assistant manager, Giggs had no previous experience in being a head coach. Even given the Welshman’s ties with the club and the fact he is Man United’s most decorated player ever, the club were never going to appoint a manager who had never been one before.
Craig Shakespeare is the most recent example of an assistant coach-turned-manager who has failed to hold down a head coach role for a considerable period of time. Assistant to Claudio Ranieri in Leicester’s title-winning season, Shakespeare was appointed manager in the wake of the Italian’s dismissal midway through last season.
Despite leading a team who had drastically underperformed in recent months to the quarter-finals of the Champions League and spent most of the season in or around the bottom three of the table before finishing twelfth, Shakespeare was shown the door after just eight games into the current campaign.
It could very well be that David Unsworth, who before taking temporary charge of Everton after Ronald Koeman had been sacked was the club’s under-23s coach, will be the next casualty. If he is put in charge, a minor period of calm may very well follow. The hectic scramble to appoint a new manager and the uncertainty this causes amongst players and fans; this at least will put to bed if Unsworth is this week announced as the man to lead the team forward for the short-term.
But should he get the job?
He lost three of the four matches which supposedly the majority shareholder Forshad Moshiri had offered to Unsworth to use as his audition to prove he can be trusted to manage the team permanently. The win against Watford at the weekend could and possibly should have been another damaging loss for the Merseyside club, with Marco Silva’s side two goals up at one point at Goodison.
Everton’s comeback surely could not have been forseen by the fans, and it is the kind of result that could win over even the most stubborn of supporters. But it is important for the decision-makers at Everton not to get carried away and give Unsworth the job based solely on one result. In the space of his first three games in charge, Unsworth oversaw the exit of Everton from two cup competitions.
The question of whether Unsworth should be given the opportunity to manage Everton full-time should maybe come down to availability of other out-of-work managers, ones who have infinitely more coaching experience. Sam Allaydyce is a name being floated recently, but would the fans be happy with him?
Unquestionably, Unsworth’s appointment would be greeted predominantly with satisfaction by the Everton supporters, because they would know they have someone in the dugout who understands the club, understands the fans and knows what they expect of their team.
But is that enough?
Koeman was meant to lead Everton forward into a bright new era, but his stay was short-lived. If Unsworth were to be given the job, he would do extremely well to buck the trend of managers promoted from within a club who tend not to last in the role.