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Roberto Martinez among contenders to replace Rafael Benitez at Everton

Belgium v Scotland – UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying – Group I – King Baudouin Stadium
(Image credit: Bradley Collyer)

Former manager Roberto Martinez is in the running for a return to Everton but the club are not ruling out other options in their quest to replace the sacked Rafael Benitez.

While Martinez, himself fired by the Toffees after back-to-back 11th-placed finishes during a three-year reign from 2013-2016, remains the favourite he does not come without complications.

He has committed himself to Belgium up until this year’s World Cup in Qatar and, while that has not deterred his former club from pursuing him, it is understood he is not their only and final consideration.

It has been suggested Everton were prepared to consider Martinez combining the two roles until at least the summer but it is not a solution on which Belgium appear to be keen.

Martinez topped the initial list of potential candidates, which also includes the likes of former striker Wayne Rooney, currently at Derby, and former Chelsea boss Frank Lampard.

Everton are believed to be “putting out feelers” with a number of names to try to get an idea of potential interest and availability before drawing up a formal shortlist.

Duncan Ferguson, who has been on the coaching staff since being promoted by Martinez in 2014 and having survived the cull of six managers since, is likely to remain in caretaker charge in the short term.

Everton assistant manager Duncan Ferguson

Duncan Ferguson is in caretaker charge at Everton (John Walton/PA)

The club have continued the clear-out following Benitez’s departure with the former Liverpool manager’s backroom team all having their contracts terminated.

Assistant manager Francisco de Miguel Moreno, first-team coach and senior analyst Antonio Gomez, head of sports science Jamie Harley and rehabilitation coach Cristian Fernandez – only appointed in late October – have left with immediate effect.

Brighton’s Graham Potter, who has been on the last two shortlists, has ruled himself out of the running, saying he believes he is at “one of the best-run football clubs in the Premier League, with a fantastic owner, chairman, CEO, sports director”.

That Everton cannot boast the same credentials is a damning indictment on a club which has seen Farhad Moshiri invest over £500million since he took over in 2016.

Everton owner Farhad Moshiri and chairman Bill Kenwright

With no director of football in place Everton owner Farhad Moshiri and chairman Bill Kenwright will have to identify their next manager (Richard Sellars/PA)

The billionaire chose Benitez in the summer when others within the club were counselling against appointing a former Liverpool boss.

Since then director of football Marcel Brands – the man who would have been tasked with finding a replacement – has been dispensed with along with the club’s head of medical science Danny Donachie as they were at odds with the new manager’s opinion of the direction of the club.

It has left Everton, currently undergoing a strategic review, with an internal structure which does not lend itself to properly deal with the task of appointing a new manager.

That is likely to mean Moshiri and chairman Bill Kenwright, who have been at odds over managerial appointments in the past, are again going to be handling the process.

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