September 18, 2021, 16:37

Does David Unsworth deserve a chance at Everton? We profile the U23 manager…

Does David Unsworth deserve a chance at Everton? We profile the U23 manager…

David Unsworth has been named as Everton’s caretaker manager, but does he have a chance on a permanent basis? We take a look at his credentials.

After Ronald Koeman was sacked on Monday, the club announced that U23 coach and former Everton defender Unsworth would take the reins on a temporary basis.

Sky Sports News understands that a number of players, plus chairman Bill Kenwright, want him to get the job full time and Unsworth made a clear pitch on Tuesday, telling a press conference: “I’ll repeat myself from the last time I was sat here 18 months ago: who wouldn’t want this job? It’s a wonderful football club with amazing fans and it is a top job for any manager, myself included.

Owner Farhad Moshiri is thought to prefer a more established manager. Carlo Ancelotti, Manuel Pellegrini and Thomas Tuchel among the higher-profile names being touted, but could Everton’s answer lie closer to home? Here, we profile the caretaker manager seeking a full-time shot…

Roots at Everton

Born in Chorley, Lancashire, Unsworth spent his youth career with Everton before graduating to the first team in 1992. He spent five years with the club – helping them win the 1995 FA Cup – before leaving for West Ham in the 1997/98 season.

After short spells with the Hammers and Aston Villa, he returned to Everton for the start of the 1998/99 season where he cemented himself as a fan favourite, often being welcomed onto the field to chants of his nickname, ‘Rhino’. He made 348 appearances in total for the Toffees before leaving in the summer of 2004 and turning to coaching when he retired in April 2009.

Unsworth could certainly point to the fortunes of other ex-players who have become Everton managers, with all of the club’s major post-war trophies were won by former players.

Harry Catterick played for Everton for six years and won two Division One titles plus an FA Cup in 12 years as manager, while Howard Kendall made 274 appearances as a player, before going on to win two Football League titles, an FA Cup and the 1985 European Cup Winners’ Cup in six years at the helm. And it was Joe Royle who had Unsworth in his side when he led Everton to the FA Cup in 1995, defeating Manchester United at Wembley.

Indeed, Unsworth is hoping he can follow suit, saying: “Let’s hope that’s the same this time around and I can follow Joe Royle and win something… to stand as Everton manager, if you’re an Evertonian, it makes you very proud.”

Success with Everton U23s

Unsworth has developed his managerial experience with Everton U21s then U23s over the last four years and has taken them from strength to strength. He arrived back at the club in September 2013 to assist former team-mate Alan Stubbs with the U21 side, before taking on the role full-time at the start of the 2014/15 campaign.

Success followed. In the 2015/16 season, he steered the U21s to third place in the league ahead of the switch to the Premier League 2 competition for the 2016/17 season, with Unsworth’s U23 side winning the inaugural Division 1 title last term.

SSN reporter Vinny O'Connor is at Everton to give the latest on the club's search for a replacement for Ronald Koeman

They sit second in the Premier League 2 Division 1 table on 16 points – five behind local rivals Liverpool – having lost just two of their eight games so far this season.

Unsworth has also overseen the development of many talented youngsters, including Tom Davies, Brendan Galloway and Matthew Pennington. Following his Premier League debut in May 2015, Galloway revealed how Unsworth helped him prepare for the occasion, telling Everton TV: “He’s helped me massively. I’ve been with him the whole season and because he played in a similar position, he always talks to me about both sides of the game.

“He is helping me get to where I want to be, so his experience is really valuable. Training under him every day, I’ve learned a lot during this season.

“Before the West Ham game, he came up to me and said ‘Whatever happens, just know that you are ready’. That gave me a lot more confidence going into the game. He’s helped me a lot this season, and I’m thankful for that.”

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Five of his Everton players were part of the England squad that won the U20 World Cup this summer – match-winner Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Jonjoe Kenny, Kieran Dowell, Ademola Lookman and Callum Connolly – and Unsworth has previous for promoting youth. When he took charge of Everton for the final league game of the season in May 2016, he handed now first-team regular Davies his first Premier League start and gave Kenny a senior debut off the bench.

Should he get a chance to manage the first team permanently, the young talent bursting at the seams in Everton’s ranks could get the chance to shine.

First-team experience

This is not the first time that Unsworth has taken on the caretaker manager role. He did so twice with Preston, as well as taking over from Roberto Martinez at the end of the 2015/16 Premier League season after the Spaniard’s sacking, overseeing a 3-0 victory against Norwich.

Everton 2-5 Arsenal

This current spell as temporary coach could well last longer than the one game, with his first outing a Carabao Cup tie against Chelsea on Wednesday and he could still be in the dugout for Everton’s trip to Leicester live on Sky Sports Premier League on Sunday, with the Foxes also without a manager.

His former Everton team-mate Tony Cottee believes that he should be in the running, telling Sky Sports: “Unsworth should certainly be considered. He knows the club very well and has learnt his trade. Is he ready for it? That would be the question mark on that one.

Tony Cottee discusses Unsworth but questions whether he is ready

“I played with Unsworth, he is a great lad and he loves Everton football club. He has gone through the process and has come through the system as a player and now as a coach as well. He’s worked with the U23s and has worked with a lot of the quality youngsters that Everton have got. He, for me, would be a good appointment.”

The top job is Unsworth’s aim and he made no bones about his ambition, telling the media: “I do have a wonderful, wonderful job that is a challenge and is something I really enjoy.

“But I want to manage and this is an amazing club to be the manager of. I think the time has come to say that and I make no secret of it at all.”


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