Sacked Everton manager Ronald Koeman is disappointed to have lost his job but was grateful for the chance to take charge of a “great club”.
The Dutchman was relieved of his duties on Monday after the 5-2 home defeat to Arsenal dropped the club into the Premier League’s bottom three and made it just two wins in 13 matches.
Under-23s boss David Unsworth has been placed in temporary charge and will lead the side in their Carbao Cup tie at Chelsea on Wednesday.
“I would like to place on record my thanks to the players and staff for all their work and commitment during my 16 months as Everton manager,” Koeman wrote on Twitter.
“I would like to thank (chairman) Bill Kenwright, (major shareholder) Farhad Moshiri and the Everton Board for the opportunity to have managed a great club, and to the fans as well for their passionate support for the club.
“Naturally I am disappointed at this moment but I wish the team good luck in the future.”
Unsworth, a former Toffees defender, who also stepped into the breach when Roberto Martinez was fired in May 2016, will oversee preparations for Wednesday’s Carabao Cup tie against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Unsworth, whose reputation has grown over the last year after guiding the under-23s to the Premier League 2 title last season, will face the media in a press conference at the club’s Finch Farm training complex on Tuesday afternoon to preview the game.
“Everton Football Club can confirm that David Unsworth will take temporary charge of the Everton first team, commencing with tomorrow night’s Carabao Cup tie at Stamford Bridge,” said an Everton statement.
Unsworth’s previous one match in charge on the final day of the 2015-16 season saw him oversee a 3-0 win over Norwich, notable for handing academy graduate and now first-team regular Tom Davies his first Premier League start and giving Jonjoe Kenny a senior debut off the bench.
He and assistant assistant John Ebbrell had been expecting to be in dugout for the U23s’ Checkatrade Trophy clash at Lincoln this evening but have been given the task of taking the reins following Koeman’s departure.
It is likely the 44-year-old, who had two spells as a player at Goodison from 1992-97 and 1998-2004 making 350 appearances and scoring 40 goals, could remain in charge for the foreseeable future.
After the trip to Chelsea Everton have Premier League visits to Leicester and Watford, with a Europa League trip to Lyon sandwiched in between, before the international break.
His installation as a short-term measure will be popular with fans, who believe Unsworth can inject some life into a lacklustre squad – which Koeman was criticised for failing to do.
“I think the one thing the Everton fans thought is that they would have liked to have seen more personality from him (Koeman) on the touchline, more passion, speaking about Everton as ‘us’ rather than Everton as a club,” former Everton defender and coach Alan Stubbs told Radio 5 Live.
“They didn’t think there was a connection between him and the fans. I think that was a big problem for him going forward. I think if you look at the Everton fans, no-one is surprised by this decision.”
Koeman’s reputation for being a disciplinarian – particularly his approach to Ross Barkley whose refusal to sign a new contract effectively saw the Dutchman try to force him out of the club – is understood to have been received poorly within the squad and the distance he kept from the players was another failing.
“I think that was his personality. He didn’t really communicate with a lot of the staff at the academy,” added Stubbs.
“They felt it was a little bit cold. He completely separated the first team from everyone else. That wasn’t the problem but it was one of a few problems that seem to be coming out of the club.”