David Unsworth has set himself the dual target of becoming permanent Everton manager and persuading wantaway midfielder Ross Barkley to stay at the club.
The Under-23s boss stepped into an interim role for the second time in 18 months after Ronald Koeman was sacked on Monday following the club’s drop into the bottom three and immediately announced his desire to secure the role full-time.
A host of bigger-name and more experienced candidates are being linked with the vacancy but Unsworth hopes to persuade chairman Bill Kenwright and majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri to look closer to home.
“Who wouldn’t want this job? It is a wonderful football club with amazing fans and it is a top job for any manager, myself included,” he said.
“I want to manage. I think the time has come to say that and I make no secret of it at all.
“The chairman, Farhad and the board have given me an amazing opportunity to hopefully get a run of games where performance levels go up and we produce some wins as well.
“From that performances and results will dictate any future for me as Everton manager.”
Unsworth’s priority is undoubtedly to haul the side out of their current malaise which has seen them win just twice in 13 matches.
However, he has also set himself the target of convincing the currently-injured Barkley, who had what can best be described as a fractious relationship with Koeman, to remain at the club.
The England international, who almost moved to Chelsea on deadline day, has eight months remaining on his current deal having refused to sign a new contract at the end of last season and subsequently being told by the Dutchman he would be sold.
“I would absolutely love him to stay. He is a top talent, Everton has done great for him and he’s done great for Everton but he could be one of the all-time greats here,” added Unsworth, a former Toffees player in two spells from 1992-97 and 1998-2004, making 350 appearances and scoring 40 goals.
“I would love him to be persuaded by myself, the chairman and Farhad to stay and sign a contract.
“We shouldn’t be losing players of his quality. He is a top player and a great player who has come through our ranks and I feel very strongly we shouldn’t be losing our own players.
“I have not spoken to him about that (his contract) but I will be doing.
“I’d love him to sit down and have a cup of tea with me and discuss the possibility of signing and staying here because we love him and I know he loves Everton as well.
“I want everyone to come together and hopefully we can thrash something out with Ross.”
Unsworth must first negotiate a tricky Carabao Cup tie at Chelsea on Wednesday which has unexpectedly landed in his lap at short notice.
A good performance would help start build some momentum for the more important Premier League trip to Leicester at the weekend and also enhance his prospects to keep the job permanently.
“I spent the afternoon with the chairman yesterday and we spoke everything Everton: from how many games to individual players to plans for the short-term and long-term,” he said.
“I’ll give it everything I’ve got. The club needs a winning manager, that is simple.
“We want a manager who knows the club but more importantly will win trophies because that is what we need.”