Everton interim boss David Unsworth has urged the club's board to appoint a new permanent manager as soon as possible, with former West Bromwich Albion boss Tony Pulis reportedly open to taking the reins at Goodison Park.
The troubled Toffees slipped to their 12th defeat in 18 games on Sunday (26 November), losing 4-1 to fellow strugglers Southampton at the St Mary's Stadium after serving up one of their worst performances in living memory.
Unsworth, who has overseen one win, one draw and five losses during his second spell as Everton's caretaker manager, knows his chances of being given the post on a permanent basis have been obliterated with each dismal defeat and is desperate to see owner Farhad Moshiri and co take action as their search for Ronald Koeman's successor enters its sixth week.
"It's killing me," Unsworth said, per The Times. "I take responsibility, but we all have to as well. The club has to decide and the sooner that happens the better. The players need this resolving. What I see is a happy squad but I'd rather have an unhappy squad that's winning."
Goals from Charlie Austin, Dusan Tadic and Steven Davis condemned Everton to their seventh league defeat to the season. The Merseysiders remain right in the thick of the relegation mire at present with two huge games against West Ham United and Huddersfield Town coming up on Wednesday and Saturday respectively.
Everton could well be ensconced in the bottom three at the end of the weekend, but Unsworth, who is no stranger to a relegation scrap on Merseyside, does not think the Toffees are in a dogfight just yet.
"I wouldn't go that far so early," Unsworth said. "We are in a tough moment, we have a massive week ahead . If you ask me that question next week I can give you a more honest view.
"If it needs players who are injured to come back or January to come and we go and get new players, something has to change. This group of players is underperforming, whether it is Ronald [Koeman] in charge or me in charge it isn't working."
Despite Everton's current malaise, the Goodison Park hierarchy do not seem to be close to appointing Koeman's successor, five weeks after the Dutchman was relieved of his duties. Former West Brom and Stoke City boss Pulis is prepared to step into the breach until the end of the season, but it is not known whether Moshiri or Everton chairman Bill Kenwright are willing to appoint the Welshman, who was sacked by West Brom last week.
Along with their search for a new manager, Everton could be on the hunt for a new director of football amid concerns over the role of Steve Walsh, who played a substantial role in the club's bleak summer spending spree.
There are concerns that the former Leicester City chief is not doing enough to warrant his £1m-a-year salary, with his decisions over recruitment in the transfer window under severe scrutiny. Moshiri worked hard to prise Walsh away from Leicester last summer, but there are growing concerns that the former Physical Education teacher has not performed well in his new role.