Everton interim boss David Unsworth has confirmed that the club are in talks with a "few people" over the vacant managerial position ahead of their pivotal clash against West Ham United on Wednesday evening (29 November) amid reports that Shakhtar Donetsk manager Paulo Fonseca is now the frontrunner to succeed Ronald Koeman at Goodison Park.
The Toffees have been without a manager for over five weeks after relieving Koeman of his duties last month and have endured a rotten run of results since the Dutchman was dismissed. Unsworth was installed as caretaker manager immediately after Koeman's exit and has since presided over one win, one draw and five defeats, the most recent coming against struggling Southampton, who coasted to a 4-1 victory over the beleaguered Toffees.
Everton's drawn-out managerial search has irked the club's fanbase, who are desperate for the likes of Farhad Moshiri and Bill Kenwright to pull the Merseysiders out of a sorry situation which they are very much accountable for, and Unsworth did confirm that progress has been made ahead of the visit to West Ham, who recently employed one of Everton's former managers in David Moyes.
As we sit here now i believe the board are talking to a few people," Unsworth said in his press conference, relayed by the Liverpool Echo. "Talks are progressing but nothing is finalised."
One of the people Everton are believed to be talking to is former England manager Sam Allardyce, who had ruled himself out of the running to succeed Koeman just a fortnight ago. Everton had shifted their focus to Watford manager Marco Silva, who was not allowed to leave Vicarage Road despite his apparent desire to do so, but have now reignited contact with Allardyce as relegation fears grow with each damning defeat.
Allardyce has been out of work since leaving Crystal Palace in the summer and is said to be seeking assurances over the length of contract Everton are prepared to offer him. The former Bolton Wanderers boss is said to be after a two-and-a-half year contract, but Moshiri are looking for a shorter association as the Toffees look to take stock and regroup in the summer.
A deal to bring in Allardyce is far from cut and dry, with Portuguese outlet O Jogo claiming that Shakhtar Donetsk boss Fonseca is actually the more likely candidate to take the reins on Merseyside.
The report states that Everton and Fonseca, who has recently spoken of his desire to manage in England, are in advanced negotiations and an agreement could be signed imminently. The 44-year-old has no release clause in his contract with Shakhtar, which runs out at the end of the season, meaning that Everton would have to pay out the remainder of his deal.