The soccer news starts with Sam Allardyce no longer the manager of Everton. The Premier League managerial merry-go-round was always going to continue, but for Everton it might be highlighting a bigger problem. After their tough start that led to hiring Allardyce, is the question really about breaking into the Premier League elite?
"On behalf of the Chairman, Board of Directors and Mr Moshiri, I’d like to thank Sam for the job he has done at Everton over the last seven months," Everton director Denise Barrett-Baxendale said in a press statement. "Sam was brought in at a challenging time last season to provide us with some stability and we are grateful to him for doing that. However, we have made the decision that, as part of our longer-term plan, we will be appointing a new manager this summer and will be commencing this process immediately. Again, we’d like to place on record our sincere thanks to Sam for his work with us over the last few months and wish him well for the future."
Everton faces a somewhat unique challenge. They're the club just outside the biggest names in the Premier League.. From the 2006-07 season through 2013-14, Everton didn't finish lower than 8th. After back-to-back 11th-place finishes, they were 7th in 2016-17 and 8th this season. Though Burnley is the outlier just ahead of them, the top six is exactly who most would've penciled in at the start of the season. Everton is fortunate to be in that conversation right now. They were in the relegation places in round 10, regrouping under Allardyce to eventually move up into the top half of the table. It's worth asking what he could've done with a full season.
For Everton that's the tough question. What does being the top team for the rest of the Premier League mean? All of these teams from the top to the bottom of the table have the share of revenue to spend. All of them can attract players as Premier League clubs. All compete against each other in a market well aware of the Premier League's spending power. Few of them can take that spending up to the level of the league's elites.
It's an era for Everton where that might not be enough. Part of that is local. Their friends on the other side of the park are playing for a Champions League title and finished 4th. Everton is once again pushing for a new stadium, meaning a change in scope for the club. Relevance is the issue, and that requires taking risks.
The scenario is the same for another club that went with a similar scenario to Everton's this season. West Ham United is also looking for a new manager after parting ways with David Moyes. It was Moyes who was the architect of those top-ten Everton sides. Like Allardyce, he was brought in this season with the club trying to avoid relegation. West Ham finished 13th.
"When David and his team arrived, it was the wish of both parties that the focus be only on the six months until the end of the season, at which point a decision would be made with regards to the future," West Ham joint-chairman David Sullivan said. "Having taken stock of the situation and reflected now the campaign is complete, we feel that it is right to move in a different direction. We are already taking steps to identify and recruit the manager we believe can take West Ham United forward in line with our ambitions. We aim to appoint a high-calibre figure who we feel will lead the club into an exciting future for our loyal supporters within the next ten days."
Moving on to the downside of risk, Aston Villa and Fulham will play to get back into the Premier League. The Championship playoff final is set for Wembley on May 26. Aston Villa advanced 1-0 on aggregate after drawing 0-0 with Middlesbrough at Villa Park.
"I'm delighted for everyone associated with the club – those who work for it and support it," Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce said. "Especially the latter, they make this a big club. They deserve it, and now we have to win. Can we overcome Fulham in the final now? If we do, it'll be a fantastic end to the season."
Matt Miazga's Vitesse Arnhem took a 3-2 lead in their Europa League playoff series with FC Utrecht. Mason Mount put Vitesse up at home in the 42nd minute. Utrecht equalized in the 62nd. Bryan Linssen scored for Vitesse in the 78th with Utrecht equalizing again in the 86th minute. Guram Kashia scored Vitesse's winner a minute into stoppage time. Miazga saw yellow just before the final whistle. The series concludes at Utrecht on Saturday.
The Miami Herald's Joey Flechas updates the situation with a stadium for the city's MLS expanion team. The Guardian's Andy Hunter wasn't impressed with Everton under Allardyce. The South China Morning Post's Andy Mitten explains the issues for Liverpool fans traveling for the Champions League final in Kiev.
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