Everton are apparently about to appoint Sam Allardyce as manager. If Sam's the answer I don't know what the question was.
Allardyce has never trusted young players. Everton have fielded more players aged under 21 in their team this season than any other premier league team. In tonight's win over West Ham there were 5 players aged 23 or under in the starting line up as were 8 of the 14 who appeared during the match. Allardyce is hardly likely to be positive for the careers of these players.
Am I dissing Allardyce unfairly? I don't think so. Martin Samuel made exactly this point in his column several weeks ago, urging Everton to keep looking for a manager until they identified a better option.
Allardyce will no doubt want to bring in some experience (i.e. various dodgy old lags) in January. The youngsters have a month to make Everton's league position secure enough to limit the number of players Allardyce will be allowed to bring in during the transfer window. Preferably to just the desperately needed striker and cover for Baines at left back, both of which were glaring omissions in August. After all by then Coleman, Bolassie and maybe Barkley should be available again after injury.
Of course, Everton were desperate, especially after the weekend's disastrous performance at Southampton. The board clearly decided an appointment had to be made immediately given the alarming drift since Ronald Koeman's sacking. And the presence of a manager elect in the stand made the team work harder in tonight's much needed 4-0 win though Everton also had some luck: Rooney scored despite his penalty being saved to open the scoring, Everton's keeper saved a penalty and West Ham hit the crossbar with the score at 2-0 in a period when Everton couldn't keep the ball before Rooney scored a remarkable, one might say freak, goal from his own half. At the time it was the only way Everton were likely to score as they were camped in their own half. It punctured West Ham's comeback and made the game comfortable as the Hammers reverted to looking as hopeless as they had in the first half.
While Rooney's first ever hat trick for Everton automatically made him man of the match, other than him I thought the best performances came from Jonjoe Kenny, Tom Davies and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, none of whom are yet 21 years of age and have about 70 Premier League appearances between them. And the shakiest from Ashley Williams (over 350 Premier League and Championship appearances) and 28 year old Cuco Martina.
The Goodison crowd was very subdued at the start of the game. Thinking en masse, I'm sure, how on earth has it come to this? Allardyce, for heaven's sake. Well, despite last season's satisfactory final league position, the team had looked alarmingly clueless for quite some time last autumn before going on a run which included beating Manchester City 4-0 on 15 January this year (yes, that recently!), Lukaku's goals pushing the team to the position they reached. So I wasn't convinced by Koeman. Then, sell that outstanding striker, don't replace him or even reinvest all the money, buy 3 players who all play the same position, fail to organise or motivate them, watch them lose confidence, sack the manager without a succession plan and Bob's your uncle. Awfully mishandled by the club.
After the success of the England age group teams in the summer many commentators were lamenting the lack of a pathway for the players involved to get to the senior international team and were asking whether many - or any - of them (including Calvert-Lewin and Kenny) would get games in the Premier League any time soon. A penny for Gareth Southgate's thoughts about Everton going for Allardyce. I guess you've already figured out mine.
P.S. I will see for myself the crowd's reaction for what will presumably be Allardyce's official unveiling at the game against Huddersfield on Saturday. If it's true that he intends to bring in Liverpudlian (I nearly said something stronger there) Sammy Lee as his assistant, I will be joining in heartily if the crowd reprise the old ditty from the 1980s: "he's fat, he's round, his arse is on the ground, Sammy Lee, Sammy Lee....."
PPS you can tell I'm REALLY not happy about these developments. But you have to cheer your team, don't you?