Everton’s attempt to rehire Roberto Martínez has hit an immediate problem with the Royal Belgian Football Association rejecting a proposal for their head coach to combine his role with managing the Premier League club.
Everton made a formal approach to the Belgian FA for Martínez on Sunday after sacking Rafael Benítez. The former Everton manager, who himself was sacked by majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri in 2016, is keen on a return to Goodison Park but also wants to remain Belgium's head coach until his contract expires after this year's World Cup.
The 48-year-old had hoped the Belgian FA would agree to an unusual job share – Belgium have only one international friendly before the end of the Premier League season – but that option was rejected during talks with Everton officials on Monday. Belgium are determined to avoid disruption in the build-up to the World Cup in Qatar and are confident Martínez will not walk out on his contract.
The former Swansea and Wigan manager also became Belgium’s technical director when signing a new contract in 2020, with far-reaching responsibilities for football development in the country, and has resisted previous approaches to return to the Premier League.
Everton explored the possibility of Martínez taking the job on an interim basis with a final decision that would suit both parties, though not Belgium, at the end of the season. That was also dismissed by the Belgian FA, who have a Nations League campaign in June.
Everton will consider other candidates as they look to haul themselves clear of relegation trouble following a dreadful run of one win in 13 Premier League games, although may not have conceded defeat in their pursuit of Martínez.
Duncan Ferguson, who had a short but successful spell as caretaker manager following Marco Silva's dismissal in 2019, could be asked to take interim charge again. The Derby County manager and former Everton striker , Wayne Rooney, and José Mourinho are among the alternative options under consideration by a hierarchy that has struggled to agree on managerial appointments in the recent past. – Guardian