Duncan Ferguson has been handed the role of Everton caretaker manager.
After the sacking of Rafa Benitez following last weekend’s horrendous 2-1 loss at Norwich City, the Toffees are now searching for their next permanent boss.
The likes of Frank Lampard and Wayen Rooney are all in the frame to land the Goodison Park role.
But in the meantime, Ferguson – with the assistance of John Ebbrell, Leighton Baines and goalkeeping coach Alan Kelly – will hold the reins. He will be in the dugout for Aston Villa’s visit to Goodison Park on Saturday (12.30).
It’s the second time the fans’ favourite, who scored 72 goals in two spells for the club, has taken caretaker charge.
He acted in the role in December 2019 and guided Everton to victory over Chelsea, along with draws against Manchester United and Arsenal.
Ferguson took training at USM Finch Farm on Tuesday and Everton uploaded clips of the session to their Youtube channel.
Here are five obersations that we made.
Passion and praise
You only had to look at Ferguson’s spell as caretaker just more than two years ago to know what his approach to management is.
Wild celebrations with ball boys and singing with the crowd after games – all passion and heart from a man who has royal blue running in his veins.
Unsurprisingly, Ferguson is the exact same on the training pitch. He didn’t leave things to his backroom staff. He was taking the session himself and meticulously watched every detail throughout.
There was no let-up nor slacking allowed, either.
“Keeping working as hard as we can” was consistently shouting during passing drills, along with encouragement for various players.
It’s the sort of passion that fans have yearned from their manager.
Someone that they can resonate with and feel a genuine connection on match-days.
They’ll be relishing getting behind him when Villa visit this weekend. Goodison should be bouncing.
Encouragement for Rondon
Of those who Ferguson clearly was rallying behind was Salomon Rondon.
The striker has endured a miserable time on Merseyside since his arrival last summer.
Rondon has managed to score just one goal in 13 appearances so far.
Not only has his goalscoring record been poor but so have all-round performances. As a consequence, he’s become a boo boy and much-maligned figure among the fans.
Clearly, the Venezuela international’s confidence is low. Very low.
However, Ferguson was doing his utmost best to give encouragement and praise to Rondon.
“Come on Salomon keep going,” and “Good Salomon, come on Salomon, yes” were some of the calls from the Scot when Rondon was involved.
Ferguson will be wary that he needs everyone on their mettle for the Villa game.
Perhaps he can finally unlock the form Rondon showed at Newcastle United that made him such a fans’ favourite.
Four players missing
When there’s training footage uploaded, eagled-eyed fans are usually on the lookout for who and who is not involved.
Pens and paper are at the ready, with names being ticked off once a player is spotted.
And in the latest footage, four members of the first-team set-up were not present.
Vitali Mykolenko has started both games since he arrived from Dynamo Kiev for a fee of up to £18 million.
However, the left-back could not be seen.
Both Allan and Fabian Delph missed last weekend’s sobering defeat at Norwich City. They too were not present.
Neither was exciting 19-year-old striker Lewis Dobbin, who also was not on the bench at Carrow Road.
Unsurprisingly, Tom Davies did not feature in the clips as he recovers from a hamstring injury.
Branthwaite is back
There was some better news in terms of availability.
Jarrad Branthwaite is now back in full training, having been absent with a hamstring injury.
The centre-back’s performance in the 1-1 draw at Chelsea before Christmas left plenty of Evertonians purring.
He was rock-solid for the depleted Toffees at Stamford Bridge in what was his maiden Premier League start of the season.
Not only that but the England under-20 international bagged the Blues’ equaliser with a fine finish at the back post.
There were calls after that heroic performance for Branthwaite to come into the starting line-up on a more regular basis.
Everton’s defending this season has left a lot to be desired.
Now Branthwaite is back and seemingly fully fit, there may be clamour for him to be given another opportunity.
Yerry Mina, who came off the bench at Norwich, was too in full training.
He’s surely in contention to feature from the outset this weekend.
Richarlison netted an outstanding bicycle kick to reduce the arrears at Norwich after entering the fray as a substitute.
It might have been a consolation and the travelling Evertonians couldn’t celebrate the outstanding goal how they would have wanted.
Still, on his return from a calf injury, Richarlison underlined his predatory instincts that are going to be required to get the Blues out of their predicament of 15th place in the Premier League table.
During finishing practice, he again displayed his prowess in front of goal along with Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
There were first-time volleys when crosses were whipped in from the right wing, although it was Richarlison’s heading that caught the eye.
The Brazil international, you would think, will come back into the starting line-up against Villa.
That sort of composure in the final third should give Ferguson’s Everton a significant fillip.