Everton manager Willie Kirk leaves role after shaky start to WSL season

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Everton have announced the departure of their manager, Willie Kirk, after their 3-0 defeat to Arsenal left them with six points from five games going into the international break.

Kirk left his role as assistant to Casey Stoney at Manchester United and joined Everton in December 2018 with the club winless and rooted to the bottom of the Women’s Super League table. They finished 10th to avoid relegation and with investment coming in Kirk took Everton to sixth the following year and fifth last season, and they also reached the 2020 FA Cup final.

Related: Everton’s Leonie Maier: ‘I don’t just want to play, I want to win’

Last month, the Chelsea manager, Emma Hayes, urged caution after her side’s 4-0 defeat of Everton, during which Everton’s women’s commercial and sporting director, Sarvar Ismailov, tweeted “unacceptable”, before later deleting the comment.

“Everybody needs to be calm and patient with Everton,” Hayes said. “They’re going to be a good side. People are mad to think they are going to win leagues just like that. My team has been together 10 years, some of us have been together seven or eight years. It takes time to build. I might have been afforded that time at the beginning, that becomes more challenging with the investment but we have to start being realistic about it.”

However, expectations going into the new season were high after aggressive summer spending. Nine players came in and 10 were moved on as Kirk attempted to bridge the gap to the top three of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City.

In a statement on the club’s website Kirk said: “I am thankful to the club for the opportunity that they gave me three years ago. During that time, we have made tremendous progress both on and off the pitch and I leave the club in a better place.

“Without a doubt, the highlight was the FA Cup final less than a year ago, a memory that will stay with me for ever. Unfortunately, this season has not started the way we anticipated, due to a very tough opening fixture list and the re-building of a squad.”

Everton are aiming to have a new manager in place before the side’s next game, away to Leicester City in the Continental Cup on 3 November.

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