Vítor Pereira is Farhad Moshiri’s No 1 choice to replace Benítez at Everton

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<span>Photograph: Ozan Köse/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Ozan Köse/AFP/Getty Images
  • Other members of hierarchy view Pereira as major gamble

  • Everton fans protest against owner Moshiri at Liver Building


Vítor Pereira has emerged as Farhad Moshiri’s favoured choice to succeed Rafael Benítez as Everton manager and to lead the club’s fight against a first relegation in 71 years.

The former Porto and Fenerbahce manager is available having been sacked by the Turkish club in December after only five months in charge. His appointment is viewed as a major gamble by some members of the Everton hierarchy, given his lack of Premier League experience and his relegation from the second tier of the Bundesliga with 1860 Munich, but it is the club’s erratic majority shareholder who will ultimately make the critical decision.

Moshiri, along with business associate Alisher Usmanov, has held talks this week with Pereira, who was overlooked for the Everton job in 2013 when Roberto Martinez replaced David Moyes and again in 2019 when Carlo Ancelotti succeeded Marco Silva. Frank Lampard has also held discussions over the vacancy but the Portuguese coach, 53, is the leading candidate for Everton’s billionaire owner. Despite Wayne Rooney having his admirers on Everton’s board, there has been no formal approach for the Derby manager.

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Pereira could be offered a contract containing a break clause at the end of the season in the event of Everton’s first relegation since 1951, according to reports in Portugal. That would reflect both the risk of his appointment and the precariousness of Everton’s Premier League position, with the team four points above the relegation zone after losing 10 of their past 14 league games.

Pereira has won league titles with Porto and Olympiakos, who were both reigning champions when he took over, and at Shanghai SIPG during a three-year spell with the Chinese club. He has also had short-lived stints in Saudi Arabia with Al Ahli, Fenerbahce twice and 1860 Munich who, in echoes of Everton’s situation, were in relegation trouble when he arrived in January 2017. They went down five months later.

The Portuguese coach would be Moshiri’s sixth permanent managerial appointment in six years and unlikely to silence criticism of the club’s chaotic decline among their fans, some of whom took their protests to the Liver Building on Tuesday.

A small group of Evertonians gathered outside the city’s iconic building, which is part-owned by Moshiri and serves as Everton’s administrative headquarters, as part of co-ordinated protests at the way the club has been run by the majority shareholder. Banners proclaiming: “Moshiri: If you want success then change this mess”, “Board of Failure” and “Kia not welcome” were on display outside the Liver Building. Similar banners were hung on gates at Goodison Park on Monday, and followed on from a sit-in protest after Saturday’s defeat by Aston Villa.

The gathering was part of the #27yearscampaign – a reference to Everton’s current trophy drought – that involves several supporters groups. The campaign later apologised for not communicating its decision to head to Everton’s HQ with other fans. Its objectives include asking Moshiri to “listen, engage and act”, to “replace the existing board with people who have proven commercial and football expertise” and to “allow those professionals to do their jobs without interference”. The “Kia not welcome” banner is a response to agent Kia Joorabchian, a close friend of Moshiri, and his influence on numerous transfer dealings at Everton.

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