Majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri’s succession plan has hit an immediate stumbling block with Bielsa unsure if it is the right move for his career.
Moshiri made Bielsa his No 1 target and is eager to convince the 67-year-old he can save Everton from relegation.
But there was never any guarantee Bielsa would be lured to Merseyside, especially after scrutinising the quality of Everton’s squad. The former Leeds United head coach needs to be sure he will have the players to impose his unique style, or the resources to recruit those capable of playing his all-energy football. Everton’s financial predicament is such that no such guarantees can be offered to any candidates.
Bielsa is known to be meticulous in his studying of clubs who approach him. He will have watched recent Everton games and made preliminary assessments of the players at his disposal. Should he turn Everton down, it will indicate he does not believe the squad capable of meeting his demands.
It will also be a reflection of Everton being handcuffed in the transfer market given every deal must be ratified by the financial fair play regulators.
If Bielsa rejects Moshiri’s overtures, Moshiri will have to work through alternatives. West Bromwich Albion coach Carlos Corberan and the former Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl also have admirers on the Goodison board as Moshiri looks to move quickly to ensure a replacement is in place before the next Premier League game at home to Premier League leaders Arsenal on February 4.
History suggests the recruitment process will not be smooth. Moshiri has overseen a number of shambolic transitions during his tenure, different coaches with vastly different philosophies on the game considered or appointed.
Last year, Moshiri was on the verge of appointing Vitor Pereira but was forced to change his mind after Everton fans indicated their unhappiness and preference for Lampard. Before that, he was about to shake hands on a deal for Nuno Espirito Santo, only to be convinced to appoint Rafa Benitez after interviewing the ex-Liverpool coach.
And 18 months earlier, David Moyes was in advanced talks, only to be overlooked for Carlo Ancelotti.
There will be a concern of Everton’s managerial hunt becoming a circus again if Bielsa says no.
Meanwhile, Newcastle United are confident they have beaten Chelsea to the signing of Anthony Gordon from Everton, with the player expecting to travel to the North East before the weekend to seal the move. (© Telegraph Media Group Ltd, 2023)