Everton legend 'favourite' to land first job in management in the Championship

The former Everton defender could be in line for a major role in management.The former Everton defender could be in line for a major role in management.
The former Everton defender could be in line for a major role in management.

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The former Everton defender could be in line for a major role in management.

Former Everton defender Leighton Baines is currently the 'favourite' to earn what would be a shock appointment at Plymouth.

Plymouth, who sit 16th in the Championship, are reportedly preparing to replace the outgoing Steven Schumacher this week despite leading them to the League One title last year. He is set to take over at Stoke City who sit three places below them in 19th after they parted ways with Alex Neil. Baines is the favourite as he sits ahead of experienced managers such as Steve Cotterill, former Southampton manager Nathan Jones, the recently sacked Birmingham City manager John Eustace and other experienced figures such as Tony Mowbray, Gary Rowett and former Sheffield United boss Paul Heckingbottom.

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Baines, 39, retired at Everton in 2020 but he then took his first steps on the road to management when he was appointed as professional development coach at Everton's academy set-up before becoming Everton's U18 coach in 2022. If he were to be appointed, he would join a contingent of young managers that include former teammate Wayne Rooney (38) Liam Rosenior (39) Russell Martin (37) and Danny Röhl (34). Baines would also join a long line of former Everton players to move into a coaching role; Duncan Ferguson is currently thriving at Inverness Caledonian Thistle while Rooney is enduring a difficult start at Birmingham City, Lee Carsley led the England U21 side to European glory in the summer, Rowett has had five jobs in the EFL as well as David Unsworth who took over Everton as caretaker manager in the past.

Baines spoke out in May after his year in management after recording a fourth-place finish in Under-18 Premier League North as he opened up on his style of management. “We have to give a balanced environment to the lads. I can’t just focus 100% on off-the-ball work or on-the-ball work. We work to a model that we try to deliver in a balanced way. I’m still learning about myself within that, so it’s hard for me to know.

“What I will say, is that whatever week it is, whatever block of work we’re doing, I find myself getting passionate about it. I find myself trying to learn new things and trying to figure out how I can best help the players. I don’t know if I can really define myself as a coach because I’m still working towards that.

“There are certainly easier things to do when you finish football, than to get in to coaching. You just have to work hard, and it is hard work. There’s a lot of hours that go into it, but I’ve never known anything different. I’ve always worked hard and tried to be the best version of whatever it is that I can be to get to my ceiling. I’m still a developing but I’m enjoying the process.”

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