Everton will be managed by David Unsworth and former boss Joe Royle for the final match of their Premier League season at home to relegated Norwich City on Sunday.
A run of only one win in 10 Premier League games culminated in the sacking of Roberto Martinez following Wednesday’s 3-0 loss away to Sunderland.
Everton are 12th in the table, two points behind Swansea City in 11th but the same margin clear of AFC Bournemouth down in 16th position going into the final weekend.
Unsworth was in charge of the Under-21 side and is relishing the chance to take a lead role despite his sadness at Martinez’s exit after three seasons at Goodison Park.
“I am very proud,” he said. “It was the proudest moment of my life when I got the call but at the same time one of the most difficult as it was Roberto who rubber stamped my return to this club.
“I have got only good things to say about him. A good man has lost his job and that is always difficult, but that is football management.
“I think the Evertonians will turn out in force and get behind the team we pick. We have to give them something to shout about.
“We have to finish on a high with a performance and a win. Evertonians have to leave with a smile on their face.”
Norwich beat Watford 4-2 last time out but it was not enough to preserve their top-flight status as they paid the price for four straight defeats in their previous outings.
They have already visited Goodison in the League Cup – losing on penalties after a 1-1 draw – while the reverse fixture at Carrow Road in December was also 1-1.
Indeed, six of the last eight matches between the teams have ended level with Norwich winning just one of their last 11 against the Toffees in the Premier League.
This match will also see Everton give Tim Howard a farewell appearance prior to his exit to join Colorado Rapids in the United States after a 10-season stay at Goodison Park.
“Tim will play and he deserves that,” added Unsworth. “He has been a fantastic servant and deserves that honour. Tim was promised that he would start by Roberto and we will honour that.”
Phil Jagielka (hamstring) could be back having returned to training and Seamus Coleman (hamstring) will be subject to a late fitness test, while Norwich have no fresh injuries.
Alex Neil’s men have lost eight of their last nine away games in the top flight, failing to score in seven of those outings, but the manager is still uncertain what relegation means for his future.
“The season is not finished yet and we haven’t got a chief executive at the moment so obviously certain things need to be resolved at the club,” Neil said.
“I need to have a meeting with the owners when we get the Everton game out of the way. Let me make one thing clear I am not suggesting at any stage I am leaving the club. It is nothing like that. I just think we need to have a clear sense of which direction we are going in.
“I have nothing but the utmost respect for the owners. I get on great with them and once the season is done we can sit down and have a good chat and hopefully move the club on.”
Key Opta Stats:
– Norwich City’s last win at Goodison Park (in 1993) saw Efan Ekoku become the first player to score four goals in a Premier League match as the Canaries ran out 5-1 winners.
– Even if Everton win this game, this will be their lowest total for points at home in a single Premier League season (currently on 20, previous low of 25 in 1996-97).
– Midfielder Gareth Barry has made more Premier League starts than any other player, 572, one more than David James.
– Norwich have now been relegated from the Premier League a joint-high four times, level with Crystal Palace.
– The Canaries have kept a league-low five clean sheets in the top-flight this season.
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