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Everton’s interest in Vítor Pereira dates back to 2013.

The Toffees interviewed the Portuguese coach prior to appointing Roberto Martinez and he’s been perpetually linked with a switch to Goodison Park ever since.

But if recent reports are to be believed, they might finally be getting their man. The 51-year-old is currently contracted to Shanghai SIPG but the Premier League club have placed Pereira at the very top of their wishlist.

He’s being assessed, along with other candidates, with Everton in no rush to make an appointment. Duncan Ferguson took charge on Saturday and helped mastermind a 3-1 victory over Chelsea. 

The Toffees moved away from a possession-orientated style and instead adopted a more direct approach under their interim boss. The crowd responded, as did the players. A united effort saw them blitz Frank Lampard’s side and for the first time in what feels like a very long time, everyone appeared to be on the same page. 

Everton have tried the pretty approach for a number of years and while it works for a short period – Martinez did well for a season, Ronald Koeman impressed and Silva was tipped to get them back into Europe – patience eventually runs out.

After all, Everton are in a results-based business and performances, no matter how good they are, count for very little if a side taking more losses than wins. 

The Goodison Park faithful need a brand of football they can get behind. Pereira could be the man to deliver just that. 

A former Olympiacos and Porto manager, the Portuguese tactician knows what it takes to be in charge of a big club with expectations. He helped guide Shanghai SIPG to their first-ever Chinese Super League title in 2018 and the club followed that up with a third-place finish this time around.

He’s responsible for the club posting record points totals, too, with their haul of 68 last year and 66 this year being the highest recorded by the club since the introduction of a 30-game season in 2012. 

Only champions Guangzhou Evergrande can better Shanghai SIPG’s return of 62 goals in the league this term and Pereira’s side signed off the domestic season in style with a 6-0 win. Marko Arnautović helped himself to four goals while Hulk and Oscar both added to their tallies for the campaign. 

The former Fenerbahçe coach has, rightfully, geared his formation around that talented trio of players. Of the 62 goals scored by the club in the league, those three are responsible for 28 of them, with Arnautović only appearing in 11 matches following his move from West Ham United. 

On the break, Shanghai SIPG look unstoppable. Pereira usually sets his side up in a variation of a 4-5-1 shape. This sometimes turns into a 4-3-3, other times it is a 4-2-3-1, and, on occasion, it has been a 4-1-4-1.

The system changes but the style doesn’t. They look to sit deep, control the space and then look for counter-attacking opportunities. Arnautoviuć and Hulk often stay furthest forward and, when the opportunity arises, they bully the opposition with both pace and power. 

When they have a sustained period of possession, the directive is to get balls into the area from wide areas. Oscar floats from side to side looking for pockets of space while both full-backs join the attack. One of the midfielders will push on to support Hulk and Arnautoviuć in the box and they score a surprising number of headed goals, even the 5ft 9ins Brazilian forward. 

Shanghai SIPG are good at what they do. For context, this season they’ve averaged 13 shots per 90 with the opposition having 11. Despite this being fairly even, Pereira’s side have a much better expected goals total.

On a per 90 basis, their average is 1.62 compared to the opposition’s 1.08. So, a similar number of shots but a 0.54 difference in expected goals. It highlights the fact they’re having higher value efforts, largely because of the positions they find themselves in after counter-attacking. 

However, they’re even more ruthless than that with actual goals per 90 being 2.02 and goals conceded being 0.93. The system is essentially geared towards giving the forwards the best opportunity of scoring.

Think Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin running into acres of space against two or three defenders. They won’t always score but the likelihood of them doing so is much greater than the duo trying to round off a 20-pass team move up against a rigid and organised defence. 

Pereira's CV doesn't paint him as a manager for a long-term project but perhaps he's been waiting for the right one to come along. If he brings the Shanghai SIPG system with him to Goodison Park, the fans will be on his side from the off. It's a style they can all get behind. 

Premier League