Window of Opportunity

Before each episode of EvertonBusinessMatters there’s a debate, usually with John Blain, as The Esk is not a music fan, around some intro music that might be appropriate for the day’s main topic.

Having reflected on Everton’s transfer window a few tunes have come into my head.

Firstly, this from the Rolling Stones in 1972. We aren’t the only club who didn’t get what we wanted from the window for sure, but we certainly are the only Premier League club who lost a 25 goal striker and failed to replace him in any adequate way. Rom was sold early, we didn’t do a Coutinho with him, nor even an Alexis Sanchez for that matter. So we had plenty of time to fill the void he left.

I understand that this was never going to be with a like-for-like single goal source and expected fully for the attacking threat to be more widely spread around the new 17/18 squad. But how was it that on 31st August we were still apparently playing Supermarket Sweep, with rumours of a £60m bid for Edison Cavani at 9:45pm being the cherry on an ill-baked cake?

As the dust settles it appears that Madame Giroud had more control over Everton’s fortunes than Ronald Koeman.

Let’s not decry the excellent business done, early doors for once, especially with Keane and Pickford starting their careers in Royal Blue full of promise. The return of Rooney is hugely positive on and off the pitch (until his ill-advised trip to the Bubble Room at least). Klaassen is another highly sought after addition, and, after much frustration, we got the Iceman Gylfi over the line, yielding instant dividends in Split. A couple of excellent signings for Rhino’s u23s gave us hope that there was a real plan being enacted too, with an eye on the future.

Farhad Moshiri often refers to a short window of opportunity for Everton to close in on the Top 6, Top 4 and compete at the highest level. This was never truer than in this transfer window. There were no FFP restrictions on us, we had a big lump of cash from the new broadcast revenues, we had European football to offer, the promise of a shiny new stadium (on the Banks of the Royal Blue Mersey, of course, John!) and even the bonus of £75m from Jose for his former cast off Lukaku.

So I come to the next tune, spookily also from 1972, this time from Johnny Nash.

Giving a straight answer to a straight question is not really a forte of Everton’s Media Relations team; in fact getting any kind of answer at all can be a challenge. Nobody is suggesting that we should announce our transfer strategy and targets by raising our skirts for all to see, but this past window raises a host of questions. These questions are not just around incomings they also apply to disposals, so in no particular order:

  • Why is Ross Barkley still on the books and why did we leave it so late to endeavour to sell him? Koeman said at the start of the close season he would be sold once there was no positive response to the new contract offer.
  • Why were we unable to convince Madame Giroud that Olivier & her would be happy at Everton?
  • Once we knew Giroud was a “Non”, why did we not move on to the next target on the list?
  • Was there even a list?
  • Ronald kept saying we need a Striker, oh yes and a winger and a left-sided CB, so where does that leave him now his needs haven’t been met?
  • Why was Gareth Barry sold?
  • Why was Oumar Niasse not sold, and why was any attempt to do so made so late, as with Barkley?
  • What on earth went on with Mirallas? Squad player at best, who wants to leave, why did we not sell him back to Greece?

My fundamental concern is a potential disconnect between Koeman, Walsh and the Board. Which brings me to the biggest question of all and the final earworm. 1985 was a great year for Everton: League Title and Rotterdam. It also gave us this from Aretha Franklin.

Just who is in charge of Transfer Activity at Everton?

  • Largest shareholder, Farhad Moshiri?
  • Chairman, Bill Kenwright?
  • Manager, Ronald Koeman?
  • Director of Football, Steve Walsh?
  • Anyone else?

When I refer to “in charge of”, I mean who is accountable and accountable to whom?

In spite of all the good work done early in the window, there is no doubt that Everton’s performance more than fizzled out. Replacing Lukaku with a recognised goal scoring striker was the #1 priority of this Window. Failure to do so is failure on many levels, most importantly of all impacting our ability to win matches. Failure to sign any cover for Baines leaves us very vulnerable to injury or suspension, equally true at Centre Back.

Mr Moshiri’s last ditch appearance on Sky Sports News had more than a hint of farce to it; fans will see through the distraction around whether Barkley did or didn’t have a medical, they will be more concerned with another Deadline Day disappointment.

Ronald Koeman has every reason to feel let down by his employers. Let us hope that somewhere in Finch Farm or Blue Heaven Holdings HQ there is a proper review going on and those responsible are held to account.

Structural and operational changes must be made to improve communication, planning and, most importantly, execution of player recruitment and disposal ready for January 2018.






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