..he’s a very naughty boy” is one of the most famous lines from Monty Python’s iconic “Life of Brian”. The film is characterised by irreverence and absurdity, which in the minds of some people turns into blasphemy.
For many of us, including myself, our Club is a modern day religion.
Gazing out of the window this morning, is it blasphemous of me to question those in charge of our Club? In particular the new largest shareholder, Farhad Moshiri, who arrived as such a beacon of hope with Blue Heaven Holdings in February 2016?
He was seen by many as the Messiah. After years of “making do” under Bill, plucky little Everton finally had the wealth, but more importantly the ambition, the vision and a plan to get back to a seat at the Top Table of English and European football.
Good start; strengthening of the balance sheet, new stadium (on the banks of the Royal Blue Mersey) in the offing, a Hollywood manager, some decent signings and a satisfactory first full season culminating in European qualification.
In addition, an excellent performance at the General Meeting with some well chosen sound bytes “not a museum” and a “short window of opportunity” seemed to complete the ingratiation of Farhad with the fans. He got Everton, or so it seemed, and he was not going to let us down.
The skies were not all royal blue, however, (when are they ever?!?) a few wispy clouds were sighted, and questions were whispered here and there:
- Why does he communicate through Jim White?
- Why has he not taken a seat on the Board?
- Why has he retained the “old guard”?
Nevertheless, a bumper summer transfer spree seemed to pacify the doubters, but the “L4 People’s Front” were disappointed that it seemed to stall in July. The arrival of the Iceman was some comfort to them, however the “People’s Front of L4” could not contain their anger at the failure to sign a replacement for renegade Romelu.
More questions and a few darker clouds appeared:
- Who’s in charge of transfers?
- Did Ross really have a medical at Chelsea?
- Why has it gone quiet on the stadium front?
A disastrous start to the season on the pitch saw a virtual insurrection from the fans, not even the Niasse Suicide Squad could arrest that, and there was no option but to dispense with Emperor Koeman.
Then, as if to rub salt in the gaping wounds, the good name of the Club and Mr Moshiri were besmirched by Panorama. All the blue skies had gone:
After Panorama, all parties (the Usmanov deity & Moshiri himself) issued firm rebuttals. Little old Everton said nothing, allowing a damaging article to remain on the BBC website even after the Guardian’s admission of seeing evidence that Moshiri had paid in full for his Arsenal shares should have ended the story.
Challenging times, but a perfect opportunity for the largest shareholder and billionaire businessman to show us what he’s made of, show us he’s got this and navigate our way through a crisis, a disaster from which the Club needed rapid recovery.
So Farhad and Bill just had to sit down and agree on a short list; but, instead, they embarked on a scattergun approach as reported by “friendly fire” from the Times. In fact many suspect that Bill and Farhad are indeed pulling in opposite directions including journalist John Richardson. Brand Bill v Brand Farhad = Damaged Brand Everton.
Predictably, but nevertheless very sadly, the Club has adopted a siege mentality to communication leaving others to control the narrative. Whilst the Sound of Silence booms out of Blue Heaven Towers, we can only hope that behind the scenes partners/sponsors/key stakeholders are being kept informed of progress towards a resolution and an appointment.
The fans clearly aren’t; which we would be fine if we trusted the current guardians to get on with job. If only we could resurrect John Moores, having famously sacked Johnny Carey in the back a of taxi to replace him with Harry Catterick.
The fact is the fan base have real trust issues with the Board, they let us down time and again. It is also clear that the Board do not trust the fans, nor do they trust the Media, local and national, hence the unhealthy and often toxic vacuum.
We thought and hoped that Farhad was different: ruthlessly decisive, a hard-nosed businessman with no room for sentiment who saw the potential in the most under-invested Club in England. His two Board appointments, Ryazantsev and Harris have had little material impact. Ongoing off the pitch mediocrity drives what happens on the pitch and that is beyond dispute.
Moshiri can change the momentum and turn this around without any doubt, but he needs better advisors to help him gets this message across to all stakeholders. He needs a world class team of business professionals to drive Everton forward and he needs them, arguably, more than he does a new first team Manager.
He needs to address the fundamental reasons for Everton’s potentially terminal decline over the last 20+ years. The root causes of that decline not just the current symptoms. That is the short window of opportunity, and it is closing.
If he does not then the glorious future on the banks of the Royal Blue Mersey will be just a pipedream, and the jury on Moshiri will, at best, be out. Until he fully embraces NSNO, until everyone in the Club is made to live and breathe that priceless motto, we will still be waiting to greet the real Messiah.