Before a ball was kicked in anger at Watford on Saturday evening (which it wasn’t in fact by anyone in Royal Blue) I put a poll on Twitter to see how fans felt about the “Moshiri era”, with the Second Anniversary nearly upon us. Over 2,000 good folk responded, as you can see, and it revealed a 60/40 split between the Half Full (or better) and the Half Empty (or worse).
A number of people commented after the Horror of Vicarage Road that they would have voted differently; that is as maybe, but hard to doubt given the vitriol directed at the players and the Manager at the full time whistle. The fact is that a significant section of the fan base are at least “disappointed” with Moshiri’s impact so far.
The question is how did this come to pass?
At the end of February 2016, Evertonians thought their ship had finally come in. A new billionaire major (not majority) shareholder had arrived, meaning at long last we could spend significantly in order to compete for honours, as the Premier League era demanded. Bill was staying as Chairman to ensure things were done “the Everton way”, and, of course, there was talk of a much-needed brand new stadium.
The initial signs were great. Decisive action taken to:
- Replace the fantasist (and future World Cup winning manager?) Martinez
- Appoint our own Hollywood manager in Koeman
- Poach the “brains behind Leicester’s title win” as Director of Football
- Clear the Club of all external debt
We put to sea in summer 2016 on a super yacht, and in February 2018 we are limping back to the Pier Head in a rickety rowing boat, big Sam sat back sunning himself, whilst little Sam bails water out furiously.
We thought we had a chance to dine in a Michelin starred restaurant and, instead, find ourselves eating warmed up leftovers washed down with slightly warmer own label Lambrusco (other wines are available).
I could carry on with analogies, but you get the idea. Let’s be clear, though, nothing was guaranteed, and we knew it would take time with a few bumps along the way. Nevertheless, with over £200m spent, and four managers in, the current scenario was inconceivable to the vast majority, wasn’t it?
How is it we have gone from Koeman the Messiah to Allardyce the saviour? For me it all comes down to leadership, and the lack of it across the Board.
It’s human nature to look for people to blame, especially in the modern social media age. This season fans have booed our own players, with Morgan Schneiderlin being the main target of late. Now I have no time for him, ever since he was spotted laughing at our final Europa League hammering, but why blame him? Blame the man who picks him, surely. Better still blame whoever appointed the man who picks him.
So who did appoint Allardyce? Who in their right mind thought he was the man we needed? Yes things were bleak, and we were looking like relegation fodder, but there was still more than half the season left. Surely we could have found a better fit. In fact we were told by Moshiri that Allardyce was the “perfect man to take Everton forward”
You might as well pull down the shutters on the School of Science. No sign of Bill in the picture? Quite telling. Whatever you think of Bill, he would never have appointed Allardyce himself, in my view. Bill may be the Chairman, but Sam was Farhad’s man. And assuming he was, then his appointment means the current Board is dysfunctional; if they are just following orders from the major shareholder then they have made themselves redundant.
After an initial (dead cat) bounce, which did not include the 4-0 win against West Ham by the way, chickens are coming home to roost. Sam’s media utterances are mixing the worst of Koeman’s arrogance with the delusion of Martinez and becoming an even greater insult to the fans’ intelligence.
As the face of Everton, the Manager’s comments are analysed more than anyone’s. It is quite clear that Sam is pursuing his own agenda; the Club has to do more to make sure he is on message. Before you can do that, though, you need to have a clear message; a message that all the Board is thoroughly bought into. That message only comes from a leader, a leader with ambition and confidence.
Crucially, for a football club, a results business, our results and performances have plumbed new depths of late, so much so that even the Echo has gone native:
Let’s look at one or two other decisions:
- Warm weather trip to Dubai? Who thought that was a good way of rewarding the under achieving team, or even preparing for a freezing Saturday night in Watford?
- The small matter of signings. We are nowhere nearer knowing how these are made and who signs off on them. The one constant of the Moshiri years is Steve Walsh. The man called Director of Football does not even sit on the Board; can he really be the man who approves all our transfer activity? If he is, you wonder how he is still in a job.
This brings me back to leadership, or rather lack of it. Whilst on pitch has spiralled downwards in Moshiri’s second full season there should still be plenty of good news off the pitch, notably the prospect of a new stadium (on the banks of the Royal Blue Mersey). Even more reason then to accentuate these positives right now and to move things forward.
The General Meeting in early January seemed to do just that with the announcement of the innovative financing solution in partnership with Liverpool City Council. Now we hear that the CEO may have jumped the gun, and, indeed, may not have actually said that two-thirds of the cost would be funded by LCC. Did my eyes deceive me?
Did the Board not all agree and buy into the CEO’s presentation? If they didn’t we are back to a dysfunctional corporate structure.
Rumours have been doing the rounds that Moshiri may be about to take more control, perhaps exercising his options on the second anniversary over the remaining shares of Bill, Jon Woods etc, and Bill may step down. There are also rumours that stadium financing is nearing approval by LCC. Both would be welcome, of course, but appear less likely with every passing day. Still no pictures of Bramley Moore, whilst Dan Meis is champing at the bit, it would seem.
For now we seem rudderless, lost at sea with nobody on the bridge, but lots of highly paid people shuffling deck chairs. Two years on are we any nearer knowing and understanding the Moshiri plan? Crucially are we any better on the pitch than we were when he arrived?
Two years on if 40% of the fan base are half empty it’s time for some clear leadership and communication. Time for the major shareholder to stand up and take responsibility; time to explain the plan in detail and appoint the right people to deliver it.
Evertonians are cut from the very best cloth, and we’re smart enough not to be taken for mugs. The Club needs the fans more than ever; don’t risk losing them, then you’ll have lost everything. Ellis Short will vouch for that; he can’t give Sunderland and their Stadium of Light away for free.
Later this week John Blain, theesk and I will be reviewing the first two years of “Moshiri’s Everton” on EvertonBusinessMatters in EBM XXI. Do give that a listen, if you can find the time; till then, thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts, and do let me know yours.