Here we are again. 6 games into a Manager’s second season, and the pressure is well and truly on. After a “favourable run” of early fixtures, Everton have “only” managed 7 points, have been beaten to Nil by two newly promoted teams and, with Man City up next, languish in 14th with a goal difference of minus 4.
It’s been a while since I last blogged about the Blues. I gave up my Top Balcony Season Ticket this season (much relief to those around me) having moved to the South Coast, but, after witnessing first hand the surrender in my newly adopted hometown, and following that with defeat at home to Sheff Utd, some kind of masochism has drawn me back to the keyboard.
Who knows if Marco will steady the ship tomorrow and get past the other Sheffield club in the Cup we’ve never won, and then “do a Norwich” on Saturday against Pep’s champions. Whatever happens in the next few games you sense solutions are only ever temporary with Everton. There is something truly rotten at Goodison, that seemed to take root the moment we got the Moshiri millions/billions.
We have behaved like “first time phone-in callers” in the transfer market. In doing so it strikes me that we have bought two types of players:
- Mercenaries; who have joined EFC purely and simply for the £££. Their eyes were dazzled, we were so excited by our new found wealth we threw it around like confetti on: Sandro, Schneiderlin, Williams, Bolasie are obvious names, but I would add Sigurdsson, Walcott, Tosun, Bernard (all on the pitch on Saturday). You may disagree with some of the names in this category and, yes, some have been moved on as costly errors, but there can be no doubt that such a group of players exists.
- Stepping Stoners: those who came to Everton to further their careers, using Everton as route to somewhere “bigger”. On this list you might put Richarlison, Keane, Pickford, Kean, Digne, Iwobi, Mina, Vlasic, Lookman Klaassen even. The idea being there is a win-win of Everton success meaning they can move on generating a nice tidy profit for reinvestment. It’s a model Southampton have followed to some effect.
There are also those players who should never have been signed as they just aren’t up to it: Niasse, Martina etc, but they are the least of our worries; and let’s not even go into the madness of the Rooney signing.
So what’s my point?
My point is that these two groups of players (Mercenaries & Stepping Stoners) simply cannot co-exist and form a functioning team; a team, like all successful teams, that is greater than the sum of the parts. Whoever you put in which group the fact is that there is no unity of purpose, no shared ambition. One group is here for the money, the other is looking to move on at the first opportunity. Getting a tune out of these two groups is an almost impossible job.
How many of our current squad see playing at Everton as the pinnacle of their careers? How many really care enough and have that burning ambition to win a trophy? How many are here for the long term, so we can build a team around them for years to come? I know that the modern age footballer is a selfish beast, but it strikes me that we have got ourselves the worst of both worlds.
Our recruitment, even though improved under Brands, has hardly been a roaring success. An overweight squad remains, but the underlying problem I would argue remains motivation and unity of purpose.
Until that is addressed, until we have an actual Plan that is understood and followed religiously with some genuine leadership and a ruthless, uncharitable, winning mentality at the very top of the Club, we will continue on the same hamster wheel, overpaying for players whose priorities and goals do not align, and, of course, we will keep changing managers 8-10 games in every other season (sooner if you’re Sam Allardyce).