This article first appeared on Grandoldteam on 4th May 2016.
Looking at Everton at present, on a day by day basis is rather like the tumultuous final days of a fading and failing empire.
Without the arrival of Mr Moshiri, the situation would be extremely bleak, yet although our benefactor has arrived he is yet to stamp his complete authority on the situation nor yet chosen to deliver any detail to the comforting words when he first spoke.
As a result there’s increasing discontent with the existing hierarchy on and off the pitch demanding change on and off the pitch. The timing of all this change is absolutely critical.
I was struck by Dr David France’s comments about football “relevancy”, and I realised he articulated the fear we all have felt, growing as the years have gone by, that we, Everton, have become increasingly irrelevant to the outside footballing world. Dangerously this has occurred when the pace of change within football is increasing at an ever greater rate – so the best resourced teams (money, players and managers) move away from the second tier at an ever increasing rate. Projecting that forward into an unknown but likely to be changed footballing landscape, and there’s a likelihood we’ll be outside the gates, let alone inside and influencing that change.
This is where the demand for change comes from. It’s not driven from an entitlement culture at all, goodness knows the city of Liverpool has just demonstrated in the clearest terms our true qualities of fairness and justice, but also determination and the desire to win against the odds.
Change has to occur both on the pitch and off the pitch.
Let’s start off the pitch and look at the areas where change is required – in the boardroom and at senior executive levels. The board needs to be replaced with ambitious business people capable of articulating and delivering an objective for the club in line with our club motto “Only the best is good enough”.
It means recruiting the best people, at board level, at executive level, and further down the ranks It means injecting new ideas and a new culture of ambition, delivery and success within the club. It has to grasp the size of the opportunity in front of it, and critically understand and appreciate the value of the asset (in footballing terms) it holds. We are a unique footballing asset – one of the most historic sporting institutions in the world that’s not only had success on the playing pitch, but over history has influenced and shaped the game like no other club side. Furthermore we are one of the few clubs left in football that is truly embedded in its local community, adding identity and purpose as well as community assistance to the local environment.
All of this needs preserving, but also needs to be utilised in taking the club forward. We can use our historic status in the game to improve our relevancy in the future, but only through having the strategy and most importantly the right people to deliver that. This must be a key priority.
Commercially, and there are no surprises here, we under-perform so badly, and once more can only be changed by implementing the right strategies, having the right people implement them, and putting the resources into them. I’m sure Mr Moshiri needs no lessons from me on this score.
Similarly the stadium issue requires resolution, but that’s a long term project which eventually (perhaps in 12-18 months) will be determined and delivered. However again the right people have to run the project and deliver in terms of vision and final product on budget and within the designated time set.
Ultimately, despite the desire for a world class stadium and seamless commercial offerings from the club, we’re Evertonians because we want to see football played in the “Everton” style, we want to be competitive, and we want to win our share of trophies including the greatest prize of all, the League, or the Premier League as it now is. As Neville Southall said at the weekend, we need to start every season aiming to win the League – how long is it since (i) that’s been our objective and (ii) there’s been a realistic chance of it happening? Perhaps with Leicester’s success those chances will increase.
Of course, the biggest issue on the pitch is the management situation. Let’s get it straight – Martinez will not only be released from the club at the season end because of the last two seasons, he will be released because he’s not of the calibre to take this club to where we want to be, and where our ambitions lie. Continuation of his tenure would only extend the wasted opportunity, resulting this summer in the breaking up of a promising squad with genuine talent and prospects, the inability to attract leading talent despite the resources being available for the first time in a generation, more deterioration in our competitive position relative to our peers, and the prospects of another season of the soulless, shapeless, incomprehensible playing style of the last few months.
I have no doubt that Mr Moshiri is aware of this, and is currently planning and seeking a replacement. Our hope, and I believe this is accurate, is that we are starting at the top of the managerial talent ladder with the genuine prospect of recruiting one of these candidates.
Once the management and coaching team is resolved then the recruitment and retainment process can really start. I’m not going to speculate on who we might bring in, there’s many more people better qualified than me to do so, nevertheless the expectation is extremely high. The hope is we bring players who not only have the talents to bring us success, but also buy into the club, and the nature of the project, the opportunities, and the rewards before them.
Is this a blindly optimistic piece of writing at a time when the club seems anything but? Well, it’s optimistic for sure, but it’s also build on the understanding that serious businessmen do not buy into clubs without having an ambition and an understanding of the necessary changes and resources required to make the ambition a reality.
To conclude I’m struck by one thing – throughout our history, when Everton have resources and talent available to us we taste success. We’ve now got the resources, we need to bring in the talent on and off the pitch, and yes we’ll taste success once more, not just a fleeting glimpse as in the past, but success built on a sustainable platform, building further success for the future.
This season is a write-off, discard it, forget about those who have not delivered for us in the past and look forward to our future.
Nil Satis Nisi Optimum