Far from reducing the tension around Finch Farm, or the executive offices at Goodison Park, plus of course, offices in London and Monaco, the decision to fire Ronald Koeman less than half way through the “3 year project” will bring Everton’s status in the modern game, and the ambition and abilities to execute actions to meet those ambitions sharply into focus.
Even since the summer of 2016 when Koeman arrived at Everton as a still fairly fresh faced manager with a (then) growing reputation, the Premier League and European game has moved on a pace. It’s moved on a pace at a time when, despite the investments made by Moshiri, Everton’s stock in the game has fallen.
It would be fascinating to see how Everton are sold to the next candidates for the vacant manager’s job. I say sold because if Everton are to get the talent required to lift us not only back to where we were even 5 months ago, but on to where we believe we want to go, it’s going to take an appointment of someone with a rare skill and a high standing in the game.
That person will be well aware of the risks associated with the Everton position.
I say risks, because in many senses the job is an almost impossible job. The task is to propel Everton into the “big 6” despite the relative financial handicaps and the low base we start from.
It’s to be done with an incomplete, unbalanced squad suffering from low esteem. It’s to be done with a club owned by still unproven owners, at least as far as footballing success is concerned.
There are positives, of course. Everton has still an attraction to it, a grand old name, rich in unfulfilled potential in the most attractive and visible football competition in the world. It is, for the person brave enough, skilled enough and backed enough, an enormous opportunity. Turn this club around, build it and bring silverware and you are not only granted immortality from the millions of blues around the world, but you will become hot managerial property not only in the Premier League but elsewhere.
Time for bravery
Thus, it is time for bravery. It’s time for bravery from Moshiri and his current board. It’s time for bravery from the person who eventually will buy into the dream, sign a contract and roll his sleeves up.
It’s time to draw a line in the sand. I’m sure Moshiri knows a great deal more about Everton now than he did in the summer. Rather like the cladding put around Goodison Park when he first arrived, the “guiding of the club to 7th place”, as the announcement so eloquently put it, cover a multitude of sins and faults.
It’s time to get real, and if we are real about our ambitions to become a dominant force in English and European football once more make the organisational changes necessary on and off the pitch.
As mentioned above there’s plenty that’s good, the academy, the U-23 set up, team and management. Much to be proud of and perhaps some lessons to be passed higher up the ladder to the senior team. Certainly lessons regarding spirit, determination and identity – the identity of realising you represent Everton, need passing on, and passing on quickly.
However, there’s also things that need resolving. We need to end the uncertainty over roles particularly relating to the Director of Football – what exactly does he do? Is he building a system that runs through the club? If so, make sure that the differences in approach seen between the U-23 team and the 1st team are eliminated, thereby making the transition upwards easier. Does that then impact the role of the new manager? Many questions to be asked, and hopefully answers prepared for the arrival of the candidates.
We need to get real over the 1st team squad. Despite the considerable changes there’s still a feeling that we carry too many players who don’t even make the “squad player” category, are too old or plain don’t want to be here. If that’s the case let’s clear them out in January – a window more suited to selling than buying of course. At least give the new incumbent the opportunity to do so.
There has to be clarity over budgets, a decision made in terms of what is made available to the new manager, both immediately in January but also next summer – a difficult summer potentially to buy attractive players given it’s a World Cup year.
Going back to the notion that Moshiri now knows more about the club than previously, there’s still the unfinished business of sorting out the commercial and operational sides of the club. The change of manager, whilst not obviously related, allows change to be made elsewhere – assuming it is desired. One of the points Moshiri will need to convince the incoming manager on is our ability to grow income in the period before the new stadium is build and cash generative. It is that ability to grow income that will allow us to increase our wage budgets, making it easier to attract better quality players.
Similarly, performance at the very top of the business will come under scrutiny. A new manager must be convinced that the Board and executive team make the right commercial decisions, and critically can as mentioned above, sell the club and opportunity to players perhaps not totally convinced initially.
Challenging times, but opportunities too
We are in hugely challenging times, our competitors continue to grow faster than we do, making the pool of players able to compete yet willing to take the greater risk of joining an unproven team, a fairly small pool from which to choose.
Challenge though brings opportunity. Here’s the opportunity for the good ship Everton to improve itself in every aspect of what we do. If we are to attract the managerial talent to make us competitive and winners on the pitch we must do the same across the business.
The major shareholder and Board had the courage to remove a failing manager for the second time in 18 months, it now needs the courage to look across the business and itself and make similar changes. If it does so it makes the recruitment of the right manager easier and offers a route back to the standards of NSNO.
If they decide not to, then they sell themselves, the club and supporters short. Moshiri talked of the short window of opportunity on the pitch. Well he faces a short window of his own, a window that can create the improvements necessary across the business and at executive levels to support the selection of the right manager to make us successful once more.
Today’s decision was the easy one, there are many more difficult decisions to be made. Make them and make us successful once more, this appointment probably represents our last chance.
I remain hopeful and optimistic the chance will be taken. It won’t be for a lack of support from the fans if we see the right decisions being made.