Everton’s involvement in this season’s FA Cup ended at the first hurdle, and the ugliest hurdle of them all, a loss to ‘them’ at the pit. And so to all intents and purposes, the 2017-18 season is over.
Sam Allardyce, hardly the most popular of choices when appointed to succeed Ronald Koeman and David Unsworth has largely done the job he was primarily appointed to do – secure and guarantee Premier League status and football for next season.
Already knocked out of Europe, the Carabao Cup, fairly steady mid-table in the league, the FA Cup was all Everton had to play for and that has now gone, but it could be a blessing in disguise as the enquiry and examination into what the hell caused this season to dissolve so damn quickly can now begin.
Tuesday sees the Annual General Meeting at the Philharmonic Hall and I’d suggest that even before the dust settles on this event, Farhad Moshiri would be well advised to embark upon a root and branch dissection of the club and a brutal but necessary appraisal of the suitability of every employee to their current role and genuine usefulness to the club.
The appraisals need to start right at the top with the constitution of the board and then work its way down through all the levels and layers of management, down to the staff actually working at the coal face.
One area often highlighted as being of sub-standard performance is that of communication, and in particular the at times frosty relationship the club has with the mainstream media.
Friday illustrated very, very clearly – at least to my mind – the poor way that Everton handles its public relations.
Friday was the day that eventually saw the transfer of Cenk Tosun to Everton from Besiktas completed, a deal that had been bandied around for well over ten days with Everton personnel having travelled to Turkey between Christmas and New Year.
Friday was the day that Ross Barkley was going to Chelsea to take his medical and complete a woefully handled transfer that saw Everton gain a token £15 million for a player who not six months ago was talked of in terms of at least double that figure.
There are a number of questions I feel need to be asked and answered, even if only internally to the major shareholder…
1. Why did the Tosun transfer take so long to complete?
2. Why wasn’t the Tosun transfer completed in time to have him registered and eligible to play in the FA Cup tie?
3. Why on earth was the announcement of the Tosun signing announced so amateurishly during half time on Friday night?
4. Who signed off on accepting just £15 million for Barkley and why?
5. Who failed to get agreement on Chelsea to hold off announcing the transfer had been completed on the day that we were preparing for a ‘derby’ in the cup ?
6. In the aftermath of the Firmino-Holgate fracas, it is my understanding that the press briefing by Liverpool was considerably more thorough than that of Everton, who were or appeared reluctant to comment or expand on the subject.
These are just three instances, but all on one day, that to me highlight a complete failure and lack of understanding or intelligence on how to manage and interact with the media.
At a time when off field matters appear to be taking an upward turn with greatly anticipated and expected news on Tuesday about the new stadium on the banks of the Royal Blue Mersey, the club shoots itself in the foot by allowing Chelsea to drive the narrative over Barkley, failing to properly and effectively announce and herald the arrival of an expensive new player, and then compound both of these by ineffectually dealing with the media over a serious incident in the cup tie.
There are plenty of other areas within the club that need serious attention and ideally change. If the current personnel are either incapable or ill-suited to delivering on new, tougher, necessary targets in whatever area they’re operating, then the changes need to begin.
The security of mid-table and avoiding the dreaded threat of relegation Sam Allardyce appears to have effected together with the FA Cup exit could be a blessing in disguise. Rather than waiting till the end of the season to enquire and examine, that work can and must begin now!!
While Mr.Moshiri arranges and conducts such an enquiry and examination, Sam Allardyce and Steve Walsh need to do similarly with the playing squad – carry out a necessary, and if needs be brutal, appraisal on the first team squad with a view to who stays, who goes, where we need strengthening etc etc.
All these appraisals need to begin right now, no stone should be left unturned and no holds should be barred – Everton Football Club needs to embark upon its new future right now, not in June or July, now.
Mr.Moshiri spoke two years ago of a small window of opportunity and it’s gotten that little bit smaller since then.
This annoying, disappointing and far too early exit from the FA Cup might just have opened that window a little bit wider, it’s bought us time to begin the enquiry and examination early… it could be a blessing in disguise.