I can remember no season where either myself, or an entire fanbase felt as down as we currently do. I have pulled back from writing articles, in part due to work commitments, in part due to the quality of articles on this (and other EFC) platforms but in the main because writing the same negative article week after week. It’s not in my nature to moan endlessly and Evertonians are intelligent enough not to be told another 5-1 hammering at Arsenal (the 9th 3+ goal defeat of the season) is unacceptable.
The reality is we are at an impasse. Nothing about the way the club is currently set up feels permanent. We all sense change is coming bit none of us can pinpoint exactly what the change will look like and increasingly we are concerned whether it will be a positive. When Moshiri waltzed in just under 2 years ago, watched us beat the champions Chelsea 2-0 to get to the quarter finals of the cup with goals scored from one of the most talented young strikers in the world there was genuine room for optimism. He seemed to have significant financial backing but also a knowledge of football having spent time on the Arsenal board. Of all the top clubs around us, it is perhaps Arsenal, who have built a club over time while not losing the essence of their traditions and history that most Evertonians would like to emulate. While we would all snap your hand off for 3 FA Cups in 4 years, the Arsenal of 10 years ago would have been perfect!
It is very easy to say change has not arrived from when Moshiri took over yet I’m not sure that really stands up. Sacking Martinez was a change that would never have occurred before Moshiri, nor would the acquisition of Koeman. I’m not sure Lukaku stays another year, or we can attract Swansea’s captain, Palaces Best player or (champions) Leicester Head of recruitment without Moshiri. The difficulty is that most of the above have proven to be poor decisions, so while change has come, what has followed has not been a positive. What didn’t change was that the old guard who ran the club have remained in position. With the elevation of Elstone onto the board their position has bureaucratically (at the very least) been strengthened. For me this was and remains the biggest area of weakness for the club. Moshiri may well have felt they were competent business people who just needed support and finance to get Everton thriving again, but two years on the conclusion now has to be the club has underachieved because of not in spite of their efforts.
I remember at the time of the takeover there was some talk of a 2 year period where the current impasse of dual power would remain, while others spoke of Moshiri having a pre-agreed option on shares to take him over the majority threshold at a significant moment (most suggested it would be on commencement of a new ground move). The 49.9% is a very specific figure being the maximum amount of shares he could buy without being a majority shareholder but would give a strong indication of a man who intends to up his shareholding at a particular moment. This is only strengthened by wide acceptance that he has an option to do so. The fact the above two scenario’s (2 years in and the likelihood of the commencement of the first stages of a ground move) fall so close together may be coincidence but alongside numerous suggestions from supporters of change at boardroom level it feels the full takeover of Moshiri may be upon us over the forthcoming weeks.
To me it’s not an unreasonable assertion to say that Moshiri’s stock has fallen in that time. When he first came him he was generally supported 80% compared to under 10% who were unhappy with the rest being undecided in a poll on this site. In an equivalent poll taken autumn of this year, taking into account what we now know are they were they happy or disappointed with what they had seen the figures were around 62% v 35% unhappy. In both cases I voted with the majority and would say that while we had high hopes for what Moshiri could bring, as yet the level of change has not been what we expected.
If the full takeover is to happen over the next few months, you do feel Moshiri has to get a lot of decisions right as the amount of credit in the bank he has is far less than two years ago. We will need the sort of bold decision making we saw in the first summer, but with far better execution and ultimately decisions he has taken to come off better than ones he has currently taken has. In no business, irrespective of wealth or track record can you maintain your position of respect and admiration amongst supporters or customers if you continue to make more bad decisions than good ones. It’s not to say you can’t make any mistakes but he desperately needs some good decisions this summer.
For Everton no aspect of the club has really emerged with any credit over the last 6 months. It is very hard to see a world where keeping Steve Walsh as Director of Football (DOF) can do anything but further antagonize supporters and the same could be said of the manager. The concern for Moshiri will be, replacing the entire structure, as he had too in his first summer, in a transfer window which shuts nearly 3 weeks earlier than other seasons and is delayed by a World Cup has all the recipes of another summer debacle where a lack of clarity and ruthlessness allied to time constraints could really hamper Everton.
Much of the concern emerging from the fanbase is that fundamentally they don’t have an awful lot of faith or trust on Moshiri. At present he can have little argument with this, as I have indicated above most of his decisions have been poor ones and even his most ardent supporter would have to concede the process of recruiting a manager, which he headed up was shambolic in the extreme. If I was offering Moshiri any advice it would be to look to avoid negotiating difficult situations and thus limit the potential for making mistakes. As a poker player you earn to avoid “tight spots” and playing too many hands for fear that if you keep putting yourself in positions where you have to make difficult decisions sooner or later you will get some wrong.
Within football that can be difficult and for the most part this summer it would appear unavoidable. What can be learnt from his first summer is bringing in a DOF and a Manager in parallel is not only difficult, unlikely to lead to a profitable summer of business but crucially it’s unlikely to foster a harmonious working relationship between the two. For Everton history repeating itself should be a course of action that is avoided if possible.
The question will be asked which is the chicken and which is the egg out of the manager and the DOF. While I understand many fans will want the Manager situation sorted out first, process would dictate getting in a DOF should come first. Alongside this, in like with the aim of avoiding unnecessary difficult decisions it makes a lot of sense to initially get a DOF in position, either move Walsh on or change his role while giving a DOF 4 months to “bed in” before what’s likely to be a turbulent summer. The first (and perhaps only) initial task he would have would be to identify a shortlist of 6 potential coaches who could work under him and fulfill the aims of Everton, ideally a coach who had a youth focused outlook and was able to seek solutions that weren’t centrally based around player recruitment. Not only would this offer Everton the best chance to move forward positively from this summer onwards, but Moshiri effectively builds a layer of insulation below him so that he doesn’t carry the flack for a poor managerial search going forward and is able to focus his attentions on how well his board are performing rather than getting involved in the minutae of the footballing side which appears a challenge for him.
As for most Evertonians we currently sit and wait to see what the next few months bring. The position of our reserve manager, managerial and coaching staff, Director of football and the majority of the board’s positions remain under a cloud. Undoubtedly the anomie of that situation is having an affect on performances and feeding into the malaise and despair of the support base. It is all well and good Moshiri wanting us to wait again until the summer, yet the summer feels long way off when the first team continue to be hammered. There is nothing stopping Moshiri acting now, in the way I have suggested above to make a small change that would signify wider movements in the forthcoming months and give supporters something akin to a light at the end of the tunnel to cling too. Now more than ever that is needed, as there is very little tangible that currently suggests the club is on the right course.