Do the changes at the highest level now mean the club have a long term plan?
As Frank Sinatra once said, “I did it my way!” And so seems Mr Moshiri may have taking note of Ol’ Blue Eyes famous words.
After the week that saw not only Sam Allardyce lose his job, Steve Walsh and a number of his back room staff were left with reeling heads at the speed of Evertons new direction. It was plain to see that a fair majority of the Goodison faithful, despite claims from Allardyce to the contrary, were fully expecting the cull to come after some pretty awful performances. The manner in which it happened however, surprised a fair few too.
Rewind 7 months to the debacle that was Evertons search for a replacement for Ronald Koeman. A search that lasted a boggling 5/6 weeks! Now it’s obvious that our forlorn attempt at taking Marco Silva away from Watford ended in defeat, more on this hot topic shortly, but that did stretch our waiting time immensely. Step forward Mr Allardyce, who depending on how you look at it, had the club over a very large barrel. The rest, as they say, is history. However, whether his 18 month contract was there or not, he was essentially on borrowed time from the day he walked through the door. It finally seemed that Moshiri had a plan. This time the 80’s group Orange Juice must have been in his head. As they famously sang “Rip it up (and start again)” So the seed was already there and it finally bloomed 24hrs before Allardyces official departure.
There was no surprise of the new Robert Elstone was leaving and returning to his first love of Rugby League. However, the boardroom reshuffle that followed, did take others off guard. Elstone was replaced by Denise Barrett-Baxendale, the head of Everton In The Community. Her work there had revived a struggling charity to possibly one of the best run community programmes in the country. In turn, her replacement was Keith Harris (feel free to insert Orvile joke here!) as Deputy Chairman. Sasha Ryazantsev was also appointed as the new Finance and Commercial Officer, which seems a very positive appointment.
Now these new appointments may not excite every Evertonian at first glance, but each are there to serve their own purpose. Evertons poor showing on the commercial has been no secret. Kit and other major sponsorship deals have fallen way behind some of or, so called, equals in recent years, with Spurs earning twice as much on their latest deal with Nike. Elstone has often been called out over taking the “easy deal” with a lot of negotiations and, needless to say, his handling of the Kitbag renewal was not met with resounding support. The acrimonious end to the Nike kit deal and New Badge furore did nothing but fuel the fire that the CEO was out of his depth.
So the appointment of Ryazantsev should be welcomed with open arms as definitive response to those baying for better deals. For one person to be overseeing all commercial activity must be seen as a positive sign. The sole focus of grabbing onto the coat tails of clubs such as Spurs, and hauling ourselves at least level is one we should all be behind. Talks of a deal with Under Armour, should Umbro not take up the 5th year option, were under consideration. Though with positive action on all fronts now on the horizon, there may be deals that truly match the ambition of those inside Goodison Park. Adidas anyone?
Now the elephant in the room after the reshuffle seems to be the figure of Keith Harris. He isn’t what you’d class as shy in coming forward and it seems to not have been lost one or two others in the world of football. David Gill, former chief executive at Manchester United had this to say about him…
“Keith Harris will go anywhere that there’s a bit of publicity around. That’s his modus operandi, but his track record in football isn’t anything to write home about”
Glowing praise indeed. The former Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan had also once said that after his short involvement with the club that Keith Harris had “… delivered the square root of absolutely nothing” It’s safe to say his track record isn’t glowing with references. So what role will he play? It’s safe to say he’ll not be taking a part in the day-to-day running of the club, but one would assume he’ll more than likely be responsible for the financing of the new stadium. He has often been linked with clubs attempting to find and secure investments, so it looks likely to be the case here too. His track record may have more ups and downs than the Tour De France, but having a sole focus on the Bramley-Moore may prove a profitable appointment. Time will tell!
The more pressing matter of concern is that of the manager. Or lack thereof. One thing seems to be sure and that is that Moshiri seems to know who he wants, Marco Silva. Most Evertonians are sceptical I’m sure, those who would prefer a big name or at least one who has shown to be a winner. Names such as Ancellotti, Emery etc. But are we really casting away the thought of Silva without really thinking about it? The replacement of Steve Walsh with Marcel Brands was a change the majority of us saw coming. What may have passed us by is the level at which he wants to be involved. He’s had a sterling career in Dutch football and unearthed a plethora of stars, most of which have graced the Premier League. He does this with a level of control that most British clubs may be unaccustomed to.
In an interview with Dutch TV shortly after the deal was announced he mentioned he’d like to be involved from helping choose the manager to the choice of the kit. Now if that doesn’t show a level of extra effort, we’d be missing something. Brands was another of Moshiris targets when he first took over the club, but sadly for us he decided to remain at PSV. What we can tell now from just from these brief glimpses is that he’ll be taking a lot of the load away from the so called typical British manager. So where would that leave Marco Silva, assuming that the reports are true? It would certainly make sense, that after offering upwards of £12m to Watford for his services, that we’d be heading back to ask him and his representatives that question again. It would earn Moshiri a tip of the hat for sticking to his guns and going for the man he believes can push the club forward. Obviously it seems a tricky situation with the Watford claims of tapping up, but according to some reports than wouldn’t affect any potential appointment. However, should the expected and probable scenario not pan out as planned, don’t be surprised to see Sèrgio Conçěicao become a major front runner. Cut from the same cloth as Silva, he is seen as a young, positive influence on his squads and should only become better.
So how would Brands and Silva work as previously mentioned? The change in structure it would seem would lead many to believe that Silvas appointment would be as Head Coach rather than Manager. With Marcel Brands hands on approach, that would surely leave Marco Silva to focused solely on coaching the first team without any side distractions. Again that can only be seen as a push in the right direction as many see Silvas strengths in his coaching and man management skills. For that end alone it has to be seen as a positive move for the club in the long run, due to the “Everton project” Moshiri now has. Any new man who comes into has to be given time to develop the squad and all that entails. There have been too many false dawns in the last 3 or 4 years, so concrete progress will only be able develop over time and with a little patience from the Goodison faithful. Hopefully!
So can we finally relax and begin to believe the good times are back in L4? Is there that pot of gold waiting for us at the end of the rainbow? Well, as with anything, there will always be that nagging doubt with many Everton supporters. One thing is for sure though, if the passion, belief and endeavour is there to see, from boardroom to pitch side, then they’ll always have supporters behind them. It’s our motto after all…