So, as Everton’s season continues to flounder, more innovative and far flung reasons for positivity are spewed onto Evertonians by, I’m sure, other well meaning Evertonians.
The reluctance of some to critically appraise the manager continues, despite a clearly atrocious season unravelling week-by-week. Okay, of course recruiting a new manager would look bad given our recent managerial history, there’s the likelihood it would cause some negative disruption to long-term planning and there are many other possible negative connotations. However, this should not shield the manager from fair assessment, we should not be finding ever-more creative ways to deflect blame or convince ourselves what we’re witnessing is acceptable.
I’ve been baffled how obvious managerial faults have been dressed-up, rather than actually being discussed for what they are. People have jotted articles, and discussed on podcasts, searching for the essence of our troubles: leadership, game-management, psychological fragility, identity, substitutions, lineup, formations, goalkeeper coaching, the players and even Duncan Ferguson have been highlighted as potential sources for such a poor season.
Surely, the majority of these arguments fall directly under the responsibility of the manager? This isn’t much of a question, it’s quite simple, they do. It’s the manager’s responsibility to set core principals which should cascade throughout the team, a team is a direct reflection of the manager; if there’s recurring issues of mental weakness for example, which there is, this falls on the manager. I’m scratching the surface here in regards to the managerial shortcomings, the aim of this piece is to highlight the jumbled thinking I’ve heard expressed from some Evertonians. How we desperately appear to be burying our heads in the sand.
A caveat being that we’re all desperate for any form of success, but from desperation perceptions can be skewed. Does a win at Cardiff and a draw at home, given our recent record, to Liverpool now constitute a turning-point in our season? It shouldn’t. Likewise, is the capitulation away at Newcastle the disaster it seems? Probably not given the nature of the season we’re having. One result overly praised for me, while the other is perceived as surprising in terms of letting it slip, but what do we expect? Let’s be blunt, if a draw at home to Liverpool is the highlight of our season we probably shouldn’t be losing our heads after the result away at Newcastle.
Onto Marcel Brands, with his cocky stride and musky odours (thanks Homer Simpson) oh what faith I’ve seen placed in this man. Clutching at straws appears to be reaching new levels as the respite of the final game peeps over the horizon.
As outlined, the season has been dire, there’s a consensus that Marcel is going to step in during the summer months and place his healing hands on the battered remains of Everton and make it all okay again. Personally, Marcel is the best piece of recruitment Everton have made, a man with tangible success in previous roles, this is important. I have total faith in Marcel to carry out his job very competently within his remit. I don’t however expect miracles, the expectations placed on Marcel, by some, is beyond unfair. A false sense of security surrounds this season, no matter how bad it gets, not to worry, our Marcel will sort it in the summer.
I’m not going to go into depth regarding the expanse of the task he has in front of him, I’ll briefly skirt over it for some context. The squad is a disaster, not so much the staring 11, but the expanse of the squad requires major surgery. Many players need offloading, some on impossible contracts to replicate, which will be required to initiate some movement.
Spending, are we guaranteed spending funds? I’m not so sure, the noises coming from Everton appear to be negative in this regard. Realistically, players will have to be moved on before incomings can be sanctioned. Looking at things coldly, if we sign Gomes and Zouma we would have spent a considerable sum of money to stand still, an example of how difficult this could get.
Brands has mentioned there will be more emphasis placed on youth, but are our crop of youngsters currently good enough to give us some on-field improvement? Perhaps long-term this will pay dividends, but it’s unlikely to produce short-term success. Relying on Marcel to recruit three or four outstanding, cheap and unknown pearlers to immediately boost our starting team could well be too ambitious.
Other suggestions I’ve noted from others; Marcel needs to bring in at least one quality striker, right-back, centre-half, central-midfielder, right-sided midfielder/winger and a decent backup keeper-some of these with leadership credentials too if possible Marcel please.
On one particular Everton-based podcast I listened too recently, two contributors were discussing how Marcel should be directing Marco on where he is going astray regarding on-field matters and suggesting Marcel direct Marco into amending this, his talent knows no bounds it seems.
In summary, I have faith in Brands, I think he can pull some miracles out of the fire, but I’m not naïve enough to expect him to successfully address all our problems, let’s be realistic. Given the leniency being granted to the managerial team at present, I hope this level of understanding extends to Marcel when he doesn’t cure all our issues over the summer. There is a danger in looking longingly and hopefully into the future for a one-man fix. I strongly feel there is a big discrepancy in expectations, maybe, instead of relying on Marcel Brands to solve all our problems over the next few months we should be expecting more out of our managerial team now.