Everton fans like to make permanent judgements on people.
To many, Bill Kenwright is a buffoon. Always will be.
I could tell you he was instrumental in bringing Farhad Moshiri to the club. I could tell you he was at the forefront of shaping the designs for our new stadium. Neither would matter.
To some, Marcel Brands is a cool and ruthless transfer kingpin. The kind of person who’d write the Art of the Deal.
It’s perfectly fine to go on Twitter and write lists of all of our transfer accomplishments this summer. Even stick a big green tick ✅ next to every signing. And while there’s no doubt that there have been some impressive signings, the fact remains that our priority at the start of the summer was to tie down Kurt Zouma. And failing Zouma, another center half.
It hasn’t happened.
Michael Keane’s renaissance last season from jittery ditherer to Blue Blood Mick Kegger was down in large part to the speed, intelligence and aerial ability of the man playing next to him, Kurt Happy Zouma.
Remember what Mick Keane was like under Big Sam?
Happy Zouma, happy Keane.
Not only was Keane flanked by a solid defensive partner but he had Idrissa Gueye in front of him. Wiping up messes like an obsessive compulsive bus boy. Now we have JP Gbamin, an unknown quantity.
That triangle was a huge part of Everton’s success last season. Two of the three have now gone, and Keane’s new partner is Yerry Mina. I’m not sure I trust Mina to bring out the best in Keane…
And what if I’m wrong? What if the Keane-Mina-Gbamin axis is just as good as last season’s trio?
We still have the worry that an injury prone Mina won’t be a fixture at the back. And if either Mina or Keane get injured we have no backup aside from Mason Holgate.
Brands surely made the calculation this summer that we’d have to get another centre half, possibly even two after letting Jags go as well.
Brands had to have known that signing Kurt Zouma wasn’t going to be simple. Chelsea were operating under a transfer ban, and a new manager. It was by no means guaranteed that we’d get him, and all the hashtaggery in the world couldn’t change that.
Brands must have had a contingency plan in place if Zouma elected to – or was made to – stay at Chelsea.
It’s now pretty obvious that there was no depth to Brands’ thinking when it came to the acquisition of another centre half. He wasn’t playing 3D chess. He wasn’t a Dutch galaxy brained transfer guru. He dropped the ball, and injury, poor chemistry, or poor form, could leave our back line with a big hole in it.
There’s lots to be happy about at Everton this summer, but if it doesn’t work out at the heart of our defence we know who to blame…
From the archives: August 2018: Evertonians On Marcel Brands