To make myself relevant in the ‘Super Bluooo’ media game, instead of turning to the bleach, I decided to articulate my frustrations in the medium of a badly worded Ranticle.
[Rant + artcile = ranticle I’ll move on].
The Echo will be creating a piece from my ramblings [, and I can only assume make it less wordy & more ‘constructive’ – who knows.
Given you’ve read to this point without seeing the length and thinking F that, I thought I’d subject you to the unedited spiel from a mad man.
I should add before you bother to read [or not] that I don’t generally stick titles to my thoughts; how relevant it is to the below I’d suspect is very little.
The last time I put pen to paper was the FA Cup vs. United, it felt like a crossroads then, tomorrows game vs. the same opponents may be a crossroads too late [evidentially this was typed before the match, but in my little mind my ramblings hold some weight].
Being disappointed in Everton is a path well trodden; I’ve personally never seen a successful Everton side. Understandably one persons definition of success if different to the next, for me I’ve not seen us lift a trophy.
That said theirs no naivety to think we’ve a god given right to success, football moves on, past achievements equate for nothing if you standstill.
My support of Everton doesn’t relate to expecting success in return – don’t get me wrong you’ll probably find me in a complete daze if we did – there has always been a connection with the club.
Its always a given assumption I’d support Liverpool like everyone else. It helped I was half-decent at footy when I was younger and was at Liverpool academy for a fair few years.
One of my coaches outside the academy wanted me to support Everton/play for Everton [Everton incidentally didn’t want me I was too small – I’m crap now like]. In a childish manner (I’d have been 5) I looked up to him and he got me my first Everton ‘one to one’ kit.
My dad was more than happy him ‘converting me’ to Everton – so no pressure was put on me.
For what its worth when I first went the game it was just buying tickets for every match. My first season ticket was the main stand, and I recall telling my dad ‘its job to take me the game’.
I’ve been going for 20 years give or take now, and my dads still going –he secretly loves it, but he’ll never let on- seats been middle of the Gwladys for what seems like an age now.
Anyhow, pointless pre-amble aside I’m not going to pretend as a kid I ‘understood’ Everton, what we stood for, our ambitions, that sort of stuff, I merely chose to be different.
My first game at Goodison was Vs Fulham, which incidentally happened to be Moyes first. We had a few difficult seasons, but overall we were consistently fighting for Europe. With little investment, what we did spend, we spent well. The squad was a mix of hungry players, those with something to prove, and generally speaking all brought into us, the fans.
Theirs a famous Everton quote over the gym in Finch Farm: ‘Hard work beats talent, if talent doesn’t work hard enough’
That squad was more than the sum of its parts.
Ultimately thou we didn’t see success.
Lack of investment generally speaking been seen as the reason; alongside the often quoted ‘Knife to a gun fight’ showcasing how we bottled the big games – how the ‘underdog’ mentality would get us so far, but we couldn’t kick on.
Which takes us neatly to Martinez.
A manager whose supposed first words where ‘I’ll get you champions league’, a manager who left a blank canvas up at Finch Farm to incentivize the players to make there own history.
The 1st season under Martinez was a ‘coming of age’ we ‘loaned’ our way to a champions league push, youth players were being integrated in the squad, everything just felt ‘phenomenal. From a personal view, it was some of the best football I’ve experienced supporting us – Arsenal away being a standout – and the infamous knife to a gunfight approach was gone. We may not have broken some hideous away records, but we came as close as we’d done in the last 10 years.
Its true to say Martinez had a solid, if not aging foundation left by Moyes. The inherent task Moyes faced was keeping us up, Martinez had a team challenging for Europe.
That said any manager stepping into a job, whereby the previous incumbent has shaped the whole ethos of the club, is on a hiding for nothing [United & Arsenal prime examples].
Factor in a complete shift in styles that players struggled to build on, its no wonder the wheels fell off in the 2nd / 3rd season. Our home form tailed off, but ironically we had one of our best away records under Martinez.
As for cup runs, its no surprise we done well in cups up-to a point, it was a one off, but over the course of 38 league games we didn’t have the consistency, thus finishing mid-table on 2 consecutive occasions, manager sacked.
Its worth remembering Martinez sacking, was under ‘new majority shareholder’ Moshiri.
Moshiri wanted his own man, the fans were protesting against the manager, it was a simple call to make [I wrote a frustrated ‘article’ about it after the United FA Cup semi-final https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/everton-fan-qa-roberto-martinez-11272823].
In hindsight [which is always easier] it seems like a catalyst to 7 managers, 2 intern managers, 3 director of football, numerous backroom staff, and the clubs identity being ripped apart in the space of 6 years.
Moshiri, however started with all the right intentions;
“I think the job of an owner and chairman is simply to hire and fire the manager, the rest is down to him. Once we hire a manager we back him.”
The first manager to experience the ‘Hollywood of Football” would be Koeman. A ‘ruthless’ manager who was prized away from Southampton with the promise of doing what he wants, sentimentality put aside, and allowing the squad to be strengthen in Koeman’s image – “Koeman is Koeman: he does what he wants and I support him.”
All reads well, all reads like the manager being allowed to build something in his image. That’s not to say it was the right direction, but the principled stance of letting the manager do his job, and supporting him isn’t to be scoffed at.
What materialized was nothing short of contradiction, upon contradiction. The club, for the first time, decided to hire a Director Of Football, taking an inexperienced head scout from Leicester, and putting him in charge of, well everything football.
Recruitment, scouting, academy, club facilities, hiring / firing of managers, amongst many other facets. Fundamentally, someone in control of the clubs ethos going forward – its a big job – thus allowing easy transitions between players & managers alike.
Again, it reads well, its seems like a smart cohesive strategy; yet promising a manager seemingly ultimate control, alongside a Director Of Football whose job description is that of the manager without the coaching side, is clearly a recipe for disaster.
What panned out in the following seasons under Koeman is testament to the conflicting approach. Failure to replace key players, failure to have any defined approach on the pitch, a manager whose personality was divisive at best, and a general lack of leadership/responsibility resulted in long contracts, high wages, high transfers, numerous number 10s [, and a team devoid of any real function.
That said, it wasn’t all doom and gloom under Koeman [& Walsh]. Koeman inherited a team who finished 11th (47 points) and took us back into Europe, finishing 8th (61 points).
The squad was stripped back-to-basics, and resembled the beginning of Moyes’s time at the club. What was apparent we were set to become a ‘hard to beat’ team again, yet we still had that ability to take the game to anyone [at least at home] with Man City being the prime / standout game under Koeman’s tenor.
Unfortunately, that was as good as it got.
The aforementioned lack of structured recruitment, spending a record 150million like a kid in a candy shop, resulted in our league form going AWOL & our foray into European football falling flat on its face. Koeman was the first to pay the price, and was sacked 2 months into his second season with us falling into the relegation zone.
Step up for the 2nd time Unsworth [1 previous game Vs Norwich after Martinez sacking] who was asked to steady the ship whilst we reviewed other managers, namely Marco Silva.
Unsworth called on some youngsters from the U23s, & simply done the job he was given. There was nothing spectacular, but the ship was relatively steady by the time we put 4 past West Ham.
Alas, in a seemingly cap-in-hand, approach we employed ‘fire-fighter’ Allardyce on an 18-month contract. The world and his dog knew Moshiri wanted Silva, Allardyce was always going to be short-term.
Allardyce [under Walsh it should be said] was given funds to strength the squad, more high wages / contracts thrown at players.
If the Hollywood of the north wasn’t a faded antidote, it was re-emerging once again with Moshiri proclaiming we’ve ‘our own fab four’ – one of which Allardyce himself made- after the signing of Tosun. Safe to say Moshiri failed to read the room again.
Anyhow, with Allardyce now in charge, it was as back to basics as you can muster, no team having fewer shots during his 6-months in charge. Unsurprisingly Allardyce was sacked at the end of the 2017/2018 season, followed too by Steve Walsh.
Everton where heading into another summer window requiring a manager & given Moshiri’s preference a Director of Football.
Up-steps recently sacked from Watford, the man who Moshiri wanted all along, Marco Silva.
A manager whose style resembled that of Martinez, so another appointment lacking continuity, but that of which the fans would get behind. Silva happy to pro-claim “I know what our fans expect – they expect results but not only results, I want our fans to be proud when they see our team on the pitch.”
Another seemingly on Moshiri’s long-time radar was Marcel Brands, who was recruited as Director of Football. This time both manager & director where seemingly on the same page.
But in what seems like a classic case of De Ja Vu the first season started well, another standout performance against a team from Manchester – this time the red half – capped a respectable campaign.
With ‘building blocks’ in place to push on 2nd season syndrome struck again. Failure to replace key players, ill-prepared pre-season, signing players without a clear reason, and something that’s not been touched on just yet, players seemingly downing tools.
Going back to Roberto’s time at the club, when asked to expand on his ‘philosophy’ the players ultimately couldn’t. Roberto was rightly or wrongly accused of having no ‘Plan B’ , and that same cliché was thrown at Silva.
What is apparent however, the same traits, the same mentality, always come to surface. Our tendency to be one or two games from a complete meltdown hasn’t gone away. It was damming under Silva [and now] that we can’t turn games round when we concede.
There is so many facets, and I guess excuses one can come up with as to why it failed yet again under Silva, but if the script wasn’t becoming clearer the players can’t shirk or hide anymore.
Silva was sacked after 18-months in charge, Everton again sitting in the relegation zone pre-January.
This time up-stepped ‘gets Everton’ Ferguson for another round of steadying the ship. Ferguson who has been in/around the first-team staff since Roberto brought him back to the club.
Safe to say, back-to-basics worked again, all that Silva had tried to build was boxed away for a classic 4-4-2, fight & proclamation of ‘what it means to play for Everton’.
The ship was steadied & in a turn of events Hollywood would be proud of Ancelotti was given the Everton job on a four-and-a-half year deal.
The first 2 games went swimmingly, narrow wins, against Burnley and Newcastle respectively was followed by a gutless cup exit to our nearest and dearest Liverpool. Our virtually full-strength 11 fell to a pitiful 1-0 defeat at the hands of a Liverpool team consisting of three teenagers and many more youngsters and fringe players.
A staple reality checks if ever one was needed, but fortunately the league form remained steady, albeit two surprising results.
In quintessential Everton fashion, we conspired to throw away a 2-0 lead that we’d held until the 94rd minute to draw 2-2 at home to Newcastle.
In a reverse of fortunes, marking the first time Everton had come from behind to win a league game since December 2017, the shoe was on the other foot when we went to Watford, as Mina’s brace and Theo Walcott’s injury-time turned a 2-nil deficit into a 3 points.
Slowly, a positive mentality shift seemed to be creeping in under Ancelotti.
In a scenario nobody had envisioned the last time we would see Ancelotti in-person at the Goodison dugout would follow on from another peculiar game. The 1-1 draw with United is a prime example of VAR & its lack of improvement since [another story].
Unprecedented circumstances [covid] resulted in a 3-month suspension of the league. Everton under Ancelotti, having not lost at home, went into the break comfortable, with fleeting glances towards European places.
Upon the seasons resumption, we ended a pretty laborious campaign in late July, when Bournemouth ended Ancelotti’s unbeaten home run as Everton manager on the day the Cherries were relegated.
It meant Everton ended up in 12th – their lowest league finish since 2003-04.
The following season genuinely seems like a blur to me.
Interesting signings, watching from home, zero fans in any ground, 7 wins on the bounce at the start of the season, top of the itunes music charts, an upbeat happy Everton Twitter, everything felt right, but it could not, and wasn’t the same as being there.
Sadly, the momentum soon came to a grinding halt, a home draw vs. Liverpool somehow saw the season fall into a tailspin. Notwithstanding occasional glimmers of finding our feet again, a season that started with so much promise, had many standout results, just fell apart. Only the Premier League’s bottom five ended with worse home record that us.
It’s hard to over-divulge that season given the ever widening distance to the club and I guess football in general [The Super League]. Although starting well, surrounded in positivity the same flaws came to fruition.
Ancelotti, no fault of his own couldn’t implement a style, he went for ‘quick fix’ signings [another debate] and tried to instil a true winning mentality to the club but couldn’t.
Players who had downed tool before, had came into question under Silva, had 0 places to hide now. A manager who has won it all, yet struggled to get any tune when heads dropped, crystalized a growing sentiment amongst the fans, the players don’t seem to care.
Safe to say, yet unexpectedly, Madrid came calling, Ancelotti left as for Everton, for as much as they appeared to be on the cusp of more marked improvement we ended up tenth, despite amassing ten more points than in 2019-20.
The one differing scenario here, we didn’t sack the manager, and appeared blind-sighted, but another summer, another manager, another pre-season or lack of followed.
So we move onto this current season and crop of players.
I won’t dwell on Anchelloti’s replacement, not for want of ignoring Benetiz, more to fast-track the article.
What I will say regarding Benetiz, his appointment was awash with controversy -‘small club’, ex-liverpool manager, finished at this level, take your pick- he had no transfer funds, signed well, started well, and it well, fell apart.
This is were responsibility shifts to Moshiri.
To allow a manager literal free reign is one thing, to allow a manager control over transfers is the right thing, but to do so given the back-drop of one-game-later your sacked is madness.
Allowing a manager to make signings, and sell players isn’t an issue, to do so and then sack them a game later shows more short-sighted decision making. Its barely comprehensible to understand the logic, there was ample signs/opportunities to make the call earlier – then again ‘strategic review’.
The Benetiz appointment screamed of indulgence, it could have worked, but the odd where never in favour.
We’ve often signed ‘jobs for the boys’ this was a far from that as possible. Someone whose remit was seemingly to ‘keep it steady’ and rightly or wrongly oversee the clubs structures – to which Director of Football, medical staff, scouts amongst others were shown the door [indirectly or directly due to manager, fans, saving face].
With that being said, Benetiz was sacked [righty but far too late], Fergusson then being asked to repeat his trick from a few seasons ago and stop the rot, which failed. All the while what followed was a farcical manager search, some of which broadcast on Sky Sports for all, protests, and just disharmony which ultimately resulted in the eventual appointment of Lampard who was given the job with 1 day to sign players, and the stark reality of relegation [still] looming large.
Lets get this right; Lampard has taken this job because it’s Everton. That’s not to say he had a choice, and he’s landed on his feet with us, but it’s not without its risks to his own reputation.
From the outside we’re a team ‘on paper’ that’s at best top half at worse mid-table. We’ve seemingly an owner who’s invested, a new ground on the horizon, & passionate supporters. Its a ‘good challenge’ all the lads need is confidence, new system, new faces, any other cliché.
Few weeks in it then becomes apparent we’re a squad of unprofessional cowards alongside a completely dysfunctional boardroom.
Least we forgot ‘what would Everton do’- It’s all about image.
Keeping up the semblance that everything’s smelling of roses, snippets of ‘good news’, spineless club ‘ambassadors’, all whilst overseeing a complete mismanagement of the club top to bottom.
In Lampard’s case Palace seemed like final straw – he’s got to make his mind up regarding these players quickly. Were time should be to imprint a style, its lost given the situation we’re in.
Main reason we can’t/couldn’t settle on a formation, team & style – the players.
They can’t be trusted.
We don’t trust them.
Frank doesn’t trust them.
Teammates don’t trust each other.
They’re afraid of making mistakes, which is compounded by the continuous making of basic mistakes
The ‘form’ fluctuates from 1 minute to the next as the majority ‘showup’ for 15mins, and reverts to type because we’ve not got the conviction, professionalism or pride.
Majority of this squad have downed tools in the past at the first sign of jeopardy- they’ve no fight, and no interest in a relegation battle- we’re too good.
If we stay up, it’s little at all to do with them.
Frank didn’t create this mess, he has clearly been struggling to fix it, but its not on him [same sentiments for previous managers]
Players don’t need to play for the shirt, the club, the fans, and the manager, just play for yourselves, individual professionalism – they don’t [we know the ones who turn up / consistently take responsibility]
‘Play The Kids’ – The only time we’ve really fast-tracked youth into the first team was under Roberto’s 1st season. The environment was positive, it was an easy choice to make. Since then its been multiple years, multiple managers, multiple directions the academy has been pushed/pulled in, the kids themselves don’t really stand a chance.
Ultimately he can do very little to ‘fix’ the issues – they’re deep rooted. Any manager needs time to literally ‘rip it up’, until they’re given time the same cowards will repeat the cycle of downing tools when they see fit.
The owner will continue to appease them [and at times the fans] basically vindicating himself and the squad from direct blame.
No one is expecting people to call out there boss, but ultimately being a nodding dog has merely placated the issues.
Safe to say the deep set malaise this club has become set it before Moshiri [we didn’t push on, we’ve sat back content with ‘best of rest’ whilst others caught and overtook] its only been compounded by him.
Ran like a circus, perform like a circus
As the saying goes.
‘Hard work beats talent if talent doesn’t work hard’
Understandably this is a very simplistic take, but the failings we’ve seen have long been in the making. There might not be time to get it right, but that doesn’t mean we should revert to the same hire/fire mantra, which has left us treading water [and that’s being kind].
Everything done under Moshiri suggests it wouldn’t be a surprise if Lampard were shown the door. That, though, would be the final confirmation he doesn’t know what he is doing in terms of football decisions. Bramley-Moore aside, its positive don’t get me wrong, but its meaningless if we fail to get it right on the pitch. Mutton dressed as lamb springs to mind.
Martinez – ‘philosophy’
Koeman – ‘Hollywood’
Allardyce – Basics
Silva – ‘upcoming’
Ancelloti – legend
Benitez – ‘Gets the City’
Unsworth & Ferguson – ‘gets everton’
We’ve tried it each way under the sun, it doesn’t work, we’ve got to settle. Lampard may not be the right man long-term, but he should be given the time and resources to try stabilize & build a foundation.
Where Lampard has been smart, he’s taken himself to task in fixing the connection with the players at Goodison. He’s not shirked in his responsibilities win, loose or draw – he’s front the fans (Burnley being the exception which irks a little) & made sure the players too don’t hide. Having a manager ‘who gets Everton’ is one thing, but being able to transfer those ‘Everton traits’ or ‘non-non-negotiable’ as Frank puts it, is enough. What’s evident, is we’re seeing manager adapt to his surroundings, learn on the job, whilst steering a relegation battle [not of his making] in the face. It’ll take time, the fight is there from the manager, the players have had there moments, we just lack consistency [of players, style, direction, etc] which time brings.
As I touched at the start, I’ve not seen success; success is different to different people. I personally don’t see us as a big club, historically we are, but the here / now, from my time supporting we aren’t.
History gets you so far.
You’ve got to make history, you’ve got to act with the right intentions, build a team that represents the club, and ultimately fight. All the tactics in the world will surmount to little without having the heart to back it up.
No team has a god given right to win games, nor stay up indefinitely, but going down with a whimper is inexcusable.
There’s history to be remembered for, and that to go down infamous.
The common denominator is the players & the board they have to start owning their mistakes.
It’s not a success staying up, but it means history can still stand for something going forward.
Footnote: If you’ve made it this far I can only say thanks. There may or may not be merit to what I’ve typed, some points may be repeated, but this was literally a means or venting after the Burnley result. I’m not going to lie; I didn’t think I could type 3 words let alone 4k.