The question, "What is Everton?" has been asked a lot by outsiders recently. It's unlikely many thought that Carlo Ancelotti could form part of that answer but the calmly authoritative managerial great is the latest step in Farhad Moshiri's gradual shifting of the identity of the club

Short of consistent success, nothing gets media coverage in the modern game quite like a good old-fashioned crisis and between the meltdown of Roberto Martinez’s reign in 2016 to Marco Silva’s tailspin in late 2019, Everton have obliged football’s pundits, commentators and writers alike on a fairly regular basis.

With the accumulation of failed managerial tenures at Goodison Park, the question was demanded, particularly by outsiders, just what it means to be “Everton?”

“What do Everton fans want?” exasperated observers asked two years ago as Toffees fans chafed against the unwanted Sam Allardyce regime; this season, as the club’s hierarchy appeared to be wracked by indecision around the collapse of Silva’s regime and then over who should succeed him following his eventual dismissal, the debate centred around Everton’s identity and what is often seen as an unrealistically expectant fanbase.

From Jamie Carragher in the Telegraph, who chided Evertonians for “living in a world where Farhad Moshiri should be trying to lure” the cream of Europe’s managerial talent to Goodison; to Rory Smith in the New York Times, who pondered whether Everton had become crippled by the weight of its history which “makes innovation burdensome” and “the pressure from the fans to succeed … creates a febrile, tense environment [and] the bar for failure is lower when the expectations are higher,” and to Miguel Delaney in The Independent, who argued that, “the major issue [at Everton] is they have no current idea or plan for what they want to be,” there was a drumbeat of bemusement among the media at Everton’s supporters, their ambition and what pundits deemed to be wildly unrealistic expectations.

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That rankled somewhat because there is a misconception that Blues fans feel that their club has a divine right to be winning trophies and that every managerial selection should fast-track Everton into the Champions League. In the main, Blues fans are more realistic than that and few are under any many illusions about the length of the road between where the club currently finds itself and where they dream it can get to.

In a general sense, as described in an 1878 Magazine article (Our Rightful Place) two years ago, Evertonians feel that their club, with its rich history and traditions, is big enough to be mixing it up at the top of the domestic game but they’re pragmatic enough to know that Everton are not currently in a position to realise that aim.

The least they demand in the meantime is that the Board demonstrate the requisite ambition and that the players on the pitch show the determination and fight that is asked of anyone who pulls on the Royal Blue jersey. An acknowledgement of how far the club is from realising its collective ambitions should not preclude supporters from having those aspirations in the first place and all they have asked is that the club show tangible signs of progress in the right direction. That wasn’t always evident as Everton lurched from manager to manager amid questionable recruitment decisions.

What is Everton? Well, a large part of the club’s DNA and its lifeblood was gloriously exposed by Duncan Ferguson in December. It’s spirit, it’s togetherness, it’s football played with tempo and fearlessness backed by a bear-pit Goodison crowd cheering full-blooded challenges almost as much as fantastic attacking play.

Carragher opined, somewhat condescendingly, in his article that “the ideal Everton coach favours a finely-tuned combination of aggressive, front-foot football with a dash of skill” but he only got it part right; it’s about much more than just a dash of skill. The real Everton is just as much about silk as it is about steel but when the former isn’t in abundance, then it’s the latter that can carry the team through as it did during the days of Joe Royle’s Dogs of War.

That real Everton, one that has been missing at times since 1995 and which has seen a dreadful record on the grounds of the new “big six” worsen with each passing season, is also about about iron resolve when the chips are down and it might explain why this club has endured in the top flight of English football since 1954, made two last-day escapes from relegation in the 1990s and why, harnessed by Ferguson, the Toffees showed such stomach for the fight last month where Arsenal, for example, remained somewhat lethargic under their own interim boss, Freddie Ljungberg, until Mikel Arteta was drafted in to try and turn things around.

It’s interesting, then, that while first, those looking in from the outside have been pondering Everton’s identity and shaking their heads at what they perceive to be flights of fancy on the part of a fanbase living in the past and second, Ferguson was rediscovering so much of what had been missing on the pitch, the club should appoint Carlo Ancelotti as Silva’s successor. Goodison Park was not the destination most people envisaged for the heralded statesman of European football with such a glittering list of achievements and who has done it all and won it all; surely London and the Emirates Stadium was more suited to a manager of Ancelotti’s pedigree and accomplishments?

It is to Moshiri’s credit that he continues to aim high and, having initially signalled his ambition when he sounded out the likes of Diego Simeone when looking for Ronald Koeman’s replacement in 2017, he seized on the opportunity to present Ancelotti with an enticing opportunity at Goodison when he was sacked by Napoli. Tacitly, the Monaco-based businessman asked, “why not Ancelotti for Everton?” and while many assume that the attraction of compensation that reportedly puts him among the top three most highly-paid managers in Europe was probably decisive in his decision, the more you read about and from Ancelotti, the more you get the feeling it was more than just money that drew him to Everton.

Both Smith and Delaney in their aforementioned pieces for the New York Times and The Independent respectively tried to ascribe the Toffees’ missteps under Moshiri to a general lack of vision and planning, a notion that came easily in early December when the club really did look and feel bereft of direction. Smith wrote: “Part of the explanation for that, of course, is unique to Everton: Moshiri’s apparent lack of a coherent vision for what he wants his club to be; the failures of not one, but two much-vaunted sporting directors to spend his wealth wisely; the shortcomings of a succession of managers. Everton is typical of that breed of Premier League club that is incapable of long-term planning, that believes that money will solve all of the problems it creates for itself.”

Both were right, to an extent, that Moshiri has, perhaps, been guilty of believing that success could be achieved fairly quickly if you simply threw enough money at it and his decision to sack first Koeman and then Silva without a clear plan for succession in place opened him up to obvious criticism. Indeed, the fact that the club hierarchy appeared to veer from Vitor Pereira to David Moyes before the opportunity to approach Ancelotti – a wholly different kind of coach – presented itself was not suggestive of a cogent strategy around how the team should be managed

And while there are some who question, with some justification, why he hasn’t injected enough commercial acumen and top-level business talent into the boardroom and the somewhat haphazard nature of his managerial searches, Moshiri has never lacked ambition and it is somewhat churlish to accuse him of lacking a plan even if it appears to be more “30,000-foot level” than precisely formulated.

The appointment of Koeman, an overwhelmingly popular choice, and the club’s first Director of Football, Steve Walsh, described at the time by one journalist as perhaps the best move of the summer 2016 transfer window, were decisions made very much in accordance with a strategy to get Everton into the Champions League within three years. Having made what he felt were top-level hires and then backed them with a significant outlay on new players, Moshiri delegated to them and trusted them to be successful in their roles, trust that was ultimately proven to have been misplaced.

The faith he instilled in Silva, a coach with a tremendous amount of promise with the potential to build success at Goodison over the long term working alongside Walsh’s eminently more qualified successor, Marcel Brands, also went unrewarded. But, again, there was a clear plan even if the man selected to carry it out fell short of what was required. And in terms of internal structure of the organisation on the playing side, the director-of-football model is designed to allow for the seamless coming and going of head coaches if the sporting director himself and his over-arching philosophies and influence remain the constant.

Meanwhile, off the field, Moshiri has a clear vision to finally deliver on the promise of an alternative to Goodison Park with a new stadium on the banks of the Mersey, one that will move to address some of the shortfalls in commercial and match-day revenue that are currently limiting Everton’s forward progress.

So, there is a sense that while some of the things money can’t buy — like passion, committed support, emotional investment from supporters and all of those magical intangibles mentioned above that go into making Everton what it is — are still very much in place, Moshiri is gradually remoulding the identity of the club with the aim of making that question that vexes outsiders — namely, what is Everton and what do they want? — that much easier to answer.

The stadium, if he can make it a reality, will be one significant piece of that equation but Ancelotti has the potential to be a monumental one on the playing side.

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“Everton are living in Cloud Cuckoo Land getting Carlo Ancelotti in as manager,” wrote Paul Merson after the Italian agreed to become the Toffees’ new manager last month. “They’ve only got him because they are paying him big money. I hope he doesn’t just go through the motions. I don’t think he’s got it in him to build a team. He’s never done it before. Every team he’s had has been built for him. He’s just come in and steadied the ship, then disappeared somewhere else.”

It wouldn’t be the first time that Merson has underestimated an Everton acquisition — the oft-mocked Sky Sports pundit famously derided the Blues for “ruining the transfer window” when they signed Richarlison for £40m in 2018 — and if he knew more about Ancelotti than superficially glancing over his various tenures over the past decade or so, he might not have come so quickly to such a definitive and dismissive conclusion.

He wasn’t alone. Writing in The Times, Matt Dickinson also reduced Ancelotti’s decision to one primarily about money and asked is “throwing a fortune to lure a coach of Ancelotti’s pedigree really the basis for a long and successful relationship?” Even if you accept the assertion from an agent quoted by the journalist in his piece that, “Moshiri, the star-struck owner, had simply kept throwing money at the Italian until he could no longer say no,” the combination of Ancelotti’s deep-seated desire to win and his professional pride would preclude him from simply taking any old job just for the cash and ensure that he won’t “just [go] through the motions,” as Merson fears he might. Besides, as Sam Wallace noted in The Telegraph, the renowned manager regards himself as “a man for all occasions, successful under all kinds of unreasonable owners and always capable of finding a way.”

Unfortunately, Moshiri’s track record to date makes it easy for outsiders to regard Everton with such scepticism and borderline derision. But what the naysayers overlook is the fundamental appeal that the club can hold for the right candidate — one old enough to remember the Blues’ glory days when they were on the cusp of ruling Europe at a time when his own AC Milan were going through a period of struggle, one able to identify Merseyside’s sleeping giant and one who might just have been looking for just such a project but not found it in Paris, Munich or Naples in recent years.

The criticism that was levelled at Ancelotti when Everton first approached him was that, since leaving Milan in 2009, he hasn’t stayed in one place for more than two seasons. Superficially, it suggests a manager who either can’t make the grade — his glittering collection of trophies obviously makes a mockery of that notion — or one who is always looking for the next challenge when the reality has been quite different.

It’s clear from his book, Quiet Leadership — Winning Hearts, Minds and Matches, that he was under few illusions about how brief his stay in Madrid might end up being when he joined the Galacticos in 2013 given Real’s insatiable hunger for silverware and the frequency with which they hire and fire coaches in pursuit of it. Likewise at Juventus, always an awkward fit given his history with Milan, and Chelsea under another trigger-happy owner in the form of Roman Abramovich where he was sacked after just a couple of years.

At Bayern Munich, a settled club with an established hierarchy of figures made up largely of former players, Ancelotti might have hoped that relative stability might foster a longer-lasting relationship when he succeeded Pep Guardiola. However, despite steering Bayern to the league title in 2016-2017, he would last little more than a season in the Bundesliga, the players’ apparent distrust of his methods forcing Karl-Heinz Rummenigge’s hand.

It is clear from his writing though — and while it post-dated the book’s publication, it might have been true to an extent of his ambitions at Napoli — that he has really been seeking a long-term role like the one he had over eight years in Milan and he believed he had it when he took over at Paris St Germain in 2011. Having recently been taken over by Qatar Sports Investments, the Ligue 1 giants were in the early stages of a cash-infused reconstruction and Ancelotti was fully prepared to put the time and effort into what he dubbed “The Parisien Project” and to craft a side capable of delivering sustained success and the Champions League trophy that Nasser Al-Khelaifi desires.

Unfortunately, it became clear in his second season at PSG that the relationship with the owner and the club’s general director, Leonardo, would not be tenable over the long-term. He and Zlatan Ibrahimović had dreamed of building a winning team at Parc de Princes but it was not to be and his co-author, Professor Chris Brady, says that it was one of the bigger regrets of his career that he wasn’t able to see that to fruition. Instead, he would spend the next six years at three different clubs in the role for which it seems he is now known — the tinkerer, the tweaker, the polisher of already great sides who either turns them into trophy-winners or keeps them as such.

What “Carletto” accomplished at Milan remains one of his proudest achievements, however, not only because he helped build it but because he regarded the whole setup as family — and if there are three themes that run throughout Quiet Leadership, together with his insistence on professionalism, they are the importance of family, culture and loyalty. Ancelotti noted that some clubs, Juve in particular, are more like companies while some are more like families and there are few clubs where that latter word is more applicable than at Everton.

It was a notion that Koeman didn’t ever seem to buy into — the Dutchman was said to be cold and aloof at times and frequently left Finch Farm early to play golf — whereas Ancelotti eschewed his second home in Vancouver over the Festive period at the end of last year in favour of immersing himself in the city of Liverpool and getting to know his new surroundings and the people. If the 60-year-old is as he comes across, he could well have found himself his next family and a long-term project that he can really sink his teeth into. If he can be successful at Goodison, it might also be his biggest and most impressive accomplishment yet.

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For those observers who didn’t deride Everton’s appointment of Ancelotti as a ludicrous fit, the biggest doubt was whether he was built for sorting out the mess at Goodison and the long reconstruction job that would follow. Again, that was based on his reputation for working with the superstars of the game; would this member of European football royalty be able to craft a winning side from a collection of players who were either under-performing or simply not up to the level demanded by the ambition of the club and its owner?

It wouldn’t be the first time. As Ibrahimović writes in Ancelotti’s book about their early days at PSG: “We’d make jokes about the situation. ‘My God, what have we done, what have we come to, what is this place?’ we’d ask each other. ‘What do we now, what do we do first, what do we do next?’”

What they hire me for is my ablity to calm the situation at a club by building relationships with the players, which is one of my biggest strengths.

Carlo Ancelotti

Of course, to suggest he’s not up to it is a massive slight on Ancelotti’s proven accumulated knowledge, tactical acumen and adaptability, it discounts the foundations of his entire management ethos — namely, relationships, man-management and mutual respect. As the Italian takes charge of a dysfunctional team riddled with issues around mentality you get the impression that Ancelotti’s brand of quiet leadership — backed by a body of work and reputation that his young predecessor, who was similarly introverted but without his elder’s considerable gravitas — might be exactly what this Everton side needs.

“As a coach and tactician, he taught me an incredible amount,” explained his former assistant, Paul Clement. “But equally important is what I learned from him as a person. I watched how he dealt with people and relationships, managing to be strong in his ways and ideas and make sure the dressing room was a disciplined place, while at the same time developing strong relationships with players. He made them feel comfortable. Got the best out of them.”

The other thing that was overlooked during the examination and scepticism of Moshiri’s ambitious leap was that having signed a four-and-a-half-year contract, Ancelotti has come on board not only to address the short-term issues at Everton but to lay the groundwork for finally realising the Iranian-born businessman’s Champions League ambition. The doubts expressed over Ancelotti’s suitability to Everton were based on the job as it is now and not the one it could be in two or three years’ time. The vision is that some day soon, he will once again be back to what he supposedly does best — managing the best players in the game… at Everton!

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Though far removed from Chelsea, both in terms of culture, geography and current standing within the game, Ancelotti will have found plenty to both admire and find familiar when he arrived at Everton. Though he had been used to taking his backroom staff with him wherever he went prior to his spell at Stamford Bridge, he would find huge value of retaining some of the existing staff at Chelsea (where Roman Abramovich and Frank Arnesen insisted that he try working with the coaches already place for a month rather than making sweeping changes by bringing in his own people) to the extent that it changed his thinking from that point onward.

And in the same way that the likes of Ray Wilkins, Zinedine Zidane and Claude Makélélé acted as Ancelotti’s “Cultural Bridge” at Chelsea, Madrid and PSG respectively, Duncan Ferguson will be providing him invaluable insight on how things are done at Everton. His copy of the Howard’s Way DVD will also come in handy in that respect!

So, in addition to an unwavering commitment to professionalism, mutual respect and a passion for winning, what have Everton got in Carlo Ancelotti and what might he bring to the club apart from a staggering CV and the status as the most decorated manager in the club’s history?

Evertonians have been given some early indications over the first six weeks of his tenure, particularly now that the most hectic part of the fixture calendar is out of the way. Ancelotti’s influence not only on the team’s style but it’s effectiveness was noticeably visible once he had had the benefit of a few days on the training pitch at Finch Farm with his players.

Prior to that, he had overseen back-to-back victories over Burnley and Newcastle but also witnessed first-hand how infuriatingly ineffective and mentally fragile his new charges can be with a fairly limp display at Manchester City on New Year’s Day and then the nadir of the season at Anfield in the FA Cup. After the win over Brighton and more frustration at the London Stadium against a vulnerable West Ham outfit, the reverse fixture against Newcastle at Goodison Park highlighted, of course, just how exciting the Ancelotti era could be while also underlining once more those defensive frailties and deficiencies in game-management that he will work to eventually eradicate.

Publicly, at least, Ancelotti greeted those ludicrous last couple of injury-time minutes against the Magpies that will stick in the craw at least until the next victory, in typically sanguine fashion but his former players are quick to point out that every now and then that amenable demeanour can give way to outbursts of anger that leave no one in any doubt as to his feelings… even if they can’t always understand his Italian diatribes!

“When it comes to being professional, however, and it doesn’t go how he wants, he can get angry,” Ibrahimović explained, referencing a particular incident when the Italian once kicked a box in the changing room out of anger that hit the Swede on the head. “At half-time you always know when something is going on because that one eyebrow goes up. As I sat down, I thought, ‘Now he’s angry!’ When he gets angry, he gets angry — but only out of sight. Only in the dressing room.”

Ancelotti is on record as saying that he favours 4-4-2 as the most effective formation in football — in that respect, Richarlison’s increasing effectiveness as a central striker and Ferguson’s recognition of that fact has paved the way nicely for the new manager’s arrival — but far from being set in his ways or wed to any particular system or way of playing, the Italian is highly flexible and adaptable, placing the emphasis on finding a way to win with the tools at his disposal rather than enforcing his will on his players.

The anecdotes from his former players and peers, some of the best to have ever played or managed in the game — Cristiano Ronaldo, Ibrahomović, Maldini, Beckham, Nesta, Sir Alex Ferguson — that are interspersed within Quiet Leadership are universally positive. Not mere platitudes, they reveal true admiration, respect and highlight Ancelotti’s man-management, attention to personal relationships and desire to find out what players want as much as they need as being one of — if not the — greatest skill he possesses.

That could be invaluable for younger players like Tom Davies, Moise Kean and Mason Holgate who have needed special attention for differing reasons this season (some related to form; others related to an important new role in the side) but it also bodes well for the likes of André Gomes, Yerry Mina, Richarlison and Bernard, players who wouldn’t have looked too out of place at some of Ancelotti’s former clubs and who will form the foundation of the team he hopes to build at Everton.

This, after all, was the man whose brainchild it was to turn Andrea Pirlo from an effective attacking midfielder into arguably the best deep-lying playmakers of his generation and it’s exciting to think what he might do with natural ball-players like Gomes (a player who has under-achieved in some respects since arriving from Barcelona) and Holgate.

Then there is the prospect of what he might achieve in terms of recruitment working alongside Marcel Brands, starting in the summer when, hopefully, he will have enough funds to start placing strategically-picked personnel into the squad.

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By many accounts, with their reported pursuit of Pereira coming up empty, Everton came perilously close to appointing David Moyes as Silva’s successor — interim or otherwise — last month. It still feels a little surreal to say that the club ended up with none other than Carlo Ancelotti instead. The dour Scot and the avuncular Italian might not be polar opposites in terms of their styles leadership but it’s not a stretch to suggest that there are quantum differences between them in terms of success, outlook and gravitas.

Farhad Moshiri’s hiring of the Italian may have owed much to fortunate timing, opportunism and an enticing salary package but it’s quite possible he could end up being the most inspired appointment of the Iranian’s reign at Goodison. After years of fluctuating fortunes, false dawns and instability in the dugout, some of Ancelotti’s legendarily calm stewardship is probably just what is needed while, off the pitch, the club prepares to up sticks for Bramley-Moore Dock.

Quite apart from anything else, a manager of his standing and reputation should immediately improve the calibre of player that Everton could attract to Merseyside and provide a lure to go with the financial backing that Moshiri has provided and promises to make available going forward.

Evertonians have been through enough heartache and disappointment in recent years to be getting ahead of themselves about their new manager and what might lie ahead with him at the helm. Despite his pedigree and all his achievements, there are no guarantees of success. Nevertheless, if you had to pick someone to help lead you out of chaos, uncertainty and chronic under-achievement, you could do far worse than choose one of the most successful managers in European history.

If Ancelotti has indeed been searching for a new project, a new home and a new family, he could well have found it on the Blue half of Merseyside. If all goes like we dream it can, the answer to the question “what is Everton?” could well have a very different answer in a few years to come.



Reader Responses

Selected thoughts from readers

Kieran Kinsella
Posted 31/01/2020 at 03:16:49
Nice article well researched Lyndon. Building on your point about Juve being an awkward fit, I read Carlo self deprecatingly explaining how the rich folks of Turin never took to the son of southern pig farmers. With his modest working class roots that he is rightly proud of, he should be a good fit on Merseyside as opposed to a yuppie club like Spurs or Chelsea.
Tom Fazal
Posted 31/01/2020 at 03:41:58
Lyndon,

I don't know how you do it. This is such a well written, thoughtful piece which expresses the hopes and frustrations I (and I suspect many other Evertonians) have had and are still having but lack the eloquence to express them as well as this. Watched my first game in the late 50's, I have experienced many highs and unfortunately too many lows since then.

I believe Moshiri really wants to get it right, I believe he is here for the long term and I suspect he is as frustrated as we are that it hasn't gone as well as he hoped. He has spent a lot of money trying to find the leader to create success and he may have finally found the person to make it happen. Everything about Ancelotti makes me feel he is the one to truly take us forward.

His credentials are impeccable and there have been enough signs, for me anyway, that he is making his presence felt. I believe he is not happy with the squad, certainly not with the humiliation in the cup and the capitulation against Newcastle, but like all really good leaders the real anger and criticism is done in private with a more considered message for the outside world. I think he will get the best out of many of the current players for the rest of the season but he already knows that their best is not good enough for where the club aspires to be.

I don't believe he is the 'messiah' and I know he will make mistakes but when I think of some of the names we were being associated with, I still have to pinch myself that we have someone of his calibre leading the way. They say it's the hope that kills you but I feel this time there is something substantial to have hope in.

Thank you again, Lyndon for such a well written piece.

Ajay Gopal
Posted 31/01/2020 at 06:36:49
From the Official Site:

“I am an Evertonian,” said Ancelotti.
“The first day I signed I was an Evertonian. I love the feeling the supporters have for the team. They are really passionate about the team. You can see this in the stadium and city. There are lots of Evertonians here and the atmosphere in the city is really nice for me. It is a strength for us to have this kind of connection with the supporters.”

That shows that the guy is humble and respectful of the city, the club and its supporters. He has the humility to watch the Ladies Team practice and offer them tips ahead of the Derby. Plus, he seems to have an excellent relationship with the key people - Moshiri, Brands, Ferguson, and the players. I am really excited to see what Carlo can do for Everton.

As you say, Lyndon, Carlo may be able to get the best out of players like: Davies, Holgate, Kean, Richarlison, Bernard, Iwobi, Mina, Kenny, Beni, Gordon, Calvert-Lewin, Pickford, Gomes, Gbamin. Maybe players low on confidence at the moment - Siggy, Keane, Digne, Delph, Coleman, even Schneiderlin and Walcott - can rediscover their mojo.

Hopefully, Brands will be able to unearth 1-2 gems in the transfer market during the summer, and make the squad stronger, and retire the 'no-hopers' like Niasse, Martina, Bolasie, Besic, Tosun permanently and provide some much needed financial head-room to play in the market. It will take time, but I remain optimistic that Everton will be able to compete with the top teams of the PL in the next couple of seasons.

Liam Reilly
Posted 31/01/2020 at 07:13:55
Best signing the club has made since Howard K Mark 1.

The man oozes class and never looks ruffled. A true Leader in every sense.

I'll not be disappointed if there are no purchases in this Window, because quick fixes have proven to fail.

Time to get behind him and let him begin to rebuild in the summer and accept that there will be bumps along the way.

David Chait
Posted 31/01/2020 at 07:24:31
Lyndon, you really are one of the most thoughtful scribes in football let alone for an Everton website... brilliant stuff!!!
Ron Marr
Posted 31/01/2020 at 07:37:33
A very enjoyable read. Thank you Lyndon.
Dale Rose
Posted 31/01/2020 at 08:00:03
From the king of cynics, my good self, what an outstanding article. Superbly written and well researched.
Steve Hogan
Posted 31/01/2020 at 11:08:08
Brilliant article Lyndon, I would love to know how long it took you to 'put together' as such. Ancellotti certainly does have a 'calmness' about him, which is exactly what Everton need right now, on and off the pitch.

I know we keep saying it every year, but the summer transfer window really will be key to the type of team Carlo wants to put on the pitch next season. Unfortunately,the grave recruitment policy of the last few years will continue to hamper our spending plans, and I hope Brands will have a modicum of success in offloading those players who have simply no part of Everton's future, and who might have a little more self respect in wanting regular first team football elsewhere, and not simply 'picking up a wage'.

Here's hoping.

Dave Williams
10 Posted 31/01/2020 at 11:16:57
Magnificently crafted piece of work! A calm and considered analysis unaffected by the hysteria of some who allow personalities to influence how they see the club. I can’t argue with any of this.
Well done Lyndon!!
John Davies
11 Posted 31/01/2020 at 11:25:12
Brilliant article Lyndon. Thanks. A very enlightening read and one that gives this 62 year Blue some genuine hope for the future.

I still can't believe we have managed to entice someone of Ancelotti's quality to Goodison Park. I don't buy the theory that he's only here for the money (the man has more than enough) although it helps. I really think he wants the "project" and his personality convinces me that given time by the club and the fans, he will truly become part of the Everton family and all the wonderful qualities we exude in lorry loads.

Success on the park is the vital ingredient we have missed for so long and I pray for days when my two sons will celebrate in the way I did in the 60's, 70's and 80's.
If this man can't sort out the playing mess we have now then I'm not sure anyone will ever be able to do so. I love the way he has started the job. He is not going to scream blue murder from the rooftops. He will quietly assess what he has to work with, keep us in the Premier League and then start what is - without doubt - a major overhaul of the playing side of the club. The man oozes class and quality and he has the track record to show he is a winner both as a player and coach.
The dark days are behind us guys. It's going to be a massive task and a long journey but we definitely have the right man in the driving seat and I have not felt so optimistic about our great Clubs' future for a long, long time.
Moshiri has made a lot of mistakes in his short time with us but credit him with the fact he has stuck at it and put his money where his mouth is. Credit him especially with the acquisition of Carlo Ancelotti. This signing will prove to be an absolute gem.
COYB!!!
Jay Wood
[BRZ]

12 Posted 31/01/2020 at 13:51:54
This is a superb read, Lyndon. An extremely well-crafted piece.

I wasn't aware of how some of the talking heads and journos you quoted so ridiculed the club and its supporters, effectively telling us to 'know our place'.

As you rightly say, Evertonians are a very pragmatic breed and understand how far we have fallen down the pecking order. That we are not an easy sell to new managers or players and that to be truly competitive again is no quick fix.

But plenty of us also believed we SHOULD recruit better and do better than we have done since Moshiri arrived.

He has come in for some criticism for the wastefulness on his watch, but you nicely contextualize the mitigating circumstances of each managerial appointment.

Koeman was very much his appointment and it was not unreasonable, together with another appointment he made in Steve Walsh, that he could trust them with his money to go out and buy what was necessary to improve the team.

That proved a misplaced trust. The real blot on Moshiri's copybook is the hiatus between dismissing Koeman 10 games into the season and having no succession plan in place. Eventually appointing Allardyce compounded this all the more.

Reverting back to his primary preferred option in Marco Silva and adding Marcel Brands into the mix, again, he trusted them with his money to improve the team.

Silva was nearly but not quite, Brands has had to be more like a butcher rather than a surgeon in trimming a bloated squad. But for me, he has shown more than enough that he is a well-connected savvy operator.

Following Silva's dismissal, I don't think there was the same hiatus that followed Koeman's sacking. There were some scary names associated with the job, but seemingly, the Gods smiled and the stars aligned for us for once with Ancelotti's exit from Napoli.

I wholeheartedly agree with you that after a number of two-season stints at a number of Europe's Super Nova clubs, Carlo could well thrive on long-term stability at a single club. Thus the four and a half year contract Moshiri gave him.

I share your optimism that for the first time in decades, we could finally be on the path to getting our Everton back.

Tim Taylor
13 Posted 31/01/2020 at 14:51:32
What an excellent article - really sums it up. I also have a horrible feeling that if the answer to the question posed "Can the Quiet Leader Bring Order to Everton's Chaos?" is a no, then frankly no one can. Which is why everyone should get behind him.
Dennis Stevens
14 Posted 31/01/2020 at 15:53:24
When you consider that Ancelotti went to Napoli in 2018 whilst we appointed Silva, you can't help wondering how much further on the Club might be if we had managed to nab him then.
Mike Gaynes
15 Posted 31/01/2020 at 18:02:44
Lyndon, this could be the doctoral thesis for a Ph.D. in Everton. The depth of thought and historical perspective that you have incorporated into what seems to be about 5000 words is truly impressive. You have elegantly captured both the issues and the hopes that have been raised by Ancelotti's arrival. I would love to know how much time you spent on researching and crafting this piece.

Anyone who hasn't should definitely click on the link you provided to Rory Smith's piece in the New York Times. He's a terrific writer -- his December article on the aftermath of Bury's demise was heartbreakingly lovely -- and his perspective on Everton as a potential fallen legend like Hamburg and Lazio and Villa is worth pondering.

Superb work, my friend. Thank you.

Simon Harrison
16 Posted 31/01/2020 at 23:29:54
Many thanks for such a well researched, and intriguing article Lyndon. The links have been a revelation to read too. Poor little EFC hey?

Regards the question titled in the article; "Can the Quiet Leader Bring Order to Everton's Chaos?"

Well, being a pragmatic Blue since 74/75 and a fan of the great Dutch teams of that era, I'd genuinely be delighted for a return to the top table, with an elegant blend of silk and steel football we were once famed for.

However, in answer to the question, I think that Carletto is the best hope we have had since Howard K's magnificent sides of the 80s. As others have mentioned, I think that Brands is going to be absolutely key to any recovery and reconstruction of the club. Unfortunately I think that there are several obstacles to the club elevating its position within the PL.

#1. The board; it is too tightly controlled by the Chairman, and his handpicked CEO. The Financial director has obviously been negligent, no not poor, but negligent in his duties, by allowing the club to become so hard up against the PL's Profit and Sustainability rule (FFP), without reining in the expenditure that the board had authorised. The only board member currently, who hasn't made glaring errors or displays of emotional decision making rather than considering the business aspects of the club/business, is Marcel Brands.

#2. The owner; Mr. Moshiri, obviously bought his club, from outside the 'Sky top 6'. Everton would probably have been in a handful of other clubs E.g. Villa, NUFC, Sunderland, Sheff. Weds and Leeds. However, I expect that the ultimate reason he chose EFC, is due to the clubs history, the size of the ground and the level of support. Also, unlike the other cubs, it was in the PL, and or didn't have a dysfunctional ownership. I.e. EFC would be fairly easy to take control of.

Yet, the problem was, although Mr. Moshiri is a football fan, he probably doesn't have the inside knowledge of how to run a football club (as it is very different to a normal business) and the man he leaned on, Blue Bill, is eminently responsible for the internal infrastructure problems within the club.

Then, instead of taking a broom, and making a clean sweep of the existing staff QED Man City, and replacing them with trusted appointees, he tried to make the existing model fit his 'vision' for the club. Not a smart idea in business. The following problems re over-spending on players, and a high, quick turnover of managers is a symptom of not having made such a plan for the club.

In Mr. Moshiri's defence, he has got the BMD Stadium to the planning approval level, and he has not been afraid to invest (No matter how unwisely), in the club.

#3 The academy; Until this Elephant in the room is addressed, then instead of being a boon to the club, providing players able to progress and fit in with the first team; and to provide players who are good enough to sell to Championship or foreign clubs for profit. It will be an expensive millstone round the financial and playing staff neck of the club. An academy has to produce or it is basically a waste of finances. I would be very interested in someone working out how much is spent on the academy p.a. as opposed to how much finance is generated by it? (Paul the Esk, or Steve Ferns :D )

On the point of the academy, I would think that it could be prudent for the club moving forward, to buy Finch Farm of the council. Which I feel would be something that is essential for future stability, once the BMD Stadium is built.

#4. Increasing Revenue; Everton have not made enough of an attempt, in my opinion, to increase their additional revenue streams other than from the TV/Broadcast revenue, ticket sales, and domestic merchandising (The international attempts and fanatics has basically failed!). The level of sponsorship is also too low when compared to other clubs from the 'middle' of the table.

In order to become a genuine 'European team', where we compete in the EEL or ECL year on year, we have to generate more income from elsewhere. Yet the club, as far as I know, doesn't have a Commercial Director appointed? Nor, looking at the board, or owner, does the club possess an expert in this area.

If the revenue, or income of the club is not significantly increased, then the status of the club, in harsh reality cannot grow either. It is essential that the club increases revenue, and in the meantime, it has to discard any unnecessary expenditure that is surplus to requirement. This includes playing staff, junior and middle management roles, support and coaching staff, rent and maintenance costs, 3rd party costs (I.e. cleaning and catering etc) and finally the board. I was shocked at how much the boards salary has increased, whilst the financial and playing performances at the club have become parlous! It is genuinely scandalous that they feel they can reward themselves with huge raises for failure! In the private sector, they would be held to account and in all probability dismissed.

The solution? Well, all I know is that Carletto can not do this on his own, even with the backing and support of Marcel Brands. There is much to change at the club until EFC can become a genuine European team. Yet, with Carletto here, and whilst he and Brands can have direct access to Mr. Moshiri, then hopefully the football side of the club performances will improve. Much as has been seen over the last 6-7 weeks now.

What does need to change in my view, is the make up of the board, it needs at least a Director of Engagement, and a Commercial Director, personally, I'd look at swapping Sacha R for a new Financial Director as he has failed in his role thus far. I also do not think that the Chair and the CEO are fit for purpose; and if I had any influence with Mr. Moshiri, I'd employ a Company troubleshooter to come in like a Sir John Harvey Jones for example, allied with a genuine commercial football guru to assess where the club is top-heavy, under-staffed, where the dead wood is, the cliques, and how to increase productivity on and off the field, with a sustainable model. Even bringing onboard a number of non-exec Directors with the relevant football and commercial expertise as John Haines and Paul the Esk have suggested would surely help the club develop?

Another simple idea, would be to have a pre-season tour of the USA, supported by our international USA ambassador Tim Howard, followed by an Australian tour with Tim cahill in his ambassador role. It would be ideal warm weather training, it gets the players away from FF for a change, and it would/could/should promote interest in the club in those market areas..? Just a thought.

I genuinely believe that Caretto is here for the challenge and the long-haul, but it must be realised by all, that the club is where it is, not purely because of the players or the previous managers; there is something endemically wrong in how the club is governed. Until that changes, I don't think the club's trajectory will change.

Have faith, but trust no-one. :)

Let's hope for a great result tomorrow.

Bill Gienapp
17 Posted 01/02/2020 at 02:12:21
Fantastic piece. And you can add one Mark Ogden at ESPN to the list of condescending skeptics in the media. He wrote a piece before we landed Ancelotti titled "Everton Need a Reality Check," in which he basically said Moyes was the best we could do and we should be damn thankful if he'd take the job.
Steve Ferns
18 Posted 01/02/2020 at 11:34:05
I saved this to read just before the Watford game. It’s really got me in the mood. Brilliant stuff. Actually, Lyndon, it might just be the most stirring piece you’ve ever written. I want to go to war for Carlo now!
Jay Wood
[BRZ]

19 Posted 01/02/2020 at 11:34:11
Simon @ 16.

Take a look at the following club site page 'Our People'.

Link

It gives a very comprehensive list of just who is employed at Everton with detailed blogs on many and in some cases how many staff work under them.

I think it may surprise, even shock you.

The positions you ask for already exist. The competence and effectiveness of each is a great unknown.

Paul Traill
20 Posted 01/02/2020 at 11:35:06
Lyndon, you only have to look at the previous comments on here to understand what an exquisite piece you've pulled together here, it's really helped fill some time for me on this train journey! Thank you. Outstanding.
Paul Tran
21 Posted 01/02/2020 at 13:53:33
For rhe umpteenth time, Lyndon, I've thought about writing a piece and you've come up with a fabulous article on the same topic!

Very easy for many to forget that Ancelotti got these top jobs because he'd proven himself at a lower level. It'll be interesting to see whether his methods have evolved or become outdated.

Ed Prytherch
22 Posted 02/02/2020 at 01:31:10
A terrific article, certainly one of the best that I have read about Everton, and also some thoughtful and reasonable comments.

We were lucky that Carletto became available while we were looking for a new manager and Farhad was bold enough to grasp the opportunity.

I read Ancelotti's first book" The beautiful games of an ordinary genius" and he comes across as a warm guy with a great sense of humor. I am confident that he will make Everton great again.
Mark Andersson
23 Posted 02/02/2020 at 03:06:47
Brilliant read Lyndon...for once all above posts are positive so hats off to you...

Helpfully us 60 plus fans who have enjoyed the highs of being chapions and winng silverware will bearound long enough to see us back up were we belong..

I look forward to seeing the blue half of the city going head to head with the reds without dread or fear...

Carlo is most definitely the man to take us there. He won't fail us but the club could fail him...

Thanks again for a fantastic read...

Laurie Hartley
24 Posted 06/02/2020 at 22:21:35
I really enjoyed reading your article Lyndon - absolutely terrific.

What is Everton? I am not quite sure but I am sure of one thing. Such is its potency, once Carlo Ancelotti taps right into it, the rest of the football world had better watch out.

Andy Crooks
25 Posted 10/02/2020 at 20:34:13
A really top article. Well done, Lyndon.

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