Thoughts of an Anon Blue

By Anon Blue 01/04/2016  0 Comments  [Jump to last]


A man walks into the 6/7th best company in the land to apply for the job of Manager. During the interview, he makes a promise to make the company consistently one of the top four performing companies in the land. The Big Bosses are suitably impressed and hire the Manager, making him one of the best paid company Managers in the land.

The Manager is provided with significant resources to further develop the company and, a year later, the company ranks as the 5th best company in the land. All key stakeholders, including the big bosses and company fans are suitably impressed and excited for the future prospects.

A year after this, the company finishes as the 11th best company in the land. There is no official holding to account of the Manager, but considerations (such as the extending of business to additional European areas straining resources) are taken into consideration, key stakeholders are somewhat forgiving and the Manager is kept on.

During the next year the company continues to slip down the best company rankings, with the Manager still failing to adapt to the changing business environment, or admit the fact that competitors are often fully aware of where the company's weaknesses are and how they are to be exploited.

The Manager continues to insist that there is 'no problem' – that the company is just 'unlucky' and that things will turn around soon. Partly due to the nice and likable nature of the Manager and partly down to their own incompetence, the Big Bosses and the Media do very little (if anything) to hold the Manager to account over his performance. This is despite the continuing concerns of company fans, and the opinion of many 'experts' that the company is seriously underachieving.

Then out of the blue, the company is purchased and a new major shareholder enters the story…

Current Status

Whilst the above story was deeply layered in subtlety, the more eagle-eyed amongst you would have put the various elements together through hours of careful thought and realised that the 'Company' I was referring to is Everton.

I was born an Evertonian in the year 1987, and now have nearly 29 years of service to the Royal Blue under my belt (a mere Greenhorn to many ToffeeWeb readers, I'm sure). I have in the past been a season ticket holder, but don't get to the Old Lady much these days as it's a £200 round-trip and there are easier/cheaper ways to get myself into a heartbroken fume.

Everton represent to me the greatest enigma of my life. There is nothing in my life which gives me a greater mixture and span of emotions than those boys in blue (I've not yet had children, but I imagine supporting Everton to be a good 'starter kit' for this experience.) Hope, despair, happiness, sadness, joy, rage, elation and devastation to name but a few, and I generally get all of those just from reading the team sheet each week.

There have been times when I have wanted to walk away from Everton, but it's unfortunately something I'll never be able to do. When they are playing, I need to be watching; when I wake up in the morning, it's the Everton news and gossip I check first before I even do my teeth or hop in the shower.

Those who understand need no explanation, and those who don't, do not matter.

I'm proud to be a Blue for several key reasons. First and foremost, I love the fact that Everton are supported by proper football fans who know and love the game well. I would hate to ever see Everton become a 'franchise' similar to other clubs in the Premier League (pointing no fingers, but we all know who they are) with 'fans' that just buy/wear the shirt because it's trendy, or fans that don't just talk utter uneducated bollocks about the game, but feel the need to do so by dialling up football phone-ins and embarrassing their club to the nation.

I love the history that Everton have, the players who have in the past put on the blue and the hold that the club gets over its fans. Everton in the Community work is also magnificent and for me sets the standards for professional football clubs.

There really is something just a little bit special with Everton compared to all other football clubs, but it's difficult for me to put into words and perhaps we are not meant to.

What I don't like about Everton is the 'small club' and 'plucky little over-achievers' mentality that seems to be in place at the club at present and for as long as I can remember. Maybe initially under Moyes this mentality was justified. Moyes was a fantastic servant to this football club, and regularly over-achieved in his performance. He was able to do this with limited resources, and build the foundations for Everton to step up to the next level and for that I will always be grateful to him.

Where I think perhaps Moyes came unstuck, is that he was unable to make the transition of mind-set from a plucky over-achiever, to a consistent high-level performer with set expectations. This is maybe why he failed to win over fans and the bosses at Man Utd during his tenure there. It is unfortunately this mentality which also seems to have stayed deeply imbedded at Everton.

Mediocrity seems to be something that the club are willing to accept and it's why we are not up competing with likes of Liverpool, Man City, Arsenal and Spurs for trophies and players on a regular basis as we should be.

With the players we have, I should be looking at the upcoming away fixtures at Man Utd and that other club on Merseyside and be expecting a performance worthy of a result. Unfortunately I fully expect us to go there and play like we're really happy just to have been asked to play against such great clubs, and maybe scrap a result in the process. What we should be doing is going to these clubs with the mentality that we are here to take three points, and we are good enough to do so. It's all about the mind-set.

This problem of mind-set is coupled with a Manager who seems to be so set in his ways that he would rather watch the ship sink then consider changing the method for plugging the holes.

I should say that I like Martinez as a man, I think he's an absolute gentleman of a bloke. I also think that he is to be applauded for the talent that he has been able to attract, develop and retain at the club in recent years. We all have our favourites, but for me Lukaku, Deulofeu, McCarthy, Stones and Barkley are serious talent that he has bought in and/or developed during his tenure. There have also been games in these last few seasons where Martinez has really hit the nail on the head and we have been sensational to watch.

That being said, his refusal to be anything other than ridiculously positive in interviews – even after we've been awful – is beyond frustrating at times. His inability to adapt his tactics as required for the specific opponent/situation, or for when the opponent quite clearly has us worked out, highlights the fundamental weakness in his managerial style. I very much doubt that 'set-pieces' have made it onto the training regime at all this season despite the fact that even a non-football fan could tell you that we have an issue there at both ends of the field.

New Chapter

The big question is whether or not Martinez is the man to take Everton forward to the next level with the new ownership in place. To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure. On the other hand, there have been times under Martinez where Everton have played sensational football, and he has been able to bring in and keep some really talented and exciting individuals. However, the indications are that he hasn't be able to shake off the 'small club' mentality and that he doesn't possess the tactical capability needed to compete at the top end of the league and for major honours consistently.

With the new ownership coming in to place, I would like to see the Everton Manager being held to account for performance. There's nothing wrong with having a target of qualifying for the Champions League and then being held to account if this is not achieved! For any of us who have ever play Championship Manager*, it is one of the key parts of the game.

It's not personal, it's just business, Sonny. From my knowledge of the business world, a Manager that performed as poorly as in the story within the prologue would not be in his post for very long. Premier League Managers are very well paid for their jobs, so should they not be held to account for performance like the rest of us? The likes of Man City, Man Utd, Spurs and Liverpool are never satisfied with mediocrity, so why should we be?

I cannot imagine that a man like Mr Moshiri has been able to achieve all he has achieved and been as successful as he has been by being happy with less than excellence and not holding his people to account for their performance. I'm optimistic that we could be seeing a welcome change in the governance arrangements and culture at the club in the near future.

Evertonians Expect

* For those who have not played Championship Manager, don't; it will take over your life.

[Note From Author – Thank you for reading my article Blues! I'm not one that usually goes in for the whole article-writing deal, but I hold future ambition on one day having some work published so I thought this a great opportunity to develop my skill set. Any comments on the structure and readability of the article (as well as the content) would be much appreciated. COYB!]

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