When Ronald Koeman was appointed as Everton manager back in the summer of 2016, total football was on the cards. After the pragmatism of Moyes had come the idealism of Martinez. Both had their strengths and both had their glaring weaknesses. With the Moshiri revolution in full swing, Koeman was viewed as the man who could unite steel at the back with a cultured approach in attack – the Ajax school of interchanging positions, attractive football and a culture (that old buzzword) that would finally re-establish our club at the top table.
Of course, we all know how that turned out.
There have been numerous articles that have gone through Koeman’s subsequent failure, and the panic that led to Sam Allardyce trying and failing to win over his many doubters. Within a few short months the heady optimism of a Dutch Master at the easel became a butcher with a blunt knife.
Today’s news was focused on the removal of Allardyce from the Goodison Park hotseat. Yet amidst the departure of a fireman – a fireman who put out a Roman candle with but a smug sprinkle – there was another significant power-shift at the School of Science. Lyndon has already spoken eloquently about the boardroom reshuffle. Meanwhile, Steve Walsh was shown the door, two years into a 3-year project that has seen an unprecedented cash injection by the Blues in the Premier League era. It is a project that has resulted in stasis in terms of league position, discontent in the stands and a total lack of cohesion with the coaching staff. Marcel Brands has now been tempted away from the Dutch champions PSV to take over the role.
So what is so different this time around? Perhaps it is worth revisiting the role of a Director of Football. Steve Walsh was the first person to take on this role in the history of the club. It was a position that was designed to solidify an identity to usher in the Moshiri era. A DoF would be a figurehead to not only identify the players needed to bang on the door of the top-tier clubs, but also offer a stable presence that would shake off any worries over managerial changes or player departures. It would be a safeguard against disruption, or so we were led to believe.
Steve Walsh was a fine choice on paper. He was riding the wave of Leicester’s title success, and had seen signings made on his watch steer their unheralded side to success. His tenure their was judged as a template that could hopefully be replicated at Goodison Park. But like all signings, there was a hit-and-miss factor that would be easy to, well, miss. His reputation at Leicester was built on value-for-money signings; Mahrez for under £1million and Kante for around £5millon stand out. But his last signing at the club – Ahmed Musa for a club record £16million fee – was a disaster. Although, with this being Everton he managed to knock us out of the FA Cup in the one game he shone.
It was on his big-money signings at Goodison that he will be judged. He spent big (often too big) on proven Premier League talent. Yannick Bolasie, Ashley Williams, Jordan Pickford, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Michael Keane and Theo Walcott all arrived for large fees. Some have succeeded, some have room to improve, and some will hopefully be following Walsh out the door in the next transfer window. Beyond Idrissa Gueye – a snip at £7million who has been our most consistent player over the last two seasons – Walsh’s purchases have either been glaringly obvious or mystifying disasters. Okay, we are yet to see whether Lookman, Vlasic, Sandro and Onyekuru make the grade / return to the club, but his major transfers do not point to a clear strategy.
Marcel Brands promises a slicker Continental approach to the DoF role. His time in the Eredivisie has seen him sign and develop players such as Mousa Dembele, Dries Mertens and more. He helped AZ Alkmaar to the title back in 2009, and usurped the mighty Ajax during his spell at PSV. Crucially, his appointment comes not only as Allardyce, Craig Shakespeare and Co head for the exit door but before the new man takes the helm. Walsh was drafted in after Koeman had been appointed, and seemed to be playing catch up from day one. And the least said about his failure to handle Lukaku’s inevitable departure, the better…
Moshiri has got a point to prove. His ownership has seen managerial changes on an unprecedented scale, fan optimism swiftly turning to open rebellion, and the prospect of a stadium on the banks of the Royal Blue Mersey back on the agenda. This next phase is a critical one, and Marcel Brands will be the architect of a second attempt at a Dutch revolution at Goodison. The future’s bright…?
Reader Comments (30)
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1 Posted 17/05/2018 at 06:50:11
I think ultimately (and as many said at the time) Walsh was never really the right calibre for a Director of Football role – he's really a chief scout. To be fair to Moshiri, Walsh was never his first choice and I think in retrospect getting that one appointment wrong is what has caused us so much grief.
This left Moshiri without a senior person to advise on the footballing side leaving him open to the influence of Kenwright (and arrival of Rooney) and Koeman (arrival of a random array of decent but overpriced players with no idea of how to fit them into a team) – and the dissipation of a fair chunk of Moshiri's net worth.
Now Moshiri is doing things in the right order – reorganise the board, bring in new DoF, sack old management and next bring in the next manager who will clearly report to the DoF – something that was never the case between Walsh and Koeman (and not just because of the timing of appointments, but also because of the calibre of Walsh – he could never be Koeman's boss).
Life is so much better now that the season is over!
2 Posted 17/05/2018 at 07:18:23
After what happened last season, I'm not getting carried away... but things look so much rosier in our blue garden than this time yesterday.
3 Posted 17/05/2018 at 07:25:04
He's known for putting character above statistics and for working hard to create an excellent atmosphere around clubs in which players young and old are able to give their best.
4 Posted 17/05/2018 at 09:21:28
Its probably fair to say that although most of the squad will be given a chance to show what they have in the short term, some will immediately go, others open to offers and most retained for the season ahead. Additions to strengthen and compete in both windows whilst hunting for suitable building blocks for the future.
I think there may well be a few surprises, some players going we don't expect, others currently in the doghouse may be given the chance to resurrect their careers. It will be interesting to to see if Rooney does go or stay now Allardyce has gone. I suspect he may well wait until he has a discussion with the new manager / Brands in the near future.
5 Posted 17/05/2018 at 09:30:13
6 Posted 17/05/2018 at 10:11:49
David Ellis @1 - nice build and excellent insight/perspective.
Much prefer this type of analysis than hyperbole negative swiping against individuals and in particular the likes of Walsh and Duncan.
It was evident that a chief scout promoted to DOF after Koeman appointment, with said managers arrogance and political demands got us in dire straights.
Keoman was responsible as we know for Siggy, Klassen, Rooney, Sandro and even Koeman was most responsible for the No 10 and the CF mess. Some of the others like Gana, Lookman and Henry Onyekuru are typical Walsh future value signings and may create good or brilliant value yet.
Lets give respect where it is due and criticism based upon data points where it is due, not emotional knee jerk hyperbole slagging individuals off.
We should always get behind everyone at the club as the enemies are outside our walls not within it.
New dawning coming - lets hope this one delvers Welcome Mr Brands!!
7 Posted 17/05/2018 at 11:06:39
Right moves so far Moshi, just announce Alisher and Marco/Paulo next please. Or is the managerial sky the limit. Simeone or Emery anyone?
8 Posted 17/05/2018 at 11:26:26
I sincerely hope that the inevitable trimming of the inflated squad, does not include Ademola Lookman, I think it would be a grave mistake to let this lad go.
There is certainly a lot that need to move on, but having lucrative contracts, and in many cases having paid over the odds anyway in the first place, there will be few offers, and if there are, it will be well below their estimated value.
First and foremost the Manager situation needs to be resolved. I don't know how much Brands knows about Marco Silva, or indeed if he is in favour of his potential appointment.
I would hope that he is involved, even at this early stage in the Management selection. It is important that whoever gets the post, will be singing off the same hymn sheet as Brands.
Exciting times ahead for Everton, after the many years of shattered dreams and expectations that fell well short it is long overdue. Obviously won't happen overnight but softly, softly, fingers crossed.
9 Posted 17/05/2018 at 11:28:42
This affects everything from which kids we have in the academy, how they are taught to play the Everton Way from academy right through to first team. It affects recruitment of a scouting network to get the kids and older players who fit the club, recruiting the coaches to train them, making sure the facilities are right for the training of those players.
The final part is identifying who will manage the first team. This approach indicates the employment of a head coach not an old fashioned manager. It also means that when a head coach leaves we don't then have a wholesale change to the clubs approach to football and get continuity so we are not having a huge turnover of players or 360 degree changes of the football style every time we change the head coach-no lurching from Tikki Takka to Hoofball.
10 Posted 17/05/2018 at 11:28:48
Agree Walsh is a chief scout and was out of his depth at Everton. Probably shouted down by Koeman and Kenwright over a few signings too, but without the strength of character or kudos to hold sway.
11 Posted 17/05/2018 at 11:50:43
12 Posted 17/05/2018 at 12:50:43
13 Posted 17/05/2018 at 13:33:55
This doesn't bode well for the future . . We will be playing attacking football next season. No good will come of any of it . . Prozac sales will plummet.
14 Posted 17/05/2018 at 13:47:56
The fact that Brands has been courted for some time and is in place for the beginning of the window, and ahead of the new manager, suggests we have some more concrete plans in place.
15 Posted 17/05/2018 at 13:53:27
Buying people like Niasse, Tosun, Williams, Martina and Klassen is not positive thinking and even Walcott who's not as sharp as he once was, was a risk.
Of course a new manager with good strategies may bring improvements but it's hard to make a silk purse from a sows ear.
They do have some promising players like Vlasic, Davies, Baningame, Holgate and Kenny who may also benefit from the right manager but others like the loanees and DCL may be surplus to requirements.
Moving some of these players out and recruiting the right blend of class and experience may be what is needed but it won't happen overnight and most of us don't have the patience anymore to wait season after season for it to happen.
Whatever happens one hopes that Moshiri and Co. will get things in place soon and not wait till after the World cup when players values could skyrocket.
17 Posted 17/05/2018 at 14:19:43
18 Posted 17/05/2018 at 15:15:30
I would agree that Steve Walsh can pick a player. It goes back to Drogba (for Chelsea), and then the aforementioned Leicester boys. What I thought though was that Walsh was softly spoken, he seemed a bit of a push-over, and so he really didnt seem DoF material. The DoF needed to be a hardline negotiator. Hopefully, Brands is that man. I expect hes in charge of all transfer negotiations. If not, who is and why? The manager should be removed from this negotiations. He should merely request certain players and then rubber stamp transfers when the fee is agreed, knowing full well what will happen to the budgets (transfer and wages) as a result of the transfer.
19 Posted 17/05/2018 at 16:09:52
20 Posted 17/05/2018 at 21:42:25
Not so sure if any manager would take up a post at Everton with the current board pandering to mob rule. Everton will find themselves in the Championship at the end of next season.
21 Posted 17/05/2018 at 21:53:30
It's okay for the fans of United, Liverpool et al to demonstrate against their club – remember Van Gaal, Moyes, Hodgson and Rodgers all got the boot because the fans were not happy, but Everton's fans it seems have to accept whatever pile of crud they happen to be served with. It's that type of thinking which will guarantee we end up in a lower league rather than trying to reach the highest place possible.
22 Posted 17/05/2018 at 22:01:48
23 Posted 17/05/2018 at 22:26:13
Any new manager will have to be happy with the DOF, so that might rule a few people out, the ones who are not yes men and know what they are doing!
24 Posted 18/05/2018 at 05:35:31
It's not mob rule. Allardyce was simply the wrong man for the "project". It won't put off ambitious managers at all who think they are up for it. Money's available. We are consistently one of the top 20 clubs in the world (by revenue alone), so a massive job. The best want to manage in the Premier Leahgue and we are comfortably No 7 in the Premier League in terms of prestige and spending power.
25 Posted 18/05/2018 at 06:17:56
Your comment is facile and insulting — it's the behaviour of Allardyce that you should be disgusted by. A pariah who is reviled here, at West Ham and Newcastle for his negative football and open contempt for the fans.
Lasted in the England job for 67 days because he couldn't keep his greedy paws off more money.
Have a word with yourself...
26 Posted 18/05/2018 at 11:16:24
Brands views his role as Director of Football thus:
“I have explained to the big boss (Moshiri) how I am used to working,” he told Dutch media. “I like to get involved everywhere. From scouting to youth training to what the kits look like.”
Let's hope he has a positive effect in all those areas.
27 Posted 21/05/2018 at 14:41:37
28 Posted 22/05/2018 at 19:20:27
By the way, Steve (#18), I know I've questioned you on this before but I don't think Drogba is the best example of Walsh being able to "pick a player" – he was well known hot property when Chelsea signed him, hence the enormous fee.
29 Posted 22/05/2018 at 19:29:43
It is customary for the incoming manager/coach to bring his backroom team with him the same way Allardyce had his backroom staff terminated with him except for the fitness guy who is highly rated and of course Duncan is still around.
30 Posted 22/05/2018 at 19:39:59
31 Posted 22/05/2018 at 19:42:34
Re Duncan and at the risk of stirring up a hornet's (no pun intended!) nest, I had no axe to grind over him but would now like to see him shown the door after his gestures to away fans making their feelings known about Allardyce. He chose to side with Allardyce then (rather than simply ignoring the chants), so should have gone with him.
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