The importance of structure, clarity & belief

by   |   03/04/2018  15 Comments  [Jump to last]

So the blues have just been schooled by a Manchester City side superior in every aspect of football. Of course the defeat came as no surprise, given the fact that City had only failed to win 4 of their 30 games this season, scoring 85 goals in the process. However, having spent in the excess of £250million since 2016, I would have certainly hoped we could have at least gave them something to think about. Although a much longer term project, Guardiola's City embodied a side based on coaching, quality, cohesion, planning, togetherness and identity, in relation to an Everton side which looked fearful, disjointed and devoid of ideas throughout.

It was clear that this City team has been assembled with a clear identity in mind, and recruitment across the board has represented that. Since their appointment of former Barcelona director of football, Txiti Bergiristain in 2012, City have had a clear footballing identity in mind, which has meant all recruitment decisions the club has taken have been based upon a clear long-term objective. From the outside, it certainly appeared that since Bergiristain's appointment, the club was anticipating Guardiola's arrival, and although it was not until 2016 that this dream became a reality, City still represented a club with a clear idea of where it wants to be and exactly what sort of individuals would be needed in order for them to get there. It took time and patience of course, as all good projects do, but the club's intentions appeared rather clear.

Currently, 'relegation specialist' Sam Allardyce is our manager on an 18 month contract with highly regarded scout Steve Walsh in the director of football position. The positions of both individuals appear increasingly precarious, given fan dissatisfaction with Allardyce, and the disjointed nature of this current Everton team which has been built upon Walsh's recruitment. I'm sure I am not alone in lacking the confidence that Allardyce and Walsh can be a partnership which brings the success and footballing identity us Evertonians wish to see moving forward, which is why the individuals' Farhad Moshiri decides to install into these respective is absolutely crucial for us moving forward.

True success does not happen quickly. A long-term vision is crucial, and key to implementing that vision is having the correct individuals' in place to oversee it. None of the managerial appointments during the Moshiri era thus far have been made with longevity in mind. Ronald Koeman was realistically never going to stay beyond his three year contract, David Unsworth was a temporary appointment, and if various reports are to be believed, Moshiri only wanted Allardyce on a contract until the end of the season, rather than an 18 month one. This constant changing has provided fans and players alike with a feeling of uncertainty regarding the club's long-term objectives, with our current director of football equally failing to project the notion that there is a clear, long-term vision at the football club.

At Everton, it does not seem clear to me where it is we want to be, and much more importantly, how it is that we are going to get there. The lack of identity to this current Everton team is my biggest concern regarding Walsh. When discussing Koeman's dismissal, Moshiri spoke of how "the team didn't appear to have a shape". Although Koeman's managerial short-comings were of course a big part of this, an equally large share of the blame must fall at Walsh's door also, with the two individuals ultimately unable together to create a structured, cohesive team. For example, the failure to address key areas such as the centre-forward and left-back positions, demonstrates to me a degree of incompetency and naivety which we cannot risk occurring again.

Perhaps Mr Moshiri does have clear ideas in his mind regarding what identity he wants an Everton team to have, however it is crucial that if the DoF/manager model is one which he is insistent on, long and careful consideration must go in to ensuring that the correct appointments are made with the long term success of the club in mind. Presuming that both Allardyce and Walsh are going to be replaced in their respective roles, the emphasis must be placed upon securing a pair who can work together to construct a team with a clear identity and structure. In my view, this can only be done by installing an experienced director of football with previous success in the role.

If rumours are to be believed, Moshiri's number one target appears to be Marcel Brands, a man with years of experience in this role in Holland, occupying the role at PSV currently. Having won titles with AZ Alkmaar as well as PSV, Brands clearly has pedigree, with the fact that his name has previously been linked to a role at Chelsea further evidencing this. While this experience of course does not guarantee he'll be a success with us, I believe the club must look to appoint someone with a proven ability to oversee various footballing operations and a know-how in terms of working closely with a manager to deliver a successful, winning team.

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Reader Comments (15)

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Derek Thomas
1 Posted 04/04/2018 at 13:17:56
Moshiri may only have one chance left to get it right, there's only so much of Sky's and his own money (?) he can throw at the project
Winston Williamson
2 Posted 04/04/2018 at 13:53:47
A DoF and Head Coach model or a Manager model - not many instances of a DoF and a Manager working out well...

Agree, a clear plan is needed, because if the plan is a Walsh/Allardyce model, I'm out...has there ever been such an odious pairing??

A clear aim and clear objectives are required. Pick a playing style and set up our whole club to work towards it – is it that fucking difficult???

Everton FC – the club without an Identity, Heart or Courage –a perverse footballing Wizard of Oz story!

Stephen Davies
3 Posted 04/04/2018 at 14:10:09
I agree with you. It seems very simple doesn't it.

It's been said many times by a lot of great football minds that football is a simple game yet it gets fucked up constantly.

You're right though... Have a football philosophy, stick to it, do it well, and choose the right players to carry it out.

Liverpool and Man Utd have been doing it for decades with great success.

Phil Walling
4 Posted 04/04/2018 at 14:27:52
There's absolutely no certainty that Moshiri will get it anymore right this time than he did last. Indeed, there is ample evidence that throwing money at the problem has more than an even money chance of being the precursor to failure and relegation.

Leeds, Forest, the Sheffield clubs, Blackburn, Sunderland and Villa et al have all suffered the drop after lauding the arrival of wealthy benefactors who proved to know far less about the game than those they replaced.

Of course, there is no lack of advisers, agents and pundits from whom to take advice but the trouble is that not all are as genuine and well meaning as they appear to be. Of course, for the mega rich, it's only a case of changing the personnel until it begins to come right but, for the majority, it has led to muddle, confusion and the slippery slope. As with most things in sport, Luck plays a major roll – Moshiri had better start rubbing his lamp without delay. Or send for one of us!

Ernie Baywood
5 Posted 04/04/2018 at 14:28:36
Absolutely agree. I've been harping on about it for a long time now.

I look at this club and see a complete lack of a vision. That then translates to no real objectives. And then zero accountability. So people come up with their own objectives.

Sam's is just to stay up. Who knows what Walsh believes his responsibilities to be? How do they align with Moshiri?

What does Moshiri want? And exactly how did the appointment of Sam Allardyce fit with it.

It's pretty basic leadership. Right now a new manager might give us an improvement but it will be through luck more than judgement.

Stephen Davies
6 Posted 04/04/2018 at 14:33:35
Strong reports and confirmation on Sky that Brands has been hired as DoF. (Walsh shifted back to Scout?)

If that's the case, then I suspect he had a hand in chasing the Columbian defender as he was after him last year.

All we need now is a manager to work with him; let's hope those rumours are true too but it looks like there may be big changes (again) coming...

James Flynn
7 Posted 04/04/2018 at 15:26:48
Winston (#2) – "A clear aim and clear objectives are required. Pick a playing style and set up our whole club to work towards it – is it that fucking difficult???"

It can't be. A fellow with zero experience at a big Club in a top league did it for years on a shoestring: Moyes.

Mark Boulle
8 Posted 04/04/2018 at 17:02:31
Indeed, the Sky report says we will have our man Brands once PSV's Dutch title win is confirmed. They are currently 7 points clear with 5 games left, so we might not have long to wait... :)
Dick Fearon
9 Posted 05/04/2018 at 00:22:08
Dare I say that an excellent example for us to follow is across the park, or would the usual head-in-the-sand syndrome kick in to ignore it?
Rob Dolby
10 Posted 05/04/2018 at 01:03:19
Dick, I wouldn't follow that shower of shite anywhere. Bunch of gobshites.

Danny Broderick
11 Posted 05/04/2018 at 01:16:16
This Director of Football role is the biggest red herring in football. What a load of nonsense it is. We brought Steve Walsh in on big wages – we also paid Leicester a fee to get him, ffs – and who are we linked with this summer? Jack fucking Wilshere! Where are all the gems he was supposed to unearth?

If having a Director of Football was the key to success, every club would have one. What I see is some clubs have one, some don't. Some clubs have had success with a DoF. Some haven't.

I'd much rather we look at similar clubs to us who have had success, like Atletico Madrid. They seem to have a conveyor belt of talent that they develop. They seem to sell a player, and have his replacement lined up already. Costa replaced Torres. Griezmann replaced Costa etc. If we'd done this when we let Lukaku go, we wouldn't be in the mess we are now.

Atletico have also built a new stadium. They also have a long-serving manager. This stability and vision, which the whole club seems to buy into, is surely the way forward?

Massive 12 months ahead. We need a clear vision and everyone singing from the same hymn sheet.

Sam Hoare
12 Posted 05/04/2018 at 09:48:16
Sorry if i've got this wrong Danny but don't Atletico have a director of football? Or Sporting Director which is essentially the same role. Andrea Berta is his name.

You talk about a conveyor belt of talent and that is pretty much exactly what the director of football or sporting director is responsible for. Creating a team identity and finding players to fit in with those needs and more players to replace them if they leave.

So maybe not a red herring at all...

Brian Keating
13 Posted 05/04/2018 at 16:52:56
Athletico Madrid, Real Madrid, Barcelona all have sporting directors in charge of recruitment. It's the standard arrangement in Spain and Italy.

Why people keep writing it off is beyond me.

Guardiola was a Barcelona head coach, he had a sporting director and what did he ever win? EVERYTHING.

The sooner people move on from this notion that English football is a special case and start applying the best known methods, the better.

Mike Allison
14 Posted 09/04/2018 at 11:38:45
Hi Danny (11), I'm coming to this late so don't know if you'll see this, but I wanted to make a point regarding your first and last sentences.

“This Director of Football role is the biggest red herring in football.”

“We need a clear vision and everyone singing from the same hymn sheet”

We at Everton seem to be suffering from some confusion about what a ‘Director of Football' or ‘Sporting Director' does (there may be other titles doing the same job as well). From reading ToffeeWeb I'm convinced that the fans are confused, and from watching the club in action I fear the people at the club are also confused. This brings me to my main point: I see your first and last sentences as direct contradictions of each other. I see it as the role of the Director of Football to provide ‘a clear vision' and ‘make sure everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet.'

I don't think Steve Walsh is capable of doing that, and I think he is emblematic of the confusion between ‘scouting and recruitment' and the much bigger Director of Football role. Frankly, I could tell you what players to sign using and a couple of computer games, and I'd probably have the same success rate as most real world ‘experts' (I'd certainly claim to have been more successful over the last few years than Everton have been in reality).

The Director of Football needs to oversee and link everything from Scouting, Recruitment, First Team, U-23s and Youth Development, with a separate ‘department head' in charge of each area. As such I believe it's the most important role at a club, making them ‘manager proof' and consistent over a long period of time, not dependent on the personal ideas of whichever bloke was available when we felt we had to sack the last bloke. One of Everton's biggest problems since Moyes left is that this role has essentially been done by Martinez and Kenwright, not someone with any actual aptitude for it.

Dave Speed
15 Posted 11/04/2018 at 19:08:31
My understanding, which is shared by a lot of people who I have discussed it with, is that the Director of Football, Sporting Director or whichever title is used, is the overseer. That's how it works on the Continent, and it is ingrained culturally.

As such, the overseer will hire the manager, or Head Coach, and will also hire all other coaches down the line to the kids' teams. There will be a clear philosophy and the overseer will ensure that this is adhered to.

So, that said, Allardyce will be removed as soon as the overseer is in post (Brands?), and then he will work his way down. This will begin with the appointment of the new Head Coach (Fonseca?). Everton will then get its identity, and hopefully, if it is Fonseca, reports have said that he can adapt and manage games like Mourinho, and can attack with style and pace like Klopp (yes that's right) or Guardiola. Bring it on.

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