The Everton Hamster Wheel

Here we are again. Just 6 games into a manager’s second season, and the pressure is well and truly on for a squad of mercenaries and "stepping-stoners" lacking unity of purpose and shared ambition.

Here we are again. Just 6 games into a manager’s second season, and the pressure is well and truly on. After a “favourable run” of early fixtures, Everton have “only” managed 7 points, have been beaten to nil by two newly-promoted teams. With Man City up next, they languish in 14th place with a goal difference of minus 4.

It’s been a while since I last blogged about the Blues. I gave up my Top Balcony Season Ticket this season (much relief to those around me) having moved to the South Coast, but, after witnessing first hand the surrender in my newly adopted hometown, and following that with defeat at home to Sheff Utd, some kind of masochism has drawn me back to the keyboard.

Who knows if Marco will steady the ship tomorrow and get past the other Sheffield club in the cup we’ve never won, and then “do a Norwich” on Saturday against Pep’s Champions? Whatever happens in the next few games, you sense solutions are only ever temporary with Everton. There is something truly rotten at Goodison, that seemed to take root the moment we got the Moshiri millions/billions.

We have behaved like “first-time phone-in callers” in the transfer market. In doing so, it strikes me that we have bought two types of players:

  1. Mercenaries; who have joined EFC purely and simply for the £££. Their eyes were dazzled, we were so excited by our new-found wealth, we threw it around like confetti on: Sandro, Schneiderlin, Williams, Bolasie are obvious names, but I would add Sigurdsson, Walcott, Tosun, Bernard (all on the pitch on Saturday). You may disagree with some of the names in this category and, yes, some have been moved on as costly errors, but there can be no doubt that such a group of players exists.
  2. Stepping Stoners: those who came to Everton to further their careers, using Everton as route to somewhere “bigger”. On this list you might put Richarlison, Keane, Pickford, Kean, Digne, Iwobi, Mina, Vlasic, Lookman, Klaassen even. The idea being there is a win-win of Everton success meaning they can move on, generating a nice tidy profit for reinvestment. It’s a model Southampton have followed to some effect.

There are also those players who should never have been signed as they just aren’t up to it: Niasse, Martina etc, but they are the least of our worries; and let’s not even go into the madness of the Rooney signing.

So what’s my point?

My point is that these two groups of players (Mercenaries and Stepping Stoners) simply cannot co-exist and form a functioning team; a team, like all successful teams, that is greater than the sum of the parts. Whoever you put in which group, the fact is that there is no unity of purpose, no shared ambition. One group is here for the money, the other is looking to move on at the first opportunity. Getting a tune out of these two groups is an almost impossible job.

How many of our current squad see playing at Everton as the pinnacle of their careers? How many really care enough and have that burning ambition to win a trophy? How many are here for the long term, so we can build a team around them for years to come? I know that the modern age footballer is a selfish beast, but it strikes me that we have got ourselves the worst of both worlds.

Our recruitment, even though improved under Brands, has hardly been a roaring success. An overweight squad remains, but the underlying problem I would argue remains motivation and unity of purpose.

Until that is addressed, until we have an actual Plan that is understood and followed religiously with some genuine leadership and a ruthless, uncharitable, winning mentality at the very top of the Club, we will continue on the same hamster wheel, overpaying for players whose priorities and goals do not align, and, of course, we will keep changing managers 8-10 games in every other season (sooner if you’re Sam Allardyce).

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Kevin Prytherch
1 Posted 23/09/2019 at 16:40:41
I agree totally. We seem to have misplaced the soul of the club, and it has come with the advent of money. Too many mercenaries who just don’t care have resulted in tepid uninspired football with very little passion.

Give me a team of limited footballers who show some passion over most of these any day. Davies, Calvert-Lewin, Coleman. who else is there?

Neil Lawson
2 Posted 23/09/2019 at 16:44:22
A really well written and carefully considered article. Whatever your views upon the content, you can not fault the prose.
Alan J Thompson
3 Posted 23/09/2019 at 16:44:55
I'm sorry, Rodger, I know it is slightly off topic but I couldn't help smiling as I wondered into which of those two categories, Mercenaries or Stepping Stoners, you would put our last 5 or 6 managers.
Kieran Kinsella
4 Posted 23/09/2019 at 16:48:43

I agree with the issues you identify. But, we are in the same boat as most clubs. If you're truly good enough to play for a so-called "big" club but join Everton, then obviously money is key. If you aspire to play for a "big" club but aren't quite there yet then Everton is a potential stepping zone. There aren't a lot of players who say "It's my dream to play for a once great but now mid-table Everton, and if I become a true star then I plan to stay here forever."
Even homegrown "true blues" like Rooney, Barkley and Jeffers seem to get their heads turned the minute they get a bit of publicity. So I don't know how we avoid this issue.

With that said, what we can do is tighten the purse strings. Stepping stone or not, if you come here, this is your wage, we are not paying over the odds based on "future potential." Neither are we agreeing to "buy out" clauses which like marriage pre-nups should be a huge red flag. The other thing we need to do is stop going around bigging up the club with talk of new stadiums and champions league. That all sends a message that we are big bollers and inevitably clubs and agents play to that flashy hype when charging us over the odds for players. In contrast, Spurs always make it plain they are tight wads. They get good players but since the Bale sale summer, they have refused to pay over the odds. We on the other hand have bitten peoples arms off for terrible deals time and again.

Jim Bennings
5 Posted 23/09/2019 at 16:56:23
We rarely seem to produce or get players that have end product, nor do we have enough players that care enough to truly hurt when we lose.

Some of the records Everton hold, no derby win since 2010, no win at Anfield since 1999, no win at Arsenal or Chelsea since the mid 1990’s, it’s just a complete and utter joke for an established ever present top flight club.

One, yes one, Cup Final appearance since 1995.

One top 4 finish since the late 1980’s.

There is something fundamentally wrong at this Football Club let’s be brutally honest.

For too many years now it’s been happy to plod along just “being safe”, just allowing Liverpool to always be the main achievers in the city.

We are basically the modern day Coventry City, a middle ranked team that offers zero hope and will probably eventually get things so badly wrong that relegation will darken the door.

Paul Tran
6 Posted 23/09/2019 at 16:59:12
Good piece Rodger. Isn't this inevitable? I would argue that the likes of Lukaku and Gueye may have been 'stepping stoners', but isn't it our management's job to create a team good enough that these players stay? Don't we buy players that other clubs 'can't keep'?

I find the 'mercenary' argument a bit of an irrelevant sideshow. We have little to offer players except money and possibilities they may get elsewhere. If our on and off-pitch management had some purpose, strategy and competence, I'd say these players would be buzzing. We've recruited wastefully and haphazardly, leaving us with players we neither want nor can sell.

It never ceases to amaze me how football clubs spend millions on players, then skimp on the guy that leads and manages them.

We need leaders in the club, leaders in the dugout, then maybe we'll get somewhere on the pitch.

Bobby Thomas
8 Posted 23/09/2019 at 17:06:15
Jim #5 "

"There is something fundamentally wrong at this Football Club let’s be brutally honest."

Spot on.

Derek Knox
9 Posted 23/09/2019 at 17:12:01
Having Marcel Brands on board/Board, I was hoping to see us progressing, more like Ajax, shedding the hamster wheel mentality and employing the Hamster Dam approach! Where's my coat?

On a more serious note I think Rodger has addressed a few valid observations, with his mercenary/stepping stone classification of our players.

Many of these players, and the Manager, are enjoying enormous, but not necessarily commensurate salaries, in proportion to their productivity, in a month, they could buy a decent house that most people would strive 25 years to pay off a Mortgage on.

Before anyone starts beating any drums, I appreciate they have to pay Tax, Insurance etc, but with a savvy Accountant that can be minimised dramatically. You may be thinking, what point am I trying to make here?

Well it is that lack of commitment, by many of the players, to the Club we all love and have supported in most cases, all of our lives. We have no-one that I know of, who would do anything on the pitch, for the badge, and run through a brick wall in the cause of Everton.

Kieran Kinsella
10 Posted 23/09/2019 at 17:13:03
Thing with the money too is that when Chelsea and City started spending they were audacious enough to go for top talent. Vialli and Zola, Tevez etc. we instead went for players from lesser clubs or people who’d failed at big clubs. But we paid them as if they were Vialli and Tevez
Kieran Kinsella
11 Posted 23/09/2019 at 17:16:37

I’d say that Coleman, Davies and Kenny might run through a brick wall but their demolition skills are greater than their football prowess.

Jay Harris
12 Posted 23/09/2019 at 17:29:57
Some good points Rodger but I agree with Paul Tran.

This is the way of the (premier League) world now and we really need strong leadership from the top down.

It is frightening to see that Moshiri has allowed Kenwright to remain as Chairman of the club and rule the roost over transfers. I will never forget his "I talk to Walter (Davy, Roberto) every day statement and thinking why is he interfering with the football management of the club.

Now we have the really experienced football person (DBB) as CEO another Kenwright accolyte. It always amazes me that some people have the wherewithal to become billionaires and then blow it all on mismanaging football clubs.

The minute Mosh took over the club he should have cleared all the decks and had a plan with a team to execute it not try to build on the mediocrity that preceded him.

The Rooney transfer tells you all you need to know about why we will not succeed as currently run.

Mike Gaynes
13 Posted 23/09/2019 at 17:35:37
Rodger, very thought-provoking article, but you've overlooked a couple of problems with your own reasoning.

First, there is no such thing as a club below the top echelon that isn't made up of a combination of Mercenaries and Stepping Stoners; every mid-table club in every league is made up of them, and on successful clubs they do strike a tune. And even at the PSGs and Barcas and Juves, you have Neymars who want to move on from one top club to another.

And that points out your second problem -- do you really want a squad made up of players who see Everton, a mid-table club, as the pinnacle of their careers? What that would produce is a squad that doesn't have the talent to elevate to the top 4 or 6. Of course we occasionally luck into a top-class talent who adores the badge and never wants to leave the club -- for example, Baines at his peak was one of the top 10 LBs in the world and never looked to move on as far as we know -- but how many of those are there? A mid-table club built around loyal mid-table-quality players is destined to eternal mid-table-ness, isn't it?

I believe ambition, both financial and career-wise, is a powerful driver for top players. And top talent working together for success is what wins silverware, not long-term love for the badge.

Derek Knox
14 Posted 23/09/2019 at 17:51:45
Kieran, Coleman pre-injury, probably would have, but how could Tom Davies do that when he never gets picked?

Jonjo is doing his best in the Bundesliga, but that Wall has already been knocked down! :-)

Pat Kelly
15 Posted 23/09/2019 at 18:14:19
I'm all for players joining Everton to further their career with the hope of going on to bigger clubs. I don't want players who come to Everton to end their careers, such as Rooney, Steklenberg, Walcott, Sigurdsson.

If you hope to join a bigger Club you have to give your all and prove you're worthy of stepping up. Didn't Gana do that ? Digne will likewise go on to bigger and better. That's the way it works. So long as they give their all with us.

Elissa Murtaza
16 Posted 23/09/2019 at 18:14:38
I would love to be a fly on the wall and given the chance to hear how our club is portrayed to the agents of foreign players. For three decades I was an entertainment agent and concert promoter and was in the business of convincing top artists to work with my company rather then my competitors, without getting into an auction. How do we sell ourselves to our targets? Is it just money?

It's painful to be a blue, I don't live in the city and can imagine what it is like for those that do.
Does the pressure get to the players? It depends on individual mentality. There are some who are motivated by the weight of pressure and expectation, certainly Liverpool players thrive on it and they are likely advised by the club to expect it( or get out). I think we can be certain that our neighbors ship anyone out who doesn't perform to their standards, no room for sentimentality. If a signing doesn't work out, he's gone, no ifs and buts. I don't recall a Liverpool player past or present gagging to leave the club or putting the club down. The club wouldn't stand for it. We on the other hand, allow both to go unchecked.

We have some good and some average talent who with strong and passionate leadership, produce winning results but very few will waste their short careers at a club with lower levels of ambition. Barkley is a good recent example.
When I look at our backroom staff on the bench I get a sense of what the atmosphere is 'backstage'. Ambivalent and stale. I would imagine that the hierarchy give out a similar vibe.

The club needs a thorough shake up from top to bottom. I know this has been said before but that's where the root cause lies. Respect and ambition is driven from top to bottom and it's lacking and has been for decades. Once that is achieved the playing staff will follow suit.!

Ian Riley
17 Posted 23/09/2019 at 18:35:49
Good article Rodger. Sadly the club owner has acted like a working class individual wining the lottery. We bought very average in most of our purchases at inflated prices. Why? Other clubs knew we were desperate to show Everton have arrived at the table.

Money can be the root of all evil with no plan. It takes owners of football clubs decades to build their fortune. Takes years to lose it buying a football club. Why? To be loved by the fans? Again what other industry would you pay out hundreds of millions of pounds to get nothing back?

The senior management team at Everton have brought no plan? Only last 18 months have they thought a new stadium has to happen to sustain spending like we are. Our new owner has brought hope to us all but a sense of realism must come now. Sacking management teams costs a fortune. Yes we have wasted money on players but we can try and move them on. Some won't go and who can blame them.

Arsenal football club have billionaires on the board but keep a tight lid on transfers. They won't be bullied by other clubs with transfer fees. New stadium means doubling match day revenue. Season ticket prices increasing and twenty years of champions league football. Still arsenal won't go over the top with transfers and if the fans don't like it, bye bye. The arsenal board set out a plan and stuck to it.

Our owner is not a young man and already spent 500 million on our club. It's not sustainable. We need stability now. Stick with silva. His objective is to keep us in the league till the stadium is built and this is our budget for the next three years. If we look like relegation is a possibility sack him and get a experienced premiership manager in but the budget remains the same.

Sadly we are years behind the top four, six if we want to be depressing but a logical plan must happen. Everton football club has been faithful to the fans with season ticket prices. It's our turn to be patient. Those at the top of the league won't be there for ever. Step by step and our place at the table will come.

Logan Shave
18 Posted 23/09/2019 at 18:41:05
Whilst a good article, I do feel the argument that ”if only we had players who cared and played for the badge, we’d be fine” is a little too simplistic. There are plenty of teams full of “mercenaries” and “stepping-stoners” who do well. Look at Ajax for “stepping-stoners”.

Players can still put their all into performances even if they have their eyes on being elsewhere eventually, or like the money. More important is the right blend of players skill sets and the right tactics to get the best out of them.

For example, Sigurdsson is good at making space and having a shot, and playing through balls for runners. Yet invariably our tactics keep 2 midfielders deep, and the runners are out wide. The only options are out wide, which negates one of Sigurdsson’s best attributes. Ideally he’d have midfielders running past him into the box, allowing space for him to have a shot, or play someone in on goal.

If you look at the other successful teams in the league, they mostly play with one holding midfielder, allowing more options and space to be created when they go forward. Instead our forward moves break down or go sideways and we lose possession, inviting the other team to attack.

We need to be braver, and I’m not talking about the playground tactics of chucking everyone up front when we’re losing.

John Pierce
19 Posted 23/09/2019 at 19:16:34
I’m not sold on the argument you offer Rodger.
As I think all top flight footballers are mercenaries and stepping-stoners.

The fault lies, for my money, in the lack of clear expectation from the board, now from Brands.

Everton have the resources and talent to have a squad which should finish no lower than 7th, consistently.

Managers should be told clearly and definitively that is the bar they need to achieve or they’re out.

That pressure which its commensurate with the pay and ambition should be used by the manger and transferred to the players.

It should be tangible and obvious that you cannot slip up and actually that’s what will drive performances. Other clubs have those standards and sack managers based on them.

You cannot have a corporate or commercial strategy on a team which will bob between 7th and 14th.

We have a reputation for being soft on managers, patience is by and large a bygone practice.

It’s time we get a premium manager and set a standard we keep to.

Kevin Prytherch
20 Posted 23/09/2019 at 19:17:04
Anyone read the article in the Daily Mail about Everton's £317M capitulation?

The team that ended the game was the most expensive in our history – £317M. And on what? A dodgy keeper, a slow centre back, an unproven centre back, a defensively fragile left back, a £35M Arsenal reject, a £20M 19-year-old etc etc

None of the team we ended up with on Saturday had been with the club 3 seasons.

Delph was the last person out of the dressing room at 6:30, Richarlison was out the door at 5:16.

Moshiri and his money has ripped the soul from this club. We'd be better off putting Unsworth back in charge and giving him 3 seasons to try and rescue what is left of our club.

Everton have always been a team that doesn't give in, that fights to the end, that shows passion when the skill isn't there. We as fans buy into this passion, that's why we argue and debate the way we do. We aren't Spurs or West Ham who want their pretty football, we aren't glory hunters like Liverpool or Man Utd, we don't care about fancy names coming from afar like Chelsea or Arsenal.

We want pride, we want passion and we build from there, top it off with skill and get in everyone's faces until we win. We're nowhere without that pride and passion, we're exactly where we are now. Useless mercenaries who couldn't give a shit about the club or the fans that pay their massively inflated wages that they'll get nowhere else.

Do we still think that Brands is the messiah? I've got serious doubts.

Daniel A Johnson
21 Posted 23/09/2019 at 19:24:00
The point is opportunities exist to break the top four, the opportunity has been there for at least 2-3yrs now.

Arsenal are in transition, Man Utd are a diabolical mess, Spurs flatter to deceive, Chelsea have lost Hazard and have a transfer ban.

Yet, season after season, we cock it up and miss our chance. When the top teams finally sort their houses out we will rue these missed opportunities.

Looks like Leicester and West Ham have a good chance this year of giving it a go and good luck to them, whereas we get what we always deserve... fuck all.

Silva is under pressure after 6 games because, despite having one whole season with the squad and a proper pre-season, it looks like we've gone backwards. We have played two newly promoted teams and got properly spanked both times its not good enough. We currently have premiership giants Sheffield Utd, Southampton, Burnley, Crystal Palace, Bournemouth & West Ham above us.

People say give Silva time but let me ask you this, would the other team across the road – you know, the team that actually has pride and win things – actually put up with this state of affairs? No fucking way.

Jay Tee
22 Posted 23/09/2019 at 19:42:37
Well what a mess. Just feel like I have been watching the same game over and over again for years now.
Joe McMahon
23 Posted 23/09/2019 at 19:59:25
Jay @22 we have, and the game is Everton 0-4 Bolton.

The Everton team was;

Wright, Hibbert (Osman 77), Yobo, Weir, Nuno Valente, Arteta, Cahill, Neville, Davies, Beattie, McFadden.
Subs Not Used: Krøldrup, Bent, Turner, Kilbane

BBC stated:

'Bolton condemned struggling Everton to a humiliating defeat at Goodison Park' – sounds familiar, doesn't it.

Gary Carter
24 Posted 23/09/2019 at 20:07:38
Sorry but that's utter garbage. 99% of footballers play for money and wanting to be the best, not as a fan of the club. That means all clubs have “steeping stoners” and “mercenaries” bar a very very tiny elite amount that ARE the best clubs.

As such, most of our rivals also have the very same “stepping-stoners” and “mercenaries” playing for them but have managers getting them to perform better on the pitch through better tactics, inspiration, discipline and the other arts of “managing”.

An absolute nonsense of an article!

Elissa Murtaza
25 Posted 23/09/2019 at 20:11:29
A move to a new stadium can't come soon enough, a home that befits our ambition for the future. We are immensely proud of our history and rightly so but there are elements of our past that portray us as quaint old relics, content to reach the heady heights of 7th and fortunate to do so. I cringe when pundits and media alike discuss us, it's either dismissive, patronizing or downright insulting. I've been a blue since 1964 and know how it feels to see us win trophies. How young blues stay committed in the face of this is both exemplary and torturous for them.

There are hints from former players which allude to the club being run like a run down holiday camp. Finch Farm serves up a fry up instead of the sort of diet top athletes expect and according to Barkley, he was never properly coached. Our former captain berated our then recently signed striker Lukaku, for stating that top 4 should be our ambition. These are just small sound bites. Visualize the reality of joining our club with optimism only to have a dose of parochial reality hit head on from within the club and the media. Please, bin that ancient relic of a song 'grand old team' with its references to the 'other lot'. It's embarrassing and symptomatic of our inferiority complex.

Today is the first time I've posted although I've read ToffeeWeb for many years. I never thought I would get to the point of sheer frustration.

Stan Schofield
26 Posted 23/09/2019 at 20:12:32
We are simply seeing the ups and downs that are typical of midtable clubs. We cannot progress from midtable without continuity of keeping the best players. But such continuity is impossible unless we qualify for Europe and start competing consistently at the top. If we don't start doing that, it's obvious we'll lose the best players to bigger-achieving clubs to meet those players' ambitions.

Some people will say that all clubs sell players, which is true. But top clubs do not sell their best players in their prime without first securing equivalent or better replacements. We sell our best players in a way that leaves a vacuum, which cannot be filled by players with just 'potential' or limited achievement.

Lukaku and Gana were sold whilst still in contract, leaving gaps very difficult to fill. We could not retain Zouma, because we don't achieve enough. Oddly, Lukaku and Zouma might have been better off staying here from the perspective of their form profile, but we wanted a profit from Lukaku, without using the money well, and Chelsea was obviously more attractive to Zouma.

Unless we start challenging at the top THIS SEASON, this trend is very likely to continue with the likes of Digne and Richarlison leaving for better pastures sooner rather than later. We really need to start showing significant and consistent improvement now.

Jerome Shields
27 Posted 23/09/2019 at 22:15:29
I agree that there are two types of players as you suggest, but agree with Mike (#13) that all Clubs, especially the top Clubs have the same type of players. I also agree with Paul (#7) and Jay (#12) that Everton wouldn't not be a top career move for many players, and a winning and progressive team is what most would want to play for. a manager they want to play for is also a factor.

The other and probably the most important factor is support /management in the club that support the manager. Whether it's the buy or selling of players and the contracts agreed, the training, mentoring, monitoring and medical support staff, and the actual management of the business side of the Club. Here also you have different classes, similar to the player's classes, with the addition of the long-term support staff on longer-term contracts, the one Club people.

At Everton, in the support and management area there are few changes, even when the Club was taken over, as Jay (#12) has pointed out, except Brands, Head Coach, and one Director.

The reason Everton appear to be a hamster wheel is that, no matter how much they appear to progress, they will crash down to the lowest common denominator, which is the level performance of all these classes, determined by their collective and individual motivation and goals.

I know you cite the start of Moshiri money as the start, but the performance in the Premier League and Cups hasn't been much better prior to that.

Change is needed, throughout the Club!

Derek Thomas
28 Posted 23/09/2019 at 00:01:15
The mercenary and the stepping stone. So we buy Stradavarius and Picasso, then it turns out that Strado can't knock a nail in straight and Picco couldn't paint a kitchen wall. Or the manager gives the paint brush to Strado and the fret saw to Picco. Then they both get injured, one gets paint in his eye and the other saws his finger off.

One person bought them and the other can't coach them.

Who hired them?

Who gave him the spare remote control to the train set. Conflicting signals, no clear vision.

One fucked up Club.

John Reynolds
29 Posted 24/09/2019 at 00:22:53
Excellent thought-provoking article Rodger.

Kevin @20, my gut instinct agrees with you, especially after watching the Howard's Way trailer this evening, but unfortunately I don't think it's that simple anymore. Look at Man U and see how the romantic dream can turn sour so quickly. Ole came in with an answer to all their prayers but suddenly they find themselves back in crisis and regretting their impetuosity at having jumped back into bed with an appealing old flame.

Don Alexander
31 Posted 24/09/2019 at 01:07:16
On this and plenty of other recent threads so many TWers allude to "something having been wrong with the club, its culture and its ownership" for decades, and as far as I'm concerned they all hit the nail on the head.

Moshiri cannot be happy at squandering the millions he has (and his net spend is not so stonking in fairness) but he must surely be pondering, as a professional accountant, as to what/who is responsible for the squandering/culture/owner-management of the club he's now solely responsible for.

If the Mosh needs a clue, the fault/s are hiding in plain sight at the top of his current boardroom, permeating right through the "comfy culture" that is the chief "achievement" of Finch Farm since the fucking place was created.

Action is needed, but sacking the manager is like sticking a plaster on a gangrenous wound Farhad. Wake up and get real PLEASE.

Alex Carew
32 Posted 24/09/2019 at 01:11:10
I agree with most that was said regarding players commitment but I also believe that this is the same for the majority of players around the world. They are all in it for the money and would all jump at the chance of joining a Man U, Barca or Real.

I personally believe that it is our lack of a leader with a plan that is important. A manager who has a system and someone who is willing to change and adapt as the game changes.

That team of players that we have has no doubt talent, you can see that they are talented (most of them anyway) but they have no structure, no game plan, no self belief and that all lies with the manager and training team. I’ve never seen a team cross a ball so badly? And yet I’ve never seen a team have so few players in the box for when a cross comes in?

We can go on about the likes of Coleman but I’m sorry to say but us clinging on to him like we did with Neville, Cahill and Dunc is what is holding us back. We have a World Cup winner sat on the bench because we named Coleman captain. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Coleman, I love his passion and his drive and also love his love for the club but if we want to progress then I think we need to look a few years from now and that means replacing him.

Players need to play for positions, if they don’t perform then drop them and give someone else that spot. The likes of Gylfi has been crap all season but still makes the teamsheet.

This all boils down to what I said above, the role of the manager and his staff. Have we competed with big teams for Martinez, Koeman, Sam or Silva? No, because big teams don’t want them. If we have the money then we should be bringing the likes of Mourihno in and tell him to build our side. There was a time when the likes of Revie, Clough and Robson (all linked with us) would have taken the Everton job but went for the likes of Gordon Lee. Nothing changes when we always settle for a lesser skilled manager. Oh and whilst we’re at it, let Dunc go, his training skills have offered nothing!!!

Dave Bowen
33 Posted 24/09/2019 at 01:58:54
I tend to believe all footballers are ‘stepping-stoners’, as all are waiting for the move to City or PSG. The most damning indictment of M & M is the lack of a replacement for Zouma, who everybody knew was leaving & the lack of a proven CF, although we’ve signed a 19-year-old with a load of potential, it seems Big Dunc has already beaten it out of him. On that subject, isn’t it time questions were asked about his role?
John Boon
34 Posted 24/09/2019 at 03:57:17
Having read all the above posts and an excellent summary of what has happened over many years by Rodger I have come to one conclusion. We are JINXED
Alex Carew
35 Posted 24/09/2019 at 04:21:34
John, I’ve thought that for years. :-)

Unfortunately luck is influenced by referees and the media too so we’re screwed.

In reality though I think it all comes down to belief and positivity and we just don’t have that. Even at their worst times, you ask the RS fans if they would win and they would never doubt that they were going to win. They always believe that they are the best and always will and I think that is felt by the players. As for us, we’ve already been stuffed by City.

Derek Knox
36 Posted 24/09/2019 at 04:43:22
Dave @33, in all fairness to Mr Brands, he did have an agreement with Chelsea, who weren't prepared to let Zouma go because of the transfer ban, but had Fikayo Tomori, on a season long loan, all but signed sealed and delivered.

That deal was scuppered at the eleventh hour when David Luiz, decided to upset the apple cart and jumped ship to Arsenal. Because of the lateness of that happening, it was too late to get an alternative on board.

I don't know if the Board felt that Silva had exceeded his budget based on the money already spent versus performances or lack of, on the pitch, and in pre-season showings, before the Window actually closed.

Now whether the deal with Chelsea, although hypothetical now for Tomori, was that when he returned to Chelsea next Summer, their ban would have expired, and Zouma may have been allowed to come to us for the right price.

The other scenario that may have been discussed at Board level is that they are not totally convinced by Silva's performance last season, which was stuttering, but did admittedly pick up towards the end of the season, but away form was till comparatively poor.

Bearing that in mind, and they conceived him to be in the Last Chance Saloon, should his tenure be terminated, his successor would have his own scenario and again would want funds to bring HIS choices in. So some of the high paid long term contract players could be surplus to his requirements.

Jerome Shields
37 Posted 24/09/2019 at 06:24:44
Don #31

I agree with your opinion regarding sacking the Manager.

Annika Herbert
38 Posted 24/09/2019 at 07:12:52
Jim@5, over the last couple of seasons I have disagreed with you over many points. But your post is right on the button in this instance.
There is something radically wrong deep within the bowels of Goodison Park at the moment. Some of the points you mention are really quite horrific!
Craig Walker
39 Posted 24/09/2019 at 08:06:34
Agree with everything in this post. It doesn’t hurt the players when they lose. They still have their massive wages and trophy wives to go home to. They aren’t grounded in reality. Make them sleep out in the stadium or go litter picking like Bielsa made Leeds’ players do.
Phil Greenough
40 Posted 24/09/2019 at 08:36:15
Making the players pick litter or sleep outside, how would that "ground them"? Even if you did, They're still getting paid £1000s to do it. They will just laugh their socks off, the world's most expensive litter pickers.

Like it or not, this is the situation Premier and Championship football is in, you can either like or lump it, it ain't going to change.

The only other choice is to support Marine or Southport, their players are definitely grounded. However, you wouldn't get away from the stepping stone culture.

Jay Wood

42 Posted 24/09/2019 at 14:18:17
A nicely constructed piece, Roger. And a couple of memorable monikers to describe player types: mercenaries and stepping stoners.

That said, I have to agree with a number of other posters who note that the condition of having such a mix of players in their squad is not one exclusive to Everton FC.

Such is the nature of modern day football with its inflated salaries and transfer fees, plus the lust of agents to serve their own best interests ahead of their clients by having them move club every 2-3 years to ensure their cut, pretty much every professional player can be described as a mercenary, looking to squeeze out the best contract and salary he can.

It has always been the case that the best players inevitably gravitate to the best clubs. I have no qualms in Everton recruiting 'stepper stoners' if they work their nuts off and play to the best of their ability during their time at the club, even if it is just to put themselves in the shop window.

If they do that, we benefit twice: their own field performances benefits our results and we profit on the transfer fee.

I have to differ with your conclusions, however. The two groups of players can and do co-exist. Indeed, they are not mutually exclusive: a player can be both a mercenary AND a stepping stoner.

Now a really talented player, given the current condition of Everton, may not, as you say, see playing for us as the pinnacle of their career. But degree by degree, that is exactly what we should be striving for: improving the squad quality, improving results, improving our finishing position, winning cup competitions, getting regular European qualification (preferably in the CL) until we reach a tipping point whereby stepping stoners with great potential and already established quality players WILL want to stay and WILL want to join us because we are meeting their ambitions as well as our own, with the financial clout to contract them.

Other clubs have done it. So can Everton.

That, I presume, is the Moshiri's vision and why he recruited Brands as his DoF, to incrementally improve the squad quality. Sadly, coming up to his fourth anniversary at the helm, it's all been very fitful under Moshiri with poor manager and DoF recruitment and some truly dreadful player purchasers.

Given the money invested to date, we should be a lot further down the road of being a viable proposition to retaining 'stepping stoners' and recruitment 'oven-ready' quality players.

That we ain't, is another discussion altogether.

But a good read Roger. I enjoyed it.

Jay Wood

43 Posted 24/09/2019 at 14:28:05
Phil @ 40. To give the Bielsa example of getting his players to pick up litter around the training ground some context, it was an extremely astute move by the maverick Argentinian before his first season kicked off last year.

Bielsa asked how many hours' work it took the average Leeds fan to earn the money to watch the team play. On discovering it was three hours, he instructed his squad to pick up litter from around the training ground for three hours.

The objective? To make the players more aware and better appreciate the hard work their fans put in just to be able to attend games and support them.

It not only helped with team building and bonding, but quickly establised a close affinity 'twixt manager, players and the fan base.

Not a cosmetic exercise then, but a very astute one, IMO.

Phil Greenough
44 Posted 24/09/2019 at 14:44:51
Thanks for explaining Craig's contention, Jay. I construed his proposal as a punitive measure, in an attempt to make the players appreciate their income and status.
Stan Schofield
45 Posted 24/09/2019 at 15:07:07
All the 'complaints' on ToffeeWeb about players being paid mega-bucks strike me as a bit pointless. All Premier League players are paid mega-bucks, but not all Premier League teams struggle like we do. Our struggles are unlikely to be rooted in the money players are paid.

Our problems are surely rooted in a lack of effective 'system' at Goodison, an effective system being one that ensures the 'right mental attitude' in situations of adversity. The lack of such a system has been evident, through the lack of mental toughness, for some time. It was evidenced strikingly last season by the collapse in form after the Anfield Derby, and is a constant theme.

We can sign new players, and appoint new managers, but we will likely continue to struggle unless we have the right system in place. The right system starts at the top, which is the case with any organisation. There seems to be something seriously wrong at the top. We seem to have a system that promotes talking rather than winning. Many organisations have management bullshit, but for a long time Everton's bullshit seems to be pervasive, cringeworthy, and dominating.

Mike Gaynes
46 Posted 24/09/2019 at 15:39:19
Spot on, Stan #45. I can't think of anything less relevant than the size of the players' paychecks.

As to your point about the organizational system, change in that area must come from the top, and it's a slow process. Takes years to change a company culture. I think Moshiri and Brands are leaders capable of carrying out that process.

Craig #39 -- "It doesn’t hurt the players when they lose." I'm sorry, that's just ridiculous. You don't become a top professional athlete without being hugely competitive. These people are wired to succeed, which they have already done by beating out 100,000 other candidates for their job. As a journo I interviewed thousands of pros. Without exception they were gutted by defeat. Trophy wives and big houses are no comfort, at least until their career is over. If you want to hate them for their fortune, be my guest, but you can't point to one who walks off laughing or even indifferent after a loss. They hate it.

Craig Walker
47 Posted 24/09/2019 at 16:40:42
Mike @45. Different sport but when my home town of Wigan dominated rugby league for a decade or so, they lost a cup game unexpectedly at Oldham I think it was. They made too many unforced errors. Fans used to go and watch their training sessions. The day after the defeat, the players voluntarily went into training on the Sunday. People who saw that session said they didn’t drop a ball between them during the entire session. They went on and won 9 consecutive challenge cup finals. A single defeat hurt their pride. I don’t see that level of commitment from the modern Everton player. They don’t have to go into work the following day and face RS fans or have their kids laughed at for being in Everton shirts. If they do then the salary and trappings help alleviate the hurt. I genuinely think if they were more grounded then they’d realise what it means. We also don’t have the local lads in the team anymore who understand. Do you honestly think that players that had no affinity to this club before they signed their lucrative contract hurt as much as our long-suffering fans? If they do then they’ve a funny way of showing it.
Gerard McKean
48 Posted 24/09/2019 at 18:32:32
A good article that has provoked many thoughtful responses.

I agree with those who say we must have a mixture of the types of player that Rodger categorises, if only for the blindingly obvious reason that, as a club, we cannot attract the finished article of top class players with the skills and attitude to expect to win, and then win again.

We could, however, as a club attract far better personnel in just about every other department, from the coaching staff to the simply too comfortable senior managers. If you believe, as I do, that Everton Football Club needs a WHOLE club commitment to live up to its motto, then it really is time to do something about the changes that can be made to bring this about. Changing the culture of an organisation can take time but it takes a heck of a lot longer if you haven't even got started after 4 years.

I know some TW readers do not like my description of the club as a monument to mediocrity but, unless Moshiri addresses the issues of complacency, incompetence and indifference that are rife throughout the club, the subliminal message to managers and players is that by any standards Everton is a bit of a soft touch. No more Mr Nice Guy, Mr Moshiri?

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