You Can’t Always Get What You Want…

Dylan Joseph 31/08/2020 32comments  |  Jump to last

…but if you try, sometimes you get what you need

Hmmm... One of the great tracks from the seminal 1969 ‘Let it Bleed’ by The Rolling Stones, without any intention on behalf of the band, manages to perfectly capture the status of Everton Football Club currently. Cast our minds back 5 years. Roberto was in charge with Uncle Bill writing the checks. We played attractive football and had some excellent players actually, although we didn’t pay the top salaries, and couldn’t splash out on big transfers.

So what did we want? We wanted money, and lots of it. Someone with deep pockets who could allow us to compete with the established order and propel us into that Champions League place which has essentially become a trophy called prestige (and massive revenue streams for FFP). Lo & behold, despite several false dawns, Uncle Bill did find someone with loads of cash (and an even richer business partner) to buy into what can only be referred to as ‘The Project’.

But herein lies the problem. Money wasn’t actually the issue, was it? As can be demonstrated by Sevilla, Benfica, Dortmund, Leipzig, Lyon, Lille, Wolves, and a few others – it’s not about what money you spend, it’s about what you do with it that counts and what your strategy is. Essentially, football is a business. We don’t like to think of it like that but it is. In most businesses, having a coherent, well-executed strategy and being better than your rivals in the same market tends to lead to higher profits and therefore success.


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So this is the bit that fascinates me about Everton since we got the cash injection. We haven’t got a strategy whatsoever! We started off poaching successful people from other Premier League clubs, in Koeman and Walsh, but we forgot the bit that Kenwright and Moyes (and, to a lesser extent, Martinez) understood – that it was about buying the right players for the system and the way in which we were going to play.

It has been well documented about the Walsh and Koeman arguments over players but anyone who doesn’t see about 5 hands in the mix when picking players at Everton is either blind or hopelessly optimistic that we had a strategy and it just didn’t work. Walsh signed Gana, Vlasic, Lookman, Calvert-Lewin, Micheal Keane... Koeman sighed Sigurdsson, Schneiderlin, Klaassen, Bolasie, Williams... Kenwright signed Pickford and Rooney... Moshiri signed Walcott and Tosun.

So the question for me is linked to the title. What did we want? Money? Yes! Greater success? Yes! Being able to compete with the Red side of our city? Yes! Pride in being a blue again? Yes… Sadly, for me, the only one of these we have is money (although not as much as when we started with Farhad, I suspect).

So we can’t get what we want as we are set up wrong! It may pain people to accept this but the DoF model does not work. Never has done in this country. Never will do. You need a strong manager with an excellent scouting system and you need to back them as best you can.

So we have Carlo Ancelotti in charge, which in itself is a minor miracle. He has to be allowed to buy his own players for his own style. Unless we can do this, then we won’t be anywhere near where we want to be. We won’t get what we want – irrespective of if Carlo is allowed free reign in the next 3 to 5 years either – simply because the others are so far ahead of us in terms of their squads and recruitment.

So can we get what we need? I think the answer is Yes. We don’t need to be challenging for the title in 3 years. What we need is a sustainable squad full of talent, much of which we developed in-house, complemented by some very astute signings.

Winning the FA Cup every 4 years or so and going deep in the Europa League every season (hopefully winning it) would be brilliant for me. After 30 years of watching mostly shite football, to see us winning stuff and playing against top European teams whilst in and around the top of the table would be wonderful.

I don’t need a £70M striker at age 28 who thinks he is too big for the club, or an injury-prone trickster looking for a pay-day, or even a talented mercurial youngster who might develop into a top player... but might also just turn out to be an idiot. Give me Carsley, Barry, Cahill, Arteta, Fellaini, Jagielka, Distin, Baines, Howard, Osman type players who will do us all proud.

You don’t need the billions, you just need a good culture amongst the club and the players and standards that are adhered to. In fairness to Mr Moshiri, he has always put his hand in his pocket and backed his managers and Directors of Football. The problem he has is he needs a proper football strategist to run the club for him.

For me, when I look at a team like Sevilla, I see that they are always building a club around an ethos, same as Atletico Madrid or Lyon…… it’s about buying the players that fit that ethos and culture, not just who is available and fits that area where you think your team is weak. We can get what we need, we just need to reset our club ethos and standards and don’t allow anyone who doesn’t meet them to wear the Royal Blue.

So fair play, Farhad, you have done what you said you would. You have just chosen people to execute it on your behalf woefully! Let’s go back to what we were great at for 10 years. Be hard to beat, play to 100%, add some moments of quality, and be the team where every man plays his heart out for the shirt. That to me is Nil Satis Nisi Optimum as you can’t ask anymore. What we have currently is a group of mercenaries who are 2nd rate players on massive paydays!

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Reader Comments (32)

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Steve Hogan
1 Posted 31/08/2020 at 21:17:56
Hi Dylan,

I liked your article, but it kind of contradicts itself. You quite rightly, and your absolutely spot on, in stating the club has failed dismally in terms of a valid strategy after the massive injection of capital by Moshiri, nearly five years ago.

But, in the same instance, you hark back to the good old days of Moyes and Uncle Bill. The continuing presence of Kenwright and his policy of recruiting senior personnel from within his 'circle' is symptomatic of exactly what's wrong with Everton.

We had an opportunity to look globally for our new CEO, there are fantastic people out there, not necessarily Evertonians, but top calibre businessmen or women, who would have looked at all aspects of the club's business and taken the appropriate steps to propel the club forward.

I have no axe to grind with Denise Barrett-Baxendale, but why on earth appoint an individual to the most senior position in a company with a turnover approaching £200M, who comes from a strictly educational/charity background?

I'm not even sure the position was advertised, absolutely criminal.

Instead Bill opted for the easy option, and promoted from within.

That's why our peer group in the Premier League have now overtaken us: years of mismanagement.

The real answer to the mess were in lies much closer to home.

Phil Wood
2 Posted 31/08/2020 at 21:38:44
Excellent article Dylan.
Very much spot on.
Sam Hoare
3 Posted 31/08/2020 at 22:18:23
Decent article, Dylan, but not sure the likes of Txiki Begiristain (Man City) or Michael Edwards (Liverpool) would agree that the Director of Football model has not worked in this country. Likewise Sevilla, who you rightly praise, have had their best years under their impressive DoF Monchi.

John Zapa
4 Posted 01/09/2020 at 03:31:06
Despite spending hundreds of millions, the gap with the top 6 looks to be getting bigger. Your absolutely right about making the wrong key appointments in the club at different levels, CEO, DOF, manager and coaches. There is no plan or long term strategy, it's just whichever way the wind is blowing at that particular moment. Unfortunately I cannot see this pattern changing in the next season.

The main worry for me is when Moshiri decides that he has burnt his fingers enough and stops subsidising the club. Then the real disaster will unfold very quickly.

Mark Andersson
5 Posted 01/09/2020 at 04:48:39
Carlo needs to get off to a good start this season. Anything less and we're in trouble. He clearly couldn't get anything out of the current squad of misfits. Mi-table again if we're lucky, we're just crap from top to bottom.

If Carlo gets 3 or 4 players like the ones we have been linked with, it's still going to have a lot of luck to take us where we all want to be. Steve Fern is waiting in the background with his "I Told You So" tee-shirt ready to be worn.

Get rid of teary fucking Bill and just maybe our non-financial fortunes will come good.

Jim Harrison
6 Posted 01/09/2020 at 04:51:20
Just want to say, if Walsh did indeed make just those signings, he did a cracking job! Keane and Calvert-Lewin are both current first-team staples, Gana was great and left for a healthy profit, the other two made a good profit when sold. Out of those, only Keane would be questionable for me.

So he proved to be exactly what he was before, a decent scout, but no DoF. Not strong enough with the manager. But based on signings alone, he comes out well.

If, as you say, Koeman was responsible for those you have attributed, then he really did screw the club. Too many short-term signings that cost a lot but didn't actually have the quality to give that short-term boost in performance. Not one signing can be classed as a success. Big fail on recruitment.

I personally didn't mind the Rooney signing, but that he was used as a midfielder when we had 2 other players specifically in that role buggered it all up. He also raised the profile of the club considerably. Finished top scorer. If we went back in time and just signed Rooney and not Klaassen we would probably be better off now!

Pickford actually looked for 18 months, including a World Cup performance of real promise, to be a good signing. He went to shit this season big time. But so did De Gea, Kepa, Lloris (pre injury). He was in pretty esteemed company!

Kenwright comes out with an average score for me.

Walcott and Tosun? See Koeman comments. Short term and not good enough. Blaming them on Moshiri is a bit harsh as I see these as Fat Sam signings, but I suppose he signed them off. Poor marks again

Jerome Shields
7 Posted 01/09/2020 at 10:41:33
Sevilla last Summer, after the appointment of the ex Real Madrid manager, took an axe and replaced most of the first-team squad, there was no ethos build up.
Jon Wit
8 Posted 01/09/2020 at 13:12:52
Post Moyes / Martinez the club was in a good state for some investment - unfortunately the wrong people were given the responsibility for that investment and the opportunity went.

I agree that the money with the previous scouting system might well have been spent more wisely - but people wanted rid of that and were demanding 'ambition'.

There was an impatience that resulted in some very poor value purchases.

Rooney made some sense to me - he should have been the icing on the cake - but there wasn't any cake.

Pat Kelly
9 Posted 01/09/2020 at 17:40:38
If the owner of a business doesn't set the ethos, who does ? Moshiri has been generous with his cash but he hasn't laid down a sustainable business model. He has thrown money at a succession of different managers with no coherent long-term plan.

Brands was seen as the rudder who would set and maintain a course to long term success. Maybe he will in time. But, as always, staying afloat in the Premier League is the priority. What we need is the short term, staying up; what we want is the longer term, success and trophies. Short-term fixes are sometimes necessary. Blending this with a long term strategy is essential.

Ancelotti needs some short term fixes so some of his current preferred signings may not seem to gel with Brands development strategy. But, if both are given enough time, they might make a success of Everton.

John Raftery
10 Posted 01/09/2020 at 18:03:10
Wasn't there yet another voice involved in our transfer splurge? I thought David Unsworth had a big say in the signing of Calvert-Lewin, having spotted him as a 16-year-old in an Under-18 match.

As others have pointed out the Director of Football model has been successful at a number of clubs. As ever, success is dependent on appointing the right individual and being crystal clear about roles and responsibilities.

Our current woes can be traced back to decisions made in 2016-17. Plainly Walsh was not qualified for the DOF role which ought to carry a much broader set of responsibilities than that of Chief Scout, the role he filled successfully at Leicester.

The error of that appointment was compounded by that of Koeman who showed neither ability nor inclination to work effectively on a day-to-day basis with the DOF. What ensued was a fiasco not only in our transfer dealings but also in the evident incoherence on the field of play.

In terms of where we are now, the jury is still out. To address some obvious and very urgent weaknesses in the squad, it appears we have reverted to signing players in their late twenties. That is fine for the immediate challenge facing Ancelotti but suggests a departure from the notion of building for the medium to longer term which ought to be one of Brands's priorities. Whether or not the two can achieve a balanced approach remains to be seen.

Stephen Vincent
11 Posted 01/09/2020 at 18:23:40
Certainly a thought provoking piece, Dylan.

I think the difference at present is that we now have a manager who has a CV rather than a manager who is endeavouring to build one. However, having got the man who we should have tried to get 5 years ago we now find that the ship carrying the pot of gold has sailed or at best is untying at the dock side. What is left behind is a load of lead painted as gold and unfortunately most of us can now see the dull virtually valueless stuff underneath.

Had the club gone down the road that I think Dylan is suggesting, investments in youth 5 years ago would now be bearing fruit and we would be reaping the rewards in terms of success or sell on fees which would enable us to reinvest and keep the cycle going.

I really struggle to get my head around the fact that an obviously astute businessman such as Moshiri can drop the ball so badly in terms of who he has allowed the club to be run by. I cannot believe that we still, after all his lies, deceptions and ineptitude, have Kenwright at the helm, playing with someone else's money.

The Board of Directors that Moshiri has in place has never run a substantial corporate organisation between them and they have Everton in the centre of a fast flowing river with a huge waterfall 100 yards ahead and very soon the current will be so strong that they will take us over the edge. Leeds and Portsmouth are prime examples of this.

I have said it before and I will say it again: Walsh and Brands did not loose their abilities over night, they have been hamstrung by someone who only wanted stellar signings now the money was available and consequently Walsh and Brands have never been allowed to do the jobs they were hired to do.

I also think that the one need that Dylan didn't mention is Bramley-Moore Dock or is it a wish? I think Moshiri has become so wrapped up in this project that he has lost sight of the bigger picture and allowed people totally unsuited for the job to manage the whole club.

This is the classic case of "be careful what you wish for". We had the chance to get what we needed and totally blew it.

Apologies for the analogies. This stuff makes me so so mad.

Clive Rogers
12 Posted 01/09/2020 at 20:20:36
Stephen, #11, good post, but I am not sure that Kenwright has any responsibilities at all in the running of the club. He was taken off transfer negotiations after the Sigurdsson debacle.

After he twice reportedly refused to give up the chairman's position, firstly when Paul Gregg offered to bail out the King's dock project, then again when the Sheikhs who went on to buy Man City came calling, I am sure that him staying as chairman would be part of the deal with Moshiri. It was probably in writing.

My feeling is that Moshiri has by now seen through him but is stuck with him as a figurehead chairman.

Stephen Vincent
13 Posted 01/09/2020 at 21:45:28
Clive, Kenwright's tenure is one that we should be ashamed of. Apart from the Sheikh, there has been to my knowledge Swiss, American, Japanese and Thai interest. When asked about these parties at an AGM, Kenwright said 'I don't want to answer your questions'.

Kenwright has sold or mortgaged Bellefield, Finch Farm and Goodison Park. He took out a loan with Bear Stearns in 2002 for £30M repayable over 25 years at a total cost of almost £70M.

Since winning the FA Cup in 1995, Everton have spent £1 billion on players – which is extraordinary.

We still have Tarashaj on the books for God's sake, don't we?

Nicholas Ryan
15 Posted 02/09/2020 at 02:01:58
Stephen [13] Yes, I think we do still have Shani Tarashaj; he went on loan to Grasshoppers Zurich, [being Swiss] but swiftly dropped down to their 2nd XI.

I suspect their 1st teamers are probably on about one thousand pounds per week, yet here was a lad in their Reserves, being payed £12,500 per week by EFC!!

Christine Foster
16 Posted 02/09/2020 at 05:17:35
Dylan, I have to say you made me go to YouTube and relive some of the memories of Cahill and Arteta. I watched both their interviews and goals and it made me realise just how bad we have become. How far we have fallen.

I think we hit the bottom of the barrel with Koeman, but the responsibility for the clubs demise must always rest with the board. They dictate who is bought and sold, what investment there will be and where it comes from.

In that we have been dreadful. Even with an owner with money we managed our future with about as much planning as a kid in a sweet shop who has just been told he can have anything in the shop.

The sad fact was we didn't have the capability to manage well either with or without money. So poor choices of players lost direction and then poor choices of managers.

Watching Cahill and Arteta play made me smile. Both of them were class acts, yet as of today there is no-one you could say could hold a candle to either of them at the club now.

That's how big a task Carlo has, its no quick fix but we need him to find the quality, the character and skillset to win in style.

Jim Harrison
17 Posted 02/09/2020 at 05:43:29
Stephen 11

Just a question, league positioning and net spend, were Everton more successful under Kenwright or Moshiri?

11 years under one manager. A far better transfer record and wage to final placing ratio, players bought at low prices and sold at healthy profits.

He maybe unpopular, but during his time he kept the club competitive whilst not spending a fortune. Since Moshiri took over, the club has spent a fortune to go backwards in terms of league and cup performance.

Stephen Vincent
18 Posted 02/09/2020 at 11:12:54
Jim, and we have won what?

There should be no distinction between pre and post Moshiri because Kenwright has been at the helm throughout.

The only difference is, that since Moshiri came on board and sorted out the financial corner Kenwright had backed us into, Buffalo Bill has had access to someone elses money.

Alan J Thompson
19 Posted 02/09/2020 at 11:16:40
There's a bloke named Trevor Birch just joined Spurs as DoF. Is this the bloke who lasted 6 weeks under Bill but got the boot as he recommended that the club be sold?
Dave Abrahams
20 Posted 02/09/2020 at 12:03:26
Alan (19), yes that s the same Trevor Birch, but I don't think he got the boot, he saw what an utter mess the club was in and quickly “done one” wanted no part of it.

Bob Wyness, another former CEO, also packed in over the same issue, but before he could spill the beans, on the whole pathetic shape Everton FC were in, Phillip Green, who Kenwright idolised, made a very quick trip back to England, from Monaco, and paid him to keep his mouth shut.

Derek Taylor
21 Posted 02/09/2020 at 12:36:03
To answer your question, Jim @17, it would be difficult to argue that Moshiri has made a better job of 'managing' the Club than did Kenwright, particularly during the 11 years of Moyes.

According to The Esk, even the Club accounts have gone south under the money man although the thick end of' £half a Billion has gone down the drain on the recommendation of DoFs (and others).

The only light is that Moshiri and friends seem to have money to burn (I wonder what's wrong with it?) and they are providing us with a new iconic stadium. So what's to worry about?

Ian Horan
22 Posted 02/09/2020 at 13:09:06
Anybody that criticises Moshiri really needs to give their head a wobble!!!

Yes the fiitballing appointments have been questionable? However, he has funded us far greater than BPB ever has. Moshiri has also got greater returns on our commercial operations.

The new Bramley Moore Dock stadium is on the horizon with Moshiri's business connections and possibly yes Usmanov's money; however, these are areas Boys Pen Bill has not been allowed anywhere near!!!

Interestingly, the footy recruitment is our biggest frustrations, it is only this summer that we've not had our trousers dropped and been shafted.

So we are finally seeing the Moshiri effect coming to the fore...

Clive Rogers
23 Posted 02/09/2020 at 13:31:52
Derek, 21, the thing to worry about is that the money for the new ground is not from donations, but will be borrowed. The £500M debt goes to EFC on top of the £300M that we already owe Moshiri. If something goes wrong and Moshiri has to pull out, we are deep in the doo-doo.
Kieran Kinsella
24 Posted 02/09/2020 at 13:37:39

It's a real concern but one that's applicable to just about every club. If something happened with the Glazers or Qatar, Manc football would be in peril.

Clive Rogers
25 Posted 02/09/2020 at 16:11:33
Kieran, true, but they are successful and in Europe etc.. We seem far more precarious.
Tony Everan
26 Posted 02/09/2020 at 18:12:14

Thanks for the article, Dylan.

The dominant manager is what we've been missing. Martinez was ultimately out of his depth, Koeman was completely disinterested, Silva was unlucky but always out of his depth. Big Sam was only ever a plug for the dam.

I think there was a total breakdown of joined-up thinking between all of them and the recruitment/DoF.

Moyes was dour, but he was a very strong personality, his stamp was always all over the team. It may have been often dour but we functioned as a team how he wanted it to with the resources he had.

Only since Mr Ancelotti has arrived have we had that dominant voice again. Someone the recruitment/DoF have to take notice of. Carlo knows what he needs to build a tough, organised football team with some talent. He is assembling it now before our very eyes.

Brands and the recruitment are following Carlo's lead and a proper football team will emerge for the first time since Moyes's days.

Dan Doran
27 Posted 03/09/2020 at 00:09:26
You know, when you put it that way, Walsh actually didn't doo too bad. Go figure, the guy whose job it is to bring in players knows more than the rest... Please don't make the same mistake with Brands! (They will.)
Derek Taylor
28 Posted 03/09/2020 at 08:01:28

The commercial increase came mostly out of Usminov's pocket – a bit like all the other money, I suspect! But then, why not?

Justin Doone
29 Posted 03/09/2020 at 14:02:40
As a football fan, I'll leave the business side to others. That is Moshiri's realm and a new stadium is the main piece of that jigsaw.

I don't think it's possible to know who was responsible for signing which player but it's a collective decision and therefore many people to blame or congratulate depending on a financial or non-financial viewpoint.

The lack of funds pre-Moshiri ensured Moyes looked at the bargain basement. As stated, it's not just about money, that can help, it's about the right players to fit the manager's tactics and plans. Moyes largely managed the club and football teams.

A lack of football knowledge since Moshiri and his money arrived has set us back no doubt. There was no one in charge of the football.

We have spent a lot of money on relatively inexperienced managers and an inexperienced Director of Football in Walsh. No strategy or structure on recruitment or football style.

Brands was probably the first step in the right direction. Bringing organisation and a general strategy to recruitment. But we still lacked experience in developing the football. Sam Allardyce's football was not deemed good enough and the rest were longer-term developments at best.

If in the short term, Carlo Ancelotti can steady and improve the first team he and Brands can lay down some proper footballing foundations.

Then hopefully the next manager will not have to start from scratch or Brands change manager styles. Any new manager is to continue to build on the foundations. Which should help Brands identify any successor much sooner.

Instead of flipping managers and styles like pancakes we can add layers to our cake.

Before I go to feed my rumbling stomach the conclusion is Carlo has the experience and pedigree to reset the club ASAP. We need a bit of time and luck but hopefully this time next year I'll be enjoying cake and not bitter lemon.

Mike Dolan
30 Posted 04/09/2020 at 04:44:47
I actually think this article is almost total bullshit. The club is well run and in fact it always has been. The signings that Walsh & Koeman made were greeted favourably when they were made but, by the skin of my teeth, they kept us up.
Steve Greir
31 Posted 04/09/2020 at 06:19:06
Mike (30), you've done my head in now.

Whilst I appreciated the tone and content of Dylan's well scripted article, plus that of a number of the posts that followed, I (too?) couldn't help but feel we were simply seeing the same old comments about our fall from grace during Roberto's tenure, and how this started to come about when financial clout replaced business acumen in the grand order of things.

And equally, how all this has been based – as most views invariably are – on visually unimpaired hindsight! For that reason, I thought perhaps you'd decided it was something of a bullshit cause. But, having had another scan through, I'm not so sure.

As for the Walsh & Koeman aspect: I cannot get out of my head some of the posts I saw on here as Everton sought to negotiate the acquisition of Sigurdsson.

Now don't get me wrong: he was someone I too believed could add a new dimension to the squad, but I nearly spewed when I saw folk baying for his signature at an eye-watering £45M. Now I don't have a high success rate when it comes to evaluating or assessing the impact of new acquisitions, but Sigurdsson is one I nailed dead-on.

But where am I going with this...?

Well, I've often wondered how business processes – of which sales and acquisitions must be an important part – are measured, assessed and evaluated in a football club.

Now whilst it might be impractical to develop a set of Key Performance Indicators for your individual players on the pitch, what with all the variables, and uncontrollable factors that can influence the metrics, it should not be that challenging to set performance criteria for those who make these key business decisions, and then linking these to the rewards they earn.

Perhaps such a system exists already. It might also be the reason we saw the likes of Walsh move on. But I've a niggling feeling it's something we are sadly missing. And, if we're still identifying transfer targets by committee, with no single-point accountability... God help us.

Stephen Vincent
32 Posted 04/09/2020 at 10:07:32
Mike #30,

That's sarcasm... right?

Dave Heron
33 Posted 08/09/2020 at 12:32:07
New song for Rodriguez,
🎶viva Rodriguez, viva Rodriguez, viva, viva Rodriguez.🎵🎵🎵

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