Everton’s Ownership and Leadership, Part III: The Director of Football

What should this role entail and how should we use it?

Paul The Esk 20/11/2021 39comments  |  Jump to last

So far in the series, I’ve looked at governance in Part I and recruitment in Part II. In today’s article, I want to examine the Director of Football role at Everton. Interestingly, many of the problems with our Director of Football model stem from the issues raised in Parts I and II.

Unlike perhaps a CEO or CFO role, there is no defined description of what a Director of Football does and what responsibilities he or she may have. This despite the role being prevalent across European football for more than 30 years. The role appears, even where successfully executed, to be defined by owners, Chairmen, CEOs and other Directors and is tailored to their particular circumstances. This lack of definition, lack of clear boundaries, and thus accountability and responsibility, is often used by opponents of the Director of Football role as a reason not to have one. In practice, though, the running of football operations cannot just sit with the first-team coach or manager, as in the past.

In a modern football club, there has to be someone of a senior nature who heads up football operations. The role needs to be defined and the definition adhered to. Without it, surely a club puts itself at a competitive disadvantage?

For me, it is the most important executive role within a football club. If that seems like a bold claim, look at the influence and contribution of Manchester City’s Txiki Begiristain or Liverpool’s Michael Edwards to their respective clubs.

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So what should be included within the role?

I stand in the middle of a wheel and my job is to bring together seven departments, connecting those spokes.” Dan Ashworth, Technical Director, Brighton & Hove Albion

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but the key components of the role for me include:

  • Be a board member;
  • Determine and agree ambitions and objectives in short-, medium- and long-term with the board;
  • Be responsible for creating, developing and maintaining a distinctive club style and playing philosophy regardless of first team coach, and at all levels;
  • Agree budgets required (including transfer budget, wage budget, facilities budget, backroom staffing levels and budgets);
  • Be the principal relationship and partner of the first-team coach;
  • Have complete responsibility for scouting and the club's scouting network at all levels;
  • Have complete responsibility for transfers in and out of the club, being the lead negotiator and principal contact with regards to transfers;
  • Be responsible for Under-23, academy and other development teams and their coaching staff;
  • Be responsible for performance departments, including medical, nutritional and sports science.

For such a role to be successful, assuming the person in the role has the required talents, then the shareholders, Chairman and other directors must provide the space and have sufficient trust in the individual to permit complete delegation to the Director of Football. Clearly they should always be supportive, and there will be times when the Chair or the major shareholders are involved in negotiations or discussions, but primarily it has to be the responsibility of the Director of Football. Having the Chair ring a favourite agent to buy (or sell) a player, or having the major shareholder buy a player, having watched him a couple of times, is not the way to run a modern football club.

Why, if you are going to invest in a Director of Football model and recruit an industry-leading candidate, would you do anything other than give them free reign to perform their role?

Moshiri – a fan of the Director of Football model

Moshiri is a huge fan of the Director of Football model (or at least his version of it). One of his major priorities in the summer of 2016 was to attract a high-level, well-established Director of Football to go alongside his yet-to-be-selected “Hollywood” manager. Monchi, then of Sevilla, was heavily courted, as indeed was Marcel Brands. Brands wanted to complete his project at PSV Eindhoven, the timing of the approach was not right for him, and Monchi was not convinced by Moshiri’s vision of the club. Perhaps, also concerned by the lack of structure and even understanding of what the role entailed.

Somehow, we went from Monchi or Brands to Steve Walsh. I say that with all due respect to Walsh. I think he gets a grossly unfair rap from Evertonians. He was never suitable as a Director of Football, but he was an excellent scout; he excelled at picking players – Gueye for example. His role at Everton was poorly defined, he had no real authority, and he had to deal with a triumvirate of Koeman, Kenwright and Moshiri – all giddy with the opportunity to play Football Manager in real life and with huge budgets.

Whilst they bought Bolasie, Schneiderlin, Williams, Klaassen, Sandro, Sigurdsson and brought back Rooney, often independently and without the full knowledge of each others actions, Walsh put forward Haaland, Robertson and Maguire as players he had scouted or already knew – only to be rejected, predominantly by Koeman.

How different a club we would have become if the Director of Football role had been firmly established in 2016 with the appropriate authority and responsibilities. An individual who could have stopped the excesses and ill-disciplined purchases of 2016 through to January 2018, and made astute signings.

Recruitment is only one element, though. If the Director of Football doesn’t have the authority to run transfers, then what of the other areas of responsibility? What of developing a footballing philosophy? Re-structuring and re-development of the Academy? Development of a proper scouting network? Maintenance of all the support (medical, well-being etc) services required by a professional sports organisation? Building a structure that helps retain our best talent as well as attracting new?

Moshiri said, when he arrived, that it was important to retain talent. We absolutely failed to do that. Some of that must be down to the manner in which football operations, let alone manager selections, were conducted. Lukaku did himself no favours in the year before he left… but, with hindsight, his near-contempt for the club in his latter days may have had some justification. Football operations should have been under the control of one individual, just as Dan Ashworth observed.

Marcel Brands

What to make of Marcel Brands? On the face of it, he brings all the attributes one might expect. Well respected throughout the game, known for his knowledge of European football, very structured, a tough negotiator, excellent track record, and well connected.

What are the limitations then that have apparently reduced his effectiveness? Is it him, is it the circumstances he inherited, or is it the manner in which Everton is managed as an organisation – and thus the role he is permitted to play?

Certainly the circumstances he inherited – an unbalanced squad, ever-tightening financial conditions, and many players not wanted by the club but on contracts that could not be replicated elsewhere – were incredibly difficult and must take up a considerable amount of his time. The constant shuffling of first-team and Under-23 players on and off the loan market, whilst necessary, is a hugely unproductive use of his resources and skills. On the positive side, it is acknowledged that he has played a poor hand with some skill.

I have it on excellent authority that Moshiri is a big advocate of Brands. He recognises his qualities and the high standards he operates at. Yet, if one takes the definition of the role I described earlier, it is clear that Brands does not carry the authority and/or responsibility for many areas that his skills would warrant.

If you ask the simple question: Does Brands have authority and responsibility over all footballing operations at Everton? – the answer will be a very clear No.

Why then do we recruit, at considerable cost, one of the leading Directors of Football in the game, then not use him as effectively as we should? Why is he not given absolute authority, working now alongside Benitez, to improve “across the board”?

It is completely dysfunctional to have a situation whereby the owner still makes recruitment decisions, the Chair is involved in footballing matters independently, and the academy seems to operate as a club within a club. Add to that the philosophy of recruiting former players to key coaching roles – something which quite clearly doesn’t come from Marcel Brands – and we return to the arguments I presented in Parts I and II: Governance and the cost of poor recruitment.

Make best use of the Director of Football

The three elements – governance, cost of poor recruitment, and the role and use of our director of football – are key to the overall under-performance of the club. Perhaps, the use of the Director of Football, his effectiveness, and maximising the return and productivity of such a person can never be achieved without fixing governance and bringing better people to the Board.

However, even if Moshiri is not prepared to address governance and recruitment, a relatively quick improvement in how we conduct our affairs would be to give the Director of Football the authority, responsibility and space to perform. I am confident the club would be in a better place for that decision. A decision Moshiri can make in an instant.

Part IV, about finance and our funding model, is next.

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Reader Comments (39)

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Paul [The Esk]
1 Posted 20/11/2021 at 22:25:25
Singularly, I think the Director of Football position and how the club responds is the greatest indication of how the club is governed. Look forward to your comments.
Mike Owen
2 Posted 20/11/2021 at 23:23:35
A very good run-through on what the DoF role could/should be and how it appears to have panned out at Everton.

Key to the success of it anywhere, I would reckon, is how the DoF gets on with the manager and whether they are on the same wavelength.

If they are not, then, with the best will(s) in the world, you have potential for tensions at the top.

I suspect it tends to work best when the manager is appointed by the DoF, or at least with his blessing. Or when the manager is a young, up-and-coming fella, who is prepared to doff his cap a bit.

Derek Thomas
3 Posted 20/11/2021 at 00:17:50
This sums up the whole sorry mess and elements still ring true.

..."Monchi was not convinced by Moshiri’s vision of the club. Perhaps, also concerned by the lack of structure and even understanding of what the role entailed.

Somehow, we went from Monchi or Brands to Steve Walsh. I say that with all due respect to Walsh. I think he gets a grossly unfair rap from Evertonians. He was never suitable as a director of football, but he was an excellent scout, he excelled at picking players – Gueye for example. His role at Everton was poorly defined, he had no real authority and he had to deal with a triumvirate of Koeman, Kenwright and Moshiri all giddy with the opportunity to play football manager in real life and with huge budgets."

I've said it before - I'm still convinced that Brands has, to some extent, mentally and financially, reconciled himself to play Smithers to Moshiri's stereotypically erratic Mr Burns.

Nobody knows a) what the DoF's terms of referance originally were.
Nor b) what that actually are now.

I get this impression...
Boss: why is my Roller driving like a dog?
Mechanic; I ask Brands to buy me a screw driver and he gets me a hammer, it's not even a good hammer, it cost a 'kin fortune and the first time I did use it - the head fell off.

I raised and Ancelotti-esque eyebrow when he got a new contract, if he gets another it should only mean we've finally started ripping it up on the field...and that a lot of the credit can be traced to him - not the fact that somehow Benitez got lucky and hit on a formula that gelled.

Disclaimer; not the world's biggest fan of the whole DoF thing.

Barry Hesketh
4 Posted 21/11/2021 at 00:30:08
Strange beast this DoF thing, isn't it? Benitez is generally held responsible for the removal of Donachie from the medical team; however, given Paul's definition of the DoF's job description, it should have been Brands's responsibility.

Of course, each club will have different ideas on what comes under the remit of the DoF, but somehow at Everton FC, it seems to be another person to add to the general confusion and another layer of protection for the owner and or chairman to hide behind.

Derek Moore
5 Posted 21/11/2021 at 01:30:02
Brands has been a disaster. We have no managerial stability whatsoever. Recruitment has been a shambles. And we've made an absolute pigs breakfast of FFP regulations as well.

It may well be vague what Brands responsibilities consist of, but the outcomes are sadly all too clear:

The state of the squad and the related finances. The poor league finishes and meek cup exits. The managerial merrygoround and the lack of a discerible club ethos.

I'm unable to accurately allocate blame as to why Brands has failed in his role as well as Paul the Esk is. Perhaps it is the club's structure and governance, or perhaps the man is just a fraud and not very good at his job.

Regardless of whether he's incapable of doing his job or just isn't being allowed to, Brands's continued presence in his role is utterly baffling to me. By what measure(s) is he judged to have succeeded exactly? Buying Gbamin? Signing Bernard? The King / Rondon saga? We still need a right-back. How do we employ one of the (alleged) premier DoFs in world football and end up foul of the FFP regulations?

Plainly nobody accountable is making the decisions that Marcel is, in theory, responsible and accountable for making. Nice work if you can get it, I suppose – but not exactly sustainable.

Indeed, it's utter madness. Restructure the hierarchy so it's transparent what Brands is and isn't supposed to be doing, or cut him a cheque and accept (and learn from why) we didn't know how to utilize him properly.

Danny O’Neill
6 Posted 21/11/2021 at 02:02:13
I'm a big advocate of the Director of Football model. Executed correctly, in my opinion, it implements a footballing strategy, system and philosophy throughout the club that is lasting. In contrast to the upheaval we undergo every time we change managers with their own ideas under the traditional model.

I'd agree, despite my own ideas, and despite it being the model adopted on the continent for decades, it still isn't 100% clearly defined. But then is the traditional manager role? It will always vary from club to club, country to country, for what it's worth, my view:

Responsibility: Do it properly or don't do it at all. The DoF must be empowered for all things in football operations. Responsible and allowed to get on with the job they have been tasked to do with minimal interference.

Of course there will be interest from the Board but, if you task someone to do a job, by all means hold them accountable but don't interfere and let them get on with it. This goes back to defining the role. In my opinion, responsible for setting strategy, the footballing system throughout the club & philosophy. Empowered, but held accountable.

First Team: In the ideal and purist DoF model, the first-team coach becomes just that. Only concerned with coaching what is presented to the first-team squad based on the strategy, system and philosophy. Executed correctly, and over time, it becomes almost (not quite) irrelevant who the first-team coach is, because the system is in place.

I often get accused of being overly dramatic, but think Military. Leaders come and go, but a tried and tested system that has lasted 300+ years continues in a similar vein with tweaks and adjustments to keep it relevant. But the system hasn't fundamentally changed. You just put a different figure (coach) at the helm each turn of the wheel.

It's a leap of faith for British football, so used to the "Mike Bassett, England Manager" approach. The first-team manager who controls everything. David Moyes is a good example. For this cultural reason, the DoF model in it's purist sense is a big challenge for English football traditionalists to come to terms with.

Transfers: Sets transfer policy based on the strategy, vision, footballing system and philosophy. Common theme and terminology emerging. I make no excuse for that. The notion of a DoF model is to implement this throughout the club, not just the first team. No scattergun approach to transfers. No interference; the DoF set's the targets and controls the scouting network and that subsequent negotiators are in place to go and get them.

Academy: The DoF sets the direction of the academy to ensure they follow the same path of the club (strategy, system, philosophy). The Academy COO, Director, Head of Coaches, and individual age group coaches are pulling in the same direction, not doing their own thing or what they want to do at different levels. Everything is about feeding the first team with quality or generating revenue based on the same operating model.

I wasn't a fan, and admittedly jumped on the bandwagon, but a good defence for Walsh is made by Derek. He was appointed at a time when the transfer "strategy" was at its worst. Which for Everton says a lot and something we're still paying for now. Literally in the financial sense. I agree though, if we are saying the DoF should be on the board, or, at the very least, be able to influence it, he wasn't it. He was / is a traditional British Chief Scout, not a DoF. Out of his depth, but maybe not his fault in hindsight.

Leading to Brands. Someone respected throughout the game and someone who can operate at board level. It's easy to blame him, but has he been allowed to do his job in the sense he has done elsewhere? I personally rate him, but to my earlier point, empower him and empower the role. Only Everton could waste a talent like this by effectively employing a DoF as a transfer negotiator rather that a football strategist that overhauls the club top to bottom to achieve consistency and longevity. And arguably, negotiating with transfer targets he wouldn't necessarily go after when left to his own devices, if he was empowered as a true DoF.

The DoF role can work effectively if embraced. If we're not willing to, then don't do it. But don't half-do it. All-in or not in at all. But my instinct is that this is how the top English clubs are increasingly working towards, even if it is in the background and it is still Klopp, Tuchel and Pep who do the interviews. But I would guess there is a DoF character of some sorts behind the scenes at those clubs. It's why Klopp could go off to the Far East with his first team (his responsibility), whilst the kids under a different coach embarrassed us in the FA Cup. Strategy, system and philosophy throughout the club.

Don Alexander
7 Posted 21/11/2021 at 02:16:28
Moshiri has shown himself to be a prize pillock in the world of football ever since he alone, seemingly, erm maybe, "acquired" us. Maybe in the dog-eat-dog world of Russian oligarchs, he still has a modicum of credibility though.

Steve Walsh merely sanctioned the signings of those players who were key to Leicester's Champions League success. He had not scouted them. Others did.

Koeman (and Pochettino before him) had had sod all to do with the stellar success Southampton's transfer dealings delivered to them at the time. It was all down to a certain Les Reed, a fact known to everyone in football – except the tumour still masquerading as our chairman of course – and Moshiri, obviously. They chose Koeman et al. Les Reed retired.

Brands, when he signed on, might just have realised what every one in the football world realised, namely that Everton under the gruesome twosome of arrogant self-congratulatory muppets were willing to pay a mega-salary for the square root of fuck-all.

It's the Finch Farm way after all, so why wouldn't he?

Christine Foster
8 Posted 21/11/2021 at 05:27:52

What is clear is that Brands is not being allowed or empowered to act in the manner you outline. If he was, then he has done a dreadful job and would be sacked in any other club.

But there is the rub, for, if that is the case, Moshiri has put in place a DoF without the responsibility. But, in most eyes, with the accountability for the style of football, recruitment and management of the playing operations of the club. It's a no-win situation for Brands and he should either state he wants the full responsibility, or leave.

Why? Because this underlines the root of the problem at this club.

1. A chairman who is loath to let anyone make decisions about his train set.

2. A naive owner who has misplaced trust in his chairman.

3. A lack of ownership and therefore accountability for decisions made on recruitment and playing staff coaching: too many cooks.

4. Clearly the various coaches and management-support teams are not chosen on merit but on association, the best are not considered.

5. An inexperienced football owner resorting to personal involvement (as per previous owner) making ad hoc decisions.

6. Total lack of financial foresight that would curtail any transfer operations other than sales and loans. Why isn't this being shouted from the roof tops?

7. What is the most critical decision the club should be making with respect to the style of play, the recruitment of players, and the footballing vision of the club?

8. Clearly Benitez is making decisions outside a manager's normal remit (medical). Is it a good thing or a sign others cannot do what is necessary?

Just a few questions... still.

Bobby Thomas
9 Posted 21/11/2021 at 09:47:40
Moshiri has been a joke. In terms of footballing performance, he has been a complete failure and at this point I'd be quite happy if he sold.

Brands clearly isn't being allowed to do the full job. And being here is hardly enhancing his reputation. So why did he sign a new deal? Is he just here for the money?

5 or 6 years in, it seems Moshiri has only enabled and enhanced the mismanagement and incompetence that predated his ownership. He needs to make the necessary changes or sell.

Perhaps then we may finally, finally get the clear out we so badly require and be rid of Kenwright and "his people", such as our stooge CEO whose lack of clout imo allows Kenwright space to retain influence. There is no way a heavy-hitting CEO would tolerate it.

As things stand, it will never change. This shit will just go on, and on, and on.

Stu Darlington
10 Posted 21/11/2021 at 10:54:09
I admit that I am maybe a little old fashioned (my first game was Everton v Arsenal in October 1963), but I'm a little ambivalent about clubs employing DoFs.

I accept that modern football is a complex business and that Paul's list of suggestions for the role above would remove many of the off-field duties from the first-team coach. My problem is that the list does not make clear the link with and the responsibilities of the first-team coach.

Obviously he is responsible for team selection, game planning, substitutions etc. But who decides where the squad needs strengthening, what players should we pursue for those positions, and who will best fit the football model we are seeking to achieve?

Therefore, there must be a strong channel of communication between the two and agreement as to who has the final say. Anything less than this and we end up with the confusing dog's breakfast we have now.

Clive Rogers
11 Posted 21/11/2021 at 11:11:16
If either of our DOFs had done their job properly, wouldn't be in the mess we see at present due to injuries. There should be capable youngsters chomping at the bit to get a game when seniors are missing, but that just doesn't seem to happen at EFC.

Whether that is because the DOF is not allowed to do his job properly, I don't know, but watching MotD last night, there were some outstanding young players on view.

If EFC wanted to pursue the DOF model, then Benitez was entirely the wrong appointment as he is a manager who likes full control of every aspect of the club, especially transfers.

Bill Rodgers
12 Posted 21/11/2021 at 14:54:32
Finch Farm is a collection of dinosaurs. Somebody allows them to stay and as a direct result the club produces useless youngsters plus an unfit and ill-motivated starting eleven.
Robert Williams
13 Posted 21/11/2021 at 17:43:17
Part 3 was shorter and sweeter that Parts 1 & 2 (which were depressing).

I wonder whether Paul has considered face-to-face meetings with the three protagonists: Moshiri, Kenwright and Brands – all in the interest of the club and its supporters, the fans.

I seem to remember Paul saying that the club does see his reports and it could well be that they may consider someone on the outside, Paul, to unload their strategy and see where if anywhere it differs from the suggestions we have here.

Some will say that this is not achievable, a load of cobblers... but until you try, you don't know.

Paul may even find if there is a Plan A, B or C that can be brought into play.

Anthony A Hughes
14 Posted 21/11/2021 at 18:30:41
Not sure about the DoF deciding on the footballing philosophy of a team and how they play?

A suitably qualified coach should decide how he wants to play and should go to his DoF with a list of players he wants to put that into place.

What qualifies Brands to select the team's style of play?

Bill Hawker
15 Posted 21/11/2021 at 18:42:33
Haaland, Robertson, & Maguire? I had no idea. If that's true, then Koeman really did a number on this club, setting us back at least a decade. We're still recovering from his reign.
Jerome Shields
16 Posted 21/11/2021 at 18:51:02
I agree, Walsh got undeserved criticism considering the muppets he had to work with. He also was a very good Chief Scout who was not taken seriously on his recommendations and clearly was effectively ignored as Director of Football.

Completely frustrated and way out of his depth, he recommended Big Sam, which he will never be forgiven for by Evertonians. That is what got him the sack. The mercenary players that arrived and he had nothing to do with, destroyed his reputation unfairly and resulted in him being continually attacked till this day.

He is now happy to watch schoolboy football.

Jerome Shields
17 Posted 21/11/2021 at 23:47:24
"We were thrilled to appoint Marcel this summer and he is now responsible and accountable for delivering the long-term, holistic, football strategy and principles from Academy through to first-team. "

"Marcel has begun his work delivering the club's long-term permanent football strategy, working closely with Academy director Joel Waldron and head of football strategy Richard Battle. ''

"It fills me with great pride to announce Marcel's appointment to the Everton board. This appointment further cements the importance and permanence of the position of Director of Football within our structure (now left) and called Dirctor of Operations. ".

Brands's boardroom appointment forms part of Everton's ambitious long-term vision, also announced by Barrett-Baxendale on Tuesday, which encompasses the next decade. That decade could also see the club leave their historic Goodison Park home for a new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock.

Barrett-Baxendale on Brands's appointment to the Board in 2018

This statement refers to the existence of a long-term permanent football plan. What ever that is? 'Permanent' is a word I've never seen used before in such a context.

This so-called plan was announced by the Chiel Executive, an increase in funding to the Academy to develop facilities, with an architect's plan of the new facilities.

My understanding of Brands's role is that he is the Director of Football, a Director on the Board with three people reporting to him: The Head of Football Strategy (Director of Football Operations), the Director of the Academy and Head of Recruitment and Development (The Chief Scout), namely: David Harrison, David Unsworth and Gretar Steinsson.

It is not Brands that sources Transfer Targets. He maybe involved in contract negotiations along with the Director of Football Operations. I also think that it is the manager who decides on what transfer targets are selected, though he maybe is provided with information, by the Chief Scout.

Brands's other role is to control the budget for transfers and wages. The available funds are determined by FFP rules and what money Moshiri is prepared or can provide. This explains the interfence by Kenwright in transfers in the past and by Moshiri in manager appointments.

Brands's remit is the contract. Brands tries to bring in who the manager wants within budget and offlload to come within budget. The problem is what is a long-term permanent plan and the repeated changing and promotion into roles without clear and measurable objectives.

Both Barrett-Baxendale and Brands come with statements of plans accompanied by questionable promotions with no decernable objective or time limit. On David Unsworth's promotion to Academy Director, Brands talked of a 5-year plan, with wishy-washy objectives.

The results are plain to see: a very poor Everton side. Micheal Kenrick in a post on Paul's last article was right when he stated that none of the internal management will be leaving. The only hope is that Benitez will be able to put pressure on trying to achieve 5-10% improvement across all departments.

Brands is on the Board and is well insulated and under no pressure. His 3-year contract ends in 2024, decided during one spin of the Z-Cars record, and I am sure no targets were discussed.

Don Alexander
18 Posted 22/11/2021 at 00:23:17
Brands is 60 in March, having just signed a 3-year contract to replace its £5-grand-per-day predecessor. So, can anyone think of a rational reason he'd walk away on principle?

Brands ain't the problem; the people pulling his strings are.

Kevin Prytherch
19 Posted 22/11/2021 at 01:03:42
For once, I'm very disappointed with this piece.

The previous two pieces try to dissect what is wrong with the club, suggesting performance criteria and pulling no punches in detailing failures in meeting them.

This one also suggests performance criteria. However, instead of holding Brands to account in failing to meet this criteria, it makes excuses for him.

I usually like these pieces as they are as fair as they are harsh, but this one is biased in favour of Brands and fails to address his shortcomings so far.

Danny O’Neill
20 Posted 22/11/2021 at 04:43:31
I think what the article is trying to articulate, Kevin, is what the role of the Director of Football should be. Even though that is open to interpretation as it is loosely defined.

I wouldn't say it is biased or in favour. It simply asks the question, has he been allowed to do his job and afforded the freedom to be a DoF? Or, despite the owners like of him and the concept, have his hands been tied by high-level interference?

The question marks are because it's discussion and debate. I don't have the answers, just an opinion. Personally, I believe we appointed a DoF because we like the concept. I do.

But what we've really done is appoint a DoF without portfolio. If I was Brands, I'd have walked long ago. He is not the problem. The DoF concept is not the problem.

Jerome Shields
21 Posted 22/11/2021 at 09:06:28
Don #18,

Brands has joined the people pulling the strings. The Director of Football that Paul describes has to work hard, is accountable, and wants to be effective.

Brands in his current job is above that. He is on the Board, has amiable relationships with other Directors, and bullshits the owner as they all do. He has his now mates over Football Operations, the Academy and Scouting, who he has 'meetings' with, who spend what ever money is available and do whatever they like. All they have to do is pay homage to him.

It's the manager who is trying to be effective who has meetings with him, who, when he asks for money, comes away with the impression that Benitez had:

"Benitez, after spending £1. 7million in his first window, the manager has indicated he will again have to cut his cloth accordingly. "

The only report of Brands's reaction to Benitez's appointment was that he 'was vigorously opposed to it'. On Benitez's actual appointment, Brands promised him "honesty and integrity".

This is what he got???????

"I had a conversation with Marcel, and he was explaining, not exactly, but more or less the idea, " said Benitez, whose side face Tottenham on Sunday. "I think we still have some time to consider what we have to do".

Brands is like the deadwood at Finch Farm, he is not going anywhere. Who would want him?

Brands, like the rest, will allow the manager to take the flack, divert attention from him and his mates, and shaft him when the time comes.

Great article, Paul, but wishful thinking. It was the same in Medical Services, but Benitez was able to do something about it, but the Academy and Recruitment are Brands's remit and he out trumps the manager and has full back up support on the Board.

Brands is a Director of Football, but not as we know it, and never will be.

Paul [The Esk]
22 Posted 22/11/2021 at 09:19:03
Some really interesting points, thank you to everyone for commenting, apologies for my late replies.

#8 Christine, absolutely agree – all your questions require clarification from the major shareholder. A response from the board would be similar to a Coleman rallying cry after another defeat.

#10 Stu, communication, responsibilities, who has ultimate authority – it should be clear to see but sadly not.

#13 Robert, although the board (and Moshiri) read my stuff regularly, there is no prospect of a face-to-face meeting or even a phone call. I have lobbied for such for years, Moshiri, Kenwright and Barrett-Baxendale have all declined.

#14 Anthony, I think the idea is to create a club-wide philosophy that is consistent across all teams and ideally doesn't change even if the first-team coach is changed. However that would mean the DoF would be responsible for manager selection and we know that's likely to happen. FWIW, I think Brands has enough experience and knowledge to identify and implement a playing style.

#15 Bill, sadly it is absolutely true.

#19 Kevin, sorry it has disappointed you. The people I know in football, not associated with Everton, speak extremely highly of Brands's competence, diligence and knowledge. He is widely recognised as being more than competent. To balance that, I don't think he does himself any favours by not communicating (although that might be a deliberate policy by the club) nor has he executed complete control and authority within the club which for the sake of his own reputation he should do sooner rather than later. Appreciate your comments though.

Jerome Shields
23 Posted 22/11/2021 at 09:26:01
By the way, in 2019, the New Academy Director who is allowed to double job got an 80% increase in funding for facilities. Benitez, the new manager, got a decrease in funding of aleast 80%, if not more.

What does that tell you about the long-term permanent strategic plan?

Ken Kneale
24 Posted 22/11/2021 at 10:06:49
Paul, another excellent article.

I don't intend to replicate much of what has been said by other posters and which you kindly replied to but I ponder if there is any way of communicating directly with Mr Brands?

I appreciate that is not necessarily the 'done thing' but, at some point, somehow, we have to find some way to get rid of what seems to be the total inertia at Everton FC whilst our historic rivals stretch further and further ahead of us.

Dave Abrahams
25 Posted 22/11/2021 at 10:18:51
Paul (22), regarding your reply to Kevin (19),

I had a lot of time for Mr Brands but, since he was appointed to be a director on the board, he doesn't appear, to me, to be his own man.

Why was he in America when the team visited there last summer, when he was urgently needed to be looking for new players in England and Europe? He seemed to having a nice holiday in America at the club's expense, when he should have been earning his wages doing the job he was employed for.

John Raftery
26 Posted 22/11/2021 at 14:37:54
Business owners interfering in matters they should stay out of is not a new phenomenon. The ability to manage upwards is vital for anyone operating in a hierarchy. In this respect Marcel Brands appears to have fallen short.

Unless the foundations are rock solid a succession of team managers coming in with their own inevitably short term agenda is a recipe for long term failure. Over the past five years we have lurched from crisis to crisis with each new slump taking us further into the mire.

To be successful in his role Brands must be given full authority for everything listed in the role description set out by Paul. Only then can a fair assessment of his worth be made. Is he up to the job anyway? I don’t know.

Jerome Shields
27 Posted 22/11/2021 at 14:58:26
Dave #25,

Brands does not do that, he negotiates contracts and wages within a budget, having had the Medical Services check them over. It is the Chief Scout who puts forward possible players and the manager may have his own ideas.

Brands has effectively – since he became a Director on the board – washed his hands of all that. In the Academy, the Head of Recruitment reports to the Head of Recruitment and Development, who reports to Brands. Again, Brands negotiates contracts and wages.

Dave Abrahams
28 Posted 22/11/2021 at 15:12:10
Jerome (27),

He doesn't look for new players? I thought that's what he was renowned for, negotiates wages and contracts, bit of a doddle that isn't it? Looks like he has joined “The Good Life” clique.

Moshiri and Usmanov had better get a grip of this situation and give Benitez some backing, it's their club.

Robert Williams
29 Posted 22/11/2021 at 16:07:59
Thanks for your reply, Paul (22).

I am not at all surprised that the powers that be have declined a meeting with you. It's par for the course in most businesses unfortunately. Certainly among poorly run businesses.

The better run set-ups see the merit in exchanges of views and constructive criticism and value the input of their customers (supporters).

To all intents, Everton is a dictatorship (with apologies to a few private shareholders) – they see no need for transparency or accountability from the top.

I look forward to your next episode: 'Finance and Funding' – but I get the feeling that we have discussed this subject to death over the years. Until the hole in the bucket is well and truly repaired, all the finance in the world will be money down the drain (as we have already witnessed).

So, that said, it is your Concluding episode I really look forward to – we already know the answer – but what steps do you prioritise to get Everton back on its feet, where it belongs?

Jerome Shields
30 Posted 22/11/2021 at 18:10:06
Dave #28,

That's the way I read it and the more I look at it, the more convinced that that is the case. Brands has found himself a comfortable niche and very much part of the present Board, with a similar outlook.

His involvement in the manager selection progress with Football Operations would have been the manager's contract and wages.

I now also think that the long-term permanent strategic plan is to insure permanent jobs for the internal management, of which Brands is very much a part, with a similar attitude.

Charles Brewer
31 Posted 22/11/2021 at 19:12:12
Paul, this is a fascinating analysis.

I spent a 40-year career (not quite finished, I hope) on the intersection of finance, IT and government working in around 30 countries, and participating is a series of market revolutions – London Big Bank, the Polish post-Communist transformation, South Korea's opening to foreign influence, the introduction of radically changing technology to trading, risk management and use of AI in marketing.

I have never seen a job specification as diverse, complex or unstructured in depth as your definition of the Director of Football. Please understand – I'm not saying you are wrong; I'm sure you are correct. But it reads as if General Eisenhower's responsibilities in June 1944 covered everything from choosing the D-Day beaches to making sure B Company of the 1st Foot and Mouth based in Aberdeen got sufficient cigarettes and doing the weather forecast. Oh, and he also had to give order to Denis Healey's fellow beachmasters... in real time.

Businesses succeed by dividing up work and dividing responsibility into logical groupings, generally (but not necessarily always) drivin by the same goal.

Recruiting and running training for 11- to 1- year-old boys has next to nothing to do with negotiating terms with a Christiano Ronaldo – or, more likely, his agent. Neither should someone essentially responsible for the creation of the team be responsible for the training and medical requirements.

In my view, the club should reorganise around three main divisions: football, property (covering all matters to do with the ground, including ticket sales and charity). These should only come together at board level. Within football, there should be another top-to-bottom division between 1) youth development, 2) onfield tactics and first team, 3) strategy and player purchase and 4) training and fitness.

Overloading an individual with too many disparate and potentially conflicting responsibilities guarantees failure in all.

Paul [The Esk]
32 Posted 22/11/2021 at 19:18:50
i would love to have a discussion with you, Charles – a fascinating response. You can contact me via Twitter or my website (google theesk.org)
Jerome Shields
33 Posted 22/11/2021 at 22:32:57
Charles #31,

A point I had not thought of, but in which you are right. Even in what I have thought of as the structure and Brands role, which most now misunderstand as being sourcing players, I could see the very difficulties in its effectiveness that you highlight. I personally would not like to be trying to do a job in such a structure.

I think that Brands was brought in as a Director of Football, a role described by Paul, was later put on the Board to bring under control football spending, or to prevent Moshiri's money going down the Swanee. The existing management, including Moshiri, were way out of their depth, with what appeared a lack of football knowledge. Brands was Moshiri's man with football knowledge and was put in charge of football-related matters, but still under the influence of Kenwright and Moshiri. If you like, he was to put the ass in their lack of knowledge.

The problem was he was fitted into an already flawed structure and his role evolved, distancing him from operations (the tools, in layman's terms).

This was exasperated by Brands buying into the flawed structure and those in it. This was the easy way for him to go, but the role and structure have made him ineffective and even irrelevant.

This has resulted in the role overload you describe. His other Directorships make it look that Moshiri sees him as more like an offshore pawn Director and is trying to push Everton forward via Benitez. Though Brands appears to have been promoted, he has actually been demoted. Results do dictate a lot.

But we are still back to the overload you describe and an ineffective structure in an organisation that needs to change to the effective structure you describe to move forward.

Don Alexander
34 Posted 22/11/2021 at 23:38:58
I remember reading on TW, when Moshiri first visited Finch Farm, that folks present there allegedly said he was addicted to "Yes-Men". It depressed me. To me, it's a serious character flaw, akin to bullying, cowardice, negligence and, if you've just bought one of the best football clubs in the world, knowing sweet Fanny Adams about the game itself.

IMHO, such a character would have been manna from heaven for a shyster like Kenwright, another "yes-man" addict.

The pair of them have long since realised the total fuck-up of the club since Moshiri bought in. Neither of them, with their peculiar personalities, will ever accept responsibility. They knew they needed an ultimate fall-guy way above mere manager, as and when horrible disaster falls upon us.

Cue 60-year-old Marcel. Pay him like he's never been paid before, put him in the boardroom (which resembles the visible part of a Punch and Judy show to anyone with nouse), and then just try to recover a scintilla of credibility for the club by appointing as manager, over the so-called DoF's head, a bloke who openly took the piss out of us whilst taking our neighbours to their fifth European Cup!

When, and it increasingly looks like "when" (not "if") we replicate the achievements of the club in the early 50s, you can just be sure that Moshiri and Kenwright will try to use the plethora of managers they've appointed and dismissed as their excuse, and especially the DoF muppet, they'll say, who advised them to sign them up in the first place.

Ed Prytherch
36 Posted 23/11/2021 at 00:51:24
I think that the DoF model, as described by Paul, is incompatible with "Hollywood Manager". Ancelotti, and Benitez both see themselves as bigger fish than Brands and likewise Koeman, Allardyce and Walsh.

Paul is right in that lack of definition of responsibilities leads to lack of accountability. Moshiri is the only person who has the power to straighten out this mess, but does he have the nouse?

Jerome Shields
37 Posted 23/11/2021 at 13:20:56
Ed #36,

I think that Paul was trying to define the DoF model as he sees Brands's current responsibilities. His current role is way beyond a Director of Football's responsibilities. Brands has assumed a role in Everton that delegates most of those responsibilites, which does not work because they are not Directors of Football.

This role he has been put into and carved out comfortability for himself is within a structure that is being set up by Kenwright and Barrett-Baxendale, "with Moshiri's blessing".

When people say there are no changes at Everton, they are talking about results. But there have been numerous changes in titles, personnel (some very questionable), and structure, but with little effect. The reason is that the structure and accountability is not correct and giving someone a wage increase and promotion, with a fancy title, does not work, if you haven't a clue what effective results you want.

Brands's job consists of attending meetings: Board meetings are a hoot; meetings with department heads who are not capable and may not care a hoot, and meetings with the manager, where you are unclear about what money is available. All of this has no accountability or direction.

But Brands gets his big wages, big holidays, and walks his big dog, and the media attack him for recruitment and lack of players, which is not directly part of his job as he delegated those responsibilities and he does not have to worry about, because he will never be held accountable. He is not even accountable for the manager he did not select.

He was involved in the promotion of Unsworth and Waldron and involved in the hiring of Harrison and Stiensson to delegate the DoF responsibilities as he does his new role, joining Kenwright and Barrett-Baxendale on the Board. They think he is great, giving their mates jobs and promotions, buying into their unproductive permanent structure.

When you look at the actual structure of Everton, it looks great and really up-to-date. Every announcement of change consists of platitudes to progress, the right people and guaranteed success. It will be the same at the online AGM with videos with blue balloons. Kenwright telling us how other teams admire Everton's model, Barrett-Baxendale talking millions and a bright future, of course mentioning EitC (some hardworking manager there spitting blood) and Brands in his belated wisdom talking FFP and obscure progress.

The Stadium Director will get a big role and Benitez will be there to answer awkward questions and genuinely try to give us some hope.

Moshiri will be watching Italian TV in Monaco. It's a bit like Nero playing the flute as Rome burns

Paul Kossoff
38 Posted 25/11/2021 at 22:58:14
Walsh was told by Koeman to sign Gueye, that's if he had anything to do with it at all. Koeman was after Gueye when he managed Southampton, as stated below.

Making 39 appearences for Lille this past season, the Senegalese player was told last season he could seek a move away from the club. The 25-year old is seen by Ronald Koeman of Southampton as a quality replacement for Morgan Schneiderlin once he leaves the club this summer.

Don Alexander
39 Posted 26/11/2021 at 00:39:59
Jerome (#37), your take obviously chimes with mine of recent days/years/decades, namely;

With respect to you, our point of view is encapsulated by me, in a much truncated way than you, by a decades-old realisation that Kenwright is a self-serving cunt, Moshiri probably accepting this when he bought in for God-only knows what (increasingly dubious) financial (ir)rationale that still seemingly engulfs him, Kenwright and his chosen ones still infesting the club.

The only difference between Kenwright and Moshiri/them is that the Monaco-based chimera/them has the financial clout (from whatever questionable base) to create a stadium he/they expects a significant and personally financial benefit to quickly accrue from, just like Kenwright did when he sold us out to him/them.

Everton fans?


Laurie Hartley
40 Posted 26/11/2021 at 06:01:23
Paul this is the first article and thread I have read and followed from start to finish in some time. I think you are getting to the nitty gritty of our malaise however unlike you I think Brands has unwittingly become part of the problem.

Dave#28 - "Moshiri and Usmanov had better get a grip of this situation and give Benitez some backing, it's their club.". If it was my 400million quid that had gone down the gurgler I would sack anyone who had anything to do with or overseen that debacle - namely the whole board.

Charles # 31 -"Businesses succeed by dividing up work and dividing responsibility into logical groupings, generally (but not necessarily always) drivin by the same goal." Music to my ears that because I have seen it happening first hand.

General Patton - "lead me, follow me, or get out of my way". I know he is not everyone's cup of tea but Benitez is a safe pair of hands and is a proven winner. If Moshiri wants a DOF he had better be someone that would command the immediate respect of Benitez. Someone like Arsene Wenger. Give them a vision - "between you restore the club to its former glory on the football pitch." Then let the pair of them get on with it and keep everybody else out of their way.

CEO and a CFO that can genuinely work together. Let them look after the day to day running and finances of the club - a pair of hard hitters.

The project director - Colin Chong. I think he will deliver - but he will need support from the CEO and CFO. (and I suspect he like Benitez will want the people he is to take direction from to be able to command his respect.)

Chairman - get someone who has chaired successful businesses (not football clubs) - and get out of their way Mr Moshiri.

This is a leadership issue - "if the blind lead the blind they will both fall into a ditch"

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