Sleepwalking to Disaster, Part III — The Incurable Romantic

Reports that Everton have made Roberto Martinez their first choice to succeed Rafael Benitez are crystallising the debate around Bill Kenwright, the long-time Everton Chairman who has made a habit of mining the Blues' past to resolve current problems

Lyndon Lloyd 17/01/2022 73comments  |  Jump to last

It’s 33 years since Bill Kenwright first took his seat on Everton’s Board of Directors. A little over a decade later he was leading a consortium to buy Peter Johnson out of his ill-fated adventure as the club’s owner and achieved what was, no doubt, a lifelong dream to become Chairman in 2004. The task of pulling together sufficient funds to purchase the club when no one else appeared willing had been a fairly arduous one and given his lack of financial clout, the former Coronation Street was fairly vocal in asserting that he only intended to be a custodian until someone with deeper pockets came along. (How committed he was to that notion has been the subject of endless debate, of course.)

The wait would be a long one and the journey from takeover in 2000 to the arrival of Farhad Moshiri in 2016 was littered with three failed stadium proposals (one of them being the hugely controversial idea of moving Everton outside of Liverpool to neighbouring Kirkby), a succession of failed buyout proposals before Moshiri eventually took the reins, and tantalising brushes with success under David Moyes in the mid to late 2000s.

Moshiri’s arrival offered a natural end to Kenwright’s adventure as Chairman; a chance to sweep the decks clear and start anew but the Monaco-based billionaire was compelled, apparently as part of the deal, to agree to continuity and familiarity instead, a development that was not entirely unwelcome even given the vanguard theatre impresario’s critics.

Almost six years on, as Everton remain mired in an inescapable vortex of mediocrity and plagued by a dysfunctional hierarchy, Kenwright’s continuing presence as Chairman has become at best a distraction and at worst, a serious impediment to the forward progress of the club. An easy target for brickbats even if he no longer holds the purse strings, Kenwright has, rightly or wrongly, become the symbol of an insular, parochial and nepotistic organisation that can’t seem to get out of its own way.

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The Chairman

No doubt one day a book will be written to cover Kenwright’s reign as de facto head honcho of Everton at the start of the century and then de jure Chairman since, but unless they were privy throughout to the internal machinations and decisions made, it’s unlikely any historian could ever produce an accurate picture of what went on.

From the circumstances behind the collapse of the Kings Dock bid in 2004, doubts over the veracity of a supposed takeover attempt by a Russian paper magnate, the shadowy and ultimately non-existent Fortress Sports Fund backed by financier Chris Samuelson (not to mention, as legend has it, a rebuffed approach from Sheikh Mansour in 2008), questions over just who was the driving force behind the Kirkby proposal, rumours of shadow involvement of retail magnate Philip Green, and suspicious debt provisions from companies registered in the Virgin Islands, the Kenwright years have been characterised by opaque leadership and dealings.

That continues to the present day, even with Moshiri in the driving seat and appearing to call most of the shots but events continue to demonstrate that the Chairman still wields considerable influence even though the divestment of his shareholding was assumed to be part of the slow process of him stepping away from the forefront of decision-making in the corridors of power at the club.

Journalists report confusion over just whom to deal with at Everton between now former Director of Football, Marcel Brands, Moshiri and Kenwright when it comes to transfers. When Marco Silva was sacked in December 2019, it was Kenwright who argued strongly for David Moyes’s return and almost got his way before Moshiri stepped in with an irresistible offer for Carlo Ancelotti.

When the Italian jumped ship last June, Kenwright is said to have pushed just as hard for Roberto Martinez to come back as manager but Moshiri objected. Now, with the Everton Board needing to fill the vacancy at head coach once more, the Chairman has been out in front again, lobbying once more for Martinez.

If you believe reports from the likes of Jason Burt at The Telegraph and The Guardian’s Fabrizio Romano, the Catalan is the likely successor to Rafael Benitez if the Belgian FA can be persuaded to let him go, a notion that simply beggars belief given that the last game he managed at Goodison Park saw a post-match sit-in by fans amongst banners calling for Martinez’s head.

It’s symptomatic of a hierarchy that simply refuses to learn from past mistakes, one which often cannot summon the imagination to look beyond the club’s history and which clearly has a very short memory. No doubt Bill Kenwright’s heart still sings at the memories of Martinez’s first season in charge which was, to be fair, the only time in the last decade where Everton seemed to be getting somewhere in its long quest for participation in the Champions League.

But while the former Swansea and Wigan Athletic boss was able to layer a youthfully exuberant and positive attacking outfit replete with Romelu Lukaku on top of the defence he inherited from Moyes and briefly “reopen the School of Science” as he guided the club to its best-ever points haul in the Premier League era, it was "lightning in a bottle" that faded away very noticeably after that.

Lest those suffering from amnesia forget the list of strikes against Martinez, let’s pause for a refresher…

£13m for Oumar Niasse (a player who cannot currently find a club who will hire him after he injured himself in training at Huddersfield almost a year ago and left the Terriers without making an appearance); Antolin Alcaraz; that home defeat to West Ham; Leicester and Sunderland away in the death throes of his tenure in 2016; the second leg against Dynamo Kiev; his ostracising of Leighton Baines; two cup semi-final failures; successive four-goal humiliations at Anfield; those understandably toxic 2016 protests by fans who had had enough of him… the list goes on and ends with the Catalan taking Everton to court for £10m in compensation payments following his dismissal.

In terms of top-level football, Martinez’s sole achievement thus far is winning the FA Cup. He also took Wigan down that season, the almost inevitable result of the same pattern of worsening year-over-year performance that played out at Everton. Since leaving the Blues, he has been out of club football for six years and, some might argue, under-performed with Belgium’s golden generation, one that looks destined to age out without ever having reached a major tournament final let alone win one.

Put simply, if you’re looking for someone to come in to shore up a leaky defence, instil confidence in a losing side and save you from relegation, you don’t hire a manager whose number one deficiency lies in coaching teams how to defend. His appointment when things are so fragile at Finch Farm could be tantamount to suicide. An embarrassment. It would be unthinkable at any club of Everton’s size and supposed ambitions and surely nothing could be more emblematic of the museum Moshiri vowed we would never become than the restoration of a relic from Everton’s past to the manager’s office at Finch Farm.

Again, such insular thinking is par for the course under Kenwright, the boyhood, die-hard Blue made good; the last of a vanishing breed of such figures in an age of billionaires and nation-state owners in the Premier League; the incurable romantic who brought Duncan Ferguson back from Newcastle in the fading years of his career and did the same with Wayne Rooney four years ago.

The pattern extends to the upper echelons of the club, consistently promoting from within rather than branching out to enrich the organisation with fresh, top-calibre talent from elsewhere. (Granted, the only Chief Executive to come in from the outside, Trevor Birch, didn’t last five minutes before he extricated himself from Goodison Park lest he get tangled up in the mess that was present at Everton back then but that didn’t mean the club should have stopped looking.) In the boardroom, outsiders Sasha Ryazantsev, Marcel Brands and Sarvar Ismailov have all left or been forced out (rightly, in the case of the last named director in that list given his subsequent legal troubles) while Graeme Sharp, former player and ex-club ambassador, is the only one to have been invited in.

The same thinking plays out at Finch Farm where it’s “jobs for the boys”, with ex-players filling the main coaching roles at every level, some of them boasting questionable history and character; as if Halewood has become an extension of Everton In The Community and a rehabilitation centre for wayward players. In an efficient academy system regularly producing talent for the first team or a reliable stream of income from player sales, that would be noble and highly commendable but in the state that Everton is currently in, it’s just another bone of contention for supporters wanting to see professionalism and a relentless quest for excellence at every level of the club.

It is all of the above that is motivating the “27 Campaign”, the social media-fuelled effort agitating for change from the top to the bottom of Everton FC by fans who have tired of the worsening mess at the club they love so much and support so faithfully with precious little reward. The one beacon of progress and competence, the new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock, may well prove to be pivotal in terms of the Blues realising their dreams and providing the platform from which the club can launch itself back among the top clubs in the domestic game but it feels an awfully long way away, with the very real threat of relegation from the Premier League in the meantime still looming in the background. More than ever, there needs to be clarity in structure and purpose at Board level, the addition of fresh ideas and the assembly of a hierarchy united behind a common vision.

There is no question that Bill Kenwright loves Everton to his core and there is plenty about his passion and compassion that is reflected in the good things the club does, EiTC being a good example. His selection of Moyes 20 years ago proved astute for what the Blues needed back then and he demonstrated skill in a number of transfer dealings under the Scot. For those reasons, it made sense in the beginning for him to act as the link between the club’s past and its future and the standard-bearer of its soul when Moshiri first came on board. And in the face of an unpredictable and seemingly fickle majority shareholder under the sway of powerful agent friends, many have felt that it was better to have Kenwright there as presence in the boardroom as a strong voice in Moshiri’s ear to dissuade him of his most potentially damaging impulses. Indeed, some comfort was even taken that Bill was around to urge Moshiri to see sense and fire Benitez this month.

But if the Chairman is the one driving the efforts to bring back Roberto Martinez, potentially as divisive an appointment as Benitez, then it’s a clear indication that he is just as big a part of the problem as the owner. Moshiri ultimately calls the shots, of course, and he has, up to now, done what he thinks is right for his investment. If, however, this latest setback has him doubting his resolve and passing off the responsibility for the next managerial appointment to the Board, there is little sense that Kenwright et al would be capable of finding the best candidate, both for the immediate task at hand and then leading Everton for the next few years.

It’s long been said that Bill should have retired from the forefront of things six years ago, taken the title of Life President and merely remained an advisor to the new supremo. At an organisation seemingly suffering from too many cooks spoiling the proverbial broth, all of them pulling in different directions, the need for him to step back feels more pressing than ever, particularly if it is part of an effort to modernise the structure of the club and introduce independent expertise.

From where we stand now, all of that looks a distant prospect but it is the only way forward. And forwards not backwards should be the direction that everyone at Everton is thinking from this point forth. There’s little to be gained from remaining stuck in the past.

Part I – The Backfiring Gamble | Part II – The Enigma of Brands | Part IV – Moshiri's Mire |

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Reader Comments (73)

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Jimmy Hogan
1 Posted 17/01/2022 at 09:35:39
I agree with a lot of this Lyndon, but it was Moshiri who took the full brunt of criticism from the pundits on MOTD last night. It would be fair to say they tore into him, accusing him of not knowing what he is doing, having a huge ego and being resonsible for the club's lack of clarity in its hierarchy.
James Kirrane
2 Posted 17/01/2022 at 09:47:16
A beautifully written article Lyndon. As a club we are a complete laughing stock. The foolishness and recklessness of the people in charge is staggering. The appointments particularly of Marco Silva, Sam Allardyce, and particularly Rafael Benitez have been atrocious. Please let them pick the right man for the job this time and stick with him. Potter would be my choice.
Christopher Timmins
3 Posted 17/01/2022 at 10:06:30

A perfect summary of where things stand at this point in time.

John Hall
4 Posted 17/01/2022 at 10:19:32
Terrific piece Lyndon.

So well written and an excellent read.

The circus is still in town I see. Looks like Bill has donned the red coat and top hat once again.

Couldn't make it up.

Bill Fairfield
5 Posted 17/01/2022 at 10:20:28
There is no future while this owner and chairman are at this club. It’s a living nightmare. They’ve made us the laughing stock of the premier league. How Martinez is being considered is beyond comprehension. Utter Madness.
Dave Abrahams
6 Posted 17/01/2022 at 10:25:52
Lyndon an old question that has never been answered or explained,you say in your article “ There is no question that Bill Kenwright loves Everton” why is there no question? I’d say he loves himself and looks after himself much, much more than he ever loved Everton and still takes a lot of care to protect his position as chairman by bringing in people who are part of his clique to the boardroom and a new liaison officer. The man clings to the position while in the past has said he would retire at seventy while others speaking for him offered various illnesses why he wouldn’t be in the position much longer, these illnesses go back quite a few years but he is still strong enough to fight to hold on to this position. Why ?
Rick Tarleton
7 Posted 17/01/2022 at 10:28:46
The thespian has been (always with the best of intentions, I do not doubt) destroying our club for way over twenty years. I can remember writing an article or two about Kenwtight in the early years of this millennium in which I suggested that his fantastical mindset was unrealistic and compared him to W.S. Fisher, popularly known as "Billy Liar".
Nothing has changed;he has a set number of people, and we all know who they are, who he sees as part of the Everton family and he wants them and only them around him.
Martinez is a splendid attack-minded coach. Give him De Bruyne, Hazard et alia and he can produce a team who excite the blood, though significantly despite their talent and high world ranking, win very little. In our circumstances where we need organisation in midfield and defence and a motivator who can stir the blood of cynical old pros, he sounds like the worst choice possible.
Who should be next? I honestly don't know, I'd like Ferguson to be the answer, but doubt if he is for more than a few games. Potter, possibly for the long term project, but not sure if his precise all action style would suit Gomes, Allan, Delph etc.
To be honest people who've managed Real Madrid, Barcelona and Belgium have failed miserably at Goodison Park.
Being, as Michael Owen says, part of the romantic, superior generation (born 1946) I rather do expect Everton to be considered a "big" club, I remember the great teams of the sixties and eighties, I've met and spent an afternoon with W.R. Dean who was actually a friend of my dad.
I'm more pessimistic that I can remember about prospects at Everton, I can't see a quick fix or even a real improvement over five or six years. We are deep in the mire. I pray that the new stadium project is completed and does not become as one contributor feared another symbol of our decline.
What next?
Stephen Brown
8 Posted 17/01/2022 at 10:32:22
Can’t say I fully agree with any of the linked appointments but therein lies the problem! Is anyone the right fit at the moment?

Whoever gets it even if it’s Martinez needs all the fans to get behind it from the start as with unity now then relegation looks inevitable! And where we go from the there doesn’t bear thinking about.

Awful place to be but we are 6 points above drop, surrounded in the table by average and poor teams and still in the FA cup. Unity can get us out of this complete mess!

Peter Mills
9 Posted 17/01/2022 at 10:38:18
Imagine hiring a contractor to build you a house. He makes a nice job of the foundations and walls. His performance then becomes a bit erratic, the roof looks like it could blow off in a breeze, the electrics are smoking.

He makes his excuses, says you don’t really need a decent roof, a sound electrical system is a luxury, windows are optional. You dispense with his services half-way through the contract.

Because of your own foolishness in agreeing to the contract terms, he successfully sues you for the full contract price.

Would you consider employing him again a few years later?

Ken Kneale
10 Posted 17/01/2022 at 10:55:49
Peter - this is the so-called 'Stockholm syndrome' applied to football - truly bizarre and in most eyes could not be countenanced but seemingly an option for our dysfunctional club.

Tony - don't they say if you really love something then left it go - I don't see BK letting go anytime soon and it will take months to clear out FF

Rob Halligan
11 Posted 17/01/2022 at 10:58:13
Kenwright is the cancer within the club. He wanted Moyes back, won fuck all throughout his career. Wants Martinez back, won one FA Cup (More than Moyes though) but been relegated. Wanted, and got Rooney back, wanted and got Duncan Ferguson back (I think) from Newcastle. Gives jobs to ex players at Finch Farm because they “Get the club”. I get the club, can I have a job Bill?

Moshiri can be blamed for not getting rid of this leech years ago, but in my opinion cannot be blamed for much else. He’s hired managers who let him down badly. He’s pumped millions into the club on players who have let the club down badly, bought by DOF’s and played by managers who have let the club down badly. Who can honestly say the appointment of Ancelotti was a bad one? FFS, the man is renowned throughout world football, won everything going and we couldn’t believe we got him. Same with Benitez. Managed at top European clubs, won major honours everywhere, but at the time of his appointment it was his RS connections that put everyone off, plus his “Small club” jibe.

So for me, Kenwright is the cancer, the poison within the club. FFS, he’s never had a pot to piss in, in terms of owning a football club. He had to get a consortium up to buy out Peter Johnson. He had to re-mortgage his house to “save the club”. What does he own, Buckingham Palace?


John Pendleton
12 Posted 17/01/2022 at 11:11:07
We've been behind the curve for 30 years:

We had a millionaire owner when billionaires were taking over.

We get a billionaire when nation states are taking over.

Abramovich ditches Ken Bates and adds ruthless professionals with ambition. We keep Bill and add old boys with nostalgia.

We scratch around for a subsidised identikit stadium. Sunderland build the Stadium of Light.

We have an erratic non-footballing owner advised by Mr Yesteryear Bargain-Hunter and a self-serving unlicensed agent. At our lowest point in years we have the least amount of talent to solve the most complex set of issues with the most amount of ill-fitting players playing the worst level of football.

Big Dunc, Rooney, 35 year old German doing well with Höffenberg 1845 - doesn't matter, it's going to end in tears unless 'Paul The Esk' approved management recruits are drafted in and Moshiri accepts its a business and not his train set.

Robert Toohey
13 Posted 17/01/2022 at 11:11:30
Great read, Lyndon.

My first time on ToffeeWeb. We are a complete mess with no light at the end of this very dark tunnel.

Having supported the Blues since 1967, I'm at a loss of how we get out of this. Big Duncan and Baines till the end of season but it's a big gamble that, if it fails, will destroy the status of two players that are looked upon by many as legends.

God knows what we do but I don't think my heart could take another final-day survival.

Tony Everan
14 Posted 17/01/2022 at 11:17:21
I can’t get my head round why Kenwright’s still here either. 22 years and no progress says it all. He loves the club but he acts selfishly thinking he’s the guardian who knows what’s best for Everton. The wasteland of decline and ingrained mediocrity during his tenure tells a very different story.

I mean right now even mediocrity would be welcome. That’s what we’ve been reduced to.

I agree he must go, if he really loves the club he should resign.

Peter Carpenter
15 Posted 17/01/2022 at 11:20:04
Caption for the photo above;
'Farhad, it's hard for me to put into words just how much the fans here love me.'
Brian Murray
16 Posted 17/01/2022 at 11:32:28
Kenwrights vision for Everton is nil his business acumen is nil his footballing knowledge is nil and I like many have been guilty of just calling him an idiot a buffoon an emotional clown. The truth in all that is somewhere in between in my opinion. His oxygen is the odd big results and storming under the lights comebacks ( arsenal at home ) he knows full well any venom or protest against him is put on hold and deflected while we celebrate and the happy clappers rise and say he’s one of us leave him alone bs. So he’s not that daft. Kenwright out.
John Pendleton
17 Posted 17/01/2022 at 11:48:26
It's ironic that a family feel, a creaky old community stadium and a lack of coldhearted business types often impresses fans of other clubs to suggest Everton are a 'proper' club.

As for the family feel - Everton is an ageing mother struggling in a dilapidated home to control her feuding kids from 6 different fathers whilst her overbearing uncle introduces her to a sugar daddy to keep his promise to a dying nana that he'd look after her since dad John Moores moved out and left her illegitimate sister, still in the original family home, with all his money.

Allan Board
18 Posted 17/01/2022 at 12:03:25
The futile existence of Everton will continue until Kenwright and his built up disciples of weak hangers on are corterized from the club.

Doesn't matter who the manager is, Kenwright will ruin anyone who gets in his way.

Wake up Evertonians.

Dave Lynch
19 Posted 17/01/2022 at 12:08:38
We'll get it right.
After all didn't Billy say.

"When other clubs have problems they think... What would Everton do to fix this".
Can't lose can we? All together now.

We're gonna win the league.

James Stewart
20 Posted 17/01/2022 at 12:11:35
Martinez would be complete lunacy, if that happens a sizeable part of the fanbase will just tap out. Me included.
Brian Murray
21 Posted 17/01/2022 at 12:20:41
James. Doesn’t the waffle originate from Belgian. Quite apt with what a manager Roberto bs
Kevin O'Regan
22 Posted 17/01/2022 at 12:26:11
Why does anyone think for a second that Martinez would leave the top ranked intl. team in the world to come and fight a relegation battle with us ? Not sure that even doubling his current salary would tempt him for 10 seconds.
Surely the spotlights must now shine on the board's disastrous record. Looks like we won't be getting any new team additions in this window now. What a bloody mess and embarassment and an excuse for a club. And please don't mention Wayne... we have enough problems.
Philip Bunting
23 Posted 17/01/2022 at 12:30:09
Kevin, for the very simple reason of moneyball. Once he fails again another fat compensation check into the millions for him. Win win for him, lose lose for us fans and club. We need true blues in there, as Derek Mountfield I think it was on Howard's Way, it didn't matter what was in that contract, hexwas signing it. See the difference
Derek Taylor
24 Posted 17/01/2022 at 13:00:17
Money, Kevin @22 - easy money. Present salary of Belgium manager £1 million per annum. Likely salary at Everton at least three times that figure. Probably more attractive is the prospect of more 'fuck-off' money believed to be £10M + last time round !
Pete Clarke
25 Posted 17/01/2022 at 13:10:14
The decisions to appoint Sam Allardyce, and then – worse still to – appoint Benitez, really show how out of touch with reality Moshiri really is. He is still here and getting away with making stupid decisions because we as fans do not put enough pressure on him. The alarm bells were ringing loud and clear when he left Bullshit Bill in place.

He has gotten away with all of these mistakes because he has foolishly thrown a lot of money at the club and put us on the road to a new stadium. The price we are paying is simply not worth it because we are a total embarrassing club.

Our football is atrocious, we have multi-millionaire managers, coaches and players earning more in 1 year than most of us earn in 30 years and yet not one of them is top class and worth the money.

We are all being fooled in our blind faith towards the club we support. It's about time we let these fuckers know we won't take any more crap decisions being made. I'd much rather have a solid team and good manager challenging for trophies than free-falling into oblivion and a new stadium.

Moshiri can fuck off if he allows Martinez back because it will show that he is not in control of his mind and Bill is in control of the club.

Eddie Dunn
26 Posted 17/01/2022 at 13:19:10
Derek- I agree.

Potter was being criticised by Brighton fans earlier in the season when they went on a sticky patch, even booing at the ground. The guy could have a mediocre second half of season and get sacked or overlooked for other high profile jobs.

The thing that will turn his head is simply money. Let's face it, that is why Ancelotti came and Koeman before him.

I'm not sure if Potter would be a success, but he is flavour of the month and many halfwit pundits and ToffeeWebbers seem to think he is too good for us.

Dennis Stevens
27 Posted 17/01/2022 at 13:19:47
I thought Kenwright has been on the Board for more like 32 years rather than 22 years. Wasn't it around '99 that Johnson relinquished control of the Club?
Howard Sykes
28 Posted 17/01/2022 at 13:21:37
I can't see any reason why Martinez would come back to Everton if it was the last club in the world. The divorce was traumatic and later this year there is the World Cup another chance for Martinez to lead one of the top footballing countries to possible glory.
Jack Convery
29 Posted 17/01/2022 at 13:37:48
Bringing Bobby Brown Shoes back makes no sense at all. The last thing we need is a manager who can't defend. So why would Kenwright do that? To distract from what he really wants? His dream team of Dunc and Wayne?

If they had been his first suggestion, the Evertonians in the main would not have been happy. However, if the choice is Martinez or those two, it's a case of the lesser of two evils. In my opinion, whoever comes in will fail while the current owner and chairman are in place.

The only reason Everton will stay up is the fans at Goodison getting behind the players 100% for the rest of the season. After that, who knows... but, until someone is put in charge of the club who knows how to run it professionally, nothing will change.

Barry Rathbone
30 Posted 17/01/2022 at 13:57:18
What a dreadful piece, playing to the gallery of Kenwright-haters, employing every tenuous notion as fact by the pitchfork and torch anti-Martinez brigade.

"But while the former Swansea and Wigan Athletic boss was able to layer a youthfully exuberant and positive attacking outfit replete with Romelu Lukaku on top of the defence he inherited from Moyes and briefly “reopen the School of Science” as he guided the club to its best-ever points haul in the Premier League era, it was "lightning in a bottle" that faded away very noticeably after that."

Now you either explore the options "Why?" at this point or go for the route of least resistance... mumbling "He was just shite".

Personally, I thought the loanee recruitment of Lukaku and Deulofeu and the promotion of Stones and Barkley – together with the acquisition of Barry and a fit McCarthy – the most remarkable bits of business this club had seen since the '60s.

Now, what if he had been presented with real money to abandon the lucky dip method of loanee trading?

What if Oviedo had stayed fit and Baines, Howard, Coleman, Jagielka, Pienaar, Osman and all other remnants of the trophyless regime had been replaced with decent players?

No one will ever know. But, prior to Everton, he won stuff at Swansea and then incredibly at Wigan. Since then, he has taken Belgium to their highest ever tournament finishes, beaten only in the latter stages by the eventual winners.

To the flag wavers of Wigan's relegation, if you don't understand Whelan was orchestrating a controlled descent back to their comfort zone out of the Premier League, you haven't being paying attention.

Ludicrous piece but, as I've said elsewhere, this is exactly the reason Martinez should not return – the poison here is beyond irrational.

Brent Stephens
31 Posted 17/01/2022 at 14:13:36
Great read, Lyndon. Sad read.

Jay Wood

32 Posted 17/01/2022 at 14:27:24
Like many others, I don't want Roberto Martinez to return to Everton.

That said, I don't buy into the claim that he has 'failed' with the 'Golden Generation' of Belgium football. He has taken a minority football nation to the semi-finals of the World Cup and the quarter-finals of the Euros, narrowly losing both games to a couple of football superpowers in epic ties to the eventual tournament winners. That's an achievement.

I certainly didn't want him when Everton recruited him. When we contracted him, I bulk emailed my mailing list with just a subject line, no text, 'Fucking Martinez???!!!'

By the end of his first season, I was a convert. He had us playing scintillating football, both home and away, against all levels of opposition. He got us a record 72 points in the Premier League era.

But then, immediately going into season two, it all stalled. The rapier-like counter-attacking with essentially the same players turned to tediously slow backwards and sideways passing which made no headway into the opposition's penalty area.

This was compounded by the meagre 39 goals conceded in his first season growing to 50 in his second season, then 55 in his third season.

Defensively, we were doing a Wigan, as they too followed a similar pattern under Martinez until they were relegated.

The Martinez I feared when I sent my curt email on his appointment was coming to the fore, as confirmed by some of his more bizarre comments with regard to never doing training groundwork on offensive and defensive dead-ball plays.

All that said, has anyone watched the excellent BBC documentary, available at this YouTube link:

Roberto Martinez: Whistle to Whistle

It was aired last summer around the time of the Euros.

There is a lot to admire in the man, not least of all his implementation of data gathering on all football matches in Belgium, in particular of Belgium nationals.

Nationwide they have implemented a Wide Angle program which films entire games so you can see the entire pitch and all that happens on it.

Not just professional games, but amateur, development and women's football also.

A videoed game is tied into sophisticated data gathering which, as Martinez explains himself in the documentary: “The data doesn't drive the conversation. What you see in the video gets supported by the data.”

The Belgian football headquarters has a team of data analysts who crunch the data and then present it in easy-to-access visual format, which Martinez and his coaches can do on huge TV screens to improve a team's collective performance and that of individual players.

I still don't want Martinez as our next manager, now or ever, least of all in the precarious position we currently find ourselves in.

However, not now but in the future he could make a helluva Director of Football with the innovation and attention to detail he is evidently applying to the benefit of Belgian football.

Lyndon Lloyd
33 Posted 17/01/2022 at 15:18:45
Jimmy (1), ultimately it is Moshiri who should carry the brunt of the criticism, yes. I'll get to him in the final part!

Dave (5), the "why" is that I think he genuinely believes he is the best man for Everton. He does love the club, I have no doubt about that, but loving oneself and the Blues don't have to be mutually exclusive!

Barry (30), I don't play to anyone. I just write what I feel and believe to be true; you either agree or you don't.

There was plenty to admire about Martinez – those early pieces of transfer business were very astute, he bought into the history of the club and had some excellent ideas over how to develop the academy. As Jay (32) says, he could make a terrific DoF in years to come.

But your defence of him ignores all of those really alarming instances I listed in the piece and you cannot tell me that we weren't on a worsening trajectory under his stewardship. I remember what it was like at the end, particularly with that Anfield derby and those really miserable defeats at Leicester and Sunderland; his stubbornness had us heading in the wrong direction and the fans couldn't wait to get rid of him.

Rob Dolby
34 Posted 17/01/2022 at 15:29:44
Good piece Lyndon.

Kenwright is a fan and loves the drama and excitement like we all do.

On these pages every week we have people with all different points of view in how things should be done or who was great and who is rubbish. We all have opinions.

In Kenwright's position after 25 years of bull nobody listens to him or much cares for the man. He is the pantomime villaine and he loves the attention.

If I was in his position and had the charge sheet of kings dock, Kirkby, Rooney, Sheikh Mansor (does anyone have evidence of this), I would have walked away long ago giving another blue the chance to run things.

He is turning into a PFA Gordon Taylor, FIFA Sepp Blatter or even a Mugabe character. Unless someone (Moshiri) boots him out of the club, he will never resign from his position.

To be a healthy club, we need regular elections for these positions not just people feeding their own egos. The man has made himself rich off the back of Moshiri but incredibly still clings on to power.

The Roberto rumours look to be pure Kenwright. The man has no idea about advancing a club.

If I had bought a failing business, after conducting a thorough review I would start to remove and replace the problem areas. Kenwright has been an obvious problem for a long time.

The only time he will relinquish power is when he is carried out in a box.

Christopher Timmins
35 Posted 17/01/2022 at 15:32:42
It just goes to show how badly out of touch the Board is that they are considering the idea of taking a former sacked manager back. When his name was mooted back in the summer there were many who would have run with the idea in order to stop Benitez but that's not the case now.

I wish him the best of luck with Belgium and indeed, will support him if he gets the job but it's just too big a risk at present.

Jerome Shields
36 Posted 17/01/2022 at 16:40:27
Moshiri tried to change Everton, thinking that it could be done through the Manager and controlling monies available through wages and transfers. Every such attempt has failed as it inevitability would.

It was likely he will continue the same, now with Kenwright's help, without a accountable structure in place, which created alot of the problems that have manifest themselves since he took over the Club.

That's why I liken it to a merry-go-round that we are all sick of being on. It will continue the same, as long as the deep problems within Everton, which everyone now acknowledges are addressed.

They are not going to be addressed so off we go on merry-go-round again. The merry-go-round will not go on forever.

Matinez would suit, because they will find him easily managed, to suit their agendas, To progress Everton is not even being considered.

Mick O'Malley
37 Posted 17/01/2022 at 16:59:34
Barry @30,

I totally agree with you regarding Martinez. Maybe it was because he was still stuck with Moyes's loser's that the 2nd and 3rd seasons were a let down even though we got to 2 semi-finals?

If the shout that he only succeeded in his first season because of “Moyes's defence” then maybe that was the problem in the following 2 seasons was that Moyes's defence was not as good as being made out.

And isn't it possible that Roberto has adjusted his tactics now and can be pragmatic when needed? I'm okay with him coming back if he does because he might be able to sign us some of the up-and-coming talent from Belgium.

Jacques Sandtonian
38 Posted 17/01/2022 at 17:22:17
It's testament to how much luck is involved in success that these men of such power and means are incapable of seeing the wood for the trees.

That Kenwright can't see beyond his sentimentalism is one thing. He's an old man and a theatre luvvie, so his lust for a redemption arc is probably irretrievable now.

But for Farhad Moshiri to be incapable of recognising the need for proper counsel on how to lead Everton is mind-boggling. Hubris and arrogance is fine if you're making money but his investment is on the edge of the toilet bowl right now.

I genuinely thought it would be Kenwright who went instead of Brands but that would've been too ruthless for our glorious leader.

Ironically the most positive news I've read today is the prospect of Tim Cahill being drafted in to advise the board or occupy some or other position. This is a man who I believe could develop into a Director of Football based on everything I've observed of him following his retirement from the game.

Somehow, there needs to be a bridge between the collective wisdom of the supporters and the owner. It's easy enough to filter out the vitriol and find a clear understanding of what is needed. Martinez, quite obviously, is not it.

Brian Harrison
39 Posted 17/01/2022 at 17:23:40

I quote from Leon Osmans autobiography.

"Another difference between the managers was their approach to set pieces.

" Every Friday under Moyes we would spend an hour and a half going through routines as he was meticulous in that aspect as he hated conceding goals from set plays as that could be avoided".

But under Martinez we spent no time at all at defending set-pieces.

"We asked Graeme Jones why we didn't work on defending set-pieces. His reply was "How many do you have to defend in a match?"

I think there is your answer as to why it all went tits-up in Martinez's 2nd and 3rd seasons.

Lee Courtliff
40 Posted 17/01/2022 at 17:43:26
Brian #39,

That is bizarre. Just bizarre. I also remember another pearler from Bobby when asked why we don't play more direct in the last few minutes when we're chasing an equaliser.

He said, "If it's the right option in the 90th minute, then it should be the right option in the 1st minute". Incredible! I mean... Phenomenal!

I did like Bobby and wanted him to succeed but he was simply obsessed with his Philosophy, despite overwhelming evidence that it wasn't working.

Brian Murray
41 Posted 17/01/2022 at 18:00:22
If this link is true about Bullshit Bob, then it should be the end of Kenwright. The old saying: "Give someone enough rope..."
Don Alexander
42 Posted 17/01/2022 at 18:20:06
Martinez has "managed" to take more total thrashings throughout his English career than any other manager by a mile. He's defensively inept, he talks shite, and is considered a joke throughout the game.

He's got a lot in common with Moshiri and Kenwright come to think of it.

Ajay Gopal
43 Posted 17/01/2022 at 19:02:36
Jay (30), thanks for sharing the video link, a truly fascinating watch. Another good press article about the 'Root and Branch' rejuvenation of Belgian football that their FA carried out after the Euro 2000 debacle is described beautifully in this CNN article:

It provides a probable roadmap as to how Everton could go about a total revamp of the football club - by bringing in professional people who are given the tools and freedom and authority to carry out the necessary changes.

Any by the way, I don't get the hostility towards Roberto Martinez. Reading through the comments above, and seeing the lovely family life that he has in Belgium (in the video that Jay references above), he would be either incredibly brave or incredibly stupid to accept the Everton job, with 10x the pressure, 1/10th of the talent available to him now, and the personal abuse he would be subject to were things start to go a bit south, as things inevitably do in football.

Barry Rathbone
44 Posted 17/01/2022 at 19:27:06
Lyndon 33

"But your defence of him ignores all of those really alarming instances I listed in the piece and you cannot tell me that we weren't on a worsening trajectory under his stewardship."

Didn't deny it went pear shaped I challenged the simplistic notion it was because he was shite. He won stuff at Swansea and Wigan, clubs in dire circumstances, either at the beginning or during his tenure and presided over record tournament finishes at Belgium. Success everywhere else defies the accusation he is shite.

I get pelters for suggesting financial pressure was the real reason it went downhill as it resulted in purchases like McCready et al - fair enough. I forgot such reasoning only applies if a coach says "knife to a gunfight" instead of "sin miedo".

Anyway we're dead in the water no matter who comes

Jim Wilson
45 Posted 17/01/2022 at 19:39:05
The fact that it is so easy to appoint the Dunc with Baines or Lee Carsley and see how it goes makes this all the more maddening.
The Dunc is a no brainer so appoint him today and make sure we sign a mobile ball winning midfielder who can lead by example and galvanise the team.
Kenwright has always been a complete fool. Come on Sharpy tell him what he needs to do!

We have already taken our eye off the ball. The midfield needs strengthening and Martinez will have no clue about what needs to be done. The Dunc will.

Anthony Murphy
46 Posted 17/01/2022 at 19:45:27
Jim, the fact Ferguson hasn’t been announced may suggest he doesn’t fancy it - or vice versa? Maybe we are turning to Martinez as a temporary measure because the obvious choice short term is a non starter?
John Keating
47 Posted 17/01/2022 at 19:48:51
I agree that Kenwright loves Everton.
However I don't think he loves Everton like we do. We love them when we really hate them!
Kenwright loves Everton because it gives him a sense of entitlement, exposure for his real passion, the theatre and most of all he loves Everton because it's given him a fortune for minimal outlay
As long as he is surrounded by "his boys" he'll never leave.
He'll be our equivalent of Harry Enfield's Mr. Dead
Jay Wood

48 Posted 17/01/2022 at 20:14:13
Ajay @ 43.

Thanks right back at you. The CNN article made for an interesting read.

It highlights what can be achieved, no matter how low your starting point or how limited are your resources, if you establish an achievable plan and don't waiver from it.

Definitely something Everton could learn from.

Paul Birmingham
49 Posted 17/01/2022 at 20:15:30
John, that’s the best analogy of BK, at Everton.

Jerome Shields
50 Posted 17/01/2022 at 20:18:17
As a Evertonian who had watched Everton since the 1940s said to me on Colywn Bay Station, Martinez has no Plan B and hasn't a clue that he needs one. That was the concensus amongst the Fans during his last tenure.


Duncan would be scared to death if he took the job on a temporary bases, that he might get lumbered with it long term. He can't say he is not ready for the job , as he did the last time.

Joe McMahon
51 Posted 17/01/2022 at 20:24:53
John, very good analogy. I've never understood how Jenny Seagrove stayed with the over emotional teary one that's stuck in the 60s for so long, then I read she was with Michael Winner for years. She don't half pick em!
Jerome Shields
52 Posted 17/01/2022 at 20:35:12
What happens if they appoint Martinez as Director of Football?????? After all there is a vacancy. That is more likely than appointing him Manager IMO. The reports are of a role , rather than the Manager position.
Barry Hesketh
53 Posted 17/01/2022 at 20:38:55
Jerome @52
I've said in the past and just yesterday that I would have Martinez as the Director of Football at Everton, as I think he is meticulous and thoughtful about organising football related matters. I doubt he would take on that role though as he still sees himself as a master tactician and effective manager.
Paul Tran
54 Posted 17/01/2022 at 20:50:31
Interesting piece as ever, Lyndon.

I'd interview Martinez. You don't do what he did in his first season without having something.

I'd ask him how he now organises a defence, what his set-piece drills are, and whether he'd talk to me about buying players before telling the press.
'we need seven.'

And I wouldn't let Moshiri near the interview.

Jay Wood's point about making him DOF is a salient one. That would be a more suitable role, methinks.

Christopher Timmins
55 Posted 17/01/2022 at 20:51:55
If Roberto gets the job it will give hope to Ronald, Sam, Marco and Rafa that a possible return is always in the offering!
Bill Rodgers
56 Posted 17/01/2022 at 20:59:15
Kenwright serves a useful function at Everton - he is an easy target for aimless criticism. When the fans travel to an away match with their ready made banners it's a relief to blame the board. They have no idea what a board is, or what it does - but that doesn't matter. far better that than work out who has been coaching dispirited and disorganised teams for a decade. And guess what - they want big Dunc as manager. We can only hope that this time they get him so that we can get the relegation medicine over with fast.
Jerome Shields
57 Posted 17/01/2022 at 21:07:29

Depends on the remit of the role he is given. Still think he might be being approached for a DOF role. It would make the starting of a up and coming Manager more plausible. It's a win win for both the egos of Kenwright and Moshiri.

Christy Ring
58 Posted 17/01/2022 at 21:28:44
Rob#11 Spot on, Kenwright's the problem not Moshiri. Barry#30 Agree completely on Martinez, to say it was Moyes team total crap, Stones and Barkley never got a game under Moyes, he brought in Lukaku, Deulofeu Barry and McCarthy, that's the majority of the team. It went downhill when the injuries kicked in, he lost Macca, most of the back four, and Kenwright wouldn't give him money to sign anyone, that's why Alcaraz came in on a free, that's how desperate he was. Martinez/Henry partnership looks attractive, but I think it would be a mistake if Kenwright gets his way. The fans are totally divided on Martinez, it's too much of a gamble. I thought Sharp was brought on board to give the fans view, not to back Bill.
Tony Abrahams
59 Posted 17/01/2022 at 21:50:07
I think that Martinez, is a pure footballing man, who only knows how to organize a defence by trying to attack. This might come across as admirable, but it can also be very foolish, which is something many of us witnessed several times.

His first season was brilliant, I remember being at Swansea, (the day Coleman and Barkley scored) and whilst having something to eat before the game, honestly feeling like a child, because I was going to watch “my Everton” and I just knew they were going to entertain me.

I remember a semifinal at City, when he took a tiring Delafoe off, (he’d been the best player on the pitch imo) and replaced him with Kone, leaving the more natural, energetic replacement Lennon, sitting on the bench. Stones who was playing fullback, suddenly stopped getting the protection a natural wide player gives, and Everton’s team of losers, blew fucking up again.

I think Roberto, could become the best academy manager in the world, but the first team? No, because I don’t feel that he concentrates on the dirty side of the sport enough, and this is something that real winners do very naturally imo.

As for Kenwright? if Everton keep me awake, this fella, genuinely helps me to sleep, because I’ve got that many different reconstructions in my brain, about how I could get away with murdering this self obsessed jinx, it works better than counting sheep, every time.

Mike Gaynes
60 Posted 17/01/2022 at 21:52:01
I've posted this on other threads, so please excuse the repetition, but for those who would play lightly around Roberto's second and third seasons, the numbers are so stark that no mitigating circumstances can properly account for them.

In those two seasons, we played 76 games. We won 23 of them. That's 30%. To the best of my knowledge, that's the worst two-year stretch Everton has ever known. (By contrast, Koeman and Silva -- both bounced from their jobs after a year and a half -- won 40% of their games. And they didn't have a 20-goal scorer as Martinez did.)

That, and that alone, should disqualify Roberto from ever walking our touchline again.

Jerome Shields
61 Posted 17/01/2022 at 22:06:08

They won't get Duncan. He knows it would end his cushy Everton career.

Dave Abrahams
62 Posted 17/01/2022 at 22:34:25
Lyndon (33) “ He genuinely believes he is the best man for the club” after all these years in charge of the club hasn’t anybody, friend or foe, took him to one side and told him the truth.

Lyndon if he really loved the club he would have taken stock at some period, especially anytime in the last six years, and realised the mess we were becoming and are now, put his hands up and took a rest, a long and complete rest from being part of the club.

Does he ever look back, I wonder and admit how many cock ups he has made and kept the club back or does he never think he is wrong and is blameless for the position we are in now, surely he can’t be that arrogant, mind you the only time I had the displeasure of meeting him I knew how arrogant he was, full of himself and didn’t know a lot about football or about Dave Hickson the player he said he idolised, I put him straight on a few things about Davie because I truly idolised him, no pretence.

Jay Harris
63 Posted 17/01/2022 at 23:03:30
Excellent piece Lyndon.

Let me just quote one of Martinez comments"

"We don't practice set pieces because not many goals come from that scenario"

Can you imagine him with this defence and just to correct his so called magnificent first season we were nailed on for a CL place until the last quarter of the season when the "Martinez" effect kicked in and we lost out t Arsenal as defending collpased and "tippy tappy" football across the back 4 became de rigeur.

If that clown ever has any part to play at EFC I will be finished with the club until we get proper ownership back.


Danny O’Neill
64 Posted 17/01/2022 at 23:04:16
Powerful stuff as always Lyndon.

I don't want to turn this into a who should be the next manager thread as we have one of those running with over 600 posts at present.

But briefly on Martinez, it's a no for me. Not in the current situation. I wanted to touch on the DoF mention, which is interesting. I actually said during his time at Everton, he would make a better academy coach, developing young players rather than the first team. Just my instinct watching and listening to him.

You're preaching to the converted on the promoting within. We need to stop it and bring in professional and ruthless outsiders to shake the club up from board room to academy. Bill's time was most definitely done once he'd brought in Moshiri; okay maybe a transition period but exactly what you say. Your job is done (eventually).

The jobs for the boys is contentious and as always, I'll put my hands up and say I've used that phrase flippantly myself. But to the promoting within point, Everton are portraying that perception and making it easy for critics to point that finger at them. And being an exile, it's not just Evertonians speaking that; others are increasingly noticing and jumping onto it. Cosy club and as I've said previous, the biggest insult I get is a compliment. Other clubs like us and don't mind us. That grates.

Of course we'll always have ex-players and Evertonians in the club, just as every other club does. But are they in positions of influence and wielding high level decision making at Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United? And if they do have links to their clubs, I'll bet they are football people or astute business people.

And I mean real power, not just ambassadors or token life Presidents who attend matches?

Danny O’Neill
65 Posted 17/01/2022 at 23:05:42
Tony @59 beat me to the Roberto youth coach thought as I was typing!!!
Steve Carter
66 Posted 18/01/2022 at 01:40:20
The point's probably already been made on this or other threads, but why does our board consider that Roberto's apparent success as an international coach/manager suggests that he will be a success as a (day in day out/week in week out) club manager? To provide an example from another sport that many ToffeeWeb members appear to have an interest in, Mal Meninga's record as coach of the Queensland State of Origin and Australia rugby league teams was and is pretty much unsurpassed, but on his own admission he was and would be a failure as a club coach.
Phil Gardner
67 Posted 18/01/2022 at 11:17:37
I've just watched the documentary on Walter Smith, ‘A Life in Football.'

Sensible, emotive but calculated input from many football greats on the man in question all well delivered… until we get to our chairman's segment.

What followed was Billy Bullshit wallowing in sentimentality, with an actor's eye on the camera, tearing up and waffling utter bollocks about the sacking of Smith and his own gentle and loving role in it.

The man sickens me and has to be forced out of Everton before he does anymore damage… he's an embarrassment, a soppy as shite, self-preserving, melodramatic dinosaur stuck in the past and has no place in the modern game.

If he has any power at Everton now, we are seriously fucked. Cut the fraud loose.

Alexander Murphy
68 Posted 18/01/2022 at 12:07:43
"Little Miss Charity Shop" Out!

Bring in Nicola Cortese as CEO, the Mastermind behind Markus Liebherr's unbelievable turnaround of Southampton from League One to Premier League. (First read of Cortese here a truly remarkable man, he discovered Pochettino when scouting Coutinho).

Do it! And do it now!!

Kenwright Out!

Then, Mr Moshiri, bloody well listen to Cortese!!

Meantime, appoint Duncan with a simple brief: "Keep Everton in the Premier League!"

Clive Rogers
69 Posted 18/01/2022 at 13:33:17
Kenwright searched high and low for years to find an owner who would let him remain in the spotlight as chairman and eventually found someone as equally incompetent at running a football club as he is. The downward spiral continues.
Clive Rogers
70 Posted 18/01/2022 at 13:39:21
My first thoughts on hearing that we were persuing Martinez were that Moshiri must have given up his efforts to bring success. Now I am reading that he may be thinking of selling the club. If true, this reinforces the view that he may have given up trying to be successful on the pitch. I can only see many more years of heartache for us fans.
Mike Dolan
71 Posted 18/01/2022 at 16:53:03
A brilliant piece of writing Lyndon. It’s damning and to the point without being in the least bit vindictive. Great work.
Moshiri is taking a lot of flak right now and so he should precisely because he has allowed Kenwright not only to remain on the board but to have somehow become our de facto D O F.
You just know it’s Bill when those old boys are as we speak writing up the review of the clubs operations. I’m not holding my breathe for how full of objective thought that document is going to be.
Of all the ex players employed by the club Leighton Baines is perhaps the only one who really deserves his position there. Any improvement will get murdered in the cradle as long as Bills honcho’s are littered around the (sorry for the exaggeration) organization. We have to get rid of all of them at every level. As for Bill it’s time he was made GONE.
He is the malignant disease that in spite of his good intentions we have suffered from for over twenty years you would think that he would get something right even by accident. So Mr. Moshiri give Bill the opportunity to get something right give him an invitation to resign gracefully. If he doesn’t accept it then throw him a nice party invite his guys then fire the lot of them. Order a fleet of taxi’s. And finally move on.
Anthony Jones
72 Posted 19/01/2022 at 19:26:24

But couldn't this article be written about sports clubs all over the world. This is the schizoid nature of being a modern sports fan.

Nepotism could be "knowing our identity".

Romantic could be "historic".

Stuck in the past could be "knowing our heritage".

We are "The People's Club", so we are told. Not just another corporate machine with no connection to the families who attend the games?

Martin Mason
73 Posted 21/01/2022 at 20:23:32
Exceptional article, Lyndon. It's the nepotism that worries me now. it seems to be critical for successful companies to have an inflow of new ideas with staff turnover but we don't have that and it's not good enough to get it with new managers when they are forced to keep the Everton Old Boys Club on the payroll.

I believe that the chances of Everton going down this year are very high.

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