Former player Ashley Williams attempts to Hammer Everton

Time is perhaps the most precious of commodities in the career of any Premier League manager in the modern era

Kevin Murray 13/11/2021 27comments  |  Jump to last

With all the recent noise from the east end of London you could be forgiven for believing that David Moyes has once again re positioned himself as the rightful heir to the, soon to be vacant, throne at Old Trafford. 

Moyes' side West Ham United have had the pundits drooling and the journalists frantically typing about a ‘serious title challenge’ from The Hammers this season.  Contrast that with what has been written and said about our beloved Blues and the difference in opinion is stark.  

One particular ‘pundit’, an ex-player of ours, could be seen on Match of the Day after last weekend’s Tottenham match, and in a subsequent article on the BBC website stating that ‘Everton are miles away from being a top four team’ and that ‘West Ham are clearly a much better team.’ 

Ashley Williams is not the first this season to wonder what is happening at Goodison and certainly the criticism of Everton’s performances in recent weeks has been more than justified.  However, a closer look into the circumstances of our former manager’s current favour and the hand dealt to Rafa Benitez might help explain why this is and give some light end the end of the tunnel for us suffering Blues.

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Time is perhaps the most precious of commodities in the career of any Premier League manager in the modern era. 

The average time a Premier league manager lasts in their job is now approximately just two years.  Coincidentally, this is around the length of time David Moyes has been in charge of West Ham United.

Contrast that with the four and a half months Rafa Benitez has had to turn the good ship Everton and you can already see the first important difference. In fact, since Moyes left the club in May 2013 there has been six changes of permanent manager at Everton.  

The fact that our last period of relative success came under the stewardship of Moyes himself, who was at the club for eleven years, is not merely a coincidence (whether this should be described as success is a debate for another day).  To compare where the two clubs are now, without taking this into consideration is a total flaw in any argument.  Time allows the coaching staff to change so many things, tactically, physically, and mentally. 

Perhaps the most important aspect time allows the manager to change though is the squad itself.  Moving the wrong type of players on and bringing in the right type of players takes time.  West Ham have moved on almost twenty players since David Moyes took over and brought in a similar amount. 

We are all acutely aware of the problems Everton face with the current playing squad.  A hotchpotch of players brought in by several different managers, overseen by two different directors of football.  However, in the short time since Benitez’s arrival at the club, Everton have managed to move on around ten first team players already and bring in five. 

As is well documented, the five who have been brought in have cost a combined total of less than two million pounds.  A net profit of around thirteen million pounds which is almost unheard of in Premier League terms. 

Conversely, the money spent on new players by West Ham United since David Moyes took over is approximately one hundred and ten million pounds, with a net spend of around seventy million pounds.

Giving any manager the time and money to shape a squad is surely the bare minimum required before any real judgement can be made?

Comparing the different outcome of the eleven league games so far this season requires a look at one other particularly important aspect. One which those of us who follow Everton will know too well but which perhaps other observers may not.  The injury list. 

Our track record in this department has been poor for many seasons now and this has been particularly highlighted this season.  

Everton have had to cope without their most important striker since only the third game of the season.  Missing Calvert-Lewin would be bad enough but to have Richarlison missing for almost half of the league games so far has also been a huge factor in Everton’s season. 

To add to that, our first choice right back and captain Seamus Coleman has missed three games.  At the back Everton have also had to play the last four games without their most accomplished centre back Yerry Mina, in which time they have only picked up one point and shipped eight goals in three games. 

Finally, and arguably most importantly the injury to Abdoulaye Doucouré has been a devastating blow to Everton’s midfield.  Doucouré is often seen as doing the job of two players such is his capacity to get around the pitch.  Before his injury, ironically picked up against West Ham, Doucouré appeared to be having his best season for the Blues having registered two goals and four assists in the opening eight games of the season.  

Yes, injuries are part and parcel of the game but any squad with perhaps the exception of the two Manchester clubs and Chelsea would struggle massively with the number and combination of injuries suffered by Everton so far this season.

Contrast this with the fortunes of Moyes’ West Ham and once again, the difference is stark.  Since the beginning of the season West Ham have only suffered one injury to their first-choice line-up, right back Vladimir Coufal picking up a hamstring injury in early October. 

Aside from that, the only changes to West Ham’s starting line up in the Premier League so far this season have been the introduction of Kurt Zouma at centre back, a player purchased as an upgrade in that position by David Moyes and striker Antonio missing one game through a suspension.  Other than that West Ham have been able to choose their strongest line up for every Premier League game this season.

This is not sour grapes or an attempt to belittle the progress of West Ham under Moyes.  I am a huge admirer of David Moyes. I feel he was mostly a victim of circumstance at Manchester United and has now finally found the right club to showcase his talents once again as a coach and manager. 

The point is this; the views from pundits such as Ashley Williams about Everton’s current situation are nothing short of lazy and ill researched.  To compare Everton to West Ham at the moment is completely misleading.  

Everton are at the beginning of a new era. The start of a long process of changing the playing squad, changing mind sets, of implementing new tactics and formations. 

Just this week, Benitez has released Director of Medical services Danny Donachie, having already replaced him with his preferred rehabilitation coach.  Fabian Delph has recently returned to the starting eleven looking sharper than ever in a blue shirt.  

Two of the preseason purchases, Demarai Gray and Andros Townsend appear to be a great fit for Everton, combining the required attitude with no small amount of talent and pace.  Anthony Gordon has been given opportunities and finally appears to be developing into the player we all hoped he would.

These are signs of positive change already but there will undoubtedly be many ups and downs along the way.  

As long-suffering supporters of this great club, we have the right to be impatient, but we must hold our nerve.  We must not listen to short sighted and ill-informed views such as those of Ashley Williams. We have had far too many changes in the dugout at Goodison since David Moyes left. 

We must support our club and hope that the current manager and coaching staff are given the time to implement more of these positive changes.  If, as a club, we do this then perhaps the conversation surrounding Everton will soon change, allowing us to bring the Hammer down on this particular pundit’s view.

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Reader Comments (27)

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Jack Convery
1 Posted 16/11/2021 at 17:39:37
Pundit? ... Ha! – he wasn't even a decent player, for fuck's sake.

Up there with Beglin, Murphy and quite a few others these days.

Paul Birmingham
2 Posted 16/11/2021 at 18:14:41
I didn't rate Ashley Williams as a player and didn't think it was a wise buy by Everton, at the time.

All in all it was a bad move and was part of what has proven to be a period of poor transfer buys which is impacting Everton now.

What he's said, is in my view about Everton's aspirations. Arguably they have them but perhaps his tone is based on the monies spent and Everton are worst off in terms of finances and squad strength over 5½ years after Farhad Moshiri, era started.

Hopefully the reality and perspective of Everton's transfer market performance and arguably financial prudence, over this period will see better policy in the future.

But, hand on heart, most of us (myself included) live in hope eternal for Everton in all matters on and off the park.

But we shall see. A tough game on Sunday v Man City.

There were times when Everton won these games regularly. That's a long time ago now. But let's see which Everton turn up.

Ken Kneale
3 Posted 16/11/2021 at 18:28:28
Ashley Williams was very lucky to play for this club and, in most other eras, would never have got here. He and his like are the cause of the problem on the pitch, not the solution.

I deliberately did not open his column online so as not to give it viewing numbers. Petty I know but it is the disregard I feel for him and his like and what they have done to the club we love.

Brian Williams
4 Posted 16/11/2021 at 18:33:34
Ashley who?
Mike Gaynes
5 Posted 16/11/2021 at 18:37:56
In defense of Williams the player, he was a fine performer and an exceptional leader for Swansea, and he's not to blame that Everton were so monumentally stupid as to pay £12 million for a 32-year-old with 600 games already in his legs. We all knew it at the time (even if that idiot Koeman did not). Williams gave us what pathetically little he had left, and never shirked.

And in further defense of Williams the pundit, he's right. We are miles away from top four, and West Ham are clearly much better. They have built better and bought better than we have over the past couple of years. They are in Europe. We're not.

And there's nothing "misleading" about the comparison, Kevin. You're right, Everton are at the beginning of a new era, but Hammers are 2 years into theirs. We will catch up, hopefully sooner than later, but right now it is what it is.

Tony Everan
6 Posted 16/11/2021 at 18:44:13
He got a massive contract and didn’t contribute anywhere near enough for us. I felt he gave more to Swansea and we were his retirement fund. You would think he could now find a way to be a bit more positive. He’s carried his footy form over to the punditry, well below average and probably paid too much.
Dale Self
7 Posted 16/11/2021 at 18:48:07
Yes, Brian, the proper response to that guy. The nerve... say all you want about Swans but you've not earned the right comment on Everton as a ex.
Tony Abrahams
8 Posted 16/11/2021 at 18:59:45
West Ham are doing very well and were the much better side at Goodison the other week. If we could get our best players fit, then I'd fancy us to beat The Hammers, in a one-off game – FA Cup final, hopefully!

But it's a squad game nowadays, and I do think they definitely have a better squad than us right now.

Paul Jones
9 Posted 16/11/2021 at 20:12:47
My abiding memory of Ashley Williams in a blue shirt is him retreating into it like a turtle after gifting the opposition another goal.

It's a position I suggest he adopts now.

This is the second article he has put his name to in the last couple of weeks criticising the club. Yes, I agree we're looking pretty awful right now, but if he can't come up with any inciteful reason behind the mess or some pointer towards improvement then he should keep his nose out of it.

He is a symptom of our decline and not a victim of it. If the BBC want someone to talk about the club from a seasoned Evertonian then they should ask Osman. Wheeling out this idiot and loosely branding him as a former blue is insulting. I'd rather read something about us from an even bigger tit like Jim Beglin. At least when he sneers at us you know it's because he simply hates us.

Mike Gaynes
10 Posted 16/11/2021 at 20:20:44
Paul #9, Osman has recently been even more critical.

October 28:

“Their problems started with the Achilles heel – the inability to defend a corner. There was so much panic and it was so un-Rafa like. He's got to change things quickly and ensure that they're more robust without the ball and the players need to step up too because some of them have been all over the place for a while.”

Leon Osman savages Everton; picks out ‘Achilles Heel’

Allan Board
11 Posted 16/11/2021 at 20:27:33
Arrogant bugger who could run about as fast as a barge.
Paul Jones
12 Posted 16/11/2021 at 20:39:55
Mike @10

Coming from Osman makes it palatable for me. Rightly or wrongly, I think his heart is in the right place when it comes to us.

With Williams, it feels more vindictive. If he was commenting on Wales or Swansea, then I feel his words would carry more weight.

Dave Abrahams
13 Posted 16/11/2021 at 20:55:00
Tony (8),

West Ham Utd were the better team the other week and deserved to win but there wasn't a massive difference between the teams. In fact, if Everton and West Ham had swopped one player from each side to the other, Everton would have swamped West Ham.

Bowen going on the wing for Everton and Iwobi going on the wing for West Ham: Bowen was in probably every move West Ham made going forward and Iwobi did very little for Everton.

David Pearl
14 Posted 16/11/2021 at 20:55:29
He is speaking only the truth. Williams joined us at the wrong time, we were a complete mess. Still are.

Delph has to stay fit. And we have to get Calvert-Lewin back asap. Mina too please as we currently lack height to defend set-pieces.

No, it's not our current manager's fault for the squad and FFP problems. Moyes certainly got a lot more for his £70M net spend than we have for our net £250M (ish).

Time will tell on Benitez but, for my money, he hasn't filled me with a great deal of confidence. Let's see where we are at Christmas.

Jon Wit
15 Posted 16/11/2021 at 21:33:55
What an appalling signing he was – the beginning of the rot – wasn't he to replace Stones?

If it doesn't work out for Benitez, then fair enough – but very harsh to judge him right now given spending so far and injuries to our few top players.

I'm annoyed with him over Rondon though – it felt wrong to bring him back to the Premier League and it's another wage drain if he doesn't add anything. Probably the biggest stick to beat him with right now.

Barry Rathbone
16 Posted 16/11/2021 at 21:58:38
Williams might have been over the hill when playing here and perhaps has an axe to grind but he's right about the present situation: we are dreadful and West Ham are better.

But given Moyes's record for collapse under pressure, I don't think any serious student of footy considers The Hammers as genuine competitors – more like this season's flash in the pan... there's always one.

Tim Welsh
17 Posted 16/11/2021 at 22:09:19
I saw this 'article' by Williams on the BBC website where a picture of Benitez wearing his Everton scarf had the quote 'I just don't know what the plan is' (or something very similar) beneath.

Anyone who knows anything about media will understand that the desired impression was to connect Benitez with the quote. I'll return to this point in a moment.

When I read the gibberings of our former 'player' (I just wonder what Dixie Dean, Alan Ball and even Graeme Sharp would have said to him if they had ever had the misfortune of being on the same team as him), I soon realised that this was stultifyingly ill-informed vomit of nonsense from an ex-'Evertonian' with a jaundiced view of his time in a blue shirt.

What is more sinister is that the BBC do not seem to be able to mention Benitez as Everton manager without stressing the dissatisfaction felt by Everton supporters at his appointment.

I have seen enough, heard enough and feel enough to surmise that Benitez is trying to shake things up. And about time. Certainly there will bumps in the road ahead – and I echo the sentiments about Rondon, but I will give him a chance – and there will be times when Benitez's appointment will be questioned. But the BBC pundits and correspondents are determined to see Benitez and Everton part company.

Now, there will be the usual chorus of 'conspiracy theory' to my assertions, and the inevitable debate about the BBC's bias towards the filth, but I can only call it how I see it.

I think the filth, their supporters, and the red-tinted media are perhaps a little concerned that there might be a little bit of them now inside Goodison. And they don't like it. And they fear it.

When Newcastle were taken over recently, the BBC were falling over themselves to shoehorn Benitez into the job. Sure, they can live with Benitez at St James' Park, but Goodison... that's too close for comfort.

I loathe the BBC Football department(?) from Eddie Hemmings to Brian Barwick and beyond they have done their best to skew reporting on the filth for generations. Can you remember 1987? We had just won the league. Within weeks of the filth signing Barnes and Beardsley, the BBC (and only the BBC) had christened their new line-up as the 'Team of the Century' and they hadn't even kicked a ball. Can you name that team?

Surely the team of the century will trip off your tongue... No, they were scared. They had put up with us winning in 1985, but 1987 as well... that wasn't in the script. So, they started to steer their own narrative to re-install the filth 'back where they belong'. Lord Reith would be turning in his grave. Impartial? Nonsense.

And Ashley Williams just did another little bit of 'their' bidding. Idiot.

Don Alexander
18 Posted 16/11/2021 at 22:51:42
Tim, you'd do us all a favour if you'd just come off the fence!

Well said, sir!

Danny O’Neill
19 Posted 16/11/2021 at 23:34:05
I'm not a fan of the BBC either, Tim. Both News and Sport. Like many News channels since 24/7 came along, they've stopped reporting the actual News really and try to push their own agenda, in my opinion. And we pay for the pleasure.

On the Sports side, the only one I don't mind is McNulty. I don't always agree with him, but he rarely speculates and is normally accurate. I always tend to take notice when he posts something as it is likely to happen.

Brian Wilkinson
20 Posted 17/11/2021 at 00:41:02
Well said, Tim.

The media are doing everything they can to cause a rift between our manager and the fans With the derby on the horizon, watch it ramp up even more... they will throw Benitez into the mix, Captain Virgil... they are going to hit us with everything, mate.

Disregard Everton having the likes of Pickford, Godfrey, Digne, Doucouré, Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin missing for games this season, the media are oblivious to all those. But, sweet Jesus, when Virgil was missing, they never let up about how just one player cost them the league last season, how unlucky they were to have a player missing, yet we have had a good 4 top-notch players out at the same time most of this season, but the media ignore that and instead try cause a rift with the manager and supporters.

I cannot see what else Benetiz can do, with the hand he has been dealt. He's been unlucky on the injury front and had a lack of funds last summer.

The only pundit who I have time for who seems to at times defend us is Ian Wright.

Derek Thomas
21 Posted 17/11/2021 at 01:15:48
To be fair, anyone who says we're a bit of a basket-case at the moment is not far off the mark. It's only when they start mis-representing things for clicks that it annoys me.

We get better and it mostly goes away. We don't – then we're fair game. But you'll always get the institutionalized rs thing by virtue of being anti-blue... or is it the other way round?

Danny O’Neill
22 Posted 17/11/2021 at 03:25:29
I'd agree with that Derek and others. He's only saying the same as what I hear from many Evertonians. It's just not well received coming from him in particular.

And let's be honest, to my knowledge, he's new on the pundit panel, so he's doing it for effect. He has to get his name out there, so use something that will do that.

And let's be double honest. He didn't write that. A few BBC PR/Publishing folks will have interviewed him and then put the words together with his name on it. He won't have "written" those words, just given a vocal opinion that's been turned into an article. Still his view though, but no doubt twisted for effect.

I too wait to see how Moyes handles this. Has he finally found his place and broken his ability to break down when the spotlight is on and the expectation is there? Let's see. He has the platform and has the team. And they are doing very well if they can maintain the momentum.

Will this finally be the moment he breaks his glass ceiling and stops being football's nearly man? Finally puts the debacle of a career he's had since leaving Everton behind him?

Jim Lloyd
23 Posted 17/11/2021 at 22:33:35
Tim (17) Brilliant! Well said.

As for Ashley Williams and his comments... they were about as good as his football.

Jimmy Hogan
24 Posted 18/11/2021 at 20:06:08
He's not wrong though, is he?
Dale Self
25 Posted 18/11/2021 at 20:47:51
It's not that he's wrong, he's just shite for trying to weigh in where he has no credibility. What did he do to improve the club while he was here?
Paul Kossoff
26 Posted 19/11/2021 at 19:33:01
I always said, even before we bought him, that Williams was a cart-horse. Can't tackle, slow, the turning point of an oil tanker.

All that bull about leadership was proven wrong with his inept performances. Now he's an expert in the sport of football? I don't think so.

Yes, we deserve criticism, but the millions we paid him, he should have more respect.

Michael Lynch
27 Posted 20/11/2021 at 17:46:56
I'm not sure why the BBC are investing so much in bringing Williams through as a pundit – he's piss poor. His mumbling brummie-accented banalities are about as worthwhile as his career was at Everton.

My heart sinks when he appears on TV. He's not as annoying as Micah Richards, but he's so fucking dull.

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