The Shape We Are In

Martin O'Connor 02/12/2021 13comments  |  Jump to last

Go out yonder, peace in the valley
Come downtown, have to rumble in the alley
Oh, you don't know the shape I'm in
Has anybody seen my lady?
This living alone will drive me crazy
Oh, you don't know the shape I'm in

The Band: The Shape I’m In

As we sift through the rubble of another gutless, spinless derby humiliation, what conclusion can we come to? What shape are we as a football club in? The answer is simple: The latest defeat to Satan’s spawn is the culmination of 6 years of being owned by a clueless billionaire.

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Under the ownership of Farhad Moshiri, we have gone backwards at an alarming rate. Under his stewardship we have had in the dugout:

Roberto Martinez (admittedly in situ when Moshiri bought into the club)
David Unsworth (interim)
Ronald Koeman
David Unsworth (Interim)
Sam Allardyce
Marco Silva
Duncan Ferguson (Interim)
Carlo Ancelotti
Rafael Benitez

A concoction of managers with different styles, outlooks and ideas. Where is the vision, the strategy and way of playing? Answer: there is none, and could never have been one with such a motley list of managers. The club’s hierarchy has just lurched from one failed manager to another without any idea of what sort of manager and style of play they want. The latest incumbent being another Allardyce safe pair of hands but, in reality, just another manager out of his depth, whose day was quite some time ago.

Under Moshiri, it is estimated that the club has spent £450 million pounds on players who have not improved the Blues one bit. We have a squad at present of bang-average players, all of whom have served or been brought in by one of Moshiri’s failed managerial appointments. A mish-mash of different managers' choices… Who recruited these players? It would seem to be whichever manager has had the gig at the time, or Moshiri himself.

Although we have a Director of Football (DoF) in Marcel Brands, has he the authority and power a DoF needs? Or is he nothing more than a negotiator of deals for players picked by the manager or the bumbling billionaire? Take your pick, but either choice does not reflect well on Brands; yet another 3-year contract was handed out to him in the Summer. Before his new contract was awarded, was there any review of the performance Brands had produced in his first 3 years? His record was:

  1. Recruitment. As noted above – Failed!
  2. Signing young hungry players 25 or under for the first team, or to sell on for a profit — Failed!
  3. Organising an academy which produces players for the first team or players to be sold for profit – Failed!

Yet Moshiri's and Brands's board chums (Brands is a board member) seem to think his performance as DoF is acceptable and hand out another 3-year contract.

A DoF is the person who should set out the vision, strategy and style of play of the club. They should then go out and recruit a manager to suit that vision and style of play. They would then work with the chosen manager to recruit players to fit that vision and pattern of play. They would also expect all levels and age groups in the club’s academy to similarly work to this vision and style of play. This has been wholely lacking since Brands (and before him, Walsh) was given the DoF role.

How much power Brands has had to set out such a vision is a moot point. The academy is run, failingly, by a gaggle of ex-Blues, headed by David Unsworth and protected by Bill Kenwright. While in the first-team set-up, Duncan Ferguson continues to be part of every manager’s coaching staff, because he is another ex-Blue. Meanwhile, recruitment is a mess of Moshiri picks, manager picks, Kenwright picks… How can a DoF work under such circumstances?

Commercially, Everton are as far behind the clubs it aspires to challenge as it ever was while the largesse of crazy transfer spending in the last 5 years has the club now penniless, with a squad not fit for purpose. Where has the oversight of the club’s finances and transfer spending been? It would seem that the board has wilfully ignored the perilous financial position year on year, leading to the disgrace of Everton Football Club not being able to spend any sort of money on recruitment because of Premier League and Uefa financial rules.

Meanwhile the club continues to put out good news stories on Everton in the Community (EitC) and construction of the new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock, to cover the mess which Everton are in. Yes, EitC is the best charity and community project run by any football club. But we are, first and foremost, a football club, which means actually competing in the league and cups. We are not a charity first and a football club second. Meanwhile, videos and pictures are churned out about BMD almost every day, as if this good news story will cover the fact of the substandard leadership of the club and the failing manager and team.

As we close in on 6 years of Moshiri, the club has:

  1. Gone backwards, finishing in the last two seasons mid-table and on course to be even lower this season.
  2. Had some of the worst recruitment of any football club imaginable.
  3. Had an academy which has failed to produce any real talent for the first team or to sell for profit.
  4. Allowed a board to continue to run the club with no regard for the finances of the club.
  5. Employed two substandard DoFs who have not been given any real power or authority.
  6. Hired and fired one bad manager after another. These being Moshiri decisions.
  7. Had no vision or strategy for what sort of team Everton should be.

This article has just pointed out the major failings of the club under Moshiri. What is needed now is:

  1. A vision of what sort of team Everton wants to be. Led by a DoF.
  2. A new manager who is chosen by the DoF to fit the vision they have set out.
  3. A total change in the structure of the club’s academy.
  4. A new Board with different members with clearly defined roles and responsibilities.

Will any of this happen under the present owner? No, it will not, as Moshiri is the biggest problem Everton has. The Blues have:

  • An owner who listens to no-one but himself and chosen football agents.
  • An owner who hardly ever comes to games.
  • An owner who never communicates with the supporters but just talks to Jim White and TalkSport.
  • An owner who thinks he knows about the game but is actually clueless.
  • An owner who has allowed reckless spending on bang-average players.
  • An owner who has pushed the club’s finances to the limit, to such an extent that Everton are now paupers.
  • An owner who considers it his right to pick whatever manager he sees fit.

As The Band sang “The Shape I’m In”, it could equally refer to Everton and “The Shape We Are In”.

“The Shape We Are In” after 6 years of disastrous ownership by the clueless Monaco owner is dreadful. A shiny new bauble down on the docks won’t change or hide anything. Number 5 on the list of what needs to be done should be a new owner. But sad to say that is never going to happen any time soon. So, “The Shape We Are In” under Moshiri, if we are not careful, will be terminal.

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Reader Comments (13)

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Mick O'Malley
1 Posted 02/12/2021 at 06:12:08
An owner who has inflicted upon the fans a Kopite loser, Benitez is humiliating us, Would Liverpool pick an ex-Blue who hasn't won fuck-all for years and also relegated a club? Who was as good as retired in China? Hired cos “he knows what Blues fans want”?

He's an absolutely horrible toxic Kopite who has made every player worse. Do me a favour, no other club was interested in Benitez. Please sack this sad manager, he is out of his depth.

James Byrne
2 Posted 02/12/2021 at 10:23:32
I can't believe that finally someone has pinpointed some of the fundamental root causes to our clubs internal failures.

How much power Brands has had to set out such a vision is a moot point. The academy is run, failingly, by a gaggle of ex-Blues, headed by David Unsworth and protected by Bill Kenwright. While in the first-team set-up, Duncan Ferguson continues to be part of every manager’s coaching staff, because he is another ex-Blue.

All I can say that at this rate and under this style of management and ownership we are only destined for one option. Relegation!

It's only a matter of time.

Jerome Shields
3 Posted 02/12/2021 at 11:02:41
On MotD, Thierry Henri said that Everton has to decide who they are and work on building on that. In other words, the past 6 years, as Martin has outlined, have been a waste of time and money, because of a lack of a mission and planning by the management who were allowed to pursue their own agendas throughout the club.

Actually, Ancelotti did a good job last season, trying to stablise and work with what is available. But it became obvious to him there was neither the will nor the way to progress. Benitez has discovered the same earlier and has no option but to take on the previous management that caused the underlying problem.

As for Brands, he is part of this management, buying into it hook, line and sinker. A Director of Football at Everton who is on the Board and delegates the actual Director of Football duties to Head of Football Operations, Head of Development and Recruitment, and Director of the Academy.

To a certain extent, Benitez needs the pressure of the current situation to take on the club management. Moshiri has to back him to sort out the mess.

Good article, Martin.

Bill Fairfield
4 Posted 02/12/2021 at 11:21:12
Martin,

It's a right mess and I don't trust this current owner to sort it out either. Every time you feel the club has hit rock bottom in football terms, they find another low.

John Hodgkins
5 Posted 02/12/2021 at 13:18:45
Excellent article Martin. All the arguments you raise are valid, but unless Moshiri is afraid of his investment collapsing with no prospect of recovering it, I can see no change going forward.

Rumour has it that Moshiri will attend against Arsenal, so maybe the point of no return has been reached. We live in hope!

Alan Baillie
6 Posted 02/12/2021 at 14:53:01
100% spot on Martin. I defy any fan to argue with any of that. I also think that unless things change, we could be in big trouble.
Bill Hawker
7 Posted 02/12/2021 at 14:54:56
A very well written article Martin and cuts right to the crux of what's wrong with Everton Football Club. A must read for any and every Evertonian.
Kieran Kinsella
8 Posted 02/12/2021 at 14:59:44
Alan

I guarantee there is one particularly out spoken poster who will argue with the point James highlights

Gareth Humphreys
9 Posted 02/12/2021 at 15:38:02
Farhad Moshiri is the epitome of a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. The fiscal outlay he has underwritten is quite incredible. What is even more incredible is that he has put his trust in people who quite clearly don't deserve the positions of trust they are on. Chairman, CEO, Director Of Football, Head of the academy - all underperformed with no consequence. Quite how a man putting that much money in allows that to continue is staggering. In my opinion, he has to keep with Benitez, rightly or wrongly. You can't keep sacking managers and expect the situation to improve. Back the manager and get some accountability at board room level. And if Moshiri does, as is rumoured, dabble in managerial and player appointments, he needs to make redundant the DOF role as there is no point it existing.
Paul [The Esk]
10 Posted 03/12/2021 at 04:07:57
Excellent article Martin, thank you. Vital that as many of the fan base understand the difficulties the club faces and are part of the campaign for change
Kieran Kinsella
11 Posted 03/12/2021 at 04:38:41
Mo Johnston and Li Tie
Derek Thomas
12 Posted 03/12/2021 at 06:08:00
As a wise man once said - I've seen better shape in a sack of hammers
Alan McGuffog
13 Posted 03/12/2021 at 08:11:53
Martin...in a few months time what about..." The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down "

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