Like so many on the Live Forum that afternoon, I openly doubted whether I would even watch the derby. But I’ve made such proclamations before and never believed them even as I uttered them. So, I dutifully tuned in last night to see the inevitable unfold. Why did I do it? Was it fear of missing out on one of the great surprise derby victories? Or was it a morbid curiosity about how toxic things might get if Liverpool were allowed to express themselves fully? It certainly wasn’t to see Everton play football. I haven’t seen that in a long while.
True to the “Everton, that” script, I got to fulfil the latter of those two motives. While passively attending to the miserable efforts of our players, I paid close attention to the mood in the ground. As if emblematic of our current plight, Farhad Moshiri was conspicuously absent from Goodison Park. Not that we should expect a busy “tycoon” like him to attend every home game, but his presence might have backed up the deepthroat reports of him (and Usmanov) remaining committed to the ailing “project” on Merseyside.
We did, however, have Marcel Brands, Denise Barrett-Baxendale and Bill Kenwright in attendance and my thoughts were drawn to them when, after just 20 minutes, supporters were shown to be leaving the ground (a record, apparently, for early departure by home fans). Similarly, when the crowd really started to thin out after Liverpool’s third goal and ultimately, when the final whistle went and what remained of the Goodison faithful could express themselves outside of the context of the match.
Like most clubs, or at least those owned by foreign billionaires, we get patchy and at best second-hand communication from the executives in our club about the matters that concern us most. It’s rare that the powers-that-be descend from Mount Olympus and are in close enough contact with the supporters to see any kind of interaction.
And last night wasn’t different but for a moment, captured on video, between an irate supporter in his 50s and a departing Marcel Brands: Brands – to his credit – stopped to hear what the man had to say and, after what seemed like a period of adjustment to the fevered Scouse accent, Brands discerned that this man wanted him out of the club, justifying his view with an accusatory “Did you recruit them?”
Brands’s response was curious: “Is it only the players?”
I’ve been replaying this in my mind ever since. What did he mean? Are we only concerned about the players? Are we not concerned about the manager?
It’s difficult to escape the sense that he’s having a veiled dig at Rafa Benitez and perhaps his own ack of influence over the decision to hire the Spaniard. That comment, of course, could mean anything. It could be a throwaway comment, or a moment of confusion, in an otherwise tempestuous situation.
Nevertheless, I just cannot depart from the sense that that one line has confirmed much of what we’ve suspected about the disjointed running of our football club. A Director of Football who is hamstrung in his ability to direct football operations by an owner who wants to unilaterally decide on the club’s first-team manager and by, we strongly suspect, a chairman who wants to interfere with transfers and ensure that certain favoured staff are kept in place for sentimental reasons.
That one line from Brands somehow gave me more sympathy for him too. After all, he’s the only individual in that boardroom with a proven track record in doing what his job title entails.
Kenwright has seen vitriol from the Everton faithful before. Kenwright is oblivious anyway, quite possibly verging on senile if his facial expressions caught on camera during a battering by Liverpool are anything to go by. But Brands, I don’t believe, will have yet felt the ire so directly aimed at him. He may have a faint idea about the groundswell of ill-feeling towards him, but having it expressed in the ground and so directly will be new. And for a man of his stature (and evident pride), one would hope it stung.
I desperately want to believe that there are heated discussions happening today amongst the top brass at Everton Football Club and I want Brands to be at the centre of it. Unlike the gentleman who confronted him at the ground, I don’t believe Brands should be dismissed yet because I don’t believe Brands has been allowed to do his job yet. Something has to give at Everton and it’s not a wholesale purge of the boardroom, as many would like.
Barrett-Baxendale, I don’t care about. She’s on the commercial side fannying about with fan tokens and other desperate revenue streams, she’s barely relevant. Moshiri is going nowhere, he owns the club, and no-one is going to buy it. Benitez could be sacked, sure, and maybe he should be, but who’s leading the decision to replace him? This is where Brands should be issuing ultimatums. Would he threaten to walk if he’s not given control? He absolutely should.
The truth is what we have all known for a long time. Any post-mortem or even superficial analysis will find the same common thread throughout our troubled recent history: Bill Kenwright. I’ve been a long-time apologiser for Bill Kenwright because historically he’s worn his heart on his sleeve and I haven’t forgotten how he helped to dig us out of our previous dire financial situation.
The trouble with Kenwright is he is too nice to be chairman of a Premier League club. The man is a “theatre impresario” and has never shown, in all the years of his chairmanship, anything approximating the ruthlessness that is needed to get ahead in the top flight of English football.
Whether or not Brands will be wishing a tougher chairman on the club, it’s hard to say, but you’d hope that, in the cold light of day that follows another humbling in a terrifying descent down the Premier League table, that Moshiri has the wherewithal to look at the successes of Chelsea and their ruthless insistence on the best… or even Daniel Levy and how he steered Tottenham to the stratosphere, despite falling precipitously again.
We all agree something needs to change and soon, even if it’s symbolic in the short term given the problems of our squad. Historically, that has been a change of manager. Fresh ideas and that new manager bounce to get the team away from the singularity of the relegation zone. Trouble is, we’ve tried that. I’d love a young and enthusiastic head coach, with fresh ideas and energy. But who is that person? And will they make a difference given how many managers have come and gone without discernible progress?
As supporters we should be uniting around two demands of Farhad Moshiri:
1. Dismiss Bill Kenwright and hire, at any cost, a chairman with the requisite experience.
2. Devolve, clearly, responsibility for hiring and firing of first-team head coaches to Marcel Brands.
That’s it. Perhaps, as I say, symbolic in the short-term but at least it would buy some goodwill from the supporters. Nevertheless, at some point, there must be a reshuffle at the top. Let’s hope our man on the scene, with the fevered Scouse accent, was the catalyst for that. Because we need to find hope wherever we can right now.
Reader Comments (38)
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1 Posted 02/12/2021 at 13:25:05
Benitez haters will say he's obviously referring to the manager; but others, including myself, who believe there are massive fractions behind the scenes (I'd even use that horrible word, cancerous) would point out that this is the third manager Brands has worked with in a little over two years, so it surely can't just be the manager who our Director of Football was referring to?
2 Posted 02/12/2021 at 13:41:31
3 Posted 02/12/2021 at 13:50:02
One function of the lack of transparency is the odd case of Brands, a highly touted DOF in a previous life, now just another familiar face leading us to failure. Without any real evidence for their beliefs, many fans have voiced their opinion that Brands himself is being obstructed from doing his job. In this scenario it would be the club that's failing to use Brands properly, that has failed to set up a structure that utilizes his talent.
As I said, it's the lack of transparency that enables such a narrative to be built and attract believers. But is this particular narrative actually true? Is Brands being prevente3d from doing is job properly? I'm as sure or unsure as the next man. But the facts of the matter are Brands has both signed a contract extension and taken a seat on the board.
Does a man powerless to do his job end up with a seat on the board generally? Does he sign an extension and remain with the club, or go and utilize that vast talent at a more competent and well run organization?
It's very possible that Brands is actually just incompetent and faces no obstruction to his role other than his unsuitability for it, at least as possible as the alternative scenario. But without transparency, openess, honesty and accountability these sorts of scenarios will just continue to occur, and with nothing other than speculation from the supporters to fill the void. Nature abhorrs a vacuum after all.
Brands sits on the board that is doing a virtual AGM in the name of transparency, that communicates infrequently and ineffectively to it's stakeholders, that refuses to reveal it's lines of reporting and structure. Isn't he part of the problem, rather than representing an unrealized solution to it?
4 Posted 02/12/2021 at 14:00:00
5 Posted 02/12/2021 at 14:00:54
At the level he's employed at, he has to go either way.
It's his job to direct the football department, and it's his job to represent the football department on the board. He's not doing either well, judged by the ridiculously poor footballing performance from recruiting, to on the pitch, to in the dugout.
We'll never know what he meant. He'll be gagged if he's ever paid off.
6 Posted 02/12/2021 at 14:01:58
There we are then, just like Raf said himself, the players are working hard, training well, we will have a better second half of the season.
The club just doesn't communicate with the fans apart from updates on BMD or sending out the least shit performer from the last game.
7 Posted 02/12/2021 at 15:01:26
Still, if you want happy-clappy, it's probably best to appoint someone other than Rafa to run the sorry show.
8 Posted 02/12/2021 at 15:15:43
9 Posted 02/12/2021 at 15:21:33
If it was intended as you suggest then he should immediately resign. Last year there were no fans. None. So no one to create or library atmosphere, or to berate John Stones for doing Cruyff turns in his own box. No one to make Ross Barkley cower in the tunnel and ask Jags "Are they boing me?" No one to give Michael Keane anxiety, no one for Coleman to argue with. It was just football as it was invented, 22 players on a pitch free from the anxiety of quiet or noisy fans and yet they did as they do every year: play badly.
10 Posted 02/12/2021 at 15:27:34
11 Posted 02/12/2021 at 15:42:11
12 Posted 02/12/2021 at 15:47:29
A case of too many cooks.
13 Posted 02/12/2021 at 15:57:15
Maybe when you get to high hills, you lose all sense of empirical intelligence; Brands must know he was overheard and if he is as good as he is claimed, come out and say what he meant. He has a high paid role of key importance and is also a director of the club - by my logic, on any level of judgement, he has failed both roles.
The bottom line is this club's identity with quality players; its historic role as a major player in English football whatever the current position within the league and its reputation for ball playing football are now shot to ribbons following the disastrous Kenwright years - his final act of self-congratulation and no small swelling of his own bank account was to saddle us with the modern day Emporer Nero who would rather send a ridiculous text message to a media broadcaster than actually communicate through channels that might gain him at least a modicum of respect from the fanbase.
Expect this trajectory to continue - I don't see any upward curve - the rot is too deep and ingrained within the club.
14 Posted 02/12/2021 at 15:59:32
If the funds are given to Benitez, his track record indicates that he will buy aging former stars looking for one last payday and with absolutely no sell on value.
Any funds that do become available must be entrusted to Brands, who, if his CV is to be believed, will do his best to identify young, promising, hungry footballers from across Europe, who will develop and if not required in the first team at some point in the future will realise a profit.
Unfortunately the two are not compatible. Benitez will not accept the Brands way and surely Brands will be unable to stomach being further emasculated at the hands of another very short termist manager.
If we do go the Benitez way we will disappear even further down the FFP toilet that we are already waist deep in.
15 Posted 02/12/2021 at 16:12:29
16 Posted 02/12/2021 at 16:19:04
Isnt the CEO supposed to set the football direction of the club and control all football matters in line with the strategy.
Isnt the Chairman supposed to lead the organization and create harmony and sense of purpose.
If the owner does not want to play a part in the running of his organization shouldnt he ensure the management are up to the task in hand.
Can we honestly say any of these buffoons are doing the job they are supposed to let alone working in harmony with the heads of department below them.
Keith HArris when he resigned from the board said Everton was the most dysfunctional board he had ever worked with. That alone tells you all you need to know about why we are in this mess.
17 Posted 02/12/2021 at 16:23:18
18 Posted 02/12/2021 at 16:59:34
In my opinion far from it.
He's one ruthless get!
Here's a guy, a self proclaimed best supporter in the world ex boys pen.
Apart from maybe paying a couple of pence to go the boys pen once, probably got beaten up and never went back, he's never but a bloody penny into the Club.
Not only has he never put a penny into the Club but he's shafted them for millions by selling his "acquired" shares.
Still today he goes to all the games, free of charge, gets the best seats and gets his before, half time and full time bevvy...free!
Let's forget all the drivel and lies he's come out with over the years.
Kenwright is far from soft!
19 Posted 02/12/2021 at 17:12:01
Moshiri made the Kamikaze decision (in terms of his monies) of not only leaving Kenwright in charge of the boardroom, but letting him select LMD as CEO, and retaining those ex-players loyal to him, repeat, him, at Finch Farm. Moshiri also went public when he said he'd "enhanced" Kenwright's role - without any explanation of course.
Having first signed up the useless Steve Walsh I believe it very likely that someone with zilch to do with Everton recommended Marcel Brands, presumably expecting Moshiri knew what "DoF" meant.
Brands is of an age where he can confidently expect no better contract than the one he's now on, from anywhere, as he approaches retirement age. I suspect he's privately as withering as many of us on those above him in the Everton hierarchy but on two £mill p.a. (as reported) why would he, like all the other Kenwright cronies jack it in on principle?
Jeez, Moshiri knows more about football than "principle"!
20 Posted 02/12/2021 at 17:12:20
Brands has delegated the responsibilities of the Director of Football role. He more likely blaming the training and preparation of players. It is obvious that the players are not being training or prepared properly for games, though on the match day they are trying.
It is either those that are preparing the team or the Manager he is blaming. He is not prepared to take any blame.
21 Posted 02/12/2021 at 17:36:26
22 Posted 02/12/2021 at 17:43:47
23 Posted 02/12/2021 at 18:12:20
24 Posted 02/12/2021 at 18:36:49
You can blame Kenwright for that if you like. Or even Brands or Benitez. But the lack of commitment amongst EFC players is the greatest characteristic of this club. They have no intensity, no plan, and no professional pride and it will continue whilst Finch Farm is full of dinosaurs and donkeys. What do we want? Relegation and the risk of years out of the top flight whilst they learn to fight? Or a clear out of club legends who are there for sentimental reasons only?
25 Posted 02/12/2021 at 18:45:42
The 2 people you recommend we copy are from Chelsea and Tottenham. Neither of them are Chairmen, they are both Owners.
Barrett-Baxendale I don't care about she just fannying about and barely relevant. When you write articles read information from the club for facts
July 2019. DBB will oversea the work of Stadium Development Director Colin Chong. and take responsibility of the new stadium, including the delivery of community ideology at Goodison Park. This does not sound like someone who is barely relevant
26 Posted 02/12/2021 at 21:48:39
That is exactly it. They are in a bubble doing well in their careers, singing each others praises , withno accountability. They are oblivious to the reaction of fans and secure enough to think that they are untouchable. They don't really want to associate with the fans, they turn up anyway. The only thing is, that the money has gone, to build their egos and not to develop a football team and it has come home to roost.
Their problem is that after six Manager in as many years there is not any straight forward scapegoat to deflect the heat off them. The fans and the Media are as one and are asking the same questions.
They are totally out of touch with reality.
Brands coming out with that shows how out of touch he is.
27 Posted 02/12/2021 at 22:06:53
Players like Digne (who could easily be playing Champions League) can see the lack of quality around him - and the lack of budget to get better.
Many of these players joined to be part of a successful new era but each season, mid-table, no Europe and no trophies. And it's worn a lot of them down.
28 Posted 02/12/2021 at 23:57:04
The Geordies I have listened to are pretty pro Benitez and think he could do a decent job here. He needs to be given the opportunity. Survival this year and then as soon as we are safe the shake up should start at board and senior management level.
This could entrench Brands in his role or result in him standing down but as many are alluding to on various threads, BK's putting out to pasture should be a given.
29 Posted 03/12/2021 at 10:54:30
I cant honestly believe that nobody is asking the man to elaborate on his initial statement, because if Marcel Brands was to tell us his own true feelings, (which hes obviously got, after listening to him the other night) then maybe we might just be able to stop speculating?
If he blamed Benitez, some people would rightly point out that it hasnt been much different under the previous two other managers. If he blamed the chairman, some people would say hes only a figurehead, and if he pointed to the owner, then if this was true, hed be doing us all a favour, but as it stands, different people will blame who they think is the biggest problem, and thats not getting us anywhere?
30 Posted 03/12/2021 at 20:45:29
Everton fans are part of the problem. We have an inflated sense of expectation fuelled by our history – which is now increasingly outdated due to our lack of success – 34 years and counting since winning the ultimate prize.
The way Martinez was hounded out of the club by the fans after 3 years, after he'd given us our record Premier League points total and taken us to 2 semi-finals – with no money to spend – was disgraceful.
There was a sense he was inferior because he came from Wigan and was relegated once, even though he had won the FA Cup with them. He has gone on to greater things whilst with us the phrase ‘Be careful what you wish for” comes to mind.
We now have a hated ex-Liverpool manager who called us a small club when in charge, appointed out of desperation, having spent £500M with 4 disastrous managerial appointments and 5 more wasted years.
And yet the supporters are back in lynching mode – scratching around looking for anyone to blame but themselves. Brands, Barrett-Baxendale (!), Kenwright (the man who has actually saved our club after the disastrous Peter Johnson years) seem to be their targets, though they are being careful not to go after Moshiri... mmm... I wonder why?
They even realise they can't really blame Benitez… yet! High time us Everton fans realise that spreading indignation and hatred gets you precisely nowhere and that we are just as much a part of the problem as the solution!
We need to calm down, take a deep breath, lick our wounds and support the club and the manager and give him the space to get us through this bad patch, and come out the other end without a sacrificial lamb on the plate.
31 Posted 03/12/2021 at 20:55:01
But what they all say is that we deserve a team that can play football to a decent standard, and who care about what they are doing and who they represent.
Of course, we all want Everton to be succesful, but it wasn't fans who spent the money or offered daft contracts to players who were unwanted by every other club.
The anger shown, even when directed at the manager, has always been about the club and the way it operates.
32 Posted 03/12/2021 at 21:01:24
The women's team have fallen far short of expectation, and our academy teams have been piss-poor – and that's before I get to the senior team.
Who is scouting, who is judging these players, are they putting the work in hard enough to improve or is that place a holiday camp?
33 Posted 03/12/2021 at 21:09:37
Barry 31 - another considered post but I have to disagree that anger towards our current manager has been about the way our club is run. For many it's personal, irrational and on Monday at times frightening. We'd be better off all walking out on 27 minutes than spending the game making pathetically crass and foul mouthed comments at a man who has been here 5 months - as if that means you are more passionate than everyone else. Scaring kids by using the c-word as both a noun and a adjective is ridiculous.
34 Posted 03/12/2021 at 21:17:48
I've always said that this particular manager was tolerated rather than accepted, unfortunately for him and the club, the tolerance didn't last very long and the longer the team fails to win matches the more fuel will be added to those who despise the guy.
35 Posted 03/12/2021 at 21:28:25
Benitez ....with his 2 v 3 in midfield against the RS, continually selecting Rondon& Iwobi, even though everyone knows they wouldnt get a game for a Sunday league team,
bringing Delph on at 1-3 down,
Tosun at 1-4,
3 unused forwards on the bench v Brentford, 1-0 down chasing the game.
No sign of a keen youngster in any situation.
Brands ....for sending Nkounkou out on loan, his dereliction of job description by not covering Coleman and DCL with back up,
being walked all over by Ancellotti, Benitez, Kenwright, and Moshiri.
If Brands, Benitez and Kenwright where all sacked tomorrow by our owner,
Ferguson put back in charge for the next 2-3 games only ( 4 points towards safety like last time, 4 points we are guaranteed not to get )
Then,a non dinosaur appointment (Lampard?) with Ferguson then moved on (thanks Dunc)
we might have a chance.
36 Posted 03/12/2021 at 21:35:52
Maybe I'm naive but I don't think that it is the man's fault. By all means call out the board, the owner the chairman, even the manager for his limited tactical approach, but does it really have to come down to foul-mouthed personal attacks?
37 Posted 03/12/2021 at 23:01:58
"Our U23 team are rank bottom in their league."
No, they're not.
38 Posted 05/12/2021 at 17:12:55
There is only one constant in our downward spiral.
Directors, Managers, Players and Coaches have come and gone.
We've had the Dave/Bill love in, where glass ceilings and knives to gunfights were used as a comfy excuse.
The ring fenced kings Dock & Kirkby fiasco, new lawn-mowers and Arteta money.
We have sold training grounds and rented them back.
We have DBB on the board, vastly experienced in education and charity. Her skills do not transfer to running a football club. Should be nowhere near a football board of directors
There will be a hundred other things to add to that list of issues.
He doesn't want to hand over the keys or control of his personal 'train set and his ego is holding us back.
He has earnings of over £20 million for the shares he allegedly mortgaged his house for.
Dear Boys Pen Bill, please leave the club
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