Getting All Philosophical, Lad

Eugene Ruane 24/05/2022 81comments  |  Jump to last

I'd like to talk — ok, ramble — about 'philosophy’.

Specifically, football philosophy.

For the past few years (from my seat in the Upper Gwladys St) I’ve been watching an Everton side that seems completely devoid of anything approaching a philosophy or, if you prefer, a plan.

I’ve left Goodison hundreds of times in recent years shaking my head and thinking “What was the plan? What is the philosophy of this club?”

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Here’s how it seems to me Everton managers have ‘planned’ games in the past few years..

Players have trained (I’m guessing hard) during the week, then at some stage before games, the manager has selected his side and then the ‘plan’ has been “I really really reeeeeeaaaaaally hope we win.”

(So technically I suppose we HAVE had a philosophy/plan - wishful-thinking.)

Now, of course, one (obvious) response to my ‘what’s our philosophy?’ question might be “It’s football - why do we need a philosophy?”

My answer would be because the RIGHT philosophy can definitely make a club more successful.

(See how I said ‘club’ rather than ‘team’? Possibly relevant.)

The last time I can remember thinking Everton had a (sort of) philosophy was 'keep it tight and try to nick one' under Moyes.

Ok, I thought it was shite and cowardly and not Everton, BUT on the plus side, it was easy to understand and it WAS at least some kind of plan (i.e. with Vardy and Mahrez and a few tweaks, something similar actually gave Leicester the title).

A MUCH better (imo) philosophy for Everton turned out to be ‘the dogs of war’.

As someone who’d been brought up on Ball-Harvey-Kendall I remember thinking Joe Royle should have come up with something less agricultural (?) sounding for Everton, but in reality I was wrong, he was right and the proof (that he was right) was that..it worked.

DoW meant a (sadly too short) period of supporters knowing (basically) what the side would be each week (i.e. continuity) and knowing games were going to be VERY difficult (even horrible) for opponents.

When a little guile and speed was added (e.g. Kanchelskis/Limpar) it was football (and results) — and an idea — that galvanised supporters.

We could see/understand that there WAS a plan, we could see WHAT it was and that it was effective.

It also became about ‘the club’ rather than (just) the team - Everton FC meant ‘the dogs of war’ — a club all about the collective and the sum of the parts (socialism if you will, us against the rest).

Kendalls’ Champions had something similar. Ok, they were generally better players but remember at the end of 1983 we were a team/club on it’s arse.

Then two narky old battlers (Reid/Gray) returned from injury and suddenly we became a LOT more difficult to beat… then hard to beat… then we couldn't lose... then we had the most successful period in the history of the club.

'Togetherness' wasn't just a platitude, you could SEE the entire club actually buying into the idea.

To be clear, philosophically speaking, I’m not talking Socrates here (the philosopher or the 20 ciggies a-day Brazilian footballer) but just something resembling a simple ethos - something for players/supporters/every club employee to grab hold of and embrace.

Our 1987 side was the closest to footballing ‘socialism’ I’ve ever seen. On paper (with our injuries) we were nowhere near as good as many sides in the division (just to pick a name - Spurs) but WE became champions because we had had (TRULY!) bought into the idea of 'all for one and one for all' (nb: I know, corny, but apposite and factual).

Klopp (aka Herr Dye) has a football philosophy that has delivered massively — certainly for (spit!) them. Again it's a sort of footballing socialism (there's that word again). It took him a while to get everyone to buy into it ("Auf Wiedersehen Herr Sturridge!") but once he'd convinced EVERYONE to buy into an incredible level of hard work/running and the high press, they were on their way.

I’m not saying any plan/philosophy would be something that would need to be written down or even articulated but I believe that with no considered philosophy and no REAL plan, the following is likely..

We’ll sell a few players, buy a few players, win a few games, lose a few, draw a few and (yet) another season will pass with us being no closer to a trophy than we’ve been in recent years.

If we have a bit of luck, we might finish 8th or even 7th. If 'luck' (ie: refs, VAR etc) is against us, we could have a season just like the one we've just had.

The moment the final whistle was blown at the end of the Arsenal game, we were immediately being ‘linked’ with various players and my heart sank.

When I heard a few players names being chucked about, I thought the chances are the club (including us supporters!) will almost certainly have learned nothing.

We'll spend the summer talking about possible buys and the merits of this feller versus that feller without ever thinking — "before we buy/sell anyone, what's the FUCKING plan!?"

Oh and remember the same (PROVEN!!) useless board/owners will remain in place and continue to infect everything around them, meaning another manager will probably have to apply the wishful-thinking 'plan' and on (and on...and on...and on..) it goes this thing of ours.

Would LOVE to be (proved) wrong (specially at my age).

Up the Toffees!

PS: I suppose, to be fair, Martinez DID have a (attacking/possession) footballing philosophy. Unfortunately he also had a personal philosophy of "when reality appears on the horizon, ignore the twat."

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Danny O’Neill
1 Posted 24/05/2022 at 17:06:47
You mention different teams from different eras who were all different to each other, Eugene. But they had an identity and unity. They connected with the supporters and the supporters responded.

Aside from survival, the most important thing Frank Lampard has achieved is that connection and rebuilding the unity.

Now go and build a team with identity and, to the subject of your thread, one that plays to a plan. A strategy. A system. A philosophy.

Peter Carpenter
2 Posted 24/05/2022 at 18:33:15
I like the idea of football socialism. Any team that could take Kevin Langley, Neil Pointon and Paul Wilkinson to a league title had to have some powerful force going for it.
Mike Hughes
3 Posted 24/05/2022 at 18:39:50
Our lack of ‘philosophy' has never been more evident than the diverse range of managers appointed since David Moyes.

How similar were the philosophies / styles of Martinez, Koeman, Silva, Allardyce, Benitez (and Frank Lampard)?

Can you imagine any other top club having such diversity? (Okay – Man Utd… and just look at them now).

These have all been allowed to recruit following the previous short-term tenure. If some of the players look like headless chickens and misfits, is it any surprise? With one manager, we don't practice set-pieces, then it is zonal, then direct, then passing, then 3-5-2 then …… Confused? You will be Watch next week's soap opera.

The buck stops with the board for not putting a vision and long-term plan in place and fitting everything else in with that vision. The Moshiri era should have been a springboard for that with investment to back it up.

Instead, if there has been any “philosophy” in the Moshiri era, it has been that of an impulse buying waster in a supermarket (eg, Bolasie for £28M etc).

More dollars than sense. Big opportunity wasted. Shambles. Let's hope this season has been a big enough wake-up call for change. But don't bank on it. t Everton, it appears the lunatics are running the asylum.

Dennis Stevens
4 Posted 24/05/2022 at 19:19:11
Aye, Mike. The old Fun Boy Three number, The Lunatics (Have Taken Over the Asylum), should supercede Z-Cars!
Lee Courtliff
5 Posted 24/05/2022 at 19:30:44
Frank has a philosophy of playing pressing, passing football that we saw a glimpse of during the wins against Brentford and Leeds. Even against Man City, we played through their press a few times and got ourselves into attacking positions. I was proud of us that day, even though we lost.

Obviously he changed that approach as he realised the players weren't good enough and our league position became increasingly precarious.

Hopefully, given time and money, he will implement this kind of football over the long term. At the moment, there is a lot of goodwill towards Frank from our supporters and this will, again hopefully, buy him some time to see his vision come to life.

We all know we need stability first then real progression after that. It'll take a while but we should be used to that by now.

John McFarlane Snr
6 Posted 24/05/2022 at 19:38:05
Hi Mike [3]

I Plead guilty to being confused, now that Everton's season has been concluded, can you tell me what 'Soap Opera' you anticipate?

Tony Abrahams
7 Posted 24/05/2022 at 19:59:19
I enjoyed reading that, Eugene, because it was very easy to understand, and that's how football should also be, imo. The groundwork has already been laid, and now the philosophy should hopefully be to keep as many people as possible united behind our team.

This has obviously helped a very poor team get over that horrible relegation line, and can hopefully become the major catalyst for improvement, because the Premier League isn't a great league, whatever way you dress it up, imo, especially when you consider a united Newcastle, helped by a passionate and happy crowd, actually got 37 points in their last 18 league games.

Lampard is talking about making the squad a lot more robust, and I personally think this is sensible and more important than making us easier on the eye at this stage.

Lee @5, I reckon we would have put a few past Brentford only for Branthwaite getting sent off. I wouldn't mind watching us start games at Goodison like that every second week.

John McFarlane Snr
8 Posted 24/05/2022 at 20:07:27
Hi Lee [5] – a warning:

You may be faced with an avalanche of reactions to the part of your post, that reads, "Frank has a philosophy of passing football that we all saw a glimpse of during the wins against Brentford and Leeds."

Mike Hughes
9 Posted 24/05/2022 at 20:13:25
Hi John #6

There used to be an American TV sitcom on a Friday night in the 1970s (when there were only 3 channels). It was a parody of the soap opera era and was called, “Soap”. It was completely mad / non-sensical – but funny (at the time). The closing line every week was, “Confused? You will be! Tune in next week”.

To me, EFC has felt akin to that in the past 6-7 years. No plot, no plan – but we must be a good laugh to the watching football world. An expensive cast of misfits.

I've no idea how the future plot unfolds. I just hope to be less confused and for there to be more progress than we have had to date. That's not setting the bar too high.

I don't like the word “philosophy” when applied to football. It inevitably leads to the (imho) pompous “playing football the way it was meant to be played”.

That's okay if you have quality like City. A more pragmatic style might be appropriate for us in the short term. A work ethic is the least we should expect.

For example, away at Anfield, with the current respective squads, I would not care about upsetting Klopp by not playing into his hands. Play to frustrate the hell out of them and come away with at least a point.

If he doesn't like it, our EitC team can send him a nice card in the post. And some dental floss.


Dave Abrahams
10 Posted 24/05/2022 at 20:13:37
John (8),

I think Lee was talking about the 4-1 win against Brentford in the FA Cup game, Frank's first game in charge of the Blues.

Christine Foster
11 Posted 24/05/2022 at 20:20:44
Nice article, Eugene, nice to see you back too!

What has been surprising has been the togetherness of a squad despite their own collective and individual failings. A manager's philosophy underpins the players' ability and attitude. If they know what they are supposed to be doing, then they are halfway there.

In the past season, I have thought and said that most of the current squad need to be replaced but, given the restraints the club will probably need to work within, I can't see it happening in one hit... much more likely is the loss of one star and recruitment of a couple of competent grafters, all based, as you say, on a plan, a way of playing.

So a season of transition awaits.

John McFarlane Snr
12 Posted 24/05/2022 at 20:42:39
Hi again, Lee [5] apologies if Dave has got it right and you were referring to the FA Cup game, there was no sarcastic innuendos intended, I have had plenty of those fired in my direction.

Hi again Mike, [9] I'm afraid that as far as I was concerned the 70s Friday nights, were not for watching TV, I'm afraid that a 'couple'? of bottles of Guinness saw to that. I agree with your sentiment to a degree, I believe in a 'horses for courses' attitude, as with Lee I trust you were not offended by my post, there was no offence intended.

Hi Dave, [10] I have apologised to Lee, I wasn't trying to be smug, after all I have been on the receiving end of many sarcastic comments, and it appears that Tony was thinking along the same lines as myself.

Tony Abrahams
13 Posted 24/05/2022 at 20:54:26
No John, I was just saying that only for the Branthwaith sending off, I think we might have scored a few goals, because I thought we had started very well, and Brentford couldn't really live with us until Michael Oliver intervened.

I knew which game Lee was on about, because although I had a horrible few days last week because of that Brentford “defeat”, it was definitely worth it in the end, because of everything that happened on Thursday night!

Dave Abrahams
14 Posted 24/05/2022 at 20:56:17
I think the first part of every football plan is to have enough good players to perform that plan. It was obvious to most Everton fans that we have had a wretched squad of players the last few seasons that no manager could turn into a team that would perform constantly over the season.

So Ancelotti, Benitez and Lampard took over a thankless poisoned position from the off and I think Frank now knows what Ancelotti and Benitez found out – there are not nearly enough good players at Everton in today's squad to give any confidence to any manager or most fans that things are going to change overnight.

Without a doubt, this motley crew wouldn't have kept the Blues in the Premier League without us, we are the best and most valuable asset Everton have got so, unless there are changes, big changes to who are running the club, then we will stay as we are: also-rans.

So the first plan at the moment, the only plan I can think of, is to change the culture of the club and get professionals in to run the club properly and get rid of those who have proved to be not up to the job.

Nice to hear from you again, Eugene, you have been missed.

Dave Abrahams
15 Posted 24/05/2022 at 21:03:08
John (12),

I never thought you were being smug, I know that's not your style. I just thought you'd forgotten about the FA Cup game.

Bernie Quinn
16 Posted 24/05/2022 at 21:14:18
Good reading, Eugene.

On a side note, I see that Sky Sports despite, the last few years of poor league placings, have rated Everton the 5th top Premier League Club over the last 50 years. That surprised me a little but I hope we improve on that rating.

Danny O’Neill
17 Posted 24/05/2022 at 21:30:40
Bernie, that's probably because we are one of the 5 originals that have never been relegated (just about!).

I believe Brighton hold the "honour" of being the 6th that hasn't been relegated from the Premier League since it's conception, but obviously we've been constants, so it skews the data.

Everyone else has at some point been relegated or been in the lower leagues before coming up.

I kept saying earlier in the season, in my lifetime, only Everton, Arsenal and Liverpool haven't been relegated.

Alan McGuffog
18 Posted 24/05/2022 at 21:37:41
Eugene... have always respected, and mainly agreed with, your posts. But what has happened to your use of Bold.

Don't tell me you are mellowing?

Jeff Armstrong
19 Posted 24/05/2022 at 21:46:52
Alan #18, why are you concerned about Eugene's current choice of clothes wash? It's his choice and should be left at that.

The Woke Brigade need to stay out of the bio or non-bio debate!

Barry Hesketh
20 Posted 24/05/2022 at 22:51:24
What the club has at its disposal is possibly the most passionate fan-base it could possibly hope for, as was witnessed for a prolonged period at the back-end of the season. If the board, manager and staff can get the players to replicate that passion out on the pitch more often, and if the players as a squad realise that they are part of the same club and not individuals merely earning a living, the club may have a chance to forge a more recognisable identity.

Quite a few of the players in the squad may lack the ability that we'd like them to have, but if they lack ability and also show a lack of passion and desire, the chances are we'll face a similar season next time out.

If the players that start the season, are prepared to do the hard yards in every game and work as a team in training and out on the pitch, we might do better than we think.

Despite all of the technology, data, and all of the other guff, football remains in essence a very simple game and the tight margins that are evident at all levels of the league, can be tilted in a club's favour if they are prepared to work hard for it.

Kendall and Royle at their best, knew what was required to be successful and also knew what Evertonians would accept: if you can't win, you mustn't lose and if you can win try and do it in as stylish a fashion as possible.

A very telling statistic of the last few years is the ability for the team to put one over the major clubs, particularly at Goodison, in fact it could be argued that's what saved the club from the drop this season, but the inability to work as hard as the other clubs in the lower parts of the league is deeply concerning and it shouldn't happen as often as it has done in recent years.

If the staff can get the team motivated to take those points from the lower clubs and maintain an acceptable points tally from the others it will help a great deal.

Being of a similar age to Eugene, I don't want to wait very long for an upturn in Everton's fortunes and I certainly don't want to see Everton drifting through weeks and months of the last days of Goodison without seeing something resembling a plan that may pave the way to success, which has unfortunately not been the case for the last few years.


Bernie Quinn
21 Posted 24/05/2022 at 23:00:47
Danny @ 17 - I've also being saying that and am proud of the fact that we have been in the top Division the most number of years.
Stan Schofield
22 Posted 24/05/2022 at 23:00:57
I often think that a given player is difficult to label ‘good' or ‘mediocre' or ‘great' without considering the setup, or general plan, within which they play. I think this is why a player can look very good in one team, and then very ordinary when he's transferred to another team that bought him from the original team where he thrived. And vice versa, from ordinary in one team to very good in another.

For examples: Lukaku seemed to thrive at Everton, establishing a reputation, but that hasn't been replicated in his subsequent teams. Salah was quite good at Chelsea but became exceptionally good at Liverpool. Coutinho was very good at Liverpool, but only moderate since then.

Now, the player blossoms when the philosophy, the general plan, suits his style. Execution of the plan requires the other players in the team to also be suited to the plan. The plan is effective when most of the players suit it, and exceptionally effective when all the players suit it. When that happens, the club wins trophies.

I don't believe that we have bad players. I do believe that we've never really had a consistent plan, so that players end up being involved in successively different setups from different successive managers. And that will not be effective, which is why Everton aren't effective.

We need to settle on a manager with a plan that will suit the incumbent players, and change the players to fit his plan. Hopefully Lampard will fit that requirement.

Eugene Ruane
23 Posted 24/05/2022 at 23:07:59
Alan (18) - simple answer, when posting articles, the facility to use bold or italics and/or to underline words isn't available in the way it his here.

Why?

I've no idea, but had the facility been available, I'm sure I'd have availed myself.

Tony (7) - "Lampard is talking about making the squad a lot more robust, and I personally think this is sensible and more important than making us easier on the eye at this stage?"

If this is the case, I'd deffo agree with him.

You can have smaller players if they have (superb) touch and pace, otherwise we need a few big grocks who aren't going to be leaned (?) off the ball (nb: this goes against my aesthetic beliefs but I realise I need to be more pragmatic/realistic).

One of the (big) changes I've seen in football is how the shape/size of players has evolved (?) over the past few decades.

Seemed to me there weren't many players in the1970s/1980s shaped like (as a for-instance) Cyril Regis (ie: very athletic, a bit..erm..'bodybuildery') but I see loads now with a similar build.

That Saint-Maximin lad at Newcastle isn't the greatest player I've seen but when he gets a head of steam up, he looks like it'd take The Catalans Dragons to slow him down.

Conversely, if anyone showed up at their club today looking the way Mick Bernard used to show up at Bellefield, he'd be a tik-tok sensation

Link

Up THE Toffees!

Paul Johnson
24 Posted 25/05/2022 at 11:36:08
Mick Bernard! My abiding memory is of him scoring direct from a corner in the Gwladys Street end. I reckon he was on 40 a day and 8 pints. Had a great paunch if my memory serves me right.

Philosophy or plan, I like. One thing that throws me is though, does Iwobi fit into next years plan? Up until the end of January, I wouldn't have let him wash my car. Since then, he has been my player of the season!

Comes back to the club's identity and the system it wants to play under. To be fair to Frank, he probably hasn't had the time to deliver his plan because not all the players, if any, will fit into what he wants. So my preference is to decide on the philosophy, identity, plan and go with it.

As fans, our role is to be patient and believe. And also keep delivering on the passion and togetherness shown in the last 2 months.

Again, under our new philosophy, does Alex Iwobi belong here?

Mark Murphy
25 Posted 25/05/2022 at 11:41:33
We already have a philosophy – it's been on our badge since the beginning and, as the recent flag says, should be what the board demand – just as we as supporters expect! Nil Satis Nisi Optimum.

We shouldn't dilute that just because we don't have a sheikh owner.

Alan McGuffog
26 Posted 25/05/2022 at 11:44:31
Jeff 19... the Tide has obviously turned.
Gary Jones
27 Posted 25/05/2022 at 12:25:09
Mark #25,

In an age where the best players can blackmail their Middle Eastern owners into £100M signing-on fees (for a club you already play for) and £40M pa in wages, I think Nil Satis is as mythical as it comes right now.

However, "the School of Science" is something we could aim to adopt more on the pitch. I'm guessing a huge team of the very best sports scientists, and the very best data analytics graduates, would cost less than one boot of Mbappé!

I think this is what our US alumni on here refer to as a the "Moneyball" approach, where stats and science make individuals better as a team, and against each opposition.

Whilst that's not the only answer, it should be at the forefront of our philosophy. The School of Science is on its way back!

Lee Courtliff
28 Posted 25/05/2022 at 12:27:58
Yeah, I was talking about the Cup game against Brentford, lads. Should have pointed that out really. But I do agree that we looked very good against them in the League at Goodison until the red card.

We'll never know for sure but I'm convinced we would have won that game comfortably but for the dismissal.

Stephen Vincent
29 Posted 25/05/2022 at 13:34:03
Danny #1, you could argue that it was the fans that engendered unity and that it was their achievement rather than Frank's, he merely adopted it.

I think that what we are talking about is an ethos (the characteristic spirit of a culture) rather than a philosophy (the attitude that acts as a guiding principle). The club has a philosophy (NSNO) or it should do, that transcends individual eras. Each individual manager has an ethos (KITAP1, DoW).

Barry Rathbone
30 Posted 25/05/2022 at 13:48:05
It's all about players – if you have good 'uns, a philosophy works; if not, it doesn't matter. Martinez showed that when left to dredge the bargain basement bin with McCready et al.

Countries with a distinctive footy philosophy, like the Dutch, Brazilians, Germans, Spanish and Italians, look tremendous with good players but as poo as anyone when the well runs dry. Ditto at this club.

Our philosophy is enshrined in the "School of Science" epithet but we just don't (and haven't had for decades) good players to match such a high ideal.

Furthermore, when asked to accomodate a more realistic approach befitting our limitations, à la Allardyce, fans explode.

On the other hand, the mob across the park have had a busy, workmanlike ethos since Shankly and have added world beaters ever since. Little wonder they rack up trophy after trophy.

We have a philosophy – we just need players who can deliver.

Eugene Ruane
31 Posted 25/05/2022 at 14:11:50
Gary's 'Moneyball' mention (27) is interesting and something I believe absolutely should be investigated (if it hasn't been yet).

In fact I think just about any ideas/theories out there should be looked at (even if it's just to dismiss them).

Given the difference in this league between - as a for instance - 4th and 5th (or 5th and 6th..etc etc) over the course of a season, it's probably true to suggest that lots of small differences could (possibly) make a big difference.

Imo, as a club and a team, we generally need to be MUCH cleverer, smarter, cannier, cuter (nb: the Dublin version of cuter rather than the Hollywood version).

Graeme Sharp was a player who had all these qualities, he'd get into the ref's ear early on and would whine an moan about EVERY decision that didn't go Everton's way (Reid and Gray would often add to the 'outrage').

He'd walk a fine line at times but often the pressure would tell (on the ref) and occasionally in the last 15 mins, he'd get the free kick or corner or pen that would lead to a goal - a goal that was sometimes the difference between a L/D/W.

He was definitely playing a percentage game (Joe Royle played a similar 'pressure' game with refs, especially at home and especially in derbies).

I remember laughing when I first heard Liverpool had a throw-in coach but I was wrong - if there can be an advantage gained (even a tiny teeeeny advantage) at throw-ins (or corners, or crosses, or marking, or tackling, or gaining free kicks, or not giving away free kicks, or getting pens etc etc) we should be doing everything we can to gain these small advantages.

They could add up to something that benefits all of us.

Other suggestions (that are very basic) that I believe would make a difference..

We need to become the loudest/mouthiest/most annoying side in the PL.

Everyone in the side needs to be shrieking "TIIIIIIIIIME!!!" and "MAN ON!!!!" - often if we (supporters) don't shout, no one does.

I saw Allan caught in possession a couple of weeks ago, simply because no teammate shouted 'man on!' - this is basic stuff.

I also think a few natural (?) 'winners' are needed.

These players are becoming rarer by the year but down the leagues they can be found.

What do I mean by 'winner'?

Someone who despises losing.

"But no footballer likes losing."

True, but there are players who don't like losing and those who fuuuuucking despise losing.

The feller Nolan who played for Newcastle a good example - a horrible horrible twat and I wish we had three or four like him.

Anyway, consider my thoughts/opinions just post-season brain-droppings and simply for your consideration.

(as for a plan suggestion, right now I might go with 'advantage Everton' and look to implement NSNO a few years down the line)

Phillip Warrington
32 Posted 25/05/2022 at 14:45:45
I just hope it's not another season like this one, and we pick up some quality players for central defence, centre midfield and striker. And they spend the off-season practicing passing and marking.
Jamie Crowley
33 Posted 25/05/2022 at 14:58:31
Gary @ 27 -

I think this is what our US alumni on here refer to as a "Moneyball" approach.

I've been bleating on about this for weeks, nay, months now. It's the way forward.

Buy young with sell on value, buy inexpensive with said young signings, ensure the metrics of each player fit Frank's system.

There's your philosophy, La.

This will sting a bit, but to know thine enemy is to know yourself would be a damn good step in the right direction for Everton.

Liverpool Football Club. Owned and operated by Fenway Sports Group. If Billy Beane is The Godfather of Moneyball, John Henry and Company are Capos.

Salah - £34 million
Mane - £30 million
Firmino - £29 million
Robertson - £8 million
Diaz - £37 million

All these players were signed in their younger 20s and would be sold on for twice the amount paid for them easily.

And if you look around, there's a ton of players who did not cost a ton of money in "supporting" roles. Team players, good attitudes, work their socks off.

Their system is heavy metal football a la Jurgen Klopp, who is a very, very good manager. They play a high tempo, attacking game.

Because of Jurgen's philosophy, they occasionally need to spend to shore up the defensive side of the ball. You can spend big occasionally - but it has to definably help the team and you have to be able to afford the expenditure - enter Virgil Van Dyck and Adrian.

So, fuck them. Where does this leave Everton?

Frank wants to play an attacking style of footy, but from what I saw of his time at Chelsea, it will be more possession-based.

Everton have had too many philosophies through hiring and firing of managers. We have to stick with Frank for this Moneyball to work. We've literally slung £400 million of shit up against a wall for the last 4-5 years and seen if any of it stuck.

Thankfully, some did. We have an excellent, but younger, front 3 in Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison, and Gordon. We have cheap, capable additions in Gray and Townsend. We have very promising right-back and left-back players in Mykolenko and Patterson. We need a stupid amount of help in midfield and at the center-back position, which is the worst place to need help – up the spine.

We have to prioritize midfield. Frank wants to play fluid footy, and we just can't do that with the players we presently have. The center-back position will need to be tabled – get through with Keane, Godfrey, Holgate, and Branthwaite the next 1-2 years, and invest in young midfielders that Frank can mold his team around in his image.

Do it Moneyball – find the gems out there that cover ground x% more, the inexpensive players in the lower leagues or abroad, etc. If you have to pay £30 million to £40 million, then sacrifice on of the Crown Jewels to do so - bye to Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison, or Pickford.

Stop paying stupid amounts on stupid wages for anyone over 25.

You can start by not signing this Tarkowski kid from Burnley – he's not Moneyball but I'd argue another in a long list of shit signings with no eye to the future or the business model.

Bold and Italics in honor of Ruane's writing style all these years on TW. One I agree with – emphasis is vitally important when making your points.

Andy McGuffog
34 Posted 25/05/2022 at 15:41:00
Paul 24. In the Everton 'Philosophy for Beginners', Iwobi is Schrodinger's Cat.
Colin Metcalfe
35 Posted 25/05/2022 at 15:54:57
The other lot go on to the pitch expecting to win and we in the other hand are hoping to win, big difference in attitudes and when I was playing I convinced myself I was the best player on the pitch because confidence can take you a long way.

Lampard had to change the whole culture at the club because we seem to have forgotten who we are.

Mike Gaynes
36 Posted 25/05/2022 at 16:10:03
Eugene, excellent article, and great comment at #31.

With regards to your query, the term Moneyball is not always used correctly in my opinion -- all respects to Jamie, but it's not buying young and cheap with sell-on value. Rather, that's the result of Moneyball if you use it correctly.

Moneyball is actually what Gary describes -- using analytical, evidence-based, sabermetric data to find players who are good but overlooked. The idea is that the microscopic analysis leads to signing players who are prime candidates to develop into stars, like the ones on Jamie's list. Robertson and Salah specifically are prime examples.

However, the original development of Moneyball with the Oakland A's (for which Billy Beane gets too much credit IMO -- the team's general manager and several computer nerds are often overlooked in the story) was based on leveraging data that no one else was using at the time. This is crucial. After the A's experienced four years of success, everybody else caught up with the system and the A's reverted to dismal mediocrity.

Analytics have swept the football world already. There are no new data sets for Everton to discover. The conclusion therefore is that the club is failing for two reasons -- one, failure to apply the analytics properly, and two, failure to develop a scouting system that gets out and actually finds these hidden gems in the lesser leagues. Liverpool has a massive worldwide scouting network. Everton does not.

In Kevin Thelwell, we already have a DOF who is passionately committed to "Moneyball" data analytics and uses them well. Nobody was much interested in Diogo Jota, Leander Dedoncker or Conor Coady when he signed them, but Thelwell's analytics system highlighted them. And even guys like Neves and Traore who had attracted multiple suitors were brought in at below-market prices. Thelwell also was in the process of rebuilding New York Red Bulls with really young, really cheap players who matched his analytics. He just needs to get a structure in place at Everton.

Using Moneyball also requires a certain amount of faith in the practitioner. To lots of Wolves fans, Raul Jimenez was an overage, overpaid Benfica flop who wasn't worth anywhere close to a club-record transfer fee. But he has worked out beautifully. So if, for example, Thelwell sees value in Tarkowski that the rest of us don't, we may just have to take a breath and think that it could be Moneyball at work.

Alan J Thompson
37 Posted 25/05/2022 at 16:39:09
A philosophy and a plan? Well, we seem to have had at least one for every manager we've had – not to mention going through almost as quickly DoF's to which we can very probably add the analytics of Kenwright and Moshiri.

Philosophy Lesson 1 – Too many cooks spoil the plan.

Jamie Crowley
38 Posted 25/05/2022 at 16:39:42
Mike is correct. Analytics is the key.

Most of the organizations using Moneyball do it to indeed buy cheap and still compete with monied organizations.

Ergo, in relation to Everton, the analytics have to support the arching approach of buying less expensively and younger, using the analytics to achieve competitively and succeed.

Call it the Crowley Corollary.

Don Alexander
39 Posted 25/05/2022 at 16:56:19
When Moshiri bought in we were promised the football equivalent of large bags of "charlie" every year, and sure success to go with it.

Turns out all he gave us was bags of Daz, which is impossible to wash away.

I'll get me coat.

Terry Downes
40 Posted 25/05/2022 at 17:38:26
Don,

Superb – made me chuckle.

Gerard McKean
41 Posted 25/05/2022 at 17:55:27
Thanks Eugene, I found your article and the posts that it has brought forward very interesting. I just want to make two points.

As you and several posters allude to, it is necessary for the whole club to buy into a philosophy (let's come back to this word in my second point) – not just the players and playing staff. <>My biggest disappointment with Moshiri, and it must be very big if it's bigger than his forays into player and manager recruitment, is that when he bought the club he failed to sweep out the dross at the top of the club and replace them with professional people who know their roles inside out and understand that it is their fundamental purpose to support the overall paramount agenda of having an Everton team winning trophies rather than pursuing personal agendas.

Secondly, and apologies if I'm being a bit pedantic, but rather than a philosophy, I think it's more important to get the attitude right. You could reasonably argue it's the same thing but, for me, the nuance is this: our club philosophy is summed up in our club motto and what is needed above all is the attitude to implement NSNO.

Several posters have mentioned that it is essential to hate losing, to believe you are going out there today to win, to refuse to accept that you are not the best, and for me this is all about attitude.

I've spoken to Tony A and Rob H in the past about this; when we played we had only one thought in mind, win! The 3 great Everton teams I have seen lived up to the club's philosophy by having characters in each team such as Tony Kay, Alan Ball and Peter Reid who embodied that 'never surrender' attitude that all their team mates bought into.

Eugene Ruane
42 Posted 25/05/2022 at 18:16:17
Alan (37) - "A philosophy and a plan. Well, we seem to have had at least one for every manager we've had."

Really?

The reason I wrote down a few thoughts on this was because, for the most part (nb: and for years) I couldn't see (or feel) one.

Not a real ethos that we could all understand and see and/or embrace.

What was the obvious and clear (footballing) plan/philosophy that Benitez or Ancelotti or Koeman or Silva were trying to sell?

As I suggested, they seemed at best to have chosen wishful-thinking as a 'style' - pick a keeper, 4/5 defenders, 2/3 midfield, couple of strikers, hope a couple of decisions and a bit of luck goes our way, then hope somehow we come out with a win.

As someone else suggested that is NOT how Liverpool approach games (physically, planning, approach, tactics etc).

Everyone who plays against them knows the level of attacking they'll face (certainly for the first half) and knows it will be relentless - wave after wave after wave of attacking and they'll probably be two up by half time and have the game won.

Jamie (33) says - "Their system is heavy metal football a la Jurgen Klopp, who is a very, very good manager. They play a high tempo, attacking game"

There it is, 'heavy metal football', an ethos, a philosophy, a plan, a style - simple but everyone (including every Liverpool player) gets it.

We need to find something similar (we've spent far too long serving up soft rock).

Jamie Crowley
43 Posted 25/05/2022 at 18:16:26
I think this by Mike Gaynes is very important to highlight, he's done his research into Thelwell. I've also mentioned these factors regarding NYRB on other threads, but Mike, as usual, takes it to a next level and better articulates what Thelwell has done and how he goes about his business:

In Kevin Thelwell, we already have a DOF who is passionately committed to "Moneyball" data analytics and uses them well. Nobody was much interested in Diogo Jota, Leander Dedoncker or Conor Coady when he signed them, but Thelwell's analytics system highlighted them. And even guys like Neves and Traore who had attracted multiple suitors were brought in at below-market prices. Thelwell also was in the process of rebuilding New York Red Bulls with really young, really cheap players who matched his analytics. He just needs to get a structure in place at Everton.

Thelwell gives me a hell of a lot of hope and optimism. I've read several articles on the man, and he really fills me with hope. His approach to recruitment is exactly what Everton need at this point in time. It's this 'Moneyball Philosophy' that must be adopted - whatever version or iteration Thelwell sees fit.

On other threads I did get a lot of "That's a Yank thing", and, "It's only really applicable to baseball." I'd argue it's not. I hope the fans open their minds to the concept and then exercise the requisite patience that will be required to see this out.

It's going to take years, with slow and steady progress. We tried to buy our way into the Top 4, and we just about got relegated. Patience with this system, with Frank, and with younger players is a virtue and paramount.

Tony Abrahams
44 Posted 25/05/2022 at 18:22:59
I think Liverpool tried Moneyball a few years ago, Jamie, and it didn't bring them that much success. But I'm certain it's a great concept, just as long as once you've got all the data, you then find a way to look into the player's personality.

Certain crowds demand certain things, and if a player hasn't got enough character, he might find it hard playing for those teams. This is the one thing I'd be wanting to find out before signing anyone.

Jamie Crowley
45 Posted 25/05/2022 at 18:23:53
One more thing, as I see Eugene posted as I was composing my post.

"Heavy Metal Football"

Eugene is right. It's a weird term, but every F-ing team that comes up against the shite knows what it means. Relentless attack.

Everton has had a philosophy previously:

Sin Miedo

The issue with Sin Miedo is we freaking leaked goals and the fans weren't having it. This brings me to my patience issue.

I think Frank is going to, in the end, be a hell of a lot like Roberto. He won't be quite as possession based - it will be possession with attacking intent. But I think we'll leak goals, especially in the short term. In a perfect world, we'd hone Frank's desired play, and then go out and find our own Virgil Van Dyck to shore up the back. But God only knows what will happen.

So for the Frank Philosophy, I leave it to the English who are far, far more clever and quick than Yanks.

What's a buzzword for "possession with attacking intent"? There's your philosophy.

Robert Tressell
46 Posted 25/05/2022 at 18:38:59
Good article Eugene and good post Mike.

The real issue for us is hunting out value (quality at low cost), building up the team and squad with a modest budget and reducing the risk of costly mistakes.

Moneyball (whether it's the cause or effect) helps this. It should help to ensure you've got money to reinvest from sales at least.

Shopping in reliable lower cost markets helps (especially France and the Championship but there are plenty of others).

Buying young with high potential and modestly priced (as per Leipzig) helps.

Buying age 23 to 26 with greater reliability but lower potential helps (as per Moyes)

As Mike says, there's not a great deal of untapped data to exploit these days. The clubs will all be linked into scouting networks etc. All the talent is hiding in plain sight in France's u19 squad and the development club that is Nordsjaelend in Denmark etc etc. There's no shortage of data in the public domain, let alone the special stuff proper scouts have access to.

Leipzig and RB probably have an advantage because of their reach into Brazil and sub-saharan Africa but that's about it.

Ultimately what we need is a long term strategy about how to succeed without money. These things all feed into that.

Unfortunately so many clubs are now doing this well, it's not so much a driver for success bit also a defensive move against failure.

Brendan McLaughlin
47 Posted 25/05/2022 at 18:39:41
What's a buzzword for "possession with attacking intent"?

I'm thinking. 18 months?

Jamie Crowley
48 Posted 25/05/2022 at 18:44:35
Robert and Mike -

If everyone is tapped into the analytics network - and frankly I'm not sure they all are, or at least they don't implement it properly - but if they are all tapped in, the solution is very simple.

Buy early.

Before they command £50 million contracts, get them when they're sub-£10 million. See Mykolenko and Patterson – two brilliant and cheap acquisitions by Everton. Follow that path, it'll lead to gold.

Jamie Crowley
49 Posted 25/05/2022 at 18:48:54
Tony Abrahams -

Character.
In one of the articles I was reading about Thelwell, his cardinal rule for player acquisitions he summed up in two words:

No Dickheads.

Graham Mockford
50 Posted 25/05/2022 at 19:29:29
Eugene

I do remember your particular fondness for the Ginger One, But it's hard to deny he didn't have a plan and a footballing philosophy.

It's also fair to say he came up short on the big occasions but I'd wager, if he had had the money we've wasted in the last 5 years, he'd have done a lot more with it.

Robert Tressell
51 Posted 25/05/2022 at 19:43:08
There's a lot in that, Jamie. Essentially, it is what Leipzig do (with the advantage of their connections in Salzburg and beyond).

The key is to spread the risk of failure by buying fairly high in volume but not spending more than £10M to £20M on any one player.

It is really just deploying fairly basic principles of investment management / commodity trading to the world of football.

To put it another way, if we see a player looking good in the Premier League, we've missed our chance. We need to get the players lower down in the supply chain.

Rob Dolby
52 Posted 25/05/2022 at 19:44:18
Since Moyes, I think Roberto had a philosophy which he is proving is a failed model at national level with Belgium.

Koeman just had a scattergun and Teflon shoulders.

Allardyce had his set way of playing, not one for the purists but one that the likes of Dyche at Burnley had used.

Carlo played to the players' strengths and sat deep and hit teams with quality through Calvert-Lewin, Richyarlison, James and Sigurdsson. Not backing him in the January transfer window was a massive mistake by Moshiri. A Rolls-Royce running on 2-stroke.

Of all the managers since Moyes, I feel that Silva was onto something. We ended the season well but lost Gueye and Zouma and didn't replace them, which cost him his job. Brands must shoulder some of the blame.

I don't even want to comment about our previous manager. Typifies the mismanagement and gap between the board and fans.

I am hoping that Lampard can produce the same level of hostility, effort, desire that Atletico produce year after year. I am fed up with being the good guys.

Tony Abrahams
53 Posted 25/05/2022 at 19:50:26
Sometimes I look at certain players and think he's a horrible little basket, others make me shake my head and make me think I'd have loved to have played against that snide twat, and 70% of the time I look at Juergen Klopp, I think he's a fuckin divi him, so I'd definitely like Thelwell to elaborate on what he means, Jamie.
Phil (Kelsall) Roberts
54 Posted 25/05/2022 at 20:03:12
Rob - Brands did replace Gana, it was with Jean-Philippe Gbamin. He should have known he would have freak injury after freak injury and be out for over 2 years and so brought in a back-up.
Eugene Ruane
55 Posted 25/05/2022 at 20:14:23
One question that regularly occurs to me when looking at Villarreal is... how?

Semi-finals of the Champions League this season, Europa League winners last season – how?

Usually Top 10 finishes in La Liga.

For fuck's sake, there's only 50,000 people live in Villarreal (average attendance less than 17k – for the Palace game, we had that many in Goodison Road, cheering the arrival of the players' bus).

Okay, a billionaire owns them but... a billionaire owns Everton too.

I'm too old now to think there'll be the kind of rapid change that'll change Everton into some winning machine and I'll get to see us suddenly conquer Europe, but I'd love to see us be able to achieve the kind of results and impact Villarreal achieve – and I'm not sure why that (currently) seems like such an impossibility.

Tony Abrahams
56 Posted 25/05/2022 at 20:17:42
I thought Brands was unlucky because he replaced Gueye with two players, but not replacing Zouma finished Silva imo, because he couldn't play a high defensive line.

This is something that still affects Everton to this very day, and will hopefully be the first thing Lampard now begins to try and get to grips with.

John McFarlane Snr
57 Posted 25/05/2022 at 20:30:20
Hi Tony [53] I naively thought that every club had a plan, and that was to score more goals than their opponents.

Having just about becoming used to 'Diamond' and 'Christmas Tree' formations, and 'playing between the lines', it appears to me that I will have to enrol in night-school to study Analytics and Moneyball.

I suppose that I'll have to get used to the fact that I am an A-type dinosaur, and deserving of my nickname of 'Johnny McFossil' – and all these years I believed that football was a simple game... shame on me!

Mike Doyle
58 Posted 25/05/2022 at 21:00:41
Jamie #43,

My understanding is that LFC used a Moneyball-like analysis approach to recruit Klopp.

Not sure if they are using it across the board, but their player recruitment has been excellent.

Tony Ball
59 Posted 25/05/2022 at 21:01:52
John McFarlane Snr @57 - it's okay, John, my 74-year-old dad Joe and 78-year-old uncle Terry think football is beautifully simple too and they get called Joerassic and Terrydactyl – maybe you could all set up a dinosaur tactics club.

I'm with you: formations and styles come and go, the amount of goals you score and concede doesn't – the very basis of the game.

Danny O’Neill
60 Posted 25/05/2022 at 21:04:45
I was going to bring up the Leipzig example earlier Rob, but got distracted and you beat me you it. Yes, they have backing, sponsorship and connections, but their policy of not straying over €20m for players has served them very well. Regular European Champion's League and European football for several years and their first major trophy (German Cup). Not bad for a club that was in German semi professional football not that long ago. A plan, a strategy. It seems they thought we've got money now, but let's spend it wisely and progressively to achieve the aim. How ypu spend, not what you spend. Not liked it Germany mind.

Tony, don't start me on defenders who can get us higher up the the pitch. Ive bored everyone for the past 2 or 3 years on that. And on Klopp. I'm always suspicious of people who smile too much and have a nervous laugh even though they're angry.

Tony Abrahams
61 Posted 25/05/2022 at 21:16:14
John@57, if you genuinely think Everton have had a real plan, other than to survive under Bill Kenwright, then to just throw money at it under Moshiri, I’d be very surprised mate!

Didn’t Moshiri even say, that he expected us to lose against certain opposition, and Kenwright say there have been some good times, even though Everton haven’t won a trophy for 27 years?

The first plan is hopefully to get rid of these incompetents, but now the season has finished, will the fans be putting any pressure on to force this absolutely necessary change? I’m not sure and that’s why I hope and think every single day, that someone comes in and buys us.

Steavey Buckley
62 Posted 25/05/2022 at 21:18:32
Modern footballers don't appear to enjoy the same game as when I kicked the ball around the streets.

Tom Davies is an example where football has gone all wrong in his head. When he first started out in the first team, he used to enjoy taking the ball forward with all the freedom and confidence in the world; now, he is more concerned about losing the ball, which he did a lot against Arsenal and they still won 5-1.

Tony Abrahams
63 Posted 25/05/2022 at 21:26:21
Football is the simplest game in the world imo, it’s why I gave Eugene credit for keeping his writing so simple, and it’s also probably why he’s also used “basic” on more than one occasion on this thread.

My point was Danny, that a lot of dickheads are successful, whereas a lot of nice people can never find that little bit extra when it’s needed, and only by delving into a person’s character, will you find this out before you have went and spent an absolute fortune. Something Everton have been very guilty of in recent years, unfortunately mate.

Tony Abrahams
64 Posted 25/05/2022 at 21:37:29
That's a massive point imo, Steavey. Playing for six managers in the six years since you've made your breakthrough, must be akin to constantly changing clubs (maybe not as difficult) and this has definitely affected a lot of the players in our club.
Andy Crooks
65 Posted 25/05/2022 at 21:48:44
Good article, Eugene, glad to see you on the site again.

Don't get me started on throw-ins. We must have a throw-in coach. At the moment, we use throw-ins as a way to re-start the game, not to set up an attack, to re-organise but to give the ball back to the opposition. An Everton throw-in in our own half is next best thing to a corner for our opponents...

No-one makes themselves available or looks like they want the ball. It is chucked hopefully done the line and, at best, is back-headed to an opponent who knocks it infield and starts an attack. We treat throw-ins as a fucking nuisance to be got over with.

We need to think Rory Delap here. Remember him? He could take a throw-in from the halfway line and force a save out of the goalkeeper. It is a slight thing that can give an edge. You don't have to be skillful or even remotely canny; just come up with something a bit different.

Glad to get that off my chest!

Jeff Armstrong
66 Posted 25/05/2022 at 21:56:42
Andy #65,

With you on throw-ins, another of mine over the last couple of years is our quick, wasteful free-kicks, short passes to a teammate (usually backwards) who is immediately under pressure.

Time was when a free-kick was an opportunity to launch the ball into the area, treated like a corner, but from a different angle, that is a strategy, a tactic, a way of scoring goals.

Don't get me started on everyone back for a corner, when we've got pace like Gray, and he's back defending corners... badly, like everyone else!

Paul Birmingham
67 Posted 25/05/2022 at 22:45:54
Taking the positives, I'd like to think the onset of the new stadium project at Bramley-Moore Dock, and the Thelwell appointment will see a new belief instilled in departments of the Everton playing and admin staff.

Surely the events of the last 7 weeks pre-match has sparked a flame to be the guidance to no longer accept mediocrity in playing football and running EFC.

The old cliche "It's never too late to learn" ... well hopefully it has sunk into the Everton boardroom and coaching staff.

Any successful business and football club must have proper governance and to seek continuous improvement.

Hope eternal and to Frank and his staff, let's be smart with any new incoming players, and ruthless with the cull.

Likewise, do all possible to keep the clubs bastion of key players.


Don Alexander
68 Posted 25/05/2022 at 23:06:35
Okay, I accept that I've probably bored readers senseless over the years by pointing out the complete, world-renowned, unless you listen to him alone, ineptitude of Kenwright and, for the past six shite seasons, Moshiri, but these two still seem to be allowed to be hiding in plain sight by way too many of us whilst we seek a successful future.

Given the length of Kenwright's despotism, it's very hard to draw an analogy from the horrible real world but Robert Mugabe comes close.

Gaining power in Zimbabwe, he was considered a totally patriotic "People's Club" saviour but, by shiftiness and elimination of perceived rivals who might've baulked his personal ambition, he swiftly became a self-serving parasite devoid of any ambition except to feather his own nest at the expense of the "People's Club" who'd inadvertently supported him.

Mugabe was evil for years but not even I consider Kenwright to be evil. That said, the pair of them share the one characteristic that continues to ensure our failure – a total failure to be truthful, accountable or, surprise surprise (not!), successful.

Just how can such shysters still be in control?

Stu Darlington
69 Posted 25/05/2022 at 23:16:36
A great article, Eugene.

This for me goes to the heart of what we should thinking of at Everton. However, all this discussion of “Moneyball” “analytics” “heavy metal football” and even a suggestion of Atletico's “shithousery” tactics is doing my head in.

Eugenes right. We all know it. We need a plan, a vision, a mission for the club as a whole which we can all subscribe to.

A good starting point would be to look at the current squad, ask the question “Where are our deficiencies?” followed by “Who can we recruit to best fill those deficiencies given our financial situation?” (I guess this is where Moneyball comes in.)

We need to recruit players for the right positions – not square pegs in round holes, like we've seen so many times this season.

Whatever footballing philosophy we adopt should run right through the club from Finch Farm upwards.

Still, what do I know? If I knew anything, I'd be a Koppite, right?

Alan J Thompson
70 Posted 26/05/2022 at 06:45:21
Eugene (#42); The point is in "at least one".

Martinez had his philosophy and it was reported that he put his faith in pass-completion statistics which then passed to the players who tapped it around at the back and satisfied the criterion.

Silva seemed to put his faith in wide players and over-lapping full-backs and, as others have pointed out had players sold, or not signed permanently, from under him but concerned himself with how we would get the ball forward but little on defence.

Koeman… who knows, as he appeared to give up when he seemed to have players bought for him rather than by him, we all know whose idea Rooney was.

Unsworth, Ferguson and Allardyce were given the aim of keeping us up before waving goodbye. It was rumoured at the time that the recently departed Tosun was Moshiri's idea after seeing him score in a European competition.

Ancelotti was sold a plan but later realized there wasn't the funds to carry it out. Benitez, a poor appointment, tried it knowing there was no money but then appeared to want to control every level. But we've always had the "project".

I can't believe that Frank wouldn't have realized, after his two immediate predecessors, the situation regarding transfers and like Ancelotti has had to change his plan and I suppose how that plan takes shape next season depends on his relationship with Mr Thelwell who in turn has to tell the Board what he expects of them.

Yes, we need a philosophy, a plan and an attitude varying from a business model and finances (the Board); transfers, contracts and Academy (DoF) and on-field requirements and performance (the Manager), a chain of command with levels of responsibility, not interference.

Derek Thomas
71 Posted 26/05/2022 at 09:16:41
What should be our plan...I won't use the 'P' word.
So who were our successes, our heroes. What were our good sides noted for?

Carey had some really good players - but were going no where.

Catterick came in, got rid of Collins ( big mistake?) brought in West, Stevens, Morrissey, Kay and Scott.
Stevens, Morrissey and Kay could be described as hard but fair...but very, very good at what they did.

So hard (but fair) that the Southern press were up in arms that their darling Spurs were basically kicked out of another league title. So much so that Vernon had to rebut these claims in print.

Years later, that dirty little shite Giles, (or it could've been the pot / kettle merchant Jack Charlton) more or less poo-pooed the whole Battle of Goodison thing by saying - dirty? Us? We were playing a team with Gabriel and Kay in it - give us a break mate.

All our successful teams (all successful teams ??) were different proportions of the Iron fist in the velvet glove.
Reid, Bracewell, Pat van den Hauwe, Andy Gray, etc - flat track bully, Fancy Dan's to a man - yeah right.

Our (good) players never gave less than 100%, never took a backward step.

We love a trier, we can forgive a lack of skill, as long as there is a lion heart in there trying.
Hands up who remembers Bernie Wright, nobody said he was Di Stefano...but you'd want to be in his trench when the shit was flying.

Hickson,Lyons, Darracott, etc, winners who never, sadly, got a chance to win - but it wasn't for lack of effort.

Young is held up as an example of the ultimate skillful player, yet look at that Vimeo game Vs Untied, he was covering RB & LB, as well as kicking lumps of Best when required And scoring a beautiful goal...all this in the twilight of his pomp.

Sheedy; another skillful player, yet when Bayern scored their early doors away goal, who was sliding in across the goal in a futile attempt to keep it out.

Our Philosophy is...or should be 'The Iron Fist in The Velvet Glove'

Our best teams were hard but fair and had the skill to ping it about, one touch, joined up footy... and get into the opposition box.
That's the aim...and, as has been said, very important - no dickheads !
Especially overpaid ones.

Easier said than done.

Michael Kenrick
72 Posted 26/05/2022 at 12:45:14
Bernie #@16,

It's a ranking of our average finishing position – not a rating by Sky Sports. In fact, I'm amazed they published such a table, unless it was to show just how far the mighty have fallen.

"Good times."

Stephen Vincent
73 Posted 26/05/2022 at 13:54:16
Don #68,

Couldn't agree more. Even the Mugabe analogy seems reasonable.

Trouble is, people still believe him and buy into the 'world's greatest Evertonian' bullshit. Before the Brentford game I was standing on the traffic island at the top of Spellow Lane looking down Goodison Road as the team coaches arrived. A bloke stood next to me asked 'How has it come to this?'

'Kenwright, the man is a parasite' I said...

'Nah, it's not his fault, he's put all his money into this club and he goes to every game' was the reply.

I tried to explain but it all fell on deaf ears and I wandered down to The Oak, shaking my head.

Judging by the attitude of the people who I sit next to in the Lower Bullens, Kenwright still has the support of the majority of match-going Blues and – until we can change this – he is safe. His stranglehold on our club is still immense and the web of lies he has spun over 27 years will, regrettably, take years to unravel.

Mike Gaynes
74 Posted 27/05/2022 at 04:29:45
Wow, 24 hours on the road in a camper van since I posted last, and what a fantastic discussion this has become.

I just want to add comments on two of the additional points made above. One, the "no dickheads" philosophy that Thelwell employs (thanks for bringing that out, Jamie!) Yes, some players who are dickheads also are wildly successful and help their teams to success, but without exception they are superstars, galacticos, the kinds of player we will never be able to afford. The team that Eugene cites as a shining example for Everton -- Villarreal -- succeeds without galacticos because the players are good, committed people. Frank already seems to have incorporated a togetherness into the squad that was missing before, and you can bet that a few dickheads who didn't get the message will be heading out the door.

Two, in all the discussion about the plan, we must not overlook the execution. From the throw-ins that Andy brings up to the lack of cohesion in dead ball attacks to our miserable defending of corners, this club has a whole lot of basic skills that need massive improvement. No house, even if brilliantly designed, can stand for long unless the nails are driven straight. And no grand plan conceived by Lampard, Thelwell or whoever will get us anywhere until the professional execution of the plan matches its design. And that will be the job of Frank and his assistants.

Steve Brown
75 Posted 27/05/2022 at 10:58:34
It's interesting isn't it, the question of player personality.

Analytics show you who are the players with the attributes you seek for the team that represent value on the market. But how do you test for personality or temperament?

I know some managers do a lot of background research, talking to managers, teammates and coaches who have worked with that player. But that could lead to stereotyping.

Equally, do younger players have strongly defined personalities at ages 18-24 years old? Have they had the critical experiences that help you define how they will deal with the stress of playing for a bigger club in higher profile competitions?

In other professions, personality testing of potential hires is common-place, but could you imagine asking a footballer to do one?

Clubs do invest a lot on providing the right support to players once they have signed, like AC Milan. But, you are dealing with a lot of variables when signing players that even good analytics won't totally solve.

Tony Abrahams
76 Posted 28/05/2022 at 09:43:24
I hope you're correct about a few dickheads going out the door, Mike, but my worry is that this won't be easy, simply because of the dickhead that gave some of them such lucrative contracts to begin with.
Dave Abrahams
77 Posted 28/05/2022 at 09:58:20
Stephen (73),

I've said it for a long time because it is true, more Everton fans believe Kenwright is one of us and helps the club as much as he can, I think this is because they are only interested in what happens on the field – not behind the scenes.

Even when I have explained how the club suffered financially once Kenwright took over the reins, to many of them, I doubt they were all that interested and continued to support him – and some of these fans were fanatical Everton fans who go to the game religiously.

Brian Williams
78 Posted 28/05/2022 at 10:49:51
What Dave @77 says is true, and I have to admit until I listened to him and "their Tony" and did some extensive research myself, I was semi fooled by Kenwright, to be honest.

He may well (in his own mind) believe he's done well for this club and he may have had the best intentions back in 1999 when he/they bought out Peter Johnson, but the ensuing years have proved him to be (to paraphrase Frank Lampard on a totally different subject) "incompetent at best."

By the way, Dave, I hope you and "your Tony" will attend the close season get together, mate, it'd be good to see you both again!

Brian Murray
79 Posted 28/05/2022 at 11:03:50
Brian. Well, if that is true, we deserve all we get in the next 5 years. No club ever has any success or even proper ambition if it's not right in the boardroom, so it's a case of 'as you were' until the penny drops with Frank and his coaches and he will walk away like the next and the next or be sacked. Only at EFC, eh?
Jamie Crowley
80 Posted 30/05/2022 at 14:22:28
I simply had to revisit this.

One question that regularly occurs to me when looking at Villarreal is... how?

I don't see anyone who answered Eugene's question?

That question holds the keys to the Holy Grail. I think it has something to do with recruitment, no dickheads, and analytics in some weird, I live in a town of 50,000 kind of way. But frankly I'm not intelligent enough to figure it out.

It's amazing what that team does, and that's what needs to be emulated in some form or fashion by Everton.

Recipe for success possibly? Villareal, sprinkle in some Ajax, with a dash of USA Men's Hockey 1980 converted to footy?

I don't know. Chase the dream.

Nick Page
81 Posted 30/05/2022 at 15:33:54
Good article. Especially true regarding the 1987 side.

The elephant in the room continues to be “Chairman” Kenwright, the absolute millstone hanging around Everton's neck and dragging the club down. Because this lying two-faced self-appointed buffoon has only ever had wishful thinking as his plan. He's 30 years out of date and it shows on and off the pitch.

I don't care if he's a massive Evertonian – everyone that is there or not is – he's too close to the crucial aspects of running the club, and he hasn't got a clue what he's doing, and nor has Barrett-Baxendale. If we don't get rid of them, we'll regret it.


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