Why Everton need fans on board if they’re to avoid getting stuck in owner’s mess
Farhad Moshiri has made many expensive mistakes during his six-year Everton reign. His next will be the most costly if it plunges the club deeper into a relegation fight.
No manager – no matter how good – can revolutionise Everton’s team in the next six months.
When conducting the interviews, the immediate priority had to be a coach who will get the most out of a limited squad.
There is no reason why Duncan Ferguson, who was a belated inclusion on the shortlist to replace Rafa Benitez, can’t be part of the solution.
Never underestimate the value of someone with a passionate crowd on his side. It means the players can’t shirk their responsibility, as this group has for a long time now, while the coach has absorbed most of the pressure.
Ferguson (right) did not have a positive start to his caretaker stint last weekend. It was one game; 90 minutes against a resurgent Aston Villa.
That cannot be enough to convince Moshiri and his advisers to panic and dismiss his credentials, even if it is part of the backroom staff should Frank Lampard take the role. The club must remember the galvanising effect Ferguson had on the club two years ago after going unbeaten against Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal.
Everton’s best player, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, is still working his way back to full fitness. When that happens, no one is going to convince me Ferguson could not help the squad to win the necessary games to ease them to safety, especially at a packed Goodison Park.
That would give the club the time to restructure their coaching, recruitment and medical teams, all of which are in a current state of disarray.
It looks as though Lampard will be offered the job and what happens with Ferguson will be among his first major decisions. Lampard’s managerial career got off to a promising start at Derby County and he did a lot of good work at Chelsea after he was thrown in at the deep end while the club dealt with its transfer embargo.
I have known Frank for many years. He is desperate to prove he will be a top manager. If he gets the job, Everton will have a dedicated, intelligent, forward-thinking coach who will grow into the role.
He has the right character to connect with the supporters who sit on Gwladys Street. It seems Frank is the No 1 choice with the fans, and that’s a big plus in his favour.
Moshiri needs to realise before it is too late that Goodison is the biggest asset he has in a survival battle. Packed and behind the team, a unified fanbase will make a difference.
Between now and the end of the season, that can be enough to deal with this emergency. That’s why it is hard to believe the candidacy of Vitor Pereira was still under serious consideration beyond the events of Wednesday when fans made their feelings known.
Another controversial choice will de-weaponise Goodison Park and assist the opposition by creating the toxic environment experienced by the players too often this season.
I don’t advocate any owner being influenced by dissent from sections of the crowd. Strong leadership is about making informed, not emotional, choices. But Moshiri is paying the price for so many misjudgements.
Trust has been eroded, although not everything the supporters are claiming makes sense. The attacks on chairman Bill Kenwright, for example, do not sit comfortably with me.
Kenwright’s response to fans who surrounded him outside Goodison Park last weekend – insisting that there have been “good times” in the last 27 years – has been met with ridicule and criticism.
For an older generation, the definition of “good times” is winning league titles and European trophies. Wake up. Given the competition, the season in which Everton finished in the top four under David Moyes was more than good. Being a regular in the top six is good.
Kenwright sacked only one manager – Walter Smith – after giving him as long as possible to revive the team and moved for Moyes at the right time. Moyes was the best Everton manager since Howard Kendall.
There is a lot of rewriting of history regarding Kenwright’s only other appointment, Roberto Martinez, too.
He won the most Premier League points in a season of any Everton manager and reached two semi-finals. It went wrong in the end, but it has been no better since.
You can’t attack Kenwright for not having the financial muscle of rivals before the club’s sale in 2016.
I am inclined to agree that Kenwright should walk away at the end of this season because he has no real influence and is still getting blamed for what is happening.
In Moshiri’s absence on matchdays, Kenwright is left to front up for all boardroom criticism. Why put up with that?
Another argument is if Kenwright left, the lunatics really will be left to run the asylum. The signs of it getting worse are there after six years in which Moshiri has hired and fired two directors of football and is searching for a seventh manager.
Before Moshiri’s takeover, the persistent attack on Kenwright was that he had not sold the club. Now we are seeing the consequences of a rich owner who thinks throwing money at it is enough to secure a seat at the top table.
Moshiri seems to belong to that class of billionaire for whom wealth is not enough. He wants fame and influence and loves being around the big-name managers and agents, many of whom have basically ripped him off.
He said when he moved to Goodison he wanted to bring a touch of Hollywood to Everton, believing he could swiftly turn them into a superclub. He has got it so wrong.
In Moshiri’s defence, he has spent an awful lot of money. Nobody can accuse him of not being interested in bringing success to the club with his pocket. To be honest, it should not be as hard as it has been to get it right at Everton. The club should be all about recruiting young, energetic, hard-working footballers, preferably led by a young, energetic, hard-working coach. They had that under Moyes.
Unfortunately, the financial situation often meant the best players were sold for a big fee, which could then be reinvested, but that has to be the modern way, even with a wealthy owner like Moshiri.
I thought my former manager Benitez could replicate some of what Moyes did, which is why I backed him to get the job last summer. His understanding of the importance of character in a team should have been the backbone of the side. It was surprising that it was so lacking.
It was not the fans or his Liverpool links that got him the sack. It was poor results.
For any incoming manager, it is a massive ask to turn it around, especially with so many poor signings in the last six years.
Fans would be demanding Moshiri to sell up if it was not for his deep wallet. The elephant in the room is the £500m (€600m) stadium project. Without Moshiri’s financial security, that falls apart.
Now, the critical gaze is falling upon him. So many managers have come and gone, it looks like the current structure makes the club unmanageable. If that continues, the most valid criticism of Kenwright will be that he picked the wrong billionaire.
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