If Farhad Moshiri’s decision-making in his near-three years as Everton owner had been as impressive as his determination to succeed, the Blues would surely have left mid-table mediocrity long ago.
The Iranian businessman celebrates three years at the Toffees next month, during which time he has spent more than a quarter of £1 billion with little, if any, return on the pitch.
Yet after a tenure blighted by expensive mistakes and misguided decisions, the impression from Moshiri at Everton’s annual general meeting on Tuesday is that he is finally learning from his mistakes.
No Evertonian could claim Moshiri has not delivered on his promise to invest significantly. After years of treading water under Bill Kenwright, Moshiri has undeniably kept his side of this particular bargain. His problem, though, has been a blatant lack of strategy.
Regardless of the polarising opinions towards Kenwright, he inarguably presided over one of the worst, and least successful, periods in Everton history; certainly from the perspective of silverware and tangible reward on the pitch.
Moshiri seems relentlessly driven to end Everton’s 24-year trophy drought, and while supporters deserve to expect such passion, and such a cash injection, from their club’s owner, there have been times when his determination has manifested itself as desperation.
Spending money is all well and good, but not if carried out with the sort of slapdash, scattergun approach which defined many of his early transfer windows at Everton.
After spending, and wasting, unprecedented amounts of money on Everton, not least the £27 million paid to Ajax for Davy Klaassen, or the tens of millions spent on hiring and firing Roberto Martínez, Ronald Koeman and Sam Allardyce, the penny seems to have finally dropped for Moshiri.
At times he has been guilty of throwing money at Everton’s issues, but with that tactic having failed to rectify the club’s woes, his quotes from Tuesday suggest that, though he is not pulling the plug on the Blues’ spending, a far more methodical approach will spearhead the club’s future transfer windows:
“Financing is not everything. I have thrown £250 million to turn a museum into a competitive outfit.
“You just have to get it right, throwing money is not the answer. Just buying players in January may not help us.
“I am a fan and I look at the the table and 11th is just not good enough, I think we know that.
“It is why football experts of Marcel [Brands]’s calibre are needed, infrastructure is important and to comply with financial fair play you need to go for younger players on low wages. You might have to pay big fees but you’ve got to keep the wages down and that is the challenge.”
Of course, no owner wants to have to spend eye-watering amounts on his squad each summer by necessity, and such is the promise shown by Everton’s youngsters, thanks in no small part to the excellent work of under-23s manager David Unsworth, that Moshiri would be foolish to overlook their potential in favour of splurging more millions.
Indeed, out-on-loan winger Nikola Vlašić’s comments this week, that he expects Everton simply to spend big again next summer, are a rather damning indictment of the reputation Moshiri has garnered from some quarters during his Everton career so far.
It may simply be that, for all his passion for the sport, Moshiri lacks a great knowledge of football. Yet in truth, while it is certainly beneficial for the owner of a football club to know the sport in which he is investing, it is far from compulsory.
The unparalleled success of Manchester City, for example, has been bankrolled by deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mansour, a man who, by all accounts, has hardly visited the Etihad Stadium in his 11 years at City.
In that respect, while the jury may be out regarding the depth of Moshiri’s own football knowledge, it is imperative that he surrounds himself with those who both know the game and are a safe pair of hands.
Steve Walsh, as director of football, proved not to be that, with every oversight in the transfer market proving more galling than the last; as did Koeman, who, it is worth remembering, was Moshiri’s personal preference to replace Martínez in the summer of 2016.
Marco Silva may be amid a terrible run which has seen his maiden campaign at Everton nosedive, but he, along with Walsh’s replacement, Marcel Brands, and new chief executive Denise Barrett-Baxendale, are a far better fit to carry out Moshiri’s vision.
Look only at Brands’ spotless record in the summer transfer window with the Blues, Barrett-Baxendale’s drive to oversee a smooth transition into Everton’s new stadium, and Silva’s own ambition as Blues manager, the like of which was rarely, if ever, seen in Koeman, as evidence of this.
Few could question Moshiri’s commitment to the Everton cause so far, but the execution has left an awful lot to be desired.
It has taken nearly three years, but the Blues finally seem to have an owner who lets himself be ruled by his head rather than his heart.