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Everton power struggle must cease for vicious managerial circle to end

Duncan Ferguson’s mini-revival has been thrilling, but only aligned boardroom thinking will buck this trend long-term

Everton v Lincoln City - Emirates FA Cup - Third Round - Goodison Park
Marcel Brands and Bill Kenwright will both likely be key in appointing Marco Silva’s successor
Photo by Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images

As an ecstatic Duncan Ferguson headed down the Goodison Park tunnel, euphoric 3-1 victory over Chelsea secured, he stopped to point triumphantly, perhaps gratefully, in the direction of Statler and Waldorf perched above him in the directors’ box.

Not that either Bill Kenwright or Farhad Moshiri, or indeed chief executive Denise Barrett-Baxendale next to them, may have noticed. They were engaged enough in trying to establish some semblance in rhythm in their discordant clapping along to ‘Grand Old Team’; Barrett-Baxendale and Kenwright singing along all the while, Moshiri the overeager cymbal player in the school band just happy to be involved.

It may seem a trivial point, but in a roundabout sort of way, the sight of three of Everton’s most senior figures failing to keep in time with one another, let alone with the song blaring out of the Goodison PA, felt rather emblematic of just how out-of-sync and at odds with one another the club’s hierarchy appear to presently be. At least two of them - shareholders Kenwright and Moshiri - if not all three will be central in appointing Marco Silva’s successor as manager. Meanwhile, director of football Marcel Brands - presumably employed to undertake this sort of work - was out of the picture. It all felt too apt, too real.

There are plenty to sift through, admittedly, but the chief issue with Everton is simply their blatant indecision. This isn’t a problem that starts and ends in Seamus Coleman’s head once he reaches the by-line, or in Jordan Pickford’s brain farts. No, it extends far beyond what happens on the hallowed turf over the course of 90 minutes, epitomised by the fact it reportedly took poor old Silva 12 hours to be put out of his misery on December 5, by which time Brands was said to have argued the case for another stay of execution and Moshiri had offered a bizarre and futile in-person address to an eye-wateringly expensive squad.

And while a fist-pumping, blazer-ditching, broken watch-wearing, ballboy-hugging Scotsman (or Big Dunc to me and you) has relocated the fan base’s pulse with that thrilling Chelsea win and Sunday’s dogged draw at Manchester United, a dose of realism is crucial. With Everton at their fourth crossroads in as many seasons under Moshiri, faith in the right decision being made by the powers that be has hardly been enhanced by these two impressive results, even.

Manchester United v Everton FC - Premier League
Ferguson’s Everton drew 1-1 at Old Trafford on Sunday
Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

It all smacks of a classic case of too many cooks spoiling the broth. Kenwright’s power may have been diluted to just five per cent of shares now, but that his favourite son David Moyes remains one of the favourites to replace Silva would suggest he still holds great sway over Moshiri, himself the owner of more than three-quarters of the club now. And when you consider that this is a majority shareholder who has his heart set on an A-lister (Carlo Ancelotti, anyone?) to catapult Everton into the ‘Hollywood of football’ that he considers North-West England, maybe it is no bad thing to have a staunch Evertonian as a sounding board, if little else.

Or at least, it wouldn’t be if not for Brands and his own elevated presence at the club. Everton’s official website dedicates in excess of 400 words to gushing over the director of football’s past achievements, from transcending RKC Waalwijk and AZ Alkmaar to back-to-back league titles with PSV Eindhoven. It is, no doubt, some CV, and the Blues should feel privileged to have such an astute operator who left a job for life with PSV for Goodison, amid interest from Chelsea. Especially having been a board member since January, it is staggering, then, that Brands should ostensibly have such scant influence on proceedings. With great power, it seems, comes little responsibility.

Everton FC v Sheffield United - Premier League
Brands is seemingly being marginalised at Everton
Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Whoever is favoured in the boardroom, Moshiri will certainly have the wherewithal to at least attempt to realise his vision. Few would doubt his heart has been in the right place since joining in February 2016; a lavish sum of about £450 million has been parted with since then, all in the hope or raising Everton’s standing in English football. But even he may question his own judgement from a managerial viewpoint, anyway, after his misguided pursuit of Ronald Koeman, and an infatuation with a man who had been relegated and sacked in his only two previous Premier League stints in Silva.

For now, at least, Ferguson has bought Everton a little more time to mull over the various options. But it will only be time well spent if some sort of synergy is fused, Moshiri accepts he must delegate more, and begins to lend as much of an ear to Brands as he does to Kenwright. Only then, after a far better week for the club, can the foundations be truly laid for more sustainable success.

But for as long as one of the game’s most established directors of football isn’t actually allowed to direct much football, then Silva’s successor, the successor to Silva’s successor, and so on will all be doomed to a standing start at Goodison.