Before I get into the meat of this article I want to make something abundantly clear. Marco Silva made plenty of mistakes that contributed to him getting fired from Everton. He was brought into a situation that was never going to end well for him, but he certainly played his part in accelerating how quickly that situation disintegrated into the mess that he found himself in the day he was removed as manager after a pathetic showing against Liverpool which included bizarre managerial decisions. So, to all the silly people on Twitter who will see the headline and make some wise crack comment without reading the article, joke’s on you.
Recently, The Athletic has published two article about the inner workings of Everton’s leadership, including this one describing how Farhad Moshiri was indecisive in his decision to sack Silva, and this more detailed piece explaining how the power balance between majority shareowner Moshiri, Club Chairman Bill Kenwright, and Director of Football Marcel Brands plays itself out from day to day.
Words like ‘fragmented’ and phrases like ‘before they start a new chapter, the Goodison top brass must first be on the same page’ describe the relationship between the three figures, with Moshiri being cast as the impulsive billionaire acting on instinct, Kenwright being the vestige of a previous era of the club, and Brands being the calm and collected logician trying to make peace between the two.
In transfers the decision-making has been similarly jumbled. Brands led the way to signing revelation Lucas Digne, but it was the ambitious owner Moshiri who wanted to spend a ridiculous amount of money on Wilfried Zaha last summer (who it should be noted has two goals and one assist in 1300 minutes played this season). Moshiri is apparently known to be the person an agent should call if he wants a deal pushed through, but it begs the question of what exactly he has Brands for if he’s just going to talk to the agents himself? In a similar vein, Alexander Ryazantsev was appointed to the board as CFO in 2016 to help execute Moshiri’s ideas since the owner spends much of his time in France, but what is the point of that if Moshiri is putting his fingers in all the day-to-day pies?
One of the interesting things about these descriptions of the Everton front office is that while Kenwright is described as being deeply involved in the decision-making process, and is said to have reasserted himself in that regard since taking a bit of a backseat in 2018, I have not seen any clear definition of what exactly his role is or what he does. Having a massive power player whose role isn’t clearly defined can only bring confusion and dysfunction.
Since David Moyes left the club in 2013 these front office problems have taken one form or another as a club historically known for its stability has been blown hither, thither and yon by every new whim of its leadership. Roberto Martinez came in, won a higher percentage of games than Moyes and got results in a higher percentage as well and was still booted despite making two cup semi-finals his last campaign. He now manages the top-ranked international side in the world.
Ronald Koeman came in, led Everton back to Europe, and then was sacked amidst a season that put transfer decision dysfunction on full display (Wayne Rooney, Davy Klaassen, and Gylfi Sigurdsson all in the same window, really?). He now has righted the ship for the Dutch national team. In what can only be described as a panic move, the club hired Sam Allardyce and watched as the club basically forgot how to even attempt shots during his tenure. Granted they all had their own failings while at Everton, the Toffees’ scattergun approach at appointing managers is in stark contrast to the successful sides in the Premier League.
This was the state of affairs Marco Silva walked into. Regardless of what you think of Silva as a manager (I actually anticipate he’ll do well at his next stop if he goes to a club more stable than Everton), you cannot pretend like he had much chance to succeed in a club that makes decisions like this one has. David Moyes managed Everton for over a decade. He finished 17th in his second season. In today’s Everton he never would have seen season three, we only have to look to last week to see evidence of that.
Over the summer Brands had indicated that this season he would be focusing on the youth sides, likely to attempt to align their futures as a steady pipeline for the senior squad where players are inculcated in one club culture and direction from youth onwards. We are yet to see that manifest itself.
There’s no stability, no clear direction regarding strategy, and no clear compartmentalization of decision-making at the top of this club. If these issues do not get sorted out, it does not matter who the club hires as its next permanent manager. No one can survive in this atmosphere.
Marco Silva could very well be a manager who was exposed tactically once he had an extended Premier League stint, ‘zonal marking’ and ‘set piece defense’ have become curse-words around Goodison under his watch, but frankly I don’t expect anything better from the next manager until Moshiri lets his DoF do his job, Kenwright either retires or gets a clear definition to his role (ideally ceremonial only, like the Queen), and the club transfer and manager recruitment policy gets a unity of vision and ideas for the future.