Everton have not been a picture of stability since the departure of David Moyes and now the club goes into another summer looking to build from the ground up, yet again. The surprise departure of Carlo Ancelotti to perennial Spanish contenders Real Madrid has caught the fans out cold, and despite attempts of certain parts of the media to paint it as ‘he jumped before he was pushed’, it appears the Board are just as surprised too with no replacement lined up and waiting in the wings ready to be announced.
However, this is a also a good time to talk about who does the hiring and firing at Everton, and how that sets us up to replace Ancelotti. The Toffees have been blessed to have a chairman like Bill Kenwright who is vested heart and soul in the club, and bleeds Blue as the saying goes. Similarly, having a majority shareowner like Farhad Moshiri who has poured money into the club coffers and is similarly fully committed to the cause can only be a good thing, right?
Turns out, sometime that can be a bad thing too. When your leadership is so tunnel-visioned into the club’s path, often they don’t heed the warning signs and red flags that pop up on all sides. Wisely, CEO Denise Barrett-Oxendale steers clear of all footballing matters and only comments on general club affairs, or else we would end up in a really messy boardroom situation.
Roberto Martinez was a Kenwright hire, and right until the end with Blues petitioning the club to sack the Spaniard, the theatre aficionado stood by his man with Moshiri eventually making the decision to move on.
Ronald Koeman’s inability to win over the fans resulted in his removal being made even easier for Moshiri once results went against him. Marco Silva was the shiny new toy that Moshiri then set his heart upon, and despite the censure the club received for pursuing the young Portuguese manager, eventually he brought him in after making the very questionable half-season appointment of Sam Allardyce, the howls of protest that echoed around the Blue half of Merseyside notwithstanding.
Ancelotti was another vanity buy for Moshiri, who was happy to stump up £11 million a year for the great Italian to recreate his trophy-littered legacy at Everton. With Real Madrid rumoured to have bought out the remainder of Ancelotti’s contract — estimated at £30 million — the Blues will be able to make a splash again if a big name is what they are looking for.
A long and patient club-building process is not really what Moshiri has envisioned for Everton. His links with big time agents Kia Joorabchian, Mino Raiola and Jorge Mendes have certainly helped us get linked with and bring in star players like James Rodriguez and Moise Kean, but they have also helped shape his mindset.
When Koeman was appointed back in 2016, Moshiri dropped a quote about the Northwest being the ‘Hollywood of football’ and added something that would be good to recall at this point.
“I think the job of an owner and chairman is simply to hire and fire the manager, the rest is down to him. Once we hire a manager we back him. He has the personality, aura and ability and we trust him. In Everton’s culture the manager is the most important individual.”
Koeman, Silva, Ancelotti and even Allardyce all extolled some of those qualities and were backed by Moshiri in the transfer market. It will come as no surprise if the next Everton manager is another flamboyant and possibly extravagant choice because that is who Moshiri is likely to go for.
Kenwright is nothing if not faithful. If you have his confidence, you better believe he will back you through thick, thin and everything in between. Newer Everton fans and those with shorter memories who might believe that things were always rosy under Moyes will not know this, but the Scotsman came under fire regularly for the football his sides often played. Everton’s ‘plucky’ reputation came from that era, when players of limited ability like Leon Osman and Tony Hibbert somehow became giants when instilled with their manager’s confidence. Watching Everton’s current talented-but-mentally-fragile squad certainly does fill one with longing for that bygone era.
It was the same with Martinez. The manager who often eschewed practicing setpieces during training sessions at Finch Farm was simply at a loss to stem the flood of goals the Blues were conceding towards the end of his tenure. Fans were outraged, remembering the defensive staunchness of just a couple of seasons ago, but still Kenwright doggedly stuck by his man until Moshiri ended it for him.
It is not surprise at all to hear that both Moyes and Martinez are linked with being forerunners for the Everton job again; as long as Kenwright still has a say in matters they stand a chance of returning.
Many an Everton fan have said the same thing now that the Blues are looking for a new manager again - we need a manager that will build up the club from the grassroots level, instilling a sense of identity in not just the senior team, but all the way down to the youth sides. It can also be fairly argued that technically that should not be the manager’s job at all.
Everton appointed their first ever Director of Football in Steve Walsh when they wanted to have someone other than the manager oversee the whole transfer and operations side of the game. Brands has decades of experience in that role and has embraced that side of things for the Blues. From slowly getting rid of overpriced deadweight to adding youngsters with potential, he has mostly continued to operate separately from what is going on on the pitch, and more importantly, independent of what philosophy the manager espouses.
If anything, the DOF needs to be a key part of the hiring process and have the final say in choosing who should be the next manager. Someone who has a similar mindset to the DOF, and can work with the players that are delivered to him by the DOF. When your head chef quits, you don’t change the type of restaurant depending on who is hired as the next head chef, you hire a head chef who either already is a master of that cuisine and style, or else is willing to work with and learn from the DOF. That is why you hire a DOF to begin with.
Brands in his own three-year tenure here has already seen the arrival and departure of two managers. Everton’s summer buys last year were a combination of Brands’ scouting network and Ancelotti’s old boys club. For the Toffees to finally espouse a footballing identity so that they can start instilling that DNA into all club recruits, it is time really for Brands to lead the managerial search, and bear the responsibility of the choice he makes.
The tabloid media seem to be indicating that the two leading candidates for the Everton job are Moyes and Wolves’ former boss Nuno Espirito Santo, which sounds like Kenwright and Moshiri (through his Mendes connection) are winning the influence battle in the Everton boardroom. Apparently Duncan Ferguson has put his limited credentials on the table too, but his tactical naiveté and inexperience at this level surely must mean he’s not really a candidate.
So as the Blues move along towards making another managerial appointment, once again it’s looking like every person has a say in who needs to be manager at Everton except the person who has been hired and is being handsomely paid to handle football operations. What could be more Everton than that?