The arrival of Farhad Moshiri at Everton brought some excitement of things to come. Promise of cash for players, a top class manager and the anticipation of bringing some good times and silverware back to Goodison Park.
What went wrong ?
In my opinion the introduction of a Director of football – Steve Walsh
Walsh’s move from Leicester to Everton to become their new director of football appeared to be one of the biggest coups of the summer.
Having played a pivotal role in the Foxes’ incredible Premier League title success while chief scout, he identified a host of previously unknown players from across Europe that took to the Premier League like a duck to water.
Steve Walsh is responsible for bringing in new players to the squad, has he replicated his success at Leicester, with Everton? :
Everton’s summer signings, Michael Keane and Jordan Pickford were the first to be brought in by Walsh.
Walsh quickly justified his choices in an interview saying keane has got all the attributes to be a future leader, maybe captain of England,” A bold statement regardless of the outcome.
“Pickford will be the number one goalkeeper in England. I think he’ll play for England and be at Everton for a long time.”
Those signings were quickly followed with the likes of Davy Klaassen, who has proven ability from his time at Ajax, Ademola Lookman who came in off the back of a World Cup win, Sandro Ramirez who joined Everton after his former club did everything they could to keep him, Wayne Rooney with all his records and ability and finally, after a long wait and much bartering, Gylfi Sigurdsson.
…Oh and Cuco Martina for free.
On the face of things that would look like a pretty successful summer and it did to most Evertonians. But, there was One catastrophic mistake Steve Walsh made, for whatever reason, he and the Everton board failed to replace Romelu Lukaku with any kind of striker. That should have been the first thing to do, sign a top quality goal scorer. In fact, I couldn’t be more certain that signing a goal scorer would have been the very first thing on Ronald Koeman’s list.
Having no striker, lead to pressure on other players:
Wayne Rooney was left with the responsibility to lead the line early in the season and although he did ok and came out of that period as the clubs top scorer, we should never have been in that situation.
While the director of football model is unusual in England, overseas it is far more prevalent, with Koeman having worked alongside one at previous clubs like Valencia, Ajax and Benfica.
Even so, things didn’t seem to be working out and eventually something had to give at the club.
While at other English clubs the buck for poor signings is solely with the manager, at Goodison, responsibility wasn’t and still isn’t quite so crystal clear. This resulted in Koeman’s head ending up on the chopping block and Walsh survived.
Normally when a manager meets his maker, it would usually turn into a positive for a club. A new manager is brought in and changes are made resulting in an uplift in performances. Just what the Blues needed at the time.
The board must front up to their own responsibilities and realise their amateur mistakes:
The search for a replacement manager went on for many weeks and far too long. In which the bad performances continued. Eventually, in what looked like and now still remains an act of desperation that could have been prevented by a quick response and appointment, Sam Allardyce was announced on a 18 month contract.
This again came with mixed emotions from the fan base. Again, not what you want at the time when you need everyone to get behind the team, but maybe the right thing due to the position created partly through poor performances under Koeman but also by the delay it took to replace him.
Sam Allardyce and his struggle with turning the fortunes and Steve Walsh:
Initially a good run of games, not greatest performances, but the team did enough to move us away from the lower reaches of the table. At times, some luck was needed to drag the team back up the table, but another slump in performances were always going to arrive. The team then went on a winless 6 game run. Defensively insecure and with no left back all season a must position to fill when January window would come.
The manager continued to swap and change the team with no consistency and not knowing what his best eleven was.
When the January transfer window arrived it was vital that Everton went into the window to sign a striker, and make up for missed opportunities in the summer, and sign a left back capable of reassuring the left side of the defence.
Cuco Martina, naturally a right-back, had deputised in the position under Allardyce with first-choice Leighton Baines gradually recovering from a calf problem.
Allardyce singled out a left back as an area he wanted to strengthen when he arrived at Goodison Park:
Everton instead added reinforcements up front, signing Cenk Tosun and Theo Walcott for a combined total of approximately £47m.
Not only does this seem a strange decision, Sam Allardyce has since gone on record to say the Turkish striker will not get game time because he needs to adjust to the Premier League. £27 million and a Champions League striker suddenly only a bench warmer at Everton? Another example of that signings are being made by Steve Walsh, often without much consultation with the manager in charge.
Those additions, on top of an already-bloated squad, left little room for manoeuvre in the club’s wage budget and Allardyce then went on to say:
“We can’t find One,” when asked whether Everton supporters could expect a new left-back before 1 February.
“What we could find have been massively expensive and that has been a real problem for us. Our efforts and ability to fill that position have been thwarted because most of the clubs don’t want to let their left-backs go.”
Allardyce claimed that he could not see the situation changing in the January window and suggested that Everton’s focus for the remainder of the month would be on selling and loaning players rather than bringing in new faces.
Poor excuses from a team in desperate need with obvious frailties in that position. Yes, the price would have been high, but we had no one in this position and the lack of a left back has caused us to concede countless goals. Regardless of price this should have been resolved.
The Everton manager and Steve Walsh, the club’s director of football, focused on selling out-of-favour players rather making acquisitions. Ademola Lookman, a youth England World Cup winner, signed, but got limited game time. The January window forced the young winger to go in search of game time out on loan, resulting in his move to RB Leipzig in Germany’s Bundesliga.
Sandro Ramirez signed for Everton in the summer and came with high hopes. But, the Spanish u21 failed to see game time and was also sent out on loan in January.
Another mistake from Walsh and the people that matter. Loaning Two players that should arguably have seen their opportunities come think and fast amongst some horrendous performances by the rest of their teammates.
New players being signed and not being played, around 20 academy prospects sent on loan or sold by the club and not given a chance to prove themselves at a higher level at the club. But, yet we’ve watched on all season as experienced and quality players fail to perform, time and time again.
Summarising the approach of Walsh, the managers and the Board over the last 18 months:
Our record scoring striker, Romelu Lukaku, of last season was sold and not replaced with a direct like for like proven striker until the clubs season was gone the January window came around.
No left back available due to injuries – Any signings made during last summer or January, not a single one.
Players of the same position being signed. Rooney, Sigurdsson and Klaassen all joined the club last summer, meaning One was always going to miss out.
Complete disregard for the youth system and over the last 18 months around 20 players loaned out or moved on with no chance of any first team game time.
All that a Director of Football has brought to the club seems to be a no accountability mentality. Nobody offering reasoning to decisions, nobody taking the blame for any decisions that have failed and nobody willing to communicate any of the above with the fans.