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Everton - the worst run club in the Premier League?

Ollie Jones - 26/8/23

Everton - the worst run Premier League club cover

Let's start with a bit of trivia, which club has won 9 English top-flight titles, 5 FA cups, 9 Charity Shields and 1 European Cup Winners Cup, while holding the record for the most seasons in the top-flight of English football, which they have played in since 1954!? Would you have guessed Everton? If not, you can hardly be blamed, as the Toffees' trophy drought ticks over to 28 years, with recent back-to-back relegation battles making it easy to forget the stature of a once revered club, most notably in the 80s, under the management of legend Howard Kendall. So, where has it all gone wrong? From an absent owner and board, possible FFP breaches, £700m down the drain under Moshiri, consistent managerial sackings, failed investments, exhausted fans and a severe lack of quality on the pitch means that the threat of relegation still looms above. Survival this year is possibly one miracle too many, making Everton a strong candidate for the worst run club in the Premier League. I will try to unpack the failings that have led to this moment and justify why the only way the club can progress is for immediate change at the top from both the owner and board.

The Moshiri Era:

Let's rewind to February 2016, where a supposed exciting new chapter of the Blues' rich history was written, when Farhad Moshiri accquired an initial 49.9% stake in the club, to become the majority shareholder, a figure that has since risen to 94%. With it, came promises of investment in both the playing squad and a new stadium, which was soon realised when Everton started to spend big in the transfer market, most notably the 2017/18 summer transfer window, a spending spree of approximately £180m, with the consequences of it still being felt today. Big money moves for the likes of Sigurdsson, Tosun, Walcott, Klaassen, Keane and Pickford, as well as the free signing of Wayne Rooney was a huge gamble that hasn't paid off, as Pickford has been the only player to materialise into a value-for-money signing and none of the other named players turned a profit. Finding a replacement for the outgoing Lukaku was crucial to the Toffees' window, however they failed to adequatley replace him, which they have still failed to do to this day! Although hindsight is a wonderful thing, the clear lack of strategy from this window showed incompetence, as large fees were spent with little sell-on value, an issue that has landed Everton if FFP trouble. This combined with the fact that the Moshiri sacked Ronald Koeman 2 months after the window slammed shut, after buying players to fit his system, left Everton in relegation trouble. Despite surviving that season under Sam Allardyce, this was the start of a downward spiral under Moshiri.

It cannot be denied that Moshiri hasn't backed the club financially, however spending over £700m without any success shows complete incompetence and suggests a lack of understanding of how to run a football club. The hiring of Marcel Brands as Director of Football in 2018 showed positive signs that experienced people were making football related decisions, however after his dismissal in 2021, Brands confirmed suspicions that Moshiri was taking over decisions, making him unable to do his job properly, making it no surprise that Everton are now lacking quality on the pitch.

Managerial merry-go-round:

It's no secret that Everton have gone through an abundance of mangers under Moshiri, making Goodison Park somewhat of a revolving door in recent years, overseeing 8 different permenant managers in his tenure, most recently Sean Dyche. The instability this has caused, has left Everton with a severe lack of identity, as philosophies and playing styles are constantly changing, which also means many players don't fit into new systems, creating further problems. The appointment of Ancelotti was definitely a coup for the club, however his time only seemed to paper over the ever-growing cracks, which were evident when he left. His replacement Benitez, was one of the worst decisions Moshiri had made in his time, as his affiliation with Liverpool was obvious, with Benitez himself admitting he couldn't make some decisions due to his affiliation with Liverpool.

However the appointment itself wasn't one of the most confusing decisions Moshiri made during Rafa's time, as he fell out with two fan favourites, Rodriguez and Digne. Subsequently, Digne was sold, but 3 days later, Benitez was sacked. One of the Toffees' best players was sold to please a manager, before sacking him only days later! One of the most comical moments in this managerial circus was when Vitor Pereira went live on Sky Sports News to reveal he had "good feedback" after an interview to replace Benitez as manager, as well as outlining his plan if given the job. This came after fan backlash to Moshiri's reported favourite candidate, coming across to many as Pereira trying to convince Evertonians in one last effort to win the job, before later being snubbed for Frank Lampard.

The current man at the helm, Sean Dyche, has proven his ability to survive in the Premier League, however the lack of additions to the playing squad make this ever harder, meaning his time in charge could be limited.

Bad Company:

Football can be a game of dodgy dealings, however the company Farhad Moshiri has been keeping has cause for concern. His business partner and friend Alisher Usmanov, a Russian oligarch who's business USM played a big part in Everton's financial planning, sponsored the training ground Finch Farm, and had purchased naming rights to the new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock, in a multi-million pound deal. After the invasion of Ukraine, Usmanov's involvement was rightly stopped but left the club in financial insecurity, as this funding was a lifeline for the club. Furthermore, Moshiri's close friendship with super agent Kia Joorabchian came under scrutiny, after the signing of Anwar El Ghazi, a client of Kia's, in January 2022, on a season-long loan from Aston Villa. The winger featured only twice, making many question the motives behind the signing, and whether it was in the best interests of the club or Moshiri's friend Kia.

The missing board:

Since January 2023, Everton board members have been absent from attending matches, due to a "real and credible threat to their safety", after former CEO Denise Barrett-Baxendale was reportedly put in a 'headlock', an obviously abhorrent act if true, however no proof was released and Merseyside Police confirmed that nothing was reported to them, leading to a media storm against the fans at a time when the board were under scrutiny, leading many to believe it was another ploy by the board to deflect attention away from themselves. Three board dismissals were made this summer, including Barrett-Baxendale, Graeme Sharp and Grant Ingles, however Bill Kenwright, who has overseen years of decline and failure as both owner and chairman still remains in his post, despite constant fan backlash, sparking more fury by fans. When Kenwright was challenged by fans, he stated Evertonians had enjoyed "good times" under his leadership, highlighting the need for change. However this change is still yet to be seen.

The lack of communication between the board and fans has been allowed to grow and unfilfilled promises have been made. As in the midst of a relegation battle, Moshiri did an interview through the official club channels, in which he promised they'd buy a striker, a promise not yet fulfilled, unless including Chermiti, an exciting, young prospect but not ready to classify as a starting striker. Though the transparency the interview provided was a glimmer of hope for fans, nothing of the sort has been conducted since.

FFP Problems:

The lack of activity in the transfer market has been caused by financial mis-management in years gone by, as outlined earlier, however this may have more consequential effects than just a lack of transfers. As Everton are currently under investigation by an independent commission over potential Financial Fair Play (FFP) breaches. The club have recorded 5 consecutive years of financial losses, however allowances had been made with the effect of Covid-19 being very detrimental to revenue generated. Although Everton officials insist the club are in line with the requirements, the extra uncertainty this provides to all those involved with the club is damaging.

Where do Everton go now?:

Everton have lost all 3 of their opening Premier League games, not scoring a single goal, with relegation looking even likelier if no more additions are made before 11pm on September 1st, when the window closes. The poor management may have finally caught up with the club and the best efforts of the fans may not be enough this time. Although Toffees had a glimmer of hope when MSP Sports Capital were all but confirmed to take a minority stake in the club, pumping much needed investment into it, this has since fallen through, stabbing another dagger into the Everton faithful's hearts. It is unclear what lies ahead for Everton, however if there is one certainty, that is that sweeping change is needed at the top, as the club won't progress with Moshiri at the helm. Despite his financial backing, he has proven unfit to run a Premier League club and must sell to give Everton any chance of returning to the once successful club they were.

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