The Toffees' Progress

by   |   26/02/2021  7 Comments  [Jump to last]

“The King then demanded to open the gate that the righteous nation, said he, which keepeth the truth, may enter in”
(The Pilgrim's Progress – John Bunyan)

In the classic novel The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan, Christian – with his burden on his back – sets out for the Celestial City. Five years ago, this is how Everton seemed to me. Burdened by past glories, no money to speak of, and far, far away from the Celestial City of competing for a Champions League place or even winning a domestic cup.

So, when Farhad Moshiri bought into the Club, was this the moment when the Blues would set off on a journey to the Celestial City, losing their burden like Christian did on the way? I remember that night at Aston Villa when we won and we sang that we were “Fucking Rich!” Five years on from Moshiri arriving at Goodison Park, how close are we to reaching the Celestial City?

Moshiri started off with a bang: Roberto was gone after the disgraceful defeat at Sunderland and Ronald (Macdonald) Koeman was brought in during the Summer, along with Chief Scout... sorry, Director of Football, Steve Walsh. Meanwhile, Moshiri was popping up with his big buddy, Jim White, making one ridiculous statement after another.

The die was cast; the Blues had gone for the so-called “Hollywood Manager” and one bad transfer signing after another followed. After the failed Koeman experiment, we had David Unsworth as a cartaker manager, then Sam Allardyce (to our great disgrace), and then Marco Silva. Each failed manager after another continued to squander more and more of Moshiri's money while the Blues made not one jot of progress either in the league or domestic cups, while our one foray into the Europa League was an unmitigated disaster.

Meanwhile, commercially during 5 years of Moshiri, compared to the so-called Big Six in the Premier League, the Blues remain as far away from these as they ever were.

Not a glowing success... so enter Carlo Ancelotti and Marcel Brands, who replaced Steve Walsh as Director of Football when Silva was appointed. Ancelotti was not the appointment I would have gone for... and, for all the world-class manager talk, he is not. Ancelotti was once a world-class manager but not any longer, and he was a failure in his last two jobs, at Bayern (even though he did win the Bundesliga) and at Napoli. But, compared to the muppets Moshiri has hired before Ancelotti, he is a vast improvement. Too early to judge him either way yet (I hope I'm wrong) but we are at least competing at the right end of the table and have an FA Cup Quarterfinal on the horizon.

One success which the Moshiri years have undoubtedly had is progress on the planned new ground down on the waterfront. With planning permission being unanimously approved by Liverpool City Council, we now wait to see if the Secretary of State calls the plans in. Either way, I think we can all say that the plans for the new ground at Bramley-Moore Dock have taken a big step forward. At £500 million, how much this will be a strain on the club financially is another matter... but, sad as it will be to leave Goodison Park, the move has to happen; however, the price of construction still fills me with trepidation.

So, as Moshiri reaches 5 years at the club, are we any nearer reaching the Celestial City?

A qualified tick on the Bramley-Moore Dock project must be given. But, next to that, we have had season after season of new manager following new manager – all producing absolute mediocrity. Meanwhile, we have an academy run by a cabal of mates who produce absolutely nothing, and this has been allowed to continue throughout Moshiri's reign to date. We are as far away off losing our burden and getting closer to the Celestial City as we have ever been.

Maybe Ancelotti is the answer and I, hopefully, will be proved wrong. We have, I admit, taken a few stuttering steps on the route since he came in, but there is a hell of a long way to go. Glittery new grounds are all well and good but, at the end of the day, the only way to reach the goal is on the pitch. Five years on from Moshiri coming to the club, we have taken hardly any steps on this journey.

Hopefully the few steps we have taken under Carlo are the first steps for us finally setting out on our Celestial City journey. But, to date, no matter how much money Moshiri has pumped into the club, progress has so far not been forthcoming.

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Reader Comments (7)

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Dave Ganley
1 Posted 28/02/2021 at 16:38:03
To be honest Martin it's hard to disagree with your synopsis of the last 5 years. It's been hard to watch really given the money we've spent, turgid football for most part, losing football at that.

The one thing I differ from you is that I wanted Ancelotti. Never thought he would come, but delighted he did. He may not be the world class manager of a few years ago but he still is one of the best. As you say, he may not have won the glittering prizes at his last 2 clubs but he didn't leave them languishing either. It's taken a while but he has given us a more steely look about us. We are still very inconsistent, but he has managed to get a tune out of the players that other managers did not.

As you rightly point out, we are not yet pulling up any trees yet but we are definitely headed in the right direction. I actually feel optimistic again, especially after beating the RS. I don't care what anyone says, that was a massive win for the club to get that monkey off our backs. We just need to make sure our attitude remains the same for all games and not just the ones against the so-called big clubs. That's our Achilles heel at the moment.

I'm hoping Ancelotti will make sure there is more of a showing in the quarter final against city after beating RS. Belief is half the battle at this level. Ancelotti is doing his best to give us that. Of course, being an Evertonian we all have that feeling that it could go t#ts up anytime, however, it's a nice feeling at the moment to actually realistically believe we can really progress in the coming seasons. Long may it continue

Sean Callaghan
2 Posted 28/02/2021 at 16:50:07
Bloody bell, Martin. There was me thinking that spanking the shite, planning for BMD in place and being a couple of games in hand away from a Champs League position was a progress...Glad to be put right!
Charles Brewer
3 Posted 02/03/2021 at 10:14:50
Moshiri has demonstrated that football is a difficult business in which frauds, liars and conmen abound and, often, thrive. He presumably bought into the sport because of his - correct - belief that the EPL is one of the world's sports leading industries and that significant rewards are possible if you succeed.

Unfortunately, he naively couldn't tell a good manager (Martinez) who required significant directing ("Your attack has improved over Moyes, but you've sacrificed the defence which was of the highest Premiership quality"), from utter charlatan dross (Koeman).

Personally, I think the Allardyce appointment was exactly what was required. It showed the players and the club that they were no better than Bolton, Sunderland and Blackburn Rovers and that they needed rescuing from complete disaster by playing the most turgid, brutish, agricultural football because that was all they were capable of. I imagine the typical training session went something like "You are a pile of overpaid, unfit shite and the only hope you have is to run about and kick the opposition. Let's practice."

Marco Sliva was the last gasp of the "let's try someone with a poor record who looks the part and at least is foreign" approach.

I suspect Moshiri has no realised that he has no idea how to run a football team, and hence went for a manager of undoubted quality, who had bags of experience, and in whom the players could trust - it cannot be great to be a free scoring centre forward who watches defenders dozing off and conceding goals all over the shop.

The new stadium, if it is of anything like the quality that the publicity materials indicate, will be a major draw for good players. Which young man does not want to play in a stadium which has the most impressive vista in the world, and where, with luck, the biggest bands and events will take place? it will certainly overshadow the former urinal across Stanley Park (do they still do that thing with the rolled-up Echo on the Kop?)

Having been sceptical of comments on here for years about Kenwright, I am coming to be persuaded that he, and his influence, are the biggest problem at Goodison. While the weird pairing of Ancelotti and Ferguson appears to be a total success, the lack of a regular flow of young players from the youth team - unlike say, ManU (amazingly) or even City or even the goons produced by our neighbours - seems systemic. The only one since Rooney appears to be Tom Davies, who is finally finding his feet.

Moshiri needs to clear out the reason for the decline. Starting with Kenwright and continuing with anyone associated with him, with the single exception of Ferguson.

Barry Rathbone
4 Posted 05/03/2021 at 07:24:45
The difficulty is the perception of "rich".

Too many equated Mr Moshiri's potential input to that of Abramovich and Mansoor and their resultant club transformations some persist with the delusion to this day.

But the truth is we are in the pack of "enough dough to comfortably avoid relegation" with the possibility of snaffling a cup given a fair wind.

I reckon by appointing Brands and Ancelotti he has made better progress than his contemporaries we just need to win something to prove it.

Martin Mason
5 Posted 05/03/2021 at 07:40:57
I disagree completely on the playing progress side as there is much good going on under the surface and the results are coming slowly. Particularly good now is that the best prospects are out on loan playing hard games.

The likelihood now is that Gordon and Simms may make the grade even though the grade gets higher as we improve. Look at our squad now and tell me that there has been no progress on a player-by-player basis, other than Bernard and perhaps Iwobi, and these must be ruthlessly replaced from within or without.

Martin Mason
6 Posted 05/03/2021 at 07:55:41
Charles @3,

On what basis do you conclude that Bill Kenwright and his "influence" are the problem at the club and yet Ancelotti and Ferguson are a "total success"?

Who was it now who got Moshiri on board and hired Ferguson and Ancelotti? Who is actually responsible for the many good things that are happening at the club? Start with the CEO.

Barry Robson
7 Posted 05/03/2021 at 08:03:39
To suggest Ancelotti is no longer a world-class manager is a joke. A failure at Bayern Munich... yet he won the Bundesliga. Please give me that level of failure.

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