Sleepwalking to Disaster, Part I — The Backfiring Gamble

At a club increasingly bereft of direction, Rafael Benitez is not the biggest problem but he is rapidly becoming the most urgent.

Lyndon Lloyd 02/12/2021 92comments  |  Jump to last

Ever since the effects of the Heysel ban, the break-up of Howard Kendall’s glorious 1980s team, and the club’s complacency as the old Division One morphed into the Premier League all began to set in, the problem at Everton has been an infuriatingly intractable one. 35 seasons since the Blues’ last title triumph and 27 since Dave Watson lifted the FA Cup as the last Everton captain to hoist major silverware, the club remains mired in a seemingly endless cycle of failure and inability to progress.

For a decade early in the 21st Century, David Moyes’s reign provided some stability and a semblance of order following the turbulent 1990s but it was a platform from which the club proved singularly unable to relaunch itself back among the country’s elite. Back then, the fervent hope was for a billionaire investor capable of rivalling the nouveaux riches at Chelsea and Manchester City (comparative non-entities in a historical sense who have gone on to leave Everton in their dust) but, despite massive expenditure, in terms of on-field progression, the Farhad Moshiri era hasn’t moved the club forward an inch; indeed, Bramley-Moore Dock notwithstanding, we’ve regressed under his stewardship and, for the first time in a long time, there is a very real fear that the Blues could finally fall through the trapdoor to the Championship.

Hyperbolic? Just ask fans of Leeds United, Aston Villa and Sunderland, traditionally big clubs with passionate fanbases who got dragged into the quagmire of a relegation dogfight and lost their Premier League status. No failing club is too big to go down and the journey back can take a lot longer than you think.

The 5-2 home defeat to Watford earlier this season was notable in terms of the reaction it sparked among Evertonians now utterly fed up with ritual humiliation, routine false dawns, and this persistent hamster wheel of despair; the depressingly weak showing against Brentford and the uncorking of angst amongst the club’s most committed supporters — the travelling faithful — was potentially seismic; Wednesday night’s humiliation in the Merseyside derby turned Goodison Park openly mutinous in a manner not witnessed for many a year.

Everton are in relegation form under Rafael Benitez. The team has picked up just 2 points from 24, a sequence that encapsulates the pitiful state of the squad that has its roots in a catalogue of poor transfer business over the past few years (and which looks likely to hobble Everton for a good while yet) and what was an increasingly glaring error in appointing an out-dated and ill-suited manager.

Every fan of the club is well-versed in the history of Moshiri’s time at Everton since coming on board, first as its major shareholder in 2016 to his status now as the outright owner. But as the spectre of a protracted fight against relegation from the Premier League (an unthinkable notion coming into 2021 when the Blues sat in the Top 4) looms and the clamour grows for real and sustained root-and-branch change, a harsh light is being shone on the mess in which the club finds itself.


The Manager

Let’s be honest. It was never going to work. Rafael Benitez, Moshiri's high-stakes gamble, never really had a long-term future at Everton; not unless the job was to oversee a settled squad replete with top-quality players of the like he inherited at Chelsea or at Real Madrid during his brief spells at those clubs. He was always going to face an uphill task at Goodison Park with that strong Liverpool connection but, despite the odd distasteful banner and predictions of supporter unrest following his appointment, Evertonians largely fell in line with Moshiri’s choice and were prepared to give Benitez the chance to prove himself. After all, what choice did we have?

There was always that underlying concern, however, that Benitez had become something of a dinosaur in the age of Guardiola, Tuchel, Simeone, Klopp, Conte, et al and as Blues fans have suffered through some pretty dreadful results in recent weeks — culminating, of course, in a harrowing defeat to Liverpool while their fans belted out “Rafa’s at the wheel” — the fear is that the 61-year-old is ill-equipped for the role of stabilising Everton on a shoestring budget with a tacit remit of keeping the Toffees on an even keel while the new stadium is built.

Benitez may have chosen to walk into the chaos left behind by Carlo Ancelotti and a club utterly hamstrung by years of profligacy and terrible recruitment; but even he might have been surprised by the scale of the challenge he has ended up facing. Any real budget to fortify the squad failed to materialise as attempts to shift James Rodriguez dragged on beyond the transfer deadline and no takers emerged for players reportedly up for sale, like André Gomes, Alex Iwobi, Jonjoe Kenny and Mason Holgate.

It meant that the former Newcastle boss spent just £1.7m bringing in four players, three of whom — Andros Townsend, Salomon Rondon and Asmir Begovic — were probably intended to merely be back-up squad players. However, the absence of cash to land targets like Dwight McNeil, Luis Diaz, Denzel Dumfries (a Brands target of whom, rumour has it, Benitez was not a fan) and Nathan Patterson, combined with a debilitating succession of injuries, mean that Benitez has had to rely heavily on two players at the tail end of careers that were never that illustrious to start with.

At the same time, hesitation over a potential deal for André-Frank Anguissa might have hinged on the impending fitness of Jean-Philippe Gbamin who has thus far looked well below what is required at Premier League level despite his large £23m price tag. Then came the loss of the club's record signing who hasn't kicked a ball this season and there's no sign he will don a royal blue jersey again. That has left Benitez well short of viable options in one of the most important areas of the pitch — central midfield.

Under those conditions and starting as he was behind the proverbial 8-ball in terms of supporter opinion, the Spaniard needed everything else to go his way in the early phase of his tenure and he could not have been handed a more favourable run of matches to begin his reign. It wasn’t until early October that Everton had to face the first team from the so-called “Big 6” and, to his credit and that of his players, the Blues started the season well and were in 4th place by mid-September.

There is no denying how debilitating the absences of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison, Yerry Mina and Abdoulaye Doucouré were following the 3-1 win over Burnley and any manager would have struggled to maintain that unbeaten start to the campaign. As the only reliable centre-forward at the club and a focal point of the manager’s broad strategy, Calvert-Lewin especially has been hugely missed for the last 13 games in all competitions.

At the same time, however, there were signs of the flaws in Benitez’s fairly one-dimensional tactics – even in the home victories over Southampton and Burnley – that were first exposed at Aston Villa where the Toffees’ midfield was completely overrun at times on the way to a 3-0 defeat that burst the Spaniard’s early-season bubble.

The risk of fielding a weakened team at Queens Park Rangers in the Carabao Cup backfired as Everton were dumped out on penalties and, though they did what was expected against Norwich at Goodison in late September — to date, the last time a Blues won a game — and earned a creditable draw at Manchester United, the wheels came off after mid-October with a goalless draw against struggling Tottenham sandwiched in the middle of six defeats in which Benitez’s team scored a paltry four goals.

Benitez is not the biggest problem at Everton but he is rapidly becoming the most urgent. If he was hired on the premise that he was a pragmatic, detail-oriented tactician of a manager that would make Everton organised and difficult to beat, thus far he has fallen well short of expectations and it’s why Evertonians are now so fearful of how bad this season could yet get under his stewardship.

There are glaring concerns over his team selection, substitute choices, set-piece strategies, game management and tactics that betray a naïvete you would expect from a young coach still getting to grips with his craft rather than a vastly experienced coach who has worked at some of the biggest clubs in the world. As a recent article in The Athletic exposes, there are significant reservations held by some players about whether the team is taking the right approach in matches, which only fosters greater anxiety over the battles to come.

The whole state of affairs is deeply depressing. From Champions League aspirations when Moshiri arrived, dreams that were alive as recently as Boxing Day last year, to the gnawing fear of complete collapse, Everton FC is, to outward appearances, a rudderless ship drifting to seemingly inevitable disaster. Because on current form, the club is destined to be dragged into a protracted scrap at the bottom of the Premier League to avoid relegation, one they might not be equipped to win.

Under those circumstances, you need a strong, inspirational character on the training pitch and in the dugout. Unfortunately, Benitez doesn’t seem to have those badly-needed traits. Devoid of any charisma and inspiration, the former Newcastle boss is, by all appearances, merely vanilla and no spice, with dwindling faith in the dressing room, a situation disturbingly evocative of Mike Walker’s ill-fated tenure in the mid-1990s.

If he is to turn things around, it has to start immediately, starting with a focus on central midfield where a significant proportion of the team’s problems seem to lie at the moment, both from an attacking and defensive point of view. There is sufficient talent in this Everton side to stave off the threat of the dreaded drop, potentially more so if Calvert-Lewin returns and fresh blood can be found in January, potentially via the loan market, but the worry is that too much damage will have been done in the interim.

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Bill Hawker
1 Posted 02/12/2021 at 19:37:36
Really can't argue with any of this, Lyndon. I started supporting the club at the end of Walter Smith's reign so I think I'm safe in saying this is the worst I've ever seen it, mainly because, in the past, when it was bad, we could at least see ourselves digging our way out of it.

I'm not so sure here. There's a feeling of inevitability about it and that's scary in that there may be no way to stop the rot that's been festering at the top for years now.

Dale Self
2 Posted 02/12/2021 at 19:47:07
Not to get pissy, I know it's football and Everton and all that. Just hoping that this whole 'Rafa may need to go' gets all the run it can so that everything is focused on Rafa when he decides to go to the mic and set it straight.

His pressers give the impression that he could let loose some stinging criticism if pushed. He has seen football at both ends of the spectrum and is a reputable though controversial appointment.

I'm not sure if it would ultimately be good for the club, and that may be the calculation, but it would be good to let someone who is having to deal with the cleanup publicly air their assessment of the true health of the Everton Football Club.

Ian Burns
3 Posted 02/12/2021 at 20:28:28
An excellent if sobering article Lyndon. Out of all of the good points the following stood out when going through the piece:

"The fear is that the 61-year-old is ill-equipped for the role of stabilising Everton on a shoestring budget with a tacit remit of keeping the Toffees on an even keel while the new stadium is built".

The fear is the new stadium is too far away for Benitez to retain that even keel, even with transfer windows available, as FFP will keep his ambitions in line with major spendable cash.

Plus I am not sure we have the ability with regards to Brands et al, in identifying the sort or quality of player we need at this club.

It wasn't long ago that Rafa was spouting that 8th wasn't good enough for him – I'll bet right now he's thinking 8th would be heaven-sent.

I agree that injuries have played a part but in truth during the last 7 or 8 matches, I am not too sure what difference Gomes, Mina etc would have made, although a case could be made for Calvert-Lewin in for the hapless and hopeless Rondon.

The Spaniard appears to be caught in the headlights at the moment and the speeding car is going to take him out unless he suddenly or accidentally finds a structure in which he can get these players performing.

He needs to swallow his pride and take out Rondon and also Iwobi and, if Calvert-Lewin is not back, put his faith in youth (Simms or Dobbin surely can make a better fist of it than Rondon or Tosun)?

The other concern is that Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin and even Pickford must be looking at this mess and be wondering if anybody will come in for them in January, because you can bet they will be pushing to go if that is the case.

Then what?


Derek Moore
4 Posted 02/12/2021 at 20:57:10
Wow. So Lyndon has basically called it.

A really beautifully written article, but one with an undertone of genuine concern I have not detected in any of Lyndon's previous work either.

We're in it up to our necks.

Brian Ronson
5 Posted 02/12/2021 at 21:08:53
Though Raffa isn't entirely to blame, he now has to show he has the flexibility to adapt to the current suituation. We are in the middle of a relegation fight (we'll probably be in an even worse position by Christmas, given the fixture list).

It needs, to coin a phrase, a "dogs of war" mentalty which requires us to scrap for every single point. Strong defence is the key. For this to become reality we need to stop getting overloaded in midfield.

Allan and Doucouré are decent players but look very ordinary in the way Raffa is setting up the team. The time to adapt is now!

Ken Kneale
6 Posted 02/12/2021 at 21:15:15
Derek – we are!

Lyndon has used understatement very well.

This has been a long time in the making but we are a club that has lost what historically made us what we are and how we see ourselves – no longer part of the elite (a status comfortably held since 1960 onwards and for much of before that, apart from the immediately preceding decade); no longer producing teams made up of good footballers playing cultured football; no longer a trendsetter in other areas such a undersoil heating, floodlights or ground improvement.

Sadly, we are not even worthy of the media tag 'plucky little Everton' so beloved of Kenwright and Moyes – Moyes was a lucky man to manage Everton for so long without any pressure for improvement – the first manager of the club ever to be in that position but it compounded the rot I allude to. The media are not really that interested in us anymore.

We badly need another Moores & Catterick combination where the manager is backed but in return, results must come. I dread to think how club historians will view the last 30 years – certainly a new era for Everton and, like many on ToffeeWeb, unfathomable to most of us how an investor like Moshiri allows his fortune to be squandered by others.

Jacques Sandtonian
7 Posted 02/12/2021 at 21:16:31
I've questioned some of Rafa's decision-making in recent games but the good start to the season was built on a direct style of football that bypassed our hopeless midfield and was built around Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison. A smart strategy that fell apart with the prolonged injury to Calvert-Lewin. Richarlison is not a striker, I don't care how much he thinks he is. And Rondon was a big mistake… but then who else was available?

As for sacking him, well yes, the crisis is urgent but I'm yet to hear anyone mention a realistic name. By the way, the bookmakers have the current Denmark manager as favourite to be the next Everton manager. This is a man who last won a league title in Denmark in 2012. His step up as a manager was to Mainz where he managed a win rate of less than 30%.

Look further down the list and it's Nuno Espírito Santo, Wayne Rooney, Duncan Ferguson and Frank Lampard. Are we genuinely entertaining these names as the ones to get us out of this mess and stabilise the club?

In retrospect, Moshiri could've hired any number of more suitable progressive-minded managers. But I'm tired of retrospect.

Jack Convery
9 Posted 02/12/2021 at 21:40:42
Really excellent summing up of our current position. Can't wait for Part 2.

As an Evertonian I can honestly state, that I have never had so many questions as to the way EFC is run, since the Johnson era.

Q: Who is actually the owner? Moshiri obviously on paper… but surely it's Usmanov. The money he hands over, supposedly to support his mate, is like the Uncle, who gives his brother's son money, because he really is his father. After all, Usmanov made an offer to buy Arsenal, so he wants to own a Premier League club, or at least he did.

Also, Moshiri had shares in Arsenal too but was the first to sell up so he could buy EFC. Was it Usmanov's plan to have Moshiri run Arsenal if he got his hands on it? Instead, using him to front his purchase of EFC?

Q: Where did the idea of a DoF come from? Arsenal don't have a DoF. In fact, with Wenger in sole charge, they had a great time until relatively recently. Why not use the Arsenal model at Goodison? Was it Koeman who suggested it to Moshiri, so he could spend more time with the team and on the golf course? Walsh wasn't a DoF at Leicester City.

Q: Why were the purchases of 3 No 10s not questioned under Koeman? £70M plus, not counting the ridiculous wages offered. The rest of the money was splurged all over the place on over-priced journeymen footballers – Bolasie, Schneiderlin, Williams – with the promising Pickford, and Gueye being the only bargain and arguably the best of the lot.

Q: Where was the strategy? What was the plan? Did they have bet on how quick the money could be spent? Bolasie has gone, as too Schniederlin, Gueye and Williams. Lookman came and went without really getting a look-in. Same with Vlasic. Pickford is still here… but for how long?

Q: Why did Carlo quickly turn into a manager who looked like he didn't have a clue what to do? He had us playing well. We won at places we hadn't won at in years, including Mordor… and then we sink like a stone. Why? Was he told we can't afford European football so don't qualify? 8th to 10th will do. How many times did Carlo say after Xmas, we are where we want to be – 7th to 10th. What did he know? Because he couldn't wait to get out of the club once the season was over. Rumour has it his family had already moved out before Real Madrid supposedly came calling.

EFC is like the Curse of Oak Island – a missing money pit and a mystery with more bloody questions than answers.

Problem is I doubt answers will ever be given to these questions and, if they ever are, maybe we won't like the answers. What a cock-up of a club… and they say only turkeys get stuffed in December.

Barry Rathbone
10 Posted 02/12/2021 at 22:11:57
I just can't go with the Benitez scapegoat routine.

Yes, I didn't want him but he brought in 2 lads for buttons, who became our best performers when the first eleven was alive and, on the whole, did better than expected – Benitez earned the right.

The death of the first team, or at least the pre Lazarus resurrection, is everything. Until they return, the lord himself will not transform this mess and of course the fear is they may not return. But a manager change isn't going to change that. In that context, the idea seems more than unjust it seems slightly lunatic.

Jerome Shields
11 Posted 02/12/2021 at 22:21:56
Lyndon, I still think that there was a bust-up over the October International break and the repercussions are still evident. The report from The Athletic only confirms this.
Kieran Kinsella
12 Posted 02/12/2021 at 22:26:47
Jerome,

What did it say?

Tom Bowers
13 Posted 02/12/2021 at 22:38:36
Everton had a good start last season until the derby game when Richarlison got sent off. This season has been the same: good start then the injuries and Richarlison still doing very little to help the cause.

I believe he will be gone soon, along with some others who are just not cutting the mustard anymore. The clear-out should have started before the season after last season's fall from grace but maybe management believed Rafa would get everyone on fire again which he seemed to be doing for a few games, but it is a big mess now.

If Tosun cannot get a start now, he must be really bad given that it is 8 games without a win and some dire performances along the way.

Moshiri obviously will back Rafa right now but how many bosses have said that about a manager when times are tough and then, a few games later, they are sacked?

I have big fears that come January we will be in a real battle with the Barcodes and the Canaries to crawl out of the quicksand. Hard to see when the next win will come.

Bill Gall
14 Posted 02/12/2021 at 22:56:09
Regardless of who the manager is, it appears that Moshiri wants to go with a Director of Football system working with the manager.

So far since he joined Everton in May 2018 Marcel Brands has worked with a different manager every season starting with Marco Silva, followed by Sam Allardyce Carlo Ancelloti and now Benitez.

So how can anyone provide a working relationship between the DOF and the manager, when he doesn't know who the manager is going to be?

We have to either have a DoF who gets more than a season or part of a season with a manager, or we just have a manager without a DoF. You cant have one or the other without a continuance of more than one season.

As is said, it is easy to dig a hole but the hardest thing to do is dig your way out. It is no longer easy to get out by continually firing a manager, but it is harder keeping someone who is not wanted.

Peter Mills
15 Posted 02/12/2021 at 22:58:39
Lyndon, thank you for this article. I have been pondering all day about asking you to write such a piece; you have saved me from doing so. For someone who lives so far away from Liverpool, you have a remarkable feel for the mood of the times, coupled with the eloquence to express it.

I assume this is going to be a Paul the Esk type of copy: ‘The Manager', ‘The Board', etc. I hope you will also address ‘The Fans', because I would love to know quite what we are supposed to do in the current circumstances. We are divided, and that is dangerous. We saw for about 15 minutes last night what a united support can do.

I stayed until the bitter end, but in no way does that make me feel superior to those who left after 20 minutes. Maybe their statement, their refusal to accept what was happening on the pitch, had more meaning than my intransigence.

I was utterly gutted by what I saw during the game, and from what I heard from across the other side of the pitch from me, in the RS part of the Bullens Road. (Incidentally, I thought nearly every part of their chanting was fair game, within the numbskull acceptability of football, but their breaking into YNWA during the applause for Ray Kennedy, Cliff Marshall and Ava White, was appalling.)

So, what is a fan to do? Last night, I pleaded with fellow match-goers, family members and True Blues to give it up, go to non-league football instead. Within the same timespan, I accepted a suggestion to go to Chelsea in a fortnight's time rather than watch on the telly.

It's a particular form of madness, Lyndon, and I hope you can help shed some light on it. Are we supporters by-standers, victims, mugs, true fans, or acquiescent contributors to our decline?

Derek Thomas
16 Posted 02/12/2021 at 23:05:26
I said in the deep dark days of the Moyes Out Brigade that we were just Leeds in slow motion.
If we don't watch it and / or things don't... I was going to say change, but knowing us they'd change for the worse...Improve, not only will we be Leeds in slow motion – we'll be Sunderland till we die - and it won't be slow!

Form like this was why they got rid of the cushions, as they provided and instant and unmistakable kick in the nuts to The Board that protesters couldn't.

The powers that be couldn't dismiss it as 'just a few malcontents' as an Armada of cushions 'rode shotgun 'cross the sky' as the line goes.

Sort it or fuck off, Moshiri – I'll take my chances with the mythical Goodison Safety Certificate.

If he does, I realise that the Law of Unintended Consequences will, of course, kick in big time.

Everton That.

Robert Tressell
17 Posted 02/12/2021 at 23:10:09
Jacques #7. Totally agree about the lack of options.

Newcastle now have more money than Man City, Chelsea and PSG and have managed to attract Eddie Howe.

I did not want us to appoint Benitez but changed my tune on realising the money has dried up.

We have a deteriorating squad and no money. We are not an attractive prospect to any manager of real quality and ambition.

Nuno Espirito Santos has been sacked by Spurs for failing to get a tune out of a much better squad at a club that is also in a strange malaise. And he turned us down over the summer already.

Lampard is from the Martinez school of defending and was rightly sacked. He blooded some outstanding talents (Simms and Dobbin are not in the same class) and spent a fortune… yet they were miles off the pace. And I'd be amazed if he was interested.

The Danish national coach? As Southgate has shown, it's one thing to manage a country – it's quite another to manage Premier League clubs.

Jay Harris
18 Posted 02/12/2021 at 23:10:42
Bill, for me, the role of DoF should be to ensure the coaching, fitness and academy operation are run in a consistent and professional way in line with the club's desired mode of play.

Therin lies the nub of the problem – 6 managers in 6 years – all with totally different views on how the game should be played allied to a couple of interfering old farts that think they know it all about football and footballers.

The only senior person at the club with any direct football experience is Brands and he worked in Holland which, while extremely successful in its own country, had very rarely been successful outside of Holland and I include managers and players in that.

Having said that, anyone working with Kenwright is hamstrung to begin with. His corridor of power runs right through the club.

Danny O’Neill
19 Posted 02/12/2021 at 23:10:43
Powerfully written piece, Lyndon, even by your own very high standards.

Not a lot to add on what has already been said.

Moshiri has (and should have had some time a go) a decision to make and, as I've said elsewhere, I suspect either Benitez or Brands could be gone soon.

In my opinion, you don't employ the DoF model and then have "alpha" managers like Ancelotti and then Benitez come in.

You do the Rangnick thing. He is the bridge between board and the head coach. Managers like Ancelotti and and Benitez won't work to a DoF model. Even Moyes wouldn't.

If you go for that model, you have a young coach whose only focus is to be the coach and manage the first team.

Bill Gienapp
20 Posted 02/12/2021 at 23:12:22
Remember when there was genuine concern that Newcastle would try to poach Benitez?
Kieran Kinsella
21 Posted 02/12/2021 at 23:12:41
Truth is we'd be better off pooling our money together and starting from scratch, à la Salford.
Finn Taylor
22 Posted 02/12/2021 at 23:21:12
Superb summary, Lyndon, yet again. Reading your words and the collective anxiety, well, it's little comfort, but some.

It's always been my thinking that everything is focused towards the new stadium. All that is probably required is to stay in the Premier League till it's ready. Well, that's a gamble, not a plan.

I still feel there will be ecological issues in the next few years that will prevent a stadium being finished, but that's the pessimist in me.

I generally feel that there is no ambition inside the club, an owner that lives in Monaco and London. It's like they are both playing remote Football Manager, that's about as much as they care. They don't get involved with the fans; they don't want to. Everton is a way of life, not a flight of fancy or a vanity project.

I don't know where we go now. I can see Arsenal putting more past us than Liverpool, to be honest. Sacking Benitez would not be the best option: more chaos. I wish I could offer something positive.

Laurie Hartley
23 Posted 02/12/2021 at 23:45:34
Peter #15,

There is still some Sir John Moore's DNA in this club – present only in the fans – both the ones who left and the ones who stayed the other night and the distant ones such as myself. Thankfully, it has also been passed on to our younger fans. This is a big plus.

Farhad Moshiri needs to have a banner printed - “Nil Satis Nisi Optimum” - and hang it on the office wall opposite his desk wherever that is. Then he needs to take responsibility for what has happened on his watch and sort it and “them” out.

If he does that, the fans will help him and he needs that as much as anything else just now.

As for “them” they won't feel a thing after the initial shock. They will sail off into the sunset. Sad but true.

As for the manager, my head decided after his appointment that it made sense to back him. Right now, my gut is telling me it ain't going to work. Lyndon's position has reinforced that feeling because I have always felt he is not one to shoot from the hip.

If I was in Farhad Moshiri's position, I would be playing my cards close to my chest but I would be developing a plan. That would include keeping the manager in place until such time as all the pieces were ready to be put in place.

Bill Gall
24 Posted 02/12/2021 at 23:53:31
Jay,

That is my feelings exactly but, as I say, there is no way it will work with the constant changing of managers.

I believe that listening to Benitez when he came, and with some of the changes that were needed he may be the one who can work with Brands.

And at the same time, he may be the one that no one wants and may be forced out of the club

Joe Digney
25 Posted 03/12/2021 at 00:46:55
I was all for giving Benitez a chance when he came in despite the obvious major concerns, but as Lyndon has stated even when we were winning there was always glimmers of flaws in the system being played when it didn't look like we could break the likes of Southampton and Burnley down at home.

After the last run of games I've completely lost faith in him and his inability to change a style of play that is clearly failing without the focal point of Calvert-Lewin to which the system was built around. Brentford was the perfect opportunity to start 3 in midfield giving the 3 a chance to play together in a new formation against a “lesser” side before the derby.

It's glaringly obvious with small tactical tweaks we can all see but Benitez either doesn't or he's too stubborn to change it. There are teams with less quality player for player than us in this league but pick up results and put in performances because they are playing in a well-oiled and polished system that suits their players from week to week.

Truly worry for the club and the near future with relegation a real reality with this absolute circus show running our club. I'm on the younger spectrum of Blues growing up watching the more modern, money-driven football era where history means nothing Unfortunately and no club is too big to go down. If drastic changes aren't made at board and managerial level very soon, I fear Young Blues will be a dying breed.

I don't often comment on here so I apologize if I'm not articulating my concerns very well but it's gotten that bad, I feel compelled to voice my concerns along with fellow blues. I'd hate to think I have another 40+ years of this heartache… Sometimes I could kill me dad for putting this club on me. 🤣

Kieran Kinsella
26 Posted 03/12/2021 at 01:22:07
Lyndon,

I'm skeptical when it comes to The Athletic reports about player discontent. Not saying Kenwright hasn't leaked this to his mouthpiece Greg O'Keeffe as is his way. But more I'm skeptical of the validity of the complaints.

We heard under Moyes there was too much running up Sandhills; Martinez – not enough fitness work; Koeman's training was too confusing; Sam focused too much on KPI; Silva was a muppet; Carlo too negative… and so on.

But at this point, I've zero interest in the excuses wheeled out by this group who've failed under every kind of manager. He may be useless but so are they. So their opinions count for nought, IMHO.

Derek Knox
27 Posted 03/12/2021 at 06:40:39
As usual, a great article, Lyndon, invoking good responses too.

We have, collectively, a love for Everton which sadly is not mirrored by those who make the decisions. Are they acting in the interest of the club or for more selfish reasons?

As Peter Mills @15 alluded to, it's a kind of madness, that sensibly we should walk away from, but we can't! Though I wish those in positions that affect the club would!

Lyndon Lloyd
28 Posted 03/12/2021 at 06:57:41
Peter (15):

I assume this is going to be a Paul the Esk type of copy: ‘The Manager', ‘The Board', etc. I hope you will also address ‘The Fans', because I would love to know quite what we are supposed to do in the current circumstances.”

Paul did rather beat me to the punch but largely, because I've had a lot of the stuff that will come out in the upcoming parts lying around in draft form for the better part of a month, he's a lot more succinct than I am! There will be a lot of overlap I'm sure but I shall press on if only for the catharsis of getting it off my chest!

Kieran (26),

I've never taken Greg to be a Kenwright mouthpiece but, in any case, Paddy Boyland (who co-writes the bigger pieces like this most recent one) certainly isn't.

I'm also less inclined than some to buy into the “players have let down a succession of managers” narrative, if only because the faces have changed. And those gripes you list under each of our recent managers could just be very valid.

This accusation that they're all lazy shithouses with no fight is an easy one to level but I look across the team and I can't say that Coleman doesn't care, that Allan doesn't care, that Gordon, Richarlison, Digne, Godfrey don't care, that Keane in his own understated way doesn't care – because I genuinely think they do. I think some of them just aren't good enough.

I don't think they've been coached well enough under the last two managers. I think they're being asked to play a system that leaves them far too open and that the tactics defending set-pieces have been suicidal.

They're not beyond criticism of their effort at times, obviously, and there's a case for saying that something is amiss when, for example, they're not even challenging for second balls, but it strikes me that a lot of the issues come down to a) trying to perform in a poor team and b) a lack of trust in the manager, so those insinuations in The Athletic don't surprise me.

Phillip Warrington
29 Posted 03/12/2021 at 07:36:09
The trouble is: Who do you replace Rafa with?

If you look at the managers since Moyes, they weren't nobodies and, if you look at the countries and clubs they now manage (Barcelona, Holland, Real Madrid, Belgium)... yet when they managed Everton, they went to shit.

To me, that says more than manager issues; the lack of direction this club is now showing towards the footballing side of the club is more than alarming. We just don't seem to have any direction in the progression of the youngsters of the club or the playing style, so that leads to no plan in recruitment. We just seem to pick up anybody, regardless of position or age, that is available.

As for the players we have brought in, because their wages are so high for the standard they are at, it doesn't matter whether they play or not. This also brings into the second part of the equation: it must piss off some of the locally brought-up players – the difference in pay would be huge.

Mina is turning into his fellow countryman, saving himself for Colombia at the expense of Everton.

Brands – when was the last U23s player he has found that is a strong presence in the current Everton team? He done it in Holland and some of those players are playing for the biggest clubs in Europe.

Never have I been in a time where you just shake your head watching the football Everton play. We are pretty much outplayed by every team we play, including the ones we won. Every time the club thinks it's found an answer, it goes to shit and we are just left shaking our heads, thinking: What is the answer? – We just don't know anymor.e

Mick O'Malley
30 Posted 03/12/2021 at 08:01:14
Lyndon, excellently written and 100% correct.

I'm not having the old "but who else is there?" and it's certainly no excuse to keep Benitez.

We've played well for 15 minutes against Burnley and had a decent 2nd half against Man Utd but basically we've conceded possession and territory to the likes of Norwich and Southampton, been humiliated twice at home to relegation-threatened Watford and our loveable neighbours (while being mocked), and been walloped by Villa, also losing at home to West Ham, and then to lose at Brentford, who also had injuries and who were on a bad run themselves, was embarrassing.

Benitez is analogue in a digital age; he is looking clueless while we plummet; for me, he has to go now.

Gary Smith
31 Posted 03/12/2021 at 08:29:34
Mick's “Benitez is analogue in a digital age” has to be the most accurate analogy I've seen. Utterly fantastic.

The great Howard Kendall lost his spark later on; Benitez lost his many years ago too… and his was tiny compared for the great man.

Eddie Dunn
32 Posted 03/12/2021 at 08:48:00
My solution to the problem is this: We all put money in a pot, buy Goodison Park and start a new club, "Kirkdale FC".

We'd be shot of Moshiri, Benitez et al.

Perhaps we could get ex-players like Rooney, Cahill to chip in.

Leave the shysters on the dock with their zinc shed and retail park.

Christopher Timmins
33 Posted 03/12/2021 at 09:08:25
I have to disagree with the article: the immediate problem is the large number of players wearing the shirt who are not up to it.

Apart from Pickford, Doucouré (although one-dimensional), Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison and Gray, the rest are not up to it. As I see it either Brands or the manager has to go and given that choice it has to be Brands.

If Brands survives after what he has done on the recruitment side of things over the past number of years then we deserve everything, absolutely everything that is coming to us.

The January window might decide if we stay in the Premier League, it's 29 days away and people are happy to let Brand to be in charge of transfers?

Wednesday night showed up just how moderate some of our players are: Keane, Digne and Allan to name but three, indeed on a horrific night for the club. Gray and Rondon, yes Rondon, were two of our better performers.

I was in the significant minority camp two years ago in not having a problem with bringing Moyes back and I am happy to be in the same camp in wanting to keep the current manager.

Sack the manager and keep the DoF, what a joke!

Jerome Shields
34 Posted 03/12/2021 at 09:42:17
Kieran #12,

You probably know by now, it is my belief that at Everton, a manager does not just lose the dressing room, he loses Finch Farm and all that comes from that.

When players question the manager's approach to games, who's opinion are they expressing and where is the affirmation of this opinion coming from? This type of fostered opinion has effects on training, attitude, injury recovery and motivation to be selected.

I know that is only alleged as a report in The Athletic but, if true, it can have a substantial effect on preparation, training and motivation to play.

If leaked, its purpose is to isolate the manager and try to influence outside opinion against him.

Brian Harrison
35 Posted 03/12/2021 at 10:03:28
The three most important things to get right are recruitment, coaching and managing; during the last 6 seasons, we have suffered in one or all of these departments.

Howard Kendall was a top manager who bought good players but it was only after he promoted Colin Harvey to be his first-team coach that his team flourished; so combined, they covered all three bases: recruitment, coaching and managing. And also not forgetting the funding that Sir John Moores provided.

But we have an owner who has pumped in £450 million for player recruitment which, by and large, has been very poor.

I have just had a look at some of Liverpool's players who played on Wednesday and what they cost, and it's fair to say that, with possibly the exception of Van Dijk and Alisson, we could have bought all their players: Jota £40 million, Salah £37 million, Mane £37 million, Matip free, Robertson £8.5 million, Fabhino £40.5 million and Thiago £19.8 million. So that just highlights the difference between good recruitment and bad recruitment.

Coaching again a key element that has been lacking in many of our managers> I know some may disagree but I believe if we had been able to recruit Ancelotti at the start, we may be in a far better position. I know it went a bit pear-shaped at the end but I think injuries played a part.

But let's not forget this same squad that lost so comprehensively on Wednesday, 7 of those same players were part of the team that won at Liverpool last season.

Also, Ancelotti had the 3rd best win rate of all our permanent managers for the last 60 years; so, despite some of the criticism on here, he must have been doing something right.

Also, before he came, one of our biggest problems was we conceded a lot of goals from set-pieces, which we are doing again this season; but last season, under his charge, we hardly conceded any goals from dead-ball situations compared to the previous seasons.

So, for me, we lack the coaching and managing element of what it takes to be a good team, and I don't think that is going to change anytime soon given our position with FFP and our present manager who fails to see us very often being over-run in midfield with his stubbornness to keep playing with only 2 centre-midfield players.

Tony Abrahams
36 Posted 03/12/2021 at 10:23:16
Looking at those set-pieces the other night, it's obvious that whatever is being asked of the players is not getting through, because from my perfect view, I can't remember many Everton players having their eyes on the ball when Arnold was just about to cross it into the box.

The biggest problem, is that we are just not compact enough, and when I close my eyes, I visualize a circle big enough to land a helicopter, between the centre of our defence, and the centre of our midfield, with my own view being that only a change in personnel is going to change this.

By that, I mean the players, and if that stat was true that, up until last weekend, Everton had ran further than any other team, then it's not because the players are not trying.

We all know that some of them are not good enough, a mid-table squad last season has lost most of its better players for a good length of time so far this season, and if it's true Pickford kicked the ball more than Rondon the other night, I'm not sure this was our centre-forward's fault.

I'd give the man a bit of time, but maybe it's because I'm also a dinosaur, and If it's true that Benitez hasn't got much charisma, I'd also add that he has inherited one of the most uncharismatic squads I've witnessed in the 47-year period I've been watching Everton play.

Dave Abrahams
37 Posted 03/12/2021 at 10:35:37
Good question by Peter (15) and best answered in part by Lyndon (28) and Christopher (33) who both state, and I agree with them, that a good proportion of the players are simply not good enough in their ability to perform.

I would add most of them, at the moment, lack the confidence to carry out simple instructions like holding the line, or even for attackers, to look across the line to see you're not offside. Richarlison is constantly pulled up for this offence.

As to what we supporters are classed as, I wouldn't have a clue. Maybe we would, as Peter suggests, be better off going to see good, honest, whole-hearted non-league football, or go back to watching grass-roots kids football. I'm too old for the latter but, even so, I could never stop going to see “The Blues”, as painful as it is in the present situation.

Sam Fitzsimmons
38 Posted 03/12/2021 at 10:35:51
A super OP, Lyndon, as it details the reasons why there is a genuine crisis of confidence in where Everton FC are headed.

I haven't read the article in The Athletic which you quote "players have significant reservations... about whether the team is taking the right approach in matches". If Benitez has lost some of the dressing room and you add the dysfunctional business model, management structure, recruitment, coaching, medical side, then what we have is a perfect storm.

As others have pointed out, the history of clubs like Leeds, Villa, Nottingham Forest and Sunderland counted for nothing once they reached the tipping point. It does feel as if we are at or close to that tipping point now.

Rick Tarleton
39 Posted 03/12/2021 at 10:40:47
I totally agree with your sentiments, Lyndon.

I was against the appointment of Benitez because, despite the miracle of Istanbul, which was exactly that, a miracle, he did not, considering his resources, do that much at Anfield and I felt his stature was grossly inflated.

Nevertheless, when he was appointed I hoped that I'd been harsh on him and that his experience and nous would, at least, guarantee defensive soundness and solid organisation. It hasn't.

Yes, he's been unlucky with injuries, but to be honest, no-one last season was proclaiming that Mina was a great defender and Keane and Godfrey looked quite a sound pairing. Calvert-Lewin was a big blow, but surely no one man ever made a team, or did it?

Gray and Townsend looked excellent signings and, with Benitez's much vaunted professionalism, I thought we weren't in too much danger of suddenly sinking below midtable.

A manager must be able to have a strategy, but he must also be able to encourage and even inspire his squad to perform at their optimum level. He must also, when injuries occur, be able to cut his cloth according to his resources. Benitez does not seem to be inspiring in the least and his ability to sort out his coat is non-existent.

Getting rid of another manager will be expensive and a terrible admission of our directors' ignorance of the needs of our club.

Would Ferguson provide some short-term fire in the players' bellies? Would a combination of Carrick and Phil Neville provide fresh insight? I ask these questions without a great deal of faith in their effectiveness, but to put possibilities in the hat.

I do not attribute Everton's decline to the idea that the players are lazy or lack desire, though they lack some motivation. I attribute it to terrible recruitment over a long period and inadequate managerial nous.

I saw Everton play one game in the old Second Division, and I have no desire to see them again in the second tier of English football, but, unless the malaise is corrected, I fear that is where we will end up next season.

Mike Price
40 Posted 03/12/2021 at 10:43:07
Recruitment and trading are key; we are terrible at both.

As Brian pointed out, they've bought incredibly well but also sold Coutinho for £140 million, cashed in on Suarez and sell peripherals for a fortune: Solanke, Ibe, Brewster!

We hold on to players way too long, Digne being the latest example; a short period of form but he was always too slow and should have been sold.

Tosun is the worst footballer I've ever seen but we made him a multi-millionaire. Iwobi is almost as bad and after the other night should never be seen again. If only Peter Reid, Andy Gray and Kevin Ratcliffe could have dealt with him laughing as we were getting destroyed.

Moshiri is well-intentioned but clueless. Moyes was on his way to sign when Ancelloti became available and he jumped at the glamour signing. I'm no fan of Moyes but we wouldn't be in this death spiral if he was manager.

I was happy to give Rafa Benitez a chance but I'm shocked at his selections, tactics and substitutions. We all know the squad is shocking but I expected more from him and the comments from Brands show that there is serious disharmony within.

We have been very unlucky with injuries but don't help ourselves when signing injury-prone players. Bolasie, Gomes and Coleman having terrible leg-breaks though and then the Gylfi situation.

They, on the other hand, get Klopp for nothing and buy robust players; Mane and Salah are never injured, they're fast players but never even pull a hamstring even though they play every game.

We are the worst run club on the planet, Cursed FC.

Barry Hesketh
41 Posted 03/12/2021 at 10:49:07
It is possible to look across the park and wonder why Everton didn't sign some of the players that they did; however, what salaries are those players on at Anfield? Which club is more attractive to those particular players?

If those players didn't go across the park, there are several other clubs in England who would be ahead of Everton in bringing those players in.

That's the problem for Everton, they have to pay relatively inflated wages and transfer fees for the players that aren't good enough for the likes of Man City, Man Utd et al.

Ajay Gopal
42 Posted 03/12/2021 at 11:00:24
I am surprised that Lyndon, of all people, is advocating a change of manager.

Benitez has not covered himself in glory, but the mitigating circumstances – almost no investment in the playing squad, injuries to key players – mean that any new incumbent will face the same issues, plus having to start from scratch.

And the fact that there are no outstanding candidates who are available and willing to take on the job, which essentially means that whoever you appoint will be a gamble, and that there won't be a big pot of money to invest in January (unlike, say Newcastle), essentially points to continuing with Rafa Benitez with the hope that he will start turning things around.

So, where do we go from here? Here are my suggestions:

Back to basics – start with a solid defense. Coleman needs to be dropped now, and used judiciously. I would put Godfrey on the right, Keane and Branthwaite in the middle. Mina would come in for Branthwaite if and when he becomes available. (I'm not holding my breath!)

I would have also dropped Digne because of his poor form, but lack of options and knowing what he is capable of and he is (was?) the only crosser and free-kick taker that we have, means that I would continue with him.

Then, as many others have suggested, go with a midfield 3 - Allan, Delph and Doucouré with him having the box-to-box responsibility. Allan and Delph (or Gomes) protecting the centre-backs and keep things ticking over.

The front 3 automatically selects itself – Gray, Richarlison and Townsend. When Calvert-Lewin does come in, Townsend would drop to the bench.

This formation and team should have enough to compete with most teams, but obviously, now the pressure is on Brands to deliver a very strong transfer window in January.

I think 3 positions are an absolute must to strengthen – right-back, creative midfield and a decent quality forward. I would like to throw some options out here: Patterson (right-back, purchase), Van de Beek / Barkley (midfield, loan), Perisic - 33 years, experienced goalscorer, could be tempted here on a short term contract - although Spurs are rumoured to be after him. Or someone of similar ilk.

We have got to look for solutions, and I don't believe sacking Benitez now would help the club (says the guy who was in total shock for almost 2 weeks after Rafa's appointment was announced – and not in a good way!).

Brian Harrison
43 Posted 03/12/2021 at 11:01:35
Barry @41,

As to your question: Could we have signed any of the players that are playing now for our neighbours?

Well, there weren't many clubs in for Salah when he was with Roma, and maybe his failure to impress while at Chelsea put some clubs off.

Again, Mane – I don't remember many clubs being interested in him when he was at Southampton, and certainly Koeman couldn't have thought much of him as he was managing him before he became our manager.

Jota likewise was a decent player for Wolves but not attracting much attention in the market.

As what salaries they are on at Liverpool, then Barry I suggest you look at what salaries many of our players are on – not far short of what their counterparts at Liverpool are earning.

Also they are playing at a club who have accrued huge amounts for winning both the Champions League and winning the Premier League, as well as selling their fringe players for huge amounts, unlike us who most of our regular first-team squad are either loaned out and then sold for peanuts or just sold cheaply.

Lynn Maher
44 Posted 03/12/2021 at 11:08:32
Such a well written article, Lyndon. I only wish the people who should read this (the board and others!) would. It might give them an insight into what is wrong, why it is wrong and maybe how to start putting it right.

I know it's wishful thinking but I seem to do a lot of that at the moment. I agree with Peter @15, as a fan what do I do?

I left after their 4th goal. Don't even think it was the goal that made me leave, more the constant goading from those not very nice people from across the park!

Tony @36, you are indeed a brave man, I literally look away at set pieces, it makes the inevitable less so!

Once again, Lyndon, superb article.

Finn Taylor
45 Posted 03/12/2021 at 11:10:54
Just how far back can we trace this atrophy the club is in?

Regardless of the Heysel ban, was the Moore's family letting go mid-80s the real start of the spiral?

I was always baffled as to why we sold Lineker. The wisdom is – rightly – we didn't play as well with Lineker but we should never have sold him. Okay, I am probably being naive to the machinations of football, but on the face of it, why sell your best asset? Did we, even then, cash in as we were skint then?

Regardless of Europe, we failed to build, plan a longer-term strategy for the team. Kendall got lightning in a bottle, and that was it. Those in charge didn't see it coming... and they are not seeing it now.

I remember Kendall Mk2 tried to sign Dean Saunders. We all know where he ended up.

To me, the decline really was apparent when we sold Beardsley back to Newcastle in 1993. He was playing terrific for us and yet... he went back to Newcastle who had just been promoted and well, we all know how season 93-94 turned out.

There is clearly no plan at Everton, just indifferent management and employees happy to accept treading water... which you can only do for so long.

Jerome Shields
46 Posted 03/12/2021 at 11:30:24
If Benitez goes, who is going to replace him? Is a seventh change of Manager in as many years going to make a difference to a failed organisation?

It is time to confront the reasons that another change of Manager is seen as a remedy, like all the other times, when it was not.

Finn Taylor
47 Posted 03/12/2021 at 11:39:36
Jerome – spot on. The sacking of Benitez would be pointless. We can't deal any more, we have to live with the consequences of the years of bad management, overspending. You run out of line at some point – and the club is fast approaching it.

Eyes and scrutiny should be ruthlessly focused on those in charge. I just wish someone in the know would break rank and tell it – and us – how it really is.

Tony Abrahams
48 Posted 03/12/2021 at 11:42:26
That's exactly the point I was making, Lynn, because so do some of our players.

Joking aside, but how is anyone supposed to go and attack the ball when they haven't even got their eyes on it to begin with?

Barry Hesketh
49 Posted 03/12/2021 at 11:45:11
Brian @43,

I'm sure Everton could have bought one or two of the names you mention, but there's a lot more to it than just paying the transfer fee. If you're arguing that our neighbours have done better in the transfer market than we have, that is patently self-evident given the differing fortunes of the two clubs.

However, I'm still not convinced that Everton FC would be able to attract the same quality of player often enough to compete in the same way.

Liverpool Salaries

Virgil van Dijk £240,000
Thiago £225,000
Mohamed Salah £225,000
Sadio Mané £200,000
Alisson £190,000
Jordan Henderson £190,000
Fabinho £180,000
Roberto Firmino £180,000
Andrew Robertson £160,000
Trent Alexande £160,000
James Milner £150,000
Joël Matip £140,000
Naby Keïta £130,000
Alex Oxlade £125,000
Diogo Jota £120,000
Joe Gomez £85,000
Divock Origi £82,000
Takumi Minamino £72,000

Top eighteen earners at Everton and Liverpool according to Salarysport.com

Everton salaries
Yerry Mina £120,000
Abdoulaye Doucouré £120,000
Allan £120,000
André Gomes £120,000
Jordan Pickford £110,000
Lucas Digne £110,000
Richarlison £110,000
Alex Iwobi £100,000
Fabian Delph £92,000
Jean-Philippe Gbamin £75,000
Dominic Calvert £72,000
Michael Keane £69,000
Cenk Tosun £69,000
Ben Godfrey £68,000
Seamus Coleman £68,000
Mason Holgate £64,000
Andros Townsend £48,000
Asmir Begovic £43,000

Everton salaries

Pete Clarke
50 Posted 03/12/2021 at 12:01:31
Eddie.

I sometimes feel that we need to break away from Everton too but was more thinking of the name, ‘St Domingo’ just to hang on to that bit of history.

Everton Football Club is a mess right now and in between the posts from all of you fellow blues lies the truth.

There is a total amateur outlook of the club looking inwards and outwards. Those who hold the lower coaching positions have never been challenged despite very few young players emerging. It may well be a cushy little number for those who work within Finch Farm and any outsiders are not made welcome when it comes to being told what to do. This needs to be addressed.

I had never heard of Farhad Moshiri but, when it was clear that he was buying the club, my first thought was that Kenwright is finally gone. He is, in my eyes the biggest threat to our club ever making progress as I see him as a disruptive influence on all levels. It's very alarming that Moshiri has not told him to step aside and my suspicion is that he actually gives Kenwright control whilst he's away in Monaco.

Kenwright's sacking would immediately stop most of the problems at the club and that's what should be prioritized in any protests.

Joe, I'm glad my dad didn't make me support his team as I would have been a red nose (5 blue and 3 red in my family). I was taken to Anfield many times as a 6-year-old by my eldest sister who treated me whilst there. I saw many a great game there and even saw Johan Cruyff with Barcelona so many memories of that place (none better than watching Sharp score though).

However, once I was able to make my own way at 8 years of age up Great Homer Street and Everton Valley to Goodison Park, then that was it. My first game was a pre-season friendly vs Hibs (I think) and I bunked in to most games that season before making the Top Balcony my favorite spot. Most kids I knew were Blues, by the way.

We have been through some tough times, watched some utter crap, but there are some great memories of being on the road with the travelling Blues, especially during those trophy-winning years. Have faith and hopefully you will get your turn to see a successful Blues resurgence.

No-one is bigger than the club and, although it feels like we are stuck in a nightmare, I now believe the pressure is finally being put on this naive owner of ours to take some action.

Changes have to be made for the sake of the club's future, and especially the younger blues like yourself. Kenwright has to be first out of the door.

Lyndon Lloyd
51 Posted 03/12/2021 at 12:44:54
Ajay (42): “ I am surprised that Lyndon, of all people, is advocating a change of manager.

I haven't gone that far, Ajay, but unless he changes the way he sets this team out quickly, we might have no choice. If we don't win any of the next four games, we'll be right in the thick of it near the bottom and the pressure really will mount.

My point was he doesn't have a long-term future at EFC in my opinion. In an ideal world, he becomes a glorified interim hire and we appoint someone better next summer but I don't know who that would be.

As you say, there are no obvious candidates at the moment – sacking him now would carry more risk but if the alternative is a death spiral to the Championship…? That's my concern but I think we'll have a clearer idea of where we might be headed by Christmas.

Danny O’Neill
52 Posted 03/12/2021 at 13:01:30
I'd agree with that sentiment, Lyndon. I don't think sacking yet another manager achieves a lot personally. Ride out the current storm. But, at the same time, this manager doesn't have a long-term future at Everton. He never did have from the start, in my opinion.

That point about eyes on the ball is interesting and something I'll watch with scrutiny now. To me, this indicates that the players are more concerned with their position rather than the ball. Like Subbuteo players lining up as they've been placed and that has to be down to coaching and instruction. Positioning more important than the ball? The clue is in the title; footBALL.

We've long debated having players who are comfortable with the ball (or lack of). That counts for "hunting" and wanting it when we don't have possession as much as using it intelligently and being confident when we do have it.

Jon Wit
53 Posted 03/12/2021 at 13:03:52
Excellent article, thanks, Lyndon.

Unfortunately there isn't much to support at our club right now – I agree with a lot of observations that there doesn't really seem to be much of a competitive streak running through the organisation.

It's business as usual – trot out something that looks like a mid-table Premier League team and then get on with the week.

Charles Brewer
54 Posted 03/12/2021 at 13:05:30
There are three problems in need of addressing. These run from individual players to the state of football globally.

First, on the piich, the players. They are unmotivated and appear to be unconcerned. There is no driving captain or inspiring leader to get the spirits up, which is clear once a goal goes in. This is not a Benitez problem since, for many seasons, Everton letting in the first goal has been a guaranteed loss. There have been a couple of 'new manager' bounces, but essentially, this is a very sick team mentally.

Second, match and tactical management. Ancelotti actually did an excellent piece of work on both Calvert-Lewin and even more Pickford.

He rapidly saw that Calvert-Lewin is useless at more than 3-4 yards out, so converted him into a sort of Lineker player whose predatory instincts get him into places where he receives that ball very near the goal and bundles it in.

Pickford was clearly a mental mess when he was dropped and has come back as good a goalkeeper as any in the world; sadly Wednesday may have shown a few tarnishes when he failed to go for Salah on two occasions but, since Salah would have scored in either case due to the utter lack of pressure on him, it probably does not matter.

Benitez's terrible substitutions (Delph for Townsend when losing? Rondon match after match?). I suspect that, if Everton had had a quick and predatory centre-forward on Wednesday, he would have got on the end of at least one of the first-class crosses (or even the third-class ones) which Digne, Townsend and others have been banging in there. But with a bollard like Rondon, they might as well just pass to the nearest opposition player.

Third, and probably most devastating, are the corrupt "Financial Fair Play" rules designed specifically to allow only those clubs which have spent heavily to continue to do so. Man City spend hundreds of millions each season while Everton are limited to a couple of million. This will guarantee that Everton's only route out of the current mess – high spending – is made impossible.

In my view, it would be better if the English game (maybe amalgamating with the Scots, for what it's worth) exited from UEFA, FIFA and the rest of the sleazy cartels and came up with an intelligent, global method of selling live online access to games together with a huge global marketing campaign and promotion of the international nature of the Premier League.

10 million viewers globally paying £5 a match for 38 matches would mean revenues (shared 50-50) of something like £0.9billion per annum. In 2019, the top 6 teams had revenues of around £160 million each. Last season, when the matches were played serially, the number of viewers must have gone through the roof. Just think if the rest of Europe, South America and Asia could watch Premier League matches live...

Netflix has 200 million subscribers. If the Premier League can't get 5% for live football, they aren't bloody trying. A 20% levy on revenues would keep the next 3 divisions in clover and would allow the likes of Accrington to attract some of the world's best players.

Just imagine if the pre-Woke NFL had had a game which had global interest...

Geoff Gregson
55 Posted 03/12/2021 at 13:17:01
Yet another article of historical accuracy which we already know.
Jerome Shields
56 Posted 03/12/2021 at 13:22:49
Finn #47

No-one will break ranks, they are all embedded in the structure and positions within the club, paying homage to who got them there, and who they perceive as keeping them there.

They have been for years, or brought in by mates, in their secure positions, getting wage increases, new positions and promotions. What is good for them is good for Everton. They have continually and recently embellished their ranks with like-minded recruits.

They were arrogant enough to take on and get rid of the experienced, competition-winning Ancelotti. Benitez, an ex-Red, with an added bonus in turning Evertonians against him, is a push-over.

When he is gone, they will be able to rally enough to maintain Premier League status. They don't want European football, as Ancelotti found out. He counted himself lucky that Real Madrid did.

Anyone who wants Benitez gone is inadvertently supporting the continuation of this crap that has been going on for years at Everton.

These pillars of Everton care nothing about the future of Everton Football Club, only in terms of their continuing jobs. They will milk any future investment in the club for their own gain. Fuck the Fans.

Lynn Maher
57 Posted 03/12/2021 at 13:44:36
Right on cue, just received an EitC email!

Wow, everything seems to be going just so well there. They apparently won, I quote “A Skills and Employability Prize”. Try transferring that to that little known branch of EitC, Everton FC Because they seem lacking in both!

This is only a small part of what is wrong. Yes, it is all very admirable and, trust me, over the years, we have donated many times. But just once, I would like an email from Everton FC explaining what is happening to the club, in fact anything that doesn't involve me buying or donating.

In my opinion, we are amongst the most loyal fans of any club. Yet we get treated almost as an afterthought. Actually not even that.

Barry Jones
58 Posted 03/12/2021 at 14:08:42
A nicely written article, Lyndon, and difficult to disagree with the bulk of it.

I would have to agree with Tony #36 and say that the biggest problem is that this squad is bereft of genuine quality. For that, we can only blame our recruitment and our academy.

More than most people on here, I do feel that Gomes is a notable absentee, who has the quality to bring something we are missing in the middle of the park.

How do we turn this around in 6 months? That's difficult to see.

I wonder why Everton did not consider bringing in Ralf Rangnick? He would have provided the team with an identity (especially high pressing), which we are missing right now.

I am now of the belief, as Lyndon is, that Benitez is yesterday's man. We need a younger, more progressive coach who can put an identity on the team (like Klopp has at Liverpool). The big questions: Who is he and will he come?

Nick Page
59 Posted 03/12/2021 at 14:16:07
Jerome is absolutely spot-on. They've been at it for years. Even Moshiri's money hasn't changed their behaviour, in fact, if anything, it has galvanised it and let it flourish with a new lease of life… like pumping money into a crumbling business only to see it fail later on due to the totally inept management (I've been in a business like this and it's maddening).

And this is where EFC is headed – it will catch up with us as clubs around us continue to evolve and progress. Without massive fan action, we won't get rid of these parasites (one of whom I questioned the integrity of many years ago and got banned from TW even!).

The media aren't really interested anymore as we're not news and most of the lazy journos think Kenwright is great. How far from the truth… It's desperate and I think it gets a lot worse before it gets better – but getting rid of Benitez isn't the option.

Pete Clarke
60 Posted 03/12/2021 at 14:17:23
I hope Benitez is still here in a months time because it will mean we have a few more points on the board. A draw against Arsenal would be a big step forward. However, a defeat could see the end for Benitez. The atmosphere will be toxic again and this time Moshiri will be there to see it.

We have to start digging deep and fight like mad for any points. Benitez should be working on stopping the goals against.

I know the players are average but they are all internationals and he's got to earn his money, use his experience and stop looking for excuses. If you can't get the win, then make sure you don't lose. I thought he was the master of tactics. The only game I have seen so far where we got it spot on was against an average Man Utd.

Realistically, Benitez has no future at Everton. Many of us moaned about his appointment until the season actually started and the realization that he was actually here hit us. We then stood back in hope and gave him whatever backing we could but, deep down, we knew the derby was going to come along and the ultimate embarrassment could happen. Well... it did happen in worse circumstances than we may have thought of and right on our own turf.

If that thought is not sickening enough, then think of the Red Shite next year with their banners if Benitez is allowed to continue until we are doomed to relegation.

It's not as if he's a top coach anymore and certainly not one to get you off your seats with his style. Going to China proved that... so how the hell Moshiri came to the conclusion that he was a good fit for us tells us more about our owner's ability to run the club.

Most of us realize there's a lot of shit going on at the club and Benitez had no part in it. (I blame Kenwright for all of that.) Unfortunately for him, he has become an unwelcome member of the malaise at our club – and in the hot seat at that.

If we do not get a positive result on Monday night, the crowd will hopefully let Moshiri have it and he finally starts righting those wrongs.





Mick O'Malley
61 Posted 03/12/2021 at 14:21:52
Geoff @55 don't read it then – and if that's all you've got to offer, best keep it to yourself. Lyndon writes excellent articles an OPs and me and fellow TWers appreciate the work both Lyndon and Michael do.
Jerome Shields
62 Posted 03/12/2021 at 15:23:57
Nick #59,

There is a perception that Everton is the same Everton when Moshiri took over. Same structure; same Board, professional and experienced Board members. Same personnel, and same School of Science. The truth is, it has totally changed.

New titles, new structures, a smaller Board, a Board with less professional and experienced content, different personnel, a changed medical services structure, a changed academy structure and a different recruitment and scouting structure. All heralded as major advancement, with accompanying progressive personnel, big titles and big wages, that will all guaranteed Everton's success, with next to no accountability.

There have been millions spent on this. It is going to take some really good management and millions to sort out this unproductive monolith, which is progressing itself uninhibited as we speak.

Sack the Board, sack key personnel, all in the "snowball's chance in hell" category. And of course take the easy option to appease the fans: sack the manager. But it has been bloody expensive sacking the manager and someone has to start thinking in terms of less expensive options and know what they are doing.

They need to make sure they are putting an end to the real problem that the monolith has created, rather than at the replacement manager cost, which is partly funding the monolith and keeping it in place, helping it develop.

I must say I am not impressed by Moshiri and his text messages to Jimmy White and his yellow tie. What way is that to conduct oneself as the club's defacto owner?

I am also not impressed with Brands, when confronted, deflecting the blame from the players, to avoid any blame himself. I would not be counting on such a weak director. I hope Denise and Kenwright shut their mouths till the AGM; I am depressed enough.

Whether we like it or not, Rafa is the only show in town for Evertonians, and that is only a small step.

Geoff Gregson
63 Posted 03/12/2021 at 16:45:16
Mick @61,

My point was that there have been so very many articles, comments on what has happened and how things used to be. As supporters, we already know, we were there, we suffered.

I'm 73 years old and was there when Roy Vernon hammered penalties into the net, when Alex Young rose to head the ball into the back of the net. Different times, different people, different world.

The way football is currently financed means that many clubs can survive without the revenue from matchday fans. Fans become less and less relevant.

I have absolutely no idea what the solution is, but we all know what the problems are.

John Raftery
64 Posted 03/12/2021 at 16:53:27
I agree, the manager needs to sort out the midfield. We have been far too open in that area. In the short term at least, we need an extra body in there to protect the defence and gain a greater share of possession. That would not solve the problem we have scoring goals but would make the team more solid.

If we possessed a significant pool of untapped talent in the squad, it could be argued a change of manager might be justified. We don't. Our first eleven, with the additions of Gray and Townsend, is arguably stronger than it was last season. The problem is following the departures of Bernard and James, the injuries to Gomes and Davies and the unavailability of Sigurdsson, the cover squad is significantly weaker.

When we hear the likes of Conté commenting on how big a job he has got on his hands improving Spurs, a club with a much stronger squad than ours, it seems to me more than ever, yet another change of manager will achieve nothing. Indeed, it could turn a bad situation into a disastrous one.

Kieran Kinsella
65 Posted 03/12/2021 at 17:09:27
Lyndon,

I would agree – the players you mentioned try... but I just think they're not good enough. Keane, for example; Carlo tried to improve him as far as being comfortable on the ball but it didn't last. We've heard various excuses about how his centre-back partners are to blame etc but ultimately, I just don't think he's very good.

I don't think Coleman is any good any more. Gomes is another. At best, we can try to organize them, which is what Sam did, but then fans got upset about the style of play.

So I'm not sympathetic to complaints about the training as it's a bit like Eddie the Eagle. Plenty of heart but just not good enough to play the way the fans want them to play.

On the shithouse front, I would say we had two: Schneiderlin and Mirallas. The rest are just not good enough.

Adrian Evans
66 Posted 03/12/2021 at 17:23:42
We are the laughing stock of the Premier League. Well, with mates of 55 years at Wrexham, Tranmere it's hard to think the whole football pyramid.

Moshiri has spent his money, but he clearly hasn't got a clu,e bless his little heart and deep pockets.

Since Martinez, the only decision he made with a manager who did what he was asked and was paid to do was Big Sam.

Before everyone starts vilifying that comment, he came in with Sammy, Red nose, when we were 3 from bottom-ish, if I remember. He implemented his methods for securing points in the Premier League, and we started to climb the table.

We left Goodison maybe not happy, but 1 point, 3 points in the bag. Went away and nicked points. Where did we finish? 8th, 10th-ish... Short memories.

By 30 December, when we play Newcastle, with how Rafa asks this lot to set up, could we be bottom??

Eddie Howe will greatly improve, Dean Smith too. Dyche ain't going to collapse and Tinkerman has already sorted us out once. Make no bones about it, we are in the preverbial crap with Rafa.

We wait, lose a month, let him buy or loan players in. Moshiri isn't that stupid. Niave, listened to shisters, con-men on tens of thousands a week.

I've been a Blue since 1960, Dad took me. I could have taken the physio job when Clink had to leave, served on in Armed Forces as a physio.

I was a part time physio 7 years at Spurs in '80s whilst in still in RAF. A mate played Dave Smallmanz sad short end.

To sort this mess out, ring Big Sam now, tell him to bring Sammy Rednose. Ask him to come get us a minimum of 43 points, get us safe asap.

Get rid of Mr Brands, no Director of Football, these are posts for big clubs. We are not that at this moment in time.

Ask Sam to stay, take us to the new stadium as a really tough outfit that no side in the Premier League can take the piss out of. A proper football team that plays a number of ways, secures points against top sides, beats mid-bottom sides that we are supposed to.

Tell Sam to clear out everything and put a proper squad and team together. He will come on a 4-year contract, take us to our new home as a Premier League team, not a championship side.

Leave this mess 8 weeks with Rafa in charge and there is a real chance we are going down.

Not Big Sam??? Wayne Rooney would keep us up. Yep, big laughs… but I’ll take my chances with Big Sam and Sammy Lee.

Wayne and Big Dunc?

Stick with Rafa and we have a huge chance to drop. Rafa will be off, paid off.

I don't like the way things are but I don't care how we stay up, buy time to sort out the mess.

Mr Moshiri needs to talk to proper ex-Everton players, long-standing Everton people… family. Not bring in stangers. Dutch, Spanish managers, Dutch, Italian, etc.

If anyone can suggest who can come in with 24 games left and do better than Big Sam, Duncan, Wayne Rooney, I am all ears.

23 games after Arsenal. I wanna leave my season ticket seats with points, don't mind ripping into Sam about how he got them.

Worst feeling I ever had vs Watford. I wanna look at results away, if not there, and think: "That was crap football, but we got 3 points."

Not be nosediving towards the Championship, with the worst form in the Premier League... worst form in 27 years.

That should start a conversation.

Solutions please – on a postcard to Caldy.

Dave Abrahams
67 Posted 03/12/2021 at 17:38:47
John (64),

I think the problem with the centre midfield is one of the reasons Rafa gets a lot of stick at the game vs Liverpool the other night. A lot of fans before the game were asking why hadn't he reinforced that area with three men instead of two? A lot more, up in The Upper Bullens Road stand, we're asking the same question after 10 minutes.

As you say, it reduces the chances of scoring at the moment but it makes the opposing team work a lot harder to break through and attack with the ease most teams do.

Brentford ceded one half of the pitch to Everton in the second half last Sunday, so that midfield area wasn't so important defensively but made next to nothing attacking wise, not adventurous enough.

The squad that Rafa has inherited is the cause of the unrest now. Rafa had nothing to do with what went before him but is having a hard time dealing with some of the people who did.

My support stays with Rafa because, if he goes, it means nothing has changed with the running of the club and things will carry on in the same old way; if people are happy with that, so be it.

Rafa is trying to change that losing system, as far as I am concerned, so I wish him well with that.

Ed Prytherch
68 Posted 03/12/2021 at 17:54:42
We are in a depressing situation and a relegation fight is looking more and more likely… but there was a glimmer of hope the other night.

Graeme Le Saux was commenting on the game on NBC Sport and he said that, if Everton could reproduce their play from the last 15 minutes of the first half on a consistent basis, then we would beat most of the teams in the lower half of the table.

The question is: If Rafa can get them to do it.

I don't buy the argument that the team is shit. Most of our players would get a game in a mid-table side and that is the realistic limit of our expectations until we get out of the FFP trap.

Stephen Brown
69 Posted 03/12/2021 at 18:11:28
Barry @49,

Some of those figures for the wages are jaw dropping!

Rewarded for contributing absolutely nothing! Astonishing!

Lost for words!

John Raftery
70 Posted 03/12/2021 at 19:11:20
Dave (67),

I must admit I was surprised Rafa didn't bolster the midfield, knowing what we were up against. Possibly he was aware of the allegations of ‘cowardice' levelled at previous managers who had adopted that sort of pragmatic approach. It is possible, of course, he didn't think any of the available candidates were up to the job for reasons of ability or fitness.

Ed (68),

I am not sure most of our players would get a game in a mid-table team in the Premier League. A handful would but I doubt the rest would be considered for Leicester City or Crystal Palace, the clubs currently 10th and 11th in the table. Those two clubs were happy to let Gray and Townsend leave. They happen to be two of our best players in the season to date.

Mike Doyle
71 Posted 03/12/2021 at 19:12:05
Dave #67,

I fully agree with the last 2 paragraphs of your post. Based on the post-Moyes evidence, Rafa going would probably ensure a continuation of the current malaise overseen by the current under-performers.

Ed Prytherch
72 Posted 03/12/2021 at 19:24:32
John,

I bet that Leicester and Palace would take Gray and Townsend back in a heartbeat.

Mike Gaynes
73 Posted 03/12/2021 at 20:01:48
Lyndon, fine article and good post at #28. And my friends Pete #15 and Dave #67 are two of the most sagacious senior members of TW, and their historical perspectives are always illustrative.

But ultimately I must write something I've never written here before -- I agree with Barry Rathbone. His post at #10 sums up my feelings about the managerial situation specifically. Rafa wasn't my choice either, but he has done the best he could with the dearth of talent and depth at his disposal.

There is absolutely no reason to believe that a more "progressive", less "outdated" manager could have done better.

There is absolutely no reason to believe that "a strong, inspirational character on the training pitch and in the dugout" is, or ever has been, available to the club to hire.

And there is absolutely no reason to believe that a managerial change, especially to any of the candidates currently available, will make one bit of difference to the team's current parabola.

This season has actually gone pretty much as I expected when I looked at the thin roster and the unbalanced schedule back in August -- early success, October-December wreckage. And I still predict a turnaround beginning Boxing Day, which will supposedly coincide with the return of our full, healthy starting lineup.

I don't dismiss one bit the dire predictions or general concern, but I do believe we will ultimately be OK (if mid-table mediocrity is considered OK these days) by the time spring rolls around.

UNLESS... we panic now and change managers again. Especially to a Lampard, a Nuno, a (god-forbid) Rooney or Ferguson, or a bizarrely unknown quantity like Hjulmand. I think that is our potential ticket to oblivion, not the managerial status quo.

We're in a storm. Ride it out.

Mike Gaynes
74 Posted 03/12/2021 at 20:24:22
Dave and John, I've been bitching for years about the hole in our central midfield. I've always said we wouldn't be serious contenders until we fixed that hole, and we never have.

I do not, however, believe we haven't tried. Gomes, Gbamin, Allan, Doucouré, Delph and James were all brought in, and offers were made -- and rejected -- to others like Højbjerg and Winks. I expect that Rafa did see that hole last summer and tried to fill it.

One more thing, no longer mentioned here. He-who-shall-not-be-named was not exactly sensational, but he was a reliable locus of effort and a fairly consistent source of goals/assists, and I believe that particular catastrophe is an underrated factor in our demise. He would certainly be our #10 today.

Christine Foster
75 Posted 03/12/2021 at 20:57:22
Excellent article, Lyndon, and I cannot argue with any of it.

Benitez may have unrest in the changing room, but guess what: it's probably from the same group of players who have undermined the efforts of the managers before him. It's they that need to go. But the train cannot stop to change tracks. We have who we have and, if they don't want to play, drop them. Shame them. Get rid.

Fact is, there are too many not good enough and Benitez is trying to do what all the other managers before him tried to do, make a silk purse from a sow's ear. For whatever reason, age, ability, commitment, attitude, skill etc, they haven't got it. Change is required.

Effort is no substitute for skill, but no effort and insufficient skill will send you down. That's where we are. We need to buy time to improve. I think that was why Benitez was brought in but he was unable to offload in summer and unable to buy what he wanted as well; this coupled with injuries is a huge problem.

I would say he has his faults: his substitutions, his adherence to certain players, his tactics, all have large question marks. But you cannot coach mistakes made by players who are no longer good enough (or never were, in some cases). He has to be able to change the team. But he is carrying the legacy of managers before him and a club who had money but no sense.

Do we give him more time? The blame game can wait. The problem has to be solved. The club need a War Room rather than a board meeting. Hard-nosed decisions intended to stop the rot and ensure the future.

Players, manager, both need a mix of support and fixing by the board; getting rid of the DoF or anyone not connected to playing will not make a difference tomorrow.

Benitez cannot continue to play with the same players and the same tactics and expect different results. He has to change tack.

Moshiri has taken the flack, rightly, for the lack of clear management direction or control. Kenwright should go as a signal that change has to happen. Brands either is given control or he goes.

If there are rival factions in the boardroom, one faction must win and the others go. Compromise is not an option when survival is at stake.

Christine Foster
76 Posted 03/12/2021 at 21:05:29
Mike,

I agree with you, it was compounded by the departure of James, who was never in Benitez's plans. That was a huge mistake by the manager. Without any guile in the team, chances are dependent on the break.

When the focus of attack became injured, the only tactic we had was gone and since Calvert-Lewin's injury, we have nothing to focus our limited attacks on. No point in hitting on the break if there is no-one to slot it home.

Without a No 10, we are woefully short creatively. At this point, I would even take Barkley back on a loan (tin hat) – anyone who can do a job Short-term fixes are required to buy time to build.

Mike Gaynes
77 Posted 03/12/2021 at 21:43:09
Christine, good call on James. He was one of many reasons I was opposed to Rafa's appointment, because of the ugly history between the two. With another manager, perhaps he might have stayed on. And who knows what that might have meant -- for our now-desolate attack, and for his now-derailed career.
Finn Taylor
78 Posted 03/12/2021 at 23:35:42
For all those wishing James would have stayed...

As good a player as he can be, do you really want players at the club who look down their noses at us, making us feel 'grateful' that they signed for us? Pandering to his every whim. We may as well be Marine in his eyes.

File under Samuel Eto'o.

Danny O’Neill
79 Posted 03/12/2021 at 23:39:55
Fair one, Finn, but to get there you sometimes have to make that leap.

I seem to remember Man City taking a gamble on a few so-called chancers just to get themselves on the market and build their brand.

They had quite a few high-profile flops before Aguero and David Silva as I recall.

But it put them on the map.

Christine Foster
80 Posted 03/12/2021 at 23:42:16
Finn,

As opposed to no-one at all? Instead, we have a list of players who can't pass, can't score and can't defend.

James came to Everton because of Ancelotti. We currently have no-one anywhere like him in the club and, because of bad blood between the manager and player, he was shown the door.

Call it how you like, facts are we will never know, if he had stayed, that we would be where we are now. But I doubt it.

Mike Gaynes
81 Posted 04/12/2021 at 01:42:32
Finn #78,

Sorry he generated those feelings in you, but he didn't in me. And we were irrefutably a better and more exciting club with him on the pitch than we were (and are) without him.

Just ask the Anfield crowd about that. It was less than ten months ago that his moment of genius healed some very bitter wounds.

And I am grateful to have experienced that moment. I only wish there were more in store – especially when I watch a side now that is incapable of genius.

Mike Allison
82 Posted 04/12/2021 at 08:28:58
Is the solution to our current problem really going to be to repeat the action that has created this mess in the first place?

We’ve fired or lost five managers. No-one has built anything in terms of an identity or team spirit since Martinez. We need stability and continuity. Anything else sends us backwards.

Clive Rogers
83 Posted 04/12/2021 at 09:05:40
Benitez has virtually told us we are going to sell one or more of our best players in January to generate funds. That is not stable or continuous. VERY DANGEROUS.
Mike Gaynes
84 Posted 04/12/2021 at 09:13:17
Clive, whaaa???????

Benitez has said he's going to BUY players in January. He's hasn't said one fecking word, virtually or otherwise, about SELLING our best.

Latest quote:

"Our market is clear, there are players you can get and players you cannot, that's the reality. We need to know these players want to come. In terms of our players, they cannot go if we don't want. We don't want to lose our players if it's not necessary."

So what are you on about, exactly?

Paul Smith
85 Posted 04/12/2021 at 09:19:27
So stick with Rafa and risk the drop?

We are not likely to go down but, on current form, most definitely will. On the other hand, we may finally get an identity moulded in the shape of the manager.

It's the club that's poorly run with losers and nepotism employed across the board with a hands-off owner – unless it's football-related issues which he clearly knows nothing about.

Benitez will have a few more games, but lose them and there really is no choice unless we accept losing our Premier League status as a price worth paying for root-and-branch reform and a new identity. Which might not even work in the Championship.

Clive Rogers
86 Posted 04/12/2021 at 09:26:21
Mike, he has been quoted as saying sometimes you have to sell players for a profit to generate funds. It’s a way around FFP. Wait and see.
Brian Harrison
87 Posted 04/12/2021 at 10:06:30
I hear many posters saying it's not Benitez fault where we are, and it's all the players' fault. Yes, the players must take a large chunk of the blame but that doesn't mean the man who selects the team, the style of play, and the tactics, is absolved.

Last season, this group of players for long periods were on the coat-tails of a top 4 spot, and I believe if Ancelotti could have got James on the pitch more, we may well have got there.

Yes, I agree, when we had injuries, it was sometimes hard watching us defend so deep in games, but when he had a full squad, we went away to Liverpool and Spurs and won something we hadn't done in a long time.

We didn't get overrun in midfield like we do now with Benitez sticking with his 2 in midfield system.We didn't concede goals from dead-ball situations like we did under the previous manager or we are doing under Benitez.

Pickford became a much calmer keeper, Keane became a better defender and Godfrey looked a completely different player under Ancelotti.

Spurs realized their mistake in appointing Santos and sacked him after 7 games because they could see where they could end up by sticking with him, and Man Utd finally realized OGS couldn't take them to the level they wanted despite him securing Champions League football while there.

Lester Yip
88 Posted 04/12/2021 at 12:44:20
As people have already pointed out, with the FFP handcuffing us, we might just have to wait a couple of years or sell one of the better players to get out of it quicker. But either way, we at best are mid-table (8th to 12th).

Can we fast-forward 2 years please?

Finn Taylor
89 Posted 04/12/2021 at 17:03:52
Christine #80 and Mike #81 - let me assure you, James excited me greatly. If he'd stayed fit and committed, different story... but he was a luxury we can't afford.

The situation has had me thinking today of when we had Kanchelskis. A true great player to watch, a player that could win you a match while the rest played badly.

But we have never been able to hold on to these type players long enough to build – there is always an air of 'they won't stay at Everton' even when we were a 'big club'. I am amazed we got so many years out of Lukaku!

Terry Hanton
90 Posted 04/12/2021 at 23:03:11
I'm sorry I don't buy this. I was impressed with Rafa's tactical changes earlier in the season which won us games. He seems to be much better as a technician than any of the last 5 managers.
He has been left high and dry by a board which depleted the depth of the squad, and a youth program which has not delivered a single striker of quality in 20 years.
How we could let James go and Kean out on loan and then wonder how we can withstand the loss of DCL and Richarlison. Either of those two would have won us at least one of the recent games. How can we blame Rafa when the board gave him 2m quid to spend. Bottom line is Brands has to go and youth recruitment has to get way better. Until then lets get behind Rafa
Alan J Thompson
91 Posted 05/12/2021 at 14:28:41
Mike(#84); It is being reported/repeated on BBC that Benitez has said that he is willing to listen to offers for Pickford in January. A manager who has already signed some of his favourites? I suppose Pickford is one of our few players other clubs might be interested in but selling your best as that is all that will sell doesn't sound to me like a step in the right direction.
Will Mabon
92 Posted 05/12/2021 at 14:37:01
Alan, I just read that - as well as the Mourinho-if-Benitez-goes piece. I'm afraid the worst of rumours seem to appear to kick a club when it's down. Hard to know what's real at the best of times. Currently - impossible.

How we need a win tomorrow.

Eddie Dunn
93 Posted 05/12/2021 at 15:09:57
Christine and Mike, I was glad to see James go but I accept that he made a contribution in some important games last season. His departure might not have been quite so damaging were it not for the loss of Gylfi Sigurdsson, who despite criticism from some, would be very useful in the current situation.

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