And I can’t help thinking it’s basically for the same reason: no direction – no cohesive long term planning – at the very top of the club. In short, owners who don’t know or care enough.
On Monday, Everton fans are planning a 27th minute walk out in direct protest at Farhad Moshiri’s ownership at Goodison, and I really can’t blame them. He’s spent cash at the club, but what has he DELIVERED? Very little, because they’re worse off than before he arrived.
You know that saying, football is a simple game? Well, in recent years, it’s got even simpler. Basically, the more you spend on wages, the higher up the league you finish.
That has been proven over the past 20 years in the big five leagues across Europe, with only ever the smallest of statistical variants.
Everton were always one of outliers. Under David Moyes, they were around the 10th highest wage spenders in the Premier League, but consistently finished higher. Now they are the opposite, spending with the big boys, but finishing in the middle rank.
Manchester United have always been in the top two wage spenders over the past decade. But since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, they’ve not even come close to winning the title.
The question with both clubs is, why? Well, just look at their hiring policy in the past six years or so, and you have the answer.
Everton have burnt through six managers in that time – eight if you add in the caretakers.
United have had five managers since Fergie left, seven if you count caretakers. So between them, two of the most historic clubs in English football, have had 15 different people in charge in barely seven years.
It’s a sobering thought. It’s bloody madness in fact. And the question is, who is making these decisions? If you look at the list of managers at both clubs, they veer wildly from one extreme to another.
United had Moyes, but he was criticised for his lack of experience at the top level, so they appointed Louis van Gaal. He was criticised for being old news, past his prime, so they went with Jose Mourinho.
But Mourinho clearly didn’t fit into the style the fans demanded, so then Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who got the club, came in. And so on, and so on.
Same with Everton. Tell me this. How can the same owner go from Roberto Martinez to Sam Allardyce? That’s perverse. Where the hell is the consistency in those appointments?
Action Images via Reuters)
And that’s the heart of the problem. I’ve been at clubs myself where they react to the failings of the previous manager, by appointing someone who is the complete opposite.
And you know what happens? One bunch of players suited to one style of play is no longer required, and another totally different group of players is brought in.
But in football these days, you can’t get rid of players that easily. Let me give you an example from Everton. They signed Yannick Bolasie for £25m in 2016 when Ronald Koeman was manager, and he left in 2021 after five years at the club.
He made 32 appearances for them. Thirty two. I’m not singling him out, because there have been so many signings like that at Everton. Double figures easily, in the past six years.
You can trawl through the list of players United have signed since Fergie went, and find a similar theme. Each new manager bringing in his own set of players, and each burning through millions with no real results.
What’s the common theme? Owners who are trying to run their club from a distance, and who seem to run it on a whim.
AFP via Getty Images)
I heard Farhad Moshiri has only been to one game at Goodison this season. Yet he is hiring and firing all the managers on emotion, without understanding the fans, or what the club actually means.
I think we can safely say the same about the Glazers too…and that is a recipe for disaster.
I know people will say this is a negative column, but if this is a list of what’s wrong, then the answer to what will put it right is simple.
Both clubs need to look long and hard at their structures from the top to the bottom of the club. United have constantly talked about following the Liverpool and City model of finding and producing young talent, and then developing them within a clearly defined structure and identity at the club.
Yet they keep going out and buying the likes of Ibrahimovich, Cavani and Ronaldo. And keep changing to managers with totally different philopshies. How does that fit then? Ralf Rangnick is a start in the right direction, as I said in this column last week.
But if he is the answer, then give him the total backing to structure the club in the way he wants. I like the look of him, he has a track record of progressive management that develops young talent and puts a clear imprint and identity on the club as a whole. Let him do that at Old Trafford, even if it takes five years.
The same at Everton. Was Rafa Benitez a good idea with his Liverpool connections? I think even his most ardent supporters would say probably not. But Moshiri appointed him anyway, so now he has to back that conviction.
If he thinks Rafa can do what United hope Rangnick can do, developing a club philosophy from top to bottom, then give him the time to do it. If not, then find the right manager and director of football who can. That’s the answer.
Premier League trumps all
It’s great for the English clubs that they are all guaranteed to reach the knockout of the Champions League even before the final round of group games.
But does it show there is a growing gulf in Europe now? After all, Liverpool had virtually qualified after three matches, City after four. I know Chelsea and United still have to get points to top the group, but they were assured of progress long ago.
I think it was Jurgen Klopp who said a few weeks ago that the Premier League has come through the pandemic in far better financial health than the rest of the European leagues. And he’s right.
That appears to be opening up a gap, and I can see only a couple of teams capable of matching City, Chelsea and Liverpool in the knockout stages.
Bayern on a good day, PSG perhaps, though over two legs and with no significant injury problems you can’t see the English clubs falling against either.
Ajax are maybe a wild card with their exciting young team, but I think we are now in the middle of a period of real English dominance in the Champions League, which is great for our football…but a huge problem for the rest of the big clubs across the continent.