I must admit that I find it hard to read some of my fellow Blues’ abbreviated Twitter comments on who and how our club should be run. Admittedly, 140 characters isn’t the best way to argue a point of view one way or another, but it’s the bile that uses up more characters than is helpful that undermines rather than underlines an argument.
There’s no need for me to repeat the language used here, nor to patronisingly rebuke those that use it, suffice to say that those who want a change at the helm seem to argue it from a perspective that includes four letter words beginning with a C and an F. Helpful? Not in my view, although one might suggest it emphasises the passion with which these views are held.
But as I say, I’m not here to lecture people on the use of swear words, what I would say though is that I’m not clear on the arguments, for or against.
Those that are suggesting that Kenwright and the Board should walk away (not the words typically used) have failed in my mind to explain the alternative. It may be written down somewhere, and I just haven’t seen it nor heard it expressed. If the Board walks away, who takes over? Who runs the Club? What do we do without whatever investment they may or may not be making in the Club at the moment? Is it feasible from a technical standpoint? Would the banks be called in to run the business?
These aren’t entirely easy questions to answer, but presumably someone has thought of these things when calling for the Board to go (or words to that effect). One thing that’s clear to me, is that if a Board of any Company just walked away without a succession plan in place, administration might only be a short step away, and I’m pretty confident none of us want to go down the path well trod by the likes of Portsmouth and Leeds United.
It seems to be a demand, albeit from a vocal number, and I’m genuinely unsure if it’s even close to being a majority of fans, borne out of a lack of a trophy since 1995, and the frustration of this season. Fair enough, getting close with a Final and a Semi or two doesn’t put silverware in the cabinet, and trust me, I’d love us to get a trophy, but I do wonder if that should be our only measure of success as a Club. At least we always have ‘hope’ that we can win a trophy, and it’s the ‘hope’ that kills us every time, but for many supporters of clubs up and down the land, getting to the third round of the FA Cup, or getting to a QF, is the height of their ambitions. Our problem is that we’re good, but not quite good enough!
This has been a dreadful season by common consent, made worse probably by heightened expectations after last year’s exceptional performance in terms of League position, as well as by the actual performances on the pitch. I have written before that there were times in our games against the likes of Newcastle and Arsenal when I stood to applaud the quality of the football, irrespective of the end result. What can’t be denied is that we didn’t build on that to the extent we’d have liked to have done over the summer in terms of playing staff brought in to the Club. Tying a few loanees to permanent deals was great, tying a few star players to new long term contracts was also the right step, but ultimately we brought in Besic, and Atsu replaced Deulofeu. Numbers should have gone up by the 7 or more that Martinez espoused, but instead they went up by 1. But we did at least support Martinez’s vision of what he wanted Finch Farm to achieve, thus trying to develop the younger players, whilst also trying to put in place new regimes for pre match days for the established senior players. This excellent preparation work was, however, undone somewhat by an awful pre season, lightened apparently to ensure our World Cup representatives didn’t get over-cooked, but resulting in the squad being very much under-done, if we are to continue with the cooking analogy. And to then get an ever-increasing injury list, which helped establish ‘hamstrings-r-us’ in the Liverpool area, it all seemed a bit half-baked (right, no more cookery references please). But some of the building blocks were well intentioned, some paid off, and some – well, only time will tell.
What else do we measure success of the Board by? Playing style, like last year, would be one, but we’ve been poor much more often than we’ve been outstanding this season; and anyway, who wants to play superbly and finish half way and no trophy? What we have discovered is that Martinez has his playing style and whilst some might understand and commend his commitment to that approach, I think we might all suggest that he has to have some variety so that when faced with two banks of five, we have a different way or two to approach things. But I think he’s still learning, and provided his commitment to his style isn’t a dogmatism and stubbornness that refutes any idea of change, he’ll come back stronger. By common consent, he’s a scholar of the game, and is still relatively young in terms of management, so we have to hope that one measure of success is a manager who took us to a record points total and fifth-but-almost-fourth, who learns about the game, knows he’s cocked up a bit this season and will return stronger. This is a big question. Can he kick us on next season? I know thoughts are very much divided on this one.
One definite measure of success to judge the Board by is EITC (Everton In The Community). We’ve done great things, facilitated and urged forward by the EITC CEO, Dr Denise Barrett-Baxendale, and if you’re not a student of their achievements, then I suggest you look it up and get a warm and fuzzy feeling for the wonderful work done in the name of our Club. Denise is also Deputy CEO of Everton, so I’m assuming the ‘Sack the Board’ supporters don’t include her as well? After all, if the Board goes, that includes Elstone, so Denise would at the very least become interim CEO.
What I’m not trying to do is support mediocrity. I want to go to every Everton game and be thoroughly entertained and that we win every game. I also know that isn’t always going to happen, and we’ll be superb and lose, or we’ll be awful and win, but hopefully you get my point. But I’m genuinely not sure that the current Board isn’t the best we can reasonably expect at the moment. Is there an alternative that we can point to that would bring more investment, get us more players, get us that new stadium, get us that elusive trophy and bring regular European Champion’s League football to Goodison (or wherever we end up playing)? If there is such a plan, please publish it or publicise it more, because only with reasoned debate, not typically achieved through Social Media, will the broad fan base get to understand the options and be able to express their opinions based on a greater level of transparency than there appears at the moment. And it works both ways, I’m sure the Club could do more to be more open about its plans, and to explain more clearly where the ‘Arteta money’ goes each season, because their cloak and dagger approach simply seems to serve the cause of the doubters; without fact there is a vacuum, and when that happens, fans like us try to fill that vacuum, and more often than not when that happens in business – we get it wrong. But armed with a wider view of the facts and how the Club is being run, we could all agree a common path and take it together. What’s the Vision, what are our shorter term goals as a Club, and what’s the path we’re going to take to achieve them. It’s called a strategy, and I’m not sure Everton has one, or if it has, it hasn’t communicated and engaged the fan base. For what it’s worth, that’s what EITC has done, and perhaps the Club could learn from that.