In the aftermath of Roberto Martinez's dismissal as manager in May 2016, new major investor Farhad Moshiri and the Everton board quickly decided to overhaul the management structure at Everton with the creation of a new Director of Football role at the club.
Though well-established as a practice on the Continent and a handful of clubs in the English Premier League, it was a departure for Everton who had always operated, nominally at least, on the traditional model of one man handling everything from coaching, team selection, tactics, strategy, player scouting and recruitment while also having a hand in transfer negotiations.
That changed with the appointment of Steve Walsh as the first sporting director at Finch Farm and Goodison Park when he was lured away from reigning champions Leicester City in the summer of 2016.
Walsh, a Lancastrian with ties to the northwest and Merseyside, was described during the Foxes' stunning 2015-16 season by Sir Alex Ferguson as the most influential figure in that year's title race. He followed the footsteps to Everton of new manager Ronald Koeman as the latest part of Moshiri's revolution of the Blues.
Walsh, who once served as a European scout under Jose Mourinho and Andre Villas-Boas at Chelsea (where he helped sign Didier Drogba, Gianfranco Zola and Michael Essien) and was assistant boss to both Nigel Pearson and Claudio Ranieri at Leicester, had been credited for uncovering the likes of Riyad Mahrez, Jamie Vardy and N'Golo Kanté, three of the main driving forces behind Leicester's 2016 Premier League title triumph.
In addition to his 16 years at Chelsea for whom he initially worked part-time while holding down a PE-teacher role in Chorley, he has had spells at Newcastle United, and Hull City. His brother Mickey, now a football agent, was a Republic of Ireland international who played 29 times for Everton in the 1978-79 season, as well as also representing Blackpool, QPR and Porto.
His time at Everton did not go according to plan, however, and was plagued by concerns over poor recruitment and a lack of clarity over the division of responsibility between Walsh as director of football and Koeman as team manager.
The expensive acquisition of winger Yannick Bolasie from Crystal Palace and a failed £30m deadline-day move for French midfielder Moussa Sissoko in August 2016 were early indications of a pattern of big outlays on mediocre players that would come to define both his tenure at Finch Farm and that of Koeman.
Folllowing the arrival of Morgan Schneiderlin from Manchester United, who played under Koeman at Southampton, and Ademola Lookman, a hallmark Walsh spot, from Charlton in January 2017, a record spending spree the following summer raised optimism among supporters that Everton might finally be regarded as top-four contenders.
However, while Jordan Pickford, a £30m acquisition from Sunderland, and Gylfi Sigurdsson, despite an eye-watering £45m fee, were deemed largely successful, misfit signings like Davy Klaassen and Sandro Ramirez and players like Michael Keane and Wayne Rooney who failed to live up to their billing placed huge question marks over the club's recruitment strategy.
Combined with the failure to replace the outgoing Romelu Lukaku or sign left-back cover for Leighton Baines and the wisdom of Walsh's appointment was increasingly challenged.
He would oversee the signings of Theo Walcott from Arsenal and Cenk Tosun from Besiktas during the January 2018 transfer window but was replaced as director football by renowned Dutch technical director, Marcel Brands, in May 2018.
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