Too Nice to Be Winners

Rodger Armstrong 17/01/2018  18 Comments  [Jump to last]

As I helped an elderly man and his wife up the steps at Wembley last night after Spurs scored their 4th, taking pelters from triumphalist home fans whilst the stewards looked on, I shook my head in despair.

Despair at the sheer venom of the opposition fans, yes, but also despair at another gutless, pathetic performance from those fortunate enough to wear the Royal Blue jersey.

Southampton had been rock bottom, or so I had thought, but we did at least score there. Yesterday we couldn’t manage a shot on target, not for the first time under Fireman Sam. Apparently he thinks we should be “more boring”. Is that even possible?

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All over the pitch our players seemed happy to help Kane break his latest record; we hardly ever questioned a decision from the ref. Take the more than ample wages, clap the fans left at the end and scuttle off home.

At least we won’t get relegated! Hang on, when was that the sole objective? And we still need another 12 (twelve) points.

Tough questions should be asked by fans, Media, shareholders and all stakeholders in our Club. Questions asked and answers demanded.

On Tuesday at Everton's Annual General Meeting, I heard Farhad Moshiri say that we were secure on the “periphery of the elite”. I heard Steve Walsh claim credit for not signing Vincent Jansen, and I heard the CEO, paid apparently over £500k pa, tell us that 80% of our revenue came from TV money.

It was my debut at the AGM, as a proxy on this occasion. I was struck by how nice everyone was, in particular how deferential the audience were to those on stage. As a proxy I did not feel I could ask questions, much as I wanted to and probably on reflection should have.

When eventually the floor was opened to questions there were no tough ones, other than perhaps asking Moshiri about his relationship with Sky and why a Lukaku replacement hadn’t been secured before allowing him to leave. Even those questions weren’t followed up.

It was all very cosy, all very safe. No pressure, no stretching targets, no burning ambition. All very nice.

The CEO, having been asked for the last two years to explain roles and responsibilities, raced through a slide that kind of explained who did what at break-neck speed. Nobody asked for clarification.

Nobody asked the Board to explain the substantial increase in Directors’ emoluments/remuneration.

Nobody asked why the proposed Stadium has now been pushed back (at least) a year.

Nobody asked the CEO to explain how much “Two Thirds” of the Stadium funding amounted to that was to be provided by LCC. So Mayor Joe had to spend the next 24 hours doing Media interviews and fire-fighting. No sign of any Everton presence, back to ”don’t tell ’em your name, Pike” as a modus operandi. Don’t trust anyone.

Nobody asked Moshiri when he expected us to join the elite, or indeed how open his “window of opportunity” still was.

EitC does wonderful work under Denise Barrett-Baxendale, and her presentation was the highlight of the night. Never ever can that work be underestimated or undervalued.

However, EFC is a football business, and right now the football part is in a complete mess at First Team level. Imagine going to an Apple AGM if and when their products were not working and nobody asking why!

My point is that, for all the great values our Club stands for and exemplified by EitC, we can at times be too nice.

Football is a business, and a results-driven business. At the moment we are under-performing on and off the pitch.

Don’t be deceived by “record” deals with Angry Birds, SportPesa etc. Our revenues are rising, but the elite clubs’ revenues are rising quicker. The gap is getting wider off the pitch.

We saw last night that it’s getting bigger on the pitch too.

Question is, when will we stop being so nice and ask the questions that need to be asked?

Those in authority at our Club must be held to account.

NSNO? I think not…..

You can read Rodger's regular thoughts on his blog at https://rodgerarmstrong.com

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Reader Comments (18)

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Roger Helm
1 Posted 17/01/2018 at 18:17:43
On another thread I mentioned that my son saw my STH car sticker with its Nil Satis Nisi Optimum. I asked him what he thought it translated as and he offered "Neither Satisfaction Nor Optimism". I thought that would be a good motto for the TW site.
Rodger Armstrong
2 Posted 17/01/2018 at 18:35:12
Your son certainly gets Everton, Roger😉
Tony Hill
3 Posted 17/01/2018 at 21:36:34
It's the way we've been for a long time. I often think we're still a 1970s club in our approach, despite our successes in the 60s and the 80s. We'll see if Moshiri can do anything about that in an enduring way.

Stepping back from our present worries, we've been out of the elite (and often by a big margin) for a very long time despite some decent seasons. Someone recently cited the 1971 semi-final against the RS as a turning point for the Everton many still dream about. I've always thought the same, again despite our flurry in the 80s. The other moment that I think was deeply significant was the loss to Palace in April 2014 when we had a potentially very good side and were in pole position for 4th. It felt like a badly damaging result at the time and I believe it was and that we've never really got over it.

There are no short-cuts for us now. I hope and half-believe that the prematurely condemned Allardyce might pull something out of the hat and that we might yet build a serious and trophy-winning side. But if that happens, we will be rediscovering an Everton which has been long absent in truth and I think we may give ourselves the best chance if we accept as much.

Adam Scott
4 Posted 17/01/2018 at 22:15:47
Listened to your points on EBM, Rodger. Little to add. A very good summing up. Boys club springs to mind about behind the scenes.
Rob Preston
5 Posted 18/01/2018 at 02:31:43
And, we are far too nice on the pitch too. I hate seeing them all lovey dovey with the opposition before the game. Too forgiving to team mates for mistakes or for giving up, we need some mongrel on and off the pitch.
Steavey Buckley
6 Posted 18/01/2018 at 02:49:41
Too nice to be winners – that's why Everton don't play Besic, who loves a tackle.
Rodger Armstrong
7 Posted 18/01/2018 at 08:33:44
Yes Rob,
As we say on EvertonBusinessMatters, off the pitch sets the tone for on the pitch. I said exactly that here http://rodgerarmstrong.com/2017/10/03/the-royal-blue-buck/
Kevin Tully
8 Posted 18/01/2018 at 09:11:45
Ever since a ground move has been mooted, the modus operandi has been to find an "enabling partner". Has anything changed there? I don't think so. We are still at the mercy of third parties to take us into a new stadium, this time it's LCC rather than a Tesco, or Mr Topshop himself.

You have to go back to Wyness being bulleted on Green's yacht to see why Elstone got the job. He was his deputy at the time, and those leaked e-mails demonstrated a man who was extremely lucky to find himself as CEO of Everton. His main qualification for the job? Not to kick up a fuss, or challenge Bill on anything. Happy days for the boardroom clique, but terrible news if you expected him to take this club forward and modernise it's approach.

I've no doubt the Terms & Conditions of the transfer of shares to Moshiri was to guarantee Bill, Robert Elstone and EitC personnel were to be retained as part of the new regime. So it may well seem all "too nice" on the surface, but I wouldn't underestimate the man who has made himself £46m richer, when his pal Green had guaranteed his original purchase of the club.

His empire is still well established, and shows no signs of being broken up, in fact I would say he's strengthened his position since Moshiri injected all the cash, and paid off the debts ran up by Bill & pals. There is no longer any financial pressure on the club. I bet they can't believe their luck.

Don Alexander
9 Posted 18/01/2018 at 11:30:04
It's disappointing indeed to read that the most memorable "performance" at the Philharmonic Hall AGM farrago was "The Sound of Silence" from the shareholders, again.

Some have suggested not renewing season tickets as a way to make a serious point about the unacceptability of what's being served up on the pitch by the boardroom/owner, and it is their ultimate responsibility, not their manager's, but if the far fewer shareholders can't even amalgamate to make a strenuous objection when they're face-to-face with the Fat Cats in charge then it's deeply depressing. Gillette and Hicks were given the "Fuck off" message large and loud by their crowd when things went wrong, but as for us?

Still, at least we're champions when it comes to EitC I suppose, and I've heard they do one of the best pastas of any football training ground at Finch Farm, so what else matters, eh?

Tony Hill
10 Posted 18/01/2018 at 12:40:51
I agree with Kevin Tully about the Kenwright lot. It's partly why I think of us as a 1970s club. Kenwright reminds me of the Bob Lord/Peter Swales chairman model: gobshites with their eye on the money.

I used to think, and still do to some extent, that the Weeping One's departure would see us right. But I'm now more inclined to the view that our lack of competitiveness at the top level has deeper historical roots. It's going to take something exceptional to reboot us.

Ken Kneale
11 Posted 18/01/2018 at 13:48:39
Rodger, what a top draw analysis of our plight. My two most recent inputs to ToffeeWeb have been around the fact we are now all so numb from decades of all the above we have lost our vigour to do anything other than ruminate between ourselves.

Where is the passion to drive change other than here? The hierarchy get as comfortable a ride at home games as it sounds like they did at the AGM.

We have to make this Club sit up and take notice that as Tony @10 indicates, a reboot is both necessary and will be drastic due to three decades malaise by the board, the decline and loss of Sir John Moores as a driving force at top level and the inability due to admittedly some external factors to maintain success into a dynasty from the 80's springboard.

How anyone connected to any part of higher governance of Everton can suggest the Premier League era reflects well on themselves or the club beggars belief.

Jim Lloyd
12 Posted 18/01/2018 at 14:01:24
Good posts Tony, especially No (3) and Kevin's points about the Kenwright years.

Rodger Armstrong, "...at least we won't get relegated. When was that the sole objective? And we still need another 12 points!" Who said we won't get relegated? Can we take that as a given then?

To me, the sole objective of not being relegated, came into being when we were 3rd or 4th form bottom and the side was playing worse than many of the teams in the whole Premier League, if not the worst. There was no way we could be called a team, because we were not a team.

To me, the longer Koeman stayed the more certain it was we were going to be relegated. I was writing that opinion in September.

Sam Allardyce has been at the club, what? Seven weeks or so? It is still the same bunch of players who've looked like a bunch of strangers who'd got off a Charra' on a day out and decide they'd have a game in the car park.

There's two major points that I see. One is how we will get on now that Sam Allardyce is manager; and there's the issues that come from the Boardroom.

I think I'd rather be bored and stay in this division, than enthralled watching us go down the tubes. Until we are safe, then we are still in danger. I think it is fair to judge Allardyce from the perspective of ensuring our safety until he is able to bring in players and get rid of players, in order to form the beginnings of a team that can, with a degree of success, begin to regularly beat all, or at least most of every team below the the top four and the mini league following of two or three teams below them.

I think he's made a reasonable start in bringing in players who will improve our performance but we'll begin to see from Saturday onwards and by who else we are able to bring on during the January window. So boring, grinding out results has, to me to be the way the players representing our club have to play, until any bloody manager could trust them to play more expansive football. He then, during the Summer window, could be judged by the performances the following season. That is if he stays, of course.

As for the Board I cannot stand nor never could, the way that Kenwright has, in my opinion, has acted so shiftily in order to maintain his position as Chairman of EFC. I'll never forget the palaver going on during the tragedy of the King's Dock disaster. I use that word because it was a disaster for our club. It knocked us back almost a generation and that is following on from at least a further ten years back in our history.

Under investment, selling our best players, slowly drifting away on our faded glory of history, while we did the bridesmaid's job, countless times on the football field; and all the time for the last 20 years or so "If you know your History" became a mantra that suited the Chief down to the ground.

We were extremely lucky that someone with a fair fortune decided to take us over (almost!) as I'm very suspicious that no other serious rich man or group did not show interest in taking over this club before.

So where we are now is a legacy of "the money's ring-fenced!" "The Cheque's in the post!" of outsourcing most of our chances of making money for our club and selling off every asset we had.

We were then lucky enough top get major shareholder who at least showed ambition to take us on from the doldrums. He got rid of the loans that the other mob relied on. (I don't know if a certain Mr Green had any input in those loans.) Unfortunately, the manager we picked, Mr Koeman took us to the rubbish dump rather than the promised land.

I think that Mr Moshiri will get us a stadium but we'll need to wait and see. I think we are starting from just about the bottom of the pile again and I don't see any real improvement in the team until we get better players in almost all of the positions in the team.

I thought Kenwright said he was going to step down when he was seventy but who knows when he'll go and I think that Mr Moshiri will have to uproot the bunch of them in a ruthless manner if he wants to bring this club from under that cloud hanging over it for decades.

Til the Summer, I think any real progress in the team is unlikely. I think we should give this manager, and the major shareholder, time to undo the bloody mess that's gone before under the name of Everton Football Club.

Pete Clarke
13 Posted 18/01/2018 at 14:46:43
We are too soft and what makes me think that nothing is going to change in regards to this unwanted title is that,f Moshiri was a hard businessman, there is no way that Kenwright would still be here.

They may well be good friends and all of that but a man like Moshiri needs to surround himself with ruthless businessmen and not soft arses like Kenwright and Elstone, so I will believe we have a good leader when he gets rid of these dummies.

As with lots of other blues, I am being worn down by it all. Things are so bad with us now that most of us would be made up just to see some football from the team, regardless of result. Back to reality, though, on Saturday as a win is all that matters!

Alan Bodell
14 Posted 18/01/2018 at 15:45:22
I've been ranting for years about how we never aggressively question decisions, we never do and then every team we play gets in the referees face and oh yes, that works.

No-one can tell me I am looking through Blue tinted glasses because – whenever one of ours tackles wrong or 'Ross ya rat, are ya there?' should ever dive – then I'll call that without any bias.

Rodger, we are too nice to be winners – unlike those who are not.

Dave Abrahams
15 Posted 18/01/2018 at 17:04:31
I've been to a few AGMs and like others you can not but notice how friendly everything is accepted, no serious questions. I think it was last year, a young fella got up and after giving his name and position (he was a proxy voter) Kenwright sneered at the lad mentioning this "Oh, a proxy voter..."

This year, I had a question to ask, wasn't worried by anything Kenwright might say, I was a proxy voter, but I was sure I'd have been shouted down by the shareholders who made up the audience for asking my question, so I didn't bother.

My question was to Moshiri, Elstone, Kenwright, Walsh and the dismissed Koeman; it was. "Weren't you speaking to each other during the summer transfer window, because between you, you certainly cocked it up!"

Bill Watson
16 Posted 18/01/2018 at 17:10:21
Rodger; I asked Elstone why there was no explanation, in his Christmas blog, of why the Bramley-Moore project had slipped a year? I think it was the second question.
Jim Lloyd
17 Posted 18/01/2018 at 17:38:38
You're darned right, Dave. It wasn't all that long ago was it, when Kenwright would not allow AGMs. I think then, there were a lot of searching questions being asked on a number of issues. The Kirkby Misadventure, The disappearing Club assets, those loans from the Virgin Isles, or someone's back pocket, that we used to get during each Summer, I think it was. I can remember some serious questioning going on then, and Kenwright coming out with "How do I know, I'm only the Chairman!"

As for being "too nice." If that refers to the shareholders, then certainly the shareholders (or a number of them, did a fantastic job in bringing the Kirkby misadventure, out into the open. And I seem to remember many questions being asked then, about Goodison's "soon to be a failed safety certificate and that's why we have to move" lie that came out as to why we had to move.

If this article is purely about the Shareholders, then I can only suppose that it's a bit of a wait and see time. Moshiri seems to be taking more and more of the public pronouncements, that Russian feller seems to accompany players into the news conferences.

The announcement regarding the Clarence Dock Ground's increasing cost? Well, as long as the ground is built then I'm sure most shareholders, as with us all, will be waiting with baited breath. Mr Moshiri has reiterated that a stadium will be built,; he's bought part ownership of the Liver Buildings, so I think it's Let's see what happens next.

The issue about getting better paid sponsorships is much better than it was and who knows what may take place regarding further sponsorship from USM, or anyone else for that matter.

As for the gap between the so-called "Elite" and us, then I think we will only get better deals from sponsors, when our success on the field begins to match theirs. And as far as I can see, we're miles away from that yet.

As for us being too nice on the pitch, I agree with Alan Bodell. As one Labour politician (Dennis Healey) remarked "It's like being attacked by a dead sheep" referring to a Tory Minister.

Well the referees must have a decade's history at least of lamb chops for their tea!

Rodger Armstrong
18 Posted 19/01/2018 at 08:33:13
Thanks for all the comments. Yes, Bill @16 I recall your question; yours & the last one about Sky relations. Rest of the questions were more self-congratulatory statements.

In terms of being too nice, Jim @17, my point is all too nice & cosy throughout the Club. What happens off the pitch is reflected on it. Who sets Elstone's targets?

Record deals, but all our “peers” get bigger ones so the gap gets bigger.

Who does Steve Walsh report too? Where is the accountability?

Three Board members sat on stage & said nothing; remind you of the matchday performances?

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