Covering Their Backs

by   |   05/12/2021  6 Comments  [Jump to last]

Cause I'll always know when you been cheating.
And I'll always know you've been untrue.
I'll always know.

Merle Haggard – I’ll Always Know

With fan unrest starting to rise in the Goodison stands, the Director of Football (DoF) Marcel Brands is the person to pay the price for the complete mess the Blues are in. Make no mistake, Brands was not the person written on the tin when he joined Everton. He has been an underwhelming DoF. But is the mess the club is in all down to the DoF? Has the cancer been cut out with his removal?

Brands’s moves in the transfer market have been, to put it bluntly, mainly failures. But how much he had to do with some of the transfers is questionable. Under Marco Silva, Richarlison was the new manager’s pick (although on Brands’s radar, we are to believe). Nothing wrong with this transfer, Brands got it done for £35 million plus add-ons (not the song amount). Richarlison has been a qualified success and will make Everton a tidy profit when he inevitably leaves in the Summer. But the other signings made while working with Silva are very much an overpriced mixed bag at best.

Yerry Mina is a good defender, but with a very questionable injury record. Lucas Digne was never worth the money, one good season and a liability ever since. André Gomes was another player with a flaky fitness record. Bernard was free, was a Marco pick, and never up to the physicality of the Premier League. Delph a big-mouthed treatment table. Alex Iwobi beggars belief, a complete panic-buy, when the Blues could not afford the money for Wilfred Zaha. The hospital case called Gbamin was bad judgement and bad luck.

The above were all signed when Marco was the manager, a person who was at least trying to work with the DoF. (Added to this were the totally mismanagement of loan signing Moise Kean and the supposed right-back loan, who could not even get his socks right.) Once Marco got the chop, things changed.

The clueless billionaire owner moved from his shiny young progressive manager idea, back to his already once-failed Hollywood dream. After this course had been set, the limited transfer power Brands had while working with Silva evaporated in a second.

Why did Moshiri need a DoF when the Hollywood dream was in place? The bumbling billionaire could now do what he likes best: dabble in the transfer market for what he perceived as a Hollywood star in the manager's seat. What the disastrous Carlo Magnifico wanted… he got.

In came the Colombian treatment table and the average Allan who had worked with Fantastico at Napoli. Neither of these players had anything to do with Brands. They were Ancelotti’s picks, funded by his new billionaire chum. Doucouré was brought in, but he had been on the club's to-do list ever since Silva. Godfrey was the only Brands signing in the Magnifico era, plus to his credit, the ones for the future (I am to be convinced): Branthwaite and Nkounkou.

Once the Italian had defected to Real Madrid and Benitez had stepped in, the now penniless Blues brought in Demarai Gray, Andros Townsend, Salomon Rondon, Asmir Begovic and Andy Lonergan. Again, none of these players had anything to do with the DoF (except maybe Gray, to be fair); they were all picks by Benitez. In essence, Brands never had full control over the club’s transfer policy and, once Silva got the sack, he was nothing more than a negotiator of deals.

Brands came to the club with the aim of signing young hungry players for the first team, and whom the club could also cash in on in the future. In tandem with this was the plan of producing an academy which did the same thing.

As Brands quickly lost control of transfer policy, the above aims soon disappeared. The last few seasons have seen the Blues sign James, Doucouré, Allan, Gray, Godfrey, Townsend, Rondon, Begovic and Lonergan. Godfrey apart, and maybe Gray might squeeze in at 25, Everton have become a team signing 30-year-olds and beyond. None of the above apart from Godfrey and quite possibly Gray are players Brands would have signed. The young hungry player strategy has been well and truly dumped.

As for the club’s academy, the failure to produce any real talent has been a hot topic for a number of years. Headed by David Unsworth and a bunch of ex-players, the academy is nothing more than an old boys’ network. Moshiri has allowed this state of affairs to carry on because he has no interest in it, while blue-blood Bill and probably Denise Barret-Baxendale protect Unsworth and his cronies, as we are all one big blue family. Brands did not make one significant change to the academy (except the backward step of giving Unsworth more power). Was he ever allowed to implement reform, or was he constantly blocked by Unsworth, Kenwright, and Barrett-Baxendale?

As for the managers, Brands as DoF should have been the person to set out the vision and style of play for the club, and then come up with a list of candidates suited to that style of play and vision. In reality, he came to a club with Moshiri’s progressive young manager, in place. To be fair, they did at least try to have some sort of working relationship. Once Moshiri panicked and sacked Silva, the writing was on the wall for Brands.

Moshiri turned back to his favourite topic, the Hollywood dream manager. So, we got the disastrous Ancelotti. Never ever was Ancelotti on Brands’s radar. You only have to go back to the lukewarm comments on the few times Brands ever spoke on his working relationship with Ancelotti to see this. Once Magnifico was in full control of steering the sinking Goodison ship, with his starry-eyed owner looking on lovingly, we were at the beginning of the end.

Now Ancelotti has defected to Madrid we have the monstrous hybrid, half-Hollywood, half-safe-pair-of-hands ex-Satan in the manager’s seat. As the pathetic manager search dragged on through the summer, it was clear Brands (widely reported to have wanted Graham Potter), was totally ignored. Moshiri, as is his wont, listens to no-one but himself, agents and it seems with the choice of the monstrous Benitez, Uncle Usmanov and Roman Abramovich.

At the end of the day, it is hard to feel any sympathy for Brands.

Brands should have walked in the summer (if not sooner), instead of signing a new three-year contract. He was a DoF in name only during his whole time at the club. He never had the authority and power to do the job of a DoF. How can anyone work under those circumstances? But he plodded on with a nice salary and place on the board.

As Brands finally falls on his sword his cryptic remark to the supporter and the end of the derby debacle “Is it only the players” is clear in its meaning. It’s not only the players, it’s the whole structure and leadership of the club, which as DoF he was never allowed to try and fix.

Will the removal of the underperforming Brands change anything? No, it won’t. Benitez, the Board, Unsworth (and his academy empire) and the owner may think so. But in reality, it is just the start of the quickening decline the Blues have been on since Moshiri bought into the club. Will we stick with the DoF model (the best model in my eyes), now Brands has gone? Let’s see? But what is the point, when the DoF is not allowed to do the job he was employed to do?

The removal of Brands at the end of the day is a desperate move by the owner, the board and Unsworth to cover their backs, pretend things are changing, while carrying on the path to doom they have us on. Brands was part of the problem, but he has also become the sacrificial lamb, the scapegoat on the good ship Titanic, sorry, Goodison.

You can pretend and try to cheat the supporters all you want by disposing of Brands. In the cold light of day, you are being untrue and just covering your backs. As Merle sang “I’ll always know”.

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Reader Comments (6)

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Jerome Shields
1 Posted 06/12/2021 at 22:22:51
Hopefully Martin the win against Arsenal can give Benitez the power to push throught the changes needed in all department and expose the underperforming Managers in Club, that think they are saved by the scapegoating of Brands.
Dave Williams
2 Posted 07/12/2021 at 21:10:25
Rafa has achieved step one- Brands out so he has control of player matters.
He has hopefully sorted the medics. Next step will be the Academy and it’s staff.
He will tackle all of this- let’s hope he can talk the talk and walk the walk!
Dennis Stevens
3 Posted 08/12/2021 at 21:23:12
Let's hope he does, Dave, if not than I can't see anybody else doing so. Moshiri seems to lack both the ability & inclination to get a grip. Maybe his appointment of Benitez will prove to be his best decision to date, albeit that it's measured against a low, low bar.
David Pearl
4 Posted 08/12/2021 at 22:04:32
I kept on reading after the Merle Haggard quote Martin. I'm in the process of recording my first album in 20 years! Plus, l am much better looking than Justin Bieber.

Brands never worked. Not when it was so obvious that he wasn't in control of signings. Nor was Walsh for that matter. Unless Cuco Martina was on his radar. Not bloody likely.

So we are in the hands of the gods... or do l mean Rafael Beneathus?

The players played for the fans, for the club against Arsenal. Let's hope it continues... and we get a full squad to chose from.

At the moment, add Lucas Digne to my frustration.

Derek Thomas
5 Posted 08/12/2021 at 23:08:28
Martin, pretty much a Game, Set and Match condemnation of
Brands, Moshiri and the whole DoF concept as applied here.
I'm not a fan of the concept and, sadly it went pretty much as I thought it might - badly.

It won't work with Alpha Managers, especially with Moshiri (allegedly) adding the Iwobis of this world into the mix.

We're stuck with Benitez & Moshiri, hopefully the reputedly stubborn Rafa will be able to navigate the Owner's erratic Monty Burns-esque style of running things now that Smithers has gone.
While also side stepping the machinations of our version of a Chief Wigham/Mayor Quimby/Sideshow Bob amalgam, whom will be aided and abetted by Dolores Umbrage from Harry Potter.
I made all this up.
But the truth is probably stranger than fiction.

The 3pts that papered over the cracks will only last until the next game, if it rips, the heat will - and should - start to ramp up again under All parties.

Simon Harrison
6 Posted 09/12/2021 at 22:49:06
Well, it would seem that the purges continue.

Training Ground Guru's Simon Austin, has reported that;

"EVERTON'S Head of Recruitment and Development, Gretar Steinsson, and Manager of Scouting and Operations, Dan Purdy, have both left the club as bloodletting continues behind the scenes."

Here is the full link to the article;


It seems that Komrad Kenwright and Butcher Benitez, are starting to clear out the remnants of Brands regime, and to clear-out 'back room' dead wood.

More to come yet methinks...

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