Naively, though perhaps indicative of my age during the Moyes tenure at Goodison Park, I was largely taken in by Bill Kenwright’s nostalgic leadership and got behind “The People’s Club” narratives emanating from our Chairman at the time. 

 

Though embarrassed by Bill’s teary media appearances, I believed he was doing a stellar job — in the earlier years, I even thought he was our saviour! I now see that it was Moyes’s hunger, thoroughness, and eye for a bargain which enabled us to “appear” like a well-run club, punching admirably above their weight. A feat maintained for a whole, largely under-appreciated decade which served to plaster over old and new forming cracks in the structures of our great club. 

 

Over the years, the lies unravelled and his entrenched narcissism started to seep from the edges of his carefully practiced smile. Still, I thought there were worse situations and clubs in bigger trouble; he was after all trying to steer an ancient, unwieldy and crumbling wreck of a once great institution. All the while battling fan expectations built on memories of greatness, our motto now only a reminder of what we once were. 

 

We craved the takeover, the riches afforded to our bitter rivals and the other Sky darlings. It finally arrived to great fanfare in the form of an illusive Iranian accountant and businessman. I won’t waste your time documenting what happened next other than to compare the wreckless, ill-considered spending to a childlike fantasy, destined to fall long short of its dream. 

 

I can recall the exact morning I knew we were in trouble: it was 6 years ago on 16 August 2017. I woke to the announcement of the club's record signing, Gylfi Sigurdsson for £45M. He arrived along with other signings Davey Klaassen and the nostalgic return of a certain Wayne Rooney. 

 

I have nothing against any of these players but what I could not fathom was why we hadn’t fortified other areas of the team and instead brought in three No 10s whilst simultaneously running Ross Barkley out of the club, a product of our youth system. Crucial to my point is that he was a No 10 and one of us. £80m in signing fees and two players on £100k-plus contracts to replace our then second-best player of the same position on relatively low wages. Madness, I thought then… and I still think now. 

 

Of course, many more poor decisions unfolded along with lies, deceit, dubious dealings, and an uncomfortable association with a sketchy Russian Oligarch. However, to me, that splurge told me all I needed to know: we were being run by idiots and it has always symbolised a point of no return for me. The beginning of the end. 

 

This brings me to the title of this article, “The fish rots from the head”. It is a Chinese proverb used to describe how business failings are ultimately attributable to the decisions and principles of the boardroom. I do not subscribe to the view that it’s all Bill’s fault. When he was in charge, we at least semi-functioned as a club. Many will dispute that but we were a Top 7 club and repeatedly considered the “Best of the Rest” – all done on a shoestring. 

 

I do however subscribe to the view that the club's current predicament is a toxic combination of a foolish accountant who wanted to play Football Manager with the backing of a crooked, Russian puppet-master. A project deeply hampered by his allowance of Bill Kenwright to narcissistically and desperately cling to his train set. All the while trying to placate a fanbase who still expect something we have long been unable to provide. 

 

The resulting dynamic created a clash of ideologies and polarisations which appear to be reflected in the chaos which surrounds our club. Legal disputes with former managers, poor communication, Profitability and Sustainability scrutiny, and an impending independent commission hearing. Players not turning up for training, displaced anger towards our own players resulting in two recent statements from the club. Repeated transfer failings. Yesterday’s news that MSP will take their dollars elsewhere. A circus of media vultures circling above our festering blue carcass. 

 

The “glass half-full” fans did their pre-season best to rally our beleaguered and despondent fan base. We tried to muster some enthusiasm for Dycheball, we tried to generate some hope we can at least be a stable (if uninspiring) team for a few years until we find our feet again with new owners.

 

Yet here we are praying we can get Ché Adams over the line so we don’t have to play Maupay. Somehow, this Saturday, 3 games into the season, has become a ‘must-win’ match. I fear for Dyche and the atmosphere if it’s anything less than a win. Suddenly, ownership by 777 Partners seems almost like an attractive option. I mean, how can they be any worse? 

 

This brings me to what is actually in our control? Very little, it seems… but we can control where we direct our emotions. We repeatedly see how the passion of many thousands of dedicated and ardent supporters can be overshadowed by the idiocy of a few — the booing of our striker for getting a fractured cheekbone, racial abuse of our own players, people getting ‘handsy’ with board members… 

 

While these incredible fans are almost solely responsible for our current Premier League status after two relegation battles in a row, we must stay united in these dark hours and not displace our anger and disappointment at the players. Instead, get organised and direct it where it well and truly belongs: our board. Dyche and the team need us united now more than I can ever remember. 

 

Reader Comments (10)

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Ray Jacques
1 Posted 25/08/2023 at 12:45:13
Nice article Steve.

I trace the recent decline back to the hammering we got from Atalanta just after Koeman came in and we had bought the unsuitable players. I was in San Sebastian to watch Real Sociedad in the same Europa Cup that we were in and was watching the Everton game in a bar before the later kick-off.

I can remember watching and thinking the manager doesn't want to be there and the players aren't his choice.

It's gone downhill every year since.

Brian Denton
2 Posted 25/08/2023 at 13:25:11
'' people getting ‘handsy’ with board members...''

Is this now established as the truth? I thought some doubt had been cast on it.

Steve Shave
3 Posted 25/08/2023 at 13:31:53
It must be the truth Brian, our board said it happened!! ;)
Dale Self
4 Posted 25/08/2023 at 14:00:34
Good work Steve, it isn’t easy writing something up these days. I share your concern for misplaced anger. The actual emotional approach to supporting the club is not obvious to me right now. At kickoff I will have figured that out with respect to our situation and will give it what I’ve got left. UTFT!
Steve Shave
5 Posted 25/08/2023 at 16:41:10
That is all we can do Dale. I am praying for a stirring performance with the crowd behind them, that and 3 points would be a real lift coming into the final days of the window.
Ian Hollingworth
6 Posted 25/08/2023 at 16:46:23
Good article and I bet the majority now feel this way.

It is so frustrating for us fans but all we can really do is cheer on the team on match days and protest about the Chairman and owners.

Joe McMahon
7 Posted 25/08/2023 at 16:57:05
Good article, Steve, and yes it's been years of overpaid prices for past their best players.

I remember Rooney coming back for £160k per week and the same season Salah on about £90k per week bagged well over 30 Premier League goals. About the same time, who could forget the Moshiri Fab Four?

Tony Everan
8 Posted 25/08/2023 at 17:23:18
Thanks Steve for the article;

Joe; Still makes me laugh when it's mentioned, Moshiri must cringe …Tosun, Rooney, Bolaise, Sigurdsson.

Fully agree, Steve, we have to back the players and manager on match days. Before and after, criticism is part of the game and a good thing too if it's constructive.

The best possible outcome is that Dyche can sign or loan a few players and get us to mid table. Harrison and Danjuma are good players, get a striker on the pitch with them two and we will pick up points.

Stability is key, essential even, and it may even encourage a better class of investor that the club needs more than anything else to survive and grow.

Danny O’Neill
9 Posted 25/08/2023 at 18:14:57
A great read Steve. I don't think many will disagree.

Many of us, myself included (hands up) thought Moyes and his partner in crime were doing what was necessary at the time. Until we got suspicious about the plan. Or lack of. We stood still and they tried to kick the expectation out of us.

It became apparent pretty quickly that the two were complimentary to each other and in hindsight (always a great thing) they were stagnating the club.

Should I be harsh on Moyes (my second cousin removed)? I can be from a football perspective. But from running a footballing club, one influential person on the board for over 30 years or more has to answer for that.

He is manipulative and eventually brought in an owner that we thought was the answer, but who would allow him to continue run his train set that he couldn't run in the first place.

How the supposed Evertonian who won't attend Goodison Park can't speak or do the honest thing is beyond me.

Shameful. Self-serving.

Meanwhile thousands will attend tomorrow and wonder how they get home against the backdrop of train strikes.

Evertonian my arse.

Out of touch and no way back. Not welcome even if you wanted to be there.

Dupont Koo
10 Posted 26/08/2023 at 00:50:17
Steve, there is an even more famous Chinese proverb that literally means:

"If you want to wipe out a group of gansters quickly, you go and catch the Godfather first."

Hence, Moshiri & Kenwright need to be ousted immediately, right away, ASAP, now...


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