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Forget Benitez, Farhad Moshiri is the biggest issue at Everton

Rafael Benitez was doomed as Everton manager from the moment he was hired by Farhad Moshiri to take charge of the Merseyside club. His standing as a Liverpool legend was always going to make Benitez’s presence an uncomfortable one but the circumstances also conspired to make the Spaniard’s job on the blue side of Merseyside nearly impossible.

Impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and the construction of the club’s new £500m stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock, Everton weren’t able to hand Benitez the funds of recent Toffees managers. Perhaps convinced by his relative success at Newcastle United under Mike Ashley, Everton believed Benitez to be the ideal austerity boss for them.

At first, their decision looked to have paid off. Everton won three of their first four Premier League fixtures of the season with summer additions Demarai Gray and Andros Townsend, signed for a combined £2 million, flourishing. From then on, though, the Toffees found themselves in an increasingly sticky situation.

Benitez’s tactics were insipid. Injuries and Covid-19 disruptions certainly didn’t help the 61-year-old, but he demonstrated an unwillingness to change his approach when it clearly wasn’t working. Most damning was the lack of fight from Everton under Benitez. The players gave up on the Spaniard long before the club ultimately did.

Now that Benitez is gone, though, it’s important Everton assess the true depth of their structural issues because, while the former Liverpool manager was a problem for them, he wasn’t their biggest problem. Instead, Everton must look to the boardroom and to the club’s owner, Farhad Moshiri, to find that.

Everton have spent over £500m on transfers under Moshiri’s ownership but have very little to show for it. The British-Iranian’s wealth has helped attract the likes of Carlo Ancelotti, James Rodriguez and Richarlison to Goodison Park, but this hasn’t translated into improved results on the pitch.

Not since 2014, before Farhad Moshiri took Everton over, have they finished in the Premier League’s top six. They finished eighth in Moshiri’s first two seasons as owner and followed this up with a 12th and 10th place finish. As things stand this season, with Everton sitting 16th, they will do well to finish in the top half again.

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Moshiri only has himself to blame. While Everton hired Marcel Brands to be their Director of Football in 2018, the Dutchman only had so much power. He didn’t have full control to shape the football side of the club as a Director of Football should. Instead, he had to contend with Moshiri’s interference.

According to widespread reports, many of the signings Everton have made in recent years were on the recommendation of their billionaire owner. This isn’t the mark of an elite level club, which Everton aspire to be. For the Toffees to truly make progress, they must put in place the checks and balances required to stop Moshiri’s influence from reaching the pitch.

Brands might have been the wrong man for the job, but Everton must re-commit to the Director of Football model, only this time they must grant full autonomy to the man that sits between the club’s board and the manager. He, in cooperation with the manager, must be the one who moulds the squad and the generational direction of the club in a footballing sense.

In going from Ronald Koeman to Sam Allardyce to Marco Silva to Ancelotti and finally to Benitez in quick succession, Everton have given themselves managerial whiplash. They must figure out what sort of team they want to be before they decide on their next move otherwise Everton are destined to make the same mistakes all over again. And this time, despite owning Everton, Farhad Moshiri must be ignored.

 


 

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