The Current Situation
Like anyone I was surprised with the timing of this week’s events and we now find ourselves at a crossroads in terms of how the club moves forwards.
The club is amidst the change curve; Moyes was ace but football is massive and change happens, often for the better and there is no reason we can’t kick on. With the foundations he has left we are in good shape to move forward given the right appointment.
The conundrum for the board is do we go for someone who can provide ‘like for like’ continuity, Scottish pragmatism i.e. a Malay Mackay type (essentially Moyes-lite) or look for a more dynamic solution that could provide more short term gain like, say a Laudrup.
Unless Kenwrong is a great poker player we need to assume that the search for a successor only started this week. This leads us to ask the question of what exactly have the club done to mitigate the risk of DM leaving? Was there a contingency ‘Plan B’ on the team shared drive ready to be implemented on Wednesday morning? Or is the more likely option that we have adopted a wait and see, eyes closed, hide under the table approach? Sadly, the answer is obvious. This excellent article by footballing head-hunter Tor Karlsen shows what properly organised clubs do in recruiting future managers.
‘The Everton change curve’
The Transition that lies ahead…
Given that continuity has been one of our key strengths in recent times it’s a real worry that short term we could struggle to compete if the post- Moyes transition of any potential appointment isn’t well managed.
Clearly, given the far reaching autonomy DM enjoyed there will be a significant period of transition to endure. Some transitions have been handled better than others in the top flight in recent years. If we look at the worst, Villa’s replacement of long ball tramp Martin O’Neill with the contrasting strategist Gerard Houllier springs to mind. In that case, not replacing like for like led to the creation of haphazard recruitment and a playing squad that still to this date resembles a detritus.
Swansea’s transition from Martinez>Sousa>Brenny > Laudrup has been seamless given that they have a defined strategy and thus didn’t need to chop and change too much. Yes, Laudrup added better players but wholesale changes were not necessary. This continuity has also bagged them over £5m in compensation. Often though, what people disliked most of the previous regime will lead to the polar opposite being brought in. The England job is a good example with Sven -for being foreign- leading to englishman McLaren coming in, before he was denounced as not clever enough hence the need for tactican Capello to come in, who was also too foreign and a loose canon, which led to ‘safe hands’ englishman Roy coming in.
I certainly don’t subscribe to the belief that Moyes departure will somehow lead to implosion, although this is very much in the hands of the board.
What are we looking for?
The key capabilities required for the job is evidently different from when the Scot took the helm. Back then, the basic premise was survival and to reduce the average age of the squad which then stood at 56 (although it’s still quite old now)
We are now challenging at the top end of the table with an expectation of a top six placing and cup glory. With no cash and FFP now ‘in play’ the candidate will need experience in bringing players through, and given how we can’t compete like for like in the transfer market with the sides above us (and some below us), a tactical edge to find another way of winning will be crucial. So essentially it’s likely any successor will be more pragmatic than idealistic.
Given the broadness of the role and working on the assumption the board are not going to carve the duties up with additional costs (e.g create a director of football role), any future boss will need to be able to turn his hand to more functions than most bosses in the top flight including responsibilities for the academy and scouting as well as day to day coaching duties.
1. Long term role to re-build the second oldest side in the division
2. Tactical edge to find a way to win ‘by any means necessary’
4. Willing to accept a minimal transfer budget
5. Getting the best out of average players (e.g Naismith, Anichebe)
6. A willingness to be subservient to the board
7. A degree of arrogance and flair to move us forward from current position
8. Capability to effectively trade and make a profit on transfers
9. Available with no/minimal compensation
10. Hard worker with a steely desire to win
What’s in it for them?
1. A very good first X1 good enough to win a trophy
2. Quality youth setup and ‘state of the art’ training complex & fanbase
3. Opportunity to build something long term
4. Free reign on transfers, full autonomy on first team affairs and academy
5. One of the top 15 best paid jobs in world football
6. With the new tv deal a club no longer dependent on selling to survive
The Unlikely Options
Based on the criteria listed lets dismiss some of the names linked so far…
Personally I rate Paul Lambert as the closest like for like fit for Moyes in the top flight but given the way Villa have finished the campaign (and the compensation involved) this looks a non starter. Michael Laudrup would appear a complete long shot given the reported £5m release clause in his new deal- a clause he signed in recent months as our board watched Moyes contract wind down. He’s also something of a journeyman though with 5 jobs in 7 years – I don’t see him being anyway very long. Mark ‘project’ Hughes is not good enough to work in the club shop. Steve McLaren hasn’t really been mooted but I rate him; he’s one of the few English managers with the get up and go to try his hand abroad and whilst his spell at Wolfsburg was not great his time in Holland was excellent. He also bagged a trophy for Boro and had them settled in mid table – something which seems a million miles away now. Neil Lennon is Michael Douglas in Falling Down waiting to happen. Pip Neville – doesn’t like the sopranos, also no experience and is predominantly disliked (a tad unfairly) by a large section of the fan base so his appointment would be divisive. Duncan Ferguson and Alan Stubbs are well liked but have no real experience. I also think Freedman at Bolton is a more credible option that McKay at Cardiff, although neither fits the bill for me.
x4 more serious contenders to consider….
1. Roberto Martinez (Wigan Athletic)
Age 39 / Best Odds: 3/1 (Stan James) / CareerTrophies: 1 / Career Win Rate; 37%
Martinez role at Wigan in recent seasons has been to provide sustainable longevity following the early years of heavy spend prior to his appointment. Based in the North West and accustomed to the division, there would be minimal ‘setting’ issues associated with relocation and he would be able to hit the ground running. His salary is also a fraction of what Moyes was on. He’s also a fully qualified physiotherapist (boring fact)
RM’s transfer approach has been to bring in three cheap players for every big name player that he moves on and the money banked on players like N’Zogbia and Moses has been plentiful. He also has a good scouting network of previously untapped markets in South America. The way RM has recruited for minimal spend and developed players like McCarthy and Maloney is admirable and this will be something the board will look at for sure, as will be his subservience to Whelan. Tactically he is also adventurous with his three at the back system quite edgy for the vanilla tactics of the premier league.
I like his approach although I’m not sure his style wholly fits our club mantra. For example, could you see Martinez coming out after a 0-4 defeat and saying ‘yeah, but we played great football’… the fans would hound him out within 3 months. His win % is also the lowest of all the candidates and it’s even worse when you focus on top flight games only (29%). RM has never taken Wigan higher than 15th which is worse than two of the complete numbskulls who occupied the hot seat before him – the Aberdeen Angus headed Steve Bruce for instance got them to 11th while Burberry enthusiast Paul Jewell also got them in the top half, albeit both had more cash than RM.
Then there is the issue of compensation and the senile coffin dodger Dave ‘I broke my leg in the cup final’ Whelan who would be looking at £4m to fund his Thatcher memorial statue, the tit. Despite this, I think he’s the most likely option.
2. Vitor Pereira (Porto)
Age 44 / Best Odds 12/1 (Ladbrokes) / Trophies Won: 3 / Career Win Rate 54%
Similarly to Martinez and ‘Rafa’ Benitez, Pereira comes from a background of a not so great career as a player but one that excelled through the education system and who has a sports science accreditation under his belt. Prior to becoming assistant at Porto to ‘AVB’ , Pereira enjoyed moderate success in the lower leagues with Santa Clara where he developed a reputation as a progressive manager. His core skill is a work ethic and as a proficient fitness coach with a track record of getting the best out of what is available to him.
He isn’t the most charismatic figure though, and he certainly isn’t the next Mourinho, or even the next ‘AVB’. He’s something of a ‘yes man’ to the Porto president and has a willingness to be subservient so the Board which would give him a tick in the box for our role.
He has achieved the Portuguese title though – although some Porto fans perceived it as Benfica throwing it away rather than Porto winning it – however you can’t question the home form with the Dragons currently unbeaten in 44 home league games which is not to be sniffed at. They are also still in the hunt for back to back titles this season although the division is essentially a two horse race.
With his contract expiring in the summer (Porto haven’t offered him a new deal) Pereira would be free to move clubs, but it would be a surprise for me if his destination was L4 given our ‘traditional’ approach.
3, Rafa Benitez (Chelsea)
Age; 53 / Best Odds; 45/1 (Betfair) / Career Trophies; 11 / Career Win Rate; 50%
An outside bet given his connections across the park, ‘clown kecks’ is the best qualified candidate by some distance and would be able to hit the ground running. Yes, his affiliation with the other lot is hard to shake and his comments in the past will have done little to endear him to the L4 faithful. However for me the positives outweigh the negatives by some distance.
His time at Valencia was impressive, as was his feet in taking a rank average Liverpool side containing Djimi Traore and Djibrill Cisse to the Champions League crown. His ability to get the most out of such players and the tactical edge to get the better of teams possessing better players is crucial to the Everton role. His critics will argue he was a reckless spender at Liverpool where he came in for criticism for spending £40m on calamity duo Robbie Keane and Alberto Aquilani, however the club did recoup almost half this outlay in moving them on – a figure dwarfed by the £50m he banked the club from the Torres/Alonso deals.
What would his motivation be for taking the job then? Well, his desire to stay in the English top flight is clear, and his ego will dictate that he wants to operate at the top end. We are the only conceivable option for him to be able to compete here, plus he would get the autonomy on playing affairs and recruitment which has led to him leaving previous jobs. It’s a long shot though; his appointment could be divisive within the fan base and it would take a gutsy board who wanted success at all costs to appoint him – something we don’t have.
4. Thomas Tuchel (Mainz)
Age: 39 / Best Odds; 142/1 (Betfair) / Career Trophies: 0 / Career win rate 40%
A big outsider, the Mainz boss has won a lot of friends in Germany for turning the fortunes of an unfashionable side that in recent history have rarely been above Bundesliga2. As a sign of the progress he has brought, the club has finished 5th and 13th in the German top flight in recent seasons. Initially he was brought in as the successor to the now much coveted Jurgen Klopp at Dortmund, and there are many similarities that can be drawn between the duo. Both are passionate, animated characters and both excel at rearing young players into the first team such as Marcel Risse, Shawn Parker and notably Jan Kirchhoff who is joining Bayern this summer.
They currently lie in 10th position in the league but have struggled a bit this season, drawing 9 of 15 games in 2013. Overall they have scored 38 and conceded 38 from as many games this season, giving them a 0 goal difference and one of the best defensive records in the league. Sound familiar?
Their style also has a cross over with ours, playing an energetic, pressure game in the opposition half, again an approach similar to Moyes – Everton spend a higher proportion of time in the opposing half than anyone in the top flight.
Tuchel is paid in the region of 1 million euro’s per year, a drop in the ocean to Moyes £2.9m per year wedge. The hat wearing tactician’s progress hasn’t gone unnoticed with the top clubs in Germany with Schalke – a club who also supposedly looked at Moyes – holding an interest in the manager. He fits the bill but again would the board spread their net this wide?
The fear is the board will choose the easy option which guarantees no kick back and allow them to continue doing nothing, i.e Martinez. It’s also the reason that Benitez probably won’t be considered. If it is Martinez then it will be interesting to see how things develop. He’s has had moderate success at Wigan, but would need to change his approach to adapt to a much bigger football operation with great expectation at Goodison Park. It all makes for an interesting few months ahead.