Inside Kevin Thelwell’s first 300 days as Everton director of football

It serves as a blueprint for Everton’s future. A 120-point plan put together by football’s new director, Kevin Selwell, outlining the club’s short-, medium- and long-term actions and goals.

It conveys Everton’s new overarching vision: where it wants to go and how it aims to get there. Transfer strategy, governance, identity and academy issues are all discussed in detail.

This was the product of months of hard work. Appointed in February, one of Selwell’s first tasks was to conduct a route and branch review of the club’s football operations and plan viable ways to do so.

Above all, the aim was to get to the heart of what went wrong in the previous season and take the necessary steps to rectify it. We were given a clear area and a timeline to do it.

Since the announcement 300 days ago, Selwell has been busy.

In some key ways, Everton today already look markedly different from the team he joined ten months ago. On-pitch results may not show it – almost a year later, they’re still hovering just above the relegation zone – but behind the scenes, an overhaul and renewal is underway.

Getting things right has never been easier.

The 49-year-old, who has held similar positions at Wolverhampton Wanderers and MLS side New York Red Bulls over the past five years, has inherited equipment at clubs fighting for identity and fought to regain his stable of keel, costing him money. I counted. mistakes of the past.

On the day he arrived, Everton were 16th in the standings, just two points behind the bottom three.

Since owner Farhad Moshiri took over in 2016, they have squandered so much money and amassed huge losses that they have had to sell key players to balance their books. . Others, like Lucas Digne, left after falling out with manager Rafa Benitez. Who was fired in less than a week. There was so much turmoil and so many false dawns that some close to the team wondered if they would be picked up again.

Also there was no quick fix. After three consecutive losses of over £100m for the year, Everton were dangerously close to Financial Fair Play his line and could not stay out of trouble. Funds had to be recovered before further investment could be made and the situation ultimately led to the summer sale of Richarlison to Tottenham Hotspur in June at the end of the financial year.

Benítez, on the other hand, has destroyed certain departments and his resignation in mid-January has led to yet another.

Everton had no recruiting manager or scouting manager when Selwell arrived. There was a noticeable gap between the medical team and the sports science team.

This was the situation when Selwell began work in February, with flawed construction and pitfalls at virtually every turn.

But he and the Everton hierarchy knew a change was needed. Not just fine-tuning the frontier, but seismic and far-reaching cultural and systemic shifts.

And he was tasked with bringing it all together and enacting that change.

One of the things that appealed to the club about Selwell was his ability to work across divisions, from recruitment to academy. He was seen as a club builder, someone who starts from scratch and works his way up.

Hierarchy wants a comprehensive vision, and so far it has.

300 days went by in a blink of an eye.

Zelwell is a popular figure in the game.

People rarely say bad things about him. Those he has dealt with describe him as knowledgeable, outspoken and keenly aware of what he wants when it comes to recruiting players.

One of his main strengths is said to be his ability to communicate and build relationships. If there was one crucial failure of the Goodison government, led by his Dutch predecessor Marcel Brands, he could do enough to consistently bend Everton’s decision-makers to their will. I didn’t.

Bland was clearly knowledgeable, but his demeanor could be called quintessentially Dutch.

Some people familiar with recent events feel that Everton has a football director with the skills to gain more support from Goodison’s upper management. Early evidence suggests it is true. Selwell and manager Frank Lampard are close in a way most of their predecessors never were.

Others argue that Selwell is far less handicapped than the Brands have ever been: a more docile Lampard manager than Benitez. And after the departure of the highly influential David Unsworth, there is much more room to revitalize the Academy, which is in dire need of reform.

In practice, both of the above are probably true.

But what’s not up for debate is the extent of the change behind the scenes.

The review resulted in the appointment of 26 new staff across all departments at the Club’s Finch Farm locations. Another he has 12 new positions.

Some of the biggest changes have come to the Academy, but appointments are spread across multiple departments.

As Director of Football, Selwell is responsible for seven key areas: recruiting, first team (both men’s and women’s), academies, coaching, sports science, medical services and analytics.

One of his early priorities was to start repairing the recruiting department, which was missing some key components.

He persuaded Dan Purdy, a key pillar of the Brands administration, to return as Scout and Operations Manager in March, filling a sizable void. He chose to leave the Brands just three months ago as the club was in a state of flux and Benitez was increasingly empowered. However, Selwell sought to heal some of the divisions that had arisen at the time, and promised a more united and progressive move forward, which Purdy and others agreed with.

They still lack a hiring manager, replacing Gretal Steinson and another departure with the Brands.

Under Thelwell, Everton redefined its hiring and talent ID process. The original aim this summer was to stabilize a team that narrowly avoided relegation, but in the future the overall goal is to find young, hungry players with resale value after shining in the blue shirts. Selwell and Lampard need to overhaul last season’s team, and they know it will take a few windows to complete that process, and they want to bring down the average age of the team. was enthusiastic about

In that sense, the majority of Everton’s money in the previous window was spent on Amadou Onana and James Garner, two 21-year-olds who have a bright future ahead of them.

Similar to branding, the use of video and data in the recruitment process is also gaining increasing attention.

selwell onana

Selwell signed with Onana in the summer (Photo: Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images)

Mosiri’s repeated complaint about Everton is that those outside the club, such as player representatives, always know where the balance of power lies and who to turn to for definitive answers to their questions. It means that there was no limit to Moshiri Not only will Chairman Bill Kenwright be involved, but so will Brands and his recruiting team.

A long-standing complaint is that decisions are made in London’s Swiss Mayfair district, which is particularly frequented by Mosir, and there is not much prior knowledge at Finch Farm, about 200 miles away, to manage Everton’s financial situation. It was almost impossible.

It was also felt that when Benitez was appointed in the summer of 2021, he added an extra layer of complexity given his desire to have a greater impact on transfers. The result was a team closer to the bottom than a team better suited to play in a particular style or purpose.

However, Selwell has become the primary point of contact since his arrival. He negotiated transfers and has already negotiated contracts with top teams and players just below them.

athletic understands Everton are close to confirming three other appointments early in the new year. Head of Recruitment, Head of Emerging Talent, Senior Manager of Scouting and Operations. Some of these important appointments are expected to come from within, with Purdy preparing for even more influential roles.

Elsewhere, Finch Farm’s Academy has undergone some of the biggest changes.

Those close to the setup have long championed the need for reform, and are belatedly making it happen now.

Unsworth had two positions: manager under 21 and head of the academy. But when he left, Selwell split the roles, appointing former Wolves colleague Gareth Prosser as Academy Director and under-18 head coach Paul Tate, one age group up. Everton interviewed outside candidates for the latter position, but acknowledged Tate’s popularity with staff and players, as well as his record in player development. Many of the current under-21 players, such as striker Tom Cannon, worked alongside the lower-ranked Jordy.

Tate’s under-21 players were playing more attractive and attacking football and appeared to mirror the first team in terms of principles. He is said to be particularly close and in touch with first-team assistant manager Joe Edwards, who started out as an academy coach at Chelsea.

Selwell recognized that some of the Academy’s structures and processes were outdated and no longer fit for purpose.

The aim was to ensure that Everton’s ‘one club’ spirit was present at all levels, from first team to women’s team to academy. Carl Darlington was lured from the Wales FA in October to standardize and improve Academy coaching, former Everton player James Vaughan was recruited from League Two neighbors Tranmere Rovers, and club legend Joe Royle became the club’s first loan path manager since assuming the role in 2017.

A new head of emerging talent for players ages 18-21 will be announced early next year. As part of its move to a more sustainable way of being, Everton will refocus on recruiting top youngsters and aim to make the path to the first team more accessible.

But Sellwell’s overview goes far beyond mere recruitment.

Everton’s strategic review is said to be underway and will be assessed against several key objectives over time.

Other notable changes include former Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Celtic, RB Leipzig and Real Madrid forward Jack Naylor taking over as head of sports science and Sean Miller replacing Wolves’ other Selwell. Colleague Sean Miller took over as head of physical performance earlier this month.

The analytics department was bolstered by the arrival of Alex Scanlon, who focuses primarily on set pieces, and the promotion of Charlie Reeves to Senior Lead of Performance Insights.

Change has swept Everton over the past 12 months. At least in a football sense, this is already a very different club, with different structures and priorities under Selwell.

But that’s just the beginning.

Drastic intervention is sorely needed and it will take some time to correct past mistakes — Everton, who were 16th and two points clear of relegation places on day one at Selwell, are one place down today, One point more than last-placed Nottingham Forest.

Selwell hopes the foundations are in place to not only stabilize what appears to be a sinking ship, but to give Everton the bright future it has long craved.

(Photo above: Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images)

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