The timing could hardly have been worse for Sam Allardyce. In London, his damningly lopsided Everton team were limping to a 5-1 defeat to Arsene Wenger’s freshly glossed Arsenal. Meanwhile in the German city of Mönchengladbach, Ademola Lookman was celebrating a last-gasp winner on his debut for RB Leipzig.
Some goal it was too. Optimistically chucked on as a second-half substitute, the 20-year-old collected a pass from Naby Keïta and drifted past two backpedalling defenders, before feathering an inch-perfect low shot across the face of goal, just beyond the flat-footed dive of Tobias Sippel. It was the first goal scored by an Englishman in the Bundesliga since Owen Hargreaves over a decade ago.
After Everton’s motley crew had miserably trudged down the tunnel at The Emirates, it didn’t take long for a grim-faced Allardyce to be told of Lookman’s feat by the assembled press pack. Did he – they most humbly enquired –perhaps now regret his decision to send Lookman out on loan on the very last day of the transfer window? Did he heck.
“No,” was the answer. Then a slight shake of the head. A puff of the cheeks. And an explanation.
“I've got Yannick Bolasie who cost thirty million quid and Theo Walcott who cost twenty million quid and both have a lot more experience than Lookman, so no. If you had put him out there he wouldn't have done any better than the rest because the whole team played crap.”
And there you have it: Everton’s current malaise explained away in all of twenty seconds. This season has seen Everton embark upon a spending splurge the likes of which have not been seen at the club before, with 16 players arriving to the tune of some £182m. But the true cost runs even deeper. Because Everton have lost their direction, their identity and any sense of long-term planning.
Allardyce was parachuted into the club with the simple task of keeping them safely away from the relegation places and so has little interest in developing the likes of Lookman. Ditto Tom Davies: who started the thrashing on the subs bench. Allardyce is a short-term fix with short-term objectives, unwilling and unable to see beyond a player’s price tag and what they can offer his nuts and bolts team in the here and now.
And really, can anybody blame him? Allardyce has made a career out of being the right man at the wrong time. He knows his hard-boiled brand of football does not naturally fit at Goodison Park, and that there is precious little chance of his contract extending beyond the 2018/19 season. There is no personal reward for him gambling on the likes of Lookman.
The irony of the situation is that Everton’s only answer to the short-termism that is in danger of crippling the club is, perhaps, yet more drama and upheaval in the short-term. Marco Silva – the manager they tried so hard to prise away from Watford just a few weeks ago – is now out of contract and available to take over. Allardyce is no permanent solution, and has succeeded in his task of steering the club away from the drop.
Is it already time for Farhad Moshiri to make another difficult decision?
The longer he delays, the more precarious the club’s future appears. Allardyce has no interest in the long-term future of the club. Now is the time for Moshiri to prove that he does.
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