Unrecognisable Everton have moved backwards under billionaire owner Farhad Moshiri

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Farhad Moshiri's millions have changed the club off the pitch, not on it.

Farhad Moshiri was labelled as Everton’s financial saviour two years ago. The Iranian billionaire, formerly a shareholder in Arsenal, provided the Goodison club with a much-needed financial injection, buying the Toffees for around £85m to gain majority control with a 49.9% stake. He also wiped away a large debt, set in stone a £150m loan with no repayment date and got the ball rolling on a new stadium, securing the Bramley-Moore Dock site.

His work to establish the Blues on a sounder footing off the pitch can be marked as successful but work in progress. Still, it has been a far cry from the previous 20 years whereby the Merseysiders scraped and saved every pound under existing chairman and avid fan Bill Kenwright. Moshiri deserves huge respect and credit for this transformation, he is the man that got fans dreaming again.

But, unfortunately, on the field, the direction of travel has been backwards and the discontent among the club’s fan-base is arguably at an all-time low, comparable to the dismal feeling under Mike Walker in the early 1990s and then Walter Smith in 2002.

MOSHIRI’S MILLIONS HAVE BEEN TAKEN FOR A RIDE

Incredibly, Everton have spent £277m on 18 players since his arrival – and were the fifth-highest spending club across all of Europe last summer, with then boss Ronald Koeman being given an open cheque book. You can’t fault the ambition but Moshiri’s cash has been used like Monopoly money. His lack of experience and naviety in terms of football decision-making has been shown up, and at times, has resembled a poorly-run Football Manager campaign. It is true that transfer fees have largely been inflated beyond the realms of reality during this period but Everton’s misplaced outlay has turned them into a laughing stock.

RECRUITMENT PROCESS HAS BEEN WOEFUL

Out of those acquisitions, only Jordan Pickford has been a consistent standout, with Idrissa Gueye, Wayne Rooney and Theo Walcott bringing at least passion and commitment in a team lacking unity, identity and desire. Indeed, Morgan Schneiderlin was booed when he entered the fray recently against Crystal Palace due to his lacklustre displays and heavily-scouted new £27m striker Cenk Tosun can apparently not hold the ball up according to manager Sam Allardyce, while other big-money acquisitions like Yannick Bolasie and Davy Klaassen have struggled. Leicester’s former transfer guru Steve Walsh, the man who discovered N’Golo Kante, has had a strong say in Everton’s dealings and has been careless in buying a lot of unproven Premier League talent – going against the grain of the club’s tradition to keep faith in, and promote, youth. With this kind of investment, Everton should have been challenging for the top six or even having a shot at the top four, but instead, a battle with relegation and mid-table mediocrity has been the story of the season.

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 03: Jordan Pickford of Everton during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Everton at Emirates Stadium on February 3, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Future England No1 Jordan Pickford has been a good signing.

BIG-MONEY MANAGERIAL APPOINTMENTS HAVEN’T WORKED

While Moshiri had no real choice but to sack Roberto Martinez in May 2016, his pursuit of successful Southampton boss Ronald Koeman was a good one initially, with the club finishing seventh during his and Moshiri’s first full term in charge, but the frictions between manager and owner were always there. The Dutchman’s blasé comments in the media and eagerness to call out certain players, Ross Barkley being a case in point, worked against him as the players gave up. That lack of communication led to Moshiri pulling the trigger after the home thrashing against Arsenal, but after that he installed inexperienced boss David Unsworth for too long. Highly-publicised failed pursuits of Sean Dyche and Marco Silva caused plenty of embarrassment as did Moshiri’s decision to go back to Allardyce – a man he previously admitted via Sky Sports’ Jim White wasn’t in the running for the role – to ask the former England boss (then laying on a sunbed in Dubai) whether he would take it up. Big Sam said yes. It was a panicked, short-term appointment with little thought process about the future and where the club want to go.

ALLARDYCE HAS TO BE SACKED AT END OF SEASON, MAJOR SURGERY NEEDED

Moshiri got the bounce effect he was looking for but is now stuck with a manager the fans have turned against. It’s hard to explain but he just isn’t a very Everton-like boss given the previous Premier League baggage he carries and the fact he has no connection with the club, often an asset high on the demands of Evertonians, though it often proves to be a hindrance. Allardyce’s per game point return so far is less than Koeman and Martinez managed in an equivalent period, with Everton’s latest defeat at Watford meaning they have won just twice on the road in 12 months. Spineless displays in beatings at Tottenham and Arsenal, negative home selections against strugglers like West Brom and the failure to address a chronic problem at left-back have all compounded the misery. The fans aren’t behind Allardyce, they aren’t connected – people have lost interest. The scary thing is spending another £250m isn’t the answer, but that’s probably what will happen and what it might take to repair the damage.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 29: Farhad Moshiri, owner of Everton (C) and Sam Allardyce (L) are seen arriving at the stadium together prior to the Premier League match between Everton and West Ham United at Goodison Park on November 29, 2017 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

A big summer lies ahead for Everton.

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Who makes our South and North XIs?

After his first NBA courtside appearance, Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku was inspired to suggest a Premier League All-Star game between the best of what the northern and southern teams have to offer.

So we thought we’d put together the two line-ups, entirely based on form during the 2017/18 campaign, and the problem for the Belgian is that he doesn’t make the starting XI for the northern side.

Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino and Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero get the nod ahead of Lukaku, with the striker’s teammates, Nemanja Matic and David De Gea, the only two United stars to make the starting line-up.

Manchester City, thanks to their incredible season under Pep Guardiola, dominate the 11, with room for three Liverpool players, including Mohamed Salah, and one from Burnley.

For the south, Tottenham feature heavily with five players included in the starting line-up and three more among the substitutes, but there’s no room for anyone from Arsenal. Players from Leicester City, Watford and Chelsea are included alongside the Spurs stars.

Check out our North and South XIs below and let us know what changes, if any, you would make to both sides on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Five Tottenham Hotspur players feature in our South XI.

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Manchester City lead the way in our North XI.

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Philippe Coutinho and Mohamed Salah

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The Brazilian left the club in January to join Barcelona in a blockbuster deal but his exit has barely been felt with Salah in such stunning form.

The Egyptian has already plundered 31 goals in all competitions, contributing with a further nine assists.

And Arsenal’s all-time top goalscorer Henry revealed his appreciation for the 25-year-old.

“I like his movement, he always wants to go in behind,” Henry told Sky Sports h/t KingFut.com.

“There’s no step-overs, there’s no trying to nutmeg, there’s no skills for no reason. He’s going at you, if you’re ready or not that’s your problem.

“I said at the beginning, I predicted that he can be as efficient as Coutinho. He has been more efficient than Coutinho in his first season. So we will see how far he’s going to go with that.

“Listen, if you’re a Liverpool fan and you have Firmino, Salah, Mane, you can only be happy,” he added.

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