Director of Football at Everton, Marcel Brands, has recently signed a new three-year contract at Goodison Park.
Since joining the Toffees in 2018, Brands has been an invaluable part of their backroom staff. For years, Everton’s recruitment was the subject of ridicule, shelling out millions on underutilised or underperforming players.
This isn’t a knock on Steve Walsh, Brands’ predecessor. He made mistakes, but he also put forth the idea of signing Andy Robertson, Harry Maguire and Erling Haaland back before they became the global superstars they are today.
Walsh was unfortunate at Everton, given his track record elsewhere. However, Brands certainly seems to be the man for the job. With his new contract, the club are undoubtedly happy with his performance in the role so far.
Marcel Brands – An Evaluation
Brands Before Everton
Before taking up his new role, Marcel Brands was a professional footballer, sticking to the lower tiers of Dutch Football. He turned out for clubs such as FC Deb Bosch (his local team), NAC Breda and RKC Waalwijk. Brands also played for Feyenoord for a time.
The Dutchman cut his teeth as a Technical Manager at Waalwijk, for whom he also made over 350 appearances for as a player. He worked there for seven years, before being snapped up by the more lucrative Alkmaar Zaanstreek.
With Brands working tirelessly behind the scenes, he helped AZ to a league title win in 2009. Since his departure, AZ have failed to replicate this success.
Moving forwards, Brands took up the job of Director of Football at PSV Eindhoven. His first challenge at PSV was a peculiar one – they were in financial trouble and could not sign adequate players. So, he instead set about revamping the scouting network and recruitment process, preparing PSV for the future.
His preparations proved to be more than sufficient. With Brands’ help, PSV won three Eredivisie titles over the space of four years. Upon their final title victory (they haven’t won one since), Brands departed the club and made his way to Merseyside.
Brands at Everton
A man who likes to get his business done early, Marcel Brands set about bringing in quality players for the Blues. He signed Yerry Mina, Lucas Digne, Andre Gomes and Richarlison in his first window, all of whom have gone on to become regular first-team players.
He also signed Kurt Zouma on loan, who went onto have a decent season at Goodison Park. Finally, there was Bernard. Definitely the worst of the signings, but also low risk, as he was brought in on a free. To be fair to Bernard, he’s shown quality on occasion and is reliable as a backup option even now.
Everton themselves, however, had a mixed campaign in 2018/19. Under Marco Silva, Everton would regularly drop points, even when it seemed impossible to do so.
Despite this, Brands’ signings all settled in well and often provided the brightest portions of the year. Richarlison finished the season as Everton’s joint-top goalscorer, while Digne picked up the Blues’ player of the season award.
Brands’ Second Year at Everton
The next season would be a less successful one for Brands. The highlight was the relatively cheap acquisition of Andre Gomes on a permanent basis, who had impressed the season prior.
However, most of Everton’s signings this summer were mediocre at best. Alex Iwobi, Jonas Lossl and Fabian Delph have all underwhelmed. Moise Kean looked like a good deal at first, but wasn’t physically ready for the Premier League and was frequently caught in possession. His future move to Paris Saint-Germain made sense, as Ligue 1 is less taxing in this regard.
Others, like Jean-Philippe Gbamin, have suffered from being perpetually injured. This is no fault of Brands’, he couldn’t have foreseen this. Regardless, the signings not named Gbamin also did little to improve Everton’s squad.
The outgoings were also concerning. Idrissa Gueye was sold, as were the previously promising Nikola Vlasic and Ademola Lookman. Vlasic now finds himself at CSKA Moscow, while Lookman turns out for fellow Premier League side Fulham.
This ultimately less-than-stellar window led to a series of losses, including a 5-2 thumping against Liverpool. These shoddy performances resulted in Silva’s sacking – only to be replaced by the legendary Carlo Ancelotti.
Working with Ancelotti and Moving Forwards
The 2019/20 summer transfer window underwhelmed, but the 2020/21 equivalent made up for it.
Through September, Everton gained the services of Abdoulaye Doucoure, Allan and James Rodriguez, giving them a spectacular boost.
Doucoure and Allan were very much needed in Everton’s midfield. Allan provides energy and is a constant short passing option, while Doucoure can turn defence into attack in a flash.
However, it was Rodriguez that caught everyone’s attention. An instantly recognisable name in football, his move to Everton was rightfully seen as a statement of intent. Better still, they got him on a free.
He added a spark of creativity in the final third that Everton had been crying out for. Some may criticise him for his lack of running, but the truth is that football just seems effortless to him.
On top of this, there was also Ben Godfrey. A versatile defender who can play both full-back and centre half, the £20 million Everton paid for the 23-year-old looks to be excellent value for money.
Ancelotti and Brands are on the same page when it comes to how Everton should improve. All of Brands’ key signings have been used effectively and have carved out a spot in the first team.
Not to mention, working alongside an acclaimed figure such as Ancelotti must be a tantalising prospect for most players. This was evidenced by the capture of Rodriguez – with Ancelotti at his side, the sky is the limit for Brands’ potential signings.
Both him and Ancelotti have been a success at Goodison Park so far and they are showing no evidence of slowing down. If Everton’s next summer transfer window is as good as the last, who knows how far they can go?