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IAN HERBERT: Everton could sorely do with someone like Peter Kenyon ahead of potential takeover

IAN HERBERT: Sir Alex Ferguson said Peter Kenyon was ‘not a football man’ after the move from Manchester United to Chelsea…

  • Peter Kenyon’s consortium is interested in an Everton acquisition
  • He previously served as chief executive at both Man United and Chelsea
  • Kenyon became a pantomime villain at United due to his move to Stamford Bridge
  • Everton could use a person like Kenyon hard after their plunge into chaos

If we are to believe Sir Alex Ferguson, Peter Kenyon was the man who questioned whether staying an extra night in Lisbon to sign an 18-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo was worth it.

“Is he that good?” Ferguson recalled the former Manchester United boss saying after the player in question had so harassed United’s John O’Shea in a friendly match in 2003 that the manager would not leave Portugal without a deal. Ferguson also expressed doubts that Kenyon, who is currently leading a consortium hoping to buy Everton, has actually carried out his instructions to call Arsenal and ask if Patrick Vieira can be signed.

Love has never been lost for this chief executive, as far as Ferguson is concerned, due to his departure from United – ‘the only football club I would work for’, as he had previously proclaimed them – to Chelsea, which doubled his salary and made him more an utterly loathed figure around Old Trafford for over a decade.

Every move Chelsea made in the early days of the Roman Abramovich era raised United suspicions of Kenyon, who was born 10 miles east of Old Trafford, in Stalybridge, and it was hard to avoid feeling like he was enjoying it at times. to fan the fire.

United suspected Kenyon had poached John Obi Mikel and was planning something similar with Rio Ferdinand when the two were pictured twice dining in London restaurants. His proclamations that Chelsea would ‘paint the world blue’ and that the 2005/6 Premiership title would be contested by a ‘selected group of one’.

A consortium led by Peter Kenyon is in the running for a takeover at Everton.  to complete

A consortium led by Peter Kenyon is in the running for a takeover at Everton. to complete

The club could desperately use someone with his experience after falling into chaos and nearing the championship in the 2021-22 season under current owner Farhad Moshiri.

The club could desperately use someone with his experience after falling into chaos and nearing the championship in the 2021-22 season under current owner Farhad Moshiri.

A scornful Ferguson denounced this as trash talk; proof that Kenyon was ‘not a football man’. But it was a measure of the threat the United manager saw in him to be provoked into such a public response. Pantomime villain Kenyon was eclipsed for a while how, after leaving the chief executive’s seat at Umbro to join United in 1997, he transformed their brand and established near-hegemony in the Far Eastern markets, where the club eats out to this day.

Then when Abramovich told agent Pini Zanavi to ‘find me the best man’ after he gave up buying United and taking over Chelsea, there seemed little doubt. Kenyon was discreetly approached at a meeting at Mayfair’s Les Ambassadeurs club, the very day the Russian took up residence at Stamford Bridge.

His apparent immunity to all the heat caused by his fame for making Chelsea profitable and self-financing created a sense of something cold and corporate about Kenyon. His approval of removing the words ‘football club’ from Manchester United’s decal after asking a creative agency to look at the design was seen in retrospect as a benchmark for a gray corporate figure, who trained at Courthaulds and then Umbro. . When Ed Woodward was installed in Kenyon’s old job at United, he reinstated the words on the jersey.

Kenyon's relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson soured after he left Old Trafford for Chelsea

Kenyon’s relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson soured after he left Old Trafford for Chelsea

Ferguson said Kenyon was

Ferguson said Kenyon was “not a football man” after the then Chelsea CEO said he would “paint the world blue” as Chelsea won consecutive titles in 2005 and 2006

Still, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that Everton, a club entering the most complex phase of a relatively benign history, could now use a person like Kenyon hard. Their plunge into chaos, disorder and the brink of relegation is a product of owner Farhad Moshiri’s utter lack of focus, discipline and basic competence. Few seem to really know for sure what Everton’s current philosophy is.

The football world may have moved on in the 13 years since Kenyon left Chelsea. Chief executives no longer receive late-night calls from executives like Ferguson telling them to “sign Ronaldo.” But those who have worked with him describe a clairvoyance and “an absolute sense of direction.” Everton must build a £500m stadium and a messy squad to reassemble under the leadership of Frank Lampard, a coach far from proving himself the man for the job. And the tap of Russian money has just been turned off awkwardly. If Moshiri sells, the new owners need experience and intellect.

Since leaving Chelsea 13 years ago, he has been involved in takeovers at several clubs

Since leaving Chelsea 13 years ago, he has been involved in takeovers at several clubs

Since Kenyon left Chelsea, his company, Opto Advisers, has been involved in the acquisitions of Paris St-Germain and Wolverhampton Wanderers and has advised the board at Atlético Madrid, among others. He was also involved in a failed attempt to transfer Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth to a Newcastle United takeover.

He has connections – with Jorge Mendes dating back to the Ronaldo deal, as well as Zahavi – and knows Lampard well from their time together at Chelsea. Comparisons can be made with the Everton squad and the one he inherited at Chelsea. “A few good players, a few great players…but a disparate bond that brings nothing together,” he recently described Chelsea’s legacy.

But above all, he would lead. Ferguson’s annoyance at Kenyon for ‘taking on too much’ at Old Trafford seemed to stem from the fact that this director didn’t always take his orders as gospel. He knew his own mind. Goodison could use some of that.



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