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Fans Comment

Not-so-Great Expectations
Neil Wolstenholme points the way to realigning fan expectations.

25 May 2002


David Moyes is no miracle worker but his ethos of hard work and organization emphasizing younger and more athletic players must be the way forwards for Everton as the financial bubble that underwrote the good times of English Football in the Nineties starts to go all limp and wrinkly.  However, Evertonians are still understandably frustrated when they see the likes of Manchester City splashing out massive sums on "world-class" players far more than we could ever afford now.

But let's not forget: in the recent past, we've tried to spend big and not really seen much success; instead, things rapidly deteriorated into an unholy financial mess.  Under Bill Kenwright's lead, Smith spent heavily two summers ago... only to see the NTL finance deal behind it collapse and evaporate.  Sadly, Smith then hid behind the ensuing lack of cash as a poor excuse for his inability to raise playing standards and improve team performances but that's a whole other story!

Manchester City may well get it right... but let's not loose sight of this important fact: they ARE gambling.  At Everton, we have already gambled and lost our shirt; we cannot afford to gamble again without seriously endangering the future of the club.  The recent refinancing package (at last, our luck turns in this respect: we got that done before ITV Digital and the associated meltdown...) means we have a more stable financial base on which to make slow but steady progress.  If the long-awaited and much-needed investment in the Youth Academy is finally made, that will be another positive step forward.

Good luck to City; they should be in the Premiership and, if their gamble pays off, then hats off to them... but I have no confidence at all Everton could make that strategy work.  Our Board have to learn to walk before they can run and our fans have to accept that there are no quick fixes change in the squad and in our fortunes will be gradual at best because we do not have the resource to enable drastic surgery actions that, as we have seen so often in the past, do not guarantee a dramatic revival.

At one level, it is possible to characterize the task which faces David Moyes as that of having to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.  The Board of Everton FC have ensured that the purse strings are even tighter than they were under Smith.  To fans who remember fondly the era of the Merseyside Millionaires, that sticks in the craw.  When, they ask, will we ever get ourselves back into our rightful place in the higher echelons of English Football?  We cannot wait for the dubious bonanza that Kings Dock supposedly promises: something must change now!

What has to happen ISN'T a change in approach by EFC, it IS a change in expectations from our fans.  The difference this time is that we have a manager whose fundamental approach to problems is NOT to grab the chequebook and buy himself out of trouble.  Moyes has made it clear he will be trying to work his magic if he can with the players we already have, and the young ones coming up through the ranks.

If we are very lucky, Everton may be able to make enough progress under David Moyes to hold onto the likes of Wayne Rooney and Michael Symes for a bit longer, rather than forcing their early sale under the guise of failed contract negotiations...  At the very worst we should at least be able to match West Ham's steady production line of quality talent.  

If Moyes can make us entertaining but essentially mediocre mid-table nonentities over the next two seasons (rather than relegation long-shots), then that will be a relative success.  We need to forget about City or anyone else.  Let them do their own thing and let us do ours.  We're better placed to make progress than we were when Smith arrived and we are, believe it or not, behaving in a much more responsible manner with our limited resources.  But we've a hell of a long way to go...

Ultimately, the only chance we have of making a major step up is making something like Kings Dock work or someone like Wayne Rooney becoming so good we can sell him for 50M and buy a whole new team.  Neither are exactly low-risk / high-percentage plays...  Our best bet now is that Moyes achieves the impossible and elevates the basic standards of fitness and enthusiasm into a whole new approach for his current team of journeymen plodders.  

Remember, the "stars" that Howard Kendall assembled together were anything but... 

Based on a ToffeeWeb Discussion Forum posting by Neil Wolstenholme, 
with additional material by Michael Kenrick, ToffeeWeb Editor 

©2002 ToffeeWeb


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