Grand Old Team to Support?

Lawrence Green 14/04/2018  6 Comments  [Jump to last]

As this horrible season comes to a close and with Everton set to play it's 1000th Premier League game at West Ham in May, it is as good a time as any to assess where we are as a football club and what direction we may take in the coming years.

Following Everton Football Club means so many things to so many people, it's a way of life, it's a shared experience, it's a way of meeting new friends, it's a constant in an ever-changing world, it's also on too many occasions a very frustrating club to follow.

How do we as fans measure the success or otherwise of the club we support? Do we measure it in terms of trophies won or by the quality of football played by those who take to the field? Every club and its fans believe they are special in one way or another but many Evertonians often times believe they are the chosen few, those who admire the finer arts of the game and have little time for play-acting, cheating or any other activity that brings the beautiful game into disrepute.

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To say the last 30 years have been hard-going for Evertonians is an understatement. Year after year, fans have mostly flocked to Goodison, hoping beyond hope that this will be the year when it finally reaches the heights that were expected during the halcyon days of the late 1980s, throughout the sixties and at times during the 1920s and 1930s.

As the Premier League began, Everton Football Club were not in the condition that we would have hoped, but then again which of the top clubs were? As the season's ticked by in this brave new world, Manchester United, after so many years in the doldrums – at least when it came to contesting for the title - woke up with a bang and delivered almost unbroken success; Arsenal, another powerhouse of English football also realised that its horizons were unlimited and began to assemble the top players; Liverpool were still a force but not as much as they had been prior to the start of the Premier League. Manchester City were always a club seeking to regain past albeit fleeting glories but that club similar to Everton lacked confidence in itself and it too lacked the financial backing that seemed necessary even during the formative years of the league. Blackburn Rovers spent big and hired the best available to it and won the title in 1995 – the same year as Everton's last honour was won.

As Arsenal and Manchester United forged ahead, Everton stuttered from season to season, avoiding relegation on the final day in 1994 and 1998. Unfortunately, those two great escapes have scarred the club to such an extent that any signs of similar happening nowadays, no matter how early in the season, set the alarm bells ringing long and loud and hasty decisions are sometimes made, to the detriment of the club and to its image to the wider public. Everton FC has a proud record when it comes to competing in the top flight, as all but four seasons have been spent in the top division in its entire history.

Is that fine record enough for the club? Is that what sets the spine tingling for its fans? It shouldn't be and it never used to be, but it's a common state of mind for those clubs not blessed with riches, or who haven't made the most of the opportunities that the Premier League presented, at least up until the Billionaires arrived on the scene at Manchester City and Chelsea. Those two clubs, via their good fortune in attracting mega rich benefactors, suddenly found themselves as viable contenders for honours on the domestic and European front. To be fair to Chelsea it had already started showing the signs that it meant business prior to the arrival of Mr Abromovich. Tottenham, who are now part of the English elite, was similar to Everton but different too, as it has had the backing of the Enic Group, for many years prior to its recent assault on the top four and unlike Everton it has the advantage of being based in London and is run by an efficient and ruthless chairman.

Everton reached another cup final in 2009, the first since 1995 which it lost, despite taking an extremely early lead in the game and the club has flirted with success in other cups but mostly it has come to grief when faced with a heavyweight opponent. Apart from that single victory in 1995, there has been little solace to be found in the domestic cups or much progress made in raising the club's profile on the European stage.

A single top-four finish in the last 26 years is hardly a record that makes the football world sit up and take notice and, whilst there have been some season's during that period where Everton seemed to have a side that might develop into that 'special' team, it never happened due to a lack of investment by the club at critical points or it found that its most promising players 'chose' to leave in order to balance Everton's books or to try their hand at lifting silverware elsewhere.

When Mr Moshiri arrived on the scene, just over two years ago, it seemed as if, with his financial backing, it would propel the club back into the place that all of the fans dreamed about. But, in the years since his arrival and for the two years prior, everything that could go awry has gone awry.

Everton FC is no longer a club that merely needs financial backing to make it competitive; it no longer has a team short of one or two players to complete the puzzle, it is a club that has lost its way. Or perhaps that is being kind, perhaps those who run the club realise that even with its own Billionaire on board, it won't be enough to propel the club into those top six places.

Certainly, the transfer roulette wheel has been badly played by those in charge at Everton, as money has been wasted on far too many players not good enough for a club with top six ambitions. The choices of manager are another bone of contention as none of the previous few appointees have been able to mould a team worthy of the name.

Players, managers, custodians of the club all come and go, but the club continues through good and bad times and the fans follow it regardless, however. Perhaps it is time for Evertonians to study the club for what it is and not what we would like it to be; time to stop making comparisons between Everton and the other top six contenders because, truthfully and disappointingly, we are not in their league and we haven't been for quite some time. It could be argued that Everton ceased to be a major force in England since the mid-1980s – some could argue since circa 1970.

Hopefully, we'll have a brand-new stadium to showcase the club in less than 5 years, but will we ever see an Everton team who are able to compete with those other clubs at the top of the tree? I hope we do, but if the patterns of the past decades are continued at the new 'field of dreams' we may be lucky to hang on to our status as a top-flight club – unless the men at the top act decisively and with the sole purpose of putting Everton FC back on the football map.

Don’t blame the manager or the players for the lack of success or the terrible style of football that we have witnessed all too often in the recent past, as they don’t choose to be hired or fired. Put the blame fairly and squarely on those who are charged with the task of setting the direction that the club should travel – we pay our money, we expect the best, we will never be happy with best of the rest.

NB – I spent today compiling this piece rather than looking for a stream to watch the game, I suspect that attitude is spreading throughout a large part of the fan-base and the only way to stop that is to appoint the correct manager who can lead the club forward with the fullest backing off the pitch from those responsible – and it’ll take more than an open cheque-book to make that happen.

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Reader Comments (6)

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Jim Bennings
1 Posted 15/04/2018 at 19:00:12
Very good article.

The blame for me lies firmly at the boardroom.

They are the ones doing the hiring and firing and the ones that have absolutely screwed up this last 12 months with managerial cock ups and no progress has been made despite being Europe’s 7th biggest spenders since 2016.

What other club would allow it’s 25 goal talismanic striker to leave and give the job of being replacement from August to January to a 20 year old lad brought in from League One in Calvert-Lewin?

This has happened before under Kenwright however.

Remember the sale of Rooney in 2004?

It was only Moyes canniness in the transfer market that he poached Marcus Bent and Tim Cahill for a combined £3 million that we managed to punch above our weight that season.

What club would have allowed Koeman to leave then not have a quick fire replacement lined up, punishing Unsworth with a virtually impossible task until finally making a panicked costly appointment of Sam Allardyce on a ridiculous contract.

The board have allowed mediocrity to become the norm at Everton Football Club and until that mentality changes, and I really don’t see how it will right now, then all we are faced with on the horizon is a passionless aimless football team that will bobble between 9th and 12th over the coming seasons.

Derek Thomas
2 Posted 16/04/2018 at 01:16:53
All fair points well put – but truth to tell, its old news. The worrying thing is I'm getting so I'm not even arsed.

Me, me who won't have a red item in the house, me who was going before Carey took his taxi, me who said this is shite and went to bed after 38 mins of the game... yeah I know, I missed the 'goal'... I hear Harry Kane scored it – meh.

It's going to take something special... on past form??

You've got one chance Moshiri - get it right.

Jack Convery
3 Posted 16/04/2018 at 18:00:05
Unless we hire a manager who wants to take EFC to the top, as Simeone has tried at Atletico, we will never make progress. We will be a stepping-stone club from now on. Managers who make progress with us will leave when an elite club comes knocking, as will our best players.

I see us as a feeder club, similar to many Spanish teams like Seville who, when they develop a decent side, have it dismantled by Real and Barca and other top teams in Europe. So I have to say: What's the point any more? I know its negative but it is how EFC and football in general has me feeling right now.

Sometimes, I wish the elite teams would go and set up a Euro League and let the rest of us get back to a period of not knowing who would win the title before a ball was kicked in August – a bit like the Championship which is so unpredictable, it's untrue. That's what made football interesting – not knowing. Now, it's the same predictable teams, season after season.

Paul Birmingham
4 Posted 16/04/2018 at 21:08:56
Very good read and all valid points but the terminal rot has been in place for the best part of 30 years...

The club board must act now despite, as lauded, record season ticket sales, the fans will vote in their own way in time unless the board get a proper grip of the gravity of the situation.

The club must be decisive in a month's time... Hope eternal but, this season, there's not been any games whereby I've expected the team to play the opposition off the park – quite the opposite – and, accepting that Bobby Brown Shoes set the mould, both Koeman and Allardyce have not helped the cause and both have taken us backwards by years.

Allardyce inherited a pile but has made no attempt to change the dynamic and now we are playing sterile football. Not good to watch and terrible for the soul. I do think will I see EFC win a trophy again in my life time...

Just watched the U23s and that sums up their season and the season for the club overall.


Phil Parker
5 Posted 17/04/2018 at 13:09:53
I trace our current troubles back to summer 1987:

After 14 years of nothing up to 1984, we were top of the tree – we were ahead of Man Utd, Arsenal, going toe-to-toe with our city rivals, and looking set for many more trophy-laden seasons at the top, when Howard could have become one of the greatest managers ever, instead of which he never gets mentioned nationally...

Our Chairman at the time allowed our greatest ever manager to go to Spain, to a club where he had no chance of real success (Basque players only)... Mistake realised, he was brought back when we had spent all the money amassed during our great years on players not good enough.

Now, we have a stand named after that Chairman. Sums us up really.

Phil Walling
6 Posted 17/04/2018 at 16:52:38
Lawrence, you've said all I've been trying to say for the past two years. They say that expressing such negative vibes does nothing to improve the situation but it sure helps to get it off your chest!

All of us crave to rejoice in success but there has been so little of it in modern times, you begin to wonder if it is our lot to suffer. But then, you look at what is going on in real the world and say "Fuck it, it's only football, after all, thank gawd that's all I have to worry about!"

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