The Great Pretenders

Kieran Kinsella 07/10/2019 8comments  |  Jump to last

In the late 1980s, television viewers in Romania tuned in to see their President, Nicolae Ceacescu, celebrating a bountiful harvest. There he was surrounded by piles of oranges, apples, cabbages and all manner of food items. Life, he told them, had never been better.

Years later, it was revealed that the "fruit" in the newscast was actually polystyrene. The country was in near famine and the harvest was terrible. The citizens knew this from personal experience and yet, for a time, his propaganda was powerful enough to convince people to disbelieve their own experiences.

In a similar vein, we as Evertonians have been hearing a powerful message about our team’s greatness for several years now. Perversely, the boasts of "greatness" usually follow a dismal defeat.


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In Martinez's second season, Gareth Barry was the vessel of choice. Frequently stating that "we have great players," and we are "better than our current position." Gareth seemed to skulk off into a corner during the next season as Jags and Coleman took turns talking about their puzzlement at our "great" team struggling.

It carried on through Koeman's reign with "we know we have great players" being piped out by Rooney, Keane, and of course Jags. In recent times we have seen more individuals wheeling out the polystyrene oranges. Brands with his "envy of the EPL" speech about Lookman, DCL and Rich. Silva with his "I am not worried, they are great in training" defences of Walcott and DCL. It is a recurring feature of every defeat. "Disregard the result, forget the stats, don't think about what you witnessed. Just know that we are a great team and small details are costing us."

I read an anecdote from Howard Kendall about the bus trip down to West Ham the night of Gary Speed's controversial omission. He said he asked the bus driver to play Tina Turner's "Simply the Best" as it was an anthem that revved up his team of the 80s. He realised looking about the bus at the likes of Cadamarteri, Tyler and Thomas that the current team were clearly not the best.

The Everton propagandists have done their work well, though. We sign players like Iwobi — a modern day Graham Stuart. Decent enough, has the occasional great game, but we represent his signing as a coup, a star man who can battle that other legend Sigurdsson for the number 10 role. The belief being, if we pay a high enough price for a player he must be "great."

A lot of fans seem to buy into this thinking that it's a matter of just sacking the coach. Clearly, we've had and have bad coaches. But, it's some of the same "great" players who have been talking themselves up by letting down the fans for five years.

Worse still, the manager and players frequently cite the need for the fans to be the 12th man. The inference being that the team lose when we don't do our part. Despite filling the stadium during 30 years of failure, despite cheering raucously for the occasional win, we the fans are letting the "great" team down.

For many of us, the message seems to be getting through. As long as we see a man with polystyrene oranges then its our duty to keep being the legend of the "great" team.

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Reader Comments (8)

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Paul Birmingham
1 Posted 07/10/2019 at 22:41:14
Kieran, a very good read and analogy, and remarkable parrallells with the comparison of today’s team with former players.

The purchase of Niasse, many of us believed done by BBS, via UTube.

And it makes you wonder, with all the relative riches EFC, have wasted on average players these last 3 years at best.

It’s as if Everton buy all the tickets at the Football Tombola, thinking that they’ll get the best prize, in terms of the best players.

Alas in football, transfer dealing is a skill, and this window took the wheels off the bus, before the season started, with no proven striker, CB to replace Zouma, and an energetic midfielder who covers the pitch.

Lack of shape, tempo etc etc.. and we are in the crap house again.

Time to fight, but I don’t see this squad with enough stomach for a long fight.

But as they say, it’s a funny old game.

One day perhaps..

Tony Everan
2 Posted 07/10/2019 at 23:17:27
Good piece Kieren, the title makes me want to do my Freddie Mercury impression

Sometimes I think we are signing players that have good football quality at face value, but lack the other human qualities that underpin a ''winner'' and a team player.

A lot of the players we have signed either see us as a cash cow to maintain or improve their previous bloated wage for another 5 years. Or alternatively see us as a part-time job where achieving anything is just too much and a futile effort because of the Sky Six's resources.

There's not the required commitment to their fellow player, or to the club. many players view us as a stopover, not a destination. As a result are never fully signed up to the cause. Even if it is for 2 or 3 years , it's the wrong mentality.

The biggest thing of all is the bond as a team. Knowing and understanding teammates and their idiosyncrasies on the pitch. Knowing each others runs and their natures. Everton under HK in the 80's was a perfect example of it. Everyone knew their roles, and everyone knew everyone elses roles.

At the moment it is just complete confusion on the pitch, 11 strangers wearing the same kit.

Stan Schofield
3 Posted 08/10/2019 at 15:54:59
Kieran, in many ways I agree, and there's a lot of political bullshit with Everton. Having said that though, probably very few of us, if any, think we've had 'great' players for a long time, apart perhaps from Rooney who wasn't here very long anyway.

We sign good players, some very good, but not top notch players. We used to have top notch players, especially in the 60s when we were world class. But that was a long time ago.

I think we all recognise Everton's waffle about how great the club is, how Everton can talk the talk but not walk the walk. That's why the quality of EFC is not up to the quality of its loyal supporters.

This situation won't change, probably cannot change, unless and until we spend really big money on top players and coaches. Until that happens, anticipate a steady supply of what has become traditional Everton bullshit.

If Everton could play football as fully as it can waffle, we'd be winning every trophy available.

Dennis Stevens
4 Posted 08/10/2019 at 17:27:44
As if there weren't already enough reasons to be impressed by Howard Kendall, we now discover that he had access to Tina Turner's cover of The Best years before she officially released it in 1989!
Kieran Kinsella
5 Posted 08/10/2019 at 17:31:24

He was very forward thinking obviously. Hey it's his anecdote I am not going to second guess him. lol

Brian Wilkinson
6 Posted 08/10/2019 at 21:10:34
Are you sure it was not another one bites the dust he asked the driver to play.
Kieran Kinsella
7 Posted 08/10/2019 at 21:12:20
I am sure they played that on the way home Brian
Nicholas Ryan
8 Posted 14/10/2019 at 09:28:35
It's not good enough, simply to say that the present players are not up to it. that's only half the equation. The second half is: Who else should we have bought? Would they have come? What would they cost? How long would they stay? You can only file a piece like this, if you answer those 4 questions.

I suspect, that team we have, is the best team AVAILABLE. The very best players [Tier 1] are only going to play for teams who are regularly in the CL; the 2nd Tier, will put up with regular Europa League games. If you have neither of those to offer, then the top 2 tiers are out of reach.

You are then down to Tier 3; i.e. promising youth [KEAN, DCL/RICHARLISON] or those who are good, but have been overlooked/discarded by other clubs [SIGURDSSON/GOMES/DELPH] or 'home-grown' juniors [DAVIES, ANTHONY GORDON etc.].

Looked at in that limited way, we are doing things more or less right.

A couple of random points: We could not [realistically] stop Idrissa Gueye leaving; I believe Chelsea WERE going to sell Kurt Zouma to us, until David Luiz left [which NOBODY saw coming!]. Ole G-S said the other day, that MUFC hadn't signed a striker in the last window 'because there was no-one of the right quality available'. If Man U couldn't find a 'good enough' striker, it should be no surprise, that we couldn't either.

So, Kieran, I don't disagree with your main point it's just that it only addresses half the question... and it could be said, it's not the important half!

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