Will we ever get an Everton identity back?

James Pirie 07/07/2020 33comments  |  Jump to last

It’s the morning before Everton’s latest limp performance, this time a 1-0 loss to Tottenham Hotspur at the appropriately named Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. I open my YouTube feed to find the club have released videos featuring interviews with Tim Howard and Thomas Gravesen. I watch both videos and savour the fondness with which they recall their time at our club.

“This is my club” – Gravesen emphatically concludes, while Howard describes the time he tried to convince Danny Donachie to let him play through an injury he later discovered was a broken back, admitting “I wanted to pull that shirt on and I never wanted to take it off.”

For me, watching these interviews was the only time during the day that I felt any sense of joy, pride or (I’m somewhat ashamed to admit) interest in anything to do with Everton. This Everton ‘team’ don’t know the meaning of the word ‘pride’.


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“I hope those Everton players are hurting when they get back on the coach after this”, Gary Neville stated on the commentary.

Oh how I laughed...

The final whistle blows shortly after Jordan Pickford aims long boot upfield to 5ft Bernard for one final siege on the Tottenham goal. Rather than seeing pain, frustration and embarrassment, we find Djibril Sidibé sharing a laugh and a giggle with his Tottenham opponents.

I’ve never been so disconnected from an Everton team – again, I feel somewhat ashamed to say, I’ve honestly never cared so little... and it is the feelings of apathy that are the most worrying. At least when you’re angry, it shows you care.

I know we’re drastically short of quality in the midfield area. André Gomes has been poor ever since the restart; Tom Davies continues to underwhelm... while Gylfi Sigurdsson literally spends the game in hiding. But the lack of character, tempo and intensity is something I find difficult to countenance. You can’t play with such lethargy and passivity if you have any sense of ambition as a football team.

It’s truly embarrassing that these performances are allowed to happen at our club these days on such a regular basis.

“It’s boring.” Again, Gary Neville hits the nail on the head in the commentary.

And this is how I feel watching Everton these days: bored, and that comes directly from a group of players who just don’t feel anything when games like the one last night take place. Truth be told, there’s probably a part of them that’s relieved they don’t have to deal with the pressure of fighting for European football. I mean, you’re not going to get far in Europe anyway when as a team you’ve never been able to come back after going 1-0 down, are you?

We have a manager in place who was won all around the globe. But couple that with a team of losers and you’re not going to get far.

I just hope that we can ship these lame personalities out of our club – the ones who hide during full games, the ones who giggle after potentially costly errors, the ones who lose confidence as soon as any kind of adversity manifests itself during the match. If we don’t, then personally I don’t see how anything can ever truly change.

“It’s my kids and then it’s Everton, and everything else pales in comparison”, Howard states.

More than any world-class manager or spectacular new stadium, I long for players who care.

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Reader Comments (33)

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Barry Rathbone
1 Posted 07/07/2020 at 18:52:49
It's good players we need and a lot of them emotive words like "heart" and "pride" are sound bites that modern ex Everton players seem to revel in. Most won naff all and were never good enough for winning clubs hence perennial mediocrity holding sway at this club.

For older evertonians the "real" Everton identity is winning trophies via attractive football and with hindsight that died in the early 70s the Kendal years being a blip in a long term shit trend.

Until a manager comes in with the balls to say the players this club employs (and has employed) are dross and demands a complete rebuild in a single transfer window we are doomed to wash, spin, rinse and repeat.

Mark Tanton
2 Posted 07/07/2020 at 19:02:56
Didn't see Sidibe laughing, probably better for my heart rate that I didnt. They don't care.

Coleman at least put the effort in but my God, he is finished. He can the most promising of positions into a pass to the halfway line.

Dave Williams
3 Posted 07/07/2020 at 19:34:10
I'm sure Richard Dunne and Michael Ball were shown the door after giggling in the coach on the way home from a bad defeat.

It is shameful that players can look happy after losing and it should not be tolerated likewise players ducking out of tackles.

A real culling of these types is long overdue and if they refuse to be transferred make them train on their own so they no longer infect the ones who do care.

Mary Coleman
4 Posted 07/07/2020 at 20:58:48
Ferguson gave us an Everton identity when he was in charge. I firmly believe he is the man to sort the club out. Hopefully he will get his chance after Carlo!!!
Mike Allison
5 Posted 08/07/2020 at 10:29:22
I’m trying to inject the same sentiment on other threads. The conventional opinion seems to be that we need to spend our way of trouble, but I say that we’ve spent our way into trouble.

We need players to give a shit. If they don’t give a shit it doesn’t matter how ‘good’ or ‘bad’ they are. We need a team with a sense of unity and purpose who feel responsibility for the results. Simply buying more and more new players who may or may not succeed does the opposite of this.

We need to find, develop or encourage two or three key leaders who will drive the others on. Frankly, we need a culture where one of our players might run 50 yards to confront one of his most effective, talented teammates because he wasn’t putting enough effort in.

Robert Tressell
6 Posted 08/07/2020 at 10:41:38
Mike, I agree with a lot of that sentiment. Personally I think we need circa 3 first team ready players introduced this summer. That helps us meet short term ambitions (cups, top 6, Europe).

But that also needs to be within a longer-term strategy to bring through the likes of Gordon and bring in the likes of Holgate and Calvert-Lewin. I get the impression the club is now looking at things this way too.

Jim Bennings
7 Posted 08/07/2020 at 11:03:53
I don't really know what an Everton identity is anymore?

Let's be honest it's not going to be like the old days winning the league playing football like Barcelona.

The only way you can do that is if you sign absolute world class superstars like Manchester City have, the likes of Aguero, David Silva, de Bruyne and players of that ilk.

The best we can hope for is a crop of players like what Joe Royle had, hard characters that would run through brick walls for you.

Moyes had some identity with cult figures amongst fans like Cahill, Arteta, Fellaini, but we fell just shy of lifting a trophy sadly.

Martinez tried to adopt a new identity and tried if you like to recreate a school of science mentality, which give him credit in his first season it worked ok with 21 wins from 38 matches, and a points total that in the Premier League era is unheard of at Everton Football Club

However the last five years has just been one letdown after another and I fail to see any progress since the Moshiri millions came on board.

It's no longer acceptable with the money spent.

Sam Hoare
8 Posted 08/07/2020 at 11:18:36
It's very hard to build identity when the managers are changing frequently. Martinez, appointed in 2013 was the last time we had a manager given more than a year and a half.

Ancelotti, I expect will be given a good chunk of time. So far in his small sample of 15 games he has a win rate of 46% which is the highest we've managed since Kendall in the 80's. If that continues I think most of us would be very content.

His style of play tends to be very organised without the ball and his teams are usually hard to score against; whilst with the ball he allows his forward players a bit more flexibility and creativity.

I expect as such our identity (if he stays) to emerge as something of a hardworking, organised team, hard to beat but perhaps not always reliably creative. Perhaps some sort of middle ground between Moyes and Martinez then, but hopefully with better results!

I think we've seen some signs of this organisation. The only goals we've conceeded since the restart have been two deflections in four matches. But we've struggled to use possession well and create chances. The likes of Gomes, Sigurdsson, Iwobi, Bernard and also Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison have been a bit disappointing. But building a solid team is a good start and if we can continue to be hard to score against then I hope the results will continue to be encouraging. A winning identity would do for me!

Jim Potter
9 Posted 08/07/2020 at 11:19:45
Sadly very true James.

The more we spend the more lethargic we look.

The richer the player, the smaller their hunger.

It's all about 'me' not 'us'. Being famous. Rich. Having a social media presence. Hip. Using the club as a stepping stone and then leaving a footprint of shite behind.

Trophies? Pride? Heart? Drive? Fans? Apart from a handful like Seamus and Bainsy they don't give a monkeys.

I love my club. I am proud of my club. But its players? No. I despair of them.

Robert Tressell
10 Posted 08/07/2020 at 11:40:29
Under Moyes, we had a keep it tight and nick one identity, excellent team spirit and no superstars.

Under Martinez, we had a possession based identity, cavalier football with mercurial talents (deulofeu, Barkley and stones) and goals (lukaku)

Then the wheels came off and no discernable identity since which coincided with the decline.

Carlo has made us hard to beat and competitive (no mean feat) but very much on a substance over style basis.

We're yet to see a style in the attacking sense. Being a tactician rather than a philosophy driven sort of coach, I think Carlo will simply carry on focussed on substance (ie results). The more progressive side will only come if he has the attacking weaponry to deploy.

This seems like a return to a Moyes style identity to me.

How it evolve will depend on how quickly we can improve the quality of the playing staff.

Patrick McFarlane
11 Posted 08/07/2020 at 12:23:19
Our true identity is to be an innovative and forward looking club, not a club based on the prevailing managers specific attributes. The club used to hire people who would maintain the club's ethos and standards but that has fallen away over time.

The Premier League era has redefined the club as also-rans, a club whose fans have the audacity to believe in being better and competing for prizes.

The various staff members and players who have passed through the club, have spouted many ambitious words and where they wanted to take the club, but on the pitch it hasn't manifested itself in anything other than an exercise in futility as every season is pretty much over before Christmas or even if a solid start is achieved it's frittered away by hapless performances at crucial times.

Moshiri's wealth should have seen us back on the path to our traditional place in the game, but like so many seasons, the opportunity has been wasted. We can look forward to another five years of 'transition' from where we are now, but into what? A club challenging for honours like many of our former peers or a club happy to survive in the Premier League similar to the Hammers, Magpies, Watford et al.

Who would have thought in May 1987 that in the following 33 years that Everton would rarely be in a position to fight for the title and that only one cup victory at Wembley would be seen by Evertonians.

Who would have thought in early 2016 that millions of pounds would be invested in the playing staff and massive wages paid out to so many people to achieve zilch, to find ourselves having no idea if we are a good team underachieving or a bad team overachieving.

It's Everton FC but not as some of us knew it.

Jim Bennings
12 Posted 08/07/2020 at 12:41:59
The club needs to completely reboot it's mentality.

Too many players arrive here on big wages just happy to sit under no pressure because they don't see Everton as a high pressure club with high demands, they arrive for an easy life.

One Cup Final appearance since 1995, no derby match victory for TEN years, no proper Champions League appearance since the Premier League began, it's a complete joke and I don't see anyone at the club hurting at all by the embarrassing records this club holds.

Sure we hear warcry soundbites from Seamus Coleman or another about what we are gonna do but every year just brings more of the same garbage that we've seen the year before and the year before that

We lost an FA Cup Semi Final to Liverpool at Wembley in 2012 and yet we still haven't made them pay for that, one time Everton would have made certain to have avenged such a loss.

Talk has to stop, we have sat and watched our neighbours dominate trophies and local derbies for too long.

I want to see Everton show a bit of bottle, not just get enough wins against the dross to stay happily in mid-table.

Michael Lynch
13 Posted 08/07/2020 at 13:33:03
No leaders on the pitch, no madmen, no run-through-walls characters. Looks like another total re-build is necessary but we need to sell to buy and nobody wants to buy our over-paid wasters.

It's not like Carlo can try out a few younger prospects, because they look pretty shit too. Kean has shown nothing except stupidity so far, and even Gordon only looks slightly promising - he's not going to set the league on fire right now. Beni showed a couple of okay attributes then totally disappeared. Is there anyone else banging on the door? Not that I'm aware of.

So where do you get an entire new midfield from in the current Coronavirus-affected world?

Jim Bennings
14 Posted 08/07/2020 at 14:15:32

Have to agree.

If I was Baningime sitting on the bench, I'd be thinking: "Jesus, I must be total shit!"

He made his debut 3 years ago and the fact he can't break into our midfield right now doesn't exactly speak volumes for him.

Sean Kelly
15 Posted 08/07/2020 at 16:41:24
We used to borrow and buy players that weren't technically great but overcame that with pride in themselves and passion for giving 100% week in week out no matter who the opposition. The irony is we had no money than and scraped by. They were the day when managers and fellow teammates could call out a player that was doing a Sigurdsson.

nowadays we have a rich owner who is a mug. He finances the purchase of YouTube heroes with 30 seconds of skill. These frauds have hungry agents and sharp lawyers. The get paid ridiculous money and don't give a shit because the lawyer or agent will get them a move. they have no pride. no balls and no affinity to the supporters.

Unfortunately our current identity is that of soft touch or mugs. We deserve what we get because we the supporters DON'T demand 100% from everyone at the club.

Paul Burns
16 Posted 08/07/2020 at 17:20:54
Can't see it. The club allow the media to belittle us and our achievements on a regular basis and never respond.

How do we expect to sign ambitious players when the club do nothing to throw off our "little club with no ambition" tag?

Kenwright started it to big up any perceived achievement against the odds, his own mingebaggery usually, and Moyes took up the reins.
Unless Everton realise that publicity and how the club are perceived are crucial in attracting talent and moving forward, we're wasting our time spending money on top coaches.

Don't hold your breath, the club is so backward they don't even realise the damage being done with our amateurish approach and even many of our own supporters have swallowed the propoganda and talk us down, more interested in being nice than winning.

Everton have to finally step into the professional arena in all aspects of the modern game. Too many people at the top of the club are asleep at the wheel, happy to achieve nothing while getting rich and being seen as classy.

There's nothing classy about constantly being ridiculed by the kind of morons who can't see how ridiculous they look in red kecks.

Allan Board
17 Posted 08/07/2020 at 17:24:39
Most of these player's nowadays treat it like a job, not a desire.

The kids are poached far too early and told they are amazing, when actually they are not, they never get a dressing down or taken down a peg or 6 to keep them grounded – you see as a youth coach you can't breathe on them without the welfare officer becoming involved. The bloody parents are a pain in the arse, self-indulgent, selfish and most just talk shite that they pick up from Sky Sports.

There are hundreds of good football men and women who Jack it in (me included) because of interference from outside influences who talk crap and think football only started in the 1990s. We have spent year's in time and money to complete our Badges, all in our own time, and as volunteers. Some parents actually believe we get paid!
If you want the reasons why football has lost its identity, look at the snowflake society we have had forced upon us by the do-gooders and the bloody liberals.

Football needs to implode and become a minority sport again so we, as the real lovers of the game, can have it back and rebuild it with the ethos of hard work and respect to its coaches at its core.

Rant over!

Allan Board
18 Posted 08/07/2020 at 17:47:48
Sorry almost forgot! A fella I know well who played the game professionally had a very successful football school after he finished playing. My daughter and son both attended his schools during holidays and weekends and loved it.

It was ran with the focus on non-stop football in small-sided games, but if your behaviour dropped below the requirement, you didn't last long and were asked to leave. Fine with me and discipline is the key with kids.

Anyways, I was picking his brains one day on football about the best way to get players to play for you and go the extra mile, as most adult players seemed to do just enough, but no more.

He agreed it was now a huge issue and expressed his dismay at the attitude of player's.

He summed it perfectly like this, "Do you know something, Al? The problem with footballers today is that it's NEVER their fault!"

There you have it.

Jim Bennings
19 Posted 08/07/2020 at 17:48:09
Very true!

We live in a society now that is afraid of giving criticism for want of hurting feelings.

Players get far too many excuses made for them now for the shite they serve up.

I remember a game at home to Coventry in 1999, it was a week after we won at Anfield, and there is Richard Gough and Don Hutchison having a major disagreement on the pitch that nearly came to blows.

Two passionate players that weren't happy with their performance and it hurt them,they wanted to do well for Everton even though it was an era when Walter Smith was at the time scrimping and saving with the unrest at boardroom level.

What do we see now?

Stupid haircuts, fancy boots, the likes of Tom Davies walking around New York in a technicolour bloody dreamcoat I ask you!

When things go wrong on the pitch nowadays it's just sulking head down or with the shirt pulled over their heads.

We are reaping what we have sown, a bunch of losers that are very nice, really nice when the going is nice and easy but any kind of demand to pull ye socks up criticism and that's it.

Bunch of flakes the lot of them.

David Currie
20 Posted 08/07/2020 at 17:57:03
It all starts at the top, The Owner then The Manager and then The players. The former Leicester City owner was asked what do you want to achieve and he said 'To win the Premier League" Most people in Football would have laughed at him and called him a dreamer.

We need that ruthless Owner, ruthless Manager and Ruthless players. Win at all cost mentality from top to bottom, whichever way you do it just Win!

Good article James.

Patrick McFarlane
21 Posted 08/07/2020 at 17:57:43
Allan #17
Sorry to hear that you are disillusioned with the 'game' but it's unsurprising that those who give up their time and energy are the last to be rewarded or even thanked by those who have made a successful career for themselves.

I think some of the parents are driven by 'greed' and the knowledge that they and their child could be set up for life with just one good contract at a major club. Grassroots football has become unimportant to the people who run the game as they know that there will be enough kids from all over the world who can fill the needs of the top clubs.

How many working-class kids or those from a deprived background are overlooked because there is no structure in place to allow them to develop their talents? I read that Herr Klopp dreams of having eleven scousers in his team at some point in time, but I think that will be a difficult dream to fulfill.

I agree that the would-be footballers are overly cosseted and protected from the real world, but I'm not sure I share your view that it is the 'snowflakes' who are to blame.

Throughout the history of professional football, it has tended to mirror the values of society and today's society in the main seeks fame and fortune without necessarily achieving anything of merit.

I hope you change your mind and decide to help more youngsters to enjoy the game and help them become more proficient at it, you will get pleasure from the knowledge that you helped - it's just a pity that the game doesn't give you and those like you a tangible reward, but prefers to squander money on other less important things.

Joe McMahon
22 Posted 08/07/2020 at 18:13:55
Jim @19 I was at the game and remember it well. The anticipation after winning at Anfield and after taking an early lead the final score was 1-bloody 1. I think Robbie Kean scored for Cov, their fans were ecstatic.
Jim Bennings
23 Posted 08/07/2020 at 19:22:51
That's the one Joe!

Jeffers scored down at the Street End early on and it was actually Gary McAllister (around the time he was becoming a real pain in our arse) that equalised.

Goughy and Don kicked off on eachother but the following day went out for a drink and meal to sort their differences, proper characters then, maybe not superstars but honest players that wanted to win in an Everton shirt.

Derek Taylor
24 Posted 09/07/2020 at 11:09:15
A win tonight and all will be well again, believe me. We Evertonians are so easily pleased, it's no wonder nobody in the team gives a stuff.The powers that be are the same, still guided by the avuncular Bill Kenwright, we always seem much keener to be a 'nice' club than a successful one.

Long ago, niceness and concern for the community was never in evidence. Sacrilege to say it, but what was nice about John Moores and Harry Catterick ? And long before them, Everton was not the easiest place to earn a living as a footballer - just read some of those visits into history by Rob Sawyer and the like. Certainly the great Bill Dean and TG Jones told another story, long though they tarried.

Of course, Chairman Bill loves 'his' club to be seen as 'caring and considerate and in recent years it has 'done right' by a veritable horde of second raters no other club will look at. Our reputation as an employer is second to none and well done to all who make us so, But don't expect the 'nice 'guys to go to the top of the league just because they are 'nice' and play for a really nice club which WE all love !

Unless, that is, you've got another forty years to waste in the loving !

Paul Birmingham
25 Posted 09/07/2020 at 22:36:07
For me as Evertonians many of us whom have seen some good times, but long ago, and we can’t be prisoners of the past.

The clubs pumped in monies we’d once dream off, 100s of millions and has not progressed.

Money can’t buy guts and integrity, the players must get that themselves.

What goes on at Finch Farm I don’t know, but it seems that any good traits the kids and youth players who make it, as if by magic, loose all passion and care once in the first team squad. And we’ve not bought any genuinely world class players, who’d walk in to any other top six team, and be a set fixture, in that team.

It’s pitiful and I’m thinking that perhaps this preseason, Carlo Ancellotti and the board must have an honest discussion about the clubs transfer, coaching and scouting stratedgy.

Hand on heart, how many of us genuinely expect to win, more than x3 consecutive games these days?

The way I see it City, and the RS, are sadly light years ahead of us and the rest, in terms of style and manner on the park.

Nothing in life is impossible, and if you believe you can, you will, but with the current Everton squad it’s asymptomatic, in terms of having no belief or will, when the going gets tough, and the results based evidence of the last 5 years, shows an erosion in the clubs status.

If BMD happens, then the playing side must be worthy of such a new era in EFC, history.

But it’s a complex situation, and let’s hope there’s clarity either way soon, so Evertonians can set their own expectations.

Hope eternal.

Drew O'Neall
26 Posted 10/07/2020 at 07:16:03
Can one of the posters talking about players who would run through walls for us name one such player as a transfer target.
Danny Broderick
27 Posted 10/07/2020 at 12:51:45

How about we replace our midfield with the midfield of Sheffield United? Or the midfield of Southampton? That’s just off the top of my head. Their players run their nuts off, and put a foot in as a minimum, so they would be a massive improvement on our freeloading midfielders. That’s just off the top of my head. There must be dozens of potential targets across Europe and beyond

Simon Dalzell
28 Posted 11/07/2020 at 01:39:25
Spot-on, James, and eloquently put.
Wayne Dinkelman
29 Posted 11/07/2020 at 03:18:06
I've always found that passion on the pitch comes from player connections, a squad that has each other's backs will fight for each other. You can see this on the odd occasion where Davies or Holgate or Calvert-Lewin get into a slanging match or handbags with the opposition, the trio of them all join in, not because they want to fight for Everton but there closeness makes them fight for each other.

So to me it shows that our squad lacks cohesion both in the type of players we have and social aspect. I have no doubt that the current model of player health such as eating correctly, sleeping and less drinking etc is definitely better for physical performance but, if you think back to the past where team drinking sessions and long bus trips on the drink we're the norm, I think it helped bring players together, just as it does with local pub teams and lower leagues where the players just seem to have a closer mateship and want to not let their friends down.

With this close friendship and support comes a feeling of togetherness and team spirit which then drives the players and supporters on and gives you of feeling special and part of something greater, which in turn makes you feel more a part of your club.

Laurie Hartley
30 Posted 11/07/2020 at 04:20:43
Michael Lynch # 13 - “no madmen” - that’s it in a nutshell.

Drew O’Neall # 26 - I can’t name one and we need at least three (preferably madmen). I do however know where I would start looking for them - Scotland.

It’s all about mentality.

Jamie Crowley
31 Posted 11/07/2020 at 06:19:12
Find a 23-year-old Scott Brown and watch this team turn around on a dime.

I feel like I've walked into an old man's bitch group - my issue is the old men are 100% correct.

Which I guess makes me an old man.

We need the right mentality. It's not there presently.

Scott Brown at 23. Find him, watch us start to turn. A player who loves his club and will give everything for it. A player who will not abide teammates who don't feel the same and go through the motions.

Jamie Crowley
32 Posted 11/07/2020 at 06:23:55
Oh, and a player who, when he sees Richarlison kicked over and over and over again, fucking runs someone with malice in retribution.

Part of me is sick to the teeth of this Nancy squad. I want a fight-for-the-cause team. One that looks out for one another; a band of brothers if you will.

Give me that brotherhood and that passion. Give me the teammate who smiles as he follows you into hell.

We've none of that presently.

Tom Dodds
33 Posted 15/07/2020 at 05:50:21
For those who know their films..

This team is the 'Leper Squad' (aircrew of a B17) from the film "12 O'clock High".

I just hope Ancelloti has some Gregory Peck in him (and not just here for his 'Gregory'!) as the similarities of this team and that air crew are weirdly uncanny.

I mean who can actually feel arsed at the moment shouting COYB ???

Right now, my Blue has turned to Grey.

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