The Weight of Expectation

by   |   29/12/2022  11 Comments  [Jump to last]

Grim times for Everton who sit 1 point above the relegation zone after losing (at home) to the bottom-placed team. Fans are calling for heads to roll - players, the manager, chairman, CEO, owner, board, tea lady. 

Problem is that we've done most of this before – 6 or 7 managers in the last 6 years, a new owner with more money, a new CEO, and countless players in and out (not sure about the tea lady!). Yet, we seem to be going backwards.

So, what is the issue? In my opinion it's a culture problem and by this I mean not just the top but the whole club, including the fanbase.

So, what do I mean by the culture of the club? Well, maybe if we look at our club motto, Nil Satis Nisi Optimum, and our most well-known chant "If ya know yer 'istory", you'll get the picture. 

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We believe Everton is a "big club" – that line is rolled out by every new signing and every new manager – and that somehow we deserve to be competing at the top of the Premier League and Champions League.

Don't get me wrong; of course we should be proud of our history and of course we should be aspiring to compete at the highest level. I am also not saying we should accept mediocrity. However, we have no more right to success than any other team in the Premier League and maybe a few in the Championship.

The reality is that there are 6 or 7 teams in the Premier League who have substantially more resources than us. With TV rights etc, most of the other teams, even ones we would traditionally see as "small", are able to compete with us financially.

So, the idea that we have a divine right to compete at the top is ludicrous. Yet that is what is spouted by all levels of the club – including and especially the fans.

So, how does this affect the team? Basically, this weight of expectation is a millstone around the neck of every manager and in turn the team. The team is under constant pressure to (over-)achieve and managers, in particular, are given little room to manoeuvre.

This can be seen in our transfer dealings over the years. Often, they are rushed, especially if we are under pressure. The selling of Rooney is still blamed on Bill Kenwright, yet that money probably produced helped Everton achieve our best season in recent history.

Obviously, the effect of this weight of expectation can be seen on the pitch as it was on Boxing Day. Away teams, especially non-Top 6, know exactly how to pay at Goodison Park. Frustrate Everon and basically the crowd will get on their backs and the team will get nervous.

This has been commented on by other managers as "the toxic Goodison environment". If you don't think this has an effect, then look at how the crowd behave and team play when we are playing a Top 6 team at Goodison.

Frank Lampard alluded to that in his post-match interview and of course was slammed by many fans. However, I think he is right. I think fans really underestimate the effect of psychology on players' performance. 

As fans we are meant to be supporters and the "12th Man" – getting behind the team. We also need to show some patience with the club and manager and stop looking for easy scapegoats when we have a few bad results. The club itself needs to stop continuously rolling out the "Big Club" tagline for every new signing.

We really should be seeing ourselves as underdogs and fighters and trying to create a toxic environment for the opposition when they come to Goodison Park. 

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Reader Comments (11)

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Bill Gall
1 Posted 29/12/2022 at 15:29:00
Well thought-out article, Frank.

The problem with it is, "The Truth Hurts".

Paul Kossoff
2 Posted 29/12/2022 at 17:16:04
Frank, the problem is the players are starting near every game as underdogs. Not seeing themselves as fighters because none of them have any fight in them.

Only the supporters have the desire and fight for this team, but worryingly that won't keep us up this season as this bunch of prats we have playing are not going to get the shock factor again from the massive support from last season.

I really fear we have had it this season unless, by some miracle, we are saved. Hope Jesus is a Blue.

Anthony Dove
3 Posted 29/12/2022 at 18:34:07
Good sensible article, Frank.

I think the main reason we are where we are is the shocking
selection of players we have bought over the last 5 or 6 years. Not just the quality of the players but the amount overpaid in numerous cases.

Thelwell is just perpetuating that, with the signings of Maupay and McNeil presumably down to him.

Clive Rogers
4 Posted 29/12/2022 at 19:18:49
We have sold our best players and not replaced them. Benitez got rid of our two most creative players as soon as he arrived and Richarlison was sold in the summer.

Eight players were brought in in the summer window, but they are no replacement for the players sold. They have just not been good enough and the fans know it.

It is the performance on the pitch that is the problem, not the fans reaction. The team let seven goals in in two games at Bournemouth, nothing to do with the home crowd.

There is no creativity in the team, and no forward scoring regularly.

Phillip Warrington
5 Posted 31/12/2022 at 01:19:09
I believe we have two problems with our beloved Everton at this present time, our recruitment, for the size of the club and the league we are playing in, is the worst in the Premier League.

The manager nice guy, bla bla bla, does not know how to react to opposing teams when they change tactics. The players have not improved their technical abilities, our dead ball distribution is a joke, and our one-to-one marking and the ability of our players to loose their markers and create space for our players to pass the ball to them is a joke.

I believe we should do everything humanly possible to get Christian Streich – he has had SC Freiburg competing with the top German clubs for years, running on a shoestring budget. He has the ability to improve and get the most out of all his squad, and has the ability to change tactics to counter how other teams are playing, unlike Frank.

if we stick with Frank, he will get us relegated – if not this season then the next.

Mick O'Malley
6 Posted 31/12/2022 at 11:47:55
Agreed, Frank, I don't like the singling out of McNiel and Onana.

McNiel was known for the amount of accurate crosses he puts into the area while with Burnley, when he had two 6-ft-plus centre-forwards to aim at; this is why he was bought – to put crosses in for Calvert-Lewin.

So having the 5ft-8in Maupay to aim at has blunted his main attribute. Obviously he needs to do a bit more but he never gets a proper run in the side to build up any form.

As for Onana, this lad is 21 and only played about a dozen or so first-team games in France and yet he has been thrust into the Premier League with a big price tag and we expect him to boss the midfield week after week.

I've seen enough of him to see he will be a really good player but he is not ready for this yet. He'd have been better slowly introduced.

The one I'm more annoyed at is Gana; he's played in the Champions League for Paris Saint-Germain, got hundreds of games of experience... I've been disappointed with him since he came back; his passing is very hit and miss and how many times does he charge out of position?

We have a team full of inconsistent players and a manager who is struggling to fit the pieces together. He doesn't help himself with the same failed 4-3-3 system which, with the players we have fit at present, leaves us short in midfield.

DM Jones
7 Posted 04/01/2023 at 12:22:00
How the hell has it come to this?

Get ready everyone for relegation, and quite possibly back-to-back relegations too. League One is an absolute possibility and Bristol Rovers to open the new stadium with.

Clive Rogers
8 Posted 06/01/2023 at 19:32:33
If the club is relegated it could well be the end of EFC as we know it. They would be a championship club with massive debts. The club already has large debts. Add to that the cost of the new ground and the club could well be out of the PL for thirty years. Moshiri has been relying on PL revenues to pay off the new ground costs and interest. Nobody will want to buy the club in the championship with massive debts.
Tony Abrahams
9 Posted 06/01/2023 at 19:42:52
Kenwright is still blamed for the selling of Rooney, yet the money produced probably helped Everton, have our best season in recent history.

Wow Frank, did you lose your memory for a minute?

Clive Rogers
10 Posted 06/01/2023 at 20:02:20
Money does help obviously, but that is not the point. A team should have been built around Rooney.
Barry Hesketh
11 Posted 08/01/2023 at 01:03:06
I don't believe that wanting Everton to win more games at Goodison than they lose is too much to ask, apart from the die-hard away supporters most Blues accept that away from Goodison in recent years the likelyhood of a victory is pretty limited.

Not a single Evertonian that I know personally, expects or demands Everton to win a trophy anytime soon and that has been the case for quite some considerable time. Evertonians do expect its team to possess players who can do the basics reasonably well and even if the players are not quite top notch they should at least be able to put in some tackles and run themselves ragged for the shirt.

The big club label is a two-way street, we may not be the club we once were, we may never be so again, but far less fashionable clubs still enjoy putting one over Everton and if the worst happens this season, it will be seen, should they beat us, as a big scalp for those clubs we haven't encountered in league fixtures for quite some time.

I've never understood the idea that any crowd is too demanding of its team, all most supporters of any club wants is for the players to demonstrate a passion for the shirt they wear and to perform as best as they can as often as they can - the reception for the team from the Evertonians following the cup defeat at Old Trafford being a good example of that.

I would also argue that the Goodison faithful hasn't demanded enough of its club and the team for almost two decades and that has allowed a slump in fortunes to turn into a most unwanted pattern of performance and results from all involved in first team matters.

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