Colin Harvey As Everton Manager: An Appreciation

Larry O’Hara 25/07/2023 28comments  |  Jump to last

The recent article by Dr France on Colin Harvey, The Greatest Living Evertonian, caused me to dig out an (unpublished) article I wrote at the end of the 1987-88 Season, updated slightly in 1995. Hopefully it is still of interest; it follows below:

What intrigued me about Everton in 1988, and caused me to put pen to paper (aside from undying passion etc), was something that has always struck, and annoyed me about media coverage of football.  That is, attention and adulation is given to the successful, and those who aren't successful (Man Utd aside) aren't given the space and thought they deserve. 

Analysing success is rather easy but, just as much of interest to all of us (and especially Everton fans in recent years), is working out exactly when and why things started to slip.  With hindsight, this obviously occurred during the Harvey era, but the reasons are more complex than they might appear at first.

In the 1987-88 season, some parts of the Everton 'machine' were successful, others not.  Specifically:

(a)   Defence

With the second-best goals against record in Division One, there was clearly no major problem there.  True, the injury to Kevin Ratcliffe did show just how valuable he was to our defensive format – put any other player in his position and they would not have had the speed necessary to duplicate his sweeper role.  Dave Watson was satisfactory, and Neil Pointon (remember him??) was perhaps our most improved player. 

The dreadful ease with which Arsenal ripped us apart in the second leg of the Littlewoods Cup semi-final was an ominous warning to us not to rely for ever on Ratcliffe's speed, but no immediate action was needed in this department; significantly though, he was never properly replaced.  Neville Southall's excellence that season spoke for itself.

(b)   Midfield

Despite the continuing excellence of Peter Reid, Paul Bracewell's absence was sorely missed.  Prior to his injury in 1986, he was actually surpassing Reid.  The real effect of Bracewell's absence was seen in the play of Ian Snodin.  For just as Reid earlier 'brought on' Bracewell, so Snodin suffered by being routinely occupied with the vital ball-winning that was the province of Reid and Bracewell. 

This is so because Snodin was at his best really a Charlie Nicholas type, someone whose best position was between midfield and attack, going forward.  That season, he retreated somewhat into his shell, and never really subsequently displayed his full attacking potential, largely due to the fact that both Reid and Bracewell were never fit together again.

(c)  The Wings

Trevor Steven (who I must confess is my all-time favourite Everton player) on the right wing was his usual angelic self, with the qualification that he did not score many goals – a problem which is related to developments since the Championship-winning days of 1984-85.  It is on the left wing however that real problems arose that season. 

No Everton fan can belittle the tremendous and subtle contribution made by Kevin Sheedy to Everton's successes prior to 1988.  But that season showed, cruelly, he was just not consistently up to it any more.  Even when he played, he was usually not in a fit enough state to take free-kicks.  His good form for Eire in the European Championships did not mean he would be fit enough to do the necessary required for a whole season.    

One secret of Liverpool's success over the years has been their habit of replacing players almost as soon as signs of wear have become obvious – with many such players going on to be valued assets to other clubs – Souness and Case for example.  If we are to copy and ultimately better the Liverpool of old, this was a precedent we should have followed a lot earlier than we did in Sheedy's case. 

Paul Power did his bit for us – fair enough, but the same applies.  Looking at Kevin Wilson however, we are talking about a different phenomenon.  He never even looked like an Everton player.  His tackles were misdirected, his distribution poor, and scoring is something I would never have dreamt of accusing him of.  A bad buy.

(c)   The Attack

Graeme Sharp remained a good all-round player and I had no complaints about him that season.  Adrian Heath, despite traces of his old ability to get round defences, was jaded and it was definitely time for him to move on. 

Wayne Clarke was another player, like Wilson, who never looked our type.  His work-rate was poor, his determination to win the ball inconsistent, and he was all too ready to look for the whistle for a foul rather than the constructive pass.  Yes, he was good in the air – but we needed someone who can make progress on the ground too.  We didn't just want a sporadic goalscorer, but a team player.

So, my preliminary conclusions were that we needed two new players: a left-winger of calibre, and a goal-scorer who could fit our pattern. We did not (I thought) need a shake-up in midfield.  The purchase of Stuart McCall from Bradford was obviously welcome, but did not in itself solve the fundamental problems. 

To call for personnel changes is all very well,  but going beyond this to more intangible tactical considerations is obviously most important – after all, if a team was built on good players alone, Tottenham would be League Champions! 

The most obvious manifestation of Everton's poor season was the paltry number of goals scored.  This was not just due to a defective forward line, but rather the midfield just not closing down opponents like they did in previous seasons. 

Also, and this was something impressionistically confirmed by looking at videos of 1984-85 and 1986-87: our game was slower than it had been, with very few of the one-touch triangles and a lot more 'kick and rush' – the decline of Sheedy being a key contribution to this.

For what exactly was the basis of our past glories?  Certainly, it would have been impossible without teamwork, good organisation, and work-rate.  These were hardly unique, but the speed of our close passing, almost always along the ground (combined with the use of target-men for crosses and long balls in the conventional way) was exceptional.  Furthermore, attackers were not afraid to come back and defend, as well as the defenders to attack. 

The fluidity of movement between our goalmouth and the opponents, the way the joins between the various components of the team appeared seamless – this was the hallmark of the great team we were, even though we never received recognition for it – just as the superb Aston Villa championship side of 1980 never got any of the plaudits they fully deserved for their breath-taking bursts of total football. 

To get back to us, when the above-mentioned elements were combined with our constant harrying of the opponents when they had the ball, and tirelessly running to cover in case an opponent did break through, the style was such that, irrespective of the strikers almost, goals had to come.  By so effectively closing other teams down, and relying on the speed of Ratcliffe, the midfield battle proper used to actually take place not there, but in a position intermediate between the half-way line and the opposing 15-yard box. 

In this particular style of moveable chess, once we had established this terrain on which the bulk of the game was to be fought, all we had to do was win some of the exchanges and any player would be within shooting range. It is this change in where on the pitch the game was predominantly played that explains for instance why Trevor Steven got more goals in 1984-85 than subsequently. 

Who can forget the matches of 1984-85, home and away, when we had the opposition penned back in this narrow area for 90% of the time? The reporters may not have liked it, resembling as it did packs of wolves tearing the hearts out of terrified sheep, but it was great for the committed!

The difference between this and the 'Position of Maximum Opportunity' justification for the missing out of midfield by the likes of Watford and Wimbledon is a stark one.  In 'POMO', the very route adopted to get the ball into the opponent’s area is one that relies heavily on chance and physical strength, and less on skill and close control.  If you don't have a squad of similar calibre to ours, then it is perhaps a valid option – though I doubt it. 

Everton's attack was starved of sophistication in 1985-86 by the simplistic urge to boot the ball over the top for Lineker to run onto.  In this situation, other players became lazy and often abdicated their responsibility to create openings, a problem definitively coming home to roost that season with the absences of Sheedy and Bracewell.

The purpose of examining the recent past was to remind us just how good we were and why, with a view to regaining our pre-eminence.  Excluding 1987-88, we not only won the League two years out of three, but even in 1985-86 with the presence of Southall, we would probably have won it in that season too. 

The hyperbole about the then current Liverpool team (pre-Cup Final!) should not blind us to the fact that we beat them well in our two title victories, and this much-vaunted Liverpool team did not, for all the acres of paper spent on canonising them, surpass our final points total record set in the 1984-85 season.

The debacle suffered by England in the 1988 European Championships and by Liverpool in the FA Cup Final (against Wimbledon) to me confirmed my views on Everton's task.  England's disaster was above all caused by the team forgetting the basics of the English game (for which Bobby Robson was greatly to blame).  Imagining we are a Continental side who can stroke the ball around and engage in languid elaborate build-ups is just not on. 

The good features of our national game are work-rate, teamwork, taking the game to the opposition, preventing the individually superior talents of the likes of the Dutch from having the time to pass the ball and glide through our ranks. 

Happily, the Irish in Germany that year superbly applied the characteristics of our national game.  Jack Charlton did not waste time in trying to get his players to play in a way alien to them; he built on strengths.  There is clearly a space for individual flair in this – Ronnie Whelan's goal against the Russians will linger in the memory for many years.

The relevance for Everton in all of this is that we should have rebuilt our team along proven lines, and not worried that our style may not have met with the approval of the same fatuous pundits who, before the European Championships, lauded England to the skies and afterwards called for Robson's head. Biased I may be, but surely Peter Reid would have put in a performance of pride and commitment surpassing some of the first-choice midfield (Gary Stevens's mistakes are best passed over!). 

Also, how familiar it sounds to hear the criticism that England have been over-reliant on Lineker for goals.  Robson committed the unpardonable error of fitting the whole style of play of the England team around certain players rather than blending the two in such a way that no player is irreplaceable.

And what of Liverpool in the 1988 FA Cup Final?  Only the second match in my lifetime I wanted them to win (as Wimbledon personified anti-football). I was horrified at their spineless performance but there were important lessons I drew from it. 

Firstly, you need to have wingers who consistently work at putting in crosses, even when they are not playing well (Trevor Steven exemplifies this). 

Second, whatever your 'pedigree', you have to win the right to play your style of football in every match, no matter how distasteful you may find the opposition.  Liverpool did not do this, and began to believe the media propaganda about their invincibility.  'Reputation' is not a player you can pass to and Everton should have stuck to our past system, using individual skill within a team context.

So, at the time, I thought there was no need for panic, the essentials of our game were sound.  In this respect, therefore, a qualified defence of Harvey is justified. At the time, I was so impressed by Pat Nevin, I wrote to Harvey suggesting he buy him: and he did!

I was particularly impressed by his 1988 game for Chelsea against West Ham, where he enlivened a pathetic Chelsea performance with his deft touches, tireless work, and virtuoso skill.  To play well in a bad team is about as good as you can do – just like Howard Kendall did in the early 1970s...

I thought then that all that was needed was a couple of new crew members – not dropping the pilot.  Given we got Nevin, subsequent events proved me wrong… or did they? 

I was too depressed about our performances in 1988-89 to analyse them on paper.  Essentially though, injuries that appeared transient (eg, Bracewell) were not, Ratcliffe and Sheedy were never replaced, and Nevin couldn't quite produce the goods, week-in & week-out.  Perhaps a mid-field player like Gascoigne would have made a difference? 

Essentially though, I think Harvey tended (like my analysis above) to assume the basics were right, and to try and build an attacking team that was aesthetically pleasing to watch.  Thus, the basics fell to pieces, and by relying too much on individual flair rather than system, the whole show came close to going off the road.  But his intentions were laudable; sadly… not enough.

Reader Comments (28)

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David Israel
1 Posted 25/07/2023 at 21:55:33
Great piece, Larry! I was transported back to a very happy period of my life, both personally and football-wise.

Know what we were missing in the late 80s? Colin Harvey, the footballer.

Don Alexander
2 Posted 25/07/2023 at 23:53:51
Colin Harvey in the late '60s was an extraordinarily gifted footballer.

As a coach, he may have been excellent – but not having watched him coaching, I haven't a clue.

As a manager, he failed – end of.

When he failed, I was in my mid-30s, having always revered him as a small but really brilliant midfielder. "White Pele" was outrageously OTT to anyone who'd actually seen the Black Pele in the '60s though.

Colin wasn't even a patch on Alan Ball however, and neither was Howard Kendall.

As more than a few others have said down the years, a few seasons of John Moores's ownership aside, our club has consistently been led for many decades by owners and boardrooms of extraordinary incompetence, so maybe we should actually just name the new stadium after Kenwright, for being the very worst leader ever?

With Moshiri as owner, don't bet against it!

Colin, like me, would hang his head in shame though.

Ben King
3 Posted 26/07/2023 at 00:11:18
Colin Harvey was a crap manager.
Kieran Kinsella
4 Posted 26/07/2023 at 03:19:42
I think Colin Harvey is great example of horses for courses. Being a coach means getting down and dirty in your track suit. Putting players through their paces. Getting them physically fit for the game.

Being a manager is or was about wheeling and dealing, psychology, motivation, tactical analysis. It's an entirely different skill set. If you look at Howard's result pre Harvey clearly Harvey made a huge impact as a coach.

Likewise you've got just from Man Utd MacLaren, Kidd and Querioz all respected coaches but poor managers. In contrast there is Wenger who according to Dixon and Adams never even went to the training ground.

When Kendall left, I think sentiment and the desire to promote from within propelled Harvey into the hot seat. But it's a bit like having a brilliant car mechanic and giving him the top office when the GM of the dealership leaves.

In fairness to Carter, it seemed like a no-brainer as Kendall and Harvey had a great partnership and were both Everton legends. But in closer inspection they had different skill sets.

It's a shame Harvey had to take on the impossible task of following Howard post-Heysel. I'm not old enough to have seen Harvey the player so my introduction to him was as the guy not as good as Howard.

Over time with his later work as a coach in the academy and as I browsed old videos and read up I realized he was far more than just another Mike Walker. But as I say it's a shame. No doubt he wanted the job, Howard probably thought it made sense, as did fans and Carter, but he was just ill-suited to that role.

Ed Fitzgerald
5 Posted 26/07/2023 at 08:09:39
Ben King,

Colin Harvey was a crap manager, was he? What were our league positions under his three seasons of management? 4th, 9th and 6th and we got to the FA Cup Final of 1989 too.

You are taking garbage, mate, he had to deal with losing Trevor Steven and Gary Stevens when Kendall got off to Bilbao.

Peter Warren
6 Posted 26/07/2023 at 08:17:17
His recruitment I thought was below par but that may have been Carter being tight. Kendall was simply a miraculous manager and Harvey wasn't.
Alan McGuffog
7 Posted 26/07/2023 at 08:31:34
Never worked out for Colin as a manager, sadly. However, given the role he had played as coach, I'd doubt if there were many dissenting voices when he was appointed manager, at the time.
Brian Denton
8 Posted 26/07/2023 at 09:13:50
Alan (7),

I can confirm that there wasn't much dissent against his appointment at the time. Certainly among my circle, we thought it was a natural progression, like the RS 'boot room'.

Danny O’Neill
9 Posted 26/07/2023 at 09:40:16
I've commented enough about Colin Harvey on David's article.

I like this piece even though it makes me sad, because even though I didn't believe it at the time, in hindsight, it was the start of our decline.

The '84 through '87 teams were always going to be hard to emulate if we didn't build on them. We didn't.

To that end, a very good point about identifying replacements early. Something we have never really been too good at. In 1988, we brought in Nevin, McCall, Cottee (a coup at the time given he chose us over Arsenal) and Neil McDonald.

It gave us hope, but the reality was that we had our expectations raised. As good players as they were, they were not quite of the standard we had been accustomed to for an all too brief period.

It was fantastic to experience. Memories that will never go away.

For the younger audience, we still haven't replaced Lukaku and have, for 2 years or so, put all of our eggs in the Dominic Calvert-Lewin basket.

Bracewell. What a shame that we didn't see more of him due to injury. I'll say no more on Sheedy other than in the context of this post, he played some of his best football in what we would now call the Number 10 position in later seasons.

There is a lot of talk about the double free-kick take against Ipswich, but I still see him almost in slow motion against Bayern Munich when I regularly watch the footage, with the cauldron of Goodison at boiling point pressure.

The calmest person in Goodison Park. Takes his time, slips an outside-of-the-boot pass through to Andy Gray for him to square to Stevens. The rest, most of us probably don't remember.

Back to 87-88. We were relying on a team that we trusted. At the time, only Liverpool had won more league titles than Everton.

Liverpool went out and bought in Barnes, Beardsley in his prime, Aldridge to replace Rush and the often under-rated Ray Houghton.

I never cared for Aldridge. Partly influenced by my paternal family who grew up living next to his family in the Garston Tenements. And partly because I used to bump into him a bit as he lived around the corner when I lived in Woolton. Arrogant and if you ever want an example of an entitled Kopite, he is textbook. "Do you know who I am?" Prick.


They were pretty much out of sight by Christmas that season and equalled our 90 points.

Everton has always had an issue with branding in the national media. I remember talking to my cousin about it as we hit success. For whatever reason, Tottenham were the media darlings as we stormed towards the league title in late 1985. Just like we upset their plans in the 1995 semi-final at Elland Road. We just don't get attraction from the national media, despite having a lot of respect from opposition supporters. They have their favourites.

I almost don't want to dwell, but Heysel hit us harder than most. We had a team that was about to compete on the highest European platform and we were denied the opportunity. I can't forgive them. I never will.

But although it is a factor, we can't use it as the complete excuse. Other clubs suffered the same fate because of them, but went on to better times.

Different times, but in 1987-88, we finished 4th. At the time, considered a disappointment.

And small victories, but Wayne Clarke and Everton being the ones to stop them achieving the invincible tag before Arsenal did years later.

I walked all the way back from Goodison to Middle Way in Croxteth that day, where I was staying with my Aunty at the time.

Thank you for the memories, Larry.

Joshua Steadman
10 Posted 26/07/2023 at 12:57:05
I don't remember any dissent. In fact it was huge relief that Harvey didn't join Kendall in Spain. I suppose the signs were there straight away. As mentioned, Liverpool completely changed their forward line. A master stroke by Dalglish.

Harvey signed Ian Wilson. Kendall would never have just allowed his side to rest on their laurels like that. He would have bought and replaced popular players like he did in '84, '85 and '86.

Harvey never got to grips with the Sharp, Ratcliffe, Snodin bullying click. Again, Kendall would never have allowed that. It was all about the team.

As for his signings, he just simply bought poorly. I wanted him to sign Daley Stein and Gascoigne. We got Nevin, McCall, Cottee and McDonald instead.

Looking back, he was our Souness. Took over a Championship winning side and left it also-rans. He also spent the same amount of money in 3 years that Kendall spent in 6 years.

Paul Hewitt
11 Posted 26/07/2023 at 13:05:26
We should have gone for Alex Ferguson when Kendall left.
Tony Abrahams
12 Posted 26/07/2023 at 13:52:09
I had not long left Forest, and had a couple of months training at Everton, until Harvey got the sack, and I thought it was obvious that he was definitely more of a coach than a manager.

I went from playing two touch five a side, with the smallest goals imaginable, meaning the best (usually only) way to score, was from a little cutback, and If I shut my eyes I can still hear Clough now, screaming, score a fucking five a side goal.

No disrespect but the Everton players didn't really know how to play 5 a side, (no big problem, football is eleven aside anyway) but they were very well versed in keeping possession, something that most sessions revolved around.

I remember thinking Harvey's Everton, played some great football, but often lacked a real cutting edge. Loads of possession but sometimes possession without enough purpose. Maybe my memory is playing tricks on me?

Clive Rogers
13 Posted 26/07/2023 at 14:36:43
From memory, Harvey signed Wilson when Sheedy injured his cartilage. He was older than Sheedy, almost 30, and it was immediately obvious he was past his best.

Another poor signing was Milligan from Oldham who was a flop and returned to Oldham one year later after a handful of first team games.

John Raftery
14 Posted 26/07/2023 at 22:23:08
Tony (12) I don't think your memory is playing tricks. My recollection of the 87-88 season is very similar. Peter Reid developed almost a Ray Wilkins persona with square passing which enabled us to keep hold of the ball but without threatening opponents in areas where it counted.

Yet there were a few matches when we cut loose. The most obvious example was the 5-0 win at Hillsborough in the third replay of the FA Cup tie. Unfortunately they were the exception to the rule.

Matt Traynor
15 Posted 26/07/2023 at 00:08:38
An interesting post, but I can't agree that Sheedy was on the decline that season.

That was my first season as a season ticket holder. The only game I missed was because of a trip to RAF Laarbruch in West Germany.

From memory, 20 home games. 15 wins, 4 draws and the solitary defeat v Arsenal last home game.

We were dreadful away though.

Larry O'Hara
16 Posted 27/07/2023 at 00:43:59
Lots of interesting replies here: proving it is all about perceptions. I did not mention Heysel, when I should have. And of course we did finish 4th: which just goes to show what a different world we inhabited then. I saw 4th as (rightly it turned out) a harbinger of our decline from coming 1st or 2nd. That was the yardstick I was measuring us against: the motto that now seems a sick joke--Nil Satis Nisi Optimum.

The key metric seems to be that picked up by John Raftery and Tony Abrahams: we were pleasing on the eye, solid defensively, but with a relatively (compared to the highest standards) poor attacking edge, related to the slower speed of play.

It might seem fanciful to think there are lessons here for today but maybe there are, and certainly think Dyche is not the tactical dinosaur he has been labelled. Our successful 80's sides were very well organised and defensively sound--he can do that. Garner in midfield I have hopes of, and who knows about Danjuma? If he comes good, and Onana learns where the goal is, the midfield may not be that bad. We were at our best when goals came from everywhere (Lineker an aberration): but sadly with Maupay they will come from nowhere. Not Dyche's fault, but a gaping hole in any project for improvement: our 84/5 side was so good because we played mostly in the opponents half: the Gegenpresse I think they call it now. That way, goals can be spread around. But we do nonetheless need a couple of strikers...As any fule know!

Richard Lyons
17 Posted 29/07/2023 at 12:42:21
All very interesting, and I remember those times with frustration after the Kendall years.

However, no one seems to comment on Kendall's treachery in leaving - for Athletic Bilbao????? Of course, I loved the man, but never understood why he would want to leave Everton (I felt the same way about Alan Ball when he was sold to Arsenal).

To me, it was Kendall's departure, rather than Harvey's appointment, which was the most significant factor in our decline...

Kevin Molloy
18 Posted 29/07/2023 at 13:09:41
I remember the switch from Kendall to Harvey vividly. Kendall going, the shock of the Ian Wilson signing, and all the while out of the corner of my eye seeing John Barnes destroying teams, Liverpool had all these exciting signings, and we had Ian Wilson. it was a very nasty jolt coming just weeks after the 87 triumph.
The myth of Harvey being the real power at Everton was properly laid to rest, it was clear by the end that he was no manager (not many people are). By the end of that season I was convinced that if we just also made the right signings we would soon be back, and I use to look at Tony Cottee and compare him to Adrian heath, thinking, 'he's faster, he'll score twenty more goals a season. Get him and we're half way there'. Shows what I knew. I never particularly enjoyed watching Heath, but in hindsight, it is clear that he brought a helluva lot more to the team than cottee did.
I'm not sure though that anyone could have stopped our decline. We had four great years, but all teams have a shelf life. If Kendall stayed, would he have been able to just build a team to compete with the Liverpool and Arsenal teams of the late 80s. Who knows. I think though the fact he wanted to leave shows that maybe there wasn't a potential dynasty there, in the same way as the Anfield boot room.
Roy Johnstone
19 Posted 31/07/2023 at 22:19:55
I love Colin as a club legend. However, we made it to champions in 87 the same way that the Reds did in 1986. Some superb runs (4-0 v Norwich being particularly special). In the end, they lost it like we did the previous year. They shit their pants. 87-88 Reinforcements required. No one signed.

The Gwladys Street stand had a roof for the first time and all we had first day was Paul power knocking one in. Kinda knew our moment was over. Love Colin, but don't try to reappraise what happened using current data and judgement standards. He needed to bolster the squad, and failed to do so.

Danny O’Neill
20 Posted 31/07/2023 at 22:43:48
A few interesting comments above.

Larry, you capture a lot of good points. Rather than me harping on about the 80s, Dyche's team played some decent stuff at times last season. The stand out for me was defending stoutly but then smashing the much lauded Brighton on the counter on their own patch.

I get your point, Richard, but I would hardly call it treachery. Howard was denied the chance to take his all-conquering team into Europe's biggest competition twice. Yes, not the biggest move, but rumours were he was being lined up for the Barcelona job at the time. And maybe, just maybe, he could see what was coming and Everton weren't going to build on their success. Echoes of Ancelotti knowing what was around the corner?

Despite the ban, it didn't stop Alex Ferguson and Manchester United, who were behind us at the time, but were investing and building.

Howard came back twice. Once when he had a decent gig at Maine Road and had no reason to move. But he did. The other when we basically couldn't get anyone else. He couldn't resist but was a shadow of his former self and the club was in free fall.

Colin Harvey has served Everton as a supporter, player, coach, manager and youth coach leader. Not many of us can claim that.

Kevin & Roy, it was and has subsequently been proven at various levels throughout the club, that Colin Harvey was a coach. And a damn good one. Maybe not a manager. Not everyone is cut out for that.

I have long since stopped blaming managers (within reason) and more looked at how the club is and has been run.

Roy Johnstone
21 Posted 01/08/2023 at 12:40:12
Danny, totally agree. Served the club with distinction, but managing it was a step too far.

I was just lamenting a lost opportunity to stay great. As you said, Man Utd were investing and building. We weren't. The first steps on the road to our current free fall.

Larry O'Hara
22 Posted 01/08/2023 at 12:45:49
Yes I would not want to detract in any way from Harvey as a player and a coach: but the manager gig is something else. Aside from Kendall Mk 1 and the great Brian Clough, few really good players have made great coaches.

Pains me to say it (as not for us) but Arteta might be the next…. though him and Guardiola have had money unlike Kendall and Clough.

It also always makes me laugh to hear Shearer and that toe-rag Murphy criticising managers: neither of them could park a car straight…

Ray Jacques
23 Posted 01/08/2023 at 12:52:46
My abiding memory of his time as manager was signing 4 players on one day. Think it was Tony Cottee for a record £4.4 million and Neil McDonald plus two others who I don't recall. There was a photo with 4 players in the NEC kit.

Also, I think we played Sheffield Wednesday about three times in the FA Cup before tonking them 5-0.

I think he presided over the decline of the team of the mid-eighties, but the lack of European football probably didn't help.

Joe Hurst
24 Posted 02/08/2023 at 2023/08/02 : 15:09:59

I had a text just sent to me, from my wife who’s at her work’s premises.

”Kevin Ratcliffe is at our offices today”

Ratcliffe! One of the best players this club has ever had!

Jay Harris
25 Posted 02/08/2023 at 16:18:50
I don't think we should be comparing Kendall and Harvey as individuals. They were a team and a great team throughout the '80s.

One of the reasons Howard Kendall left for Bilbao was that he had already started to succumb to that Illness and the club were aware of it and also the loss of key players left an air of depression around the club which only a rebuild could solve.

Although at the time Harvey was considered a failure, his league record stood above Mike Walker, Kendall Mk 2 and Mk 3 and Walter Smith – and for that matter, Big Joe – even though he did win the FA Cup.

John Raftery
26 Posted 02/08/2023 at 22:34:24
Ray (23),

I think the Cottee fee was £2.2M. The other two bought that summer of 1988 were Stuart McCall and Pat Nevin for £850k and £925k respectively. The fee for Neil McDonald was £525k. So the total outlay was £4.5M.

Brendan McLaughlin
27 Posted 02/08/2023 at 22:55:32
Jay #25,

Mike Walker, Howard Kendall Mk 2 & 3, Walter and Big Joe didn't have the good fortune of taking over an Everton side who were League Champions.

Brian Wilkinson
28 Posted 03/08/2023 at 12:22:13
Really enjoyed that read and some good points in regards to the teams being rebuilt on Merseyside.

The dark side brought in quality players, while we brought in average-at-best players, going on from Harvey's time at Everton. I found an article on Joe Royle's time as manager which I hope you do not mind pasting on here – boy was Royle unlucky with injuries, but an interesting last paragraph, why Johnson refused to give Royle the money for Flo.

Joe Royle returned to Goodison Park in November 1994, hailed as a hero by the fans and the club he holds so dear to his heart. Mike Walker had led Everton to the brink of relegation in just 11 months and when Royle took over, the club was stranded at the bottom of the Premiership with just eight points from 14 games. Joe arrived on the back of 12 years of success on a shoe-string budget at Oldham Athletic where he led the Latics to the top flight, two FA Cup semi-finals and a League Cup Final appearance.

The story of how Joe then transformed the Blues almost instantaneously is legendary. In his very first match in charge Everton beat arch rivals Liverpool 2-0 with Duncan Ferguson scoring his first goal in the royal blue jersey and the recovery was underway. Three wins on the trot put Everton on the road to safety as Royle's men adopted the famous Dogs of War attitude.

Premiership survival was assured the following April alongside a remarkable FA Cup run that saw the Blues unrivalled spirit, determination and guile take them all the way to a Wembley triumph, seeing off Newcastle, Tottenham and Manchester United to lift the famous old trophy for the fifth time in their history. It was a quite remarkable achievement for a manager's first season in charge and he was lauded as the messiah who was going to lead the Toffees to emulate the golden period of the mid-1980s.

The 1995-96 campaign was a time of instability and rebuilding. The superb Andrei Kanchelskis was brought in from Manchester United but he was to spend six crucial weeks on the sidelines with a dislocated shoulder sustained, coincidentally, against United. When Kanchelskis was fit, Ferguson wasn't available, either through suspension or through injury. Then, a Glasgow jury found him guilty of assault for a head-butting incident while Duncan was at Rangers and the giant striker was to spend three months in Barlinnie prison. In his absence, the Royle revival continued and Kanchelskis went on to score 16 goals in 33 appearances during an electric spell after the New Year.

Unfortunately, the absence of these two stars meant that Everton struggled in the European Cup Winners' Cup and were eventually squeezed out by Dutch side Feyenoord – with future Everton boss Ronald Koeman in the lineup – by a goal to nil. Nevertheless, the side put together a run of games in the league that equalled the club's run of matches without conceding a goal and it seemed as though the building blocks were being put in place.

Some hiccups against the likes of Wimbledon and Leeds did enough to derail a challenge for a UEFA Cup place that eventually went to the wire and Everton missed out on the prized fifth position on goal difference. Dennis Bergkamp's 84th minute winner for Arsenal against Bolton on the final day of the season sent the Gunners into Europe at the Toffees' expense.

Nevertheless, optimism was as high as it had been for years during the 1996 close-season. Euro '96 came and went but the expected flurry of activity in the European transfer market never happened. The names of players like Russian midfielder Ilya Tsymbalar were bandied about in connection with Everton but Royle's first foray into the big league of transfer negotiations bore little fruit. Gary Speed was signed for £3.5m — another Evertonian coming home to roost — and Paul Gerrard arrived for £1.5m when a bid for Crystal Palace goalkeeper Nigel Martyn fell through at the last minute. Martyn, embarrassingly, was entertained at the headquarters of Park Foods in Birkenhead, was shown the way to Leeds United and the Everton administration wound up with egg on its face.

And it was here that the cracks began to show. The beginning of the season again demonstrated just how much Joe Royle's Everton relied on spirit and confidence. The new season brought three encouraging results against Newcastle, Manchester United and Tottenham as the team found inspiration in the opportunity to build on the previous season that lay ahead. However, three consecutive defeats helped ruin that dream and — a 7-1 humiliation of Southampton aside — Everton failed to recapture the form with which they started 1996-97.

Christmas 1996 brought forth only bad tidings. Andy Hinchcliffe, Kanchelskis, Watson, Short, Parkinson, Grant and Ebbrell were all on the treatment table and a run of 7 games without a win between 23 December and 1 February, with an embarrassing 3-2 defeat at home to Bradford in the FA Cup thrown in for good measure, placed serious question marks over Joe's ability to lead his side out of its crisis. Failed bids for players like Carlton Palmer did little to inspire confidence and the performances deviated all too rarely from the route-one style of play that ultimately led to dissipation of the fans' faith.

The 2-0 defeat by Manchester United in a match the Blues had dominated so overwhelmingly was the last straw for many Evertonians who had previously supported Royle to the hilt. Perhaps the writing was finally on the wall and it took a disagreement with the chairman over transfers to make up Joe's mind that perhaps his time had come.

History has it that Peter Johnson refused to sanction the signing of Norwegian defender Claus Eftevaag — ostensibly a makeweight in a larger deal to acquire his striking compatriot Tore Andre Flo — after Flo himself turned down the move at the last minute. His ultimatum to Royle had the obvious consequence of the manager's resignation.

Johnson's view of this crucial episode was that, as the season continued, it was clear that Joe was getting panicky. While Joe had managed the club, Johnson had never questioned any of his signings but, just before the March 1997 transfer deadline, Royle informed Johnson that he wanted to sign Flo. In order to do so, he had to sign Eftevaag who was somewhat older and would cost £2m. Crucially, this all involved the Norwegian Agent that led to George Graham's demise at Arsenal...

Flo was playing for Norway at the Confederation Cup in Dubai and there would have been a real rush to get him signed before the deadline for £4m. Eftevaag failed a medical, but Royle still wanted to sign him as he really wanted Flo. So, faced with the guaranteed signing of a potentially unfit player and the non-guarantee of signing Flo, Johnson refused Royle for the first time.

Royle was shocked, walked out and came back 30 minutes later to resign. Johnson reluctantly accepted, later admitting that if he had persuaded him to stay, the club might have been relegated.

Royle's managerial legacy at Goodison will always be the dramatic fashion in which he turned a team from relegation certainties to top-6 challengers for Europe and, of course, the single trophy that Everton won in the 1990s.

Had his squad not been decimated by injuries in late 1996, who knows what might have happened, but fate intervened and Royle seemingly lost the plot. Dave Watson assumed temporary control and arrested the slide towards Division One.

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