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Everton Papertalk, 1997-98

Evertonians generally have a healthy disregard for the print 'meeja'.  Things about Everton and Everton players are often mis-reported, and some papers are persistent in their promotion of scurrilous rumour-mongering...  

Nevertheless, some of the stuff they write is more balanced, and will be reproduced occasionally on this page, under the Fair Use copyright convention.

Troubled waters slow Kendall in attempt to turn the Mersey tide

An Interview with Howard Kendall, by Oliver Holt
(In The Times, 21 February 1998)

The dawn chorus begins early at Bellefield, the Everton training ground. The forced happiness of a radio breakfast show echoes round an empty canteen. A mop swishes over a floor. A telephone rings. Howard Kendall picks it up. His eyes fix on a suit that is hanging on the back of his door. He talks to his secretary and tells her to put the call through. "How are you, lad?" he says, smiling into the receiver. "Congratulations."

At the other end of the line, Joe Royle sits behind his desk on his first full day at Maine Road. He can picture where Kendall is sitting, looking out over the pitches and at the high wall that blots out the rest of West Derby. He sat there himself not so long ago, before it all turned sour and he moved on. "Good luck, lad," Kendall says after a few minutes, and the receiver goes back down.

They are both up against it, Kendall and Royle, both at big clubs that are not big clubs any more. They are caught in a curious kind of time warp, a place where supporters still expect the results that come with being members of the traditional elite and rage against those who used to be humble but have now surpassed them in spending might.

The rewards paid by Sky television, in particular, for staying in the FA Carling Premiership may have widened the divide between the top division and the yeomen of the Nationwide League, but they have created a new kind of equality higher up the chain that has eroded the dominance once enjoyed by clubs such as Everton.

No longer can they buy their way out of trouble by pillaging the best from the rest of the Premiership or from the top of the first division. That used to be a tried and trusted route, but their rivals do not need to sell any more and Everton seem to have found the move towards a meritocracy harder to take than most.

When Kendall arrived last June, too late to make any significant inroads into the transfer market to strengthen what Royle had left him, he was already in an invidious position, saddled with an ageing side that had lost momentum. Peter Johnson, the club chairman, had set his sights on men such as Fabio Capello, the manager of AC Milan, to take over from Royle. After that, he moved on to Andy Gray, the Sky pundit. Kendall, then in charge at Sheffield United, was way down the list. It felt like an anticlimax when he came back to take over for the third time.

Kendall, still a workaholic who flits restlessly from match to match searching out new talent, has won the supporters over, however. They are predisposed to like him anyway after he brought them two league titles, the FA Cup and the Cup Winners' Cup in the mid-Eighties. This time, back after a brief and unhappy spell when it seemed his career was heading downhill irrevocably, they admire him for the spirit and dedication he has shown in tackling an unenviable job.

He seems to have bought reasonably wisely. Thomas Myhre, the goalkeeper from Viking Stavanger, is beginning to fill the gap left by Neville Southall, Mikael Madar looked promising in attack before he was injured and Carl Tiler has been a revelation in defence. And lest Kendall's gripes about injuries should be sneered at, he has been forced to use 32 players this season - more than at any time since the club's inaugural season in 1888.

In January, after Everton had gone five Premiership games unbeaten, he became the first Everton manager since 1986 to win the manager-of-the-month award. The recipient way back then was a certain H. Kendall, too. Even if he is still far away from creating the kind of success he enjoyed a decade ago, Everton will at least go into the Merseyside derby on Monday alive with the hope that Kendall has turned the corner, that the threat of relegation is beginning to recede.

"What I was hoping to achieve when I took over this season was to get up beyond the threat of relegation," he said. "I don't think anyone was expecting us to be challenging for the championship or even Europe, but what they didn't want was to be in the scramble in the bottom. I thought that if we could start well, if we could get into mid-table or just above, your fans aren't fearing the drop and you can concentrate on slowly improving things rather than trying to quickly change things around.

"That was my hope, along with runs in cup competitions. But we have had a horrendous run of injuries, there has been no continuity in the side and it has been a very difficult time, because I have not been able to select the right team on a number of occasions.

"It is increasingly difficult to find players nowadays that you would like to think could be outstanding. It is more difficult to tempt other clubs into selling because other clubs have got money now and they don't sell their best players. You had the elite a few years ago who could tempt clubs down the bottom half of the Premier to part with their best players. And you went out and bought them. Nowadays, most of the clubs are looking to strengthen their teams.

"They have got the income streams and the rewards for staying in the Premiership are so great that they invest heavily to try to ensure that. Even the clubs in the first division. You go and try to prise anyone away from Nottingham Forest or Middlesbrough and Sunderland. No chance. No chance at all.

"We have got to get back up there with the top clubs and then try to attract some of the outstanding players. If we go to try to attract real top-class players, they would immediately look at the Premiership table and where we finished last season, and it would be 'no, no, no'. They do not know the size of the club, the facilities we have got, the way people are treated here. They think: 'I might struggle there'."

For a while earlier this season, Kendall seemed to be struggling, too. There were a few weeks in October and November when was vying with Gerry Francis as the pundits' favourite to get the sack. Francis jumped first, Kendall sat tight, secretly seething at the rush to judgment that is disfiguring the game. "I don't see any reason why my position here should have been questioned or why people were talking about it at the time," Kendall said. "I wanted to be judged as a new manager coming into Everton Football Club, not someone who had two previous spells here and played here for seven years. I don't think that people were being fair when they talked about that.

"Before we were halfway through the season, people were hyping games up and saying, 'this is a game Everton cannot afford to lose'. Now, hang on a minute. That is adding pressure to the players, the manager, it just sews thoughts in the fans' minds. One disappointing comment I had from behind me a couple of months ago was, 'this is first division football'. That hurts you, but it was the fear element, the fear of going down."

Kendall went on: "The biggest satisfaction you get if you are a manager of a successful side is pleasing the fans. Alright, you get your own personal satisfaction, but seeing smiles on faces, jumping up and down, that is the pleasure you get.

"If I did not have the enthusiasm to try to bring them that, I would not be here. I desperately want to be successful again. I would like it to be my last job as a manager and I would like it to last as long as it can. You cannot say whether you will ever be able to repeat what you achieved before. If time is given, if you keep your good players and the young ones keep coming through, then that is the way. But you don't know. There is no guarantee."

Kendall gets up to walk down the stairs to the pitches. Forty miles away, at the other end of the M62, Joe Royle is preparing for his first training session in Moss Side.

You're the common denominator, Mr Johnson

Mike Walker on the decline and potential fall of Everton Football Club
(In Eastern Daily Press, December 12 1997)

I see my old club Everton are still struggling at the bottom of the Premiership - despite the endeavours of two other managers since my departure three years ago.  Their plight is disappointing because the fans deserve better; they're loyal, they know the game, and from what I can gather they're tearing their hair out.  They also seem keen to pull chairman Peter Johnson's hair out, though he remains adamant that he's going to stick to it and turn things around.

Most chairman want to hire managers, then sack them and appoint someone else if things don't go well; but given that Everton's decline has continued over a period of time it seems to me there's only one common denominator.  You can hire and fire managers at Everton and it doesn't seem to achieve very much - which makes you wonder if the problem isn't how the club is being run from the top.

I have a certain amount of sympathy for Howard Kendall as he inherited a squad that looks good on paper, but seems unable to produce the goods on the pitch.  It's also difficult for a new manager to come in, change things such as the style of play, and effect an instant turn-around.

Howard has dabbled with the younger stars such as John Oster and Danny Cadamarteri, but may well feel some of his senior players should also have taken a little more responsibility on their shoulders.  Slaven Bilic, for example, does not seem to have lived up to his £4.4million price-tag, and has now been disciplined for suggesting publicly that not enough time is spent working on set-pieces.

Meanwhile, in at least one press article this week Johnson appears to have pointed an accusing finger over the amount of money spent by previous managers - by which he is presumably referring to myself and Joe Royle.  Well, by my reckoning I spent around £7million on players such as Vinny Samways, Daniel Amokachi, Anders Limpar and Joe Parkinson; I also recouped a certain amount - £1.1 for Peter Beagrie, for example.

People might want to try and apportion blame on me for some things, but I feel reasonably comfortably over my dealings in the transfer market.  I certainly didn't spend as much as the £30million or shelled out during Joe's spell in charge. Furthermore, I would suggest that I was in a trough and trying to get out; since they escaped from that trough a lot of cash seems to have been spent on putting them back in it.

Howard is now in a difficult position; whether it was wise for him to return as manager for a third time is itself a debatable point - but he's certainly going to need all his knowledge and experience to pull them out of the mire.

Prodigy shooting through the ranks

Neil Harman on the emergence of a young striker who is quickly shedding his L-plates with Everton
(In The Times, 31 October 1997)

The taxi inched its way past the personalised number plates, turbo sports and sensible, sturdy estate -- Andy Hinchcliffe's, of course -­ to drop its cargo at the door of the Everton training ground. Danny Cadamarteri is still taking driving lessons. Out he jumped, a very distinctive young footballer, dreadlocks swaying rhythmically, smile flashing, throwing his bag across his shoulders to begin another day in dreamland.

That is how it has been for Cadamarteri since he realised that he would not be the second coming of Daley Thompson and began, instead, to demonstrate the raw power and bravado that marks him out as one of the thrilling prospects eager to leave an impression on England's football renaissance.

They might have Michael Owen at Liverpool, a neat, trim, crop-haired personification of the boy who would be Alan Shearer.  The blue-tinted spectacles at Everton believe that Cadamarteri is every bit Owen's equal as a player, with a dash of daring that makes him intriguingly dangerous.

In the last Merseyside derby (the only one that ever counts) 13 days ago, Cadamarteri secured Everton's 2-0 victory with a goal of technical perfection, completed with an instinct reminiscent of Jimmy Greaves.  All of this at just turned 18, in his first taste of an occasion that has turned older legs to jelly.

Ask Cadamarteri to take you back through the goal and he does it with a joyous relish. "If you hassle people, you can force them into mistakes," he said.  "I didn't think I was going to nick the ball off him [Bjorn Kvarme] but he's paid to play for Liverpool and I wanted to give him a run for his money.  The first line of defence is your attack, so I knew I had to pressure him.

"I got the ball and started running towards goal, steadied myself and then saw Neil Ruddock out of the corner of my eye.  I thought I would cut back inside and wrong-foot him; he ran straight across me and left me with the goal to shoot at. Someone told me big Duncan Ferguson was waiting for a tap-in but I didn't see him.  I just saw the net."

Howard Kendall, the Everton manager, told Cadamarteri to stay at home in his digs that night, knowing that he could have been the target of any outraged Liverpool supporter, and the young forward did as he was told.  Attitudes towards him have changed since he broke dramatically into the Everton first team.

"Everyone wants to know me now, wants to be my friend, to do this and that for me. They want a piece of me," he said.  "It's like being a guy who walks to the training ground on his own one day and then, the next, he's mobbed.  My mum is taking care of all the agent and sponsorship stuff; she just wants me to concentrate on what happens on the field."

Kendall might find Sharon Cadamarteri a hard bargainer.  She wanted her son to be an athlete, a gymnast, a swimmer, anything but a footballer, urging him to work on the speed and grace that broke records at every school he attended in a transient Yorkshire youth.  But he kept looking out of an empty gym to where his mates were playing football and, eventually, she had to back down.

"I reckoned I was destined to be an athlete," he said. "I idolised Daley Thompson, I was engrossed by the sport. To be honest, I never really watched football, I didn't have any interest in it and my mum wasn't keen standing in the cold watching me play.

"Then we moved to Sheffield and I was asked to play in the school team. Because I was fast they used to kick the ball over the top and say 'go on, chase that'. Of course, I'd always get there first and try to put it between those two white sticks, I didn't even know what they were called.

"It was all so new to me and it wasn't until we moved back to Bradford and I played for the boys' team that I learnt anything about positional sense." At 12, suddenly, Cadamarteri was taught to appreciate the finer tactical points and, when he realised what a skill he had and the sense of when to use it, the scouts began to flock to watch him.

He was about to sign up for Barnsley's school of excellence, but his mother wanted him to stay nearer home.  "We got in touch with Bradford and they said to come down and train for a week and they'd see, so every week I went down and they said 'Oh, we're not sure yet, come back next week'.  Mum said, 'Let's not faff about, we'll go to Barnsley'."

Having signed for one club, he could not play for another, but the trial offers were flooding in, from Manchester United, Blackburn Rovers, Manchester City, Leeds United, Oldham Athletic, even Bradford came back in for him, and then Everton.

"I came to the training ground and saw the kind of pitch I'd never seen before; we lost 6-1 but I felt right about the place," Cadamarteri said.

That was at the age of 13; now he's 18, an anniversary he passed on the way back from playing for the England youth side against Yugoslavia this month, a team coached by the Football Association technical director, Howard Wilkinson.

"Danny is very quick, very mobile, very bright and has a positive attitude," Wilkinson said. "He's very much at one with himself.  He was a late developer, but that's why you have to keep the door open on anyone as long as possible. I think he's taken Everton by surprise at the way he's come along in the past six months.

"After the match in Yugoslavia, he said he found man-to-man marking and the sweeper system more difficult to contend with than defenders in the Premier League.  Well, these are all tests for him. The next will be when he hits a lean spell and people start to notice it, as opposed to it happening when it doesn't matter so much. It's about sustaining your performance without the regular adrenalin-shot of a goal."

Until that time, sit back and enjoy the ride with the lad still waiting to take his driving test.

A Win worth a Thousand Pardons

SoccerNet, 20 October 1997

The 20,000 leaflets distributed among the Goodison faithful calling for Everton chairman Peter Johnson's removal were later torn into confetti and strewn around the surrounding streets to celebrate the slaying of a team who started this 157th Merseyside League derby as the hottest favourites in years.  If only Liverpool manager Roy Evans could rip this defeat out of the record books as the burning anger of the midweek events embroiling Everton at Coventry's Highfield Road suddenly shot across Stanley Park like a raging inferno to engulf his Anfield side. Many more displays like this from an expectant team already losing touch with the Premiership pacesetters and the local printer will be doing overtime delivering anti-propaganda of the red variety rather than the current blue hue.

This was redemption day for Howard Kendall's team as Everton's unbeaten record in local hostilities stretched to seven games. A derby win as emphatic as this one is worth a thousand pardons in the eyes of the committed Evertonian. The players would not have minded warming down until midnight.  Was this really the same team berated by their manager after the Coca-Cola Cup defeat at Coventry? The same side whom Kendall had accused of not caring, of not having enough fire in their bellies? Maybe the same accusations should be levelled at Liverpool after this passionless play.

Former Liverpool iron-man Tommy Smith could only shake his head in disbelief from his main stand seat as his beloved team submitted without a real fight, unable to come to terms with Duncan Ferguson's aerial menace, the youthful exuberance of rising star Danny Cadamarteri and a man at the centre of the well-documented Highfield Road mutiny.

Defender Craig Short -- involved in the midweek finger-prodding row with his manager -- was back on the Christmas card list with a commanding performance which laid the foundation for this critical win. He said: 'It's been some week. On Monday my wife gave birth to a baby girl then there was Wednesday night and now this. I reacted the way I did at Coventry because I was angry. The boss was on the pitch because he felt humiliated. We were all humiliated. He was hurt, we were all hurting. 'I apologised to the manager on Friday and we had a bit of a laugh about what had happened. We had seen the pictures of it and I wish now it hadn't have happened. But he doesn't hold grudges and against Liverpool he got the right reaction from the players.

'This was the best game we could have had. Everyone expected us to get turned over 2-0 or 3-0. We had got pilloried for Wednesday night. In fact, we put a few of the Press cuttings on the dressing room walls. We know you have to have a professional pride, you've got to be able to say to yourself that you've given your all even if you've played rubbish.

'Also, maybe we've been playing too much fancy football in the past. Against Liverpool we were more direct. You get criticised for that if you lose but we battled well. Duncan Ferguson was really fired up.'

Ferguson in that mood is virtually unplayable in the air. Like a remorseless tidal wave, he edged closer and closer to the Liverpool goal and, inevitably, his command of the airwaves wore down punchdrunk Liverpool. But it was the aerial challenge of teenager Cadamarteri which caught out David James and pressured Neil Ruddock into putting into his own goal from a well-driven Andy Hinchcliffe corner.

Norwegian defender Bjorn Tore Kvarme accepted that it was a helpless task trying to nullify the big Scot, adding: 'He is bigger and better in the air than me. Our manager wasn't satisfied with our performance. Their second goal was down to me. I don't know what I was trying to do. I just ended up making a bad mistake.'  He was robbed by the energetic Cadamarteri for the 18-year-old to ignore the lurking Ferguson and fire low past James to finish off Liverpool.

Cadamarteri said: 'I can't believe the start to the season I am having. I hope it carries on. We had a chat at the training ground about what happened earlier this week. This was a performance for the fans, that was for them. As far as Liverpool were concerned we wanted to put our foot in and make sure they knew they were up against a tough team and that we were going to give them as good as they gave us. In the first 10 minutes we put in some challenges and that settled us down.'

Everton boss Kendall was at a loss to describe the amazing transformation in his side's performance from the one three nights earlier.

'It's difficult to explain,' he said. 'We ask professional people to go out and give professional performances. They can't achieve their maximum every game but they should always give maximum effort.  When we play at Goodison Park there is lot of encouragement. We seem to know where we are going. Now we need to get this consistency away from home. It's no coincidence that we last won away back in December.  That proves there is something wrong.'  

Just by some sort of fluke the computer has decreed that Everton's next away game is on Saturday - at Coventry.  Deflated Liverpool boss Evans did not look for any excuses, saying: 'We got what we deserved, we certainly weren't thinking ahead to Europe.'

For once Everton chairman Johnson could depart through the front door rather than one of the side exits. Everything blue was being cheered, even the coach which left with the skip containing the dirty kit. It seems that you can even hang out your dirty washing in public when you triumph in a derby game.

Springing to the defence of Everton

Interview with Dave Watson
(Henry Winter, Electronic Telegraph, 18 October 1997)

IN TIMES of trouble, clubs turn to individuals they can trust, respected pros like Dave Watson, whose slowing pace has not diminished his overall importance to Everton. At the club's Bellefield training ground yesterday, supporters kept approaching Watson, seeking not just autographs but assurances, too.

This straight-talking, unshowy son of Merseyside, a loyal Everton employee since 1986, understands the fans' deep concern at recent episodes. A team with such grand ambitions languish third from bottom, seem unable to attract the best talent, and were seen in a desperately embarrassing light in midweek.

Even yesterday, newspapers were still running the remarkable picture of Craig Short jabbing a finger towards his manager, Howard Kendall, following the Coca-Cola Cup surrender at Coventry City.

Watson talks like he plays, hiding from nothing. "We are having a bad time," the centre-half agrees on the eve of today's Merseyside derby. "The League position shows that. We've been knocked out of the Coca-Cola Cup. If you went down the bookies now, you'd get great odds on us to win the game tomorrow. That's understandable.

"But when Joe Royle first came here, and Mike Walker had just been sacked, we were having as bad a time then, we hadn't won for so long and it was actually the derby game that turned the season around for us. We kicked off from then to the end of the season."

Royle's "dogs of war" team possessed the bite which many argue is lacking in Everton's current XI. "No one liked playing against that team," Watson, 35, continues. "That was a team of good professionals working hard for 90 minutes. When we had the ball we could play. When we didn't, we made sure we got it back. It's all right if you can pass it nicely and do a trick but we also need people to do that dirty work of grafting and tackling.

"I don't think we've got the personnel to play that way now. Losing Joe Parkinson was a major blow. Barry Horne moved on. John Ebbrell moved on. If you had those players in front of you, they would protect the back four and would upset a few midfield players."

Kendall was unlucky to lose Parkinson to injury. Apart from central midfield, he seems to have the basis of a decent team with internationals like Bilic, Barmby, Ferguson and Hinchcliffe while the experience of Watson complements the youthful promise of Ball, Branch, Dunne and Cadamarteri. But they remain flawed, seemingly lacking in steel and spirit.

The malaise was seen with the Kendall-Short tiff. "Things happen in the heat of the moment," Watson observes. "Everyone's frustrated. Looking back now, after everything's calmed down, I think things might have been done differently. It's something that shouldn't have happened."

Short has since apologised while Kendall attempted to revive morale. "I've obviously known him [Kendall] from his previous two times here and his hunger to win is there. In the meetings we've had, the boss has put it over to us that we need to work harder. The lads accept that. That's a good sign. So it's just a matter of trying to string a couple of results together and building on that.

"The boss has said that if it goes on another few games, new players are going to have to come in. That would give everyone a kick up the backside. That would make more competition for places."

Supporters crave change. "The mood of the fans is one of frustration. They had big hopes before the season started, which has been the way for the last two or three years, and those hopes have never materialised. So there is frustration on the fans' behalf and, believe me, the players feel the same way.

"The fans have been unbelievable. Since the day we played Wimbledon in the last game of the '93-94 season to stay up, we've averaged about 35,000, which is frightening because most of the time we've been in the bottom five or six. It's not as if we're not getting the support. We are. We feel as if we need to repay them. We do need to repay them.

"Fans come up to me and say 'what's going on?'. Everyone's concerned. Everton means everything to people. It's peoples' lives. You think you are passionate about the game and then you go and talk to a supporter who travels home and away, and he works all week, and he walks around in his Everton shirt and Everton scarf. They really are good supporters and they have been starved of success in recent years."

AND today, derby day, provides the occasion they all think of. Watson knows. "I used to be a sheet-metal worker when I was an amateur at Liverpool [in 79-80]. I used to go into work on a Monday and there would be people who didn't turn up because their team had been beaten. If you win, it's a great feeling. If you don't, you've got a hell of a week ahead of you."

If Merseyside's passion remains, Watson feels the match itself has slightly changed. "Going back to when you had your Steve McMahons, your Kevin Ratcliffes, you had a lot more local lads in the side. There maybe was a lot more kicking going on, a lot more competitiveness. Over the past three or four years that has maybe gone out of it a little bit. But the will to win is still there. It will still be competitive, 100mph, forget the ball, get on with the game!"

This could be Watson's last Goodison derby. His contract expires next summer and, sooner or later, management beckons somewhere. "It's something I will be looking to get into. I enjoyed my stint as manager here, although it was only a couple of months [as a stop-gap last season]. If I'm fortunate enough to get a chance again, I'd give it a right good go." But the future can wait. There is a derby to win, a crisis to address. "People have been talking about this match for weeks. It means everything."

Heath has credentials to help Everton back to top

Pete Lansley on why good times are expected to roll again at Goodison
(In the Electronic Telegraph, 24 September 1997)

WHEN it comes to good times at Goodison Park, Adrian Heath has been there, seen it and bought the video.  So as the Everton faithful pin their hopes in the latest coming of Howard Kendall to restore the heady successes of the mid-1980s, it is worth heeding the optimism of the manager's young assistant.

The weight of expectation falls on the shoulders of Kendall, now in his third spell in charge of his beloved Everton, with whom as a midfielder he won the League championship in 1970.  But the wily manager will also be looking to the youthful enthusiasm of Heath, as infectious a character as a coach as he was as a player.

Regalvanising Everton will not be an overnight task.  Their start to the season signifies as much, despite the gloss of a 4-2 win over Barnsley.  But they are investing for the future as indicated by their signings since Kendall and Heath returned, including the teenage winger John Oster from Grimsby for £1.5 million, the Republic of Ireland midfielder Gareth Farrelly (£700,000 from Aston Villa) and playmaker Danny Williamson (valued at £1.5 million from West Ham).

Heath himself arrived at Goodison, just before his 21st birthday, in such circumstances back in 1982, a club-record buy at £700,000 from Stoke City, as Kendall started building his great team.

Heath said: "We're very similar to when I first came here, a club in transition. There's a lot of youth underneath the players you mentioned and we need to integrate them with the more experienced players."

Saturday's introduction of the 17-year-old striker Danny Cadamarteri, a goal-scoring debutant, substantiates this intention. Everton fans require more than a quick fix; more, even, than the one-off FA Cup triumph of Joe Royle's brief reign two years ago.

Heath, 36, pointed out: "It's early days yet.  The thing about this Everton is we have got a lot of good footballers in the team. We've gone away from that 'dogs of war' image.  But you do need a bit of both sides of the game to be successful; you have to make it difficult for the opposition, close them down, get your tackles in.

"We have brought in several young, talented players. Because they are new to the club, it obviously takes a little time to settle. They are not frightened to be here but they are a little inhibited."

Heath as a player embodied the dual qualities -- of a will to battle, and to play more expressively -- that served Everton so well in the last decade. He, Peter Reid, Kevin Ratcliffe, Graeme Sharp and Andy Gray all combined both attributes.  It was an attitude he instilled during his spell as manager at Burnley and in assisting Kendall at Sheffield United.

They also shared a Leicester-like camaraderie as they went on to win the FA Cup, European Cup-Winners' Cup and two League titles before Kendall departed in 1987 to try his luck abroad. Heath was not long in following him.  Now both have come full circle.

Heath continued:  "Howard has not changed a lot really.  He's determined to make a success of this job.  As I think everyone knows, this is his club -- it's where he wants to be and he couldn't be more motivated.

"From my point of view, I've been away from the club for 10 years.  I like the people here and I'm delighted to be involved at the club again.  I feel very proud and privileged to have been part and parcel of the most successful period the club has ever had.  If Howard and I an help go some of the way to emulating those achievements, we'll be pleased.  We do think the future of this club is very bright."

Barmby left out in the cold

Steve Curry looks at why the Everton man's international career has come to a halt
(In the Electronic Telegraph, 7 September 1997

REMEMBER Nick Barmby? He was the little will-o'-the-wisp who scored England's first goal in the World Cup qualifying competition in Kishinev, Moldova, just a year and six days ago.  When England meet Moldova again at Wembley on Wednesday [10 September 1997], Barmby will be training with Everton and wondering whether or not he will be selected by Howard Kendall for Saturday's game at Derby County. There are no guarantees. This season he has completed only one full game, been substituted twice and come on as a substitute once.

It has been a traumatic tumble from the summit for the young player who the omnipotent Pele tipped for world stardom only two years ago. And he is still only 23. Twice the subject of transfers of over £5 million (from Tottenham to Middlesbrough and from Middlesbrough to Everton), his international eclipse is worrying. The game in Moldova was his only appearance last season.

Though he made the squad in the subsequent matches against Poland, Georgia and Italy, he has since dipped into obscurity, his form a worry for both Kendall and Glenn Hoddle. Hoddle said: "It has been a difficult year for Nick but he is certainly not forgotten as far as I'm concerned because he is still a lad with real vision and talent. I would be surprised if he doesn't push for an England place again soon."

"I think Nick is a very special player," said Terry Venables, the man who groomed him for stardom at Tottenham. "In my last season at Spurs he was outstanding when we had Teddy [Sheringham] playing right up front with Nicky in and around him.

"He is a very intelligent player who gives defenders marking problems. I think Everton might just have a combination problem. Nick might be better off with a player other than Duncan Ferguson. It could be a dilemma Howard has inherited that he has to sort out."

"I have no doubt that Nick, in the right set-up and with the right understanding, is still a hell of a player though it would appear that he has sat still for the past 12 months."

It was when Barmby decided to join Middlesbrough in August, 1995, that stories of outside influences in Barmby's life began to surface. His wife Mandy, who is 10 years his senior, was said to be homesick for Hull. Barmby, in turn, insisted that the reason he left Spurs was partly that he wanted to play for a northern club but largely because he had been impressed on his England outings with the training methods and the charisma of Bryan Robson.

He was extremely contented at the Riverside, in fact, until along came another diminutive player even more elusive as a player than himself. It was the arrival of Juninho that really blighted his Boro career.

Robson, the man who bought and sold him, said: "Nick left our club because I couldn't get the balance right between him and Juninho. I had a word with him. He is a great pro but sometimes he is too serious about the game. He has to relax a little bit more and enjoy his game instead of being so uptight about having to do so well. It would then come more naturally to him because he is a gifted player. I am sure he will bounce back because it hurts him that he feels he hasn't done anything in the game yet. He has too much quality not to succeed."

Barmby, in fact, has achieved some degree of success, perhaps too much too soon. Venables had him in the Spurs first team at 18 and says now: "He really never looked back for three or four seasons. Most young players have a setback at some stage in their development. Yet even when it wasn't going too well for him at Middlesbrough, he still came into the England set-up and did well.

"When we played China he was outstanding, scoring two of our three goals. He took on the challenge from Peter Beardsley for a place in the Euro '96 squad and he won it.

"He came on several times as a sub during the championships and always contributed well but the role he plays was locked up in that competition by Teddy Sheringham so he never had a real chance to show what he could do.

"If I had needed to pick him I would have had no worries about him performing in that company. He is in love with the game. He likes a challenge, even in training. If he feels there is an area of the game to explore he will go for it because he has an excellent brain."

When Sheringham dropped out of the England squad through injury on Thursday, Barmby might feel he should have been the man to take his place rather than Paul Scholes. Barmby must now confront another challenge.

© Copyright Telegraph Group Limited 1997

Howard's way fails to end turmoil at Goodison Park

Howard Kendall's first weeks back in charge at Everton have not been short on incident or controversy, as Louise Taylor discovers (for The Sunday Times, 13 July 1997)

IT HAS been a busy few days at Everton Football Club. While Howard Kendall, their manager, has been pursuing Fabrizio Ravanelli across the continent to try to make him his first major signing, Sheffield United, Kendall's former employers, have issued a writ against Kendall and Everton following his defection last month.It is alleged that Peter Johnson, the Everton chairman, had agreed to pay United £1m compensation for Kendall's services. The money has not been forthcoming and Mike McDonald, the United chairman, has decided to take action.

A statement from McDonald said: "I am very annoyed that Everton have not fulfilled the promises that were made when we initially gave permission for Everton to approach Howard Kendall. I feel that the only way forward now is for lawyers to resolve the situation."

McDonald claimed he had been "kicked in the teeth" and believes that £1m was a fair assessment of Kendall's talents. He said at the time: "Everton value Kendall enough to hand him control of their club. How do you put a figure on experience, know-how and a success rate?"

Johnson agreed to pay United the asking price to cover the remaining season of Kendall's three-year contract, but the clubs have been haggling ever since Kendall was appointed on June 27.

This latest set-back to Everton is all the more irritating because Kendall ­- taking the position for the third time ­- was only third choice for the job in the first place. While his record at Sheffield United was outstanding ­- he steered them away from relegation in his first season and into the play-off final in his second -­ he never completely won over the Blades fans. Renowned more as a man-manager than a master tactician, his knee-jerk tinkering produced confusion and commitment in equal measure.

As largely ambivalent Sheffield supporters were left debating whether the 51-year-old Kendall was a has-been or a hero, Everton were courting Bobby Robson, Barcelona's head coach. When that painfully, almost farcically, protracted flirtation ended in rebuff, Johnson responded with some novel lateral thinking. Unfortunately, however, Andy Gray, the Sky Television football guru and former Everton centre-forward, developed cold feet. Now Johnson knew the only way to save face was via an immediate appointment.

Although not quite the dynamic "world class" recruit the chairman originally envisaged, Kendall was guaranteed to say yes. Having twice previously managed Everton ­- the first time to glorious mid-1980s effect ­- he is clearly in love with the club. Who can forget his startling declaration that while leading Manchester City was like having an affair, his Evertonian relationship represented a marriage. After leaving Goodison for a second time his own private life went through a turbulent patch and, two years ago, a brief sojourn in charge of Notts County ended in ignominious dismissal clouded by allegations of excessive drinking.

Profoundly hurt, Kendall insists only the prohibitive cost prevented legal redress but some observers were unconvinced. For many years the life and soul of a thousand parties ­- the northeast Football Writers Association still talks of a long-distant annual dinner when Everton's manager joined members for breakfast in his dinner jacket after staying up all night talking football in a Durham hotel -­ he has now developed a puritan streak.

Gratefully seizing "another chance" with Sheffield United, Kendall let it be known he was abstaining from alcohol and making daily pilgrimages to the gym. Appreciably slimmer, clearer of complexion and having earned dressing-room respect, he suddenly re-emerged as a "renaissance man".

Largely down to his own determination ­- the days when he routinely signed players, Andy Gray among them, over a couple of bottles of wine were gone -­ this metamorphosis also owed something to bonds forged with journalists during the carousing years.

Kendall's friends in the press have certainly not been shy about putting in a good word here and there and generally marketing their man, but they can be confident of reciprocal loyalty.

Football managers may be noted for dissembling in a manner to make the most disingenuous politician blush, but Kendall is benefiting from treating reporters with courtesy and camaraderie rather than contempt. His man-management talent extends far beyond motivating full-backs, but now he has to satisfy the supporters as well as the press, while the distraction of the legal machine whirrs away in the background.

Kendall has £20m of Johnson's money to spend and Ravanelli, keen to follow Juninho's example and leave Middlesbrough, is the most prominent name on his shopping list. Although the two clubs have agreed a transfer fee believed to be in the region of £7.5m, the Italian is reported to be interested in signing only for Liverpool. Everton still insist that Ravanelli will travel to Goodison to agree personal terms with them. Their claims are bolstered by Ravanelli's agent, Alessandro Moggi, who said: "The player is honoured and very happy to have received interest from a club like Everton."

Kendall said: "I was in contact with his agent and he was making contact with the player. Hopefully he will travel to England as soon as possible when we can show him the training facilities, he can meet myself and the staff and hopefully he can agree to join us."

© Copyright The Sunday Times 1997

Common Sense in a Gray Area

(Paul Wilson The Observer, 29 June 1997)

THIS IS supposed to be football's silly season, but it seems that too much is at stake financially these days for clubs and plcs to do anything really daft. Everton came pretty close last week in telling the world they wanted a coach of the highest pedigree then settling on a television commentator with 12 months' experience as assistant to Ron Atkinson, but common sense on Andy Gray's part saved the day.

That might not be how Peter Johnson saw it, but the Everton chairman can console himself with the knowledge that in Howard Kendall he at least has a manager with a track record. Kendall's managerial achievements compare favourably with any of the names on Johnson's elastic shortlist, he is 15 years younger than Bobby Robson and, in some ways, seems younger than the jaded, unhappy version of himself who left Everton for a second time in 1993.

If Everton supporters are underwhelmed by the appointment, that is entirely Johnson's fault for promising the earth and failing to deliver. The fact that Kendall was under his nose all the time, positively pining for a return to Goodison, should not obscure the possibility that the combination of Johnson's money and the club's most successful post-war manager could see Everton back among the contenders. It may be unfashionably sensible, but so are food hampers. Presumably, Johnson did not make his millions by foisting untried items on customers quite happy with tinned ham and baked beans.

Kendall's appointment is unlikely to be unpopular with the Everton players, and he can make the sort of impression he made in his first season at Sheffield United one could imagine Johnson ringing Gray around Christmas with thanks for doing him a favour; to which Gray might well answer that the feeling is mutual.

It is easy to portray the former Scotland striker as the villain of this piece, but all Gray can really be accused of is acting sensibly. He could hardly have known that Everton were desperate enough to install him instantly as prime candidate, and neither could he have predicted the vigour with which Sky would fight to keep him. Bearing in mind the loyalty Gray must have felt to an employer which gave him his career break in broadcasting, and was now doubling his money and pleading with him to stay, he can surely not be blamed for putting present security ahead of a club so disorganised that they have not even sorted out their shirt sponsorship.

Only Gray's failure to tell Johnson face to face was less than honourable, and the suspicion that he bottled this responsibility, if not the whole Everton challenge, may yet come back to haunt him. One can see why Sky rate Gray so highly: as well as being naturally enthusiastic knowledgeable and all the other things a commentator should be, he has never really crossed the line from player to pundit and so retains the respect of present professionals in a way that even Alan Hansen does not. Some managers have attacked Hansen for pontificating on matters of which he has no experience, but having stated he has no interest in management, the BBC man is only in the same position as most other journalists.

Gray is now more exposed, having dipped a toe and pulled back sharply, and though his credibility is unlikely to be greatly harmed by the Everton episode, he is going to have to watch what he says to losing managers in those frisson filled moments at the end of a match.

It is tempting to blame Johnson for stealing Manchester City's script and turning the search for a manager into a long running farce, but one person who does not is Francis Lee. The City chairman has heard most of the jokes about managers, even enjoyed a few of them, but felt only sympathy for Johnson last week.

'People say he should have had his next manager lined up before he sacked Joe Royle,' he said. 'That's what they told me. But that would be dishonest, and some of us can't change our principles for a game of football. The biggest problem being in charge of a club is that it is almost impossible to be honest and sincere.

'I hated all the wisecracks and bad publicity which went with trying to find a new manager out in the open, but I would do it again rather than go behind anyone's back. I could not go to work every day knowing I'd have to lie to the person I was working with, and that's how you get into this ridiculous situation. I imagine Everton set out with the best of intentions, and just fell into the trap.'

Sheffield United's chairman Mike McDonald never lied to his manager, either. When the Blades first faltered in their promotion drive last season, he let Kendall know he was facing the sack. As Kendall had saved United from the Second Division a year earlier, this seemed a tad harsh, and it makes the chairman's latest remark, about Kendall kicking him in the teeth by returning to Everton, hard to swallow.

© Copyright The Observer 1997

Heath Predicts Return of the Glory Years

PA News (29 June 1997):  Adrian Heath will always be remembered by Everton fans as the man who once saved Howard Kendall's managerial career with the goal that provided the catalyst for the club's most glorious era.

And after teaming up on Merseyside again with his former mentor, the 5ft 6ins striker Evertonians nicknamed "Inchy" believes Kendall could be on the verge of reproducing the magic that brought glory to Goodison. Everton won two championships, the FA Cup and the European Cup Winners' Cup in the space of three halcyon seasons a decade ago.

Heath was persuaded to quit as manager of Burnley to become Kendall's Goodison assistant, as the lure of Goodison proved too tempting to resist. He said:

"I've spent the bulk of my career at Everton and around Howard Kendall and the success we had in the seven years I was here as a player was fantastic.

"I just hope we can recreate that. All the ex-Evertonians who have been manager here since then have dreamed about doing that and Howard and myself are no different.

"We want to recreate the great Goodison nights again because in the last 10 years I think it's fair to say that the club really hasn't done itself justice, with the exception of the FA Cup a couple of years ago.

"I'll just be putting my little two-penn'orth in to try and help him reach his goals."

Heath first joined Everton in January 1992, when Kendall paid Stoke £700,000 for his services, and went on to score 71 goals in 226 appearances for the Toffees. But it was a strike against Oxford at the Manor Ground early in 1984 that guaranteed his place in Goodison folklore when, with the Blues trailing in a League Cup tie and Kendall's job very much in the balance, Heath intercepted a backpass by Kevin Brock to equalise.

Everton won the replay and, although the eventually lost to arch rivals Liverpool in a replayed final, it provided them with the platform for an FA Cup triumph later in the season when Watford were beaten 2-0 at Wembley. The rest is history.

Heath recalled:

"Howard told me once that in your career you will always be remembered for one particular thing and for me it is that goal against Oxford.

"Everybody tells Howard that I scored the goal that saved his career and he tells them that he has bought me three or four times since then so he's paid me back!

"I've spent the bulk of my football career around Howard Kendall and I am delighted to be working with him again."

When Kendall took over as manager of Manchester City in 1989, he was quick to recruit Heath and turned to him again by offering him the position of assistant manager of Sheffield United when he went to bramall Lane 18 months ago. The partnership was brief, with Heath taking up Burnley's offer of manager a few months later, but the promise of Goodison was too much for both men to turn down and now the aim is to bring back the missing glory.

For Kendall, of course, it is his third time in charge of the club, his first reign ending with a move to Spanish outfit Athletic Bilbao and his second coming to an end after a row over transfer cash. But Heath insisted:

"Howard's got the bit between his teeth to do well and I think people will see a big difference in the Howard Kendall that was manager here last time and the Howard Kendall of today.

"He didn't have the financial backing that you require when he was manager here last time, but the money that's at his disposal and his managerial skill is the recipe for success.

"We're both putting our reputations on the line by coming back again, but we really believe we can do it."

© Copyright PA News 1997


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