Something to Believe In

Despite an utterly forgettable year, Evertonians are still buying season tickets in record numbers but they have been at their most engaged when they’ve had genuine hope. Farhad Moshiri and the Board’s next moves are of vital importance

The 21st Century thus far has been a barren epoch for a club accustomed to success visiting itself on Goodison Park (or Anfield before it) at regular intervals. Prior to this agonising period that elongates with every passing season of failure or stagnation, the longest stretch Everton had gone without a trophy was 18 seasons, accounting for the disruption of World War II. Come the latter stages of next season, we will equal the number of actual trophy-less years between 1939 and 1963 at 24.

Surveying the wreckage of the past four years and looking beyond over the last two decades of the Blues' history since the last serious scrape with relegation in 1998, you can pick out the moments where it felt like Everton were actually moving forward again.

Walter Smith, a no-nonsense Scot who won everything going north of the Border, brought the rather vain hope of emulating the Sir Alex Ferguson effect at Manchester United but, after landing some promising signings, his spell on Merseyside eventually foundered on the financial rocks of the last days of Peter Johnson's reign.

The reconstruction that was required under his successor, David Moyes, was painstaking at times and necessitated man-management abilities and shrewd transfer business but, for a healthy percentage of his tenure, there were also tangible signs of progress.


The dour Scot may have ultimately bumped his head too many times on a glass ceiling that he never seemed to believe could be broken (until Leicester City smashed through it when the comfortable status quo in the upper echelons of the Premier League was gloriously routed three years after he departed Goodison Park) before he sought a route into the top four for himself with the Old Trafford hot seat but there was planning and a methodology under Moyes — not to mention a few exhilarating moments in Europe, a brush with the Champions League and a trip to Wembley for an FA Cup Final along the way.

Players were recruited based on an identified need, often through careful scouting and deliberation, and there was enough of a togetherness, a spirit and a determination that meant that, regardless of their position in the table or ultimate failure to crack the top four, an Everton team under Moyes was always capable of beating almost anyone with the backing of their home crowd. (Away from home against the top clubs was a different story, of course, and that psychological weakness featured prominently in the epitaph of the Glaswegian's reign.)

Roberto Martinez was not a universally popular appointment when he succeeded Moyes in 2013; misgivings over his defensive record with Wigan Athletic ultimately proved well-founded. But perhaps no one was more responsible than the indefatigably optimistic Catalan for sparking genuine hope that Everton could dine again at the Premier League's “top table”.

The way he embraced Everton's history, his affinity for attacking, possession-based football and his readiness to blood some of the club's emerging young talent came as a breath of fresh air after those last few years of stasis under his predecessor. From upgrades to Finch Farm and a focus on on-site accommodation for the Academy's players to squad-building and infusing the team with a new playing ethos, he had a long-term vision for Everton, one that allowed Evertonians to believe again.

It was Martinez's arrival, combined with his introduction of Gerard Deulofeu, acquisition of Romelu Lukaku (first on loan but, crucially, in a permanent deal the year after), and promotion of Ross Barkley and John Stones, that provided a catalyst for the current trend of sold-out games home and away and record season-ticket uptake.

The mood was reflected in the spate of new chants that emerged from that first season as the feel-good factor grew, only to come crashing down amidst the crushing realisation that for all his positivity and passion, Martinez was frustratingly intransigent and incapable of either setting out a defence or managing matches with any consistency. When the end belatedly came for him — his team's complete capitulation at Anfield in April 2016 should have been the final straw — it was merciful and unavoidable.

Again, though, in retrospect, what Martinez offered for a brief moment is what Everton need to rediscover as 2017-18 draws to a close and vital decisions concerning the future direction of the club become ever more pressing. The appointment of Ronald Koeman felt like the natural step to build on the more positive aspects of what the Catalan had put in place. Given his experience with Southampton, the scouting talents of Steve Walsh, and Farhad Moshiri's financial muscle, the sense was that the necessary pieces were there to deliver on the Dutchman's stated three-year project of vaulting the Toffees into the Champions League.

The reality was, of course, quite different and the scale of the mess that was created by Moshiri's first footballing appointments not only led to the panicked installation of Sam Allardyce as Koeman's replacement last November but also leaves the club facing yet more significant — read: expensive — rebuilding work this summer. That has surely taken the option of another short- to medium-term hire off the table. Instead, the club needs to hire someone with a similar time horizon and outlook as Martinez; someone not looking to leap off the Goodison Park stepping stone within three seasons but prepared to bed in for five years or more to nurture a young squad and build a winning team.

Time for another taxi

If there is one thing has become glaringly obvious — to be honest, it was obvious from the outset; what has transpired over the past few months has only confirmed it — it's that Allardyce should not be the one tasked with taking Everton forward.

It's true that very few Evertonians wanted him as manager when the club first sounded him out to replace Koeman last October. By the time he was approached a second time with a little more desperation as results worsened under Unsworth and fear of a relegation battle set in, a greater proportion of the supporter base was grudgingly accepting that the last resort was required.

The more you see and hear of Allardyce, though, the more you feel that his modus operandi in his time at Goodison has been as much about self-promotion and self-preservation — of his image and reputation within the game and how he would like to be regarded once he has left it — as it has about protecting Everton's top-flight status.

There have been clear opportunities for him to ingratiate it himself to a wary fanbase, much of which could have been won over if the journeyman boss had shown an ounce of imagination and forward thinking or offered an inkling that (particularly with players like Ademola Lookman and Nikola Vlasic) he had given the long-term development of the side a moment's consideration over the past few months. Instead, he has been exposed for the limited coach that the wider game knew him to be.

He extolls his own virtues as a man of football science and data who can prey on opposition teams' weaknesses but has overseen some heavy defeats in his brief time with Everton. As unpalatable as his appointment was, at the very least, Evertonians felt that Allardyce's presence might see the Blues grab the odd top-six scalp and restore some pride against those clubs over the last two thirds of the season. Instead, Blues fans have been forced to endure thrashings at the likes of Arsenal and Tottenham and two meek defeats at home to the Manchester clubs; matches seemingly surrendered as there was no hope of winning them anyway.

He talks of Everton's away record like some incurable malaise that he hasn't had five months to solve. It's a ready-baked excuse; a free pass to gloss over some horrendous results, boring performances and a near total absence of ambition in matches on the road.

Allardyce's initial brief — steer Everton away from a threat of relegation that appeared in the wake of the disasters against Atalanta and Southampton to be a lot greater than it actually was — was, for all intents and purposes, fulfilled by Christmas. Perhaps his plan was to grind out the rest of this season on a one-dimensional footing and then reveal a hitherto hidden side to his coaching personality next season that would wow skepti…

On second thought — never mind.

Despite his laughable assertion that criticism of — and opposition to — his tenure at Everton is coming from a small minority of “unprofessional speculators” on social media (he said a very similar thing when he was at West Ham before their owner assessed the mood and let him go, it shouldn't be forgotten), Allardyce will know that he isn't popular with many — it's almost certainly most, possibly an overwhelming majority — Everton fans. He can't have failed to hear the chants inviting him to take leave of this fine club (in more direct language, of course!) coming from the travelling Blues at a couple of recent away games.

He will also have been acutely aware of the implications of every defeat which is probably why he treats every draw like a victory. In the context of him carrying out the job for which he was hired, amassing the points to stave off relegation has been key.

The idea that Allardyce is going to morph into the kind of manager that Moshiri was looking for when he appointed Koeman is fanciful. All of the evidence to this point suggests that retaining the West Midlander for the remaining 12 months of his contract would be a recipe for further stagnation; another lost season in context of the rapidly diminishing window of opportunity to catch the top six that Everton's de facto owner himself outlined as his big challenge.

Combined with the fact that disdain and distaste for the man in the dugout isn't going to go away next season — it will remain, ready to flare up with the next poor result — it makes Allardyce's continued tenure as Everton manager effectively untenable. That is unless he can undergo a wholesale transformation of character, outlook and footballing style in very short order… and, let's face it, that just isn't going to happen.

Keeping up with the Joneses

If Everton's continuing travails and desperate wait for silverware weren't painful enough, the sight of Liverpool pulling themselves up by the bootstraps in recent years and restoring their club to the upper reaches of not only the domestic game but the European scene as well has layered on the torture for Evertonians this term.

Could there be a bigger indignity to the Blue half of Merseyside than the rabble from across the Park deeming a Merseyside derby to merely be an irritating distraction on their march towards the Etihad Stadium and the last four of the Champions League beyond, one in which they could field a weakened team and still coast more or less unruffled to a goalless draw?

For all their apparent foreign curiosity, PR bungles and mis-steps in the transfer market over the years, the reds' American owners made a solid appointment in luring Jürgen Klopp to Anfield and are now reaping the benefits. The well-founded fear among Blues that after a succession of managerial failures, “one day, they're going to get it right” appears to have finally been realised.

Of course, it helps that Liverpool's profile and financial muscle means they can attract top-tier managerial talent and some of the world's best players, almost certainly in a manner in which Everton can't. Nevertheless, there is scope for grudging admiration — not to mention a blueprint to emulate for the Blues — in how the eccentric German has gone about building and moulding his team.

Helped by the sale of two of the reds' best players to Barcelona for massive transfer fees, Klopp has assembled a team around a specific plan, at the heart of which lie pace and peerless fitness and an ethos often based on Blitzkrieg attacking early in matches to attain an early cushion and then hit teams on the counter-attack as they try to fight their way back into the game.

It was an approach fundamentally undermined before by a soft defensive centre but with that piece of the jigsaw seemingly put in place thanks to the sale of Philippe Coutinho (have they even noticed he has gone?) and the purchase of Virgil van Dijk, the serial under-performers of the old “top four” and “big five” look like they've found a formula for consistent success.

The same could be said of Tottenham Hotspur, of course, Everton's one-time brothers in arms when it came to perennial under-achievement. Having poached the right manager from Southampton in the form of Mauricio Pochettino, Spurs are now realising the benefits of having a man in the dugout who blends vision with pragmatism, fitness and stamina with organisation and flair.

Where previous bosses of both of those clubs and their paymasters have thrown cash around on over-priced misfits — sound familiar? — like Andy Carroll, Christian Benteke, and Lazar Markovic on one hand and Roberto Soldado, Darren Bent, Paulinho and Moussa Sissoko in the other, Klopp and Pochettino appear to have made targeted signings with specific needs in mind.

Where the former signed Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah for £34m and an initial £37m respectively and the latter picked up Hueng-Min Son for £22m, Toby Alderweirald for £11.5m, Delle Alli for £5m and Eric Dier for £4m, Everton spent £45m on Gylfi Sigurdsson, £24m on Davy Klaassen, £28m on Yannick Bolasie and and £25m-plus on Michael Keane while making over-the-hill Wayne Rooney their highest-paid player.

The result of this throw-it-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks approach from Messers Walsh and Koeman was the “train wreck” of this season. It felt at the time like there was enough of a foundation in place for those signings to work if key roles like striker and left-back could be addressed last summer; the fact that they weren't just increased the likelihood that it would all come off the rails as quickly and easily as it did.

We thought after 11 years of Moyes and a false dawn under Martinez that the combination of massive expenditure and a shorter-term “Hollywood manager” could provide the fuel to propel us into the top four. With that idea in tatters, what Everton need now is structure, stability, a revised plan, continued focus on one of the most productive youth systems in the country and the men prepared to dig in and oversee it all.

Keeping hope alive

There's been a fair bit of discussion over the loss of Everton's identity of late, amid the changing shape of the club on and off the field. Against the backdrop of an ever-richer Premier League and sky-high wages, the image of a spirited, close-knit team backed by pragmatic team-building within a financial straitjacket overcoming the odds to remain on the cusp of the top-four picture has been replaced by an accelerated tilt at becoming part of an elite seven clubs in the Premier League fighting it out for the title and Champions League places.

Perhaps it was inevitable that some of what has characterised the club in recent years would be lost during the transition away from the Bill Kenwright era to the Farhad Moshiri-led revolution, but had the Monaco-based billionaire's changes been accompanied by overnight success, not as much might have been made of the perils and early effects of this shift to a new order as “outsiders” take control.

At the same time, there are concerns that the shifting demographic at Goodison Park has ushered in a more apathetic clientele that is more impatient and harder to please. More realistically, though, the atmosphere might simply be a broader reflection of a deep-seated frustration felt by supporters at an apparent loss of effort, passion and cohesion from the team on the field (particularly at home against superior opposition) on the one hand and a general lack of direction off it on the other.

And, as one of the most “un-Everton” appointments imaginable, Allardyce's tenure is central to that disillusionment; Blues fans who waited patiently through the Moyes era of stability, were given hope of progression under Martinez, Koeman and Moshiri but have, thus far, seen all that hope extinguished.

There is a misapprehension that football supporters want to have something to moan about. That isn't true. Our expectations are simple: a club we can like as much as we will forever love. It shouldn't be too much to ask.

Daniel Storey, Football365

So, if there is a sense of frustration, discontent and, perhaps, alienation from the past at Goodison, the situation isn't irrevocable or irretrievable. Despite an utterly forgettable year with almost nothing that will live on in the memory as a high from 2017-18, Evertonians are still buying season tickets in record numbers. That speaks to an enduring hope that better days are around the corner, but the events of the past year mean that Moshiri and the Board's next moves are of vital importance.

As a man who doesn't appear to have run a company of this scope before and who is not a “football man” by his own pedigree, an element of trial and error was inevitable. And while his broader focus is in line with the Toffees' famous old motto, Moshiri deserves patience as he tries to undo years of decline, stagnation and false starts to end this tortuous wait for silverware and success.

Despite the mis-steps made so far — and, let's face it, Allardyce aside, most of them were taken with the broad agreement of the fans — a vein of ambition has run through what Moshiri has tried to implement at Everton. From appointing Ronald Koeman, a top-class manager on paper in terms of pedigree and potential, and Steve Walsh, a man regarded by some as the key to Leicester's unlikely title triumph two seasons ago, to the proposed new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock, the new man and his attaché to the Board, Sasha Ryazantsev, have clearly been aiming high and in line with a strategy of restoring Everton to its rightful place among the elite of English football as quickly as possible.

Again, with the benefit of hindsight, the examples set by our former peers who have left us in their wake, and Evertonians' innate sense of their club, a clear picture of what fans want from Everton now is emerging. They want to restore pride in their team, starting with the man in the dugout; they want a clear direction and philosophy under-pinning everything on the playing side, from playing style to continued fostering of youth development to player recruitment and the jettisoning of under-performing or sub-standard personnel.

Off the pitch, they want strong, visible leadership capable of bridging the commercial gap that has grown in recent years between Everton and the clubs above them. And, of course, they want to see tangible progress on the proposed new stadium on the banks of the royal blue Mersey.

While there has been no inkling about how the hierarchy might proceed this summer as far as Sam Allardyce is concerned — end the current manager's contract early or stick with him for another 12 months at least — beyond a couple of Sunday tabloid articles and rumours on social media suggesting the former scenario, encouragement can be taken from the pursuit of Marcel Brands, one which is squarely at odds with retaining Allardyce. After all, why court one of the game's most admired technical directors and leave in place a manager with no pedigree, affinity for footballing style or record of achievement (beyond salvation from relegation and a brief flirtation with the top six and European football 12 seasons ago)?

Similarly, if Moshiri was prepared to pay as much as a reported £15m in an attempt to lure Marco Silva away from Watford last year and also make overtures to Shakhtar Donetsk's Paulo Fonseca, it very clearly illustrates the kind of management team he wants to put in place. It makes little sense, therefore, to keep Allardyce around seeing as he has exhibited none of the traits the hierarchy were looking for in Koeman's long-term successor.

If the last five years have demonstrated anything it's that Evertonians have been at their most upbeat and their most engaged when they've had something to genuinely believe in with regard to the rebirth of their club. Away from the pitch, the promise of a new ground at Bramley-Moore Dock fuels hopes of future grandeur if the Board are able to surmount the funding obstacles but, in the meantime, fans need a reason to be inspired by their manager and players in a way that they were during Martinez's first season in charge.

If there has been impatience, it has come as a result of the feeling that the tools were there — in terms of personnel under Martinez and finances under Koeman — to sustain a viable push for the top four but the execution was critically flawed. Going forward, you get the sense that the fans would be quite prepared to back the right manager over the long haul if it meant a return to attractive football, a focus on signing younger, hungrier players, addressing key positions of weakness in the team and nurturing the Academy's young talent.

Every appointment is a gamble to a certain degree — for every safer appointment like a Guardiola, Conte, Mourinho or Klopp there's a leap of faith on a Pochettino, Wenger (back in the day) or Carvalhal — but for Everton there appear to be few rewards to be gained from sitting on their hands this summer and hoping the current incumbent of the managerial hot seat can undergo some magical transformation.

Ambition was the watch word of the summer of 2017. It needs to be just as much so this year.

Reader Responses

Selected thoughts from readers

Andy Crooks
Posted 17/04/2018 at 23:22:37
Lyndon, you have written some fine stuff: this is the best. I have often advocated that this site should lead the way for change. I have often seen you as the voice of reason but have felt that you have shown too much patience. Evertonians need a voice. You speak for me.
Brian Porter
Posted 17/04/2018 at 23:31:43
Superbly put, Lyndon. About as erudite and accurate summary of the state of the club at present.

Central to the piece, of course, is Sam Allardyce – the man who should never have been allowed to set foot in Goodison Park, except as a paying spectator. Whoever advised Moshiri to employ him, and I believe Steve Walsh advised him to hire Allardyce, should be hung, drawn and quartered and their remains staked out at each corner flag of the ground.

Allardyce has somehow contrived to make us even worse to watch than we were under Koeman (another bullet that could have been avoided if due diligence on Koeman's managerial record had been carried out, with 3 sackings from his previous 4 appointments) and that, together with his self-serving rhetoric in his pressers, has served to make the disconnect with the fans all but complete.

Sadly, Moshiri seems to be either so naive, or patently indecisive, that he seems incapable of listening to the growing resonance of disquiet among the fan base, or of deciding enough is enough. If he knows, as most of us do, that Allardyce is patently not the man to take us forward, he should act now, pull the plug on the dinosaur's disastrous reign, and either bring in a new man now or allow David Unsworth to oversee the last four games of the season, a move which I think would see us ending the season on a more positive note.

If he does have a new manager waiting in the wings, why not start him now so he can assess the squad prior to the close season? That way, the new man would be able to make plans for next season based on a hands-on examination of the squad and its needs for next season prior to the summer distraction inevitably being brought on by the World Cup.

In short, no progress can be made while Sam Allardyce remains at the helm. He is like Nero, fiddling about with his stats and his team selections while what remains of our once-proud club burns to the ground.

As Winston Churchill said to Neville Chamberlain, "You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God... go!"

David Baxter
Posted 18/04/2018 at 01:06:03
Brilliant summary Lyndon, I doff my cap to you
Laurie Hartley
Posted 18/04/2018 at 01:40:05
Terrific article, Lyndon.
Bob Parrington
Posted 18/04/2018 at 01:43:58
Lyndon – Fine piece of work! Thanks!

Let's hope those in power at the club are responding to the messages.
Curtis Mumford
Posted 18/04/2018 at 02:56:57
B-e-a-udiful article.

Can we put it on nicely textured paper and send it to Farhad?

I believe he believes...
Jay Harris
Posted 18/04/2018 at 03:56:30
An excellent summing-up of the predicament we are in, how we got here, and what needs to be done.

I would love you to forward a copy to all the board, Lyndon, so that they can see it is not just 15 illiterate internet posters who are dissatisfied with the status quo.


Bill Watson
10 Posted 18/04/2018 at 05:47:04
A brilliant summary of the last five years, Lyndon, and an equally good post by Brian @ 2.

I agree with Brian, in that there's no point in prolonging the agony; a change should be made sooner rather than later.
Jerome Shields
11 Posted 18/04/2018 at 07:27:31
Totally agree with your analysis and the need for a back to basics approach.

Where are Everton now?

Everton are swimming in the shallow end of the Premier League pool, afraid of going into the deep end and sinking. They are content to be there.

Next season, with the current squad and manager, Everton could end up in the baby pool. Less pace, more old pros stifling play, needing the treatment room equivalent of armbands, and Moshiri being ripped off. Many fans will give next season a miss hoping something goes away or their prayers are eventually answered.

In amateur football, this is the time when a real footballing manager gets the job that no-one wants and the players are real happy. Everyone works hard, supported by the loyalest of fans.

In the Premier League, this is the time you get the rip-off merchants and cheats, who years ago gravitated towards the lower leagues. I am starting to enjoy watching the Championship.

Lyndon's back-to-basics clarion call was never more required than now. Good Luck to The Everton we know is there.

Tony Everan
12 Posted 18/04/2018 at 07:39:34
Message to the EFC boardroom: Read this Article. It’s as good as it gets as an appraisal of our situation.

I have read many articles and given and read many comments and not many will argue with Lyndon's insights and views here.

Mr Moshiri, forget surveys that will just skim the waters of the deep sea of fans' feelings. Save yourself a fortune on management consultant analysis. This article tells you all you need to know about how we feel and what we want.
Dick Fearon
13 Posted 18/04/2018 at 08:16:13
From beginning to end – a master work. Lyndon, I bow to your penmanship. I had doubts about Martinez and Koeman when the former delayed taking the reins until after the World Cup and Koeman insisted on completing his golfing holiday, then turning up at Finch Farm long after the rest of his coaching staff.

Allardice kept us hanging on while he squeezed as much cash out of the club as he could. Not one of them showed the least urgency for the highly paid job they had reluctantly signed up for.

If only to find out who really wants the job, it would be better to advertise it and see who turns up.
Peter Mills
14 Posted 18/04/2018 at 08:23:10
Excellent, Lyndon.

Ian Burns
16 Posted 18/04/2018 at 08:42:49
An exceptional summary of recent seasons, Lyndon, and extremely well articulated. I hope and pray the board and senior management take the time to read this summary/article – it deserves to be placed on Moshiri's desk and titled "Must Read"!
Lenny Kingman
17 Posted 18/04/2018 at 08:44:00
Well constructed piece, Lyndon.

The season ticket gold rush is a sign of the desperation that Toffee fans have for something that they feel is soon to be coming over the horizon. Whether it will dock in the foreseeable future is up for debate.

Of course, at this early stage of the project, some may call them 'mugs'...
Paul Tran
18 Posted 18/04/2018 at 08:52:46
Another quality piece of writing, Lyndon.

Martinez's first season shows how quickly things can change when the right man is, or appears to be, appointed. When the right man is appointed and we enjoy watching the team, all the peripheral stuff disappears.

We need a strong character to impose his will, his desire and his methods on the pitch. We need a similar level of ruthlessness off the pitch.

We have to remember that this takes time, that we have laughed at other clubs' turnover of managers before they found the right one. They are practised in trying to change things, they've done the fumbling, they're close to where they want to be.

We're fumbling and need to choose well this summer.
Christy Ring
20 Posted 18/04/2018 at 09:13:14
A very thorough and superb piece of writing and sums everything up.
Dave Abrahams
21 Posted 18/04/2018 at 09:17:09
I think Lyndon has said exactly what a large percentage of Everton supporters are thinking. Act now on the manager and start the ball rolling on, hopefully, a more successful future for our club. A great article, Lyndon, well done.

David McMulllen
22 Posted 18/04/2018 at 09:20:44
Thanks for those thoughts, Lyndon.

It's the two paragraphs above the Moshiri photo that strike me. The club needs strong leadership and a clear direction to return us to former heights and glories. We've coasted for the last 15 to 20 years and, this last year, we've made a right pig's ear of everything on and off the pitch. Even the new stadium feels like one step forward two steps back. More questions than answers.

Changes afoot all round, I think. Embed the motto when appointing new people.

Dennis Stevens
23 Posted 18/04/2018 at 09:32:08
After the curious and expensive appointment of Koeman, it seemed even more curious to sack him with no replacement lined up. The subsequent attempts to recruit were a fiasco, culminating in the triumph of desperation in the panicky appointment of the known quantity that is Sam Allardyce and the abandonment of hope in any potential that David Unsworth may have had, if confirmed in post.

Either way, it seemed obvious that a longer-term appointment would occur this summer but April & May seem reminiscent of October & November – we have increasing expectation but no sign of a resolution. I trust Silva is no longer in the frame; otherwise, why is he not already in post?

Whoever gets appointed, I just hope they are here for the duration and not just as a stop-off on the way to success elsewhere. Get a grip, Moshiri!
Derek Knox
24 Posted 18/04/2018 at 09:59:03
Excellent article, Lyndon, and a painfully accurate synopsis of the Club's present state. I assume the Headline Photo of flag-waving Evertonians was not taken recently! We all live in hope – let's face it, it's a case of having to, but I am confident that, with the correct changes and appointments, I see no reason why we can't get back on track.
Nimalen Naidoo
25 Posted 18/04/2018 at 09:59:40
Brilliantly put. I wish the club's hierarchy could read this.
Graham Hodgson
26 Posted 18/04/2018 at 10:35:29
12,000 miles away! Every morning, I wake up, check ToffeeWeb to see if the sham that Sam is has been sacked... I come home from work each day and again check ToffeeWeb to see if he is still there. It’s like Groundhog Day without the humour.

Having had the pleasure of seeing the Holy Trinity in action; witnessing the Sandy Brown own-goal (from the Boys Pen – didn’t see Bill!); the glory of the penalty saves by Andy Rankin; Bob Latchford getting 30 goals; going backwards and forward to semi-finals and finals; Andy King, Gordon Lee, Maine Road against Liverpool; Bolton on a snowy night; being bricked by Leeds supporters on the train back from Elland Road.

I couldn’t handle all the excitement anymore – I left the UK in 1982. And then what – we started winning things!!

It’s hard to be a supporter sometimes. The only compensation was when the Blues toured New Zealand in 1985 (or was it 1986?) when I got to meet all the team: Kendall, Ratcliffe, Reid, Stevens, Heath, Mountfield, etc.

Nevertheless, despite having left over 30 years ago, I love this club, having the good fortune of being able to travel back to the UK once every two to three years. I have even taken the missus a few times – there’s a joke there somewhere! A kiwi girl through and through and an ardent follower of the oval-ball game.

One day, though, it all came home to her what the Club was about when we attended the Man Utd night match in 2005. Big Dunc scoring (her new hero), two Man Utd players sent off, seeing Arteta and Cahill, Ronaldo and Rooney etc. Singing "It’s a Grand Old Team"……! She now understands. She didn’t realise at the time but she was born a Blue.

With my brother having two season tickets in the Park End, it is something to look forward to with excitement, pleasure and hopefulness. This season, I came back at Christmas due to my dad passing away. We had the match after the funeral at Goodison Park in one of those fancy private function rooms in the Main Stand. Unfortunately, I also had to watch the shambles against Man Utd. Part of me says I was lucky that is all I witnessed this season.

No matter how far away from Goodison you are, no matter how many times you have seen them play, no matter who is running the Club, the support will always be there.

Lyndon, mate, you have said everything that needs to be said. Your eloquence in getting your own thoughts, and the majority I believe of all true supporters’ thoughts, down on paper is a credit to you. As others have said – it must make its way to the Board.

ps: Sorry for reminiscing and the digression – memories seem to be all I have now!
Pete Clarke
27 Posted 18/04/2018 at 10:36:12
Well written Lyndon. The People's Voice.

I feel we are right on the edge at this point in our history where another management failure and one or two more player failures could see us go the way of Leeds Utd and Aston Villa.

If Moshiri is in this for the long term, then he needs to use his money to bring in one man with the brains to run the club and another one who knows how to coach his players to play football.

No easy task, I am sure... but they are out there.
Jim Bailey
28 Posted 18/04/2018 at 11:40:58
It's an interesting, thought provoking article without doubt. However, one line stands out for me which could probably be the problem behind so many fans discontent, and that is when you say "restoring Everton to its rightful place".

I think too many people within and outside the club have the feeling that we should be up there in the top 4 to top 6 when the truth is we are where we deserve to be.

I think fans should be less demanding and short of patience (Newcastle, West Ham, Sunderland) and others have proved that an misplaced sense of importance will get you nowhere.

The club is in turmoil with probably more to come in the next few weeks and months. And ask yourselves: Who will be tempted to come to Everton as manager or player given it's recent, bonkers last few years?

I don't profess to having any answers, apart from the fact there will be no quick fix and it will probably be a long time before the club is back in its "rightful place".

It's just my opinion, and yes, I am an avid supporter – which is why it saddens me to see them in this state.
Tony McNulty
29 Posted 18/04/2018 at 11:50:10
Well done. Summarises the feelings of the majority, I would say. The results of the current fans' survey will reconfirm the essential points and conclusions set out in this article.

Reading it through, it strikes me how many of the recent people decisions have gone awry, even if, as Lyndon argues, most of us would have agreed with them at the time. I guess we all live in hope, despite contradictory evidence at times.

Wasn't there an old song, "Goodbye Sam, hello Samantha"? I will be happy when the first bit happens at least.

Ian Hollingworth
30 Posted 18/04/2018 at 12:17:07
An excellent article.

Alas the solutions are not simple. We have a lot of problems with or without Allardyce. We have too many inferior quality players.

Do we have confidence in Kenwright's involvement?

It's amazing that we are buying season tickets in record numbers but that in itself may be sending the wrong message to the businessmen who run the club on numbers.
Liam Reilly
32 Posted 18/04/2018 at 13:13:29
Allardyce is certainly the villain of the piece and he's not endeared himself to the faithful, but there is a counter-argument where his first 6 games resulted in 12 points which – coupled with the Unsworth West Ham result – steered the club away from relegation.

It wasn't pretty and it's still not, but maybe the unsung hero of the story is actually Moshiri for having the guts to go out to Allardyce when he clearly wasn't his choice and bring him in to steady the waters. There's many here saying we would've survived anyway – me, I'm not so sure.

He also got Allardyce down to an 18-month contract which I suspect means that both parties would accept an amicable parting in the summer whilst using the time to target the right man.
Frank McGregor
34 Posted 18/04/2018 at 13:29:08
Lyndon, an excellent article on the state of the club.

The one thing that concerns me is the fact that obtaining a new manager to take us forward is going to be an enormous task. I am really not aware of a list of suitable candidates to take the club forward in a way we all expect.

A lot of caution is required by the club on making its next move.
Tony Abrahams
35 Posted 18/04/2018 at 13:30:14
This article is the reason why the club can't ignore their fans. I haven't even finished it yet, Lyndon, but it just goes to show us how knowledgeable some of the people on ToffeeWeb can be.

Especially you, Lyndon, because very few can match what you can do, when you write about our club.
Jamie Evans
36 Posted 18/04/2018 at 13:52:45
What an absolutely fantastic article. Thank you, Lyndon.

The last sentence in the first comment above, from Andy, sums up my feelings perfectly also.

Bring on the change, Mr Moshiri.
Dan Parker
37 Posted 18/04/2018 at 15:13:21

Walter Smith staved off relegation until cash limitations and a drop in form led to panic signings like Mark Hughes, Ginola and Gazza. I really think he steadied the ship at the time – we were going down.

We had some genuine good times under Moyes and, looking back post-1995, he got the best out of us in terms of effort and character – the fact that Baines, Coleman and Jags are still so important after all this investment highlights it. It felt like a family of us vs them. I'll never forget a pre-season game over in Chicago; I had an epic time with the Toffees I met – good times.

It's a shame that Moshiri didn't arrive while he was still there albeit there are question marks over his ability to sign top players and spend big money wisely. But then again, did he need to? It was time for both manager and club to move on.

Lukaku, Stones, Barkley – whilst they gave us some genuine optimism under Martinez and Koeman, it was all too fleeting and the fans have never really connected. It's an increasing reflection on the game: big-money players picking up a paycheck with no real immediate repercussions for a lack of effort or form. Everyone has a bad period or struggles in their careers but the fans see too many just going through the motions, players and staff. The hunger and desire to win things just isn't there (just ask Big Nev).

I can't allow myself to be too optimistic after several major false dawns – I'm not convinced by the club's direction or ability to pull off the new stadium. I can't pin my hopes on a change in coaching staff, the personnel just isn't there either.

Do we have money to spend still? I hope I'm proved wrong and we start to re-build. We had an opportunity to edge past the other lot, they were floundering, had ownership problems and seemed in disarray but Klopp has been the sort of manager I guess our owner hoped Koeman would be.

Throwing money around doesn't always work, just ask Tony Fernandes after his experience at QPR...
Jay Wood

38 Posted 18/04/2018 at 15:59:05
I agree with Andy @ 1, Lyndon. This is as fine an article as you have ever penned. Eloquent, well-constructed, balanced, insightful, and an accurate summation of the ebbs and flows at the club under successive managers.

The changing of manager alone won't correct the ills at Everton FC. The whole philosophy, operational structure and key personnel at the club need an overhaul.

I have an echo of a memory that someone once reported on TW, following a chance conversation with Sasha Ryazantsev, Moshiri's man on the board, that the plans Farhad has for the club will excite the fan base and blow the neighbours away. It is time to start delivering on such lofty ambition.
John G Davies
40 Posted 18/04/2018 at 16:13:11

Wonderful, wonderful article. You have surpassed yourself yet again.
Jamie Crowley
41 Posted 18/04/2018 at 16:17:40
I sincerely hope Farhad reads this article. Not holding my breath, but he'd do well to give it a read.

The recent, more contemporary, history of Everton is laid out in a very balanced manner, and poses the inquisition of how to proceed forward in an intelligent manner.

Surely if you truly want Everton to become (or return to being) a top contender domestically, it starts with a new coach, new vision, and new road map of how to get there.

Currently I do not see this happening under the current manager. And if his style of football somehow did see Everton to the top six contenders of the Premier League, it wouldn't satisfy the fan base as the style employed based upon the history of the man in charge is clearly not the "Everton Way".

As Everton have signed many an overpriced player, surely the compensation required to remove the current manager and start afresh is a drop in the bucket? It's what we need to do.

Excellent article, Lyndon. Outstanding. If you penned a piece on the trials and tribulations of attending an insurance seminar, I think I'd actually enjoy it.
Jeff Spiers
42 Posted 18/04/2018 at 17:06:57
Graham@26. Good read mate. NEVER, NEVER, stop reminiscing! We've all got memories of being Blues. I could listen and read all day long.

Oh, as well, don't you think Lyndon should be manager of Everton?
Mike Gaynes
43 Posted 18/04/2018 at 17:14:16
A superb piece of work, Lyndon, as usual. You sum up my feelings about Allardyce beautifully — I believe that, even more than the dire footy he directs, it's the bellicosity and boastfulness he projects that have spread malaise through the club. I believe his hiring was a panic reaction by a naive owner to a premature and overblown concern about relegation. And it is a mistake, I am convinced, that will be remedied on May 14.

Your broader perspective regarding our previous managers in comparison to our current situation is particularly appreciated – I've often wondered if my somewhat generous views of Smith, Moyes and early Martinez had become obsolete.

Of your entire treatise, I question only the last line. Ambition was the appropriate watchword last summer for a club that had been wandering in the wilderness but showed signs of finding its way. There are no such signs at the moment. This summer's watchword must be recovery — the damage done by this manager must be addressed first.

You have to treat the patient's illness before he can run again. In this case, recovery begins with a surgical Sam-ectomy and an extended course of Allarbiotics.

Again, great work my friend. Your writing is a gift to us all.
Dave Loweth
44 Posted 18/04/2018 at 17:37:13
Superb article, Lyndon. You have hit the nail on the head. The club is going backwards at the moment and, as Tim Cahill said recently, has lost its identity. If Allardyce remains as manager next season then heaven help us. As well as the ingredients you set out, we need a younger, hungrier manager with a clear vision (along the lines of Pochettino and -dare I say it - Klopp) and a long-term plan.

Getting back to 7th place is going to be a major task, never mind hoping to challenge the top 6. And it's all too easy to see the club going the way of Forest, Leeds, Villa etc etc. I hope that does not come to pass, but the way the club is managed at the moment, both on and off the pitch, it is an all too realistic scenario.
Steavey Buckley
45 Posted 18/04/2018 at 18:10:05
Sam Allardyce is not to blame for most of the Everton players who are not comfortable on the ball and with their passing; these problems he inherited. Yet, most Evertonians believe in their mistaken beliefs that replacing him means that passing will be greatly improved. It won't.

The problem of players not comfortable with the ball starts with players from the Academy, as too much emphasis is put on winning and being competitive. These attributes are only necessary when players have mastered controlling the ball. Otherwise, Everton just end up with players who can run around all day. Little else.

So it is not surprising that academy players from Lyon and Atlanta gave Everton first team players the run-around, because they have been equipped with the necessary ball playing skills encouraged from much wiser coaching staff.
Steve Hogan
46 Posted 18/04/2018 at 18:43:46
A simply wonderfully crafted article, someone should get round to asking Lyndon how long it takes him to start and finish a piece like that. I'd be happy to submit an offering as good as that for academic purposes in my student days!!

In reality, there is NO WAY Allardyce can or will remain as Everton manager next season – imagine picking up three points from the first five games, the atmosphere would be more toxic than it is now.

The next managerial appointment will determine the next 5-7 years at Goodison Park or Bramley-Moore Dock (the latter hopefully). If signs of steady progress can be seen year on year, the fans WILL be patient, but finding a manager prepared to commit to a five-year plan in this day and age, whilst harnessing the young talent at Finch Farm will prove difficult.

Probably the best we can hope for is an experienced and technically minded foreign coach' prepared to stay a minimum of three years, who can leave a legacy for his successor to build on.

We need to ditch this downward spiral were in at the moment and start looking forward to going to the match again.

On the playing side, we need young resolute players with BIG personalities who the crowd will really take to ie a Lee Carsley or Joe Parkinson type or even a mad cap Tommy Gravesen!!

At the moment, we have a large number of our playing staff who run for cover as soon as the chips are down.

Over to you, Farhad.

James Hill
47 Posted 18/04/2018 at 18:57:27
Nice biased view which will appease the Sammy knockers on here. Yes and the changing demographics, is a good point but you missed out rude and obnoxious to go with demanding and impatient. Guess that's the world we live in today.

I for one hope Sam is successful. Only one thing puts you in your rightful place: "winning". Reality is no one built a winning team in six months – not even Pep with all his riches. I agree with one thing: the club is definitely in a mess when they send out a disgusting fan survey on the manager. That's a bigger worry.
Tony Everan
48 Posted 18/04/2018 at 19:28:18
Sam gets a lot of flack, justifiably so, but I feel the Walsh / Koeman/ Kenwright recruitment drive is much more to blame than Sam.

When the new manager comes in he will need one or two players with destructive pace and or skill. Think Mane, Salah, Sane, De Bruyne...

Finding and affording players of approaching quality is what it's all about to make a challenge in the current Premier League. Onyekuru, Walcott, Lookman – even Bolasie... Can they step up to the plate?

Jack Convery
50 Posted 18/04/2018 at 20:52:54
Great read and well put together. However I have a gut feeling Usmanov pulls the strings and Moshiri is his guy. Why I do not know but when I smell a kipper that's off you can bet something is going on. I hope I am wrong, for all our sakes.
Kevin Tully
51 Posted 18/04/2018 at 21:48:48
Hate to say it, but I'd rather have the "overpriced misfits" of Carroll and Benteke leading our line, rather than Niasse and Tosun. That's how poor our recruitment has been. Rooney, as our highest ever paid player is the icing on a rather unpleasant shit sandwich of signings.

I have to ask myself, could anyone have wasted £250m like Everton? A monkey sticking pins in squad sheets couldn't have done much worse. Makes me want to cry.
Brent Stephens
53 Posted 18/04/2018 at 22:07:51
Well-crafted, as ever. As I read through, my heart sank lower and lower. Another wasted managerial appointment. Another wasted year.

"Moshiri deserves patience as he tries to undo years of decline, stagnation and false starts to end this tortuous wait for silverware and success."

"There are concerns that the shifting demographic at Goodison Park has ushered in a more apathetic clientele that is more impatient and harder to please."

And therein might lie the dilemma, in the tension between those two statements. Although it might be that the apathy is a function of the dross we've been served up.

I'll be back next season, home and away. Just give us that next small step to greater things.
Steve Ferns
54 Posted 18/04/2018 at 22:37:51
Excellent. It's hard to disagree with anything written. I'm glad to see it's universally acclaimed on here too.
Dick Fearon
55 Posted 18/04/2018 at 23:47:51
Steavey B @45 says what I have said many a time. Regardless what his playing position it is Mastery of the ball that should be a players priority. For that to be achieved we need coaches that can demonstrate the required techniques. Dunc and Unsy would would struggle to pass on the kind of finesse required by youngsters.

The average newcomer to our first team squad would have had a minimum 10 years of top class coaching. Despite that I have often been disapointed at their poor ball control.
Clive Mitchell
56 Posted 19/04/2018 at 00:44:51
Excellent article, one which rightly praises the very considerable achievements of Moyes and recognises the utter pointlessness of Allardyce. With due humility, I'd suggest that the disaster that was Ronald Koeman should never be understated. He has set us back five to ten years and was a catastrophic appointment.
Henry Lloyd
57 Posted 19/04/2018 at 04:18:11
Easily the best article I've read for quite some time regarding Everton and clearly proves that the passion we have for this Club is totally unique.

Thanks for the read, Lyndon.
James Power
58 Posted 19/04/2018 at 07:57:44
A well written well thought out read. Thanks Lyndon. I am very frustrated with this situation and your piece reflects my feelings accurately.

I disagree with James Hill that it is ‘biased' I'm not sure what this means when we think about our team. Most of the article discusses what has actually happened. ‘Factual' I would say, not ‘biased' although when it comes to Sam perhaps unavoidably so. James could suggest you putting the case ‘for' Sam, his remit to save us from relegation (although you did touch on this) has been satisfied.

James I would like you to perhaps put this case forward, there has been little or no case for Sam and if you are a fan James then be proud! Get it all out! Perhaps you fear a backlash but your mini comment didn't get one, give us your view or even write the article you wished Londons to be. I for one would be keen to hear (not in a facetious way either, just in an interested way!).
Ed Prytherch
60 Posted 19/04/2018 at 18:20:13
Terrific article. Thanks.
Andy Williams
61 Posted 19/04/2018 at 22:58:37
Excellent article. Thank you Lyndon. Copies should be sent to all those who have a say in running our club.
Rick Tarleton
63 Posted 20/04/2018 at 20:10:35
You've summed up the stasis at our club. A succession of managers without a comprehensive vision, over defensive like Moyes, Koeman and allardyce or wildly attacking like Martinez. Managers whose vision did not fit the players they had and recruited.

Let us hope that the next one,has a clear plan and knows how to execute it.

One factor is a constant and that is the rule of Kenwright. He has supervised this fiasco and still seems to be pulling the strings, despite Moshiri's allegedly being in charge.
Dave Williams
64 Posted 21/04/2018 at 12:20:24
Marvellous article, well balanced, one of the few who give credit to Roberto before it blew up and avoids abuse of personalities- great effort Lyndon!

What we have to restore quickly is pride. I am sick of getting up at the weekend and being apathetic about football. If we win it will not be a great performance, mostly we play without passion and energy and there isn't much skill on show. We need to remind ourselves that we are Everton, we have spent more time in the top flight than anyone and we used to revel in being referred to as the school of science. We used to have one of the best club grounds in the country, we used to be feared by other teams and we used to generate an atmosphere second to none.

We must stop flailing around like a drowning man trying to grab hold of something to keep him afloat and get proper planning in place- a footballing business plan- then engage real professionals to implement it.
Andy Crooks
66 Posted 22/04/2018 at 20:55:25
Lyndon, this article delivers a lot of we want. I know you strive for neutrality on the site and it is what makes it the best fan site in football. However, I suspect you are holding back. I know you and Michael have considerable influence. I would ask that you do your duty and help to end the most shameful episode in our history.

Unquivocally call for him to go.

Trevor Lynes
67 Posted 24/04/2018 at 16:12:33
Fine article and very well thought out. I agree with virtually all your comments and have just one or two points to make.

Martinez actually wrote that we needed six or seven new signings before our european fixtures were played and he was not backed at all. I believe that Martinez had a big vision for our club but he needed financial backing which was not forthcoming prior to Moshiri.

Moyes was Evertons version of old mother Hubbard and soldiered through with no attempt from the board to give him money to improve the squad. We all desperately wanted our team to compete with the top teams but the financial restraints scuppered all realistic hopes. Moyes could have remained at Everton for as long as he liked but in my opinion he became totally frustrated with the lack of boardroom support.

We have now become a dumping ground for Man Utd surplus stock and until we shake off the shackles and prize open the purse strings of our boardroom we will remain also rans. Unfortunately we no longer have players on our books who are coveted elsewhere. We have sold off our best assets and now we need a huge investment of cash to give our squad the fresh players of quality that we need.

I am unsure if our boardroom will offer any new manager of worth the means to improve our squad so we may be stuck with Allardyce who quite obviously wants the job.
Tony Clark
68 Posted 03/05/2018 at 22:29:37
Thanks Lyndon. A great article, well constructed.

My only criticism is the criticism of Allardyce. I am no apologist and I was certainly in the “no” camp when his name was suggested. However I was back in the UK for 10 days and was lucky enough to be able to attend the Newcastle (H) and Huddersfield (A) games. In both of those games our passing was woeful.

I genuinely felt sorry for both Sams. Both looked as frustrated and confused as anyone. There’s no way on earth that they work on such sloppiness at Finch Farm. But we won!
As mentioned earlier the squad was inherited. How Walsh has survived I have no idea. I still need to be convinced that he was the architect of Leicester’s success.

We shouldn't fall into the trap of allowing players to escape accountability. They've under-performed for Koeman, Unsworth and now Allardyce.

Tosun scored at Huddersfield but it couldn't disguise the fact that his workrate was abysmal, something that wasn’t lost on Allardyce. Niasse made an instant impact.

Schneiderlin and Baines played well as did Jags and I’d be amazed if Seamus isn’t off in the summer, a £50 defender if ever there was one. What broken leg?!

But what we have is too many unprofessional professionals. A total lack of personal pride in their performance and apathy in spades.

I’m not saying that Big Sam should stay, frankly I think Sean Dyche was/is the man. He’s an impressive guy full of integrity and from an in-depth interview I read I see him in the Kendall mold. Ruthless but a player’s man. The job he’s done at Burnley is nothing short of amazing.

But my main point is that I don't believe Allardyce deserves the treatment that he’s getting. He’s delivered on what he was asked to do. But the fan’s open hostility is undoubtedly affecting player performances and must have a demoralizing affect on the manager and his team. How does that help our cause?

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