The time for change, Bill, is now
Can there be anything more soul-destroying than watching helplessly
as something you care about so much spirals out of control toward
imminent oblivion? As devoted Evertonians we can do little but watch
as the club's seemingly incorrigible tailspin accelerates the club
towards the relegation trapdoor and the horror of demotion to the
The quintessential top flight club, a Premiership without Everton
is almost unthinkable. Founder-members of the original Football
League 114 years ago, one of the 20 clubs to form the Premier League
104 years later and virtually ever-present in-between, Everton Football
Club is part of the very fabric of English football's elite. How
tragic it is, therefore, to see 48 consecutive seasons in the top
division in such danger of coming to an end while the management
appears to be "fiddling while Rome burns".
With just one win (and a mere six goals) in 13 league matches,
Walter Smith's direction-less, spineless and passion-less side are
taking on the appearance of an outfit destined for disaster. Despite
the financial shackles with which Smith has had to cope, he has
built a team boasting an array of international players with the
potential to comfortably finish halfway up the Premiership table.
The excuses about injury crises and lack of squad depth can no longer
be served up to defend the abject dearth of imagination and purpose
served up by Smith's one-dimensional and demoralising management.
The performances at West Ham and now Middlesbrough are the latest
in a succession of miserable displays that lay bare just how bad
the situation has become under Smith and Archie Knox. Whatever the
reasons and whatever the excuses, it is clear that this pair are
utterly failing in their attempts to arrest the slide and put out
a team with any offensive capabilities whatsoever. Any talk of the
players' respect for the management is in stark contradiction to
the dross served up on the field. Put simply, Smith and Knox have
reached the end of the road at Goodison Park. There appears to be
nothing more for them to offer in order to save what was once a
proud institution at the pinnacle of the domestic game; something
has to be done now.
I therefore implore Bill Kenwright to summon the courage to act
without delay and before it is too late to save Everton from the
dreaded drop. Make no mistake, relegation from the Premier League
would be catastrophic to a club already struggling with a large
debt and a decade-long crisis of confidence.
If Smith and Knox will not do the honourable thing and exit gracefully,
it is up to Kenwright to act as the catalyst for change and remove
the hapless duo from control of team affairs himself. He has options
at his disposal to get the club to the end of the season with their
precious top-flight status intact. If a permanent candidate is not
yet a viable option, install someone as temporary manager until
the end of the season and worry about a full-time replacement in
the close season.
George Graham, Terry Venables, Bruce Rioch, Joe Royle; all currently
unemployed managers who could come in and act as a spark to motivate
the current team and draft in reinforcements before the domestic
transfer deadline in 11 days' time, by which time Everton must
have a new striker in place for the season run-in if they are to
have any hope of survival. In the likes of Gravesen, Linderoth,
Blomqvist, Radzinski, Weir, Stubbs, Pistone and Naysmith, the Blues
have the bedrock of a team that should not be worrying about relegation.
Smith has assembled a decent team on a shoe-string budget but is
clearly clueless about how to make them work as a team.
His increasingly baffling team selections, employment of players
out of position and ineffectually late substitutions are producing
predictable results. His modus operandi, so cruelly exposed
by Rangers' failings in Europe during his time at Ibrox, of buying
good players and relying on them and not his coaching abilities
to produce the goods is useless now that the likes of Hutchison,
Barmby, Jeffers, Collins, Dacourt et al are no longer around.
Now is the time for change. With 9 games left -- four of them against
teams in the bottom five -- Everton's survival is there for the
taking. However, Smith has lost the confidence of his players and
the respect of the fans. There is nothing left for him to offer
except his resignation and to provide a ray of hope for Everton's
desperate supporters that a breath of fresh air can revive our hopes
of staying where we belong -- in the top division.
For the love of God, Bill, take action immediately before it is
©2002 ToffeeWeb, 10 March, 2002
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