Walter Smith's troubled reign at Goodison
Park is over after a brief statement this morning confirmed his
dismissal after 3 years and 8 months in the job. Speculation had
been building since lunchtime on Tuesday that Bill Kenwright had
taken the bold decision of relieving Smith of his duties following
a succession of terrible results and even worse performances.
The club refused to make any further comment until they are in
a position to name Smith's replacement whom they hope will be current
Preston boss, David Moyes. After Everton announced that they had
made an official approach for the 38 year-old Scot, officials at
Deepdale confirmed that they had given Kenwright permission tohold
talks with Moyes.
On the termination of Smith's contract, Kenwright admitted that
it was not an easy decision to make, particularly given the obvious
respect and friendship that existed between Smith and himself.
Walter Smith was, and is, one of the most honest and honourable
men in football," he said. "He brought a stability and
dignity to Everton when we desperately needed it most. Obviously
the decision was not taken lightly but it was felt it was in the
best interests of the club as it battles to preserve it's Premiership
status." Everton have nine games remaining in the Premiership
season and the deadline for incoming transfers expires next week,
which makes the swift appointment of a replacement all the more
For Smith's part, he confessed to being disappointed but wished
the club well for the future. His assistant manager Archie Knox
has taken temporary charge of team affairs but is expected to follow
his former boss out of Goodison when the new regime arrives.
Walter's job had been under threat since January by which time
five straight defeats had decimated the cushion between Everton
and the pack of clubs struggling at the bottom of the Premiership.
Success in the FA Cup 3rd and 4th rounds, a home win against Sunderland
and some gritty away draws seemed to have saved his job, but as
the performances of his team worsened considerably despite the arrival
of four new midfield players, there was increasing discontent among
The three games against Leeds, West Ham and Middlesbrough (all
three of which featured depressingly inept football from his players)
were the final straw for the supporters, who, having witnessed the
collapse at The Riverside in the FA Cup Quarter Final, finally turned
on Smith and called for his head. A return of just one away win
all season, 7 points from 39 and a mere 4 goals from the previous
12 league games effectively made his position untenable.
With Kenwright seemingly facing little choice but to give the fans
what they wanted, a report at the Everton page of "From the
Terrace" surfaced yesterday stating that Smith had resigned
and that Moyes was the favourite to repace him. There was no official
confirmation until 11 a.m. this morning, but the story continued
to leak throughout Tuesday to the point where it was all but confirmed
in the Wednesday editions of the leading national broadsheets.
A short statement read outside the Park End entrance to Goodison
gave official confirmation that Walter Smith was no longer in the
hotseat. It is unclear whether or not he will be receiving a comensation
package from Everton for the premature termination of his contract.
Some rumours suggest he will receive around £1m, others
say he has waived any such claims. Smith himself said: "We
have not discussed compensation. I don't know where those stories
have come from."
Smith joined Everton in July 1998 when Peter Johnson stole him
from under the noses of Sheffield Wednesday. Despite the turmoil
of Johnson's last year at the Goodison helm, which included the
sale of Duncan Ferguson behind his back in November 1998, Smith
steered Everton clear of relegation, thanks largely to the masterstroke
of signing Kevin Campbell on loan from Trabsonspor the following
February. Together with his partnership with Francis Jeffers, Campbell's
9 goals in 8 games were the crucial factor in the preservation of
the Blues's top-flight status.
Everton finished 14th that season and, following a crippling injury
crisis, 16th in 2000/01. But it was the season in between, 1999/00,
that raised the most question marks about Smith's ability to return
the Blues to the big time. In 7th place with 12 games to go, Smith's
side suffered a nosedive in form and eventually finished a lame
13th, letting a top 10 finish slip on the last day of the season
with a 2-0 home defeat by Middlesbrough.
In all, his record as Goodison boss was P 143, W 41,
D 42, L 60
More on this story from:
The Official Everton Site - Walter
expresses his disappointment
by Lyndon Lloyd
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