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Fans Comment

Whos to blame?
Mark English asks the familiar question that has so many answers

13 February 2004

I wonder if David Unsworth was gazing into his crystal ball when he announced to the Echo after the Fulham cup defeat that the seasons not over.  Damn right its not!  Gypsy Unsworth got it spot-on.  Ladies and gents, roll up for another turn on the most sick-making, sleep-depriving ride around as Everton once again battle relegation.

To my mind, this season has been nothing short of disastrous.  The writing was on the wall in pre-season, when the club chased Davis, played cat and mouse with Fulham to the denial of other transfer targets, and ended up with a mad rush on deadline day.  The fans responded to last seasons miracle by snapping up season tickets.  The club gave us nothing, no hope to feed on, other than quotes on the website about Fergusons comeback being like signing a new striker, and news that Alexandersson was doing well in training.  By the time we got some fresh faces in, we had already produced some sluggish displays, both at home and away, and things have got slowly worse.

But the question is: whos to blame?  Different people adhere to different theories.  Is it the players, or the manager, or the board?  Lets look at the case for each.

Firstly the players.  Over the last few weeks, Kevin Kilbane, great trier that he is, has been outstanding for us.  He works hard, he tries to be positive, he even scores goals.  But lets be honest.  Kilbane is, in the wider picture, an average Premiership player.  When he is our best player, when he shows others up for their lack of passion, we are in trouble. 

The defence is shaky, the midfield appalling, and the strikers, in spite of reputations, are shot-shy.  They concede goals at bad times, they are capable of abysmal football that lacks ideas, they dont show any passion for the cause, and they collect wages that we could only dream of.  Gravesen sums it up.  A fundamentally flawed footballer, who has the concentration span of a five-year-old child, consistently goes missing, or gives the ball away.  How can one of Europes best midfielders (ahem!) get the basics wrong so often? And the other players, Kilbane and Martyn excepted, follow his lead.

But, if we get behind the players as we should, Moyes must be at fault.  He plays Rooney out of position; he seemingly insists on Route One football (well, thats all we ever see); he picks Carsley and Ferguson, week in, week out. 

What is most infuriating about Moyes is his myopia as regards the performances.  He tells us that we are playing well, after another 90 minutes of volleyball between Unsworth and Fergusons forehead.  The goals will come, he assures us.  A dreadful away record, and a winless start to 2004 dont bear him out.  This is a long way from the firebrand of last year, who looked visibly angry when we lost to Man Utd at Old Trafford.  We want to take these teams on and beat them, he told us.  Now he tells us that the transfer window is good for Everton, because other teams cant buy better players.  From positive to negative in one fell swoop.  Call it the Everton syndrome.

And, with an actors flourish, we move to look at the Everton Board of Directors.  No money, no ambition, no vision.  If the fundamental task of a football clubs Board is to support the manager, and put a good show on for the punters, the Everton directors are failing, badly.   They are men of mystery, who seem to believe that we are too good to go down.  How come we still have no money?  How come Birmingham, after years in the lower divisions, can make bids for top players, such as Butt and Dunn?  Why have Bolton got Okocha, and we havent?  The boards next plan will be a fund-raising production of Paul Greggs new farce, Nero and the Fire of Rome.  Ive heard Kenwright is in the lead role; didnt know he played the fiddle, though...

This is where the blame lies.  Moyes is hamstrung, and cannot, whatever he does, improve the team.  Last season was a blip, and the players cant (or wont) raise themselves again.  The Board, on the other hand, do nothing, when they should be putting funds together for the best young manager in the league.  Moyes, instead, has to peel the paint from the walls in the dressing room in order to inspire a modicum of passion from a bunch of under-performing players who dont seem to have the stomach for the fight.  The irony of the fans passion, and the greatest hits video shown on the Goodison screens before kick-off is never more obvious when compared with the pitiful efforts of some players, and directors.

So, as we look in our crystal ball, what for the future?  Well, after seventeen long years and yet another false dawn, things look bleak.  In spite of contracts ending over the next couple of years, it will take a long time to shake up the playing staff.  A lack of financial clout, and no white knight on the horizon, means that we are doomed to mediocrity.  Rooney, the finest natural talent the club has produced, will probably be sold after a couple of paltry years at the club he loves.  But this season is now the priority, before bad turns to worse.  After all, none of the three mentioned above would want to be the ones to take one of the countrys greatest clubs out of the top flight.  Would they?

Mark English

2004 ToffeeWeb


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