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Sentimental Value?
Gareth Holme sees us living in the shadows of our past

25 February 2004

Nobody gets quite as sentimental as your average Evertonian.

We praise our legends like Dixie Dean and Kendall-Harvey-Ball.  We moan about opportunities stolen from us: Heysel preventing our European Cup involvement in the mid 1980s; and the shambolic early days of the Inter-Toto Cup in 1996 when England were docked a UEFA Cup spot when we would have qualified only to re-award that place the following season.

Spend half an hour with the average Evertonian and the words Dean and Heysel will be uttered guaranteed.  So, is it really this backward-looking mentality which is stopping our great club from progressing?

The reality of the situation is quite simple only either Manchester United, Arsenal or Chelsea will win the league for the foreseeable future.  Yet, it is the Evertonian view that one day soon we will be up there challenging again.  Not for 4th place.  Not for top half and a cup run thrown in.  But for the title!

Talk to a typical Villa fan, or Newcastle fan they know that the best they can hope for is Europe.  They know that in the real world they will not win the league in the next 15 years.  But us Evertonians?  We say that we CAN win the league again soon.  What fools we are!

And why do we do this?  Well, we look back.  We used to be good.  Weve got the fans and the history.  We can do it again, can't we?!  But for one crucial problem: we havent got a team!

Now, this is where our deep-rooted sentimentality is holding us back.  Its infectious.  Even Moyesie is feeling it.  Its clouding his vision.  Much as we wish it were so, Duncan Ferguson is not Dixie Dean.  Nigel Martyn is no Neville Southall.  Thomas Gravesen is no Peter Reid, and Alan Stubbs is certainly not Kevin Ratcliffe!

Two words spring to mind : dead and wood.

The players I cited above are just not good enough.  But, as Evertonians we love them.  Big Dunc, we hope, might, one day, maybe just maybe, fulfill his potential at the age of 32!  So Moyes picks him hoping hell do something.  And when he doesnt?  Ah well, maybe next week?

Nigel Martyn?  Well he made some cracking saves against the reds the other week!  He might do that again?  Or, he might let three in against Southampton!  But he used to play for England, you know?  So lets pick him!  The same can be said for David Unsworth.

I could go on Mad Dog Gravesen, Alan Stubbs, Scot Gemmill, Allesandro Pistone ...

The problem is that we WANT these people to be our legends, so we hold on to them.  They might be shite week after week, but they stay in the squad because as Evertonians we think that one day they might just score the winner against Liverpool.  Or more likely, they played well ONCE so deserve their places for the next two seasons!

Sentimentality for these players is getting us nowhere.  Even Moyes has his favourites.  Its holding us back.  We have a stagnant squad, bearing little resemblance to our great teams of the past, yet neither the fans nor the management want to get rid of the old dogs because theyre our favourites. 

Kevin Campbell and David Weir, both have been great captains of our club.  They were both excellent signings and played consistently well but that was back in the last millennium!  Any other club and they would have been sold years ago.  But here at Everton, we like to do things differently!  Its a miracle that Pembridge got sent packing (for almost 1M too!).  If we were Newcastle, Rob Lee and Warren Barton would still be in our first team.  Aston Villa: Mark Draper and Dalian Atkinson!

Why cant we just get rid of these have-beens in our team, buy some new players with the proceeds, or just give the kids a chance?  Leon Osman and Nick Chadwick have been banging on the door for years   But wait Francis Jeffers might yet become Bob Latchford, David Weir could still be the new Dave Watson, and Lee Carsley is beginning to play just like Alan Ball!

Gareth Holme

2004 ToffeeWeb


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