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Marvin the Paranoid Android or Elton John?

By Peter Roberts :  04/08/2007 :  Comments (19) :

I am not what one would call someone who speaks out that frequently about Everton Football Club. Too much, the recent weeks and months, however, have left me no choice. What I aim to do below is summarise the status of our club at this present time, and bring both differing views to a compromise.

The reasoning for the title is that it appears all Evertonians, broadly speaking, are characterised by the two people named above. On one side, we have Elton John, who looks at the world through his rose-tinted spectacles, much like some people supporting this club who think everything is hunky-dory. On the other hand, we have the anti-establishmentarianist section who think everything is all doom and gloom.

If you?ve not read or seen the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, you won?t know that Marvin is a character from the book/film. He is a manic-depressive robot who never seems to be happy. Strangely enough, that?s remarkably similar to those people who think that the club is doomed under Kenwright. In fairness, they have a point. I personally couldn?t trust Kenwright to run a bath, never mind a football club. The man has no business acumen, it?s as simple as that.

Keith Wyness, our supposed Chief Executive, isn?t actually much better. He did fine up at Aberdeen, a noticeably smaller club financially than Everton up in the Mickey Mouse League north of Hadrian?s Wall. But here, it can?t have gone unnoticed that he has sold virtually all our assets off, with Goodison Park the sole exception (including the new training facility in Halewood).

Having done Business Studies at school, my view was that normally you don?t sell off assets of a business in order to raise cash, you make them financially viable in other ways, through marketing the club as a rival to our neighbours and improving the quality. Why then, have we quadrupled our debt under Bill Kenwright from when he first took over from Agent Johnson, when the wealth in football has only doubled? In just three of the players sold that we brought through the academy, we have raised near £40M. Why are we still in deeper trouble than we were 10 years ago? These are all questions that should be pointed firmly at the man at the top, along with his puppet of a Chief Executive.

There is no doubt Bill Kenwright is a massive blue, and I?m sure he thinks he has the best interests of the club at heart; but, if truth be told, if he did, he should have sold up to someone like the new Villa chairman, Randy Lerner. I know most of us would want a sugar daddy to come in and give Moyes £50M to spend on the squad and bankroll the new stadium on Scotland Road, as well as be a staunch Evertonian who grew up 200 yards from the Old Lady and cheered on the likes of Morrissey, Vernon, Young, Royle, Kendall, Ball and Latchford from the Gwladys Street terrace. However, would that be the Everton Way?

Steven Pienaar, our new South African midfielder from Dortmund, said on joining the club on loan that he was glad to join one of the traditional clubs of English football, and that Everton were known for playing nice football. Obviously he hasn't seen the ugly yet effective style of game Moyes has had us play for the last couple of years... but I digress. On that basis, I wouldn?t want some billionaire to come and invest in us as a plaything, then up sticks once the going got tough. It surely is only a matter of time before Abramovich decides he?s had enough, and then Chelsea will be in real trouble financially. What I do want, is a new chairman who gives us a reasonable amount of money to spend, but most importantly, knows how to run a business and a football club. Lerner can do it with the Cleveland Browns in the National Football League over in the US, and he?s doing the same at Aston Villa. That really would be the Everton Way.

All this brings me neatly on to the next topic, which is the playing side of things. It is no secret and no surprise that our playing squad is one of the smallest in the league. Quite how we?ve managed 4th, 6th and 7th in the league in the past five years, whilst never really contemplating a dogfight for the dreaded trapdoor into the Coca-Cola Leagues by the end of March, can really only be surmised in one word: Moyes. Without him, this club would be playing in the Championship.

Be honest: how many of you, once Rooney had gone and only two new faces brought in, thought we?d be fighting relegation, considering the way we got stuffed by Arsenal on that opening day three years ago? The moment our season turned around was probably the next game, away at Palace. It was on a par with Kevin Brock?s backpass against Oxford, Duncan Ferguson?s first goal for us, against Liverpool, no less. Having gone 0-1 down to a goal from Ben Watson, Martyn was again beaten by a header from a Palace player (possibly even a certain Andrew Johnson). However, our trusty 50p head and captain, Alan Stubbs, was there to clear it off the line. That gave us the lift we needed, and we went on to win 3-1.

That season transformed us as a club, and we went on to clinch the 4th place spot and a chance to compete with the big guns in the lucrative Champions League (the first side since Newcastle outside the so-called Big Four to do so). Moyes was an integral part of that season. He could get a small squad, with only £2.5M spent on the team in the summer, to compete with the big guns. And when you look at the side we were putting out, week-in, week-out, how many big names appeared?

Watson Yobo Stubbs Pistone
Osman Carsley Cahill Gravesen Kilbane

Not exactly the most glittering of first-choice XIs. It also tells me something about Moyes. He cannot be under-estimated in terms of his value to the team.

Several rumours this week have surfaced that Moyes is getting increasingly frustrated at the unwillingness of the Everton Board of Directors to hand him money. We all knew from the start Kenwright had no money to invest in the club. The man allegedly remortgaged his house in order to buy out Peter Johnson. I suppose we were all grateful that the tyrant had gone, his last act being master of the sale of our club idol to Newcastle for a record £8M.

So you can understand Moyes?s frustration that, despite the influx of money, despite operating on a pittance for the last few years, the purse-strings haven?t been loosened. The reasoning for this is that we spent the vast majority of the new TV money last year on Johnson, Lescott and Howard ? an outgoing of £17M. However, if reportedly we were due £30M from the new TV deal, then where has the other £13M gone?

Jagielka is the only deal for a reported fee, having cost £4.5M. That should still give us £9M to invest in the squad. Anderson da Silva (or the Silva Surfer, as some fans have affectionately christened him) cost a meagre £700k. Pienaar is a loan deal with a view to a £2.5M move. Hopefully some of this extra money will go on Baines, but were we really dependent on Beattie being sold to finance this move? £4M is excellent business, although the sad part is it looks like JB was sold to finance the move.

It is not all doom and gloom, however, as Marvin would have you believe. Some of us, who look at Everton Football Club through rose-tinted specs like Elton John, think that the best is yet to come from us. If truth be told, I believe we have one of the best squads outside the big four, which was reflected in us finishing 6th last season (and only because one lousy referee fixed the match so we wouldn?t beat Chelsea for their first defeat at Stamford Bridge in three years).

We also have a very young squad that can only get better as they enter their prime. This means it?s more important than ever to hang on to our prize talents. Vaughan could be a future England international; Cahill is one of the best attacking midfielders in the league; Arteta is millimetres away from the Spanish squad; and Johnson I believe got the rub of the green against him last season and will be better this season if he gets a decent striker alongside him. Yobo and Lescott are among the best central partnerships behind him, and Howard is the best goalkeeper at this club since the legendary Neville Southall.

Our move for Baines in recent days underlines Moyes?s intentions to revamp the club?s playing side from top to bottom. It?s taken longer than expected, because of the lack of funds, but you take one look at the team he inherited to the team he has now, and there?s no question we?re better off. Another season like last, and suddenly the revival of Everton is up and running after constantly stalling after a good season.

Which brings me onto the final battleground of Merseyside: the stadium debate. This is how I see the present situation: Bill and Keith want us to proceed as a football club and compete at the highest level. I firmly believe they do and that?s why they want us to move stadium. However, are we right in moving to Kirkby?

There?s no doubt the stadium looks impressive from the artists? drawings. Indeed, if we were to move, I?d firmly be in favour of the move if I knew the stadium was going to look like that: it?s very traditional and is not of the modern-day soulless bowls we have come to see. However, I also appreciate the issues most local Evertonians within a mile or two of our current location have with it: it?s outside the boundaries of Liverpool, you won?t be able to enjoy a pre-match bevvie in the Winslow, Elm or wherever.

But are we really that fickle a support base? Evertonians as far as I know are in the main loyal to the team. 20 years without any real success, FA Cup ?95 apart, can lay testimony to that. Therefore, the shouting from the terraces from the KEIOC campaign (Keep Everton In Our City) that the fanbase will decrease by 10% as a result of the move to Kirkby really does ring hollow.

The boundary issue puzzles me slightly. When we initially moved to Goodison Park in 1892, we were not in the city council boundary either, so why, 115 years later, are we raising questions about it now? I know from history we were the city?s first professional football team so the cries about selling the city to our rivals across the Park do sound credible. But we are Everton Football Club, and no matter where we end up, I will always follow Everton Football Club. We aren?t even in the Everton Ward at the moment, so should we really be naming ourselves Walton FC?

However, for the D&G merchants (who aren?t selling Dolce and Gabbana, by the way) all is not lost. There has been speculation in recent days that there are two other alternatives to moving to Kirkby. Possibly the most realistic solution is the one put forward by Warren Bradley, on Scotland Road on the loop by the slip road to the Wallasey Tunnel. As far as ticking the boxes go, it does all but one: How is it financed/Who finances it? However, this is certainly more credible than the GFE-sounding KEIOC, who in the last 48 hours have submitted their presentation on how to redevelop Goodison. I for one wasn?t interested enough in the stadium debate to read the whole dossier, but the idea sounded incredibly heart-rendering yet indifferently unfeasible.

Redeveloping Goodison is a non-starter. It is too landlocked to have anything redeveloped other than maybe placing a second tier on top of the Park End but, for an extra 5,000 seats tops, is that really worth the millions of pounds the club will have to fork out, meaning less expenditure going on the team? Any further development would require backing out onto the houses over Goodison and Bullens Roads, which would require planning permission. As much as I?d love to see it happen, the whole thing would be absolutely farcical, and make a mockery of us as a club when Liverpool move into their brand spanking new airport terminal of a football ground on our sacred Stanley Park.

So the option is this: do we wait another five years for Scotland Road, assuming we can do it both logistically and financially? Or do we wait another three years while the Kirkby Stadium, with the help from Tesco, comes along? The other factor into the debate is maybe Bill is waiting for the Kirkby stadium to be built or is in the approved status to be built before looking for investment. Goodness knows we?ll be much more suitable to investors then: new stadium, good team fighting regularly in the top half of the table.

So ,to summarise everything, for those of you on the Elton John side of our support, wake up and smell the coffee. Everything is far from rosy at Everton FC. The Board need to either front up the money, via share issue or whatever, and back Moyes to spend the money to improve the team, or up sticks and leave the club in the hands of someone who can run it like a proper business rather than a toy train set. The frustration of not being able to compete with the likes of Wigan, Fulham and Sunderland is palpable, and if it continues, the Board will be faced with more ultimatums from the fans, and more importantly, Moyes may feel he?s taken the club as far as he can, and asks for his P45. That, would be a real shame.

However, for those of you who are more like Marvin the Android, don?t reach for that overdose of sleeping pills just yet. If anyone can work wonders with the team, it?s Moyes. Kirkby might not be the most attractive proposition, but with a team with as solid a core and as good a manager as we have, things could be so much worse. Just look at Leeds, hit with a 15-point penalty and needing to finish effectively, just outside the playoffs in League One this year, just in order to avoid slipping into League Two, and most likely, terminal financial difficulties.

I hope you all have a wonderful season cheering on the Blues from your favourite spot. August 11 is only a week away. Get behind Moyes and the players, and let?s stop all this infighting. This season is our most crucial yet. We need to build on last season and us as the supporters can only help them by backing every Blue shirt and cheering them on. Our favourite scapegoat departed for Sheffield United, let?s now make our home ?Fortress Goodison? once more.

Reader Comments

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kieran fitzgerald
1   Posted 06/08/2007 at 08:49:02

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’This season is our most crucial yet.’ In terms of the points you have raised, ones that have had huge bearing on this website over the last few months, this comment is spot on Peter. While only a nine month period this season could very well dictate how the club moves on in the long term.

A good season on the pitch could vindicate Moyes’ gameplan over the last five years. It will provide a huge groundswell in support from once sceptical fans, transferring alot of pressure they were putting on Moyes onto the Board instead. This, combined with a second consecutive european spot finish would give the board little option but to stump up the cash. Success begets success as they say and I could well be very optomistic this time next year.

The stadium debate should be decided once and for all. While no one will be completely happy with whatever happens here, both the kirkby and Loop options look viable enough to make themselves a huge step up for the club in terms of progress. Yes, neither are perfect but still a huge step up. Consecutive successful seasons would have a huge bearing on how us fans view the new stadium and given that it’s attendance figures will be very much dependant on success on the pitch, a run of successful seasons prior to it’s opening would see the positive feeling for it blossom. Add in the fact that financial revenue from the corporate sector is dependant on success and we could very well be moving in the right direction.

The flip side of what I have just typed doesn’t bear thinking about in my mind.

A change in manager after a poor season on the pitch would be a disaster for the club. The Board’s financial mismanagement now means that we are becoming more and more dependant on the success of the team. I could see Moyes walking at the end of a poor season on the basis that other teams were more successful because their Boards backed their managers this summer with money. The best players we have would soon follow and this time next year could see us with no money, no team and a new manager deemed a lunatic for taking on the mess that the club would be.

The stadium would then become a white elephant, a millstone financially around the club’s neck.

So yes, this season is crucial. With it due to start I think it is hugely important that we now get behind Moyes and the team. COYB!!!!!
Nigel Tilley
2   Posted 06/08/2007 at 13:52:20

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A wonderful "sane" and reasonable look at The Club Peter. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I agree with everything you say although I am still having a rough time making up my mind which way to vote on the stadium question. If I was sure a "no" would mean the loop and not a Goodison re-development then I would vote no. Like you, I believe the Goodison choice is not viable at all and would be a complete waste of money. For that reason I am reluctant to vote no. I vote "yes" to The Loop .... oh wait..... that’s not on the ballot is it? Damn!
Eric Myles
3   Posted 06/08/2007 at 14:21:40

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Peter, you really should read the Tom Hughes proposalfor redeveloping Goodison ’cos all your negative points about the feasibility are wrong.

The only reason it will remain ’undeliverable’is that we don’th ave the money and there’ll be no commercial backing for it.
Peter Roberts
4   Posted 06/08/2007 at 17:02:28

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Nigel, I’m very much of the same opinion. I don’t have a season ticket at Goodison as I’m not yet independent enough from my parents to be able to get from my home in Cheshire every other Saturday. As a result, I’m not one who can vote on the ballot. I would though, be in a very similar position to yours in that I would find it very difficult to vote "yes" to Kirkby if it meant that the Scotland Road site would be the alternative. However, as it is little more than a plan, and if you’re an LCC sceptic, a last-ditch attempt by Bradley to save face, then I couldn’t vote no to Kirkby and risk our club stagnating.

Eric, my reasoning behind my rather negative stance on redeveloping Goodison is based behind the simple fact that the site at Goodison is too small to house anything larger than a 45000 seater stadium. We already have one of the smallest pitches in the Premier League. Redeveloping GP into a site that would be able to house 45000+ is simply not feasible as it would require us demolishing much of the present ground (impossible if what the KEIOC campaign say is true about the ability to keep the attendance level above 40000). Anything surplus to a second tier on the Park End would only result in us backing out onto the roads surrounding Goodison and knocking over houses, which would then require planning permission. The KEIOC campaign and the proposal of redeveloping Goodison was little more than a tug at the heartstrings of every Evertonian. The ground is ageing, and for the money it would cost, it would not be worth the extra pittance of revenue we would earn from matchday income.

Having said that, if I have a spare hour or two this week, I will take time to read the proposal. Maybe my mind could change, but I am failing to see the advantages of staying and redeveloping Goodison.
5   Posted 07/08/2007 at 05:27:34

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This is a well versed article. There is one point i disagree with. Wyness is a good CEO. Getting rid of bad income streams and establishing new ones is tough when everything relies on $$$ for the now. Business takes time.

I personally like the way we are doing it. If you remember back to the Tortoise and the Hare story then we are that Tortoise and tell hell with the hares. Adding quality without compromising the ethics of EvertonFC takes time, I like the 3-4 new faces a year. It doesn?t destabalise the team and allows each player to fit into the mould. Im glad we arent falling into the trap of paying $17mill for a bent or a heap on koumas. So we have a thin squad, we do have the best TEAM, we had no right breaking into the top 4 from where we were, but we did and can do it again.

I have never owned a season ticket, i have only managed to get to 5 games in my life, but living OS doesn?t make my whole support (since birth) less that the next person.

I see the passion and the pride but pure cold business sense says we must change to keep up. Even the tortoise had to keep moving. If i had a say, i would admit to voting yes. I loved Goodison, it is unique but time hasn?t been kind. Were where all these alternatives 6 months ago? jumping back into the fray with new sites ect is in my mind part of the scaremongering propaganda of those standing in the way of progress to help bolster the no vote.

I say one thing to these people, if you stop loving Everton FC due to a stadium move less that 4miles, you not an Evertonian. I would watch them play on a tip if that?s where they choose. I love the club, not any one player, not the ground and not the current owners. I love Everton and Evertonians. Please vote wisely and with logic in place.

a blue with an external view!
Blue in Bolton
6   Posted 07/08/2007 at 09:32:37

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Well i guess thats why they call us the blues..
Sorry, could’nt resist that.
Another good article that doesn’t verge on hysteria, i’m enjoying this trend.
Tom Davies
7   Posted 07/08/2007 at 11:03:14

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I think Moyes should start threatening the board more often, once he proves he is no push over he will be able to watch his budget grow.

And people are probarbly sick of this stadfium talk now, but I am discusted with the leaflet sent out with the voting papers and the way it tries to scare us into voting YES to Kirkby. The last bit of respect I had for Kenwright these last few months is now growing very thin indeed. I have also lost respect for the players and manager who have obviously been told not to disagree.
Bashar Moosa
8   Posted 07/08/2007 at 08:32:40

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As an overseas Evertonian following the stadium debate passionately from afar.Having been at Goodison once getting myself noticed with my French accent and all(not aggressively by some fellow evertonian kids might I add) I could notice the awe inspiring atmosphere of the place which does really make it The Fortess Goodison for visiting teams.Just on that account the keep Goodison seems the best,that is my humble submission.Again the advantage would be the upgrade costs could be easily spread out over a longer period with only sections of the stands tackled at a time with less of an initial investment outlay.Why run and get yourself hurt in the process and above all get trapped into even more debt with those two at the top? In any case 50000+ attendances will not come overnight never mind estranging as it seems half of attending evertonians attached to Goodison. As has been said if so many others have done it why not Everton redeveloping Goodison.After all rehousing I am sure diehard Evertonians at a premium in modern houses with council backing should not be that difficult to realise once under way.And if by local lore if as I would suspect Stanley Park is so "SACRED" then why not put in a writ and court injunction against the RS projected stadium(Rafa etal wold have had their money’s worth)at least on environmental grounds and should LCC persist insist for half of the park for Everton having asked first.At least that may delay their usurpation bid .Any individual/s could easily do that and claim justice as so common in all democraciesAnyway I know it is all easier said than done and a call from yonder but d’u rememberthe writ of johngeorgeringo v.paul.Plus I believe KEIOC should work on approaching Emirates or another Gulf Airlines to get baack at RS and redevelop Goodison etc.View from afar it is Hope it not too cut from reality.
Tony Marsh
9   Posted 07/08/2007 at 14:08:44

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Another Moyes Muppet praising his hero.The reason we havent been relegated yet in one word is MOYES.

>What bollocks.Its not as if EFC were a yoyo club before Moyes came here in fact its over 5o years since we were last sent down./>Who is to say we might not of achieved a lot more if another manager had been in charge during the last 5 years.

Yes we finished 4th in 2004 with a team that was nearly all Smith signings since then it hasnt been pretty.Even last season some of the worst football I have ever witnessed at Goodison Park was being played all inspired by Moyes.

Why dont you yes voters all fuck off and start your own club like those divy Mancs did 2 years ago.>We dont want a fucking shithole in Kirkby we belong here and as I have said before voting yes is a traitors vote.
Brian Waring
10   Posted 07/08/2007 at 14:44:57

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Marshy,no matter how much stick you get on here,don’t ever change mate.If Kenwright had half your passion,we would be a top 4 club by now.
Blue In Bolton
11   Posted 07/08/2007 at 15:17:35

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Brian... How can you even keep a straight face when you read your comment about ’Marshys’ Passion..?
If Kenwright followed Marshys route we’d be playing with jumpers for goalposts in Stanley Park..Yes..He said it.
Ranting does not equal fact..he says some really stupid things. He does not persuade, nor does he have a structured argument..
Peter Laing
12   Posted 07/08/2007 at 16:56:41

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Seems to me Tony that if we move to Kirkby then it will be people like your good self who will feel the need to start up a new Club. How about St Domingo FC, you could always ask the Council for the use of Walton Hall Park. I would suggest that it is because of David Moyes and only David Moyes that we have had such stability, losing Rooney, being confined by a finacial straight-jacket and having to play to our strengths as opposed to our heritage has been the bench-mark to sustainability. Was it not Moyes who brought Mikel Arteta to the Club, masterminded last season’s 3-0 trumping of the redshite and his steadfast refusal to jepeordise the long term future of the Club on major financial gambles. It’s been five hard years of progress on and off the Park, however after watching the side assembled by Walter Smith capitulate to Tranmere Rovers (my lowest ever point) then what we have now is light years away.
Tony Marsh
13   Posted 07/08/2007 at 17:23:27

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Peter talking about low points how
about the 7-0 game at Arsenal or the drubbing in Romania 5-1 or even better Shrewsbury Town in the FA Cup who beat us 1-0 and then went on to get relegated to the conference.

Tell me Peter who was the manager on those occasions.
mike benjamin
14   Posted 07/08/2007 at 19:35:14

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I guess that the vote will cause permanent divisions in our support that will never be healed. Irrespective of a persons’ opinion a fella supporter should not be abused in a way that tony marsh seems to do..... "why don’t you yes voters fuck off"...........out of order tony......i am ashamed of people like you. Are you a kopite in disguise?
mike benjamin
15   Posted 07/08/2007 at 19:35:14

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I guess that the vote will cause permanent divisions in our support that will never be healed. Irrespective of a persons’ opinion a fella supporter should not be abused in a way that tony marsh seems to do..... "why don’t you yes voters fuck off"...........out of order tony......i am ashamed of people like you. Are you a kopite in disguise?
Gerard Madden
16   Posted 08/08/2007 at 01:26:34

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I for one voted ’yes’ today with great relish, our club will only move forward when we’ve got our 50,000 (expandable to 60,000) stadium up and running.

Tony Marsh remember - those that didn’t come with us in 1892 became the RS, and no one should ever forget that.
Gareth Humphreys
17   Posted 08/08/2007 at 11:58:47

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Tony Marsh - dear oh dear. You’ve got to be a red on for a wind up. Gerard I like your point about 1892 but the Kirkby stadium for me just doesn’t look good enough, hence my no vote.
Peter Roberts
18   Posted 08/08/2007 at 12:23:56

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To Tony Marsh:

I’m not Moyes’ biggest fan. There are times I question his tactics, and I’ll readily admit he’s made some massive blunders in the transfer market. But consider this: we hadn’t come anywhere near success other than in ’95 with the FA Cup win, and the 6th place the following season with Kanchelskis, and since then relegation was something we all feared season in, season out. In fact, in the 12 games before Moyes took over, we scored 4 goals.

In the 5 years Moyes has been in charge, he has had to rebuild the squad to mould it into what he wants. I will admit that our football isn’t the prettiest either, but then again I can only count Arsenal and United in this league that play superlative football and get results at the same time. Chelsea’s football is reminiscent of Arsenal’s from the early 90s, Liverpool depend on SGL to get them out of tight spots. The rest of the league is just plain average, Spurs apart.

Our progress under Moyes has been the most sustained it’s been in the last 20 years, and considering that he has done it on a comparative shoestring, that surely must give him some credibility. He has been able to get the best out of quite average players (Osman, Carsley, Kilbane and Bent to name a few from three seasons ago) and it’s quite painfully obvious that he’s being held back in progressing this club by the present incumbents of the board.

At least be able to acknowledge that even though the football may be ugly, it’s effective and is getting us the results we need in order to progress as a club.

David Whitwell
19   Posted 08/08/2007 at 13:33:41

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Guys, re the rise in debt since BK took over seems to be a real issue, has everyone forgotten the value of our squad now compared to that back then, you were probably lucky if you could name 1 or 2 who were worth a few bob, nowdays virtually every player has a fairly substantial value. Full credit to Moyes and whether you like it or not, BK for backing him!

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