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The End is Not Near

By Jonny Kerr :  16/08/2009 :  Comments (9) :

I doubt if many of you reading this will remember 25th September 1993 and nor should you. You might remember the result of the game that day although, like yesterday, it was not one of Everton Football Club’s finest days. A certain Evan Ekoku scored 4 (!) goals past us as we were beaten 5-1 by that footballing giant Norwich City. The reason the game sticks in my memory — at 11 years old it was my first visit to Goodison Park. My Dad and I made the trip from Belfast on the overnight ferry and I was having a great day seeing Goodison and my heroes until the second half (it was actually 1-1 at half-time). I don’t think I cried after the game but do remember being particularly forlorn on the long trip back via the overnight ferry that night.

It didn’t stop me coming back of course. Over the next 7 years I spent money earned at part-time jobs on more weekend ferry trips (this was in the days before Easyjet), seeing some cracking games (the Cadamarteri 2-0 derby wins stands out) and some piss poor ones. In the last few years living in England I’ve been able to get to about five games a season but just after seeing us in the Cup Final I moved to the United States and am now living in Houston. I thought of the 25th September yesterday as I trudged out of a bar full of Arsenal fans (it seems our marketing efforts in the US have not borne much fruit) after the fifth goal went in. I felt roughly the same as that day in 1993 — let down and deflated.

I thought I would write this however after reading some of today’s posts and in particular the ones by James Boden and Tony Marsh. As bad as yesterday was, is it any worse than countless other days in Everton’s history? No. Does that mean I think everything is rosy right now at Everton and we should just say “at least it was a half decent Arsenal side and not Norwich City”. No and that’s not my point. But without a sense of perspective you could be saying that “the end is near” at least once a season for pretty much every season that I’ve ever followed Everton.

Before anyone accuses me of having my head in the clouds or indeed up Kenwright’s/Moyes arse let me say the following:

- I do not think 5th place and a Cup Final is good enough for Everton
- Hibbert, Osman, Neville and Yobo (who in my opinion gets away with poor performances without much stick) are only good enough to be squad players and should not be played week-in, week-out
- The football we play a lot of the time (mainly because of Moyes’s loyalty to the players above) is inexcusable
- I think Bill Kenwright has let his emotional attachment to Everton take over from the club’s best interests and is therefore in danger of condemning us to mediocrity (or worse) when we have as good a platform to challenge for honours as we’ve had since I became a fan in the early 90s.

But the end is not near. We have a much better team than in 1992. We have a better manager (no disrespect to Howard Kendall but by the time his second stage had come around he clearly wasn’t up to the job). The attendance yesterday was 39,309, in September 1993 (a week after we’d beaten the redshite at Goodison) only 20,531 turned up to see us play Norwich. In short, we are in better position now than then and I don’t think I even have to go into the Walter Smith era.

Of course that’s what makes it so frustrating. I understand that our history began before the Premier League, that our motto is Nil Satis Nisi Optimum, and that people are paying good money for a season ticket to watch crap like yesterday. Therefore I’m not criticising either Tony's or James’s point of view, particularly since for all I know you are both season ticket holders who have been fans for longer and gone to many more games than I have. But I don’t agree with you that it is time to throw the towel in. Things need to change but I hope either of you don’t desert us just yet.

Right I’m off to buy a shirt (white training one not either of the two horrible kits) for the next time I venture to that bar, hoping that things are better than yesterday. COYB.

Reader Comments

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Ciarán McGlone
1   Posted 17/08/2009 at 11:08:52

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I think Tony’s reference to NFI...was sheer frustation....

People like Marsh know they can never walk away...otherwise they’d have simply done it. That’s the essence of Everton.

I like to throw Kenwright’s towel in though!

We can all marvel at the wonderment of starting places for Osman and Neville in midfield..or the frustration of watching Fellaini’s bambi on ice routine.....or Hibbert’s loss of concentration.

And although Moyes must take criticism for his decisions - I have no doubt that his hands are tied by the finances provided - and that’s one mans fault.
Zaid Omar
2   Posted 17/08/2009 at 11:26:41

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We all agree that for Everton Football Club to move forward in the long term there has to be some serious investment in the club. However, in the short term I feel that the following needs to be done asap in order to avoid a disastrous season:

1) Get rid of Lescott immediately. Im not blaming him for the defeat on Saturday, but it can never be in a clubs best interests to keep a player who has made it clear that he wants to move on.

2) Obviously use some of the cash to get some decent defensive cover, but more importantly if we want to progress, we need to bring in some true quality midfielders. I am sick and tired of hearing commentators say that "Everton look toothless without Mikel Arteta"... How long can we pin our hopes on the Spaniard?? Elm and Ever would really be welcome additions to a midfield which currently looks flat to say the least.

3) Our style of play — even though reasonably effective over the last couple of season — has become too predictable and needs to change. I understand that with the current crop of midfielders (Osman, Neville in particular), free-flowing attacking football doesn't come easily. But if we can somehow bring in some quality, we need to start backing ourselves at least at home, and get away from the 4-5-1 consevative approach adopted in prior years
Alan Kirwin
3   Posted 17/08/2009 at 12:11:02

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I remember the Norwich game very well. It was the day of my brother’s wedding. There was a collective shudder in the hall as the result passed around the Evertonians.

The blame for Saturday is manyfold. It seems to me to be a characteristic of Moyes’ Everton that, however we do eventually in a season, we always begin poorly. It’s like we’re never quite ready at the start.

The lack of buying power is obviously relevant; to a point. But Moyes picks the teams and, with Round, lays out the tactics. I’m bemused that a team that finished last season rather well, not only in results terms, but in actual footballing performances, can turn up and play like the most one dimensional and naiivest of pub teams.

It was, in the end, acutely embarassing to see the ease with which Arsenal move with & without the ball, whilst we.....well, we just didn’t.

Everyone knows The failings of Hibbert & Osman against the quality teams who combine movement and strength. Osman does actually do ok as a squad player against the bottom 12-14 clubs. But he has never shown anything against the big boys.

Why does Moyes pick him & Hibbert? Well, Moyes has some excellent virtues, he’s a good man manager, conducts himself with dignity and presence in the media, can inspire all around him (usually). But he has 3 questionable traits that have hurt us on occasions.

1. Occasional intransigence, a la Lescott. It’s impossible to fault his principle about not being bullied, but he risks losing perspective in the bigger picture. I must say that the way City have behaved in this tawdry tale has not helped Moyes, as they have publicly trailed Lescott for months. But this should now all be wrapped up in private. Moyes has to save face and City have to be seen to be doing the right thing.

2. His tendency towards not losing, as opposed to going out and winning. I truly thought this had begun to change, and maybe it has. But there’s such a huge psychological chasm in a sportsman’s head between victory and containment. There are many pccasions where an adventurous and even arrogant approach would have delivered more. I love the idea that our defence has been so solid and, outside of the start of last season, we just don’t concede goals (or didn’t!). But to the victor the spoils and risk-free football can kill the spirit.

3. His renowned inability to make tactical tweaks and substitutions in a game to help us. No idea why this should be so, but his record for a manager so relatively successful and well regarded is poor.

A more adventurous manager would probably have played Neville at RB and Rodwell in the middle. As for right-midfield, I don’t think we have the answer in the current squad. It could be mitigated if we had a marauding RB and a narrow & compact midfield. But we don’t have that luxury.

It is self evident that minds were not focused on Saturday. Moyes should move heaven & earth to get Gary Cahill before Taylor. Cahill is a better player who’s value will soar (IMHO). Taylor is error prone but would get better under Moyes.

That then leaves the matter of the right side of our team. Hmm.

I’ve no doubt our performances and results will improve. But I’m still trying to get my head around the number of wrong records that Moyes has delivered, worst home defeat since rationing, worst start to a season ever, worst finish to a season ever... The good obviously outweighs the bad, but we do seem prone to the occasional mega-wobble with DM.

Unlike some on here, I really want us to make a mark in Europe. It breeds success, it’s good for the players and the club and I just liek the idea of winning an international trophy. So I, for one, will be feeling really shite if we start this season as we did 04/05. There’s a weird sense of foreboding that’s descended since Saturday. I hope it’s just the weather...
Alan Clarke
4   Posted 17/08/2009 at 12:43:00

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I agree Alan. How can a man paid £3.5 million a year not prepare his team for the start of the season? That’s not the result of no new signings or Kenwright or Lescott. Saturday’s defeat and the manor of it rests purely at the feet of Moyes. He needs to do a lot better and cannot be so complacent when he earns such a massive amount.

I remember the Norwich game because my car broke down on the Runcorn Bridge and I didn’t make it, thank God.
Steve Cavanagh
5   Posted 17/08/2009 at 12:37:57

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Good piece, Jonny, but sorry to be pedantic — Efan Ekoku, he’s Nigerian not Welsh! All the same, yes it was a bad day but unfortunately I’m old enough to remember worse — like losing at home to lower league Fulham in the FA Cup mid 70s. Shit, that was depressing for a 10-year-old. I can still recall hundreds of padded seat covers from the Upper Bullens being hurled onto the pitch in disgust at the final whistle.

I’m also therefore old enough to put things into a more historical perspective and say that, yes, we were absolute shite on Saturday, but I don’t think it’s terminal — look at Norwich now!

David Bodian
6   Posted 17/08/2009 at 13:41:19

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Dear Zaid, I agree with your views expressed after this article. However, we need to get things in perspective and Jonny Kerr’s article provides this in abundance. We are better placed than we were in the early 1990’s but we are a club that strives for perfection! Nils Satis Nisi Optimum is not compatible with the hoofball style of play. Painful though last Saturday’s defeat was, we were outclassed by a side which believes in playing the game with style.
John Andrews
7   Posted 17/08/2009 at 18:23:02

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The thing that concerns me is who in their right mind would sign for Everton now? No wonder Elm and the like are nervous. I could not agree more with the views expressed by Alan, except I don’t think we will get very far in Europe. Hopefully I am wrong!
Norman Grimwood
8   Posted 17/08/2009 at 19:49:41

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Good article Jonny. Like you I live outside the UK and it has been a while since I attended a match. Again like you I had a bad start to my days as an Evertonian. For my first game we need to go right back to 1958 when, as a lad of ten and a half years of age I went to Goodison for the first time and if my memory is not playing tricks on me I watched Everton being beaten 6-1 by, you guessed it, Arsenal.

We can and should not get too downhearted over Saturday's result because Arsenal always seemed to get the better of us over the years and that includes a few hammerings as well.

I was a little worried about David Moyers press conference after the game, he said all the right things but his body language was saying he was a man with very few options and makes me wonder whether he will still be at the helm of the good ship Everton much longer. I sincerely hope that I misread his body language and that he will remain at Goodison for sometime yet and, who knows, bring us the success that we all crave for.

Whatever the outcome of this season is, I for one shall remain a devoted fan of the Blues because, unlike a certain Mr Rooney, I firmly believe that once a blue always a blue.

Gary Sedgwick
9   Posted 18/08/2009 at 04:38:23

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Hi Jonny,

Fellow ex-pat Texan who lives in Harlingen. I agree with all you wrote and many of the replies it garnered.

My first game watching my beloved blues was against MU at GP. A certain Rob Wakenshaw got us draw. From then on I went to as many games as I could.

I was fortunate to watch the Blues in their peak. I saw many games lost that should have been won - but I also saw many games we won or drew that we should have lost.

One swallow does not the summer make...

Now if I can only repeat that line come next May...

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