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Remember the Grey Old Days

By Richard Reeves :  09/08/2010 :  Comments (34) :
Remember the grey old days of the Walter Smith era? I don't think I've ever felt so low during my 30 years of being a Blue as during those last couple of seasons under Smith. Not even Mike Walker's reign can beat it for negativity, even though the last-day relegation battle against Wimbledon and the Coventry game under Kendall's third stint as manager were the most blood-draining 90 minutes of my life.

Smith did make some good signings though in Dacourt, Materazzi, Carsley and I always thought Tal was a half-decent player but there were also a lot of bad ones like Ginola, Nyarko and Gascoigne to name but a few. I can remember some high-scoring games during his management and there was the exciting emergence of Jeffers and his partnership with Campbell. Richard Dunne was looking like a decent prospect and Hutchinson for me was our most important player, linking up well in midfield with Dacourt, Gemmill and Barmby.

I couldn't understand why Smith refused to offer Hutchinson a new and improved contract and brought in Gascoigne as a replacement. Before you know it we've got a team resembling Dad's Army, the exciting prospect of watching a defender being played as a striker, and a manager refusing to buy or bring through young players. And then there were the television interviews from Bellefield which on grey, rainy days should have come with some kind of guidance warning before being broadcast.

Now flash forward to this pre-season and we have a squad as good as any in the Premier League and better than at least 16 other clubs. We have a team spirit second to no one. The squad has a good blend of youth and world class, experienced players; the players Moyes has brought in this season look like they can play a bit and score goals.

We have two players who could walk into any first team in the Premier League but have stated their love and desire to play for our club; we have two of our best football kits (home and away) since the Puma kits from about eight years ago... and there is no more Kirby bullshit to worry about. Happy days eh?

Moyes has made some mistakes as all managers do but he has assembled a squad of real talent that I suspect will get stronger with his ability to spot a young star in the making. When I look back at those grey old days of Smith, I realise how grateful I am for what Moyes is doing.

Reader Comments

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Ciarán McGlone
1   Posted 09/08/2010 at 14:35:27

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Indeed, we should thank our gods for Moyes...He still does a lot wrong..but if it wasn't for him we'd be buggered!

Just out of interest..who are these two players who could walk into any first team in the premiership?
Richard Reeves
2   Posted 09/08/2010 at 14:43:31

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Ciaran, the two players I am referring to are Arteta and Rodwell. OK, Rodwell maybe might not walk into anyone's first team straight away but he would be in the mix and any club in the prem would love to have him. I think you get the point but as for Arteta, I think he is the best creative midfielder in this division and would get into the first team of any Premier League club.
Tony Hughes
3   Posted 09/08/2010 at 15:05:55

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Richard,good article until i got to where you claimedour squad is as good any in the prem! 150-1 at the bookies so they obviously dont agree with you,(me neither by the way)2nd point yes agree about the home kit but that pink eyesore is an embarrassment !!
Ciará® McGlone
4   Posted 09/08/2010 at 15:36:46

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I certainly agree with you on Arteta....I actually found it quite surprising that we weren't approached by United this summer over Arteta..In my Arteta is exactly what they need. Thank god Fergie's too arrogant to think he needs any adjustments.
Ciará® McGlone
5   Posted 09/08/2010 at 15:36:46

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I certainly agree with you on Arteta....I actually found it quite surprising that we weren't approached by United this summer over Arteta..In my Arteta is exactly what they need. Thank god Fergie's too arrogant to think he needs any adjustments.
Jay Harris
6   Posted 09/08/2010 at 15:59:38

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Hate to be pedantic Richard but there are at least 7 other clubs that would argue their squads are better based on last seasons finishing positions.

I know we had a tremendous 2010 but the league is a marathon not a sprint so lets see where this season takes us.

Optimism should not be blind and the Wolfsburg result is a timely reminder of the danger of overconfidence.
Christian Yandell
7   Posted 09/08/2010 at 16:15:20

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I can not bloody wait for Saturday - I have been shot down all summer over my over optimistic opinions, but most of what you say here Richard is a mirror of my own thoughts!

So anyway, sod it we have had to put up with some shit over the last I don't know how many years, with little or no reason for any real hope that we can win anything.

No I do not think we will win the league (but I bloody love the fact that people are even suggesting it is possible) I do belive we can finish in the top 4 and have every chance of winning a cup.

FA cup winners and the champions league!!!!

Maybe just maybe and that is progress for me.

David Price
8   Posted 09/08/2010 at 16:20:32

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We had dark days under Walter, However Johnson sold his best players and no effort made to keep them all the cash was stashed to subside Pork bloody farms. I remember winning 4-0 at West Ham then smashing Boro 6-0 and we actually had a team. Pear shaped it went however and Bill took over a club full of older players on contracts and over the hill loan deals. To be optimistic now is due to times like those mentioned by Richard and being older and wiser from these events. I don't think we are over confident just as i say optimistic with the quality we have within the squad.
Chris Butler
9   Posted 09/08/2010 at 16:42:30

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Moyes is an efficient manager capable of making Everton finish from about 7th to 10th but again he still has his flaws. Despite successful results in both the Chelsea and Arsenal away games he set an awful formation for the RS away game. If Moyes can improve on his disastrous derby record then I think we can probably finish in the top 7 at least.
Brendan McLaughlin
10   Posted 09/08/2010 at 17:18:07

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@Chris Butler
If Moyes is "an efficient manager capable of making Everton finish from about 7th to 10th", who took us to 5th (twice) and 6th place finishes in recent years?
Eric Myles
11   Posted 09/08/2010 at 18:18:03

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and 4th and 17th!!
Dan Parker
12   Posted 09/08/2010 at 19:38:24

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I actually credit Walter Smith for starting to turn us around and he joined the club at a time literally no-one wanted to manage us (remember we asked Andy Gray!!). At the end of Kendall's third spell, we were simply dreadful and Walter steadied the ship. The end of his reign came at the right time however as he did lose the plot signing the likes of Gazza and Ginola.
Andy Crooks
13   Posted 09/08/2010 at 20:02:45

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Well said, Dan Parker. Walter Smith was appallingly treated at Everton and without him we genuinely could have been Sheffield Wednesday.
Dan Parker
14   Posted 09/08/2010 at 20:11:17

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Thanks Andy. I remember him acting with real dignity when we sacked him and he even recommended Moysey to BK!

On another note, rather good news over at Villa. Perhaps our closest rival in terms of spending power and squad quality has a major setback!! We had Lescott/City last summer (and just about kept Davey), they have Milner/City this summer and lost their manager!!
Charles King
15   Posted 09/08/2010 at 20:21:44

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Interesting comments on "the villa blog" many wanting Moyes as replacement for martin oneill, I just wonder if Randy Lerner came in for him would he go.
As an aside amazed at how many villa fans thing Lerner is a twat and o'neill had gone as far as he could.
Brendan McLaughlin
16   Posted 09/08/2010 at 20:57:30

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@Charles King
No way will Moyes go to Villa. I also don't understand your amazement, substitute Kenwright for Lerner, Moyes for O'Neill & hey presto you're back on Toffeeweb territory!
Dan Parker
17   Posted 09/08/2010 at 21:40:21

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O'Neill has left for the very reason Moyes would have done so why on earth would he go to Villa? It's status quo at best.
Ray Robinson
18   Posted 09/08/2010 at 22:22:54

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Although some of the football under Smith was at times dire, I too credit him with steadying the ship. If you think we're skint now, what were we like then? A man of dignity who tried to manage with both hands tied behind his back.
Colin Noon
19   Posted 09/08/2010 at 22:31:17

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Oh gosh... the "grey days" of Walter Smith. That was utter depression, I think back to some of the drivel that we were subjected to and cringe!!

Let's all rejoice in the fact that we have an excellent squad that is not only balanced, settled and extremely driven but under the leadership of a superb manager.

Arteta signing that contract is just the lift we needed; now we CAN challenge ? I am in no doubt of that whatsover. Let's be positive from the off and beat Blackburn, Wolves and steamroll Villa.

It's about time we show the Prem we mean business; we get no credit, recognition, or respect from our peers, but we don't need it, what we do need is silverwear!!!

City can blow millions on mercenaries, who would be at Hull if they would earn as much. The fact is we are a TEAM we are EVERTON FOOTBALL CLUB!
Brendan McLaughlin
20   Posted 09/08/2010 at 23:03:15

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I swear to God, I just love this site. In the course of an evening, Moyes has gone from being an "efficient manager" to "good",,"very good" and now thanks to Colin Noon..."superb".

Any advance on superb?
Andy Crooks
21   Posted 09/08/2010 at 23:14:40

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Yes, Brendan, I have an advance on superb, unfortunately I am fed up with appearing as a total gloom and doom merchant and therefore will not give Colin Noon's nonsense the retort it deserves. I have, however, enough respect for your views to suggest that your comment is, at least slightly, tongue in cheek.
Brendan O'Doherty
22   Posted 10/08/2010 at 02:23:05

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What is wrong with Colin Noon's post? He is optimistic about the coming season, what's wrong with that ?
I take it you haven't rang the Samaritans yet, Andy? I dread to think what you are going to be like when we actually drop 2 points. "Moyes Out?" Probably.

Brendan, I was going to pull Chris Butler up on efficient" but you did it for me. Any advance on superb? Yes, OUTSTANDING.
James Mullarkey
23   Posted 10/08/2010 at 11:39:56

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I think we have more than 2 players who could do a job for anyone. Fellani, Pienaar are two others.

Ciari.... Ferguson couldn't afford Rodwell or Arteta. Man U haven't spent cos they've got no money.
When we debate about other squads we forget that it's teams not individuals that are successful. Every side needs average players. We have a decent blend.

On the Walter Smith issue I thought at the time we would be better off going down. It was depressing and Richard you're right it was 'grey'. He made some terrible mistakes but at the same time he was let down by Collins, Barmby & Ball especially.

This season should be interesting!

Colin Noon
24   Posted 10/08/2010 at 21:38:58

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No worries Andy "bring back Walter" Crooks and Brendan "We are just not good enough" McLaughlin. I am not going to let you pesmistic gargoyles burst my bubble thats for sure. Doom mongers like you deserve to be watching a team that is going nowhere, void of any ambition and drive and slumming it in Leauge 2.

You could moan all day then... right up your alley ay chaps?? do me a favour and JOG ON :)

Oh and thanks you very much Brenden O'Doherty - good to see the wrist slitters are only few and far between on here sir ;)

Cue the Allardyce hating fan "YE DONT KNOW WHAT YE DOIN" when we drop 2 points haha.

Some people ay... you just gotta love em.

Chow :D
Eric Hardman
25   Posted 10/08/2010 at 23:55:11

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Anyone is entitled to be optimistic just as anyone is entitled to be pessimistic. You should recognise, however that both optimistic and pessimistic are by definition unrealistic.
David Moyes has too many faults to be called a superb manager. One of his faults is that his teams have never won anything, anywhere. Until that glorious event happens we are entitled to be sceptical about claims that we will do so under Moyes. Past experience suggests that we could still be awaiting our first points in mid September. I shall be delighted if we make a good start. I shall also be surprised. Hibbert at CM anyone?
Brendan McLaughlin
26   Posted 11/08/2010 at 00:16:06

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Just because I dont begin every post with "I love Moyes" doesnt indicate how I feel about the job he is doing Are you for real? I mean how did you get that I was from the "not good enough camp" from my post.
FFS! You praise (rightly) Brendan OD for his contribution but ignore the fact that he backs me for taking some member of the anti-Moyes brigade to task.
OK Andy Crooks might be a miserable so & so but at least he takes the time and effoert to read the fucking thread and see where people are coming from!
Martin Mason
27   Posted 11/08/2010 at 06:28:52

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It is impossible now to judge a manager by what he wins only how well the team does under the finance that he has available to develop and improve the team. I rate Moyes very highly and believe that he has done wonders in buying well and developing all of the players whether home grown or bought. Of course he has made mistakes and of course he has that bloody annoying habit of seemingly playing favourites regardless of their form. On this basis I would rate what he has done at Everton as "outstanding", which is a bit less emotional and probably more realistic than "great" or "superb". The good thing about Moyes is also that he is young, he learns and the sky is the limit for him and Everton with him if we can somehow improve our finances. One day, perhaps soon, he will walk and Everton will be absolutely diminished by his leaving. I really like the bloke
Colin Noon
28   Posted 11/08/2010 at 08:05:44

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Brenan MC - I do apologise, I have only just read your previous post. Think I got the wrong end of the stick mate. It was late when I posted my response.

But anyway I am defintley looking forward to the new season. I can really see us getting a trophy in our cabinet. The obvious factors : injuries, big players performing and cutting out silly mistakes have to come into play but that is true of every team in the league so I think we should all be optimisitic because we have no need to fear anyone in the prem. Blackburn in my opinion are one of the worst sides in the division and if we apply ourselves properly we will do the business. Heres hoping!!
Gareth Humphreys
29   Posted 11/08/2010 at 11:25:44

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I always thought under Walter that until the money situation changed that the team would stay as inept. David Moyes changed that perception single-handedly.
Brendan McLaughlin
30   Posted 11/08/2010 at 13:59:03

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No problem Colin. Been there done that, got the T-Shirt myself
Peter Laing
31   Posted 11/08/2010 at 14:50:45

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I was amazed that Walter kept his job after the 0-3 embarressment at the hands of Tranmere Rovers at home in the Cup. To think he actually got another season after that makes me wince, watching the likes of Ginola with his hands on his hips and Gascoigne blowing for tugs epitomised what we had become. David Moyes has been more than superb for Everton, our stability, renewed optimism and the pride that we have regained is down to him and him alone.
Andy Crooks
32   Posted 11/08/2010 at 18:48:48

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Colin Noon, first of all I would like to apologise for what, on reflection, was a curt dismissal of your post. I would now like to respond in the way I should have:

First of all, I would make it clear that I would not wish Walter to be back. In my view, he did a fine job with, compared to David Moyes, buttons to spend. He behaved with dignity, he kept a club in utter turmoil in the Premier League and was treated badly.

Secondly, Walter is a winner. Yes, of course it was in Scotland, where, according to many on this site, anyone can succeed. Well, have a look at those who have tried in that pressured environment and failed. Martin O'Neill, for whom I have the utmost respect, would testify to how hard it is to do well in Glasgow.

Also, Walter Smith took a side who wouldn't have been in the top twenty in Britain to the final of the Europa League; he deserves respect from Evertonians.

We now have, in your words, the leadership of a superb manager. A manager who I admire but who has won nothing. We have gone, in more than eight years, from a skint club who won nothing to..... er a skint club who have won nothing.

David Moyes has built a good squad and I want success as much as any Evertonian. We can achieve that this year but how about some realism?

Brendan O'Doherty
33   Posted 11/08/2010 at 19:39:47

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Yep. Really miss that 5-3-2 formation with centre backs like Richard Dunne at full back.

Yes, Dunne. A product of our youth academy, given away for a paltry £2.5m.

Also miss that inability to come back into a game when we went behind. If we got in front first, then maybe we could hang on. But coming from behind? Forget it.

"It's disappointing". Never gutted like I was, just "disappointed."

Yes, Walter Smith is an honourable man. His achievements with Rangers can't be under-stated. But he was out of his depth in the PL at a club of our stature.
Colin Noon
34   Posted 11/08/2010 at 22:40:50

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Andy Crooks - Thanks for the response. I am as realistic as anyone and of course I understand that we will not dominate domestic and european football as it stands. That was not the point I was making. I was mearly sharing my optimism amongst like-minded evertonians based on what I have read so far on the website (which I am new to by the way). True we might have not won anything under Moyes but we are a million times more likely to than when Walter Smith was in charge. Can you imagine Mitch Ward scoring the winning penalty in an FA Cup final?? neither can I. I have seen some shocking Everton sides in my time, so now we have a more than capable squad I am looking forward to better days.

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