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We're already there

By Kieran Fitzgerald :  06/05/2011 :  Comments (28) :
The original title for this article was going to be "Loss of Expectation". It was meant to be about how, over the last twelve months, with all that has gone on, my expectations have fallen through the floor... and about how I was worried about what my level of expectation and hope for next season would be. I was going to end the piece with a paragraph explaining that, in the run up to the Man Utd game, I was expecting, for the first time in years, that we would get trounced by Man Utd and I had no interest in the game. It was that feeling I used to get in the dark old days under Walter Smith; this was what was worrying me most about what I was expecting from, and hoping for, from next season.

I was going to post the week before the Utd game. Between laziness, and ultimately deciding to show some interest in the Utd game to see what kind of performance we gave, I didn't get around to posting the piece.

Well the Utd game came and went. The complete non-performance threw me so much that the article went out the window. Then the Wigan game came and went and this led to a me deciding to do a revision of the article.

I sat down on Monday and went through my usual routine of analysing the results and the league table. When I saw the positions of the three or four teams either side of us, and how we compared to them in terms of squad, finances and overall mindset of each club, I suddenly found the new point of my article. I don't need to worry about what might happen next season. The worst has already happened in terms of my expectations being lowered ? and we are already there.

When I looked at the teams in fourth, fifth and sixth, I realised that we are further away from these league placings than we have been in years. Over the last twelve months, we have fallen away financially, squad-wise and ? worst of all in my view ? mentality-wise. It's the psychology of the team and the club that has worried me the most over the last twelve months. If you look at the last two results in particular, I would find it hard to see how this squad can lift itself for next season. Liverpool were dead in the water in December. Now, they look like the don't want the season to end. You can't buy the mental strength that squad has shown.

Spurs may have to sell during the summer if they don't get Champion's League. Harry will do his usual wheeling and dealing with what is a squad chock-full of talent and they will be there or there abouts again next season. Spurs as a club will regroup and will push hard again next season for the invaluable fourth spot.

Man City, well they finally seem to be getting it together in terms of mentality and squad spirit... and can always just spend if they need to. Us? well, fingers crossed we sell five or six of our senior players over the summer for the price of one of our bank loans and then have second-rate freebies and a couple of young fellas for the first game of the season in August. And, from the way this season has gone, we will have the mentality of a mid-table team, not a team pushing for a top four spot.

Outside chance for fourth next season? Best of the rest in fifth? Sixth place at worst? Not a hope. That ship has long sailed and the expectations I once had are long gone. My expectations are long gone in terms of next season and in the context of what they were over the last five or six.

People have said that our remaining league games are now dead rubbers and that they can't wait for the season to just end. Well in my mind they are anything but dead rubbers. If you look at the three teams just below us, and how close they are to us on points and goal difference, these games are anything but dead rubbers. We are now competing over the last three games of the season with Stoke, Bolton and Fulham for anywhere from seventh to tenth place. But, we would also now seem to be competing with them financially as well as mentally: happy to be there; happy to be surviving; living from hand to mouth from season to season and glad just to have the chance.

A worrying feeling I'm getting from the club is that it is really starting to believe its own propaganda. "Surviving on a shoestring budget against the big boys... fifth place finishes with no money and a small squad... aren't we great?!" It no longer sounds like the rumblings of a big club down on it's luck ? more like a small club that can't believe it's lasted this long in the top flight. The mentality of winners? the mentality of the best of the rest?? ? don't make me laugh.

The conclusion I came to reading the sports section on Monday is that there is no need for me to worry about my expectations for next season. The worst has already happened, we are already there. We are this very moment competing with Stoke and Fulham and Bolton for a mid-table finish. Next season, we will start from where we left off this season.

With all of this in mind, I've stopped worrying about what might happen next season. Like I said, we are already there in my mind. We will be starting next season as a mid-table club. I will just wait to see what happens.

Reader Comments

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Andrew Fair
1   Posted 06/05/2011 at 15:11:44

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NEGATIVE CRAP ONCE MORE. BORING!!!!!
Sam Hoare
2   Posted 06/05/2011 at 15:18:28

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I tend to agree but then miracles do happen...Remember when we sold Rooney and then came 4th?

Don't give up hope yet! At least save that for when Norwich get a plucky last minute winner in the opening game at Goodison!
Paul Knox
3   Posted 06/05/2011 at 15:27:42

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Thats happening to our supporters ? they are beginning to think like Kenwright and his crew. No fight, accepting that's happening and believing the press: "Lowly little Everton, Moyes doing a fine job (maybe next Man Utd manager... if you believe that you're lost).

We have a decent defence, if Moyes doesn't try to keep his favourites happy and plays players on form. Midfield, player for player, we have one of the best, as long as Moyes stops trying to put his favourites in when other players are in form. Up front is where our problems lie on the pitch (I'll come to problems off the field later). We sign a new striker who needs games to get used to the Prem and Moyes doesn't use him till halfway through the season; Moyes sends two strikers on loan (about 3 or 4 seasons ago, Moyes complained about having a small squad). He goes and gives a new contract to a striker who can't give 100%, ends up wide and falls over a lot.

Kenwright and his band of egos are where they want to be and are only looking for investors, not takeovers as they don't want to lose the power ? similar to the North African dictators and look thats happening to them! Don't think we can get Nato to help, but people power we have...

They are looking for a new ground ? why can't we go for Stanley Park? It's had all the plans and planning permission done by they other lot.

I have joined Everton for Change where like-minded supporters are... those who still remember who we are. Do the same and maybe we can resume our place as one of the big 4 or 5.

Dave Wilson
4   Posted 06/05/2011 at 15:22:21

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I see us as proud boxer, a former champion who once enjoyed the high life. We didn't really give much thought to the future, we didn't have to, we were looked after by a father figure, a mentor, he took care of that... but he's gone and without him we are lost.

We no longer do the things that got us to the top in the first place. Sure we can still take care of the bums, but even that is getting harder. Title fights are a distant memory.

We are on the ropes, but we have the belief and the knowledge that we still have what it takes to get back up there. If only we can find another mentor to put us back on the right track.

We have to keep fighting. We dare not hit the canvas.

Ian Tod
5   Posted 06/05/2011 at 16:35:10

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There's big quality still in this squad still and I'd like to think this was a season of learning lessons and we will be stronger for it next year. Despite a topsy-turvy start, we've still risen above mid-table and teams like Stoke, Bolton and Villa.

As long as one or two decent players are brought in over the summer and they can be acquired without spending huge fees, we can still get to where a club our size and one with (most of) our supporters' trophy-winning mentality should be.

Phil Bellis
6   Posted 06/05/2011 at 16:33:32

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Nah, Dave... A boxer, proud or not, ages and becomes, through no fault of his own, physically incapable of competing. Our club appears to have just sat on its laurels since 1987 and failed to move forward in any way whatsoever.

Sadly, a whole generation of Blues now feel 5th is winning something and believe plucky little Everton, who have no money, through no fault of their own, can't therefore do anything but survive.

Stephen Kenny
7   Posted 06/05/2011 at 17:08:04

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I don't really think were on the slide at the minute, what could send us there is another season or two of dire football and mid-table finshes.

Revenues would probably drop and cheaper players would be needed to maintain an already small squad.

I don't understand how so many proper Evertonains are happy for us to sit on our hands.
Scott Goin
8   Posted 06/05/2011 at 17:03:13

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I agree that the expectations of this club aren't that high any more. However, I do think there's always hope. Anywhere you look in sports, there's examples of the underdog having a magical run and winning it all. That's the beauty of sports.

So, while I'll go into next season expecting a top-10 finish, I know that there's a chance to win a cup or get into the Champions League. There's even a slim hope that Moyes learns from past mistakes and tries more aggressive tactics!

The problem with this past season was that expectations were high (probably too high) and so we're left disappointed. One other point I'd like to make is that the great history of Everton is just that: history. We can't use it to buy new players, fund a stadium, or get our current players to score more goals.
Tony J Williams
9   Posted 06/05/2011 at 17:16:11

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The problem now is that we seem to do better against the higher teams and not so much against the teams who play the way we used to.

We are in transition but do not have the tools... that's why, when the injury fairy hit us again and we reverted to type, hoofball footy, we beat the likes of Wolves. Whereas, at the start of the season, we couldn't break down the parked bus defence with our mind numbingly slow approach play and blunt forward line.

We need to remember how to beat the clogger teams as well as playing better against the more open play of the Spurs ilk.
Tony J Williams
10   Posted 06/05/2011 at 17:29:51

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The strangest thing about this season is that I feel it has been a disaster and yet it is possible that we may finish higher than last season.
Tony McNulty
11   Posted 06/05/2011 at 17:29:59

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You are realistic and mostly rational ? until we get more money in, it will be increasingly difficult to get 4th place or even higher again.

What worries me is the apparent poverty of your aspiration. God forbid that that virus should spread any further amomgst Evertonians, because that is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Do you like Leonard Cohen's "Songs to chop your arm off to"?
Chris Bannantyne
12   Posted 06/05/2011 at 17:07:21

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I'm depressed. I've also lost faith in a lot of the squad.

Like a sulking child I feel like getting rid of almost everything. Board, Manager, half the squad, coaches, scouts... Maybe even the canteen ladies. Start again, rebuild and do it right.

Obviously it probably wouldn't work (especially given our current funds) and is probably a shortcut to complete and utter self-destruction. But that's how I feel, almost anyways.
Steve Cotton
13   Posted 06/05/2011 at 18:04:05

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My daughter went with her boyfriend to Egypt last month, she is a fine blue like myself but sadly her fella is a red. Anyway I digress... while there she counted four lads (including him) wearing a Liverpool top on one or more occasions in the week.

She even saw a Stoke top on one poor lad. The point is we cannot compete money-wise, fan-wise, media-wise or credibility-wise with any of the big 6.
Anyone who remembers the 80's glory days will probably never see the like again. FA Cup runner-up if lucky one year, hold Man Utd at home if we are lucky...

Time to be a realist me thinks and accept our lot... 7th is not bad when you have none of the above.

Trevor Mackie
14   Posted 06/05/2011 at 17:55:51

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Very good piece, Kieran.

It is "death by a thousand cuts"... the only point I'd raise is for many it's been evident for years, and I'm talking pre-Smith and Moyes.

Dreadful slide to witness and most worrying is this season's acceleration of the demise ? no serious chance of challenging for anything with just Premier League survival on the table as a sop and little regard as to how it's done.

I agree with your point about the dwindling aspirations of many ? already those of a mind are beginning to "spin" the 7th/8th position as a statistic to support Moyes and Co.

"Fiddling while Rome burns" comes to mind.
Andy Riley
15   Posted 06/05/2011 at 18:37:58

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I actually don't think it's all doom and gloom but the whole squad needs a serious refresh. We need to get rid of some of the old guard whilst we can still get money for them and replace them with some younger, hungry players who have got some pace!
Kieran Fitzgerald
16   Posted 06/05/2011 at 18:28:54

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Tony McNulty, I see what you're saying. Come next August, I will probably have the same feeling of excitement that I get at the start of every season. And at times over the summer, I will probably daydream as I always do about us winning both domestic cups and finishing fourth. It's just that, right now, I don't see the club having anything like the means that it did a couple of seasons ago to achieve what it did in finishing fifth or sixth and reaching cup finals and semi-finals.

Ian Tod, I did think when writing the article about how Moyes had gotten players in before, such as Jags and Lescott, on the cheap, and about how they turned out to be gems. It's just that again we lack the resources that we did a couple of seasons ago. I just find it hard to see that Moyes will be given enough money to work his magic again. I think we may end up with players that we would not have looked at previously because they are cheap.

Overall, I think one of the points of writing the article was to give myself a little bit of perspective on the consequences of how this season had panned out. I just think that we will start next season from the position of a mid-table team.
Tony McNulty
17   Posted 06/05/2011 at 19:00:55

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Sorry, Kieran, I wasn't trying to be a smart arse at your expense. We all go through phases when the blue-tinted specs fall away and we see, for what it is, the mediocre stuff that sometimes get doled out.

Don't get me wrong. I hate the way we play at times. My favourite player is Ronaldinho, so that probably gives you an idea of the gap between where we are and my aspirations.

I don't get to Goodison much these days. It's just that when I do, the excitement builds just before the kick of, Z-Cars plays, and I'm all excited again, and I think back to Ball, Kendall, Harvey...
Guy Hastings
18   Posted 06/05/2011 at 18:59:07

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If the Arse get rid of that waste of space Fabregas they might not bottle it next year. But you wouldn't bet your house on it.

SAF will have announced his retirement as Man Utd win the PL and the CL.

New Chelsea manager Pep Gladioli will recuit solely from the Italia Conti stage school.

Man City will be disrupted once again by their owners foisting another unwanted, high-profile diva signing on them; with Cheryl Cole signed up to X-Factor USA, it'll be Rhianna or Beyonce.

Twitchy McBung will be banged up leaving Levy to dismantle Spurs' squad and hope new man Warnock can do his usual low-budget magic.

Villa will be shite as ever...

So it's a straight fight between us and the Dark Side for next season's title.

Brian Waring
19   Posted 06/05/2011 at 19:47:07

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Andrew (#1) for a minute there, I thought you were talking about the football we play.
Kieran Fitzgerald
20   Posted 06/05/2011 at 20:35:46

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Tony, no offense taken. You were actually right. Part of being a football fan of any club is that you do keep aspiring and this is something that I think is integral to being a football fan. If you don't keep believing that your team is going to come good and win all before it, what is the point. I suppose I needed to put my aspiration to one side just to take stock before I immerse myself in it again.
Kieran Fitzgerald
21   Posted 06/05/2011 at 20:39:44

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Guy Hastings, that could well be the flip side to my post. I hope you're right!
Chris Smith
22   Posted 06/05/2011 at 20:45:35

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We are seven points behind Spurs and look at the money they have spent. Given our finances we are punching well above our weight. That's the way it is.
James Hollister
23   Posted 06/05/2011 at 20:50:43

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The OP is right, whether we like it or not. Of course it's not nice reading... but, until we get off our collective butts and kick this shower off the board, it's only going to get worse.

We kick the board out, then what? That's the dilemma we face.

We only have BK's word no-one is interested and no doubt there must be some form of privacy protection while any potential negotiation is ongoing, so that names and information are not divulged to the press, like exclusivity? I really don't know or understand how these things happen.

We have to act in the best interest of Everton FC; right now, the only course of action we can take is to get the current dictators out of the boardroom or we will end right back at the Walter Smith days of trying to survive in a league that's too big financially for us.
Dave Wilson
24   Posted 06/05/2011 at 21:36:19

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Come on Phil, have you never seen The Champ, or Rocky? ... Or Roberto Duran against Davie Moore.
Dick Fearon
25   Posted 06/05/2011 at 21:41:50

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Kieran, you have every reason to be despondent yet I suggest we are far from being a lost cause. Your analysis of our season does not take into account our woeful preparation for the season. Cast your mind back to the first half-d0ozen or so games when our physically unfit team was gasping for breath and much fitter opponents ran us ragged in the second half.

With the season already a few weeks old, Moyes on the OS stated that the squad would be hitting its straps in another six weeks. That was an admission of his sheer bloody incompetence. That terrible start was compounded by his defeatist tactics when we were at home to teams we might ordinarily expect to beat. In game after game the incompetence of our coaching panel is also clearly evident.

Under another heading, I have listed our squad and their basic technical faults. The average supporter could easily write out the same kind of list. It is maddening in game after game to see the same players making the same mistakes. In not a single case can I point to any improvement.

It is even more sad that youngsters like Victor, Jack and Seamus have seen their development hit the wall. I strongly believe that much of the blame lies in the quality of coaching.

The point I am trying to make Kieran is that money or the lack of it is not the sole reason we are where we are. In fact, it is a miracle that we are where we are.

Martin Faulkner
26   Posted 07/05/2011 at 00:38:24

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Dick,
I'd have to agree with you on the coaching point you make there. I also feel Moyes needs to shoulder a lot of the blame for his bumper contracts handed out to star players. We need to get back to an affordable level of wage cap. It's obvious that £70k a week for Mikey is far too much.

We should have a ceiling of £50k and, if players don't want to renew, then ship them out and bring in newer hungrier ones. Moyes fucked this season up sticking his heels in the mud demanding we hold onto current "stars" rather than buy the striker we really needed or a winger with pace. These increased contracts probably cost us a few million which may have made it possible to buy some speed.

I hope he learns his lesson this summer and does a serious refresh of the squad, if he has to sell assets to that end so be it.

Derek Thomas
27   Posted 07/05/2011 at 03:13:58

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As stated above, we all get keen at the start of the season. So now is as good a time to review just where we have been, where we will go and where we think we should go.

Given Dave Wilson #4 boxing post, it ocurs to me that the Footballing Obituary of both Moyes and Kenwright can be summed up thus...

' You don't understand! I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody...'

I left out the last line in deference to Moyes, who, while no Ali, is not actually a bum, unlike his boss.
Martin Mason
28   Posted 07/05/2011 at 06:04:35

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Kieran, what has happened is that you have recognised reality and it's something that a lot of Everonians have still to do. We have a lot of negative thought because many believe that EFC are a big club by right, that we should be doing a lot better than we are and that the reason we aren't is simply because we have shit owners and management. Just change that and it'll be 1985 again, I mean just look at our motto.

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