Given I'm recently nursing a rather nasty recent bout of Man-Flu it was just as well I'd decided to book the day off work upon invitation to the book launch of our greatest ever manager… one Howard Kendall.
Parking up at Goodison Park I was headed for reception when I heard the honk of a car horn behind me. It was a friendly face in Peter McPartland host of the Followtonians podcast and some local radio football talk shows. I've mildly gotten to know Peter on such vaunts and once inside the Brian Labone suite Peter was in his element, chatting to the assembled media all of various pedigree. He takes to these things like a duck to water. I on the other hand go into my shell and freeze somewhat, a bit overawed, though that's not to say I don't enjoy the fortitude of attending such events. I couldn't wait to get started and it wasn't long until we were led to a large rectangular table where the book author James Corbett got things under way.
A representative of Everton In The Community explained a little about some of the work they undertake – helping local kids who fall into crime; helping military veterans (work that is likely to increase with the current level of redundancies in the Armed Forces); helping people out of prison re-connect with families and helping those unemployed to find work. All noble causes I'm sure you would agree.
Next up was Kerry Roe-Ely of Wallasey based charity Stick ‘n' Step. They help children in the North West with cerebral palsy and other disabilities to develop and become more active. She told a heart-warming tale of a boy who before he was helped by the charity could neither walk nor talk…he is now able to walk, run and play football. Howard Kendall and Phil Thompson both complete commendable fundraising for the charity.
The significance? deCourbetin Books (publishers of Howard Kendall's book) have pledged to raise £10,000 for Howard Kendall's two chosen charities with the sale of signed copies of five exclusive limited edition versions of Howard's book: Love Affairs & Marriage: My Life In Football. A minimum of £10 from the sale of each of these books will be donated to the two charities. More details and information on how to buy can be found on the deCourbetin website.
We rolled nicely on to the Question & Answer session with Howard. I was fortunate enough to be invited along to a similar event last summer and had many questions I'd wanted to ask Howard answered then so any questions I'd prepared were more about current goings-on at Everton FC regarding Martinez, Baines, who we should sign, etc. It seemed the assembled media had similar questions planned however and by conclusion of the session everything on my scribbled sheet of paper was asked and answered without me opening my mouth once. It was probably just as well as given my heavy cold I could barely pronounce my name to an understandable level at Reception.
Howard on the other hand speaks very well and with a lot of sense. He spoke of how much he enjoyed writing the book and how it brought some fantastic memories. He was keen to stress the book is about his time at all his clubs though of course a significant portion of that time was spent at Everton. “Once you've experienced any length of time here the club has that pull. It's the fans. Passionate support that you get, you can't forget it. When you're invited back you can't say no…and I didn't.”
Howard was asked: So is the same pull of staying at Everton going to be prevalent with Leighton Baines? “I don't think it's his decision, it's the clubs decision. It happens too often now when players make decision when under contract with club. The Bosman ruling changed everything dramatically. It was all in favour of clubs, clubs could retain contract. It's in the players interests now – too much. It should be 50/50.”
Regarding David Moyes time as the highest earner when employed by EFC: “I think the manager should be highest earner. I'm pleased with Everton's position. There's no Russian's, no American's coming in for instant success. We've a passionate chairman and big clubs should appreciate that."
“I don't think Bill Kenwright is under-valued, I think he's appreciated. There's a frustration there but that's easing a little bit now. Supporters understand David Moyes got the best out of players and got them in a good position without spending vast amounts of money. We're not going to win the Championship this season, no way, but we'll be happy if we have a certain amount of success over the season. What has been lacking under David Moyes is a trophy and the best chance was with the cups. I don't think the fans were expecting to finish first or second in the league but they were expecting possibly a trophy.”
And so the obvious question – is Roberto Martinez the man to deliver a cup for Everton? “Well he brought one to Wigan so why not? There's no guarantee. You're not necessarily best team if you win a cup as Wigan have proved because they got relegated in the same season but it's a joy for the fans. Going to Wembley,…bringing the trophy back. It gives the fans a lift and then your in Europe and the fans want that. We'll never forget the Bayern Munich game here (pointing towards the pitch). It gives everyone a lift.”
The questions stayed Roberto Martinez themed for a short time. Howard was asked what he would do if he was Everton manager now. “Believe in your principles, and Roberto has his principles. But he's going to a (new) club so don't change what's right. We've a good back four, a great goalkeeper. He's bringing in a couple of players. If you know your players you're less likely to make mistakes on them. Moyes taking his backroom staff out makes it easier to bring his people in. He's no major decisions to make. It's totally different to when I came back and was told to have a clear-out. I'm certain he'll get the best out of players as David Moyes did. I spoke with Roberto. Players will play for him as they did for David Moyes.”
Howard went on to talk about his surprise (and delight) at some of the current backroom staff who have remained at Everton in Kevin Sheedy and Duncan Ferguson. He described how Sheedy was a quiet lad and a quiet person and that he couldn't see him doing coaching. He explained how with Duncan retiring at quite an early age he probably felt he wanted to come back and do something after being out for a while. “I'm sure he'll be a manager at some stage because he's got that presence and I think he's got the respect. I wouldn't argue with him, would you?”
Did the penny drop for Duncan when he was in Spain? Howard was asked. “I think the Peseta dropped in Spain” joked Howard.
Back on to Roberto Martinez and Howard agreed it was important to get your players in early in the summer, before the season starts, though perhaps not as important if you are signing players you know. “He knows what he's doing with players from Wigan” (Kone). On Jelavic: “He works hard. He's got a good attitude. It's mystifying what happened last season. Maybe he comes good next season but now there's a doubt.”
When asked about targets for the new season: “In my day we had three years to bring in a trophy and it was the same for Gordon Lee and Billy Bingham, but it was an even keel financially. Thankfully it happened for me in my third season. If not I would definitely have been out (of the job). Targets (for Roberto Martinez) should be a respectable league position and a trophy. Champions League qualification, that's setting your sights a bit too high. That's a bit like a Bill Shankly statement. It creates interest amongst fans and gives the players a bit of a lift.”
“Goodison Park is a difficult place to come and get a result and I don't see that changing. We've slipped up against clubs nearer the bottom of the table and that needs to improve.”
Howard was asked who we should sign, apart from a Centre-Forward. He answered diplomatically – “I really hope Darron Gibson is fit for the season. In the latter games he played he was very impressive.”
An interesting question was put to Howard regarding who we should sign next from Manchester United…apart from Wayne Rooney. “Van Persie!” replied Howard with a big grin. “I think Rooney has one more big move before he comes back here. I think he will finish his career here.”
It was fantastic to sit and listen to Howard again as he really is a great talker and has some fantastic stories. His book will be fascinating I'm sure and I look forward to reading many more stories from such an interesting character.
Howard Kendall – Love Affairs & Marriage: My Life In Football is available from Monday 19 August 2013.
Listen also to this interview with Followtonians on his autobiography, on possible transfers, and on Bill Kenwright.
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152 Posted 03/07/2013 at 20:07:37
"I'm pleased with Everton's position. There's no Russian's, no American's coming in for instant success. We've a passionate chairman and big clubs should appreciate that."
Smacks of not biting the hand that feeds you.
155 Posted 03/07/2013 at 19:46:43
Kendall, like all good managers bought players to make a team. I actually think Moyes created a good team in the end but many times throughout his 10 years (and perhaps Board's fault) he seemed to buy a lot of utility player and panic buys at the end of the transfer window.
I see no reason for RM to do this with our team and I think he'll identify areas and buy specialist players for set positions.
174 Posted 03/07/2013 at 22:14:53
Hope you man flu goes away Paul, it's a terrible thing we have to endure.
I must be visiting toffeeWeb, bluekipper and sky ten times each a day at the moment - does that count as Everton Flu?
194 Posted 03/07/2013 at 23:31:25
204 Posted 04/07/2013 at 02:41:45
Like Howard, I am also pleased with Everton's position (even though every season I still put a bet on for them to win the league – which I always believe will pay out). I am also very happy that we have no billionaire 'sugar daddy' owning the club. If we did – and bought the instant success that (sometimes) comes with it, I would honestly feel like we cheated.
Martinez was not one of my favorite choices – but like every manager before him, I will support him and the team – and hope that one of my bets will eventually pay out – but by doing it the Everton way.
I still couldn't give a toss about Europe though – that might change if we are ever in it!
305 Posted 04/07/2013 at 12:46:14
Anyway, thanks for the memories Howie.
317 Posted 04/07/2013 at 13:14:17
Moyes did well at times but was stubborn to a fault whereby he had no plan 'B' and persisted too long with players out of form or not up to stanard.
Martinez has to be given a chance and given the club's finances may struggle for a while so let's not expect a miracle ovenight.
Like Moyes he has the crux of a good team to build on with some very good young players waiting in the wings as long as he can keep them .F ellaini is the key but is not irreplaceable.
609 Posted 04/07/2013 at 23:07:25
904 Posted 12/07/2013 at 03:18:57
When Man City "sold out", it was such a shame for the Man City mates I have. Although they love their team, it has been taken away from them and is more a brand than a club these days. All of a sudden, Everton lost one of our footballing brothers. They wear blue, hate the reds and have a colourful history like us. I never disliked City before but now I detest everything about them.
I feel the same way about Chelsea. It's like playing fantasy football but the rules are different. We all get £50 million to buy 11 players. >They get £2 billion to buy 40 players. And when they win... it's like OMG – how good are we at playing fantasy football!!
Anyway... upwards, onwards... and penniless but proud.
910 Posted 12/07/2013 at 06:27:46
I completely agree.
982 Posted 12/07/2013 at 13:24:02
I agree as well others say I'm just jealous but I'm really not I don't want us buying 8 star players as then that's not our team I want to add quality but a couple a year and then they can become Everton players not just a player.
Hope that makes sense I know what I mean!!
062 Posted 16/07/2013 at 05:47:48
Completely agree. Rob I love your fanstasy football comment - I'm going to use that!
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