Confessions of an Evertonian

Dave Wraggs 04/03/2018 3comments  |  Jump to last

It’s time to hold my hands up. I unashamedly supported the appointment of Sam Allardyce as our Manager. I was even prepared to see how this season went with a view to retaining him.

I was wrong.

His move out of managerial retirement came at a time when the club I support was in relative freefall. We had no discernible playing style, players were out of position all over the gaff, we had a criminal lack of cover in some playing positions and, for me as well as a very large proportion of the fanbase, were in real danger of being sucked into a relegation battle; while David Unsworth before him, for all his Evertonian credentials, failed to get a tune out of the squad, much like his arrogant and aloof predecessor, Ronald Koeman.

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Allardyce is just what we need, I’d argue, he’ll bring organisation, discipline and a no-nonsense approach, he’ll make us tough to beat and more importantly, he’ll keep us in the Premier League. So here I was, arguing the case for a bloke, who, under ‘normal’ circumstances, would never have been on my radar as an Everton Manager. A case of needs must and horses for courses and all that.

All of this on the back of what was arguably the single most positive pre-season for Evertonians in a generation, Moshiri was splashing the cash, Bramley Moore was getting closer and it was actually starting to feel okay to be an Evertonian again.

Fast forward to the last quarter of the season and that relegation battle I’d been concerned about is by no means off the agenda and the organisation, discipline and toughness to beat are a million miles away. That famous Everton team spirit is a memory and the season can’t end quickly enough.

Three successive Managers have tried and clearly failed to get anything resembling a decent football team out of this squad, so it would be disingenuous of me to lay all of this at Allardyce’s feet. A very questionable summer transfer policy that has resulted in the construction of the Premier League’s most unbalanced squad, is largely responsible for that, so Kenwright, Elstone, Walsh, Koeman and even Moshiri himself, must shoulder the majority of the blame for that. That said, Allardyce’s record is currently worse than the one that got Koeman sacked, and that after the Dutchman had had faced Man City, Chelsea, Man Utd and Spurs in four of his first five games of the season.

Who was it that thought Schneiderlin and Gueye was the partnership that was going to boss the midfield, that Calvert-Lewin and Niasse would terrorise defences or that the thirty-three-year-old Leighton Baines would see the season through, without injury? Who thought Michael Keane was a Premier League standard centre half and would bring the best out of the painfully inadequate Ashley Williams, or that Sandro, Rooney, Klaasen and Sigurdsson could play together? The negative implications of all of this and the limitations of our squad was abundantly clear to every Evertonian by the end of August.

The one thing that none of us could have predicted was just how lily-livered this squad was becoming. The lack of heart, fight, guile, stubbornness, and even fitness is staggering and belies everything I have seen at Everton for the past forty years or so and is something that we’ve all come to expect as a given. God knows we’ve seen some shite over the years, but even the dirge Mike Walker served up contained at least some fight and the sides put out by Royle, Smith and Moyes were founded upon it.

On that basis, and even with his own over-inflated sense of ability, Allardyce, unlike others before him, has failed to meet the most fundamental of requirements as Everton Manager, i.e. put out a side that has fight and desire at its very heart.

We’ve perhaps been spoiled by previous Everton managers with their reticence to publicly criticise the playing staff, but Big Sam is having none of that. He willingly takes and creates every opportunity to sling one and all under the proverbial bus, abdicating responsibility for each defeat and heaping it on the players, while hinting at being a managerial genius on the rare occasions we have managed to win. Some may recall that he claimed credit for the 4-0 home against West Ham, which was Unsworth’s last game in charge. Delusional.

Another confession - I’ve actually defended Allardyce on a few occasions, as I think some of the criticism he’s received has been contrived, but as the season has moved on, he continues to systematically dig a large Sam-shaped hole that he is increasingly unable to climb out of, and I find myself now totally unwilling to defend what has become indefensible.

His universal unpopularity with the fan base can largely be attributed to his own words and actions, and to name but a few; the rubbish he spouted over the climate being too cold to play Cenk Tosun (before he then starts the Turk on the coldest day of the season against Burnley); Claiming the recent Watford defeat was ‘nearly a positive result’; Stating that Rooney and Sigurdsson were too slow to play together (days before they both play in the 2-1 home win against Leicester); the insistence on playing the apathetic and shockingly out-of-form Morgan Schneiderlin, in what has been a season-long vain attempt to bolster a painfully weak midfield, (Midfield – in my opinion the REAL source of the majority of our problems!) and just yesterday, his smirk during a live TV interview after the Burnley defeat, when asked about the fans’ disapproval of Sigurdsson’s substitution for the perpetually ineffective Bolasie, late in the game. Here’s a guy who clearly doesn’t ‘get’ Everton or Evertonians.

So here we sit with nine games of the Premier League season left and at the time of writing we’re a mere two points farther away from the relegation zone than we were when Allardyce took over. (Seven points, as opposed to five) If we do avoid relegation, and I haven’t yet seen anything to convince me that it doesn’t remain a possibility, it will likely be because we muddle through the remaining games we have and take advantage that six of the eight are against other struggling sides, and not because of a Sam Allardyce-inspired late-season masterplan.

For me, it is now unthinkable that Allardyce remains into next season. It is not beyond the realms of realistic hope that there is current Boardroom activity in working on finding (and perhaps installing) his replacement. If that individual is currently available, now is the time to go a step further and dismiss Allardyce immediately, on the basis that we simply can’t be any less effective as a footballing unit than we are right now.

Throw into the mix the distraction of this summer’s World Cup, when the majority of signings will likely take place late, we could potentially find ourselves with a new Manager who has very little knowledge of the playing staff, but who is restricted in the transfer market, as teams weigh up their options with players returning from Russia.

All of that means that we could be starting next season with the same core squad as we have now. Given that Williams, Keane, Baines, Mori, Kenny, Jagielka, Martina, Davies, Schneiderlin, Rooney, Bolasie, Niasse, Vlasic and Robles (forgive me if I’ve missed anyone) are barely good enough now, that doesn’t bode well for the future, whether that be in the Premier League or the Championship. Clearly worrying stuff for anyone that has seen the quality of our football and the absence of any obvious footballing plan, this season.

So, to Messrs Moshiri and Kenwright - I was wrong, and you were too, but only you can do something about it.

Do it now.

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Reader Comments (3)

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Mike Gaynes
1 Posted 04/03/2018 at 15:18:46
Well-written, Dave, and mostly beyond dispute, although I've never had serious concerns about relegation, and still don't.

I don't believe, however, that it's practical to change managers again now. Not that The Bloviator deserves one minute more on our touchline, but I don't believe we should be choosing a manager based on who's currently available -- that's what got us into this situation in the first place. Waiting until after the end of the season gives us a much wider selection. And I think the World Cup is the ideal time to make that selection, given that press attention will be focused elsewhere and the club can do its work under somewhat less of a spotlight.

William Cartwright
2 Posted 04/03/2018 at 18:56:33
Good post, Dave, but you know what – and this is an observation, not a criticism – It is like Groundhog Day on ToffeeWeb at present. So many articulate, accurate, well reasoned and well intended articles all stating the same bleeding obvious horror story that I am becoming immune to them! Sorry for that, but I am completely frazzled like most of us...

I agree with Mike on this one. Changing the manager now may be completely pointless, unless perhaps the available Mr Silva were to step into the breech and make use of the time remaining.

However, I have a sinister conspiratorial phobia that Allardyce is simply 'doing one over' on Everton; 'Save them' from relegation, yes or no – he's not really bothered. He will take his money, retire, and watch as the disaffected, despondent and distanced Baningime, Vlasic, Lookman, Onyekuru, Dowell, Kenny, Klaassen and Sandro (there are very good players in there somewhere I am sure of it), waste and drift, whilst Schneiderlin, Williams, Martina (a trier and I respect that), Keane (what a big tart), and Bolasie, shuffle around to be inherited by the next incumbent manager.

Whether that is in the Premier League or the Championship, he doesn't care – he will be well out of it. He knows, and probably has for some time that he has no mid or long term future with us.

Have we enough points to avoid relegation? I think so, but only just the way things are at present. Brighton's result against Arsenal today will gee them up for Saturday.

If things do continue and a real collapse occurs then the possibility of Moyes's Hammers sending us down will have a sad irony that could either send us into a very bad place or galvanize the management to look at itself and Kenwright's wasted years.

Kev Johnson
3 Posted 08/03/2018 at 21:07:27
Well said, Mike; totally agree with you,my friend.

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