Everton Flux But it Stays the Same

The managers come and go, the cash gets splashed, and promises of ambition and progression are made... but Everton stay the same

Ell Bretland 15/07/2020 34comments  |  Jump to last

Everton are always in a state of flux these days, though somehow, nothing actually changes.

The managers come and go, the cash gets splashed, and promises of ambition and progression are made... but Everton stay the same.

Since the highs of Roberto Martinez’s maiden season, every year has been so mind-numbingly similar to the last, you can predict with absolute certainty how the next campaign is going to pan out. Each one now follows a well-trodden path.

High hopes in the summer get dampened by October and are extinguished before February as the pile of deadwood in the squad grows ever higher.

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The big-money signings ultimately flatter to deceive, switching from flavour of the month to being deemed not at all good enough at the drop of another bore draw or gutless defeat.

Others, meanwhile, are stuck on the physio table and those not featuring are pointed out as the solution to all our problems. Blinded by desperation, we then start to forget the major pitfalls of the player we’ve finally shipped out on loan and convince ourselves he’d have actually done a job for us in our last pathetic Premier League outing.

As the season reaches peak mediocrity, calls to give the youngsters a go ring out while calculations of Financial Fair Play and vague guesses about how many clubs might take a punt on our cut-price flops fill Evertonian debate as another transfer window approaches.

A purple patch always comes at exactly the wrong time to paper over the disappointment that’s gone before and leaves fans rueing the typical nature of it all. A solid victory will often immediately follow the latest cup elimination, just because Everton love to tease and irk, it feels.

We put a run together from nowhere, enough for us to start imagining trips to Slovakia in July or perhaps even Italy or Spain on a balmy night in September but, just as the table shows Europe is in touching distance, we manage to snatch failure from the jaws of accomplishment.

From belief through to utter dejection and bewilderment comes the thoughts of what could have been... which simmer in our heads. And then the cycle starts again. Rinse and repeat.

This time around, after we eked out points to form a decent run following the restart, a top-six finish seemed a possibility, a long shot but doable. As soon as optimism rose just a little bit, Everton’s insipid displays returned in an instant.

So much money spent on a whole load of nothingness. It’s a side completely lacking of any style or substance.

With tedium reigning supreme and the monotony from game to game growing greater as we amble through our longest barren run in the club’s history, some journalists and commentators on the outside looking in have even started to ponder ‘Just what is the point of Everton?’

As Blues, we know the answer... but only our fervent support and undying love for the club keeps similar apathy from setting in. Hopes and dreams dashed and not realised for yet another year; but we keep going.

During the 2010s, there was a bit of void in pop culture. The same bands from yesteryear headlined festivals, the same reality TV guff got churned out and talentless wannabes were turned into somebodies for no reason at all. It’s pretty meh. As the song says, ‘Everything is average nowadays’. There was no fresh spark. There is a yearning for all things retro because today appears to be lacking somewhat.

The same can be said for Everton. The leaders we yearn for are few and far between in the modern game, this generation doesn’t boast the shouters and the bawlers while very few are able to lead by example. For years, we’ve been subjected to the overpriced and overhyped, making memories of those who left everything out on the pitch in the Royal Blue shirt even more wistful. So bereft have we been of any fight and desire on a consistent basis, we are longing for the bare minimum when Everton players at least put in real effort and showed a modicum of nous.

What they lacked in ability, they made up for in heart – and they certainly didn’t pull tongues or nervously snigger after making mistakes. They did their talking on the pitch too. Very rarely would you get two woeful performances in a row and they’d back up their post-match soundbites to do better by rolling their sleeves up and winning the next game through sheer grit and determination. They knew a below-par performance wasn’t acceptable and set about rectifying it. You’d get a response in the least.

While this Everton era of throwing money around to achieve mid-table mediocrity has been a real, arduous slog, it will never be as bad or as terrifying as the Great Escapes of the 90s, though the early Moshiri years will still be talked about with a sharp exhale of breath, a roll of the eyes and a bemused shake of the head.

As Dave Watson lifted the FA Cup in 1995, I was four and completely unaware of what was happening down at Wembley. That September, I started ‘supporting’ the Blues but still none the wiser my new team had been so successful, so recently.

In August 1996, as Gary Speed made his Everton debut on the pitch, I made mine in the stands. On a bright sunny day, we ruined Alan Shearer’s first Newcastle match as Duncan Ferguson played a starring role to steamroller the Magpies in a 2-0 win.

I assumed it would always be this good. It was glorious though for me and my own personal Everton narrative; things have never felt so rosy since. Instead, decade-long records of failing to win at this ground or that ground have plagued me and everyone else born after and during our Eighties heyday; Bryan Oviedo at Old Trafford provided some solace though the Anfield hoodoo continues to haunt and worsen while a win over Liverpool even on home soil eludes me in my Twenties – only six months from the big 30. Nothing seems to change, not one fluky afternoon has helped rid us of a single shackle.

From Walter Smith’s free transfers, loans and behind-his-back sales... to Moyes’s shrewd signings and £60-grand bargains, as we fast-forward to the fat cheques of today, while the faces are different, the mentality and mindset have stayed the same. It goes on and on and the line ‘Everton haven’t won away here since…’ continues to echo louder and louder in our ears.

Now, more than ever, as another season stutters to a grinding, middle-of-the-road halt and provides yet more questions than answers, it really does feel like Groundhog Day and that this constant malaise will continue for eternity.

Things do change though. Messes can be fixed and, while it doesn’t feel like that in L4, errors can be learned from.

Ironically, while things have never felt so insanely samey, at last, there may actually be a glimmer of light in this grimmest of tunnels.

It will take a gargantuan amount of Carlo Ancelotti’s genius but maybe, just maybe, his tactical know-how and expertise could finally turn the tide and get us out of this rut of predictable disappointment.

After annual letdowns will come fresh change. We have to hope… and so starts the Everton merry-go-round of expectation, longing, yearning and praying, again.

One day, we’ll be free of this and it will have all been worth it. It has to have been.

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Reader Comments (34)

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Chris Taggart
1 Posted 15/07/2020 at 16:47:44
I could not have put it better myself.I have supported Everton since 1966 and I can't remember being as frustrated about the club as now.

We have all the ingredients to succeed, ie, owner with money and now a world class manager but if this does not now work out then I don't know what else can be done.

Sam Fitzsimmons
2 Posted 15/07/2020 at 16:55:24
A well-considered and articulated piece, Ell. It certainly captures the hopes and excitement I have at the beginning of each new season and the expectation that comes with a new manager, new players or young academy players making their debut.

But then after no more than eight weeks into the season, I realise it's just shaping up to be another Groundhog season. Nothing changes. That said, there's always next season.

Kieran Kinsella
3 Posted 15/07/2020 at 16:57:34

Very accurate including your mention of how we always hit a purple patch after the cup run. The 4-year-old Ell was duped with the 1995 FA Cup win, just as I was roped in at 7 by the same victory a decade earlier. At least I was able to enjoy some more happy years so I feel bad for you with the timing of your birth. Great article though, reflects precisely everything I feel and see.

Stephen Brown
5 Posted 15/07/2020 at 17:05:29
Nail on the head Ell!

It’s certainly hard to change a culture!

Andrew Hight
6 Posted 15/07/2020 at 17:06:59
Great article. Easily one of the best commentators of EFC on Twitter.
Paul Ellam
7 Posted 15/07/2020 at 17:17:25
Perfectly sums up Everton. A club who win easily when we don't need to and lose as soon as the heat is on and there is significance to a game!

We have all we need to succeed but the mentality. I am hoping Ancelotti can instill it into the players here now, and future players, or he won't hang around long!

This mentality problem also goes for the Board. We must stop ignoring the cup competitions and really really try to win some. If nothing else, it will buy them time for the "big project" to succeed.

What I would like to see is a team hungry to beat whoever the opponent is in front of them. A team hungry to succeed and to hate losing – not a team full of players happy to collect a wage.

I want our players to actually want to feel what it's like to win a trophy. I am not confident but will continue to keep my fingers crossed.

Martin Nicholls
8 Posted 15/07/2020 at 17:21:51
I agree with all previous comments, Ell – an excellent article with depressingly full and accurate description of our football supporting lives.
Philip Bunting
9 Posted 15/07/2020 at 17:29:29
Problem I have now with this team is that there are no idols, heroes those to look to when times are hard... just nothing. Even when we had some poor teams in the past, there was always half a dozen players you could count on to raise the team or the fans.

We need bottle, identity etc. Coleman, for all his £60k is never captain material, never. We need a leader out on the pitch, raising his voice, screaming if he has to. This is not about making friends, this is about winning and for me that is what it's about.

Timothy Sebastian
10 Posted 15/07/2020 at 17:56:57
I don't think much will change under Ancelotti. He seems tired and old. He doesn't have the energy of a young Moyes or the enthusiasm of a Klopp. He has the experience, but does he still have the fire to drive this team of under-performers, or to totally overhaul this team. I'm hoping I'm wrong.
Barry Rathbone
11 Posted 15/07/2020 at 18:05:25
It irks me to say this but the template for getting out of the decades old stupor of this club comes from across the park.

Bill Shankly picked up Liverpool in a much worse state not even having a proper water supply he gutted the place introducing a complete new squad to take on the basics of hard running and simple passing. This basic foundation has sustained them ever since.

The real problem here is the place is run (and in many cases supported by) people a bit too grand to get down and dirty when required. For all his success I don't see Carlo as the man to remedy this

Minik Hansen
12 Posted 15/07/2020 at 18:07:49
Nothing ever remains the same. We all know this stability of mediocrity with good performances scattered here and there and far between the last few (it’s getting to many now) seasons.. We’ve been waiting for the right ingredient, whether it be a player or two (more likely three), the right manager, and the fans believing again instead of moaning all the time (we have our part to play to push on the club - in the best way - everybody knows it’s not fun to have coworkers or whoever moaning about you), sowe have to collectively believe, and the right spark have been Richarlison and Holgate, and I believe we’ll get a few top players that make the squad want to get along and fight with guts in 20/21, making our beloved team recognizable again.
Patrick McFarlane
13 Posted 15/07/2020 at 18:09:53
Timothy #10

Poor Carlo, He's tired and old, now I know why I and much of the crowd on here are so grumpy – it's because we're all tired and old!

Everton FC are paying Carlo to do exactly what you claim he won't be able to do, perhaps it's because the owner and chairman are also tired and old.

The only people I've seen looking tired and old at Everton recently are those who have taken to the pitch.

Joe McMahon
14 Posted 15/07/2020 at 18:19:38
Timothy @10 young hungry Moyes has never actually won anything and probably wont. He got the wooden spoon for relegating Sunderland remember, and you are putting him in the same category as Klopp.
Patrick McFarlane
15 Posted 15/07/2020 at 18:21:14
I think one of our major issues as a club and as a fan-base is our constant awareness of what our neighbours will do, are doing and have done.

Healthy rivalry is one thing being obsessed with them or using stuff that happened prior to the birth of many of our followers – those who are under sixty – as an example of what our club should follow is another.

Surely other clubs can provide us with the personalities who we can use as examples of good practice?

Timothy Sebastian
16 Posted 15/07/2020 at 18:21:54
Patrick #13,

I must admit, I'm tired and old too. :-)

Timothy Sebastian
17 Posted 15/07/2020 at 18:25:37
Joe #14

Actually, I think today, we could do with a young Moyes, coupled with Farhad's money. That combination could win us something.

Mal van Schaick
18 Posted 15/07/2020 at 18:29:31
May be we need a flux capacitor to launch us into the future?

I’ve seen the highs and lows since 1968. Recent history tells us that no matter how much money or how much good will of managers past and present, it is down to the desire of the players that will bring any future success at Everton.

At the moment there is neither the will, desire or quality to bring success from a good proportion of the players. Particularly in midfield.

The owner and the manager have seen what we have seen, and must know what is required to achieve their aims.

A wholesale clear out in midfield is required. The signing of proven goal scorers and creative midfielders will be essential for us to get anywhere near the top four.

We can only hope this time they get it right.

Tony Everan
19 Posted 15/07/2020 at 19:02:26
Ell. Thanks for the article.

We Evertonians have to be optimistic and hopeful. It's all we've got left.

There's a long transfer window coming up until October 5th so there'll be no excuses for Brands. Carlo needs players who will fight for him and the team; we all know the positions, but that's just one part of it.

The players coming have in to be of the right mentality, tough uncompromising professionals. It's of no use signing meek shirkers again. Much more needs to be studied about the character of the player.

Carlo will have a vision on the style of play he wants. The players coming in must fit this vision and be bought as starters.

Brands says 2 or 3, maybe he's right when it comes to the critical signings we need. On top of that, maybe Brands can find us a hidden diamond.

Damien Coleman
20 Posted 15/07/2020 at 20:00:36
I have supported Everton since 1989, regularly read but hardly ever post on ToffeeWeb, and this article perfectly sums up how it has felt following the club in the last 4-5 years.

Surely fans of no other club in the country can predict results with the same tedious accuracy as us?

We will lose away to at least 4 or 5 of the ‘Big Six', regardless how many injuries they have or key players they rest. The other game will be a draw, usually at Old Trafford or occasionally Stamford Bridge. Never a win, so we're essentially playing a 32-game season every year. Bournemouth, Southampton, Burnley, Palace etc etc sometimes overcome the odds at these grounds, but never us.

We'll go out of the FA Cup to the first Premier League side we get drawn against. We will suffer at least one horrific home defeat to a newly-promoted team, before finally putting a too-little-too-late run together against a few mid-table sides with one home win against a traditional ‘top‘ side (Usually Man Utd, sometimes Chelsea, never Liverpool) thrown in just to tease us. Then, just as night follows day, the season peters out as soon as we start optimistically eyeing the top 6.

How do we change it? Managers, players, formations and owners come and go, but the lethargy and mental weakness around the club seems to remain.

Please, can somebody give me cause to believe next season will be different? Please!

Christy Ring
21 Posted 15/07/2020 at 20:02:24
Ell, enjoyed your piece, but Carlo has to be given a chance, and this transfer window, his first, will tell us a lot, but his CV is up there with the best, and he's definitely not past it.
Paul Birmingham
22 Posted 15/07/2020 at 20:13:41
Thanks, Ell, a good article and summarises well, the general angst and what that brings with all matters Everton.

Carlo Ancelotti has proven pedigree, and I believe and I am confident in his ability to turn the mess around, granted he has the time and resources to forge his own team.

Time, and patience are staple life essentials, but in football, are rarely given.

Let's get behind the club, forget the RS, and whilst very tough now, transcend the grey skies over Goodison Park.

Here's to hoping, and like so many, the clocks being running and runs faster, it seems, every passing day.

It would be incredible to win a trophy next season, but hand on heart as it stands, it's gonna take a huge tank of effort and some good luck.

After the last trio of matches, I don't believe the poo4 unprofessional attitudes by most of the players, will not be tolerated any more, and the lazy players, won't be picked.

Let's see which Everton turns up tomorrow night.

Jay Tee
23 Posted 15/07/2020 at 21:10:34
I haven't been able to understand why, regardless of Manager apart from Roberto's first couple of seasons and Dunc's short interlude, why we never look as if we practice any play moves?

Defenders motionless at the back save for the odd foray down the wings, midfield never getting very far past the half-way line and attackers waiting in their half for the ball to drop to their feet. It's like watching Subbuteo – no movement, waiting for ball to feet.

You watch the good teams and they all move up and down together with movement to create space and movement into positions to receive a ball to move forward to attack the goal. There is something wrong with training.

Steve Carse
24 Posted 15/07/2020 at 21:59:20
One Groundhog Day element omitted in your piece, Ell: being on the end of, and rarely recovering from, a number of awful refereeing decisions (now even more a feature thanks to VAR).

The latest classic example, of course, being the chalked-off winner against Man Utd – an immensely demoralising and deflating event – since which we've never got close to the form we were showing up till then.

Craig Walker
25 Posted 15/07/2020 at 22:10:13
Great article, Ell. Only thing you missed is the stadium news either after a bad defeat or before season ticket renewal time.
Mark Andersson
26 Posted 15/07/2020 at 22:53:05
Fantastic article, thanks for a good read..

Im 60 in September fell in love with Everton in 1966 after watching the FA Cup being paraded down Scottie road. It's been a Long And Winding Road since..

I relate to all the above posts. However the reality of how the world has changed and not for the better leaves me reflecting on how short this life is. We can only live in hope that it will change for the better because hope is all we have left.

10 years is a lifetime in football for any generation. Carlo is the last hope for us over 60 to bring back some kind of nostalgia and pride back. Sadly I think it won't happen.. We have become the 2nd rate club lost in the shadow of darkness to the red shite.

Before my time Liverpool FC were the ones in the shadows the rivalry of the Merseyside derbies were friendly but passionate now their filled with resentment and hate.

I have four grandsons not one interested in football. Is that a blessing?? It's been a curse for my son not old enough to remember his dad's excitement when coming home from watching Kendall's great teams of the 80s.

Just old enough to fall in love with Royle's FA Cup winning team of 95... since then he has had to endure the long and winding road to nowhere.The world has changed and not for the better football the same..

Good luck to all who still live in hope that Everton will rise from the ashes to become the biggest team in Liverpool again..

It ain't gonna happen any time soon.. this coming from a man whose glass is half full. Talking of which I need a top-up... cheers Blues.

Jack Convery
27 Posted 15/07/2020 at 23:16:23
Great piece Ell. Being just 60, it's me you described as a follower of EFC.

The news of Man City's ban being overturned may just be the catalyst we need. Get Usmanov involved now!

I hope we vote against 5 subs for next season as that just benefits the so-called bigger clubs.

Michael Barrett
28 Posted 15/07/2020 at 23:55:14
Best article I have ever read regarding Everton..take a bow son.
Jamie Crowley
29 Posted 15/07/2020 at 00:10:59
Exquisite, and brutally accurate.

You’re one mature and intelligent 29 year old man, Ell.

Without a shred of being condescending, if your parents aren’t proud of you, they should be. You see a bigger picture.

Not everyone does.

Great piece. Now let’s get on the flippin’ Blue Merry-Go-Round and go for a ride. And even though it’s Groundhog’s Day, enjoy the ride, kid. There’s still some beauty in it.

Mark Murphy
30 Posted 16/07/2020 at 07:11:02
Sobering stuff and I hate being sober but when even us Blues ask the question “what is the point of Everton” you know it’s been too long! It would be very interesting to know if the mandarins in the club are aware of the swelling dissent in the support base and if they are “bovvered” - I get the impression they are decidedly not at all!
Tom Edwards
32 Posted 16/07/2020 at 13:42:05
Superb article, Ell. I wish I could put my thoughts down as succinctly and eloquently.
I am approaching 57 and have been a fan for at least 54 of those years. I was one of only two Evertonians in my junior school and suffered many a smack across the back of my head or a good kicking if I dared to wear my Everton kit for PE!
I was a season ticket holder from 1974 to 1990 (when I left Liverpool) so I was lucky enough to see the Kendall mk1 glory years. I feel sorry for your generation for having been starved of any success. My own youngest son is 22 and an Everton fan and like you Ell, has only witnessed mostly mediocre crap. You deserve better for your loyalty, but I fear it will be some time coming!
Dave Abrahams
33 Posted 16/07/2020 at 13:58:49
Great article from the heart Ell, you really have suffered along with thousands from your era, sincerely hope it gets better for fans of your age and younger, here’s some good news we are on our longest home run without defeat since 2016, ten games, five wins and five draws, I hope I haven’t jinxed it for tonight!!!
Martin Mason
34 Posted 16/07/2020 at 17:10:30
Yet why do we expect it to be any different? We're at best potentially a top 7 side based on resources and actual spending. We've changed managers far too often often aided by pressure from us the fans and this causes massive disruption each time. We've recruited the best available DoF's based on current performance and, whilst a lot of our buys have not turned out to be great they could have been so if they had been coming into a side playing well. We've brought some great youngsters and progressed many through the academy but, like most similar players at all clubs, very few have managed the step up. We've found stable finance now and taken on one of the best managers in the game and, in addition to progressing a new stadium, they have done everything right but not made the playing side click. Injuries haven't helped this in any way and mid table would be a fair reflection on where we should be this season taking everything into account.
We have one chance now and that is to give Carlo and the club the chance to turn things round and accept that is not going to be a quick process. In turn the club needs to buy possibly 2 or 3 players of the correct calibre and maybe none if they can't find the right ones. Some talk as though the club is happy with the playing strength being so poor, I don't believe that this is anything like correct. I fully support what they are doing and believe they will do it in the end.
Brian Murray
35 Posted 19/07/2020 at 11:59:58
Marin Mason, post 34.

We have changed managers because the last four have been very limited – not because of any fan pressure.

Derek Moore
36 Posted 21/07/2020 at 18:42:34
What a brilliant read. I haven't felt this way after reading something in many years.

Evertonians everywhere - this is our story.

Regardless of the curse of being an Evertonian in 2020 Ell, you at least have the consolation of being an absolute wordsmith, a genius with the pen. Football is a lot like writing, at the end of the day the difference is in the style. A KITAP1 1-0 is so very different to a one goal win where you dominate possession, hit the woodwork multiple times and your frontman fluffs a few sitters. The result may be identical, but the process is what counts.

It's all in the style, and you've lashings of it young man. Will look for your byline more often and I'm hoping we get to see it. Outstanding.

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