How You've Changed

Are there some underlying, long-term attitudes and trends holding Everton back? Are our decades of mediocrity catching up with us in a way that may be starting to threaten the long-term future of the club?

Mike Owen 17/01/2022 32comments  |  Jump to last

The 144-year history of Everton FC can be distilled into ten words: 19th century pioneers, 20th century greats, 21st century also-rans.

We hope to rise from the doldrums to become 21st century greats. But where do we go from here? The recent months of intense debate has focused on individuals. But are there also some underlying, long-term attitudes and trends that should be borne in mind?

Did our grand history lead to complacency? Are our decades of mediocrity catching up with us in a way that may be starting to threaten the long-term future of the club? Are we locked out of the financial elite for the foreseeable future? Is a new stadium at Bramley-Moore really the answer to our woes? Have we got the cart before the horse? Stadium before the team?

This article has five sections. If it had a soundtrack, it would be The Animals' version of a Chuck Berry song, How You've Changed. It's a Bluesey number with lyrics that probably reflect the way a lot of Evertonians are feeling about the club.

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Warning: Some readers may find some sentences distressing.

The Everton Superiority Complex

This concept may sound bizarre at the moment, but please hear me out. I believe older supporters are more likely to agree.

Blues from the baby-boom generation (those born 1946 to 1964), brought up on tales of Dixie Dean and Tommy Lawton, have not only enjoyed league titles and Wembley triumphs, but also remember us being viewed as one of the aristocrats of British football. Our home hosted a World Cup semi-final. A World Cup final man-of-the match was snapped up for a record transfer fee by none other than Everton. And our history has been littered with firsts.

I believe that, as a result, we long ago developed what I call an Everton Superiority Complex which has been passed down through generations. And that despite many disappointments this century, it persists today, albeit to a lesser extent.

We still expect to be brushing aside the Brightons and Brentfords of this world (even though these clubs may now be more forward-thinking and innovative than us) and we can react scathingly when we lose to clubs that have never been champions of England. Not for nothing are we known as a "demanding crowd". But, more significantly, if there has been an Everton Superiority Complex, has there been an institutional complacency running through the club?

For me, the 21st century Everton manager has the toughest job in world football. Whoever it is, he has a fanbase that not only wants trophies, but also entertaining football, and all on a budget no more than half the size of six rival clubs. And the pressure to succeed is intensified further by the greater success of our arch-rivals. It was never any of the most famous managers in Europe that we should have hired. It was that magician, Uri Geller.

Fanbase Erosion

Due to the televising of Premier League games abroad, there may be a growing number of people overseas who attach their allegiance to Everton. But in our Merseyside heartland, our fan base is eroding. And it has been for some time.

We're in a two-club city. There is this other club (toc), only to be referred to as toc in the furtherance of dispassionate discussion, which over the last 50 years has won, by my count, 36 trophies to our five.

And, in the last five decades, toc has had far more heroes and dramatic moments of glory. As a result, toc has received far more media coverage and has become a far more fashionable club. A lot of youngsters see toc on TV and attach their allegiance to them rather than Everton. Fifty years of comparative decline has its consequences.

The only salvation, thankfully a considerable one, is that a high proportion of young blues regularly go to the game, a far higher proportion than supporters of toc.

At the other end of the age spectrum, there are loads of Evertonians, who grew up in a Merseyside that was half blue, possibly more than half blue. They were spellbound by the Golden Vision, rejoiced in the Ball, Kendall, Harvey era and later partied in Rotterdam. But many from this generation of blue baby-boomers, myself included, is in the autumn of life, with a limited number of match-going years ahead of us.

I see us like a country where the death rate exceeds the birth rate. Every year that we fail to win a cup and fail to excite in the league hastens this steady trend.

The only way to put a halt to this is to win trophies. And the sooner, the better.

Mind the Gap

We would love to qualify for the Champions League. It's where many of us instinctively think we should be. But let's look at the annual revenue figures for Everton and the Premier League clubs that we need to elbow out of the way.

Looking up reports on the internet, I believe these are pretty much the correct figures for the last pre-Covid financial year, 2018-19:

Man Utd, £627m; Man City, £535m; toc, £533m; Spurs, £461m; Chelsea, £447m; Arsenal, £395m; Everton, £188m.

I don't know what debt repayments any of these clubs may have to make. But, on the basis of those figures, that puts us around £200m a year behind Arsenal and around £340m, for that year at least, behind toc.

It is common knowledge that a few clubs have more money than most, but that much more? The disparity is immense.

I guess this is where the argument for a brand new stadium with greater cash-generation potential comes into play. But good luck with that when traditional "make a day out of it" Saturday 3pm kick-offs are switched to Sunday 12 noon, Sunday 2pm and Monday 8pm and it's blowing a gale along the dock road on a winter's night.

The 2018-19 revenues gulf is nothing new. I think the last time we had about the same annual income as toc was around 1990. Ever since, toc has been stretching away from us.

But when it was announced in February 2016 that a billionaire was buying a large number of shares in Everton, expectations soared, even though his "entrance money" went to the seller of the shares, not the club. That cheery tune Happy Days Are Here Again blared out in many Evertonians' heads.

But the gulf was already huge as Farhad Moshiri entered Goodison Park. I believe these were the revenues enjoyed by the following clubs in 2015-16:

Man Utd, £515m; Man City, £392m; toc, £302m; Spurs, £210m; Chelsea, £335m; Arsenal, £354m; Everton, £122m.

However, we thought it would be only a matter of time before our billionaire would "level us up" with the rich six.

And after we made some fairly big-money signings, a narrative built up that we were splashing out on players (the figure of £500m for the Moshiri era has been casually bandied about). But this overlooked the fact that we also had large sums of money flowing into the club through player sales, not least the £75m or more that we received for our greatest goalscorer in the Premier League era.

So much has been said about our player recruitment. However, it was not just an issue of who we signed, but also a question of what we got out of them after they arrived.

Since summer 2016, the club has signed something like 30 players. If you check, please do, I think you will find that only seven of them have played 100 games or more for us.

And only three of the 30 have scored more than a dozen goals for Everton.

On that basis, I would suggest we bought more players than we needed – blocking the path of Academy youngsters – and failed to get the best out of our purchases.

Surely, this has something to do with changing manager every 12 or 18 months. The current squad has been signed by, or under, seven different managers, all wanting their own type of player. Too many cooks spoil the broth?

Either way, we have gone from Great Expectations to Great Disenchantment.

By the way, the seven were Pickford, Keane, Digne, Gueye, Sigurdsson, DCL and Richarlison. The last three mentioned were the scorers that managed a dozen or more.

Stuck Between a Dock and Hard Place

We're in the pub before the Brighton game. A mate, referring to a club update, says: "Eh, Bramley-Moore's looking good."

I ask: "And who's paying for it?"

An intelligent man, a loyal, passionate, long-term Evertonian, he replies: "Who cares?"

I believe he speaks for many.

There has undoubtedly been widespread support among Evertonians for a move to a waterfront stadium. We have been sold a dream. Rather than call it the Bramley-Moore stadium, I think of it as the Morale-Booster Stadium. It has fostered optimism, which has been good. But I am far from convinced that such a move is the right thing for us. I won't go into detail here. Instead, I pose just one question:

How does Everton FC find the money to build a stadium costing more than £500million AND at the same time buy and pay the wages of the players needed to re-establish the club as one of the Big Five, which we were considered to be in the mid and late 80s?

Because although the majority shareholder is arranging the finance and has used his financial clout to kickstart the project, it is Everton FC that ultimately will be shouldering the financial burden. This was clearly stated at the club's annual meeting of shareholders in January 2021.

The then chief finance officer Alexander Ryazantsev said that "the latest guidance" on the cost of the stadium was "in excess of £500million", and "the majority of that, if not all, will be funded by the club ... by a combination of debt and equity". He added that the club was looking at paying the debt off over 25 to 30 years.

So, the club will be going deeper into debt. How much? We don't know. What will the annual repayments be? We don't know.

I wonder if here lies the explanation for the delay in the club's annual meeting of shareholders. I await with interest. Because, to use an old saying, there's no such thing as a free lunch. Furthermore, can anyone sign on a dotted line for EFC to take on big loans if our Premier League status isn't looking secure?

Over the last year or two, I have broached the stadium issue with quite a few Blues, which has often led to the riposte: "Yeah, but we can't stay at Goodison."

Actually, I've never been convinced about that. Certainly, Goodison needs redevelopment, which would cost a significant sum of money, but surely not half as much as Bramley-Moore? Of course, redevelopment would have to be done stage by stage, which makes it another imperfect option.

And so, to coin a phrase, we've got ourselves stuck between a dock and a hard place. We're paying the price for not having resolved our stadium issue years earlier when everything was a lot less expensive.

Calculated Gamble

I believe it was only the prospect of building a big, new stadium that attracted Moshiri to Everton. If we were settled in at Kings Dock, I don't think he'd have been interested in the club.

Although I am sure that since buying into Everton he has also wanted the team to do well, because that would enhance the value of the club and the sale price he can fetch. And, of course, it would make for a much more enjoyable tenure.

Possibly he thought his time here was going to be quite easy. Moshiri and his long-time business partner Alisher Usmanov were involved at Arsenal from 2007 and had watched Arsene Wenger get that club into the Champions League year after year on a playing budget restricted by the bills for a new stadium that had opened in 2006. As someone suggested to me: "Perhaps this gave them a distorted sense of reality. Little did they know Everton are riddled with intricacies."

But a new stadium for us is never going to be a cure-all for our ills that have built up over 50 years. Call me old-fashioned, but I see us as a football club. One that is no longer fashionable. One that relies for most of its revenue on Premier League broadcasting deals.

What this club needs more than anything is a trophy. Without one soon, our fanbase will continue to erode and that would be a threat to the long-term future existence of the club as we know it.

But unless the club finds it too difficult in this increasingly turbulent world to find a lender, or lenders, who will advance the sums needed to progress the stadium project to completion, I accept it is likely (assuming we don't get relegated in May) we will be playing there in time for EFC's 150th birthday in 2028.

Even then though, in order to meet the annual debt repayments, the club could be largely reliant on the huge broadcasting fees that Premier League status brings.

I do agree that Bramley-Moore could be the re-making of the club, helping to make us 21st-century greats. But there is also a chance that the expense of it could haunt us. I would just like to see more appreciation of this. To me, it is a calculated gamble. And it may take ten years before we know if Bramley-Moore is the right move. It may take even longer.

Perhaps it's a pity that in 2007 Moshiri didn't buy a stake in Everton, instead of Arsenal. David Moyes might then have had more than a knife to take to the gunfight.

But we are where we are. We wait to see what happens on the stadium front. What can we hope for on the pitch?

I am always hopeful of Everton lifting the FA Cup. Many of you will recall 1983-84 when, if memory serves me, a dreary winter's day saw angry Evertonians booing players off the pitch and then a glorious spring day five months later saw us at Wembley ending a lengthy trophy drought.

And I live in hope of Everton "doing a Leicester", having a season where everything gels, we have the rub of the green and win the Premier League. And that we could kick on from there.

The only thing for certain is that there are no easy answers.

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Reader Comments (32)

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Greg Anderson
1 Posted 17/01/2022 at 06:49:29
A very sane and sober assessment – thanks, Mike.

I am of that "superiority complex" generation and agree with almost everything you say. It didn't occur to me that we had really lost our "aristocrat" status until around 2004, by which point it was clear that our mediocrity was no longer just a temporary aberration and we were financially outclassed by at least four or five other clubs.

But, as I read recently, one could argue that we haven't actually been a truly "big club" since the sale of the immortal Alan Ball, our last truly world class outfield superstar, at the peak of his powers. Perhaps the mid-80s success, with a rather makeshift team of non-superstars, was actually an aberration in hindsight.

Either way, I don't see our recently rudderless course ending unless we commit to appointing a truly strong DoF, one who can lay out a new vision for the club, before we plunge into the waters of the managerial market. We desperately need a serious counterweight to the amateurish whims of Messrs Moshiri and Kenwright.

By all accounts, Steve Walsh was never strong enough and always out of his depth. Brands was pretty effective so long as Silva was around, but increasingly marginalized once Carlo arrived. I fear that a good number of talented younger managers, especially foreign ones, may be put off by the lack of a technical director.

Phillip Warrington
2 Posted 17/01/2022 at 06:53:07
We all know the gulf between Everton and the so-called Big 6 has lengthened, while we have been focused on instant success in closing that gap by hiring and buying whoever was available at the time. We lost track of creating a foundation for the future (on the footballing side) and are now left with a squad that has more aged players who won't be moved on because of their wages, so whoever takes over is pretty much going to have to work with what we already have.

As fans, whoever takes charge now, we have to support 200% and forget about Europe or winning trophies. The incoming manager must get the team playing with passion which is all the fans ask for. We don't mind if we lose as long as the players have given everything they can, and if they don't then he has to have strong enough character to replace them with someone who will, even if it's from the Under-23s.

Christ, I saw Liverpool bring on a 17-year-old and he scored. When you consider our motto, we are the furthest in the Premier League from it. We have the best supporters supporting a dinosaur of a club who, for whatever reason, do not want to be proactive; instead, the club has become a snug in-house resting place.

Then comes along Moshiri who, with the best interest of Everton at heart, thought he could splash the cash and get instant success by gambling on Everton playing in Europe every year.

Now we are left with the reality that we really needed stability and ruthlessness. We needed the best youth coaches and the best people across the board.

Now, we are left with a stadium that could actually break us, as I have read Everton FC will be paying most of the £500M plus through loans and an over aged playing squad and sacked manager in the middle of the transfer period.

This, I believe, will be the most critical period in Everton's History – we will either rise from this or do a Sunderland.

John Zapa
4 Posted 17/01/2022 at 07:30:07
Great article, very good points raised. I've always asked the question about stadium funding because I cannot see any reputable financial institution lending the club money when it's been running big losses year after year, is clearly mismanaged, and is counting on repayment based on more and higher ticket sales in an era of Covid, free streaming, and live coverage of games.

I have never believed in the financial viability of the new stadium. The numbers never made any sense. The club expects to build 12k more seats at a cost of over £500M, meanwhile TOC is upgrading their stadium adding around 17k seats at a cost of approximately £250M. There is no reason why the club cannot follow a similar model of stadium expansion at a similar cost, all while keeping and improving the existing atmosphere.

I believe Mohiri is the worst thing to happen to the club, as the money being spent is not technically the club's money, but money that he is lending the club and will have to be repaid by the club to him at a future date.

The club has fallen further behind the traditional rivals since he joined. Other clubs such as West Ham, Aston Villa, Leicester, through good management on and off the field, have now overtaken the club. Newcastle will spend their way to the top within a few years.

With this leadership and management in place, the club is going to keep falling behind its traditional rivals and new rivals until it reaches the Championship.

Peter Neilson
5 Posted 17/01/2022 at 09:37:56
Excellent article, Mike, and based on the previous 6 years, absolutely no confidence in future decisions made by the same inept board.
Stan Schofield
6 Posted 17/01/2022 at 11:08:24
Good article Mike. I agree that we do have a superiority complex, based on the sheer quality of some of our teams in the 20th Century, especially the late-60s quality of football compared with other British teams. We were the equivalent of today’s Man City.

Some other teams, including Liverpool, have achieved greater consistency and quantity of trophies, but I believe that the quality we had, with the School of Science moniker, has left its mark. It makes our present position of habitual midtable mediocrity unacceptable in a way that would not be unacceptable to most other clubs. I think it also explains the clear obsession that many Liverpool supporters have with us. They had to endure our superior quality until the 1970s onwards, with their workmanlike but effective style of football, and they’ve responded to it by taking delight in our current position even, and particularly, when they play well and win trophies. It’s as if their being successful isn’t enough for them.

I suppose these are all ‘legacy issues’ from our history, which unfortunately make our present situation seem worse than it would have done without that history.

Alan McGuffog
7 Posted 17/01/2022 at 12:25:11
Some thought provoking issues raised in this excellent article. I hadn't considered the staggered ( buggered about with ? ) kick off times effect on the " make a day of it " idea.
Kevin Prytherch
8 Posted 17/01/2022 at 12:39:32
Phillip - agree that we should be looking at our expectations now. We need to lay some foundations and become a side that is difficult to beat over the next 3 years. Our 3 year plan should be to try and get back to where Moyes left us, (and where Koeman and Silva had us for brief periods) as a top 7/8 side with saleable assets. If we have the building blocks in place, such as the Moyes defence, then we can look to build like we hoped with Martinez.

The next 3 years should see us part with the late 20’s high earners and replace them with younger, hungrier players. The likes of Keane, Mina, Allan, Gomes etc have to go and the club need to be built around the likes of Godfrey, Mykolenko, Patterson, Pickford, Richarlison, Gray, Gordon and DCL (if they all stay). We’re not going to break into the Champions League, but we do have the chance to start putting together a team that knows each other and can improve together. Let that take hold for 3 years then look to see what we need to break that glass ceiling. We were only ever a couple of players away from genuinely challenging under Moyes and Martinez, we now need to mould a team like that then identify the manager and targeted players who can take us that one step further.

If we expect instant success now, we’re onto another hiding and another managerial sacking. But as long as we have a plan and we can see what we are trying to achieve, and are prepared to take the inevitable defeats on the chin knowing that we’re building up to something better, we’ll be alright.

Paul Hughes
9 Posted 17/01/2022 at 15:03:01
Good thought-provoking article, but I'm not sure about the local fanbase erosion. I'm sure you'll recall the attendance limitations around December 2020 - restricted to 2,000 season ticket holders with a Liverpool postcode.

LFC had no real issue with that, as they only had around 5,000 people meeting the category, so there was a good chance of getting a ticket if you wanted one.

We, on the other hand, had about 24,000 who were eligible.

Stu Darlington
10 Posted 17/01/2022 at 15:04:43

An interesting and novel approach to explaining the club's present problems.

I suppose I fit into the baby boom generation. My first game was October 1963, a night match, Everton v Arsenal. Everton won 2-1 with goals from Alex Young and Derek Temple, if memory serves me right.

I don't think I had a superiority complex in the seasons that followed; it was more an expectation that we would see good, competitive games and with a fair share of success, no doubt with the reassurance of the John Moores money in the background

However, football, like everything else, moves on and unfortunately we haven't moved with it. History, tradition, nostalgia are all important factors in our identity but are less than helpful in planning our future.

The old adage “If it ain't broke don't fix it” implies we have got the right formula for success. We haven't; we should be constantly looking for new ideas so our mantra should be “If it ain't broke, break it”.

That's never going to happen at Everton, however, until Moshiri and Kenwright are gone from our club.

Paul Birmingham
11 Posted 17/01/2022 at 15:27:18
Excellent structured report, Mike, and raises many questions, and brings out the home truths about the demise of Everton FC.

I'd like to see what the clubs growth plans and stratedgy for now, as survival this season is a must.

I'm hoping that the board, have learnt enough from last time Martinez was here, not to contract him again.

Interesting days ahead for all matters Everton.

Gerard McKean
12 Posted 17/01/2022 at 17:34:59
Mike Owen's name on anything about Everton always guarantees a thought provoking read and this article does not disappoint.

My concern would be that it might not get the number of TWers reading it that the article deserves with the preoccupation over the change of manager. Let's hope it becomes a slow burner because it should raise some healthy debate.

First off, what a great title! I did not know this song, How You've Changed, but Mike is right in my case certainly: it sums up perfectly my lifelong unconditional love for Everton Football Club and how, somewhere along the way, Everton stopped loving me back. And "you know I still love you even though I feel like a fool."

There were various times when I suspected that Everton had stopped loving me such as when the club acquiesced to the disgraceful lifetime ban of Tony Kay, when Catterick sold Alan Ball, or when Carter decided that his loyalty to the Conservative Party was greater than that towards Everton and did not oppose Thatcher's ban on the 1987 Champions playing in Europe, but we always made it up somehow.

At least I thought we did. Then came Kenwright and the King's Dock fiasco and by then being a bit older and wiser I knew not only had a priceless opportunity gone forever but my love could no longer be unconditional.

Year after year since then I've lost a little more of the old feelings until by now I look at the composition of the Board, the people "leading" us in our bid to become a great club once more, and I can only shake my head in utter contempt.

A few words to each of Mike's five sections: I see that one or two might be uncomfortable with the term "superiority complex" and I think I'd agree, preferring personally the expectation we baby boomers felt that our beloved club would never accept anything less than the best. NSNO rings very hollow now when you look at that excuse for a Board.

"Fanbase erosion", I take the point above about locally based season ticket holders but, to be fair to Mike, he does say that we have more match going youngsters than them but nonetheless a warning is being sounded. When I was at school there were far more Blues than Reds (mind you it was a grammar school and as we know intelligent people in this city are Evertonians), when I started teaching in the 1970s that was still the case but by the '80s things had pretty well evened out. We (that's you EFC) need to give our 21st century kids something to be proud of, some hope and belief.

"Mind the Gap", well some off the field nous would not go amiss. Of course a successful team on the pitch generates a huge income but the lack of business acumen over the last 25-30 years has hampered the club massively. All those clubs whose revenues dwarf ours have professional backroom teams (legal, marketing, PR etc) who are focused totally on supporting the growth and development of their club. We have L'i'l Miss Dynamite and her coterie of yes-men and women.

"Stuck between a Dock and hard place": nice play on words and surely the most contentious section of the article. I don't know anyone in my circle of friends who can't wait to see the new stadium and yet Mike raises some really worrying issues about the whole thing. There is some saying to the effect that if you want to lull people into a false sense of security, just tell them the truth. Ryazantsev could not have been clearer: the debt for BMD will be loaded onto the club. Moshiri will sell and we'll be in a Glazer/Man Utd situation, albeit without the global reach and revenues of that club. Why is this not a concern for us all? Why are we not asking more questions?

"Calculated Gamble" well my view, Mike, is that there is less calculation and more blind hope. None of Moshiri's gambles have come off so far and if the team's slide continues BMD and his expectation of a big payday down the line are in severe jeopardy.

A well composed, well argued piece that will get TWers thinking.

Tony Abrahams
13 Posted 17/01/2022 at 18:12:02
Because of my short attention span, it's not very often I read an article fully, but I've just read Mike's, and this hasn't done much for the numb feelings I have towards Everton Football Club right now.

The club is nothing short of a disgrace imo, and the list is endless for the reasons why.

Most people have got their wish now that Benitez has departed, but it really does seem that Moshiri is making it up as he goes along.

Martinez, Koeman, Walsh, Allardyce, Silva, Ancelotti, Brands and now Benitez have gone, but we've still got the same Chairman, a CEO, who does very little anyway suddenly (allegedly) trying to leave, an absent owner, and a club driving their fans crazy, whilst the talk in the media is about a manager who got hounded out years ago because he was taking our team backwards.

Jerome Shields
14 Posted 17/01/2022 at 18:25:08
I would say, Mike, you are spot on in your assessment. The stadium is being held up as a carrot to lead us on but, in reality, the club is not one that is progressing on generated profit increases, and won't suddenly be after the stadium is built and occupied.

This will extend the Everton problem over a longer period. Unfortunately, 27 years could turn into another 27 years. I don't think that Cup glory is part of the plan. It is more like Premier League survival.

Barry Rathbone
15 Posted 17/01/2022 at 19:35:37
Best article I've ever read about Everton.

The "superiority" thing is bang on and has fed a death spiral for the club going back decades. What a great piece, Mike

Stan Schofield
16 Posted 17/01/2022 at 19:50:52
This article has prompted me to make a confession, which is that I don’t think I love Everton. I used to, and thought the players gods, until we sold Alan Ball in 1971. I do think that that moment changed my view of Everton.

From that time on, Everton seem to have made a whole series of blunders one way or another, falsely raised our expectations, and habitually let us supporters down with all the disappointments. The latter probably sting all the more precisely because we used to be so damn good.

I think I love Evertonians more than I love Everton. After 1971, I’ve had more pleasure from discussing Everton with fellow Evertonians than I’ve got from actually watching Everton, which has mainly been a pain in the arse.

Dave Abrahams
17 Posted 17/01/2022 at 20:26:39
Gerard (12), great post as usual and your suggestion that a look at Mike’s opening post would be well worth reading made me go back and read the whole article properly instead of glancing through it.

Mike so many open and honest pieces about our history had me nodding my head in agreement of how we were and where we are now and realising that none of us have any great expectations of how we will fare in the coming years, n fact t would be foolish to even think we will be part of the elite in the near future but stay with our great friend HOPE, he always keeps us going even if he has to drag us along with him now.

I think one of the hard parts of growing old is looking back and seeing how wonderful it was to be young, but then being grateful for living through those lovely happy times and Everton were a large part of those days and it’s easier being old to forget all the grief they brought us as well.

Thanks for the post Mike I really enjoyed it and thanks again Gerard for suggesting I/ we should read it.

David Pearl
18 Posted 17/01/2022 at 20:39:56
Not normal for me to agree to an article but Mike this is one of the best l've read on here. Open and honest, not closed and twisted. It's this kind of thinking that can make us better and stronger and not holding our breath and huffing and puffing for 28 seconds.
Ken Kneale
19 Posted 17/01/2022 at 20:42:08
Mike - superb article for us Baby Boomers

Gerard -superb post

Jack Convery
20 Posted 17/01/2022 at 21:00:26
A truly inspired piece of writing - congratulations.

According to Darwin to continue to exist a species must adapt or become extinct. EFC have never adapted to the EPL and as a consequence have spiralled down and down. You cannot recreate the environment in which you previously flourished. It is impossible and BK has never, ever realised this and like the last mammoth wondering where has all the snow gone and how it can survive on a planet warming faster than it can physically change. For me EFC are that mammoth and have been since the EPL was formed. I have never felt so low being an Evertonian as I do right now. Before my very eyes we are heading for extinction as a PL club. Our debts are enormous. The new ground will be a millstone around are necks for years to come. If we don't go down this season and thats a big IF given the current circumstances, we will do soon as I fear we will need to sell our best players just to pay off our debts. God help us, though it maybe beyond him or her right now.

Paul Kernot
21 Posted 18/01/2022 at 03:32:21
Nothing less than superb Mike. I'm of the same boomer vintage and your article just made realise that we really might go down this year. Up until right now, in my 'superiority' state of mind, I honestly have never thought it possible and dismissed that the idea could ever even be possible.
Paul Kernot
22 Posted 18/01/2022 at 03:32:21
Nothing less than superb Mike. I'm of the same boomer vintage and your article just made realise that we really might go down this year. Up until right now, in my 'superiority' state of mind, I honestly have never thought it possible and dismissed that the idea could ever even be possible.
Mike Owen
23 Posted 18/01/2022 at 14:01:13
Thanks for all the comments/feedback. Is much appreciated, thank you.

Paul H, I am sure some other people might also think of your point that toc apparently has only 5,000 season ticket holders with a Merseyside postcode, while we are said to have 20,000 or more.

But I believe that is still consistent with my point about fanbase erosion.

The proportion of local Evertonians actually attending games is higher than the percentage of local toc supporters attending games.

As you know, such is toc's popularity that the demand for tickets to get into their home games is intense. Many of their local supporters have now got into the habit of watching their games on TV, either at home or in a pub. Ask pub landlords how many people they get in to watch a toc game and how many to watch us.

I have had this belief about our Merseyside fanbase eroding for 20 years. Sadly, I come across more and more "evidence" in conversations with parents, grandparents and young people themselves. I used to think north Liverpool had more resistance to this erosion, but I'm not so sure these days.

4, John Z, yes, I have noted you raising questions about stadium funding. And I think your grasp of the finance/accounting issues is more in-depth than mine.
I have been sceptical since the Commonwealth Games was awarded to Birmingham rather than to Liverpool Council which had centred its bid on a Bramley-Moore stadium. And I have noted Paul Birmingham mention this. For there would have been huge government financial support.

I don't know how many of you have actually played that 1965 song by The Animals on YouTube.
As Ged said, some of the words strike home.

Stan, an interesting thought, "I think I love Evertonians more than I love Everton." I know I have learnt over the years to enjoy a good day out based around Everton without letting the result get me down too much, or as much.

Raymond Fox
24 Posted 18/01/2022 at 18:40:02
A very good read Mike and I agree with all your comments.

Too many supporters don't want to face the facts that we are out classed on and off the field by the usual top 6 clubs for a start, never mind a few other clubs who appear to be better run than ours.

Changing the manager every 5 minuets and hoping he can perform miracles with for the most part moderate players has not and will not bring us success.
I'm sorry to say the only way that we have any chance of climbing to where the top 6 sit now is spending a mountain of money and I mean a ridiculous amount. Even then its a longshot.

As you say spending so much money on a new stadium is a very risky business, we are likely to have a great stadium but with very makeshift team.

Dale Self
25 Posted 18/01/2022 at 18:51:39
Good stuff Mike! And good to see the long form so well received by the forum, to often we resort to and accept the quick and dirty when more is required for a rewarding back and forth.

John Pendleton
26 Posted 18/01/2022 at 21:22:24
Focused, ruthless, calculating, driven, ambitious.

How come we get the only billionaire around without these qualities? Did he win his fortune via a PPE contract?

Tom Hughes
27 Posted 19/01/2022 at 06:43:26
Excellent article Mike sums up pretty much most of my opinions on the multiple issues you've tried to cover. Lots of great responses too, meaning you have triggered more than a few raw nerves and memories.

I am as excited as the next blue about the whole stadium project but have a lot of similar serious reservations. The still unanswered questions regarding the financial and transport models etc have been masked by shiny new stadium imagery and fly-throughs and "banks of the royal blue mersey" slogans.

There has been a whole litany of poor decisions and failures, yet we are expected to just accept that they've got this all right. Moshiri's debts have essentially been equitised into a greater share-ownership and the stadium could easily be construed as the best way of packaging the sale of a basket case of a club that has been run into the ground.

Truth is, we've probably been getting carpet-bagged for decades.

John Burns
28 Posted 19/01/2022 at 10:50:19
Superb article Mike and some great comments from Gerard (12).

What a fall from the greatness of last century to where we are now. It's quite sobering reading an article like this feeling yourself nod to unpalatable truths. I remember the swagger, and yes, the superiority of being an Evertonian. Now I just feel embarrassment.

During lockdown, I hated the phrase 'The New Normal', but I am coming to terms with a new normal of mediocracy for Everton. And even that might be too ambitious.

Scott Robinson
29 Posted 19/01/2022 at 11:25:19
Great article Mike. I believe the Everton 'superiority complex' is much a cause as everything else why we are where we are today.

I remember distinctly in the Moyes era that one commentator mentioned that 'Everton doesn't change managers frequently. They back them.'

Something changed in the Moshiri era and we all know what happened next.

I remember seeing screams by fans at Kenwright in a blood curling after the 2-0 home loss to Norwich, demanding 'Silva out'!

Sure, the football under Allardyce wasn't pretty, but he did his job. There were similar chants at Goodison.

I see fans boo the introduction of one of our own players (Rondon). Terrible in my opinion.

The recent fan efforts to destabilise Benitez were not helpful either. Managers are trying to do their best, and there has to be a plan.

The current situation of Benitez being fired, after seeing two of the best players at EFC leave, as well as the DOF, and head of medical is just plain INSANITY. Where is the plan?

Something has to stop. Unfortunately, given the instant gratifying nature of football and who embedded it has become in people's lives, this behaviour is likely to continue.

Do fans love really love EFC or are just looking for more short term, instant success, trying to 'keep up with the Jones'?

They probably love EFC, but their way of expressing it is slowly killing it.

Stephen Brown
30 Posted 19/01/2022 at 11:28:07
A brilliant yet quite depressing read! A great article Mike.

From it the point I take most is that winning a few trophies over the next decade or so could solve quite a few of the issues outlined!

I’m not being greedy. An FA cup, League Cup and charity shield over the next 10 years?! Gives the club more profile, more fans, makes us relevant and generates money.

Not too much to ask yet seems a million miles away!

Mike Owen
31 Posted 19/01/2022 at 12:17:48
I see the Swiss Ramble has done an update on Everton.

In my article, I said:
"A narrative built up that we were splashing out on players (the figure of £500m for the Moshiri era has been casually bandied about).
But this overlooked the fact that we also had large sums of money flowing into the club through player sales."

The Swiss Ramble gives a net figure of around £300m, for the four seasons up to 2020.

"In the 4 seasons up to 2020, they splashed out a chunky £566m gross spend (£294m net)"

I don't know what the figure would be for up to 2021.

Robert Tressell
32 Posted 19/01/2022 at 12:49:15
Mike, it's an excellent article – and thanks for the clarification from the Swiss Ramble site (which I'd never heard of).

The net spend has been astonishingly high by any measure. Truly tragic against your measure of goals and appearances. Truly tragic in terms of just how little of that money we have recouped from sales in order to reinvest.

I think the delusions of grandeur you talk of are part of the problem. There's a lot of vanity wrapped up in transfers – and people like to feel as though they're keeping up with the Joneses.

In fact, we were only ever pretending to be rich – even at the height of our spending spree – acquiring players who had already peaked below the level we needed to take the club forward.

A few years ago, we'd have spent a fortune bringing in players of the quality of Townsend and Gray, because we basically sought out the most expensive average players that money could buy.

Benitez had his head screwed on in that respect. Hopefully it is a point not lost on our owner.

Bringing in low-cost and relatively obscure or unfashionable players must be our future from now on – and accepting that we'll have to sell and move on every so often.

We're a much bigger club than any of Leipzig, Hoffenheim, Brighton, Brentford and Wolves so we should be able to come up with our own way to make it work.

Keith Harrison
33 Posted 19/01/2022 at 21:08:54
Mike, excellent article as always mate.
If the club would 'reach out' to people like yourself, Rob Halligan, John McFarlane senior - and even John 'junior' to find out what Everton was and should be, we might see less of the knee jerk appointments/sackings, and the gushingly awful utterances from Bill which just make us a laughing stock.

Anyone reading this - and I would, as a previous poster said, have this article re-posted following the manager debate - should also read Mikes' excellent book on Everton in Europe, "Der Ball Ist Rund". (The ball is round). Unfortunately, Mike, I cannot see you having to re-issue for updates anytime in the near future, pal.

Take care,


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