You have to admit that when Jermaine Jenas said “I don’t know who Everton are any more” he hit the nail on the head. I’ve been watching my team for more years than I care to remember; the first iteration I saw contained Joe Royle, Alan Ball, Colin Harvey and Brian Labone and there was no question they all knew who they were. Fast forward to the David Moyes era and again everyone within and without the club knew who Everton were.
We were the great unrich. Any transfer activity was circumscribed by our lack of money, indeed not just lack of money but burgeoning, barely manageable, debts. To stay in touch with the newly moneyed ‘top four’ we had to rely on other things, namely perspiration, application and togetherness. And it worked. With only a fraction of the budget of our rivals we finished, though SkySports would deny this, in the top four once and in the top six multiple times and we got to visit Wembley on a few occasions too. And yes sometimes the football was a bit dour, and yes there were plenty of one nil wins, but hey, we were poor, we had nothing except ourselves, and we stood together. And yes we moaned about Bill as he struggled manfully to keep the club afloat and to give Moyes support in the transfer market; a millionaire against billionaires, a local boy against the Russian, American and Arab carpetbaggers. But we took pride in what we achieved and in the end we played some good stuff. David Moyes’ final home game, a 2-0 win over West Ham in May 2013, represented the apogee of his managership, scintillating football and a second successive finish above Liverpool in the league.
But bubbling away just below the surface was always the dream of having money, of having our own pot of gold. How different things would be, how good we would be. Instead we appear to be lurching into yet another managerial crisis with Marco Silva seemingly unable to tutor his team, either to score goals or defend against them. A team which contains some superb individual players. Take Gylfi Sigurdsson. He is a key member of an Iceland team who define the word team. Perennial underdogs, fighters, grafters. Anyone who doesn’t understand the phrase ‘playing for the shirt’ go and take a look at Iceland. Yet for whatever reason at the moment Sigurdsson is not being channelled.
Our football isn’t lots of things. We press, but not well enough. We pass, but not well enough. We defend, apparently some sort of hybrid system of zonal and man for man, not well enough. Our vulnerability to set-pieces is now legendary and shows no signs of improvement. This is not a new problem for Silva sides; at Hull and Watford the percentage of goals conceded from set-pieces was 38%, against an average of 27% for the Premier League as a whole.
Farhad Moshiri is intent on rebuilding Everton a desire epitomized by the plans for a new stadium. A project which by all accounts is being handled pragmatically and professionally. The same cannot be said for the football. Moshiri has admitted that when he hired Marco Silva it was a gamble and indeed it was never clear what precisely qualified him to manage Everton. Right now it looks as though our owner has lost and whether he is prepared to throw the dice again so soon is uncertain. The precise terms of Marco Silva’s contract are unknowable but perhaps there is a break clause at the end of each season which might ease the monetary pain. For me Saturday’s appalling performance against Wolves, taken together with events at The Den and our shocking results over Christmas and New Year are enough to draw the curtain on Marco Silva.
Where next? The safest course would be to invite David Moyes to manage the team until the end of the season and then take stock and look at Eddie Howe, Mikel Arteta or A.N. Other. Somehow I don’t think Moyes or Arteta, would stand for the s**t show that masquerades as football at Goodison Park these days. We should be managed by a man who knows what Everton is.