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Crystal Palace v Everton

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It’s 10 long months since Everton’s last win on the road, coincidently coming against this Saturday’s opponents at Selhurst Park, courtesy of a late, late Seamus Coleman strike.

David Unsworth takes charge of the first team once again while the lengthy search for a permanent manager continues, and he will be desperate for a change of fortune on the road.

Unsworth needs to find a formula that allows his troops to perform like they did in the last 25 minutes of the Watford clash for the full 90.

It was a massive win two weeks ago, after nearly two months without victory, but it is how the team kick on that will really show the credentials of Everton.
Palace are rock bottom of the Premier League after a disastrous opening 11 games of the campaign which has seen them only pick up one win, surprisingly against last year’s Champions, Chelsea.

Things have looked better over the last few weeks for the Eagles, with Roy Hodgson going back to basics, an equaliser against West Ham with the last kick of the game and an unlucky loss at Wembley to Spurs in their last two fixtures.

Who are Crystal Palace’s dangermen?

Wilfried Zaha has everything a low on confidence Everton defence do not want to come up against… pace, trickery and an eye for a goal.
He is Crystal Palace’s top scorer in the league this season, with 50% of their goals coming from the Ivorian international.

However, that is no real achievement in the current climate, with Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta and a penalty being his closest rivals.

Christian Benteke must love coming up against the Blues, having netted five goals and collected an assist in seven appearances against Everton.

The Belgian is looking to open his 2017/18 tally after an impressive 17 goals in his first season at Palace.

A massive threat to any defence on his day, you won’t see the 6ft3 attacker lose out on many areal duels.

https://twitter.com/Squawka/status/885227765783347200

Team news –

England’s Man of the Match against Germany, Ruben Loftus Cheek, went off injured against Brazil in the early stages, so the young Englishman is a doubt for the clash.

Benteke has shrugged off an injury that has kept him out for the Londoners’ last few games.

Patrick van Aanholt, Jordon Mutch and Lee Chung-yong are unavailable for the hosts.

Long term absentees Yannick Bolasie, Ross Barkley, Ramiro Funes Mori and Coleman are still out, with James McCarthy and Cuco Martina still on the side-lines.
Tom Davies picked up a knock during England under 21 duties so is doubtful for this one.

A win could see Everton rise to 12th in the division, a loss would have the Toffees teetering in or around the relegation zone, depending on results elsewhere.
It is the start of a run of matches against sides grouped closely in the league, and if Everton want to push away from their early season lows of the bottom half of the table, then these are the types of games the Blues must pick up all three points in.

Up the Toffees.

The post Crystal Palace v Everton appeared first on GrandOldTeam.

Colin Harvey – a personal appreciation

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The term ‘legend’ is a much used, even over used, term for former sports stars, but in the case of former Everton and England midfielder Colin Harvey, the word legend doesn’t go far enough.

Realising that today was the 73rd birthday of Colin Harvey caused me to reflect on a couple of personal memories of a simply marvellous footballer.

I was seven when Colin Harvey made his Everton debut in a 1963 European Cup tie against Internazionale of Milan in the fabled San Siro stadium, ten when he scored an epic FA Cup semi-final winner against Manchester United on a mudbath of a pitch at Burnden Park, and then play a massive part in that glorious 1966 come-from-behind win over Sheffield Wednesday.

I was thirteen when I first set foot inside Goodison Park and saw him as part of that incredible midfield Holy Trinity with the now sadly departed Alan Ball and Howard Kendall in the majestic 69/70 League Championship winning side. If there’s ever been a better midfield trio, I’ve yet to hear of them. Together, they didn’t just control games, they dominated and owned games but did it with grace and style as well as industry and tenacity.

Harry Catterick, the manager who brought Harvey through the ranks at Everton once said when speaking of his Holy Trinity, “in terms of skill and ability, Colin was the best of the three.” No lesser player than the late, great George Best – part of the famed Best, Charlton and Law trio – said of the late 60s/early 70s Everton side, “they were a delight to watch and play against.”

One of my abiding memories of Colin Harvey was a game at Upton Park against West Ham United, August 1974. I’d endured a ridiculously complicated hitch-hike from my home in Salford to get to the Boleyn Ground at half time, to find the Blues leading two-nil courtesy of a Joe Royle penalty and a Bob Latchford strike. Just my luck then that Billy Bonds and John McDowell scored within a minute of each other to draw the Hammers level with just over a quarter of an our to play – had I come all this way for a draw… or worse?

I need not have feared the worst as with eight minutes to go, Everton moved forward with purpose and my favourite, Colin Harvey, smote a sublime winner from the edge of the box that Mervyn Day in the home goal could only wonder at the beauty of as that glorious shot flew past him into the top corner – 2-3 – Hurrah!!!!

When Alan Ball was sold to Arsenal in 1971, I like every Evertonian was distraught. Bally sold? It just wasn’t right, it just wasn’t right. But, barely three weeks after that game-winning goal at West Ham, when Colin Harvey was sold to Sheffield Wednesday, I felt my world was crumbling.

Bally had gone, Howard Kendall had moved to Bimingham City in the February 1974 deal that saw Bob Latchford join Everton, but now Colin Harvey, my favourite was leaving – the Holy Trinity was no more, this was too much.

My dear old mum let me have an old bedsheet and hanging it on the washing line, I took a blue paint spray and emblazoned it with “£70,000 is an insult to the White Pele.” I was determined that Colin would never be forgotten.

Together with my mate Gareth, another Salfordian Blue, we hitch-hiked down the East Lancs Road earlier than usual for the home game against Wolves, we wanted to be first into the ground so as to hang the sheet over the Park End electric scoreboard. We did and the rest as they say is history.

I’ll let Colin take up the story…

“It was when I made my debut for Sheffield Wednesday at Bolton. My dad had brought me back and I got a few phone calls asking how the game had gone, and someone told me that there was a banner at the Park End at Goodison saying something about me and the white Pele – it was a very proud moment for me! For someone to say that about you comparing you to probably the best player that ever played the game is really unbelievable. To think that people thought that much of me was hard to believe.”

A month later, Sheffield Wednesday played an England XI in a testimonial for Eric Taylor and Gareth and I decided we’d go, to take the banner to show Colin. But my hero was suffering with injury and was unlikely to play. We didn’t want to travel to Sheffield and not see him, so we cooked up a plan to ensure he’d be there.

Literally, every half hour through the day, one of us would ring Sheffield Wednesday to ask if he would be playing. Despite the repeated doubts, the switchboard operator at Hillsborough must have passed messages on that dozens of Everton fans had been phoning and by late afternoon, we got the reply we wanted… Colin had been contacted and despite not going to play, would be at the ground.

We travelled over and went to the players entrance and asked for the great man. The commissionaire went inside and a few moments later, Colin appeared patently expecting to see the whole of the Gwladys Street crowd waiting for him.

We introduced ourselves, told him what we’d done to make sure he was there and showed him the banner, and he laughed and said, “Only Evertonians would do this.” He was genuinely moved and being the gentleman he was and still is, gave us autographs and expressed his gratitude for the support we, and indeed every Evertonian, had given him through those illustrious eleven years in the Royal Blue.

Colin Harvey of course went on to become arguably our best ever coach, working with Howard Kendall to build and mould the glorious Everton sides of the mid 1980s. He eventually succeeded Kendall into the managers role, but sadly, this period of his Everton career didn’t match his playing or coaching successes.

Nevertheless, Colin Harvey 73 today, is every single inch of him an Everton legend – again, the word just doesn’t seem to be expressive enough.

Happy Birthday Colin and many more of them – Evertonian, gentleman and forever, our White Pele.

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‘The Human Fireball’, Alan Ball’s impact at Everton FC

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The name of Alan Ball, made up of only eight letters, has become one of the biggest in British football. Indeed, it is a name that has to be considered when talking about the best players in the world. [Harry Catterick, 1969]

The start of the 1966-67 season was an exciting time for football in England and Liverpool. England had just won the 1966 Football World Cup; Liverpool were the Champions of England and Everton were the winners of the FA Cup. The traditional curtain raiser to each English Football season is the Charity Shield, were the League winners play the winners of the FA Cup. The game was played at Goodison Park and both teams could display what they had won the previous season, as well as the Jules Rimet trophy which was paraded by the members of the England Football Team, who also represented Liverpool and Everton. The game has been described by Dohren as a ‘symbolic coronation’ of a ‘footballing oligarchy’, ‘63,000 spectators’ watched this meeting of the two best sides in England, who were both from Merseyside.[1] Defining this match as a coronation of a footballing oligarchy seems rather over the top, especially for a game that is often deemed no more than a pre-season friendly. Nevertheless, this was a very proud day for Merseyside football which showcased the ability of both teams, as well as the friendship and rivalry between them. However, perhaps the best trophy to be displayed was to come a couple of weeks later with the new Everton player, Alan Ball.

Ball was also a member of the 1966 World Cup winning England squad and had attracted a lot of attention during the tournament. He was praised for his ‘capacity for work’, ‘hating to hear the final whistle’ and when Everton signed him he was already ‘an England veteran’, yet he still had an ‘explosive temperament’.[2] Everton already had reason to feel proud with their defender Ray Wilson playing in the final for England, now they had secured the signing of the exciting, young Alan Ball. Ball was ‘just 23 and one of football’s hottest properties with that World Cup success already under his belt’.[3] The transfer ‘broke all records for dealings between British clubs’ and the arrival of Ball marked an exciting period for Everton.[4]

Catterick and Ball had a strong relationship during their time working together at Everton FC. Catterick had faced competition in signing Ball but once he and his Dad had met Catterick his decision was made. Ball said, “I was joining a massive club; my wages were more than I had ever imagined”, which again illustrates the financial power of Everton and the ability of Ball for him to be paid so highly.[5] Ball’s description of Catterick’s management style provides an extra insight to the type of man he was. He described Catterick as a man who ‘ruled by fear’ and that he ‘never saw him in a track suit’.[6] Ball was not labelling Catterick a ‘tracksuit manager’, this phrase is associated with a manager who has a ‘more professional and scientific approach’ to their job and would prefer to spend their time ‘working with the players’.[7] This argument from Kelly may be too simplistic, nonetheless Ball’s comments would help to support the idea that Catterick was a man who was difficult to approach, particularly if he was not spending time with his players each day on the training field. Ball goes on to mention Catterick’s transition from ‘the smiling man who signed me, Catterick, turned out to be the toughest boss of all’ and labelled him a ‘fearful dictator’.[8] This somewhat contradicts his image of being a quiet man, of course it is possible to be quiet and be feared but not normally an attribute you would associate with fear. Catterick was clearly not a man who was often seen on the training field, he operated from his office. This quiet approach clearly worked for him as he achieved success at Everton, yet does help to understand why he was difficult for many to talk to and understand.

It seems hard to avoid comparisons of Catterick to Shankly and this is true with Alan Ball. Ball said about Catterick, “He did not have the same bubbling personality as Shankly but he cared just as much about his club and his team”.[9] Catterick clearly was a passionate man but just conveyed this passion in a very different way to Shankly. The ability to instantly recite a quote or watch a video of Shankly means that his name is more closely associated with passion for his club. As for Catterick, his passion was displayed in diverse ways and thus he is perceived to be less passionate but this may not be the case, certainly according to his record signing Alan Ball.

The perfect way to win over Everton fans is by scoring against Liverpool in the derby. Ball did this on several occasions and in March 1967 he scored on possibly the biggest Merseyside derby ever. Both sides faced each other in the FA Cup and the match was played at Goodison but also broadcasted at Anfield on giant screens. Nowhere ‘in the country would be able to contain everyone who wanted to see the tie … Liverpool arranged … eight giant screens at Anfield … At Goodison, more than a hundred people were hurt in the scramble (for tickets) … At Liverpool … police reinforcements were summoned to control the crowds… three hours after the sales had begun, every ticket both for the match and the television relay, had been sold. In all, 105 000 people’.[10] This illustrates the tremendous excitement and anticipation that met each derby game. Ball scored the only goal in an Everton FC victory and endeared himself to the fans. He did this so many times that he grew a reputation as a man who ‘always scored against Liverpool and he loved it’, and the fans loved him scoring those goals.[11]

For many, Ball has been referred to as one of the first modern footballers. Perhaps the best example of this came in the Charity Shield in 1970. This was momentous as ‘Ball was the first person to wear white boots’; the assumption was that to wear coloured boots was rather arrogant, and to do so you must be a good footballer. Nonetheless, in the case of Ball he was deemed good enough to wear them, as Chapman points out, ‘Ball was some player and could get away with whatever colour boots he wanted’.[12] In comparison to the modern age where coloured boots are considered a norm, this act attracted a lot of attention. Ball began a trend amongst footballers of that era and this illustrates the stature that he had within the game. Hummel, the company who made the boots, would have known that someone wearing white boots would attract attention and so they would want a player of stature to wear them and help sell them. This is an early example of celebrity endorsement and marked the beginning of footballers being celebrities and used as marketing tools. Indeed, the boots were named the ‘Alan Ball Soccer Boots’ and the advert was centred around the ‘human fireball himself’, which further illustrates the power of Alan Ball’s image and his stature at the time.[13]

Further adverts featured Ball and his new white boots, the boots were said to ‘help you give control of a dropping ball and at the same time turn away from opponents’.[14]

It appears that Alan Ball’s endorsement of the new white boots was not only benefitting himself and Hummel financially, but also the wearers of the boots who apparently gained some of Ball’s talents through wearing them.

It was not always a forgone conclusion that Ball would be successful at Goodison Park. He arrived with a lot of attention on him, he was a young world cup winner and had a British record transfer fee now attached to his name. He was known for not always having the best temperament and there was a lot of pressure on his shoulders. This meant that his early days at Everton were met with scepticism. His first season was described by Goal Magazine as a ‘trial’, in which he would either be rewarded with ‘captaincy of Everton … followed later by the leadership of England’, or he would be branded a man whose talent would ‘take second place to his temperament’.[15] Ball went on to play fifty-one games and score eighteen goals in his first season at Everton, a successful trial leading to a great Everton career. Ball certainly lived up to his price tag and proved a great signing by Catterick.

Ball became an integral part of the Everton side and was part of a midfield partnership with Howard Kendall and Colin Harvey. The partnership became known as the ‘Holy Trinity’, Everton were light-heartedly coined ‘the only club in the history of football to win the league title with three players’.[16] Of course no team could win a league with three players, but this description illustrates that the three men were hugely significant in this Everton side. This partnership helped write Ball into Everton folklore and was a big reason as to why Ball had such a good relationship with the fans. In the title winning campaign of 1969-70, Ball went on to captain the team when Brian Labone was injured toward the end of the season. Ball’s ‘single minded determination’, according to Rogers, was a reason for his success.[17] Fans have argued that Ball was a ‘poor captain’, his personality ‘led him to be intolerant of other people’.[18] Ball’s determination was good on a personal level but this did not help him as a leader, which may be a factor for a substandard managerial career, especially when compared to his playing days.

All of Ball’s positive attributes only make it more surprising that after 251 games and 79 goals, he was sold to Arsenal in 1971. Catterick received double what he had paid for Ball in 1966 but the decision came with huge surprise and upset to Everton supporters. Ball was a World Cup winner, he had won the league with Everton and was one of the best players in English football. As well as displaying his leadership abilities by being captain. Ball will forever be synonymous with Everton and Catterick’s tenure but the decision to sell him will still raise questions today. The season after winning the league with Catterick’s Everton, he was 26 years old and seemingly at the peak of his footballing powers. Everton did not need to sell Ball, though when Arsenal came in with a record offer of £220,000 Catterick accepted and Ball was to leave Everton. This is a decision that has gained criticism from many and dampened Catterick’s legacy. Ball and Catterick have both said it was a good decision business wise to sell a player when his career was nearing a close, and to receive such a hefty sum of money for his services was impressive. As a supporter of a football team it can be hard to view a footballing decision through the eyes of a businessman. Catterick was aiming to do the best for Everton by receiving a fee for a player that he felt had reached his potential, believing he would not receive a bid of this ilk ever again. Yet selling one of the best players at your football club to a title rival the year after you have won the league will always raise eyebrows amongst fans.

Nevertheless, Ball left behind a great legacy and a great relationship with the Everton FC fans. This is best summarised by him saying “Once Everton has touched you nothing will be the same”.[19] Ball’s affinity with Everton remains today despite his death. He is to many the greatest player Everton have ever had; his ability and application were unquestionable. This explains why he is still so adored and adds more confusion as to why Catterick sold him. Ball will forever remain a legend at Everton, a title befitting for one of the greatest English talents ever produced.

Bibliography

  • ‘Alan Ball … Angry Young Man on Trial’, Goal Magazine (London, 24. Aug. 1968), p.13.
  • Ball, Alan Ball’s International Soccer Annual (London, 1969).
  • Ball, It’s All About a Ball: An Autobiography (London, 1978).
  • Ball with J. Mossop, Alan Ball: Playing Extra Time (London, 2007).
  • ‘Advert: Like the Human Fireball Himself: Explode’, Shoot Magazine (London, August 1970), p.10.
  • Barwick & G. Sinstadt, The Great Derbies: Everton Versus Liverpool (London, 1988).
  • Chapman, Heroes, Hairbands and Hissy Fits: Chappers’ Modern History of Football (London, 2010).
  • Dohren, Ghost on the Wall: The Authorised Biography of Roy Evans (Edinburgh, 2004).
  • Interview with B. Dunning, 13. Sep. 2017.
  • Interview with E. Jones, 08. Sep. 2017.
  • Kelly, The Role of the Professional Football Manager (London, 2017).
  • McArthur and D. Kemp, Elegance borne of brutality: An eclectic history of the football boot (London, 1995).
  • Rogers, Born Not Manufactured: Five Decades of Inside Stories from the Heart of Everton Football Club (Liverpool, 2016).
  • ‘Star Strip – Alan Ball’, Charles Buchan’s Football Monthly (London, November 1966).
  • ‘Transfer Market: Last-minute rush of stars and minnows’, Charles Buchan’s Football Monthly (London, October 1966).

[1] D. Dohren, Ghost on the Wall: The Authorised Biography of Roy Evans (Edinburgh, 2004), p.25.

[2] ‘Star Strip – Alan Ball’, Charles Buchan’s Football Monthly (London, November 1966).

[3] K. Rogers, Born Not Manufactured: Five Decades of Inside Stories from the Heart of Everton Football Club (Liverpool, 2016), p.84.

[4] ‘Transfer Market: Last-minute rush of stars and minnows’, Charles Buchan’s Football Monthly (London, October 1966).

[5] A. Ball with J. Mossop, Alan Ball: Playing Extra Time (London, 2007), p.72.

[6] Ibid, p.74.

[7] S. Kelly, The Role of the Professional Football Manager (London, 2017), p.24.

[8] A. Ball with J. Mossop, Alan Ball: Playing Extra Time (London, 2007), p.74.

[9] A. Ball, It’s All About a Ball: An Autobiography (London, 1978), p.33.

[10] B. Barwick and G. Sinstadt, The Great Derbies: Everton Versus Liverpool (London, 1988), p.37.

[11] Interview with B. Dunning, 13. Sep. 2017.

[12] M. Chapman, Heroes, Hairbands and Hissy Fits: Chappers’ Modern History of Football (London, 2010), p.41.

[13] ‘Advert: Like the Human Fireball Himself: Explode’, Shoot Magazine (London, August 1970), p.10.

[14] I. McArthur and D. Kemp, Elegance borne of brutality: An eclectic history of the football boot (London, 1995), p.63.

[15] ‘Alan Ball … Angry Young Man on Trial’, Goal Magazine (London, 24. Aug. 1968), p.13.

[16] K. Rogers, Born Not Manufactured: Five Decades of Inside Stories from the Heart of Everton Football Club (Liverpool, 2016), p.27.

[17] Ibid, p.88.

[18] Interview with E. Jones, 08. Sep. 2017.

[19] K. Rogers, Born Not Manufactured: Five Decades of Inside Stories from the Heart of Everton Football Club (Liverpool, 2016), p.333.

The post ‘The Human Fireball’, Alan Ball’s impact at Everton FC appeared first on GrandOldTeam.

Waiting for Godot

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As Everton’s search drags on into it’s 4th week, we are left with conflicting emotions; firstly the search has been chaotically organized but secondly that the end outcome has the potential to be positive. When we look at how the process has been conducted it is important to separate those two points. By the time this article goes out there is every chance Everton will have a full-time manager, and it could well be they’ve pulled off a decent coup of attracting Marco Silva. While he is a credible candidate he appointment shouldn’t cover up cracks for what’s been a chaotic recruitment process.

4 weeks feels much too long for trying to recruit a manager, particularly for a club that found itself in the bottom 3 at the moment they made the decision. As I indicated some weeks ago I sense part of the reason for the delay has been the desire to give the job to David Unsworth has been met with the realization that he may not be as certain to lead us away from the relegation mire as it appeared 4 weeks ago. The unconvincing win against Watford has only further muddied those particular waters, where on the one hand Everton was a converted penalty away from remaining in the bottom 3 but on the other performed a remarkable turnaround and could build some momentum going into a potentially rewarding set of upcoming fixtures.

I have sympathy with the board on this issue. I have long championed Unsworth and it was perfectly reasonable to think he could elicit the sort of immediate turnaround that managers such as Royle (on his staff) and Moyes, in particular, got when coming into the club at a crisis moment. What seems to happen, particularly for this board though, is that when things don’t go to plan their decision making processes go into slow motion. You could again make a case that such diligence should be seen in a positive light, as being indicative of a considered and thorough approach, though my own take on it is that we are hamstrung by a mixture of panic, inertia and an unwillingness for people to take responsibility for decisions they don’t feel they completely own.

A lot of the names they have suggested, looked at, potentially approached that have been leaked to the media have been underwhelming for Evertonians. Dyche feels like a throwback of 15 years to David Moyes while Allardyce feels like a throwback of 20 years to the worst aspects of Walter Smith. A part of me wonders if they will give Unsworth long enough to decisively succeed (or more likely fail) so there is more of an acceptance of the difficulty Everton are in and in the subsequent demoralization and desperation opinion becomes more favourable to Allardyce. It would be unusual for most board of Directors of Football clubs to operate on the basis of fans perceptions, clearly West Ham have avoided this decision in appointing David Moyes and are a good example of how most boards will do what they feel is right over what fans want, yet given the more fluid situation we have currently at board level it is questionable whether such confidence exists to make such a big call and have to face down the wrath of sections of the support base.

Again part of me feels sorry for the board, as this is a mess that they have clearly not planned for and there seems to be little understanding of how to get through it. They are not deliberately trying to upset Evertonians, nor are they deliberately making a mess of the situation, though their unwillingness to face reality is contributing to the difficulties we face. Evertonians expectations, for the most part rarely translate easily to the economic reality that we are faced with. We sit around 7th for wage spend, transfer spend (both net and gross) and turnover. This in many ways gives a false perception of where the club sits in actuality, as the gap between the 6 sides above is enormous, particularly with 5 of the 6 clubs. We are nearer to the side bottom of the league on those measurements than we are to the side in 5th. In crude mathematical determinism, it means we are more likely to finish 20th than to finish 5th and while such an analysis doesn’t always correlate as naturally to reality it gives an indication of the where the club sits.

This is for the most part in sharp contrast with the expectation Everton fans have for the club. An example of this may be David Moyes who is a divisive figure in spite of him regularly achieving in line with or even better than what may be expected of him when resources he had available to him are taken into account. While most of the frustration tens to be around his personal conduct, particularly on leaving the job it does show that again fans expectations at the club are very high, particularly in relation to the material reality the club exists in.

Within that context statements made by Farhad Moshiri are becoming increasingly unhelpful in the job search. That his board member pitched the requirement to have a “superstar on the sidelines” while appointing Koeman to the job and promised a summer where “nothing would ever be the same” it ended with Everton selling young centre-half John Stones and a deadline day shambles of bringing in a lad deemed surplus to requirements at West Ham. If this summer was supposed to be an antidote to that, we have seen more of the same, with this time our star striker leaving and not being replaced and in spite of promising early work being done, the squad painfully thin in some areas as a result. His own contribution to this debate appears to have been to get the message out that Everton’s main target is Athletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone, this while the club currently bumbles about trying to get Marco Silva out of Watford.

I don’t mean to be harsh on Moshiri. The injection of ambition, expectations and a qualitative shift in the expectations of the club has been something that has been desperately needed for 30 years. My frustration exists more on the inconsistency with which they are being acted upon as well as the timing of such issues. On the one hand, he is talking about trying to lift Everton to the next level, yet on the other precious little is being done to move on the fragments of the old board who had run Everton into a position whereby they were so far behind the top 6 Premier League teams. Again a reasonable argument could be made that what the old guard needed was more financial resources to turn Everton round, yet the last two summer windows must surely prove to any impartial onlooker that they are not the right people to lead the club forward in the type of aggressive growth of the brand that is necessary.

The statements that are being made by Moshiri do little to manage the expectation of supporters about where we currently find ourselves and the lack of action off the field amplifies these feelings of frustration as it doesn’t deal with the structural flaws that have led to the gap between supporters expectations and the financial realities that the club have found themselves in. If Moshiri is serious about attracting one of the best managers in the world (he is undoubtedly in the top 5) this needs to be matched by getting an equivalent talent in positions of CEO, DOF and chairman.

We are currently in a difficult position as fans of the club to speculate on exactly which direction is the best one for the business to head in. There is enormous speculation into exactly how deep Mr Moshiri’s pockets run and speculation from a number of wide and world known news broadcasters that there is involvement of some extremely wealthy individuals are providing support for the club. In truth, only Moshiri and a close circle of a few others will be aware of how true these allegations are and how deep his pockets run, though you sense there is serious clout behind his project if he is to publically target Simeone. Either that or is he an idiot.

While it is difficult to ascertain exactly how much finance is available to help close the gap on the sides above us what I can say with certainty is throwing money at a project without a clear plan is unlikely to result in short-term success. Manchester United have never spent more than over the last 3-4 years yet are further away from the league title than at any point in 30 years. For Everton an injection of cash alone is unlikely to propel Everton into the top places in the league. A plan needs to be devised for the club and within that, the managerial appointment becomes one strand of this.

When you look at the playing squad of Everton (overwhelmingly young with a fruitful academy) and the aspiration of trying to punch above our weight financially it would appear some key criteria should be drawn upon any managerial appointment. An ability to outperform the resources they have at their disposal should be central to this. This along with the composition of the squad should lead us to look at managers who are good coaches, able to improve/work with younger players and be willing to mould over a slightly longer period of time than is typical of modern managers would seem central features of any managerial appointment. Bonus points should be awarded to managers who have experience of the English game and for managers who have been in charge of “big” (or similar sized) clubs.

I firmly believe if you applied the above approach to a managerial search, it would look far more assured and controlled than what we have seen, and less bi-polar in the approach of veering from one manager to the next with little to link them. The favoured names of Dyche, Allardyce, Silva and Unsworth could not be less alike if you tried in their profiles and this has to be in part underpinned by the lack of a narrow and consistent selection criteria from those looking to recruit.

While there undoubtedly an issue with our ability to sell the club effectively, simplifying our method of generating targets should help that approach. If you are looking for a manager who can improve young players, be willing to spend time at the club and shows they can spend resources effectively you will find you are trying to sell to people who are likely to have a similar vision and aspiration to your own. For Everton, a big club, with a large fan base, who will soon be moving into a state of the art stadium, as well as having numerous talented players both under 24 and under 21 it ought to be a dream move for any manager who has aspirations to want to emulate the work Pochetino has done at Tottenham.

When you look at the criteria the obvious name that leaps out would be German Thomas Tuchel, who it seems unclear if we have approached. However managers such as Lucien Favre who managed Gladbach to the top 4, Garitano who has led Leganes from the 3rd tier to La Liga and solidified them in that division, Quique Setien who led Las Palmas to promotion and a decent finish in La Liga before continuing his good work this season with Betis are all names that could fit within aspects of the criteria. In terms of English managers Sean Dyche, while not a spectacular fit would fulfil many of the criteria points, as would Eddie Howe who although is enduring a difficult patch currently may now see it as a good time to move forward in his career. You also have the Portuguese trio of Jardim at Monaco, Fonseca at Shahktar and Silva at Watford who all look very talented young coaches, each of them looking likely to manage one of the top 10 European clubs at some stage in their career, though with the exception of Silva you could imagine them being difficult to attract.

Each of the names above to me would fit with a broader plan for the club and feel a decent fit. Had a spread of names, from various countries and clubs have been on the list of those appointed it would have filled me with more confidence that the more scattergun and ultimately quite a kneejerk approach to recruitment we have seen. It is very difficult at present to see any kind of shared vision for the club from the board level.

As a final point in this, I completely understand that many would say this article is overly harsh on our board (and I accept there may be others who feel it isn’t harsh enough!). With any business, communication and clarity remain centrally important and in the absence of this other forces will step into a vacuum that’s created. This article takes the position they wanted to give it to Unsworth but was unsure after his early start. We have to surmise from a lack of information and one tweet that referred to him as a “stand in” such is the lack of information provided. This is not just completely unfair to Unsworth and makes a challenging situation for him much harder (and likely to see more incidents of the Mirallas Schneiderlin one) but it also portrays the club in a needlessly negative light within the wider media.

You cannot run any public business in the 21st century, with the array and breadth of media outlets like the Politburu. While you may not like having to be accountable to fans, journalists and publications and view them as often hostile to what you are trying to do, sheltering yourself from this process is unlikely to make it go away. Had the club put an initial statement out covering the below all would have felt far calmer about the process;

a) David Unsworth is in charge for the foreseeable future
b) David Unsworth is an exceptionally talented coach whose accomplishments at under 23’s lead us to believe we are in safe hands
c) A thorough search will be going on alongside it, of which he is a candidate
d) We are looking for the best manager we can attract, who fits the vision of how the club wants to move forward, and we are prepared to wait if necessary

I obviously wait and hope Silva will come. In no small part would it be us getting out of jail if he does, getting the right man using the wrong method. Going forward you hope the next managerial search will start to look more professional in how it’s undertaken.

The post Waiting for Godot appeared first on GrandOldTeam.

How Can The Toffees Get The Best From Sigurdsson?

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The signing of Gylfi Sigurdsson for a club-record fee of £45 million earlier this season was made to help the club progress to the next level as the Iceland midfielder has been one of the most consistent top-level performers in the Premier League over the last couple of seasons. Sadly the former Swansea man has yet to reach the same heights in an Everton shirt. The question is, how can the new Everton manager get the best from him?

In his last three appearances for the Toffees, Sigurdsson has played in three different positions. Against Arsenal at Goodison Park, he lined up in the centre of the midfield four which allowed him to have more of an impact on the game from the middle of the field. The Icelandic attacker then moved to the middle of a front-three for the trip to Lyon in the Europa League where the Toffees went down 3-0. On his latest outing against Watford, he was on the right side of the front three which included Wayne Rooney and Oumar Niasse.

The majority of Sigurdsson’s success for Swansea came when he was in a wide position as he has the ability to cause problems with his delivery into the box, while when he cuts into the centre he is not afraid to have a shot when he has sight of the goal. If the Icelandic playmaker can replicate what he did for Swansea alongside Niasse and Rooney, Everton can start rising up the table and will surely lengthen their current odds of 12/1 to be relegated.

Last season Sigurdsson covered more distance at 433 kilometres than any other Premier League player. When he does play on the right side of the front three, he will also drop back into the midfield and help his side when they do not have the ball.

Everton fans will hope it is only a matter of time before we start seeing Sigurdsson at his best again. A change in manager so early in the season will not have helped him settle and once he settles into the new manager’s system, he has to be given more freedom and trust to help his side win matches. The Iceland international is one of the best players in the Premier League from a dead-ball situation. With hopefully more opportunities from just outside the box, he can be a dangerous threat and we can expect to see to see more goals.

An early exit from the Europa League is a shame but it does mean the Toffees can concentrate on the Premier League, while they can have a shot at the FA Cup when they start the competition in January. It is not impossible for them to turn what has been a desperate start to the campaign into a positive one. More players could join in January, however, we can expect to see defensive cover added to the squad, as there is enough currently at the club to deliver going forward.

The post How Can The Toffees Get The Best From Sigurdsson? appeared first on GrandOldTeam.

A Conversation About Depression And Mental Health

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Struggling with the world? Can’t, or don’t want to talk to anyone? Maybe you can anonymously talk about Everton on GrandOldTeam? And if you feel like it, there’s a dedicated thread pinned at the top of our Everton forum, which allows for discussion and help between fellow Blues on mental health-related issues. You don’t even have to post, just read. It’s helped loads of Blues who was/are finding life tough, it might help you.

The “Discussion & help on depression & mental health related issues” thread pinned to the top of our Everton forum has been a real success, aproaching 350,000 unique views and with over 9,000 comments. The thread, started one of GrandOldTeam’s forum moderators Groucho allows for fans to talk about issues surrounding mental health and depression.

During the international break, we decided to look back at the success of the thread, and Dave provided examples of how it has helped people in a real and tangible way.

You can read the thread here.

The post A Conversation About Depression And Mental Health appeared first on GrandOldTeam.

Interview with David Weir – Podcast

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In this episode, Adam Partington chats with David Weir (currently assistant manager at Nottingham Forest) about the progress of Kieran Dowell, his memories of the Merseyside derby and of the 2004/05 season, and who might possibly take the vacant Everton job.

David played over 230 times for Everton and captained the side under two different managers in the form of Walter Smith and David Moyes.

The post Interview with David Weir – Podcast appeared first on GrandOldTeam.

Survival

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Objectively, relegation (and the fear of it happening) shouldn’t be as anxiety-inducing as it often is. Bearing in mind that silverware is generally unattainable for most clubs, that the top six is pretty much a closed shop in English football and that, in aesthetic terms alone, the top flight is now only marginally better than the Championship (with genuine world-class talent only residing in the higher reaches), should playing in a lower tier be rendered as such a footballing disaster?

That’s the problem with objective thinking though. It is so rarely applicable to football. Of course, if a team goes down it is not the end of the world. The club still exists, games are still played, a sense of purpose remains. But that kind of thinking misses the point about football. This is a sport where upward progression is everything. You as fans are meant to want your club to play in the highest division.

And this isn’t entirely to do with desiring to watch more aesthetically pleasing football, or of wanting to tap into the riches available the higher up you go, you also want it simply because that’s what a fan is supposed to want.

And that’s what makes the current managerial choice at Everton so vexing. Because, right now, survival is everything. Although some fans understandably want a glamorous manager who can ‘take us to the next level’ and others feel that giving an ‘Everton’ man like Unsworth a chance is the right thing to do, none of these two choices guarantees survival.

I am fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to have lived through the last period in the club’s history that was truly characterised by relegation fears. Back in the 1990s (and early 2000s), the gravitational pull of the bottom three seemed to have a constant hold over Everton. On two occasions, in 1994 and 1998, the club only survived because other teams were more abysmal.

As fans, we look back on Wimbledon 1994 for example, and praise the resilience of the players and the power of the crowd. But it’s often forgotten that had the club’s rivals all won, then all that resilience and that mighty atmosphere would have counted for nothing.

Managerial choice in this era was hugely relevant to the club’s turmoil. Bosses like Walker, Smith and Kendal (Mark III), exacerbated the club’s underlying problems, turning Everton from a team that might have had a poor season into one that was threatened with the drop.

No better example of this was provided in 1994/95, when Joe Royle took over the managers’ hot seat. Royle inherited a squad that under Mike Walker was spineless, uncreative and destined to go down. But when playing under Royle, that same group of players became strong, creative and capable of beating anyone. And through this turnaround they prospered and survived.

To turn back to today, as valuable as the points were, the recent win against Watford might have muddied the waters slightly when it comes to who will take the manager’s seat at Goodison. The victory took the pressure off slightly, hinting that perhaps the club is not headed for a relegation dog fight this season. And perhaps Unsworth might have what it takes.

But that game could so easily have gone against Everton. It was not a convincing performance and the result was only achieved because Unsworth was able to take a huge risk. Facing defeat in the second half, and with the prospect of it being his last game in charge, the caretaker manager had nothing to lose and threw the dice.

Although it was a gamble that paid off, over the course of a long, grinding season, such cavalier moments will inevitably be less likely. It is the performance that took place before Niasse made it 2-1 that is more reflective of Everton under Unsworth; a performance that hardly eases relegation worries.

Nothing seen home or away this season suggests that the club is not in for a tough campaign. The problems that the current Everton squad possess would vex any new incumbent. Everton are in trouble and if the club wants to remain a member of the top flight, and satisfy that elemental need to play in the highest division, then that has to be a major consideration when the next manager is appointed.

But aside from simply wanting to play in the Premier League, Everton also have other reasons to need survival. The club is once again at a crossroads. With Moshiri, Bramley-Moore and efforts being undertaken to improve the commercial performance of the club, there is an opportunity to ensure that flirtations with the bottom three (or worse) become something truly consigned to the past.

If a club like Arsenal, Chelsea or Liverpool found itself languishing near the drop zone at this point in the season, talk of relegation would be dismissed. And that’s because the resources they have at their disposal ensure that getting out of trouble is never an issue. Everton are still some way off enjoying those resources. But that could change if this transition goes according to plan; something that cannot be archived from the second tier.

This article is not an argument to appoint an unreconstructed dinosaur like Allardyce. But it is perhaps, one that suggests that a manager with a skill-set more conditioned to the ‘grind’ of what fighting relegation requires should be welcomed.

Right now, the parameters of an ‘Everton’ season range from bottom of the league to the outskirts of the top four. The club is capable of finishing anywhere within this range. Pick the wrong manager and, as we did several times during the 1990s and early 2000s, finishing at the wrong end is entirely possible. Everton might have come a long way since the dog days of the Smith-era but the club is not too good or too big to go down (yet).

The post Survival appeared first on GrandOldTeam.

Interview: Gareth Farrelly On THAT Goal And Life After Everton

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Gareth Farrelly scored the goal that kept Everton in the Premier League back in 1998. In this exclusive interview with GrandOldTeam TV at The Winslow Hotel, he spoke to Adam Partington about that memorable goal, some of his former teammates, and his recovery from a life-threatening illness.

► SUBSCRIBE TO GRANDOLDTEAM TV HERE.

Speical thanks to The Winslow Hotel
www.thewinslowhotel.co.uk

Follow Adam Partington on Twitter @PartAdam
Camera/Editing by @BrendanM77

The post Interview: Gareth Farrelly On THAT Goal And Life After Everton appeared first on GrandOldTeam.

What The Doctor Ordered – GOT Podcast 6/11/17

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Everton finally got back to winning ways with a 3-2 victory against Watford at Goodison Park on Sunday evening. In this podcast, Adam is joined by the ever-present Groucho to look back on a game which turned out to be a much-needed tonic for the beleaguered Blues.

The pair rave about Oumar Niasse’s dedication, ten thousand minutes of added time, and where this result leaves the search for the new manager.

The post What The Doctor Ordered – GOT Podcast 6/11/17 appeared first on GrandOldTeam.

Reports: Schneiderlin and Mirallas

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Morgan Schneiderlin and Kevin Mirallas were omitted from Everton’s match-day squad against Watford on Sunday after walking out of a training session 24 hours earlier according to various reports including the guardian, Sky Sports and the telegraph.

Chris Bascombe reports the “the pair were sent home from training on the eve of the Premier League fixture after refusing to apply themselves in a session led by club legend Duncan Ferguson” and “Ferguson was unhappy with the two players’ lack of effort, and upon suggesting the pair either shape or not bother, it appears they took the latter option and returned to the dressing room.”

They were then told to vacate the USM Finch Farm training ground, with Unsworth taking appropriate action.

The post Reports: Schneiderlin and Mirallas appeared first on GrandOldTeam.

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