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FC St.Domingo – a possibility?

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Since 1878 there has been an Everton football club that its supporters have loved and taken to their hearts unquestionably and unconditionally, through thick and thin, good times and bad, for richer or poorer, to love and to cherish, till death us do part.

The current generation of the club, the Bill Kenwright era has arguably been the toughest for many fans to endure. We’ve flirted with relegation, been within grasping distance of the heights, flattered to deceive, and gone into gunfights armed only with knives and been happy to come out alive.

The past four and half seasons have been a microcosm of the period that Kenwright has overseen. Some glorious football, some woeful football, blind faith in the face of overwhelming evidence of mismanagement both on and off the field – in short, nothing remotely close to standard the club motto demands, NSNO.

Even with the arrival of Farhad Moshiri the demise on the field, the area the supporters are most concerned with, has continued and indeed worsened to the point now where relegation from the top flight of English football for the first time in over sixty years is a very real concern and possibility.

There is discord amongst the fans but that is nothing compared to the patently obvious discord within and between the board of directors and the major shareholder.

The fans have largely lost or are fast losing any faith that the BoD and/or the major shareholder have any real plan or structured thinking for the future.

Consider the current situation with Everton, that has amongst others…

  • a club with a disjointed and apparently dysfunctional boardroom…
  • a club that sacked a failing manager without a proper plan of how and who to replace him with…
  • a club with a Director of Football about who nobody outside the club has one iota of what his job descriptions, functions and responsibilities are…
  • a club that miserably failed itself in the summer transfer window after what appeared a terrific start…
  • a club with an apparently non-existent PR activity leading to the major shareholder inexplicably preferring to conduct his PR through the sensation-seeking Jim White on Talksport…
  • and a playing squad so low on confidence, form, self-belief, ideas and skill set that’s almost beyond comprehension…

The questions are glaringly obvious, the answers not so given we have no idea who is actually responsible for formulating and communicating coherent and structured responses.

Everton needs a complete overhaul and ultimately that responsibility lies with Farhad Moshiri. He is the person who took it on himself to become the major shareholder, he is the one who has corrected and repaired the balance sheet, he is the one who has driven the new stadium project and he is the one who has attracted some new partners, notably USM in sponsoring the training facility at Finch Farm.

Moshiri has done much, but he has an awful lot more to do and with every hour that passes, the ‘to do’ list grows ever more critical, particularly where the correct managerial appointment is concerned.

Failure to unequivocally accept and act upon these responsibilities will see Everton teeter on the cliff edge of relegation, and continue to fall further and further behind the ‘big six’ in commercial and financial areas.

And as I pen this article, news continues to break that Sam Allardyce is not only back in the frame to be Everton manager, he appears to be the odds-on favourite.

If this is correct, it constitutes a breakdown of gargantuan proportions in what vestige of joined-up, progressive thinking exists within the corridors of power at Goodison Park.

Allardyce is a proven relegation escapologist, but his managerial career has been tainted by stories of transfer impropriety and his tenure as manager of the England national team lasted just one game before he was relieved of his duties for another alleged indiscretion.

It should be noted at this point that Allardyce is believed to considering a legal challenge against the FA decision to dispense with his services, but any such allegations, proven or otherwise always leave a blemish on a persons character.

Aside from being the Harry Houdini of relegation battles, Sam Allardyce would be arguably the most unpopular appointment Everton could make. Possibly only Alan Pardew, Tony Pulis and Martin O’Neill would rank below him in the ‘No way Jose’ stakes.

When Sam Allardyce was first mentioned in connection with replacing Ronald Koeman, hundreds of Evertonians on numerous forums suggested they’d rather burn their season tickets or never set foot inside Goodison again should he be appointed.

In short, the club would be playing with a potential forest fire of angst, chagrin and protest from arguably the most patient and definitely long-suffering supporters in the Premier League.

Now some people would have you believe that football is only a game and not as the late Bill Shankly of the parish across the park once quipped, “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.”

To highlight the feelings that the majority of football fans have towards their chosen favourites, a little over twelve years ago, a group of Manchester United fans were similarly unhappy with the way in which the Glazer family were running the biggest club in the country and arguably the world.

They were so disheartened that they demonstrated their feeling firstly with the green and gold – the original club colours – scarves campaign before taking it to a whole new, unprecedented and previously unheard of level, that of forming their own alternative club – FC United of Manchester.

It was an incredibly brave and risky move, but one that has succeeded in spectacular fashion.

Originally joining the North West Counties Football League and playing out of Gigg Lane courtesy of a ground share arrangement with Bury FC, FCUM won three successive promotions and have steadily progressed to now play in the Vanarama National League North and having acquired land, built their own stadium Broadhurst Park in Moston, north Manchester.

The people that started FCUM and the fans that follow them are all still rabid Manchester United supporters, but chose to show their support in a different way, by returning football in Manchester to the fans.

The circumstances that led to the formation of FCUM differ somewhat to the circumstances Evertonians currently find ourselves in but, the unavoidable reality is that they were fed up with the Glazer regime and actively did something about it.

This leads me to question whether the current predicaments, and there are far too many, that Everton find themselves in could ever lead to a move similar to those fans in Manchester.

Could an alternative FC Everton of Walton or FC St.Domingo be formed by disillusioned Evertonians for Evertonians?

Is there sufficient disillusionment and unrest to actually see such a movement come to reality?

Would the appointment of Sam Allardyce be the final straw that kick starts an alternative?

Evertonians will always support Everton Football Club, but as the fans who formed FCUM have proven, there is life after unsatisfactory experiences.

Evertonians live by the creed of NSNO and right now, the club we all love is barely paying lip service to that creed and so, if the mountain won’t come to Mohammed, then Mohammed might have to go to (another) mountain?

The post FC St.Domingo – a possibility? appeared first on GrandOldTeam.

Podcast – Can Beggars Be Choosers?

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Everton continued their poor run of form with a 4-1 defeat at Southampton on Sunday afternoon, and have now won only once in seven games under temporary manager David Unsworth.

In this podcast, Adam and Groucho look back on the defeat and have some strong words for Everton’s more ‘senior’ players (mainly Kevin Mirallas and Morgan Schneiderlin). The pair also debate the impact that Wayne Rooney could have had on the game, and speculate on the supposed imminent appointment of Sam Allardyce…

Both Adam and Groucho conclude that although not ideal, Evertonians will have to accept the position we now find ourselves in, and therefore may need to get behind the new regime (with the hope of saving this car crash of a season).

The post Podcast – Can Beggars Be Choosers? appeared first on GrandOldTeam.

The lopsided, back-to-front and upside down conundrum.

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Recently I have had to cause to muse as to how this situation, campaign 2017-18 to date- with the roof metaphorically on fire not simply for our season but our club generally, came about only weeks following the biggest spend and resultant surge in supporter optimism for a generation. We were, were we not, qualified for the Europa League via a rather nondescript yet nevertheless worthy 7th place finish in 2015-2016, had a billionaire owner whom not only purchased the Liver buildings but gave our manager nearly £180 million pounds, in six months. Yet here we are, dismissed from continental competition as a doorman might seeing a 14 year old trying to get into a club with jarg I.D. Domestically we have fared no better, with myself certainly looking around a poor Premier League and struggling to find three teams that are worse than us right now.

So, where to start? Well, I’d say let’s start with Koeman. I was never really a fan in truth and said so consistently both on the radio and on social media throughout this time so I am not being wise after the event. My main issue with him was, for a squad with a manager whose optimum concern was the coaching-selection of the first team our first team have no shape, no methodology, no clue in fact and look as if they met each other for the first time in the tunnel. If Martinez was a fraud then this fella was the Hitler Diaries. It is incredible how clueless he was, his manner of manmanagement was prehistoric, while his treatment of Niasse specifically was personal and unbecoming of either our club or the office of manager of Everton FC. As is often the case with Karma however there was to prove only one eventual winner from that duel, and as we know it wasn’t Ronald. Meanwhile we are left with his squad of no centre forwards, five #10’s and as much pace as the parent’s egg-and-spoon race on sports day in the school by ours. No width- either attacking or defending and for an ex-centre half his indecisiveness regarding defensive shape- flat back four or 3 centre halves has led to all of our stoppers, individually and collectively looking like frightened rabbits in headlights, indeed the very thing that Martinez was crucified for and Koeman was supposed to solve. I could go on. For a man on a £6m contract it is a shambles. Agent Orange was a train crash and is primarily culpable for sending such a disjointed and under-prepared squad into a Premier League season.

Next to come under scrutiny are the club’s executive, inclusive of Steve Walsh. Everybody concerned was either convinced by Koeman and whatever vision he sold them or else exhibited a collective ignorance as regards squad make-up for the impending campaign that in retrospect is tantamount to gross misconduct. When Moshiri was signing the checks what was everyone else doing and here’s one from left-field, if our new manager arrives and proceeds to do the same will someone be informed enough to raise his hand and say- for example: Manager, we do not seem to have a centre forward or a system of play. Don’t you think that might present a problem going forwards? After all, if our business was baked beans and we had a paucity of baked beans prior to opening I believe that it is reasonable to expect someone aside from the person responsible to notice the fact. It is a genuine concern for me at this point. I have been an active blue since I was very young and truly cannot remember a squad during my lifetime less equipped for a campaign in the top flight of English football- Howard’s 1997-98 team would probably be runners up. This after a summer of Viv Nicholson-alike ( Google it) buying sprees yet we now look to the January window- traditionally though admittedly not exclusively the preserve of journeymen yard-dogs, to rescue us. I genuinely do not know if we are lopsided, back-to-front or upside-down. I just know that it definitely does not look right. Like I said earlier, the roof is honestly on fire and we need to put it out very soon. Having waited a month for a replacement however I beseech those concerned against a knee-jerk appointment this time rather than simply either watching Sk* Sports News or listening to TalkSport as if we get a further managerial appointment wrong we might well find ourselves playing in a different division to the one which we are founder members of.

Having reviewed both Koeman and the club executive as regards culpability it is now time to focus upon ourselves, Evertonians. In the last two years (and a bit) we have gone from hating Martinez- indeed ridiculing him to proclaiming a relatively inexperienced in the Premier League RK as a messiah. When he turned out to be even worse than the previous incumbent those same MFs who lauded his arrival were mocking him online without any recourse to the fact that it was them whom called for his appointment in the first place. Furthermore the thing that will puzzle me most about summer 2017 is how, in this age of everyone’s a critic and hyper-analysation just how preoccupied Toffees were with trying to buzz of our crimson cousins to the extent that no-one stopped to think that- for example, maybe we had just bought the same player three times- Rooney, Klassen, Sigurdsson none of whom can run. I believe it is an issue we must examine as regards the future. We all of us crave the good times, I get that but given that Guardiola took a year to get the feel of this league tells me that we now need to put our expectations, along with all thoughts of Europe or indeed new grounds out of our minds for 3 years and just find a manager before building a side, a club for the modern era as any new ground without a proper squad to grace it will be- again in my opinion, yet more folly in the wake of the myriad of recent rank bad decisions and merely sets us up to join the top-flight behemoth now plying their trades in the netherworld of the lower leagues. We as supporters need to forget about the RS get real and understand that there is no quick fix here. It will take time as well as someone whom understands both this league and the tactics required within it yet also grasps the fundamentals of our football club. We are however blessed with a particularly fine vintage of youth players so if such a person with a clue could add a system and a soupcon experience whilst addressing some of the primary issues then we may still have something to work with. In the meantime, as bad as we are, we ourselves have to stay staunch and back the team to the hilt both home and away to my mind, as the alternative does not bear contemplation.

Perhaps the only saving grace of our admittedly nightmare start to the fixture programme is that by the end of January we will have been to all the major sides away from home thus increasing focus on both our home games but also away games against teams around us in the table. Our own role as supporters therefore- the atmosphere we create, may well prove pivotal. Yesterday (November 2017) I was at Southampton to witness the booing of substitutes warming-up. This not only does not help the situation at hand but in addition has the internet roaring of us. I get that folks are angry also there are questions to be answered- Jesus, are there questions, but given the severity of our situation and the prospect of RS relegation parties I implore everyone- for the duration of 2017-18 to play our individual roles, be the best Toffees that we can be, as every single hand will be required. Should this be achieved then I shall volunteer to be the first one looking for answers and assurances that such a scenario will never happen again.

For the interim we require a system of some description which prevents us getting walloped by everyone and a centre-forward in the transfer window. As regards a manager, he may well now be a stop-gap thus placing the onus upon ourselves. We shall be here long after these have all long left the building therefore have a responsibility as fans to do our utmost to prevent the unthinkable. We are all hurting, of course we are but for now we need to stay calm as a group, stay together but most of all to stay staunch whilst hunkering down for what promises to be a very dark and cold winter.

The Toffees: Always and forever.

David Fehily. LCAB.

Look after your peoples.

Peace out.

The post The lopsided, back-to-front and upside down conundrum. appeared first on GrandOldTeam.

Everton reopen talks with Sam Allardyce

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Everton have u-turned and reopened talks with Sam Allardyce about becoming their next permanent manager, according to Sky Sports News.

After failing to bring in Watford boss Marco Silva, and a dismal run of five defeats from seven games under interim boss David Unsworth, Everton have again approached Allardyce’s representatives after earlier talks broke down.

The post Everton reopen talks with Sam Allardyce appeared first on GrandOldTeam.

Southampton 4-1 Everton

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Everton capitulated and collapsed on Sunday afternoon as a Southampton side that failed to register one shot on target at Anfield last week strolled to a comfortable and totally dominant victory.

Still in search of a win away from Goodison since January, Everton arrived at St.Mary’s in desperate need of not only three points, but a massively improved performance following Thursday’s drubbing by Atalanta.

Argentine Mauricio Pellegrino in charge of Southampton, themselves having a poor start to the season and only a point ahead of the Blues prior to kick-off, selected a starting eleven in a 4-2-3-1 formation of: Forster, Soares, van Dijk, Hoedt, Bertrand, Hojbjerg, Davis (c), Tadic, Ward-Prowse, Boufal and Austin.

With rumours swirling around like an out of control tornado as to who is on an alleged shortlist to become the new Everton manager, still in interim charge David Unsworth was unable to include leading scorer Oumar Niasse and suspended Tom Davies so he too opted for a 4-2-3-1 made up of: Pickford, Baines, Keane, Jagielka (c), Kenny, Gueye, Schneiderlin, Lennon, Sigurdsson, Mirallas and Calvert-Lewin.

With cards, watches, whistles and free kick marker foam was referee Kevin Friend.

A quiet opening to the game almost saw the home side take a fourth minute lead as a free-kick from Ward-Prowse hit Jagielka in the stomach and thankfully fell nicely for Pickford to gather before Austin could react.

Southampton were enjoying more of the play and Everton survived a scare when Soares found Austin and his shot hit the post and rebounded to safety. The Blues spurned a great chance just past the quarter hour mark as Mirallas worked his way into the box only to miskick, and Southampton promptly punished them with a quick counter attack that saw a great ball played in off the left flank by Bertrand for Tadic to take one touch to get ahead of Jagielka and then steer past the onrushing Pickford.

It had turned into a good start for the home side as Everton looked nervous and woefully short of confidence and ideas, and when Baines pulled up and hobbled off, things looked to go from bad to worse. Ashley Williams duly replaced Baines on 27 minutes and the back four was re-arranged to read from right to left, Kenny, Williams, Keane and Jagielka at right back.

DCL put pressure on Cedric to win a corner on the half hour but Sigurdsson could only find the grateful arms of Forster.

Austin won a midfield ball to release Tadic against Williams with the Saints player winning that race with ease before crossing against Keane and appealing stupidly for a penalty. Even when van Dijk got forward and lost possession, Everton couldn’t make the most as the ball forward from DCL aimed towards Mirallas was easily picked off and the momentary threat was lost.

Two quick Ward-Prowse corners again caused problems for Everton, the second seeing van Dijk have a clear, unchallenged header that thankfully went wide of the target.

Incredibly after such a dismal first 45 minutes, Everton drew level as DCL fed Sigurdsson and he worked himself an opening for a curling right foot shot that hit the crossbar, post, bounced back onto the crossbar again before eventually settling into the opposite corner for the most unlikely equaliser of the season.

Half Time: 1-1

The boost of the equaliser on half time was rather too quickly wasted as Southampton took barely seven minutes to regain the lead. Mirallas lost possession in midfield and the counter saw as a left wing cross from Bertrand headed home powerfully by Austin.

Five minutes later and Austin added his second and Southampton’s third marker as Tadic, largely untroubled, reached a ball by the left wing corner flag and his peach of a cross found Austin inside the six yard box again unchallenged to convert the easy header.

With over half an hour still to play, Southampton were now buoyant and looking to add to their tally against the defence that has now conceded the most goals in this Premier League campaign.

Ademola Lookman replaced Mirallas on 63 minutes to try and add some pace and spark to an Everton performance that, the Sigurdsson strike apart, had been quite frankly shocking.

Saints were now picking Everton off at will as the Blues struggled to maintain any possession and another Ward-Prowse corner from the right found Hoedt unmarked in the area and once again, Everton had to be grateful for another effort off target.

At a pause while Keane received some treatment for a knock before limping off to be replaced by Nikola Vlasic, it was noticeable that Jonjoe Kenny was the only player in blue attempting to gee his team mates up and imploring them to a greater effort for the final quarter hour.

Lemina replaced Tadic for the home side and a few minutes later the home fans gave Austin a standing ovation as he was replaced by Shane Long.

A terrible effort at a backpass by Jagielka was pounced upon by Long and it was only the smart action of Jordan Pickford that prevented the scoreboard moving again.

Saints made their final change on 86 minutes replacing Boufal with Yoshida and two minutes later, this latest debacle officially became a disaster as the Everton defence fell apart to allow Saints captain Davis to run onto a pass from Ward-Prowse to side foot home the fourth from outside the area.

Full Time: 4-1

Let there be absolutely no mistake, this Everton squad is most definitely in a relegation fight now and it looks bereft of the ingredients needed to survive.

And of the players who wore the blue jersey today, only Kenny and maybe Lennon are worthy of a vote for Man of the Match – the rest including goal scorer Sigurdsson who gave us fleeting hope were pathetic.

If as many people now suspect and indeed believe that the clubs inability to appoint a new manager is due to massive differences in outlook and opinions between the chairman, board of directors and the major shareholder Farhad Moshiri, God help us.

The post Southampton 4-1 Everton appeared first on GrandOldTeam.

Southampton v Everton

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Everton’s season slumped to a new low on Thursday night, when a mid-table Italian side who hadn’t won away from home this season turned up at Goodison and obliterated the Blues 5-1.

David Unsworth takes charge of his seventh consecutive game, over a month has passed since the sacking of Ronald Koeman and the Toffees look no closer to appointing a new manager than they did on the day the Dutchman departed.

If there is one miniscule piece of positivity from Thursdays farce, it is that Sandro Ramirez netted his first competitive goal for the club, a much-needed strike for the Spaniard having looked half the player he was at Malaga last term. Evertonians will be hoping that is just the break Sandro needed.

Southampton are under new management after dismissing Claude Puel last season, former Liverpool defender Mauricio Pellegrino hasn’t enjoyed the most spectacular of starts to life at the Saints, currently sitting just one point above the side they welcome to St. Mary’s.

You have to look back over a month ago for Southampton’s last win, a 1-0 victory over West Brom on October 21st. But if Everton’s antics in the Europa League are anything to go by, Southampton are the form team going into this one.

Who should the visitors be wary of?
A man who was strongly linked with a switch to the Blues before he moved to Southampton was Manolo Gabbiadini, a man who bagged six goals in his first four games for the south coast side, but has only managed a further three in the 18 appearances that have followed.
But the Italian clearly has an eye for goal, and anyone would fancy their chances to get their name on the scoresheet the way in which Everton have defended this season.

Tricky attacker Sofiane Boufal hasn’t set the league alight since his £16 million move from Lille in 2016 but the Morocco international has proved he’s got the quality to torment teams, his strike in Southampton’s last win epitomised that, taking the ball from his own half, dribbling past the vast majority of the Baggies defenders then fired past Ben Foster, his fine effort then picked up the Premier League goal of the month.
And with Everton’s troubles at full-back, if he is selected Boufal will be relishing the task of running up against them.

Team news –
Mario Lemina will take a late fitness test to determine whether he can take part in this one, and fellow midfielder Oriol Romeu is suspended for the clash.

Top-scorer Oumar Niasse will serve his first of a two-game suspension after being found guilty of ‘conning the referee’, whereas Tom Davies has accumulated five yellows and will have to sit it out. Unsworth is hopeful Phil Jagielka and Morgan Schneiderlin will be fit for the game.

After Thursday’s debacle there should be no one in that squad who doesn’t want to put it right for the Blues, a much-needed win will propel Everton further away from the dreaded relegation zone, overtaking the hosts in the process and ending the 10 months wait for a win on the road in the process.

Up the Toffees.

The post Southampton v Everton appeared first on GrandOldTeam.

What If?

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There’s an analytical (and often diverting) strand of historical inquiry that posits ‘what ifs?’ Counter-factualism asks questions such as ‘What if Hitler had never been born?’, ‘What if Pearl Harbour had never happened?’, ‘What would the UK look like if Thatcher hadn’t been off her tits?’ Although speculative and unprovable, it’s a way of thinking that often makes you question the impact of a certain event or figure and re-evaluate the impact of others.

With another visit of David Moyes to Goodison on the horizon and the club facing yet another crisis, it seems an opportune moment to posit a ‘what if’ of our own, essentially ‘What if David Moyes had never quit the club?’

It’s easy to write Moyes off nowadays. In the space of just a few years he has transformed from one of the highest regarded managers in the game to a figure widely seen as living on borrowed time. It’s not unreasonable to think that if his time at the London Stadium does not go well, then the days of him managing in the top flight will become a thing of the past.

His record since leaving Goodison is far from impressive, best described as one of growing failure. From a largely disappointing season at Old Trafford, he endured a pretty dismal year at Real Sociedad, followed by an abjectly wretched season at Sunderland.

In mitigation, defenders of Moyes point to the incredible expectations at United, the language barrier that existed at Sociedad and the ’basket- case’ nature of Sunderland (a club that appears to be near unmanageable).

While all true there is also a lingering sense that Moyes exacerbated the problem. Whether it was his inability to motivate the players or navigate the transfer market successfully at United, his lack of understanding of how to operate within Spanish football or his pessimism and reductive training techniques at Sunderland, his managerial journey since Everton seems to be one best characterised as a man making a tough situation even worse through his own failings.

Critics of Moyes within the Everton fold can point to this as evidence that irrespective of what has happened to the club since; he probably left us at the right time. As further proof they could point to Moyes’ growing conservatism at Everton during his latter years at the club, the ‘knife to a gunfight’ mentality he seemed to instil and his inability to grasp the opportunities to win silverware that were presented to him.

Moyes certainly had his flaws and life since Goodison has perhaps exposed them more keenly. He unquestionably plays a style of football that often ‘protects the point’, he is no longer a charismatic presence and he often seems to too eager to grasp the role of underdog.

But, to believe definitively that Everton have been better off without him and to suggest that the version of Moyes that has existed since his leaving would have been identical to the one Everton would have enjoyed/endured had he stayed would be wrong.

Moyes rebuilt the club. When he came to the Goodison, Everton were a mess. With the exception of 18 good months under Joe Royle, the Blues had spent nearly a decade in the doldrums, a period punctuated by alarming flirtations with relegation. Beset by financial problems, reputationally damaged and falling further and further off the pace each year, the club was ‘doing a Sunderland’ before Sunderland had even done it.

Moyes changed all of that. Brick by brick he built Everton back up. Although the club was not restored to what had existed before the 1990s (the financial inequality that existed within English football made such hopes utterly unrealistic), he did the best with what he had. And often that was next to nothing.

With one of the best scouting systems in the county, the club consistently unearthed cut-price gems. Thinks of the likes of Stones, Arteta, Cahill, Howard, Baines, Coleman, Jagielka, and Pienaar, then compare those to the bloated incomers we have at the club today. He didn’t always get it right but then what manager does? But when he did, he brought in players of undeniable class, arguably Everton’s best recruitment policy since Kendall’s first stint in the 1980s.

Allied to this, Everton became organised, fit and hard to beat under Moyes. We might deride his conservative organisation but how we would now kill for such an approach. Since the impact of Moyes first began to dissipate during Martinez’s second season in charge, Everton have become defensively fragile.

And when he left Goodison in 2013, all of the above was still yielding success. Although there might have been a sense that a glass ceiling was being self imposed on the club, Everton still finished sixth on a net spend that year of just over £2m. And this was a transfer window that saw the likes of Stones, Mirallas and Oviedo come to the club.

Moyes was comfortable at Goodison, a man who knew the club, who had a system behind him and who was confident in his abilities. While diminishing returns might have set in, the shambolic mess that now stares at us through our TV screens (like a gargoyle that has just become sentient) would likely not have materialized. And there’s every reason to suggest that under the guidance of his competent approach, Everton would have chugged along on a more even keel than has been the case over the past four and a bit years.

Moyes was never an inspirational manager but having endured Mr Positivity and Mr Big Shot, how many of us with hindsight would now trade them for the dour Scot?

With the passage of time and Moyes’ dismal record since leaving Goodison, it’s easy to forget what he achieved. He might not have been everyone’s cup of tea, you’d never touch him with a bargepole now and he is probably more reflective of what Everton were rather than what the fans want the club to be, but David Moyes was a great Everton manager; after Catterick and Kendall (Mark I), possibly the best since the War.

‘What if’s’ can’t be proven and the past can’t be undone. Moyes left and turned shite. Martinez and Koeman arrived and turned Everton shite. But Moyes left a legacy at the club and a reminder (something that considering a ‘what if?’ can throw up) that Everton prospered when the club appointed a manager who could imbue the squad with fighting spirit. Moyes never promised the stars but he gave Everton a rigidity that could be built upon. During his time at Goodison we were strong, a club not to be fucked with.

In his absence that quality has all but disappeared. Right now, nobody fears Everton, nobody fears coming to Goodison Park, the days of threat have ebbed away.

We will never know what life would have been like had he stayed but I’d bet good money that Everton would maintained a snarl had Mr ‘People’s Club’ remained in the hotseat.

The post What If? appeared first on GrandOldTeam.

Everton 1-5 Atalanta​

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Three thousand plus Italian supporters fully enjoyed their cold and wet visit to Merseyside as Atalanta cruised forward into the knockout stages with a comprehensive mauling of the Blues.

Everton closed their disappointing Europa League home game campaign against Italian outfit Atalanta. When the two sides met back in September, Ronald Koeman was at the helm and Atalanta scored a resounding victory.

For this return leg, David Unsworth was still in charge on interim terms and he selected a starting line-up of: Robles, Martina, Keane, Williams, Kenny, Dabies, Baningime, Klaassen, Mirallas, Rooney (c), Ramirez.

Atalanta head coach Gian Piero Gasperini looking to cement top spot in the group picked: Berisha, Toloi, Palomino, Masiello, Hateboer, Cristante, de Roon, Freuler, Castagne, Petagna and Gomez.

Referee Jakob Kehlet and his assistants were all from Denmark.

A relatively bright opening from Everton saw a Martina cross only partially cleared and Klaassen fire over from the edge of the box. Kenny sent Rooney away down the right and his low cross saw Ramirez collide with Berisha, the Atalanta goalie who needed treatment.

Atalanta absorbed the early Everton pressure, such as it was, and with their first meaningful foray into Everton territory, they took the lead. From a corner, the visitors kept the pressure on and working the ball into the box, Keane lost his man whose cut back from the right side of the six-yard area evaded Petagna allowing Cristante to score from eight yards on twelve minutes.

Everton were struggling to find any real rhythm and cohesion while the visitors with the lead were happy to control midfield and wait for the opportunity to break.

It was nearly the half hour mark before Davies won a crunching 50/50 to send Mirallas into the box, where he paused before shooting only for Berisha to parry the ball into the path of Ramirez who blazed high and wide with the goal yawning.

The best Everton attack of the first half came on 37 minutes after Rooney found Ramirez, his back heel found Martina and his cross found Davies whose shot beat Berisha only Toloi to head off the line.

Williams picked up a yellow card on 43 minutes for a foul on Masiello before the half ended with Rooney drinking a ball over the top for Ramirez and Mirallas firing the knock back straight at Berisha.

Half Time: 0-1

No changes by either side at the break and it was a seemingly harsh decision by the Danish referee to award a penalty against Williams for a tackle on Cristante. Gomez strolled up and Joel Robles went low to his right to make fine stop. The ball cannoned around the area and was eventually cleared much to the home fans relief.

Gomez fired in another effort from the edge of the box that Robles went low to his left to save and a couple of minutes later it was Jonjoe Kenny with a goal line clearing header to prevent Atalanta doubling their lead.

On the hour, Atalanta replaced Masiello with Caldara and a minute later Nikola Vlasic came on for Klaassen who had struggled to make any real impact in the game.

Atalanta doubled their lead with a 63rd minute corner from Gomez that Cristante steered past Robles.

Further substitutions on 69 minutes saw Gosens replace Hateboer for Atalanta and David Unsworth give Morgan Feeney his debut at the expense of Kenny.

Everton reduced the arrears moments later as Mirallas found Ramirez in the area and he turned sweetly to fire a low shot across the face of goal and past Berisha.

Davies picked up a yellow card before Gomez set up Petagna only for his shot to go straight into the arms of Robles.

Everton used their third and final substitute on 78 minutes as Calvert-Lewin replaced Mirallas who had worked hard throughout.

Great work from the tireless Baningime saw Vlasic lay the ball back for Ramirez to strike a powerful rising shot that Berisha was happy to turn over for a corner.

Atalanta confirmed their superiority with a tremendous strike from Gosens as he latched onto a headed clearance from a Gomes corner to crash home from 22 yards.

And the salt was well and truly rubbed into Everton wounds moments later as Cornelius poked home to complete the rout.

Even in added-on time, the visitors looked to add more goals as their fans celebrated noisily and it took a last ditch tackle by Williams to deflect a Petagna shot wide after a poor giveaway by Rooney.

From the corner, Atalanta went nap as Cornelius bagged his second of the night to end a disastrous night for Everton.

Full Time: 1-5

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What a week…

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Last Saturday, I watched Arsenal give Spurs a footballing lesson in the lunchtime kick-off game and followed that up with listening to Everton labour to a draw away at bottom of the table Crystal Palace.

I couldn’t bring myself to watch Man United roll over Newcastle live, so tuned in later for Match of the Day – to put the top hat on a thoroughly depressing day.

As I said, Arsenal taught Spurs a lesson or two, Man City strolled past Leicester though quite how Vincent Kompany escaped a red card for a cynical foul on Vardy is beyond me. I saw Chelsea, United and even Liverpool cruise past and score almost at will against West Brom, Newcastle and Southampton respectively, and then inevitably the final game to be showed, I endured, and believe me endured is the right word, the highlights of Palace versus Everton.

And if there was any lingering doubt in anybody’s mind about the gulf between Everton and the ‘top six’ this MotD highlighted it all too painfully.

Right now, Everton are a million light years from being a contender against any of the top six.

They all have pace, power, finesse, and finishing by the lorry load, whereas Everton are bereft of too many of those qualities, and worse give scant indication that any of them are incoming in the near future.

Last season, Everton were comfortably and by some margin the best of the rest – it’s beginning to look like we’ll lose that seventh place trophy to Burnley this time around.

And if the gulf in class of the football on offer is not enough to make you wonder quite how and when Everton might return to the higher echelons, we – as I assume many others were watching – then had to endure the pious and frankly two-faced punditry of Alan Shearer and Phil Neville castigating Oumar Niasse for ‘diving.’

Now as I recall the incident, the referee was no more than ten yards from and with a clear, unhindered view of the challenge by Scott Dann on Niasse and unhesitatingly awarded the penalty that Leighton Baines duly converted.

Yet Shearer and Neville proceeded to publicly and repeatedly accuse and convict Niasse of a blatant dive. I would assume that this course of punditry was discussed and agreed beforehand so Gary Lineker can also take some heat too for not even attempting to offer any degree of counter opinion for balance of such a vitriolic attack.

There was contact, even Dann could not and did not categorically deny it and in previous weeks the holier than thou Shearer has hypocritically suggested that the likes of Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero amongst others ‘are entitled to go down’ if there’s been contact.

So what exactly Mr.Shearer is different between Raheem Sterling, Alexis Sanchez, Ashley Young, Eden Hazard, Dele Alli, Sadio Mane all going down theatrically and Oumar Niasse allegedly doing likewise?

Answer… Niasse plays for unfashionable Everton while the rest play for the darling ‘top six’ in the eyes of the media. The hypocrisy of Shearer and others is quite frankly staggering.

To compound the trial by TV pundits, we then had that bastion of the correct decision Mark Clattenberg weighing in on the incident. He said he’d seen a video angle that clearly showed no contact between Dann and Niasse, a quite amazing revelation given Dann did not and still has to deny physical contact was made.

Subsequently the Football Association, somewhat belatedly and correctly it must be said, chose to act in a manner deemed to confront the growing number of ‘dive’ accusations and insinuations.

They handed Niasse a two-game ban not for diving though, but for ‘successful deception of the referee’ presumably on the grounds that he’d gone down rather too easily… but hang on, the Reverend Shearer has said it’s okay – players are ‘entitled to go down if there’s contact in the penalty area.’

Needless to say, following the outcry led by Shearer and Neville and supported by Clattenberg, the appeal lodged by Everton was unanimously dismissed by the totally anonymous three-person adjudication panel.

Had the referee felt that Niasse had dived or simulated contact, he would have shown the player a yellow card and probably nobody would have complained. There’s no denying that Niasse did go down probably too easily, but who can really, truly judge how the speed a player is running at and the amount of contact will affect his balance?

However it’s now official, Oumar Niasse, and by association Everton FC, have been branded, charged and convicted as cheats.

What could have been a yellow card and little more than a quick discussion has now escalated into a major talking point and one that will not go away. Every single incident of a player going down in the penalty area should now come under exacting and minute deliberation and examination.

It remains to be seen whether Shearer jumps straight down the throat of an Aguero, Sterling, Young, Hazard, Alli, or Sanchez in the same hypocritical, spiteful and two-faced manner he did that of Oumar Niasse – I for one won’t be holding my breath waiting for him to castigate a player of the ‘top six’ in the same manner.

Away from the on-field woes of Everton, the club continues to confuse its supporters with the manner in which they’re going about appointing a replacement for the departed Ronald Koeman.

We’ve had umpteen names bandied around – Dyche, Allardyce, Tuchel, Ancellotti, van Gaal to name a few and of course Marco Silva of Watford. Allardyce and van Gaal thankfully ruled themselves out of contention – one wonders were they ever really in contention?

Media reports have suggested that Everton have offered anywhere between £8 and £15 million compensation to Watford for the services of Marco Silva, and this despite the Watford club clearly refusing permission for Silva to be contacted and talked to about the Goodison hotseat.

Whether he has a genuine interest in or desire to become Everton manager is to my mind neither here nor there, he is contracted to Watford and they have stonewalled any approach.

Everton supporters have no knowledge of what process is being worked on or indeed by whom to determine a shortlist of potential new managers.

We have a Director of Football and nobody outside of the inner sanctum of the club has any real idea of what Steve Walsh is responsible for.

The club have been steadfast in remaining quiet and offering no official word on the managerial appointment process.

There are suggestions that there is possible division between the Board of Directors and the major shareholder Farhad Moshiri.

Do the BoD want person A while Moshiri wants person B?

Moshiri isn’t on the BoD, but it’s his financial muscle that will ultimately be needed to secure whoever the eventual choice is, so it would kind of make sense for there to be some degree of unity between the BoD and the money.

Finally for this ramble, for the past six months or so, I’ve listened intently to a series of podcasts – Everton Business Matters – hosted by the Blue Room. Three chaps, Rodger, John and Paul, who are patently rabid Evertonians and well versed in business operations and corporate structure matters.

They have and I’m sure will repeatedly bang the drum for change within and throughout the club, change in personnel and change in attitude and given the way this current season has evolved never mind the last twenty years, it’s difficult to pick too many holes in their arguments.

The latest edition, Episode 14, again highlights severe misgivings about the operation of many aspects of the club, I heartily recommend giving it a listen, here’s the link…

Everton Business Matters Episode 14

The post What a week… appeared first on GrandOldTeam.

Bramley Moore Dock Update

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Everton Stadium Development Limited (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Everton Football Club) and Peel Land and Property (Ports) Limited have formally signed an agreement for the Club to lease land at Bramley Moore Dock, Liverpool Waters.

The lease, which is conditional upon gaining planning consent for the proposed new stadium and securing funding for its construction, will run for a period of 200 years at a peppercorn rent.

The signing of the agreement is a significant milestone in the project and means Everton effectively now controls the land upon which a new stadium would be built. This follows several years of searching for a new site and is the culmination of an exhaustive search across the city.

Robert Elstone, Chief Executive at Everton Football Club said: “Clearly this is very positive news. Gaining control of the site was essential for us to be able to move forward with the next stages of the project – finalising the funding agreement with the Council and preparing for the submission of a planning application – both of which we hope to do in the New Year. I’d like to thank Peel as well as Mayor Anderson and his colleagues at the Council for their support in getting us to this point.”

The proposed new stadium at Bramley Moore Dock will be a catalyst for the £5.5bn regeneration proposals for North Liverpool which is set to be one of the largest and most transformational in the city’s history.

The stadium will help accelerate Peel Land and Property’s Liverpool Waters development – which stretches along Liverpool’s waterfront and is made up of five neighbourhoods. The new stadium at Bramley Moore Dock will be complemented by a host of leisure amenities and facilities to enhance the visitor experience. Plans also include two new river terminals – a new cruise liner facility as well as the Isle of Man ferry terminal – and a range of office and residential developments alongside a waterfront cultural complex.

Ian Pollitt, Assistant Project Director at Liverpool Waters, said: “2017 has been a landmark year for Liverpool Waters with a series of planning permissions granted for both Princes Dock and Central Dock, including the plans for a new cruise terminal and a collection of residential developments. We know that a world-class stadium, on the banks of the River Mersey, will act as a trigger for even more investment and jobs which will be of huge benefit to the whole city region. We’ve been working very closely with all partners to get to this stage and we’re excited to move on to the next phase of the project.”

CBRE, who are acting as advisers to Everton, estimate that a new stadium at Bramley Moore will provide a £1bn boost to the local economy, with a contribution of more than £900m to the region before the stadium is even completed.

The huge financial boost to Liverpool’s economy will see more than £255m spent through local supply chains during the construction phase and once completed, the creation of more than 15,000 jobs for local people and an annual boost to the city of £94m through hotel occupancy, retail and tourism.

Iain Jenkinson, Senior Director, Planning and Development at CBRE said: “This scheme is hugely significant, not just for Everton and for Peel’s Liverpool Waters project, but for the entire city region. The social and economic impact presented by this once-in-a-generation opportunity will be a game-changer for the city. And it’s a game-changer not only in terms of the measurable regeneration benefits to the city through jobs, supply chain contracts and all the other benefits associated with a large-scale project, but also through the unique ‘brand value’ that will be development will bring to the city through having what will become a globally recognised stadium on one of the world’s most famous and spectacular waterfronts.”

Peel was advised by Iain Gamble and Luke Taylor at Brabners on all property matters with Colette McCormack at Winckworth Sherwood advising on planning aspects of the deal.

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