Mediocrity is a disease strangling the life out of Everton Football Club. Goodison Park is riddled and there is no remedy.
This once proud club is on its knees. A laughing stock, an embarrassment. It has accepted for too long. So long, England’s fourth most successful club is languishing and the world doesn’t care. It is not a shock. That is the Everton standard, now. Also-rans, strugglers, accepters.
This is how it is. ‘Nothing but the best is good enough’ is no longer part of the Everton vocabulary.
Former Everton chairman John Moores once said: ‘Everton expects success. We’ve a very good crowd and our crowd are very loyal. But, of course, they pay money and they expect to see us do well. If we don’t do well then something should be done about it and something will be done about it.’
This is no longer the case. Nothing is done about it. Nothing is said, no action is taken.
Everton, a sleeping giant in such a slumber it does not need to be woken.
Failure is accepted and, you could say, expected.
The current manager boasts the worst home record in the club’s 138-year-history but keeps his job. His failure is accepted. Derby maulings, accepted. Failing to turn up for an entire half at Wembley in the biggest game of the season, accepted. Players belittling the club and later failing to put a shift in with no regard, accepted. Humiliated in front of the watching world after giving the newly-crowned champions a guard of honour. Accepted.
We have not won a trophy in over two decades. We are not allowed our own party. We are the uninvited guests to everybody else’s celebrations. We must watch on as others strive to improve and achieve success.
Leicester City winning the title has given hope to everyone. Except for Evertonians, that is.
Supporters of this club are not allowed to dream anymore. They are not allowed to be ambitious. Winning is for other clubs, not Everton.
Roberto Martinez said as much when he was appointed Everton manager: ‘When I arrived at the club I felt like we didn’t want to show off our history; it was a bit like “We’re not allowed to win trophies now, that’s for other football clubs”.’
We do not have our own aims. We merely exist.
Leicester had a clear plan. They aimed for a top-five finish in three years – achieved it in two.
What is Everton’s plan? Finish in the top four perhaps; but we do nothing to reach our goal. We continue to employ a manager who has guided us closer to the drop zone than the European places.
We have history to cling on to, so what does the present matter? The season was over in April. Who cares if Martinez oversees a few more defeats? Why sack him now? The damage is done.
Club legends who have lifted silverware in the royal blue shirt, those who should be most upset and bewildered at Everton’s current plight, have told us this week we are not big enough to entice the biggest managers in the world. We must be careful what we wish for, careful not to aim for the top.
Rather than show ambition and have a go we should know our place was the message.
This club is one of the most storied in English football. It belongs at the top. Nine league titles and five FA Cups.
The last 25 years have seen Everton stuck in a false position. However, we have been so abysmal the mentality of the club has shifted so much that terms like ‘Everton that’ and ‘typical Everton’ are the norm.
The mentality is not what is should be.
One case in point: Oumar Niasse has been a woeful signing and appears a dud. The jury is no longer out, nobody is convinced.
However, we have to laugh at ourselves or else we would cry – his performances have led to giggles in the Gwladys Street. No damning questions as to why we have spent £13.5million on a player who is seemingly not up to the job. We snigger. ‘Oh Everton, you’ve done it again?’ seems to be the general consensus because we have become immune to rubbish and being let down.
We boast legends like Dixie Dean, Alan Ball, Howard Kendall, Bob Latchford, Neville Southall.
The club icon in 2016 who gets the loudest cheer? Tony Hibbert.
The man is idolised in jest having failed to score a single goal in 328 appearances.
Screams of ‘shoot’ aimed at Hibbert – in the same week we are protesting against the leadership of the club because we are desperate to be the best we can be – shows the blurred mentality at the club. Of course, Hibbert is a Blue, a scouser and a model professional but should he be jokingly lauded?
Would Chelsea, United and City celebrate such a player? Definitely not.
We have fallen so far one of the club’s recent successes was naming the club shop ‘Everton two’ in Liverpool One. Very witty and funny but we are so much bigger and better than that.
This is what our long-suffering fans have been reduced to, small victories.
Watching all those around us strive for success, we have no clear plan, no clear aims. Everton are happy to amble, to exist.
Having been patronised into thinking reaching two semi-finals is an achievement – being the nearly men is something to be proud of when you have fallen as far as Everton, apparently – our rivals across Stanley Park showed some initiative earlier in the season and are now gearing up for their second final of the year. Liverpool were proactive and could find themselves playing in the Champions League when the group stages commence in September.
Meanwhile, Everton continue to employ the managerial mastermind who has amassed just 20 points at home – no Toffees boss has achieved a lower tally at Goodison.
Martinez should have been dismissed on the night of the horrendous humiliation at Anfield. After the FA Cup defeat by Manchester United. Every day that has followed is a day too late.
Some claim it is not a problem keeping Martinez until the end of the season. Rubbish.
This is a proud football club – no defeat is acceptable. Campaign over or not, no Everton team should be allowed to down tools.
There are enough coaches associated with the club – Joe Royle, David Unsworth, Duncan Ferguson, Kevin Sheedy – to keep things ticking over, buoy the fans, give us our pride back.
The events of the last few months have seen the heart and soul ripped out of the club. There is no pride left. Discontent fills matchday. Fans have no choice but to protest because they have been ignored.
It is shameful that the club have not acted and relieved Martinez of his duties. They have refused to acknowledge the manager’s failings which suggests they view the season as acceptable.
Everton have fallen way below the required standard but the club feels no need to comment, no need to acknowledge the miserable season fans have had to endure; the depressing and costly trips across the country watching the lacklustre displays Martinez and his men consistently serve up.
The self-professed People’s Club have not listened to the people. The People’s Club does not care about the people. The silence proves that.
Now, it is ‘us and them’. The club divided. Appalling.
Supporters aged 25 can barely remember our 1995 Cup triumph. Twenty-year-olds who go to the game were not even born when we last tasted success. The older followers of the club were there for the heyday but have been starved of glory since.
There are limited trophies on offer so not everybody can celebrate come May. However, the least these fans deserve is a club that wants to win something. That shows ambition. Everton do not. Everton sit and wait. They stand still which in turn sees others overtake us.
As Neville Southall, one of the few ex-Blues who has the correct mentality befitting of this great club, once said: ‘A winner doesn’t want to finish fourth or sixth, he wants to finish first.’
Currently, Everton are some way off even finishing in the top half, never mind sixth.
We should be aiming for first place, though. Players that arrive in the summer should be told, as soon as they walk through the entrance at Finch Farm: ‘You are expected to win the title.’
We have to think big. We have to act like winners. Without belief you will never achieve anything.
However, Everton do not think big. They do not act like winners. There is no belief.
Farhad Moshiri‘s arrival and his billions provide some optimism but really, ask yourself, do you see us being successful? The heart will scream yes but the head, affected by years of supporting Everton and the club’s refusal to act, will be whispering no.
We’ve been badly let down. Pure and simple. The club hasn’t deserved us this season.
The badge has meant nothing. The motto is no longer the standard we are allowed to expect. We must settle for second best. That is the Everton way, these days.