Uncomfortably Numb

Detached, disillusioned, distant, disinterested, disconnected – unfortunately those words are just a handful which sum up what I, and probably many like me, feel towards my Club – Everton FC – currently, and after weeks and months of bottling it all up I’ve eventually felt compelled to get things off my chest.

I’d love to be writing about how we’d just lifted the League Cup, ended our long trophy drought or that we were on the verge of finishing in the Champions League places. I’d love to be reflecting on how we’d upset a few big sides this season as we looked to go to the next level following a serious amount of investment in the squad. I’d love to be writing about having a manager who was the right man for the job, how he instills confidence and has this group of players playing at their peak, a group of players who have collectively and individually impressed us with some fantastic displays and attractive football. I’d love all of that, in fact I long for the day I can write an article with such positive content, but yet again it’s not the case, yet again my mood towards Everton is a downbeat one and yet again it’s another pessimistic piece of writing.

I have more questions than I can think of about the current malaise Everton find themselves in, but my main feeling towards the whole affair is one of emptiness at the moment and I just hope that fire in the belly for my Club returns soon enough, but I can only see that happening if Everton have a massive overhaul and shake up of personnel.

To put it bluntly this season has been a concoction of disappointments, confusion and finger pointing and three managers later we are no nearer to any more clarity, improvement or direction, and in fact we seem to be getting worse. Koeman fell on his sword in November and similarly to his predecessor Martinez, his time came to an end probably slightly later than many would have liked. The Dutchman appeared to ‘lose’ the dressing room, a mixture of inability to find places in the side for big money signings and a downturn in results, as well as a blasé, arrogant attitude saw his reign end at Goodison Park culminating with him overseeing an absolute horror show against Arsenal as his final outing. Koeman was replaced by David Unsworth on a temporary basis during what was a turbulent spell for the Blues, before Everton then set about recruiting their newest managerial appointment – but this turned into an episode of embarrassment in itself. Sam Allardyce was offered a short-term deal, but rebuffed the approach, only for Everton to then expensively try to prize Marco Silva away from Watford but to no avail. Weeks passed by, Silva stayed at Watford, Allardyce was offered a longer-term deal and eventually joined Everton in late November and since then, to say the Club has drifted into nothingness and lowered itself into desperation would be an understatement.

I admit at the time I struggled to accept and digest the appointment – why him – why have we stooped so low – what the hell was Moshiri thinking? Allardyce’s reputation was one which would not be welcomed at Everton, especially now with our supposed ‘new found ambition’ – just what was going on at Goodison Park? Some said they would stay away (and many have stuck to their word), some returned their season tickets, some protested on social media, whereas others said they would get behind him, others tried to pick the positives out of the appointment and others, well they claimed they would support Everton regardless of who was in charge and get behind him – in reality we all still support Everton but just have different ways of going about it, I suppose. Myself, well it took me a few reassuring conversations with older Evertonians than me, it took me weeks of reflecting, I took time to calm down, and this was just to come to terms with the fact that Allardyce had been given the job, not for me to accept it – because I still haven’t accepted it. I thought to myself ‘it is what it is, I can’t change that now’ but now, three months later, I have bitten my tongue for long enough, I can’t stomach witnessing this anymore without having my say, it’s safe to say I’m disgusted what I’ve witnessed since and I’m not surprised at all. I’ve spoken to far too many fans who share similar views, young and old, there’s lads there giving up tickets and refusing to go to the game because he’s in charge, this should not be the case, our fans are everything, they are the soul of this Club and at times I feel Everton don’t deserve such loyalty, such investment and everyone throwing their wages and time at supporting us wherever we are and whoever we are against. Our fans just don’t get that back, they don’t get justification or reward and they never will with this joke of an egotistical manager in so called ‘charge’ of our team.

Sam Allardyce is simply not the right person to be in charge of our Club, his arrogant, untouchable attitude does not, and will never, sit well with me, and the mere sight of him in the dugout chewing that chewing gum the way he does, in his massive Everton coat, annoys the hell out of me. Yes I am getting personal here, but I can’t bring myself to get behind this manager whatsoever, it feels so strange to want to support your Club but feel so opposed to the person leading it. I’ll admit, since he took over, I have hardly been to Goodison Park. I still watch our games, but I generally have been watching them with a half-arsed approach, almost intentionally not reacting when a goal is scored for or against us. It is such feeling of detachment. I did go to the Palace game, I sat there with the familiar faces I know on the Gwladys Street and every single one of them felt a similar sort of feeling. I describe my experience that day as being numb towards Everton, and walking out of the ground after seeing us win 3-1 but not feeling pleased, not wanting to sing our praises or celebrate in any manner. It’s almost like it didn’t happen. This isn’t right, this is simply not right. I put this down to one man – Sam Allardyce. His crook-like ways should never have been allowed into my Club, yet they have been and the disparity is clear to hear and see amongst the fans and it hurts. Getting frustrated with Moyes, Martinez and Koeman because their time, decision making and results may have led me to be that way is one thing, but to not want a person as our manager even if we won every game from now until the end of the season tells you all you need to know.

Allardyce publicly calls out his players in a way that makes him protected from blame. Yes the players deserve criticism, and yes they’ve been collectively and individually woeful throughout this campaign, but Allardyce’s comments towards them, his treatment of Davy Klaassen, Ademola Lookman etc. is hardly going to inspire you to go and give your all for your manager is it? Allardyce believes he has done a good job since becoming our manager, and some Evertonians would argue that he has, unfortunately and no disrespect to them, that type of opinion may represent their ambition and hope for our Football Club, I can’t share that mindset I’m afraid. Allardyce was supposedly brought in to steady the ship, but that ship is now in the middle of an ocean with no captain, and everyone wants to jump over board, and the onlookers can’t even be bothered to watch it sink. This theory of him getting us ‘back to basics’ isn’t true, we won a couple of games and kept a few clean sheets but that’s it, since then the team has been chopped and changed constantly, certain players have been given preferential treatment, other players can’t get a look in even though those ahead of them in the starting XI have been shocking, our new £27 million striker can’t get a sniff, others have been sent out on loan or left isolated, the football is dire, the admittance of defeat away from home and against teams above us in the League is despicable, and Allardyce has just picked players who in his head can ‘do a job’ so that we can get over the line, get to the magic 40 point mark so he can turn around and say ‘job done’. Then he has the audacity to say ‘we’ve done a good job so far’, ‘You have to remember we were 2 points off relegation when I took over’ – Just how low does it have to get at Everton FC? His slating of the players continues, almost to the point where it’s obvious he doesn’t care what they think of him, or anyone else, because he is Sam Allardyce. He knows how to work the media and everyone he manages, almost like he is some sort of football managing messiah? When in reality, it couldn’t be further from the truth. After the Watford game Allardyce further endeared himself to supporters ‘They get the ball and pass it, not me’ Allardyce continues: ‘So, if you get the ball and move it forward to one of your front men, your front men get in the game and they attack the other teams defence, but you can’t blame me if they don’t pass the ball to each other’ – well yes sorry Sam we can blame you, and this isn’t school by the way, this is the Premier League and the buck stops with the Manager. We all berate the players when they aren’t playing well, and on the other hand we heap praise on them when they do well, but Allardyce seems to have it in his head that he is protected from everything.

This type of attitude, paired with the obvious failings of Steve Walsh, the questionable decisions of Farhad Moshiri and Bill Kenwright, and a group of players who lack fight, desire, and a willingness so succeed, makes for one big pot of disappointment at Everton FC and the ironic thing is that this all comes just when we thought the tide was meant to be changing! The Mersey Billionaires? new players? record breaking deals? a new commercial outlook? a spanking new stadium down on the Mersey? – just when we began to get excited, it all goes tits up. It’s very typical of Everton isn’t it. Who’s going to take this ‘new’ Everton seriously when we have that laughing stock in charge of us? Liverpool must be shaking in their boots! To think we were on par or slightly better than Spurs a few years back, rivalling them as one of the sides who could break the mould. Well look at the difference between the two of us now? A well-managed, exciting side full of energy and vigour who get their fans on the edge of their seats, with a likeable, well sought-after Manager in Pochettino, getting into the Champions League and beating the best sides in our League too, they are a side on the verge of something you can just feel it. But look at us? Feeling sorry for ourselves and arguably one of the worst sides in the league yet still somehow in the top half. Dreams of the Champions League well and truly shelved and once again out of both domestic cup competitions without so much of a whimper, with a Manager more arsed about his CV saying ‘he kept another side up’ and enjoying having that reputation, rather than really wanting to do better and succeed in life, and our Majority Shareholder Farhad Moshiri just settling for this because he flapped it thinking we was going to get relegated! Is this actually real life?

There is a bad smell around my Club at the moment and unless Farhad Moshiri addresses this at the end of a very forgetful campaign then that smell won’t be going away anytime soon. The players who don’t want to be here ‘the bad eggs’ as everyone calls them, need to be shipped out as a squad transition continues and with the financial clout we have then there is no reason why this can’t happen soon, in fact this needs to carry on until we get to a place whereby our squad is hungry, competitive, hopeful and ambitious. But for me the pressing issue which Moshiri needs to address as a starting point would be to ship out Allardyce, his coaches, Steve Walsh as well as the many others who take a nice wage out of our Club and overhaul his staff – but by doing so he needs to ensure he is properly advised and makes the correct decisions for the better of the Club, because he has obviously taken some poor advice and made some questionable decisions lately and it cannot continue. For all of Moshiri’s enthusiasm and positive strides off the field his most recent and most important decision to appoint Sam Allardyce as our manager has turned out to be what many of us expected – the wrong one, with divisive and harmful consequences. Get that man out of my Club, and take every other fraud with him please.

Until then, Up the Toffees.

Mark Finnegan

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