The news that Sam Allardyce has been relieved of his duty from Everton has been met with a sigh of relief as big as any I can remember from Evertonians at any moment of me watching them. I wasn’t quite old enough to remember Walker but I can think of no manager after him who has shared such universal acrimony amongst the fan base. Evertonian’s are getting a tough response in the media for this. Some weeks ago sections of the mainstream media including disgracefully The S*n newspaper chose to have a pop at Everton and it’s fan base for a lack of gratitude towards Sam Allardyce. If the information had been leaked to them (and it is worth bearing in mind the S*n journalist and Allardyce’s close relationship, with Custis ghost writing for home in the past) it would be symbolic of the complete inability Allardyce would have in grasping the value set of football supporters on Merseyside.
In spite of this, I wish Sam Allardyce well going forward and am thankful for him in the job he has done. While there have been some attempts in the media to overplay his achievement what cannot be doubted is he steadied a ship if not demonstrated his ability to turn it around. That his supporters in the media seem keen to claim a victory achieved by David Unsworth in a match Allardyce was only formally appointed after shows as much how little he has achieved in his tenure this season. Deep down he knows his record beyond crude statistics doesn’t stand up to scrutiny but the fact Everton jumped from 17th to 13th in the game before he arrived makes a noticeable difference when judging his end of season finish 8th. What it points to is a Premier League division that is incredibly congested between positions 7th-20th and then between 1st to 5th. For Everton who are keen to move qualitatively from a side in the bottom 14 into being one of the top 6 they need to substantially improve performance, which Allardyce has not demonstrated within his spell. With a points average of 1.41 since his arrival (working out at 54 points across a season) you are seeing a points that return that may give Everton a reasonable league finish but fail in the objective to shift the profile of the club.
None of this means that Allardyce has done a poor job, nor is it a comment on the style of play outlined by him. Even though Everton had started the season with a fiendishly difficult start (playing 7 of the best 8 teams in the league in our opening 12 fixtures) the defeat to Southampton was a particular low ebb. Most of us would have happily signed off on Premier League survival, and I have yet to meet a fan who wouldn’t have taken an 8th place finish irrespective of the important caveats mentioned above. However in analyzing Allardyce, it is possible to hold the view that he has done a very good job in the firefighter role he was brought in to complete, acknowledge that if we competently spend the sort of funds we have over the last 2 years that job shouldn’t be required again, and maintain that Allardyce has shown little in his wider career or indeed his short spell at Everton he is capable of doing the different job he is will be asked to do.
Alongside the news about a change in the board, we are beginning to see changes that can hopefully move the club towards the objective the fans have and we hope Moshiri holds. An appointment of a dynamic young coach, and a competent Director of Football would be a great starting point in moving forward in that direction. It is this more than any abstract discussions around style that underpin why Allardyce had to go and the ambition of the club must be underlined to those within the wider media who are doubting the actions of the board and the demands of the fans.
What it ultimately boils down too, is a predominately southern based media do not view Everton Football Club as a viable candidate to break into the top 6 and the instability it may cause in doing so is resented by the media establishment. Everton’s board can only have themselves to blame in this, the appointment of Sam Allardyce cemented this and allowed for commentators to lump us in with West Ham, Newcastle, and worse still Sunderland, Crystal Palace, Bolton & Blackburn. That they did not take the opportunity to announce he would be leaving his role once safety was achieved was a major mistake, as it quashed any notion that Allardyce was a temporary caretaker manager in the eyes of the media and allowed for them to start pitching him as a long term successor. When dealing with the media types it is essential that fans remember we have an ambition to win trophies, and the football league once again, irrespective of their viewpoint and it is their ignorance of the history of the game that prevents them from viewing this as a natural place for Everton.
We remain the 4th most successful side in the country in terms of trophies won, are the only founding member of both the Premier League and Football League still playing in the premiership and have wracked up more seasons in the top flight than any other. The list of records and achievements we hold remains enviable and what Allardyce represents, the ability to finish on 49 points and consider it a positive season flies in the face of the historical role Everton Football Club have had.