‘It’s over, finally it is over!’ A bemused fan was heard to say, as referee Graham Scott blew the final whistle, and with it called time on another dismal Premier League season.
Let’s rewind around 9 months, it’s mid August 2017, the sun is shining, the Goodison blossoms are in full bloom and the excitement of all Evertonians is palpable. The Moshiri era is in full swing, more money has been spent than ever before, we’re deftly moving through the Europa League qualifiers and we’d take 4 points from our opening two games, maybe Richard Keys was right with his, slightly head scratching, prediction that Everton could finish above Liverpool this season.
We believed in the hype and the hysteria as we floated about on the crest of a wave, the signings filling the Finch Farm corridors. We didn’t care who or how much they cost but duly welcomed one and welcomed all through the revolving doors but then again this is Everton and, as always, it was the hope that killed us. Not one person who attended the opening game against Stoke, on that sunny August afternoon, would’ve predicted the bitter after taste the following 9 months would leave behind.
It’s hard to pin the blame on one door in particular but rather aim at the collective of Everton Football Club. Boardroom decisions became disastrous, the signings atrocious and by November, our Europa League dream in tatters, sitting just outside the relegation zone – panic – complete and utter panic so we did the unthinkable, Sam Allardyce was appointed. Let that sink in for a moment, Sam Allardyce was appointed manager of Everton Football Club.
How quickly the darks clouds had descended over Goodison. The pre season optimism was now dejection, frustration and anger. We’d been chasing dreams of glory in August but we ended it with a man championed for keeping teams in the top division. It isn’t just Everton, however, who offer much but deliver little, about 230 miles south in East London, West Ham had their own issues, free falling blindly into a relegation scrap, they followed suit by sacking Slaven Bilic and off the merry go round came David Moyes, the man once tasked with replacing the immortal Sir Alex Ferguson was now charged with keeping West Ham in the Premier League, oh how the mighty had fallen, eh Dave? The infuriation was too much for some, their protests spilt onto the pitch an invasion, clashes with players with one man even doing a Souness, so to speak, planting a (corner) flag into the centre circle, barmy I know, but while all this played out some chose to vent their displeasure another way, a banner was unfurled, which simply read ‘Sold a dream but given a nightmare!’ Somewhat poorly written but the point remains. They’d been promised the world by Gold, Sullivan and Brady yet here they were, a soulless stadium an average squad of expensively accrued players and staring relegation in the face, far cry from the promise land of trophies and Champions League football they’d been expecting. We too have been sold a dream, maybe we are still dreaming still hoping for a better life, a life without Sam Allardyce a life without constant frustration, a life in which the hope delivers not kills.
Your persuasion of the Allardyce debacle will depend on which side of the fence you sit, as a right minded thinking Evertonian you’d feel anger, frustration even disgust at what happened to our beloved club as we stuttered to an eighth place finish. We are starved of success, clinging on to the 1980’s trophy haul while thinking what might have been as we charged into the 90’s and the beginning of the Premier League, now gazing up to the starry skies of the top four while enviously watching domestic trophies head to Manchester and London respectively, yet, if you believe the media bandwagon we finished a fantastic eighth, we survived certain relegation under the leadership of Allardyce, we are eternally ungrateful, ridiculed even, for wanting better, for wanting bigger and for wanting a successful football team to support.
Now to the future, the Allardyce era is finally over, the blossoms can bloom and the hope can return as Marco Silva seems likely to join Marcel Brands on the new look management team. A long term strategy to lead the club into a new life, a new stadium and new success. As they said down in East London ‘Sold a dream but given a nightmare!’ Please, Everton, don’t make this our own nightmare.