In hindsight, getting beat 3-1 by a David Moyes team while playing 5 defenders was the perfect way to cap off our annus horribilis. Thankfully, the winds of change came quicker than Curry Night at Wetherspoons – in 3 days we had a new Board, a new Director of Football and Big Sam was finally given the hook – a hook with £6m of bait on it.
Besides what the Bovril Bandit will tell you, to most Everton fans this was a good thing – the chance for (another) fresh start, with the foundations in place early for a new manager to see what’s needed and do some window shopping in Moscow next month. For others outside of the club, this was an ousting akin to the Arab Spring. We should have a lot more respect for a man who was open to backhanders after one game in charge of England, apparently.
The furore over his early departure was resplendent over the newswires throughout the week. Sweaty pundit after sweaty pundit came out to decry Everton’s ungratefulness – “He saved that club!”, “He got them 8th!”, “Who do they think they are, Man City?!”, just some of the exclamations coming out over TV and Radio this week tinged with the scent stale Peroni and pork scratchings. Even Kevin Nolan’s outrage was amplified, a man who makes Phil Thompson look impartial. While these points have been easily debunked by better journalists by looking at it with any sort of critical analysis, the usual post-midlife crisis ex-footballers are standing by their mate, one of the last bastions of ‘Proper English Football’.
Say what you like about Allardyce, he knows how to play the media game. The price we pay for having The Best League in the World (besides about £100 a month on Sky) is a 24-hour news cycle analysing everything to the Nth degree and trying to keep Darren Gough relevant. When West Ham got rid of David Moyes on the same day, no-one really cared. No-one talked about how awful the fans are (though Karen Brady does that herself). Not two days before Allardyce left, he was on Sky Sports imparting his managerial wisdom, which must have been like a vegan telling you how to cut a prime rib.
Add to that the constant ownership of success and deflection of blame at each and every press conference – if he stabbed someone in the centre of Liverpool, he’d tell us it was Isaac Newton’s fault for discovering gravity. And of course, the strange angle on the Fan Survey which in previous years was never reported as a direct review of the manager. His self-PR machine was enthusiastically greased up by said pundits beseeching “what do Everton fans want?!” as though we should be happy paying £50 a ticket to watch entertainment so unentertaining it would make paint drying feel like the X Games.
In case you’re still astounded at what we want, what we want is is a change to the status quo – to enjoy football again, without having to worry about where the next shot on target’s coming from or how soon we’re going to concede. At least before we could play the ‘lack of investment’ card and be happy with our so-called overachievement. Now we have the funds to compete with the Sky-brand ‘Top 6’, we want to see more than Sam Allardyce football. Unfortunately, the message is clear – for the sake of various TV deals and marketing interests, only those 6 teams are allowed to have ambition. The rest of us will simply have to settle for being relegation candidates.
Our treatment of one of the last remaining ‘Proper English’ managers was the perfect stick to beat us back into our cage with, and for our sins of trying to bait Silva before panicking and giving Sam an 18 month contract, we got rinsed financially and reputationally. Hopefully Moshiri and the Board will have learned from this saga, and the changes made suggest that might be the case. Man City and Spurs made mistakes a decade ago with various managers and players, but it started to click for them now and they’re at the top of the English game.
You might not give a shite what anyone else thinks of us. I envy you. But if we do become successful in the future, just remember the pundits who will be lauding our ambition were the same people who belittled us for thinking the same way back in 2018. In the meantime, turn off the TV and your phone for the next month, crack open a can and get ready for Take 2.