The year is 2045. The Moshiri-era is now approaching its 30th season,
and the owner has just appointed his 50th manager. Having whittled away his
entre fortune on the club, funds are limited.
After a search through the bargain bucket, to the fans dismay, the new
arrival is the reanimated corpse of Sam Allardyce, who makes his fifth return
to the club (the second since his demise).
On his appointment, Allardyce is quoted as saying ‘bnnngh, cluuurrhhh,
A lot of what’s written about the future tends to have a dystopian
perspective, rooted in an inescapable belief that progress will only make our
lives bleaker and more brutal. As an Evertonian, it’s easy to appreciate that
jaundiced point of view. It’s a challenge to look optimistically towards the
future when you feel, in your heart, that no matter what happens, Everton will
somehow conspire to fuck things up.
Aside from a deeply ingrained sense of pessimism that seems to run
perniciously through our fanbase, for those of a more mature vintage this sense
of foreboding is given foundation by the knowledge that we have all been here
Twenty-five years ago, the club was in a similar position to where it
is now. A new owner had arrived and was splashing the cash around. After years
of relative stability on the managerial front, the club was also becoming more
trigger-happy. And a move away from Goodison was mooted too, the first time
that the prospect of leaving for pastures new was ever considered.
As we all know, it all ended pretty badly. The money ran out, the club
nearly went down and the move never happened. We were left frustrated. No
amount of DJ Spuddles could ease our pain.
At the end of the Coventry game in 1998, when Everton had narrowly survived relegation on goal difference, I wondered how the previous few seasons would leave their mark. As fans we had gone from the hope of believing the good times were back to complete despair in the space of just a couple of years. There are few things more sobering, more evident of how futile that optimism was than sitting there unable to watch as one of the worst Everton sides in living memory very nearly played itself into the Championship.
Of course, you don’t have to be old enough to know who Carl Tiler is to
be scarred by Everton doing an ‘Everton’. In the past few seasons alone, if
nothing else, it feels like the club has become something of a league leader in
the art of the false dawn. Every season seems to herald the beginning of
something new, something exciting, something to emotionally invest in. And
then, within a few months it’s made clear that the foundations were built on
sand and in fact what the dawn really heralded was exactly the same day as
Following Everton increasingly has a Groundhog Day-esque feel, where
you just have that feeling that everything has been lived through before, that
we are trapped in an endless loop of hope-reality-disappointment. Except there is no escape. For us, every
morning we’ll wake up in a Punxsutawney bed and breakfast, listening to ‘I Got
You Babe’ on the clock radio.
Even the club itself has fallen into this repetitive groove.
‘We’ve got to put things right’, ‘We need to give a better account of
ourselves’, ‘It’s time we started showing what we can do.’
It’s Monday morning. Everton have put in yet another anaemic performance over the weekend. Right on cue, one of the players will be shoved out in front of a reporter to offer us supporters a variety of banal platitudes. It’s a cost-free measure of contrition to salve your post–defeat blues, the club’s very own reflective response to underachievement.
Can we ever break free of this cycle? You have to think that it’s
possible. What the club needs is escape velocity, something to power us away
from the gravitational pull of our own mediocrity. For a long time, we thought that money was
all it would take, looking upwards at those above, conveniently turning a blind
eye to Villa and Sunderland below.
That theory hasn’t turned out well at all. Despite the millions spent, and the truckload of players brought in, I doubt there’s many Evertonians who would trade the squad we have now for the one that David Moyes left us with. Worse than standing still, the club seems to have regressed since the Moyes-era, losing its mantle as the ‘best of the rest’ in the process.
Looking at the performances since the start of the season is there anything to suggest that ‘escape velocity’ will occur anytime soon? It seems unlikely. Narrowly taking points off struggling sides such as Wolves and Watford, failing to get anything out of games against teams who will likely finish in the bottom eight, unconvincingly dispatching lower league opposition in the cup. None of this suggests that the promised new dawn is going to deliver anything different from what we as supporters have endured for the past few years.
Despite the tsunami of solutions to the club’s predicament that wash
over social media after every defeat, I doubt any of us really know how to
solve a problem like Everton. As a fan, the knee jerk reaction is often to call
for the managers head. And it is hard
to look at the sight of Marco Silva against Bournemouth, slumped on the bench,
looking to all the world like a broken man and think that this is the answer to
our deep-seated problems. Is a manager whose two tactical approaches to playing
Sheffield United at home swung from unnecessary conservatism to ‘throw enough
shit at the wall’ abandon really someone who should be in charge of project
But would a new incomer, specifically one drawn from the calibre of
managers that Everton could likely recruit, do any better? Is there anyone out
there who could provide that alchemist’s touch, the missing piece in the jigsaw
that would enable the club to become greater than the sum of its parts? There
might be. Or they could just represent another false dawn, an arrival who would
fail to cure this most Everton of diseases.
Regardless of the uncertainly that comes with a new arrival, you have
to imagine that Moshiri’s trigger finger is itching, the hammer half-cocked,
Silva’s broken face squarely in his crosshairs. One manager will be dispatched
and another will arrive in its place. And with that the cycle will start all
over again, fresh hope that this will the time when everything clicks. Every
Evertonian hoping that one day they will wake up hearing a different song on