As a lifelong Evertonian I am well used to the ups and the downs that love for Everton Football Club brings. Although I was too young to remember the day we survived against Wimbledon having been 2-0 down it would not be long before I would familiarize myself with the characteristics that separate Evertonians from other fans. It was the day of my brother’s christening when Paul Rideout scored the winner at Wembley against Manchester United in 1995, the following season Joe Royle’s European dream was crushed early doors at the hands of Feynoord. A couple of years later, we survived again by the skin of our teeth thanks to our goal difference being slightly better than Bolton’s. The Walter Smith years had us languishing in the lower depths of the table constantly and I spent the majority of my teenage years expecting 13th at best.
Enter David Moyes. In his first full season we achieved a respectable 7th place, only denied Europe by a Mike Reilly special on the last day of the season against champions Manchester United. However, instead of building for the following season we fell backwards. The following season we ended up in 17th and subsequently lost our golden boy Wayne Rooney. Everyone knows the story from here, a 4th place finish saw us break the Sky Four’s monopoly. Whatever happened, we signed a crocked James Beattie, Per Kroldrup (who played one game and was then sold) – and Phil Neville. Not exactly moving forward, is it? By mid-September you could buy our European merchandise for a quarter of the price it had been a month earlier. Beaten by Villareal in the qualifying rounds (thanks for that, Collina) and then thumped in Bucharest, unquestionably our darkest European night in history. We finished 11th in the table that season. The following summer was one we’d have given anything for this year. In came Tim Howard, Joleon Lescott and Andy Johnson early on. With the likes of Lee Carsley, Joseph Yobo, Mikel Arteta and Leon Osman entering into their finest form in an Everton shirt. We achieved 6th position, and European football for the next season. In came Yakubu from Middlesbrough as well as Phil Jagielka while James Beattie moved onwards and things were looking up at last. Evidently, Moyes had the midas touch and we enjoyed a fantastic European run – as well as bettering last year’s finish to win the league outside the Sky Four (5th!).
The summer that followed was a frustrating one for Evertonians. Evidently, the money wasn’t there – despite Kenwright’s constant remarks such as ‘watch this space’. This ultimately disappointed and angered fans. Marouane Fellaini signed for an extortionate £15 million right on the deadline along with Louis Saha, Segundo Castillo and Carlo Nash. A disasterous start to the season saw Everton knocked out of Europe at the first hurdle by Standard Liege but an incredible turn around saw Moyes retain 5th place as well as reach the FA Cup final in Wembley where they were beaten by Chelsea. Players signed contract extensions with promises of investment to take the club forward – but clearly there was some sort of foul play there.
That brings us up to present day. Scouring the World Wide Everton Web over the weekend I came across a member of a forum who’s signature contained pretty much every player to have been linked with a move to Goodison Park over the summer. We all know that the paper never refused ink but…
…Joe Ledley, Joao Moutinho, David Bentley, Van der Vaart, Kim Kalstrom, Alan Smith, Eljero Elia, Stephane M’bia, Migel Veloso, Stephen Hunt, Alex Smithies, Michael Owen, Roman Pavlyuchenko, Darren Bent, David Healy, Ismael Bangoura, Sean Davis, Piotr Trachowski, Michael Bastos, Rod Fanni, Marc Janko, Niko Kranjar, Jermaine Jenas, Maxi Rodriguez, Jan Vertonghen, Tom Huddlestone, Dirk Marcellis, Kris Commons, Eidur Gudjohnson, Kyle Naughton, Fabian Assmann, Diego Milito, Stephen Hunt, Raul Meirles, Manuel Fernandes, Carlos Tevez, Peter Crouch, Jonathan Walters, James McCarthy, Matteo Rubin, Javier Saviola, Matej Vyrda, Emmanuel Eboue, Mancienne, Loic Remy, Alberto Aquilani, Serge Gakpé, Brede Hangeland, Steven Fletcher, Lorik Cana, Vagner Love, Patrick Helmes, Chris Eagles, Etienne Capoue, Jonas Olsson, Fabian Delph, Jordi Gomez, Chrisitan Poulsen, Lucas Neill, Guillaume Hourau, Daniel Guiza, Dean Ashton, Marcus Berg, David Suazo, Carlos Puyol, Nigel Reo-Coker, Jermaine Beckford, Yssouf Kone, Obafemi Martins, Harry Kewell, Neven Subotic, Steve Savidan, Nabil Dirar, Edin Džeko, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Sekou Cissé, Micah Richards, Kevin Doyle, Paul Scharner, Mehmet Topal, Arda Turan, Marouane Chamakh, Tuncay Şanlı, Marko Pantellic, Blaise Matuidi, Kader Keïta, Miguel, Sergei Ignashevich, Jean-Armel Kana-Biyik, Jonathan Sesma, Steven Defour, Alex Witsel, Michael Bradley, Paul Dickov, Habib Beye, Stephane Sessegnon, Alan Hutton, Renato Civelli, Antonio Reyes, Mamadou Niang, Sidney Govou, Joe Cole, Jermaine Pennant, Kevin Nolan, Ianis Zicuhe, Clint Dempsey, Sol Campbell, Buezelin, James Morrison, Magnus Troest, Sergio Sanchez, Paul Scholes, Joaquin, Jamie Jones, Mathieu Valbuena, Amaury Bischoff, Dele Adeleye, Michaël Ciani, Asamoah Gyan, Hassan Yebda, Luis Garcia, James Lawrie, Josh Thomson, Zak Whitbread, Hassan Yebda, Alan Hutton, Dos Santos, Michael Turner, Christian Poulsen, Albin Ebondo, Johan Hammar, Peter Stojanovic, Philippe Senderos, Michael Ball, John Fleck, Nosworthy, Leanardo Fernandez, Guti, Olivier Kapo, Steven Taylor, Fernando Gago, Vladimir Bystrov, Isaac Vorsah, Sylvain Distin…
…and Erik Huseklepp’s names have all come up in one form or another in the media and not one has actually signed for the club.
The television money up to and including 2011/12 has now apparently been used up to cover bad debts and now one of the club’s best players has left for money that may or may not find its’ way into the manager’s hands with a week to go until the end of the transfer window. Evidence from the Burnley game suggests key players lack hunger and may be annoyed at being lied to about future investment and the Lescott saga had concocted a poisonous attitude across the back four. A worrying start to the season brings back that all to familiar pessimistic feeling that David Moyes has been able to banish in the past, this time it may be a bridge too far for him. Bill Kenwright states that he is actively seeking a buyer but at a time when even Notts County have found investment, one wonders how true this statement really is. Apparently Kenwright wants somebody to bankroll the club and leave him in charge as chairman. Kenwright is a man all too used to the world of fiction and although he may not realize it, he is killing the club he loves. Time to go Bill, time to go.