I’ve got to admit I’m still digesting the news, and it’s taking a bit of time. The news which I am talking about is that Sam Allardyce is the new Manager of my Football Club, Everton FC. There’s a sentence I never thought I’d say. I’ve recently become a Dad again, this time to a little boy who will inevitably go on to a lifetime of footballing emotions as an Evertonian (poor thing), but he isn’t the only reason I’ve been having sleepless nights, he isn’t the only reason I’ve been walking around looking slightly dazed and confused, some of the circumstances and decision making at Goodison Park this season have contributed to that too.
The current campaign has been an absolute stinker to date; the finger pointing about a lack of sufficient transfers, everyone debating about a Lukaku replacement, Ross Barkley’s situation, the players going to pieces on the pitch, heavy defeats, relegation talk, European nightmares, Koeman falling on his sword, Unsworth thrown in at the deep end, training ground incidents, Cup exits, Niasse’s punishment, a delay in finding a managerial replacement, all culminating with the eventual appointment of Sam Allardyce as our new manager last week after being linked with what felt like 50 other names over the course of five speculative weeks.
Thankfully recent results have given us a much-needed boost and a far more comfortable looking league positioning for the time being, but I’ll admit I wasn’t happy whatsoever with the news that Sam Allardyce was to be our new manager. I still don’t agree that he should have been given the job and I’m sticking by that notion, however I have calmed down an awful lot since the initial news broke and I’m trying to be pragmatic in my approach. Rather than just rant and rave about it, I’ve found myself discussing matters with fellow blues, reflecting on the news and eventually sitting down to write this in an attempt to convince myself that we’ll be OK. I hope by channelling my frustrations, thoughts and hopes on the whole situation I can make myself feel better about it all. As I say I’m still digesting the news so bare with me, and blame the lack of sleep if I don’t get my point across well.
Firstly Koeman had to go – the time was right and things had evidently fallen apart under the Dutchman. It was a real shame as I did want him to succeed, however after some questionable signings, some disastrous team selections and formations, behind the scenes fall outs, as well as a serious dip in form and red baubles on his Christmas tree, he was sacked in October after that shambolic Arsenal performance. The search begun and every man and his dog was linked with the Everton hot-seat, but in the meantime David Unsworth was tasked with steadying the ship and taking temporary charge. Unfortunately there was no instant positive reaction and an underperforming side low on confidence continued to be just that. Unsworth deserves credit for his application, honesty and enthusiasm, but the Everton hierarchy allowed the situation to drift on too long, increasing the pressure on Unsworth, and on themselves to appoint Koeman’s successor. I’m just glad Rhino managed to get a couple of wins under his belt because he deserved that just for who he is and his reputation, more specifically that West Ham game which was a way of saying thank you to him, he deserved the reception he got from our fans, after all he’s an Everton person himself, and he felt the strain we were all feeling.
Eventually the news broke that Allardyce was to take the reigns and the appointment has been received with a mixed reaction to say the least. My initial thoughts were how the hell are Everton supposedly changing their mentality, showing unparalleled ambition off the pitch, improving from top to bottom, yet are prepared to look to Allardyce to be at the forefront of that as our Manager? You associate Allardyce with unattractive football, relegation scraps and footballing scandal, yet we are willing to look past all other names available and give him the job?! It was laughable to me. A small minded appointment and one which I thought my Club had grown out of.
Admittedly I’ve heard Blues saying they won’t go the game whilst he’s there and some claim they will send their season tickets back, the opposing feeling is that strong from some, and that’s fair enough they are entitled to feel that way and I can relate to them. My feelings at first were that I wouldn’t be in any rush to go the game, but the more and more I’ve reflected on it and following on from certain conversations I’ve had, I have come to my senses and will back Allardyce because he is the manager of Everton FC, regardless or not if I agree with his appointment, and of course I will still go to watch my team play. As me ‘arl fella spelled it out to me the other day by saying ‘I was here under Catterick, Kendall, Walker, Moyes etc. etc. all of them, since I’ve been alive, and I’ll be here after Allardyce, probably Moshiri, Kenwright too’ and his point was that us the supporters are the one mainstay of this Club, players and staff come and go but we remain. Even when we aren’t happy with the Club or the decisions being made there. He has a point, and although many probably wouldn’t see it that way, it has made me see sense after my initial feelings of disillusionment towards the decision.
Many fans didn’t want Martinez, or Koeman, whereas I bought into both of those appointments and got on board early with both managers, but just look how that has panned out. Just because you approve of something doesn’t always mean it will work out. I was excited by Martinez, but his tenure eventually became untenable and even though we had a really good season when he first took charge, we melted away into bottom half of the table mediocrity and he had to go. Similarly to Martinez, I was happy with Koeman’s appointment but his reign didn’t last long too, and his time at Goodison Park was even more reduced, with the Dutchman axed just a quarter of the way into his second season in charge. Both spells for Martinez and Koeman began with glimmers of optimism only for it to quickly be petered away due to a catalogue of problems. From having a Manager in Moyes for such a long time over a secure period, to then firing two managers within five years has been disruptive, it has impacted financially, and I believe this is why Moshiri has now chosen a character such as Allardyce, to basically come in and settle the Club down. Moshiri sees Allardyce as a reliable face in the game and at the moment Everton FC can’t afford another managerial experiment or gamble, Allardyce comes short-term, cheaper than other options, and will bring stability to the unstable situation which Everton find themselves in. You know what you are getting with Allardyce and although I’m still stunned that he’s our manager, I can see now why that decision has been made. A key factor could also be that there isn’t anyone else suitable who could come in at this moment, and midway through a season there is the huge financial implication of snaring another Club’s manager. I suppose the point I am trying to make is that after a turbulent few seasons in terms of Managers and hefty pay-offs, the Club have gone for the safe option, for the time being, and in the background they appear to be biding their time as they preside over their next appointment, whilst Allardyce is at the helm – well at least I hope thats the case anyway. An 18 month contract suggests so I suppose.
I say all of this as I try to convince myself this is why Everton have made the move, however it doesn’t mean I approve of it. The delay in Allardyce being appointed allowed for a media frenzy of names to be linked with the press and bookies throwing in names left, right and centre. At one point we were linked with Simeone, as well as numerous other European managers, so to end up with Allardyce appears to be farcical to the neutrals and those blues who believe everything they see and read in the paper and on social media. Things could have been done and dusted a lot quicker in my opinion, and the Club left themselves open for criticism because of this.
In terms of who Allardyce has brought with him, Sammy Lee is another divisive figure, but I’ll take the same stance on him as I will Allardyce – he wouldn’t be top of my list of names for who I’d want on our staff but whilst he’s at Everton I’ll give him my full support. As tough as it may be to some, reputation, rivalries and historical factors have to be put to one side in my thinking here, otherwise I’ll find myself going round in circles. I do hope I’m making sense. Any initial thoughts of ‘that’s it, I’m not going the game anymore’ aren’t realistic from my point of view, as we all support this Club through thick and thin regardless of whether or not we approve of every decision that is made, we all want what’s best for Everton FC. I know everyone is entitled to their opinion as a supporter of the Club and I’m not suggesting that my way is the correct way, I am just trying to make sense of it and make peace with it for my own sanity and so that I can get back to focussing on something which I always do – wanting the best for Everton FC.
Under Moyes, Martinez and more recently Koeman, we’ve had a dabble with the top four or five places, broken into Europe and ‘had a go’ at trying to end our trophy drought, but the fact of the matter is that we have still been the nearly men of the league, in amongst the best of the rest, and we are still without silverware in over two decades. Whilst this season may already seem a write off, as we’ve seen this past week what a couple of wins can do, we just don’t know how things may pan out under Allardyce. Maybe we will become hard to beat, maybe the style will change but with the players we have they’re not just going to start lumping it, we have too much quality for that to happen. Maybe we will win a trophy under him? How ironic would that be. Allardyce will get stuck into them and get them organised at least, which is improvement in itself as so far this season we’ve looked at sixes and sevens, devoid of organisation, coaching and mentoring. Who knows we may go to some of the bigger sides and get in their faces, rather than have this knife to a gunfight mentality which has cursed us since Moyes. Maybe we will upset sides and drag ourselves back up that league. It’s all a big if, and a lot of questions I know, but at the moment we can only wait and see and give the guy a chance. If Allardyce does succeed as manager of Everton FC, gets money to spend and improves us, making us better than we have been in recent times, then he will make an awful lot of us eat our words and I’d be happy to do just that. Although it still doesn’t sit right with me, I have to trust Farhad Moshiri and his staff and believe that they are striving for the best for Everton both on the pitch and off it, because I’ve been a big advocate of what our Majority Shareholder has done since arriving at L4. If he sees Allardyce as a key cog in what he is trying to achieve on Merseyside, then so be it, and no matter how many nights I sat on Twitter and moaned about it, the fact is Sam Allardyce is the manager of Everton FC and I’ve got to swallow it up and move on, otherwise what’s the point.
Results do help morale amongst supporters and Allardyce’s appointment was timed well with the emphatic win over West Ham, and although it was far from pretty we’ve then followed it up with a victory over Huddersfield and found ourselves back in the top half of the table within the blink of an eye. With a Merseyside Derby on the horizon and a busy Christmas schedule there is opportunity to provide further boosts to our supporters who are feeling wounded after the season so far. Without getting ahead of ourselves we know that our last two results have came against poor sides, but with victories and clean sheets comes confidence and confidence and clean sheets are something we simply haven’t seen at Everton this season. When a team has been so disjointed it takes time for matters so settle down again and things don’t automatically change for the better overnight, Allardyce and his staff have a massive task on their hands at rebuilding confidence, implementing their plans for Everton and getting positive results to ensure we don’t find ourselves in another worrying position as we have done over these past three months.
To summarise, whilst I’m still not fully on board with the decision to appoint Sam Allardyce, now that I have found peace with the decision and assessed as to why I believe Moshiri has made this choice, I can move on and focus on the important matter at hand, supporting Everton and hopefully seeing my Team prove that this season isn’t yet a write off and there is still plenty to play for.
Whether or not you do the same is obviously entirely your own choice.
All for one, one for all. Over to you Everton.