Everton Aren’t we?….Aren’t we?
I’ll be honest, not everyone will like this and I don’t expect them to. These are my feelings and emotions towards a football club which I’ve invested my time, money, heart and soul into for over the last twenty years.
Everton breaks my heart. One of England’s finest footballing institutions has been reduced to a mere shadow of everything it stands for. But it’s decline hasn’t been solely down to a lack of cash. Sure enough, those who run the club regularly outdo themselves to show their absolute incompetence, but one thing that money or a distinct lack of it can’t buy is a winning mentality.
For the best part of three decades it’s been a staggered, painful, soul destroying decay. Each step we’ve hit on the ladder coming down has been cushioned by supposed visionaries who we’re constantly reminded, have the best interests of Everton as their priority. Every single time we’ve reached a defining moment, we’ve whimpered. Bottled out. We haven’t shown we’ve got the stomach or the testicular fortitude to put our club motto first and aspire to grasp it.
Nil Satis Nisi Optimum. A beautiful phrase. You look around at our legends – Southall, Sharp, Sheedy, Ball, Latchford, Hickson, Dean, the list is endless – they all bought into that philosophy. They refused to accept anything less when they represented Everton. But that’s little more than a distant memory.
What we have now is hierarchy at our football club which settles for the mediocre. It’s feasts on our gallant and admirable efforts on the pitch and is too often keen to tell us all how well we’ve done in order to shackle expectations and control a fan base which is increasingly realising that this simply isn’t acceptable.
But fair play to the club, it repeatedly achieves what it sets out to do; Win over the hearts and minds of supporters by spinning some PR that suggestively nods towards our friends across the park and makes fans feel as if they’re superior. “We go the game,” “We are chosen.” They must even consider using “we don’t care what the red shite say” every year. Same as “The People’s Club” tag, everything in our recent history has always been a comparison to someone else. It’s time we started concentrating on comparing Everton now to the Everton we used to be.
Despite Roberto Martinez’s apparent shortcomings this season, I have sympathy with not only the team’s deficiencies on the pitch which he must solve this summer, but also the transforming of a mindset that’s been allowed to fester at the club for far too long and one that’s been allowed to affect our players too.
The problem Martinez has is David Moyes embraced and continued to inject our managed decline in terms of mentality for over a decade by limiting expectations and being far too quick to point out how great the achievements of finishing 6th-8th actually were. Now whilst I agree, given our inept and stagnating board, those finishes can be considered achievements. Fair enough, if we didn’t realise those seasons as significant progress then we’d find ourselves looking for a new manager every season. My question is however, should the manager of the club and his superiors be telling us that’s the absolute best we can do? Surely you’d agree that isn’t right?
I remember when we signed Lucas Neil in 2009 and his introduction at Goodison was preceded by the proclamation that he turned down signing for Liverpool a short time earlier in his career. That was cheered almost unanimously by the home crowd and the thing is, that is understandable. Sadly, that’s just one of many such occasions over the years.
When you’re starved of success for so long I think it’s only natural to bask in getting one over on your local rivals considerably more than you would if your team was challenging for honours. I get that, I really do.
But hang on, why is the football club using this as a trump card? Surely they should be the ones thinking, as I am now, that we’re better than this? What have we become if the stakeholders at our football club and more importantly, its decision makers are championing getting one over on their local rivals to this extent?
The reason why is all to obvious. The truth of the matter is there’s people at Everton throughout the entire structure of the club who are content with mediocrity. To be blunt, too many people are invested in Everton, literally or otherwise that milk our traditions and previous triumphs to meet their own agenda. The real tragic thing about that is these people are responsible for the “success” at Everton. I’m pretty sure there’s people at the club who see our fan’s increasing demand for change as a burden they must contain and that simply isn’t right.
That mentality flows consistently through the lifeblood of our club now, and I praise the likes of Roberto Martinez for attempting to change that, no matter how poor he’s been this season. He’s tried something different and looking back to last season, he re-installed many of our long lost values. There was an arrogance about Everton wherever we went. We approached games expecting to win them, several times contributing to our downfall. This season he’s tried to do the same and largely failed, but the point is, he wants Everton to change.
Whether you want him sacked or not, what you can’t argue is his desire to rid the club of a poisonous attitude that soon sees us hit 20 years since we had any silverware. The fact he and very few others seem to be the exception to the rule is frightening. It’s hard to write this, but I don’t see my team ever winning anything whilst this dreadful ethos remains in place at Everton.
It’s time to stop the petty comparisons, time to put away the “red shite” obsession. It’s time to shed this state of paralysis and rid ourselves of the shackles that’ve held this club back. Some sacrifice their traditions on their way to achieving a successful mentality – just look at Chelsea. But for Everton, it appears we’ve sacrificed our successful mentality just to hide behind our traditions.
Some say you need money to buy winners. You don’t need any to have a winning mentality.
Nil Satis Nisi Optimum