Everton remain a Banter Club for now, but it feels like they are starting to spiral out of control. They might end up somewhere darker than this…
Only the benefit of hindsight will be able to confirm this with certainty, but it is becoming increasingly clear that there is something is terribly wrong at Everton. As the season progresses it feels more and more like the club is unraveling from the seams, a train that threatens to lose control of its career and with time to get it back on track begins to seem very short.
It’s a story we’ve seen many times before, and sometimes a striking visual or mental image will be indelibly associated with it. With Leeds United almost two decades ago, it was the goldfish. When Chelsea suffered a downturn from the mid-1970s, it was all presided over by the financially ruinous stand, which literally towered over Stamford Bridge as the team went from being Championship contenders to being some games from relegation to the third tier and probably financial oblivion. When could that moment come for Everton, when we come to reflect on those years of shambles? Have we seen it before or is it yet to come?
As of this writing, Everton remain a ‘banter club’. It is, of course, the 21st century replacement for the increasingly outdated “soap opera“. We’re all daredevils on this highway, slowing down on all fours to absorb as much of the car crash as possible before moving on. But there’s something fascinating about that, just like there is with any story of falling from grace, and it’s natural, entirely instinctive and natural to feel that. There, but for the grace of God I go, and all that.
Except the problem is that no one ever seems to learn much, and nothing ever really seems to change. Football history is littered with tales of clubs that are no longer as important as they once were. In the early 1950s Sunderland became known as “The Bank of England Club” because of their lavish spending. In 1958, they were relegated for the first time in their history. Nottingham Forest have been European champions two years in a row in my lifebut the gap between now and the last time they played in the Premier League is now bigger than the gap between the last time they played in the Premier League and when they were last champions from Europe.
Football is meritocratic, and for every club that has been mobile upward, someone else has had to give way. No one is immune, and only one club – Arsenal – have had a longer uninterrupted stay in the Premier League than Everton. Liverpool were relegated in 1954 and did not return for eight years. Manchester United were relegated in 1974 and Spurs in 1977, although both bounced back immediately. Manchester City have been as low as the third tier, and Chelsea have been relegated and promoted four times since Everton were last relegated.
Sure, for the first century or so of the game’s history, relegation might have been a disappointment (or maybe even an embarrassment, at times), but it didn’t trigger an existential crisis. Going from the Premier League to the EFL is like having to jump into icy water, and not every club has managed to deal with that downfall. It doesn’t help that the wealth disparity between the top two divisions is so massive, but there’s more to it than that, certainly as long as the payouts stay in place as they are. They provide a wide safety net.
But talking in general isn’t always helpful when it comes to this topic. When we look at all the clubs that have dropped a few Premier League divisions in recent years – Leeds United, Southampton, Nottingham Forest, Sheffield Wednesday, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Ipswich Town, Bolton Wanderers and Sunderland, to name but a few- ones – there is little in common between the clubs. Sure enough, some of them have recovered admirably – few Evertonians wouldn’t swap positions with Wolves just yet, for example – but the only common thread between the others is ‘mismanagement’, and even that does not come in a form. .
The biggest problem at Everton at the moment isn’t the fact that they don’t have a manager and are thrashing about drunkenly at closing time with an apparent policy of appointing them on base names that Farhad Moshiri might have heard. of a top hat. It’s not that players have decided to take an unplanned mid-winter break at the end of the official British summer time, which has turned into a hibernation that is not over yet. .
It’s not that Moshiri has spent half a billion pounds on what Everton’s first team is at the moment. It’s not even that these bull-like folks who have decided to build a fine china shop will be in charge of moving the club from Goodison Park, one of English football’s great ancestral homes, to a new stadium. at Bramley-Moore Dock. And it’s certainly not Big Dunc, who is a national treasure and must be protected at all costs, though he offered himself on the altar trying to get the team together until a permanent replacement could be arranged.
The biggest problem at Everton is that it’s all happening at the same time, or at least over a relatively short period of time. In this kind of context, sacking and replacing the manager starts to look a bit like rearranging the lounge chairs at the Titanic. The manager provides a useful human shield for club owners’ shortcomings, but the rot that seems to have set in at Everton runs far deeper than the manager alone and the attention of angry supporters whose patience with the club has grown. completely worn out is now irrevocably turning away from the dugout and towards the directors’ box.
All this brings us to an inevitable question. What exactly is the prognosis for this patient? How, exactly, does it end happily without them needing a Moshiriectomy? Because if it turns out that they do, they come to a dreadful scenario, that no one can fire the owner, that he leaves when he wants and on his own terms. And when that might be, and what damage might be done along the way, are questions we don’t yet know the answers to. Everton may be a ‘banter club’ or a ‘soap opera‘ at the moment, but the signs are present and correct that something darker could be on the way. Everton must get back on track, before an entirely avoidable accident becomes unavoidable.