As the final whistle sounded at Goodison Park this Saturday, it marked Everton’s elimination from the FA Cup at the 3rd round stage. The Blues also exited the EFL Cup at the 3rd round earlier in the season, losing 2-0 at home to Championship side Norwich City. Barring a league title win, (about as likely as a Maggie Thatcher Comeback Tour) Everton will reach 2018 with no trophy, meaning 22 years will have gone by since they last lifted silverware. Everton’s longest ever trophy drought was from 1939 – 1963. In 7 out of those 24 years, no football was played in England due to the Second World War. Meaning that Everton are currently in their least successful period in the history of the club.
Other clubs have done worse. Newcastle haven’t won anything since 1955, West Ham since 1980. But these are clubs who are nowhere near the prestige of Everton. The Toffees have won 9 league titles – more than Chelsea, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, and fallen giants such as Leeds United, Aston Villa and Sunderland. Everton should have added to their trophy cabinet since 1995.
Here are just some of the clubs who have won a major trophy since Everton last did – Middlesbrough, Birmingham City, Swansea City, Portsmouth, Blackburn Rovers, Wigan. All clubs you would place below Everton in terms of stature and prestige, but all of whom have beaten the odds and lifted silverware since Paul Rideout’s winner at Wembley in 1995. Of the clubs I listed above, three are in the Championship, one is in League 2, and the other two are battling relegation from the top flight, while Everton sit in a solid if unremarkable 7th in the Premier League. The conclusion many would draw here is that Everton sacrificed cup success to ensure their Premier League status and keep the club financially stable after flirting with administration in the reign of Peter Johnson. However, that only tells part of the story, for Everton have reached 2 FA Cup Semi-Finals, an FA Cup final, and two League Cup Semi-Finals in this barren spell under two different managers.
If you look at these occasions individually, Everton have exited the competition to better sides than themselves – namely Liverpool (despite finishing above them that season), Manchester United, Manchester City, and Chelsea twice. Again, however, that is no excuse. On their way to their League Cup success in 2013, Swansea overcame Chelsea in the semi-finals. Birmingham City beat Arsenal in the 2011 League Cup final. The Everton teams from 2009-2016 have been more than capable of victory against those teams, but they didn’t win. Yes, we eliminated Manchester United in 2009, but only on penalties after a draw to what was a second string side. We took the lead in the 2009 FA Cup final, only to concede two goals and lose the match. The same happened against Liverpool in 2012. We threw away an aggregate lead in the 2016 League Cup Semi-Final against City. The match was drawn in the 2016 FA Cup Semi-Final but Manchester United scored in injury time to win the game.
It seems then that Everton have been architects of their own downfall. Having had plenty of opportunities to win silverware the team has fallen short each and every time, bottling leads and conceding late goals in a manner that suggests the desire and commitment just hasn’t been there. The players have been allowed to fail. From Moyes to Martinez, Everton managers and the board have accepted failure as the norm, and even rewarded the less embarrassing failures. Everton have failed off the pitch too, putting up laughable commercial performances year after year and entering into the Chang and Kitbag deals that now are held up as an example of bad business within football clubs. The whole club is riddled with failure. Players who have never won us a thing are held up as icons. The current club captain has never won a major trophy. At least Phil Neville knew how to win a cup, no matter how crap he was.
The board have sat unresponsive as the club has declined into an also ran. Yes, the 90s under Johnson were bad, but change, in the form of bringing in Joe Royle, yielded a result. The Kenwright regime has meant stagnation and acceptance. I appreciate the need to balance the books, but that does not excuse the lack of ambition shown by Everton Football Club in terms of allowing the failing squad to continue in their cushy positions and managers to year upon year go trophy-less. Roberto Martinez was allowed to take charge of the 2016 FA Cup Semi-Final. That one in particular is on Kenwright and the pure idiocy/cowardice/arrogance of that decision cannot be understated.
I am angry. I am disappointed. But we have hope in the form of Ronald Koeman, a proven winner in charge, and new investment to do away with any excuses of financial deficiencies. The whole culture at the club needs to change.
I’m not going to tell Farhad Moshiri what to do now. First of all, he’s never going to read this article. Second of all, even if he did, why would he take tips off Joe from EAW who has never run a football club in his life outside of Football Chairman for iPhone. Finally, if he’s the right man for Everton, which the signs point towards him being, then he knows what to do. Everton must end the worst era in the club’s history in this promising new chapter, and completely change our image in the process. Make us as proud of Everton on the pitch as we are of Everton off the pitch. Live up to the motto.