After Everton’s 1 – 1 home draw with Bir­mingham last Wed­nesday, one fan summed up the mood around the club per­fectly on an internet mes­sage board: Flat: our season, our play, how as a sup­porter I feel. Flat“. Poodler78 nailed it – after fai­ling to beat all five of the bottom teams at Goodison Park this season, and having bowed out of the FA Cup to Cham­pi­onship side Rea­ding recently, Everton’s season is pete­ring out and the club are hea­ding for the no man’s land of a mid-table finish. Again. 

In many ways, that at least rep­res­ents sta­bi­lity, some­thing that under pre­vious manager Walter Smith looked far from assured as the club flirted with rele­ga­tion. But since David Moyes arrived from Preston North End in 2002, Everton have lar­gely been able to aim higher, even finis­hing fourth in the 2004-05 season. It was a huge tri­umph for a club of limited means, but one that proved too great a burden the fol­lo­wing season. A thin squad was quickly booted out of the Cham­pions League qua­li­fying stage and the UEFA Cup as well, whilst league form plum­meted. It was a wing-sing­eing epi­sode for a Pre­mier League Icarus. 

Everton struggled to com­pete financially 

Everton are part of the top flight’s fur­ni­ture, a per­ma­nent member since 1954, and win­ners of nine league titles. But in the Pre­mier League age they have struggled to com­pete finan­ci­ally with the enormo-sta­di­umed Man­chester United brand, the sugar-daddy-funded Chelsea, or the attrac­tive N17 sophisti­cates Tot­tenham and Arsenal. More gal­lingly, it is local rivals Liver­pool who have the wind in the sails at the moment and vitally, the finan­cial muscle to build a new stadium. 

Everton’s plans on that front have ground to a halt, though with the 40,000-capacity Goodison Park sho­wing its age (and lacking ent­i­cing, lucra­tive VIP faci­li­ties), the need to move grows ever-more pres­sing. A mooted move to King’s Dock in 2000 flopped as Everton failed to raise the necessary money, and the latest pro­posal – one unpo­pular with fans – to move the club out of the city to a com­plex in Kirkby shared with a super­market was scup­pered by local government in 2009. Everton’s remai­ning faint hopes of a new ground were tied to England’s 2018 World Cup bid – and we all know how that turned out…

Else­where, Everton have much to be gra­teful to David Moyes for. He has ope­rated shrewdly in the transfer market, extracted the maximum from key players such as Mikel Arteta, and blooded some excel­lent youngs­ters during his reign (not least Wayne Rooney). But a sense is cree­ping in that tog­e­ther, manager and playing squad have pla­teau-ed. With inju­ries biting hard, young stars either jum­ping ship (as Dan Gos­ling did in the summer when he left for New­castle) or tiring quickly (the pro­mi­sing but jaded Seamus Coleman) and no chance of sil­ver­ware after exi­ting both domestic cups, Ever­to­nians have very little to look for­ward to. Moyes, the har­dened battler with a withe­ring glare, see­mingly shares their dis­il­lu­si­onment and is loo­king ever more resi­gned on the Everton bench. 

Chairman Bill Ken­w­right, a theatre pro­ducer, has done his utmost to sup­port his boy­hood club, cea­sel­essly sear­ching for fresh fun­ding, bus­ting club transfer records when pos­sible, and wrest­ling the vexing sta­dium ques­tion. An honest and popular figure, you get the sense that he and Moyes will speak to each other frankly at the end of the season, and that Ken­w­right will not delude his manager. The club do not have the budget to match Moyes’ ambi­tion and a par­ting of the ways seems increa­singly likely.

Jack Rod­well will leave in the summer for £20 mil­lion

There is though a chance that Moyes will bide his time until a job he is often touted for finally becomes avail­able. The Everton manger is seen as someone who could pro­sper at Man­chester United, when his fellow Scot Sir Alex Fer­guson even­tually retires. That will only happen once United’s 19th league title is won, Liver­pool are sur­passed, and Fer­guson feels he has no more records to smash. With every wee­kend, that day draws a little closer. 

Con­cur­r­ently, rumours per­sist that mus­cular defen­sive mid­fielder Jack Rod­well (who this week texted a pic­ture of his penis to the same woman who sold her Wayne Rooney exposé to the tabloids) will leave Everton for United in the summer for around £20 mil­lion. It is a sale that few at Goodison Park would relish, but perhaps one that Moyes could use as the per­fect tran­si­tion: the funds would leave his suc­cessor a chance to refresh the squad, while Moyes would not be sel­ling the player to a rival, rather to a poten­tial future employer. 

For now though, Moyes’ main con­cern is gui­ding the good ship Everton safely into port, wit­hout apathy taking hold and sucking them into the rele­ga­tion whirl­pool. In an atmo­s­phere of dimi­nished expec­ta­tion, that alone would be a solid achie­ve­ment – but one that few can deny feels, in the words of Poodler78, just a little bit flat”.

Die Titus-Fuss­bal­ling-Eng-zyklo­pädie

An dieser Stelle erklärt Titus Chalk die eng­li­sche Fuß­ball-Kultur auf Deutsch

Folge 30: Squeaky bum time
OK, ich muss zugeben, dass diese Rede­wen­dung hart zu über­setzen ist, aber ich ver­suche es trotzdem: Quiet­schende Po-Zeit. Passt das? Der Aus­druck wurde in 2003 von Sir Alex Fer­guson benutzt, um den gespannten End­spurt der Saison zu beschreiben. Es bedeutet leider nicht, dass Fergie einen sehr quiet­schenden Po hat, son­dern, dass die Anhänger in ihre Kunst­stoff­platze winden müssen, wegen der Span­nung. Des­wegen quieken ihre Po. Und nicht weil sie am Freitag Abend vor dem Spiel so viele Pints und Curry ver­sehrt haben.