What’s going on at Goodison?

Published: Monday, 17 May 2021

A lot of this is going to hurt. A big piece of me will forever be on Merseyside. It’s where I grew up as a broadcaster. I have huge respect for all three clubs! As much as I enjoyed watching Liverpool sweep aside everything and anything put in front of them - I loved spending time with the guys at Everton. What a great club. What good people. David Moyes was spot on when he coined the phrase ‘The People’s Club’.

I was in at the start of the ‘Kendall years’, but had gone to Manchester before it got really exciting. Pity. I’ve always regretted not being there to see it all come together.

There are few better grounds to be in than Goodison when it’s jumping. If I had my way I’d re-develop. I don’t buy the argument that it can’t be done. Of course it can. They said that about Anfield and look what’s happened.

A whole host of my friends are blue noses. Sadly Andy King isn’t with us anymore. He loved Everton. And ‘Everton’ loved him. I shared a few great memories in a FaceTime call to Australia with Mike Lyons recently. Big Joe Royle is a good mate. And I’ve lost count of how many times Reidy has got me out of a hole down the years. At beINSPORTS there’s Andy, Producer Brian and Elton Welsby’s boy Chris. Toffees are everywhere. But they’re not happy right now. And nor am I.

What the hell is going on at Everton? It doesn’t get any worse than losing at home to the bottom club - who’ve been relegated for weeks. A season that started with so much promise has fallen apart. Anyone other than Carlo Ancelotti would’ve been out on their ear this morning.

Let’s quickly follow that up. The guy is a legend. He’s the ‘daddy’ of the super-coaches. He’s done it all. But he’s at the wrong club. He’s always been at the wrong club. He was the perfect fit for Arsenal - a steady presence, able to handle big names and he would’ve eased the club back in the right direction. I’ve said this all before - Arteta was the right man for Everton - someone who’d had a touch of the ball at Goodison, who understood the club and could learn on the job as he re-built from the bottom up. Everybody would’ve been growing at the same pace.

Ancelotti has been papering over cracks. It’s not his fault. Of course he was going to take the job. He wanted back into England and Everton are a big club - but a big club that’s lost it’s way.

Sadly there’s nothing right now to attract top stars. The money has dried up - not surprisingly when you look at what’s been wasted. And here’s a fair question - has Ancelotti actually improved the team?

I’ve been right about James from day one. He’s can’t run. If he could he wouldn’t. Play him right and he’s a liability. He won’t defend. Play him in the middle and players run round and off him. Yes, he can slip a nice ball through occasionally - and his trade mark ‘searcher’ from right to left can be effective - but not all the time. If you haven’t got people to put a shift in for him he’s a luxury in a team that needs to graft. And I couldn’t believe it when I heard commentator Tony Jones tell a world-wide tv audience that Ancelotti had ‘wanted to rest him for the remainder of the season’ so he’d be fit to play for Columbia at Copa America. What? Do they pay his wages? He’s only made 21 starts this season - playing 1,764 minutes - mostly in the sunshine. Come on Carlo. He’s taking the piss.

There’s no pace in this Everton side. Apart from Calvert-Lewin, who I’ve always liked, there are no goals. There’s no width. And to start with three centre-backs - at home v Sheffield United - wow. Surely they should’ve been set up to rip the backside out of Sheffield? Get on the front door - camp in their half - hit them with a few bombs early? Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.

I keep hearing that Bramley Dock will happen. I don’t know. I’m not convinced. As I said earlier - I wouldn’t do it anyway. Spurs are about to spend a decade or more paying off the loans on their fabulous new home. It’s beautiful. But what exactly has it done for them? Are they looking like a team that’s going to be able to mix it with Europe’s best because they play in a fine stadium? They’d have been better off staying at Wembley. I discussed this last week. Oh - Kane by the way. Put a cheeky tenner on him going to City this summer. £100m.

Everton might yet make Europe. That’s progress for sure. And maybe Evertonians will accept that - despite the great expectation from a season that started so well. The only thing that the players and management should be grateful for right now is that Goodison has been empty all season. The home form has been dross. Only West Brom and Sheffield have lost more home games. That changes this week. Evertonians can be unforgiving critics. I hope history repeats itself. I hope Ancelotti can do what Howard Kendall did - but I’m beginning to have my doubts.