At 0-0, the Everton fans at Huddersfield last week chanted in protest of their own team, specifically the man in the dugout. At 1-0, with their team winning, they still chanted. Even at 2-0, the chants were still heard. Sam Allardyce has become a target at Goodison Park in recent weeks, with such disgruntlement down to more than just results.
It has to be down to more than just results because Allardyce has done what he was appointed to do. When the former Crystal Palace, Sunderland and West Ham boss arrived at Everton, they were staring a relegation scrap in the face, with the Toffees slumped down run 18th place in the Premier League table.
Since then, Allardyce has lifted Everton away from danger and into the top half once again. In fact, from the point of Allardyce’s appointment the Toffees have been the seventh best team in the Premier League. Their form has been good and despite clamour from the stands for Allardyce to be dismissed before the start of next season it looks like no change will be made any time soon.
“We discussed plans for next season yesterday with [club owner] Farhad [Moshiri)]. We have some clarity moving forward now.” said the former England manager last week, almost rubbing it in as he faced questions of his job security. “You always want to strive to do better, but because we started my reign so well, we built up great expectation it might be even better. We’ve achieved a good way forward in the space of five months. It’s been pretty satisfying. One always wants your team to do better, to win more, to achieve more but overall pretty satisfying.” Everton fans are far from satisfied, though. For them, it’s not just down to results. It’s about performances, the way their team are playing and a perceived lack of ambition from those in charge, including Allardyce, at Goodison Park.
This is a club that this time last year was talking about mounting a top four challenge. Last summer, Everton spent £180 million on players. Some suggested that they could break through that glass ceiling that exists in the Premier League, but that target soon proved to be folly as Ronald Koeman was sacked after just nine games of the new season.
And yet all this ambition has ebbed away over the course of the season. The appointment of Allardyce was justified at the time, with Everton purely concerned with merely staying in the Premier League and avoiding the drop. But now, with a top half finish all but secure, Allardyce’s expiration date is surely approaching.
It could be that Everton are anticipating the construction of a new £500 million stadium. They could suffer a similar fate to the one Arsenal endured upon their move to the Emirates, albeit on a lesser scale. Owner Farhad Moshiri might just be concerned with ensuring his team remains in the Premier League for as long as their new ground is under construction, with the move to a new ground set to stretch Everton’s financial capacity. And which manger guarantees Premier League safety? Allardyce.
Of course, the frustration currently felt at Goodison Park has been exacerbated by the success being enjoyed by Liverpool on the other side of the city. The Reds will face Real Madrid for the Champions League title later this month, with Jurgen Klopp’s side making their run to the final in style, adopting an attractive, exhilarating style of attacking football. That stings for Everton fans.
For decades, the Toffees have existed in the shadow of their more illustrious, more stylish city rivals and that dynamic seems set to remain this way for the foreseeable future. Everton’s fans want more, much more, but there appears to be a disconnect between the ambition felt by supporters and that felt by the club’s big wigs. Therein lies their problem.
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