Skint v Skinter: Everton v Latics preview

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Bah! Curse you, fixture computer, putting two of the best aways of the season on consecutive Saturdays! Having said that, City appear to have no longer read the script. It used to be a good bevy in Manchester, take the scenic route through the Shameless estate and spend the game ridiculing the glory hunting big club whoppers to our left in the away end with their snidey ‘Wigan Blues’ flag as we sneaked a cheeky 1-0’er. Well it was fun while it lasted…

The thing is Manchester City and Everton were always somewhat similar clubs, I’ll not go down the route of stating the obvious reason why for fear of offence but as it stands now, they couldn’t be more different. Whereas City are Brewster’d to the extent that even the cleaning lady drives a Ferrari, Everton are by all accounts skint.

I’ve followed the Blue Union stuff with interest and I still can’t make my mind up. A lot of their more thinking fans share a lot of empathy with a lot of the more thinking Wigan Athletic fans. Namely that, the money isn’t there and is never likely to be there, football is unfair but then hey ho so is life. Football is like a box of chocolates and you never know which chairman you’re going to get. Dare I say, some of the more traditionally political sections of the Everton support are the kind now who are sat back tutting as city go and blow another £100m on diamond encrusted corner flags and mutter about the death of football.

The difference between us and Everton is that they so nearly had it all. This is a team whose players were household names in the 80’s, well maybe I wouldn’t go that far, after all football wasn’t invented in 1985 but they were at the pinnacle of Division One, as it was known then, not to be confused with League One. They won both major domestic trophies, a successful European Cup Winners’ Cup followed and came mightily close to toppling the mighty Liverpool off their perch with Sharp & Heath & Sheedy & Southall and a load of others I should probably mention. Alan Harper, yes let’s mention him. And John Bailey for his fantastic perm.

They had a great team and were all poised to go out and conquer Europe. The reason they didn’t is laid firmly at the door of their cross city rivals and goes some way to explain why Merseyside derbies are less than friendly these days. I’m going past one of those signs which says ‘road closed, except for access’ here so I should really turn back before I tackle that dark subject any further mind you.

They have fallen behind the City’s and Spurs of this world and even the likes of Villa and Sunderland, even the likes of Fulham and Stoke – heaven forbid and this is the cusp of the argument of the Blue Union movement, a collective of existing Everton supporters’ group who want to do something, do anything to help get their football club back up the tree again. Essentially they are offering to offer up professional people to help run the club while those actually tasked with running the club actively go out and find a suitable buyer required to give them a bit more stability and financial muscle.

It’s kind of applaudable and also futile because you know that when you look at the top of the table now you have only two options to get there yourself: outspend city or outgrow Man United, neither of which are remotely possible for Everton in 2011, let alone a club like ours, no matter how depressing that seems. It would appear that the ideal scenario would be for another, even richer set of Arabs to ride in on camels and pump even more money into Everton than city have done, and expect very little in return.

Given that we know that is not going to happen then what are the alternatives – move to Kirby or the King’s Dock? In the case of the former, the Keep Everton in our City group and a general concern about the project meant it never came off and the Kings’ Dock was one of the more credible in a long line of ideas for Everton to relocate and increase their commercial and matchday revenue but was dead in the water years ago with the debate still raging whether the failure of it to progress was down to lack of credibility or lack of appetite.

Clearly none of these things are going to happen in the short term either so it seems Everton are treading water or in a slow but sure decline and some fans are trying to do something, do anything to help reverse this. Whereas not openly critical of Bumbling Bill Kenwright, clearly he is a man of limited financial means and by that I don’t mean compared to me and you but in terms of Premier League chairman and like our own cuddly Dave Whelan and he does not seem either capable (due to bank covenants) or willing to overstretch in the future.

It’s a crying shame that Everton have lost ground but on the plus side, they have not been mismanaged to the extent of many other high profile clubs – they do not have huge debts because they rarely invest in the playing staff and are criminally – by and large a selling club these days. The reason that this debt is not so high, again probably goes back to Bill Kenwright’s ability to secure funds against his own personal wealth. But, more importantly on the plus side – they seem to survive and maintain a top half position against the odds due to the marvellous managerial ability of David Moyes. You’d get the impression that if he had an easier job he would struggle and he’s managed to work wonders with a small but talented and settled squad ever since he took over.

So there you go. That’s the off the field stuff that I’ve probably got completely wrong but in any case, the Swiss Ramble fella has done a proper piece on Everton which wees all over mine here. It’s probably also worth reading for the generic tables just to remind yourself how impoverish we are as a football club. When the knowledgeable Gooner did his depressing but factually superb review of Latics’ finances a month or two back, it was interesting to observe so many Latics fans across the sites sagely cyber nodding and commenting like they’d read everything he’d ever written.

Of course, now we’re back in the real world and the fact we’re still alive seven years one has gone out the window and the talk is of demanding that we kick on to the next level, despite the fact we bring next to no money in and our wage bill has been Number 1’d all over. In one ear and out the other as they say but sorry I’m bitching, back to the preview.

Indeed, back to Everton and they look to be going through a bit of a sticky patch. All that sordid off the field business doesn’t help does it let alone the sale of one of their key players on deadline day? Well you might think so but let’s reel off some names: Fellaini, Cahill, Rodwell, Baines, Distin, Osman, Jagielka, Howard not to mention young uns coming through Coleman and Barkley. They’re still not a bad side even though they’ve been raped and pillaged nearly as often as ourselves in recent times. I’ve never been a fan of the perennially unmarked in the box Tim Cahill but he spoke a lot of sense about the situation on Match of the Day when interviewed the other week along the lines of ‘we just keep playing football though we understand that the books have to be balanced.’

Taking a pay cut are we then Tim? Thought not, arf. They may be a little restricted up front with only the one legged Saha up front, some oddly named Argie and Victor – ‘is it Anich-ebe or Ani-chebe?’ to choose from but throughout the team when they aren’t ravaged by injuries they are a much stronger outfit than ourselves.

We haven’t done bad at Goodison to be honest. A 1-0 win in our first season in the big league followed by a 2-1 defeat the opening day of the following season. In the last two years we’ve suffered a late defe

at from a Leighton Baines penalty and a 0-0 draw last season. Most notably our worst performance was when we got tonked 4-0 under Bruce. What? We got beat heavily under Steve Bruce, no that can’t be right, only under the tippy tappy Spaniard do we get drubbed like that. Well not quite, we nearly won last year had Ronnie Stam kept his composure late on but of course all the talk was how we should have been tonked. Sigh, why does every game result in politics depending on your opinion of the manager? We should have got tonked though.

Anyway, aside from a freakish Arsenal away win right at the beginning of last season, Everton is a notoriously hard place to go for exactly the reason why we like it. It’s an old school, close to the pitch ground and whereas the home crowd don’t particularly go in for gay songs and anyone bringing a drum is liable to be wearing it around their neck before you can say ‘Cozy Powell’, they can still generate quite a partisan atmosphere and make life tricky for the away team.

For that reason, I will willingly take a draw and consider that a good result given the team we’re likely to face and a reasonable rot stopper after two defeats.

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