(Photo credit: Reuters/Carl Recine)
We’re constantly being told that football is a results-based business. Strikers are to be judged on the number of goals they score, goalkeepers and defenders on clean sheets and managers by the number of points they can coax their team into producing.
Everton’s 2-0 win at Huddersfield means the Toffees have now collected 30 points since his appointment on 30th November, the fifth-best points return in the Premier League since that date.
This is exactly what was expected of Everton prior to the first ball of the season being kicked but it was a far-fetched prospect by the time he first slipped into a coat bearing his initials next to the Everton crest.
Style over substance
While the style in which he’s achieved this feat leaves much to be desired, the simple fact he’s achieved it at all is deserving of a tip of the hat. Instead, it’s become increasingly fashionable for the media to fill his hat full of bile and wait for some quotes to fit their rhetoric.
The recent fan survey which asked season ticket holders to rate Allardyce’s performance out of 10 was leapt on with glee. However, few reports acknowledged this as an annual survey issued by the club.
(Photo credit: Reuters/Ed Sykes)
While the over-riding opinion amongst Everton fans of this divisive manager is far from being flattering, the media should be feeding us an unbiased viewpoint. What’s actually happening in modern football, and with Allardyce in particular, is a pleasing narrative forms the basis of all related material at the expense of facts.
The rising attraction of attacking football coupled with a need for immediacy has changed the media landscape completely. With dwindling attention spans and increasingly hair-trigger reactions of the knee, it’s becoming more important to report popular opinion than provide balanced fare.
A little over 10 years ago, Newcastle fans were being mocked by the London-based media for claiming Allardyce’s brand of football was bland and unwanted on Tyneside.
Accusations of the Geordies being delusional and harbouring grandiose views laden with over-inflated self-entitlement were not uncommon around the country as a result. When Newcastle were relegated from the Premier League the season after Allardyce was sacked, it seemed they may have had a point.
(Photo credit: Reuters/Carl Recine)
West Bromwich Albion also seem to be in the process of befalling the same fate. Having jettisoned Tony Pulis for his unattractive style, the Baggies have continued their descent without Pulis-ball and look near-certain to plunge back into the Championship after eight years in the top-flight.
What underlines this more than anything is the fact that three of the current top six teams have a large section within their own fan base firmly believing that their club should ditch their manager. Is this really the type of conjecture we want to dominate our headlines?
Everton fans may not want Allardyce’s brand of football at their club in the future and they have every right to express this. What should not be forgotten in the meantime, however, is the present and the near-past.
The club were beset with major problems prior to Allardyce’s appointment. Ronald Koeman’s tenure ended with a single win from his last 12 fixtures but it then took 37 fruitless days of searching before his successor was finally named.
(Photo credit: REUTERS/Peter Powell)
When Allardyce was finally in place for the job, the club were literally flailing on the field. A home draw against Apollon Limassol was the only one of 5 games in the Europa League group stages which didn’t end in defeat, while a 4-1 loss at Southampton left them with 12 points from 13 games and hovering two points above the premature relegation zone.
Too much, too soon
Having wasted vast amounts of money in bloating their squad, Everton had become a poisoned chalice in many people’s eyes. The idea that Everton’s squad was too good to suffer relegation was a quaint idea but not an argument which is necessarily water-tight.
For a club in this position to transform their mentality and their results along with an expansive, flamboyant style requires time and effort. What the club’s hierarchy desperately needed in October was a long-term vision and step-by-step details in how they plan to realise it.
Sam Allardyce may not be the manager to bring these future dreams to Merseyside but he is their present and he can, and is, on track to restore the basics needed to be first put in place.
If Everton can attract a manager this summer who can take them to the next step along this progression, they should not hesitate to cut Allardyce adrift with a regulation note of thanks.
If they can’t be sure their situation will vastly improve, should they really risk the club’s stability with a step that could potentially delay their plans by a few more years?
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