Sitting late on Sunday evening, once again trying to come out of a post defeat slumber, I saw an article on Twitter which pointed out that Manchester City had now drawn level with Everton on the amount of trophies won and whilst there were some mitigating circumstances such as league titles v League Cups, it got me wondering how we have fallen behind our Northwest rivals as well as Chelsea and Spurs when it comes to having the potential to win the Premier League.
Let’s not forget at the inception of the Premier League Everton (9) trailed only our City neighbours (18) and Arsenal (10) when it came to League title wins; We were up there with the best for FA Cup wins and had a European Cup Winners’ Cup success to our name.
“It’s all about money” I hear you cry! And whilst there is no doubt that financial strength is paramount in being successful in modern day football, it is in no way exclusively the reason why teams win trophies!
So, that said, what else makes up the equation for success? During City’s latest trophy win, Gary Neville’s punditry was hard hitting and blatantly direct when describing the effort, or lack of, that Arsenal’s players were displaying. It got me thinking, as most things do, about Everton.
This season one of the biggest criticisms the Everton team and individual players have received from fans is, at times, not looking bothered and a lack of desire. I’m not sure all that criticism has been justified, but it has been blatantly clear that those traits have been responsible for some of the failings.
We often see our much acclaimed community programme being spoken about as “the best in the business” and “second to none” and all of those credits are fully and quite rightly justified. The levels of commitment and dedication the people involved in this operation show is incredible and it has, at times, shamed its footballing equivalent.
However, whilst we all are rightly proud of the work the club does off the field, I ponder the question: are we allowing ourselves to use that success to mask, in some unconscious way, the lack of similar victories on the field?
The facts are clear; we are a football club and our primary aim is to win trophies by winning football matches. Everything else comes after that and it is incumbent on those charged with doing it. They need to show the same level of commitment, inventiveness and, above all, heart that our community staff show day in, day out. The core values of a team, a vision and an outcome, so clearly evident in the staff and volunteers is what will, along with the millions, bring the trophies that those great Everton teams of the past delivered.
Make no mistake, whilst we can look at the value of trophies which make up lists, the teams that now occupy the “Big 6” will gather the league titles and widen the gap more and more given the opportunity.
As a club Everton has to put its primary concentration, its major dedication and commitment into winning football matches and trophies, not new stadiums and not off the field achievements. Those things are crucially important for the future and for the community, (ironically the more successful a club is on the pitch, the more finance and facility it will bring to those projects). The overriding aim and challenge is to be WINNERS on the pitch and in the “Honours List” section of the match-day programme.
We don’t need to play catch up off the field but I want to be proud of our team, along with all the other plaudits and “best in” accolades we win away from the football. I want to see the captain holding up a cup at the end of season awards, not just those who make us so proud of our club in the other areas!