Tough times for Everton
The last few weeks have been a time to forget for Everton and while the last few seasons could be added on as well, recently it has seemed to go from bad to worse for the famous English club. Club chairman and long standing fan Bill Kenwright passed away, and then just days later Everton were hit by a 10 point fine for over spending and breaking FFP rules. The club and fans have been outraged by the decision and they may have a valid point. Initially it was believed that the Toffees had overspent by hundreds of millions, but an overspend of just £20m which is throwaway money in the world of football has been a real revelation. Yes by the rules you could argue that the club should still be punished but does the punishment really fit the crime? The FA have said that Everton were fined 6 points for breaching the rules and then an additional point for every £5m overspend. If £5 million equals one point how terrified should Manchester City and Chelsea be and any other club in the future who breaks the rules? With this punishment surely a rule has been set but in the world of football we rarely see consistency.
To the Everton fans credit they protested before and during the game and there wasn't any overspill of violence and arrests. The problem is the reality; Everton lost at the weekend going down 3-0 at home to Manchester United, and Luton who are keeping the Toffees in the bottom three won just their second match of the season beating Crystal Palace 2-1. It was an historic victory for the Hatters as it was their first ever Premier League win at home. That result means that Everton are five points from safety and it could be 8 by next weekend. Many football observers tried to come to Everton's rescue when the points deduction was given out, there was no way Sean Dyche's side would go down because there was clearly three poorer teams in the league in Luton, Sheffield United and Burnley but it only takes one of them to find some form over the next month and for Everton to lose some heart or go through an unlucky patch to really make things dangerous once again for the Toffees. Everton's season was laid bare in the defeat to Manchester United because Dyche's team had the better of the play and created 24 goal attempts, they even had two more shots on target than the visitors and all for what. A defeat and a 3-0 defeat at that. Everton will be up against it and in the run up to the new year most of their fixtures will be against top 10 sides. It could get worse this weekend as 18th place Sheffield United will play bottom club Burnley, Everton could start December bottom of the league.
The fans will continue to protest and Everton are appealing. It's unfortunate that the FA and independent enquiry cannot take the pandemic into account, Manchester City and Chelsea's FFP charges do not relate to a pandemic. And it is unfortunate that an investigation cannot see the wider picture. Everton are currently building a new stadium which is going to generate incredible income to the local economy and create hundreds if not thousands of jobs with new businesses propping up in the area. Perhaps the best income is that Everton can hope for a points fine reduction on appeal, we will have to wait and see, but expect a decision fairly soon. Everton are a special case you see whose charges get fast tracked unlike other clubs. Sticking to the Everton and Manchester United game Alejandro Garanacho will probably never score a greater goal than his opening goal, his overhead kick was a thing of beauty even if it would have sunk Everton hearts. On replay and after the dust settled no fan could deny what an incredible goal it was and it has been instantly compared to Wayne Rooney's which was pretty identical. The better of the two is up for debate but let's remember that Rooney's one took place in a Manchester derby.
Villa continue to shine
Aston Villa will continue to dream as their latest victory came away at Tottenham. The Villains were losing but came back to win 2-1 and they are just two points shy of Arsenal in first place. Manager Unai Emery is of course shying away from top four questions but that is where they are and pound for pound surely there is no question that they have become the strongest team in the league. Villa have won 9 games from 13 played and next weekend they will fancy making that 10 wins as they face Bournemouth. But what has made Villa so special this season? Jon Mcginn who has been one of Villa's stand out players this season has described Emery's work ethic as world class, you don't just train with Emery you learn how to win with him. McGinn has also said that the Spaniard is 'a bit mad' but it is this work ethic that is paying dividends for the club and really making other clubs double think when having to play them. Emery prefers to play a high line which can be risky and if Tottenham had taken their chances better then perhaps we could have been looking at a vastly different scoreline at the weekend. However playing a high line can be rewarding and this is Emery's method which isn't going to change anytime soon, why would it when his team has 28 points from 39?
RIP El Tel
Finally Terry Venables has died. For some his memory as a manager will be encapsulated in the year 1996. Fuelled by alcohol, friends, a blazing summer and a first major tournament in England for 30 years fans watched as Venables led an England side that had failed to even reach the World Cup finals in 1994. But in this competition led by an anthem of 'football's coming home' England pulled off some incredible results, hammering a talented Dutch side who had reached the semi-finals of the 1994 World Cup 4-1. England knocked out teams they would usually lose against, who will ever forget the penalty shoot out against Spain? And then there was maverick to maverick- Venables as manager and Paul Gascoigne on the field of play, one to another, culminating in Gazza's superb goal and against all nations, Scotland. Ultimately England were knocked out yet again by Germany and yet again on penalties in the semi-finals but it didn't and couldn't defy Venables quality as England manager. Venables clear as daylight was changing the mentality of England and the progress was clear but the FA would not guarantee him a contract extension even after the squad backed him, and he left the role. Venables' England only lost 1 game in 23 and Glenn Hoddle was appointed manager.
Venables of course won trophies with Barcelona and Tottenham and in his time with the Spanish giants was affectionately called 'El Tel' and 'the Mister'. He had managed all over the world including Australia and nobody had a bad word to say about him. He holds the ultimate accolade in retrospect that he was the footballers manager.