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Monday, May 4, 2009

The Winds of Change?


As the fat lady rises and makes her unpreventable way towards the stage, the trademark agony and the ecstasy that defines being an Evertonian has recently been as evident as ever.

Following a summer of high hopes and speculation that delivered little, the season began with a threadbare squad battling bravely against lesser teams that should have been easily overwhelmed by the mighty blues.

Shocked by early exits from the two cup competitions in which they had excelled in the previous season, Everton's home campaign appeared to turn a corner as the captain led by example and delivered a single match changing tackle that shook the very foundations of a club that lay claim to the title - champions of the world. Of course we all knew that in reality it was the hard work of David Moyes and his team; they'd worked relentlessly to turn Everton's 2008/09 season into a memorable one, but the result that day suggested that Everton were once again back to their determined best.

There followed one of the most difficult cup runs in Everton's history as Aston Villa, eventually Liverpool, Manchester United and others were brushed aside as Everton dug deep and, in almost a homage to the glorious “Dogs of War” team, reached the FA Cup final.

The magnitude of this accomplishment cannot be underestimated when you take into account the meagre resources that are available to David Moyes; the recent condemnation of the size of the away changing rooms is perhaps unwarranted when you consider the amount of space required for Everton's treatment room that has unfortunately witnessed Vaughan, Yakubu, Arteta, Anichebe, Valente and now Jagielka; all victims of this seasons tough campaign.

The ecstasy felt by players and supporters alike as they celebrated long after United's fans had returned to their London homes lasted until the agony descended once again as it was confirmed that the FA's ticket allocation would be woefully inadequate; not even enough to satisfy the clubs season ticket holders let alone the loyal supporters clubs that spend hundreds of thousands of pounds, with the club, every season on tickets alone.

To their credit, and in line with the people's club ethic, David Moyes, who has learnt the passion of Evertonians and Everton's new CEO, Robert Elstone, who is learning, have spoken out against the wisdom of the FA providing 40,000 tickets to organisations that will provide a rich source of tickets for the touts who are poised to fleece Evertonians who are unable to obtain a ticket through the club.

It's also good to see the CEO promising that the new £32M commercial deal with Kitbag (including an additional £3M sports marketing deal with Le Coq Sportif and a welcome return of a flagship Everton store in city centre within Liverpool One) will be given to the manager. Robert Elstone has said “I think all our efforts are about generating funds to give to the manager to strengthen; absolutely, this will go into strengthening the team; that is what this football Club is all about. All our priorities are about making sure David has what he needs in the summer. This will definitely help that budget."

The good news was released the day after KEIOC's story on the demise of Kirkby was the number one story on Newsnow, one that saw record levels of visits to the KEIOC website. The deal with Kitbag and Le Coq Sportif was widely known, fans of the Internet had known about it since the autumn of last year so it was hardly a secret but the news that the funds will be used for the strengthening of the squad is undoubtedly the kind of news all Evertonians want to hear. A very astute David Moyes thinks this month's cup final is the perfect shop window for Bill Kenwright to raise extra funds to continue his Everton revival; it appears that its all good at Goodison.

Lets hope that the winds of change extend to an explanation to the fans why national journalists, politicians, an advisor to the board, council employees and others are openly proclaiming that Kirkby and the deal of the century is dead. If confirmed it will surely put a spring in the step of fans about to descend on Wembley to witness the boys in the royal blue jerseys bring the cup back HOME.

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