What is 'Everton'? A series of questions, answered
A handy explainer for Carlo Ancelotti, or just about anyone, on what this strange, strange football team is actually all about
1. Since 1995, when they won the FA Cup, Everton have spent almost £1 billion on players. Have they won any trophies? Surely they've won a trophy since then?
2. But... one BILLION pounds.
Yeah. One billion pounds. One billion pounds on the likes of Davy Klaasen and Mark Hottiger and Oumar Niasse and Ashley Williams and Cuco Martina and Per Kroldup - John Carew sends his regards - and Sandro Ramirez and Andy van der Meyde and Cenk Tosun and Alex Nyarko and Shani Tarashaj. Who is Shani Tarashaj? Google him. He is literally still on the books of Everton Football Club and you've never heard of him in your entire life.
To Moise Kean and Alex Iwobi: run for your lives.
Yeah. Because they're Everton.
4. What do you mean 'It's because they're Everton'?
It's because they're Everton.
5. Surely there must be more to it than that?
You'd think so, but no, it's because they're Everton. That's all it is. If they weren't Everton, it wouldn't happen, and they'd be good.
6. Ok, so what is 'Everton'?
Everton is one of the oldest and most historic clubs in England. They have been in the top division a record 116 seasons. They have won the FA Cup five times and the First Division nine times. They have basically been amongst the best teams in the country since their inception. And yet... Everton is also a state of being. An intense flux between brief moments of hope and endless chasms of despair. Everton is that feeling you get when you wash your jeans with a twenty in the pocket. It's the feeling of your umbrella blowing inside out. Or a seagull nicking your chips on the pier, not even to eat them, just to drop them in the sea. It's the constant, relentless woe of everyday life encapsulated within the to and fro of a football team.
Everton is running for a bus in the rain, having it drive off just as you get to the door and then watching helplessly as a small boy gives you the finger through the window.
That is what being Everton is, but every single day of every single year. Forever.
7. Can you give an example?
Sure. Literally yesterday, Everton lost in the FA Cup Third Round to their famous rivals, Liverpool, at Anfield, 1-0. Which on the surface sounds, you know, not completely awful. Until you take into account the fact that Everton were at full strength whilst Jürgen Klopp picked a team consisting of James Milner and a horde of young men with TikTok accounts. Milner went off injured after nine minutes.
8. What happened?
Despite getting the ball knocked around them for fun because they were running about like a bunch of winded dads on Sports Day, Everton should have been three, possibly four goals up at half-time.
9. But they weren't.
10. Because they are Everton?
Because they are Everton. They spurned every chance they were afforded, each in more Everton fashion than the last. It almost looked as though they were doing it on purpose. Particularly when Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who sometimes looks like prime Alan Shearer and sometimes looks like an emergency Sunday league player who is roped in at the last minute and only plays as up top because it's where he will cause the least damage, attempted a diving header...
... after the ball was already past him.
11. Then what happened?
Theo Walcott, who actually looked pretty dangerous in the opening 45 minutes, relapsed into playing like Theo Walcott.
12. And then what?
The inevitable: 18-year-old local boy Curtis Jones curling a beauty up and over Jordan Pickford, who couldn't reach it because of, you know, his arms, to send Liverpool through. He wasn't even born the last time Everton won at Anfield.
13. Should the players take the blame?
Yes and no. But mostly yes.
14. Why yes?
Well. A number of reasons. Each unique to the individual. Lucas Digne and Yerry Mina came from Barcelona but both played like it was the Ecuadorian team. Gylfi Sigurdsson cost £40 million. He can't run. It physically pains him to run. Pickford is a great shot-stopper and a wonderful presence in goal but has to ask old ladies to reach stuff on the top shelf for him in Tesco. We've mentioned Calvert-Lewin and Walcott already. Seamus Coleman hasn't been the same since the leg break, Mason Holgate looks every bit a quality player until he inexplicably passes the ball to the opposition four times in a row and Richarlison loses his head the moment he realises his teammates are all useless. Which happens a lot. Djibril Sidibe looks more Serge Aurier than Serge Aurier, which isn't a great sign, but was at least the only Everton player to go over to the away fans at the end of the game. You could put an office swivel chair in midfield instead of Morgan Schneiderlin and you honestly wouldn't notice the difference.
15. And what of Carlo Ancelotti?
Carlo Ancelotti has won the Champions League three times, league titles in four different countries and can raise both eyebrows independently of each other like The Rock. Turning Everton into a normal, functioning football club, let alone a successful one, would be his greatest accomplishment to date. By far. It would be his life's work. His crowning achievement. Again: he has won the Champions League three times.
16. Will he succeed?
As much as I buy into Ancelotti's otherworldly reputation as a man-manager, motivator and serial winner: I can predict with some certainty that he will not succeed. There is no way he succeeds. This is Everton, remember. Everton aren't allowed to have nice things. They're not allowed to just appoint one of the most successful managers of the last two decades and have that be that, for everything to start running smoothly and for the good times to roll. It has to blow up in their faces, like it always does. Those are the rules.
They're the footballing equivalent of Wile E. Coyote ordering new ACME rocket skates, again, and hoping against all hope that this is the time they don't fire themselves into a canyon.
17. I think I'm starting to get it. Out of curiosity, what's the most Everton thing to ever Everton?
Sunday's defeat to Liverpool's eSports Fifa squad was obviously very Everton, but my personal favourite is Fabian Delph joining the club and stating that he wanted to bring the 'Man City mentality' to the dressing room.
This happened in his second game.
Fabian Delph becomes my all-time favourite Everton player by shouting “everyone is fucking shit” after Bournemouth scored their 3rd.
— Sam. (@SamAIex) September 16, 2019
18. That's good.
It is. But it's probably not the most Everton thing to ever Everton in the history of Everton.
No. This is.
That's the most Everton thing to ever Everton in the history of Everton
— Joe Gilmore (@Gilology) December 2, 2018
20. What happened on December 2nd, 2018?
23. I understand this entire concept perfectly.
Thought you might.
24. Can we just address the balance of this piece before we wrap things up?
25. Everton aren't we?
Everton aren't we.