March 14th, 2002, is a date that all Evertonians will remember, it is the day that David Moyes joined what he termed the People’s Club, and ever since the club has enjoyed a level of stability not seen since the 80’s. Though the club has yet to pick up any silverware in the new century, the Toffees consistently contend for a place in Europe, and have been the smallest club to qualify for the Champions League this decade.
When David Moyes took over for fellow Scotsman Walter Smith, Everton were sitting dangerously close to relegation, and his first objective was to secure a spot in next year’s Premier League, something he did through a fantastic run of form to close out the season. The following season saw the introduction of a youngster by the name of Wayne Rooney, who managed to light up the Premier League, and most observers knew it was only a matter of time before he would be moving on to bigger and better clubs than Everton at that point. Rooney helped secure a seventh place finish in his first full season for Everton, and hopes were high entering the 03/04 season. Unfortunately those hopes were not met as the team finished 17th with their lowest ever points total of 39 points on the season.
The summer of 2004 was one of the most trying under Moyes tenure, as young star Rooney was sold to Manchester United, but Moyes plowed ahead and brought in several players who would become crucial components in the coming season. These players included Australian Tim Cahill, Kevin Kilbane, and James McFadden. The season that followed became one of those magical seasons that fans still talk about in hushed tones, almost as if it is impossible to believe the season didn’t even happen. The Toffees charged out of the gate and never looked back, and when the dust settled they had managed to finish fourth, and qualify for the Champions League. Perhaps the greatest game of the season came on a date all Evertonians remember, April 20, 2005. Before an absolutely buzzing Goodison Park, the Toffees took on Manchester United in a game where three points would all but ensure Champions League qualification, and Duncan Ferguson delivered those three points off a brilliant diving header. Listening to the crowd that day it seemed as if my television was going to fall off the table.
As great as that season was, the following campaign was a bit of a disaster with Everton failing to really get off the ground, and the squad managed to finish a disappointing 11th, and was bounced out of the Champions League in the qualifying round. The next few seasons were when David Moyes truly moved into another level of managing as he managed to turn Everton into a consistent midtable finish with the team finishing 6th, 5th, and 5th again in the following three seasons while also advancing to the FA Cup final against Chelsea, where they lost 2-1. They followed this up with a slightly disappointing 8th place finish, before moving up one spot into seventh for the 2010/2011 season.
Unfortunately for Evertonians, on the field success has been met by some unfortunate news of the field. A disconcerting trend has emerged ever since Wayne Rooney was sold where Everton has been unable to hang on to their more talented players, and are forced to sell to the likes of Manchester United and Manchester City. David Moyes has expressed his frustration multiple times when he has been forced to sell players in order to bring in new players during the transfer window. This has led to Evertonians spending July and August biting their fingernails in the hope that none of our top players will be lured away from Goodison with the idea of bigger wages.
This past summer may have been to hardest for Everton, with Mikel Arteta and Jermaine Beckford departing in a somewhat shocking fashion, while Yakubu finally made a long anticipated move to Blackburn. These moves appear to have been made to appease the banks, but we will not know until January if Moyes has any transfer money to spend from these sales.
In addition to these issues involving transfer funds, decisions at the executive level have made fans even more wary, with a rising debt level of 40 million pounds plus that while not as big as some clubs, is definitely a cause for concern. In addition to the debt, many fans have begun calling for the ouster of Chairman Bill Kenwright who has left the club up for sale for several years now, yet has been unable to secure a buyer. Although the chairman still has some support with the fans, it is obvious that he and the board are not running the business side of the club in an effective manner. Without a doubt the next few years may determine the fate of Everton for better or for worse.