Everton Ladies currently sit at the bottom of the WSL table after a historic loss to Yeovil Town, a team that hadn’t won a single game in two years and is only still in the league because there was no relegation last season.
While Yeovil Town has been in jubilant celebration, Everton went silent, without even a mention of the word “relegation.” The future of the entire womens’ football program would certainly be plunged in doubt if they were to drop down a level, especially after the significant investment placed by the club in taking them to the professional ranks.
At least, until today, when they released a short statement announcing that manager Andy Spence had “left his role,” and expressing “gratitude to Andy for the service he has given” to the team.
The club promises that “a permanent appointment will be made as soon as possible” and in the interim, goalkeeping coach Jennifer Herst, will serve as caretaker manager.
To our knowledge, there is no assistant manager of Everton Ladies, after Martin Ho left the role to become head coach of Liverpool’s U21’s academy in August 2018. (The club never made a formal announcement about this, so we had to find out the information via LinkedIn). In September, SheKicks Magazine asked Spence about finding a new assistant manager and he responded:
“Yeah, that’s still ongoing. With any recruitment, whether it’s players or staff, you want to make sure it’s the right person.”
In the same interview, he mentioned that goalkeeping coach, Herst, had just started working for the club — meaning the current acting manager has been with the club for only a few months.
At one time, Spence was widely regarded as a great servant to Everton Football Club, having started out as assistant manager in 2004, working under Mo Marley (who is currently manager of England Lionesses U-19s). When Marley left Everton for the FA in 2012, Spence’s hard work and patience paid off by being named head manager.
Spence was with the club through many successes as assistant manager, winning the FA Women’s Cup in 2010 and advancing to the quarterfinals of the Champions League in 2011. As a manager, though, Spence often faced trying times. In 2014, after losing star players Jill Scott and Toni Duggan to Manchester City, Everton was relegated to the second tier of the Women’s Super League, where the Blues stayed for the next two years.
Interestingly, Spence left the manager role for six months in 2015 when he worked as director of Everton’s Centre of Excellence, although it’s not quite clear why he left and came back.
In 2017, after Notts County folded, Everton applied to fill the vacancy in England’s top division, and the FA awarded the Blues with promotion to the top flight of the WSL.
Things looked to be off to a great start at the start of the 2017/2018 season. All players were made full-time, and Everton signed star striker Courtney Sweetman-Kirk.
The good times didn’t last though. They still ended up in 9th place, only above winless Yeovil Town.
After a poor offseason that saw Everton lose their starting goalie and Sweetman-Kirk, the Toffees remain winless in league play. The final straw was when they did what no WSL team had ever done before — lost to Yeovil Town. The Glovers had yet to win a match after two-plus seasons in England’s top flight, with a staggering -87 goal differential in 32 matches since their promotion.
Everton Ladies should currently be, at the very least, in 8th place this season — above Yeovil Town and recently-promoted West Ham United and Brighton and Hove Albion. In an absolute worst case scenario, they should be in 10th — at least above historically bad Yeovil.
Instead, the club faces the unbelievably catastrophic scenario of sitting dead last in 11th place. With relegation back in play in the WSL this season, a last place finish could have unfathomable results for Everton.
Andy Spence served the club for almost 15 years, and his impact will always be remembered. The length of his tenure at Everton is nearly unheard of in the WSL — at the beginning of this season, 5 of 11 WSL teams had new managers.
Though the change makes things messy for a bit, this is clearly a step in the right direction. The WSL has changed drastically and the club needs to keep up or they are going to get relegated. The new leadership needs to be more progressive and have a clear vision for this club, along with an ambitious, detailed plan for digging their way out of the relegation zone and beyond.
At the very least, they can update their website so that David Unsworth is no longer listed as the coach of the women’s team.