It started off well enough.
Ronald Koeman had led Everton Football Club to a reasonably pleasing 7th place finish in 2016-17, which meant a spot in the Europa League qualification rounds. Good. Progress.
Plans for a new stadium at Bramley Moore were well underway, and the club quickly reinvested the funds from selling Romelu Lukaku to Manchester United. Everton welcomed Wayne Rooney back home, made immediate impact purchases (Gylfi Sigurdsson, Jordan Pickford, Michael Keane), long-term purchases (Nikola Vlasic), and even a few depth purchases (Sandro Ramirez, Cuco Martina). They also bought Davy Klaassen.
For a brief, blissful time, it seemed like Everton were forging a path to be more like Tottenham and less like West Ham. Hammeritis struck soon after.
Ronald Koeman was sacked on October 27th, following a heavy defeat to Arsenal that saw Everton plunge into 18th after a run of two wins in nine. Yannick Bolasie, Seamus Coleman, and Ramiro Funes Mori had not yet made it back from long-term injury absences, but it had become clear that Koeman had, somewhere, lost the plot.
The Dutchman might have been able to turn the extremely slow and plodding ship around from a tactical perspective, but as news came out that Koeman was at best aloof and at worst mistreating some of his players, the move to fire him made sense. What followed did not.
Under-23's manager David Unsworth was predictably restored to a position he had previously held - Everton caretaker. The decision was received well enough, as “Rhino” shows an unmatched passion for the club, and filled in for a sacked Roberto Martinez a couple of years prior.
Unfortunately, the club left Unsy flapping in the wind to the tune of 8 full games in charge, which saw him struggle to a record of 2 wins, 1 draw, and 5 losses. Eventually, Farhad Moshiri and Bill Kenwright panicked after not being able to lure Marco Silva from Watford. In came Samuel Allardyce.
Allardyce’s appointment was met with equal parts derision and reluctant acceptance. Sure, the Englishman is known for being a relegation savior, and Koeman did leave the club in the relegation places. But the sentient gravy boat has never left a club better than he found it, and even Unsworth had dragged the team to 13th prior to Sam’s arrival. The seven-match unbeaten run after Allardyce’s appointment would be as good as the getting got.
In hindsight, that seven-game stretch propped up Allardyce’s final statistics at Everton. The football looked like what would happen if you tried to pour out a pot of gravy after leaving it on the counter overnight, and the results against the top 6 were just as bad.
If that wasn’t enough, big bad Sam regularly implied that he was the smartest man in a room, and that room often contained 39,572 people. From acting like criticism came from just a few fans on Twitter, taunting fan favorite Unsworth, to absurdly suggesting that the pair of league draws against Liverpool would have advanced Everton in the next round had they been in European competition, the near-daily deluge of nonsense was like a fire hydrant of literal crap.
The 2017-18 Everton season contained horrific injuries and long recoveries. It included Morgan Schneiderlin and Kevin Mirallas bickering with coaches on the training ground. Mason Holgate got caught up in a Twitter controversy and nearly came to blows with Roberto Firmino. Wayne Rooney is departing nearly as quickly as he arrived.
Despite all that, the thing that made you most want to fix a tall, cool glass of bleach this season was supporting a club managed by Sam Allardyce. We’re Everton. We’ve seen a lot, and will go through more. But this was something different - don’t insult us on the field and then continue when you walk into the press room. This is a grand club, and it deserved better than Sam Allardyce’s blundering tactics and blustery comments.
There is, perhaps, a light at the end of the tunnel. Cenk Tosun and Theo Walcott made January look an awful lot better than the summer. Marcel Brands and Marco Silva might be on their way. The young players are coming along nicely.
Nevertheless, this season was a chore. It wasn’t a chore in the “ugh, I really don’t want to unload the dishwasher” sense. No, this season was finally cleaning out the loose, damp food at the bottom of the dishwasher that you’d been avoiding for a little too long. Oh, hey, there’s a fork lodged in there. No wonder things weren’t getting completely clean, and dammit, some of this fell on the kitchen floor.
The mess, at least temporarily, will shortly be clean, and we’ll be back. We’re Everton supporters. We always come back.