An incredible statistic has been discussed in many a newspaper and alehouse during this past few weeks. Following the departures of Alex Ferguson, Tony Pulis, David Moyes and Roberto Martinez from their respective clubs, the second longest serving manager in the Premier League is now Alan Pardew at Newcastle. Pardew has been in charge at St James' for only two and a half years, with Arsene Wenger now the only top flight boss who can genuinely be referred to as long-serving. Brendan Rodgers is 5th in the list.
The implication of course, is that managers come and go more frequently than ever in England. The reasons for this are many. There is a greater pressure than ever for chairmen to keep their clubs in the top flight, and to deliver results (and profit) quickly. In addition to this, the increased number of foreign and disconnected owners has led to a view of managers as disposable assets, rather than human beings who deserve a fair shot, and who might need a few years to turn things around. A reflection of the realities of capitalism, perhaps. However, an additional if less influential factor contributing to the common brevity of managerial reigns, may be an increased impatience amongst fans, caused arguably by the proliferation of social media. More than ever it seems, an opinion can be quickly expressed, shared, agreed with and developed, and within minutes an entire movement has been born. The problem is that it is much more difficult to explore an idea through an Internet conversation, than it is in 'real life' interactions. Whatsmore, it is very easy to misconstrue an online comment, and often the most innocent of posts quickly polarises opinion, and before long everyone has become too defensive to really remember the original point being made.
With all this in mind, I am a little concerned that Roberto Martinez may not be given a fair crack of the whip at Everton, by the fans. In our case, it seems unlikely that our chairman will prematurely give Martinez the boot, given his theatrical press conference during which he desperately hailed Martinez as the messiah. However, perhaps as a result of social media, a long spell without a trophy and frustration at the emergence of a financially untouchable elite, many fans have a tendency to react in a volatile fashion, when results don't go our way. To be fair, there is a knee-jerk element at every club. I just hope that ours doesn't kick off to such a degree when the going gets tough for Martinez (which it certainly will, sooner or later), that he starts to crack under the pressure, and we enter a vicious cycle which can only end with club and manager going their separate ways. It has happened in football before, and it will happen again.
Looking back at the impact made by our most successful managers in their first seasons, they have each hit the ground running. Kendall, Catterick and Moyes - probably our three highest performing managers - each improved matters, in terms of league position, in their first full campaign.
Kendall's debut was the first game of the 1981-82 season. In the previous season Gordon Lee's team finished in 15th position, before Lee was sacked in the summer by Philip Carter. Kendall's first season saw a big improvement, leading Everton to an 8th place finish. The following two seasons we finished in 7th, before of course going on to win the title in 1984-85. Kendall clearly got it right from the off, a brilliant manager, admittedly in a time when forcing your way to the top of the table was far more feasible.
The man with the second highest win rate at Everton, behind Kendall, is Harry Catterick. Catterick took over for the last two games of the 1960-61 season, with the team ultimately finishing in 5th place. In his first full campaign he led the team to 4th place, and the following season we won the league. Like Kendall, Catterick wasted little time in improving our results and even led us to silverware within two seasons.
David Moyes has only the fourth highest win rate of Everton gaffers, marginally behind Colin Harvey. However given the length of time Moyes was in charge, and the difficult circumstances under which he worked, few could argue that he is our third most successful manager of all time. When Moyes took over from Walter Smith in March 2002, Everton were in 15th, a position in which we eventually finished that season. The following year Moyes guided us to a 7th place finish, an improvement to even better Kendall's first season, although the season after of course we finished only one place above the relegation zone. Despite this calamity, the board kept faith in Moyes, and by this summer we had of course established ourselves as a top six side.
Where Martinez's situation differs from that of Kendall, Catterick and Moyes, is that currently there seems to be little room for improvement at Everton. Both Kendall and Moyes took over with the team languishing in the bottom half of the table, and although Catterick inherited a team flying relatively high, at that time the league was not dominated by a handful of big spending heavy hitters, as is unfortunately the case now.
Harvey's situation was in some ways similar to that faced by Martinez. Appointed in the summer of 1987, he had a lot to live up to, following the departure of a man - in this case Kendall - who was revered, but who wanted to try his hand elsewhere, if for different reasons. Another similarity was that Harvey could barely improve upon his predecessor's performance. For Martinez to improve on Moyes' record, he would probably have to establish us as a champions league side, which is a massive ask until our financial predicament is resolved, or at the very least win a trophy. Whatever happens next season, I just hope that the fans acknowledge that this is his first season and sometimes it does take time for a new manager to settle in, time which would be lost were we to lose Martinez and have to start over with someone new at the helm. Personally I would be delighted with another 6th place finish, and over the moon at anything better. Over to you, Roberto.