End of the road for the family club's odd couple: Everton - and Bill Kenwright - start planning for life after David Moyes

 

It promises to be a strange afternoon at Goodison Park today, and not just for David Moyes. As the Scot sends out his Everton team at Goodison for the final time before departing for Manchester United, the supporters could be forgiven for fearing what happens next. After all, it is not just United who have lost their lodestar.

Bill Kenwright, the Everton owner, has lost the manager who delivered the finest football team seen on the blue side of Stanley Park since the Eighties, the bargain-hunter who signed Tim Cahill, Steven Pienaar and Phil Jagielka, the man whose drive and ambition rejuvenated a proud old club – all for an estimated net spend of £16.85 million. Little wonder Kenwright cut an emotional figure when speaking after the decision of Moyes, his friend and ally, to leave for United.

"Distraught" is how Joe Royle, architect of Everton's last trophy win, the 1995 FA Cup, describes Kenwright, and there seems to have been genuine surprise within the club over events this week; although Moyes's contract was ending this summer, he had been planning a pre- season trip to South Africa.

"I think the feeling was David genuinely didn't know what he was going to do at the end of the season," says Royle, although he wonders "how and when David knew" of United's interest. Moyes himself insisted the offer had come "out of the blue" last week, but the succession plan was known among the Old Trafford coaching staff towards the end of last year.

Our source, with close links to Ferguson's backroom team, said he had heard last November that "if United win back the title from Manchester City, Ferguson will see it as the perfect time to go, and Moyes is the man they want".

The revelation underlines the trust Ferguson places in his staff and also the demands he makes of them. They must have known they could become victims of their own success, for any new manager is expected to bring in his own team of coaches.

Moyes and Kenwright were an odd couple – the fastidious, straight-talking Scot and the theatre impresario with luvvie leanings – yet according to Royle, theirs was the "rock-solid" relationship which brought Everton such stability during the last 11 years. "They are great mates. Bill will miss him," says Royle.

The legacy of that partnership is plain to see. Whoever follows in Moyes's footsteps will inherit a squad so much better than that which the sacked Walter Smith bequeathed in March 2002.

Then Everton were embroiled in a relegation fight; now they are on course for a fifth top-six finish in nine seasons. And where there was Bellefield, the charming time-warp of a training ground, now there is the state-of-the-art Finch Farm, where Moyes brought first-team and youth levels together on the same site – Everton are the only Premier League club with teams in both the U18 and U21 national semi-finals – and created a set-up that, to quote one colleague, "took all the excuses away".

Moyes's famed attention to detail is visible there in the dressing-room lockers which display the names of both the players using them and, beneath, their previous occupants. That was part of Moyes's effort to create an "Everton family", and it worked: a recent study placed Everton among the top three most stable squads in Europe's big leagues – nine of the first-team squad have been at the club five years or longer.

The worry for Everton fans is whether Kenwright can maintain the stability of the past decade. Critics of the chairman point to his failure to have attracted any fresh investment in 13 years and, moreover, the unsolved problem of Everton's antiquated, if atmospheric, Goodison home.

Had Kenwright succeeded in his plans to move Everton to a new stadium at Kings Dock, real rather than relative success may have become attainable for Moyes, who did not make a permanent signing of over £1 million between September 2009 and January 2012. He was frustrated again in January this year when looking to strengthen the Premier League's smallest squad.

It is in this context that the Everton Shareholders' Association delivered a petition on Wednesday calling for an emergency general meeting. Kenwright did away with AGMs in 2007 but the shareholders have the requisite number of signatures to force a meeting in June, where questions will be asked about the club's future. To understand their dissatisfaction, it is worth recalling that at the end of Sir Alex's first season at Old Trafford, Everton had the same number of major trophies as United.

Moyes came along and arrested Everton's decline on the field at least, though unlike Harry Catterick and Howard Kendall – the only other men to have overseen over 500 Everton games, and winners of two League titles each – he leaves without a trophy, albeit with much admiration.

Royle will be at Goodison today and anticipates a "warm reception" for the Scot. Assessing his reign, he adds: "He came out with a marvellous phrase about Everton being the 'people's club' and that endeared him straight away. "

Moyes on Friday promised another leaving gift – advice regarding his successor. Evertonians will cross their fingers that he helps Kenwright get that right too.

Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths surrounding the enigmatic singer
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Sport
Christian Benteke of Aston Villa celebrates scoring the winner for Aston Villa
football
News
Bill O'Reilly attends The Hollywood Reporter 35 Most Powerful People In Media Celebration at The Four Seasons Restaurant on April 16, 2014 in New York City
media It is the second time he and the channel have clarified statements
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn