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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Extras
indybest
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
News
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Poet’s corner: Philip Larkin at the venetian window of his home in 1958
booksOr caring, playful man who lived for others? A new book has the answer
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
News
Matthew McConaughey and his son Levi at the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros at Fenway Park on August 17, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
advertisingOscar-winner’s Lincoln deal is latest in a lucrative ad production line
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
News
i100
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

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention