WINNER: Everton manager Howard Kendall with the First Division winner’s trophy. AFP/VNA Photo
A movie was released at the end of November last year that probably didn’t get the recognition it deserved.
Howard’s Way is a biopic about the former Everton manager Howard Kendall who was responsible for turning the Blues from a mediocre, struggling team into a powerhouse of English football.
During his time at Goodison Park in the 1980s, he led Everton to two league titles, an FA Cup and European Cup Winners’ Cup. He was also named manager of the year twice.
Some would argue that if it wasn’t for the banning of English clubs from European competitions in the 1980s, his Everton side would have surely been crowned kings of the continent under his reign.
But the exclusion of teams from England to what was then known as the European Cup led to Kendall, and a number of his players, to seek their fortunes overseas.
Howard did return to the club he had also played for, for brief spells in the 1990s, but it was the teams he created the decade before he will always be remembered for.
Since his time in charge first time around, Everton have only won one piece of silverware, the FA Cup, in 1995.
For years and years, the club’s hierarchy has tried and failed to recreate their glorious past, without success.
Joe Royle, Mike Walker, Walter Smith, David Moyes, Sam Allardyce, Roberto Martinez, Ronald Koeman and Marco Silva, have all promised plenty, but delivered very, very little.
None of them were fit to lace Howard’s boots.
Then along came Carlo Ancellotti. I for one was bowled over when Everton made the appointment, and I’m sure there are still plenty of the Goodison faithful pinching themselves over and over again to make sure they're not dreaming.
Ancellotti is a class act. A great player back in the day and a manager with a resume to rival the best.
Italy, Germany, France, Spain and England as well, the man from Reggiolo in northern Italy has succeeded everywhere he has managed.
One of only a handful of managers to win the Champions League three times and now in charge of ‘the other’ club in Liverpool.
And it really is so far, so good.
Everton have won their first three games of the season, which included a tricky opener away at Tottenham, and what’s more important, they are playing very good football.
New players have come in, James Rodriguez being their top drawer signing, and Carlo is really getting the best out of players already on their books. Dominic Calvert-Lewin is a case in point.
Will they will the league? No, I don’t think they will even come close, but as the gap between the top two from last season and the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs widens, I wouldn’t bet against Everton making a serious challenge for a top-four finish.
I also at the start of the season tipped them for FA Cup success.
If they do manage to break into the Champions League places at the end of the season, I think with Ancelotti’s experience, they could surprise a few people in Europe.
Everton fans have a reputation for being bitter. Those from the Red side of Merseyside accuse their Blue neighbours of never being happy, always complaining and moaning.
But now, maybe it’s time to smile again.
Instead of Howard’s way, it’s Carlo’s way from now on. — VNS