Tag Archives: Everton

Premier League Files: Nikica Jelavic

Premier League Career: Everton (2012-2014), Hull City (2014-2015), West Ham United (2015-2016)

Still playing in the Chinese Super League for Guizhou Zhicheng, Nikica Jelavic’s career has taken him to many different countries. The Croatian may not be the fastest forward or strongest attacker in any squad but he has a proven goalscoring record which he demonstrated with great efficiency at Everton and Hull City in the Premier League.

A former Croatian international who represented his country at the 2012 European Championships, scoring against the Republic of Ireland in the group stages, Jelavic played in Croatia, Belgium, Austria and Scotland before his time in English football began with Everton in January 2012.

He was just 17 when called into the senior side of his first club, Hajduk Split but injuries restricted his league appearance record for them to just 34. In July 2007, he was sold to Belgian top-flight club Zulte Waregem but his spell with them was unproductive, managing just three goals in 23 appearances.

Jelavic’s goalscoring instincts started to bear fruition at Rapid Vienna in the Austrian Bundesliga. He scored 27 goals in 71 league appearances for them before completing a £4 million move to Rangers in August 2010. Having featured in Rapid’s early qualifying matches in the UEFA Europa League, Jelavic was cup-tied from UEFA Champions League action but he was one of the leading stars in what currently stands as Rangers’ last title triumph before their financial meltdown.

He scored 19 goals in just 27 starts, ending with a better goal to game ratio than any other striker in the league, scoring the winning goal in the League Cup final against Old Firm rivals, Celtic. Jelavic’s strike to defeat Aberdeen in April 2011 was also voted the SFA Goal of the Season.

After scoring another 14 goals in the first 22 games of the 2011-2012 season, Jelavic moved to Everton for a fee of £5 million in January 2012. That was despite the Glasgow giants rejecting a bid from Championship side Leicester City that was higher than what they actually sold him for six months earlier.

David Moyes introduced him slowly into the starting XI but he became a regular starter when he scored in his first start for the club in March 2012. It also turned out to be the only goal of the game against Tottenham Hotspur at Goodison Park. In April, he struck in the FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool FC and also scored twice in the epic 4-4 draw with Manchester United at Old Trafford. That meant, he became the first Toffees player to score in five successive away games since Duncan McKenzie in the 1977-1978 season.

His exploits meant Jelavic became the first-ever Croatian to win the Premier League Player of the Month award, picking up the prize in April 2012. Despite being an Evertonian for less than six months, he finished as the club’s top scorer for the season with 11 goals. He started the 2012-2013 season in impeccable form, scoring goals in victories over Aston Villa, Southampton and a late winner against Tottenham Hotspur. However, his form took an alarming dip in 2013 and as the season reached its conclusion, Moyes often used the Nigerian forward Victor Anichebe as his first-choice striker.

Moyes left Everton in the summer of 2013 for Manchester United and although Jelavic initially won the main striking position back when Roberto Martinez took over as manager, the loan signing of Romelu Lukaku from Chelsea changed that statistic. Jelavic failed to score in the Premier League again for Everton and although he did score twice in an FA Cup third round win over Queens Park Rangers, he submitted a transfer request shortly afterwards, desperate to go and play some first-team football with a World Cup finals around the corner in Brazil.

In mid-January 2014, he signed for Hull City for an undisclosed fee and made an immediate impression. Jelavic formed an excellent understanding with fellow January striking recruit Shane Long and the pair scored enough goals to keep the Tigers away from relegation danger. Four goals came from Jelavic, including a double in a 4-0 away victory at Cardiff City. He made 16 appearances for Hull and on a personal perspective, it was mission accomplished. He was selected for the Croatian squad for the 2014 World Cup finals, starting the first match of the tournament against Brazil.

He finished as Hull’s top scorer in 2014-2015, scoring eight goals in 26 appearances but despite his best efforts, Hull were relegated on the final day of the season. On transfer deadline day in the summer of 2015, he switched to West Ham United and figured 13 times for the Hammers, scoring once in the Premier League in a 2-1 defeat to Newcastle United. However, he was behind the likes of Diafra Sakho, Andy Carroll and Enner Valencia in the pecking order and when the money arrived from the Chinese Super League, Jelavic moved to Beijing Renhe in February 2016.

After a year with them, he transferred again, this time to current club Guizhou Zhicheng and with 30 goals already under his belt in 55 appearances in China; he continues to produce the goods, even into the latter period of his pretty productive career.

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Memorable Matches: Everton 6-2 Sunderland (November 2015)

Goalscorers: Gerard Deulofeu 19, Arouna Kone 31, 62, 76, Jermain Defoe 45, Steven Fletcher 50, Sebastian Coates 55 OG, Romelu Lukaku 60

Teams:

Everton: Tim Howard, Seamus Coleman, Ramiro Funes Mori, Bryan Oviedo (Brendan Galloway 25), John Stones, Gareth Barry, James McCarthy, Ross Barkley, Gerard Deulofeu (Kevin Mirallas 65), Arouna Kone, Romelu Lukaku (Leon Osman 78)

Sunderland: Costel Pantilimon, Wes Brown, Sebastian Coates, Billy Jones, Patrick van Aanholt, DeAndre Yedlin (Sebastian Larsson 64), Lee Cattermole (Jack Rodwell 38), Yann M’Vila, Adam Johnson, Jermain Defoe, Steven Fletcher (Duncan Watmore 75)

Referee: Andre Marriner, Attendance: 36,617

Everton came into this match against Sunderland needing to find some consistency in the Premier League. Roberto Martinez’s side were one of the best counter-attacking teams in the division but were struggling to put teams away. Sunderland were coming off the back of a morale-boosting Tyne & Wear Derby victory seven days earlier. This was Everton’s first home match since the funeral of their most successful manager, Howard Kendall and in his memory, both teams put in a magical match.

It was Sunderland who made the brighter start and on his recall to the side, Patrick van Aanholt was desperately unlucky after just three minutes, striking the post. The visitors continued to do the early pressing with Tim Howard making quick saves to deny Jermain Defoe and Steven Fletcher, whilst the woodwork saved the home side from going behind for a second time. On 19 minutes, the Toffees were infront. Gerard Deulofeu scored his first goal since returning to the club from Barcelona. Arouna Kone’s excellent pass found him in space and he calmly slotted the ball into the net.

Kone doubled the lead with his third goal of the season just past the half-hour. Exchanging passes with strike partner Romelu Lukaku, Kone’s left-footed drive found the roof of the net. Right on the stroke of half-time though, Sunderland got back into the game. Sebastian Coates’ long-ball found Defoe who was braver to win the challenge against John Stones. He showed great composure to avoid Ramiro Funes Mori’s sliding tackle and via a deflection off Stones, his shot beat Howard.

Sunderland deservedly levelled the scores five minutes into the second half. Van Aanholt’s right-footed cross was inch-perfect and Fletcher wanted it more than Funes Mori, planting his header into the bottom corner of the net. There always looked like more goals would come and Everton regained their lead on 55 minutes. Deulofeu’s teasing ball into the box was diverted into his own net by Uruguayan defender Coates, who was attempting to stop Lukaku from reaching the cross.

Deulofeu was having a brilliant game, despite being booked for a daft dive. His superb pass on the hour mark found Lukaku who sped past Wes Brown and the Belgian rounded Costel Pantilimon to register his fourth goal in his last five matches.

Sunderland’s ambition had now caught up with them. James McCarthy’s devastating reverse pass found Kone and the striker found the net for his second of the afternoon. Everton had now scored three goals in the space of seven second half minutes. There was still time for Kone to complete his hat-trick. Lukaku’s brilliant ball into the six-yard box found the head of Kone who scored his first treble for Everton and became one of the more unlikely hat-trick heroes in Premier League history. He deserved it for an all-round action performance.

Sunderland did gain revenge later in the season with a 3-0 victory over the Toffees in May which ensured their Premier League safety and condemned Roberto Martinez to the sack. This though was Everton and Arouna Kone’s day on a goal-filled afternoon.

Great Goals: Antonio Valencia – MANCHESTER UNITED vs. Everton (September 2017)

In his heyday, Antonio Valencia was a flying right winger but he has been successfully converted into a fine right-back by Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho. In September 2017, he unleashed a reminder of his previous qualities with a stunning volley at home to Everton.

Just less than four minutes had been played when Valencia smashed a shot into the top corner of Jordan Pickford’s net from the edge of the area after being picked out delightfully by Nemanja Matic. His shot was measured at 104km/h. No goalkeeper was getting anywhere near this effort.

Manchester United won the match 4-0. Wayne Rooney’s first return to Old Trafford since his summer departure had been completely put in the shade by Valencia’s first-class goal.

 

Premier League Rewind: 24th-26th November 2017

Results: West Ham United 1-1 Leicester City, Crystal Palace 2-1 Stoke City, Manchester United 1-0 Brighton & Hove Albion, Newcastle United 0-3 Watford, Swansea City 0-0 AFC Bournemouth, Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 West Bromwich Albion, Liverpool FC 1-1 Chelsea, Southampton 4-1 Everton, Burnley 0-1 Arsenal, Huddersfield Town 1-2 Manchester City

By the end of November 2017, Manchester City were looking absolutely unstoppable. Eight points clear at the start of the weekend, that figure remained intact for Pep Guardiola’s men but only after they survived a major scare away at Huddersfield Town.

A month earlier, Huddersfield had defeated Manchester United at The John Smith’s Stadium and for a few moments, it looked like a shock double was on the cards when Nicolas Otamendi headed the ball into his own net on the stroke of half-time. Sergio Aguero did quickly equalise in the second half via the penalty spot but it looked like the points would be shared until six minutes from full-time. Through a bit of fortune and persistence, Raheem Sterling scored the winning goal to extend City’s winning run in the Premier League to 11 games.

24 hours earlier, Manchester United also required a big slice of fortune to defeat plucky Brighton & Hove Albion 1-0 at Old Trafford. Ashley Young’s shot deflected off Lewis Dunk and looped over a stranded Mat Ryan in the 66th minute to give the Red Devils three points. It was a weekend where the established elite all generally struggled.

For the second season running, Arsenal needed a stoppage-time goal to claim all three points at Turf Moor against Burnley. In the second minute of stoppage-time, James Tarkowski was adjudged to have fouled Aaron Ramsey in the penalty area. Alexis Sanchez made no mistake from 12-yards out to score the only goal of the game and took Arsenal into the top four, having won four of their last five games.

They replaced north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the top four after Tottenham stumbled to a 1-1 home draw with West Bromwich Albion at Wembley Stadium. West Brom had sacked Tony Pulis earlier in the week and caretaker manager Gary Megson’s side put in a stoic defensive display to earn a hard-fought point. Since beating Liverpool FC 4-1 a month earlier, Tottenham had picked up just four points from four games.

At the wrong end of the table and Everton’s horrific season continued. Despite Gylfi Sigurdsson’s first Premier League goal for the club, the Toffees succumbed to a heavy 4-1 defeat away at Southampton. Charlie Austin scored twice for the home side, as the Saints climbed into 10th spot off the back of this handsome victory. Wayne Rooney was an unused substitute for Everton who sat just two points above the relegation zone and were still without a permanent manager since sacking Ronald Koeman a month earlier.

Crystal Palace recorded a second victory of the season, coming from behind to defeat Stoke City 2-1. Mamadou Sakho scored the winning goal deep into stoppage-time to extend the Eagles’ unbeaten run on home soil to four games and took them to within three points of safety. David Moyes achieved his first point as West Ham United boss as the Hammers drew 1-1 in the Friday Night Football encounter against Leicester City but it wasn’t enough for the home side to escape the bottom three.

What else happened in November 2017?

  • After 37 years of ruling Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe resigns after being placed under house arrest. The military take control of the country.
  • Prince Harry announces his engagement to American actress Meghan Markle.
  • Ratko Mladic is found guilty of genocide committed in Srebrenica during the 1990s Bosnian War. He is sentenced to life in prison.
  • Sir Michael Fallon resigns as Defence Secretary following allegations of inappropriate previous behaviour. He is replaced by Gavin Williamson.
  • One of Leonardo da Vinci’s finest works, Salvator Mundi, sells for $450 million at Christie’s in New York. It becomes the new record price for any work of art produced.
  • Ex-Czech tennis player and winner of the women’s singles title at Wimbledon in 1998, Jana Novotna dies after a battle with cancer, aged 49.
  • A huge new leak of documents known as the Paradise Papers is reported, revealing how wealthy and powerful the rich really are with offshore investments. The Queen’s private estate is included with tech giants Apple and Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton also facing tough questions following the leak.

Great Goals: Wayne Rooney – EVERTON vs. West Ham United (November 2017)

Wayne Rooney finished the 2017-2018 Premier League season as Everton’s top goalscorer. It would turn out to be his only season back with his boyhood club. Unloved by Sam Allardyce, Rooney elected to move on in the summer of 2018 after not receiving assurances over his first-team future by new boss, Marco Silva.

However, he did leave a lasting legacy on the campaign with this astonishing goal at home to West Ham United. It was the final match of David Unsworth’s difficult reign in interim charge but he finished in style, as Everton won 4-0. Rooney scored three of the goals. The strike to complete his hat-trick was a reminder of his world-class abilities at the peak of his powers.

West Ham goalkeeper Joe Hart came rushing out of his goal to clear a long ball from the Everton defence. His clearance wasn’t the greatest but Rooney still had so much to do. From well inside his own half, Rooney’s first-time shot flew straight into the back of the empty net, capping a brilliant display with his first-ever hat-trick for Everton.

Hart was dropped by David Moyes after this display. Rooney would score just once more infront of his home supporters before moving to the MLS for a fresh start with DC United.

Iconic Moments: Koeman axed by Everton (October 2017)

After a seventh-place finish in his first season in the hotseat at Goodison Park, expectations were high at Everton for Ronald Koeman to mount a serious challenge for a top-four finish in pre-season. By the end of October, his managerial reputation looked destroyed and his club management career was over – for the time being at least.

Everton were forced to sell star striker Romelu Lukaku in the summer of 2017 after the Belgian marksman turned down a new contract. They cashed in on Lukaku and earned £75 million from Manchester United with Wayne Rooney making an emotional return to his boyhood club as part of the deal. However, it became clear that Rooney was a signing for the fans and not really a player Koeman wanted.

There were other big arrivals for hefty sums of money, including Icelandic international Glyfi Sigurdsson, future England no.1 goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and centre-back Michael Keane from Burnley. However, Lukaku wasn’t replaced and that was a costly decision. Koeman even had to swallow his pride and bring back Oumar Niasse from the doldrums. He did give the Dutchman a priceless victory with two goals off the bench against AFC Bournemouth in September but by then, Koeman was already in big trouble.

Heavy back-to-back defeats to Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United, coupled with a humiliating display in a UEFA Europa League group stage game in Atalanta put Koeman on the backfoot. Another European defeat at home to Lyon which saw an ugly brawl started by Ashley Williams put him on the verge of the sack when Arsenal visited Merseyside on Sunday 22nd October.

Rooney did give Everton the lead but Arsenal’s dominance in the game was so one-sided. Idrissa Gueye was sent off and only a brilliant display from Pickford stopped the scoreline creeping towards double figures. When Alexis Sanchez scored his first Premier League goal of the season to make the scoreline 5-2, the look on Everton chairman Bill Kenwright’s face said it all. Everton finished the evening in the bottom three. Koeman was sacked a day later. He has since become the manager of the Netherlands international team.

The hunt for his successor became messy and eventually, they sacrificed all principles and turned to Sam Allardyce just to steer them away from relegation danger after David Unsworth’s character-building month as interim boss. Allardyce did what was required and guided Everton to comfortable safety with an eighth-place finish but the fans never took to his style of football and he was sacked at the end of the season, replaced by the manager the Everton board always wanted as Koeman’s ultimate successor, Marco Silva.

The 2017-2018 season was a scrappy one for everyone connected with Everton Football Club.

Iconic Moments: Rooney reaches 200 (August 2017)

In the summer of 2017, Wayne Rooney ended his 13-year association with Manchester United, where he’d won five Premier League titles and become the club’s all-time leading goalscorer. He returned to his boyhood home, Everton. It was a signing that got fans excited at Goodison Park.

After making the dream return by scoring on his second home debut with a flying header to beat Stoke City on the opening weekend, Rooney had another milestone he was closing in on when he made his first visit back to Manchester.

Everton’s first away match of the season was at The Etihad Stadium and Rooney achieved a Premier League landmark in the 35th minute. From a sweeping counter-attack, Rooney made a late surging run into the box to meet Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s pass and sweep the ball into the back of the net. It was his 200th Premier League goal, becoming only the second player to achieve the feat after Alan Shearer.

Rooney’s goalscoring tally ended at 208 before waving goodbye to the Premier League in the summer of 2018. He will finish his playing career in the MLS, playing for DC United. He will go down as one of the Premier League’s greatest-ever players.

The Managers: Sam Allardyce

Premier League Clubs Managed: Bolton Wanderers (2001-2007), Newcastle United (2007-2008), Blackburn Rovers (2008-2010), West Ham United (2012-2015), Sunderland (2015-2016), Crystal Palace (2016-2017), Everton (2017-2018)

Sam Allardyce is one of the great survivors of the Premier League. He is often one of the first bosses that worried owners turn to when their club look to be flirting dangerously with the depths of a relegation battle. Everton chairman Bill Kenwright was the latest in this situation when the Toffees elected to call on his services in November 2017. Everton slipped into the bottom three when they lost 4-1 at Southampton under David Unsworth’s difficult reign as caretaker manager. They were in freefall and needed the expertise of Allardyce to get themselves out of a very sticky situation.

The Merseysiders didn’t have to worry. The football in terms of overall quality was not good but ‘Big Sam’ is one person who doesn’t care about style. The result is vitally more important over substance and that’s why Everton finished in eighth position despite some underwhelming displays. It was another case of mission complete for Allardyce. His reward was the sack 72 hours after the conclusion of the 2017-2018 season!

All this and a successful salvage mission at Crystal Palace has come after his ill-fated short spell as England manager in 2016 which seemed to have put him on the managerial scrapheap.

Over 500 appearances

During a 21-year playing career, Allardyce made 578 league and cup appearances. After spending his youth days at semi-professional level with Dudley Town, he joined Bolton Wanderers in 1969 and spent nine seasons as a player with the Trotters. During his time with them, Bolton were promoted to the First Division in 1978. It was the most productive spell of his playing days.

He spent much of the 1980s on the road, playing for no fewer than eight clubs. This included a brief period playing in the North American Soccer League with the Tampa Bay Rowdies and a second 14-game spell with Bolton Wanderers in the 1985-1986 season. A year later, he won promotion out of the Fourth Division with Preston North End, also earning a spot in the PFA Team of the Year.

Early coaching days

Allardyce was hired as a player-coach by Brian Talbot at West Bromwich Albion in February 1989. He spent the rest of the season managing and occasionally playing for the reserves before being promoted to first-team coaching duties. That role ended in January 1991 when he and Talbot were sacked following the Baggies shock FA Cup exit at the hands of non-league Woking.

So, ‘Big Sam’ went to Ireland and despite huge financial pressures, he managed to guide Limerick to promotion into the Irish Premier Division. After a year in Ireland, he returned to English shores, coaching at Preston North End. When manager Les Chapman was sacked 10 games into the campaign, Sam had a stint as caretaker manager but despite promise, he was overlooked for the job permanently by the Preston hierarchy. He left after 18 months at Deepdale, frustrated by being forced to work at youth team level after his taste of first-team management.

His first permanent managerial breakthrough came at Blackpool, who appointed him manager in July 1994. In two seasons at Bloomfield Road, he took them to 12th and 3rd place finishes in the Second Division. After narrowly missing out on promotion in 1996, losing in the play-off semi-finals to Bradford City, Allardyce was sacked by Chairman Owen Oyston. Five years after his departure, he said: “I was stunned but it didn’t put me off football management otherwise I would never have returned. Looking back, Blackpool probably did me a favour.”

In January 1997, he returned to management with Notts County, who were struggling in the lower reaches of Division Two. He arrived too late to save them from relegation but earned them instant promotion as Third Division champions in 1997-1998, becoming the first post-war side to earn promotion from any division in the month of March.

He remained at County until October 1999, resigning to return to Bolton Wanderers.

The spirit of Bolton

Allardyce did inherit a talented squad that had just missed out on promotion the previous season via the play-offs. Among the players at his disposal were Eidur Gudjohnsen, Dean Holdsworth, Claus Jensen and Mark Fish. Despite being in the bottom half when he took over, Bolton did reach the First Division play-offs but came up short at the semi-final hurdle, losing to Ipswich Town over two legs.

There were no such mistakes in 2000-2001. After three years in the First Division wilderness, Bolton returned to the Premier League with a 3-0 play-off final victory over Preston North End. Now, ‘Big Sam’ had his chance in the big time.

It was a remarkable start. Bolton won their first three matches to top the table in August, including a 2-1 victory over Liverpool FC, who had won five trophies in the calendar year of 2001. In October, reigning champions Manchester United were added to the list of scalps and Bolton finished in 16th place and avoided relegation for the first time in their Premier League existence.

It was at this point when Allardyce was able to use his astuteness in the transfer market, bringing in big European names that seemed to be at the twilight of their careers. They included Bruno N’Gotty, Youri Djorkaeff, Ivan Campo and Jay-Jay Okocha. The 2002-2003 Premier League season was a real struggle but some inspirational displays from Okocha, most notably on the final day saw the Trotters just about avoid the drop at the expense of a much-more expensively assembled West Ham United squad.

That was Bolton’s last season of survival struggle. They enjoyed a real purple patch from 2003 to 2007. Allardyce took them to the 2004 League Cup final although they lost 2-1 in the showpiece event to Middlesbrough. They finished in the Premier League’s top 10 in four successive campaigns, including a stunning 6th place finish in 2004-2005 and fans at The Reebok Stadium enjoyed European football for the first time.

All this success led to Allardyce being shortlisted for the England job in the run-up to the 2006 World Cup finals. He was interviewed for the post but lost out to Middlesbrough manager Steve McClaren, who was Sven-Goran Eriksson’s assistant at the time. In 2007, Allardyce’s relationship with owner Phil Gartside became strained when he was refused more money to spend on players to make a bigger push for Champions League qualification. With two games left to play in 2006-2007, he resigned and was replaced by his assistant, Sammy Lee.

Victim of the Venky’s

Just two days after the season finished, Allardyce was confirmed as Newcastle United manager but it turned out to be an unhappy eight months on Tyneside. When he got the contract to manage the team, Freddie Shepherd was chairman but he was soon replaced at the helm by Mike Ashley.

Not the owner’s man, he was on a hiding to nothing and parted company in January 2008 after a disappointing run of results which included a Boxing Day defeat to relegation-threatened Wigan Athletic and collecting just one point from a possible six against hapless Derby County.

After 11 months on the sidelines, Sam returned to the dugout in December 2008 as the new manager of Blackburn Rovers. Blackburn were second-bottom and had lost five games on the bounce before his arrival. They went nine games unbeaten immediately on his arrival and guided them to safety in 15th position.

Despite being forced to sell Stephen Warnock and Roque Santa Cruz in the summer 2009 transfer window, Allardyce managed to balance the books and took Blackburn to a 10th place finish in 2009-2010 and a League Cup semi-final, where they lost 7-4 on aggregate to Aston Villa. Owner John Williams put the club up for sale in the summer of 2010 and four months into the 2010-2011 campaign, Blackburn became the first Premier League club to come under Indian ownership when the Venky’s took control.

Although Blackburn were sitting in a fairly secure 13th place in December 2010, he was sacked by the owners 24 hours after a late 2-1 defeat in the Lancashire Derby to his former club, Bolton Wanderers. His departure surprised many, including his great friend, Sir Alex Ferguson. One of Allardyce’s coaches, Steve Kean took over but Blackburn went down in May 2012 and haven’t been back in the Premier League since.

Revitalising West Ham

In June 2011, he was given the task of revitalising West Ham United, who had just been relegated from the Premier League. During the course of his first full season at Upton Park, 25 players left and 19 others arrived. It was mission accomplished as West Ham returned to the top-flight after just one season away, defeating Blackpool 2-1 in the play-off final.

Another 11 players arrived in the summer of 2012 including the likes of Matt Jarvis, Andy Carroll and James Collins. West Ham finished in a solid 10th place in 2012-2013 and at the end of the season; he extended his contract by a further two years.

The 2013-2014 season was much tougher and after back-to-back heavy defeats in cup ties in January 2014 at the hands of Nottingham Forest and Manchester City, ‘Big Sam’ received the dreaded vote of confidence from owners David Gold and David Sullivan, who vowed to stick by him despite growing fan pressure. Their loyalty was rewarded when Allardyce won the Manager of the Month award for February 2014 after steering the Hammers to four successive victories. They eventually finished in an uninspiring but safe 13th.

Teddy Sheringham was bought in as an attacking coach in 2014-2015 in an attempt to satisfy annoyed fans and try to give West Ham a more attacking feel to their play. It worked early on and the Londoners sat in fourth place on Christmas Day. However, they fell away dramatically in the second half of the campaign, fading to 12th place. Moments after the final whistle blew on West Ham’s campaign at St James’ Park, it was confirmed his contract would not be renewed by the board. The decision was amicable with Sam deciding to take a break from management.

That pause wouldn’t last long though…

Saving Sunderland…then the England call

In October 2015, he answered the call to help out Sunderland. The Black Cats were second-bottom and without a win from their first eight games. Dick Advocaat had resigned and it was up to Allardyce to keep the survival specialists afloat again in the Premier League.

Although there was an early Tyne & Wear Derby victory, results didn’t come in the early months and going into 2016, Sunderland were seven points off safety and second-bottom. He then made some astute signings in January, bringing in Jan Kirchhoff and Lamine Kone to shore up the backline and adding some creative spark with the addition of Wahbi Khazri.

On 16th April, Sunderland recorded a priceless 3-0 away win at Carrow Road against relegation rivals Norwich City which put survival in their hands. Back-to-back home  victories over Chelsea and Everton in the last eight days of the season secured another Great Escape for Sunderland.

Then, the call came to manage his country, 10 years after his near-miss with the role. England was his biggest challenge. It was an appointment that lasted just 67 days and one match. Adam Lallana scored the only goal of a 1-0 victory in a World Cup 2018 qualification match against Slovakia. It left him with a 100% win ratio but not a record he wants to remember.

In September 2016, The Daily Telegraph began an investigation into bribery within the game, posting a series of allegations about several senior figures. One was a video where reporters posing as businessmen filmed Allardyce allegedly offering to give advice on how to get around on FA rules on player third-party ownership. With searing public pressure growing, he parted company with the FA via mutual consent just over two months after landing his dream role. It looked like his managerial career was in tatters.

Salvation with Palace

He was back though in the Premier League dugout just three months later when Crystal Palace turned to him after firing Alan Pardew. He guided them to survival on the penultimate weekend as they defeated Hull City 4-0, consigning them to relegation in the process. Again, his signings were smart with title-winner Jeff Schlupp, Patrick van Aanholt and Luka Milivojevic among the January arrivals. There were victories in the run-in too over Arsenal, eventual champions Chelsea and Liverpool FC.

He resigned in May 2017 and hinted that the job he’d completed at Selhurst Park would be his last club position. However, he was back for his seventh spell at a Premier League side in November, signing a two-year contract to become Everton manager. Victory in Unsworth’s final match as interim boss meant he took over with the club sitting 13th but just a couple of points clear of the relegation zone. He guided them to a seven-match unbeaten run, taking them away from danger.

Despite a horrific away record, Goodison Park became a tougher place for sides to come with just the two Manchester clubs winning on Merseyside after his arrival at the club. Everton finished in eighth place and he had been hoping to build or even match his best-ever top-flight finish with the Toffees in 2018-2019 before being dismissed on 16th May 2018.

If there’s a great survivor of the management game in today’s industry, look no further than Sam Allardyce. Don’t be surprised to see him back in the dugout at a club who need a saviour next season.

Shock Results: Everton 2-0 Liverpool FC (November 1994)

Goalscorers: Duncan Ferguson 57, Paul Rideout 89

Teams:

Everton: Neville Southall, Gary Ablett, Andy Hinchcliffe, Matt Jackson (Paul Rideout 45), David Unsworth, Dave Watson, Barry Horne, John Ebbrell, Joe Parkinson, Daniel Amokachi (Anders Limpar 77), Duncan Ferguson

Liverpool FC: David James, Phil Babb, Stig Inge Bjornebye (Jamie Redknapp 63), Rob Jones, Neil Ruddock, John Scales, Jan Molby, John Barnes, Steve McManaman, Robbie Fowler, Ian Rush

Referee: Dermot Gallagher, Attendance: 39,866

In November 1994, Everton were in big trouble. They were bottom of the Premier League with just one victory to their name from 16 outings. Mike Walker had been sacked in early November and replaced by former goalscoring legend Joe Royle. He had a major task on his hands.

By contrast, Liverpool FC went into the 151st Merseyside Derby in peak form. Roy Evans’ side had lost just three times all season and were sitting comfortably inside the top five. They also had enjoyed the better of this fixture in recent times, winning 20 of the previous 42 encounters with the Toffees.

As is usually the case with this fixture, there was a frenetic approach to it from both sides. Liverpool dominated possession throughout the first half but had little to show for this territory. Neville Southall was experiencing a quiet evening as Everton looked to build on recent clean sheets achieved in Walker’s final games as the club’s manager against West Ham United and Norwich City.

At half-time, Matt Jackson was forced off by injury. Rather than make a like-for-like change, Royle sensed the opportunity was there for the blue half of Merseyside to take the game by the scruff of the neck. Paul Rideout was sent on to join the power of Daniel Amokachi and Duncan Ferguson upfront for the second half.

There was an immediate response to the positive change from the manager. Amokachi’s deflected shot needed saving from James but from the resultant corner just before the hour mark, Everton took the lead. Andy Hinchcliffe delivered an in-swinging corner into the danger area. Goalkeeper James came into the crowd but never looked like taking control of the situation. He was beaten to the ball by Ferguson whose towering header found the back of the net for his first Everton goal since joining on-loan from Scottish powerhouses Rangers.

Although Liverpool had a more pressurized spell after the goal, forwards Robbie Fowler and Ian Rush got short change out of Dave Watson and David Unsworth all evening. Rideout hit the post before the visitors were sunk by more aerial prowess from Ferguson in the 89th minute. Hinchcliffe floated in another deep delivery. Again, Ferguson got the better of James in the air and via a deflection, the ball fell perfectly for Rideout to slot the ball into the empty net and seal a wonderful victory on opening night for Royle.

The win took Everton off the bottom of the table and they wouldn’t return there either. They rallied to finish 15th despite not being officially safe until five days before the season concluded. The silver lining to the season was victory over Manchester United in the FA Cup final with Rideout scoring the winner. Liverpool’s form tailed off slightly after this defeat but they still finished fourth in the final standings and also claimed silverware, beating Bolton Wanderers 2-1 to win the League Cup.

Premier League Rewind: 6th-7th May 1994

Results: Aston Villa 2-1 Liverpool FC, Blackburn Rovers 0-0 Ipswich Town, Chelsea 3-2 Sheffield United, Everton 3-2 Wimbledon, Newcastle United 2-0 Arsenal, Norwich City 1-1 Oldham Athletic, Sheffield Wednesday 1-1 Manchester City, Swindon Town 0-5 Leeds United, Tottenham Hotspur 1-2 Queens Park Rangers, West Ham United 3-3 Southampton, Manchester United 0-0 Coventry City

With Manchester United having been crowned Premier League champions for the second successive season four days earlier, all the drama on the final weekend of the 1993-1994 season was at the bottom of the table. Swindon Town were already relegated but there were still two relegation spots to be filled.

With an inferior goal difference to their rivals, Oldham Athletic needed a minor miracle. They had run out of steam at the wrong point in the season. Incredibly, their final match of the season against Norwich City was their sixth game in just 14 days! The Latics could certainly complain about the fixture backlog and their FA Cup semi-final agony at the hands of Manchester United had affected them mentally too. They had to win by at least three clear goals and hope results went their way. Sean McCarthy did give them a 13th minute lead but there would be no great escape this time around. Rob Ullathorne’s equaliser 17 minutes from full-time ensured the points were shared in a 1-1 draw and confirmed Oldham’s drop to Division One.

Oldham were down but there was one spot up for grabs and it was between Everton, Ipswich Town, Southampton and Sheffield United. Everton’s season had been a nightmare. Having topped the table after three matches, they had seen Howard Kendall quit in December and highly-rated Mike Walker unable to stop the slide. Only a win against in-form Wimbledon would give them a chance of beating the drop. It looked hopeless after just 20 minutes. A Dean Holdsworth penalty and Gary Ablett’s unfortunate own goal had Wimbledon 2-0 ahead. With the Dons unbeaten in nine matches, Everton’s fate looked to be sealed. However, divine inspiration came in the form of Graham Stuart. His penalty in the 24th minute gave the home side some hope after Anders Limpar’s ‘dive’ won the spot-kick. Barry Horne scored a belter to level the scores and then, with nine minutes left, Stuart’s second of the afternoon somehow eluded the grasp of Hans Segers. Everton were infront and held on for a 3-2 victory. A pitch invasion at the full-time whistle confirmed they had survived but only just.

Everton’s comeback meant Ipswich Town were very vulnerable. Having been 12th in the table after beating Aston Villa on 12th Match, the Tractor Boys had collected just two points from their next nine matches. They had a testing trip to Blackburn Rovers who were already guaranteed the runners-up position. Blackburn had the better of the chances but couldn’t find a way through. The match ended goalless. However, that would have sent them down if scores remained the same in the two games based in London involving Southampton and Sheffield United.

For the second successive season, Matt Le Tissier produced some magic on the final day. His two goals helped Southampton to a pulsating 3-3 draw at Upton Park with West Ham United, despite Ken Monkou’s late own goal costing them three points. The Saints were safe. It looked like Sheffield United would also be celebrating safety. They led twice at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea and going into stoppage-time, a 2-2 scoreline was good enough for the Blades. Then, Mark Stein snatched a late winner for Chelsea and results elsewhere meant it was Dave Bassett’s club who were relegated in devastating circumstances. It had been an afternoon full of contrasting emotions.

Elsewhere, Leeds United’s 5-0 victory away at Swindon Town meant the Premier League debutants became the first and so far, only side to concede 100 goals in a top-flight season since 1992. Aston Villa’s 2-1 success at home to Liverpool FC ensured their pipped Midlands rivals Coventry City to a top 10 finish. The Sky Blues might have lost that battle with the Villans but still earned a creditable 0-0 draw at Old Trafford in the final match of an exciting weekend.

What else happened in May 1994?

  • In joyous scenes across the country, Nelson Mandela is inaugurated as South Africa’s first black president.
  • UK politics is suspended after the sudden death of the Labour leader John Smith. He suffered a massive heart attack on 12th May and dies aged 55.
  • Three-time world Formula One champion Ayrton Senna is killed in an accident whilst leading the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola. He was just 34-years-old.
  • The Channel Tunnel, which can get people between Britain and France in 35 minutes, is open to the public for the first time.
  • In late May, Scottish group Wet Wet Wet reach no.1 with Love Is All Around. It will spend 15 consecutive weeks on top of the UK music charts.
  • The film Four Weddings and a Funeral is released in the UK.
  • Malawi holds its first multiparty elections.

Great Goals: Matt Taylor – PORTSMOUTH vs. Everton (December 2006)

Matt Taylor was one of those players who could score simply breathtaking goals in any season. After his amazing long-distance effort a season earlier at The Stadium of Light against Sunderland, he produced another sizzling strike from distance at home to Everton in December 2006.

In the 13th minute, the ball popped up to the midfielder from at least 45-yards away from goal. There’s no thought in Taylor’s mind. He went for goal and his spectacular attempt left Tim Howard completely stranded. It came in a period where he was scoring goals for fun as Portsmouth won the game 2-0.

Premier League Rewind: 8th-10th April 2017

Results: Tottenham Hotspur 4-0 Watford, Manchester City 3-1 Hull City, Middlesbrough 0-0 Burnley, Stoke City 1-2 Liverpool FC, West Bromwich Albion 0-1 Southampton, West Ham United 1-0 Swansea City, AFC Bournemouth 1-3 Chelsea, Sunderland 0-3 Manchester United, Everton 4-2 Leicester City, Crystal Palace 3-0 Arsenal

The 2016-2017 Premier League season had been dominated by Chelsea for the majority of the campaign. Antonio Conte’s side came into this round of games still seven points clear of London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, despite a recent slip-up at home to Crystal Palace.

The Blues knew that Tottenham would continue to crank up the pressure and for a while, Mauricio Pochettino’s side could close to within four points of the table-toppers as they kicked-off on 8th April earlier than Chelsea. They comfortably dismissed Watford 4-0 at White Hart Lane, despite missing the injured Harry Kane. Dele Alli scored the pick of the goals and Heung-Min Son continued to show his growing importance with two goals.

That was Spurs’ sixth successive victory but once again, Chelsea found a response. They dispatched AFC Bournemouth 3-1 at The Vitality Stadium in the teatime kick-off to go seven points clear again with just seven games left to play. Marcos Alonso’s sublime free-kick put the game beyond the home side.

Despite having played more games than both Manchester clubs, Liverpool FC had the points on the board and consolidated third spot with a hard-fought 2-1 success away at Stoke City. Jon Walters had put the home side into the lead with his customary goal against Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp needed two superb saves from Simon Mignolet to keep his side in the contest. Then, quick-fire strikes from Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino turned the game completely around. Since losing to Leicester in late February, Liverpool were now unbeaten in six games, winning four of these matches.

Both Manchester clubs recorded expected victories. Manchester City beat Hull City 3-1, who were relying solely on their home form to try and keep them in the Premier League. A day later, Manchester United cruised past a sorry Sunderland side 3-0 at The Stadium of Light. We didn’t know it at the time but this would turn out to be Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s final-ever Premier League goal. The Swede picked up a serious knee injury in a UEFA Europa tie against Anderlecht less than two weeks later and wouldn’t score again at this level before moving to the LA Galaxy in April 2018.

Sunderland were looking doomed but Crystal Palace were going in the right direction. Sam Allardyce’s side had now won four of their last five games and were six points clear of the bottom three after a fabulous and well-deserved 3-0 victory over a lifeless Arsenal. The Gunners put in one of their most insipid displays of recent times, leading to Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher calling them “cowards.” Their top-four chances were hanging by a thread.

Elsewhere, Craig Shakespeare tasted defeat for the first time as Leicester City interim boss. The reigning champions lost 4-2 in an exciting clash at Everton, who had drawn level on points with Arsenal, despite having played two games more.

Swansea’s 1-0 defeat to West Ham United at The London Stadium saw them remain in the bottom three and without a win in five matches. That win ended a four-game losing run that the Hammers had endured and effectively guaranteed Premier League football in their new home for another season. It was also looking bleak for Middlesbrough who drew 0-0 with Burnley and were still without a win for caretaker boss Steve Agnew, who had succeeded Aitor Karanka a month earlier. Boro were now six points adrift of safety and had scored just 22 goals in 31 matches.

What else happened in April 2017?

  • Prime Minister Theresa May catches everyone by surprise and calls a snap general election for Thursday 8th June.
  • A hijacked lorry is deliberately driven into crowds in Stockholm. Five people are killed, including one British national.
  • In boxing, Anthony Joshua beats Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley Stadium to become WBA World Heavyweight Champion.
  • Former Aston Villa and Middlesbrough centre-back Ugo Ehiogu suffers a cardiac arrest at Tottenham Hotspur’s training ground. He dies a day later, aged just 44.
  • According to the National Grid, Britain goes a full day without using coal power (21st April) to generate electricity for the first time since the Industrial Revolution.
  • TV actor and author Tim Piggott-Smith, who won a BAFTA for Best Actor in 1985, dies aged 70 in Northamptonshire from natural causes.
  • John Middleton makes his final appearance on the ITV soap opera Emmerdale after 21 years. His character Ashley Thomas dies after being diagnosed with incurable pneumonia.