Any good film trying to portray authentic teenage angst has it — the scene where the main character locks itself in a bathroom, flings itself into the driver’s seat of a car, or perhaps collapses against a hallway locker and screams. Screams violently and inexplicably, because there is no outlet. Nobody’s there to listen. Nobody understands. When you’re too young to have shame, drama is enough. Sometimes we all act like the cameras are on.
Everton F.C. fans, I assume, are not teenagers. At least, most of them aren’t. The club is certainly not, though relative to the Premier League (when football began, right?) every club’s young adult, at best, so maybe a hissy fit is appropriate. Still, in the face of last year’s Europa League-induced struggles and the club’s opening round stumble, it’s important to maintain perspective. Everton is one of the most storied clubs in England, and it’s legacy of success extends from the beginnings to organized league play up to the edge of the Premier League, within which it is one of the few teams not to be relegated from the circuit. Only Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham can say the same.
Yet this weekend in Southampton, 187 miles from Goodison Park in Liverpool, a plane carrying a banner of protest flew in the face of that history. “KENWRIGHT & CO #TIMETOGO NSND” the trailing banner read, the hashtag a trite, anachronistic touch to a practice that was outdated before Twitter debuted. Hiring a crop duster to pull a tarp over a collection of people gathered to watch something else. Can you be any more droll?
Consider other recent times we’ve seen this technique. In May, Liverpool fans did the same, highlighted their antiquated notion by asking for Rafa Benítez in place of Brendan Rodgers. Since when do Everton fans mimic Liverpool? Worse (and more cliched yet), a similar method was used in December at Major League Soccer’s championship game (MLS Cup) to advocate for promotion-relegation. No word as to whether Bob Haldeman was involved.
Qualms about originality aside, perhaps Saturday’s brainiacs have a point. Everton is coming off a disappointing 11th place finish, one that took the luster off a manager, Roberto Martínez, who’d been hailed as a savior the year before. Gone was the plodding functionality of the David Moyes era. Now Everton had one of those shiny young managers with today’s newfangled tactical nous. Not surprisingly, the charm of such cliches had little staying power, seemingly exposing chairman Bill Kenwright’s thin wallet.