Hannah Myers* is one of those gems occasionally nicked from Merseyside jewellers by our own John McCormick. She’s a straight-talking, Blues-through-and-through fan – blue not blueish, so Everton this time, not Tranmere Rovers – with views in all the right places. I think this interview is a worthy contender for the end-of-season ‘Who are You?’ awards, which reminds me to get the judges cranked up (if you like the series enough fancy a go at choosing the winners, let me know). Now, over to Hannah …
Salut! Sunderland: Does that magnificent win against Man Utd mean you’ve struck good form just in time to break Sunderland hearts?
I hope so! Although I’d say after our latest result against Villa, that anything could happen. We were five games unbeaten until Saturday and certainly starting to play some of the good football from last season. It’s the right time to pick up form so that we can end the season on a high. 5th place is impossible but I’m optimistic that we can still finish in a relatively strong position.
Roberto Martínez seemed a perfect replacement for Moyes, got you fifth place but then hit a sticky patch and has struggled at times this season before better recent form. What is your view of him and the Martinez-Kenwright partnership?
I really like Martinez. He’s an intelligent manager with a positive attitude and sensible approach to buying new players. I think that Kenwright made a good decision bringing him in as I don’t think Everton would suit a manager with a more aggressive style. I’ve had a few reservations about his tactics recently but I’m certainly not writing him off just yet!
It is because we have been too predictable going forward and our defence has lost some shape and strength. I’m not saying that our current formation doesn’t work but at times we’ve not mixed things up when we needed to. I have to give Martinez his dues, I never expected a new manager to come in and win trophies straight away and I think what he did last season was so fantastic, it was difficult to really improve from there. I really hope the fans don’t get on his back (and so far this doesn’t appear to be the case) as I believe he has a lot of potential and can go far with Everton in the next few years. Kenwright has proved himself to be a patient Chairman so I expect him not to panic and to give Roberto some time to get it right.
— Tamsin GreulichSmith (@tamgreulich) May 7, 2015
Lukaku: on fire in Europe, disappointing the the Premier. Is that fair and does it also apply to your season to some extent?
I suppose it does apply to our season. We did do well in Europe and Lukaku was a key player in our success. I think he is easily managed at home, particularly as he is the lone striker. The European teams were less defensive which enabled him to get into space and score goals. I think this is reflective of our form overall and probably why we have been less effective in the league.
Among the rest of the squad, who has inspired and who has flopped this season?
To be perfectly honest, and this may be a bit controversial, but I have been disappointed in Barkley this season. He has bags of potential which he has demonstrated at times – running into space, some tremendous passing ability and yet at other times he’s lacked control and seemed a little lost.
He’s only young and relatively immature when it comes to first team football and I think it has showed. Maybe he could have had less responsibility this season by playing fewer games but I understand why Martinez wanted him to play regularly in the 1st team. I’m pretty certain that as long as he doesn’t get injured, he’ll be a star player for Everton.
My inspiration award, although that might be pushing it a bit, goes to Stephen Naismtih. He has shown that hard work and consistent good form can bring rewards. I think he was initially considered to be a ‘bring on from the bench’ player to add extra legs up front, but he has chipped in with some important goals this season, especially early on when we were struggling, and he deserves recognition for it.
Are you surprised at how badly Jack Rodwell has fared since moving to us?
I haven’t seen much of Rodwell this season but I know he struggled a lot with injury whilst he was with us. He did have a lot of potential and is still young, so hopefully he can fulfil it at Sunderland as long as he can stay fit.
Would you be distraught at leaving Goodison or has the time come for a move to a bigger, modern stadium – and will you fill it?
Goodison has wooden seats that are so close together you are practically snuggling up to the 6ft, 15 stone stranger sitting next you – on the positive it’s great to keep warm at cold midweek fixtures! There are better facilities there now but in the past I have travelled some distance in search of ladies’ toilets.
I am a modern woman and believe in moving forward so yes I think we need a new ground. Kenwright is a chairman with the club’s best interests at heart and I trust him to find the best possible outcome when the time is right.
What is most important is that we have a good solid fan base and it’s those fans that need rewarding with a new stadium – even those that say they don’t really want one. They’ll appreciate it when it comes.
What have been your personal highs and lows as an Evertonian?
I’ve probably experienced both highs and lows in the years with Moyes as our manager. Reaching the final and semifinal of the FA cup were highlights as well as qualifying for the Champions League. However, being at Wembley and losing to Liverpool in the semi was a particular blow for me and it was heart wrenching to see us miss out so controversially from progressing further in the Champions League. I am incredibly proud of how we have done in the premier league, not just last year but in the preceding years. We have consistently pushed for 5th, 6th and 7th place and when you compare our budget and players with the top four or five clubs, it has to be recognised that our achievement has been outstanding.
And from a long list of contenders, who are the greatest players you’ve seen – or wish you’d seen – in Evertonian blue?
Obviously people talk about the greats such as Dixie Dean and Alex Young etc and of course I would have liked to have seen them play. There are also players who fans of my own age talk about that I wish I’d been able to appreciate more – Duncan Ferguson for one. From my early days of supporting Everton I mainly remember “characters” like Ginola and Gazza but they were by no means great at that point in their careers – haha! Kevin Campbell and Andy Johnson were strikers with some quality but I don’t think Everton was as good a team then as it is now. In more recent years, I believe Leighton Baines has been one of the pivotal players for Everton. He has pace and strength and his partnership with our midfield has been exceptional.
Can you think of any who should have been allowed nowhere near Goodison?
Probably David Ginola and Gazza! Hahaha!
And how do you regard high-profile players who move on – Rooney, Fellaini, Arteta spring to mind?
Hmm it’s a difficult one. I love Fellaini and I am pleased he has finally found form (and favour) at Utd. I have a lot of respect for Arteta and I’m glad he has fitted in at Arsenal so well. If Rooney hadn’t kissed his Everton badge and then his Utd badge a couple of years later, I wouldn’t be too bothered about him but there has been too much unnecessary controversy so I’m not a fan.
Wikipeida informs us that as well as The Toffees and The Blues, you have had The School of Science, The Black Watch, The Dogs of War and The People’s Club among nicknames. Your own favourite and why?
A lot if them are news to me! The Toffees and the Blues are the ones I am mainly familiar with and I like them both. We still have a toffee lady who throws toffees into the crowd at home games.
No other nicknames spring to mind but I like the club’s recent slogan, “we are born not manufactured”. As cheesy as it sounds, I thoroughly believe it is true of our fans – I’m pretty sure that my son has blue blood and he is only 15 months old!
You’ve had the upper hand against us in recent years, save for two important wins for us at either place (last season and the one before). Do any past encounters stick in the mind?
My husband and I travelled to the Stadium of Light to watch Everton vs Sunderland in the replay of the quarter final of the FA Cup in 2012. Our journey was “interesting” to say the least – I think we were the only two passengers on a coach full of Everton fans who had abided by the no drinking policy. It was a great game and we won 2-0 – we were through to the semis!! The less said about Boxing Day a couple of years ago the better…
As it stands (see our ‘Can we survive?’ and Who’s going down?’ polls at https://safc.blog/2015/05/sunderland-1-0-everton-just-the-under-21s-but-can-this-victory-be-an-omen/:
CLUB P W D L GF GA GD PTS
14 Aston Villa 35 9 8 18 29 50 -21 35
15 Newcastle Utd 35 9 8 18 36 60 -24 35
16 Leicester City 35 9 7 19 39 54 -15 34
17 Hull City 35 8 10 17 33 48 -15 34
18 Sunderland 34 6 15 13 28 50 -22 33
19 QPR 35 7 6 22 39 61 -22 27
20 Burnley 35 5 11 19 26 53 -27 26
I take it you’re far too young to remember the time we played Goodison in the last game of the season and only a defeat for us and a draw at Coventry v Bristol City would send us down (both happened!). Be as brutal as you wish but have we simply not been good enough this season to deserve a third successive Great Escape? What thoughts do you have on Sunderland: the club, fans, city, region, Dick Advocaat?
Sunderland always seem to have all of the ingredients in place to be a successful Premier League side but something always seems to thwart them. They often spend well on players, have a modern stadium and passionate fans but it just never quite succeeds. It was a vital win at the weekend and hopefully, after Saturday, you can get the points you need as it would be a shame to see you go down.
And why do you suppose the Wear-Tyne derby is generally seen as much more intense than the Merseyside equivalent (my own theory is that you both hate Man Utd more than each other)?
Well I didn’t know that it generally was seen as much more intense – I’ve been to some pretty intense Merseyside derbys! I think it’s very much in the eye of the beholder as, unless you’ve been to both, it would be difficult to compare. As Everton and Liverpool have been vying towards the top of the table in recent years, the rivalry has certainly been turned up a notch and I’d still rather beat Liverpool than United any day!
What do you make of diving and other forms of cheating: so commonplace we may as well give up bothering, or still worth trying to stamp out?
We should never give up on trying to make football better. In my opinion, cheating and diving make football boring because they disrupt the flow of a game and create unnecessary controversy on the pitch. I certainly don’t watch football for punch ups- I’d watch boxing if I wanted to see that.
The Premier League is one of the most publicised football leagues in the world because the quality and pace of football is so high. Cheating and diving could end up ruining the game unless we continue to discipline players who do it.
Will you be at our game? What will be the score?
I hope so. 2 -1 to us.
* Hannah Myers on herself: I’m 32 and work for a local authority just outside Liverpool as a scrutiny officer. I started supporting Everton about 15 years ago- my husband was mainly to blame (although he wasn’t my husband back then!). We enjoyed going together and my love for Everton grew from there. I try to get to as many games as I can but have found it difficult this season since becoming a mum. I’m just waiting for my son to be old enough so that we can all go to watch Everton together.
Interview: Colin Randall
Last weekend’s games have lifted Sunderland spirits a little, as seen by the improved Yes and Maybe votes in the ‘will we survive?’ poll …
In this expansion of the poll we invite views on which clubs Salut! Sunderland readers (who, don’t forget, may well again include supporters of the other six clubs) reckon will go down.