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It Almost Happened: Howard Kendall Sacked By Everton

Image of the corner flag at an empty Goodison Park

Welcome to a new series of articles from Last Word on Football. Over the next few weeks we will be looking at the transfers, sackings, appointments and more that almost happened in football and changing the game we all know and love.

Today we look back at the time when Everton almost sacked legendary manager Howard Kendall.

It Almost Happened: Howard Kendall Sacked By Everton

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Who Was Howard Kendall?

Kendall’s first stint at Everton was as a player. He joined the team and played in the midfield alongside Alan Ball and Colin Harvey, the trio being dubbed ‘The Holy Trinity’. He won the first division title as a player in the 1969/70 season. After the Toffees failed to build on a title-winning season they spent the following years falling down the table. This resulted in the sale of Kendall to Birmingham City in 1974.

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He then moved to Stoke City and then on to Blackburn Rovers where he started his managerial career as a player-manager. His second stint at Everton as a player was also the start of his managerial career at Goodison Park, playing only four games before becoming a full-time manager.

It Could Have Been So Much Different

In Kendall’s first two seasons, the Toffees finished eighth and seventh respectively. The start of the 1983/84 season didn’t start as planned for Everton. They won just six of their first 21 league games, finding themselves in a relegation battle.

Constant protests from fans followed, calling for the sacking of the club legend. Thankfully the club stuck by their man and the season was turned around. By the end of the season, safety was secured as well as an FA Cup victory that was a sign of things to come.

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The following season saw Everton dominate the league on their way to the club’s eighth first-division title, finishing 13 points clear of runners-up Liverpool. A Cup-winners Cup was also added to the trophy case thanks to a victory of Austrian club Rapid Wien in the final.

A second league title followed two seasons later where the Toffees once again finished above their cross-town rivals. This was the last time that the Toffees have been champions of England.

Kendall left after 1986/87 in part due to the ban of English teams in European competition. But it could have all been different. Had he been sacked before the club’s turnaround. Now considered Everton’s best-ever manager the club would not be where it is today if Kendall had an early departure.


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