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v Swansea City

Tuesday 23 September K.O. 19:45

Howard Kendall

Howard Kendall
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Manager: 1981-1987, 1990-1993, 1997-1998
Howard Kendall was a fabulous footballer - reckoned by many within the game to be the best player never to win an England cap - but it was as Everton manager that he enjoyed his finest moments.

He is, quite simply, the greatest and most successful manager that the Club has ever had.

Kendall was actually a player-manager when he succeeded Gordon Lee in the summer of 1981 and he began plotting Everton's return to the top with an immediate, and plentiful, recruitment drive. Alan Ainscow, Jim Arnold, Alan Biley, Mick Ferguson, Mike Walsh, Neville Southall and Mickey Thomas became known as the Magnificent Seven - with all enticed to Goodison by Kendall prior to the start of the 1981-1982 campaign.

Only Southall went on to make anything like a telling contribution, however. Nevertheless, finishing eighth at the end of his first season was a decent start for Kendall. Seventh at the end of the next season wasn't too bad either, but there was still plenty of scope for improvement…and it came, eventually, the following year.

The 1983-1984 season will go down as a genuine watershed for Everton. It had everything…including a fans' campaign for Kendall to be sacked.

Six wins in 21 league games left The Toffees in a precarious position in the First Division table and the punters voted with their feet - with just 13,659 spectators sitting through a tedious 0-0 draw with Coventry at Goodison on New Years' Eve.

The crowd may have been sparse but the chants of 'Kendall Out' must have been deafening for a man who was desperate to turn things around.

The Chairman stood by his man, Kendall stood by his players, Kevin Brock inadvertently teed up Adrian Heath for a late League Cup equaliser at Oxford United in January, and, sure enough, the tide began to turn.

Everton reached the League Cup Final, only to lose to Liverpool, but then went one better by lifting the FA Cup, defeating Watford at Wembley.

The best, though, was yet to come. Everton's magnificent finish to the 1983-1984 season brought heightened expectations…and Kendall didn't disappoint.

The 1984-1985 Championship was won in comfort as well as style, the European Cup Winners' Cup was brought to Goodison after a memorable run through to the Final, and a unique treble was only denied the team when tiredness caught up with them in extra-time at Wembley in a second successive FA Cup Final.

Kendall was, quite rightly, the Manager of the Year, but Everton suffered double disappointment the following season, finishing second to Liverpool in both the title race and the FA Cup Final.

The position of Merseyside 'top-dogs' was well and truly restored 12 months later when the title was bagged once again - the ninth Championship success in the Club's history.

Sadly, things were never quite the same again for Kendall as manager.

Having conquered England, Kendall moved abroad to Athletic Bilbao during the summer of 1987. After a decent spell in Spain he came back to these shores to take the poisoned chalice that was the Manchester City hotseat. He was doing well at Maine Road but when The Toffees came calling, he simply couldn't resist.

His second tenure though, from November 1990 to December 1993, was one of frustration and he was some distance from rekindling the glory of the 80s. He left once again, but even that mediocre spell stands up to the (almost) disaster of his third spell.

After the departure of Joe Royle in 1997, Kendall was tempted back yet again but it was a one-season stay that came within a match of Everton losing their proud top-flight status.

We make no apologies for glossing over Howard Kendall's second and third spells as manager of Everton Football Club. His first was the best ever, and that's all that matters.

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