Smith Convinces Successor
How sacked boss made one important last contribution.
When Everton played Middlesbrough in the FA Cup quarter-final of 2002, it signalled the end of an era of underachievement on the Blue half of Merseyside.
Walter Smith was in charge of the Toffees but he was a man under pressure, with results in the league not living up to expectations.
And when his side lost 3-0 to Boro, he himself admits he suspected his days were numbered.
But after being relieved of his duties within 24 hours, the Scot had one final moment of influence that would shape Everton's future for the next 11 years.
"I had been sacked and David (Moyes) called to ask whether the job was worth taking. I had no doubts. Everton is a fantastic club and there were signs that it was going to become a more stable club. It would have been wrong to say anything else.
"When I look back at my time at Everton I enjoyed every day. There's no bitterness whatsoever. It was a great honour to manage that club.
"I blame myself really for my own assessment of where the club was when I accepted the job. I should have maybe been a wee bit more patient and dug into the background of the club more before joining.
"Peter Johnson (then the Everton owner) told me he was going to spend some money on the team and he did. But, in doing so, he put the club in a perilous financial position.
"He left and a lot of the players I bought (like World Cup winner Marco Materazzi and Olivier Dacourt) had to be sold straight away again.
"I think we had something like 86 transfers in and out of the club during my time and there was never any stability.
"There was a lot of conjecture about my position going into that Middlesbrough game. When you get a result like that, you always know there is a possibility that you're going to get the sack.
"I went to see Bill the next day and that was that. He was very honourable to me. He's served Everton far better than he is given credit for.
"David went on to do a fantastic job. No-one could have done it any better in terms of the consistency he achieved.
"I think if you study his management, he improved almost every player he worked with. That isn't luck. It is testament to David's ability and talent."
Walter Smith was speaking to evertonfc.com in March 2009.