November 1994 to March 1997
Once again, after ridding themselves of an unsuccessfully manager, the Everton board brought back an old player turned manager in an attempt to restore the club’s confidence.
Arriving from a twelve-year stint managing Oldham, Royle was placed in charge of a team with only a single League victory all season, and the relegation zone gaping beneath them.
A superb win in the Merseyside derby began a period in which Royle set about restoring the club’s confidence in the players, and more importantly the players’ confidence in themselves. The season saw the Blues gradually climbing the table away from the relegation zone, and then contrary to all expectations, managing to lift the FA Cup.
With the acquisition of Manchester United star Andrei Kanchelskis early in the 1995-1996 season, club hopes soared to new heights, and finishing sixth in the League seemed to support indications that once again the club was on the rise.
Unfortunately for Royle, more injury crises dawned, and the players rapidly became disillusioned once more. Kanchelskis quickly lost momentum, and not even a period of superb form for Duncan Ferguson could reverse the slow slide back down the table.
The tactics that had dragged the team away from the bottom regions of the table proved inadequate to keep the club any further up the table, and the pressures began to show. Strained relations with the board and pressure from the public mounted, and an increasingly stressed Royle resorted to banning the press from the Bellefield training ground.
The final straw for Royle came when attempts to re-sign Barry Horne and acquire two Norwegian players were vetoed by the board. Royle resigned, leaving a club so recently optimistic again sinking into the mire of relegation.
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