Previous Everton Managers

Until 1939, Everton along with most other football clubs, were run by comittee, with the team captain often having the main say in who was picked for the team. All that changed when Theo Kelly moved from Club Secretary to become Everton manager…


Manager: 1939-1948

Everton’s first manager, Theo Kelly assumed the post at the end of the 1938-9 season. Previously the club’s secretary, his talent for organisation coupled with an instinctive commercial awareness enabled Kelly to improve the club’s public image and financial situation. Unfortunately, those impressive organisational skills were less visible on the field.

In his early years as manager, Kelly became well known in footballing circles for his distrust of the transfer market. Perhaps influenced by his extensive administrative experience, Kelly’s preference was to avoid transfers except in exceptional situations, focusing instead on the players already in place.

Unfortunately, having been forced by the wartime suspension of the Football League to resort to regional football, Kelly’s regular side found adapting to the rigours of the post-war league difficult. This awkward transitional period saw developing friction between Kelly and players who increasingly perceived him as uncommunicative.

Angering many fans with his 1945 sale of restless pre-war crowd favourite Tommy Lawton to League rivals Chelsea, the departure of Dixie Dean and Joe Mercer gave Kelly further problems. Having gambled on a big name transfer, Kelly’s hopes of bringing in Albert Stubbins from Newcastle United to fill the gap in the attacking line-up were dashed by a rival bid from Liverpool.

With a disillusioned side perched on the brink of the relegation zone, Kelly reverted to his previous position of secretary in 1948, leaving the club in an excellent financial condition, but needing a manager with a firmer grasp of the game itself.



As one of the stars of Everton’s 1933 FA Cup win, Cliff Briton’s 1948 appointment as manager was viewed by many as a triumphant return home. Having spent the previous three years at Burnley, Cliff’s easy-going approachability lent new confidence and stability to a team badly in need of recapturing their glory days.

Within two years, Britton seemed to have succeeded. March 1950 saw Everton facing old rivals Liverpool in the FA Cup semi-final at Maine Road. Once again, hopes had been raised only to be quickly dashed by a decisive 2-0 loss.

Undaunted, and unafraid of playing the transfer market, Britton spent £28,000 acquiring Burnley’ inside forward, Harry Potts, and Glasgow Rangers full-back, Jack Lindsay. Unfortunately, despite their early promise and an injection of new talent, Everton’s 1950-51 season saw the club near the bottom of the First Division, only two points ahead of the joint bottom teams Chelsea and Sheffield Wednesday. A crushing 6-0 defeat by Sheffield Wednesday coupled with a 4-0 Chelsea victory over Bolton dealt the club a double blow that left Britton distraught and the club relegated.

Following a vote of confidence from the Everton board, Britton struggled to drag the team back into the First Division, a struggle that saw the team finish 7th and 16th before becoming Division Two runners up in 1953-4. Following a dispute with the board over managerial control, Britton left the club in 1956, saying: “I want all managers to have the freedom to do the job for which they were appointed.”



Ian Buchan’s 1956 appointment as team coach seemed an odd move by the Everton board. Never afforded the title of manager, Buchan’s position seemed tenuous from the start.

A polite, dedicated man, Buchan’s background as a Scottish International Amateur gave him an instant rapport with the players. A commitment to improving team fitness saw Everton acquiring an enviable reputation as the fittest team in the First Division, but with Buchan’s players lacking the skill to put their physical condition to good use, success remained elusive.

An intense man with a deep sense of loyalty, Buchan never really gained the confidence of the board, and while his style of fast, first-time play worked well for the team early on in the season, any accomplishment proved difficult to maintain. Struggling against a general perception of himself as merely a caretaker, Buchan eventually stepped down in 1958, leaving a team well on the way to recovering their pre-eminent First Division position, but without the necessary drive to do so.

As the position of manager became vacant yet again, the Everton board began searching for a bigger name manager to capitalise on the process Buchan had begun. That man was to be Johnny Carey.



Two years after Cliff Britton’s exit, the Everton board appointed Johnny Carey as manager in October 1958. A star from Manchester United’s post-war glory days, the appointment of Carey coincided closely with the acquisition of prominent Celtic player Bobby Collins. With Collins joining players such as Albert Dunlop, Mick Meagan and Derek Temple, Carey inherited a squad with a lot of potential, but lacking real leadership.

Joining Everton following a five-year stint at Blackburn Rovers, Carey’s quiet assuredness seemed the perfect antidote to an increasing lack of confidence in the club. Lucky enough to secure millionaire Everton supporter John Moores as a club benefactor, Carey used Moores’ financial backing to enter the transfer market enthusiastically, acquiring such luminaries as Roy Vernon, Billy Bingham, Alex Young and Jimmy Gabriel.

Following two low seasons, Carey’s leadership saw Everton reach their highest league position since the war in the 1960-61 season, finishing fifth. However, with the increased financial backing of Moore, and the removal of the maximum players’ wage, football was starting to become big business. In a new era of market forces, anything less than first place was sure to be seen as failure.

His success not enough for the growing demands of the Everton board and the club supporters, rumours of Carey’s impending dismissal were rife. Joining new club chairman John Moores at a Football League meeting in London, Carey accepted Moores’ decision to replace him as manager with characteristic stoicism.



An authoritarian manager, Harry Catterick took over Everton following the departure of Carey in 1961. Given a direct brief from Moores to get the club back to the top of the league again, Catterick transformed the club under his leadership, leading them back to the top of the League and two Championship victories.

Another prolific former player returning to Everton, Catterick had played for the club throughout the 1940’s and early 1950’s, scoring 24 League and Cup goals for the club in 71 matches. Older fans welcomed him back enthusiastically, hoping his talents on the pitch could continue off it.

Confident in his own judgement, and unafraid of criticism, Catterick acquired a series of top-class players for the club, bringing in players such as John Morrissey, Fred Pickering and Ray Wilson from extensive playing of the transfer market. Reaching fourth place in the League during his first season at the club, Catterick’s second season saw the dream of Moores and the other fans come true as a much-changed team took the Championship victory with customary panache.

The only blight on an otherwise superb career appeared in 1965 when player Tony Kay, acquired by Catterick, was sentenced to prison for fixing matches during his time with Sheffield Wednesday, crushing Catterick’s belief in the idyll of sportsmanship.

With the FA Cup finals beckoning, Catterick gambled on the previously unknown Cornishman Mike Trebilcock to fill the void left by Kay. Catterick’s record spoke for itself as Trebilcock scored twice to bring home another FA Cup victory.

With Trebilcock joining a line-up of rising stars such as young players Joe Royle, John Hurst, Jimmy Husband and new signing Howard Kendall, 1968 saw Everton in Wembley once more, only for their hopes to be dashed by watching West Brom take the Cup in extra time.

With the 1969-1970 season beckoning, hopes were high as Everton fielded one of the finest sides seen in English football. However, disaster was to strike for Catterick as team confidence plummeted unexpectedly, and the team fell to 14th place only 12 months after heading the League.

While driving home one night in January 1972, Catterick suffered a heart attack, and in April 1973 with four years still left on his contract, continuing fears about his health, and worries about the affect it would have on the team forced him to move to a less strenuous role as a senior executive.



Another former Everton star, Billy Bingham had left the club after the 1963 Championship triumph, electing to move into management with an employment history including Southport and the Greek National Team. Inheriting the club ten years later, the likeable and charismatic Bingham took over a team disillusioned by sliding fortunes and overshadowed by an increasingly victorious Liverpool squad under the leadership of Bill Shankly.

With the club finishing seventh in his first season, Bingham was well aware that more was expected of a side so recently leading the league. With the 1974-1975 season seeing the debuts of new acquisitions Jim Pearson, Martin Dobson and Bob Latchford, and the departure of crowd favourites Colin Harvey and Joe Royle, Bingham’s side seemed to experience a return to form. For long periods, fan optimism was rekindled as it looked like Everton might once again experience the success of Carrick’s reign. Unfortunately, early promise sank into mediocrity, and saw the team slip into a dissatisfying fourth place.

Adding talents like Bruce Rioch, Duncan McKenzie, and Andy King to the line-up in a desperate attempt to revitalise a once again disheartened team, Bingham saw Everton suffer two defeats and two draws in quick succession, balanced with only a single win. High pressure and increasing demands for success from fans and the board surfaced once more: the series of poor matches saw Everton slide to thirteenth place, and saw Bingham sacked in January 1977.



Well-regarded football trouble-shooter Gordon Lee took up the post of manager in January 1977 with an impressive catalogue of previous successes. Having already won promotion for Blackburn Rovers in 1974-1975, and securing the League Cup for Newcastle United, fans and the Chairman looked to Lee to reverse the decline in Everton’s fortunes.

Living up to his reputation, Lee steered an Everton side verging on the relegation zone back up to finish a respectable ninth, losing only two matches out of eighteen league games, and winning through to the League Cup Final and the FA Cup semi-finals.

First season optimism was defeated by victories to Aston Villa and Liverpool, but the next season saw Everton finishing in third place and attaining the First Division’s highest goal tally with 76 goals. The 1978-1979 season saw Everton on form with nineteen straight victories, including an important win over Liverpool. Criticising a referee over dangerous conditions at a Southampton match, Lee was charged with bringing the game into disrepute, and despite being cleared by an FA committee, the case had an adverse affect on a painstakingly constructed side.

Finishing a discouraging fourth, Everton again seemed to be heading downhill. Leaping into the transfer market on deadline day, Lee signed player Brian Kidd and Peter Eastoe in an attempt to boost morale.

Forced to spend ever more money, Lee’s 1979-1980 season seemed doomed to failure, despite the arrival of talent such as Stanley and Megson. The downturn in the clubs success was reflected in the confidence of both fans and the board; attendances began to suffer.

With his position under review, Lee threw himself into his work, attempting vainly to revive the club. After a month of speculation following an embarrassing home defeat by Norwich, Lee was sacked by Chairman Phillip Carter on May 6th.


1981-1987, 1990-1993, 1997-1998

Renowned as the man who returned Everton to a position of pride, Howard Kendall was yet another of Everton’s former star players returning to the club as manager. Businesslike and ruthless, his first stretch at the club saw him making numerous ill-advised purchases of substandard players, balanced to a degree by the introduction of Neville Southall and Adrian Heath to the squad.

After a number of mediocre seasons that saw the team slowly slipping down the league, and a concerted ‘Kendall Out’ campaign of Christmas 1984’, Kendall’s dreams of acquiring a cup victory were finally realised in the same season with the FA Cup returning to Goodison after a gap of eighteen years.

With the support of influential first-team coach Colin Harvey, Kendall’s Everton line up won a procession of trophies in the next few years, including the clubs first European trophy. Kendall’s success at the club simply added to the astonishment of fans when Kendall, a man who had twice rejected offers from Barcelona, abandoned the Everton side in June 1987 to join Athletic Bilbao. A period reviving Manchester City followed, only for Kendall to rejoin Everton in 1990 following the sacking of his close friend, Colin Harvey. With rumours and condemnation greeting his appointment, he answered his critics with what has become his most famous quote: “With Manchester City it was a love affair – with Everton it is a marriage.”

Struggling to hold on to the reins of a team in free-fall, Kendall arrested the decline in the 1990-1991 season, but improvement failed to materialise over the next two and a half seasons, a team restructured at enormous expense failing to make any discernable impact. Kendall’s second term as manager culminated in his December 1993 resignation due to clashes with the board over transfer policy.

Returning to the club in June 1997, Kendall was far from the board’s first choice. However, the club was in dire need of a proven manager, and many remembered Kendall’s early successes. Demonstrating his usual robust approach, he promoted promising rookies to the first team and dabbled frequently, if unsuccessfully, in the transfer market.

Unfortunately, the club’s financial inability to attract top-quality targets dogged Kendall at every turn. Despite reaching mid-table respectability in the 1997-1998 season, Everton demonstrated signs of slumping once again, and cash from the sales of Gary Speed and Andy Hinchcliffe failed to find reinvestment in the team.

Another battle against relegation beckoned for the club, won only in the last game of the season, and evidently traumatised by the experience, Kendall pledged immediate improvement. Six weeks later, frustrated by financial constraints and clashes with the board, Everton’s most successful manager parted company with Everton for the third and final time.



After serving Everton for over 25 years as a player, youth-team coach, and reserve-team coach, affable first-team coach Colin Harvey found himself offered the manager’s job following his close friend Howard Kendall’s surprise resignation.

With a promising start to his new career, Harvey’s side began the 1987-1988 season with a decisive victory over FA Cup holders Coventry City to win the FA Charity Shield. However, the luck did not hold, and his attempt to continue the winning streak begun by Kendall floundered almost immediately amidst injury and inconsistency.

A defeat by Arsenal in the League Cup semi-final and the loss of the League title to Liverpool ruined Harvey’s hopes of first season success, and in a desperate attempt to restore confidence, Harvey initiated a close-season spending spree. £4 million later, Neil MacDonald, Stuart McCall, Pat Nevin and Tony Cottee joined the rapidly changing Everton side.

With the departure of old favourites such as Derek Mountfield and Gary Stevens, Harvey struggled to hold together a team demonstrating great skill but little cohesion. Fighting their way through to the Simod and FA Cup Finals, Harvey’s side once again tasted defeat; the universal acclaim awarded their game against Liverpool offered little consolation.

After an undistinguished 1989-1990 season, the 1990-1991 season saw Everton again in distress resting near the bottom of the League table. After a defeat by underdogs Sheffield United in October 1990, Harvey, like many before him, found himself summoned to Goodison and summarily dismissed. Demoted to assistant manager, Harvey once again found himself serving under old boss Howard Kendall.


Caretaker Manager

November 1990 and December 1993-1994

Assuming the role of caretaker manager twice during his time at Everton, reserve-team coach Jimmy Gabriel demonstrated stout dedication and loyalty in two unenviable and essentially untenable positions.

His first stretch as manager, between Colin Harvey and Howard Kendall, saw Gabriel managing the team through only one match, a solid if uninspiring victory over QPR. The second period as manager, between Kendall and Mike Walker, saw Gabriel managing a disconsolate team through seven games, managing to acquire only one point and scoring a sub-standard two goals.

In control too short a time to have any real affect, blame for a difficult and disappointing period for the club can hardly be attached to a man who proved himself to be both willing and dedicated.


January to November 1994

Inheriting a poor side suffering from a run of discouraging defeats, Mike Walker’s time at Goodison lasted just under 12 months.

The third of three managers in charge of the team in the 1993-1994 season, it is perhaps unsurprising that Walker’s first season in charge ended badly. With the club saved from relegation with only nine minutes to spare, Walker was left in no doubts that a new direction was necessary.

With the new season fast approaching, cash began flowing once more, and Walker’s solution to the club’s problems was to hit the transfer market hard. Acquiring players such as Amokachi, Samways and Limpar, Walker changed the line up of the side dramatically. The new men were gifted players, undoubtedly, but again the cohesiveness and consistency of the team as a whole suffered.

With a team not given chance to gel together, the 1994-1995 season began badly, and after an Autumn that demonstrated Walker’s misplaced faith in a passing game, Everton acquired only eight points from a possible forty two.

A surprise three-game winning streak was not enough to save Mike Walker, and despite a supportive fan-base that never faltered, he was sacked in November of the same year.


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.


Caretaker Manager

April to June 1997

With the threat of relegation gaining momentum, the ever-faithful Godison legend Dave Watson assumed the mantle abandoned by Joe Royle.

With only seven games left to avoid another period of demotion, Watson, already a central element of the team, threw his energies into managing a team only too familiar with defeat.

Watson’s dedication, enthusiasm, and fierce energy were successful off the pitch as well as on, and the win and three draws he guided the team to were enough to keep the team in the League for another season.

Not yet ready for the move into management, and with Howard Kendall returning yet again as manager, Watson gratefully returned to his real love: playing, which he did at Goodison for another three years.


July 1998 – March 2002

Already hugely successful in Scotland after a period with Glasgow Rangers, Walter Smith rejected an offer from Sheffield Wednesday to accept the position of manager at Everton.

Despite a promising beginning, Smith’s term again followed an all too familiar pattern. Inheriting a team unable to cope with a chronic injury crisis, Smith experienced early problems with the board following a falling out with then Chairman Peter Johnson over a communications breakdown regarding the sale of striker Duncan Ferguson to Newcastle United. Smith claimed that he had not been consulted.

With the question of blame still unanswered, Johnson resigned, and current deputy-chairman Bill Kenwright assumed control of the club in December 1999.

With a void left in the forward line by the loss of Ferguson, Smith’s team were facing another struggle to avoid relegation. Not a promising beginning to the Scotsman’s first season south of the border. With an impressive piece of negotiating, Smith managed to acquire rising star Kevin Campbell on loan from Trabzonspor, a move that seemed to bring about the revival the Everton fans had so desperately wanted.

Six games and nine goals later, Smith’s choice of Campbell seemed inspired, and earned the striker a permanent move to the Blues. However, the 1999-2000 season saw more frustration for Smith and his squad. Losing in the Worthington Cup to Oxford United, and a humiliating 4-1 defeat by Newcastle in the FA Cup quarter-finals put Smith’s position into doubt.

The next season did little to restore confidence. The departure of Barmby, Hutchison and Collins left the Everton midfield in tatters, and not even the swift drafting in of Niclas Alexandersson, Thomas Gravesen and Alex Nyarko could save the team.

Again, the Worthington Cup saw a humiliating defeat for Everton, but it was the FA Cup 4th Round defeat by Tranmere at Goodison that really devastated a team already losing confidence.

August of the 2001-2002 season saw Everton back up at the top of the table, but history chose to repeat itself, and the loss of five Premiership matches in a row, the usual mortifying Worthington Cup exit, and a run of league form that left relegation again opening beneath them called Smith’s future into question.

Three goals in the first half of the FA Cup quarter-final at Middlesbrough, and Smith’s Everton career was no longer in question: it was over.


2002 –

Former Celtic player David Moyes became Walter Smith’s successor on March 15 2002. A player at Preston North End before taking over as manager from David Peters in 1998, the team were promoted to the First Division in May 2000, missing out on a promotion to the Premiership the next season only due a 3-0 loss to Bolton Wanderers in the First Division final.

Turning down offers from Manchester City, Southampton and West Ham United, it was only the eventual offer from Everton that tempted Moyes away from his beloved Preston. Rumoured as a possible Assistant to Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United before the appointment of Steve McClaren, Moyes, like so many before him, faced his first challenge of avoiding the gaping purgatory of demotion to the First Division.

Welcomed enthusiastically by the Everton fans, the first game under Moyes’ leadership saw a David Unsworth goal in the first thirty seconds followed by a superb goal from Duncan Ferguson, winning the game over Fulham 2-1.

The fine performance from a squad with potential but formerly lacking consistent direction brought not only a vital victory for the new manager, but a new boost of assurance and enthusiasm for the squad.

On form again, fine performances from the team under the new manager saw Premiership safety once again assured soon after.

In the last six years Moyes has taken Everton to three top six finishes, breaking into the “big four” in 2004-05. In the 2007-08 season he managed Everton to a fifth place finish in the Premier League and to the Quarter Finals of the UEFA Cup.

Question marks currently hang over whether or not Moyes will sign a new contract and as time moves on the more anxious Evertonians become.

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