Everton Fans’ Effort And Goodison Park Atmosphere Ensures Toffees Stick In Premier League

Goodison Park was buzzing once again as Everton won their battle against what would have been unthinkable relegation from the Premier League.

A 3-2 victory against Crystal Palace means they are now safe, and one of Burnley or Leeds United will join Norwich and Watford in the Championship next season.

The atmosphere provided by the fans around Everton matchdays, especially for home games, has shown what can happen within a fanbase when there is something significant on the line.

Alex Iwobi’s winner against Newcastle back in March, scored in the ninth minute of added time, produced a moment that would take some beating, but Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s goal to give Everton that 3-2 win against Palace, having been two goals down in this penultimate game of the season, might just have edged it.

During the last few months, the old stadium has been as loud and as atmospheric as it has ever been.

It started with that late winner against Newcastle, but was really ramped up when Everton faced Chelsea on May 1.

The scenes before the game were more impressive than the performances their team had put in to that point, but the motivation these fan gatherings provided helped turn things around on the pitch—of that there is no doubt.

The pre-match atmosphere continued into each game as fans took their seats, maintaining the party atmosphere with blue smoke, flags, songs, and general encouragement for the players.

Richarlison and Jordan Pickford were key to this effort at the business ends of the pitch. The England goalkeeper made some key saves during this run of games, while Richarlison’s work-rate and goals have also been vital.

They have been joined by several other players who have given their all on this quest, not least local youth academy product Anthony Gordon, but for the Everton fans, the fact that this mattered more than anything they have had to fight for in recent seasons, really brought the best out of them and, subsequently, the players.

Not so long ago, Everton’s Premier League aim was to challenge for European qualification. The dream was to play in the Champions League, and former manager Carlo Ancelotti openly spoke about finishing in the top four, something few Everton bosses had been bold enough to do.

Ancelotti could see what had been invested and the potential of the club, not necessarily in terms of the quality of the squad, but the support and spirit coupled with ambition and a new stadium on the horizon.

“Next season we have to qualify for the Champions League,” Ancelotti said towards the end of the 2019/20 campaign, having joined the club in December.

“I am here for this,” he added. “I am sure this club has that ambition. The owner [Farhad Moshiri] wants to be at the top. That is for sure. The idea is clear. I do not know how long it will take, but it will not take long.

“The spine of the squad is competitive. I do not know what the target will be this season, but next season we have to fight for the top four.”

The Italian was there for the next season when Everton finished tenth, but only eight points off fourth. Then Real Madrid called and Ancelotti returned to the Spanish capital, commenting recently that the La Liga side were the only club he’d have left Everton for.

“If anyone else had come, I would have stayed at Everton,” he said in April. “I was very good there. If Madrid are happy at the end of the season, I think I will continue to be happy, as I am now.”

This was of no comfort to Everton fans who by the time of these comments had found themselves stuck in a relegation battle.

Ancelotti’s replacement, Rafa Benitez, started the season in impressive fashion, and the top four challenge his predecessor had promised looked like it could be on under the former Liverpool boss.

Everton were fourth after four games and still as high as fifth after the seventh game of the season, but then it all went downhill.

They began shipping goals at a worrying rate, and the solid defensive platform on which Benitez teams usually build their attacks was nowhere to be seen.

Frank Lampard replaced the Spaniard at the end of January and the team continued to struggle.

Without the magic of Ancelotti the problems within the club’s structure were laid bare and what looked like the faint possibility of a relegation battle was suddenly a stark reality.

Everton were in the relegation zone for a couple of weeks, and though they had games in hand these weren’t guaranteed to be converted into points on the board, especially given some of the performances.

It was around this time Everton fans decided to take things into their own hands.

Chanting and singing could be heard for miles around in the streets around Goodison Park before home games, and clouds of blue smoke billowed up into the Liverpool air.

As summer approached, it became a brilliant setting for some memorable days and nights for Everton fans. The situation they had found themselves in was unwelcome, but from this near lowest of lows came some unforgettable highs.

It was rounded off on the Thursday night game against Crystal Palace. The fans stayed behind the team despite going two goals down—a trait Everton fans would admit hasn’t always existed in Goodison Park, which in the past has been as difficult an atmosphere for the home team to play in as it has for the visiting side.

But this was a new-look Everton support. Faced with the unthinkable prospect of relegation they came together and made sure their team stayed in the Premier League.

Survival was celebrated more than any European qualification, and was certainly much more memorable than any mid-table finish.

“The character of this club—the fans, players—just dragged us through,” said Lampard after the Palace game. “The spirit of the club was immense.”

The Spirit of the Blues in all its glory, securing Premier League survival.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesnalton/2022/05/19/everton-fans-effort-and-goodison-park-atmosphere-ensures-toffees-stick-in-premier-league/