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Wednesday, 13 March, 2002, 11:30 GMT
Smith's Everton years
Walter Smith with Everton chairman Sir Philip Carter
BBC Sport Online chief football writer Phil McNulty looks back at Walter Smith's ill-fated reign as Everton manager.

Walter Smith was attracted to Everton by the glossy brochure presented by chairman and hamper tycoon Peter Johnson - only to discover it was open at the wrong page.

Smith was retired and basking in an almost unblemished managerial reputation from his silver-lined era at Glasgow Rangers when the call came.

The call actually came from Sheffield Wednesday, seeking a new manager, but Everton were alerted and stepped in.

Smith was lured away from Hillsborough towards Goodison Park by promises - false as it transpired - made to him by Johnson of massive transfer funds and unlimited ambition.

He was given money to spend, and spent it wisely on the then unknown midfielder Olivier Dacourt and John Collins.

Smith was then stunned to discover that his brave new world was financed by money Everton did not actually have.

The banks were banging on the door and Everton had a financial crisis.

Kenwright sacked his close friend Smith
And Smith was shown the signpost towards future mediocrity when terrace idol Duncan Ferguson was sold to Newcastle United behind his back by a desperate Johnson, who needed to raise cash.

Goodison folklore has it that Smith's wife Ethel knew about the Ferguson deal before her husband because he was busy preparing for a game.

Smith was tempted to quit, but it was Johnson who left and opened the door for Bill Kenwright to fulfil his dream of owning Everton.

Kenwright immediately handed Smith an extended contract - some called it a longer sentence - but he was still haunted by financial mishaps at Goodison Park.

Smith went into the market again on the basis that Everton would cash in on the array of telelvision deals invading football, but NTL pulled out of a deal with the club literally minutes before it was due to be signed.

It left Smith locked into the never-ending saga of selling the club's top players, with Collins, Dacourt, Don Hutchison, Marco Materazzi, Nick Barmby, Francis Jeffers and Michael Ball among the departures.

Barmby was one of the departures
Smith was on his Mark IV Everton this season, never enjoying stability and - more importantly - never enjoying consistency.

Everton's fans also latched on to Smith's personality and used it as a stick to beat him.

He was described as "dour" and was accused of lacking passion for Everton.

It was an unfair tag, as anyone who has ever met Smith will tell you.

The public image hides a man with a huge sense of humour - something which has served him well at Everton.

No, he was not Martin O'Neill on the touchline, but neither is Arsene Wenger.

Smith, in many respects, was the right man for Everton but found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time.

And despite a lucrative pay-off, his pride will be hurt by his failure to repeat his success in Scotland down south at Everton.

Smith was always stung by jibes that he won a one-team league in Scotland, and part of his motivation was to show that his Rangers success was a genuine one.

But, as always, results have been the judge of Smith, and most managers would have found it hard to survive such abject fare as that served up by Everton at Middlesbrough in the FA Cup quater-final.

Everton's fans have never warmed fully to Smith, and the under-current of disapproval for his regime has recently turned to open revolt.

Fans do not sack managers, but when the discontent becomes as poisonous as it has against Smith in recent days, it left Kenwright with no option but to sack his manager.

It will have hurt Kenwright bitterly to have that conversation with his close friend, but he has taken the brave step and will hope fortune favours him.

As for Smith, he will return to Scotland, but if another call came, he may not be quite as keen to take it this time.

Links to more Everton stories are at the foot of the page.

 

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