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Royle's regret over Everton exit

1995 Everton Team
Royle's team was the last Everton side to bring silverware to Goodison Park

By Paul Garrity
BBC Radio Merseyside

It is no secret that Everton legend Joe Royle would have liked to have seen his time as manager of the Blues end so differently, after he left the club following a disagreement with the then chairman Peter Johnson in 1997.

But it is the reason why he left the club which has left many supporters and media pundits surprised.

Royle, who led the Blues to victory in the 1995 FA Cup final over Manchester United, explains his exit from the club came about due to confusion between him and Johnson.

On the 27 March 1997, Everton had lost form in the league and Royle wanted to sign Norwegian international striker Tore Andre Flo from SK Brann to help ease their goal scoring problems.

Instead, the deal fell through prompting Everton and Royle to part ways.

"The whole scenario came together probably with the wrong solution," Royle told BBC Radio Merseyside. "In so much as I'd been wanting to sign Tore Andre Flo.

"We had goal problems - all of a sudden we'd looked a bit toothless. So the £1.2m for Tore Andre Flo I felt was good business.

"To get a young striker in, who went to Chelsea and scored a lot of goals and would have been a success for us.

"So armed with that I went to see Peter. I still say in all honesty we just totally misread each other."

After both Royle and Johnson could not agree that the deal would be in the best interests of the club, things started to get a little strange between the two parties.

Joe Royle
Royle scored 119 goals in 275 appearances for Everton

"He thought [leaving the club] was what I wanted and I thought it was what he wanted," Royle continued.

"I suppose it sounds a bit like an Ealing comedy and people say it just couldn't have been like that - but it was.

"I'm far from shocked by anything that happens in football but it certainly should have gone on longer than it did. It was my prime job as a manager.

"It was a job that I never would have left in normal circumstances."

One of Royle's fondest memories from his time at Goodison Park came in his first game in charge in a Merseyside derby against Liverpool in November 1994.

The Blues ran out 2-0 winners at home with strikers Duncan Ferguson and Paul Rideout getting the goals.

It was a baptism of fire for Royle as the team were rock bottom of the Premier League table and were in desperate need of confidence.

"It went according to plan in so much as we stopped Liverpool and we stifled them in midfield," Royle added.

"We tackled everything that night and we won the battles all over the pitch.

"Then from an Andy Hinchcliffe corner, big Duncan scores his first goal in a Blues shirt, the night after being breathalysed. You couldn't [write it] and an legend was born.

"I've got three sons and when we get together and have a beer, the video comes out.

"It will be out again this Christmas."

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