Everton manager who brought camaraderie and flair to the club during its 1980s heyday
Published 25/10/2015 | 02:30
Howard Kendall, who died last Saturday aged 69, managed Everton FC in the 1980s, the greatest era of success in the team's modern history, breaking the stranglehold that its neighbours Liverpool had exerted for a decade.
Having won the league with the club as a player, Kendall was already a favourite of the fans when he returned to Goodison Park in 1981. Yet three years of disappointment followed as he rebuilt the side and he came close to losing his job before his patience was rewarded.
Kendall had brought in players overlooked by other clubs or yet to reach their potential. Among them were the goalkeeper Neville Southall, midfielders Peter Reid and Kevin Sheedy, and strikers Andy Gray and Adrian Heath. Kendall himself retired from playing only on taking the manager's role, and the team responded to his relaxed ways and belief that camaraderie was best built over several drinks and a meal in a Chinese restaurant.
Like Kendall in his youth, his team had both flair and determination. These elements began to first fuse together during the run up to the Milk Cup final in 1984, where they lost to Liverpool. But later that season they defeated Watford to claim the FA Cup.
The following year, Everton won the First Division by a margin of 13 points over their Merseyside rivals; and while they lost in the final of the FA Cup to Manchester United, they also won the Cup Winners' Cup by beating Rapid Vienna - having defeated Bayern Munich in the semi-final. It remains the last time that an Englishman has managed an English team to a European trophy.
In 1986, Everton twice finished runners-up to Liverpool as they won the Double, but in 1987 they were champions once again, this time by nine points. Gary Lineker, who had moved from Everton to Barcelona the previous summer, has always maintained that Kendall's was the better side.
Howard Kendall was born on May 22 1946 at Ryton, near Newcastle. He was an only child and became the focus of his parents' hopes. His father worked as a miner, while his mother sold tickets in a cinema. Encouraged by his father, who taught him to volley by kicking balloons, Kendall showed promise at both football and cricket. His skill with the bat led to the offer of trials from several counties but his love of soccer won out. At 15, he left Washington Grammar School - where he played in the same team as Bryan Ferry, later of Roxy Music - and joined Preston North End as an apprentice.
Thinking that he might not make the grade, for a while Howard gained experience of ladies' hairdressing. But he made his professional debut at 16, and a year later became the youngest player to appear in the FA Cup Final. But Preston, then a Second Division side, lost to West Ham.
Playing in defence, Kendall captained a junior England team to victory in a European tournament soon afterwards, although he was never to win a full cap. Yet his potential was evident and in 1967 he joined Everton. On arriving at Goodison in his new MGB, Kendall was advised by manager Harry Catterick to change the car, because "you've no idea what they're like around here!" Yet the supporters took to him at once, especially when he was moved into midfield, allowing him to use his skill at reading the game to create chances as well as to snuff them out.
'The Holy Trinity', as the trio that Kendall formed with Alan Ball and Colin Harvey was dubbed, guided Everton to the league title in 1970. Kendall assumed the club captaincy and many thought that the side would dominate English football in the coming decade. In the event it was Liverpool who went on to glory. Everton struggled for form and finished 14th in 1971. In 1974, Kendall was sold to Birmingham, moving on to Stoke before having an initial stint as player-coach at Blackburn Rovers.
He quit as Everton's manager for the first time in 1987, frustrated by the post-Heysel ban on English teams playing in Europe. Wanting to test himself against Continental teams, he was in line to take over from Terry Venables at Barcelona before the opportunity fell through. Instead he went to Athletic Bilbao, who had wanted Kenny Dalglish but were told by Liverpool to approach Kendall instead.
While he enjoyed his time in Spain, he was hampered by the club's policy of just signing Basques and had only moderate success. Accordingly, in 1989 he returned to England to manage Manchester City. The following year he was the favourite to replace Bobby Robson as the national coach, but he and the selectors had reservations about the pressures the isolated nature of the job would place on him. In the end, the job went to Graham Taylor.
Another surprise came when Kendall chose instead to return to Goodison, saying that his relationship with the club was like a marriage compared to the affairs he had had with other teams. But the side struggled and his relationship with the board was more fraught than in the past. He resigned in 1993 after failing to get backing to buy Dion Dublin.
This opened a cycle of short-lived appointments. A brief spell in Greece was followed by a shorter one at Notts County, which he left under a cloud amid rumours about his drinking. He went to Sheffield United, and then back to Everton in 1997 for a final stint which ended with the club avoiding relegation on the last day of the season.
He returned once more to Greece but was sacked by Ethnikos Piraeus after four months. Kendall retired to Formby, wrote a column for the Liverpool Echo and published a memoir.
He was divorced from his first wife Cynthia and is survived by a son and two daughters of that marriage and by his second wife, Lil.