Mike Walker - Everton Manager 1994
Walker had a brief spell in charge of Colchester United in 1986 but was sacked in 1987 whilst top of the league, before taking charge of the Norwich City youth team in 1987.
In 1992, he was promoted to the position of manager at Carrow Road and gave Norwich their highest-ever league finish in the new FA Premier League where they finished third and qualified for the 1993/94 UEFA Cup — the first time they had qualified for European competition (Norwich had technically qualified for Europe twice in the 1980s but were unable to enter due to the ban on English clubs imposed after the Heysel Disaster).
Norwich achieved a famous victory over FC Bayern Munich in the UEFA Cup Second Round before being knocked out by the eventual winners, Internazionale.
Due to his notable achievements at a relatively small club such as Norwich, Walker was felt by many commentators at this time to be one of the most promising new managers in English football, and he was praised for the positive, attack-minded passing game played by his Norwich side.
Walker quit Norwich in January 1994, following a long running feud with Chairman Robert Chase (mainly centring around Chase's habit of selling off the club's key players without consulting his manager first - for example Robert Fleck to Chelsea just after Walker's appointment), to become manager of Everton, with Everton having to pay substantial compensation to Norwich to secure his services.
The Great Escape from relegation
After a 3-0 defeat to Leeds they found themselves in the relegation zone.
They had one match left to save themselves.
The club seemed overwhelmed by fear. Several players refused point blank to be Everton's designated penalty taker, leaving Graham Stuart to inherit the task. He predicted he would have to score in the last game against Wimbledon to keep Everton up, adding: "And I'll be terrified."
So was virtually everyone else who occupied every vantage point at Goodison on 7 May, a day designed for Sky's split screens. Any two of five could join Swindon in relegation.
A draw would only be good enough for Everton if Ipswich lost at Blackburn (which they didn't). However, critically, Everton were the only one of the five at home for a game some suggest was thrown by Wimbledon.
Even now, it seems a ridiculous allegation since Everton, beset by nerves, appeared bent on suicide. Anders Limpar handled in his own area to give away a penalty. Dave Watson and David Unsworth collided with each other as Gary Ablett scored an own goal.
The recovery almost defied belief. Limpar won a penalty without anyone quite knowing why. Stuart, terrified or not, converted it and Barry Horne, who had not scored all season, suddenly decided this was the moment to send a 30-yard drive crashing in off the underside of Hans Segers' crossbar.
It was still not enough but when Stuart sent a scuffed shot trundling goalwards, it evaded Segers to begin all those rumours – although the ball bounced awkwardly on an end-of-season pitch. A ground that had greeted a championship seven years before erupted to embrace 17th place.
Walker failed, however, to meet the high expectations of a bigger club. Although Walker oversaw an extraordinary last day escape from relegation with Everton securing a 3-2 home victory over Wimbledon (Everton had been 2-1 down at half time), Everton made a disastrous start to the 1994/95 season, failing to win a single league game until November.
With Everton bottom of the table and having made their worst ever start to a league season, Walker was sacked having spent just ten months in charge and recording only six league wins, leaving him with the worst record of any post-war Everton manager.
Walker was nicknamed the 'Silver Fox' during his time at Goodison, and one of the more positive aspects of his reign was his decision to bring the controversial Rangers striker Duncan Ferguson to Everton on loan, a gamble which ultimately paid off after Walker's departure with Joe Royle signing the Scot on a permanent basis.
After Walker's dismissal, Everton went on that season to not only successfully avoid relegation but also win the FA Cup under Royle.
Walker did not return to football until taking over again at Norwich in June 1996, by which time the Canaries had been relegated to Division One.
He remained in charge for two seasons but resigned after they failed to return to the Premiership.
Since leaving Norwich, Walker has had a spell managing in Cyprus for APOEL, where he resides to this day.
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