Mike Newell was never really ever given a chance to settle at Goodison in a largely disappointing two-year spell. He did not seem to entirely convince either Colin Harvey or Howard Kendall, while Everton’s supporters never really warmed to him either – perhaps unwilling to forgive his Liverpool supporting past.
Newell had first come to prominence in October 1986 as a 21 year-old Luton Town forward who scored a hat trick in his club’s surprise 4-1 demolition of Liverpool. There was a spell with Leicester City before Colin Harvey brought him to Goodison in a £1.1million deal in the summer of 1989.
Immediately displacing Tony Cottee, who was still the British transfer record holder, Newell opened his Everton career in electrifying fashion, with nine goals in his first thirteen appearances. Tall and robust with good distribution and quick feet, Newell was an intelligent centre forward who perhaps lacked some of the aggression Graeme Sharp brought to the role. Nevertheless he proved an eloquent foil for the Scot and his early season form earned him an England call up.
But then injuries struck and Newell found himself in and out of a struggling side. After Harvey’s sacking, Howard Kendall initially showed a preference for Newell in the second half of the 1990/91 season, but his strike rate had started to decline. Following the arrival of Peter Beardsley during the 1991/92 close season, Kendall plumped for Cottee as his new signing’s first choice partner. In November 1991 he sold Newell to Blackburn, for £1.1 million, using the proceeds to sign Mo Johnston from Rangers.
It was a costly mistake, as Johnston laboured and Everton struggled without a discernable target man for some three years. At Ewood Park, Newell was an important part of Blackburn’s renaissance and an excellent strike partner to Alan Shearer before losing his place to Chris Sutton. There followed, in his early thirties, a tour of the lower leagues. Newell subsequently emerged as a talented young manager, whose propensity for speaking his mind tended to undermine him.