Everton 2, Sunderland 2 (Echo)
Apr 3 2006 By Dominic King
AS Aintree prepares to stage the Grand National this weekend, Everton's season could mirror the fortunes of one of the great race's also-rans. Slowly away and soon in trouble, Everton recovered stylishly to make significant ground on the leading pack, but their challenge was ultimately ended by a couple of late blunders, meaning they failed to stay the marathon distance. Having spent the last three months hoping and praying a magnificent run of post-Christmas form would carry them into a UEFA Cup spot, the Blues appear to be running out of gas at exactly the wrong time. Shuffling out of Goodison Park after an exasperating 2-2 draw with Sunderland, there was an acceptance among supporters that a haul of one point from the last six means the chance of automatically qualifying for Europe has now gone. Repeat Saturday's performance against Charlton Athletic and hopes of playing in the Intertoto Cup will evaporate just as quickly. After all their good work, Everton's players cannot allow this campaign to drift towards an aimless conclusion. Worryingly, that appeared the case for much of the 90 minutes at the weekend. Chasing a seventh consecutive Premiership home victory, Everton could not have been handed a more attractive opportunity to bounce back from derby day disappointment. One wag suggested that the last time Sunderland picked up any points was when cameras caught their coach speeding on the A1, and two victories in the 32 matches gives them the dubious distinction of being the worst team in the Premiership's 13-year history. Yet, there could have been few complaints in the home dressing room had a side with only pride to play for recorded a first win since January 21 - only the width of the Park End goalpost saved Everton from injury-time ignominy. How did it come to this? Simple. As a team that prides itself on hard work, the players can usually be relied on to run themselves to a standstill in pursuit of the points, but for some baffling reason Everton rarely got out of second gear Perhaps it was too easy. When Leon Osman put Everton ahead in the fifth minute, it would not have been unreasonable to expect them to score on every foray forward. Sunderland are on 11 points for a reason - they're not very good. But, as passes went astray and attacking threat was minimal, Sunderland were allowed to grow in belief and levelled things up shortly after. The identity of the scorer should not have come as a surprise. Jon Stead has had trouble this year hitting an unguarded barn door from six yards, but play him against Everton and he is transformed. Three times he has played at Goodison Park and he's scored on each occasion, the latest swept in from a corner to ruin Richard Wright's hopes of a clean sheet. The lively James McFadden restored Everton's advantage, but even though he hit the bar in the second half of a match that reflected the squally weather, Rory Delap's bullet header late on gave Sunderland a share of the spoils. "Both (Sunderland) goals were rotten," David Moyes grumbled, before acknowledging the visitors' diligence and perseverance. "They fought and scrapped for everything, but it was never the sort of game where you could get the ball down to play." Clinical though the Stead finish was it should not have been allowed to happen. The sight of Alan Stubbs berating James Beattie for switching off at a corner hammered home the view. It was interesting to compare the performances of both front men and that incident perfectly captured the differences. Where Stead pestered Stubbs and the returning Joseph Yobo, Beattie was anonymous for the second match in succession.
There were a couple of neat flicks early on, but nothing else. When at his best, Everton's record signing is perpetual motion, running down balls into channels, refusing to give up any lost cause. He will know this wasn't one of his better days.
Nor was it one of Yobo's. He looked rusty early on, like a player who had only made one Premiership appearance since January 14, and needed time to get attuned to the speed of play. His name, though, was the subject of much chitterchatter later.
Targeted by Arsenal and former club Olympique Marseille, Yobo only has 12 months left on his current deal when this season finishes and, theoretically, could start discussing a Bosman move next January. A new contract offer has been sitting on the table since last year but has yet to be signed. But what if he doesn't? Though it won't happen, Moyes could preposterously be faced with the prospect of losing four central defenders this summer. Decisions need to be made over whether David Weir and Stubbs will be offered new contracts in the summer - the latter's faultless performances are certainly making things easy for his manager - while Matteo Ferrari's loan spell expires in June. For all concerned, Yobo must clarify his intentions as other areas of Moyes' squad need working on but he doesn't have vast quantities of cash to do so. If Yobo isn't going to stay, the answer is simple: Everton must obtain the best price for him. Another man to play on Saturday with question marks over his future was Wright. Though he didn't do a lot wrong, the anxiety of the home crowd appeared to affect him. Saying that, he did make one excellent save from Stead.
The challenge for the present, however, remains obtaining the best possible finishing position. While the results against Sunderland and Liverpool may have knocked the wind out of everyone's sails, all hope is not lost. Overhauling Wigan Athletic and West Ham - the sides immediately above Everton in the table -must be the target and that is a feasible one. The two promoted clubs are still within grasp and if they can do that, an Intertoto place will surely await. Nevertheless, there is no escaping the fact an opportunity has been missed. Only time will tell how costly it proves to be.
EVERTON (4-4-2): Wright; Hibbert, Yobo, Stubbs, Naysmith (Ferguson 86); Davies (Arteta 62), Cahill, Neville, Osman; Beattie, McFadden. Subs: Turner, Weir, Carsley.
SUNDERLAND (4-4-2): Davis; Hoyte, Breen, Collins, McCartney; Lawrence (Le Tallec 69), Leadbitter, Whitehead, Delap; Brown (Murphy 75), Stead (Smith 84).
REFEREE: Mark Halsey.
Arteta makes a points promise
Apr 3 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
MIKEL ARTETA today promised that Everton's players will use the frustrating draw with Sunderland as motivation to ensure their season does not finish with a whimper.
Though the Blues led twice, they were pegged back on both occasions and a return of one point from the last six available means their hopes of qualifying for Europe have taken a hammer blow. With only six matches of the campaign remaining, Arteta knows Everton's UEFA Cup hopes are hanging by a thread but he won't contemplate anything other than a win at Charlton next week. "It was really hard for us to come back from where we were a couple of months ago," said Arteta. "But I don't think it is in the mind of anybody to say 'okay, we can't do anything now so let's just go and play and enjoy ourselves. We need to get results now, starting against Charlton next Saturday. "The situation we are in is not the worst one, so it depends on us if we want to make something happen. We need to lift our heads up and make sure we win in London." Having missed the defeat at Liverpool because of a jarred nerve in his back, Arteta was only fit enough to take his place on the bench against Sunderland, but was given a hero's reception when he came on to replace Simon Davies. However, despite a couple of elegant passes, he was unable to influence the game and was disappointed that Everton did not play at their usual high tempo. "These games are sometimes more difficult than others," Arteta continued. "We didn't play well, even when we were 2-1 up. "Sometimes we start the game much quicker and create more things when we are aggressive. We scored the first goal but we never looked like we were in control. Maybe we thought we would win easily. "It hasn't been the best game so we need to think what we haven't done correctly and make sure that we change things around for the next game. Europe is going to be really difficult and we have got a lot of tough games. We need to play better than that." On a personal note, Arteta was able to breathe a sigh of relief that his injury absence did not prove to be a lengthy one, but admits he is some way short of peak condition. "I had a dead leg all the time after it happened and I couldn't understand why," said Arteta. "I haven't trained for the last 15 days so I wasn't ready to play 90 minutes. "The gaffer said he was happy to have me on the bench if I was needed. I was happy to come on when he decided to play me.
"I was never worried that the injury might end my season. Nuno (Valente) has had this problem. "Maybe I am going to have a problem with my back but I just have to make sure that I train properly and get into games in the best possible condition."
Ball in Yobo's court over contract - boss
Apr 3 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
JOSEPH YOBO has left a new contract offer lying on the table for more than a year. But Blues boss David Moyes remains unconcerned. Yobo, who was recalled to the Everton starting line-up on Saturday in his preferred centre-half role for the first time since returning from the African Nations Cup, has little more than a year remaining on his current deal. Speculation has been rife that Arsenal are monitoring the situation, but Moyes said: "It doesn't concern me that he only has one year left on his contract because I have not had one phone call from any manager or one phone call from any chief exec or chairman. "We offered Joseph Yobo a contract a year ago, and it's been on the table, so it's not us who have been slow in dealing with it, it's Joseph and his representatives." With David Weir and Alan Stubbs both in their mid-30s, and Matteo Ferrari only a season-long loan, Moyes will want the situation resolved early this summer. But, despite conceding two goals on Saturday which he described as "rotten," he was reluctant to be too critical of his side after relegation- doomed Sunderland snatched a deserved point. "We never really got as good a grip on the game as we would have liked," he said. " I thought when we led 2-1 and we brought Mikel (Arteta) on that would give us a better grasp at that period, but it didn't. It kept pretty much the same. "We want to try and finish strongly. We have been in a good run and got ourselves away from the wrong end of the league, and I have told the play-ers it's not very often Everton teams have finished in the top 10 two seasons running, and that has to be our target. If we can do even better than that, so be it."I don't think we will fall away. We will keep doing what we're doing. Let's be fair, we've ended up not getting a result we probably should have got today which was a little bit down to ourselves, but give Sunderland credit also. "I thought there was a bit of complacency right from the start. "I don't think we started the game well enough, even though we got in front, and I wasn't overly happy with the way we had played even though we went in 2-1 ahead at half-time. "I told them we wanted better and I think the play was a little bit better in the second half. But that didn't get us a goal and meant we were always liable to somebody scoring, which they did. "We knew that today was an opportunity to get some points on the board and that's why we're disappointed because we missed a good chance. "We abused the opportunities we had, but I have to give credit to Sunderland. They fought and scrapped for everything. "Conditions were difficult. It was very windy and the pitch was hard, and it wasn't really a game where anybody got the ball down and played."
Moyes' rare chance to weigh up future
Apr 3 2006 Analysis by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
IT'S rare that Everton can indulge themselves in the luxury of mid-table mediocrity.
But Saturday's sloppy draw with doomed Sunderland means that is exactly what the Blues' six remaining matches of a revitalised 2005/06 season represent.
UEFA Cup football is a bridge too far. So too, happily, is any prospect of being dragged into a relegation battle. So David Moyes has an unlikely opportunity to plan for next season. And, despite the wonderful run of results since Sunderland were luckily dispatched on New Year's Eve, evidence of Everton's last two fixtures is that there is still much work to be done. Some areas of the team are cast in stone.
Mikel Arteta and Tim Cahill are indispensable members of the squad, Tony Hibbert and Nuno Valente have proved solid and reliable full-backs, James Beattie a centre-forward worthy of the number nine jersey next season, while Alan Stubbs is surely deserving of a new deal. But elsewhere there are still too many unconvincing options - and with six games left Moyes has an unlikely opportunity to experiment.
Of course, any experimentation has to be balanced with the ever-present need for Premiership points. Each place in the table is worth a quarter of a million pounds - and Everton can still realistically finish anything between eighth and 14th.
Moyes also has a couple of personal demons to exorcise regarding Everton's staying power. The Blues ended the otherwise stunning 2004-05 season with a whimper. Twelve months earlier, a last month mauling saw another campaign end unhappily in the lowest points total in the club's history, while defeats in four of their final five games in 2003 saw a UEFA Cup spot snatched away on the final day of the season.
With trips to Charlton and Chelsea and a visit of Spurs looming, Everton 2006 could still go the same way. Or they could finish with a flourish and prepare the club nicely for a new campaign. How the season ends undoubtedly sets the club up for the entire summer. Last season's phenomenal fourth place finish generated a mood of optimism and anticipation which only evaporated when Pierluigi Collina decided to slip into retirement with a rare mistake. The City of Manchester Stadium mauling 12 months earlier meant for a summer of back-biting, soul-searching and recriminations.
Moyes has a difficult balancing act between now and mid-May. But he also has an opportunity to analyse one or two key positions. Moyes kept faith with Richard Wright - on Saturday, at least - but the reaction from the stands was that the supporters have long since lost confidence. An occasionally outstanding shot-stopper, he lacks the presence or the authority to spread anything but unease around his penalty box. There were murmurs of unrest in the 28th minute when he raced out of his goal to clear a ball that Joseph Yobo looked to have covered; a minute later when a ball bounced higher than anticipated off the hard surface he had to stretch to catch, there were ripples of anxiety around the stadium; they grew into outright unrest when he came out for a cross in the 34th minute and failed to collect - admittedly under heavy pressure. The belief is that the goalkeeper is an accident waiting to happen.
He came hurtling out of his six yard box in the 71st minute like Wayne Sleep hailing a taxi, but Yobo got there first and headed decisively away. The old curmudgeons on the Park End gave vent to outright consternation. Moyes must surely have a goalkeeper high on his shopping list this summer, unless Iain Turner or John Ruddy can show they are ready to be exposed to the pressures of the Premiership.
A strike partner for Beattie must also be high on the hit list. James McFadden scored his third goal in four games, but still looks more like a squad member than the perfect foil for Beattie. With 2005-06 in its death throes, we still know little more about Andy van der Meyde and Matteo Ferrari than we did when they arrived 12 months ago, while Simon Davies has rarely risen above the level of mundane. We will surely see more of van der Meyde when his ludicrously lengthy ban is served, while Ferrari appears finally ready to drop his Alessandro Pistone impersonation and step back into first team contention, although injury has sadly denied us any further glimpses of the exciting attacking talent that is young James Vaughan. He's for next season now, but this season still has some significance attached to it - on and off the pitch.
Anichebe earns Blues contract
Apr 3 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
VICTOR ANICHEBE was celebrating today after signing his first professional contract with Everton. Born in Nigeria but raised in Crosby, Anichebe - who turns 18 in three weeks' time - has come on in leaps and bounds this season and made his senior debut as a substitute during the FA Cup fourth round tie against Chelsea.
A product of the Blues' youth Academy, Anichebe put pen to paper on a two-year deal and was quick to thank the influence of reserve team boss Andy Holden, who has played a significant role in his development this season. Eager to repay the faith that has been shown in him, Anichebe is likely to be in the reserve side that takes on Blackburn Rovers at Haig Avenue tomorrow evening and he is looking to add to his tally of five goals in 20 appearances. "I just want to thank the club for giving me the chance," said Anichebe, who has also been an unused substitute for the first team on three further occasions this year. "I want to repay the club and hopefully during the two years I will do the business. "I would like to get in the first team squad on a more regular basis. It has been a good season for me. I have been on the bench a few times and got on against Chelsea. I would like to build on that and get a few goals as well. It would great to score for the first team. "I would also like to thank Taff (Holden). He has helped me a lot and if it was not for him, I do not think I would be in this position. He is a big influence. He keeps me behind after training and does extra work with me.
"He always tells me what I am doing right or wrong. He always gives me the truth and that is a big help." His ultimate ambition, however, is to emulate close friend James Vaughan, who became Everton's youngest goalscorer last season. "Vaughany has been a good influence," added Anichebe. "I have seen him step up into the first team and I have thought to myself that I want to do that as well. "It has been unfortunate he has been injured this year, so we have not had the chance to play together that much. It does help training with the first team because it gives you confidence and their advice is a big help."
Moyes in new Van ban blast
Apr 4 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES today spoke of his frustration that Andy van der Meyde has been denied a chance to boost Everton's end of season push by a suspension that continues to puzzle him. The Holland international was sent off during Everton's 3-1 derby defeat at Anfield after an aerial collision with Xabi Alonso and served the first of a three-game ban against Sunderland last weekend. But Moyes feels Van der Meyde was harshly treated by referee Phil Dowd, especially after he saw an identical challenge by Blackburn Rovers' Steven Reid go unpunished during last night's 1-1 draw with Wigan by the same official. Having seen his first season on Merseyside decimated by injury, Van der Meyde will not be able to pull on a Blue shirt again until Easter Monday at Stamford Bridge and Moyes is desperate to give the former Internazionale winger an extended run. "Andy got an injury just after he had started to play well for us during the period he was in the side," said Moyes of his £1.8m signing. "We needed him at that period. When he came in, he did quite well for us but the injury set him back. "When he got back to fitness, we knew it was going to take him a few weeks to get back to his best condition and he would need to come off the bench a couple of times to bring him back into the fray. "But this has put him back another few weeks. It's disappointing when you see a challenge which is very similar go unpunished. It was the same referee and yet he doesn't view it in the same light.
"For one to be no booking at all to another being a red card, I think that's where you would say the gulf between the decisions are great. But yet there wasn't a great difference between the two challenges, really." Van der Meyde arrived at Goodison Park with a groin injury that kept him out until October. A ruptured thigh muscle in December means he has made two brief substitute appearances since and Moyes doesn't believe the 26-year-old will show his true colours until next season.
"I don't believe he should have been sent-off," added Moyes. "We lost him during a period of the game when we looked like getting back into it. "But not only did we lose him for the rest of that match, we lose him for another three. He has just got to keep doing his work." * Everton's reserves are in action against Blackburn Rovers this evening (7pm) at Haig Avenue but, with Alessandro Pistone missing out, the only member of Moyes' first team squad expected to be in action is Lee Carsley.
We'll get back on track: Ossie
Apr 4 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
HAVING seen the prospects of qualifying for Europe go askew in recent weeks, Leon Osman is convinced Everton can revive their season at Charlton Athletic on Saturday.
Bitterly disappointed the Blues could not make home advantage count against a Sunderland side one defeat away from relegation, Osman knows he and his team-mates missed a wonderful opportunity to enhance their prospects of a top eight finish.
But according to the midfielder, who scored the opening goal at Goodison Park last weekend, all is not lost. Contrary to what many sceptics may feel, he reckons Everton can still stage a last-gasp rally - especially if they win their three remaining home games. Tottenham Hotspur, Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion must all travel to Merseyside between now and May 7 and a return to the form that saw Everton win six consecutive Premiership home games prior to Sunderland would give them an outside chance. Osman, though, is aware dropped points against the Black Cats has left Everton with no margin for error meaning it is absolutely vital they get something when they face a Charlton side likely to contain Goodison old boy Marcus Bent. "We will now go to Charlton determined that we can win," said Osman. "There is an important game against Tottenham and then the following week there is another one against Birmingham. "After the result against Sunderland, we know the importance of winning these games and that is what the whole team is focusing on.
"It was a disappointing day. We have been winning our home games convincingly of late and Sunderland was a slip-up. We tried to pass the ball but it was a bobbly pitch.
"The wind did not help and we feel that we have got to do better than we did at home to put it right next week. We knew that Sunderland were going to fight for everything.
"They have been unlucky on occasions this season. But we know that we have to be winning our home games, especially against the teams below us in the league."
While Osman took another step closer to equalling his best ever goals tally of seven, James McFadden has comprehensively surpassed his previous highest total -his strike against Sunderland was his sixth of the year and it is a return that has delighted David Moyes. "It was nice to see James McFadden on the scoresheet again," offered the manager. "James has been showing the form that we know he is capable of.
"People tend to forget that he is still a young boy. He made an impact in Scotland at an early age and it was a big move for him to switch to the Premiership.
"He isn't 23 until next month so he still has a lot of learning to do but he already has the talent."
Victory keeps Blues in title contention
Apr 4 2006 By Paul Garrity, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON LADIES are still in the hunt for the Women's Premier League title after they beat Birmingham City 3-1 on Sunday. The Blues started with a bang as the opened the scoring in the first minute. Rachel Unitt headed in a Jody Handley corner to give her side the perfect start. The game became a scrappy affair after Unitt's goal and Birmingham started to take control, with Danni Bird forcing Rachel Brown to tip her near post shot onto the post. The home side then gave Everton a scare six minutes before half-time, as Heather Scheuber held off the challenge of Fern Whelan and strike right footed past Brown.
Becky Easton restored the Blues' lead on the stroke of half-time as she was left free at the far post to head home a Michelle Evans corner. After the interval the Blues looked a different side and started to get to grips with the heavy conditions. Jody Handley saw a couple of chances from the edge of the box miss the target and Kelly McDougall also shot over the bar as the Mersysiders began to pressure their opponents. Three minutes from time, McDougall made sure of the points. Fara Williams played an exquisite ball over the top of the City defence and McDougall beat the offside trap to lob the helpless Jo Fletcher. It was a much-needed win and Mo Marley's team must now win all of their last four games if they are to have a chance of claiming the title. In the Northern Division, Liverpool and Tranmere could only draw their matches and are both still locked in a battle for the last promotion spot back to the top flight. Liverpool's Jade Thomas opened the scoring for Keith Cliffe's side against Nottingham Forest. Forest drew level direct from a corner kick in the second half. Tranmere Rovers striker Sue Kenwright scored two against Curzon Ashton but goals from Emma Gaynon and Kelly Dean made it all square. On Sunday, Everton travel to Arsenal (Boreham Wood FC, 2pm) while Liverpool host Blackburn Rovers (Heswall FC, 2pm).
Ferrari races into action
Apr 5 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
MATTEO FERRARI is ready to stake a claim for a return to Everton's first team as Joseph Yobo's contract saga shows no signs of reaching a conclusion.
The 26-year-old Italian international joined the Blues from AS Roma on loan last August but a succession of injuries has limited him to just 12 appearances, the last of which came against Arsenal in January. Ferrari, however, has been back in full training since last Monday and manager David Moyes today hinted there is a chance of him playing a key role in the remaining six matches of the campaign.
"Matteo was on the verge of getting a run in the team after Christmas but he got injured against Arsenal just after Stubbsy had come back," said Moyes.
"His injury set him back. But he has been fit now for a week or so and he's about the squad. Hopefully we will get a chance before the end of the season to see him again."
Matteo is due to return to Roma in the summer but if he does well, Moyes has the option of making his stay on Merseyside permanent. The Blues boss, though, has made it clear that no decisions will be made until the final ball has been kicked and has shrugged off suggestions that Everton face a central defender crisis.
With Yobo having left an improved deal unsigned from 12 months ago and both Alan Stubbs and David Weir out of contract in June, Moyes has a number of decisions to make but is not panicking. "We won't be discussing any of that (new contracts) until the end of the season. But Matteo is a good player. He is a good defender.
"We are just disappointed that we haven't been able to see a bit more of him than we have done but we're hoping that in some of the games before the end of the year, he'll get an opportunity. "You have to remember that we got Matteo late on, so he hadn't done any pre-season training with us. It's only fair he gets the opportunity to show what he can do." Yobo has been linked with a £3m move to Arsenal, while former club Olympique Marseille are also monitoring his situation and he is aware that his future has become a hot topic of conversation. The longer the deal goes unsigned, the more speculation will intensify but Yobo says his immediate priority is to help Everton collect as many points as they can before the end of the season.
Significantly though, he has failed to give any assurances about where he will start next season. "There has been speculation about my future in the last few days but my focus is completely on the games we have got and nothing else," said the Nigerian international. "I am an Everton player and I just want to do my best for the team until the end of the season and then see what happens. "I was pleased to get back in the side against Sunderland. I was disappointed we didn't get three points but I was happy to get back in the side. It was disappointing to sit on the bench."
Blues always give strugglers a helping hand!
Apr 5 2006 Echo Letters, icLiverpool & Liverpool Echo
THE draw with Sunderland effectively means our season is over.
With that being the case, we should blood some of the youngsters and keep Yobo in the side. We need to get some serious pace in the side with summer signings. We need at least one centre back, two strikers and a right back, as Hibbert has it too easy.
Chris Teague, Ellesmere Port
WHAT is it with Everton?
If a struggling team needs a result or a striker wants to end a barren run all they have to do is play us to turn things around. The amount of times this has happened over the years is unbelievable. I was sorely tempted to have a bet on Jon Stead scoring on Saturday but I resisted. Now the only way we are going into Europe is if we book two weeks in Majorca. Brad Gordon, Wirral
CAN anyone please explain how Phil Dowd is refereeing in the Premiership?
In the derby he sent Van der Meyde off for a challenge when he led with an arm. In the Blackburn v Wigan match there was an identical challange right in front of him and he didn't even show a yellow card. The FA must return Dowd to where he belongs - in the lower leagues. John Neill, Merseyside
THERE are 250,000 reasons why Everton must still try and finish the season strongly. Although European football is almost out of the question next season, there is around £250,000 available for every place higher we finish in the league than we are now. Steve Kavanagh, Wavertree
Anichebe provides finishing touch
Apr 5 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
VICTOR ANICHEBE put the gloss on a perfect week with a match-winning performance for Everton's reserves last night. Having signed a deal that will keep him at Goodison Park for another two seasons, the 17-year-old scored twice as the Blues eased past Blackburn Rovers at Haig Avenue. Watched by Everton manager David Moyes and his assistant Alan Irvine, Anichebe put Andy Holden's side ahead with a first half header from a Lee Carsley flick on before wrapping things up late on when Christian Seargent sent him galloping clear. After committing his future to the Blues, Anichebe was quick to thank Holden for the role he has played in his development. But the reserves' boss has told his protege he now wants to see him take a step up and make a name for himself with the senior squad. "I'm pleased for Victor because he has come on in leaps and bounds," said Holden. "But it is all very well him doing it at Southport on a Tuesday night. "I now want to see him doing it at Goodison Park in front of fans who love to see young kids come through the ranks and do well. If he can't do it before the end of this season, the early part of next year must be his target. He is doing very well." As pleased as he was with Anichebe, Holden was equally thrilled by the way Everton controlled the game and ensured that Iain Turner had a relatively quiet evening between the posts. "These lads have been excellent all year, especially the way they go about their jobs," added Holden, whose side have three games of their campaign left to play. "It was good to see Lee Carsley get another hour under his belt. He has a great work ethic and is tremendous to have his experience in the changing rooms. "A few of these young lads have unfortunately been told they won't be getting new contracts but the way they have worked and go on with things so professionally since speaks volumes."
EVERTON (4-4-2): Turner; Wynne, Boyle, Hughes, Molyneux; Seargent, Carsley (Phelan 73), Harris, Vidarsson; Hopkins (Kissock 65), Anichebe.
Blues boss set to call on Arteta
Apr 6 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES today pencilled Mikel Arteta in for an eagerlyawaited return to Everton's starting line-up at Charlton. Having missed the 3-1 defeat at Anfield with a jarred nerve in his back, the Blues' influential midfielder was limited to a 30-minute cameo appearance in last weekend's draw with Sunderland. Arteta had not trained for 15 days prior to that 2-2 draw and looked short of match practice but is expected to be a different proposition on Saturday. The Spaniard was given the green light to return to training on Monday and provided he suffers no reaction, will start at The Valley as Everton look to get back to winning ways. "It's good to get him back," said Moyes. "I didn't think he looked fit against Sunderland when he came on, not because of his injury but because he had missed 15 days' training. "We felt it was important to have Mikel on the bench but he has been a big player for us in recent weeks and hopefully he will be in the remaining games. "Probably throughout the season he has played very well for us. He's in a very good spell at the moment but that has been the case throughout the year. "He can play a lot of different roles for us and he is someone who the players can give the ball to and they trust him with it. That's very important."
The return of Arteta is a much-needed boost for Moyes, who has seen Everton's chances of finishing in the top eight take a turn for the better following results earlier this week. Bolton are now only four points ahead of the Blues after losing their last three games, while Wigan and West Ham have both blown chances to move clear of Everton since the Sunderland game. If Everton are going to overhaul the sides above them, however, Arteta will have a crucial role to play but even though he has raised his standards, Moyes suggests there is still some way to go before he reaches his full potential. "Mikel has adapted to the football over here very well after he came on loan," said Moyes of the man he signed from Real Sociedad last summer. "At this stage of the season last year, everyone had the chance to see him. "We realised how good a football player he was. He is a young footballer, too, and we are sure that he is only going to get better. "Once he starts to mature and understand the games over here a bit more, he'll become a player the longer he goes on."
Class of '86 set to play it again in Cup classic
Apr 6 2006 By John Thompson, Liverpool Echo
KENNY DALGLISH has had that familiar twinkle in his eye since he was knee high to a Scottish thistle. But those famous eyes positively light up when asked how he would feel if he could put a football into the net at a packed Kop End just one more time in his life. "It won't happen," he says. "But if it did .... well, I'd have to come off the pitch there and then." It could happen, because at the age of 55, Dalglish is planning to run out at Anfield one last time. The Liverpool legend, widely regarded as the greatest player ever to have represented the Reds, is restaging one of the most famous derby matches of all - the 1986 Wembley FA Cup Final. It takes place on Bank Holiday Monday May 1 with a 2.30 pm kick off. Tickets, priced £15 and £5, are already on sale at both Everton and Liverpool's grounds and are going fast.
In recreating, as far as he can, the historic day when the 'Merseypride' chant rang out in unison around Wembley as fans mingled good-naturedly with each other, Evertonians and Liverpudlians are being given a rare chance to see some of their clubs' greatest heroes back in action. It is a mouth-watering prospect, all in aid of the Marina Dalglish breast cancer charity, which is seeking to build a new oncology ward at Fazakerley Hospital. Dalglish, the Liverpool player manager in '86, will take charge of the Reds side. Howard Kendall, who in the 80s became Everton's most successful manager of all time, will lead out the Blues Behind Kendall will be the likes of Graeme Sharp, Peter Reid, Adrian Heath and Kevin Ratcliffe - while following out Dalglish again will be the likes of Ian Rush, Alan Hansen, Ronnie Whelan, Jan Molby and others who played in the '86 game. Other Merseyside football heroes like Andy Gray will be involved too. Liverpool's 3-1victory that day saw them land the League and FA Cup double for the first and only time. However, the occasion was special not only for that and because of the behaviour of the supporters, but because Everton and Liverpool were the two best teams in the land - if not in Europe - during the mid 80s.
Said Dalglish: "The result this time won't matter - well maybe once we get going it'll be a bit different for some of the guys! "But what matters most is that on the 20th anniversary of the '86 game, we'll be back together again raising money for Marina's charity, to get this ward and this facility up and running now." Recalled Dalglish: "The thing I remember most about the whole occasion was the fans - they were incredible on both sides. "One image I saw on TV of a dad with his two sons, one wearing blue and white and the other red and white - still sticks with me. It summed up the whole game, the whole day. "Then there was the joint homecoming tour with the two teams together parading around the city. "The day, the whole weekend, was just a fantastic advert for the city of Liverpool because both sets of supporters did it proud." Added Dalglish: "I've already had fantastic support from Everton and Liverpool and must thank Keith Wyness and Rick Parry for their superb support.
"As for the ex-players, well I suspect a few of them will secretly be doing a bit to get themselves fit. No one wants to embarrass themselves, after all.
"I think the Everton mid-field players will be doing more than most to get into shape. They'll need to get their stamina levels up because it's a pretty long way around Jan Molby these days. "Actually the banter between the lads on both sides has already started." As for the prospect of Dalglish scoring that one last goal at Anfield?
"If it did, well I'd have to just come off there and then. But it's not about me or any of us as individuals. "It's about staging something which will lead to the opening of the new ward at Fazakerley, and about celebrating what both clubs achieved during the 80s. "Everyone loves a memory, don't they?" * Tickets for the reunion match went on sale this week at both Anfield and Goodison ticket offices. Stand tickets are priced £15 Adults, and £5 Juniors (under 16 only). They can be bought from the Park End Box Office at Goodison from from 9.30am. They can also be bought at the Liverpool ticket office, which is open 8.15am to 5.30pm Mon-Friday and 9.15am -1pm (non-match days only). All areas of the stadium will be in use.
Ball tips Blues for the top six - next term
Apr 6 2006 Evertonia, Liverpool Echo
EVERTONIA honorary president Alan Ball has tipped the Blues for a top six place in the Premiership next term. The 1966 World Cup winner has been delighted to see David Moyes' men return to form since the turn of the year. But Ball, who won the league championship with Everton in 1970, believes it will be next term that the current side hits top gear. He told Evertonia: "The side is in decent form and they have still got to believe they can qualify for Europe. "They were obviously very disappointed at dropping two points against Sunderland but the home form has been very good and they can still push on. "But I think you will see the best of this team next season. They have come together and been very consistent in the second half of this season. "If they can maintain that consistency into next season they will do very well - as well as they did last year." Diving and feigning injury has become an issue in the game this season. It is a problem Alan Stubbs highlighted in the wake of the derby and Ball agrees it is a growing problem. He adds: "The game should be played properly. Foreign players have brought a lot into the English game. They have brought great technique and flair and so many of them are great to watch. "But there is a different culture to the game in some countries. Now we are seeing more of it in the English game because there are more foreign players here." * IF you haven't already taken advantage of the exclusive Open Training Day offer available to members of Evertonia, club shareholders and season ticket holders, this is your last chance to do so. David Moyes and the players will be at Goodison on Tuesday, April 11, and admission will be by ticket only. The event is free of charge, with the turnstiles opening at 9.30am on the day. The deadline for applications is tomorrow.
To apply, simply call at the Park End Box Office with your Shareholder or Evertonia card or your Season Ticket voucher number 58 from your book. Strictly one ticket per Evertonia member, Season Ticket holder or Shareholder. Any under-16s must be accompanied by an adult from one of the three selected groups.
Blues ticket details
Apr 6 2006 Liverpool Echo
Everton v Spurs on Saturday, April 15 (3pm) and Everton v Birmingham on Saturday, April 22 (3pm) THERE are tickets available from the Park End box office - 9.30am to 4.30pm (until 6pm on Thursdays and Fridays before home weekend fixtures).
Dial-A-Seat is available on 08707 383 786 or tickets can be purchased online at evertonfc.com
Yobo: I do not want out
Apr 7 2006 EXCLUSIVE by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
JOSEPH YOBO has given Evertonians hope that he sees his long-term future at Goodison Park. The Everton defender, who has been linked with claims he is planning a £3m move to Arsenal, revealed that his advisors are in talks about extending his stay on Merseyside. Though fears have grown since manager David Moyes revealed that Yobo has left a new contract unsigned since last summer, the Nigerian international insists there are no problems and he has set his sights on ensuring Everton finish the season with a bang. "It's a contract, you know?" said Yobo. "It doesn't get settled in a day. "My representatives have got a good relationship with the chairman and the club. From all I know, talks are continuing.
"If it is okay for both parties, it is okay for me. I'm just happy playing for Everton. Everyone has been behind me here. I'm settled in the club and Liverpool is like a second home."
Beattie's selfless gesture
Apr 7 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
JAMES BEATTIE is getting married this summer. But his wedding list bucks the trend quite spectacularly. The Everton striker has informed guests that rather than buy gifts, he would rather they donated money to a cancer charity set up in honour of a little girl who has recently passed away. During his time at Southampton, Beattie was introduced to six-year-old kidney cancer sufferer Sophie Barringer, when she was a Saints mascot for the day. Beattie followed her battle with illness even after moving to Merseyside -and when little Sophie passed away, Beattie showed his support for the family by joining the mourners at her funeral. Here, you might assume, that his association with the Barringers had run its course. But no. Beattie has invited Sophie's family to his wedding this summer and informed guests he would rather they donated money to a cancer charity set up in the girl's honour rather than buy any gifts.
When footballers cup their ears to the crowd after doing what they're handsomely paid to do, it's all too easy to be cynical and sneering. So equally, Beattie deserves the utmost praise for his selfless attitude to Sophie and her family.
Fans have given us lift - boss
Apr 7 2006 Liverpool Echo
ALAN CURBISHLEY has called on The Valley faithful to once again give Charlton a lift as his side look to continue their quest for a top-10 finish with victory over Everton. Currently in 11th place - just one place and one point behind the Blues - the London club face a defining week, which includes playing Middlesbrough for a place in the FA Cup semi-finals. Following a terrible run of form towards the end of 2005, Curbishley's men have slowly found their feet again and are unbeaten at home since Boxing Day. The Addicks boss is in no doubt what part their fans have played in securing that run. "Everybody has noticed that the atmosphere at The Valley over the last two games has made a difference to the team," Curbishley said.
"It has been a great help to the players. The atmosphere there against Middlesbrough and Newcastle was first class." Striker Marcus Bent, set to face his former club, is convinced his new club have the drive to kick on and ensure a strong finish to the season. "We are safe now so hopefully we can go on and end up in the top half," he said. "If you are ambitious enough you hit that safe mark and then you want to achieve more. But if you are an individual or a club that sees safety as the level you want to be at, then you are
I'm just happy playing for the Blues - Yobo
Apr 7 2006 EXCLUSIVE by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
JOSEPH YOBO today attempted to defuse the furore around his unsigned contract when he revealed his advisors are trying to thrash out terms to keep him at Goodison.
The Everton defender will only have 12 months left on his current deal when this season finishes. His future has come under scrutiny since it emerged that an offer was made to him last summer but has remained on the table. Arsenal have been monitoring the Nigerian international's position and are poised to make a £3m bid should talks stall between Everton and Yobo's representatives, but he has given the clearest indication yet that he wants to stay on Merseyside. Signed from Olympique Marseille for £4.5m in 2003 following a successful loan spell, Yobo had been one of Everton's most consistent performers this seasn before he headed off to the African Cup of Nations in January. He found things difficult after returning from Egypt, however, and only reclaimed his place in the starting line-up against Sunderland last weekend. But Yobo is at pains to stress that he has not started agitating for a move away. "I have got no problems here and have always been made to feel welcome," said Yobo, who has made 119 appearances for the Blues. "I was left out of the team after I came back from the African Nations' Cup but I never said anything. "I just enjoy playing my football. The manager has said there has been a contract on the table for me for months. I know there has been a proposal and that was going on while I was in Egypt. "It's a contract. It doesn't get settled in one day. My representatives have a good relationship with the chairman and the club. All I know is talks are continuing.
"All my advisors have told me is that I have to keep concentrating on my football. When I got back from the African Nations' Cup and I was out of the team. I knew I had to fight my way back in, which I think I have done.
"I hope to stay in the team now. I was very surprised everything came out because it is a private thing. But, as I have said, there is a good relationship between my advisors and the chairman and I don't see there being any problems. "If it is okay for both parties, it is okay for me. I'm just happy playing for Everton. Everyone has been behind me here. I'm settled in the club and Liverpool is like a second home.
"All I want to do now is play my football and help Everton finish as high as possible."
Although some people feel the 2-2 draw with Sunderland provided a fatal blow to Everton's ambitions, Yobo believes a place in Europe can still be achieved, especially if they return to winning ways against Charlton tomorrow. With Bolton losing twice and West Ham and Wigan only drawing since Everton last played, the gap between David Moyes' side and a place in the top eight is not as wide as many feared.
Victory at The Valley would certainly give further reason for optimism, with Everton's rivals all facing difficult assignments, yet Yobo warns the Blues cannot afford to fluff their lines if they want to stage a grandstand finish. "I was pleased to get back in the side because it is frustrating sitting on the bench," he continued. "But I was very disappointed that we didn't get three points. We now have a great opportunity to get back on track. "If we can get back-to-back wins that will help us. We started the season badly but then got back into form and climbed the table. We can't switch off as anything can happen in football. We are going there to win."If somebody else slips up and we keep getting three points, we could be in Europe. We have to do our best and keep winning." As confident as Yobo is going into the fixture, he knows after a string of telephone calls earlier this week that a former Evertonian is determined to wreck his old club's ambitions of achieving European football. Marcus Bent will line up against the Blues for the first time since his £2.5m sale in January and has told Yobo he is in for a torrid afternoon. "He's been on the phone," said Yobo, with a mischievous grin. "I think Marcus is a very good player. He showed that here but he got frustrated because he was left out of the team. "Every footballer wants to play. He will be a threat with his pace. "It will be good to meet up with him again. He might fancy his chances against me but he knows what I am all about. It's going to be pretty tough, but I'll just remind him that he never used to fancy it against me on the training ground! "He's got pace and I've got pace. He will try and move things to the side and take me on, but I don't think he's going to fancy it too much," the defensive star added.
Charlton 0, Everton 0 (Echo)
Apr 10 2006 By David Prentice
IF you're prepared to look hard enough, you can find some good in anything. Even the Kray twins were kind to their mother. And contrary to what you may already have seen and heard, there were some real collectors' items to cherish at The Valley on Saturday. Richard Wright kept a rare clean sheet; Everton came away from London with a point - that's two now this season; Lee Carsley made his first start for 11 months; and Tony Hibbert had a shot! The latter was arguably the most unusual occurence - and judging by the pace, timing and power behind his 40-yard howitzer, perhaps he should be encouraged to unleash a few more. But despite all these unexpected treats, you couldn't escape from the conclusion that this was one scrap-py, wretched, miserable, dog of a match. Everton have only Premiership placings left to play for this season and Charlton were focused so firmly on Wednesday night's FA Cup replay that they left out five players who will be involved at Middlesbrough.
And it showed on an afternoon when the richest entertainment came from Richard Wright's ability to misjudge bouncing footballs. An unsatisfactory afternoon was summed up when Everton produced the best passing move of the entire match four minutes after the restart. After switching the ball neatly and precisely around the prostrate figure of the injured Joseph Yobo, Mikel Arteta looked up and sent Leon Osman racing through on goal - just as referee Peter Walton elected to blow his whistle to allow the Nigerian to receive treatment. Yobo was gingerly picking himself up anyway - and the first and only real prospect of a goal on an uneventful afternoon had been extinguished. There weren't any other openings quite as clearcut.
Yobo's turbo-charged pace snuffed out Jason Euell's hopes of a goal just as the Charlton midfielder was about to strike, while James Beattie unleashed a superlative dipping 25-yard strike on the stroke of half-time, which Myhre tipped spectacularly over. That was the sum total of meaningful goalmouth action in the opening 45 minutes, although Richard Wright did his best to liven up proceedings with a comedy misjudgement after 36 minutes. Matt Holland punted a hopeful ball forward which the Blues keeper advanced to collect. A sharply bouncing ball almost caught him out last week against Sunderland; this time it did, bouncing over his head and towards the unguarded goal. Fortunately he reacted quickly enough to scurry back and scoop the ball away for a corner, but the moment was typical of Wright's recent fortunes.
His handling was good, his cross-taking confident and his all-round performance solid - but that incident merely confirmed his status as an accident waiting to happen.
Myhre, a man who endured his own personal nightmares at Goodison Park in a relegation shoot-out and an FA Cup quarter-final, had precious little to do at the other end. James McFadden shot into the side-netting and Osman diverted Carsley's cross-shot narrowly over the crossbar. Carsley's presence in the Blues midfield at least gave the match some relevance. Almost ever-present throughout the fourth-place campaign, he did what he does so well, dismantling opposition raids, protecting his back four and covering immense amounts of ground in unfussy, unselfish fashion.
It may not be just coincidence that the Blues kept their first clean sheet for two months with his shielding presence in the side. But you really had to peer hard to find any more significance beyond that. As ever, the most impressive moment of an unimpressive afternoon was the size and enthusiasm of Everton's away following.
Six games from the end of a season which possesses only marginal significance, at one of London's most inaccessible and distant away grounds, with the counter-attraction of the world's greatest steeplechase on their doorstep back home, yet Everton fans still packed the Jimmy Seed Stand to the rafters. The players quite rightly acknowledged those supporters after the final whistle.
The greatest tribute they could pay, however, would be to finish the season with a flourish.
Every single one of Everton's five remaining opponents have something meaningful to play for this season.
The Blues may have less meaningful targets than Europe or avoiding relegation, but they are still chasing a first under David Moyes . . . a winning end to the season.
With typical candour, Moyes admitted on Friday that he was "very aware that our finishes to a season haven't been brilliant since I have been here."
Last season witnessed four defeats from the last eight matches - including a 7-0 mauling at Highbury; the season before saw the last five lost, while 2003 also witnessed five defeats from the last eight. Everton's last eight games of this season have kicked off with two draws and a defeat. A few home wins, kicking off against Spurs next weekend, would ensure that this goalless bore is quickly forgotten.
CHARLTON: Myhre, Spector, Hreidarsson, Sorondo, Perry, Kishishev (Rommedahl 65), Holland, Euell, Thomas (Ambrose 78), Bothroyd (Bartlett 65), M Bent. Subs: Andersen, Sankofa.
EVERTON: Wright, Hibbert, Neville, Stubbs, Yobo, Carsley, Osman (Davies 84), Cahill, Arteta, McFadden, Beattie (Ferguson 80).
BOOKINGS: Hibbert, McFadden. Subs: Turner, Naysmith, Weir.
REFEREE: Peter Walton.
Stubbs keeping Euro goal
Apr 10 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
ALAN STUBBS insists Everton can only afford one more slip-up if they are to snatch an unlikely European place next season. The Toffees' Euro rivals Bolton, Wigan, West Ham, Blackburn and Arsenal all dropped points over the weekend.
But the goalless draw at Charlton on Saturday means that the Blues have taken only two points from their last nine and Stubbs said: "Europe is flickering now. If we were going to have any chance now we would have to win four of the last five.
"Three matches are at home and our home form has been good apart from last week. It is still all to play for because the teams above us have dropped points as well so nobody has pulled away and gained a big advantage over the weekend." But Stubbs is frustrated that the Blues have missed a golden opportunity to close the gap on sixth place, dropping two points at home to Sunderland and then failing to take more than a point at an under-strength Charlton on Saturday. "We were disappointed we didn't take what we could have taken out of the game," he said. "We felt Charlton were there for the taking. "We came away with a point but if we had played a little better it could have easily been three. "There wasn't much in it. It looked a 0-0 all over. They had a bit more pressure in the second half but you have to expect that because they were the home team. "We were kicking ourselves a little bit when we came off but we are not too down-hearted because we got a clean sheet and a point from a difficult place to go.
"With that in mind, it was alright. But we know that if we had been a bit more positive we could have had three." Everton's Euro ambitions are now resting on the outcome of back-to-back matches against high-flying London clubs over the Easter weekend.
Champions League chasing Tottenham come to Goodison on Saturday and the Toffees travel to title-chasing Chelsea two days later on Easter Monday. Only sixth place would guarantee European football next season, although a seventh place finish would gain InterToto Cup qualification.
Moyes wants a change of rules
Apr 10 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has called for a rule change regarding injured players - after his Everton side were denied a goal at Charlton on Saturday by a hasty referee's whistle.
Match official Peter Walton stopped play at The Valley to allow the injured Joseph Yobo to receive treatment, just as Leon Osman had been played clean through on goal. Moyes believes that incidents like that are on the increase - and that players themselves should decide whether to put the ball out to allow team-mates to receive treatment. Everton were in possession while Yobo was injured - play had already been stopped twice in the opening minutes for similar incidents - while late in the game Dennis Rommedahl put the ball out while attacking to allow Osman to receive treatment. Moyes wants to see a rule introduced to replace the current gentleman's agreement which is in place. "I have said for a while now that I think the rule should be that if a player goes down injured - because you will see it a lot in the World Cup to waste time or feign injury - it should be the players themselves who decide whether the ball goes out, apart from head injuries which needs to be the referee's decision.
"We were through and thought we were about to get a goal, when the referee blew."I actually thought it was our decision to decide that, unless it was a head knock. I would like to say that I thought the referee had a really good game, but I think that a rule should come in across the board. "For example in the opening couple of minutes the ball had to go out of play twice. I think that if a player goes down injured from my team, I can put it out for my player to get treatment, but I don't think the opposition should do it. "But a rule would have to come in across the board. It's a gentleman's agreement at present, but if we decided not to do it everybody would be booing from the stands saying we are ungentlemanly. "But I have said for a while now that I think the rule should be that if a player goes down injured it should be the players themselves who decide whether the ball goes out." The incident was one of the few talking points of a dire goalless draw, and Moyes joked afterwards in the post-match press conference: "I'm here quickly to get you home, so you don't need to suffer any more.
Wright praises travelling fans
Apr 10 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
RICHARD WRIGHT spoke of the nightmare moment which almost saw him drop one of the clangers of the season on Saturday - and claimed: "I was in control of the situation!" The Everton goalkeeper was horrified when a sharply bouncing ball sailed over his head and bounced towards an unguarded net at The Valley. But he reacted quickly to retrieve the situation - and, after keeping a clean sheet in a goalless draw, praised the travelling Blues support for the backing he received. "You do what you feel is right at the time," he explained. "The ball was coming in behind Joe (Yobo) and I felt I needed to come and meet the ball. "I didn't realise it was going to bounce so high. I thought that if I jumped and got a hand on it I could have played it down into someone's path, but that if I could turn there wasn't enough pace on the ball to take it in. "The ball bounced away from me but I was in control of the situation.
"The main thing is to enjoy my football. Things like that can occur in games but you just have to deal with it and get on with it. It goes down as a save, as well."
He added: "The people behind the goal were fantastic. "I have never had anything different from the fans. When things are not going that well you may not get the backing and I have not been performing that well, but I am working as hard as I possibly can and with them behind me as well it is fantastic. "The fans are brilliant. They have always been great with me. Things have not been going 100% for me but the fans have been 100% behind me. "I have always done the best I can. The main thing is I am playing football and enjoying it. The more I play the more confidence and everything will build around me and get me to where I know I can be."
The Blues goalkeeper tried to take the positives from a disappointing match that will quickly be forgotten. "A goalless draw is not the ideal result at the moment because we want to be pushing up the table," he added. "It was a difficult game because they were putting a lot of balls in the box. We didn't go out with the intention of the game not igniting but that is the way it turned out. It was quite a slow game but if you are taking the plus points out of the game we kept a clean sheet. "The boys in front of me performed very well and it is a good point. We need to take the positives and build on them for the last five games because we want to finish as high up the table as possible.
"Joe has come in and done well, but Davie Weir had not done anything wrong either so all the boys in defence are in form at the moment. "It was also good to see Lee Carsley back in the side. he is someone who gets in there, breaks up the play and helps protect the back four. For him to come in for his first start after so long out and do so well is fantastic."
Neville vital for Germany
Apr 11 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has urged Sven Goran Eriksson to reconsider the World Cup claims of his skipper, Phil Neville - after Charlton full-back Luke Young appeared to give up on his own chances of going to Germany. The young Charlton defender said: "It looks like next season now," after being asked about the ankle injury which has sidelined him in recent weeks. But boss Alan Curbishley said: "That is a little premature. We hope to have Luke back around April 22." That would give him two weeks to prove his fitness before Eriksson names his World Cup squad on May 8. But Moyes insists that the versatile Neville should be going to Germany regardless. "He has been driving everybody on in recent weeks, and his performances have been up to his best again after he had a little dip," he declared. "We played him at full-back on Saturday - largely because I wanted to give Lee Carsley an opportunity - and Phil played very well. "Going to the World Cup means a lot to him. Some players might think twice about going over there for a month if they are not guaranteed any football, but Phil's not like that. He feels part of the England set-up and he would love to be involved.
"And his versatility makes him so valuable. "He can play left-back, right-back and he never lets you down. You can ask him to do any job and he will always do it to the best of his ability. "He's even played centre-back for us at times this season. Sometimes you need players like him in the team if you are a little bit short.
"We were all disappointed that Phil wasn't in the squad for the Uruguay game, but Mr Eriksson has to pick his squad in the same way I have to pick mine. "Sven is very loyal. When you have been in and around the squad for something like four years, which Phil has, then I think if there is one player deserving to go it is Phil Neville because of the type of player he is." The 29-year-old, a veteran of two European Championships but no World Cups, has been a regular in Eriksson's squads earning 52 caps, but has not played since the 3-2 win over Colombia last May.
Everton's trip to Middlesbrough, meanwhile, has been put back 24 hours to Sunday, April 30 because of Boro's involvement in this season's UEFA Cup semi-finals.
£35k deal for '86 cup final reunion
Apr 11 2006 By John Thompson, Liverpool Echo
LIVERPOOL'S Capital of Culture chiefs have signed a major sponsorship deal to add their name to a restaging of the most famous derby match in Merseyside history.
The Liverpool Culture company has negotiated a £35,000 agreement which will see Everton and Liverpool legends run out in kits bearing the '08 logo. The teams, who met at Wembley in the first all Merseyside FA Cup final of 1986, will face each other again at Anfield on Bank Holiday Monday, May 1 (2.30pm kick-off). The historic reunion match has been organised by former Liverpool player and manager Kenny Dalglish, with all proceeds going to his wife Marina's breast cancer charity.
He is bringing together a host of legendary names from Goodison and Anfield for a match which is already attracting worldwide interest and is expected to be a sell-out.
Tickets are available from both clubs, priced £15 for adults and £5 for children (under 16). Said Dalglish: "It's great the Capital of Culture people have agreed to sponsor the match. "They are sponsoring two teams from the most successful decade in Merseyside sporting history."Professor Drummond Bone, chairman of Liverpool Culture Company, said: "The '86 cup final is one of the most important and memorable sporting occasions Merseyside has ever witnessed. "What happened off the pitch was just as enthralling. The fans' behaviour that day was one of the most evocative displays of the passion and friendliness for which the city is world famous.
"This reunion is a great opportunity to celebrate how football has shaped the city's cultural identity and psyche. "Football and the players have given us great joy and comfort over the decades and it is fitting that the proceeds of this match aim to do the same for countless families. "It is also a fitting testament to the 2006 themed year - Liverpool Performs. "I'm delighted to say that as a result of our European Capital of Culture Sports Strategy, the city is not just excelling at football. "We will be hosting the world's best in many sports in the run-up to 2008 from squash, tennis and golf to boxing, cycling and rugby. "And with the city council we are ploughing millions into nurturing a new generation of champions - as we saw recently at the Commonwealth Games."
Williams sees red as Blues' title dreams are blown apart
Apr 11 2006 Women's Football by Paul Garrity, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON LADIES' dreams of winning the league were shattered by a 5-0 defeat at Arsenal. The result owed much to the crucial decision to send Everton midfielder Fara Williams off just after half-time. With the game still goalless, Williams was dismissed for two yellow cards. The first was for dissent and the second was for throwing the ball away. The Toffees had the better of the opening 10 minutes and looked the brighter of the two sides with Amy Kane going close. After the break the Blues were caught napping and Gunners striker Lianne Sanderson put her side into the lead.
Minutes later Williams was sent off, but the Blues, even down to 10 players, had a great chance to level although Kelly McDougall missed the target. Arsenal's Jayne Ludlow and Kelly Smith both scored soon after, and Ludlow added another just after the hour. Mo Marley's side still worked hard and Rachel Unitt's powerful effort was thwarted by keeper Emma Byrne, while Kane failed to test the Gunners stopper with her shot. Sanderson made it 5-0 in stoppage time. Liverpool travelled to Blackburn Rovers in a top of the table clash in the Northern Division. The game ended goalless, although the Reds did have chances to break the deadlock and goalkeeper Nicky Davies pulled off several saves to keep the Lancashire side at bay. Keith Cliffe's side are currently in second place, a position that could take them into a two legged play-off and possible promotion back to the top flight. The Reds are under pressure from local rivals Tranmere Rovers who are just two points behind, and the two sides still have to play each other before the end of the campaign. There is a full fixture list this weekend with Everton at home to Sunderland (Marine FC, 12.30pm), Liverpool at Aston Villa while Tranmere travel to Manchester City.
Osman chases 10-goal target
Apr 12 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON will ignore the FA's dubious goals panel ruling - and ensure that Leon Osman is still credited with the two goals taken away from him this week.
And boss David Moyes is now hoping the midfielder can reach double figures for the season. An FA committee ruled on Monday that Osman's January strikes at Portsmouth and Wigan should both enter the record books as own goals - taking his tally for the season from six down to four. But Moyes said today that the club would continue to recognise Osman as their goalscorer in both games. "The way we've been treated by the FA already this season I'm not surprised by the decision," said Moyes.
"But in my eyes, Leon scored both goals. If he hadn't been in those positions, would we still have scored? Of course not. As far as I am concerned they are definitely Ossie's goals. "But we have our own records and they will show Leon Osman as having scored six goals so far this season." Moyes added: "Of course these decisions make a difference to how a player's form is perceived over a season. There's still a chance Ossie could finish on 10 goals, which is an excellent return for a midfielder. Take away those two goals and he would probably have little chance."
Osman himself insists he applied the final touch each time, after waiting until January to open his account for the season. He only needs one more goal to equal last season's tally of seven goals - his first full season in senior football. A young Everton reserve team, meanwhile, travels to Robin Park tonight to face Wigan.
Moyes must give youth a chance
Apr 12 2006 Echo Letters, icLiverpool & Liverpool Echo
I HAVE a feeling that Richard Wright may well prove to be a very reliable keeper for Everton. He has his moments, but once he is regarded as our No 1 then his confidence will grow. It looks like Everton will have very limited funds to spend over the summer so Moyes had better not make any mistakes. We have to find regular goals from somewhere, but at the same time we need more inventiveness throughout the team to ensure we control play rather than be reactive. We have to improve our general footballing skills if we are to compete with the leading teams in the Premiership.
We seem unable to command play for long periods and maintain consistent pressure on our opponents. Against teams like Charlton, West Ham, Wigan and Bolton we seem quite ordinary and this is not good enough for a team with the pedigree of Everton FC.
Roger Dalton, North Wales
WHAT is it with David Moyes and his failure to give youth a chance?
We can say goodbye to any hopes of qualifying for Europe after last week's bore draw, so now he has to pack out the bench (at least) with the youngsters who are kicking into form at the end of the season. Victor Anichebe is seemingly scoring goals for fun right now and he deserves a run up front, with Beattie playing off him.
I bet that would open the doors to a goal-fest in the run-in.
Matt Jones, Croxteth
JOSEPH YOBO is the future of Everton's defence so I was delighted to read in the ECHO that he wants to stay at Goodison Park.
Whether these words were genuine or not, he's clearly thrown the ball back in the board's corner and they should move quickly to put a revised deal together for him.
What the club should do is announce Yobo's terms publicly, proving their commitment to the player, but also leaving him without an exit in the summer.
I'm already dreading picking up the paper and seeing Yobo holding an Arsenal shirt and talking about how Everton's offer wasn't good enough to keep him on Merseyside. That just won't wash. The club needs to build from the back, and in Yobo (pictured left) they have a player with the potential to be a genuine world class centre-half. Ferrari and him could form a partnership for years to come.
Jim Smith, Widnes
THE news I have heard from various Pompey sources is that Lomano LuaLua will join Everton in the summer. He wants to join us and they can't stop him from moving. It's a good move for the Blues because he can give us the pace and mobility up front that we so badly lack.
John Jones, Huyton
Wigan Res 1, Everton Res 2
Apr 13 2006 Daily Post
A VERY young Everton Reserves side earned a deserved victory against an experienced Wigan Athletic team which included former Liverpool defender Stephane Henchoz at Robin Park. The Blues took the lead early on, when in the ninth minute defender Lee Molynuex's shot was too difficult for Mike Pollit and squeezed inside the keeper and post. Victor Anichebe and Henchoz found themselves in the book after squaring up to each other. Ryan Blaney hit a shot just over, then Lewis Montrose tested John Ruddy in the Everton goal. Michael Hazeldine brought the home side level in the 76th minute. Everton were not to be thwarted though and Bjarni Vidarsson broke to finish superbly past Pollitt with four minutes left.
EVERTON: Ruddy, Irving, Molyneux, Dennehy, Boyle, Connor (Kissock 64), Harpur, Phelan, Morrison, Anichebe, Vidarsson Subs: Densmore, Jones, Elder, Agard
WIGAN ATH: Pollitt, Blaney, Taylor, Henchoz (Pearson 46), Wright, Francis, Maloney (Field 65), Montrose, Mc Caughtrie (Prince 84), Hazeldine, Owens Subs: Saunders, Holt
Hibbert pride at Blues milestone
Apr 13 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
TONY HIBBERT is in line to pass a major milestone on Saturday - his 150th Everton appearance. But the Blues defender admits he still doesn't feel like an established first team player. "I am pleased to have played that number of games, but I still don't really think of myself as an established player," he explained. "I don't look at it like that.
"Every Friday and Saturday I'm still hoping that I'm picked for the game. To be honest, when I've seen in the programme that I've played over 100 games it's strange.
"It doesn't feel like I've played 100 and odd games. It feels like nothing really. I just want to play every day and play as many games as I can." Hibbert, 25, has proved one of Everton's most consistent performers since making his debut in a 2-0 win at West Ham in March 2001. He has missed just three matches this season - two through injury and one through suspension - after sitting out only three games last term.
But one statistic he is still waiting to register is his first senior goal. An occasional marksman in reserve and junior football, when he was more often used in midfield, he has yet to score from the right-back berth he now regularly fills. "I hope I'm getting closer," he said "but it's just one of those things. At the end of the day I'm a defender and all I'm thinking about is stopping the opposition scoring goals or trying to get past me. If I don't score . . . well, as long as I'm stopping them scoring then I'm happy with that." Hibbert, however, has a long way to go before he can match Brian Labone's record. The Blues legend waited 277 matches before he scored his first goal for the club against Blackburn Rovers at Goodison Park. He scored a second, four months later, before another 229 game drought before retiring! Post-war defenders Terry Darracott (172 games), Ray Wilson (143), Eric Moore (184) and Martin Keown (120) spent their entire Everton careers without celebrating a goal. The Blues, meanwhile, have released four young players - striker Paul Hopkins, midfielder Christian Seargeant and defenders Mark Hughes and Stephen Wynne.
Sharpening up for re-match!
Apr 13 2006 By John Thompson, Liverpool Echo
ONE of the finest moments in Graeme Sharp's Everton career is etched on the memory of every Blues fan who was there to see it or who caught it later on TV.
It was at Anfield on October 20, 1984 during the heat of a Merseyside derby, as Everton emerged as a team ready to take two league titles and a European Cup Winners Cup to sit proudly alongside the FA Cup they had won a few months earlier.
The gifted Scottish centre forward latched on to a long ball from Gary Stevens and without breaking stride lashed an unstoppable, dipping, right foot volley past Bruce Grobbelaar to seal a famous victory for Everton. Two years later, Sharp was locking horns with the Reds again, this time at Wembley in the FA Cup final of 1986.
In the second half, with Everton leading 1-0 he put in a leaping header which soared towards goal. Liverpool keeper Bruce Grobbelaar leapt to claw it away from beneath the bar. Had the effort succeeded, Sharp would almost certainly have won the cup for the blues. And with it have established a new place in Goodison's Wembley folkore, following his strike against Watford in the '84 final. The Scot has given himself one more chance to take on Liverpool and Grobbelaar next month. Both men will run out at Anfield for a charity restaging of the 86 cup final, organised by Reds legend Kenny Dalglish and kicking off at 2.30pm on Bank Holiday Monday, May1.
The game will help fund a new cancer care unit at Fazakerley Hospital, via the Marina Dalglish Breast Cancer appeal.Said Sharp: "The lads have been on the phone and are doing all they can to get as fit as possible for the game," he says, sharing a podium with his ex-manager Howard Kendall and his old foes at Anfield. "I am sure it will be competitive, especially when Reidy is involved. You always have that desire to win especially when you come here. "But the most important thing is that everyone enjoys it. We are all talking about the game already. "The 86 final was a fantastic occasion, even though the result was a very disappointing one for us. "We are all looking forward to the rematch. Former Liverpool captain Alan Hansen, who will be doing his best to shackle Sharp, acknowledges it could have been different to the 3-1 victory the Reds ultimately enjoyed, particularly had Grobbelaar not thwarted Sharp.
"The final was actually a very good match but for 50 or 60 minutes Everton hammered us. "I can remember Kenny saying we were lucky to still be in the game and that we had to take the chance to come back. "Jan Molby started to dominate in midfield and the rest is, as they say, history. "But the thing I remember most from the occasion is coming down Wembley way on the coach and seeing all these thousands of fans, red and blue mixed in together. "It was an incredible sight and one of the best memories I'll ever have. The whole day was just out of this world." Howard Kendall will lead the Blues side out at Anfield and this time may well have one player with him who did not make the original libe-up due to injury. In 1986 Neville Southall was replaced by second string keeper Bobby Mimms. Said Kendall: "No, if Nev turns up and wants to play then he'll be playing. Bobby Mimms did a tremendous job for us. I know some people pointed the finger at him but I don't. He helped us get there.
"It's great to be doing this all over again. I'm looking forward to it as much as the players." Tickets for the historic rematch can be bought from both Goodison and Anfield (£15 adults, £5 children under 16).
Why most of us are still up for the cups
Apr 13 2006 Sports View with Echo Sports Editor John Thompson
IT was strange to hear one or two journalists in the national media churlishly berating the UEFA Cup as pointless and worthless following last week's memorable comeback by Middlesbrough against Basle. Increasingly, it sits alongside the Carling Cup as the Aunt Sally of soccer silverware. And for these writers no doubt the FA Cup is coming up fast on the rails as not really worth having. Of course, there is a correct and natural merit order for trophies, and the European Cup and the Premiership are right at the top of the heap. But we are seeing a sort of snobbery these days which all but declares that anything other than the two biggest and best prizes aren't worth having, or even competing for. Boro fans nearly jammed the Radio Five Live switchboard with complaints when it was suggested their four-goal comeback and campaign in Europe was not worth a carrot. Message received all right, but was it understood? Probably not. That is a shame because if we were to drop competitions like the UEFA Cup and the Carling Cup from the football schedule, the game would simply be damaging itself. Not that many years ago, Europe hosted three cup competitions rather than the two it now stages. Try telling older Evertonians the defunct European Cup Winners' Cup wasn't worth shouting about in Rotterdam in 1985, or has not really given them those wonderful memories of a great team and a golden age at Goodison.
Okay, as the Champions League has developed into a Champions plus the best-of-the-rest League, the UEFA Cup has lost some of its quality; its sheen. But it's a trophy Liverpool have won three times - a feat which sits just as proudly in the Anfield record books. The competition needs reviewing because there are currently too many rounds which go on for ever before the business end even comes into sight. And yes, there are a few unheard of minnows in the mix for too long to excite the crowds and fill the stadiums. But Middlesbrough's young players, by progressing so far in the UEFA Cup this year, are getting vital European experience which will fast-track their development and help the Teessiders to challenge on all fronts in future.
And if they can win it, well, it will be the proudest moment in their club's starved history. The prospect of qualifying for the UEFA Cup is also currently keeping interest in the top half of the Premiership alive for several clubs, including Everton.
David Moyes, while being realistic, is urging his team to do all they can to get there. He knows, after the all too brief dalliance with Europe this season, it will give him the chance to take the Blues onto a new level, maybe attract more players of talent and ambition. Most importantly, it will give the supporters something extra to savour and enjoy next season. Mocking all but the shiniest silverware on offer in football is easy. But unless it's done in humour it's a cheap shot and should be avoided.
Not everyone may love a winner, but the vast majority of us still do - whatever the size of the prize!
Fans flock to see Blues stars train
Apr 13 2006 Evertonia, Liverpool Echo
MORE than 1,000 Evertonia members, shareholders and season ticket holders attended an open training day at Goodison this week. The fans were able to watch from the Bullens Road stand as David Moyes put his first team squad through their paces ahead of the fixtures against Tottenham and Chelsea over the Easter weekend.
All the players and the manager were welcomed on to the pitch where they were given a great reception by the fans. Then, after a thorough warmup, the manager presided over a variety of training exercises, before finishing with a shooting drill.
The opportunity to get a behind the scenes glimpse at the Blues training was offered to all members of Evertonia, season ticket holders and shareholders. The event proved hugely popular and Moyes said: "It was great to see the supporters. We always enjoy having them and it was ideal on the day. "They could see the lads doing some work on the pitch here at Goodison, which is something we don't normally do, so it was good.
"It is a chance to see how hard the players work and how much they put into each training session so hopefully they will have enjoyed it and seen some of the stars and their favourites." The boss insists the amount of effort put into the training session underlines the squad's commitment to maintain its push up the Premiership table.
Moyes added: "We are going to keep going all the way to the very last game. I wouldn't have it any other way. I think these games are really important for us. I won't be turning off and I won't be expecting any of my players to do so. "We will be making sure right until the last ball is kicked that we are trying to win."
Blues ticket details
Apr 13 2006 Liverpool Echo
TICKETS for Everton's Premiership home games with Tottenham on April 15 and Birmingham on April 22 (both 3pm ko) are now on general sale from the Park End box office. The office is open between 9.30am and 4.30pm between Monday and Friday, and until 6pm on Thursday. Alternatively, use the dial-a-seat service on 08707 383 786 or visit www.evertonfc.com
Everton 0, Tottenham 1 (Echo)
Apr 17 2006 By Dominic King, Daily Post
WHEN Everton's hierarchy meet in the summer to start planning for next season, it is hoped one of the first things they do is watch a re-run of the day Tottenham Hotspur came to town. While they may have spent many of the Premiership years shuffling around mid-table, playing nice football but winning more admirers than they did matches, it appears Spurs are finally on the verge of gatecrashing into the big time.
Why? Their board has backed an ambitious manager in the shape of Martin Jol with hard cash, allowing him to buy players with their best years ahead of them, the type of whom he will be able to build a squad with the future the mind. Wheeling and dealing, Jol has scoured the continent looking for bargains but has spent big on youngsters when the chance has allowed - take the £7m he splashed out to sign Jermaine Jenas or the similar fee it took to buy Michael Dawson and Andy Reid.
"Our philosophy is get them early, otherwise we pay £10m, £20m," Jol - who has claimed Spurs will win the league in three years - said recently. "Now we get them for very realistic prices. If they are 100 per cent mentally, they can be top players."
The results are there for all to see. Avoid defeat at Highbury next weekend and - an Arsenal triumph in the Champions League apart - Spurs will more than likely take their place alongside Europe's elite for the first time in August. Few would begrudge them the chance, as the progress they have made since deciding to gamble big on youth last summer has been unrelenting. Robbie Keane's solitary penalty did not provide an accurate reflection of how far Everton lagged behind. "It wasn't for the lack of trying or effort from the players," a disgruntled David Moyes reflected. "We tried to throw everything at them. But we were beaten by the better side. Maybe they are the best team to have played at Goodison Park this season. "We just lacked a little bit of spark, our creative players didn't quite perform and we are missing Mikel Arteta. It was a difficult pitch but Tottenham made it look easy. We tried everything and in the end we tried to hit it up front for a knock down. "In the end that looked our best route because we couldn't beat them otherwise. We never really got to grips with the game from the opening minute. They got a foothold early on and were able to pass it, gaining a bit of composure.
"They are always a threat, when you have got Keane coming towards the ball or Defoe dropping deep or coming in behind. They were a threat. They have got a good balance to their team, good players and all around they are a good side." Yet the feeling remains Everton should be in their position. After all, it was only 12 months ago that Moyes was on the verge of leading the Blues to a glorious fourth-placed finish, while Tottenham ended the campaign nine points behind in ninth spot. As one exasperated caller suggested in a post match phone-in, it's almost as if Jol has taken Moyes' blueprint. The young, vibrant side with power and strength that Moyes said he wanted after taking over from Walter Smith was on show on Saturday. Problem was, they were clad in white and navy blue. Slick and quick, Tottenham would have come close to racking a scoreline up similar to the one Bolton Wanderers did before Christmas had Richard Wright not performed heroically between the posts. Twice before the interval he made crucial stops, once from Anthony Gardner and another from Keane, but was powerless to spot the Republic of Ireland international, so coveted by Moyes last August, gaining his revenge from the penalty spot. Wright, however, surpassed those efforts after the break to repel Jenas and Jermain Defoe in the space of 30 seconds. If the first of those saves was outstanding, the second - hurtling to his right to tip the ball around the post - was even better. When he plays this well, it reminds us why Sven-Goran Eriksson - visiting Goodison Park for the first time since the opening day of the season - once picked Wright for England duty. It also makes his uncertain days all the more unfathomable. Sadly, he was the only real contender for man-of-the-match honours in the home ranks. Deputising for the injured Tony Hibbert, Phil Neville was neat and tidy at right-back, doing his hopes of a trip to Germany in the summer no harm at all. Simon Davies, meanwhile, worked diligently against his old club, trying his best to lift those around him. He could be satisfied with his efforts before his afternoon ended as it usually does - with his number being held aloft on the sidelines.
But it was the men that should have made things happen who were conspicuous by their absence. The fact Everton never made Paul Robinson work once and in the end resorted to hoofing the ball up to Duncan Ferguson spoke volumes. Not good enough.
Since dismantling Aston Villa so impressively last month, the Blues have gone four games without winning, extinguishing the chance to automatically qualify for the UEFA Cup and effectively ending their hopes of an Intertoto appearance.
With a bit more consistency and verve, Everton would comfortably have made the top seven. There have been enough good performances this year to show the club is moving in the right direction this year, but there have also been displays to hammer home the fact that all is not right. The end of season target has to be securing a top 10 finish, the first time during the Premiership era that the club has achieved such a feat on consecutive years. It will be achieved if the players rouse themselves.
Then? To make the next step, the powers that be must have the courage of their convictions to think big and bold. If proof were needed it is the right path to take, they need only look at the men from White Hart Lane.
EVERTON: Wright, Neville, Naysmith (Kilbane 84), Stubbs (Ferrari 59), Yobo, Carsley, Davies (Ferguson 65), Cahill, Osman, McFadden, Beattie. Subs: Weir, Turner.
BOOKINGS: Carsley, Neville.
TOTTENHAM: Robinson, Stalteri, Lee, Gardner, King (Davids 90), Lennon (Davenport 81), Carrick, Jenas, Tainio (Murphy 46), Keane, Defoe. Subs: Cerny, Barnard.
REFEREE: Howard Webb.
Blues play catch-up in shadow of Spurs
Apr 17 2006 Analysis by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
TOTTENHAM'S bid to emulate Everton's achievement of last season has a certain resonance. Because for 20 years now Everton have been trying to emulate Spurs.
Now try not to choke on your Easter egg, all you Evertonians over the age of 35.
Just ask Blues younger than yourself which is the most successful club.
It's an experiment I've tried several times. Chances are they'll look at the ground, shuffle in embarrassment, and mutter "Spurs". Because despite an honours list which pales into insignificance alongside Everton's - just two League titles, the last before David Moyes was born - Tottenham have managed to retain their status as a big, ambitious club. Not Premiership title challengers, maybe. But definite top-half finishers every season, with solid runs in cup competitions and likely League Cup winners. A club which can attract world class, if a little faded, stars like Edgar Davids, David Ginola, Jurgen Klinsmann and Ossie Ardiles. And a club which can occasionally lay out huge sums of money to gamble on strikers like Sergei Rebrov.
That's the perception David Moyes is currently battling against. While it seems like heresy to suggest to an older Evertonian that their club is in Tottenham's shadow, Everton were marginalised many years ago. Before the Premiership era began, only neighbours Liverpool boasted more domestic honours. That's right. Arsenal and Manchester United were Everton wannabees. But that's an awful long time ago now. Everton have been playing catch-up ever since. And Saturday's evidence was that Everton still have an awful lot of catching up to do if they are to emulate Martin Jol's enterprising and attractive side. The final scoreline read 1-0, but a truer reflection should have been two or three to nothing. Paul Robinson was not asked to make a single save all afternoon. Richard Wright produced three outstanding stops - and a number of others that were merely solid.
It was telling that all Everton's best performers were defensive players.
The decision to play Phil Neville at right-back was forced on Moyes, with Tony Hibbert finally bowing to a long-standing hernia problem. But the timing was impeccable, with Charlton's Luke Young struggling with injury, and Sven Goran Eriksson finally proving he hasn't lost his A-Z of Merseyside. In front of the watching England coach, Neville was as reliably solid as ever, but he was upstaged by Wright, a player whose international career appeared to have started and finished in Malta five years ago. It's a startling suggestion, but undeniable nonetheless, that a goalkeeper who doesn't have the confidence of his own club's followers, could still figure in the World Cup reckoning next month. There were stifled giggles in the press box when the Goodison big screen director instantly focused on Eriksson after another outstanding Wright stop. Full marks for optimism, maybe? Not entirely. Perhaps the director realised that Robert Green has been injured earlier that afternoon. With Chris Kirkland and Nigel Martyn already crocked, that leaves Scott Carson as Wright's only other challenger for England's third goalkeeping spot this summer. A funny old game, indeed. Not that many were smiling in the Goodison stands on Saturday.
With their only creative outlet sat in the Main Stand, Everton's approach was resolutely and unashamedly route one. It was a tactic which failed to chisel out a single goalscoring opportunity. With the excellent Aaron Lennon causing Gary Naysmith to ask for oxygen at half-time, and Jer-maine Jenas' pace causing Alan Stubbs to over-stretch his groin, Everton were always stretched to the limit.
But despite Saturday's disappointment, they can still end the season on a positive note.
A step in the right direction would be a top half finish - the first back-to-back top half finishes for 14 years. That's a shameful statistic for a club of Everton's heritage, but it's one David Moyes is endeavouring to put right. And it is why three winnable matches against Birmingham, Middlesbrough and West Brom are so important to Everton right now. A place in the top 10 would be a sign that David Moyes is slowly, but surely turning Everton into a club their supporters can have pride in once again.
A weak, watery end to the campaign would see the Blues cast in the role of also-rans . . . again. These last three matches are not just mid-table, end of season strolls. They mean something. It would be a signal that the Blues have ambitions on more than just Premiership survival, that they are a club which can win back its spurs.
Ferrari aims for new deal
Apr 18 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
MATTEO FERRARI wants to extend his Everton career by another season - because the Italian defender believes he still has a point to prove. Ferrari has made just 13 appearances in an injury-hit year-long loan from AS Roma. But he is hoping Everton will extend his loan by another year, so that he can "prove I am a Premiership player."
Everton have the option to make Ferrari's loan permanent. But a proposed transfer fee of around £3m would eat significantly into David Moyes £6-7m transfer budget, and an extension of the loan may be the preferred option. Ferrari said today: "There is a big question mark against my future and I sincerely still don't know where I will be playing next season. "But because we are at the end of the season something needs to be done. If Everton want me or just want to extend my loan for another season I think it is time to start to think about that. "I would like to know where I will play next season. The main issue is that I would like to prove I am a Premiership player. I have not really had this chance so I would like to have next season as well. "My future is not just up to me, there are a number of parties to consider, but I know what I would like."The 27-year-old has found his first season in English football hugely frustrating, with ankle and hamstring injuries severely restricting his appearances.
He added: "We don't have many games left to play but I would like to play as often as possible to show what my game is all about. I just want to make it clear to all those people that have shown confidence in me that I am a good player.
"It has been a frustrating season, because as a player, to give the best of yourself you just need to play four or five games in a row. But for a number of reasons, mainly because of injuries, I have not had the chance to show what I am fully capable of.
"It has been an unfortunate season. Over the last five seasons I have played the vast majority of games for the clubs I have been playing for. This is the first time I have not been able to play because of injuries and that has been upsetting.
"In the beginning I needed a few months to adapt, but after that I felt I settled very well in England and enjoyed the games I played in."
Reckless tackle did not deserve dismissal - boss
Apr 18 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES pointed an accusatory finger at referee Rob Styles and claimed his decision to send Lee Carsley off ruined Everton's game with Chelsea.
With Everton trailing to a Frank Lampard goal, their hopes of staging a second half comeback evaporated when Carsley was given his marching orders after mistiming a tackle on Didier Drogba. As Carsley must serve a three-game ban, Moyes will not be able to call on his midfielder again until next season and given his side's current injury problems, it is a problem he could do without. The Everton manager, however did his best to mask that frustration by turning the spotlight on Styles. He had only shown four red cards prior to yesterday in more than 40 matches during the current campaign, but Moyes felt he overreacted. Not only that, Moyes suggested that Styles made another few crucial errors of judgement during the 3-0 defeat. "The sending off was harsh," Moyes said. "The referee ran in and made a mistake, which let's be fair ruined the game for everyone who had paid to come. "It's a simple fact. The tackle was a little bit reckless but it was not a sending off. "Maybe some of the referees become a bit star-struck as well, playing Chelsea. What are the rules when a player comes on after everyone else at half-time? [Arjen Robben] should have been booked. Is that not entering the field of play without permission? "How long after that was the sending off? A minute or two? It looked as if he was somewhere else at the time. What about the pass back? Only if you haven't played the game would you think that was a back pass. "It doesn't constitute a back pass to the goalkeeper."He [Osman] put his foot on the top of the ball and it sort of squeezed into the ground and squirted away from him. It wasn't the referee's fault we lost, they are a really good team. "But it is hard enough coming to Chelsea with 11 versus 11 and you are one down, never mind the decisions going against you like they did. But they gave us no chance of getting back into the game at any time." As erratic as Styles was, Moyes admitted that Everton had not done themselves any favours, making mistakes from which Chelsea ruthlessly profited. "We should have defended the header better," he added. "We got lost in the traffic. "That's not got an awful lot to do with having less men. I'm not taking anything away from Chelsea."
Everton Ladies get a Hand up the table
Apr 18 2006 Women's Football by Paul Garrity, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON Ladies' hopes of a second place finish in the Premier League were boosted as they beat Sunderland 4-0. The Blues leapfrogged Charlton, who suffered a 1-0 loss to Birmingham City, and currently sit behind champions Arsenal.
The Toffees bossed the opening period of the game and took the lead after 13 minutes through Jody Hand-ley, the Everton striker turning home a left wing cross from Michelle Evans. Handley caused the away defence problems all afternoon and one of her runs carved an opportunity for Kelly McDougall, but she could only fire straight at Helen Alderson. The second half started as brightly as the first and it wasn't long before the lead was extended. Rachel Unitt's through ball fed captain McDougall, whose left footed half volley was palmed into the path of Fara Williams to tap in from a yard out. Just after the hour Chantelle Parry's shot across goal was touched onto the far post, but Williams made it 3-0 on 68 minutes, as she played a neat one-two with Handley and finished past Alderson. Kelly McDougall grabbed Everton's fourth from the edge of the box in the 73rd minute. Liverpool also managed claim victory on Sunday as they beat Aston Villa 1-0. Daniel Sheen gave the Reds the lead in the first half, in a match which the Keith Cliffe's side dominated. Liverpool remain second in the Northern Division and still have their sights set on an end of season play-off place.
But the pressure is on courtesy of Tranmere, who also recorded a 1-0 win away to Manchester City, to stay just two points behind their Merseyside rivals. Shirley Waring's side took all three points thanks to a Gemma Horner own goal on the hour.
The deserved win was Rovers' eighth away victory on the trot.
Chelsea 3, Everton 0 (Echo)
Apr 18 2006 By Dominic King
IF Everton's players mirror the defiance shown by their manager at Stamford Bridge yesterday evening, this season of fluctuating fortunes will end with a bang rather than a whimper. Taking umbrage at suggestions that a run of five winless games shows Everton have switched off for the summer, David Moyes made it quite clear he sees there being still plenty to play for. Here's hoping his message does not fall on deaf ears. Searching for positives after the Blues were beaten 3-0 by Chelsea, a defeat that has finally ended their hopes of qualifying for the Intertoto Cup, Moyes fiercely defended his squad and gave them credit for plugging away until the bitter end.
Compared to Saturday's wretched performance against Tottenham Hotspur, this was a significant improvement and as they were on a hiding to nothing from the start, there would have been little point in Moyes giving his charges a public dressing down.
Nevertheless, he will know it will take all of his motivational skills on the training ground to keep the group interested in the final three games before they head off for a well deserved break after their roller-coaster ride. Yet it is vital they regain the winning habit as quickly as possible. The worry is that Everton could slide down the table to finish in either 13th or 14th position, which would only add to the disillusionment some supporters currently feel. If they can put relegation-haunted Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion to the sword, though, and take something off Middlesbrough, there would at least be some sort of a platform to build on in the summer. Aware that Everton's end of season form during his tenure at Goodison Park has been less than impressive, Moyes is anxious not to give his critics any ammunition but knew things were always going to be difficult against Chelsea. With Alan Stubbs failing to recover from the groin strain he picked up at the weekend, Moyes opted to replace his former captain with his current one. David Weir, rather than Matteo Ferrari, stood alongside Joseph Yobo. There was also a recall for Kevin Kilbane, returning to the starting line-up for the first time since the Merseyside derby defeat last month. The unfortunate Simon Davies was the man to make way.
Kilbane looked intent on repaying his manager's faith from the start, skipping past a couple of tackles to launch Everton's first serious attack. Far from being overawed, the Blues set about subduing the champions-elect. The bright opening certainly kept the home crowd quiet. Barely able to raise their voices, this was not the atmosphere you would associate with fans waiting to celebrate a title. Just imagine what Goodison Park would be like in similar circumstances. Unfortunately, the terracotta army were given something to applaud on 27 minutes when Didier Drogba dispossessed Tim Cahill and teed up Frank Lampard, who rifled an instinctive drive through the legs of Lee Carsley and Weir past Richard Wright. As Lampard wheeled away in celebration, Cahill collapsed in despair, beating the ground in frustration. He didn't need telling twice that his mistake had gifted Chelsea a goal they barely deserved. Those expecting Everton to be buried under an avalanche of goals were wide of the mark and Jose Mourinho's men were so nearly punished for their lethargy when Cahill, desperate to atone for his blunder, forced an acrobatic save out of Petr Cech. But within minutes of the second half starting, a difficult task became practically impossible when Carsley became the seventh Everton player to be sent off this year, referee Rob Styles showing red when he crashed into the much derided Drogba. The decision was harsh but Styles' mind will no doubt have been made up by Drogba's screaming. The noise he made suggested his leg was hanging off but it was no surprise to see the pantomime dame running around without trouble moments later. Speaking of pantomime dames, Styles lived up to his billing as the most infuriating official around with a number of baffling judgements. Leon Osman's 'back pass' anyone? Not counting the number of Chelsea players on the pitch as the second half started? Styles' decision also means that Carsley's season has ended, as he must serve a three-match suspension. After playing a starring role in the previous campaign, the Republic of Ireland star will be glad to see the back of this one.
On current form, he won't be the only person to harbour such feelings. Since losing at Anfield, there has been an inescapable feeling of anti-climax and certainly the verve which characterised their play through January and February has gone.
James Beattie's contribution in the past five matches has been nothing like what he showed at the turn of the year. Anonymous again, it was no surprise when he was hauled off with 20 minutes to go to be replaced by Duncan Ferguson.
Yet it would be grossly unfair to single Beattie out for criticism, as without his goals Everton would never have got into a position to challenge for a UEFA Cup place. Maybe it is time for Moyes to 'wave his big stick' at the striker again. By the time Ferguson came on, Drogba had ensured the match was over as a contest, capitalising on poor marking to smash a header past Wright from Lampard's corner. Fears raised that Chelsea were ready to administer a thrashing. Those worries increased shortly after when Michael Essien capped an outstanding personal display with a fantastic goal, skipping past a couple of tackles before unleashing a searing drive into the top corner. Thankfully, that was the end of the scoring and Everton deserve some credit for not collapsing as they did against West Brom, Bolton Wanderers and Aston Villa during a calamitous run of pre-Christmas form. A small crumb of comfort, perhaps, but it is one that must be hung on to. Nobody connected with the club wants to head off for their break scowling and snarling about another botched runin. We await the response on Saturday.
CHELSEA (4-3-3): Cech (Cudicini 46); Geremi, Terry, Gallas, Del Horno; Lampard, Makelele, Essien; Robben (Cole 62), Drogba, Crespo (Wright-Phillips 75).
EVERTON (4-4-2): Wright; Neville, Weir, Yobo, Naysmith; Kilbane (Ferguson 69), Cahill, Carsley, Osman; McFadden, Beattie (Davies 69).
Carsley case is gaining support
Apr 19 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
CHELSEA supporters have thrown their weight behind Everton's decision to appeal against Lee Carsley's sending off at Stamford Bridge. Blues boss David Moyes was furious with referee Rob Styles, who he claimed was 'star struck' by Chelsea's players, for giving Carsley his marching orders after the midfielder clattered into Didier Drogba on Easter Monday. Since then, Everton have revealed they have been inundated with messages of support from fans who were sat within close proximity of the challenge - and agree with Moyes that Styles' judgement was too harsh.
An Everton spokesman said: "We've been overwhelmed with correspondence from Chelsea supporters who are backing us that Lee should not have been sent off.
"Obviously, given the partisan nature of the opposition fans, we feel that even if they did not believe the challenge merited a sending off then we could have a strong case for an appeal. "One supporter who e-mailed us told us that he was sitting very close to the incident and felt the red card was too harsh. "His message read 'Generally the Stamford Bridge crowd is pretty sharp and ready to appeal for penalties and call for cards. With Carsley's tackle - I don't think they did." Moyes spoke with Goodison officials yesterday to discuss their options and a case against the dismissal was dispatched to Soho Square to be reviewed by the FA's disciplinary committee.
Everton chief executive Keith Wyness said: "David felt the decision to send off Lee Carsley was unjustified and we fully support those sentiments. "The management team have discussed at length the options open to the club and we will be making our feelings known to the FA." If the FA uphold Carsley's red card, a three-game ban will bring an end to a nightmare season that has been blighted by injury. The Republic of Ireland international has only started three times, against Charlton Athletic, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea, and made another three substitute appearances.
Moyes backs players to bounce back
Apr 19 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has backed Everton's players to bounce back from seeing their European ambitions fade by conjuring up a winning end to the season.
Although it is mathematically possible to obtain a place in the Intertoto Cup, consecutive defeats over the Easter period against Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea means the Blues realistically now only have pride to play for in their last three matches. Everton have now gone five matches without a win, leading to some observers suggesting the Blues' campaign is in danger of fizzling out. But the manager has promised that will not be the case. Moyes is confident they will rally around to get back on track when they face Birmingham City, but has a task on his hands to lift his troops after the 3-0 reverse in London. "The season won't peter out because we have got three games to play," declared Moyes, who could have Mikel Arteta and Alan Stubbs back on duty next weekend. "Every game we have got we will try and do our best. "Anybody who saw us against Chelsea will know we gave it everything. I couldn't ask for any more from them. I couldn't fault them. The lads have given me a positive response all season when I have asked for it. "They are good lads, good players and a very honest group of players. They don't feign anything. They get on with it, take things on the chin. I'm pleased with them because of that and I think the supporters will be pleased with them because they don't lie down and they always have a go." Moyes was satisfied with the efforts of his side against Chelsea, which were a significant improvement on the dismal showing against Spurs at Goodison Park on Saturday. The squad have a couple of days off before they start preparing for the Birmingham game and Moyes - who intends to spend his time looking at the factors which contributed to the defeat - believes the rest will have a positive effect.
"I thought the players did well," said Moyes. "I saw Chelsea play West Ham with 10 men and they were awesome. I knew how tough it was going to be. I thought we did a good job but we made a mistake for the first goal and we got caught. "I thought they put in a real big effort. I think they deserve a pat on the back. "Even late in the game, they kept plugging away and trying to get a goal. They gave everything they had.
"We knew it was always going to be a difficult game. I thought we were very much in it in the first half and a little bit of slackness allowed them a goal. We should have released the ball a bit earlier."
Blues set to snap up wonderkid striker
Apr 19 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON were today on the verge of completing a deal to sign a striker who they hope will become a star of the future. Talks are at an advanced staged to bring Oldham Athletic's wonderkid Scott Spencer to Goodison Park in a deal before the end of the week that will cost the Blues a down payment of £225,000 but could rise significantly in the future. The 17-year-old has attracted rave reviews this season for Oldham's under-19 side and has scored 29 goals as the Latics romped away with the North West Youth Alliance title. Blues boss David Moyes has tracked Spencer - who is not under contract at Boundary Park - for some time and assuming everything goes through without a hitch, will have beaten off a number of Premiership rivals for his signature. Oldham chief executive Alan Hardy said: "A deal has been agreed in principle with Everton. It's now down to a medical and whether the boy wants to move."
Chance to take advantage of price freeze
Apr 20 2006 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON'S two-week price freeze on season ticket renewals begins tomorrow.
The price freeze has been introduced to reward loyal supporters and is part of a series of changes introduced for 2006/07 season tickets. Season ticket holders can renew their seats at this season's prices until May 7. There is an additional freeze on all under-16 tickets, with a price drop in some areas of the stadium. The heavily discounted under-16 season ticket in the Family Enclosure guarantees five free games for the season. A new season ticket for 16-21 year-olds that does not discriminate against those not in further education has also been introduced. General sale on all season tickets will start on May 8, with season ticket holders having until June 10 in order to guarantee the same seat next term. Everton chief executive Keith Wyness said: "As a club we remain committed to providing our fans with guaranteed access to the Premier League at an affordable price. "We wanted to repay the loyalty of our fanbase and that has led to the introduction of the two-week price freeze.
"We have also been mindful of the crucial part youth plays at Everton and feel our freeze on junior tickets is testament to our ongoing commitment and strategy to mould the Evertonians of the future. "Everton have continually stressed that the single biggest way of helping the club is with the purchase of a season ticket."
Turner thwarts United as Blues make their point
Apr 20 2006 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON Reserves earned a goalless draw at Elland Road in their penultimate game of the season. The Blues fielded a young side as Andy Holden's team looked to build on victory in their last outing. The youngsters gave a good account of themselves and might have won the game late on with chances for Victor Anichebe and John Paul Kissock going begging. Leeds did most of the pressing in the first half and forced some good saves out of Iain Turner. Jermain Beckford, United's leading scorer, was the most wasteful, missing several chances either side of the break. Bjarni Vidarsson and Anichebe were tireless in their efforts to make something happen but Leeds looked more menacing as the game progressed. Turner put in another good performance as the young keeper looks to push his Everton career forward.
Beckford again went close in the dying minutes but the Blues held on for a point.
Everton have a home game against Sunderland on May 2 to complete a solid season in Premier Reserve League North. EVERTON: Turner, S Wright, Molyneux, Boyle, Kissock, Hughes, Harris, Hopkins, Phelan, Anichebe, Vidarsson. Subs not used: Ruddy, Dennehy, Morrison, Harpur, Irving.
A lack of flair is to blame for Blues' poor goals return
Apr 20 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
HAVING scored just 31 times in 35 Premiership matches this season, David Moyes' squad are in danger of providing the lowest return from an Everton side in the top flight. For a club that has been associated with buccaneering centre-forwards such as Dixie Dean and Tommy Lawton, Joe Royle and Graeme Sharp, Andy Gray and Gary Lineker, it is a statistic likely to start alarm bells ringing amongst supporters.
But one of the Blues' greatest ever strikers believes those looking to make scapegoats out of the current frontmen are barking up the wrong tree. Bob Latchford, the man whose haul in the 1977-78 season was almost as many as Everton's combined haul now, is quick to exonerate James Beattie and co of blame. The way he sees it, the Blues have suffered because of lack of flair. Beattie has come in for criticism in recent weeks as the goals have dried up again after a brief flurry but Latchford reckons that the one-time England man has suffered with Mikel Arteta being on the sidelines.
"We've probably missed a goalscorer for a number of seasons now," said Latchford.
"James Beattie has scored a few since the turn of the year but he really needs someone up there with him. "But in his defence, strikers need chances to be created for them. The likes of Thierry Henry and Ronaldinho would eventually struggle if they did not get any service. "There is only so much you can do yourself. Arteta has been a huge loss in recent weeks, as he is one of the few players able to create something."
With 11 goals to his name, Beattie only needs one more to register the biggest return by an Everton forward since 1996 and that would represent a decent return considering he missed the first three months of the season with a toe problem.
It has taken time to win over the doubters but his performances since the turn of the year, which coincided with Everton's renaissance, aided his cause and Latchford reckons he will have more to offer if Moyes can find the right foil for him next year.
"Beattie has improved from the last time I saw him," Latchford, who scored 138 times in 289 appearances for Everton, continued. "His workrate is terrific and he seems to be getting into more positions to score goals. "Better service would be much better for him. He showed at Southampton that he can score goals on a regular basis and if he can get someone alongside him, that would be all the better. "He had a couple of injuries at the start of the season and things did not go as expected but he can improve again next season if he can get the right man alongside him. "If David Moyes buys another striker and possibly adds another creative midfielder then you will see the goalscoring return improve significantly and that's what Evertonians expect."
Now based in Germany, Latchford will be back on Merseyside tomorrow for the launch of his book '30' which charts the season he became the first footballer since Francis Lee in 1972 to achieve the feat of 30 league goals. There will be signings at Everton's Superstore in Liverpool city centre tomorrow at noon, as well as St Luke the Evangelist Church on Goodison Road on Sunday afternoon (2.30pm) but he will also have time to take in Saturday's game between the Blues and Birmingham City.
Though Latchford spent the best period of his career on Merseyside, winning 12 England caps during his seven years at the club, Birmingham also have a special place in his affections given that he enjoyed a fruitful spell at St Andrews.
"I don't want to see Birmingham go down but I certainly don't want to see Everton drop any points, so I suppose you could say I'll have divided loyalties," Latchford diplomatically offered. "It's vital for both sides to pick up three points. Everton don't want to finish the season on a low. It would be nice to get back into the top half of the table again. "That would be quite an achievement if you consider the start that they had - it would be a terrific turn around in fortunes. "It's important to sign off with a couple of wins, so everyone can head into the summer feeling positive rather than losing two or three games as there is a knock-on to pre-season. "It's also vital to finish as high up as possible because it will determine how much the manager has to spend and could be the difference in him being able to get another one or two quality players."
Arteta facing fitness battle
Apr 20 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
MIKEL Arteta faces a race against time as he bids to join Everton's end of season push for a top 10 place. The Spanish midfielder has missed four of the Blues' last five games, two with a sciatic nerve problem in his back while a damaged ankle forced him to sit out the Easter fixtures against Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea.
Though he has responded well to treatment this week, it will be touch and go whether he is fit for Saturday's must-win clash against Birmingham City at Goodison Park and manager David Moyes will give the influential Arteta every chance of being fit.
Should Arteta miss out again, however, there could be room for Andy van der Meyde to play some part. Injury has decimated his first season on Merseyside and the Dutch international has made just two substitute appearances since last December.
In his desperation to prove to his team-mates and supporters he has what it takes to make it in the Premiership, van der Meyde has been taking a course of pain-killing injections so that he can be involved in the run-in and is "desperate" to play.
"He has been carrying an injury so he had injections last weekend," confirmed Moyes.
"He won't write himself off for the season. He has made himself available so we will see how he is for Birmingham."Everton's players returned to training today after a two-day break and, aside from Arteta, Moyes also has concerns over Alan Stubbs and Tony Hibbert's fitness. Hibbert was forced to sit out last weekend's action after a hernia problem flared up, although Moyes feels he could yet "hobble through" the last three matches. Stubbs missed his first match in nine at Stamford Bridge after straining his groin chasing Spurs midfielder Jermaine Jenas. Like Arteta, Moyes will give the 34-year-old every opportunity to prove he is fit.
'We want points as much as Birmingham'
Apr 21 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has upped the stakes ahead of Everton's clash with Birmingham City when he claimed his side need three points as desperately as the visitors.
Steve Bruce's side will travel to Goodison Park tomorrow full of confidence after beating Blackburn Rovers 2-1 in midweek to clamber out of the bottom three, yet the threat of relegation remains. However, Moyes does not intend to spend any time worrying about Birmingham's plight, especially as Everton have gone five games without a win. Thoughts of Europe may have evaporated but Moyes has made it clear he wants the Blues to secure a top 10 finish and has urged his players to forget about the Easter weekend defeats against Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea. Moyes, nevertheless, is confident Everton can bounce back and with £500,000 riding on each place in the table - finishing 10th would secure £5.5m in prize money - he knows there is plenty at stake tomorrow. "We need to get a result and start moving back up the table again," said Moyes. "We had a difficult Easter period where we didn't pick up any points. We have got to try and get some on the board. "But we know that it is going to be a tough a game as we could have, as Birmingham are fighting for survival. They have got a lot of players who are doing well at the minute. "Forssell scored against Blackburn, Chris Sutton is in good form, then there is Emile Heskey. We know that they carry a threat. "We will need to be able to cope with that threat. I've spoken to Steve a couple of times and met him once or twice. I know how he is feeling because I was like that at the start of the season. "But that's part of the job and he certainly wouldn't want any sympathy from me, that's for sure. For our own reasons we need to pick up some points. "We know we can't qualify for the Intertoto but we want to finish in the top 10 if we can. I've been saying that for a while now but we if we are going to do that, we need to start picking up points." With doubts over Mikel Arteta, Tony Hibbert and Alan Stubbs and Lee Carsley suspended, Moyes is short of options but could hand a place on the bench to either Bjarni Vidarsson or Victor Anichebe, both of whom have shown promise for the reserves. Despite a lack of numbers, there is no shortage of belief in the ranks and Kevin Kilbane reckons Everton can end the campaign on a positive note by beating Birmingham, Middlesbrough and West Bromwich Albion. "It would be nice to finish on a high," said Kilbane. "We have certainly not been in the best of form of late and we are looking to try and get back on track at home against Birmingham.
"We are definitely aware of what an achievement it would be to finish in the top 10. We have got to knuckle down now and I think nine points are within our grasp."
Davies eyes up blue revival
Apr 21 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
ASK Simon Davies to assess his first season as an Everton player and the response you receive is as honest as it is refreshing. Having cost £3.5m when he swapped White Hart Lane for Goodison Park last May, the Wales international arrived with a big reputation but circumstances have prevented Davies showing his true colours. Few are as disappointed as he that things have not gone according to plan. Those expecting to hear the 26-year-old wallowing in self-pity or hammering on the manager's door seeking an explanation for his absence from the starting line-up would be advised to think again. Hard work on the training ground is the only thing that will catch the eye of David Moyes. Encouragingly for Davies, Moyes remains an admirer of his talents and with Lee Carsley suspended and Mikel Arteta struggling with injury, it is likely that Davies will return to the starting line-up against Birmingham City tomorrow for only fourth time in 2006. Though it is unlikely to be in his preferred role on the right side of midfield, Davies will happily grasp any chance that comes along. Free from the shin and ankle problems that have set him back, the former Spurs flyer is desperate to make an impact in the final three games. "It's been pretty frustrating," agreed Davies. "The one thing that you want to do is get a good run under your belt but that hasn't happened. "The hardest part was getting injured at Christmas. I turned my ankle against Liverpool and did it against Sunderland in the next game. That set me back and the lads went on an unbelievable run. "But while it's been frustrating for me, the team have done well and that's the most important thing. I've just got to try my hardest and wait for my chance to get a fair crack of the whip. "I feel that I've been training well but sometimes it can take a while to get up to pace when you get chucked into the team. I've not played a full 90 minutes and that makes a difference.
"I've played a lot this season as a holding midfielder, which is not something I have not been used to but you don't complain when you have got the chance to play for this team. You get on with it. "I've taken time to settle wherever I've been in the past and that has been the case here. But I'm feeling much more comfortable now and looking forward to next year." Perhaps the sight of Birmingham will be enough to rouse Davies. It was against Steve Bruce's side that he enjoyed his finest moment in an Everton shirt last October, scoring the only goal in a game of huge significance.
Three points at St Andrews hoisted Everton off the bottom of the table and gave them the confidence to climb away from the relegation zone. For Birmingham, the opposite became true. A winter of discontent threatens their Premiership existence.
Yet, following Wednesday night's 2-1 win over Blackburn, Birmingham have given themselves a chance of avoiding the drop and will travel to Merseyside in a buoyant frame of mind after clambering out of the bottom three. Davies expects a stern test.
"It was a big game at the time and obviously it was very nice to score the winner," he said. "But I really wanted to kick on from there and that's not been the case.
"For the team, though, it was crucial. Birmingham don't seem to have been able to recover and we enjoyed a bit of luck that day, when they hit the post and it rolled across the line. Who knows what might have happened if we'd lost? When you are down there, you don't know where your next win is coming from. "But they are still a dangerous side with a lot of international players and they will be full of confidence after beating Blackburn. It will be difficult." Difficult but not impossible. If Everton can get anywhere near the level of form they showed between January and the end of March, they should be able to bring an end to a run of five games without a win.
Hopes of Europe may have disappeared for the season but there is still plenty of prize money and pride to play for. Aside from that, matches against Birmingham, Middlesbrough and West Bromwich Albion also offer players the opportunity to set a marker for next year. Davies will not allow himself to be found wanting.
"We are desperate to finish on a high and make the summer that bit more easy," said Davies. "The last thing anyone wants to be feeling is sour and if you look at them, they are three winnable games. "Easter was disappointing. Tottenham played very well when they came here and then it was always going to be tough at Chelsea but everyone in the dressing room is staying upbeat. "If we can win our two home games that would give us a great record in 2006 at Goodison and then it would be nice to nick something away at Middlesbrough. It would be a step in the right direction."
Shooting towards new low
Apr 21 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EUROPE has gone, the Intertoto Cup is a fast fading prospect and even a top half finish now looks doubtful after an unhappy Easter. But Everton still have a significant target this season because the Blues are currently on schedule to become the most goal shy team in the club's history. Monday's latest blank left Everton with a miserly 31 goals scored. Only Birmingham, West Brom and Sunderland have scored fewer, and you know what fate currently awaits that trio. But it is comparisons with the club's own past which causes greater concern. Everton's goalscoring efforts have been so woeful this season that not since a bludgeoning behemoth called Bernie Wright and a converted centre-half called Mick Lyons led the forward line has an Everton attack scored less than 40 goals. That was in 1972, when Everton scrambled a measly 37 strikes. But even that humble total is half a dozen more than this season's shot-shy strikers have managed. There are still three matches left, but Moyes' men first have to overhaul another landmark . . . if they want to avoid adding an unwanted goals tally to the lowest points mark of two years ago. The lowest number of League goals in the club's history came in 1888, when the Football League's founder members notched 35 goals (in just 22 matches, mind).Everton still have to score more than a goal a game to top that total - and this isn't a freak season . . . For the second successive campaign the club of Dixie Dean and Tommy Lawton, Sharp and Royle, Hickson, Latchford, Young and Gray, looks like ending a season without its number nine having registered a single goal. Even when they have been relatively successful in recent seasons, they have struggled to score. Last season they finished fourth by scoring 45 goals - the same number they had scored 12 months earlier in collecting the lowest points total in the club's history! The deduction is obvious. Everton desperately need a goalscorer.
In 2002 they scored 45. In 2001 - 45. In fact, the only time they didn't score 45 goals in recent seasons was in 2003, when they netted 48. Between 1995 and 1997, Everton couldn't nudge past the 44 mark. It's a problem which has gone on for far too long.
James Beattie is Everton's top scorer with 10 and it's difficult to argue against his contribution given the lack of service or lack of a recognised strike partner.
The need for a man capable of scoring goals regularly has never been more pressing which is why Crystal Palace's progress in the Championship play-offs will be monitored so closely. Andrew Johnson scored 22 goals last season. He's managed another 16 so far this time. The days when Everton could break British record transfer fees to land top goalscorers have long gone. But they can afford men like Johnson, or possibly Middlesbrough's Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.
How about both?
Table tells the tale of Easter IT used to be an old joke. Billy Bingham OBE . . . Out Before Easter! But nowadays it's not the manager at Everton who appears to end his season early, but the players. Those anoraks at The Guardian, men who love a sad stat even more than myself, printed an intriguing table last weekend showing the performances of Premiership football teams after Easter over the past 10 seasons.
Guess who was last? Yes, Everton. End of season slumps are not a new phenomenon at Goodison. They've been going on for a decade. The table totted up the points from the last five games for the last 10 seasons. Everton couldn't even manage an average of a point a game. Yet strangely, their record in the period before Easter was a less painful 1.31 points per game. What does that tell you? That the players put on their flip flops unnecessarily early? Or that the fixture list has been unfeasibly unkind to the Toffees in the past decade? I'd better let you make your own minds up!
Window of opportunity for some
EVERTON open a two-week window of opportunity today for supporters to buy season tickets for 2006-07, at this season's prices. Some supporters have moaned about such a short-lived window. But surely Everton didn't need to offer any price freeze at all. Those fans who always renew, regardless of the team's fortunes, will welcome the club's generosity.
Everton 0, Birmingham 0 (Echo)
Apr 24 2006 By Dominic King
STOP me if you've heard this one before. Though the opposition at Goodison Park this weekend was different, the story was a frustratingly familiar one for Evertonians.
Despite enjoying vast quantities of possession, the lack of a cutting edge cost David Moyes and his players dearly. Unless they can cut loose in their remaining fixtures against Middlesbrough and West Bromwich Albion, the class of 2005-2006 will make a depressing entry into the record books as the lowest scoring team in Everton's history. Almost seven hours of football have now elapsed since James McFadden registered Everton's last goal and against Birmingham City they could have probably played for a similar amount of time without finding the net. It was one of those days. With the atmosphere low key and Steve Bruce's side crippled by the fear of relegation, chances were always going to be few and far between. All it needed was someone to grab proceedings by the scruff of the neck. Yet while the passing was neat and tidy and the effort and commitment was there for all to see, not once did Everton fashion a meaningful chance for James Beattie - who had a goal correctly chalked off for offside - and James McFadden to snaffle inside the penalty box. True, Leon Osman troubled Maik Taylor from distance on a couple of occasions and Phil Neville forced the Birmingham keeper some anxiety as he shaved a post, but other than that there wasn't much to shout about, triggering predictable boos at the final whistle. Once Birmingham had fluffed their early chances - Mario Melchiot headed over from six yards, while Jermaine Pennant flashed a volley wide - it was clear they were going to accept a point. They would have struggled if Everton had someone with pace up front.
But, in the end, they were comfortable. The closest Everton came to scoring was when skipper David Weir wriggled free at a corner and hammered a volley into the grateful arms of Taylor 25 minutes from time. No wonder Moyes was scowling at the end. Clearly, he is going to be a busy man this summer and the search for a man who can make a significant difference to the 'goals for' tally is sure to take him across the country, into the continent and possibly beyond. Names like David Nugent from Preston, Cardiff City's Cameron Jerome and one or two young flyers will be mentioned but what Moyes really needs is someone with experience of doing it regularly at the highest level. For now, the onus will fall on Beat-tie and McFadden to conjure up the goods - between them, they have scored almost half of Everton's 31 goals. Hopefully McFadden's strike against Sunderland is not going to be the last from an Everton striker this year. If the manager decides to freshen things up, it could be that he gives Victor Anichebe a bit longer than the five minutes he had at the end of Saturday's game in the remaining fixtures. With the hopes of playing in Europe well and truly gone and a top 10 finish looking increasingly unlikely, some would argue that this is the ideal time to pitch a youngster in. It is certainly something to consider.
Having made relentless progress for the reserves this season, Anichebe is quick and strong and would possibly take some defenders by surprise. He signed a two-year deal earlier this month and is desperate to follow in the footsteps of James Vaughan.
There should be no worries about whether he has the nerve to play on the biggest stage. After being flattened by Martin Taylor with moments of his arrival, some would have stayed down but Anichebe bounced straight back up. He won't go wrong with an attitude like that. Another man desperate to bounce back is Andy van der Meyde, who made his first start since December 3. Thought here were understandable signs of rustiness, he could be satisfied with his efforts.Like a golfer finding his range, some of the Dutchman's initial crosses were hit too long, but once he got his eye in, he tried diligently to conjure something up. One corner almost scraped the paint off the crossbar. There were also a couple of surging runs down the flank that left his compatriot Melchiot gasping for air. The only way he could stop one burst was by grabbing hold of Van der Meyde's shirt and bundling him to the floor.
Had he stayed free from injury, there is no question Everton would have scored many more than the current paltry tally. He had made three assists in five starts before rupturing a thigh muscle and would have provided Beattie with plenty of ammunition.
Next weekend's trip to the Riverside will give him another chance to build on his comeback and it is hoped we see much more of him next year. You don't play for Ajax of Amsterdam and Internazionale unless you have talent. Aside from Van der Meyde, others to catch the eye were the bright and busy Osman, Simon Davies rarely wasted possession and Neville was once again excellent at right-back, always looking to break forward. Try as they might, though, they couldn't conjure up the goal everyone craved. For the record, that's the 15th time Everton have failed to score in a Premiership match this season and another 15 games have yielded a single goal.
Only scoring more than one on six occasions shows in black and white where Moyes must improve next year - a lack of goals has been a problem for far too long and it something that is going to jeopardise progress. That is something to solve in the summer. Of more immediate concern is scoring enough times in the final 180 minutes of the campaign to ensure the side from 1889 remains Goodison Park's most shot-shy ensemble.
EVERTON: Wright, Neville, Naysmith, Yobo, Weir, Osman, Davies, Cahill (Kilbane 46), van der Meyde (Ferguson 68), McFadden (Anichebe 84), Beattie. Subs: Turner, Stubbs.
BIRMINGHAM CITY: Maik Taylor, Melchiot, Martin Taylor, Cunningham, Pennant (Campbell 68), Butt, Johnson, Gray, Heskey (Forssell 68), Sutton. Subs: Nafti, Vaesen, Bruce.
BOOKINGS: Cunningham, Butt, Sadler, Melchiot.
REFEREE: Mark Halsey.
Blues star playing through the pain
Apr 24 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
ANDY VAN DER MEYDE is ready to play through the pain barrier as he sees Everton's final two games against Middlesbrough and West Bromwich Albion as the start of next season. The Holland international has seen his first year on Merseyside ruined by a succession of injuries and Saturday's appearance against Birmingham City was only his sixth start for the club. But he revealed that only pain-killing injections gave him the opportunity to begin a match for the first time since December 3 after he damaged his back in training on Good Friday. It made his sprightly performance during a 0-0 draw that leaves hopes of a top 10 finish hanging in the balance all the more impressive, and he is prepared to grit his teeth to keep his place. "I played with an injection," said the man signed from Internazionale last August in a £1.8m deal. "Before the Tottenham game on the Friday morning, I made a move and it felt like someone stabbing me in the back. "But I said that I wanted to be considered and I wanted to play against Chelsea so I had an injection. It was the same against Birmingham but I felt much better. I feel good again. "I think after a long time out, I played a good game. I needed to show people that I can play football here. I think I did that. "I'm already thinking about next season. I want to make it up to the gaffer and my teammates. I have not done much this season. I've had bad luck and some injuries.
"Next year, I hope that I can give them more than what I have done this time around."
Van der Meyde was given a tremendous ovation by the home crowd when he was substituted and he was quick to thank fans for the encouragement they gave during his spell on the sidelines. "The reception I got off the people here gives me confidence," he continued. "Now I want to give them something back. I want to do nice things for them on the pitch. "I need their support because I am a player who needs confidence. They give it to me. If I can do well when I play for the club, that will make me happy."
The lively contribution of van der Meyde aside, there wasn't much else to get excited
about as the Blues went a fourth game without scoring and a sixth without winning. Van der Meyde, however, is confident that Everton can finish the campaign with a couple of wins and avoid a disappointing finish. "This is the start of next season. I can't wait for things so I want to do well next Saturday," said van der Meyde. "I want to play as much football as I can and it is important to win. "I had some good crosses but some of my shots were not so good. I was desperate to score for the fans but it will come when I get my rhythm. "We haven't done so well recently but if we keep going, we will turn things around. I'm sure that the goals will come and we can make the fans happy."
Goal drought threat to Blues' high hopes
Apr 24 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has admitted that Everton's lack of a cutting edge has put their chances of securing a top 10 finish in jeopardy. The Blues have gone six games without a win and problems have been exacerbated by the fact they have not found the net since April 1 - a drought that stretches 424 minutes. Everton rarely looked like ending that famine during Saturday's goalless draw at Goodison with Birmingham City, and are now in danger of becoming the lowest scoring side in the club's history.
With only 31 goals in 36 Premiership games it is clear to see where the manager needs to make improvements in the summer, but is refusing to enter any debates about his plans for re-building. Though Everton might have had a penalty when Chris Sutton wrestled Joseph Yobo to the floor, they rarely troubled visiting keeper Maik Taylor and Moyes knows Everton need to start scoring soon if they are going to avoid finishing the campaign on a sour note. "I think he could well have given a penalty but Joseph Yobo isn't bright enough to know how to dive, so he certainly isn't going to go down!" said Moyes. "I'm not concerned about the statistic. I'm concerned that we haven't scored in the last four games and that has punctured our chances of finishing in a healthy league position. "I can't say that we didn't have the rub of the green. We had opportunities in and around the box but we just couldn't get on the end of them. We didn't finish the ones that we did. "Birmingham had a couple of early half-chances, they didn't create much. I thought our boys at the back played very well. Just when we got into the final third, we couldn't finish." Other than bright performances from Phil Neville, Simon Davies and Leon Osman, and the return to the starting line-up of Andy van der Meyde, there wasn't too much to get excited about. "I thought we played well in the first half up until 15 or 20 yards outside the box when it all went pear-shaped," continued Moyes, who is to find out today the extent of the knee injury that ended Tim Cahill's afternoon at half-time. "We did not pass the ball well in the second half. Birmingham only had random attacks at our goal but they made it difficult for us to get near theirs. I'm disappointed we didn't get all three points."
On a brighter note, Moyes was happy with the contribution of Richard Wright who, despite not having much to do, kept goal confidently. He has now kept two clean sheets in four matches after a difficult spell before Easter. "I think the crowd backing has helped him as well. They have got right behind him when they realised it was difficult for the boy," said Moyes. "They need credit for that and I think that he has done well."
Vote for the People's Evertonian
Apr 24 2006 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON today teamed up with the ECHO to begin the search for the inaugural winner of The People's Club award. The unique new title will be presented at the club's glittering end of season awards ceremony next Tuesday evening - and it is up to supporters and ECHO readers to find the most suitable person. It could be someone who coaches a junior football team on a Saturday morning before taking them to see the Blues play in the afternoon - or someone who does endless work on behalf of Everton in the community. Alternatively, you may feel that a person who has devoted his life to the club like, for example, Dave Hickson - who played for Everton in the 1950s, but can now still be found at Goodison Park every day conducting tours for groups of visiting supporters - to be the deserving recipient. The possibilities for the most outstanding candidate are endless and the club are eager to honour the person who is willing to do that something extraordinary in the name of Everton. It is entirely up to fans - the people - to decide who gets it and why. The closing date for entries is this Thursday so get your nominations in quick. To register you can either e-mail email@example.com or send a letter now to The People's Club award, Everton Football Club, Communications Department, Goodison Park, L4 4EL, citing all the reasons that make your candidate so special. The People's Club winner will be invited to attend the ceremony and to receive their award at what is sure to be a memorable evening next week.
He was a blue to the last
Apr 25 2006 By Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
HE was the gentleman footballer who became a legend on the blue half of Merseyside. Brian Labone was the People's Player long before Everton were dubbed the People's Club. The hero who realised the dream of starring for his beloved club never forgot the special privilege he enjoyed. He was always happy to share a smile, anecdote or pint with the thousands of blues who adored him. The 66-year-old was found collapsed in Liverpool Road North, Lydiate, last night, and despite the efforts of paramedics he was pronounced dead at the scene. Today as the shock news of his death spread on Merseyside, Toffees spoke of their sadness and respect for the man they called a legend. Labone, who played 534 times for Everton, frequently mingled with supporters on match days around Goodison Park. Dubbed the "Last of the Corinithians", he was also employed by the club to host VIP guests in the club's executive lounges. Fellow ex-Everton star Dave Watson, also a centre-half who played only ten games less than Labone, said: "I'm very upset. I used to see Brian once or twice a week and he was a lovely man who was still an important part of the club.
"Players like me and Kev Ratcliffe always looked up to Brian - he was our hero.
"Everyone he met when he was doing the hosting on match days went away counting him as a friend, Brian was just like that. "He was so down to earth and just considered himself another Blue who was lucky enough to play for Everton and hear the roar of the Goodison crowd when you lead the team out." Labone, of Mallory Road, Lydiate, often drank with his best pal, former Liverpool player Ian Callaghan, at the nearby Weld Blundell pub. Val Couchman, who grew up next door to Labone's home, was heart-sick at the news of his death. She said: "When we'd go into the Weld Blundell he'd always come over and it'd make my day because he'd have hilarious stories about what he and Ian Callaghan used to get up to. Their banter was fantastic. "He was just an ordinary, lovely man who made everyone smile. His daughter will be heartbroken because he thought the world of her." Labone, who made his Everton debut in 1957, was only ever booked twice in his 14-year career at the club. The traditional gutsy centre-half only notched two goals for the Blues but his assured displays won him international acclaim. Toffees watched with pride as Labone became a key figure in the England set-up, starring for his country 26 times and playing a key role in the 1970 World Cup squad in Mexico. Just a year later Labone's illustrious playing career was ended by an Achilles tendon injured in a reserve match. Friends spoke of Brian's mischievous sense of humour and perhaps one tongue-in-cheek quote will always be quoted by fans. Speaking to supporters about arch-rivals Liverpool he said: "Don't forget lads....one Evertonian is worth 20 Liverpudlians." John Hurst, who played alongside Labone in the heart of the Everton defence in the late Sixties and early Seventies, said: "Labby was a great ambassador for the club and was just a lovely fellow. "He never had a bad word to say about anyone, playing the game in a tremendous spirit and never committed fouls on purpose. Even when he did foul he often used to apologise." Another former team-mate, Brian Harris, added: "We were always good friends - Labby was the best man at my wedding - and I kept in touch with him by phone. "When I occasionally went to Goodison he would look out for you and make sure you were all right. He was a very good player for Everton."
Brian often visited another Blues legend, the great Dixie Dean, and was honoured to be asked to carry Dixie's coffin at his funeral in 1980. Dixie's daughter, Barbara, said: "He came to see dad, who he idolised, when he had his leg amputated and they used to have a good laugh together. "He used to say how terrified he was carrying the coffin - he said it was more terrifying than walking out at Wembley - and we always joked with him that he had the lighter side of the coffin to carry." Roger Kenyon, who succeeded Labone in the Everton team in 1971, paid a tribute to "Labby" at a Gwladys Street Hall of Fame dinner two weeks ago. He said: "I gave a little speech about him and he rang me up the following week to thank me. "He was a great footballer and Jack Charlton must thank God every day that Brian pulled out of the 1966 World Cup because he was getting married, otherwise he would have been England's centre half."
The last great Corinthian
Apr 25 2006 Liverpool Echo
Chief Sports Writer David Prentice on the death of an Everton and England legend THE last of the great Corinthians lay down his head for the final time last night. At a time when the word 'legend' is over-used in this hype-driven age of style and celebrity over substance and achievement, Brian Labone was a genuine, 24 carat, Everton hero. A hugely successful Blues captain, he became an unofficial ambassador for the club after hanging up his boots. And he displayed the same tenacity, spirit and dedication in that role as he had shown as a player. He once claimed, with a glint in his eye and his tongue in his cheek, that one Evertonian was worth 20 Liverpudlians.
Everton fans lapped up the words and printed them on T-shirts, yet such was the humour and the sparkle of the man, Liverpudlians did not take offence. Using his own, oft repeated analogy, Labone was worth 20 Evertonians. One of the most respected footballers of his generation, he last kicked a ball 35 years ago.
Yet everybody knew his name.
Chief Sports Writer David Prentice on the death of an Everton and England legend
He became a more active ambassador for Everton Football Club in retirement, than he had been during his playing days. And his last evening was spent, appropriately, in the shadow of Goodison Park, handing out trophies at the Everton Supporters (Goodison) Player of the Year celebrations. James Vaughan received a prize from a man 50 years his senior, yet will have needed no introduction to a Good-ison stalwart.
Labone never turned down an invitation to attend an Everton themed evening. He was frequently spotted around town in his favourite watering holes, defending his club's honour - often energetically, but always humorously. He was tagged The last of the great Corinthians, by his late-manager, Harry Catterick. Coming from a man who knew him so well, and was never one to dispense praise easily, it was a rich tribute.
Born on January 23, 1940, he was a grammar school boy in Liverpool and originally planned to go to university, before opting for the riskier, but more rewarding path of professional football. He accepted an offer from Everton in July 1957, from when his progress was rapid. He impressed against that great battering ram of a centre-forward, Dave Hickson, in a public trial match - and leapfrogged Everton's junior sides to immediately claim a reserve team place. Seven months later he made his senior debut against Birmingham City - the first of 530 career appearances. Everton was his only club - and no other outfield player made more appearances. A commanding centre-half, crisp in the tackle and an astute reader of the game, he won a League Championship medal in 1963. Three years later he was captain, scaling Wembley's 39 steps to respectfully shake the hand of Princess Margaret, before holding the FA Cup aloft. He was also captain of the revered 1969-70 Championship side, a team which many still believe to be the truest representation of the School of Science tag which Everton have always craved. He was also the lynchpin of England's defence that summer in the World Cup finals in Mexico - winning the last of his 26 caps in the quarter-final against West Germany. An exemplary character, he was booked only twice in 14 years of professional football, all of them spent as a robust centre-half.
He hung up his boots in 1971, a distinguished career brought to a halt by an Achilles tendon injury but, if anything, his support for the club became even more loyal.
Asked for his views on the club's official video history, in 1988, he came out with his "One Evertonian . . . " quote, eagerly seized upon by the club's supporters.
An insurance salesman, he was later asked by the club to become a meeter and greeter on matchdays at Goodison Park. It was an ideal role for a man who was both charming and humorous company, and a passionate and committed Evertonian.
Ivan Ponting's excellent volume, 'Everton - Player by Player', devotes an entire page to Brian Labone. And his character is summed up succinctly. "Everton have been blessed with a veritable cavalcade of great players down the years, a lot of them more naturally gifted than Brian Labone, the majority more spectacular, perhaps all more ruthless. But none have been nobler." Brian Labone, footballer, gentleman and noble Evertonian, Rest In Peace.
A class act - on and off pitch
Apr 25 2006 Echo Comment
IT is impossible to put into any meaningful words the sense of shock and sadness at the passing of one of the finest servants football has ever known. Anyone who met Brian Labone - and we're talking thousands on Merseyside alone - felt they had made a friend before he'd finished speaking his first sentence. What singled out this giant of a man was not the fact he was a ball-playing centre-half of the highest calibre.
It was not the fact that he was a born leader, whose charisma and presence meant he didn't need to raise his voice to make his point. No, what singled out this unique man, this complete footballer, was simply his love. His love of life, his love of football, his love of Everton and his love of the supporters. Everything Everton and Evertonians stand for was captured within the spirit and being of Brian Labone. Up until Saturday he was at Goodison for every home game - meeting, greeting, engaging and enthralling the supporters with his infectious banter, opinions and humour.
His footballing friends - and he had them on both sides of Merseyside's football divide - were often hard men. But many were close to tears today on hearing news of his sudden, premature death. Everton Football Club - and all of us - have lost a great player, a great friend and a great man.
A great Blues captain who had my utmost respect
Apr 25 2006 A tribute from Howard Kendall, Liverpool Echo
HOWARD KENDALL today paid a glowing tribute to one of Everton's greatest captains after learning of Brian Labone's death. When Kendall signed for Everton in 1967, Labone immediately took him under his wing, and the former Blues manager will never forget the way he was made to feel welcome. "I always remember my first trip away with the first team after I had signed," Kendall recalled. "We had played Sunder-land in the FA Cup and were on our way down to Tottenham and ended up stopping off for the night in Harrogate. "I was cup-tied and had not played, so didn't really know anyone, but went out with the rest of the lads when we got to our hotel to a local bar for a couple of drinks. Harry, though, made sure he imposed a curfew.
"I was conscious of what time I had to be back and when I saw it was close to leaving time, I got up and said goodnight to everyone, but Labby was in top form as usual and he shouted at me "you're going nowhere!" "He was the captain and I thought to myself if he was speaking to me like that, I had no other option but to stay. So we stayed and had a good time as you would expect, but the one drawback was Harry kept the keys to everyone's hotel room. "So we went back well past the curfew, got our keys of a less-than-impressed Harry and went to bed. The next morning at breakfast, Harry was dishing out fines to everyone and he eventually came around to me. "But just as he was about to start bellowing at me, Labby jumped up and said: 'Don't fine him. It's not his fault. I'm the one who insisted that he stayed.' I couldn't believe it. Before I had even kicked a ball for the club he had my utmost respect." Kendall went onto share in some of Everton's most memorable occasions with a man whom he describes as being "a genial giant" and admitted Labone's death will have a tremendous impact on many.
"It is such a tragic loss," said Kendall. "He was a great player, a great leader. The last time I saw him was on Saturday at the game when he was on the pitch and I couldn't think of a more appropriate image. He looked so well. "He was a great captain, and someone who led by example. He didn't do a lot of shouting, it was the way he played that inspired you. You could not say any more than that about him. "When you look at the job he had now, escorting the mascots onto the pitch on matchday and making sure everyone was looked after, you could not wish to find a man more suited to the role. "I've stayed great friends with him since our playing days and he was always bubbly, always had a smile on his face. My sympathies go out to all his family."
I can't believe it . . . he was such a lovely man
Apr 25 2006 A tribute from Ian Callaghan, Liverpool Echo
FORMER Liverpool star Ian Callaghan was stunned on being told the news of the death of his good friend and neighbour today. Callaghan lives in the next street to Labone in Lydiate and they had been close pals since their playing days ended.
Callaghan, who played a record 843 games for Liverpool over 21 years and was told of the news by the ECHO, said: "I can't believe it. I just can't believe it.
"He was such a lovely man. He loved life and he lived it to the full. It's terrible news."
Callaghan said he had been to a local Spar shop last night and then called into to the Wellington pub nearby for one quick drink. "I just popped in the Welly for the one pint and they said Brian had been in and that I had just missed him. "It's unbelievable. I was with him on Saturday and he seemed fine, his usual self. "I had been on the Spot the Ball panel with Brian for the past 18 years. Every Saturday we would travel in to Liverpool together to the Littlewoods building in connection with that work.
"We would also regularly travel together to sports dinners and play golf together. He played at Ormskirk. "We became good friends after I moved into the next street to Brian. "Obviously we played against each other lots of times in derby matches and he was a quality, classic ball-playing centre half. "He was a great footballer and Everton through to the core. He always used to tell me that they were better than us in the 60s.
"He loved the club so much but he was a very fair man too. "Often on match days he used to say that he hoped Everton would win but hoped we would too. He was that sort of guy." Labone, though divorced, remained close to his ex-wife Pat. Added Callaghan: "They went on holiday with their daughter Michelle not long ago. "Everyone knew Brian was larger than life and liked a drink but more than that he loved the sense of community. "He was so passionate about Everton and had a great relationship not just with Blues fans, but with all football fans.
"In many ways he typified the derby spirit which Merseyside became famous for.
"I will miss Brian terribly - he was my good friend." Tommy Smith added: "Labby was a great guy and a stalwart for Everton Football Club. He had a great sense of humour. "It is shocking news and my sympathies go to his family and all his friends."
Day young Neil first met his hero
Apr 25 2006 Liverpool Echo
THE ECHO's Industry Reporter, Neil Hodgson, recalls a moment from his childhood when he met his hero, Brian Labone: "The last thing a star-struck youngster expected, cycling all the way from Crosby to Everton's West Derby training ground, was to come face to face with the last of the Corinthians. "But one sunny summer's day in 1970, I was lucky enough to be plucked from the jostling throng of autograph hunters outside the Bellefield gates to pose for a photo with Blues legend Brian Labone for a book on the great man. "He had just returned from England's Mexico World Cup campaign, but was as charming and humble then, even in his imposing England strip, as he was on the many other occasions I had the honour to meet him, either as an adult fan or professionally representing the ECHO. "Brian's era was when football was played by sportsmen, in the true sense of the word, in the spirit of the game - everything that he truly embodied."
Everton hero Labone found dead
Apr 25 2006 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON hero Brian Labone has been found dead in a Merseyside street.
The Blues legend and former England star was discovered lying in the street on Liverpool Road North, Maghull, at 11.25pm yesterday. Paramedics rushed to the street but the 66-year-old, who led his side to victory at Wembly in the 1966 FA cup final, was pronounced dead at the scene. Police have been informed but confirmed today there were no suspicious circumstances. Today fans were laying flowers in his memory at Goodison, as past and present players paid tribute to the man dubbed "The Last of the Corinithians".
Labby was most noble of them all
Apr 25 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DEVASTATED Everton chairman Bill Kenwright today paid an emotional tribute to former captain Brian Labone and described him as being "the noblest of them all."
Labone, who captained the Blues to two league titles and an FA Cup success during 14 years of unstinting service, passed away late last night. Goodison Park is in mourning for a man who played 530 times for the club and was capped by England 26 times, and Kenwright says Labone's death will have a huge impact on everyone who knew him. Labone was one of Kenwright's heroes and he will never forget the warm welcomes with which he was greeted every time they met on match days. He represented, according to Kenwright, everything positive about Everton.
A distraught Kenwright said: "He was the noblest of them all. He epitomised all that was great about this club. Harry Catterick called him the last of the corinthians and there is no more fitting tribute than that. 'Legend' doesn't even do him justice.
"I never, ever heard him say a bad word about anyone. I have known him in all my time with Everton. He was only booked twice for the club and some people might think he wasn't tough. Let me tell you, he was as tough as they come.
"Whenever I went to Goodison on a match day, he was always the first person I saw, standing so proud in his club blazer and he would always greet you with a warm handshake and a cheery 'hello chairman'. "I'd always have to tell him to stop that and he'd then say 'sorry, Bill'. "He was always the last person you would see on leaving Goodison and he'd say either 'great result' or 'we'll win next week'.
"He was a lovely man and meant the world to me. If anyone typified everything that was great about this club then it was Labby. He bloody well loved this club. It's just awful, absolutely awful." Chief executive Keith Wyness echoed those sentiments. He said: "I have only been at the club a short time but Brian Labone was a person who made a huge impression on me in terms of the history and whole feeling of being an Evertonian. "He was always lively and embraced the role he had on a match day. Brian was one of my childhood heroes and I used to cut photos of him, Gordon West and Mike Trebilcock out of football monthly and put them on my bedroom wall. He was a legend. "There was never a time when you shared Brian's company without a joke or a laugh and he was someone with a warm handshake. He always found the time to have a laugh and he was a wonderful person. Everton boss David Moyes added: "I was shocked to hear that Brian had passed away and my sympathies go out to all his family and friends. "He was a real gentleman around the club and he always had a good word of support for myself and the team when I was in his company."
Bohemians 0, Everton 0
Apr 26 2006 Daily Post
A YOUTHFUL Everton side gave a good account in Dublin last night drawing 0-0 with Eircom League outfit Bohemians in a friendly. The home side shaded the first-half with Vinny Arkins rattling the crossbar with a header. Everton found their feet before the break and Bjarni Vidarsson headed a Sean Wright cross over the top.
A Paul Hopkins effort was then cleared off the line by Barry Ferguson.
In the second-half a lovely move involving Wright and Vidarsson ended when the Icelandic under-21 star pulled the ball across the face of goal, just missing the incoming Victor Anichebe. Bohemians' Arkins blazed over from a great position and then Darren Dennehy made an outstanding clearance to deny Paul Dunphy in the dying minutes.
Royle pays tribute to his former team-mate
Apr 26 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
BRIAN LABONE was affectionately known as 'Skip' to his former team-mate and friend, Joe Royle. And the current Ipswich manager fought back the tears as he paid tribute to his pal yesterday. "He was my captain and I loved the man," said Royle. "Myself and Hursty (John Hurst) have been crying down the phone like old fish wives this morning. "He was a keen wit and hilarious company, but most of all he was Mr Everton. "Don't think that's a throwaway phrase. He was, truly, Mr Everton.
"There haven't been many greater players at Everton." Labone was an experienced international defender when Royle made his debut as a 16-year-old in 1966, and he helped guide the young striker through the formative years of his career. "We didn't have youth acadamies then, and the old apprenticeship really was a feudal system. Young players were bullied and verbally abused by senior pros, but Brian was never, ever part of that. "He was always encouraging, always supportive . . . and what a player. "He never missed a tackle or a header, ever. "And to think he was booked only twice in 14 years. Bloody hell! The game was brutal then, and he never shirked a challenge or a tackle, yet he was never sent-off and he was booked only twice.
"He wasn't Harry Catterick's ideal embodiment of a captain because he never rollicked anybody. He was always encouraging his team-mates. "But we loved him. "He and Westy (Gordon West) made sure I used to go home from training every day with sore jaws from laughing. "He was such a thoughtful man, too. He always kept in touch and whenever we had a good result here at Ipswich there would always be a text message or a card posted. "I first saw him when I was a schoolboy. I was head boy so it was my job to go down to the club every week on the bus to collect the free tickets for the Everton reserve matches. "We were told then, 'that young centre-half will play for England one day' - and he did. "But he was so unassuming that there will be plenty of people around the country who won't know of him. "Everyone knows the name Jack Charlton, but Brian was a better player. "He really was the last of the Corinthians."
The greatest Evertonian of all time - in his blue heaven
Apr 26 2006 Liverpool Echo
By Ken Rogers former Echo sports editor and personal friend of Brian Labone
BRIAN LABONE was the greatest Evertonian of all time. I have no doubts about that and I know it's a tribute that will make him smile today as he looks down on us from his royal blue heaven. Brian will be up there reminding everyone that the River Mersey was also royal blue, and he will be searching out his own idol, Dixie Dean, who was the greatest Everton player of all time and his own personal hero.
In a 27-year career covering local football, I'm proud to be able to say that I knew and respected both of these Goodison giants. Indeed, I convened what was possibly the last big formal interview with Labby just a few weeks ago when he came into the Liverpool Echo building with Kevin Ratcliffe and Dave Watson to discuss the opening chapter of a new book entitled "Everton's FA Cup 100 - a century of glory and drama." That publication comes out this week and it will stand as a special tribute to Brian who, with Kevin and Dave, was one of the club's three surviving FA Cup winning captains. Of course, Jack Taylor held the Cup above his head in 1906 and Dixie was the main man in 1933. But Brian's big moment came in 1966 and his memories came flooding out. I suggested that the personal Cup Final memories of Messrs Labone, Ratcliffe and Watson would all be dramatically different because of the way the games unfolded. Quick as a flash, Labby said: "Yes, ours took place in black and white!" Kevin Ratcliffe is the most successful Everton captain of all time. But he paid a remarkable tribute to Labone when he said: "If we were able to bring together a team of former Everton captains to play in a special match, there would be the likes of myself, Dave Watson, Mick Lyons, Labby, Alan Ball, Roy Vernon, Peter Farrell and even the great Dixie. We would all throw Labby the armband and he would lead us out."
By Ken Rogers former Echo sports editor and personal friend of Brian Labone
Dave Watson added: "He was the top man and he got on with everyone. It was Labby who coined that famous phrase about 'One Evertonian being worth 20 Liverpudlians'. Only Brian could come out with something like that in a pub without starting a riot.
"He had this tongue in cheek way of saying things and I know that despite his complete passion for Everton, Liverpudlians still respected him.
"Everyone liked Labby. It was great to have shared that FA Cup Final captains' lunch with him because it gave me the chance to sit down for hours with him and take in all of his memories. "It was the lunch that was never going to end. In fact, we carried on late into the evening and had a great time. He was a true legend." Labone was always thinking about other people. Back in 1967 I was a 19-year-old sports reporter working for the tiny Liverpool Weekly News, circulation around 15,000. We were not very important in the wider picture and it would have been easy to be brushed aside in the search for interviews with the elite of British football. Labby, as club captain, made sure I was always made welcome. This was the era of the legendary Ball, Harvey and Kendall. Brian set up my first major football interview, ironically with his pal Westy. From that point he ensured I spoke to every single Everton player over the next few months. Nothing was too much trouble and it was the start of a friend-ship that lasted 27 years. I will never forget what he did for me then and I will never forget his standing as a world class centre-half. But my abiding memory of Brian Labone will be his most recent role as the club's number one ambassador. Whenever you left Goodison Park after a game, Labby was always there with a comment about the action and a cheery goodbye. He knew the name of every single fan who walked by and made them feel special to be Evertonians. That was Brian Labone. John Moores called him the last of the great Corinthians. I repeat my belief that he was the greatest Evertonian of all time.
The 'giant softie' was the friendly face of Goodison
Apr 26 2006 Liverpool Echo
FORMER Everton director Cliff Finch brought Brian Labone back to Everton in an official capacity in 1995. And he was devastated to learn of his death. "It was a privilege to have known him, to have shaken his hand and to have worked with him," he declared. "He was a giant, but a big softie as well. I know it's a cliche, but this man will be missed tremendously." On the decision to bring Labone back to Goodison to work on matchdays, Finch added: "We used to see him at the matches and I asked him if he wanted to work in an official capacity on matchdays. "It all started from there and such was his love for the club he was an obvious choice really."
Legend to be celebrated at World Cup reunion
Apr 26 2006 Liverpool Echo
GUESTS at a 1966 World Cup reunion dinner will pay special tribute to Brian Labone on Friday. Labone was named in England's original squad of 40 in 1966, along with former team-mates Alan Ball, Ray Wilson, Derek Temple, and Anfield rivals Ian Callaghan, Gerry Byrne, Peter Thompson and Chris Lawler. All of those players will attend, along with special guest, actor David Neilson (Roy Cropper in Coronation Street). Organiser Jim Buckley said: "The evening will still be a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the World Cup win, but we plan to make a special toast and pay tribute to Brian. "My initial reaction was to cancel the evening, but Ian Callaghan told me that Brian wouldn't have wanted that. "So we're going to carry on, but try and pay a proper tribute to him." Some tickets are still available on 0151 648 0069.
Injury blow to Tim cup hopes
Apr 26 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
TIM CAHILL'S World Cup dreams are hanging in the balance today following the knee injury he sustained during last week's draw against Birmingham. The Everton and Australia midfielder has a partial tear of his posterior cruciate ligament and though the problem does not require surgery, he faces six weeks of intensive therapy if he is to play a part in Germany in June. Australia are likely to name the influential Cahill in their final 23-man squad regardless of his lack of match practice in the run-up to the finals but there must now be some doubt about his participation in the opening game against Japan. Everton boss David Moyes received the results of a scan this morning at Bellefield and his worst fears were confirmed with Cahill - who has scored eight goals for the Blues this season - playing no part against either Middlesbrough or West Brom. Everton physio Mick Rathbone said today: "The consultant confirmed our initial diagnosis and that is that the injury is not that bad.
"However, Tim will certainly miss the last couple of games of the season and as far as the World Cup goes, he is going to require intensive physiotherpy." Added Rathbone: "Even now I have looked at the video of the incident when he was injured and it was very innocuous. He just seemed to get a bang on the back of the knee. "These injuries can range from minor tears to ruptures which require complex surgery. But thankfully it is not that bad." The Blues have also had results from a specialist on Nigel Martyn's ankle problems which have kept him out since January and it will be another six weeks before they can give a further update. The club are happy with the way the injury is healing, but it needs more time.
Moyes ready to give youngsters their big chance
Apr 26 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES today revealed he is considering giving Evertonians a glimpse of the future by handing some of the club's youngsters a chance to shine before the end of the season. Victor Anichebe, Bjarni Vidarsson and goalkeeper Iain Turner have all received favourable reports for their performances in the reserves this year and caught the eye in training at Bellefield. With the manager desperate to guide Everton to a top 10 finish, however, he had been reluctant to pitch any of his novices into battle while the stakes remained high. But Moyes showed during last Saturday's 0-0 draw with Birmingham City that he would not be afraid to give them a run-out in trying circumstances and is prepared to do so again. "I want to finish as high up the league as I can, though that still might mean that we give a couple of the younger ones a go," said Moyes. "But it's important that we get ourselves in a strong league position. We finished fourth last year and I want to try to follow that up with a top 10 finish if I can.
"They have done okay but they are young boys. We are always pretty good here at putting young boys in early. We have done that when we have thought the time has been right. "If the opportunity is right in the future, I will do it again. We just need to see how they are and make sure they keep progressing. Iain Turner, for one, has done really well." While Anichebe, Vidarsson and Turner wait patiently for the chance to impress, one of their peers would almost certainly have played a significant role this year had injury not intervened. James Vaughan's season was decimated by a knee injury but, having undergone an operation in America two weeks ago, he has returned to Bellefield and Moyes reports there to be no problems. "James is back," Moyes confirmed. "All he will do now is recover from the operation and we'll probably start to just look at getting him ready for pre-season. We'll see how he is then. He won't be doing any more work now until next July."
'He was a great fella on the field and off'
Apr 26 2006 By Michelle Fiddler, Liverpool Echo
BOOKS of condolence for former Everton legend Brian Labone were today opened at Goodison Park. Fans have been invited to leave their messages and condolences in the Marquee at the Park end of the stadium, where supporters have also been leaving floral tributes for Mr Labone at the foot of Dixie Dean's statue. The books will remain open until Friday at 4pm. The club have confirmed they will also hold a minute's silence before their final match of the season - a week on Sunday against West Brom - and players will wear black arm bands as a mark of respect. Mr Labone, 66, died on Monday night just hours after presenting an award at the Everton Supporters' Player of the Year awards. Bob Maylor, speaking on behalf of the supporters club, of which Mr Labone was vice president, said: "He was on top form at the awards presentation. He gave a little speech and he left about 10.45pm. "It was a total shock when I heard the news. We are all devastated. "Brian was one of us. He was a great Evertonian. When Brian spoke everyone listened. He told it how it was. "It is early days but there will definitely be a fitting tribute for him on behalf of the supporters club." Mr Labone was found collapsed in the street just a couple of hundred yards from his home in Lydiate just before 11.30pm on Monday. Police are not treating the death as suspicious and the Liverpool coroner has been informed. The cause of death is not known, although close friends say he had recently been diagnosed with diabetes and a few months earlier collapsed in his local pub, The Weld Blundell Arms pub in Lydiate.
Landlord Bill Thompson, said: "I dropped Brian off at the awards ceremony on the night he died. "He was his usual self, all rosy cheeks. That was Brian all the time.
"Then I heard the next morning he had died. It came as a massive shock.
"He had been diagnosed with diabetes. Once he found out about his diabetes he only came in about once a week. "He would socialise with everyone in the pub.
"He was the type of person you would want at your party even if you didn't know him because he would get everyone going. "He was a great fella, on the field and off. He will be sadly missed." Neighbours Caroline and Lee Fawcett: "We last saw him on Friday. "When you think of the kind of money footballers are on these days and you used to see him getting the bus everywhere it's sad."
Tributes to a legend
A True Everton legend... Brian you were one of the best.
Julie B from Liverpool
A true gent. RIP Super Brian.
Chris from Liverpool
God bless you mate, a true legend in your own right, you will always be in our hearts as Everton is to us all and was to you, nil satis nisi optimum. Matty Welsh from Huyton Thank you Brian, you were a great player, a fine sportsman, and a great ambassador for the club you loved. Bill Morris from Brisbane
I am only young but I just want to say that Brian will be sadly missed.
Michael Parry Owens from Liverpool
As a Liverpool supporter for 50 years I can remember the great games with Everton when Brian was playing. A thorough professional, a great player and a giant of a man.
Brian Taylor from Southampton He epitomised WHAT this great club should be about. I hope the club finally get something right by giving him a deserved, everlasting and respectful tribute. Colin Hughes from Preston Once a Blue Always a Blue (The Real Kind)
Tony S from Skelmersdale
In an age when loyalty to your club and team takes a poor second place to greed, Sir Brian Labone stood above it all as a true Evertonian in heart and soul. It was never 'official' but no man deserved the title of Sir more than he, God Bless Old Son, deepest sympathy to your loving family. Peter Cummings from Ontario Canada
A real legend who loved his football and his club. Brian you will be missed and thank you for your service to Everton FC. Barry from Cardiff
Moyes: Take our big Phil to World Cup
Apr 27 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES today hailed Phil Neville's return to top form and reckons he is playing himself into World Cup contention. Though the Everton man was left out of England's last friendly with Uruguay in March, Neville has shrugged off that disappointment to return to the levels of consistency he showed at the beginning of the season after his £3.5m move from Manchester United. With fitness worries over a number of his squad, most notably concerning Arsenal's Ashley Cole and Luke Young of Charlton, Sven-Goran Eriksson saw Neville impress as a makeshift right-back during Everton's 1-0 defeat against Tottenham on Easter Saturday. Eriksson names his final 23-man squad for Germany on May 8 and hasn't capped Neville since last May but Moyes has urged his vice-captain to maintain the standards he has set in recent weeks to give England's head coach a selection dilemma. "Phil has played really well and I think he has been in really good form," said Moyes, of a man who has made 52 England appearances. "Hopefully, he will get selected for the World Cup.
"It's not my position to tell anyone who to pick. But all I would say to Phil is keep doing what he is doing. He is on top of his game. "He has played a lot of games for us this season and he has had to play in different positions but he has approached them all in the same professional way. "We are very pleased with him. He has had to play right or left-back, as well in the centre of midfield. He's also played as a central defender, too. "When you think of the injuries that we have had to Alessandro Pistone, Gary Naysmith and Nuno Valente and now Tony Hibbert, if we hadn't had someone with Phil's ability to play both positions we'd have been in trouble. "I don't think we would have been able to cope. He is a model professional and we've been very pleased with the way he's fitted into the squad."m With Hibbert ruled out of the remaining games against Middlesbrough and West Brom because of a hernia problem, Neville should continue to fill the right-back role at The Riverside this Saturday, despite Moyes running low on midfield numbers. As reported in last night's Echo, Tim Cahill is out for six weeks with a partially torn posterior ligament, while Mikel Arteta continues to be troubled by an ankle problem that has seen him miss the last three games. "Mikel is running but still feeling discomfort in his ankle," said Moyes. "We can only wait and see how he is."DAVID MOYES today hailed Phil Neville's return to top form and reckons he is playing himself into World Cup contention.
Though the Everton man was left out of England's last friendly with Uruguay in March, Neville has shrugged off that disappointment to return to the levels of consistency he showed at the beginning of the season after his £3.5m move from Manchester United. With fitness worries over a number of his squad, most notably concerning Arsenal's Ashley Cole and Luke Young of Charlton, Sven-Goran Eriksson saw Neville impress as a makeshift right-back during Everton's 1-0 defeat against Tottenham on Easter Saturday. Eriksson names his final 23-man squad for Germany on May 8 and hasn't capped Neville since last May but Moyes has urged his vice-captain to maintain the standards he has set in recent weeks to give England's head coach a selection dilemma. "Phil has played really well and I think he has been in really good form," said Moyes, of a man who has made 52 England appearances. "Hopefully, he will get selected for the World Cup. "It's not my position to tell anyone who to pick. But all I would say to Phil is keep doing what he is doing. He is on top of his game. "He has played a lot of games for us this season and he has had to play in different positions but he has approached them all in the same professional way. "We are very pleased with him. He has had to play right or left-back, as well in the centre of midfield. He's also played as a central defender, too.
'A great footballer, great man - a great loss'
Apr 27 2006 Evertonia, Liverpool Echo
EVERTONIA Honorary President Alan Ball played alongside legendary Blues skipper Brian Labone during his five years at Goodison. The 1966 World Cup winner pays tribute to 'The Last of the Corinthians'.
BRIAN was a great friend, a friend you could always rely on and, as many people have said already this week, a true gentleman. He represented everything the club stands for, he was a true Evertonian. He was honest and loyal. He took his role as skipper incredibly seriously. He took it to the next level and no captain I had ever played under before had done that. We travelled from Lime Street by train on a Friday for away games on a Saturday. For each trip, Labby made sure every single member of the squad gathered for a Chinese meal to bring everybody together. Those qualities that made him such an admirable skipper explain why he was such a popular man. Anybody who met him warmed to Labby and there has been a great deal of talk this week about his qualities as an individual. But his qualities as a footballer should not be overlooked. He was an uncompromising central defender who would always attack the ball. He had pace, was a good footballer but was only booked twice during a long career. When he broke into the England team - and I was with him at the 1970 World Cup - he made the position his own. He was excellent in Mexico and took the place of Jack Charlton and slotted in perfectly. He was a regular in the England set-up during an era when we were incredibly strong on the world stage. He was a player worthy of the world stage. He was a great footballer, a great man and is a great loss.
Apr 27 2006 Liverpool Echo
What are your special memories of Everton legend Brian Labone, who died this week? THE world of football was greatly shocked at the sad loss of Brian Labone.
To every Everton fan he was a legend, a model professional who came across as a kind person. Although I didn't have the opportunity to see him play, from stories I've read and footage I've seen he was a great player of his generation. Unlike today's professionals who complain and worry about finances, Brian played with passion and love for this club. His effort was rewarded with the trophies he won with Everton and the caps for England. He inspired many future Everton defenders. Brian was always around Goodison on a match day. He always had time to talk to fans. He was very humble and friendly, making it easy to relate to him. Despite the legendary status he established, he was still a true gentleman who hadn't let his success affect his personality. BEN McGRAE, Hunts Cross
I DID not have the pleasure, nor was I fortunate enough to see Brian Labone play for Everton. From all the tributes that have been paid to Brian, the "Mr Everton" by the most successful captain in our history, Kevin Ratcliffe, summed 'Labby' up perfectly.
It speaks volumes that the players he played alongside during his career still referred to him to this day as "Skip". He will always be the "Captain" of Everton. It also seems sad that we will probably never see Brian's like again. He joined Everton straight from school, stayed with them until his career was ended by injury, and was still serving the club on the night he was tragically taken, spending his last evening by Goodison with supporters and another legend, Davie Hickson. Match days at Goodison will not be quite the same again. STEVE SHONE, Wallasey
What are your special memories of Everton legend Brian Labone, who died this week?
IT was with great sadness that I woke up to find Brian Labone had died.
I didn't see him play but like every Evertonian I knew of his great service and love for the club. He was one of my dad's favourites in the 60s, even with the other talents around him, and on one of my dad's birthdays he received a replica of the Everton 66 cupwinning shirt with Labone's number on it. Brian led by example and loved the club. When I saw him on TV he got across how much of an Evertonian he was and how much the club meant to him. Anyone who has seen the History of Everton video will know what I mean. I had the pleasure of meeting Brian several times around the city, in the street or in a pub and he always had time to say hello and shake a hand.
He was a great man and a great Evertonian. He was Mr Everton. JAMES TYRRELL, Woolton
HARRY Catterick once described him as the Last of the Corinthians, but sadly I was born too late to have had the pleasure of watching Brian Labone play for Everton.
I did, however, have the honour of spending evenings in the company of a man who was an inspiration. The way he spoke to and gave his time to fans, and his massive efforts on behalf of the former players' foundation charity, made him someone special.
He was a man of immense stature, who led by example, giving everything he had for the good of Everton FC. The word "legend" is over used for modern day footballers, but it is a term not out of place when labelling this amazing man. He will live forever in our hearts and will always be remembered for his famous "one Evertonian" quote.
Brian Labone - RIP STE DALEY, Speke
Everybody welcome for people's player
Apr 27 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
IF Everton are, indeed, the people's club, then Brian Labone was the people's player.
And his funeral arrangements will ensure that as many people as possible will be able to pay their respects to the Goodison legend. The former Everton captain's funeral service will take place next Thursday at the Anglican Cathedral at 2pm - with everybody welcome. The Everton Former Players Foundation, of which Brian was a patron and an active fund-raiser, are helping to make the funeral arrangements.
Secretary Steve Milne said: "There really wasn't anywhere else on Merseyside big enough to house the number of people who want to pay their respects to Brian.
"He had close friends on both sides of the football divide and we have been inundated with enquiries from all over the world about the funeral details. "We are sitting down with the family today and talking about the logistics of the day, but the Cathedral has been chosen so that anybody who wants to pay their respects to Brian can do so."
Everton are still deciding how best to pay their respects at the final home game of the season against West Bromwich Albion three days after the funeral service, but Blues players will wear black arm bands on Saturday at Middlesbrough as a mark of respect.
Chief executive Keith Wyness met Brian's widow Pat and daughter Rachelle this morning to discuss how best to celebrate the memory of one of Everton's most loved sons. The club has opened books of condolence at Goodison Park, which hundreds of supporters have already signed. The books are inside the marquee at the Stanley Park End of the stadium, where supporters have also been leaving floral tributes at the foot of the Dixie Dean statue. The books will remain open until tomorrow at 4pm.
Labby was in stark contrast to Mourinho
Apr 27 2006 By Tommy Smith, Liverpool Echo
IT'S been a fabulous few days for Liverpool - but unfortunately a very sad few days for Everton. Brian Labone was a great player and a real gentleman and his death this week is a shock not just to the Blues, but to us all here on Merseyside.
I could relate to Brian because he captained his home town team and the club he supported so passionately all his life. I know what a privilege and honour that is too.
I just can't help but contrast the way Labby played the game and carried himself to the way Jose Mourinho behaved yet again after losing in the FA Cup semi-final at Old Trafford. Mourinho, who tried to be too clever by half with his team selection and formation, was snarling, full of sarcasm and as usual refused to give Liverpool any credit afterwards for a thoroughly deserved victory. I'm finding that even people who know nothing much about football have noticed him now and taken a dislike to what they see and hear. As far as I'm concerned, Mourinho stands for so much that is wrong about the game, when Brian Labone stood for everything that is right and good about it. He was an Evertonian through and through and I played against him enough times to know how competitive he was and how good he was. He'd give everything he had to beat us or whoever else he came up against. But he was a real sportsman too and would always shake your hand afterwards, whatever the result or whatever had gone on during the 90 minutes. He'd be more likely to step in and break up trouble than start it himself. Mourinho, however, could start a fight in an empty room with his attitude and his curled lip. Labby never head a bad word to say about anyone. He was a top class guy and, like every Evertonian, I too will miss his character and his company.
Labone a true Blue
Apr 27 2006 Echo Letters, icLiverpool & Liverpool Echo
I WAS privileged to see Brian Labone play many times for my beloved Everton.
He was a true sportsman in every sense of the word and fortunately played in times when men played honestly, rather than just turning up for the money. No-one can ever take away the fact that he was, in every sense of the expression, a true Blue.
The phrase 'Once a Blue, always a Blue' - so often quoted without real thought - was embodied by Brian both in his playing days, and in the way he has conducted himself ever since. RIP Brian and thanks for the memories. Dave Lloyd, Walton
I SHARE Brian's age and I shared his wonderful career from the sidelines.
From people who knew him he appeared to have been a champion off the park, as well as on it. I send my deepest respects to the man and his family, and thanks for the pleasure he gave to me and others in that wonderful era. Bob Butchard, Australia
BRIAN LABONE will go down in history as one of the best centre-halves and captains the club has ever had. Labby led by example and it does him huge credit that depite being a great player, many of the tributes to him since his death have focused on what a nice man he was off the pitch. They don't make many like Labby any more.
Paul Foulkes, Aintree
AS a Liverpool season ticket holder I had the pleasure of sitting behind Brian Labone and several other 'greats' at a match a year or two ago.
Labone was a very friendly and likeable man who was very happy to chat away before and after the game. When I told him my boyhood hero was Sir Roger Hunt he spent several minutes talking about his admiration for Roger. He was a lovely man, who will be missed by Reds as well as Blues. Andy Gregg, Liverpool
I NEVER had the privilege to watch Brian Labone play, but I know enough to know the man was a true Goodison legend. If the current players had even half the love for Everton Brian had, maybe we would be a better team. Stuart Speares, Liverpool
No words to sum up Labby
Apr 27 2006 Sports View with Echo Sports Editor John Thompson
A FEW months ago the Everton team which won the FA Cup in 1966 was reunited at the Adelphi 40 years on to celebrate the famous comeback and victory over Sheffield Wednesday. After the death of Brian Labone this week, it is of some comfort to his legion of friends and admirers to know he did at least live long enough to have attended it. More than that, the Blues skipper who lifted the cup after leading his side back from a two-goal deficit, lit up the stage on that night of celebration, when there were already plenty of other shining lights around him. Again he repeated one of his most famous catch-phrases: "One Evertonian is worth 20 Liverpudlians", before revealing he had originally wanted to say 40, but the Goodison directors wouldn't let him! There were instant smiles all around the room, even from the small smattering of Liverpudlians who were there in disguise to hear his mischief. In the past 24 hours, the Echo has received several critical emails and phone calls for printing a photo-graph last night of a tribute banner to Labone, which was left at Goodison yesterday. It reproduced his 'One Evertonian' remark and concluded: RIP Brian Labone - biggest and best. Some people are offended and that's a shame. They're not to be dismissed. We live in an age where terrace taunts do sometimes overstep the mark, when the behaviour of some football supporters on all sides does lurch into disturbing, unacceptable areas. And today's younger generation, or Liverpudlians with completely understandable sensitivitites, can be forgiven for thinking Labone uttered his phrase bitterly or perhaps meant it with malice. Believe me, the man did not have a malicious bone in his body and he would be devastated today to think he had really upset anyone at Anfield with it. Labone was an Evertonian to his core. But he was one of the most decent, warm, intelligent and humorous men you could have ever wished to meet.
He more than anyone actually symbolised the famous old derby spirit, rooted in an age where Liverpudlians and Evertonians could and would mock the hell out of each other, do it with verve and passion, but never with real hate in their hearts.
And if anyone needs further reassurance that Labone was having nothing more than a bit of good-natured fun with his catchphrase, then ask one of his best friends.
Liverpool legend Ian Callaghan. Cally was devastated on Tuesday morning when I spoke to him and confirmed that, yes, one of his best pals had suddenly passed away the night before. Over the past 20 years, Labone and Callaghan were more like brothers than friends, men who had once competed as fiercely as they could against each other during derby matches. Today, it is to be hoped people can understand Labone's remark should be filed in the same folder as that which carries Bill Shankly's famous saying: "Football is not a matter of life or death - it's more important than that." Both of these remarks were symbols of their passion for the people and the game, not an indication of hate or disrespect. Labone, like Shankly, was a far bigger man that that. And, deep down, he was only joking.
Blues' double injury boost
Apr 28 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
MIKEL ARTETA has put himself in line for an eagerly-awaited return to Everton's first team against Middlesbrough tomorrow. And in a double boost for manager David Moyes, Nuno Valente is ready to join his team-mate on duty at the Riverside as the Portugal international has made a quicker than expected recovery from a thigh problem. Spanish midfielder Arteta has missed the last three games after damaging an ankle in training on Good Friday, while Valente's most recent appearance came during the 3-1 win over Fulham on March 11. But both men trained normally with the squad yesterday and provided they suffer no reaction, Moyes will consider pitching them back in as Everton look to end a run of six matches without a win. "I got the injury and I felt really bad as I just wanted to be playing and trying to help the team," said Arteta. "But that is football and that happens." With Tim Cahill having a partial torn posterior ligament in his knee, Arteta's return to fitness could not be better timed. It gives Moyes plenty to think about, but he has suggested that Simon Davies will keep his place against Boro. The Wales international has had a difficult couple of months, but Moyes was pleased with his contribution in the 0-0 draw with Birmingham City.
"I thought Saturday was his best game for a long time," said Moyes. "It was good to see him come up with the kind of performance that we know he is capable of. Simon is a quiet player. "Sometimes the things he does goes unnoticed by supporters but it doesn't by his team-mates. He made a contribution against Birmingham and I've told him before that he needs to keep making them. "I thought he did that last weekend. He passed the ball well. He is a technically gifted player and I've been pleased with him since he signed. We are just looking for a bit more consistency." As he is looking for Davies to maintain the levels he has set, Moyes now wants to see Everton finish with maximum points from their trip to the North East and next week's fixture against West Brom to end things on a positive note. "It's important we finish well for all sorts of reasons," said Moyes. "For the feeling around the club, for the supporters and the players, as we want them to enjoy their summer holidays on the back of a couple of wins. "That's the way that we want it to be. But saying that, we were like this a couple of years ago, and the season after that we went on to have the best season this club has enjoyed in a long time."
Neville: Derby defeat knocked stuffing out of us
Apr 28 2006 By Dominic, King, Liverpool Echo
FEW defeats in football hurt more acutely than those suffered at the hands of your local rivals and Phil Neville believes Everton's stuttering end-of-season malaise can be traced back to the day they were beaten at Anfield. Having made the short hop across Stanley Park bubbling with confidence after winning eight of their previous 11 matches, the Blues have failed to take maximum points in six fixtures since losing 3-1 to Liverpool. Neville has more reason than most for wanting to banish the memory of that miserable afternoon, as he put through his own net with the outcome hanging in the balance. It was a blow that would eventually flatten an Everton side that did not do themselves justice. Whether it has inflicted a knockout to Everton's season remains to be seen. There are two games left before the summer break, starting with tomorrow's trip to Middlesbrough and it is vital that things are wrapped up on a positive note.
Though they threatened briefly to stage a push for Europe, picking up just three points from the last 18 suggests things are fizzling out to an unsatisfactory ending. Neville, for one, is desperate to ensure that does not happen. "Maybe we should have expected a bit of a dip because we were on an unbelievable run this year and if you go on a run like that, every now and again you get a blip," said Neville, who has played 42 of the Blues' 45 matches since his £3.5m move last summer. "Maybe the derby took a lot out of us. It is bad enough losing but the manner in which we lost was disappointing. We let ourselves down and I don't think we could have gone into the game in any better form."We just didn't perform and I think that knocked the stuffing out of us. Of all the grounds for me to score an own goal on, I don't think I would have picked Anfield. But these things happen. "I wish I had a pound for everyone that said 'good goal' to me afterwards. I think in your career you are going to have ups and downs and it was the first own goal I'd scored. Funnily enough, Tim Cahill had told me I was going to score the night before." Sadly, it turned out to be in the wrong net but there would be no better time than at The Riverside to break his duck for the club, given that 424 minutes have elapsed since an Everton player last hit the target. Neville went close on a couple of forays last weekend in the 0-0 draw with Birmingham City but tomorrow his thoughts will be concerned primarily with defending as Tony Hibbert recovers from hernia surgery. Cahill's absence, however, is a particular blow. "It was no coincidence when Tim started scoring our form came back," Neville points out. "He is a focal point in the team on and off the pitch and he is a bubbly type of character. Tim is a goalscorer, up there with the likes of Scholes and Lampard. "Players like that are so valuable for teams because there are so few of them around. Tim doesn't take penalties either, so he is scoring them all from open play and he does a lot of unselfish work in his own box as well." Yet it could be that the tussle with Middlesbrough allows Everton an opportunity to express themselves in a match where the pressure will be off, after Birmingham's attempts to asphyxiate everything creative last Saturday as they battled to stay up. The England international knows, nevertheless, Everton should have beaten Birmingham and would have done so had they been on top form. It wasn't the display of a side that had pummelled Champions League finalists Arsenal into submission four months ago.Still, Middlesbrough and West Brom offer Everton the chance to end a season that has yoyoed between the sublime and the ridiculous with back-to-back wins and Neville insists that is a realistic target.
"We totally dominated the first half and Birmingham were happy with a point," said Neville. "We thought that maybe we should have been two or three up at half-time but second half they closed all the spaces and the gaps. "We could only hit long balls then and they dived in front of everything. But you have to expect it when teams are down there fighting relegation. We've had jolts like Birmingham did against Liverpool a few times this season, like at West Brom. "After that game, it was probably the first time I had looked at the table following my move and everyone realised that we were in a pretty dire situation. It was the time when the manager and all the players knew we had to pull our fingers out. "We had finished fourth last year but knew we weren't too good to be down in the dog fight and that turned our season around. "We went on a great run to get out of trouble and now we have to see things out on a positive note."
Apr 28 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
BRIAN LABONE'S final night on this earth was spent in the shadow of his beloved Goodison Park, spending time, sharing drinks and swopping anecdotes with fans.
He might have chosen to join other former players and their wives at the Empire Theatre, watching a special performance of Blood Brothers laid on by Bill Kenwright.
Instead he had agreed to give up his time to present trophies to Everton's Players of the Year at the Winslow Hotel. James Vaughan turned up to collect his Young Player award. Tim Cahill, however, couldn't be present to accept the main award because he was injured. For me, that item of news underlined the gulf which currently exists between modern players and their old-time counterparts. While Labone will fondly be remembered as a man of the people, a player with such generosity of spirit he would spend hours every day talking football with those who idolised him, too many modern 'stars' have lost touch with the ordinary supporter. Cahill couldn't be at the Winslow on Monday night because he was injured. There is no doubt the problem is a serious one. It may even prevent him taking his place at the World Cup finals this summer.
But the problem wasn't serious enough to prevent Cahill allegedly being involved in an altercation with Reds fans at the city centre's Newz bar on Saturday night.
Labone could also be spotted regularly in the city's pubs and bars - The Exchange and the Pig and Whistle were favourites - but he was never involved in altercations.
A lovely tribute was paid to him by a Liverpool fan this week. "Labone liked a drink and you'd often see him in a city centre pub. But he was never obnoxious and he was never drunk," said a message on a Reds fans' messageboard. Labone never enjoyed the material wealth of modern footballers, but the love and affection in which he is held can be measured only on a Richter scale. Modern 'stars' like Cahill would do well to consider that fact. * "WONDERFUL, wonderful, wonderful . . . " That was how the wonderfully deluded David O'Leary opened his programme notes before Wednesday's latest woeful showing from his team. He was referring, of course, to his team's derby victory over one of the four teams in the country currently worse than his own.
In true O'Leary tradition, he neatly ignored the 'w' words which could sum up the other 35 performances his team has produced this season . . . like wretched, woeful, woebegone and weary.