The Jury: Everton FC fans on the Wolves draw and the Blues' latest injury woes
Apr 1 2010
TONY SCOTT, Walton
WHAT continues to amaze me about so called ‘big teams’ is their manager’s constant moaning about not having to pick their best team because of injuries.
Torres and Gerrard have already played more games together this season than the whole of last season. There’s public outcry from Man Utd fans because Rooney is missing for a fortnight and Harry Redknapp and Martin O’Neill continue to grill reporters about injuries even though they’ve spent more money than the Royal Bank of Scotland! In the past 18 months we’ve had Fellaini injured for six months, throw in Phil Neville for four months, Pienaar missing for two months, 10 months out for Yakubu, add Anichebe out for 12 months, Arteta out for 11 months, Jagielka crippled for 11 months, you get the idea don’t you! Now we lose Gosling for nine months to another serious knee injury. We don’t do minor injuries at Goodison do we?
MICHAEL DRUMMOND, Speke
WHY is it when one of our players get injured, they get heavily injured? Arteta, Jags, Fellaini and now Dan Gosling. I know he has not been a key player this season however, he was starting to come into his own of late and nine months is a long time to be out. Also, with him only being 20, it is hindering to his development, just look at Vaughan; he has not been able to get into the stride of things since his lengthy lay-off.
Let’s just hope this injury does not take too long into the next season to heal.
Looking towards the West Ham match, they are not in form at all so I would like to say it is a simple task but given the media attention about them they could just fall more apart or show their worth and give it a go. If it is the latter, then we just need to make sure we are not over confident going into this game and if were careful, another three points should be ours!
THE result at Molinuex was disappointing, when you consider the run we have been on. We have to keep beating the sides below us if we are to give ourselves a chance of catching any of those above us. The news that Dan Gosling will miss nine months is a blow that we have become all too familiar with. Long-term injuries have hampered our squad so much recently and one can only wonder what we could achieve with a full squad at our disposal. Gosling, despite not being a regular in the side, has proved he can be effective, most notably against Man United last month. Hopefully he will fully recover, without it affecting the clear progess that he has been making. West Ham, on Sunday, should be an easy win. The Hammers are in turmoil at the moment and their results show that. I fancy us to win by a landslide.
DEBBIE SMAJE, Up Holland
A LITTLE bit of a disappointing draw at Wolves on Saturday, but it could have all been so different if Danny Gosling hadn’t missed his chance late on, but now it seems that chance has come at a heavier price than any dropped points with the news he will out for nine months, our third long term cruciate injury in around a year.
While Gosling may not be as crucial a player as either Arteta or Jagielka, ever since his debut at Middlesbrough last season, he has shown he is a very useful, hardworking and versatile player, always capable of coming off the bench and scoring a crucial goal. Speedy recovery Dan. The main plus of Saturday was a third clean sheet in a row. They have been pretty hard to come by this season, even when we have played well, so it is good to know that the return of Jagielka and his partnership with the improving Distin have tightened us up at the back. Another against West Ham on Sunday should see our winning streak at home continue.
Everton FC legend Pat Van Den Hauwe on the highs and lows of his life as a Toffees’ legend
Apr 1 2010 Greg O'Keeffe
HE WAS a footballer as feared by opposition players as he was fearless on the pitch.
The man forever known to supporters as ‘Psycho’ Pat Van Den Hauwe forged a reputation as the definitive hard-man of Everton’s 1984/85 most successful ever side.
Shrouded in enigma and rumour, the left-back was also dubbed a wild-living ladies’ man thanks to his antics away from football. The Belgian-born Welsh international departed Goodison in 1989 after only four glory-drenched seasons.
He married and separated from model Mandy Smith, after joining Terry Venables’ Spurs, staying for another four seasons. A brief spell with Milwall followed and then..... well, that’s where nobody is quite sure. Van Den Hauwe became a virtual recluse, impossible to trace for interview and returning to Liverpool less than Margaret Thatcher. But the 49-year-old was back in the city for the first time on Monday, to join team-mates of that historic side at a reunion in the ECHO arena.
Now living in Capetown, South Africa, he granted the ECHO a rare and unflinchingly honest interview. Van Den Hauwe arrived in the lobby of the new Hilton hotel at Liverpool ONE dressed in his tuxedo, but admitted a night on the tiles with his former team-mates the previous evening had left him feeling slightly worse for wear.
“This is a rare visit but I’m glad to be back,” he says, his London-accent now tinged with a South African twang. “I’ve been in South Africa for 15 years since ‘95. After Spurs and Terry Venable leaving, Ossie Ardiles came in and didn’t fancy me as a player. I went to Milwall with Mick McCarthy for a year. “But certain things in my life went wrong, regarding marriage and Mandy – it was all well publicised and so I basically thought there was nothing left for me in this country.” Feeling disillusioned with the game and British tabloid intrusion into his life, he fled the country.
“I just said ‘That’s it’ and packed in the game,” he says. “I’d just had enough of everything. I wanted out, and didn’t know what I was going to do. But I got a phone call from a good friend of mine, a solicitor called Nick Traynor, who asked if I’d take an opportunity to go and play in South Africa. “At first I was a bit funny with it. All you see on TV is the bad publicity, and I thought ‘I’m not going over there. I’ll get killed knowing my luck and the stuff I was getting up to! “But anyway I did go. I started playing and getting used to the people and within a month I’d made friends. I decided to stay and it’s home now. As much as I like being back in the UK I’m looking forward to getting back.” Van Den Hauwe is genuinely humbled to realise Everton fans still hold him in high-esteem, and was amazed his name is chanted along with the rest of that side at most home games. “I didn’t know I was still highly thought of until I came back,” he says. “It’s unbelievable. For supporters to still think of someone all these years later is absolutely outstanding for me. In my heart I feel very warm about it. At least I did something right, something right for the club.
“OK I did good things and bad things. We’re not all perfect and that’s the way I was. But I know one thing. When I went onto the pitch I played for Everton FC and the supporters. I made it my business to do my utmost best. “What I did off the pitch was for me. But on the pitch I did what I had to do.”He finds it hard to pick one particular high point of that season.
“Where do you begin with the memories?” he says. “You can’t just say one thing. There are FA Cups, League championships, Cup Winner’s Cups. It was a fantastic four years and the best time of my life.
“I don’t watch DVDs of those seasons though. I try not to go back and look at it because you start thinking about it. I don’t see many of the current games – the odd game I might watch on TV.
“Instead of watching the game I’m looking at it backwards and thinking back to when we played. I’m wondering how the boys are and what they’re up to now. It runs through my mind.” Being back among those old friends has made him recall the tight-knit bond they shared as players. “It’s been fantastic to see them all,” he says. “Especially the Old Scotch git Sharpie. He looked after me and tried to guide me the best way possible, but it was my decision at the end of the day. “We’d go for a beer after training but like all things, sometimes I’d go home and sometimes I wouldn’t go home. Everyone knows that.” Now Van den Hauwe is loving life in Capetown and anticipating the summer’s World Cup in his adopted country. But he insists Everton’s current side can be a success, thanks to their manager. “It’s hard to say if this current team can be as good as we are,” he says. “But I hope Everton keep hold of David Moyes. He is the right man for the job and he’s done wonders. “I know he’s had little money, and on a shoe-string basis he’s done exceptionally well. He is a nice person and a great coach.“I’ve been coaching, and now I’m involved with advising some players from South Africa. Things are looking good.”
Pat Van Den Hauwe Facts
Full name: Patrick William Roger Van Den Hauwe. Despite being born in Dendermonde, Belgium, he represented Wales at international level, making 13 appearances for his adopted country. Started his club career at Birmingham City in 1978. Joined Everton in September 1984 for a fee of £100,000, and stayed four seasons, scoring twice. Married model Mandy Smith, the former wife of Rolling Stones' bassist Bill Wyman, in 1993 but separated two years later and divorced in 1997. Has coached for Vodacom League side F.C. Cape Town.
Phil Jagielka: Everton FC must not underestimate West Ham
Apr 1 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
Phil Jagielka 300
PHIL JAGIELKA today warned his Everton team-mates not to underestimate relegation-haunted West Ham ahead of Sunday's clash. The England defender is shocked at the Hammer’s plight, and insists they are a good side despite their precarious league position. After guiding the Hammers up to ninth place last season, Gianfranco Zola’s team currently lie just above the drop zone but only on goal difference. Jagielka said: “I have been surprised that West Ham have been in a relegation fight this season. “The squad they have got is still good and they have some great players but I think the main word for their season is consistency.
“They haven’t put four or five good results together that would see them climb up the table.” Jagielka believes that off-the-field problems have blighted the East London club’s season. He said: “I think there has been a lot of talk off the pitch about them having to sell their best players and reports that the club wasn’t financially stable.
“Those off the field activities haven’t really helped them.” West Ham have managed to win just two of their last 13 Premier League outings.
They have also only won once on the road this season, a victory on the opening day against Wolves. Zola insisted he would remain in charge for the remainder of the campaign, after his side’s home defeat by Stoke City last weekend. Meanwhile, Dan Gosling is coming to terms with the prospect of missing nine months of football due to ruptured knee ligaments. Everton physio Mick Rathbone said: “Our worst fears have been confirmed. “Dan has ruptured his cruciate ligament and will unfortunately be out for up to nine months.” The 20-year-old England under-21 player had been progressing well and scored in February’s a 3-1 win over champions Manchester United. He was hurt in a collision with Wolves goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann late in Saturday’s goalless Premier League draw at Molineux.
Everton FC cult-hero Ronnie Goodlass hopes goal-shy Blues hit the net against the Hammers
Apr 2 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
THE IRONS might be rusty, but they may still be able to deliver a hammer blow.
That’s the warning of Everton veteran Ronnie Goodlass, ahead of West Ham’s visit to Goodison Park on Sunday. Gianfranco Zola’s Londoners arrive in Merseyside on the back of a pitiful run of form which has seen them lose their last six games.
Last weekend’s humbling by Stoke City at Upton Park led to Zola considering his future on a brief holiday in Sardinia, but he has vowed to battle on until the end of the season at least. And while the Hammers might be seen by some as ripe for a hiding, Goodlass believes David Moyes’ men cannot afford to be anything less than 100%.
“It doesn’t work like that,” says the former Goodison winger, who scored a wonder goal from the half-way line against West Ham in April 1977. “There are simply no easy points in the Premier League anymore. The pressure is really on them. They can either throw the towel in and accept relegation, or come out fighting. “The players seem to be backing the manager through and through as it stands. He will need them to stand firm too if they have any hope of staying up.” Ronnie, who cleaned Alan Ball’s boots as an Everton trainee before progressing to playing alongside stars such as Bob Latchford, excelled with the club during the 1976-77 season under manager Billy Bingham. Everton reached the final of the League Cup but controversially lost in the FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool when Goodlass crossed for Bryan Hamilton’s ‘goal’ which was ruled out by referee Clive Thomas. Now Ronnie is a match-day summariser for Radio Merseyside, as well as the man behind childrens’ charity Health Through Sport. But the life-long Evertonian is never happier than at Goodison Park, and desperately wants the Blues to avoid the banana skin that West Ham’s visit represents. The Toffees need to win most of their remaining six league games, to have a chance of qualifying for the Europa League again by their league position. “Everton have to fly out of the traps with the right attitude and put them to the sword,” he says. “West Ham could come here, get one chance, and take it. All of a sudden they could grab a draw or even worse all three points. “You only have to look at what happened at the Emirates on Wednesday. Barcelona battered Arsenal in that first half, but then Arsenal had a couple of rare chances and suddenly they were back in the tie. “It’s not massively different from Wolves. Everton had all the decent chances but failed to take them, and Wolves got something from the game.
“Overall Everton should have too much for West Ham though. They just have to be wary. Two points have already been dropped against Birmingham and Wolves – they can’t afford to drop anymore.” Meanwhile, West Ham striker Mido is convinced the club have enough quality to escape the clutches of relegation – but they may have to do it without Gianfranco Zola as manager. Only goal difference now separates West Ham from the relegation zone and Hull, who are level on points after beating Fulham, have a game in hand. Stoke boss Tony Pulis described management as a “very lonely job” and Zola admitted he had a great deal of soul-searching to do after the 1-0 defeat.
Mido said: “If you look at the faces in the dressing room, the experience, the people who want to work hard for this club, you don’t see a club going down.”
But Zola appears no longer convinced he is the man to get the best from a squad which includes England internationals Robert Green, Matthew Upson, Carlton Cole and Scott Parker. Asked after the game whether he would consider resigning, Zola said: “I have to find out what the problem is. If the problem is me, then why not?
“The players are trying hard for us. The bottom line is to see whether I can help them or not. “I have no agendas other than doing a good job for this club so I will consider whether I am doing a good job. “We are not performing as well as we should and I take responsibility for that.” West Ham’s outspoken co-chairman David Sullivan had said Zola’s job would be safe whatever the result against Stoke. The pair crossed swords over Sullivan’s decision to publicly criticise West Ham’s performance in last week’s 3-1 defeat to Wolves as “pathetic” and “appalling”.
Howard Kendall: I hope Everton FC’s Dan Gosling can bounce back from injury like Adrian Heath
Apr 2 2010
IT was a pleasure to spend time with the lads from the 84/85 team on Monday during the 25th anniversary event at the ECHO arena. I really do struggle to believes it was 25 years ago sometimes. But seeing all of the lads together, it becomes apparent that quite some time has passed between now and then. I was particularly pleased that Adrian Heath travelled all the way over from America where he coaches now, and that Pat Van Den Hauwe flew in from South Africa especially. It is testament to both of them that they went to all that trouble. Hearing of young Dan Gosling’s terrible injury reminded me of when Adrian Heath also did his cruciate knee ligaments.
Inchy fought back to be the same great player he was beforehand. He worked very hard and his recovery was a massive tribute to his character, and the skill and expertise of the surgeon and physio John Clinkard (who was also there on Monday).
I really hope Dan can make a similar comeback. It was a brave challenge for the ball he made at Molineux, and he showed he has plenty of bottle and desire to get on the scoresheet for Everton. He will at least be able to get advice on the long rehabilitation process from Mikel Arteta and Phil Jagielka who have both done the same thing lately. They will be able to offer him practical tips on the ups and downs, because nine months is a long time for a young lad to be out of the game. Everton’s rotten luck with injuries this season has been well documented, let’s hope it changes for next season.
Angus Loughran: Hammers a home banker for Everton FC
Apr 2 2010 Liverpool Echo
Angus Loughran: Hammers a home banker for Everton FC
I HAVE just about recovered after a week in America watching the golf, just making it back in time to make St James’ Park on Monday night to see Newcastle beat Forest.
I have previously mentioned I’ve backed Newcastle to go up and that will be the outcome if they win on Saturday against lowly Peterborough and Forest suffer their eighth consecutive away defeat at Bristol City. If both win on Saturday Newcastle will get a second chance on Monday against Sheffield United. Looking at the local football though, starting with Everton while I think the draw against Wolves may have ended the Blues’ chances of finishing fourth they are definitely well in the hunt to make next season’s Europa League. They play West Ham on Sunday and this would have to be my home banker considering Everton’s fantastic home form this season and the run of wins they are currently on at Goodison. West Ham were a huge 8/1 to be relegated a few weeks back, but add a six-game losing streak and they find themselves 6/5 for the drop and that will probably go odds on if they lose at Goodison. They are in trouble that’s for sure. Liverpool meanwhile go to Birmingham and this is a massive game for them in their bid to finish fourth. The Reds need to be wary of Birmingham’s recent record of scoring late on at St Andrews. Arsenal found out the hard way just last week, conceding the last-minute equaliser to slip up in the title race. How good was Torres’ first goal last week though? Truly world class and he will be vital in Liverpool’s end-of0season charge. Spurs are in pole position for fourth place but after their game at Sunderland at the weekend they have a cup semi then consecutive games against Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United – so they will come back to the pack. Looking at City they have to play Spurs late on and also have a game against United to think about. It really is tough to call, the current prices have Spurs 6/4, City 15/8 and Liverpool 9/4. I’m looking forward to Aintree next week and while I’ll discuss the National in next week’s column I would say unless you are already on ante-post I would hold your bets until Monday at least. The decs will be in and we will have a better idea of the weather forecast. I can say there has been money for Black Apalachi from Irish punters. Big Fella Thanks has also been popular after Ruby Walsh elected to ride earlier in the week. Aintree is one of my favourite places and is unique in its atmosphere. With the Masters as well we have plenty to look forward to. Good luck.
David Moyes tells Mikel Arteta to keep Spain World Cup dream alive
Apr 2 2010 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has urged Mikel Arteta not to give up on his Spanish dream – although the Everton manager conceded that it was probably too late for Everton’s ‘best little Spaniard’ to make his country’s World Cup squad this summer.
Arteta has, surprisingly, never featured in a senior Spanish national squad, despite a dozen appearances for the Under-21s and numerous recommendations from his manager, team-mates and even opponents like school pal Xabi Alonso. But Moyes believes Arteta would finally have achieved international recognition but for the cruel injury he sustained a year ago. He said: “If Mikel hadn’t been injured last year I thought he’d have been a consideration for the Spain squad. “Because he is playing in the Premier League and is one of the better midfielders here, that draws attention to the national team. “But it also gives an indication of how strong Spain are.
“Maybe he’ll have to wait after this competition (the World Cup) and if he keeps playing well for Everton then maybe he can get his way into the squad for the next European Championship qualifiers.” Arteta has started five consecutive matches since returning from a cruciate knee ligament injury – and on Sunday against Hull City showed signs of returning back to his creative best with two goals and a moral claim for a hat-trick after a mishit cross was knocked into his own net by Ricardo Garcia.
Despite his most dominant performance to date, however, Moyes believes there is more to come from Arteta. “Mikel Arteta scored two really good goals,” said Moyes. “He played well all-round so I’m really pleased for him. Mikel is still not right back to where he was, but today it was more like him. “It shows you how much we have missed him over the last year or so.” Moyes added: “I knew he would come on a bit as his fitness and confidence has grown. He had a tough time over the last week against Sporting Lisbon and Tottenham, I thought it was him emptied out. “I gave him a couple of days off and he has trained better after that. He has looked a bit more like himself. “It will take him a wee while to get his full strength back, but he did a lot of good things with the ball today.”
Everton vs West Ham - pre-match preview
Apr 2 2010 By Neil MacDonald
David Moyes and Gianfranco Zola
Check out the stats ahead of Everton's game with West Ham. You can also vote on what you think the result will be and leave your comments below.
Everton last five games
March 27 - Wolves 0 Everton 0
March 24 - Man City 0 Everton 2
March 20 - Everton 2 Bolton 0
March 13 - Birmingham 2 Everton 2
March 7 - Everton 5 Hull 1
West Ham last five games
March 27 - West Ham 0 Stoke 1
March 23 - West Ham 1 Wolves 3
March 20 - Arsenal 2 West Ham 0
March 13 - Chelsea 4 West Ham 1
March 6 - West Ham 1 Bolton 2
November 8 2009: Premier League - West Ham 1 Everton 2
May 16 2009: Premier League - Everton 3 West Ham 1
November 8 2008: Premier League - West Ham 1 Everton 3
March 22 2008: Premier League - Everton 1 West Ham 1
Everton v West Ham preview
9:00am Friday 2nd April 2010
The Guardian Times (North London)
Everton v West Ham
Goddison Park, Sunday April 4, 4pm
Last meeting: West Ham 1-2 Everton (08-11-09). A Tony Hibbert own goal had briefly raised hopes of a comeback for the Hammers immediately after Dan Gosling had put the Toffees 2-0 up. Louis Saha’s superb strike from outside the box had given Everton the lead.
The opposition: Everton have enjoyed a resurgence in form after welcoming back a number of their stars, following an injury crisis during the first half of the season. David Moyes’ men have lost just once in eight Premier League games, which included an impressive 2-0 victory at Manchester City last week.
Danger men: Mikel Arteta has been imperious for Everton since his return from injury in January. The Spanish midfielder has banged in four goals in his last four games and has a vast passing range that makes him a threat from all over the pitch.
Did you know? Everton used to occupy Anfield, the home of bitter rivals Liverpool, until 1892, at which point they moved to Goodison Park.
Prediction: Everton 1 West Ham 1.
Betting tip: Carlton Cole is in the middle of a six-game scoring drought at present. However, do not bet against him to deliver when the chips are down.
WEST HAM: Zola hopes for 'unexpected' result at Everton
3:41pm Friday 2nd April 2010
The Guardian Times (North London)
WEST HAM boss Gianfranco Zola is hoping for an ‘unexpected’ result when the Hammers face Everton at Goodison Park on Easter Sunday. The team will be looking to resurrect their season in order to escape the clutches of relegation but Zola, who took three days off earlier this week to consider his position at the club, recognises the task ahead of his team is a big one. “Sometimes in football, strange things can happen and things can happen that are unexpected, and that is what I am looking for,” said the Italian, who has presided over a dreadful recent run of form, which has seen the Irons lose their last six league matches. “The players know they are working hard, they are committed and they are focused and they are staying strong. We have a had a lot of adversity to overcome, but we are strong and we are going to do our best.
“I am sure there will be a lot of supporters travelling up there and we want to please them because they deserve a good trip.” He also defended his decision to give the squad the time off earlier this week to clear their heads. “We played on 20 March with Arsenal, then on the 23 March with Wolves and on the 27 March with Stoke, so we had three games in eight days plus, after another defeat, I thought it was the right thing to do to give them a little break “Plus I am the manager and I decide what we do. I spend every single day working with these players and nobody can tell me what I have to do for them.” Zola will be hoping the break has the desired effect on Sunday.
Greg O'Keeffe: Record your own Z-Cars theme
Apr 3 2010 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
IT’S the iconic theme tune that sums up Goodison match days for most Evertonians.
Z-Cars is synonymous with the Blues who have been running out to Jonny Keating’s track since the 1960’s. Now Everton is giving its supporters the chance to record their very own special version of Z-Cars. Without much prompting, every Toffee can belt out the opening bars and now EvertonMobile wants to find the best fan version, which will be made into an official ring tone. Supporters are invited to whistle, hum, sing or play their favourite instrument to be in with a chance of creating the latest Everton ring tone. To enter, just record yourself performing your version of Z-Cars and send it to email@example.com. The club will accept both video and audio files,but entries will only be judged on the sound. You can also submit your entry in Everton’s official video booth, which is located at Everton One. Fans have until April 19 to submit their entries, when the best ten will be whittled down, and supporters can vote for the winner via an online poll.
Greg O'Keeffe: Stars of Everton FC's 84/85 reunion was different class
Apr 3 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
IT WAS fantastic to see the heroes of 1984/85 reunited once again in the Echo arena on Monday night. It is well documented how close they were, and refreshing to see how tight-knit they remain. Pat Van Den Hauwe was the biggest surprise. Polite, friendly, warm and genuinely humbled by the attention he received. Much changed from the snarling ‘Psycho’ of his playing days. Perhaps that’s what happens to some footballers when the glamour of a top-flight career fades. The only sad notes were the absences of skipper Kevin Ratcliffe, Andy Gray (surely Sky could have let him fly to Germany on Tuesday?) and Neville Southall. Overall it was a superb event which showed how committed Everton is to recognising its legacy, and celebrating its past.
Barry Horne: Fabio Capello must have been impressed by Everton FC’s England contingent
Apr 3 2010 by Barry Horne, Liverpool Echo
FABIO CAPELLO was at Molineux last weekend to check on the contingent of English Evertonians. Phil Jagielka looked like he is still on his way back to full fitness and form but surely the Italian will monitor his progress and he must have a chance.
Jack Rodwell will have enhanced his status as a future England regular while Capello must also have noticed an older head in captain Phil Neville. Neville consistently performs well in whatever role he is asked to play and in tournament football someone who can happily play in three or four different positions must be considered.
If you accept that Ashley Cole is England’s best left-back then Leighton Baines is definitely the next best. He is surely now a contender to make the squad as Capello looks for a specialist left-back considering concerns over Cole’s fitness.
Barry Horne: Everton FC can still take advantage of Villa’s woes
Apr 3 2010 by Barry Horne, Liverpool Echo
THE two points dropped at Wolverhampton were an obvious setback in the race for a European spot but the situation is not terminal. I thought Everton played superbly well in patches and had enough chances to win several games. Rivals Aston Villa appear to have hit something of a brick wall and there seems to be some uncertainty as to the future of their talismanic leader Martin O’Neill. I have often applauded him for the consistency of his team selection but club owner Randy Lerner has apparently criticised him for not using his squad players enough, blaming their recent results on that decision. O’Neill’s argument is that this is the exact reason why he needs more money as he feels compelled to use the same players week-in, week-out. The upshot is that Villa are can certainly be caught. With West Ham next up at Goodison tomorrow, Everton can get themselves back on track. I’m a great admirer of Gianfranco Zola. He is a very respectful man who is modest, honest and dignified in everything he does.
He really does not deserve the treatment he has been getting from the club’s owners who probably doesn’t possess some of those attributes. However football is football and hopefully Everton will beat them convincingly, pushing another club who has not been financially prudent nearer to the relegation trapdoor. Villa and West Ham are two clubs of similar stature to Everton in recent years and the difficulties in the relationships between their owners and managers emphasise just how much Everton are in great hands. Bill Kenwright and David Moyes have always cut their cloth accordingly.
It works at Everton FC because I control the club says manager David Moyes
Apr 3 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
IT IS no secret that David Moyes observes the mega-successful methods of Alex Ferguson as inspiration for his own upwardly mobile career. From his careful nurturing of young stars, to an inclination not to suffer fools gladly, Moyes has all the hallmarks of the Knight of Old Trafford. Everton’s ambitious manager admits that Sunday’s visit of West Ham presents him with reason to feel grateful. The Hammers have been rocked with disastrous results, and new chairman David Sullivan publicly criticising Gianfranco Zola’s team. It has not made for a harmonious club, and has hardly helped the Londoners’ bid for survival. “I don’t know all the stuff that's going on but I just pick up what's in the media,” says Moyes. “But I think managers want support and help and there are 5,6,7 games to go but you saw it with Phil Brown going the other week. “ Its a difficult job being a football manager and Gianfranco has found it tough, but its good if he gets support because you need it when things aren’t going well. “I think he’s (Gold) entitled to say something because he owns the club but I don’t think it necessarily helps and I think that it would be better said behind close doors to the manager, maybe it has been as well. “I think that Gianfranco would probably like to get on with his job without too much interference. I’m fortunate that I’ve had people who have let me get on with the job. “ I’ve lost a lot of games and not felt good, but I’ve had good support when that happened and good backing because what needs to happen is the manager has to pick the players up, and what you need is a chairman to give you that encouragement and positivity and help you. “It’s not easy for the managers when things aren’t going well.” Moyes is determined his grip must extend to every part of the football club. “I've been fortunate that in the main I’ve been given the chance to run the club. Sir Alex has got a saying that the manager has to control the club and he does there and I do at Everton,” he says. “It might not be the way for every club but it’s been the way for our club to go forward. I think you have to earn trust as well and I hope I’ve done that here.” Meanwhile, the Blues boss bemoaned the latest knee cruciate injury to hit his first team squad, as Dan Gosling was ruled out for nine months. But he does not think a review of the training facilities is in order. “I think if we had been doing them at the training ground we might need to have a look at it. “But Jagielka’s was at Goodison, Arteta’s was at St James’ Park, the one there at Molineux. “I don’t think it’s anything we’re doing and there’s nothing wrong with their cruciates when we sign them.It’s just bad luck.“If it was the surface of the training ground even you’d look at it, but it’s not. The payers are much more knowledgeable and understand injuries better. They can title and label every injury these days. In days gone by a lot of players would strap themselves up and get on with it. Moyes is also hoping hi team can show improvement in front of goal on Sunday.
He said: “Our play recently has merited more goals. “ I’ve said to the players that we need to be much more clinical, maybe a bit more unpredictable at times to score.
“More people have popped up with goals this season, but it’s something which I want to address. “We are making the chances I want us to finish. “We’ve got good goalscorers. Yakubu has proved it over the years in the Premier League. Louis Saha has got 14 or 15 so he has a decent return and games to go to notch that up. “We’ve not had Fellaini enough, and he got 10 last year as did Cahill I think, so we need other people to contribute. “We’ve scored more goals so far than last year when we finished fifth though.” Moyes is still reluctant to set targets for his front men. “Those boys have in their heads what they would like to do,” he says. “Everyone has their own individual goals. You’d like your striker to get you 30 goals because that means he’s been scoring all year, but there is also a need for someone who gets you important goals in key games, winning goals. “That’s something I’d like. I’d like both.
Everton's recovered knee injury victims will support crocked Dan Gosling
Apr 3 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
Knee injury victims Phil Jagielka and Mikel Arteta will support Dan Gosling, says David Moyes EVERTON’S players will rally around injury-hit Dan Gosling and help the distraught youngster stay positive, says David Moyes. The Toffees’ boss believes that Mikel Arteta and Phil Jagielka – who have both suffered similarly serious knee injuries – will offer the 20-year-old advice and support during his nine-month absence. Gosling is currently at a low ebb, waiting for separate medial ligament damage in his knee to subside before he can even undergo surgery on ruptured cruciate ligaments. Moyes said: “They can’t operate on him for a month or so, but I’m sure when Dan has had his operation that Mikel and Phil will help him and explain periods they went through. “It’s difficult for the boy it really is. To have to sit and wait for the operation for a while is hard on him too. When you’ve got something wrong you want it done quickly, so you can at least say “I’m on the road to recovery”.
“He was really upset about it but he has come to terms with it, and now he has got to get the operation done and then look forward. “We’ve had some serious injuries. I’ve never known anything like it. To lose three players with cruciates in such a short spell of time is unbelievable.” Moyes added that Mikel Arteta, who missed last weekend’s draw against Wolves, played through the pain-barrier earlier that week against Manchester City.He said Arteta felt his groin injury before the City of Manchester stadium clash, but was desperate to play. The Spaniard has a 50/50 chance of being involved against West Ham at Goodison tomorrow. Joseph Yobo, however, is a major doubt with a back strain. Moyes also revealed that Marouane Fellaini is making good progress with the ankle injury which resulted in a six-month lay-off. He said: “Marouane is coming on fine. He’s got a good bit of movement back, but we are just beginning to pick up injuries and have to be careful.” Meanwhile, defender Seamus Coleman scored for Blackpool in their 4-2 win at Scunthorpe yesterday. The on-loan Irishman netted the Seasiders’ second goal on 77 minutes at Glanford Park – weaving past the Scunthorpe defence and slotting home past goalkeeper Joe Murphy.
Coleman joined the Championship side on an initial one-month loan deal in March, and has featured in all games since his arrival.
Everton FC 2, West Ham United 2: full time report
Apr 4 2010 (Liverpool Echo)
West Ham twice came from behind at Everton to claim a crucial point in their Barclays Premier League relegation scrap. Manuel da Costa and Ilan both struck in the second half as the Hammers produced a battling display to end a damaging run of six successive defeats. Diniyar Bilyaletdinov opened the scoring and Ayegbeni Yakubu looked to have won it for the Toffees six minutes from time but the Hammers, who also missed a penalty, produced their best performance in weeks. After a disjointed first-half display, gaining a draw was an unexpected bonus that lifted them one point clear of the bottom three. That was no more than the visitors deserved for a battling showing after the break, Scott Parker typifying their effort with an outstanding display in defence and attack. The only blight on his performance was a booking which means he must now serve a two-match suspension. Fate had appeared to be conspiring against under-pressure Hammers boss Gianfranco Zola before kick-off.
Having already lost Kieron Dyer, the Italian was forced to make a late change when Valon Behrami was injured in the warm-up. After initially been named among the substitutes, Junior Stanislas was unexpectedly promoted to the side while Josh Payne was handed a place on the bench. Everton made just one change, and it proved a key one, with goalscorer Bilyaletdinov starting ahead of Jack Rodwell. The match started slowly but West Ham finally got a sight of goal when Parker fired well over from a corner. Everton’s first opportunity came from a free-kick but Leighton Baines shot straight into the wall from 20 yards. The hosts got another chance from slightly greater distance after Parker earned that costly booking for a late challenge on Tim Cahill.
This time top scorer Louis Saha took aim but sliced his effort well wide.
Everton stepped up the pressure to claim the lead after 24 minutes. Jonathan Spector attempted to head away a Baines cross but found only Cahill, who nodded back for Bilyaletdinov to glance in from close range. Cahill then threatened a second after a driving run but dragged his shot wide from the edge of the box.The Hammers were gifted a potential route back into the game as referee Howard Webb pointed to the spot after 37 minutes. Sylvain Distin clipped the back of Carlton Cole’s legs in a clumsy attempt to shepherd the ball back to Howard as the striker raced onto a fine ball from Parker. Distin was the last man but Webb showed leniency and brandished only a yellow card, but Howard saved Mido’s spot-kick. The on-loan Middlesbrough forward’s effort was destined for the bottom corner but the travelling fans’ general dissatisfaction with his performances became evident as they sarcastically called for him to be sent off after a poor challenge on Steven Pienaar. Bilyaletdinov then spurned a chance to compound West Ham’s misery when he curled a shot over before the break. The opening to the second half was scrappy but the Hammers were at least competitive and did most of the pressing. Another chance almost opened up for Mido from a Stanislas pass but his touch was heavy and Phil Jagielka cleared.
That gave the visitors encouragement and Mark Noble was unlucky to see an opportunistic chip from the edge of the area hit the crossbar with Howard beaten.
West Ham earned their reward on the hour as a Noble corner fell between a group of players in the Everton area. Da Costa was the quickest to react in the ensuing scramble and forced the ball home for an equaliser. The Londoners at last had momentum and Cole went close to adding a second with a low shot that just went wide. Everton had been lethargic since the interval but felt they should have had a penalty when Saha went down under a Da Costa challenge. The Frenchman appeared to have nicked the ball past Da Costa when he was tripped but Webb told him to get up. Everton looked to have snatched victory six minutes from time when Yakubu, a replacement for Bilyaletdinov, rose to meet a Baines cross with a powerful header.
Rob Green had little chance of saving it but the Hammers were not beaten.
They responded instantly as Julien Faubert broke down the right and delivered a pinpoint cross for the onrushing Ilan. The Brazilian, who had ended Mido’s unhappy afternoon when he came on with 13 minutes remaining, dived forward to meet the ball with an excellent header that flew past Howard. Zola leapt for joy and his side held on to claim a deserved and potentially vital point.
Penalty decision cost us - Everton FC boss David Moyes
Apr 4 2010 (Liverpool Echo)
Everton manager David Moyes was adamant that his side should have had a penalty when Louis Saha went down under a Da Costa challenge. “I think that was a crucial moment,” he said. “That happens doesn’t it? We’ve seen some poor decisions this weekend, haven’t we?” Moyes added: “We’ve played better this season but we looked as though not playing great we were going to win the game, but it was not to be. I don’t think either team did enough to worry the goalkeepers. “I have to give West Ham credit, though. They made it hard for us with a lot of people behind the ball and we just didn’t have enough to break them down.”
Scott Parker pleased by vital point for West Ham at Everton
Apr 5 2010 by Our Correspondent, Liverpool Echo
SCOTT PARKER hailed his side’s battling spirt as West Ham twice came from behind to claim a crucial relegation scrap point in their Premier League trip to Goodison Park. Manuel da Costa and Ilan both struck in the second half as the Hammers produced a courageous display to end a run of six successive defeats.
Diniyar Bilyaletdinov opened the scoring and Ayegbeni Yakubu looked to have won it for the Toffees six minutes from time. But the Hammers, who also missed a penalty through Mido, produced their best performance in weeks. “You could see at the end how delighted we were,” Parker said. “Obviously we’ve had a bad run and a lot has been said in the press but one thing we have got here is togetherness and a good spirit.
“We needed to show a bit of character and that’s what we have done. It’s a good starting point. It will be tough for the rest of the season but it’s something to build on. Hopefully we can pick up from this. “I think we deserved a point. We were much more organised today. I thought we were the better side in the second half.” Parker was booked for a late challenge on Tim Cahill in the first half and must now serve a two-match ban for reaching 10 yellow cards. West Ham boss Gianfranco Zola admitted the loss of Parker will be keenly felt over the next two weeks but nothing could dent his pride in his players. “Scott Parker is an important player but I’m sure that the others will run and fight hard to make sure his absence is not too big,” he said. “We decided to fight until the end and today was a clear demonstration that we kept our promise because we never gave up. “At 2-1, it could have been a massive blow but we reacted and it was brilliant. “I’m very pleased with my team. If you have that attitude, you have no regrets.”
Late West Ham equaliser frustrates Everton FC boss David Moyes
Apr 5 2010 by Our Correspondent, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES was left frustrated after Everton conceded a late equaliser after being denied a penalty against relegation-threatened West Ham. The Blues looked set for an eighth successive home win when Yakubu headed in to make it 2-1 six minutes from time, but Ilan levelled with a diving header just seconds after the restart. Moyes conceded his side had not necessarily done enough to deserve victory, but expected them to hold on to their late advantage. “We’re disappointed to be 2-1 up and then throw it away in the last three or four minutes,” he said.
“The game was tight but we didn’t play well enough to merit more. But sometimes when you don’t play brilliantly you hope to win it, and it looked as if we’d done that.
“You definitely have to give some credit to West Ham, they made it hard, got a lot of people behind the ball and we found it very difficult to get through, especially in the first half when we had the baulk of the possession. “We tried to do it right and we tried to play but we just never really got to the level we’ve been at in some other games.”The Blues first went ahead through Diniyar Bilyaletdinov but the Russian’s first-half effort was cancelled out when Manuel Da Costa poked home on the hour mark. Tim Howard had already saved a Mido penalty at that stage after Sylvain Distin was adjudged to have fouled Carlton Cole, but it was referee Howard Webb’s decision not to award Everton a spotkick after the break which incensed the Blues boss.
Louis Saha looked to have been impeded by Da Costa but Webb left Goodison stunned by waving play on. “I thought it was a penalty for West Ham and I think on another day, it was a sending off for Distin as well, but I have to say it was a stonewall penalty kick for us,” said Moyes. “If you want it straight, I have to say that on another day Sylvain might have gone, but the decision not to give us a penalty, I thought, was a really poor one. “I had a clear view of it and we thought right away Louis got to the ball in front of the boy and the boy’s boot hit him in the midriff. “I think that was a crucial moment,” he added. “That happens doesn’t it? We’ve seen some poor decisions this weekend, haven’t we?” And he reflected: “We’ve played better this season but we looked as though not playing great we were going to win the game, but it was not to be. I don’t think either team did enough to worry the goalkeepers.
“I have to give West Ham credit, though. They made it hard for us with a lot of people behind the ball and we just didn’t have it to break them down.”
Everton FC 2, West Ham United 2: Blues stuck in the wrong Galaxy
Apr 5 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
THE sight of the LA Galaxy’s youth team taking their seats at Goodison was an arch reminder of what Everton are missing as their bid for European football stutters at its crucial stage. The youngsters were guests at the game against struggling West Ham, as a gesture of thanks for Galaxy’s part in allowing Landon Donovan to spend three months in Merseyside. And during the ensuing 90 minutes just how acutely David Moyes’ side have missed the USA captain was put into sharp focus. The Toffees’ attacking play was crying out for the directness and pace which Donovan offered in abundance. In the absence of Mikel Arteta, still feeling the groin strain which has troubled him since before the victory over Manchester City, there was little midfield inspiration to fire Everton against opposition woefully short of form and confidence.
Too often they opted for balls lofted from their own half. The usual approach play of slick passing was working only intermittently, and the long ball became a default.
How often did Donovan take the game to opponents by simply running at full-backs and putting them on the back foot? His absence cannot be helped. The deal which brought him to the School of Science for such a happy term was always going to be temporary. But nevertheless his qualities were missed. This was an opportunity to extend an impressive run on home soil to eight victories on the trot. For Gianfranco’s Zola’s free-falling Londoners it was a bid to halt a run of six consecutive defeats.
Perhaps belatedly though Zola’s side realised they will have to scrap to stay in the top flight. Certainly they seemed in no mood to allow themselves to be put to the sword by passing football. Scott Parker set the tone for what was to be a pulsating individual performance, scampering after everybody in royal blue hell-bent on giving them space. His enthusiasm was at times over-stated though, and one rash early challenge led to a free-kick which Louis Saha blasted wastefully wide. But Everton are one of the division’s form sides, particularly at home, and began to establish dominance. Their opening, courtesy of a fantastic Leighton Baines cross, fell to Diniyar Bilyaletdinov. Tim Cahill headed the ball on as Manuel Da Costa watched, and the Russian got in front of the snoozing Matthew Upson to head home. It was the sort of dilatory defending which has pushed West Ham to the brink, and suddenly the odds for an emphatic Easter Sunday victory were shortening. But then Howard Webb provided a shock in the form of an outrageous penalty decision against Sylvain Distin, as Carlton Cole tripped over him. As Goodison howled and bayed, Mido fired his spot-kick low and hard towards the corner but was denied by a tremendous save from Howard. Howard is developing a reputation as a penalty stopper for Everton, and became the first keeper to stop three in a season since Neville Southall in the 1988/89 season. Then they went close again. Tim Cahill and Bilyaletdinov swapped short passes and the Russian burst forward and steered his effort narrowly over the bar.
The away fans at least tried to see the funny side of what could have been another mauling. After a foul from their portly Egyptian striker Mido they implored Webb to send him off, tongues only half in cheeks. As John Heitinga started playing some lovely laser-guided long passes, it looked like another three points. But West Ham suggested they still had heart for the fight by creating a couple of early chances in the second half. Stanislas almost teed up Mido, who was close but for Phil Jagielka’s intervention. And from the resultant corner Mark Noble struck the cross bar with a chip. Their attitude paid off. From another Hammers’ corner the ball inadvertently hit Cole and then bounced off Cahill’s face and into the stumbling path of Da Costa, who stabbed it home. It was a scrappy equaliser but partly due to indecisive defending.
West Ham suddenly had all the hunger and intensity. Stanislas played a deft pass to Cole who fired just wide. And Noble and Parker were seeing more of the ball and becoming influential. Parker’s desire was giving his side real belief. That belief was boosted when Howard Webb ignored a blatant foul in the box by Da Costa on Saha. The injustice sparked the Blues back into life. Pienaar tried to lead the home charge, with his own work-rate and desire, closing down and winning a throw in as the Gwladys Street found its voice. Robert Green had not had a single save to make in the second half, and Yakubu – on for Bilyaletdinov – did not look particularly threatening. But then neat interplay on the edge of West Ham’s box resulted in another delicious cross from Baines, and the Nigerian leapt above Da Costa to score emphatically with a header. It was The Yak’s first league goal at Goodison since November 2008. A stark statistic which underlines how that Achilles injury has taken its toll. Their lead restored, Everton should have seen out victory. Instead Julien Faubert was criminally allowed to carry the ball 30 yards unchecked, and whip an inch-perfect ball into the box which substitute striker Araujo Llan met with a diving header. It was a costly momentary lapse of concentration, with several guilty parties in Blue. The eventual point felt like a defeat. Too often lately the Toffees have failed to beat sides with less quality than themselves. Aston Villa in seventh place look less catchable. Four points ahead with a game in hand, that trip to the Midlands a week on Wednesday has suddenly assumed momentous proportions.
EVERTON: Howard, Baines, Jagielka, Distin, Neville (Capt), Cahill, Pienaar, Osman (Rodwell, 83), Bilyaletdinov (Yakubu, 64), Saha. Subs: Iain Turner, Tony Hibbert, Senderos, Duffy, Wallace.
WEST HAM: Green, Faubert, Upson, Stanislas (Gabbidon, 90), Spector, Parker, Da Costa, Noble, Cole, Mido, Kovac. Subs : Spence, Daprela, McCarthy, Llan, Kurucz, Payne.
REFEREE: Howard Webb.
Everton won't give up on European hopes - Diniyar Bilyaletdinov
Apr 5 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
Diniyar Bilyaletdinov 300
DINIYAR Bilyaletdinov today insisted Everton are refusing to contemplate missing out on European football next season. The Russian winger scored the Blues first goal against West Ham on Easter Sunday, in a game which saw them surrender the lead twice. The eventual 2-2 draw did little to strengthen Everton’s case for the top seven finish required to stand a chance Europa League qualification. But the 24-year-old Russian international said Moyes’ men still have a firm belief that they can overhaul rivals Aston Villa in their remaining matches. He said: “It’s a second game when we drew and that’s not enough to finish where we need to. We need five more wins now.
“We were not good enough to see out the game. Their second goal was a mistake.
“The Aston Villa game is massively important. It doesn’t matter that it’s away from home. If we play at our top level we can get the three points. We need to believe and I think we can do it.“I think we need to rest and then prepare strongly for the Villa game. I don’t even want to think about not getting into Europe. I won’t contemplate it.
“Our movement was not good enough against West Ham, and our form has to be better in midweek. We need to keep our belief going.” The former Lokomotiv Moscow star, who has netted six times in all competitions so far this season, insisted that he has enjoyed his taste of English football, despite not nailing down a regular starting place for Everton. He said: “It has been the best season of my life. I’ve scored more goals than ever. It’s been a very long season for me, but I’ve been so impressed with the Premier League and Everton. I enjoy every minute on the pitch and trying to get on the score sheet.” Meanwhile, David Moyes reiterated his frustration at his side’s inability to cling onto their lead. He said: When you go 2-1 up at home with five minutes to go, you expect to see it out. We never really got to the levels we reached in recent weeks. “Obviously it was a stone-wall penalty kick we were not given, and it was disappointing the referee didn’t get that right today. But we didn’t play well enough. We didn’t pass it well enough.”
Everton eyeing move for highly-rated Ajax defender Jan Vertonghen
By Daily Mail
Last updated at 10:48 AM on 5th April 2010
Everton are trailing Ajax defender Jan Vertonghen.
The 22-year-old Belgium international is rated by many as the biggest asset on Ajax’s books and Toffees boss David Moyes is keeping tabs on the versatile defender.
From The Times
April 5, 2010
Fighting talk from Gianfranco Zola keeps feud with owner simmering
Zola urges on his charges at Goodison Park
Gianfranco Zola has hit back at the criticism of his West Ham United team by the club’s co-chairman, claiming that the taunts gave his players the character and strength to salvage a vital point in their relegation battle yesterday. West Ham twice came from behind in their Barclays Premier League match against Everton to leave Goodison Park with a 2-2 draw and avert a seventh consecutive defeat. The battling display came only ten days after David Sullivan, the West Ham co-owner, criticised the Italian and his players in an open letter to supporters after a 3-1 home defeat by Wolverhampton Wanderers. Sullivan described that performance as “pathetic” and “shambolic”, but Zola pointed to the richly deserved draw yesterday as evidence of the spirit that those and similar comments have engendered in the camp. “All the criticism has made us stronger,” Zola said. “We cannot stop people from giving opinions. This team has always been together and this was the right way to respond.
“What matters most is what you do on the pitch. Other things we can’t stop because people want to give opinions and they want to judge us, but we are 100 per cent focused. “It was the right way to respond to any criticism. The players showed that they did not want to focus on anything but football.” Everton led twice, through Diniyar Bilyaletdinov and Yakubu Ayegbeni, the latter scoring with just six minutes remaining. But West Ham responded with goals by Manuel Da Costa and Ilan to ease the pressure on Zola, the second equaliser coming in the 87th minute. Zola admitted that West Ham still have much to do before they are safe. Hull City, in eighteenth place, trail them by a single point and have a game in hand. “No matter what, we’re going to fight until the end of the season,” Zola said. “This game was a clear demonstration of that because we never gave up. The first goal could have been a blow for everyone, but our response showed that we don’t give up. All the team decided to fight until the end. “I wouldn’t say the last five games are going to be life and death, but it’s very close. The atmosphere in the dressing room afterwards was fantastic. I’m going to get drunk tonight.” Scott Parker, the West Ham midfield player, said: “A lot has been said in the press, but one thing we have got here is togetherness and a good spirit. We needed to show a bit of character and that’s what we have done.” While the pressure on Zola was eased, Rafael Benítez came under more intense scrutiny after a 1-1 draw away to Birmingham City that increased doubts about Liverpool’s ability to secure a Champions League place. Liverpool trail fourth-placed Manchester City by four points and Roberto Mancini’s side also have a match in hand. Benítez’s decision to withdraw Fernando Torres, his top scorer, with 25 minutes to go was widely criticised, but the Liverpool manager insisted it was the right decision. “Fernando was exhausted and we needed fresh legs out on the pitch,” he said. “I thought we deserved to win. I know this is a difficult place to come to but I still felt we should have won. “It’s going to be difficult to get fourth but we have to keep going. We have to believe we can win all of our games and hope the others lose some of theirs.”
Araujo Ilan's late goal snatches point for West Ham against Everton
Andy Hunter at Goodison Park
Guardian, Sunday 4 April 2010
Araujo Ilan, centre, scores West Ham's second goal to steal a draw for Gianfranco Zola's struggling side at Goodison Park. Photograph: Carl Recine/Action Images
From the brink to the drink inside 90 seconds, and no one could have faulted Gianfranco Zola had he decided to end his days as a tea-totaller today. "I'm going to get drunk," said the West Ham manager, after Ilan's outstanding header had rescued a merited point for his relegation strugglers with four minutes remaining at Everton. "Well, maybe." But bottle played its part in the Italian's recovery regardless.
A spirited revival appeared destined to bring only a seventh consecutive defeat for West Ham when Yakubu Ayegbeni sent a towering header into Robert Green's bottom corner, and through Zola's heart, in the 84th minute at Goodison Park. But whatever even the forthright co-owner, David Sullivan, thinks of his manager's team and leadership qualities, and his thoughts were made quite clear after the anaemic home defeat by Wolves, they were not found wanting here. Lesser teams could easily have crumbled as Everton began to revel in the prospect of an eighth successive league win on home soil. Instead, Ilan, a free transfer capture from St Etienne in January, threw himself at Julien Faubert's cross less than two minutes later and threw his manager a lifeline in the process. Both were thoroughly deserved. Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United have all been vanquished during Everton's impressive home run and while David Moyes' side dipped far below those levels, they were frustrated by fiercely committed opponents. "West Ham made it hard for us," the Everton manager admitted. But for Tim Howard's first half penalty save from Mido, Zola would have toasted a precious victory rather than a cessation of the criticism and soul-searching he has endured of late. For so long West Ham were punished for every slight mistake here. Everton had hardly created an opening when dreadful defending allowed them to take the lead midway through the first half. Three times West Ham had the chance to clear Leighton Baines' deep cross from the left, and three times they messed it up. First, Jonathan Spector headed the cross skywards inside his own area. Manuel Da Costa then abandoned his marker, Tim Cahill, to indulge in ball-watching and when the Australian headed back across goal Diniyar Bilyaletdinov stepped in front of the static Matthew Upson to glance the final header into the far corner. Simple but, from the Hammers' perspective, indefensible, and Zola had every justification to vent his anger from the touchline. Self-inflicted problems were not confined to their backline, either. The visitors were handed a glorious chance to level when Sylvain Distin was adjudged to have tripped Carlton Cole as they pursued Scott Parker's pass into the Everton penalty area. Referee Howard Webb, who produced another erratic display, immediately pointed to the spot but only booked the French defender, who was clearly the last man. Howard, however, sprung low to his right to save Mido's spot-kick and became the first Everton goalkeeper since Neville Southall to save three penalties in one season in the process. Moyes said: "I thought it was a penalty for West Ham and on another day it would have been a sending off as well. But saying that, we had a stonewall penalty when Da Costa caught Louis Saha in the mid-riff and the decision not to give us a penalty was a really poor one." Parker and Mark Noble inspired dramatic improvement in the second half and, after the latter had struck the bar with an exquisite chip over Howard, Da Costa bundled in his corner from close range. With six minutes remaining Yakubu met another Baines' cross with a textbook header and the exit loomed for Zola once again. The salvation he has been praying for, however, was close at hand.
Andy Hunter's match preview: Another brutal match report from David Sullivan might be preferable to a visit to Goodison Park for Gianfranco Zola, given that West Ham have won only once in their last 13 visits and face an Everton side that has triumphed on its last seven home league games – a club record in the Premier League.
Injury to Mikel Arteta at least deprives Everton of their most creative outlet but with the pressure firmly on the Italian, and his side winning only once on their league travels this season, it will take more than spirit from the struggling Hammers to ease the sense of crisis this weekend.
• If West Ham lose, they will become the 22nd team in Premier League history to lose seven or more consecutive games.
• Everton have lost one of their last 15 home league matches while West Ham have failed to win in 15 away.
• Louis Saha has scored five goals in his last three appearances against West Ham.
• If the season had begun on 1 January, Everton would be in second place behind Manchester United.
• West Ham have conceded 799 Premier League goals in their history.
Everton: Howard, Neville, Jagielka, Distin, Baines, Pienaar,
Osman, Heitinga, Cahill, Bilyaletdinov, Saha.
Subs: Turner, Hibbert, Yakubu, Senderos, Rodwell, Duffy, Wallace.
West Ham: Green, Faubert, Da Costa, Upson, Spector, Noble, Parker, Kovac, Behrami, Mido, Cole.
Subs: Kurucz, Gabbidon, Ilan, McCarthy, Daprela, Spence, Stanislas.
Referee: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire)
If Gianfranco Zola Had Ducks They'd Drown Dept: Valon Behrami, who had to pass a fitness test this morning, appears to have pulled up with some sort of tweak or strain during the warm-up.
Pre-match niceties: Everton are on a five-match unbeaten run, while West Ham are on a seven-match beaten one. They'll have to make do without the box-to-box industriousness of Behrami this afternoon as he's been ruled out of the starting line-up after injuring himself in the warm-up. Junior Stanislas comes into the side in his stead.
Not long now: It may be Easter but there isn't a giant bunny or chocolate egg in sight as referee Howard Webb leads both teams out of the Goodison Park tunnel with both sets of players wearing the colours with which they're most readily associated.
An email from Steve Peake: "Regarding that picture of David Sullivan," he writes. "Is he a very small man or is that a very big car? Or is he standing in one of New Labour's new potholes?"
1 min: Louis Saha and Tim Cahill get proccedings under way on a sunny afternoon on Merseyside. Can West Ham end their worst losing run for 40 years? We'll soon find out.
2 min: Somewhat unexpectedly for West Ham, Mark Noble has started on the left hand side of midfield, with Junior Stanislas on the right. The latter chases a long ball up the right flank but there's too much welly on it and Tim Howard beats him to it.
3 min: Everton win a free-kick wide on the ride, about halfway inside the West Ham half. The ball's floated in to the edge of the six-yard box, where Matthew Upson clears.
4 min: From the kick-out, Stanislas wins the ball in midfield and tries to send Carlton Cole on his way with a defence-splitting through-ball. Offside.
5 min: Nails hard Dutchman Johnny Heitinga sends a speculative punt up the right channel for Louis Saha to chase, but the ball bounces out over the endline. Meanwhile at St Andrews, Steven Gerrard has put Liverpool a goal up against Birmingham City. At Craven Cottage, Fulham are a goal down against Wigan Athletic.
7 min: Diniyar Bilyaletdinov gets a spray from the magic can on his calf after a challenge from Jonathan Spector. He'll live.
8 min: It's very scrappy so far. No chances on goal created by either side in the length of time it takes Manchester City to score three against Burnley.
9 min: Good defending by Phil Jagielka, who concedes a corner by intercepting a cross from the right wing by Junior Stanislas.
10 min: Another corner for West Ham, which is only cleared as far as Scott Parker, a few yards outisde the Everton penalty area. He swivels and hits a left-footed volley high and wide, but not too high and wide, of the right post.
11 min: "Fulham have equalised against Hull City," says Sky commentator Martin Ty ... actually it's Alan Parry. Even by Fulham's lofty standards, that's impressive, considering they're playing against Wigan.
12 min: Carlton Cole is hobbling gingerly after a meaty clash with Johnny Heitinga. He looks like he took a knock on his knee.
13 min: Rather than head it back towards the halfway line, Manuel Da Costa chests down a dropping ball and tries to play it out of defence. Tim Cahill gets in amongst him and the West Ham centre-half is forced to concede a free-kick. Luckily for him, Leighton Baines slams the ball into the wall.
15 min: "I cannot believe the football club I have supported for decades is now owned by a dwarf with the dress sense of a partially-sighted cinema usher," writes Neil Macknish. "He's not even big enough to see over his steering wheel. Lord have mercy because at Goodison we usually get a thorough tonking."
16 min: Howard Webb shows Scott Parker his 10th yellow card of the season for a foul on Tim Cahill, which means West Ham will be without their best player for their forthcoming matches against Sunderland and Liverpool.
18 min: Everton free-kick about 25 yards from goal. After a seemingly interminable bout of silly buggers, the West Ham wall gets a ticking off from referee Howard Webb for inching forward as Louis Saha stood over the ball. Eventually, Saha tries his luck. Well wide.
19 min: West Ham attack but can find no way through the Everton defence. Carlton Cole tees up Mido from the edge of the box, but his powerful drive is blocked.
20 min: Birmingham have equalised against Liverpool, while Fulham have gone 2-1 up against Wigan. It's all happening ... somewhere else.
21 min: "It was good to see Gianfranco Zola asserting his authority and using a break in play to get some advice to Mido earlier," writes Gary Naylor. "Although how much good 'Lose some weight, fatty' can do at this stage isn't clear." That's harsh, Naylor. Harsh but fair.
22 min: "There seems to be a biblical message from Job in the reflection on Sullivan's car door," writes eagle-eyed Ian Copstake. "No doubt the big man upstairs is suggesting that with Zola, patience is the key."
GOAL! Everton 1-0 West Ham (Bilyaletdinov 24) That's woeful defending from Jonathan Spector, who heads a weighty Leighton Baines cross from the left straight up in the air over the edge of his six yard box instead of away to safety. Tim Cahill gets a free header to flick it towards Bilyaletdinov, who slots a free header home from five yards.
26 min: The camera pans to West Ham co-owner David Gold sitting in the stand. He does not look best pleased.
28 min: Matthew Upson tries to pick out Carlton Cole with a long pass, but misses him by about 20 yards. Cole is looking very isolated up front. He's getting no service.
29 min: "My good friend Jez Wyke would like to enquire why such an esteemed chap as yourself should draw the short straw and have to work on Easter Sunday?" writes Jonathan Gard. The short straw? This?
31 min: "Is it just me or is Martin Tyler repeatedly referring to someone called Phil Yagyelka?" asks Sally Ledger. "Has he been to the John Motson school of overly pretentious pronunciation?"
33 min: Mido tries to charge up the left touchline, but Phil Neville puts a stop to his gallop with a fine challenge. In his efforts to win the ball back from the Everton right-back, Mido concedes a free-kick.
34 min: In mmidfield, Steven Pienaar plays the ball out wide to Leighton Baines on the over-lap. He pings the ball back inside to Tim Cahill, who scurries across the face of goal before unleashing a diagonal daisy-cutter that fizzes a couple of feet wide of Rob Green's right post.
36 min: That has to be a penalty ...
36 min: ... and it is. Sylvain Distin brings down Carlton Cole in the box as they contest a marvellous through-ball from Scott Parker. Looking at it again it seems it was more of a collision between the two than a foul by Distin and Howard Webb took a long time to point to the spot.
37 min: Mido misses, sending a lethargic effort low and to his left. Howard guessed the right way and saved fairly easily.
39 min: I don't think I've been as confident that somebody would miss a penalty since seeing the terror in Michael Gray's eyes as he stepped up to take that fateful pspot-kick in in the Championship play-off shoot-out between Charlton and Sunderland on May 25 1998.
39 min: On Sky, co-commentator Andy Gray is wondering why Howard Webb only booked Sylvain Distin for preventing a clear goalscoring opportunity. Well he might wonder. If he blew for the foul, he should have sent the player off off. As it happens it was a harsh penalty, but Webb obviously thought Distin had deliberately brought down Cole.
44 min: My tools start playing up and I lose a large chunk of text criticising Mido's penalty on the strength of a replay I've just seen. In short: it was terrible and he clearly signposted which side he was going to put it.
45 min: "Re: Ms Ledger's question," writes Naylor. "I think Mr Tyler is otherwise engaged and that we're treated to Alan Parry today. But in response to her question, jes."
Half-time: West Ham go in a goal down, with Mido having thrown away a great chance to put them level. I'll be surprised if he comes out for the second half as his only other contribution of note was picking up a yellow card while he was still fuming after his miss from the spot.
Niall Harden writes: "Remember Republic of Ireland v Spain in 2002?" he asks. "Those were some nailed-on missed penalties right there!"
"There's more chance of that Jesus bloke making a come back than west ham coming back in this one," writes Anthony O'Connell, for the day that's in it.
"Over here at Craven Cottage we're witnessing Fulham's worst home performance of the season by far," writes Jared Barnes. "Shocking how bad any team near the drop zone must be if Wigan aren't beating this Fulham performance! Every year it seems like the relegation candidates are even worse."
"You'd think Howard Webb and the rest of the refs would want to help West Ham not get relegated," writes Aidan Gibson. "It's increasingly looking like we get Millwall v West Ham next year in the Championship, and I pity the poor sod who refs that one."
Jonathan Gard writes, again: "Who do you think would win between a tiger and a shark?" he asks. "This is given the lion/tiger debate was clearly in the tigers favour." That's a tough question. I suppose the outcome would depend largely on whether the bout was staged in the sea or on dry land.
West Ham get the second half started. Before Howard Webb blew his whistle, Mido was having a great laugh with Carlton Cole. I'm not sure what's more surprising: that he hasn't been substituted or that he's brave enough to crack wise after that penalty miss.
46 min: Play is halted after Leighton Baines goes down injured after miniimal contact with Junior Stanislas. It looks like his studs got caught in the turf and he gave his left knee a wrench.
47 min: Baines is passed fit to continue, but is immediately called upon to shank a left-footed clearance down the field. His subsequent wince suggests that really, really hurt.
48 min: Instead of holding up the ball and waiting for some of his team-mates to get into the Everton penalty area, Mido whips a cross into an area he must have known wasn't going to be occupied by anyone in a West Ham shirt. If it sounds like I'm being harsh on him, it's only because he's been more of a hindrance than a help to the West Ham cause today.
50 min: That's better. With his back to goal about 40 yards from the Everton goal, Mido knocks the ball down to Carlton Cole, in a deeper position. Cole bisects the Everton centre-halves with a marvellous throuhgh-ball, which Mido runs on to. He shoots, but Jagielka recovers well to block. Even if Mido had scored it wouldn't have counted as the linesman had flagged him for offside. I don't think he was.
53 min: "I'm unsure as to the venue for the bout, but I believe the tiger would fare far better in water than the shark would on land," writes Jonathan Gard, before adding the important caveat that the water would have to be "relatively shallow".
54 min: West Ham are pressing Everton fairly hard at the moment, but without creating anything in the way of goalscoring chances. Tim Cahill's name goes into the referee's notebook for a late challenge which resulted in him scissoring Scott Parker. Free-kick for West Ham wide on the right, not within shooting range.
57 min: Gah, rubbish! Mark Noble swings the free-kick high across the penalty area and out over the endline. Goal-kick for Everton.
58 min: West Ham attack down the right, the ball is pinged into Mido in the Everton penalty area, where his touch lets him down. He manages to win a corner but should have created a scoring chance.
GOAL! Everton 1-1 West Ham (Da Costa 58) From a corner, the ball drops bewtween Tim Cahill and Mark Da Costa on the edge of the Everton six-yard box. Cahill doesn't react quickly enough, allowing the West Ham defender to gouge the ball out of the turf and over Tim Howard from three or four yards. It wasn't pretty, but they all count.
62 min: On the balance of second half play, West Ham probably deserve to be level. They've really taken the game to Everton since the interval. In the passage of play leading up to the corner from which they scored, Mark Noble rattled the crossbar with a great effort from 20 yards.
64 min: West Ham continue to turn the screw. On the bench, David Moyes tells Yakubu to put his game face on.
64 min: From an Everton corner, Radoslav Kovac wins two meaty challenges in quick succession and pings the ball to Junior Stanislas. He gallops towards the Everton penalty area and slots a perfectly weighted pass into the path of Carlton Cole. He scuffs his shot and sends a good scoring opportunity trickling harmlessly wide.
66 min: Cole goes down injured after a challenge from Johnny Heitinga. After receiving treatment, he walks gingerly to the touchline and returns to the fray. Everton substitution: Bilyaletdinov off, Yakubu on.
68 min: "I know not all my fellow Evertonians will agree (though many will) when I say that I'm very pleased for Zola," writes Gary Naylor.
69 min: "Re the shark vs the tiger," adds Naylor. "I remember reading that a shark keeps moving forward even when its brain is removed - like Mido."
70 min: Mark Noble gets booked for a foul on ... oh, that has to be a penalty.
71 min: Wow. West Ham dodge another bullet as Howard Webb fails to point to the spot after Louis Saha was brought down by Manuel Da Costa on the edge of the penalty area. That should definitely have been a penalty, which may explain the boos currently ringing around Goodison Park.
73 min: It's getting tasty. The tackles are flying in all over the park as Howard Webb struggles to keep order. It's a lot more entertaining than the first half, that's for sure.
75 min: Everton win a throw-in on the edge of the final third. Pienaar takes the ball into the corner and West Ham win a free-kick deep, deep in their own territory for a Yakubu foul on Scott Parker.
75 min: Scott Parker wins a corner for West Ham, which Mark Noble chips in from the left. As the ball sails in to the mixer, Howard Webb spots an infringement by Matthew Upson and awards Everton a free-kick.
78 min: West Ham susbtitution: Mido trudges off very, very slowly and is replaced by the Brazilian, Ilan, one of the 396 strikers the Hammers signed on transfer deadline day.
80 min: Zola applauds and roars encouragement from the sideline as West Ham continue their quest to find a winner. "Surely, it's more important to determine the type of shark involved than the venue?" asks Ryan O'Connell, who makes an interesting point. "I mean, a basking shark isn't going to trouble a tiger really, is it?"
81 min: Everton attack, with Saha playing the ball out wide to Pienaar on the right touchline. Scott Parker concedes a corner, which Leighton Baines trots across to send in with his left foot.
83 min: Baines sends the ball across the edge of the six yard box, but it's too high for Tim Cahill. The ball breaks and with his back to goal, Phil Jagielka tries a spectacular bicycle kick with predictably hilarious consequences.
GOAL! Everton 2-1 West Ham (Yakubu 85) After sustained pressure by Everton, Leighton Baines sends in a cross from the left wing. Yakubu leaps majestically and powers an unstoppable header into the gap between Rob Green's fingertip and right upright.
GOAL! Everton 2-2 West Ham (Ilan 87) The substitute Ilan scores with a marvellous diving header from 12 yards after flinging himself forwards to get on the end of a marvellous Julien Faubert cross from deep. That's a wonderful goal.
88 min: "What about a tiger versus a tiger shark?" asks James Longhofer, apropos the serious business of the afternoon.
89 min: Matthew Upson concedes a free-kick in a dangerous position, about 45 yards out from his own goal. Baines pings the ball into the penalty area, where Upson heads clear.
90 min: Junior Stanislas wastes a good attacking opportunity, shooting from a narrow angle when he should have picked out a team-mate with a cross.
90+1 min: West Ham win a corner, 90 seconds into the three minutes injury time signalled on the board.
90+3 min: There's a pause in play as Tim Cahill gets treated for an injury he picked up while helping his side defend a corner. He appears to have hurt his back, perhaps by landing awkwardly on it after one of his trademark spring-heeled leaps. West Ham substitution: Junior Stanislas off, Danny Gabbidon on to steady the ship. West Ham will be delighted with a point here; It'll end their run of seven straight defeats and put them a sliver of daylight between themselves and fellow relegation battlers Hull City.
Peep! Peep! Peep! It's all over. West Ham win a priceless point with a marvellous goal from Ilan, the substitute. Everton will defintiely see this as two points dropped rather than one gained.
West Ham stay in 17th place, but go a point ahead of Hull, albeit having played one game more. Elsewhere in the Premier League today, Liverpool drew 1-1 with Birmingham, while Fulham beat Wigan 2-1. That's your lot from me - thanks for your time and enjoy the rest of your Easter Sunday.
Everton 2 West Ham 2: Hammers fans want misfit Mido sent off!
Last updated at 10:55 PM on 04th April 2010
Gianfranco Zola and his players can consider themselves safe from another David Sullivan rant after twice coming from behind to end a sixgame losing streak and add a precious point to their survival campaign at Goodison Park. Branded 'shambolic', 'pathetic' and 'appalling' in a novel approach to motivation by co-owner Sullivan, West Ham's players demonstrated their unstinting support for Zola by not only answering Diniyar Bilyaletdinov's firsthalf opener but even an apparently decisive 85th-minute header by substitute Yakubu. Lip service: Manuel da Costa celebrates scoring West Ham's first goal The West Ham manager's look of despair suggested he could see no hope, but his players swept upfield within two minutes to salvage a richly deserved draw with a diving header from Brazilian free transfer substitute Araujo Ilan, after a vicious inswinging cross by Julien Faubert. Sullivan may have rattled the troops with his outburst, following a 3-1 home defeat by Wolves, but a Scott Parkerinspired response saw West Ham claim an unlikely point. Zola was even able to shrug off losing Valon Behrami to a knee injury dur ing the warm-up, Mido's soft penalty being saved and the booking of Parker that will trigger a twomatch suspension for a player many Barclays Premier League clubs will look to sign in the summer. Especially if West Ham go down. Ground attack: Manuel Da Costa bundles in West Ham's first goal Zola eyed a bottle of champagne clutched by a nearby press officer and said: 'That's mine, and I'm going to drink it all. I'm going to try, anyway. I feel like celebrating. I'm so proud of the players and the way they kept fighting against a team who have beaten Chelsea and Manchester United here this season. We never gave up, not even when Yakubu scored with five minutes left.
EVER TON (4-4-1-1): Howard 6; Neville 6,
Jagielka 7, Distin 6, Baines 6;
Bilyaletdinov 6 (Yakubu 65min, 7),
Osman 6 (Rodwell 83), Heitinga 6,
Pienaar 6; Cahill 6; Saha 5.
Booked: Distin, Cahill.
WEST HAM (4-4-2): Green 6; Faubert 7,
Da Costa 7, Upson 6, Spector 6; Stanislas 7 (Gabbidon 90), Kovac 7, Parker 8, Noble 7; Mido 3 (Ilan 77), Cole 6.
Booked: Parker, Mido, Noble.
Man of the match: Scott Parker. Referee: Howard Webb.
'But that did not surprise me. We said to the players before the game that, no matter what, we would fight until the end. Nothing was to be left in the bank. That was evident here. 'It was important to give the players some time off after three games in seven days. They needed that to clear their minds, and the performance today was the perfect response to the criticism we've had. 'The criticism has only made us stronger, and we have great confidence now that we can build on this and stay up. 'We will miss Scott, of course, because he leads by example, but I am sure others will fight hard to make sure his absence is not felt too much.' Air raid: Bilyaletdinov heads Everton in front Sullivan may care to reflect that West Ham's performance only veered towards shambolic when it involved Mido, whose signing he hailed as 'one of the most amazing deals of all time.' The bulky striker contributed nothing, and after his weaklystruck 36th-minute penalty was comfortably saved by Tim Howard, he was left in little doubt of his standing among Hammers fans. As referee Howard Webb moved to punish a clumsy foul by the lumbering frontrunner seven minutes later, they bellowed, 'Off, off, off!' Bilyaletdinov's close-range header from a Tim Cahill assist had given Everton a 24th minute lead, and West Ham were up against it after clumsy defending by Jonathan Spector. Howard's end: Everton keeper saves Mido's penalty
Then came Mido's squandered penalty after last man Sylvain Distin escaped with a yellow card following a foul on Carlton Cole. As West Ham responded in the second half, Mark Noble saw a clever chip bounce back off the bar - but their luck turned seconds later, when Manuel Da Costa forced home a 60th-minute equaliser.
Yakubu looked to have settled it, heading home a Leighton Baines cross, but a new-found never-say-die spirit surfaced again as Ilan's headed reply had Zola dancing a jig on the touchline.
Everton tracking Ajax star
Published By MirrorFootball
April 5 2010
David Moyes is tracking Ajax defender Jan Vertonghen, according to reports in Monday's papers. The Everton boss is keen on the 6ft 2in defender and may look to make a move for him this summer. The 22-year-old Belgium international is left-footed and can also play in midfield.
Everton 2, West Ham United 2: Blues sipping at Euro last chance saloon
Apr 5 2010 by Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily Post
AFTER a 90 minutes that prompted teetotal Gianfranco Zola to depart Goodison with the promise “I’m going to get drunk”, David Moyes must surely have been tempted to follow suit. Certainly, the Everton manager would have been forgiven having watched hopes of Europa League qualification be wastefully undermined for the second weekend in succession. Having bemoaned the profligacy of his players at Wolverhampton Wanderers eight days earlier, yesterday Moyes was left bewildered by a lacklustre and lifeless performance that helped West Ham United return to the capital with a deserved point. After all, the portents had suggested anything but. Everton were seeking a record-extending eighth successive home Premier League victory while the Londoners had lost their previous six games to plummet towards the relegation zone and increase the pressure on beleaguered manager Zola.
If such statistics indicated the game should have been a formality, the problem for Everton was their approach at times reflected that belief, Moyes’s side seemingly guilty of crossing the fine line between confidence and complacency.
Despite twice managing to edge in front with goals from Diniyar Bilyaletdinov and substitute Yakubu, the Goodison outfit twice switched off to allow Manuel Da Costa and then Araujo Ilan to restore parity, the latter equaliser coming just three minutes from time to add to Everton’s frustrations. Sure, there was the controversy over referee Howard Webb’s incredulous decision not to award even a foul when Louis Saha was taken out by a high boot from Da Costa on the cusp of the area.
But as Moyes conceded afterwards, Everton were maybe fortunate Sylvain Distin wasn’t dismissed for his first-half challenge on Carlton Cole that gifted Mido a chance from the spot that was repelled by Tim Howard, a save that became more crucial in the final analysis. Everton, though, didn’t merit a victory. Their game lacked the spark, energy and inventiveness that has proven the foundation of their revival in recent months, irrespective of a spirited, fighting display from the visitors that belied their lowly position. Invigorated by a few days away from the training ground in midweek, West Ham had the greater legs and desire, a rare criticism of this Everton team. Of course, Moyes’s men have a break of their own with no fixture scheduled until the trip to Aston Villa on Wednesday week. Everton remain five points behind sixth-placed neighbours Liverpool and the final Europa League qualifying place, and with only five games remaining the showdown at Villa, who are four points and a place ahead of the Goodison outfit, must now be regarded as win or bust.
How Moyes will hope Mikel Arteta recovers sufficiently to be available for that showdown – with Steven Pienaar and Leon Osman curiously off key, the Spaniard’s midfield probings were sorely missed yesterday. Bilyaletdinov was handed a first start since the Europa League defeat at Sporting Lisbon and marked his return with the opener on 24 minutes that owed much to the kind of absolutely chronic defending that has consigned West Ham to an almighty relegation scrap. Instead of routinely clearing a Leighton Baines corner from the left, Jonathan Spector headed the ball up into the air and across his own area. To compound that error, Da Costa then stood motionless and allowed Tim Cahill to head into the six-yard box where Bilyaletdinov nipped in ahead of Matthew Upson to nod home. Moyes has long contended this would be a season of acclimatisation for Bilyaletdinov, but the Russian, playing on the right flank yesterday, has already demonstrated his versatility and a happy knack of chipping in with vital goals. However, he must still work on his stamina and eradicate the tendency to drift out of games that prompted his withdrawal midway through the second half for Yakubu. Bilyaletdinov’s strike was the first real meaningful action of a game that until then had failed to ignite, with Everton comfortable in possession without ever really threatening the visiting defence. But the fires were well and truly stoked on 37 minutes when referee Webb enraged Everton with a controversial penalty award when adjudging Distin to have clipped Cole’s legs while chasing a Scott Parker through ball. The decision could have gone either way, but there was no arguing with the weakness of Mido’s spot-kick that gave Howard the time to dive to his left and produce a good save. Few footballers are as mercenary as the well-travelled, well-fed Mido, and when the Egyptian was later booked for a foul on Pienaar, the unhappy West Ham fans were calling for his dismissal. Despite their half-time advantage, Everton had struggled to convince. And, perhaps sensing an opportunity, West Ham battled their way back into the game after the interval.
Mark Noble was desperately unlucky not to equalise on 59 minutes when, after twisting into space inside the home area, his delicate, clever chip drifted over the stranded Howard but struck the crossbar. Everton’s reprieve lasted only 60 seconds. Noble’s corner from the left caused havoc in the area and, after bouncing off both Cole and Cahill, the ball dropped for Da Costa to prod beyond Howard.
The Hammers sensed reward and Cole raced on to a fine Junior Stanislas pass but dragged his shot wide of goal, before Webb upset the home faithful even further when choosing to completely ignore claims Da Costa caught Saha with a high boot just inside the penalty area. But with five minutes remaining, a poor clearance by Spector was charged down and, when the ball eventually found its way to Baines on the left, his cross was nodded in by substitute Yakubu – the Nigerian’s first league goal at Goodison since November 2008. Unbelievably, Everton again dozed off and two minutes later, a superb early cross from Julian Faubert was swept in from the right for another substitute, Ilan, to divert a powerful header past Howard. This was the first-ever game to be played in the most Catholic of English cities on an Easter Sunday. And the fear is it will take something special to resurrect Everton’s hopes of a fourth successive European qualification.
NIGEL MARTYN: Everton FC must tie down Steven Pienaar and Jack Rodwell sooner rather than later
Apr 6 2010 Liverpool Echo
EVERTONIAN’S will be delighted with David Moyes’ comments regarding contract talks with Steven Pienaar and Jack Rodwell. It is vital the club keeps hold of it’s best players if we are to build on the progress made in the second half of this season.
Pienaar has been tipped to be a star at the World Cup and so it is in our interests to tie him to the club sooner rather than later. As for Rodwell, it’s always a little bit disconcerting when you get a great, young player like him bursting on to the scene only for the likes of Chelsea and Man United to suddenly be linked with a move for him. Flattering as it is, their interest isn’t welcome and can serve to unsettle a young player. Of course, when the top clubs are circling it puts a player in a stronger bargaining position when it comes to negotiating a new contract and Rodwell’s agent will know this.
Dan Gosling will soon be back on road to recovery
IT’S terrible news to hear Dan Gosling will be out for nine months.
Initial hopes were that the knee injury he sustained at Wolves wouldn’t be too serious, but he will now need surgery to rectify the problem. Although Dan has had something of a bit-part season - he played earlier in the campaign when team selections were being governed by injuries - he’s done well when he’s been called on.
He’s still a young player, learning his trade at this level. He’s got his whole career ahead of him but is no different to anyone else and would want to be available as and when he is needed. An injury like this is a massive blow for a player but, as we’ve seen with the likes of Mikel Arteta and Phil Jagielka, Everton have a fantastic medical team in place. The next few months will be difficult for Dan but he’s surrounded by the right people at Everton. I wish him a full and speedy recovery. But by retaining our quality players and keeping people fit next season, Moyes has established the kind of squad that can be challenging the likes of Aston Villa, Tottenham and Liverpool at the top end of the table.
NIGEL MARTYN: West Ham blow won’t dent Everton FC’s European ambitions
Apr 6 2010 Liverpool Echo
I couldn’t help but feel disappointed after the West Ham game. Beforehand you’d say it was a match we should have won. Credit to West Ham though. They came and gave it a really good go in the second half. But in the opening 45 minutes I thought Everton were in control without pulling up any trees. After that it was disappointing how we twice surrendered the lead. Mikel Arteta was a big miss though. He can influence and control games, and helps us retain the ball better. That’s exactly what we needed later in the match. Also, I think Steven Pienaar plays better when Arteta’s in the team.
West Ham will be disappointed with the manner in which they conceded the first goal. They had a couple of chances to clear, but full marks to Tim Cahill for sticking with it and getting the ball to Diniyar Bilyaletdinov. After being involved in the first goal, it’s another great cross from Leighton Baines for our second and a fantastic finish from Yakubu. At that point you’re thinking we just need to shut it down and protect the lead. If Pienaar nicks the ball in midfield, they don’t score. Instead, we could have e gone forward and made it 3-1. But when he misses it, that allows West Ham to break on the right. It’s a great ball by Julien Faubert to pick out Araujo Ilan’s run but it was all so avoidable when we should really have taken maximum points. Still, we’ve had an incredible run of seven consecutive home wins before this to help turn things around. A win against West Ham would have put us closer to Aston Villa and Liverpool ahead of next week’s trip to Villa Park. There was potential to overtake Villa and put more pressure on those challenging for a European place. Regardless, we have to keep aiming for Europe. Beat Villa next week and it’s still a realistic possibility. It will be tough but there is plenty of time to regroup between now and then. We’ve seen a few twists and turns in recent weeks between the teams in the top half of the table. I firmly believe that those above us will drop more points.
All we can do is look after our own business and try to win as many of our remaining five games as possible.
David Moyes backing Everton's Yakubu to rediscover scoring touch
Apr 6 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
DAVID Moyes today backed Yakubu to rediscover his goal scoring best for Everton when the psychological scars of his 12-month injury lay-off have healed.
The Toffees boss insisted that the Nigerian striker remains in his long-term plans, after he scored an impressive header against West Ham at Goodison on Easter Sunday. Yakubu ruptured his achilles tendon in a game against Tottenham Hotspur in November 2008, and his strike on Sunday was his first league goal since before his set-back. The 27-year-old has found himself benched frequently since returning to the first-team squad, but Moyes believes he has the quality to force himself back into the starting line-up. Speculation linking him with a summer move away from Merseyside has grown, but the Blues boss said: He has a contract. He has had a difficult year with his Achilles, it has been tough for him. To have a ruptured Achilles tendon like David Beckham has is a real bad injury, it really is. To get back is hard. Yak has worked hard to get back into condition and we want to give him every opportunity to get back to where he was. I think he is physically there, it might just be a long term healing process which he has to go through before we say youre over that you really are.
I still see him some mornings when he looks as if he thinks that, but then once he gets going he is fine. I think that he is doing fine. I hope he has the appetite to get back to what he was. He trains well, but what Yak thrives on is goals. When he gets his goals it brings him alive and his record in the Premier League is very good. It has just tailed off in the last 18 months because of the injury. Meanwhile, Moyes believes World Cup-bound referee Howard Webb has not been on top form this season. The South Yorkshire official took charge of the draw with West Ham at Goodison on Sunday, and his performance infuriated the Goodison chief. Moyes felt Everton should have been awarded a penalty in the second half when Louis Saha was felled by Hammers goalscorer Manuel Da Costa. Webb waved away the protests, having awarded a penalty kick to the visiting team in the first half for a foul on Carlton Cole by Sylvain Distin. Webb was reagrded as Englands top referee last year, and selected for the World Cup in South Africa. Moyes said: The referee has not been refereeing in the way he has been doing in previous seasons, I have to say. That penalty decision was at a crucial point in the game for us and we didnt get it. They got one of a similar type.
That wasnt the reason we didnt win the game, we didnt win the game because we didnt play well enough against a battling West Ham team.
From the Glasgow Evening Times archives
By Jamie Yates : 07/04/2010 : ￼
Carrying out some genealogy research recently at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow, I came across the following article.
I had been trying to find a snippet or two pertaining to my great grandfather, one Jimmy Baird, who apparently played for Dumbarton FC sometime around WWI. Standing just 4ft 11ins tall he was a flying winger, dubbed ‘The Tricky Ant’. They had proper nicknames in those days didn’t they!
Anyway, frustrated in my search for references to wee Jimmy, I couldn’t fail to spot the headline in one archive copy of the Glasgow Evening Times which read ‘POSITION OF EVERTON’ and was penned by some mysterious hack or other known only as ‘The Watchman’.
It details the interesting tale of revolutionary changes in the boardroom at Everton as the old guard where booted out bit by bit by a group of determined gentlemen sometime around 1920. There follow a couple of other miscellaneous articles, with references to a seemingly beloved (??)!! referee of the day known as ‘Old Crump’; the great Evertonian footballer and England cricketer, Mr Jack Sharp; and penalty mishaps on a par with the present season at Goodison, the unfortunate Dicky (sic) Downs the culprit in Blue during the 1920-21 campaign.
Enjoy! (and if you get a moment, please check my Everton blog - http://thetoffeeshop.blogspot.com/)
The Glasgow Evening Times, Saturday, 4 September 1920
REALM of SPORT
Football Government by Syndicate
POSITION OF EVERTON
(By THE WATCHMAN)
Have the Everton Football Club reached the end of their internal dissensions? To some, such a question may seem strange, but this famous football club has had a most curious history. It is clear as crystal that some sinister influences have checked the progress of Everton from a playing point of view. In spite of themselves, Everton have become a wealthy company. Never have they really been short of money. Their club is a big estate. They not only own the freehold of their arena and “appurtenances thereunto belonging” (is not this the legal phrase?), but a street of houses and shops adjoining. Once there was a church, or chapel, or at any rate a place of worship, on their property. But they did not think it within their province to be the landlords of a holy ground. All they really required was a football ground – quite a different piece of earth. There could be no stronger evidence of the riches of Everton than the fact that during the war they could borrow, without the least trouble, £6000 to complete the purchase of more property. Yet, in spite of their resources, Everton have twice only been champions of the League, and have once captured the Cup which represents so much to the English football public. The honours which have been won have never satisfied the shareholders, who believe that much more ought to have been accomplished. They think that Everton ought to have been a club with a record akin to that of Aston Villa. Dissensions at Birth Everton was born in the atmosphere of dissension. The ground which is now occupied by Liverpool was the home of Everton. That enclosure was the property of the late Ald. Houlding, sometime Lord Mayor of Liverpool. Differences arose between some of his coadjutors and Ald. Houlding, who remained on his own pasture and called the club Liverpool – in spite of the protest of the Liverpool Rugby club. The dissentients walked to the other side of a public park, and setting up an establishment of their own, determined to retain the title of Everton. Broadly, without filling in the details, that is the true story. Ever since this split there has been an atmosphere of criticism round about Goodison Park. It would be a long story to narrate in detail. Nor is it worth while. What has occurred is that the shareholders, dissatisfied with the directorate and their policy, and their rarely successful team from a playing point of view, banded themselves together into a little association. At first they had no power at all; they had no effect on the management.
But for ten or twelve years, men keenly interested in the club have been purchasing every share in the Everton Club they could get hold of. This movement became known as a syndicate. The Everton syndicate is now notorious in Liverpool. Gradually they gained power. They gave as much as £3 15s for a £1 share which could not pay them more than 5 per cent, and even now not more than 7½ per cent. But the syndicate were not eager for wealth. The aim was power – power to rule the club.
Slowly but surely the syndicate got so many shares in their possession that they began to return one nominee to the directorate. Next they ran two candidates and placed them on the board. The chairman of the club, Dr Whitford, J.P., a fine old robust Belfast Irishman, resigned. Men of position did not like the syndicate.
Crisis Over Now the crisis has passed, for the Everton Syndicate having about 430 of the 700 shares in their own hands have turned off two more of the directors that they wished to remove and placed their representatives on the board. One of these is the late honorary secretary, Mr W.T. Sawyer, who succeeded Mr W. Cuff when he resigned that office. Thus the Everton Syndicate have obtained a complete majority on the directorate, and Mr A. Coffer, a provision merchant in Liverpool, has been elected the chairman of the club in place of Mr W.R. Clayton, a ship owner, who has been associated with Everton from its troubled birth. Mr Clayton has put up a stiff fight for the old gang, but the new gang, the football syndicate, have won the very prolonged and bitter dispute. I suppose this may be regarded as one more development in the democratic tendencies of the age. The sequel will be watched with interest in all parts of Great Britain, because the desire of the syndicalists is not to make money, but to build up a team which will have a measure of success in accord with the position of the club as the wealthiest in the First Division. It should not be overlooked that the syndicalists have stepped into the possession of a club which has ample funds and unlimited resources. The financial building has been done, and that on a solid foundation, by one of the directors long since gathered to his fathers. Mr George Mahon, a Liverpool gentleman, who was, when strong and well, a keen business man with a brain for big finance, built up this club, and, of course, it is now comparatively easy to take over. Whether the syndicalist directorate will get better players than the old governors remains to be seen. A fat purse is, of course, an advantage, but good players cannot be bought like scrap-iron or cotton waste. The “waste” of other clubs is not of much value to Everton.
The Crump Testimonial
The Football Association at their recent meeting officially launched a testimonial to Mr Charles Crump, who will reach his 80th birthday, at least it is hoped so, on December 15 next. This movement has been in the air for a time, and weeks ago I heard in London that all the clubs in membership with the League had been approached, and that each of them was willing to subscribe a handsome uniform donation to express their appreciation of Mr Crump. This genial old gentleman, who is a native of Herefordshire, has devoted his life to the game – first as a player with Stafford Road, a Wolverhampton club; second as a referee; and third, as one of the governors of the game. Mr Crump has done much for football, and, on the other hand, I have no doubt whatever that the game has done much for Mr Crump, as it has provided him with a hobby which has kept his heart and mind young what time he has been a hard-working official on one of the great railways of the country. There is nothing like a lifelong hobby to preserve vitality and refresh the mind.
But when Mr Crump retired from the management of railways he was awarded a pension, which, if perfectly adequate for his modest needs in pre-war days, is utterly useless as even a maintenance allowance in these days. The Football Association and the clubs of the country, realising that pensions cannot be advanced with the elasticity of latter-day wages, have deemed it the proper thing to raise a national testimonial to help the dear old gentleman out of difficulties which are not of his making.
Whatever may be done for Mr Crump, there is no doubt that he deserves it. I believe that Scottish legislators who have sat with him on the International Board will bear ample testimony to his knowledge, his foresight, his acumen, and his universal courtesy. He is, too, a just man. I remember a prominent personage in English football saying that if ever he did anything wrong in the game he hoped that “Old Crump” would be his judge. He is just and merciful. Talking about that reminds me of the appearance of Mr Charles Crump in the witness box during the hearing of the famous libel case brought by a professional against the F.A. and several newspapers. Mr Crump was sworn, and in answer to counsel admitted that he had the experience of 78 years to look back upon. Justice Darling, with his customary keenness, dropped his quill pen, fixed his pince-nez, leaned back in his easy chair, and took a long look at the veteran footballer. He smiled benevolently as he said – “Well, Mr Crump, I hope I shall look as well as you, and be as active as you appear to be, when I reach that period of life – if I do.” Justice Darling was much impressed with “Old Crump,” and with his evidence, given with the lucidity and firm voice of a man of 40.
Status of Past Players The Football Association do not bow the knee to anyone – if they can help it. A little while ago our friend, Jack Sharp, the famous outside-right, applied to the parent body for permission to sit as a director on either the Liverpool or the Everton club. The permission was not granted. But Mr John Sharp, and it pleases, is now a man of substance, and is good enough to play as a Gentleman for Lancashire and to captain their team, while Mr Myles Kempton, the old Etonian and captain has been incapacitated. Incidentally he has been a jolly good captain. Thus we have Mr John Sharp, Gentleman, recognised by the M.C.C. and the Lancashire cricket clubs, but not relieved from the condition of being a professional in his status in the winter game. Again this week, Mr John Slater applied for permission to sit as a director on the board of the Stoke Club – the present employers of McColl, late of the Celtic, and other Scottish professionals. Years ago “Jack” Slater was a paid player of Bolton Wanderers and a jolly good back. He put his earnings at football on one side, and he is now a magnate – reputedly a millionaire, being a big man in the coal trade.
At any rate he is wealthy, and has bought an estate near Newcastle-under-Lyme, and is taking a deep interest in the Stoke Club – one of the oldest in England, if not the oldest. But he cannot sit on the board without violating rules, and he asked for permission to act. The case has been adjourned for inquiries. The Football Association is evidently not inclined to curtsey to wealth. For this I admire them, but, on the other hand, there is something in what an ex-professional, who has made good and been reinstated, said to me the other day. His criticism was that the attitude of the F.A. was apt to keep good men of good class from ever becoming professionals, and he thought that was a mistake. The better men they were the better for the game.
Quite so, but there is a larger question involved. A man cannot have all the advantages and none of the disadvantages. So far as I am concerned. I believe in the saying “Once a professional always a professional.” The real danger lies in handing over the domestic government of a club or of the game to men who have a mind that looks at every point from the view of a paid player. It would be to the advantage of football in every country if it was entirely ruled by real amateurs, and in the genuine spirit of amateurism. Missed Penalties The great game of winter has had a big send-off for this season in England. The results are perfectly well known to your football readers, and the successes of teams like Bradford City, Oldham Athletic, and Huddersfield Town have caused not a little surprise down here. At the same time we must not be led away by these very early birds who have picked up the luscious worm. There have been many accidents to players, and these have influenced results, while the failures to convert penalty-kicks have been dramatic and fatal. For instance, Grimsdell missed the first penalty-kick of his life against Blackburn Rovers, and that made such a difference to Tottenham. Again “Dicky” Downs, who used to be the penalty king, lost the match for Everton at Bradford. Then McCall – the great McCall – was equally remiss for Preston, and Huddersfield Town won 1-0. Thus it is well not to attach too much importance to the results. For instance, McGrory has not yet turned out for Burnley and teams have not yet settled down.
On-loan star Seamus Coleman believes Everton FC is the place to be
Apr 7 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
SEAMUS Coleman can’t wait to return to Everton despite forging a reputation as a rising loan star in the Championship. The Irish full-back has built on his growing potential with a string of superb performances for Blackpool, where he is currently on loan from the Toffees. Coleman, 21, has already scored for his temporary club and was voted man of the match for Ian Holloway’s side after their victory over Doncaster on Easter Monday. Now Everton boss David Moyes will mull over a likely request from Holloway to extend the right-back’s loan period until the end of the season.
The original agreement between the clubs was for a month-long deal which is set to end next week. Coleman is hoping he will be allowed to stay and help the Seasiders’ bid to reach the play-offs. But he is determined to be back at Goodison for next season, when he believes the Blues are on the brink of a special campaign.
He said: “Everton is the place to be now. It's a pity our run in Europe is over, I played in three games in the Europa League and that was a great experience, but I feel we could really do something at Everton next season. I want to be part of that.
“I had a good chat with David Moyes before I came here, he told me straight that I was doing well and that I was still in his plans but he just wanted me to get some more experience. “I am getting games and that's the main reason I came here – to get more experience.” Coleman has been encouraged to attack by Holloway, and scored an impressive solo goal against Scunthorpe on Good Friday. He said: “David Moyes has managed in the Championship, he knows it's a good standard and a good test for me.
“Everton have been in touch all along since I came here on loan. Alan Stubbs rings me after every game to see how I got on, and the club are following my progress, so that's good to know. “But Moyes has told me that my future lies with Everton and they don't have any plans to sell me. “I have 18 months left on my contract so I intend to see that out and they want to keep me, they seem happy with how I am doing.” On whether he will remain at Bloomfield Road, he said: “We’ll obviously have to wait and see what Everton say, but whatever both clubs want I’d be happy with.
“I’d love to stay and help us get promoted, but if I have to go back that’s the way it is, and I just have to do whatever I’m told.”
Blues boost as duo come through Everton FC reserves clash
Apr 7 2010 Liverpool Echo
PHILIPPE SENDEROS and Tony Hibbert both played a full 90 minutes as Everton Reserves went donw to Sunderland. The first team duo have been absent from David Moyes’ side recently, as Hibbert made his first appearance in an Everton shirt since undergoing hernia surgery at the start of this year while Senderos returned after a hip problem. Conor McAleny had a chance to open the scoring for Everton on nine minutes, but his strike bounced off the top of the crossbar and flew over.
Sunderland went in front just after the half-hour mark as Nathan Luscombe's inswinging corner found room for Michael Liddle to volley in from the near post.
The Blues started the second period brightly but Oumare Tounkara who secured the win for Sunderland 13 minutes from time. The second string are next in action when Hull visit the Halton Stadium on April 12.
Latchford’s first England cap given to Everton FC Collection
Apr 7 2010 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON and England legend Bob Latchford is thrilled to see his first England cap take its place in The Everton Collection Charitable Trust, the world’s largest football archive. The cap, which was presented after Latchford’s part in the World Cup qualifier against Italy in 1977, will now be one of over 18,000 treasured artefacts to be housed within Liverpool Central Library. When asked why he was so pleased that one of his most prized professional possessions had been added to The Everton Collection, former centre forward Bob said: “Having visited the ‘Everlution’ exhibition I realised just how significant The Everton Collection is, not only to Evertonians, but also to fans of all clubs, due to its intricate documentation of the history of football.” Arguably one of Everton’s most highly regarded and loved players, Bob Latchford is respected by both blue and red sides of the city, having scored an impressive 138 goals in just 268 games for Everton and having been a valued member of the England squad with a five goal history.Although born and bred in Birmingham, it is a warm regard for the city that he claims is the reason why he considers Liverpool as his second home. “A trip to Liverpool feels like coming home,” he added. “It gets into your blood, the football club gets into your blood, and it stays with you. “I talk to other players who have come from other clubs to Everton and they say the same thing, so it’s not something I say lightly”. Latchford’s England Cap will be in good company as part of The Everton Collection, which includes Alan Ball’s famous white boots and a number of items once belonging to Latchford’s hero, William ‘Dixie’ Dean. Commenting further, Bob said: “The one footballer I’d like to be remembered against is Dixie Dean. “To me he set the standard so it’s a great honour to be placed side-by-side with him in The Everton Collection.
“I only achieved half of Dixie’s record. “In 200 years time, if people think I was only half as good as Dixie but I was still very good, then I will be very happy.”
l ‘Everlution: The Everton Collection’ exhibition is scheduled to run until Sunday, April 18 and is held in the Picton Reading Room, Liverpool Central Library.
Meanwhile, The Everton Collection Charitable Trust has announced a celebration evening dinner honouring the club’s No 9s at The Hilton on Thursday, September 9.
Further announcements in due course.
Football Forum: Everton FC’s Euro quest needs ruthless streak
Apr 7 2010 Liverpool Echo
I DO not wish to be too disparaging but the strikeforce of Cahill and Saha is looking more ethereal as opposed to the required elan. This situation is becoming irksome and drastic measures are required to remedy this. The West Ham game is total confirmation that Everton are not a top four side for two obvious reasons. They do not have wide midfield players who can deliver the regularity of accurate crosses, and importantly, do not have the required pace in the final attacking third.
Too often this season Everton have advocated embellishment in their general attacking play, when a consistent ruthless streak is needed. West Ham were there for the taking on Sunday. Consequently, profligacy in front of goal has cost Everton points this season ie. Wolves (twice), Birmingham (twice), West Ham, Stoke and Sunderland. If Everton took their chances in the above games they would be on 64 points. David Moyes needs to be totally pragmatic and redress this problem next season and not let loyalty get in the way of progress.
ALL good things must come to an end. While the point against West Ham was hardly a disaster, the manner in which we twice let a lead slip was slightly more concerning. Considering we’d won our previous seven home games, nothing other than a comfortable win was expected. Victory would have put us in a very promising position to clinch a European spot but instead, we played like it was September 2009 all over again. A general air of sloppiness meant that in the end, a point was nothing more than we deserved. All of our remaining games are winnable – if Liverpool can win at Villa Park then there’s no reason whatsoever why we can’t.
Let’s hope we have Arteta back for the next game, then we can really kick on.
Robert Beard, Walton
SUNDAY'S draw simply highlighted how much we rely on Mikel Arteta for any kind of creativity in the side – which is why Steven Pienaar MUST be tied down to a long term contract soon. It's stupid waiting until after the World Cup finals. Host nations always do well, even unheralded countries like South Korea and Mexico, so South Africa are sure to attract plenty of attention in June – with Peanuts leading them on.
We've suffered in the past with players catching the attention of so-called bigger names playing for their countries – Tommy Gravesen, Rooney of course and dare I mention Nicky Barmby?
At least if Pienaar's under contract he can't be whisked away for a nominal fee.
The lads say he's happy at Goodison so why the delay?
Complacency could cost us dear.
S Bland, Formby
Injured Everton FC duo come through full reserve game
Apr 7 2010 Liverpool Daily Post
PHILIPPE SENDEROS and Tony Hibbert both played a full 90 minutes as Everton Reserves went down to Sunderland. The first team duo have been absent from David Moyes’ side recently, as Hibbert made his first appearance in an Everton shirt since undergoing hernia surgery at the start of this year while Senderos returned after a hip problem. But a first half strike from the Black Cats’ Micheal Liddle and a second from Oumare Tounkara secured victory for the hosts at Eppleton Colliery Welfare ground. Conor McAleny had a chance to open the scoring for Everton on nine minutes, but his strike bounced off the top of the crossbar and flew over.
Sunderland went in front just after the half-hour mark as Nathan Luscombe’s inswinging corner found room for Liddle to volley in from the near post.
Everton started the second period brightly and called Sunderland keeper Martin Fulop into action a number of times, including a powerful drive from Hibbert and a strike from Shane Duffy. McAleny troubled Fulop once more but but Tounkara eventually secured the win for Sunderland 13 minutes from time as he latched on to substitute David Dowson’s long pass to tuck the ball home. The Everton second string are next in action when Hull CIty visit the Halton Stadium on April 12.
ECHO Jury:Everton FC fans' letters
April 8 2010. Liverpool Echo
THE European dream is still alive, despite the draw at West Ham on Sunday.
The Blues looked flat on Sunday and were missing the skills of Mikel Arteta. The goals have dried up for Louis Saha too, he needs to work harder in the last five games.
It is going to be a dead week for Evertonians with the Blues only playing next Wednesday – Saturdays are not the same when Everton don’t play. The Villa game is a must win and then it will really put pressure on them. It has been great to see young Seamus Coleman doing so well at Blackpool and it would be good to see him come back for the last few games and get a start in the team too – he has a great future ahead of him. Three points at Villa next Wednesday and the push for Europe is full steam ahead, keep going to the end of the season and try to win all five games.
LEE MOLTON, St Helens
IT’S such a shame that Everton have dropped so many points against teams that on paper we know we should be doing better again. Teams like Wolves and Birmingham have both taken four points from the Blues. West Ham on Sunday represented Everton another golden opportunity to throw themselves back into European contention. But sadly a poor performance against a poor team only resulted in a draw and leaves the Toffees with a mini mountain to climb in pursuit of European qualification.
It’s very convenient to bemoan injuries and think of what might have been, but far too many times this season we just haven’t turned up on the day. We have exited all three cup competitions by showing no guts or determination on the pitch against teams we should have done better against. We have some rest time now to be prepared for Villa away, a must win game which will decide how our season will eventually turn out.
SUNDAY’S game summed up the season – good in parts but ultimately a case of what could have been. We will clearly need to add real quality in the summer, especially up front. The combination of Saha and Yakubu simply doesn’t work.
However, the main talking point again concerned the manager’s predictable approach in his tactics and substitutions. What did he need to see until seven minutes from time before bringing on Rodwell? Moyes has done wonders for Everton but there are times when he doesn’t seem to know how to react tactically to games that aren’t going well.
Caution has it’s place but not when we’re chasing Europe and playing a relegation threatened side. Let’s hope we end the season in good form – it’s had some great moments and the future is very promising.
MIKE WILLIAMSON, Chester
THE threat of hanging is meant to concentrate the mind wonderfully. After a first half that was about as gripping as a General Election debate, West Hamfinally woke up and started fighting for their Premiership lives. Fair play to them, they won the 50-50s and the second balls and it’s looking like one of those traditional ends to the season as clubs battle to avoid qualifying for the Europa League. Meanwhile Barcelona have shown that there is an alternative to acquiring absentee billionaire owners. Over the last five years they’ve lost Ronaldinho, Eto’o, Decco and Van Bommel, replacing them with the likes of Xavi, Iniesta and Messi - all products of the youth academy, which had £13.5m invested in it last year. Barcelona are owned by their 170,000 members – there is another way.
RICHARD KNIGHTS, West Derby
Phil Neville declares Everton FC squad does not need new additions
Apr 8 2010 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON skipper Phil Neville believes his side’s recent form shows they do not need to add to their squad this summer. After being hampered by a lengthy injury list at the start of the season, the Toffees’ fortunes have improved as the campaign has gone on and they have lost just twice in the Barclays Premier League since the end of November. That sequence – which has seen them mount a late challenge for Europe – has included victories over the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City and Neville feels Everton’s current squad is good enough to compete with anyone. “The reality is that we can beat any team in this league with this set of players,” Neville said. “Somebody asked me the other day, ‘Who would you like to sign in the summer?’ “I told them that I’m not bothered bringing people in – I don’t think we need to sign anyone.” Club captain Neville hopes the Toffees can take a clean bill of health into the 2010-11 campaign to avoid the kind of false start they endured this time out. “Having everybody fit going into the start of next season would be better,” continued Neville. “If that’s the case, then we can beat anyone on our day, we’ve proven that from Christmas onwards – that’s what gives you hope and confidence, that’s what will keep our supporters happy.” Goalkeeper Iain Turner, meanwhile, featured in a Blues first team squad for the first time in almost two years last weekend. He was named on the bench against West Ham after keeping a clean sheet for the reserves against Manchester City last week. Reserve coach Alan Stubbs said: “What he had to deal with, he coped fine. I don’t think that there was an awful lot of pressure on him at times, but for a goalkeeper it’s one of those situations where you have to be able to concentrate at all times.“Sometimes you have spells throughout games where you’re not busy at all and then suddenly you’re called upon to make saves or decisions in the game. He did that a lot better tonight.” Turner joined Nottingham Forest on-loan last March but after only three appearances broke his toe.
The highly regarded young Scot has made four senior appearances for the Blues.
Tim Howard: Euro qualification rivals Everton FC's desire has not wavered
Apr 8 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
TIM HOWARD today warned Everton’s Euro qualification rivals that the Blues’ desire has not wavered despite losing control of their own destiny. The USA goalkeeper admitted costly draws with Wolves and West Ham have dented David Moyes’ hopes of a third consecutive Europa League qualification. But the 31-year-old claims that the Toffees can pile the pressure on seventh-placed Aston Villa again, by beating them in next Wednesday’s pivotal clash at Villa Park. He said: “If we could have gotten a better result against West Ham and at Wolves, the Villa game would have had even more meaning in terms of allowing to have possibly gone above them on points. “But still, we need to beat them and continue to put pressure on them and if we win, we will go one point below them. “If we keep putting pressure on them, there’s still four or five games to go for them to slip up. “We're knocking on the door for Europe in eighth place and we know what it's going to take and the points total to get ourselves into Europe – and we’re trying our best. “Because of our last two results, we going to need other results to go our way now – we don't control our own destiny in that respect. It’ll be difficult, but we still have our eyes on that.” Meanwhile, Everton have struck a lucrative mobile phone deal in India. The new contract with Indiatimes has been agreed via the club’s licensed mobile content provider in Asia, Total Sport Asia. Indian Blues will now be able to download, via web and WAP sites, Everton ringtones, wallpapers and videos of their favourite players straight to their mobile devices. Everton is the first Premier League club to partner with Indiatimes – the most popular internet and mobile service in India.
My Cup final blues lasted four months
Apr 9 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
IT WAS the proud moment in the spotlight which Evertonians had craved for 14 long years. Everton’s dramatic FA Cup run last season had it all. Two fraught stalemates against Liverpool before a last-minute victory at Goodison, then a heart-stopping semi-final triumph over Manchester United. Then that sunny day in May arrived, when all that effort and passion was set to hang on 90 minutes against a Chelsea side ravenous for any silverware. Despite taking the lead through a Louis Saha strike within 26 seconds, there was to be no fairytale. In the energy-sapping temperatures Everton’s hopes wilted. At the end, the anguish was shared evenly on the faces of players and supporters. They had come so close. And once again supporters were deflated by this season’s FA Cup exit, albeit in a less acute way. The Blues have built to a head of steam. The players believe they are ready to win something. The fans believe they are ready to win something. Even the commentators have started to tip them... Yet still the wait goes on. It is a frustration which particularly eats at Leon Osman, at 28 a relative veteran of David Moyes’ current squad. “We came so close last season in the FA Cup final and it was a good three or four months before I got over the fact that we didn’t come away with the trophy,” he says. “It’s really a big aim for the whole squad really. We’ve got a good squad together, we’ve finished sixth, fifth and fifth in the league. “Everyone knows that the aims is to get back up there and we feel as a group of players that we should be there or thereabouts. “I don’t want to finish my career with nothing to show for it. I want to win a medal, not just for myself but for the club. The club deserves to be back winning things in the big time. A club this size deserves that.” Despite the irritation of another barren year in terms of silverware, Osman has enjoyed a fine season. Often deployed in his favoured central position he has responded with some magnificent performances, in particular his offering in the 3-1 victory over Manchester United at Goodison. “I’m enjoying it. For someone with the attributes I’ve got, I’m probably best in the middle,” he says. “I’ll give you the best I can possibly give you on the right, but I’m most comfortable in the middle. “I just enjoy being on the pitch to be honest. I’d play left-back or in goal if they asked me. I’ve played up front in the past, left, right, holding midfield, man marker. “I’ve tried a lot. I was even on Moutinho (Osman was asked to mark the Sporting playmaker as the Blues bowed out of the Europa League 3-0) and that was new for me but it was okay.” Despite being blessed with an abundance of natural ability, and an eye for goal to match, Osman has not always received the plaudits he deserves. “It is what it is. Can I do anything about it? No,” he says. “I just go out there and play football, try to get a job done and enjoy it. If I don’t get the credit but we win then that’s what happens. Every now and then I might do something which gets a bit of credit but I’m not the type of person or player that needs to get press plaudits or be told he’s doing well. “ I’m happy to tick along and carry on doing a job that the team appreciates. If they are happy enough that’s good enough for me. “You have to believe in yourself as a player. All the best players do, because there are times when you get great press and then they get the bad stuff to go with it. As the cliché goes you’ve got to be prepared to take the rough with the smooth. “You have to be strong. I’ve had times where people are probably giving me a bit of stick but I just try and get on with the game, believe in myself and that’s enough.” But where he refuses to go into further details about the effect of criticism he has received, the Wigan-born player is unhappy when team-mates like Tony Hibbert are singled out by supporters.
“I think there are times when I’ve felt people have got on Hibbo’s back undeservedly because he’s a terrific player and he gives 150% every game,” he says. “He would lose blood for the club without a second thought so to criticise him has been a bit harsh.
“But the fans are what makes the game great, their opinions are important. Ultimately we’re professionals and we’re paid to get on with our job and we do that to the best of our ability and not be influenced by the positives and negatives.”
Everton great Derek Mountfield calls for Phil Jagielka to be part of the England World Cup squad
Apr 9 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
PHIL JAGIELKA has already proved he is worth a place in England’s World Cup squad, according to Everton legend Derek Mountfield. The title-winning Toffees defender insists that Jagielka has done enough in the short spell returning from the serious knee injury which kept him out for most of the season, to force his way into Fabio Capello’s plans for South Africa. He said: “He has come in and provided that solidity and organisation whoever he plays with. “Jags is an organiser and a talker.
“He had a fantastic partnership with Joleon Lescott last season, and has done very well with Sylvain Distin despite them having little experience of playing together. Players like Lescott loved fitting in alongside him, and Yobo and Distin benefit from it too. “If he keeps doing what he does so well, I really think he can go to the World Cup in South Africa. “He is fresh legs as far as Capello is concerned and won’t be needing a rest, unlike some other centre-backs.” Mountfield, who once scored 14 goals in a season for the Blues from centre-half, believes David Moyes is blessed with central defenders. He said: “Distin started superbly, but then he got injured and after that he has not quite reached his early levels. “But you can see he is a class act and will come good. “Then you’ve got John Heitinga who can play there, and he has been a fantastic signing. “He has that composure on the ball which is common among Dutch, Ajax-schooled players and at the same time he’s not afraid to leave his foot in.
“He can have a little niggle and wind opposition players up. Then at left-back you’ve got to hand it to Leighton Baines. He’s been tremendous.” Mountfield believes Heitinga and Baines are in the running to be Everton’s player of the season.
He said: “It has got to be between those two and Steven Pienaar as well. They are the type of players; particularly Heitinga and Baines, who don’t always get the recognition but they have been excellent.” Meanwhile, fans will be able to meet Heitinga and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov at Tesco on Monday, as the pair promote Everton’s sponsor Chang beer. Heitinga will be appearing at Tesco on St Oswalds Street, Old Swan, while Bilyaletdinov will be in store at Tesco on Mather Avenue, Allerton, where they will sign autographs for fans from 1.30pm to 2.30pm.
Seamus Coleman can be a big name for Everton FC
Apr 9 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
l SEAMUS Coleman is proving that he has bags of potential. Sometimes it’s better to drop down a level to prove yourself, and Coleman’s goal last Friday shows that he can be a very useful player for Everton next season. I recall him coming on against Spurs earlier this season and terrifying their full-backs. He will come back from Blackpool high on confidence, which can only be a good thing for his Goodison future.
Everton FC must go for kill at Villa Park
Apr 9 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
I WONDER what Gianfranco Zola said to his West Ham side during half-time at Goodison on Sunday? Whatever it was, I bet he wishes he had thought of it before kick-off. Everton were comfortably the better team in the first half and looked like getting the points they needed to carry on their European bid. But West Ham came out of the traps like a different team in the second half. Their eventual equaliser was a fantastic goal courtesy of an even better cross. You can’t really proportion individual blame for that goal. Many players will have seen Faubert and thought ‘Let him cross from there, we’ve got defenders in the box and they can deal with it’. Of course another big difference was the performance of Scott Parker. He has always stood out whenever I’ve watched him, but you have to wonder why he has had so many clubs? His move from Charlton to Chelsea was just about money. Then he went to Newcastle when Everton were interested in him. Either way Everton should have had enough to defeat the Hammers. But while there will be frustration, it’s not a major downer.
Once again they were without Arteta, and scored twice which would normally be enough to win most games. The big emphasis shifts now to the Aston Villa game. A lot will depend on how their semi-final FA Cup tie goes with Chelsea on Saturday.
If they get revenge for that drubbing in the league they will be a tough prospect at home, because their confidence will be sky-high. The Blues will have to bring them back down to earth.
Leon Osman desperate to end trophy drought - Everton FC latest
Apr 9 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
IT WAS the proud moment in the spotlight which Evertonians had craved for 14 long years. Everton’s dramatic FA Cup run last season had it all. Two fraught stalemates against Liverpool before a last-minute victory at Goodison, then a heart-stopping semi-final triumph over Manchester United. Then that sunny day in May arrived, when all that effort and passion was set to hang on 90 minutes against a Chelsea side ravenous for any silverware. Despite taking the lead through a Louis Saha strike within 26 seconds, there was to be no fairytale. In the energy-sapping temperatures Everton’s hopes wilted. At the end, the anguish was shared evenly on the faces of players and supporters. They had come so close. And once again supporters were deflated by this season’s FA Cup exit, albeit in a less acute way. The Blues have built to a head of steam. The players believe they are ready to win something. The fans believe they are ready to win something. Even the commentators have started to tip them... Yet still the wait goes on. It is a frustration which particularly eats at Leon Osman, at 28 a relative veteran of David Moyes’ current squad. “We came so close last season in the FA Cup final and it was a good three or four months before I got over the fact that we didn’t come away with the trophy,” he says. “It’s really a big aim for the whole squad really. We’ve got a good squad together, we’ve finished sixth, fifth and fifth in the league. “Everyone knows that the aims is to get back up there and we feel as a group of players that we should be there or thereabouts. “I don’t want to finish my career with nothing to show for it. I want to win a medal, not just for myself but for the club. The club deserves to be back winning things in the big time. A club this size deserves that.” Despite the irritation of another barren year in terms of silverware, Osman has enjoyed a fine season. Often deployed in his favoured central position he has responded with some magnificent performances, in particular his offering in the 3-1 victory over Manchester United at Goodison. “I’m enjoying it. For someone with the attributes I’ve got, I’m probably best in the middle,” he says. “I’ll give you the best I can possibly give you on the right, but I’m most comfortable in the middle. “I just enjoy being on the pitch to be honest. I’d play left-back or in goal if they asked me. I’ve played up front in the past, left, right, holding midfield, man marker. I’ve tried a lot. I was even on Moutinho (Osman was asked to mark the Sporting playmaker as the Blues bowed out of the Europa League 3-0) and that was new for me but it was okay.” Despite being blessed with an abundance of natural ability, and an eye for goal to match, Osman has not always received the plaudits he deserves. “It is what it is. Can I do anything about it? No,” he says. “I just go out there and play football, try to get a job done and enjoy it. “If I don’t get the credit but we win then that’s what happens. Every now and then I might do something which gets a bit of credit but I’m not the type of person or player that needs to get press plaudits or be told he’s doing well. “ I’m happy to tick along and carry on doing a job that the team appreciates. If they are happy enough that’s good enough for me. “You have to believe in yourself as a player. All the best players do, because there are times when you get great press and then they get the bad stuff to go with it. As the cliché goes you’ve got to be prepared to take the rough with the smooth. “You have to be strong. I’ve had times where people are probably giving me a bit of stick but I just try and get on with the game, believe in myself and that’s enough.” But where he refuses to go into further details about the effect of criticism he has received, the Wigan-born player is unhappy when team-mates like Tony Hibbert are singled out by supporters.
“I think there are times when I’ve felt people have got on Hibbo’s back undeservedly because he’s a terrific player and he gives 150% every game,” he says.
“He would lose blood for the club without a second thought so to criticise him has been a bit harsh. “But the fans are what makes the game great, their opinions are important. Ultimately we’re professionals and we’re paid to get on with our job and we do that to the best of our ability and not be influenced by the positives and negatives.”
Barry Horne: Keeping squad together is key to success
Apr 10 2010 by David Randles, Liverpool Echo
l I agree with David Moyes that if he can keep his squad together Everton could challenge for a Champions League place next season. The manager has said he would like to bring in just two or three players to boost things. I’d like to see some younger players come in to enhance the balance and distribution of the squad. The problem nowadays is finding that talent at the right price.
Barry Horne: Everton FC should welcome break ahead of Villa trip
THE draws against Wolves and West Ham have damaged Everton’s bid for Europe.
It may not be terminal but we are now relying heavily on a combination of other results going our way and the clubs above us to start dropping points.
With the way the fixtures have panned out, and teams being involved in the FA Cup and Europa League, it’s difficult to predict which way it will all turn out.
However, what the other teams are doing should not be our immediate concern. Everton have just got to try and win the remaining five games, which is very possible given the kind of form we’ve been in with just two defeats from our last 19.
Looking at the last two matches though, we should have beaten Wolves and West Ham. For me, those results encapsulate the nature of the Premier League this year. It has been a much more fiercely contested league, with more teams capable of taking points off each other. Still, Everton have had a remarkable campaign when you consider how badly it began. The run from around Christmas when David Moyes started getting his players back from injury has been tremendous. We’ve got an enforced break this weekend because of Aston Villa’s FA Cup semi-final with Chelsea today. It will be 10 days since we played West Ham by the time we travel to Villa Park on Wednesday. But those extra days could be the difference between getting Mikel Arteta back and ready to play for example. Also, because the Villa game has been rearranged so soon after their semi-final, they have less time to recover, plus there’s a chance they will be deflated should they go out of the FA Cup. So while the break may not have been welcomed at first, particularly after the two draws, it could work in our favour on a number of fronts.
Barry Horne: English game is still strong despite Champions League exits
MUCH has been made of the fact that, for the first time in seven years, no English team has made the Champions League semi-finals. Many reasons have been given for this so-called demise, such as the over-reliance of English clubs on one star player or the prevalence of ‘foreigners’ in the Premier League. But where would Barcelona be without Messi, or Real Madrid without Ronaldo? In the latter stages of the Champions League the line between success and failure is very thin. A young and developing Arsenal team went out after being shorn of its three best players. Man United suffered from a bad refereeing decision and a one in a million strike, while Chelsea came up against a former manager who is on fire right now. I see nothing to suggest a long term decline of the English game.
Everton FC fans letters
Apr 10 2010 by Nick Moreton, Liverpool Echo
WHAT a pity Everton couldn’t capitalise on playing a poor West Ham side last weekend. To give two bad goals away was absolute suicide. Firstly, Howard should have charged out to cover the ball, but as always stayed on his line, showing lack of command in his area. Secondly, Faubert should have been closed down as soon as he got the ball. He was allowed a free run of 30-odd yards before crossing the ball, with Pienaar and Baines nowhere in sight, and the ball should have been cut out before being headed into goal. Rodwell must replace Osman and Coleman should be given a chance at right-back. The Wolves and West Ham games show how we miss Arteta.
He controls the midfield and makes Everton tick. Hurry back for the fans’ sake, we’ve just lost four valuable points.
D Cummins, Bromborough
WAS interested to read Phil Neville’s comments this week re: ‘we don’t need any new players in the summer’. Good grief! Having seen how badly we suffered earlier in the season with injuries, I’d suggest we could do with cover in most areas.
Jan Mucha is on his way to hopefully provide serious competition for Tim Howard’s spot but our lack of depth elsewhere is a particular concern. We currently only have one recognised left-back at the club in Leighton Baines while the need for pace and creativity down the right wing is also a must – such a shame we weren’t able to keep the rather marvellous Landon Donovan. We’ve also looked short of ideas in the middle without the considerable talents of Mikel Arteta, plus we could do with another striker to relieve some of the burden on Louis Saha and the still struggling Yakubu. Whilst recognising that we have a squad capable of doing something special in the near future (if ever the time arrives when everyone’s fit), there’s absolutely no doubt that a few fresh faces are needed to give us an even greater chance of success.
Messi on the right wing, lacing everyone in front of the Bullens. Make it happen, Moyes!
Robert Beard, Walton
Greg O'Keeffe: Retro look a thing of the past at Goodison?
Apr 10 2010 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
LOVE it or hate it, this season’s 1984/85 referencing home strip has been a talking point. From initially being unsure, I eventually grew to like the first offering by Le Coq Sportif since the French firm was reunited with Everton. It looks like my hopes that the 2010/11 strip would be a re-styling of the famous ‘bib’ kit worn by Gary Lineker & Co. are set to be dashed though. Word is that the Le Coq sportif designers have gone back to basics, and that this season’s old-school design was a one-off. Don’t rule out more pink in the away kit though! l KUDOS to Yakubu for following up his Christmas visit to Claire House hospice in Wirral with a return this week.
The Nigerian takes genuine interest in the wonderful place, and dropped off Easter eggs for all the children on Thursday. It was a delight to see how his presence lifted the youngsters, their parents and staff alike. The Yak even stayed for a kick about outside!
Greg O’Keeffe: Steven Pienaar may find there’s no place like Everton FC
Apr 10 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
TOO MANY Everton players have already fallen victim to the lure of that freshly-mown green grass on the other side of the fence. It’s a phenomenon Steven Pienaar should mull over, before departing for the World Cup in his home country in June.
Speculations refuses to go away about Pienaar being linked with richer Champions League clubs. It has almost become an accepted wisdom that, should he perform to his full potential this summer, he will attract the interest of some sides capable of making offers he may well be unable to refuse. Bayern Munich and Chelsea, among others, have already been mooted as potential suitors. Undoubtedly the 27-year-old has enjoyed his best season so far in royal blue. Sublime goals against Arsenal at the Emirates and Manchester City at Goodison, have illuminated his usual work-rate and flair to a widen audience. So far he has insisted that he is happy at Everton. Some Evertonians, however, would be forgiven for thinking they had heard all that before.
For Nick Barmby see Francis Jeffers. For Francis Jeffers see Thomas Gravesen. For Thomas Gravesen see Wayne Rooney. For Wayne Rooney, turn to page 2009 and see Joleon Lescott. Hands up who still flinches at the good-natured Goodison push to get Barmby into the England squad (from fans as well as top brass let’s not forget)?
But aside from Wayne Rooney, how many of these wanderlust-struck stars have actually thrived away from the club? Last week David Moyes explained that Everton are making progress on contract negotiations with Jack Rodwell and Pienaar.
But he reiterated that Everton is undoubtedly the best place for the duo going forward.
“Steven is at a club that really suits him and you have to decide what’s best for you.
“Everton has been very good for Steven,” he said. “Things are ongoing with Jack, as well. He’s got four years on his contract anyway, but we are in talks with him.
“Everton has been the best club for them and they’ll probably end up thinking this is the right place for them,” he added. “In the main the players who stay will say it’s been the right decision. “I think the players here recognise we’re very close to being a top side and if I was them I’d be saying there’s no need to go. “I don’t feel I need to sell anyone. They’re all under contract. “Yeah, there will be some with contracts a bit lower than you want but every club has got the same scenario. “I think some of them will look and say, ‘Everton is right for me’. “It’s a good club, a progressive club; the manager’s ambitious, trying to take the club forward. Going somewhere else for a little bit more isn’t always the answer. I’m actually relaxed about the whole situation with players because if anybody wanted to leave it would only be poorer for them.
“It’s tended not to work for people who left.” His point could not be clearer. Barmby’s career stalled and then slipped into slow decline after the highlight of his Goodison days. Jeffers plummeted. Gravesen barely played a handful of games for the Galacticos of Real Madrid. The jury is still out over whether Joleon Lescott made the right choice, but the timing of his move is at least questionable (unless your name is Leighton Baines). Lescott has missed so much football at the City of Manchester Stadium, after being a near ever-present at Everton, that his World Cup chances are doubtful. Ironically, his successor in the left-back slot at Goodison could well be peaking at exactly the right time. It’s not sour grapes either or a crass attempt to scare wantaway players. Moyes is simply emphasising the fact that Everton are going places, and – to use his words – the club was a “good fit” for Lescott. Just as it is for Pienaar. Ask Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta, two players who have been coveted by outside admirers but understand that Everton has helped their careers to flourish, and they have found their perfect home on the blue half of Merseyside. Nobody would argue with the sentiments bandied in favour of following the Premier League money.
Yes, footballer’s careers are short. Yes, an offer of guaranteed Champions League football elsewhere must be tempting for top players. But how often are agents the provocateurs in these moves? How much more money could someone who earns £40,000 a week actually spend? Maybe Steven Pienaar and Jack Rodwell should pause for thought when the scent of that verdant grass on the other side first hits their nostrils.
Aston Villa manager Martin O’Neill must fear another leapfrogging by Everton FC says Derek Mountfield
Apr 10 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
MARTIN O’NEILL must be wholly sick of the sight of Everton sitting just behind his side in the Premier League table at this stage of the season. The Aston Villa boss has learned from bitter experience to fear the presence of the Toffees when the battle for the European qualification spots reaches the final furlong. He has seen his upwardly mobile Villa team be overhauled by David Moyes’ men too many times to be able to relax – even this season, when his side have a strong lead. Yet even four points ahead with a game in hand, former Everton and Villa legend Derek Mountfield insists the race is very much still on, ahead of the pivotal meeting of the two teams at Villa Park on Wednesday night. “Villa are probably looking over their shoulders with worried expressions,” says Liverpool-born Mountfield, who enjoyed distinguished playing careers at both clubs in the Eighties. “You thought earlier in the season that they looked like finishing top five, but then Spurs and Manchester City picked up their own performances and have left them behind. “But Villa will still be growing as a team. They have reached a cup final, with the Carling Cup, even though they lost and they have had a strong run in the FA Cup. “But then it hasn’t all been plain sailing. They were thumped by Chelsea in the league and their fans have expressed their disappointment with certain performances. Martin O’Neill has been quick to speak out too.” Although Mountfield believes Villa and Everton are similar clubs, he claims the occupants of the managerial hot seat are massively different. “O’Neill’s decision to say he wasn’t happy was a controversial one,” he says. “Martin is very spontaneous with his comments. “David Moyes is a very different. He sits down and is very considered about what he says in front of the TV cameras. Martin is a fantastic manager though. He has transformed Villa, and has a group of players who want to work hard for him and fight for every single point. “Both managers have some fantastic young players. Lads like Jack Rodwell and Ashley Young. It will be a fascinating game because matches between these two are usually full of goals and incidents.” Even though Mountfield enjoyed a happy spell in the Midlands, he maintains there will be no split loyalties on Wednesday night. “I’m an Evertonian and everyone knows that,” he says. “There’s only one team I will want to win. I grew up on the terraces of Goodison watching that Everton team of the 1970s and then I was privileged enough to play for them. “Villa are very close to my heart and I’m still involved with their former player set-up. I have a lot of good banter with them when I go there, and I think very highly of the club. There are close bonds for me in the Midlands.” Mountfield, now a sports coach for Wirral borough council who works with primary schools and children with special needs, admits Everton have made the fight for Europe hard for themselves but insists they deserve credit for turning their season around. If anyone said to you in November that Everton would be in with a shout for Europe with six games left, you’d have jumped at it,” he says.
“I am optimistic still but they have left it very late.
“Maybe you can look at draws when they should have won but just look how slowly they started the season. The injuries have been discussed at length. “They should have beaten Wolves and West Ham at home. Birmingham should have been beaten too.
“But the players will keep going with a lot of heart. “ In the past Everton teams might have sloped off in the end of the season, but not under Moyes. “It will not be a failure if Everton don’t finish with a European place but it will be a big disappointment.
“They deserve it for battling back from that start. But after all we’ve gone through; eighth place would be no disaster. “The players would need to look at the next season and realise the time really has come to win something. They need to get to Wembley again and develop that winning mentality. “Phil Neville knows about it from his Manchester United days. Winning breeds confidence and you feel like you can beat anyone. It’s hard to develop but then hard to shake off. That’s what Everton must aim for.”
Greg O'Keeffe: Seamus Coleman could be a good source of goals for Everton FC
Apr 10 2010 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
FROM A terrifying point during Everton’s most recent pre-season tour when a foot injury could have finished his career, Seamus Coleman has come a long way.
The Irish full-back has made an impression on the Goodison Park fan-base which overwhelmingly suggests he has a massive part to play in coming seasons.
His loan spell at Blackpool could not have gone better so far. One fantastic goal, another man of the match performance, and the down-to-earth 21-year-old is doing his chances next season no harm at all. In an era when attacking full backs with a goal in them come at a premium on the transfer market, Everton could once again have plucked a real diamond from the rough. Let’s hope he is allowed to finish the season playing regularly for Ian Holloway’s team, and build even further on his confidence.
David Moyes named Manager of the Month for March: Everton FC latest
Apr 10 2010 by David Randles, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has been named the Barclays Manager of the Month award for March. It is the second time in three months the Everton manager has scooped the award after also receiving the accolade in January. This is the seventh time during his eight years at the club that Moyes has picked up the coveted award. Only Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger have won more. Moyes was quick to praise his players and backroom staff for their part in extending an incredible run that has now yielded just two defeats in 19 games. “They are the ones who cross the white line and I must give my staff a lot of credit too,” he said. “That’s two out of three months that we’ve got this award and we’re going to need two more if we are to achieve what we want from this season. “I’ve been here eight years now so that’s almost one a year but I’ve always been keen to improve as we go along.” An unbeaten run of three wins (Hull, Bolton, Man City) and two draws (Birmingham, Wolves) throughout March helped Everton continue with a late charge for a Europa League place. Last weekend’s 2-2 draw with West Ham at Goodison Park dented those ambitions but former Blues captain Dave Watson has paid tribute to the job Moyes is doing. "It is fantastic to see Everton up there and doing so well," said Watson, who is the last Everton skipper to lift a trophy for the club after leading the Toffees to FA Cup victory in 1995.
"David Moyes has done a magnificent job, and he has really built the foundations of a superb side there. "This is not a one-off, Everton have been in the top six and chasing fourth spot for the past few seasons now, and they have been playing in Europe and collecting experience which has definitely helped them." Watson is now a youth team coach at Wigan Athletic but still pays close attention to events at his former club.
He has been particularly impressed with the success rate of Everton’s youth academy.
Jack Rodwell and Victor Anichebe have both come through the ranks and graduated to the first team in recent years. Watson points out it’s a track record that has continued throughout the last decade. "It is great to see the young players coming through at Everton," he said. "If you go back further to the likes of Leon Osman, Wayne Rooney, Richard Dunne, Michael Ball and guys like that, they have always had good young players coming through at Everton, and the likes of Jack Rodwell are no different. "I think the key difference is that at Everton, young players are given a chance to play. "A lot of clubs can’t afford to gamble on young players, and want to simply go out and buy players all the time. "At Everton they get a chance to play and to learn, and that’s the only way you can find out whether they are good enough, by playing them."
'Bring on Everton', says Aston Villa goalkeeper Brad Friedel
Apr 12 2010 by Andy Walker, Birmingham Mail
VETERAN goalkeeper Brad Friedel was quick to turn his attention to Wednesday night’s visit of Everton, as Villa look to get over their latest Wembley heartache.
Like the rest of his team-mates, Friedel felt that his side deserved more than a 3-0 beating in their FA Cup semi-final. And the American was smarting over referee Howard Webb’s failure to award a 16th minute penalty, following John Obi Mikel’s tackle on Gabby Agbonlahor in the box. However, Friedel wasn’t prepared to dwell on what might have been and is already fully focused on the Premier League match-up with Everton – a match that will make or break both sides’ outside hopes of nabbing fourth place. “I thought we played so well and again we probably got hard done by a refereeing decision,” said Friedel, reflecting on Saturday’s game. “It makes you wonder if the referees have a hard time making decisions against the big teams on the big stage. “I thought we showed a lot of character given the lack of character we showed against Chelsea the last time. “It was very hard to take. We had to prove a point after the drubbing that we took at Stamford Bridge a couple of weeks ago.
“We matched them in every department. We got really unlucky on the first goal and the second and third were us pushing forward trying to get an equaliser.
“It wasn’t a reflection of the game. I think we can hold our heads up high but be bitterly disappointed that things didn’t go our way. “It’s the second time we’ve been here and the second referee decision that’s gone against us. We will take it on the chin and we’ve got to regroup. “We don’t have time to really think about it too much because we have to get three points on Wednesday. “We don’t have to lift ourselves because we know it’s so important.” The 38-year-old was also full of praise for the Villa fans that made the journey to Wembley for out-singing their opposite numbers.
“They were brilliant,” added Friedel. “I thought they were definitely the noisier of the two and they’ve been very good for the whole of the campaign. They are tremendous.”
Neville believes bench fear is driving Blues on
Apr 12 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
PHIL NEVILLE believes a fear of being benched will force Everton’s first team into a strong Premier League finish. The Toffees skipper claims a renewed competition for places is behind the transformation of David Moyes’ side since Christmas. The return of Everton’s injured players has coincided with a surge in form, which has seen the Blues gather an impressive 28 points in the second half of the campaign and establish a nine-game unbeaten run at home. And Neville believes his teammates will not let up as the summer break approaches – because they can easily lose their place. He said: “Since Christmas we have had 22 players training – we have had two players vying for every position and that ups the quality of the training and, as a result, the performance levels on a matchday. “Everybody knew the ability in the squad but in the first half of the season we had major injuries, there was a lack of competition and when you only have 11 players training it is not a good recipe. “In the first half of the season, we were feeling a little sorry for ourselves with so many people out injured. Mikel was out, Phil Jagielka was out, I was out, Victor Anichebe out. We had all these long-term injuries but then, all of a sudden, three or four start coming back into training and the confidence came back into the team. “We went down to Arsenal and drew 2-2 – but they scored in the last minute. That was a great performance that gave us the springboard to go on and beat Manchester City, Chelsea and Man Utd. That sent us on the run we are on.” Having relished the rise up the table, Neville knows precisely what is needed to maintain the development next term. He said: “As a club we are really pushing to make the next step. “We need some silverware now to keep the momentum going.” l The early bird deadline for 2010/11 season tickets is April 17. Supporters can take advantage of a saving of up to £80 by purchasing or renewing their season ticket before Saturday.
Yakubu is desperate to get amongst the goals at Everton
Apr 12 2010 Liverpool Echo
Yakubu and Leighton Baines celebrate at Birmingham 300
SOME footballers are occasionally crippled by crises of confidence which stymie their natural ability. Others would not know what self doubt was if it sidled up to them in an alley, and clobbered them in the face. Ayegbini Yakubu is in the later camp.
The laid-back Nigerian striker has that innate self confidence which legendary goal scorers have had in abundance. Think the self-assuredness of Andy Gray, Gary Lineker or Bob Latchford. The Yak could miss three sitters and still not feel a flicker of neurosis. Indeed, ask Yakubu about a game – Hull City at Goodison Park – when he did miss three sitters, more in fact, and he just smiles. “I think that was one of the best games I’ve played,” he says. “I did everything, but missed all my chances to score. “It was just a bad day in the office as a striker. The next week against Birmingham I got one chance and took it, although I couldn’t finish four the previous week. “It’s normal for me. I just take it as a game by game basis. As a striker you have to be mentally strong and believe in yourself. I’m used to pressure throughout my career and I’m fine with it.” Regardless, Yakubu was still pleased to net against West Ham, his first league strike at Goodison since 2008. “It was nice to score again. Ten months out was hard but now I’ve got my sharpness back and my condition is good,” he says. “For me I was pleased to score but disappointment we could only get a point.
“It was a striker’s goal thanks to a great ball from Bainsey. My positioning was good, and I know I can always score goals. I need to score more hopefully now before the end of the season.”David Moyes has suggested that Yakubu is still feeling the mental scars off the Achilles injury which ruled him out for so long, but the ex-Middlesbrough striker insists it is the last thing on his mind. “I don’t feel like I’m still carrying my injury,” he says. “I train every day and feel back to normal. People who say I’m still limping are entitled to their opinion, but I think I’m fine. “I have no pain now. When I first came back it played on my mind and I was a bit scared going into challenges. I didn’t want people to hit me but now I’m fine. “I’m totally confident in my ability to score goals. When I have a chance I will take it.” It is not only his own ability which Yakubu is confident about. He sees big things for the Toffees too.
“We have a good team,” he says. “If they stay fit in the long-term our players can finish in the top four and play alongside Bayern and Barcelona. “We know one day it will come. The Champions League is massive. I want to play in it. We are going in the right direction, and there are good things coming from Everton. I want to be part of it. The fans make me happy and show they appreciate me being here.” For now though, Yakubu is just focusing on finishing the season strongly – and consoling youngster Dan Gosling who is starting out on his own lonely injury lay-off. “He will hopefully come to training and we will have a chat with him. It’s not going to be easy for him, but he just needs to have a clear head and be patient,” he says.
Phil Neville says Everton FC driven by competition to play
Apr 12 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
PHIL NEVILLE believes a fear of being benched will force Everton’s first team into a strong Premier League finish. The Toffees skipper claims a renewed competition for places is behind the transformation of David Moyes’ side since Christmas.
The return of Everton’s injured players has coincided with a surge in form, which has seen the Blues gather an impressive 28 points in the second half of the campaign and establish a nine-game unbeaten run at home. And Neville believes his teammates will not let up as the summer break approaches – because they can easily lose their place.
He said: “Since Christmas we have had 22 players training – we have had two players vying for every position and that ups the quality of the training and, as a result, the performance levels on a matchday. “Everybody knew the ability in the squad but in the first half of the season we had major injuries, there was a lack of competition and when you only have 11 players training it is not a good recipe. “In the first half of the season, we were feeling a little sorry for ourselves with so many people out injured. Mikel was out, Phil Jagielka was out, I was out, Victor Anichebe out. We had all these long-term injuries but then, all of a sudden, three or four start coming back into training and the confidence came back into the team.“We went down to Arsenal and drew 2-2 – but they scored in the last minute. That was a great performance that gave us the springboard to go on and beat Manchester City, Chelsea and Man Utd. That sent us on the run we are on.” Having relished the rise up the table, Neville knows precisely what is needed to maintain the development next term. He said: “As a club we are really pushing to make the next step. “We need some silverware now to keep the momentum going.” l The early bird deadline for 2010/11 season tickets is April 17. Supporters can take advantage of a saving of up to £80 by purchasing or renewing their season ticket before Saturday.
Nigel Martyn: Everton FC can take advantage of tired Aston Villa in crucial game
Apr 13 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
THE Aston Villa game is where the focus really rests for the remainder of Everton’s season – it’s massive if we have any chance of reeling them in. To start with I expect to see Martin O’Neill’s side come at us with a vengeance, determined to try and get over their disappointment from the FA Cup semi-final. But crucially they will tire and that is when Everton need to exploit their mental and physical weariness. Villa have all the hall-marks of a team which has gone at it hammer and tongs all season and could now be set to pay the price because they don’t have a huge squad. Their first team has done very well but they may be feeling like a rest and there is no hiding place in the Premier League. You simply don't get a break until the last ball is kicked, and the experience of getting beaten by Chelsea will have hurt. Everton may well try and keep the ball and force Villa to chase them as much as possible. It will not be an uneven battle though, because the sides are very similar in terms of quality. They are both clubs trying to get back into the established order. They both fancy the promised land of the top four. It’s harder than ever to break into that, but Everton and Villa are part of the second tier of sides along with Liverpool, Spurs and Manchester City who are banging on the door. Who knows how important the draws against Wolves and West Ham will turn out to be for Everton? The Wolves draw was not as frustrating as the West Ham one though. A 0-0 draw away from home at Molineux is acceptable, but West Ham needed to be put to the sword. You can’t say that the Londoners didn’t deserve their point because they kept going to the bitter end, but the result could still come back to haunt Everton. If they don’t want to be left ruing those games, David Moyes’ players need to get three points at Villa Park and they will all be fully aware of that. There is no reason why Everton can’t over-haul Villa once again, and creep ahead of them in the table.
Everton FC’s Leighton Baines wants to capitalise on Aston Villa’s FA Cup woe
Apr 13 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
THIS time last year Leighton Baines and his Everton team-mates were on the crest of a Wembley wave. Victory over Manchester United in a tense FA Cup semi-final courtesy of a penalty shoot-out had everyone with a Royal Blue hue buzzing.
The Wembley Factor sparked the Everton players onto a strong league finish which saw them peg-back Aston Villa in the race for fifth place in the Premier League, and guaranteed Europa League football. None of the Blues stars allowed their effort levels to falter – aware that if they did it could cost them a starting place in the showcase final in May. Now, as Everton bid to overhaul Villa again, this time in far more testing circumstances, Baines is hoping the Wembley factor can help them in a different way. This time, the left-back wants the Blues to take advantage of Aston Villa’s own Wembley factor – namely the morale-sapping misery of being knocked out at the semi-final phase by Chelsea on Sunday. Baines, one of the penalty takers who helped topple Manchester United on that sunny day, said: “Villa are a good side. Hopefully the FA Cup semi final will have had a big impact on them. “But we’ve got to think a little bit more about ourselves and what we’ve got to do. “Villa is a tough place to go and win, but we’ve done it in the past and we can do it again.”
The Toffees are currently outsiders for a European place next season but a win on Wednesday would be significant in applying pressure upon their rivals. Villa have a game in hand on David Moyes’ men and a four point gap currently separates the two sides.Winning all their remaining games is the only sure-fire way for Everton to have a chance of playing in Europe for the third consecutive season, and the players are fully aware of the size of the task which is facing them. “If we’re going to make the final push for Europe – and we all want to – then this is a game we’ve got to win, no question about it,” said Baines. “We have got to go out there and play smart, we can’t got for it from the first whistle but it’s definitely a game we’ve got to go and win.”
The desperate dash for a European spot could have been made easier if Everton hadn’t suffered such horrific injury problems in the first part of the campaign. But while Baines insists that this is no time for what ifs, he admits it is hard not to wonder how strongly the Toffees could have finished if they had players like Phil Jagielka, Mikel Arteta and Marouane Fellaini fit and firing on all cylinders all season long.
He said: “It’s just one of those things – but you try not to actually think about it, because you know it can’t be changed. “But like the fans, we sometimes can’t help thinking ‘what if we’d have had everybody fit from the beginning of the season’.
“Even if we’d have picked up a few more points early on, we’d have been right in the mix. “Even recently, you look at the Wolves and West Ham games, we were disappointed to come away with two draws. If you win those games, it gives things a different complexion.” Regardless, Baines’ mood is philosophical. But the former Wigan defender’s outlook is also tinged with a steely determination which comes from the experience of catching Martin O’Neill’s side at the pivotal point of the campaign last season. He said: “It’s hard but we’ve got to try and look forward instead of backwards – we can’t change any of that now. “We’ve got five games left to go and we’re looking to take maximum points from all of them.”
Everton FC defender John Heitinga sets sights on European qualification
Apr 13 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
JOHN HEITINGA today revealed his burning desire to play for Everton in Europe after he missed out on this season’s Europa League campaign. The Dutch defender was prevented from taking part in Everton’s continental cup run because he had already played for former club Atletico Madrid in the qualifying stage of the Champions League. Now Heitinga is determined to do everything he can to help David Moyes’ side overhaul Aston Villa, and secure the seventh place which should ensure Europa League qualification. That seventh-place qualifying spot is dependent on the outcome of FA Cup finalists Portsmouth’s appeal against being banned from paying in Europe after going into administration. But nevertheless Heitinga is fully focused on a strong finish. He said: “For us there is only one solution and that is winning the Aston Villa game. I want to win all the five next games and go into Europe with Everton because this season it was impossible for me. “I play for the Dutch national side, and as a player you want to play at the highest level.
“That is the Champions League, but if you are not in that then it’s the Europa league and for a footballer it’s important you show yourself at the highest level.”
Heitinga is quietly satisfied with his first season in England, and is loving life at Goodison. The flexible former Ajax star added: “I think so far I can be happy. It’s only my first year and I’ve done well. I look forward to the next year. “I can play centre-half or the position I play now. They are my favoured positions and I’m happy in either.” The 26-year-old Dutchman is fast becoming a cult figure at Goodison for his tough-tackling displays, and revealed he revels in the role. “The fans are great. Since the first day they have made me feel welcome at Everton. “I love to play the home games in our stadium. Even in the away games the grounds are always full with Everton supporters and that is good for team spirit and the club. “The speed of the Premier League is higher than the pace in Spain and the battles and tackling are harder and faster. For myself I think it’s the best league. “It was after the Bolton game that I felt completely comfortable. Before that I think I played well but the speed was quite high. “After the Bolton game I was just used to it.” Heitinga is building a reputation for taking no prisoners on the pitch, and he finished: "It’s a part of the game that I play. When I play I want always to win and sometimes that needs a hard tackle.
“The effort and spirit is good. Everybody is fighting for 90 minutes and at the end when the game is finished and you are in the dressing room, you can’t blame yourself for not giving enough in the game.”
David Moyes: Everton FC have no lives left in the fight for Europe if they don’t defeat Aston Villa
Apr 14 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
LIKE the proverbial death-defying cat, Everton have all but used up their lives this season, according to David Moyes. The Toffees’ boss believes that failure to beat Aston Villa tonight will signal the likely end of any serious hopes of European qualification. Scraping above the Midlanders into seventh place remains Everton’s last hope of Europa League football next season. And with Martin O’Neill’s men four points ahead with a game in hand, events at Villa Park this evening will be pivotal.
“I don’t feel as though we have many lives left. We have used them all up in fact – we don’t have any left,” he said. “We’ve got ourselves into a position where we know we can go on and grab it. Maybe it might be our last opportunity to grab it, and we have to make sure we do it. “We were ahead against West Ham and Birmingham in recent games, and those two or three extra points could have been so vital. “Maybe it’s something to do with the mentality of the players. When you are playing catch-up for so long, you aren’t going to win every game. “You have to say the run we are on is a tremendous run. It’s the earlier part of the season that has been the problem.”
Just like last season, Moyes has long suspected that the final Europa League spot could ultimately boil down to a duel between Merseyside and Birmingham.
“I’ve thought for a while that seventh might be enough. I thought it might be a Tottenham final against either Chelsea or Aston Villa, and that would take it down to seventh,” he said. “Who knows, we might need it to go down to eight to have a chance. But we still have a decent chance of finishing seventh. “To be able to say that given where we were after the first few months of the season says a lot about the players and the way they have performed since. “It puts a lot of significance on this match. If we lose to Aston Villa, I don’t think it means we are completely dead, but it makes it more unlikely.” Leighton Baines and John Heitinga are among a number of Everton players to have identified winning every remaining game as their aim, but Moyes insists that is easier said than done. “People are saying we can do it if we win the last five games, but it’s very hard to do that.“Somewhere along the line we’ll get a draw that you don’t expect. The other teams aren’t there just to roll over. We were disappointed against West Ham but they have a cause to fight for and they showed it very well.” The Blues have travelled to Villa Park after enjoying most of last week off, and Moyes believes his hard-working stars had earned their break.
“It was a good time to have a break,” he said. “I’d planned to have one anyway, even allowing for the fact that the Villa game being moved gave us a longer spell between games,” he said “I hope the players can come back refreshed for the final games. They had a couple of days off, which doesn’t sound a lot, but for a professional footballer it’s quite good to have that, especially over Easter when they could spend time with the families.” Moyes admits that even being able to contemplate a top seven finish is remarkable after Everton’s injury-ravaged start to the season. “I thought if we finished in the top 10 it would be an incredible achievement because we were so far behind,” he said. “We’ve made up a lot of points on the other teams, we were a long way off in October. “Now we are a bit more like ourselves and in the part of the table where we want to be at. “That it could well go down to seventh might put a spring in the step of our players. I always felt there was a chance. But who are we going to overtake?
“There have been four teams chasing fourth, Man City, Tottenham, Liverpool and Villa, and it’s difficult to work out which one we could overhaul.
“They are all in good positions. A couple of times we have got close to the odd team but not quite made it. “Just look at the finances the others have spent to get where they are. I think even without the injuries, a lot of people would have put Everton finishing around eighth at the start of the season given the spending power of the other teams.
“We’ve done well to get back into a position to even challenge for seventh.”
Even finishing seventh though, might not be enough to qualify for Europe if Portsmouth’s appeal against being prevented from taking part in the Europa League succeeds. But while he has every sympathy with the financially crippled FA cup finalists, Moyes feels they missed the boat by failing to apply for a Uefa licence from the FA. “Portsmouth, in their own right, if they earn it they deserve it,” he said. “But if you don’t apply to go into it and don’t do the right things, then you can’t expect to be in there. “I have sympathy with the situation the club are in, and what Avram’s done getting them to the Cup Final is nothing short of miraculous under the circumstances.
“You’d have to ask why Portsmouth didn’t apply. Did they not apply because they didn’t think they were going to make it? “Then maybe they don’t deserve to win the appeal as they didn’t believe enough in their team. “Did they not apply because they had done it late or not had the right people in place? Then that’s a mistake internally and they have to abide by the rules like everybody else. “I do feel sympathy, though, for a club that gets that far and cannot get into Europe.” The Blues manager emphatically ruled out one final route into Europe for his team, albeit with tongue firmly in cheek. “I’ve known about the Fair Play League but it’s not like I can say to the players ‘don’t go trying to win this one and don’t give away any free-kicks and don’t get booked’. “I won’t be doing that!” he said.
Martin O’Neill vows Aston Villa will hit back against Everton
Apr 14 2010 Liverpool Echo
ASTON VILLA manager Martin O’Neill has challenged his players to hit Everton with a Premier League backlash at Villa Park tonight. O’Neill does not expect there to be any hangover after Villa’s second defeat of the season at Wembley in last Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final. O’Neill said: “Everton are creeping up and looking for a European place. “Perhaps they may think the fourth place is beyond them because they don’t have enough games to play and they are too many points behind. “But certainly European football is within their midst. “We have not been out of the top seven all season and we want to stay there and the only way you can do that is to win some football games. There is none bigger than the Everton game. O’Neill added: “David Moyes has been at Everton for eight years and when he went there things at Goodison could have been better. “It has been a fine club in the past but it needed guiding, it needed resurrecting and he has done that.”
Everton FC fan letters
Apr 14 2010 Liverpool Echo
I FULLY expect the Blues to beat Aston Villa. Although we’ve showed signs of tiredness of late, Villa have really run out of steam and the exertions of their cup loss to Chelsea means they are there for the taking. It sounds like Mikel Arteta is again a doubt, but hopefully a few of the lads can stand up and inject some much needed flair and creativity. I’d like to see Moyes start with Jack Rodwell and Yakubu.
Rodwell adds much needed composure but has also shown flashes of genius this season and having been benched recently I’d think he would be champing at the bit to get more involved. As for Yakubu, he’s looked a bit sharper in recent games and is more of a direct threat than Louis Saha – who simply hasn’t looked the same player since he signed a new deal. Whether Saha is struggling to maintain his fitness or maybe desire I don’t know but Yak is a brighter proposition at the moment.
I’d also like to see people like Leon Osman and Bily show their true worth. Here’s to three vital points and pipping the cheeky Pompey crew to that last available spot in Europe. Peter Nelson, Huyton
SIGNING a striker must be Everton's summer priority. The young lad from Stnadard Liege Mbokani has everything going for him and would be an exciting addition to the squad. I would much rather see him plating in royal blue than Jermaine Beckford who has all the hall-marks of a trouble causer. He has hardly set the world on fire in the later half of the season. Moyes will know what he wants, but if you look at the chances we've missed in front of goal this season – a prolific striker could really make a difference. Either that or somehow get Louis Saha fit and mentally right all season long! Easier said than done.
J Collins, Aigburth
WAS a bit surprised to hear Phil Neville saying the Blues don’t need anymore new faces this summer. I know he’s probably trying to keep morale high between now and the end of the season – and give a final push for Europe. But the reality is, we need to sign a lot of new faces if we aren’t going to get left behind. The Lescott saga permitting, we left it really late to add last year and that was reflected in the dire first half of the season and it’s nothing short of incredible that we’re actually competing for Europe once again. If we don’t want to get into the same situation we should be looking to sign a top class striker and several other very good additions in both midfield and defence. Whether there’s cash to play with is again the major problem but I trust in David Moyes to work his magic once again. Add a striker and the addition of those coming back from injury and we should be a force to be reckoned with next season. But just don’t leave it until the last minute!
Bobby Cotton, Birkenhead
Everton FC striker Yakubu is relishing Aston Villa show-down
Apr 14 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
YAKUBU today warned Aston Villa that the Toffees have the self-belief to once again overhaul them in the fight for Europe. The Nigerian striker is relishing tonight’s Villa Park showdown, admitting that games between the two sides have become his favourite fixtures of the season. With both clubs regularly vying for Europe – and squaring up over the final qualification slot again this season, the Yak insists Everton can grab all three points in the Midlands tonight. You can visit his player profile page by clicking here. He said: “We can beat any team on the day. I truly believe we can beat them – they are not unstoppable. “It will be a big game. Whenever we play them it is exciting and interesting to watch. I love playing in those games.” The 27-year-old maintains that playing in Europe again is a major personal motivation. He said: “It means a lot to me, maybe not to other players but it does to me. As a player you want to play regularly. “You know you are good enough to play in Europe and you want to be involved. It makes the season drag out when you are just playing Saturday to Saturday without the midweek games. The players enjoy it. “My highlight was against Fiorentina. It was unbelievable. The fans stayed behind for a long time praising the players.It was a good feeling. Everyone knew who the better team was and you want to make the fans happy. They are enjoying it and we are enjoying it. You do what you love to do and people love to see you do it. Hopefully we’ll be back in it again next season.” Meanwhile David Moyes revealed that Mikel Arteta is likely to miss tonight’s game, due to the groin strain which has already seen him sidelined for three games. He said: “Mikel is training but I don't think he'll make it. He looks quite good and is very close, but maybe not tomorrow. Victor Anichebe won't make the Villa game either.” The Toffees boss was tight-lipped about his scouting mission to Belgium last week, when he was believed to have watched Standard Liege midfielder Axel Witsel, 21, and Congolese striker Dieumerci Mbokani during their club’s Europa League game against Hamburg. ŠMbokani scored against Everton at Goodison in 2008, but Moyes said: “I know what I would like to do in terms of strength- ening the team.“We will always want to add one or two around the edges, but for us where we are now we want to add one or two quality signings, which would mean some expensive purchases. Will I have the funds to do that? I don't know yet.”
The Blues boss has also allowed striker James Vaughan to remain at Leicester City on loan for the rest of the season.
Aston Villa's Nigel Reo-Coker gives Martin O'Neill an extra option ahead of Everton's visit
Apr 14 2010 by Andy Walker, Birmingham Mail
NIGEL Reo-Coker is pushing for a place in the Aston Villa squad for tonight’s match-up with Everton. The midfielder is well on the road to recovery from the ankle injury that threatened to end his season at the turn of the year. Now, having made his comeback in last week’s reserves draw with Arsenal, Reo-Coker could find himself on the bench for Villa this evening. Martin O’Neill said: “Nigel is doing fine, he just needs a couple of more games. “For the run-in, I’m hoping he will be available. If not involved tonight, he might be, then there’s a reserve game tomorrow. I’m very pleased to see him back because I was not thinking I would see him before the end of April.” Meanwhile, O’Neill has ruled Curtis Davies out of his squad for the Everton game after the centre-back suffered a recurrance of a foot injury during the Premier Reserve League South title-clinching win over Fulham on Monday. Read Andy Walker''s blog right here
ACADEMY FOOTBALL: Everton FC under-18s resume title charge at Barnsley after Easter break
Apr 14 2010 by Chris Wright, Liverpool Daily Post
EVERTON UNDER-18s will finally resume their quest to win the Group C sections of the FA Premier Academy League this Saturday at Barnsley this Saturday (KO 11am). Neil Dewsnip’s youngsters have not played since March 27 due to the break in fixtures for Easter. But they go into the final seven matches of the season in third place, just two points behind leaders Manchester United. Everton also have a game in hand. Dewsnip said: “We have got seven games left and at the very least we will be involved in the title for a couple more of them and hopefully right to the end. It makes it exciting and it is good for the young players to experience that.”
Martin O'Neill admits that Everton match is win-or-bust for Champions League-chasing Aston Villa
Apr 14 2010 by Andy Walker, Birmingham Mail
MARTIN O’Neill believes tonight’s visit of Everton will be win-or-bust for Villa and their hopes of Champions League qualification. After their second serving of Wembley woe, Villa will be looking to lift their spirits for the first of their final six Premier Leag uefixtures of the season, starting with the Toffees at home tonight (7.45pm ko). Nabbing fourth place ahead of fellow Champions League-chasers Manchester City, Tottenham and Liverpool is now the sole focus for O’Neill, who insists that his players have brushed their FA Cup heartache to one side.
But the Villa boss concedes that there’s now no room for failure and that anything but victory over Everton tonight would blow their chances of the top four.
“I think we should continue to fight right until the end,” insisted O’Neill. “We have a big game tonight, it won’t be easy but it’s a game that to keep ourselves in contention we’d have to win. “There won’t be much room for slip-ups pretty much from our viewpoint between now and the end of the season if we want to stay in contention.
For us it boils down to a six-game season in the Premier League. I still think there’s plenty to play for, there are European places at stake. No run-ins of the teams involved is easy. Manchester City￼ have a tough time, Tottenham have a tough time and we’ve got a tough time. “The only thing is try to the best of our ability to win those games.
“We have to treat each game on its merits, it won’t be easy but that’s all you can do. We can’t think about what lies ahead.” After Everton, Villa face Portsmouth, Hull, Blues, Manchester City and Blackburn. O’Neill has told his side that they should be viewing nothing less than a maximum haul of 18 points from their last six games.
“That would pretty well be my view,” he admitted. “At this stage of the season you would have to be winning your games, but you’d expect to have to do that to qualify (for the Champions League). “I think the points total the teams can get will still be pretty decent so to accumulate those points you’d have to be thinking about a substantial number of wins from those games.” As for the challenge of Everton, unbeaten in the last six, O’Neill admits that he’s been impressed by the way in which the Toffees have bounced back from their stuttering start to the season.
“Everton opened the season disappointingly by being beaten 6-1 at home and I remember David Moyes saying in late November, or something like that, that if they didn’t watch out they could be involved in a relegation fight. So they’ve done really well to pull it around. “They’re a fine side and they’re really gathering a decent squad together and when the players are all fit, I think they’re a match for most things.”
O’Neill has also confirmed that James Milner￼ and Richard Dunne should be fit for tonight’s match at Villa Park.
Aston Villa: David Moyes insists Martin O'Neill deserves praise for Villa successes
Apr 14 2010 Birmingham Mail
Martin O'Neill￼ should be lauded for the work he is doing at Aston Villa, according to Everton manager David Moyes. The two men go head to head tonight with both clubs in with a chance of European football next season. O'Neill saw his side crash out of the FA Cup at the weekend when they lost to Chelsea in the semi-final. Villa also suffered heartache in the Carling Cup final, losing to Manchester United.
The Northern Irishman has not given any guarantees about his future but Moyes feels his managerial counterpart deserves nothing but praise for the way he goes about his business.He said: "Martin O'Neill is really important to Aston Villa￼. It is not his position that is in jeopardy, that's for sure. "To get his team to a cup final, another semi-final and to be challenging for fourth, he has done a brilliant job.
"He has a really good team, who will always score goals because of the way they play. He speaks the truth. He says what he feels. "I think if you asked most clubs in the country would they like Martin as manager, they would say yes." Since the turn of the year Everton have been one of the form sides, picking up 28 points from a possible 42.That string of good results has seen them move to eighth place in the Barclays Premier League table - four points behind Villa, who also have a match in hand.
Asked if tonight's match is a must-win, Moyes said: "It probably is. We have to win our games if we are going to make Europe. "We have always been coming from behind. We had a poor start. The hard part was having three or four serious injuries, and we've been playing catch-up. We have done a pretty good job. "We still have a chance of a European spot but we need to overhaul Aston Villa. It is important and we would like to be there. "We will do everything we can. We might need other people to help us out but if we don't do our job, it does not matter. "The players are making a decent fist of it and have done well to get us into this position." Influential midfielder Mikel Arteta will sit out the match as he has failed to recover from the groin strain that caused him to miss the draw with West Ham in their last outing. Victor Anichebe remains absent with a hip injury but Joseph Yobo returns to the squad following a back problem.
Aston Villa 2, Everton 2: Full Time Report
Apr 14 2010 Birmingham Mail
Aston Villa's￼ faint hopes of achieving Champions League football suffered a setback despite Everton defender Phil Jagielka's injury-time own goal rescuing them a point.
Villa boss Martin O'Neill￼ had challenged his side to win their remaining six games to give them a realistic hope of overhauling Manchester City and Tottenham.
But they had to settle for a point after cancelling out Tim Cahill's double with Gabriel Agbonlahor's 50th goal for the club and Jagielka's late helping hand. It kept them four points ahead of Everton who have played a game more. Villa showed plenty of purpose and invention in the first half in a positive response after their FA Cup semi-final exit despite going a goal behind and Everton keeper Tim Howard making a trio of fine saves. But they failed to show the same creativity and purpose after the break and, after Agbonlahor had given them a lifeline, they looked to have been undone by the impressive Cahill's second goal before Jagielka's gift. Steven Piennar impressed in the middle of the park for the Toffees while Villa skipper Stiliyan Petrov and James Milner's tireless efforts deserved some tangible reward. Howard was the first keeper to be seriously extended in parrying away a low drive from Villa midfielder Stewart Downing after he had turned away from Diniyar Bilyaletdinov to create a yard of space. Villa started to exert pressure and John Carew deflected a shot wide at full stretch from a near post cross by Downing. O'Neill's side were showing plenty of purpose and Howard again did well to turn a first-time shot from Milner around the post from Agbonlahor's through ball. Then Villa keeper Brad Friedel showed his worth in parrying a Leon Osman piledriver around a post and then blocked a rising close range effort from Bilyaletdinov. After 23 minutes Everton went ahead through Cahill's eighth goal of the campaign. Villa left-back Stephen Warnock was adjudged to have brought down Osman although it looked an innocuous challenge.
Leighton Baines￼ floated the ball into the Villa area and Cahill was the first to react in heading past Friedel
Cahill then became the first player to be yellow carded by referee Martin Atkinson for a challenge on Villa skipper Petrov. Villa tried to retaliate and Carew showed his power in shaking off the challenge of Jagielka before slicing his shot into the side netting. Howard made another excellent save three minutes before half-time to keep out a close range header from Carlos Cuellar from Milner's centre. John Heitinga needed touchline treatment to his ankle early in the second half after a challenge from Agbonlahor before being able to continue. But he quickly went down again and was substituted after 50 minutes and replaced by Jack Rodwell. Pienaar's pass picked out the run of Ayegbeni Yakubu inside the Villa box but his first touch was not the best and he was crowded out before he was able to get in a shot. The game was less open than in the first half although Everton were looking the more purposeful and Bilyaletdinov had an effort blocked by Richard Dunne. Carew created half a chance from nothing when surrounded by Everton defenders and saw his shot deflected wide.
Everton boss David Moyes made his first change after 63 minutes with Yakubu replaced by Louis Saha. With 18 minutes remaining, Agbonlahor brought Villa level with his 50th goal for the club - and 15th of the campaign. Milner sent over a cross from the touchline and Agbonlahor sent a glancing header wide of Howard into the corner of the net. But two minutes later Cahill struck again to restore Everton's lead.
There was a question mark over Villa's defending with Cahill presented with a free header in converting Bilyaletdinov's corner. O'Neill brought on young striker Nathan Delfouneso in place of Warnock as he gambled on playing three up front. In injury time Young arrowed over a left-wing centre and Jagielka could only deflect the ball wide of Howard who tried in vain to keep it out of the net.
Aston Villa 2, Everton FC 2: Greg O'Keeffe on vital points dropped for Blues in Europa League race
Apr 15 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
SO close, yet maybe now too far. For those at Villa Park last night it was clear there is almost nothing to separate Everton and Aston Villa. But crucially in the Premier League this season, there remains four ominous points. Thrilling draws like last night’s stale-mate in the Midlands are becoming typical of encounters between such evenly matched sides. The similarities are rife. Both have suffered FA Cup heart-break at the hands of Chelsea. And both have become top five contenders courtesy of excellent young managers with small but perfectly formed squads. But in what is becoming an annual straight bun-fight for a European cup place, this time around it was only victory which would be enough for David Moyes’ men. A win, which was so agonisingly close, would have hauled Everton to within a point of Villa. They may have a game in hand, but Martin O’Neill’s men have bitter experience of being over-taken in the final stretch by the Blues. Their heads may have sagged. Their determination could have crucially wavered. Instead, the task of stealing seventh place, and a likely Europa League spot, from the Midlanders is threatening to become impossible. Too many frustrating draws have made Everton’s task tougher by the week. Such is their desperation to qualify for Europe for the third consecutive season; Everton’s players will take little encouragement from Villa Park last night.
It is a shame, because they had produced what was almost a classic away performance.
Leon Osman had a chance to open the scoring, breaking into the area and taking his time until the space opened up for him, but his shot was blocked. Then Aston Villa had an even clearer opportunity when Stewart Downing drilled a low shot towards goal, only to be denied by a smart stop from Tim Howard. Despite their bitter Wembley exertions, Villa poured forward again. This time James Milner set Everton nerves jangling, swapping passes with Stylian Petrov and surging into the area to fire narrowly wide. Everton then had a decent penalty claim ignored when Richard Dunne hand-balled in the area from a corner, and Dinyar Bilyaletdinov flashed a volley which Friedel just got his fingers too. It was a high-octane opening period. After 20 minutes the score could credibly have been 2-2, as the chances stacked up. Everton weathered Villa’s opening bluster though, and responded with a typical sucker-punch.
Leighton Baines played the duration of England’s last friendly against Egypt, while his opposite number Stephen Warnock watched from the bench, and Baines proved his World Cup credentials again for Everton’s opener. Warnock clattered Osman, and Baines’ free-kick delivery into the area was perfect. Tim Cahill did the rest, stealing past flat-footed Richard Dunne to score with a trade-mark header. But any neutrals present were getting their money’s worth. Moments later John Carew did splendidly to take a punt into the box down on his chest and set himself up, only to skew his shot into the side netting. Tim Howard then proved exactly why he’s one of the best shot-stoppers in the business. His save from another gilt-edged Villa chance, a goal-bound header from Carlos Cuellar, was world-class. Purely in terms of reflex saves, there are few better in the Premier League.Despite Villa’s continued threat, Everton settled into a more convincing rhythm. Their passing was crisp and methodical, and they retained the ball. However, the second half started with disruption to Moyes’ plan when John Heitinga’s steadying influence was lost to injury, with Jack Rodwell coming in for the Dutchman. And with Villa unbeaten in their last seven league clashes with the Toffees, and rarely failing to score, it was little surprise when they hit back.
Deft work from Stewart Downing fed the tireless Milner whose cross was headed home by Gabriel Agbonlahor. Seeing the three points threatening to slip away, Everton provided the perfect response. Two minutes later, Cahill did it again. This time the provider was different – an assist from Bilyaletdinov’s corner – but the quality of the Aussie’s header was exactly the same. It looked to have been enough. But as the referee’s assistant signalled five minutes of injury-time, Everton’s hopes of a vital win were punctured. Ashley Young crossed into a crowded penalty area and Phil Jagielka’s attempted clearance instead squirmed past Howard at his far post.
It was a cruel blow for two players who had been otherwise faultless, and particularly harsh on Howard who pawed at the ball as it trundled past. Still Everton rallied, and a last-gasp attack saw Phil Neville shoot narrowly wide of the post. Stood forlornly as his players applauded their away support, David Moyes’ eyes were fixed on the horizon. Maybe he saw Europa League football disappearing just beyond it.
EVERTON: Howard, Neville (Capt), Distin, Jagielka, Baines, Heitinga, (Rodwell, 50), Cahill, Bilyaletdinov (89, Yobo), Osman, Pienaar, Yakubu (63, Saha). Not used: Turner, Hibbert, Wallace, Senderos.
ASTON VILLA: Fridel, Dunne, Collins, Cuellar, Warnock (Delfouneso, 78), Petrov (Capt), Milner, Young, Agbonlahor, Downing. Not used: Guzan, Young, Sidwell, Delph, Heskey, Beye.
REFEREE: Martin Atkinson.
Missed chances could cost Everton FC a Europa League place - Phil Neville
Apr 15 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
Phil Neville 300
PHIL NEVILLE accepts Everton have to sharpen up in front of goal or face the reality of seeing their European dream quickly turn into a nightmare. Tim Cahill bagged two trademark headers either side of a John Carew equaliser to set the Blues on the road to three points at Villa Park last night. Only for a frustrating own goal from Phil Jagielka to gift the home side a share of the spoils. And Blues skipper Neville insists that a match littered with missed chances was ultimately to blame. He said: “It’s games like this one, Wolves twice, Stoke at home, West Ham at home when we’ve dropped vital points. “It’s games like that where you need to be getting points if you want to get to fourth or fifth place. “If you had asked me before the season whether finishing eighth would be a success I’d have called it a failure. " But if you’d asked me in November I’d have said it would be a success. "It’s been one of those seasons where we can take a lot of pride from how we’ve played in the second half of the season but the league table doesn’t lie. “Our players want European football next season and that’s why we’ve got to win the next four games to have any chance. “Our main problem since Christmas has been that we’ve not been as ruthless in front of goal as we should have been. "Tonight we had chances where a square pass would have made a tap-in.
“We’ve simply not been ruthless enough. Like at Birmingham and Wolves. If you don’t take your chances you don’t win games, so it’s been frustrating.”
MICHAEL DRUMMOND, Speke
LAST night’s result is a huge dent to our European push and time is running out to get there. You can look at the stats from the game to just see how evenly contested it was but you would have fancied our chances having 10 days off and Villa still down from the cup exit at the weekend. We needed to get into the lead quickly to set the pace of the game, which we did but credit to Villa, they were just as up for the fight as we were and got one back. However, with us scoring not long after, you would have thought this was going to be our night. Our defence was far too weak for our usual standards and probably cost us the game and Europe. We need to win at Blackburn on Saturday to rekindle any faint hopes of qualifying for next year but we are relying on other teams to fall which is not always the ideal situation to be in.
RICHARD KNIGHTS, West Derby
ANOTHER season and the hierarchy is still in place – the Man United and Chelsea duopoly. Arsenal struggling to catch up, Arsene Wenger flapping his arms around on the touchline like a demented seagull, a man in denial. The only difference is that fourth place is up for grabs, Man City in pole position and well done to the Reds, a Chelsea fan installed as chairman to oversee the fire sale. Once again it’s left to Everton and Aston Villa to fight over the scraps from the table. So, after a brilliant performance from Tim Cahill, what a frustrating result! Martin O’Neill with that persecution complex, the referee with an Alex Ferguson stopwatch and a draw snatched from the jaws of victory right at the last. David Moyes was honest in his comments that some clubs don’t want to play in Europe – Evertonians after the famine years will still welcome it.
Everton catering operation wins bronze in national satisfaction league
April 15 2009 by Neil Hodgson, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON FC’s catering operation “hit the post” after it was awarded a bronze in the national Sodexo Prestige Success Guaranteed customer feedback league table.
Sodexo provides catering services for the Goodison club, which achieved 91% from customer feedback last year. Tony Watson, Everton sales manager, said: “Success Guaranteed is our promise to the client to deliver all elements of their event from initial enquiry to the operations on the day.” He added: “Achieving such a high score is a great result and the team here is delighted.”
Everton FC boss David Moyes refuses to give up chase for Europa League
Apr 15 2010 by Our Correspondent, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES refused to write off Everton’s Europa League hopes despite last night’s frustrating 2-2 draw away at Villa Park. The Blues still trail Aston Villa by four points and have played a game more, but the Goodison boss insists the Toffee’s will keep pushing for that final European place. Villa needed a late own goal from Phil Jagielka to earn them a share of the spoils, after Tim Cahill had twice fired the Blues in front either side of John Carew’s first equaliser for the home side.
Moyes said: “We will keep going. We will keep trying. Europe is important and we will keep fighting to try and get in there. “When you consider where we were in October, the players have done a great job and we have lost only two of 20 matches.
“It is a bit galling that the last three matches have been draws and we could have done with an extra point or two. “I thought we were going to get over the line against Villa but we didn’t quite manage it. “At 2-1 up, we had a couple of great chances to seal the game and didn’t take them.” Moyes felt Villa striker Carew was offside immediately before Jagielka turned Ashley Young’s cross past his own keeper Tim Howard.
He added: “When Young crosses the ball, Carew is just offside but it would have been a hard one for the referee to spot. “I thought it was hard on our keeper because he made a couple of great first-half saves. He is disappointed he didn’t keep out the second goal but his overall performance was magnificent.” In a similar vein, Villa boss Martin O’Neill also admitted his side now face a tall order to qualify for their European target of Champions League. Villa have now drawn six of their past seven matches at Villa Park and their hopes of a top-four finish are now hanging by a slender thread. O’Neill said: “Maybe a point did not suit either team in terms of our respective aspirations, Everton in terms of European football and ourselves in terms of something higher. “I thought before the game to give ourselves a proper chance (of Champions League football) we have to win all six remaining games. “Now I would say we have to win the whole lot from here. It is not impossible but it will be tough. We will just give it all that we can.” O’Neill felt the least his team deserved was a point with Gabriel Agbonlahor’s 50th Villa goal and Jagielka’s helping hand cancelling out Cahill’s cracking headed double. He said: “It was a great spectacle from start to finish. We deserved the equaliser at the end. “We should have been in front at half time. We had to chase the game all evening. “We got our first equaliser and then conceded another poor goal from our viewpoint but we again came back.”
Aston Villa 2 Everton 2: Everton draw little comfort from point at Villa
Apr 15 2009 by Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily Post
IT may not have been the defeat David Moyes feared would signal the end of his team’s European dream, but it certainly felt like one. Within moments of securing a pivotal triumph at near rivals Aston Villa, a calamitous injury-time own goal by Phil Jagielka consigned Everton to a third successive draw and dealt a devastating blow to hopes of overhauling the Midlanders for a top-seven finish. This wasn’t the way Jagielka would have wanted to mark his 100th appearance for the club.
And this wasn’t what Moyes’s men merited after another impressive away performance that once again emphasised the great strides that have been made since the turn of the year. But when Jagielka’s unintentional header squirmed away from the grasp of the previously-excellent Tim Howard and trickled over the line, perhaps with it went Everton’s hopes of Europa League qualification. Before last night’s game, Moyes admitted Everton had used up all their proverbial nine lives in pursuit of European football. And from feeling like the cat that got the cream, matters ultimately soured for the visitors. Certainly, a return to the Europa League will be a big ask now. With only four games to play, Everton stay in eighth place, still four points behind seventh-placed Villa having played a game more, and five points adrift of neighbours Liverpool. The remaining fixtures – at home to Fulham and Portsmouth and away at Blackburn Rovers and Stoke City – are all eminently winnable for an Everton team that have now lost just twice in 20 Premier League games. But the fact is Villa’s late, late equaliser means Moyes’s side are now reliant on those above them faltering dramatically during the final month. A brace of trademark headers by Tim Cahill had put Everton on course for a morale-boosting victory, the Australian’s second coming less than two minutes after Gaby Agbonlahor’s 72nd-minute equaliser.
Howard deserved better than to be culpable for this draw. The United States goalkeeper has been Everton’s most consistent performer of the season, a claim he underlined with a string of magnificent saves during a first-half in which Villa emphatically shrugged off their FA Cup semi-final exit to Chelsea on Saturday evening. Everton were fully refreshed having had 10 days since their last game, the 2-2 home draw against West Ham United, and it made for an enthralling, exhilarating encounter between two sides firmly intent on three points. Villa were understandably less than impressed with some of the officiating in defeat to Chelsea, leading O’Neill to berate “incontestable decisions” that went against his team at Wembley.
The home fans took their grievances out on referee Martin Atkinson last night, bemoaning every whistle that went in Everton’s favour. It meant there was a heavy air of discontent inside Villa Park when the visitors went ahead through a typically predatory Cahill strike on 23 minutes. When Atkinson awarded Everton a free-kick after Leon Osman went to ground under the weight of Stephen Warnock’s robust challenge, the Villa support was outraged. And that feeling only intensified as Cahill freed himself from flimsy marking by Richard Dunne to head in the resultant Leighton Baines delivery from six yards. The goal was just reward following a bright start by Moyes’s side, although both teams had their chances during an entertainingly open first half. Everton signalled their threat during the formative stages when both Osman and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov saw shots blocked by Villa defenders, with the former drawing a good save from home goalkeeper Brad Friedel in the 14th minute with a curling effort from the edge of the area. From the resultant corner, Everton could easily have been awarded a penalty when the ball struck Dunne on the arm via his leg before dropping to Bilyaletdinov, whose shot was parried at point-blank range by Friedel. However, it was the Villa man’s fellow American, Howard, that was the busiest of the two goalkeepers with a succession of superb stops.
In the eighth minute, Howard saved smartly low to his right after the Everton defence parted to allow Stewart Downing a low drive from 20 yards, and then did well to turn around a shot from the incoming James Milner after the Villa man was found by Stiliyan Petrov’s cross from the right. Howard’s best, though, was saved for three minutes before the interval. Milner robbed Sylvain Distin on the byline and crossed invitingly to the far post for Carlos Cuellar, whose header was brilliantly repelled by the Everton goalkeeper diving to his left. But Howard breathed a sigh of relief on 32 minutes when John Carew’s upper-body strength saw him turn away from Jagielka in the penalty area but the striker’s shot was powered into the side-netting from close range. Villa pressed hard for an equaliser after half-time, but Everton were comfortably keeping the Midlanders at arm’s length despite the disruption of John Heitinga hobbling off with an ankle injury five minutes into the second half.
However, just when the visitors appeared to have weathered the storm, Downing’s clever pass gave Milner the chance to whip in a superb right-win cross that was glanced beyond Howard by the previously anonymous Agbonlahor for a 72nd-minute equaliser. Parity didn’t last long. With Warnock receiving treatment off the field, Villa’s 10 men failed to heed their earlier lesson and a Bilyaletdinov corner from the right was met by a thumping Cahill header that beat the efforts of Friedel and Milner on the line to clear. That should have been that, until a calamity of errors in the second minute of injury time saw Jagielka, under pressure from Carew, head Ashley Young’s cross towards his own goal where Howard fumbled the ball against the post before it trickled agonisingly over the line. Even then, there was still time for Phil Neville to pull his angled shot wastefully wide after being found unmarked by Baines.
So near, yet so far. Like victory last night, it is becoming likely Europe will remain tantalisingly out of reach for Everton this season.
Aston Villa 2 Everton 2: Andy Walker's verdict and stats
Apr 15 2010 by Andy Walker, Birmingham Mail
IT may be cheerio Carling Cup and farewell FA Cup but it’s still not time to say adios to the Champions League. The back of Phil Jagielka’s head and Tim Howard’s butter-fingers kept Villa’s slim hopes of nabbing fourth place alive last night. Martin O’Neill was all set to witness a once hopeful campaign completely fall apart at the seams.
With Everton 2- 1 up and the game into stoppage time, Villa’s hopes of Europa League, let alone Champions League, football next season looked doomed.
Then Ashley Young, an experienced man when it comes to last-gasp drama against the Toffees, floated in a cross from the left that deflected off Jagielka and squirmed out of Howard’s grasp at the far post. While a win was what Villa desperately needed, a point was still just about good enough. With fourth-placed Manchester City seven points ahead and five games to play, the race is still on. And the optimistic folk among the Villa Park faithful will point to their side’s run-in compared to their rivals for that final Champions League spot as reason to believe. Portsmouth, Hull, Blues, Manchester City and Blackburn – a run of games that shouldn’t strike fear into the hearts of a side vying to earn a place in Europe’s premier club competition.
The only trouble is that Villa have only managed to chalk up four wins from their last 15 league games. Defeat last night would have been a disaster. Not only would have it ended Villa’s faint Champions League dream, but it would have also threatened their chances of playing in Europe at all next season. Resurgent Everton would have been breathing down their necks. It was a full-blooded, thoroughly entertaining and often tasty encounter at Villa Park last night. Villa almost found themselves undone by the Premier League’s master of ghosting into the penalty area – Tim Cahill. The Australia international’s brace, either side of Gabby Agbonlahor’s 50th senior goal, looked to have handed Everton the three points. O’Neill had opted to stick with the same team that suffered FA Cup heartbreak at Wembley on Saturday for this crunch fixture, the most played in the English top flight. And this 190th Villa-Everton league chapter got off to a lively start with early chances for both of these evenly-matched sides.
Everton midfielder Leon Osman was denied twice in the opening quarter-of-an-hour, firstly by a last-ditch James Collins block, after Richard Dunne had been turned inside out, and then a fully-stretched Brad Friedel. The American goalkeeper also had to be alert from the resulting corner to block Diniyar Bilyaletdinov from point-blank range, after suspicions of handball against Dunne. Meanwhile, at the other end, Friedel’s compatriot, Howard, was also in fine form. The USA international palmed away a low 25-yard drive from Stewart Downing before meeting James Milner’s incisive flick at the near post from Agbonlahor’s ball from the right. The Toffees broke the deadlock in the 23rd minute and, while it was met with grumbles and chants of ‘1-0 to the referee’ from the Holte End, the fact that the usually-animated O’Neill never raised a protest from the dugout, suggested that it wasn’t down to another injustice.
Stephen Warnock’s strong tackle on Osman earned Everton a free-kick on the right-flank. Leighton Baines￼ stepped up, floated in a delightful ball and Cahill did what he does best by ghosting into the Villa six-yard box to send a neat header beyond Friedel.
It was a harsh blow for Villa, who were still firmly in the game. The hosts had their chances to bring the scores level before the interval. In the 32nd minute, John Carew did all the hard work but failed to provide the finish. The big Norwegian chested down Milner’s right-wing cross, held off the challenge of Jagielka, spun clear but only managed to smash his effort into the side netting. Carlos Cuellar was convinced he’d found an equaliser in the 42nd minute. Milner brilliantly outmuscled Sylvain Distin at the byline and found Cuellar incoming at the far post. The Spaniard couldn’t have placed his header any better, but Howard’s tremendous save ensured Everton’s lead stayed intact. The second-half continued in the same entertaining vein. But it was Villa who did all the pressing and deservedly equalised in the 72nd minute, Agbonlahor heading home a Milner delivery that evaded Distin. Everton hit back within the space of two minutes though, Cahill nodding home Baines’ corner from the right. Then, in the first of five added minutes, came the stroke of luck that Villa desperately needed.
VILLA: (4-4-2): Friedel 6; Cuellar 6, Dunne 6, Collins 6, Warnock 6 (Delfouneso 77); A.Young 6, Petrov 7, Milner 7, *DOWNING 7; Carew 6, Agbonlahor 7. Not used: Guzan, L.Young, Sidwell, Delph, Heskey, Beye.
EVERTON: (4-1-4-1): Howard; Neville, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; Heitinga (Rodwell 50); Piennar, Osman, Cahill, Bilyaletdinov (Yobo 89); Yakubu (Saha 63). Not used: Turner, Hibbert, Senderos, Wallace.
REFEREE: M.Atkinson (W.Yorks).
Martin O'Neill clings on to Aston Villa's faint hopes of Champions League qualification
Apr 15 2010 by Andy Walker, Birmingham Mail
MARTIN O’Neill is refusing to throw the towel in on Villa’s Champions League dream – although he admits that their task has got taller. The solo point earned against Everton at Villa Park last night wasn’t what O’Neill had craved but it wasn’t a complete disaster either. With fives games left and Manchester City￼ seven points ahead of Villa in fourth, O’Neill admits that his repeated call for a maximum haul from the rest of the season is now louder. “I thought before the game that we probably had to win the whole lot of the matches to give us a proper chance,” said O’Neill.
“It would have been a tall order and I would have thought that certainly after this (draw with Everton), to give ourselves any chance we’ll have to win all five.
“It’s not impossible but it will be tough. You’d need a bit of luck here and there but we’ll go to Portsmouth￼ and we’ll give it everything.” Last night’s match-up was a thrilling, full-blooded encounter that was deserving of a share of the spoils in the end.
O’Neill continued: “It was probably a great spectacle, it was enthralling from start to finish as a lot of our Everton games seem to be.“We certainly deserved the equaliser and maybe should have been well in front by half-time. “We’ve had to chase the game all evening, we got the first equaliser and then conceded a very poor goal from our viewpoint, had to fight back and we did that. “Maybe a point doesn’t suit either side at the end of the day in terms of our aspirations – for Everton, European football, and for ourselves maybe something higher “But it was a great game.” O’Neill stuck with the same XI that started Saturday’s morale-denting FA Cup semi-final defeat at Wembley.
And the Northern Irishman was quick to applaud his side’s stamina levels in light of last night’s end-to-end affair. “I thought we were terrific,” he enthused. “I thought we kept going, I thought the fitness levels were incredible seeing as it was the same players. I thought our resilience was absolutely top class. James Milner was extraordinary. He’s developing into a really great player.”
Aston Villa 2-2 Everton -
The Daily Mirror match report
Published By David Anderson
Martin O'Neill last night admitted Aston Villa's Champions League dream is all but over. Villa bagged a stoppage-time equaliser through an own goal from Phil Jagielka - but the point did little to cheer O'Neill. His side are seven points behind fourth-placed Manchester City with games running out fast. "I thought before the game, to give ourselves a proper chance we had to win all of our six matches, which was a tall order," said the disappointed Villa boss. "After this, we need to win all five of our remaining games and hope we have a little bit of luck here and there. But we will go to Portsmouth at the weekend and give it a go.
"It's a point which doesn't suit either side in terms of our aspirations and Everton's hopes of European football."
After being robbed by Howard Webb at Wembley in the FA Cup semi-final, O'Neill admitted they only have themselves to blame for this setback.
They defended poorly for both of Tim Cahill's goals for Everton to the annoyance of the Ulsterman.
In an entertaining game, Stewart Downing forced a good stop from Tim Howard following a strong run and shot before the excellent James Milner brought an even better save from the Everton goalkeeper.
The England man played a one-two with Gabriel Agbonlahor on the right flank and his swept shot from the return was expertly blocked by the American.
Back came Everton and Leon Osman's left-foot shot from the edge of the area was pushed away by Brad Friedel before the Villa goalkeeper saved Diniyar Bilyaletdinov's close-range effort.
There was little to choose between the sides in the opening quarter before Everton took the lead on 23 minutes from a free-kick, which will give O'Neill nightmares.
After Stephen Warnock was controversially adjudged to have fouled Osman on the right, much to the anger of the home fans, Leighton Baines swung in the ball for Cahill to lose James Collins and head home unchallenged. Howard denied Villa an equaliser just before the break after some great work by Milner on the left. The hard-working Villa midfielder managed to get on the end of Stiliyan Petrov's through ball and pick out the unmarked Carlos Cuellar at the back post, whose header from six yards out was brilliantly saved by Howard. Everton frustrated Villa until the 72nd minute when Villa beat Howard with a well-worked goal. Cuellar found Stewart Downing on the right and he played the ball inside to Milner who crossed for Agbonlahor to head home. Villa's joy was shortlived and within two minutes Everton were back in front. Once again Villa paid the price for some slack marking at a set-piece as Cahill was allowed far too much time and space to head home Bilyaletdinov's corner from six yards out for his ninth of the campaign. Then just when Everton must have thought they had done enough, Jagielka headed home Luke Young's cross into his own net in the first minute of stoppage time to salvage a point. Boss David Moyes refused to blame the pair, even though the gaffe has dealt a serious blow to Everton's European hopes, and claimed John Carew was offside. "I've seen a still of it and when the ball is crossed in, Carew is just offside," he said. "But it would have been a hard one for the referee. Carew always does that and his size makes it difficult.
"I thought it was hard on our goalie and he made some fabulous saves to keep us in the game at times. He is disappointed he didn't get the second one, but his performance was still magnificent. "I thought we should have dealt with it and kept it out." Everton remain four points behind seventh-placed Villa in the race for Europe and Moyes is proud of how his side have battled back in the second half of the campaign. "Villa were a long way ahead of us at one point and if you had said to me in October that we would be in this position, I would have thought you were kidding me," he said.
Late clanger from Everton's Phil Jagielka lets Aston Villa off the hook
Aston Villa 2 2 Everton
Stuart James at Villa Park
The Guardian, Thursday 15 April 2010
An evening that started with Aston Villa hoping to keep alive their faint hopes of playing in the Champions League next season ended with Martin O'Neill's players clinging on to European qualification of any description. Phil Jagielka's own-goal in injury-time denied Everton only their second league win on this ground in 22 attempts and allowed Villa to maintain a healthy, and perhaps crucial, four-point gap over David Moyes' side in the race for the final Europa League place. It is difficult to believe Villa's ambitions stretch beyond that competition now, after a result that leaves them seven points behind Manchester City with five games remaining. The deficit would have been greater still if, in the first minute of added time, Ashley Young had not delivered a centre from the left that Jagielka glanced towards the bottom corner of his own net under severe pressure from John Carew. Tim Howard, who had made a couple of excellent saves in the first half, got a good hand to the ball but was unable to keep it out. Everton were crestfallen. They had taken the lead twice through Tim Cahill headers and there was a sense they had weathered Villa's late pressure, which saw plenty of balls flung into their penalty area but Howard rarely called upon to make a save. Even after Jagielka's faux pas, Everton might have restored their advantage but, after Leighton Baines flighted the ball towards the back post, the unmarked Phil Neville fizzed an angled drive inches wide of an upright.
O'Neill later claimed that Villa "certainly deserved a point" and also stated his belief that a top-four finish could still be achieved. "I thought before the game that to give ourselves a proper chance we would have to win every one of the matches, which was a tall order," he said. "After tonight, to give ourselves any chance, we would have to win all five. It's not impossible but it will be tough. We will got to Portsmouth on Sunday and give it everything." No one could question Villa's effort or determination here, which was epitomised by the indefatigable James Milner, but for all the possession they enjoyed in the second half Everton were rarely carved open. Indeed Villa's best opportunities came during a much more evenly contested first half, when Howard produced two superb stops to keep out a sweeping first-time effort from Milner and, three minutes before the interval, a downward header from Carlos Cuéllar. Everton, however, were already a goal to the good at that point. Cahill gave his marker, Richard Dunne, a slight nudge before tearing towards the edge of the six-yard box, where he met Baines's free-kick with a powerful header that left Brad Friedel hopelessly exposed. It was the fourth time Everton had threatened to score in the early stages of an absorbing and entertaining game. Milner was the outstanding individual on show and it was no surprise that the England international created Villa's first equaliser. His cross from the right picked out the unmarked Gabriel Agbonlahor, whose glancing header drifted beyond Howard for his 15th goal of the season. Everton's response, however, was emphatic and within two minutes Cahill had struck again, the Australian doing what he does best as he found space to head Diniyar Bilyaletdinov's corner past Friedel. "We defended very poorly tonight," lamented O'Neill. Fortunately for the Villa manager there was a late reprieve, when Howard could only push Jagielka's header inside the far post. "I've seen it on a still and, when the ball is crossed in, Carew is offside to start with," said Moyes. "But it would have been a hard one for the referee. And I thought it was hard on the goalie because he made a couple of fabulous saves in the first half to keep us in the game at times. He's disappointed he didn't get the second one but his performance was magnificent."
Howard Kendall: Leighton Baines showed he has England class
Apr 16 2010 by Howard Kendall, Liverpool Echo
ASTON Villa’s late equaliser on Wednesday night was tough to take but a point away to a decent side wasn’t a bad result. Everton’s goals highlighted just how important set-pieces are. Tim Cahill has tremendous spring and his two goals at Villa Park were all down to the timing of his runs. Delivery is crucial and we’re lucky that in Leighton Baines we have one of the best around. Baines has had a superb season and been very consistent. I expect him to be named in England’s World Cup squad and with Ashley Cole running out of time to prove his fitness he could even start at left-back in South Africa. Some people question Baines’ size but I think he’s good enough in the air and isn’t exposed in any areas. It’s going to be difficult to catch Villa now in the race for seventh place. They are four points clear with a game in hand but we have to keep fighting. Seventh looks like it will be good enough to get into the Europa League but a lot depends on whether Portsmouth manage to secure a licence to compete in Europe next season. They missed the initial FA deadline and are appealing but it would be unfair if they got in at Everton’s expense. After all rules are rules and anyway it’s a greater achievement to finish seventh in the league than winning half a dozen games to get to the Cup final. We have to focus on winning our last four games and we’ve got a tough trip to Ewood Park tomorrow. Earlier in the season Blackburn were struggling and people were talking about them being relegation candidates.
But Sam Allardyce seems to be very good at getting clubs out of trouble. He might not play pretty football but he gets results. He did it at Bolton and he would have done the same at Newcastle if they had kept faith with him.
Everton FC can catch Liverpool
WITH four games left Everton are still in with a great chance of catching Liverpool.
We’re only five points behind them and as well as chasing a Europa League spot that’s a real incentive. If we could finish above our neighbours from across Stanley Park it would give all Evertonians a tremendous lift going into the summer.
Wembley pitch is an embarrassment
THE state of the Wembley pitch is completely unacceptable and the FA need to sort it out because it’s a real embarrassment. Last weekend’s Cup semi-finals highlighted the problem once again and it’s a far cry from the big games at the old Wembley.
The surface was always superb. It used to be energy sapping and players would get cramp but a lot of that was down to the tension of the occasion. Now it’s awful and the problem is it’s rock solid underneath but wet on top. The quality of the pitches players play on every week in the Premier League now is so high that it just highlights how bad Wembley is. I know they have re-laid it a number of times but they clearly need to dig deeper!
Phil Neville: Everton FC will not settle for concentrating on Premier League at expense of Europe.
Apr 16 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
THERE is a growing school of thought that Everton could prosper without Europa League football next season. It is a theory proposed by pragmatists of course, hinting that the Toffees could really target the top four without the strains and distractions of regular mid-week games and foreign travel. The suggestions grow louder as each frustrating draw makes overhauling Aston Villa and reaching seventh place seem like mission impossible. But skipper Phil Neville refuses to entertain the idea.
“People say if we don’t make it that we can concentrate on the league, but I think that’s a load of absolute rubbish. The experience you get, and the fact that you can play every three games, for Everton, it helps us more,” he says. “I think it’s vitally important. We’ve all enjoyed the experience. We’ve got a young team here, who all want to play top class European football. “You can get into a rhythm and use the experience of European football back in the Premier League. “It’s always been good for us, and it’d be a major disappointment if we didn’t qualify.” Neville concedes that this season’s Europa League campaign had few highlights, but insist he would not have swapped it. This season has probably been our poorest form in Europe, but we’ve enjoyed it massively,” he says. “We stole through the group stages really. We didn’t play fantastically. We got a home win and an away win but weren’t at our best. We didn’t have our full squad available to us in the Europa League, and to have that would have helped. “The enjoyment we’ve had from playing in different parts of the continent has been great. “Yes, it’s not as good as the Champions League; but you ask the players, the manager and the fans - there’s a special feeling. “Knowing you have six group games in the early part of the season just gives you that spur and something to look forward to, apart from the league and the domestic cups. “We’ll really miss it if it doesn’t happen. But you get what you deserve in this league. “We are where we are and if we don’t qualify we can’t afford to feel sorry for ourselves.” Supporters believe that maintaining this current squad is essential to progressing next season.
But with big names like Steven Pienaar set to grace the rapidly approaching World Cup in South Africa, there is growing speculation that the Blues may face difficulty keeping hold of some of their big names unless they are playing in Europe. It’s another theory that Neville gives short shrift. “Not at all,” he says. “That doesn’t worry me. It’s because of the players that we’ve got to this point. “We’ve got four games to go. We set our targets in January , and if we win three out of our last four games we will still probably meet our target in terms of points and hopefully that will take us into Europe.” Neville is fully aware that Everton’s remaining four games will present a tough task, especially given his ambition to take maximum points from them all. That task starts with a tricky away tie to in-form Blackburn Rovers on Saturday, and also features a potentially tough trip to Stoke’s Britannia Stadium on May 1.
Neville said: “Ewood Park isn’t one of the best places to go after a game like this.
“We know how they’ll play. It’s against these types of teams when we’ve faltered this season. “We’ve not won these types of games as well as we did last year. Last season we beat all the teams around and below us, and lost to the top four sides.
“This season it has been roles reversed. We’ve gone and beaten the top sides, and not been clinical enough against the teams below us. The last four games are ahead of us and we need our edge. No excuses - we need to be clinical.” Meanwhile, Blues’ boss David Moyes has reiterated why European football is essential for his summer rebuilding - and hinted that missing out could hamper his transfer plans.
Europe is worth fighting for. I think it is important for our football club to be there,” he says. “There might be some managers who might think ‘miss out on it because it will give you a better chance in the league’. “At the moment that isn’t my thought. “My thought is to make Europe because I think our football club can carry it. I really do. “If anyone doesn’t want it, I’ll take their place. I think our football club needs it as a development. I have to try and get there and, also with attracting players, I think it can be important as well.”
David Prentice: Everton FC's Diniyar Bilyaletdinov enjoys a good thrashing
Apr 16 2010 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
THERE’S nothing Diniyar Bilyaletdinov enjoys more than a good thrashing – apparently. But before Evertonians start getting all whipped up into a frenzy, it’s the traditional Russian steam ‘banyas’ Bily misses – the Moscow equivalent of sauna baths where pals whip each other with birch twigs. The Russian, I’m told, hates losing just as much as the next professional – which is just as well, because he has been on the losing side in a Premier League match just once in his debut English season.
During a campaign when the maverick Muscovite has divided opinion almost as much as Marouane Fellaini did 12 months earlier, that’s a remarkable statistic.
The Goodison derby match was the only occasion Bilyaletdinov has left a Premier League pitch with the bitter taste of defeat in his mouth – and if he’d converted rather than scuffed an outstanding opportunity early in that game he might even have avoided that blemish to his record. Some cynics might point out that David Moyes didn’t trust Bilyaletdinov enough to start the more testing trips to Old Trafford, Anfield or the Emirates, but he has nevertheless made 17 Premier League appearances so far and was influential in the heady Goodison defeats of Chelsea and Manchester United. If Wednesday night’s precisely delivered corner kick is anything to go by, Bily is ending the season the way he started it. When the Russian burst onto the Goodison scene with a hat-trick of assists against AEK Athens and followed up with some more setpiece accuracy against Hull City, hasty and ill-conceived comparisons with the great Kevin Sheedy were aired. That was all so much nonsense, but nevertheless Bily is just one of the reasons Evertonians can already be optimistic about next season. Blues fans have spent recent summers scouring websites, gossip columns and the back page of the Echo for confirmation of signings to fill glaring holes in David Moyes’ squad. This summer those inadequacies are far less obvious.
The need for new striking talent is clear, given the inconsistent appearance records of Saha, Yakubu, Anichebe and Vaughan. But elsewhere the squad looks impressively equipped – as results since that appalling early season injury crisis cleared up have proved. If the Premier League had kicked off on January 1, Manchester United and Everton would be the teams standing first and second in the table – at least they would have been until their last couple of frustrating draws. And Bilyaletdinov has undoubtedly played his part in that run. He undoubtedly has talent – witness his stunning brace of goals for Russia against Slovenia in a World Cup qualifier.
The Slovenians’ last minute strike that day means it will be them rather than Russia facing England this summer. But that’s another reason to hope for Bilyaletdinov shining next season. The six weeks he will spend putting his feet up and watching the World Cup on television – and maybe enjoying the odd birch twig massage – will be his first break from football since the Russian pre-season of November 2008 to March 2009. If the Russian winger returns refreshed and revitalised, he could show he’s not ready to be labelled an Everton whipping boy just yet.
David Prentice: Another Clive Thomas is let loose on the football world
Apr 16 2010 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
BEWARE poor quality imitations. I’m a huge fan of the ESPN Classic channel, but it’s not just Cruyff turns and Van Basten-esque volleys that nostalgic re-runs encourage viewers to try and recreate. Referees watch old games, too.
The 255 fans at Marine’s Rossett Park last week were stunned when Alan Young of Blackpool produced his best Clive Thomas impression. North Ferriby United were leading Marine 2-1, when they took a corner kick on the stroke of half-time.
They scored – but saw celebrations cut short by an over-enthusiastic official pointing pointedly to his wristwatch. Fortunately for North Ferriby, they went on to win the match 3-1 – unlike Brazil who were absurdly robbed by the Treorchy terror in 1978.
Mr Thomas didn’t take charge of another World Cup clash again.
Alan Young take note.
David Moyes: Tim Howard must remain at top of his game
Apr 16 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
Tim Howard saves a MLS penalty
DAVID Moyes today ordered Tim Howard to maintain his world-class form next season or risk losing his place to new-boy Jan Mucha. The Everton boss has signed the Slovakian international keeper to turn up the heat on his number one, despite admitting that Howard has been one of his players of the season. He said: “Tim Howard has been terrific this year. He has been reliable and consistent, but what we need is pressure on positions, and I felt there was a chance to do that with Tim.
“He will have more competition next season. Tim has not had an injury this season that has kept him out of games, but will have a bigger level of competition next year.
“One of our best performers this season will need to raise his game next season. Players don't mind that competition. Tim will see it as being what’s right for us.”
Meanwhile, Tim Cahill admitted his frustration at the third consecutive draw, against Aston Villa on Wednesday, which dealt a blow to Everton’s Europa League ambitions. He said: “We are disappointed because we worked ever so hard and the first half was an amazing performance. “When you go in front twice you think that you can win the game and maybe we could even have won it 3-1. We had the chance to kill it off but Villa are a good team.ŠIt is a case of what might have been.
“We have got a great bench and a great squad that really works hard.ŠIt showed tonight how much we really wanted to win and we were really up for it.
“It is about the way we bounce back now. Our last four games are going to be massive. “It is always pleasing to get goals. This season I have felt happy with what I have tried to do for the team so getting goals is the icing on the cake. “I have tried to keep myself in peak condition and be the fittest player on the park so I can reflect that in my game. I work hard in training to make sure teams can’t hold me and I look for space. At Villa I was clinical and I am pleased with my performance.” Cahill’s midfield companion Marouane Fellaini is scheduled to return to Finch Farm to carry on his rehabilitation in May. The 22-year-old was set for six months recovery time and Moyes hopes he is still on course for a return early next season. He said: “We have seen the surgeon in London. We are all quite confident that he is on schedule with the movement that he has got back in his ankle. He will probably be back in to Finch Farm to do some work in the last month before we break up for summer.”
Sam Allardyce says Tim Cahill is the danger man for “tough” Everton
Apr 17 2010 by Our Correspondent, Liverpool Echo
BLACKBURN boss Sam Allardyce believes today’s match against Everton will be just as tough for his side as their recent encounters with the Premier League’s top two, Chelsea and Manchester United. Blackburn came away with draws in both those games as part of a five-game unbeaten run which has seen them pushing for a top-10 finish as the season draws to a close. Everton have enjoyed a considerable upturn in form themselves though, fighting back from an injury-hampered start to the campaign to mount a challenge for a place in Europe. David Moyes’ side have drawn their last three games - against Wolves, West Ham and Aston Villa - where they might have won, but they are undefeated in seven and have beaten both Chelsea and United since Christmas. “While Everton are not in the top four, they are the in-form team in the Premier League at the moment,” Allardyce said. “I think David has lost only two in 19 Premier League games. I watched them at Wolves away and they should have won that game comfortably, missing chances on the day, and I watched them at Villa on Wednesday night. “I’m thinking this game is going to be as tough as the Manchester United and Chelsea ones.” Allardyce earmarked Tim Cahill as a danger, saying: “He is a very determined player who is very brave. He will need some careful attention, in the box particularly.”
Come and see the Everton FC’s end of season awards
Apr 17 2010 Liverpool Echo
IT is the most glamorous night in Everton's calendar. The fifth annual End of Season Awards will take place at Liverpool Cathedral on May 4 on a night when you can join the great and good to celebrate the individual achievements of players and staff over the 2009/10 campaign. Last season's big winner was Phil Jagielka, the centre back scooping both the Player of the Season and Players' Player of the Season awards. Tickets cost from £150 + VAT. For more information on prices and packages call our corporate sales team on 0151 530 5300. Doors at Liverpool Cathedral will open at 7pm.
GREG O'KEEFFE: When Everton FC had battle for the boardroom
Apr 17 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
WITH the issue of club ownership suddenly such a loaded one in other clubs not a million miles away, it’s interesting to delve back into Everton’s past and learn about our own upheaval. A Blue called Jamie Yates stumbled across an article about the tumultuous boardroom changes at Goodison in the 1920s while researching his family’s Scottish heritage. Jamie posted the Glasgow Evening Times article (bylined mysteriously as ‘The Watchman’) on the popular Toffeeweb site, but I’ll reproduce some of it here; ‘Have the Everton Football Club reached the end of their internal dissensions? To some, such a question may seem strange, but this famous football club has had a most curious history. ‘It is clear as crystal that some sinister influences have checked the progress of Everton from a playing point of view. ‘In spite of themselves, Everton have become a wealthy company. Never have they really been short of money. Their club is a big estate. They not only own the freehold of their arena and “appurtenances thereunto belonging” (is not this the legal phrase?), but a street of houses and shops adjoining. ‘Once there was a church, or chapel, or at any rate a place of worship, on their property. But they did not think it within their province to be the landlords of a holy ground. All they really required was a football ground – quite a different piece of earth. There could be no stronger evidence of the riches of Everton than the fact that during the war they could borrow, without the least trouble, £6000 to complete the purchase of more property. ‘Yet, in spite of their resources, Everton have twice only been champions of the League, and have once captured the Cup which represents so much to the English football public.
‘The honours which have been won have never satisfied the shareholders, who believe that much more ought to have been accomplished. They think that Everton ought to have been a club with a record akin to that of Aston Villa. ‘Everton was born in the atmosphere of dissension. The ground which is now occupied by Liverpool was the home of Everton. That enclosure was the property of the late Ald. Houlding, sometime Lord Mayor of Liverpool. ‘Differences arose between some of his coadjutors and Ald. Houlding, who remained on his own pasture and called the club Liverpool – in spite of the protest of the Liverpool Rugby club. ‘The dissentients walked to the other side of a public park, and setting up an establishment of their own, determined to retain the title of Everton. Broadly, without filling in the details, that is the true story. ‘Ever since this split there has been an atmosphere of criticism round about Goodison Park. ‘It would be a long story to narrate in detail. Nor is it worth while. What has occurred is that the shareholders, dissatisfied with the directorate and their policy, and their rarely successful team from a playing point of view, banded themselves together into a little association. ‘At first they had no power at all; they had no effect on the management. ‘But for ten or twelve years, men keenly interested in the club have been purchasing every share in the Everton Club they could get hold of. This movement became known as a syndicate. The Everton syndicate is now notorious in Liverpool. ‘Gradually they gained power. They gave as much as £3 15s for a £1 share which could not pay them more than 5 per cent, and even now not more than 7½ per cent. But the syndicate were not eager for wealth. ‘The aim was power – power to rule the club. Slowly but surely the syndicate got so many shares in their possession that they began to return one nominee to the directorate’.
Everton FC’s John Heitinga happy to meet fans
THERE were more than a few hearts in mouths when John Heitinga hit the turf in pain on Wednesday night. Evertonians immediately fear the worst over any injury to one of their influential players these days. It has become a learned reaction.
This generation of supporters must know more than any other about the intricacies of the anterior cruciate knee ligament, or the metatarsal. So it’s heartening to hear that the Dutchman has a chance of making an immediate return against Blackburn today.
His popularity among supporters grows with each commanding performance.
You only had to see how many fans turned up to meet him at a promotional event for Everton’s sponsor Chang at Tesco in Old Swan on Monday. Chang are in the middle of a concerted attempt to push their Thai beer on a thirsty Liverpool summer market, and Heitinga patiently answered questions and posed for pictures with his public. He seemed less enthused about chatting to the press in the middle of the checkout aisle.
But even the stoney-faced midfielder destroyer had to crack a smile, when one young Kopite who had followed his blue pals to the event out of curiosity, scampered after him when the signing was over and shouted: “Come to Liverpool lad. You’d get a game.”
BARRY HORNE: Everton FC boss David Moyes was right to be sceptical about Portsmouth
Apr 17 2010 by Barry Horne, Liverpool Echo
ALTHOUGH David Moyes’ comments regarding Portsmouth’s intention to apply for a place in Europe next year were made when Everton still had an outside chance of clinching seventh spot, they were clearly not made from a selfish point of view.
His comments were considered and made in a more general context.
Portsmouth failed to make an application in the allotted time, which is sufficient reason to rule them out. With all the problems the FA have had this season, the last thing they would surely want to do is to invite more criticism of being weak and failing to show strong leadership of clubs in administration. If they were to recommend to UEFA that a club which has been so patently mismanaged should represent English football, they would be inviting ridicule. Andrew Andronikou, the club administrator, has a duty to do the best he can for the club and he seems like a man who knows what he is doing. But at the moment he can’t even guaran- tee that Portsmouth will be in a position to take their place in any competition next year, let alone one of foot- ball’s elite competitions. On the subject of Portsmouth, much has been spoken about their long suffering fans. I played for the club in the late 80s in the old First Division and there’s no doubt they are a fantastic group of supporters.
But while they are suffering, one player seems likely to suffer more than anyone as a result of the club’s plight. Aroune Dindane is unlikely to be allowed to play in the FA Cup final because one more appearance would trigger a payment to his parent club Lens. Under the circumstances Lens have got absolutely no chance of getting any money from Portsmouth anyway, yet are still refusing to waive the appearance payment. That is a disgraceful attitude.
David Moyes must play Yakubu through his lean spell
THE return of Tim Cahill to the kind of goalscoring form we have become ccustomed in the past four or five years is good news for Everton. But the performances of Yakubu must be of some concern. Since his return from injury he hasn’t shown the anything like the clinical form in front of goal which he has consistently displayed throughout his career. He is not a player who seems to suffer from a lack of confidence so it must be a lack of sharpness. With a European place now looking beyond us, David Moyes should use The Yak as much as possible.
Whilst playing first team football is not an ideal way to get fit, under the circumstances, the four games could be used to improve his sharpness ahead of his World Cup adventure. If so there’s no reason he shouldn’t return next season back to his best. * WHEN I was chairman of the PFA we were constantly fighting for a more even distribution of monies from the top through the leagues. The decision this week therefore to spread paracghute payments for relegated clubs over a longer period is to be applauded. This is something which should hjave been done many, many years ago.
Everton FC boss David Moyes looks on the plus side of potential European wash-out
Apr 17 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
PHIL NEVILLE bristles at the concept, Diniyar Bilyaletdinov refuses to even consider it, and the perma-smiling Yakubu frowns at the notion. The idea that missing out on Europa League football next season could benefit Everton’s Premier League form is not a popular one at the Blues’ Finch Farm training ground. It is not something David Moyes particularly likes to think about either, but the forward-thinking boss is aware of the potential benefits if the worst case scenario emerged. But as he prepares his side for their Ewood Park clash with Blackburn Rovers today, he accepts that clubs like Manchester City have flourished without the extra commitment of European involvement. “If we had not had the Europa League this season then it would have helped, because we didn't have the players available at the start of the season when it was our toughest period,” he says. “ In September and October we found it a slog, we were in Europe and trying to win in the Premier League with very few players at the time. “If we don't qualify, then we will try to use it as an advantage. “It is tough dealing with European commitments. But it's been good for us, we enjoy it and we want to be there again. The players have had a great run to try and make it happen.
“I've got no problems with what the players have been doing to get there.”
Yet despite his side conceding a morale-crushing late goal against Aston Villa on Wednesday which dented their faint hopes of finishing seventh, Moyes refuses to rule out a return to the continent. “We are behind it and would need somebody to slip up for us to have any chance of getting there,” he says. “Some of the teams above us have difficult games to play but then so do we.” Suggestions that the Everton boss might have to persuade some of his stars to stay if European football was not on the agenda are wide of the mark, he insists. “I feel confident, yes. The players know we have a good team. I'm confident we will be a strong side next season. “Nobody has said to me that if we don't get to Europe, then they want to leave. “If we miss out on Europe, some might say we won't have that distraction. I'd sooner have it. But if we don't, then we'll fully focus on the league.” In the past Moyes has insisted that European football has helped him grow as a manager, but he maintains his motivation will not falter without it either. “We have a good side and while I don't want to put any pressure on us next year, but if we have everybody fit then I think we can challenge for the top places. “But if we don't get into Europe, we don't. The league table doesn't lie. Whether it's injuries or bad play, we can only take the position we have.
“You can't ensure that you don't get injuries, we are without Fellaini and Gosling for the start of next season and last year we had four in that situation. We just have to try and make sure we deal with a situation like that better, but there's no guarantee we can do that. “You need a stronger squad to help cope with that, but I think we have quite a good strong one.” Moyes admits that if his team are going to win their remaining four games, they must cease a growing habit of conceding late goals. “I'm a little concerned that we've let it slip in the last few games,” he says. “But the West Ham goal was a fantastic ball and header that was really difficult to handle, and the Villa goal was unfortunate. We were maybe a bit naive, we were going for a third and perhaps we could have been a bit more clever and seen it out.” That aim will be bolstered as ever by Tim Howard, a player Moyes cannot praise highly enough, despite the American’s error for Villa’s 92-minute equaliser courtesy of a Phil Jagielka own goal which Howard failed to stop crossing the line. “Tim has been incredibly consistent throughout the year,” he says. “I'd be struggling to think of one goal this season when he has been solely to blame.” But will he consider a new contract for Howard along with proposed new deals for Jack Rodwell, Leighton Baines and Steven Pienaar? “He has two more years to go. He is one we will consider, but it's not pressing right now. He's 30. We're comfortable with it at the moment,” he says. Moyes has similar support for Jagielka, and insists he does not look like he needs a rest despite being thrust quickly back into the team after a 12-month lay-off.
“I have to decide if he needs a breather yet,” he says. “I thought he was good against Villa despite the own goal. He dealt with Agbonlahor and Carew in the main. If he keeps his training up and his edge, then he'll be fine. “He certainly has a chance of making the World Cup, if England have been watching him.”
Everton FC boss David Moyes: I have to find more bargains like Tim Cahill
Apr 17 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
DAVID Moyes today admitted he might have to trawl the transfer market for another bargain like Tim Cahill to bolster his fight for the top four next season.
The Blues boss accepts that he is likely to have a limited budget this summer, and must try to unearth the next Cahill or Arteta instead of spending big like rivals.
Moyes signed Cahill, who scored twice in mid-week against Aston Villa from Milwall for £1.5m in 2004, and Arteta for £2m the following summer. Although he has gone on to break the club transfer record with his £15m capture of Marouane Fellaini two seasons ago, Moyes has generally been forced to shop in the bargain and loan end of the market. But the Scot does not believe that failing to qualify for the Europe League would have any impact on his recruitment plans. He said: “I think we're in a better position now than four years ago, and that in itself should make it easier to attract players even if we don't qualify for Europe. “But unless we have big, big money to spend, unless you are talking about £15m-20m players, I think the kind of players we are looking at would be happy to sign for Everton. “We are looking for somebody that can make a difference at the top end, and we might not find that. “We might have finance to do more. But at the moment, bringing in one or two would be good for the squad.”
Top six is tough to emulate, says Blackburn Rovers boss
12:00pm Saturday 17th April 2010 Lancashire Telegraph
SAM Allardyce believes David Moyes’ ‘slowly but surely’ approach at Everton is the only model to follow at Ewood Park, but fears copying his pal’s European exploits could always prove a step too far. The Blackburn Rovers boss was in bullish mood as his side look to upset another Premier League high flyer this afternoon, with Everton visitors to Ewood, but admits defying the financial odds over 38 games could be a step too far. Home draws against Manchester United and Arsenal this season have already shown Allardyce’s rejuvenated Rovers can mix it with the best and they will be hoping to strike against Europa League chasing Everton. But, as they look to secure a top 10 finish, Allardyce fears the ‘top clubs’ are growing ever more powerful and fears Rovers’ own financial limitations will stop them achieving their dreams.
He said: “We had the same blueprint at Bolton. “David Moyes has grown the club very, very well. “When he has had year on year limited finance it has been spent very wisely and he has been in a position where he doesn’t have to sell anyone unless he wants to – or unless the money is that good, like Rooney and Lescott, that is he is able to go out in the world market and improve the squad. “I think you have to understand the growth of the Premier League and I mean the growth of some benefactors who are deciding they will come into a football club and spend the sort of monies Aston Villa have spent, Manchester City have spent. “I went to watch Aston Villa play in midweek and I counted £100m worth of players. Everton have done it as well now.
“They have grown gradually over David’s years but they have started paying £16m and double figures for players. “Liverpool have constantly spent £100m plus and we are never going to compete at that level now. We are on a plus basis on transfers not a minus. As a football club we get more money in for players than we spend.
“We are in a very difficult situation in that the recent history of this football club is very difficult to emulate because of the financial situation we are now under – compared to the millions Jack had wanting to make Blackburn Rovers one of the only four clubs to have ever won the title.” While Allardyce fears qualifying for Europe is unlikely in the near future, he isn’t about to stop shooting for the stars and hopes Rovers’ youth can help to prove him wrong. He has nothing but praise for the sound financial footing the club is run on and insists from the youth level up is the only way to bridge that financial gap. He said: “It is very good from a business point of view, £32m in this year and £14m out, but you have to understand that is bound to detract from the position we can finish in the league. “This club is very well run though, it can take a little risk, but it is a calculated risk and it has paid off in the last 10 years.
“Our situation is we have got young players growing in the team which makes the club very, very strong for the future and that makes it very important to trying to achieve our European dreams or cup dreams. “It has the chance in a year or two, if those players develop, that could help us grow from a league position point of view.”
With Rovers currently up for sale, with talks ongoing all the time, many fans still dream of a rich backer coming in to help Rovers’ battle against the financial odds. Allardyce though warns ‘don’t expect too much’ after admitting the ‘credit crunch’ has made football less than attractive for investors. He said: “I think the world economy has killed the vibrant focus on football. In terms of lots of people were very interested in buying lots and lots of football clubs three years ago until the crash happened. “Three years ago the wealth of the world was so great that buying football clubs was the attractive thing to do. Now it is not quite so attractive.
“It us like everything else though, if you put something up for sale for long enough someone will buy it.”
Everton FC keep Europa League hopes alive with last gasp win against Blackburn Rovers - Greg O'Keefe's verdict
Apr 17 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON kept their hopes of Europa League football alive with a pulsating 3-2 victory over Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park. The Blues twice took the lead only to be pegged back by Sam Allardyce’s impressive side. It seemed as if a draw was inevitable when Jason Roberts equalized on 80 minutes, especially given the Blues’ run of frustrating draws. But an inspired substitution by David Moyes had seen Yakubu replace Tony Hibbert, and the Yak scored one and then set up Everton’s late late winner for Tim Cahill. The Blues had started the livelier of the two teams in the Lancastrian sunshine. In the third minute Mikel Arteta twisted and turned inside the Blackburn box superbly, dummied Ryan Nelsen and drew the lunge which saw Andre Marriner point straight to the spot. The Spaniard stroked calmly home. Everton, who were without Leon Osman and Jack Rodwell., were thriving thanks to Arteta’s confidence. He then tried his luck with a free-kick from 30-yards after Steven Pienaar, who else?, won a foul following an extended period of keep-ball from Everton.
Blackburn eventually broke forward to mount an attack of their own and almost scored when the ball zipped about Everton’s congested area and Tim Cahill eventually cleared a header off the line. Then the normally serene Arteta almost got himself sent off, when he responded to a niggling challenge from Morten Gamst Pedersen by poking the Danish midfielder in the eye. Fortunately for the Blues, Marriner decided only to book the pair. Blackburn almost seized upon a similar opportunity to their opening chance with 15 minutes gone. More head-tennis in the Everton box saw the ball fail to be cleared with any conviction and Tim Howard had to be at his best to catch under pressure. Sam Allardyce’s team asserted themselves more as the half wore on and showed creative flashes from Olsson and Dunn. Then a minute before the boreal Olsson’s half-volley looked goal-bound but for a crucial block from Neville.
Rovers appealed half heartedly for a penalty when Dunn was out-muscled in the area immediately afterwards. The hosts were ending the half with dominance, and had forced Moyes’ men on the defensive. Keith Andrews drilled a shot straight at Howard from range which the American almost spilled. Then Everton broke but Bilyaletdinov wasted his opportunity from Louis Saha’s through ball. Despite the Toffee’s opening zest, Rovers were enjoying the better of the possession and chances on target.
The second period resumed scrappily, until Everton created the chance of the game. Arteta, who was gradually beginning to make his side tick again, fed Hibbert and the right-back’s cross was the perfect height for Cahill. It was the type of delivery which normally sees the Aussie make the net bulge, but for once he got his header wrong and tamely nudged it into Paul Robinson’s arms. Arteta then beat the wall with a dangerous looking free kick which sent Robinson scampering across his line, as the Blues took control. Louis Saha was the next wasteful culprit in front of goal, inexplicably electing to try and play Cahill instead of shooting. Then Pedersen missed an even simpler headed chance than Cahill’s, and was promptly substituted for Jason Roberts. A frantic see-saw pace was developing, as both sides enjoyed chances. Leighton Baines almost cracked the post in two when he lashed a first time half volley at goal. Then Blackburn’s gangly French midfielder Steven Nzonzi went one better. The £400,000 youngster unleashed a scorcher from 30 yards which was still swerving as it flashed past Howard into the corner of the goal. Everton’s recent habit of allowing teams back into games had struck again. It almost got worse too – Ryan Nelsen’s header from a Blackburn set-piece just dropped over the bar. But David Moyes can rarely have made more timely substitutions than his next one. With the points on the brink of slipping away, Moyes gambled. He replaced Hibbert with Yakubu and the Nigerian’s first touch was to head home Victor Anichebe’s flick-on from a Leighton Baines throw. The lead lasted all of two minutes. Blackburn took a throw in, former Real Madrid Galactico Michel Salgado flicked the ball on, and Jason Roberts took advantage of Sylvain Distin’s woeful positioning to outstrip him and fire past Howard. It looked like Everton’s faint hopes of securing European football were over. The draw was simply not enough to give them any hope of catching Villa.
But as full time loomed, the Blues continued to press patiently. Steven Pienaar crossed deep into the area and Blackburn’s clearance fell to Leighton Baines who slipped a delightful pass to Yakubu. The Nigerian’s flick past Salgado was even better and then he showed terrific composure to resist the urge to shoot and instead side-foot for Cahill to tap in.
Everton: Howard, Hibbert, (Yakubu, 77) Jagielka, Distin, Baines, Neville, Arteta, Bilyaletdinov (Anichebe, 68), Pienaar, Cahill, Saha (Yobo, 90). Subs not used: Turner, Wallace, Yakubu, Yobo, Senderos, Duffy.
Blackburn Rovers: Robinson, Givet, Nelsen, Nzonzi, Olsson, Andrews (Hoilett, 70), Kalinic, Salgado, Jones, Pedersen (Roberts, 63), Dunn. Subs not used: Brown, Grella, Basturk, Di Santo, Chimbonda.
Referee: Andre Marriner.
FULL TIME: Blackburn Rovers 2 Everton 3
5:03pm Saturday 17th April 2010 The Lancashire Telegraph
TIM Cahill broke Blackburn Rovers' hearts at Ewood Park this afternoon after his 90th minute strike earned Everton a thrilling 3-2 victory. Jason Roberts thought he had rescued Blackburn Rovers a valuable point with a 20 yard volley on 81 minutes to cancel out Ayegbeni Yakubu's header. Cahill though popped up with seconds remaining to tap home Yakubu's cross from close range to keep alive their slim European hopes. Earlier Steven Nzonzi had scored his first ever Premier League goal at Ewood with a spectacular 30-yard strike to cancel out Mikel Arteta's third minute penalty. Rovers suffered the worst start possible on just three minutes when a rash tackle by skipper Ryan Nelsen on Mikel Arteta left referee Mr Marriner no option but to point to the penalty spot. Arteta, who was expected to miss the game through injury, dusted himself down to fire home the penalty to give Everton the early lead.
The visitors showed why they are one of the Premier League's form sides as they got the ball down to play some neat football – but it was Rovers who could have been level on 11 minutes. Morten Gamst Pedersen's right wing corner was flicked on by Keith Andrews' head, after Tim Howard's weak punch, but Nikola Kalinic's close range volley was blocked by the American goalkeeper with Tim Cahill able to hack clear with Dunn waiting to pounce. Marriner was at the centre of the action again on 19 and how he didn't brandish the red card to Arteta remains a mystery. The midfielder seemed to poke Pedersen in the eye, after taking offence to a slight trip by the Norwegian, but incredibly the referee opted to caution both players. Kalinic was inches away from converting Pedersen's corner on the half hour mark, while Olsson had a strike blocked on the line as Rovers' dominated the last 20 minutes of the half.
Everton came out of the blocks the quicker after the break and could have seen their lead doubled, with Cahill heading over the bar and Arteta having a 20-yard free-kick saved by Robinson. Leighton Baines' 67th minute volley struck the outside of the post from 25 yards before Rovers got themselves level through the most unlikely candidate. Nzonzi picked the ball up 40 yards out from goal on 69 minutes, beat his man, and then curled a wonderful 30-yard strike past goalkeeper Howard to bring the home crowd to life. Rovers were suddenly rampant, with Dunn winning challenges in the heart of the midfield, Phil Jones again driving the side on from the back and Olsson a constant threat on the flanks. Nelsen headed over the bar with little more than 10 minutes remaining, but the hosts were behind again on 80 when Yakubu headed home Baines' long throw with his first touch after being brought on as a substitute. A minute later though Rovers were level again as Roberts raced on to Salgado's flick forward and brilliantly volleyed home from 20 yards.
But Cahill was to have the last word leaving Rovers fans deflated but proud of their side's brave effort.
Blackburn 2, Everton FC 3: Last gasp goal keeps European dream alive
Apr 19 2010 by Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily Post
IT wasn’t just Morten Gamst Pedersen who got one in the eye at Ewood Park on Saturday. The Norwegian was on the receiving end of a finger-jabbing from Mikel Arteta, but it was the whole of the Blackburn Rovers team that suffered at the hands of the mercurial Spaniard and his Everton team-mates. And with it came a reminder to the clubs above them of how David Moyes’s side are refusing to give up their quest for European qualification without an almighty fight. What a difference four days makes. After the heartbreak of Phil Jagielka’s last-gasp own goal at Villa Park, on this occasion it was Everton’s turn to benefit from an injury-time intervention.
For the third time in a week, Tim Cahill, the perennial ‘Johnny on the spot’ for Moyes, proved the right man in the right place at the right moment. But for once, the Australian had to cede centre stage in the headline-grabbing stakes. Step forward Yakubu. The Nigerian can polarise opinion among the most balanced group of Everton supporters and has struggled to regain his form this season after missing almost 10 months with a serious Achilles injury. But at the weekend Yakubu demonstrated why he retains the faith of his manager – by being fed and doing the feeding himself. With Everton on the verge of somehow throwing away another two points, the striker was introduced from the bench with 12 minutes remaining.
Barely seconds later, he had equalised with his first touch, nodding in from close range after fellow substitute Victor Anichebe flicked on a long throw by Leighton Baines from the left flank. As the proverbial inspired substitution, it would take some beating – although to be fair, Blackburn would have found it hard to completely pick up Yakubu’s run from deep considering it started from the bench. Then, in stoppage time, with the visitors having been pegged back again and heading for a damaging fourth successive draw, Yakubu showed a cool head and an unselfish attitude to sidestep a rash challenge from young Blackburn defender Phil Jones, make his way to the byline and cross low for Cahill to prod home the winner in front of the ecstatic travelling support. Phew. Even in success, Everton continue to live up to their reputation of doing things the hard way. Although still reliant on either Aston Villa or neighbours Liverpool slumping dramatically during the closing weeks in pursuit of seventh place and the final Europa League berth, Moyes’s men are keeping their side of the bargain. One down, three to go. Saturday’s trip to Blackburn was always likely to be the most difficult task – only Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur had previously won away at Ewood Park in the Premier League this season – and the confidence of this triumph will surely carry them through their less-than-intimidating remaining games against Fulham, Stoke City and Portsmouth. Everton’s efforts will be boosted by the presence of Arteta, the Spaniard a surprise and welcome starter at the weekend after sitting out the previous three games through injury. His 19th-minute flashpoint with Pedersen, in which he took exception to a spiteful challenge by the niggly Norwegian by prodding him in the cheek and then the eye, could easily have prematurely curtailed his afternoon had referee Andre Marriner taken a more stern view. The Spaniard had already earned and converted the penalty from which Everton took a fourth-minute lead, found at the far post by Diniyar Bilyaletdinov’s cross and then coaxing Ryan Nelsen into a clear lunging foul before coolly sending Paul Robinson the wrong way from the spot – his fifth goal in as many games. It set the tone for a trademark Arteta display, his passing and clever movement dovetailing with that of fellow midfielders Cahill and Steven Pienaar, and particularly effective during an opening quarter in which Blackburn barely touched the ball. Not bad considering the Spanish schemer is actually playing with a small tear in his groin he had initially feared would rule him out for the remainder of the campaign. A risk worth taking, it’s that level of commitment throughout the squad that has helped Everton construct a remarkable run of just two defeats in 21 league games. Indeed, Saturday’s victory was achieved without injured trio John Heitinga, Leon Osman and Jack Rodwell, who joined long-term absentees Marouane Fellaini and Dan Gosling on the sidelines.
It meant a first appearance for Tony Hibbert since January after spending the last six games as an unused substitute following his return to fitness from a hernia operation.
Hibbert, as he does so regularly, fitted in seamlessly at right-back with a minimum of fuss, underlining the strength in depth Moyes is keen to retain and improve during the summer transfer window. There were some warning signs, however. Not much could be done about Steven Nzonzi’s spectacular 69th-minute leveller, the young French midfielder accepting a pass from David Dunn before shrugging off an Arteta challenge and thumping into the top corner from 25 yards. But the same could not be said about Blackburn’s second equaliser 12 minutes later. A long ball was helped on by Nikola Kalinic to substitute Jason Roberts, who was given time and space by a hesitant Sylvain Distin to smash home from range. It’s an impossible task to keep having to score three goals to win a game – this was the sixth time in the last 10 games Everton have conceded at least twice – but the pressing need for victories has inevitably led to a more expansive game and more gaps at the back. That said, the goals conceded were all the more galling given how well Moyes’s men had defended the inevitable barrage of Blackburn set-pieces and long throws, Tim Howard largely dominating his area and otherwise aided by resourceful blocks from Cahill and Hibbert. Everton, though, had other chances of their own, most notably when Baines rattled Robinson’s right-hand post with a 20-yard screamer. It was struck so hard the Ewood Park woodwork probably continues to reverberate this morning – much like Everton’s European aspirations.
Blackburn 2, Everton FC 3: Greg O'Keeffe sees the Blues show silky skills to keep Euro dream alive
Apr 19 2010 Greg O'Keeffe Liverpool Echo
HIS European dream about to take flight one minute, and then indefinitely grounded again the next, David Moyes knows exactly how those stranded holidaymakers across Europe feel. But it’s not a cloud of volcanic ash which is frustrating the Toffees’ manager, rather those infuriating draws which have cost him dearly in this intriguing end to the season, as the Premier League table fluctuates more than the FTSE.
Everton nipped the drawing habit in the bud against Blackburn, but must still rely on the mistakes of others for Europa League qualification. Aston Villa’s progress survived, just, unchecked yesterday, nudging the Midlanders again tantalisingly out of reach. Suddenly it is Liverpool who the Blues must try to overhaul, their neighbours dropping into seventh place with a game in hand and two points ahead.
It could be a harder task once again if Benitez’s side defeat West Ham tonight.
Yet, if the chips do not fall in their favour, Everton cannot consider this season a failure. Something has changed irrevocably with Everton’s standing in the top flight of British football. No longer is there a hint of condescension when their style of football is discussed. For so long, opposition managers, pundits and players have spoken of the Toffees ceaseless work rate, their unity, their efficiency. It was all well and good, but being tough to beat grafters has never been the true curriculum of the School of Science. Football, in its purest form, has – and this season has seen David Moyes’ side arrive as a consistently stylish footballing outfit. Paul Merson compared Everton’s passing in the first 15 minutes against Blackburn on Saturday to Barcelona or Arsenal. Praise indeed. Perhaps the ex Arsenal man was getting a little carried away, but there is evidence to support his sentiment. The displays which vanquished Manchester City and United at Goodison, and then Chelsea, not to mention a classy point at the Emirates were significant. Hull City’s players will not care to recall their dismantling either. Sam Allardyce is never one to mince his words, and his verdict? “One of the best team’s in the division”. Ask Roy Hodgson. He wants to mould his aspirant Fulham side in the same style of Everton. Even Martin O’Neill had to praise the Blues after his side just about grabbed a point in their own backyard last week.
So with Mikel Arteta making his second coming of the season at Ewood Park, once again the Blues’ football sparkled. At times Blackburn could barely live with it. The Spaniard won and then converted the opener. His fluidity of movement in midfield, combined with the intelligence of Pienaar, seemed to have the Lancastrians running scared. Yet, they were not unbeaten at home since January – and only on three occasions all season - without reason. Rovers are defensively solid, and in Dunn and Pedersen they possess a creative outlet of their own. Sublime as he was, Arteta should have worked harder to prevent Steven N’Zonzi going past him, but the young Frenchman’s 30-yard rocket was hard to legislate for. Everton’s normally serene magician was luck to still be on the pitch too. His out of character response to a niggling challenge from Morten Gamst Pedersen by poking the Danish midfielder in the eye, was foolish. The point was no good, so Moyes gambled with thrilling positivity. Enter Yakubu and within seconds of the Nigerian’s introduction, Everton’s lead was restored. His run for that crucial headed goal started from the bench.
Then lightening struck again. Rovers were not feeling sorry for themselves, and when Sylvain Distin allowed Jason Roberts to creep the wrong side of him, the striker did the rest, dispatching a marvellous finish. Pegged back at the last minute again, would Everton lapse? Instead with the clock ticking down they carried on playing patient football. Steven Pienaar’s wicked cross was headed clear, and Leighton Baines’ calmly slipped the ball to Yakubu. The flick and burst past his marker which followed was impressive enough, but the maturity to square for Cahill to tap in was even better.
For his part, three goals in a week reminded everyone of Tim Cahill’s potency and why he is indulged in that special position just behind a lone forward. Notably it was another victory without key players. John Heitinga didn’t recover from his ankle injury at Villa Park, and Leon Osman was absent. Everton have strength in depth though. Tony Hibbert was faultless on his return to the side, as Phil Neville filled Heitinga's boots admirably in a role he is comfortable in. There is nothing Everton can do about the results around them. Instead they must continue to stick by their principles and have faith in their passing and movement. With Marouane Fellaini back in this squad, David Moyes can do something very special next season.Everton could credibly go from being considered similar to the top sides, to actually jostling with them for the Champions League. For now though, Moyes must continue to scan the departure board and hope that Liverpool or Villa falter while his team flourish.
EVERTON: Howard, Hibbert, (Yakubu, 77) Jagielka, Distin, Baines, Neville, Arteta, Bilyaletdinov (Anichebe, 68), Pienaar, Cahill, Saha (Yobo, 90). Not used: Turner, Wallace, Yakubu, Yobo, Senderos, Duffy.
BLACKBURN ROVERS: Robinson, Givet, Nelsen, Nzonzi, Olsson, Andrews (Hoilett, 70), Kalinic, Salgado, Jones, Pedersen (Roberts, 63), Dunn. Not used: Brown, Grella, Basturk, Di Santo, Chimbonda.
REFEREE: Andre Marriner
'There's still a long way to go in European race' - Everton FC boss David Moyes
Apr 19 2010
MANAGER David Moyes concedes Everton have a “long way to go” in the race for the final European place but has urged his side to win their remaining three matches to keep the pressure on Aston Villa. A last-minute Tim Cahill goal clinched a vital 3-2 win at Blackburn yesterday to end a run of three successive draws and stretch their unbeaten Barclays Premier League run to eight matches. Everton are now just two points behind sixth-placed Liverpool, who play West Ham tomorrow, but Moyes knows the priority has to be overhauling Villa, who after today’s Birmingham derby will still have a match in hand. “They’ve got games in hand so it is in their hands to lose but we’ve just to keep going,” said the Scot. “I knew we had to win if we were going to have any chance of qualifying for Europe. “We’ve got a long way to go. All we can do is show that we want to try to win. “We’ve got two games at home and one away and we’ve got to try to keep it going and see what we can do.” It appeared Everton were destined for a fourth successive draw after twice conceding the lead at Ewood Park despite getting off to a flying start with Mikel Arteta’s fourth-minute penalty when the Spaniard was brought down by Ryan Nelsen. Arteta was lucky not to be sent off for poking Morten Gamst Pedersen in the eye midway through the first half but it was Blackburn’s battling spirit which saw them equalise after the break through Steven Nzonzi’s 30-yard drive. Even when Ayegbeni Yakubu restored their advantage with his first touch after coming off the bench in the 78th minute Jason Roberts’ smart finish from the edge of the penalty area levelled things up two minutes later.
Despite some impressive play Moyes had resigned himself to the draw when Yakubu found space on the left of the area to cross for Cahill to tap in – his first non-headed league strike in his last 12 goals. “We’ve been playing like this for a month or two now and I don’t know how we’ve not won more games,” said the Everton boss.
“When we’ve got them all fit we’ve got a great side, I really do think that.
“I had a decision as to whether to play Yak or Louis Saha. I’d started Yak in midweek (against Villa) so decided to go with Louis. “Those forwards are beginning to get one or two goals for me now. “Sometimes we play them together but I’ve not really needed to because we’ve been playing that well. “But we’ve got to learn not to give ourselves so much hard work once we’re in front, we’ve got to learn how to win it.”
Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce was bitterly disappointed not to have taken something from the game after two wonder goals, of which Nzonzi is determined to play a major part. The 21-year-old French midfielder has become a key player in Allardyce’s plans having since signing from Amiens in June 2009. “We are a new bunch of people together; some of the players have been here a while but most of the staff have been turned around to build a new era at Blackburn and that takes time under the financial restrictions we’ve got,” said Allardyce “I think we are way ahead with our work in progress to what should be expected. “We know our good, experienced players will stand us in good stead but it is our young players which is the more exciting thing for the future. “Nzonzi is my player of the year, no doubt. His resilience and endurance, coming from a relegated side in France, is a wonderful achievement for any player coming into the Premier League for the first time from abroad never mind one who was 20 when he arrived. “He has had an outstanding season for us and where we thought he would be playing five or 10 games with more experienced players like Vince Grella, Keith Andrews or David Dunn playing more he has completely dominated that position.” “It is a big surprise. He has had a wonderful season, what we must guard against is him thinking he has made it because he still has a long way to go to becoming an outstanding Premier League player - but he has certainly got off to a fantastic start.”
Leighton Baines - Everton FC now getting the respect they deserve
Apr 19 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
LEIGHTON BAINES believes Everton are being treated like a top four club by opponents since their return to form and fitness in January. The defender, who played a crucial part in the last-gasp winner during a 3-2 victory at Ewood Park, claims the Toffees are finally getting the recognition they deserve for the quality of their football.
Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce insisted that David Moyes’ men are one of the best teams in the Premier League before kick-off on Saturday, and Baines is pleased at how perceptions of the Blues have shifted. He said: “It’s definitely something I’ve noticed. When we played well against Arsenal, Arsene Wenger was very complimentary of us after what we did against them, and Martin O’Neill spoke highly of us after the Villa game on Wednesday. “People are very much aware of us. We find teams come to Goodison now and pack the midfield and try and make it hard for us to play. “We’re trying to find ways to get around that and play our football. We’re trying to get around it in the right way, and go in the right direction. With a fully fit squad next season we’ll have a good go.” Everton’s task in trying to secure a seventh-place finish now entails victories over three sides below them with little to play for.
But the England left-back insists they must be at their best if they are to take the maximum nine points on offer, and need to stop surrendering the lead.
He said: “We’ve done it too many times, especially the last couple of games when teams have come back from behind and we’ve lost vital points. “It felt like the same old when Blackburn equalised. The story of the last two games. But the lads deserve credit for sticking with it and getting what we deserve. “I think we played some pretty good stuff although Blackburn tested us. It was just a case of not panicking, or trying to put your foot through it to get a goal as time was running out. “We’ve got confidence in what we do. We’re trying to play football the right way and the last goal typified it. We didn’t just start lumping balls. We kept playing, got the extra pass done, and Yak does brilliantly with a great turn and puts it on a plate for Tim.
“This result gave us some hope and something to hold onto. If we’d not won it would have been devastating and probably sees the season begin to peter out. To get the win is really big and gives us something to play for now.” Meanwhile, Tim Cahill’s hailed his 12th goal of the season, which kept Everton’s hope of Europa League qualification alive. “We felt like we needed this win to push for Europe. I’m very confident we can push on again.”
Blackburn Rovers boss: We should have had a point
9:21am Monday 19th April 2010 Lancashire Telegraph
By Andy cryer
BLACKBURN Rovers manager Sam Allardyce was disappointed with his team's uncharacteristically sloppy defending in the 3-2 home defeat to Everton.
Allardyce said: “We knew it was going to be a very tough game by the fact we know Everton are a very good team and the way they started off that was the case.
"For us to be so sloppy defensively was very unlike us and that has been our solid platform to build the results on and that has let us down. “Lo and behold we score two of our best goals of the season and they are wasted today. “When you get those sort of goals you have to make sure you take something from the game and unfortunately our defending today has let us down. "It is only three defeats at home this year but we shouldn’t have lost. “I wish we had made sure we had at least got a point out of the game.”
Arteta: Blackburn Rovers star 'asked' for poke in eye
9:22am Monday 19th April 2010 Lancashire Telegraph
By Andy Cryer
MIKEL Arteta admits he was wrong to poke Morten Gamst Pedersen in the eye – but has accused Rovers’ Norwegian of “asking for it”. Everton’s Spaniard was Saturday afternoon’s star turn at Ewood Park as he inspired David Moyes’ men on to a thrilling 3-2 victory, but could very easily have been the visitors’ villain after a flashpoint with Pedersen. Having already fired Everton into a third minute lead from the penalty spot, Arteta was fortunate to escape a 19th-minute red card after inexplicably reacting to a tame trip from Pedersen with a blatant finger straight to the eye. Referee Andre Marriner mysteriously booked both players but Arteta admitted after the match he was fortunate get away with it, but insisted Pedersen is no stranger to making bad tackles.
He said: “I probably shouldn’t have reacted like I did but there have been a few times – not just today – when he’s made bad tackles. “I don’t mind it when they’re fair or tough, I accept it with no problem. "But with him it’s different and he knows that – I told him after it today as well. “But I made a mistake, I shouldn’t have reacted and I apologise for it. "I probably got more upset because I was out for so long and don’t want a stupid challenge injuring me again. “I wasn’t even touching the ball, he just trod on my ankle. "It was stupid. If he did it because he wanted me to react then he got what he wanted, which I shouldn’t have done, and I’m sorry for that.” Rovers boss Sam Allardyce was in no doubt Arteta should have seen red, but was not about to use that incident as an excuse for his side’s cruel defeat. The hosts fought back from being behind twice, with glorious strikes from Steven Nzonzi and Jason Roberts, but Tim Cahill was afforded too much space to steal home for an injury-time winner.
Allardyce said: “By the letter of the law, as they say when you talk to the delegates, it is a red card, isn’t it? "In the end it isn’t given but it is the rest of the game we want to talk about." Everton boss David Moyes said: “I’ve had a word with Mikel and told him he can’t do that (the poke in the eye on Pedersen). “He’s not that type of boy but I think, after his injuries, he had quite bad tackle just before that and then that one as well.”
Blackburn Rovers 2 Everton 3: match report
Read a full match report of the Premier League game between Blackburn Rovers and Everton at Ewood Park on Saturday April 17 2010.
As well as the unfortunate Morten Gamst Pedersen, this was one in the eye for those that have doubted Everton’s European hopes. Mikel Arteta scored from the spot with just four minutes gone to take his tally to five goals in five matches.But the Spaniard was lucky to stay on the field after appearing to jab a finger into the corner of Pedersen’s eye. Steven N’Zonzi looked to have snatched a point with a wonderful long-range strike to pull Blackburn Rovers level.However, Yakubu came off the bench and put Everton ahead, only for Jason Roberts to drive in another equaliser. And then Tim Cahill touched in from Yakubu’s cross in the final minute as Everton became the third team to win here all season. David Moyes wasted little time in admonishing Arteta and played down his team’s chances of another European campaign with just three games remaining. "We’ve got a long way to go. All we can do is show that we want to win. We’ve got to try and keep it going and see what we can do," he said. "I’ve had a word with Mikel and said, ‘You can’t do that’. I thought he was magnificent." Moyes had questioned his team’s cutting edge after three straight draws, which Arteta missed with a groin problem, but the Spaniard marked his return to the team with a goal in just the fourth minute. From Diniyar Bilyaletdinov’s deep cross from the left, Arteta took a touch and went over Ryan Nelsen’s desperate lunge in the area for a penalty he converted himself.
Shortly after came the incident with Arteta and Pedersen as the pair argued. He was only shown a yellow card by Andre Marriner, meaning he will not face further censure. After the interval Everton should have put the game beyond the hosts when Cahill headed over and Leighton Baines hit the post. Even after N’Zonzi arrowed a drive into the top corner from distance, Yakubu came on to head home after Victor Anichebe flicked on from Baines’ long throw. But their lead was short-lived as Nikola Kalinic lobbed over the top and Roberts swept the ball into the corner.Still though, there was life in Everton and Yakubu burst into the area, drawing Paul Robinson out, and squared for Cahill to tap in.
Blackburn 2-3 Everton:
The Daily Mirror match report
Published By Jeremy Butler
Mikel Arteta was feeling flush after surviving his poker gamble to turn into Everton’s pocket ace. The midfielder was lucky to stay on the pitch after poking his finger in Morten Gamst Pedersen’s eye as the pair clashed. But instead of being forced to cash in his chips, he finished the day with three precious points in his back pocket.
Arteta then dealt out another attack on the Norwegian after the game, accusing him of a series of cheap-shot tackles that sparked his anger. The fighting talk capped a busy day for Arteta, who started the scoring with a fourth-minute penalty he won himself.
He then ensured Everton had a winning hand by pulling the strings as Yakubu and Tim Cahill secured victory in a thrilling late finale. Wonder goals from Rovers duo Steven N’Zonzi and Jason Roberts were not enough to extend Blackburn’s eight-match unbeaten streak. But Blackburn can rightly point to the fact they would have been playing against 10 men for nearly 70 minutes if ref Andre Marriner had not been so lenient with Arteta. Even the Toffees star admitted: “I probably shouldn’t have reacted like I did but there have been a few times – not just in this game – when he’s made bad tackles. “I don’t mind when they’re fair or tough – I accept it with no problem. But with him it’s different and he knows that. “I shouldn’t have reacted and I apologise for it. I probably got more upset because I was out for so long and don’t want a stupid challenge like that injuring me again. “I wasn’t even touching the ball, he just trod on my ankle. It was stupid. If he did it because he wanted me to react then he got what he wanted.” Everton chief David Moyes took time out from celebrating Cahill’s late winner to lecture Arteta on his behaviour. But it must have been hard for him to discipline a player willing to go through the pain of a torn groin muscle to help the push for Europe. Arteta added: “I was playing with the injury for a few weeks and after the Manchester City game I had a scan, which showed a tear. “They told me I would be out for four to six weeks but I really worked hard and in the end came back after three. “It was a risk but we had to take a risk because if we hadn’t won this game that would have been it for us as far as Europe is concerned. “I said to the gaffer that I’d play if he wanted me to. He said we probably needed to take a risk with it, and it worked.” Arteta’s passing pulled Blackburn apart but it was his quick feet in the fourth minute that set them on their way to victory. He lured defender Ryan Nelsen into a clumsy penalty-box lunge and fired home the resulting spot-kick to end Rovers’ run of five hours without conceding a goal. N’Zonzi responded in the second half with a fierce drive from 20 yards that fizzed past Tim Howard’s despairing dive.
Sub Yakubu headed his side back in front with his first touch to finish off a long-throw routine in the 69th minute. But Roberts levelled almost instantly with a fantastic volley from distance to leave Everton sweating. That was until Cahill popped up in the six-yard box with seconds left to grab his second last-gasp goal in two games. Arteta added: “We dominated and played much better than them, but they’re so dangerous because any free-kicks they get they put right into your box, and they are very hard to defend. “These days we need to score three goals away from home to win the game, so that’s something we have to improve on. “But we’ve won, we’re on a really good run, so let’s see what happens.”
Spurs swoop for Everton midfielder
Published By Mirror Football
Tottenham are pondering a £14m summer move for Everton's Steven Pienaar.
Harry Redknapp already has plenty of attacking options in midfield but is thought to want to the South African to join the likes of Aaron Lennon, Niko Kranjcar and Luka Modric. Spurs know they will need strength in depth if they qualify for the Champions League, but are sure to face strong opposition from Toffees boss David Moyes.
Blackburn 2 Everton 3: Comeback kid Mikel Arteta keeps Toffee's Europe hopes alive
By Richard Gibson
Daily Mail on 19th April 2010
Everton midfielder Mikel Arteta patched himself up to give his side’s lingering European ambitions a shot in the arm — but should have been sent off for a poke in the eye. Arteta offered a midfield masterclass, which was only blotted by his vile response to Morten Gamst Pedersen’s late challenge, as Everton went in front three times against bolshy Blackburn. The first advantage lasted more than an hour after the Spaniard scored his fifth goal of the season from the penalty spot. But it was only a quarter of the way through that stretch when he first jabbed at Pedersen’s cheek and then his right eye: actions which will earn no further punishment because referee Andre Marriner dealt with the incident by booking both players. In apologising for his behaviour, Arteta revealed history with the Blackburn player. ‘ I probably shouldn’t have reacted like I did but there have been a few times — not just here — when he’s made bad tackles. I don’t mind it when they’re fair or tough, I accept it with no problem. But ‘But I made a mistake, I shouldn’t have reacted and I apologise for it. I got more upset because I was out for so long and don’t want a stupid challenge like that injuring me again.’ Arteta was not expected to feature until the final week of the Premier League season after his latest groin tear, incurred on March 24 and still not fully healed. ‘They told me it would be four to six weeks, but I worked hard and in the end came back after three,’ he said. ‘It was a risk but we had to take it because if we hadn’t won, that was it for us in Europe.’ Blackburn has proved as inhospitable as anywhere outside the top three and this was only their third home defeat this season, inflicted when substitute Yakubu nodded in with his first touch after 10 seconds and then teed up Tim Cahill’s tap - in with seconds remaining. The Lancashire club twice levelled in a grand finale with goal-of-themonth contenders. First, Steven Nzonzi fizzed in a 30-yard firecracker and then substitute Jason Roberts rifled one in on the run. Rovers manager Sam Allardyce reckons Nzonzi’s spectacular strike was rich reward for his displays since a swi tch f rom Amiens last summer
Jake Bidwell strike gives Everton FC Under-18s vital draw
Apr 20 2010 by Chris Wright, Liverpool Daily Post
JAKE BIDWELL earned Everton under-18s a point as they drew 1-1 at Barnsley on Saturday. It was the first match for Neil Dewsnip’s side in almost a month Group C sections of the FA Premier Academy League this Saturday at Barnsley this Saturday (kick-off 11am). Neil Dewsnip’s youngsters have not played since the goalless draw with Sheffield United on March 27 due to the break in fixtures for Easter.
And it was a tough afternoon for Everton who couldn’t find a way through the massed ranks of the Barnsley defence. Barnsley just before the break after a goalmouth scramble following a long throw into the box. In the melee the ball went in of Everton defender Zak Thompson. Everton, though, hit back after the break and equalised with 20 minutes remaining. Ross Barkley’s free-kick was deflected to Bidwell, who made no mistake with the finish. Hallam Hope has three chances to grab the points late on. The Barnsley keeper denied him on one effort and the young striker also fired agonisingly across the face of goal in the dying moments. Dewsnip said: “It was a very difficult and frustrating game. “The pitch was very hard and bobbly which made it difficult to get it down and play fluently. “They defended very deep from the first minute. It was like playing a European game really. “They looked to counterattack and had one chance and looked to score from a set-plays, which they did.
“After we equalised we had chances to win. It opened up a little bit.”
Everton are down to third in the Group C table and are now four points behind leaders Manchester United.
EVERTON UNDER-18s: Davies, Thompson (Barrow 60), Barkley, Murphy, Bidwell, Orenuga, Dobie, Donegan, McAleny, Forrester, Hope. Subs: Roberts, Watson, Cummins.
Mikel Arteta’s delight at surprise return from injury for Everton FC at Blackburn
Apr 20 2010 by James Pearce, Liverpool Echo
MIKEL ARTETA has revealed how his determination to get back playing again enabled him to make a surprise return from injury in Everton’s thrilling 3-2 win at Blackburn. The Spanish midfielder had missed the previous three games with a groin problem and looked set to sit out the rest of the season. However, Arteta, who fought back to fitness in January after nearly a year on the sidelines with a knee injury, was desperate not to miss out on the Blues’ push for Europa League qualification.
“I was playing with the injury for a few weeks, and after the Manchester City game I had a scan, which showed a tear,” he said. “They told me it would be four to six weeks, but I really worked hard and in the end came back after three.” Having returned to action earlier than expected, Arteta has admitted he was fortune not to have his season ended by suspension at Ewood Park. He was involved in an ugly spat with Blackburn’s Morten Gamst Pedersen midway through the first half. Arteta appeared to poke his finger in the Norwegian’s eye but referee Andre Marriner opted to only book both players. The Blues star has apologised for losing his temper and knows he could have been dismissed and landed a three-game ban. I probably shouldn’t have reacted like I did but there have been a few times – not just on Saturday – when he’s made bad tackles,” Arteta added. “I don’t mind it when they’re fair or tough, I accept it with no problem. But with him it’s different and he knows that – I told him after it as well. “But I made a mistake, I shouldn’t have reacted and I apologise for it. I probably got more upset because I was out for so long and don’t want a stupid challenge injuring me again. “I wasn’t even touching the ball, he just trod on my ankle. It was stupid. If he did it because he wanted me to react then he got what he wanted, which I shouldn’t have done, and I’m sorry for that.” Meanwhile, Blues striker Lukas Jutkiewicz insists he would be happy to return to Motherwell next season. The 21-year-old has impressed during his season-long loan at Fir Park and has netted 10 league goals in 29 appearances. “I have another year on my contract at Goodison so as far as I’m aware I will go back for pre-season at Everton,” he said.
“But it can all change at any point. I’ve said from the word go I’m happy at Motherwell. And if there was an agreement between the two clubs that would allow me to stay then that would be great. “I feel I’ve improved here. Just playing games will improve you naturally. I feel a lot more confident and game-ready.” Jutkiewicz has been taking painkilling injections in a knee injury in a bid to help Motherwell win a European place and said: “I’ve tried all sorts of things and had a couple of jabs – but it doesn’t seem to be going away.”
Everton star Coleman extends Blackpool loan stay
April 20 2010, Irish Post
By: GRAHAM CLIFFORD
IN a season where Irish players failed to set the Premier League alight the emergence of Seamus Coleman has been something of a revelation. The 21-year-old Donegal man burst onto the scene with Everton and the hugely talented full-back must be on the radar of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni. Solid in defence and dangerous when attacking up the flanks his potential is undoubted. While Republic of Ireland supporters had hoped to see more of Coleman at Goodison Park this season, he was loaned out to Championship promotion hopefuls Blackpool in March, initially on a one-month deal. However his stay at Bloomfield Road has been extended until the end of the season and Coleman says he’s more than happy to stay and help the Tangerines as they bid to get into the top flight. Should Ian Holloway’s side reach the play-offs then Coleman will also be eligible to play in those. “I am delighted to get my loan extended for an extra few games — and what makes it even better is that we’ve got something to play for. Obviously if Everton wanted me back I would have gone, but I am happy to stay and try to make the top six,” said Coleman. The Republic of Ireland under21 international has played in every game for Blackpool since his move and even found the back of the net in a 4-2 win over Scunthorpe at the start of this month. Coleman will now try to get Blackpool into the Premier League and he says he has the full backing of his Everton manager. He said: “David Moyes spoke to me about extending the loan. He told me I was doing well and that he’d been watching. He has been giving me some advice and told me to look forward to the next few games. “My aim long-term is to play in Everton’s first team but playing at Blackpool is giving me great experience. Hopefully, if I can do well here I might get into the Everton team. The best thing would be to have Blackpool in the Premier League next year as well. It would be brilliant to know that I’d played a small part in getting them there.” With the Euro 2012 qualifiers just months away, Coleman will be keeping his fingers crossed that his performances with Blackpool make the Irish management team sit up and take notice. The former Sligo Rovers man has what it takes to become a tremendous addition to the national senior side but for the time being he’s concentrating on getting the Seasiders promoted.
Everton FC ready to break the bank to keep Steven Pienaar
Apr 20 2010 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON are ready to make Steven Pienaar one of the club’s highest paid players in a bid to head off interest from Tottenham. But the Blues fear that the South African international will put off a decision on his future until after the World Cup finals.
Pienaar has just one year remaining on his present Everton deal and is looking for much improved terms. The Blues are prepared to give the midfielder parity with some of the club’s top earners, but a number of meetings between club officials and the player and his representatives have already proved inconclusive. Weekend reports claimed that Spurs boss Harry Redknapp has already enquired about the 28-year-old, with a £14million price tag reported. Everton say they have had no formal contact from Spurs, but if no agreement is reached before the World Cup finals the midfielder’s talents would be on display to a global audience. Pienaar has been an unqualified success since his move from Borussia Dortmund in 2007.
He experienced an unhappy time in the Bundesliga but settled quickly at Goodison, topping the club’s assists chart in his first two seasons and forging a lethal left flank alliance with Leighton Baines this term. Blues boss David Moyes has said he is “comfortable” about the situation, but has warned Pienaar he will be making a mistake if he tries to force his way out of the club this summer. “Steven Pienaar is at a club that really suits him and sometimes a player has to decide what is best for them.
“Everton has been good for Steven. If anybody wanted to leave, they'd be poorer for it. Most people that have left here, it's not tended to work out for them,” he said.
Everton legend Graeme Sharp, meanwhile, will be appearing at the official Everton Store in Liverpool One tonight (from 4pm-5pm) to sign copies of the club’s new 1984/85 Season Review DVD. The DVD features new and exclusive interviews with members of the legendary Everton squad, along with rare match action. Everton’s Greatest Season – 1984/85 Season Review DVD is available now from official Everton stores and evertondirect.com RRP: £15.99.
Everton FC star Tim Cahill is on fast-track to the record books
Apr 21 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
HE is hot on the heels of becoming Everton’s leading Premier League goalscorer.
Only Duncan Ferguson currently stands in the way of Tim Cahill grabbing a notable place in the Goodison Park history books.The Blue Kangaroo is second in the charts, with 45 goals since the Premier League began, 15 strikes behind the Tartan Talisman who enjoyed two spells with the club. Cahill, who grabbed the last-gasp winner against Blackburn on Saturday, only needs one more game to reach 200 starts for Everton in all competitions since he joined the club in Summer 2004. The statistics suggest that skipper Phil Neville is justified in predicting that Cahill can achieve legendary status. And Neville believes his team-mate deserves particular credit for helping Everton weather the storm of their early season poor form and injury devastation. “People earlier in the season were writing Tim off but I saw the effort that he was putting in,” says Neville. “The fact that he was playing out of position then but he was still fighting and cajoling the lads shows his spirit. “He took the captaincy in probably our worst run as a team but he carried the fight then for the whole of the team. “I think that took its toll for a bit but now I think you are seeing the real Tim Cahill. “I think he is becoming a legend at this club. “He is slowly writing himself into the history books at Everton. “I think the fans now realise that we have got such a special player in Tim. “He is a great player around the dressing room.
“When he is on the pitch he always looks like he is going to get a goal too.”
It is not only in Merseyside where the Sydney-born midfielder is a favourite. The 30-year-old’s uncanny ability to score goals on big occasions has won him a legion of fans around the world. But the tough on-field persona is at odds with his laid back, family orientated character which is revealed in a new DVD, ‘Tim Cahill: The Unseen Journey’. Billed as an ‘honest, revealing, emotional and, at times, very funny portrait’, the DVD features highlights of his most enduring Premier League and international displays for Australia, and family life off the pitch. Cahill will be launching the DVD at the official Everton Store, Liverpool One, on Thursday April 22, and will sign copies from 5pm to 6pm.
Everton FC fans letters
Apr 21 2010 Liverpool Echo
FOUR points gained against Aston Villa and Blackburn, with Tim Howard producing some outstanding saves against the former and at last Tim Cahill delivering some much needed pugnacious performances resulting in three goals.Equally, Bilyaletdinov showed some fine touches and both Anichebe and Yakubu made stunning impacts in the match against Blackburn, exhibiting pace and tenacity. However what was discernible in both games and throughout the season is Everton’s lack of ability to defend well as a unit. Forty eight goals conceded so far is incompatible to be considered for Champions League inclusion. Crucially, new faces will be required and in order to get the right players in I would sacrifice Saha or Yobo for the likes of Gareth Bale, James Milner, Michael Carrick and Mkobani. With the new personnel and the return to full fitness of Arteta, Jagielka, Yakubu, Fellaini, Anichebe and Vaughan, I see no reason why Everton cannot make further progress next season.
EVERY Blue wants Steven Pienaar to stay but I think if he was going to have signed a new contract he would have done by now. Spurs want him, Chelsea definitely want him and the fact is those clubs can offer a lot more in wages than Everton can.
The question is are they prepared to pay enough money to make it worth Moyes’ while to release him from the final year of his contract? As for the player himself, he might be banking £70k a week instead of paltry £50k a week but he won’t be appreciated at White Hart Lane or Stamford Bridge in the way he is at Goodison.
staygold, via email
What’s noticeable from the opposition now is how they play against us. A number of teams are now briefed to get stuck in to Everton. It started at Anfield and carried on from other sides with an inferior skill base. That was how to beat Arsenal on occasion and caused Wenger to ask for more protection for his players. Arteta and Pienaar are targets and Moyes is asking for the same response from the ref. All great sides had the skill factor but could also battle when required. We have Neville, Cahill, Heitinga and Jags to balance the sublime skill of Arteta, Pienaar, Osman, Baines, Fellaini plus Donovan, hopefully. It's a terrific mix Moyes has patiently built up to put a real challenge for honours next season.
lexystar, via email
IF Arsenal had played some of the football we played at Blackburn on Saturday the media would still be raving about it next week. It has taken Moyes a while to realise it but he is finally giving the players the chance to express themselves, which in turn is producing some of the best football we have played for a number of years. I still think Distin is the weak link at the back and hopefully this will be addressed for next season and if it is, injuries permitting, just watch us go.
Philip Harding, via email
I ALSO shouted “Clive Thomas” as I watched from the Crosender Road end when Marine took on North Ferriby at Rossett Park the other week (re David Prentice, Another Doubting Thomas, Friday, April 16). Boston United are bringing 800 fans to Crosby next week, hoping to win the title at our gaff. Here’s hoping we can be party poopers once again. And good luck to Everton for the number seven spot!
Jeff S, Crosby
Steven Pienaar wants his Everton FC future sorted before World Cup
Apr 21 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
STEVEN Pienaar wants to finally resolve his Everton future before heading to South Africa for the World Cup. Despite fears to the contrary from Everton officials, the midfielder has claimed he would rather not wait until after the tournament in his home country to agree on a new Goodison Park deal. The 28-year-old has been linked with a £14m move to Spurs, and reports have suggested Bayern Munich are also monitoring his situation. But his agent Ivan Mudia has insisted that Pienaar’s participation in the World Cup will not have any affect on his ultimate decision. Yesterday the ECHO revealed that Everton are ready to make Pienaar, who has just over 12 months left on his current deal, one of the club’s highest paid players. “I think Steven would like to know what he is doing next season before the World Cup,” said Mudia. “I don't think playing in the World Cup will have much bearing on his future.” A number of meetings between club officials and the player and his representatives have so far proved inconclusive, but the latest development could speed up a potential deal before the end of May. Pienaar, who has played 54 games for the Toffees, initially arrived on loan in 2007 from German club Borussia Dortmund and was signed on a permanent basis for £2m, following his successful short-term stint, on a three-year contract in 2008. Meanwhile, Wigan midfielder Paul Scharner has claimed Everton are one of a number of clubs who have expressed an interest in signing him in the summer.
The Austrian, who intends to quit the Latics at the end of the season, said: “Fulham, Everton, Aston Villa and Sunderland are interested in signing me, which would even guarantee me a spot in Europe. So there is no reason to stay here.”
Scharner joined Wigan five years ago but has put off fresh contract talks with manager Roberto Martinez.
Jose Baxter wins it for Everton FC with mini driver
Apr 21 2010 Liverpool Daily Post
JOSE BAXTER struck a dramatic injury-time winner as Liverpool Reserves slumped to a 1-0 defeat against Everton in the mini-derby at Prenton Park last night.
Liverpool’s second string turned in a battling display against an Everton side that contained several first-team players including Victor Anicebe. And it was another one, Baxter, who condemned Liverpool to a fourth successive defeat. The result means Liverpool’s outside hopes of being crowned Premier Reserve League North champions are over. But manager John McMahon acknowledged his side’s hopes of being crowned champions had been all but ended by the disappointing Friday night defeat in Burnley. Last night’s winner came when Baxter’s stinging volley struck the underside of the crossbar and bounced over the line.
LIVERPOOL RESERVES: Martin, Flanagan, Cooper, Sokolik, Palsson, Irwin, Bruna, Amoo, Dalla Valle, Kohlert, Kacaniklic. Subs: Coady, Oldfield, Brouwer, Ince, Robinson.
EVERTON RESERVES: Turner, Nsiala, Garbutt, Wallace, Senderos, Duffy, Craig (Mustafi 65) , Akpan, Anichebe (Peterlin 62), Baxter, Forshaw (McAleny 46). Subs: Davies, Donegan.
last-gasp win at BlackburnThe Jury: Everton FC reflect on the Blues'
Apr 22 2010 Liverpool Echo
MIKE WILLIAMSON, Chester
CHAMPAGNE Football – that’s how one commentator described Everton’s performance during the first half hour on Saturday and it was fully justified.
It’s easy to get carried away but there is a real belief amongst fans that we might just be getting closer to a team that will surely be a regular top four contender, injuries permitting. It was a joy to see the team – and the manager – throw off the usual cautionary shackles and go for Blackburn straight from the start. How many more points would we have if we had started every game like that? Too many.
The team has balance, shape and an understanding that money can’t buy. That said, it is worrying to hear talk already of Moyes having to go ‘bargain hunting’ in the summer. Further squad players are certainly still needed but let’s hope the manager is given some real money when he identifies a player who will help take us to that next level. Now let’s finish the season in the same fashion and in the same fine form.
DEBBIE SMAJE, Up Holland
WELL we made hard work of it, but what a win at Blackburn last week.
On a ground only two teams have won on previously this season, it was good to see us go into a tough away match, and approach it knowing we were better than Blackburn, and playing the kind of football to prove it. Arteta makes such an unbelievable difference, sometimes just having him in the team gives everybody else the confidence to play good attacking passing football. Cahill has been a massive influence lately too, for his all round play, as well as his three crucial goals last week.
We still however need to be wary at the back. We have let in a lot of sloppy goals this season, away from home especially, Saturday showing again that a one goal lead is never a safe one no matter how on top you are. One deflection, one hopeful shot, one lucky bounce, one incorrect offside decision and all the good work is undone. Hopefully we have learnt from Saturday’s defensive mistakes to end the season strongly.
LEE MOLTON, St Helens
WRITE off Tim Cahill at your peril! He has been written off by many Evertonians this season saying that he was finished and he isn’t the player that he was. Tim has netted over 10 goals again this season at crucial times for us, Everton are a poorer side without Tim Cahill in the team. The marvellous win on Saturday was crucial to our European hopes against a team that are very difficult to beat at home and had only lost twice. Arteta had another great game and The Yak is starting to get goals again too.
We can end the season in style by winning the last three games but our main aim is to get the wonderful Steven Pienaar to sign a new contract and keep him away from the clutches of Chelsea, City and Tottenham. Stay where you are loved Pienaar, you wont be loved like this anywhere else.
DAVID WALLBANK, Huyton
I HAVE been guilty of doubting Tim Cahill and I had become slightly wary. But recently Tim has turned the corner. Fitness could have been an issue but he now looks sharp and the goals certainly have helped his confidence. Cahill perfectly rubbed salt in Big Sam’s wounds with a last-minute winner. Allardyce tried again to play mind games and influence the referee before the Blackburn game. It’s funny when managers make foolish statements and it comes back to haunt them, admittedly more funny when its Benitez. The Yak – another player who has his doubters – came on and scored within 26 seconds. For the winner he showed a sublime piece of positional skill and maybe he now can get back to his best form. Europe now seems a million miles away; only a disaster by Liverpool or Villa will give the blues any chance. Sadly Everton have run out of games, and we must rue the points dropped against beatable opposition. A tired Fulham will visit Goodison on Sunday and three points will keep Blues fans believing.
Everton FC in Australia: When Blues went down under for the first time
Apr 22 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
Everton's Sandy Brown and Roy Vernon after arriving in Australia in 1964 460
IF EVERTON go walkabout in Australia this summer it won’t be the first time the Blues have ventured Down Under on tour. Harry Catterick’s side embarked on the club’s first ever trip to the Southern Hemisphere 46 years ago in 1964, for a month-long tour consisting of eight matches; two in Sydney, two in Melbourne and in Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane and Newcastle. The eventful pre-season warm-up made headlines on both sides of the world, and featured a team with future legends such as Colin Harvey, Brian Labone and Johnny Morrissey. Everton had just finished third in the League Championship, which was won by Liverpool, - suggesting the Toffees needed no excuse to get as far from Merseyside as possible. A photograph in the Liverpool Echo, on Monday, April 27, 1964, headlined ‘Bring me Back A Koala Bear’ showed Sandy Brown and Alec Scott smiling for the camera with their children at Liverpool airport before jetting off. Earlier that day the Liverpool Daily Post printed photographs of the players’ wives and girlfriends lining up to wave goodbye to their partners. The paper also quoted Director Mr A Holland Hughes, who said: “We hope to come home undefeated. “We are the team who beat West Ham on Saturday – except for Pickering, who flies to America with the England team at the end of the week, and seven other players.” Asked if he thought a heavy summer tour after a tough season was too much he replied: “I don’t think so. “We will be back on June 1, which gives the boys time for a good rest before the new season begins.”
The manager Catterick did not travel. “He can be better used at home,” said Mr Holland Hughes. “There’s a lot of work to be done in the close season.” The tour opened with Everton, who had won the league the previous season, taking on a New South Wales state side at the Sydney Cricket Ground. The Blues triumphed 4-1 during a lively game which saw the home side dominate the early stages and even take the lead, until Everton settled and imposed their greater class. They still relied on an own goal by ex Toffee Matt Woods to take the lead, but afterwards Catterick’s side sauntered to a convincing finish. Typically, the game saw Brian Labone spill blood for Everton, gashing his head in an aerial challenge. The game was also memorable for a hoax by local University students, who tricked the 52,000-strong crowd into believing they were the Everton team. The Toffees were late arriving and the students, wearing royal blue kits, ran onto the field to a big ovation as they lined up. Realising the prank, police ran onto the pitch and a melee ensued in which a plain clothes policeman felled one student with a flying tackle. His colleague skidded along the turf as he attempted a similar manoeuvre. Another game in the series, at Olympic park, Melbourne, saw the home team receive an 8-2 thrashing by Everton. Hat tricks went to Jimmy Gabriel and Roy Vernon combined with a Derek Temple double. Colin Harvey still has fond memories of the tour. He said: “I think I was 19 at the time. I knocked around with the other youngsters John Hurst and Andy Rankin for the four weeks, and thoroughly enjoyed it. “It was a fantastic opportunity to get out there, and although it wasn’t their summer we enjoyed it. Sydney was our base and we got to see a lot of the country. and play some good games.”
Everton FC planning summer tour to Australia in bid to cash-in on Tim Cahill’s star status
Apr 22 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON are in talks aimed at agreeing a three-match summer tour of Australia.
The Blues want to travel to explore the commercial opportunities presented by Tim Cahill’s super-star status in his home country. But club officials stressed that the proposed July tour is still only in the planning stage, and said they have other optional destinations. Chief executive Robert Elstone has spoken with representatives of the Queensland government and A-League side Brisbane Roar, with a view to the two clubs taking part in the annual Roar Against Racism charity game. The suggested date for the game is understood to be July 10, after which the Blues would play matches against new A-League club Melbourne Heart and reigning competition champions Sydney FC. Cahill’s involvement is likely to depend on how far Australia advance in the World Cup, which runs from June 11 to July 11. The Socceroos’ final Group D match is against Serbia in Nelspruit on June 24. Should the Socceroos progress beyond the group stages, they will play their round of 16 match on either June 27 or June 28, with quarter-finals starting in early July. Brisbane lost last year’s Roar Against Racism clash 3-0 to Glasgow Celtic in front of more than 30,000 fans at Suncorp Stadium. Meanwhile, Steven Pienaar’s agent has reiterated the South African’s desire to finalise his future before the World Cup. Ivan Modia said: “At the moment we are looking at every situation and it will be sorted one way or another before the World Cup. “We have had some interest expressed from clubs in Europe but we haven’t talked to them because everything must go through Everton as he is under contract.” Asked if it was possible Pienaar would leave in the summer, Modia said: “It is possible but it is also possible he will stay at the club. “I am not saying he is leaving the club because that is not true. “We are in talks but I think it would be disrespectful to Everton to elaborate because we have a good relationship with the club.” Speculation linking Liverpool with a move for Pienaar, 28, is believed to be untrue, although the midfielder remains a target for Champions League semi-finalists Bayern Munich.
Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez ready to risk wrath of Everton with move for Steven Pienaar
EXCLUSIVE By David Kent
Last updated at 2:10 PM on 21st April 2010
Liverpool are ready to risk the wrath of neighbours Everton with a move for influential midfielder Steven Pienaar. The skilful South African has emerged as one of the best players in the Premier League but his contract runs out in 14 months and Everton are yet to tie him down to a new deal. Sportsmail revealed in January that Tottenham and Chelsea were interested in the 28-year-old, valued at about £10million. Now Liverpool have emerged as strong admirers, despite Everton's reluctance to sell to their fiercest rivals. The Anfield club have been encouraged by news of the unresolved contract talks, although Everton are preparing a new offer that would put Pienaar on a par with their top earners at about £50,000 per week.
Pienaar's agent Ivan Modia said: 'At the moment we are looking at every situation and it will be sorted one way or another before the World Cup. 'We have had some interest expressed from clubs in Europe but we haven't talked to them because everything
'It is possible (Pienaar could leave) but it is also possible he will stay at the club. I am not saying he is leaving the club because that is not true. 'We are in talks but I think it would be disrespectful to Everton [to elaborate] because we have a good relationship with the club. Negotiations have been ongoing since the start of the year but it has not been an intense process. 'We are talking and are patient. We are waiting to see what is going to happen behind closed doors. What I think is there are two different options. One is to get a new contract but if he did not he would be looking for a solution. He goes to the World Cup this summer and that would be a good way for Everton to make money from it.' Everton manager David Moyes warned: 'Pienaar is at a club that really suits him and sometimes a player has to decide what is best for him. Everton has been good for Steven. If anybody wanted to leave, they'd be poorer for it.'
Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini accused of attacking female model at London nightclub
By Daily Mail
21st April 2010
Detectives are investigating claims that Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini assaulted a young model at a nightclub. Fellaini has been accused of attacking the woman in Jet Black, a trendy night-spot in London's West End. The 22-year-old midfielder, a Belgium international, faces allegations he struck the woman in the early hours of Sunday. The victim, aged 20, complained of a head injury and was taken to hospital as a precaution. Fellaini is currently recovering from a serious ankle injury he suffered during a derby match against Liverpool at Anfield in February.
Sources close to the player said he strenuously denies any wrongdoing and that he expects the police inquiry to be dropped. An Everton spokesman said the club is aware of the incident but declined to comment further. He said: 'We are aware of the allegations. It is now subject to a police investigation and we will not be saying anything until that is completed. A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: 'Police received a call from the ambulance service at about 4am on Sunday. 'There was a report of someone assaulted and with a head injury at a nightclub in West Central Street. 'Officers attended the scene and a 20-year-old female victim was found with no visible injuries but was taken to a central London hospital as a precaution. 'The alleged suspect had left the scene prior to police arrival. Officers from Camden CID investigate. There have been no arrests.'
Portsmouth Europa League appeal rejected by FA
Apr 22 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON will qualify for the Europa League if they finish in seventh-place in the Premier League after the FA rejected Portsmouth's bid to be allowed to play in the competition next season. The cash-strapped club had appealed to the FA asking for a Uefa licence to compete in Europe - despite missing the deadline for applications.
Portsmouth would have qualified for the competition having reached the final of the FA Cup against Chelsea on 15 May. The team finishing seventh in the Premier League will now earn the spot.
Put your money on a Mersey double this weekend
Apr 23 2010 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
Put your money on a Mersey double this weekend
I GOT it wrong in a big way last week in respects to Everton by saying it could be a tight game against Blackburn, possibly 0-0. While the result shows a 3-2 win for Everton with a late winner, I don’t think it does justice to how well Everton actually played. The first 30 minutes was excellent by the Blues and the spirit to fight back after conceding twice was fantastic. As for Tim Cahill, well what a buy he has been.
Everton have to be home bankers this weekend, as Fulham will surely be shattered after their coach trip to Hamburg – plus they will have their eyes on the second leg of their semi. I think Steven Pienaar will be my pick for first goal at 9/1, I think he’s due a goal. Half-time/full-time at 5/6 would be my bet.Looking at Liverpool I think they should win despite their marathon trip to Madrid, as Burnley have dropped off in recent months. That said, most Liverpudlians will remember earlier in the season when Burnley beat Everton and Manchester United inside a week at Turf Moor. A mate of mine who is a Red said at the time: “Burnley – our new best mates”. I wonder if he will be thinking that on Sunday! The Mersey double at the weekend pays 11/8.
I know Betfred have seen money for Everton to finish above Liverpool this season at 10/1 this week.
DAVID PRENTICE: Why Everton FC's Steven Pienaar could be jumping in at the deep end
Apr 23 2000 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
STEVEN PIENAAR has an unexpectedly deep voice. If the scale of his pay demands reported this week are accurate, it seems he has pockets to match. It’s usually almost impossible to take objection to Everton’s silkily skilled South African. His artistry on a football field is matched only by his workrate. He tackles, runs, closes down and creates – another six assists so far this season to go with last season’s 10 and the previous campaign’s 14 – and if you were to argue that he doesn’t score as many goals as he should, when he does he devotes them to God. Then there’s the key part he has played in Everton suddenly being proclaimed as the Premier League’s new Arsenal wannabes. (“Everton are keeping the ball like Barcelona!” gushed Paul Merson last week. And no, he hadn’t fallen off the wagon, because the BBC website used exactly the same phrase). But the fast growing molehill about Pienaar’s new contract negotiations is starting to leave a sour taste. Everton tell us they are prepared to make Pienaar one of their highest paid players. That’s not the very best paid. But come on, when someone’s offered you – let’s pluck a figure out of the air – £40,000 a week, what differ- ence does an extra £10k a week make? You might be able to afford vole skin leather for the trim in your Range Rover Sport, rather than the bog standard imitation that only bank managers can afford – but you’re still seriously rich.
So why all the delays and prevarication? “It is possible (Pienaar could leave) but it is also possible he will stay at the club,“ said his agent Ivan Modia this week.
Is it a case of Pienaar being greedy? Or do Everton have to accept that if they harbour ambitions of being a Big Four club, they will have to pay Big Four wages?
I’m not so naive to believe that footballers are selfless individuals ready to put their limbs on the line for the love of a football club, just as much as I don’t believe that football clubs are altruistic charities. But there are a couple of points worth bearing in mind here. When Steven Pienaar arrived at Everton on-loan in the summer of 2007, it was because a promising career had stalled in Germany. It was only the platform handed to him by Everton which allowed him to revive his reputation, reclaim his place as a pivotal part of the Bafana Bafana line-up in World Cup year – and overcome a couple of lengthy absences through injury. Okay, it’s a two-way thing.
So why can’t we have a little give and take in the contract negotiations, too?
Perhaps the little South African should listen to the words of his manager when he says that the grass isn’t always greener outside Goodison. He could always ask for a second opinion from his old mate Joleon. EVERTON’S impressive achievement in securing back to back fifth place finishes, a place in the FA Cup final and the restoration of some of the silkiest football seen at Goodison Park since Ball-Harvey-Kendall were making mesmerising patterns across the pitch, has gone unnoticed in most national newspapers. But none have gone so far as to totally ignore the Blues.
Until this week’s Daily Mail. Can you spot the team missing from the Premier League table printed in Thursday’s edition? Just in case you were wondering, Everton have slipped to the relative obscurity of eighth place. They should be the team chasing Liverpool.
HOWARD KENDALL: No surprise that Everton's David Moyes is linked to Manchester United job
Apr 23 2010 Liverpool Echo
IT doesn’t surprise me in the slightest to hear David Moyes once again being linked with the Manchester United job once Alex Ferguson retires. If I was a betting man I would have thought Moyes will be their first choice. The respect for what he has achieved so far at Everton seems to range right across the football world, and everyone rightly admires him even more for working under such a limited budget.
Typically his name is never the first to be included on the lists. The pundits talk about Jose Mourinho and Guus Hiddink first all the time. I find it surprising that his name isn’t in front of all of those men, but they have managed at the highest level which counts for something. Moyes has strong links with Alex Ferguson which is something people underestimate. Ferguson will be allowed a say on who replaces him, such is the respect he is held in at Old Trafford. The two have done a lot of business in the transfer market and this season Moyes showed he can get the better of him in the Premier League. Moyes has won an awful lot of manager of the month awards and has carried off the league managers association manager of the season award more than once. His peers in the top flight of English football know all about how tactically and managerially strong he is. He can nurture young gifted players and he can find diamonds in the rough, just like he did with Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta. His record with taking risks on unknown players is great. The way Ferguson is going, it doesn’t seem like retiring is on his mind, but when he does bite the bullet expect to see Moyes get an interview straight away.
Steven Pienaar has been a constant threat for Everton FC
THE future of Steven Pienaar being clouded in uncertainty is not good news.
He is vital to Everton’s balance and will be important for them to progress next season. Just like Arjen Robben and Lionel Messi, Pienaar does his best work cutting in from the flanks and then surprising defenders by shooting with his other foot.
Pienaar is a very flexible player in a midfield. He can even shine in the centre, which he often does for South Africa. It’s a tough position for Everton because they want a happy player and he wants his contract sorted before the World Cup. But Everton will have a limit as to how much they can pay any player and once they have reached that in the negotiations, they are stuck. Luckily, the lad doesn’t seem the type to let it affect him on the pitch, and he needs to be firing on all cylinders to help the Blues beat Fulham on Sunday.
England far from ready for World Cup
ENGLAND still do not have a settled rearguard going into the World Cup and it gets more concerning as the tournament draws closer. The goalkeeper spot is far from certain, with the fortunes of the various contenders for the number one jersey changing every week. Then there is the defence! Will Ashley Cole be fit? Is Glen Johnson good enough defensively? Big question marks over Rio Ferdinand’s fitness, and John Terry seems to have lost half a yard of pace. His mis-timed tackles are getting worse.
Leighton Baines is the assist king of Everton FC
Apr 23 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
PLAYERS who can score goals have become the single most expensive commodity in European football. You only need to hear the stellar price tags stuck on footballers like Cristiano Ronaldo, Fernando Torres and Wayne Rooney to realise that goal-scorers are viewed as footballs true VIPs. But what of those who create them? Very few strikers will regularly create a goal from nothing. The top sides rely on skilful artisans in midfield who can cross a ball on a sixpence or producer the killer pass which unleashed their centre forward through on goal. They too are essential. Yet, when a team is blessed with a defender who can turn producer on a prolific basis, they truly are worth their weight in gold. Step forward Leighton Baines who, with nine assists and counting, is ahead of Chelsea’s Florent Malouda and Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard in the creator stakes. Baines, 25, has the most assists of any defender in the Premier League, and feels that creating goals is almost as personally rewarding as scoring, a knack he also possesses, not least from his well-executed free-kicks.
“An assist is almost as good for me as scoring a goal. It’s a bonus,” he says.
“I’m a defender and my job is to help the team that way, but I love to get forward and contribute as well.” There is nothing the Kirkby-born left-back, who hopes to be part of Fabio Capello’s World Cup squad, likes more than setting up one team-mate in particular. “ I love setting the strikers up, none more so than Tim Cahill,” he says.
“ I was switching my boots the other day because I’ve been wearing them for two years and they’re battered. “The tongue has fallen off the left one and they’re mangled, so I was changing them but Tim was having none of it and he made me wear them. If anyone, the ideal thing for me is to set Tim up because I know how much his goals mean to him. “ It gives me pleasure to provide the ammunition for him and assist the team. It’s the ideal scenario for me.” Baines, who kept his cool to provide a telling pass in Cahill’s crucial last-minute winner at Blackburn last weekend, insists he is still relishing the remaining fixtures. He would be forgiven for feeling the weariness of a long season more than most, having only missed one game all season for the Blues. He also refuses to blame Everton’s recent knack of conceding late goals on the effects of that long campaign.“When you are conceding late goals it’s very difficult to take and teams are getting back into games.,” he says.
“It makes those games feel like losses sometimes. We are aware of the situation and want to put an end to it. “It’s like with the Blackburn game, it almost happened again and luckily we played our way out of it. We’ve had chances to be out of sight in some of these games. With the Villa game we had a chance up at their end and gave the ball away, then they came up the other end and score. “At Blackburn, my shot had hit the post and then they went up the other end and scored. “It’s fine lines and small margins but if we can stop that we’ll finally get up there.” The Blues must now navigate a home clash with Fulham at Goodison Park on Sunday, before the toughest game of their run-in, away to Stoke City. The Blues take on Tony Pulis’ hard to beat grafters who are never less than combative, especially on home turf in front of a partisan local crowd. “The next game is always the biggest one, and if we win that we can keep hold of something,” says Baines. “Stoke will be a similar test to what Blackburn was last week. Stoke have got such a good home record and have done ever so well. “They’re very hard to play against. They even showed that at Goodison this season. It will be even tougher going there. It was hard there last year. “We know what they’re about, but we need to play the game the way we want to play it.”
Tim Cahill: Everton FC need to qualify for Europe to be sure of keeping stars
Apr 23 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
TIM Cahill believes qualifying for Europe is the only sure-fire way to ensure Everton keep hold of their star players this summer. With some of his team-mates being coveted by other clubs across Europe, the midfielder admitted that failure to secure Europa League football could be fatal. Speculation has linked Steven Pienaar with a £14m summer departure from Goodison Park, and David Moyes is keen to tie the South African down to a new deal, along with Jack Rodwell and youngsters Seamus Coleman and Dan Gosling. But Cahill said: “The big thing for us is holding on to the players and adding some quality. It’s going to be difficult because some of the lads are up, and there are other circumstances with a few of the lads. If we can do that it will be a massive season for us.” The 30-year-old said he is desperate to win something at Everton next season, and warned it could be this team’s final chance to bag some silverware. He said: “I think we have to step it up next season. Players are getting older, time is moving on, and there is only so much time you can keep saying ‘if only’. “For me it’s been fantastic going to Wembley twice but we need to kick on a bit and move to another level. “If we can’t do it, other players are going to look to go elsewhere and look for Champions League football and at this stage in my career it’s something I want to do.” Cahill is hoping that Pienaar in particular seals a new deal at Goodison before flying to the World Cup. He said: “I think Pienaar knows what this club is all about. He has to make a decision for his future and it’s a personal decision for him but hopefully he signs.” Everton were given a boost yesterday when it was announced that Portsmouth will not be allowed to play in next season’s Europa League. The cash-strapped club had appealed to the FA asking for a Uefa licence to compete in Europe – despite missing the deadline for applications. Portsmouth would have qualified for the competition having reached the final of the FA Cup against Chelsea on 15 May. The team finishing seventh in the Premier League will now earn the spot, and Cahill said: “Our motivation is to win all three games. “If we lose at the weekend then it just pushes that barrier even further, if not finishes our hopes. It’s unfortunate for Portsmouth, I feel really sorry for them but we need to take it as a positive and get that last place. “I think the players and the club need to be in Europe. It means a lot and adds extra spice for us and the fans. It’s been an indifferent season in some ways but overall we’re pleased with the way we picked it up and finished it.
“Confidence is high. A lot of the boys need to give everything before we go away to the world cup. We can take that momentum with us.
Pre-match preview: Everton FC vs Fulham
Apr 23 2010 By Neil MacDonald
THE Blues take on Fulham on Sunday, with the visitors fresh from a solid away draw in the Europa League semi-finals against Hamburg. Can they overturn the visitors who also held Liverpool to a stalemate?
Everton last five games
April 17 2010 Premier League: Blackburn 2 Everton FC 3
April 14 2010 Premier League: Aston Villa 2 Everton 2
April 4 2010 Premier League: Everton 2 West Ham 2
March 27 2010 Premier League: Wolves 0 Everton 0
March 24 2010 Premier League: Man City 0 Everton 2
Fulham last five games
April 22 2010 Europa League: Hamburg 0 Fulham 0
April 17 2010 Premier League: Fulham 0 Wolves 0
April 11 2010 Premier League: Liverpool 0 Fulham 0
April 8 2010 Europa League: Wolfsberg 0 Fulham 1
April 4 2010 Premier League: Fulham 2 Wigan 1
September 13 2009 Premier League: Fulham 2 Everton 0
May 24 2009 Premier League: Fulham 0 Everton 2
November 1 2008 Premier League: Everton 1 Fulham 0
March 16 2008 Premier League: Fulham 1 Everton 0
December 8 2007 Premier League: Everton 3 Fulham 0
Latest odds from BetFred
Everton win 2/5, Draw 10/3, Fulham win 15/2
Barry Horne: Everton can be good for Steven Pienaar
Apr 24 2010 by Barry Horne, Liverpool Echo ONE player who has benefitted enormously from his time at Everton is, of course, Steven Pienaar. He came as a relatively unknown 24-year-old, but has improved month on month, season on season, to become one of my favourite players. His success has been in no small part due to the way Everton play and his role in the team. It is a disappointment therefore to read that he is contemplating a move. Despite Everton having tabled a handsome contract offer Ivan Modia’s assertion that he and the player want to ‘get things sorted’ before the World Cup are all well and good. But at the end of the day it’s up to the player as much as the club to make that happen. There is no reason to disbelieve that the club have made him a substantial offer. After all, why wouldn’t they? I hope Pienaar takes a step back and not only realises what the club have done for him, but what the club can do for him over the next few years. He wouldn’t be the first player to leave a club which suited him for a few extra pounds a week, only to find his career and enjoyment of the game suffered. I am very biased obviously, but there are many players who will testify that there are few better places to play and be loved by the fans than Everton Football Club.
Moyes hails his best Blues squad
Apr 24 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
DAVID Moyes and Che Guevara might not at first seem to have much in common.
But the Everton manager is in the throes of completing his own footballing revolution, which has seen him become an iconic figure for the Blue half of Merseyside.
Moyes has been quietly working hard to transform the perception of Everton from a hard to beat, grafting outfit into a team which plays stylish football. Now the critics are finally waking up the fact that the Toffees are playing football which, at its best, can bear comparison to Arsene Wenger’s artistes. But the Everton manager admits it hasn’t been straight forward mixing the flair to his side’s steel core. “You buy players and put them in a structure but then you need them to express themselves,” he says.
“As a coach you follow what they give you, and you find out what they can do. I adapt to what I see as well. “If I think I can make them maybe better and play better than they do, or maybe I find that’s not the case and I need them to go back to being hard to beat. “But we’ve got a lot of really good football players at our disposal at the moment.” Moyes acknowledges that his side’s recent stylish displays have been marred slightly be conceding late goals. “It’ a concern when we’ve let teams back into it,” he says. “Really over the long-term here we’ve been pretty tight and resolute and once we’ve got ourselves in front it’s been hard for the opposition. “We need to maintain that but the football we’ve been playing is better than it’s ever been.
“That’s where the balance comes. We want the really good football, we’re trying to improve it all the time but you've got to then also make sure you’re able to keep the back door shut and not concede.” Moyes reluctantly accepts that draws against Birmingham, Wolves, Aston Villa and West Ham have made an unlikely task of qualifying for Europe even harder. “My aim is to win the games left and see where it takes us,” he says. “We’re just a little bit behind it and come the end we might look back and say if only for this or that, but in the main I don’t think we can fault them.
“Over the last 18 or 20 games the players have played really well. They’ve dipped here and there but I think they’ve done well. “Two defeats; one at Anfield which I've talked enough about and one at Tottenham where we missed an open goal late on to make it two each. “If you look at where we’ve had our defeats, that’s the two we’ve had since the end of November, and you can make cases that we were unlucky not to take anything out of those two games. “We didn’t play quite as well against West Ham (at Goodison), but we did go 2-1 ahead with a couple of minutes to go and then conceded a late goal, so of the results recently that was the really disappointing one that we didn’t do that job. “We’ve drawn a couple of games at Birmingham and then Aston Villa as well which was always going to be a tight game.” Moyes has nothing but praise for the man in charge of tomorrow’s opponents, Roy Hodgson.
The Scot has watched in admiration as the Craven Cottage side have swept into the semi-finals of the Europa League, a competition he was desperate to progress in.
He even believes that Hodgson deserves to be voted Premier League manager of the season. “I think Roy would get my vote. Roy’s performances with his resources and what he’s done have been excellent,” he says. “(Watching the semi final) I felt admiration for what they've done. I know from experience how hard it is to win games in Europe. “I’m not saying he’s found it easy but he’s beat Juventus, Shakhtar Donetsk, he’s playing Hamburg. “It’s not as if he’s clawed through with a few Mickey Mouse teams, certainly not. He’s probably played the cream of the tournament.
“He gets my admiration for that. He has got a good squad.” It should be remembered that Hodgson was fortunate to be able to juggle his squad in the early stages of the Europa League, a luxury not available to his Moyes. “In the early rounds he didn’t play his top players,” he says. “He was able to play a different team in Europe, that tells me how strong a squad he’s got.
Barry Horne: No need for Evertonians to suffer the Euro Blues
Apr 24 2010 by Barry Horne, Liverpool Echo
In the week when Everton’s slim hopes of European qualification all but evaporated, this weekend’s visitors to Goodison have taken a massive step towards reaching the final of the Europa League themselves. You have to give Fulham immense credit because they’ve done it the hard way. Not only did they start their campaign when most players were returning to pre-season training, they have seen off some big names along the way – including the Cup holders, the Bundesliga champions, the champions elect of Italy and one of the biggest names in European football. Everton fans will be looking on with envy. There can be no arguments that Everton fell short in this year’s competition, albeit at a time when the club was carrying an huge injury list.
The thousands who travel and enjoy awaydays into Europe, enhancing the reput- ation of the club along the way, will obviously rue that fact. To look on the positive side, however, not qualifying will give David Moyes and his players a chance to consolidate and improve their standing next season. Being in Europe attracts top players, but the fact Everton are not in the market for the very top level of players shouldn’t affect them. Whilst the likes of David Villa, Franck Ribery and Fernando Torres would only ever consider a move to a club that regularly appeared in the Champions League, the type of player Everton would be looking to sign will look at the type of football that we play, the quality of the players already at the squad and the opportunity to better themselves, which of course invariably happens.
Whether or not the club is in the Europa League is unlikely to be a deciding factor in helping attract players’ to Goodison. That is, of course, always assuming we are going to be in the market this summer!
Royal Blue: Criticism for Everton FC's Mikel Arteta’s poke was harsh
Apr 24 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
MIKEL Arteta would be the first to admit he was daft to poke Morten Gamst Pedersen in the eye. He could and probably should have been sent off for such an out-of-character incident. But some of the criticism which the Spaniard received from other parts of the media was excessive. This is a player who has only just returned from 12 long months on the sidelines after overcoming a severe knee injury. He has had to contend with setbacks along the way which might have made lesser men despair.
He was only playing against Blackburn after deciding to take a risk with the groin injury which has further hampered him since his return. I think Arteta can be forgiven for being highly protective of his fitness and objecting to pointlessly niggly challenges, like the one Pedersen had just made on him, which could easily set him back even further. I’m not suggesting by any means nobody should be allowed to challenge Arteta, and if they do they deserve a poke in the eye. But the very fact that he reacted in a manner so unlike him should remind everyone that this is a player who is still recovering psychologically from a potentially career-ending injury.
Royal Blue: Everton FC's Tim Cahill DVD shows man behind the footballer
Apr 24 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
TIM Cahill’s new DVD is worth watching for an insight into the man behind the pugnacious on-field persona. The Unseen Journey shows Cahill’s family-man side, taking time out with the player to see a side rarely witnessed by the public.
It reveals how he relaxes with his friends and family, with highlights including his 30th birthday celebrations, as well as a tour of his homes in Australia and England, and in front of camera the midfielder reveals his innermost hopes and fears and talks openly about his plans for the future. It’s available now from official Everton stores and www.evertondirect.com RRP: £15.99.
Royal Blue: Tim Cahill relishes Everton FC's potential seventh-place battle with Liverpool FC
Apr 24 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
NOT much phases Tim Cahill, not even the potential numb hand after signing DVDs for the vast queue of fans who turned out to see him at the Everton megastore this week. If he ever needed reminding of his place in the affections of Evertonians, this neatly summed it up. Phil Neville suggested that Cahill could be regarded as a legend one day, but in the eyes of the youngsters who waited patiently outside Everton Two, he already is. Cahill was typically honest and forthright as he chatted with journalists before getting his marker pen out and settling himself in for the duration.
One intriguing scenario which cropped up is the potential for a scrap with Liverpool for that all-important seventh place which would guarantee Europa League football.
Cahill is absolutely genuine when he says how important playing in Europe is to him.
So the possibility of a terse wait until the last day of the season and having to depend on Liverpool’s results got him thinking. If both clubs beat their respective opponents in Fulham and Burnley this weekend, and then Everton beat Stoke next week while the Reds lose to title-chasing Chelsea, the Toffees would go into the last game of the season only two points behind their local rivals. If they beat Portsmouth at Goodison, and Benitez’s men somehow slipped up against Hull at the KC Stadium, seventh place would go to Everton. In such a fluctuating season, who could rule it out?
“It’s massive,” says Cahill. “For Liverpool it must be weird challenging so low at this stage of the season. “ Normally they’re fighting for a Champions League spot. I suppose it will bring that added bit of spice for the fans here but for us, if we don’t win at the weekend at Goodison it’s irrelevant. “It’s critical that we win all three games and not rely on anyone else.” At 30, Cahill is hardly on the brink of retirement, but the milestone birthday has made him reflect on what is important to him in his career. “I think it’s getting to a stage of my career where I need to kick on and start winning things. “ I want to better myself at every level so hopefully after a good World Cup, this can happen. “I’ve been happy with my own season. I stayed injury free and only missed three weeks due to a slight calf injury and the goals have started to flow. “At the start of the season playing out of position was not the most favourable but then when everyone is fit I can concentrate on what I do best which is scoring goals.” Cahill readily admits he has watched Fulham’s charge towards this season’s final in Hamburg with a mixture of admiration and jealousy. And he has little time for any suggestion that Liverpool and Fulham’s travel to their away games has been much of a chore, even if it did come via plane, train and automobile. “I’m very happy for them, but I’d love to be travelling halfway around the world right now to play in such a big competition. “I go to Australia for two days just to play a game so it wouldn’t phase me. We can’t stop what’s going on with the volcanoes. “It’s sad but we’re playing well and have to play with the hand we’re dealt.” Cahill’s focus will not switch from this compelling end of the season, but he is aware how massive next season is – and hopes one team-mate in particular is still around. “It’s massively important Pienaar stays,” he says. “That’s the reason I play for a big club like this, to have someone like that. The quality he brings is fantastic. I’m pretty sure Pienaar will stay.” First and foremost, that seems to be Everton – but Cahill has never denied he is ambitious. Fortunately he still wants to fulfil those ambitions at Goodison Park.
“For me that’s why I think Europe is important for myself,” he says.
Your views and thoughts on Everton and Liverpool
Apr 24 2010 by Our Correspondent, Liverpool Echo
MR Benitez likes to talk facts when speaking about my beloved LFC – a team which I have followed for 70 years.
Here are some observations which I like to think are also facts.
1. LFC are no longer a pleasure to watch as they struggle to stay in the top third of the Premier League.
2. They are not a top four team anymore and indeed will be hard pressed to stay in the top six this year.
3. LFC have a left full-back who cannot cope with pacy wingers and a right full-back who thinks he’s a winger, often leaving his defensive position open for exploitation.
4. My team has not had a decent winger for seven years and there is nobody who can deliver a good centre on a regular basis for our one and only striker.
5. Of the four strikers at the club, three are superfluous. The bottom seven teams of the Premier League each have at least one striker who is better than any of our three ‘assistant strikers’.
Our only decent striker is, unfortunately, injury prone.
6. Our midfield lacks imagination, is too defensive and makes too many poor passes which often lead to opposition attacks on the Liverpool goal.
7. The club do not defend well against corners.
8. LFC need four new top class players to be competitive with the top three teams.
9. The future looks bleak when even Everton (the little team) are so much more attractive to watch these days.
JE Chambers, Huyton
IT is becoming obvious that most Reds supporters are deeply concerned about where the balance of power on Merseyside is heading.
Whilst continuing to trot out all the tiresome ‘no trophies’ line whilst attempting to paper over their own substantial shortcomings, it’s safe to say that we’re a bit more than a two-man team these days.
With the exception of Reina, there’s only two players in Liverpool’s squad who’d get a game for Everton when everyone’s fit – and we all know who they are.
I predict we’ll finish comfortably above our red chums next season.
Robert Beard, Walton
LIVERPOOL need new players.
1. A creative, forceful midfielder. Xabi Alonso?
2. Defenders. Strong, attacking left-back: John Arne Riise or Alvaro Arbeloa. Sami Hyypia?
3. Attack: Big, strong support for Torres. Peter Crouch or Craig Bellamy?
A team with these players would still be in all the major competitions? Wishful thinking!
Jack Lester, Birkenhead
David Moyes: I’m confident Steven Pienaar will sign
Apr 24 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
DAVID Moyes is confident that Steven Pienaar will commit his future to Everton before the World Cup. The Toffees boss has given his strongest hint yet that he believes the 28-year-old will put pen to paper on an improved deal despite speculation linking him with a big-money move from Goodison. Moyes is relaxed about the ongoing talks between Pienaar’s agent and the club, and is quietly optimistic that the South African will help the Blues break into the top four next season. He said: “I feel quite comfortable with the situation, and that it’s moving along in the right direction. There has been quite a bit of dialogue. “It doesn’t make any difference if he hasn’t signed before the World Cup. He’s our player for next year so if it doesn’t then so be it. “But I don’t think it will go that far. I think it will be sorted out before then.”
Meanwhile, Moyes must contend with the possible absence of John Heitinga for the last three games of the season. The Dutchman has suffered a hairline fracture of his ankle, but has told his manager he will be fit to play some part in the run-in.
Jack Rodwell, who missed the victory over Blackburn Rovers last weekend, will be absent tomorrow against Fulham. The 18-year-old has a hamstring strain, but is expected to return for next weekend’s crucial away clash with Stoke City.
Moyes will wait until the end of the season before making his mind up on whether to sign Philippe Senderos on a permanent deal. He said: “He’s showed us a lot and has fitted in really well. He’s been competitive and has done quite well. “He’s been quite unlucky. He got the injury against Sporting Lisbon or he may have got a couple of games in the team at that time. “I needed him for a few games. Certainly Wigan away, and we wouldn’t have had a centre half against Sporting if he wasn’t available. We took over his contract for the six months and will make a decision at the end of the season. I think by his reaction and how well he’s trained, his positivity around the place, that he’s enjoyed his time here.” One player who is fighting to make a return in time for Everton’s pre-season is midfielder Marouane Fellaini. Moyes said: “Fellaini is doing well. He’s been given the go-ahead by the specialist next week to start swimming and biking. “That will be the first exercise he’s had in a while. He’s on pretty good course. I’m hoping he’s able to do pre-season but I’m just not sure if he might miss the start of the season. “He’s got the same injury as Van Persie and I’m not sure how lone he’s been out. It’s been rough. “I think he became a really good player for us and at 22 he has got a lot of room for improvement. I’m looking forward to getting him back. If we don't have too many injuries we’ve got a pretty good squad.” Yobo, Ayegbeni Yakubu and Victor Anichebe will be absent next week when Nigeria hold a two-day training camp in Britain. Swedish coach Lars Lagerback wanted to bring the players together as part of his preparations for the World Cup in South Africa in June. However the timing of the camp has been questioned as it comes close to the end of the season when teams have much to play for. Asked if he was comfortable with the situation, Moyes said: “No, none of them are going.”
Pienaar will stick with Toffees - Moyes
24.04.10 London Evening Standard
Everton manager David Moyes believes Steven Pienaar will pledge his long-term future to the club. The South Africa winger is attracting a number of suitors following an impressive season at Goodison Park. That has raised doubts he could be heading out with his agent stating he would like a new deal sorted out before the World Cup.
Moyes is relaxed about the situation, insisting there is no rush. Asked if he was confident a deal could be struck before the World Cup, he said: "Yes. The talks have been ongoing for a long time. I hope we will, I am sure we will."
Moyes added: "Steven Pienaar has found somewhere that suits him. The supporters like him. He did well at Ajax then went to Dortmund, it didn't happen for him.
"We brought him here on loan when he was a bit down and gave him that platform. I think he has found a good home." Like Pienaar there is also speculation about Jack Rodwell's future and Moyes added: "He has a four-year deal. Both players are under contract. It is not as if we are panicking, they are both Everton players."
Moyes will be without Dutch midfielder John Heitinga against Fulham on Sunday and probably the final two games of the season, as he has a hairline fracture of the ankle.
Heitinga sat out the victory over Blackburn last weekend after suffering the injury in the previous match with Aston Villa. Moyes said: "He doesn't think it is too bad and we don't think it is too bad. There is a chance he might not play again this season.
"It won't have any affect on his World Cup, he will be fine for that. He just needs a couple of weeks rest. It is a disappointment but he is determined to return before the end of the season. That's what makes him such a popular figure."
Everton FC 2 Fulham 1 - Mikel Arteta penalty keeps Europe hopes alive
Apr 25 2010
A last-gasp penalty from Mikel Arteta kept Everton’s hopes of Europa League football on the boil against a second-string Fulham side. With Thursday’s second leg of Fulham’s semi-final against Hamburg in mind, boss Roy Hodgson made nine changes for this game, coming within seconds of ending a run of 16 successive defeats at Goodison Park. Although Erik Nevland gave Fulham a 36th-minute lead against the run of play, Victor Anichebe hauled Everton level five minutes after his arrival as a half-time substitute before Arteta stroked home a face-saving winner deep into injury time. Hodgson rested eight players - Paul Konchesky, Aaron Hughes, Danny Murphy, Dickson Etuhu, Damien Duff, Zoltan Gera, Brede Hangeland and Simon Davies - with Bobby Zamora nursing an Achilles injury. For the first 36 minutes of the game they were over-run and barely in the match as Everton created, and wasted, a host of chances. The first of those came after 30 seconds as Mark Schwarzer, one of only two survivors from Thursday’s goalless first leg in Hamburg, smothered a 20-yard snap shot from Tim Cahill, making his 200th appearance for the Toffees in all competitions. That set the tone, yet remarkably Schwarzer was never called upon again until late in the first half when he stopped on the line a deflected effort from Yakubu. However, the right-hand post came to his aid in the second minute as Diniyar Bilyaletdinov cracked a left-foot volley against the base after Tony Hibbert had floated over a right-wing cross. One-way traffic followed with Cahill off target with a free header, Yakubu dragging a shot past the post after an error from defender Chris Smalling, whilst Cahill also drilled another low effort wide. What would have been an untried Fulham rearguard defended stoutly, putting bodies in the way. But then nine minutes from the break Fulham scored their first away league goal since a 3-2 defeat at Stoke on January 5, ending a blank seven-game run. It came courtesy of a howler from Leighton Baines, who played a nonchalant pass to Tim Howard without looking, allowing Nevland to nip in and flick the ball over the advancing American goalkeeper.
Nevland’s fourth this season also ended Fulham’s goal drought on Merseyside - against both Everton and Liverpool - at nine hours and 14 minutes, with their last in a 4-1 defeat at Goodison in April 2007. Fulham should have added a second shortly before the break when Stefano Okaka lofted a delightful chip into the area for Clint Dempsey to run onto, but with only Howard to beat, he volleyed over the crossbar.
At half-time boss David Moyes brought on Anichebe for Bilyaletdinov, which proved inspired as the striker levelled five minutes later. Arteta, nursing a stitched cut over his left eye following an incident at the end of the first period, supplied a dinked cross from the left-hand edge of Fulham’s penalty area. Yakubu attempted a dramatic scissor kick, fortunately just avoiding Anichebe’s head as he bravely nodded into the ground from six yards for what proved to be his second goal of the season as it took a slight deflection beyond Schwarzer’s outstretched grasp. Fortune then favoured Fulham as referee Lee Mason failed to spot an Anichebe cross hit Nicky Shorey’s left arm in the area on the hour. Ten minutes later Jonathan Greening’s intercept to Tony Hibbert’s right-wing cross flashed a yard beyond Schwarzer’s right-hand post.
Then within a minute a goal-bound downward header from Louis Saha, on as a 61st-minute substitute for captain Phil Neville, bounced off Dempsey and inches over the bar. It meant Fulham were still in the game, and they should have stolen victory, only for Stefano Okaka to shoot tamely into the welcoming arms of Howard after being played in by Nevland on a 76th-minute break. It was then Everton who had the chance to win it, but a defiant Schwarzer brilliantly saved from Cahill at point-blank range in the 80th minute, prior to a more routine stop from Arteta four minutes from time.
But with a draw on the cards, a Chris Baird foul on Cahill inside the area allowed Arteta to score from the spot with virtually the last kick of the game.
World Everton FC’s PHIL JAGIELKA ioptimistic about his chance of making Fabio Capello’s England squad
Apr 26 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
PHIL JAGIELKA is more optimistic than ever about his chance of making Fabio Capello’s England World squad after he helped Everton grab a last-gasp victory over Fulham. The centre-half believes he is in the perfect shape to shine in South Africa this summer, after finally overcoming his injury problems to start Everton’s last nine games. Jagielka said: “I feel as though I’m getting in some sort of shape. I feel I’m a lot sharper. I banged both my knees against Fulham which wasn’t ideal but it’s something I’m getting used to. “I see it as a win-win situation. If I don’t get to go I can have a nice break and let it recover a little bit, but if I do it’s something I never thought I’d be experiencing and I’d grab it with both hands. “I’m optimistic. The two first choice centre half spots are pretty much nailed down, maybe Matthew Upson is pretty much ahead of everyone else in third place, but there’s other spots up for grabs and you just never know. “Mr Capello has done some great things and picked some great squads and he’ll have an idea of how many centre halves he wants to take. But hopefully there’ll be Jagielka written down on a list somewhere.” Yesterday marked the first anniversary of the knee injury which ruled Jagielka out for 10 months, and the 27-year-old is pleased the ordeal is behind him. He said: “I didn’t realise it was a year to the day. It wasn’t good when I went down in the first half. It was a long 10 months, but I think back now and I’ve made nine starts since I came back. It’s sort of flown by.
“I feel like I’ve never been away and it feels nice to be involved with the lads all the time, because it’s a great bunch. “If I don’t get called up to the World Cup squad I won’t be sulking. I’ll enjoy those few weeks off and then ensure I come back in top shape for next season.” Jagielka claims Everton are capable of enjoying a special season in the forthcoming campaign, but maintains the Toffees still have something to play for with two games left. “For the lads to even give us a sniff to be in it with the last couple of games of the season is amazing,” said Jagielka. “The last three games have been last minute all the way. We basically just chucked everyone in there like the Alamo, it was like the good old days.”
Everton FC boss David Moyes refuses to take credit for profitable substitution against Fulham
Apr 26 2010 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES refused to take the credit for another profitable substitution yesterday. Yakubu scored within 22 seconds of coming on at Blackburn last weekend, and yesterday only five minutes had elapsed before half-time substitute Victor Anichebe equalised. This gave Everton the platform for a late, late victory over Europa League semi-finalists Fulham and keep their own faint Europa League hopes flickering. But Moyes said: “I’d rather have had a situation where I didn’t need to make the changes so early. “But the performance meant I needed to make changes quickly. “I’m really pleased with what the players have done in recent weeks. They’ve been great. “We didn’t play to the standards we’ve set in recent weeks but we got the result and we’ll move on to the next game.” Fulham boss Roy Hodgson described the 93rd-minute penalty award as “unbelievably harsh,” but Moyes countered: “I thought it was a penalty. I think the argument is that we shouldn’t have had the throw-in in the build-up. “But I don’t think anyone could deny we deserved the victory. We went for it, and I thought for 20 minutes in the first half we played well enough, tried to get in, made chances, but the goal we lost was poor and put everybody down for a spell.
“But we never gave in. We took a few chances in the second half, which meant we gave up one or two chances on the break, but we kept trying to get a goal from somewhere. “Mikel was a bit groggy after taking a whack on the head earlier. I think he had nine stitches in his eyebrow but he kept his nerve because it was a big penalty.
“He’s still a bit dizzy, so maybe I’ll try and convince him he’s Scottish!”
Everton now trail neighbours Liverpool by five points with two games remaining, and Moyes added: “We need to win our games and if something goes for us then we can see where we are. “We were a long way behind in October or November time and we’ve been trying to drum into the players that we need to try and keep on the front foot, try and win games and we got our rewards in the end.” Fulham manager Roy Hodgson left Goodison Park a depressed man after believing his team were robbed by a debatable last-gasp penalty. A Fulham side showing nine changes to the team that held Hamburg to a goalless draw in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final on Thursday came within seconds of ending a run of 16 successive defeats at Goodison Park. Instead, Mikel Arteta stepped up to slot home the penalty in the fourth minute of injury time after Tim Cahill had been felled by Chris Baird. Hodgson was not only annoyed with Lee Mason’s decision, but also the fact the move that led to the challenge on Cahill came from a throw-in conceded by Everton substitute Louis Saha.
“I thought the penalty decision was unbelievably harsh,” said Hodgson.
“We had a similar situation with Clint Dempsey and I didn’t make too much of a fuss about it. “But when that penalty decision goes against you, I wondered why I wasn’t more upset about the one we should have had. It’s a very sad way to end the game. We didn’t deserve it because it was a very good performance from the team.
“To lose it so late in the game to a debatable penalty is a sad outcome for what was otherwise a very good occasion for us. “I’m extremely depressed with the way a great result from a great performance was stolen from us in injury time. “The changes improved us because the players that played in Hamburg would have found it very hard to produce that level of performance. “We were taking a bit of a chance with players that hadn’t played much, but I had faith and confidence in them and they repaid that faith and confidence fully.”
David Prentice: Don’t pass up the chance to see this as Everton FC aim for Europe
Apr 26 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
ONLY the hopelessly optimistic arrived at Goodison Park yesterday believing a Europa League place for Everton next season was still possible. But optimists still abound amongst Evertonians. Like the fan asked on the pitch at half-time: “How many pints of Chang were consumed at the stadium last year?” His reply of 1.8million was only 1,731,000 out – perhaps he thinks the notoriously hard-drinking 1985 squad still pops in for a pre-match livener. But this current Everton side generates optimism. And the penalty award 25 seconds from the end of added time proved it was justified.
Mikel Arteta never looked like missing and the flickering European dream is now carried on to the penultimate weekend of the season. A Europa League place is still a long shot, of course. But Everton landed an even more unlikely long shot yesterday.
When the board announcing three minutes of added time went up, just as Louis Saha planted a free header wide of the target, Everton’s hopes looked all but extinguished.
But Arteta’s confidently drilled penalty kick means there is still a prize to play for – albeit a faint one with Liverpool now needing to win just one of their last two matches to deny them. You don’t need a prize to be dangled as an excuse to watch the Blues these days, though. Just watching Everton pass the ball is reward enough.
And that isn’t something you could say about the Blues with any confidence in recent times gone by. Only seven days ago it was reformed bon viveur Paul Merson – a man who could probably claim to have downed several million pints in his heyday – who declared that watching Everton keep the ball against Blackburn was akin to watching Barcelona! He wasn’t alone, with the BBC website making a similar claim.
Yesterday’s performance against a stubborn Fulham side fell some way short of that, but there were still sprinklings of cultured, classy football worth the entrance fee alone. Like the sweeping second minute move which ended with Diniyar Bilyaletdinov volleying sweetly against the outside of a post, or the little shimmy on the spot from Arteta which drew purrs of admiration. Ironically the goals which earned Everton three points came from a set piece and a misplaced Arteta pass.
Arteta retrieved his own errant ball with an outstretched right leg, Pienaar delivered a cute back heel, this time, Arteta crossed accurately with his left and Anichebe’s header drifted apologetically across the line. But even that suggested why Evertonians are so optimistic these days. David Moyes had brought on the goalscorer only five minutes previously, and with half an hour to go made an even more ambitious switch replacing skipper Phil Neville – who had performed well up until that point but was an undeniably defensive presence – with striker Saha. Everton’s adventure meant that they ran the risk of losing – Stefan Okaka prodded an excellent opening straight at Tim Howard – but they also created openings of their own. And when Tim Cahill was toppled by Chris Baird, referee Lee Mason pointed decisively to the penalty spot.
“Unbelievably harsh,” complained Fulham boss Roy Hodgson. It wasn’t, but then Everton were forced to do it the hard way. Fourteen times this season Leighton Baines has delivered the final pass for a goal. His 15th came in front of Fabio Capello’s number two, Franco Baldini – but sadly this time it was a poor back pass which gave Erik Nevland an opening he could hardly miss. Baines recovered his poise to produce a solid enough display, but it was another South African hopeful who could be even more pleased with his performance. Phil Jagielka has been asked to undergo altitude tests ahead of a potential call-up, with doubts over Rio Ferdinand’s fitness and John Terry’s form persisting, and he got better and better as the match wore on.
True, Fulham’s line-up was perhaps only of value to a Scrabble enthusiast – nine changes from the trip to Hamburg offering places in the 17 for Kagisho Dikgacoi, Pascal Zuberbuhler and plain old Mark Schwarzer – but he handled the willing if raw approach of Stefano Okaka well. A couple of times Jagielka left the Goodison crowd with their hearts in their mouth as he gingerly picked himself up from challenges clutching his knee, but his recovery from last season’s appallingly timed cruciate ligament injury looks all but complete. Everton’s recovery yesterday was just as well timed, allowing David Moyes the opportunity to celebrate his 47th birthday last night.
Even if he doesn’t have anything tangible to celebrate at the end of this season, he has still given Evertonians a reason to celebrate, too. This Blues side is worth watching whatever the scoreline.
Everton 2 Fulham 1: Greg O’Keeffe’s verdict on Everton’s late triumph over the Cottagers
Apr 26 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
But then, just when it seemed like a terse Sunday night was in store for the Moyes family, Mikel Arteta delivered a late present which put a smile back on the birthday boy’s face. The Spaniard’s ice-cool conversion of a penalty awarded with 23 seconds of injury time left, just about keeps Everton’s dreams of European football next season alive. Liverpool’s victory over Burnley means Europa League qualification is still the longest of long shots for the Toffees. The Reds appear unlikely to suffer the two defeats necessary for Everton to overtake them into seventh place.
But at least Moyes’ men now go into the final two games of the season with something to play for. Just as against Blackburn, the Toffees started impressively, suffered a shaky slump which appeared to be fatal and then snatched all three points by refusing to abandon their belief as the clock ticked down. Everton had signalled their intent within seconds, as Tim Cahill fired a low effort at Mark Schwarzer. Then Diniyar Bilyaletdinov volleyed a first-time Tony Hibbert cross against the post.
Unsurprisingly, given the relative weakness of Fulham’s starting side, Everton were enjoying all the early possession. Predictably, Roy Hodgson made nine changes from the team which drew in the Europa League semi-final last week, including eye-brow raisers like Kagisho Dikgacoi, try saying that after half a shandy, and John Arne Riise’s brother, Bjorn Helge Riise. It began to have the hallmarks of a leisurely stroll in the sunshine. Steven Pienaar looked as if contract woes were the last thing on his mind, when he delightfully jinked past a trail of Fulham defenders before falling over in the area. Everton’s passing was crisp and purposeful. Both full-backs were joining in effectively, and a goal constantly seemed moments away. But as those moments continued to elapse, Goodison became agitated. Fulham’s ambitions seemed to amount to simply not being steam-rollered, as the home fans sensed a cricket score.
So, when all Everton’s possession went unrewarded, the frustration factor began to rattle around the ground. Surely a goal was on the horizon? It was, and with the half in its closing stages, somehow it went to Fulham. Leighton Baines has had more assists than any other defender in the Premier League, but this was one he will not recall fondly. The usually immaculate left-back dallied on the ball in the area under only a modicum of pressure, and chose to slip a back pass to Tim Howard. Unfortunately he failed to spot the lurking Erik Nevland who gratefully latched onto the poorly weighted pass to slot home. Right on cue, the sunshine made way for grey clouds over Goodison. It was one of only two half chances Fulham had created Only contrary Everton could go a goal behind in a game like this, when everything so compellingly pointed to a home win. Fulham have never won at Goodison Park in the league, and the Blues have taken all three points from their last 16 meetings. Yet, it could have been worse. Stefano Okaka’s clever chip played in Clint Dempsey just before the break, and the American volleyed a decent opening high into the Park End.
It would be a cold-hearted individual who didn’t feel some sympathy for Everton’s players as they trudged into the tunnel. They were not exactly set for high fives and plaudits. Bilyaletdinov didn’t make it back out, replaced on the right flank by Victor Anichebe. And for the second game running, Moyes had made a change which reaped almost instant rewards. Roared on by a home support indignant at being behind to such a soft goal, Arteta and Pienaar linked up deftly, and the Spaniard’s cross to the far post found Anichebe’s head, and the ball bobbled past Schwarzer. It was Anichebe’s first league goal at Goodison since 2007, and hardly the sumptuous strike which Everton’s bright opening suggested, but enough to hand them back the momentum. Tim Cahill was denied by a point-blank Schwarzer stop moments after.
Soon Louis Saha appeared on the sidelines. But just when it seemed as if Yakubu’s afternoon was over, Phil Neville instead made way for the French striker, as the Blues boss went for the kill. Fulham were playing for the point, defending stubbornly and relying on the solidity of Mark Schwarzer. Their only real attacking threat Nevland was replaced, and yet they still found the occasional opening as the Blues pushed forward. Okaka squandered a clear opportunity to give his side the lead. Then when Schwarzer denied his compatriot Cahill again, after fine work by Yakubu, the three points which Everton needed so badly began to seem beyond them. That feeling of dread was only reinforced when Saha nodded a gilt-edged chance wide from a deep Baines cross. But then Chris Baird’s clumsy block on Tim Cahill saw Phil Dowd point to the spot. Step forward Mikel Arteta, with the birthday gift for his boss that money can’t buy.
Everton FC 2 Fulham 1: Mikel Arteta’s late winner means Everton’s still have outside hopes of snatching Europa League spot
Apr 26 2010 by David Randles, Liverpool Daily Post
DAVID MOYES was spared any gushing dedications from his players on his birthday. The public address announcer who gave the game away prior to kick-off yesterday may have something to answer for, but there were no emotional outbursts following Everton’s late, late win over Fulham. Mikel Arteta’s injury-time penalty kept alive Everton’s fading hopes of a Europa League position and ensured Moyes had a number of reasons to celebrate on his 47th big day. “How old is he, 63?” quipped Arteta afterwards. “I don’t think any of the lads knew it was his birthday.”
Not one for sentiment, that’s no doubt how Moyes wanted it. The Everton manager will know that, although his team again displayed the kind of spirit expected of a side challenging for Europe at this stage of the season, results elsewhere will have kept any celebrations in check. Aston Villa’s 1-0 win over Birmingham earlier in the day has put them out of sight and Martin O’Neill’s side are now guaranteed at least a Europa League place. Of more concern were events at Turf Moor. Liverpool’s 4-0 thumping of Burnley not only condemned the Clarets back to the Championship, but also meant anything less than a home win at Goodison would have spelled the end of the Blues’ quest for Europe. As it happened, Arteta’s late salvo, with a mere 25 seconds of injury time remaining, maintains a five-point gap between the Mersey rivals with two games to go. Reality dictates Everton are still depending on a monumental collapse across the park. But with a trip to Stoke next week while Chelsea arrive at Anfield, at least it keeps things interesting. Yes, it’s out of Everton’s hands but the fact they’re even in with a shout after a disastrous start to the season is a success in itself. A measly 14 points from their first 15 league games had some predicting relegation at this late juncture. Compare this to a run that now extends to just two defeats in the last 23 games and there is good reason for Moyes to be considered alongside Fulham manager Roy Hodgson when it comes to drawing up the manager of the year nominations in the coming weeks. Successive draws against Wolves, Villa and West Ham haven’t helped matters of late. But as shown by the gutsy displays that have turned two points into six over the past week, Moyes’ men continue to prove that where there’s a chance there’s hope. As Tim Cahill said at the weekend, all Everton can do is keep winning. Anything else will take care of itself. After popping up at the death to snatch all three points at Ewood Park a week earlier, Cahill handed over to Arteta yesterday. There are few things in football more gratifying than a last minute winner, and it was apt that the battered and bruised midfielder should convert it.
Wearing the captain’s armband and six stitches in a wound over his left eye that required treatment just before half-time, the classy Spaniard kept his composure to seal a man-of-the-match display. Victor Anichebe levelled matters from the bench after Fulham had taken a surprise lead through Erik Nevland against the run of play.
Although Everton made hard work of it, anything less than maximum points would have been a travesty. With nine changes to the side that put Fulham on the cusp of a first European final in Hamburg last week, the Cottagers clearly have other things on their mind. Their top flight status was secured weeks ago and, although the powers that be may take a closer look at Hodgson’s decision to make wholesale changes to his team, common sense would suggest he has earned the right to do so. In what was their 58th game of a gruelling campaign that began in earnest back on July 30 with a Europa League qualifier in Lithuania against Vetra Vilnius, only Mark Schwarzer and Chris Baird remained from the starting XI that drew in Germany four days before.
Given it was Baird who impeded Cahill for the penalty, Hodgson may wish he’d given the defender the day off too. Instead he was rueful of what he described as an ‘unbelievably harsh’ decision. Evertonians could argue that, as the last Fulham player between Cahill and Schwarzer, Baird was fortunate to stay on the pitch after obstructing the Australian. Referee Lee Mason had no hesitation and justice was served. Had Everton taken the host of chances created prior to this, Mason may have taken pity on the visitors and let Baird’s indiscretion go. Cahill had already tested Schwarzer before Diniyar Bilyaletdinov beat the Fulham goalkeeper with a rasping volley that ricocheted off the base of a post as early as the third minute.
Steven Pienaar then had a penalty claim waved away before Cahill and Yakubu – in for Louis Saha – got in each other’s way as Tony Hibbert sent in a teasing cross from the right. If anything, Everton could have been accused of complacency as they failed to punish a Fulham side that has won just once in what is now 17 away games in the league this season. It was ironic then when Nevland proved clinical following a ghastly lapse in concentration from Leighton Baines in the 36th minute. Under the watchful eye of England manager Fabio Capello’s number two, Franco Baldini, Baines left Tim Howard completely exposed with a wayward back pass that allowed Nevland to pounce and finish. It was a rare misdemeanour in an otherwise steady display from the left-back. There were few more relieved than Baines when Anichebe levelled matters four minutes after the break. Moyes was feted for introducing Yakubu at Blackburn last week. He can take credit for this piece of tactical tinkering also.
On for Bilyaletdinov, Anichebe provided some much needed muscle up front.
Prior to his coming off the bench, Fulham had got off lightly. It took Anichebe’s physical presence to bundle the ball over the line after some tidy play between Arteta and Pienaar on the left. Having also marked his birthday at the weekend, Anichebe’s was a much more welcome gift than the one Baines had handed to Fulham.
While Stefano Okaka missed a golden opportunity to put the Cottagers ahead again, Jonathan Greening was fortunate not to convert into his own net as Everton pressed for the winner. As it was, the icing on the cake was left to Arteta.
Still, the end of season party remains on ice for now.
From The Times
April 26, 2010
Mikel Arteta makes Roy Hodgson and Fulham pay for rotation policy
Everton 2 Fulham 1
Mikel Arteta left Goodison Park with seven stitches and Fulham departed feeling stitched up by the officials. With Thursday’s Europa League semi-final, second leg against Hamburg in mind, Roy Hodgson made nine changes, but while the names were different, the result was familiar. Fulham have gathered ten points on their travels this season, the same as Portsmouth, the only team they have beaten away in the Barclays Premier League. Entering the game, David Moyes’s side were on a run of ten home league fixtures without defeat; Fulham had last scored away in the league on January 5. Everton had won their past 16 league games at Goodison Park against yesterday’s opponents, who had not found the net on Merseyside for more than three years. They put that right after 36 minutes. Leighton Baines’s crass back-pass was intercepted by Erik Nevland, who finished low past Tim Howard. The lead lasted until the 49th minute when a soft header from Victor Anichebe, a substitute, went in after taking a significant deflection off Chris Smalling. A disputed penalty by Arteta four minutes into injury time settled the contest. The Basque’s aim was impeccable even though he was woozy after sustaining a head wound in a first-half collision with Kagisho Dikgacoi. Hodgson felt that a throw-in was wrongly awarded to Everton in the build-up and disagreed with the penalty, although it did appear that Chris Baird’s leg made contact with Tim Cahill’s midriff as the pair chased a loose ball.
Hodgson rotated like a centrifuge set to maximum spin. “The changes improved us because players who travelled to Hamburg would have found it hard to reproduce that level of performance,” he said. “This was one we could afford to lose.” One change was forced by Bobby Zamora’s Achilles tendon injury. “I’m not confident he will be ready for Thursday,” Hodgson said. While Fulham wait on their key striker, Everton’s Glaswegian manager, on his 47th birthday, was grateful for Arteta’s powers of recovery. “He feels a bit dizzy,” Moyes said. “I’ve told him he’s Scottish.”
Everton (4-4-1-1): T Howard 6 — A Hibbert 6, P Jagielka 6, S Distin 6, L Baines 5 — S Pienaar 5, P Neville 5 (sub: L Saha, 61min 5), M Arteta 6, D Bilyaletdinov 5 (sub: V Anichebe, 46 5) — T Cahill 6 — Yakubu Ayegbeni 5 (sub: J Baxter, 87). Substitutes not used: I Turner, J Yobo, P Senderos, J Wallace. Next: Stoke City (a).
Fulham (4-4-2): M Schwarzer 8 — J Paintsil 6, C Baird 7, C Smalling 6, N Shorey 7 — B H Riise 7, K Dikgacoi 6, J Greening 6, C Dempsey 5 — S Okaka 5 (sub: F Stoor, 89), E Nevland 6 (sub: D Elm, 78). Substitutes not used: P Zuberbühler, S Kelly, A Teymourian, C Buchtmann, M Briggs. Booked: Paintsil. Next: West Ham United (h). Referee: L Mason. Attendance: 35,578.
Everton 2-1 Fulham:
The Daily Mirror match report
By David Maddock
Everton left it so late for victory yesterday that even the fat lady had packed up her songsheet and waddled off home. But who knows how priceless Mikel Arteta’s penalty – awarded with precisely 25 seconds of added time remaining – may yet prove in their push for the final European place. Certainly, it means they can at least keep snapping away at Liverpool’s ankles in the race for seventh for another week. And given that their local rivals’ next match is against Chelsea, perhaps until the final weekend. That is the minimum David Moyes’ side deserve for their incredible run of form since the end of November, which has seen them lose just two League games, and rise from the relegation zone to the fringes of the European battle.
Again, against an impressive Fulham side they showed the incredible spirit that is under-pinning that form, even if they hardly showed the quality of recent months.
Indeed, the home side almost echoed their entire campaign in this one, ultimately entertaining contest. Complete rubbish in the first half, they rolled up their sleeves for much of the second before turning on the style in the latter stages. In the end, they were worth a victory – just – that came only after they’d turned around a first-half deficit. But if Moyes deserves great credit for keeping his side going at this stage of the season, then what about his counterpart at Fulham? Moyes is right – Roy Hodgson is a shoe-in for manager of the year. The Craven Cottage boss has performed miracles this season in not only taking his modest club to the verge of the Europa League final, but also maintaining his side’s level in the Premier League. Here, he did that even after making nine changes from the side that performed so well in Hamburg in midweek. And, for much of the game, Fulham were more than worthy of a point, with their astute manager instilling impressive tactical discipline. That explains Hodgson’s disappointment afterwards, especially for an essentially young reserve side he felt deserved far more reward for so bravely stepping up to the plate. “When you get such a debatable decision as that, then it is a sad outcome to a match when my side deserved much more,” he said. “To lose in the 95th minute under such circumstances is painful when we gave everything – especially with a harsh decision like that. I’m extremely depressed.” While Hodgson is right to say the decision was debatable, defender Chris Baird did make contact with Tim Cahill, when the Everton man was about to go clear on goal. So even if the fall was theatrical, the award was understandable. It capped a rousing comeback for Everton. They were completely disinterested in the first half, and when Fulham opened the scoring on 37 minutes, it was no surprise. The manner of it was though. Leighton Baines has been composed all season, so to see him hit a shocking back-pass that Eric Nevland fed on to finish with style, it was a complete shock. So was the home side’s lethargic response, as they almost fell further behind when Clint Dempsey was clear but volleyed over, and Stefano Okaka shot tamely when clean through. But Moyes’ men gradually rallied, creating chances through Cahill, Yakubu and Arteta – all wide – before Victor Anichebe rose to head a fine Arteta cross into the net, with the help of a big deflection off his shoulder and then Chris Smalling. That set up the exciting finale, and Arteta showed again he was the outstanding player on the pitch by converting under massive pressure. The Spaniard was woozy after needing seven stitches in a head wound following his painful, first-half collision with John Pantsil. It left Moyes happy, and not just because it was his 47th birthday. “I don’t think you can deny we deserved victory, we kept going, never gave in and risked a lot. In the end we got a reward for the chances we created,” he said. “Arteta had stitches in his eyebrow and still feels a bit dizzy after getting a knock in the eye, but he kept his composure, and did incredibly well.” As for Fulham, they can now look to Thursday, when they entertain Hamburg in the Europa League semi-final second leg. Bobby Zamora could be crucial to the outcome, but Hodgson admitted it is touch and go for his fitness. ”I’m not confident Bobby will be ready for Thursday,” he said. “I am hopeful, but that’s all – he’s having treatment and we will have to keep our fingers crossed.”
Everton track Dutch starlet Bob Schepers
By David Anderson
Everton are tracking Dutch starlet Bob Schepers. The Holland Under-19 star is under contract with Dutch club SC Cambuur until 2012 and they admit they would be prepared to do business with Everton for the right transfer fee. Cambuur director Alex Pama has confirmed that Everton have declared their interest, while Manchester United are believed to be monitoring Schepers' progress. "There is interest from English clubs and clubs from the Eredivisie," said Pama.
"However, Everton is the only club that has contacted me about Bob. It's not concrete yet, but they have scouted him regularly this season. Everton have been following Bob since the youth World Cup last summer. "We'd like to keep Bob, but we are open to a transfer if Everton or another club are willing to pay a decent transfer fee."
Premier League big guns send scouts to watch young Dutch winger Bob Schepers
By Sportsmail Reporter
Daily Mail 26th April 2010
Manchester United and Everton are monitoring highly-rated teenage Dutch winger Bob Schepers. The 17-year-old was watched by scouts from the Premier League duo during SC Cambuur-Leeuwarden’s match with RBC Roosendaal in the Dutch second division on Friday. Schepers, part of the Dutch U17 team that made the European Championship final last summer, is also attracting interest from Ajax, has two years to run on his contract.
Everton 2 Fulham 1: Battered Arteta on the spot to rock Hodgson's braves
By John Edwards
Daily Mail 26th April 2010
He was battered and bruised after an uncompromising aerial assault by John Pantsil, but Mikel Arteta gathered his scrambled senses just in time to keep alive Everton's slender European hopes at Goodison Park. Arteta sent keeper Mark Schwarzer the wrong way with a penalty in the final minute of added time, just as a Fulham side showing nine changes threatened to dash The pressure was immense, given the late juncture and Everton's desperate need for points. Arteta had been forced to leave the field before half-time after being clattered by Pantsil. The Fulham right back was booked after charging into Arteta and leaving him in need of lengthy treatment, but the midfielder had his revenge, as Everton launched one last attack, in the fourth added minute. Chris Baird was judged to have fouled Tim Cahill, as headers from Tony Hibbert and Louis Saha kept a throw-in arcing towards the area, and Arteta calmly stroked home a harsh-looking penalty award. It was the perfect birthday present for manager David Moyes, 47 yesterday, and he said: 'Mikel was really groggy and has had seven stitches in his eyebrow. That was great composure to convert the penalty. It was a big penalty, with so much riding on it, but he kept his nerve.
'We're not looking at Liverpool and wondering if we can catch them. We're concentrating on ourselves.' Fulham boss Roy Hodgson was almost inconsolable after seeing his patched-up side run Everton so close following Thursday's goalless Europa League away to Hamburg, who lost 5-1 away at Hoffenheim yesterday They went ahead in the 36th minute after Leighton Baines turned to roll a back pass to Tim Howard. Erik Nevland read his intentions and helped himself to a gift, lifting an assured finish over the advancing keeper. Everton were level in the 49th minute when Steven Pienaar's backheel allowed Arteta to float in a cross and Victor Anichebe scored with a looping header.Arteta then decided matters with the spotkick that Hodgson found so hard to take. The manager also stoutly defended his decision to retain just Schwarzer and Baird from Thursday's Euro starting line-up.
He said: 'It was an unbelievably harsh penalty. I find it difficult to be anything other than extremely depressed at seeing a point stolen after our performance.
'But I'd be absolutely amazed if the Premier League question today's team selection, because the changes actually improved us and gave us a better chance of winning. The players who put in 90 minutes against Hamburg would have found it incredibly difficult to produce that level of performance. 'We're so close to the Europa League final, and surely no-one can blames us for trying to make sure all players are fully fit for the return leg. I'm hoping Bobby Zamora fits into that category, but I can't say I'm confident.'
EVERTON (4-5-1): Howard 6; Hibbert 6, Jagielka 7, Distin 6, Baines 6; Bilyaletdinov 5 (Anichebe 46min, 6), Neville 6 (Saha 60, 6), Arteta 7, Cahill 7,
Pienaar 8; Yakubu 6 (Baxter 87).
FULHAM (4-4-2): Schwarzer 7; Pantsil 6, Baird 6, Smalling 5, Shorey 5; Riise 6, Greening 7, Dikgacoi 6, Dempsey 6;
Nevland 7 (Elm 78), Okaka 6 (Stoor 89). Booked: Pantsil.
Man of the match: Steven Pienaar.
Referee: Lee Mason.
Everton leave it late to beat weary Fulham and retain hopes of Europe
Everton 2-1 Fulham
Guardian Aril 26 2010
David Moyes's 47th birthday was ultimately one of great celebration. His side looked to be heading for a draw which, coupled with Aston Villa's and Liverpool's victories, would have meant the end of their hopes of qualifying for the Europa League, but they instead secured three points thanks to Mikel Arteta's stoppage-time penalty
A draw would have been a particular setback for Everton given that they came up against a Fulham side that contained nine changes from that which drew with Hamburg in their Europa League semi-final first leg on Thursday.
Roy Hodgson's decision to make sweeping changes to his side may irritate those who believe that such a decision denigrates the fairness of the Premier League, but it was hardly surprising given the relative meaningless of this fixture to the visitors as well as the fact that the second leg against Hamburg, which could see Fulham qualify for their first major European final, comes in four days' time. Tiredness was certainly an issue, too, given Fulham had to embark on a 17-hour trek by road to get to Germany.
Everton, therefore, were presented with the perfect opportunity to secure the victory that would maintain their chances of playing in the tournament next season and began in a manner that indicated that they would comfortably take up the chance.
Mikel Arteta was the difference between Everton's victory over Fulham and their defeat earlier in the season. Everton's second-rank attacking players, like Leon Osman, simply do not have the Spaniard's range of passing
Their pressing was relentless and their passing crisp, and it came as little surprise when a goalscoring chance was created as early as the second minute. Tony Hibbert swung over a cross from the right-hand side that found Diniyar Bilyaletdinov at the far post. The Russian controlled the ball well and hit a quick shot which looked to be sneaking in but instead clipped the post and went wide. More chances came for the hosts but remarkably it was Fulham who eventually took the lead. They were, though, aided greatly by Everton and in particular Leighton Baines. The full-back played a poorly weighted back-pass to his goalkeeper, Tim Howard, on 36 minutes which Erik Nevland was able to intercept and chip over the out-rushing American.
Clint Dempsey should have made it 2-0 just before half-time but instead lashed his close-range shot over the bar and Fulham were made to pay for that wastefulness five minutes after the interval when the Everton substitute Victor Anichebe headed in Arteta's cross from close range. Both sides had chances to win the game, with the clearest falling to Fulham's on-loan striker Stefano Okaka 13 minutes before the end. It looked, though, that there would be no further breakthrough. That was, however, until Chris Baird, one of two plays to survive from the midweek draw with Hamburg, brought down Tim Cahill in the area and Arteta hit the resulting spot kick low and beyond Mark Schwarzer in the Fulham goal.
Everton FC reserves end home campaign on low note
Apr 27 2010 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON lost their final reserve home game of the season at Halton Stadium.
A goal from Bolton’s Michael O’Halloran and a Zoltan Harsanyi penalty just two minutes later cancelled out Jose Baxter’s 23rd-minute opener. Andy Holden included Philippe Senderos in his starting line-up, and he played 45 minutes as he attempted to step up his comeback from injury. Baxter had the majority of Everton’s efforts on goal and scored following as mix-up between Trotters centre-back pair Chris Stokes and Stuart MacDonald. But that was as good as it got for the Blues. Holden’s side will play their final match of the season on Thursday, at Ewood Park against Blackburn Rovers.
EVERTON RESERVES: Turner, Mustafi, Garbutt, Peterlin (McAleny 66), Duffy, Senderos (Nsiala 45), Forshaw, Akpan, Wallace, Baxter, Donegan. Substitutes: Davies, Kinsella, Craig.
Everton FC striker Victor Anichebe claiming ‘his goal’ against Fulham
Apr 27 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
VICTOR ANICHEBE intends to fight to keep hold of his first Goodison goal for more than two years! The Everton striker looked to have scored the crucial equaliser against Fulham on Sunday when he headed Mikel Arteta’s cross past Mark Schwarzer. The goal was announced in the stadium as an Anichebe goal and most supporters celebrated the strike as having been scored by the Nigerian international.
But afterwards it emerged that the ball had glanced off Fulham defender Chris Smalling on its way into the net and some agencies credited it as an own goal.
“Some of the boys were saying it was an own goal but I’m claiming it,” declared Anichebe afterwards. “I headed it and it came off their player, so I’m definitely claiming it.” The confusion was doubly frustrating for Anichebe because it was first goal at Goodison Park since he scored the final goal in a 4-1 defeat of the same opposition in April 2007. His only two goals since then have come away from home at Stoke City and a stunning strike at Birmingham earlier this season. In between the 22-year-old was forced to endure almost a year on the sidelines following a gruesome challenge by Kevin Nolan at Newcastle last February. “I still feel like I’ve missed a lot of football which is down to the injury,” added Anichebe. “I feel really good and I feel as though my play is getting better, but obviously my fitness is down due to it being stop-start, stop-start. “As long as I can get my fitness up then I feel I can do good things. But the main thing is the results at the end of the day – the team ground out a good result, so I’m happy.” Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni has included Blues youngster Shane Duffy in a 23-man summer training squad.
The Everton centre-back will join up with the Republic’s senior squad for the first time having switched allegiances from Northern Ireland in February.
The 18-year-old is one of eight uncapped players who have been selected for the camp, which will take place for five days in Malahide, Dublin, from 16 May. “Training camps are useful for preparation as was proven by the one we held prior to our World Cup qualifying campaign,” said Trapattoni. “I look forward to working with these new players and learning first hand what they have to offer as we begin to prepare for the European Championship qualifiers.” Duffy will be hoping to earn a place in the squad for friendlies against Paraguay and England’s World Cup opponents Algeria at the end of May.
Mikel Arteta - Everton FC are good enough for the Champions League
Apr 27 2010 by David Randles, Liverpool Echo
MIKEL ARTETA is confident Everton can challenge for a Champions League place next season. A crippling injury list hindered the Blues’ progress in the first half of this campaign but they have come back strongly since the turn of the year.
And with a fully fit squad Arteta believes Europe’s elite competition is a realistic target for David Moyes’ team. Whatever happens between now and the end of the season, the Spaniard insists Evertonians can look forward to a bright future at the club. “I think we are good enough to get into the top four,” said Arteta.
“But it’s no good us saying that, without all of these problems, we could have been in there now. What we need to do first is keep everyone fit. Then we have to work really hard and do the right things. “But we’ve been on really good run for 20 or so games now. That’s all we can do right now, try to win the last two games of the season and leave a good feeling for the club and the fans over the summer. We can then build on that for next season.” Arteta returned from a serious knee injury in January.
He has been a key player in Everton’s resurgence and played a starring role in the 2-1 win over Fulham on Sunday. It was his cross that set up Victor Anichebe for the Blues’ equaliser. And Arteta kept his cool to convert an injury time penalty to secure maximum points. That was Everton’s second last-gasp win in the space of a week, following Tim Cahill’s late winner against Blackburn at Ewood Park. As well as a never-say-die attitude, Arteta has noticed a marked improvement in performances since his return to action. After a slow start to the season he says Everton have now taken a ‘big step forward’. “It’s in our character to keep fighting. That’s who we are,” said Arteta. “But we’ve improved because we have really good players now. We’ve been playing together for a long time. We know we have the confidence and ability to play that kind of football whereas maybe two years ago we used to play it long a lot more. “We know now that even if we are behind we can carry on and trust and believe we can still win. That’s what we try to do. “It has been a big step forward for us, in terms of the quality of players we have now and the way we control games. We look more comfortable, like we want to dominate games, not just get a goal and then sit back and try to nick the points. “We changed a few things and started to play better last year, but I think the last few games have taken us on another step.”
Kirkby residents call for new shops to replace Everton FC stadium plan
Apr 27 2010 by Staff Reporter, Liverpool Echo
HUNDREDS of residents have called for new shops and a supermarket to replace shelved plans for a new Everton FC stadium. The £400m proposal to build a new ground for the Blues in Kirkby was rejected by the government last year.
It was part of a larger Destination Kirkby scheme, including a Tesco superstore and other high street shops. Now more than 1,600 people have responded to a request from Knowsley Council to set out what they think should replace the collapsed scheme. Officials are now putting together a detailed report but confirmed new shops and a food superstore were “clearly emerging” as a top priority. “These initial findings give us a very clear steer on what the community wants us to focus on and we will be sharing this feedback with our partners.” Tesco spokesman, Michael Kissman, said: “We are pleased the council had such a good response from people in Kirkby and encouraged to find so many people listed retail as being the top priority for them.
“We remain committed to investing further in Kirkby town centre and delivering the improvements to retail the community says it wants. “We will use this feedback to develop some exciting plans. “We are keen to progress quickly and will consult the community on our ideas over the coming weeks.” Residents also called for better transport links and asked about the future of existing buildings in the town centre.
Mr Kavanagh added: “As plans for the town centre remain undeveloped at this stage, I understand people’s concerns and uncertainty. “I would like to assure the community we have no plans to close or demolish either the council offices or civic suite.
“We are now progressing with plans to demolish the former swimming baths, which will hopefully clear the way for new development and improve the town centre’s general appearance.”
I’d never give David Moyes ‘my blessing’ to leave Everton FC - Bill Kenwright
Apr 27 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON chairman Bill Kenwright today insisted that David Moyes is going nowhere as he rubbished rumours linking him with Manchester United.
The theatre impresario is fed-up with growing speculation which has suggested that Moyes will one day leave Goodison Park for Old Trafford. One Sunday newspaper report even claimed Moyes would be allowed to leave for the Manchester club with Kenwright’s blessing, after he was nominated by Alex Ferguson as the man to succeed him when he retires. Both Moyes and Ferguson have dismissed the reports, and now Kenwright wants to draw a line under the rumours once and for all, and insists there has been no such agreement between the clubs. He said: “It’s absolute nonsense to infer that we would let David depart for Manchester United with our blessing.
“If a day like that ever did occur, Evertonians know that I would fight tooth and nail to keep our manager where he belongs. “Everyone will have read both David Moyes and Alex Ferguson’s comments and what they both describe as typical summer speculation madness. David Gill and I have a similar friendship to David and Alex Ferguson, and we too have laughed it off.”Kenwright made Moyes Everton’s highest paid manager ever 18 months ago, when the Scot signed a lucrative contract to stay in Merseyside. And it is not just Kenwright who is keen to see the end of any rumours about Moyes leaving Goodison. Defender Phil Jagielka believes he has flourished under the former Preston North End boss, and is looking forward to playing for him for many years to come. He said: “David brought me here and has improved me as a player. You look at how comfortable I feel at a top six club in the Premier League. He has made us that with a limited budget and you look at what he has done with the players. “All the way around the changing room he has not bought that many finished products. He’s got ones that are nearly there and took them to another level. I’ll always be quick to thank him for that. I think it works both ways and he has seen something in me he likes too. “He’s done a fantastic job and I think he knows that himself. Going to Man U is a different thing. The cheque book might be a bit bigger but it can be harder to keep pulling the good ones out of the bag.”
ACADEMY FOOTBALL: Back-to-back victories keep Everton under-18s in contention for title
Apr 27 2010 by Chris Wright, Liverpool Daily Post
QUICK back-to-back victories over Crewe Alexandra and Newcastle United mean Everton under-18s remain in the hunt to top the FA Premier Academy League Group C section. Neil Dewsnip’s youngsters followed up a 2-0 victory over Crewe on Thursday with a 1-0 success over Newcastle. Everton have four games left and are four points behind leaders Manchester United, who they face next month in what looks like a potential title decider. Against Newcastle, Everton deserved their victory, with Jake Bidwell scoring what turned out to be the winner on the hour, firing home after a good run into the box. On Thursday Everton beat Crewe thanks to two second-half goals from midfielder Tom Donegan. Dewsnip said: “We have had a good few days. It was a very competitive game against Crewe. We scored a terrific team goal to open the scoring and it was a good performance.”Everton have the chance to close in on Manchester United if they win at Stoke City this evening (kick-off 6.30pm) and at Crewe on Saturday (KO 11am). United face a derby clash at Manchester City today.
Dewsnip added: “We are playing under great pressure at the moment.
“We have got so many games in so many days. Last week we played at Barnsley on the Saturday, the reserves played Monday, we played Thursday and Saturday. This week the reserves play tonight, we play Tuesday, the reserves play Thursday and we play Saturday. “It is mad and how they are getting through it, let alone successfully, has really impressed me. “We hope we can win the next one and just keep the momentum going.”
EVERTON UNDER-18s (v Newcastle): Davies, Bidwell, Murphy, Barnett, Barrow, Donegan, Kinsella, Barkley, Craig, Forrester (Dobie 80), Hope (Thompson 75). Subs: Roberts, Orenuga, Cummins.
EVERTON UNDER-18s (v Crewe): Davies, Bidwell, Murphy, Mustaphi, Barrow, Donegan, Kinsella, Barkley, Craig, McAleny, Hope. Subs: Forrester, Roberts, Orenuga, Cummins.
Everton Res 1 Bolton Wanderers Res 2
9:03pm Monday 26th April 2010
The Bolton News
VICTORY over Everton could not prevent Wanderers finishing bottom of the Barclays Premier Reserve League North for a third successive season.
John Henry’s side signed off in style thanks to two goals inside a minute at the Stobart Stadium in Widnes. Jose Baxter grabbed a first-half opener for Everton but a superb Michael O’Halloran finish and Zoltan Harsanyi’s penalty after the break sealed a fine comeback for battling Bolton. Wanderers were grateful to a superb save from Rob Lainton early on to deny Baxter, one of six players to have appeared in the Blues’ first team in this season’s Europa League. But the goalkeeper was helpless when the Merseysiders were gifted the lead following a terrible defensive blunder on 24 minutes. Centre-backs Rhys Bennett and Chris Stokes inexplicably tackled each other and Baxter took advantage of the break down in communication to slot home. Everton’s superior experience showed and Hope Akpan and Baxter, twice, went close to extending their lead. But the game was turned on its head inside 60 crazy seconds. First O’Halloran latched onto a wayward back pass but still had plenty to before drilling home a 59th-minute equaliser. And less than a minute later Bolton were in front. O’Halloran’s pace caused mayhem in the Everton defence again and Shane Duffy tripped the Scottish striker inside the penalty area. Harsanyi made no mistake from the spot. Bolton’s youngsters held on for a rare league win and gave themselves the perfect boost ahead of their Manchester Senior Cup final with Manchester City. Date and venue still to be confirmed.
Wanderers: Lainton, Riley, Blakeman, Stokes, Bennett, MacDonald, Campbell (Sampson 46), Sheridan, Vaz Te, O’Halloran, Harsanyi. Subs not used: Burns, Lynch, Irwin, Statye.
Everton FC set to beat Wigan Athletic to Sporting Gijon defender Roberto Canella
by Jack Failsworth.
April 27 2010 Click Lancashire
Everton FC set to beat Wigan Athletic to Sporting Gijon defender Roberto Canella
It is reported that Everton FC boss David Moyes is set to snatch Sporting Gijon full-back Roberto Canella from under the noses of Wigan Athletic. The Spain U-21 international has been a long-term target for Latics boss Roberto Martinez and he will be bitterly disappointed to miss out on the defender. The Sunday Times claims Toffees boss Moyes is now in advanced talks with Sporting about a deal for Canella ahead of the summer market. It was anticipated that Canella would move to Real Madrid at the beginning of this season but no deal was agreed. The player also rejected an offer from Stoke City last summer.
April 27, 2010
Everton: will we ever learn to love Rooney
It's by no means a new phenomenon. Moving from having nothing to having everything generates jealousy and hatred. And it's by no means a bad thing. After all a chip on the shoulder and a burning competitive edge are the fuel that keeps the Rooney engine purring. But it's still wrong. Ollie Kay was right to shine a light in the faces of the internet trolls posting nasty rumours in dark corners, but lots of the things written about another footballer, Wayne Rooney, are plastered over newspapers and no one questions them. After the Black Death, when society was tossed upside-down, privileged paymasters bemoaned the fact that upstart men of lower class were wearing squirrel skin coats. Even Dick Whittington, living the American Dream when it was firmly an English one, had to be given a mythical cat so that the upper classes could somehow explain the commoner's rise to riches. Fast forward a few hundred years and you have Wayne Rooney, England's great white freckled hope, and prime fodder for press inches. Sadly, to a slice of society, his looks, his accent, and even his class, matter more than his abilities. The worn old adage that form is temporary and class is permanent holds true in another sense for Rooney. No matter how well he does on the pitch, he's always reminded of where he came from. Wayne came into our world feet first, but his indelible talent has always had to compete with snide comments. Press attention began early for him, on his first proper holiday abroad his family were pictured staggering out of the sea, portrayed as a trio of Scouse Swamp Things under the headline "See The Rooney Walk!" Thankfully lots of football fans don't think that way. I still remember when he turned Lucas Radebe with such aplomb that it was like watching Fred Astaire. We hadn’t won at Elland Road for half a century. His goal against Arsenal looped over Seaman and shattered their unbeaten record like a vandal’s brick – and he scored again at their place. The sturm and drang of early Rooney is fading, he still has the fire in his belly, but his discipline is growing. Since swapping blue for red he’s gone on to greatness at Old Trafford and with England - opposing teams fear him, but others outside the eye of the storm snigger.
Some in the press tell us that Rooney's son Kai has inherited his father's looks, and then they tell us that it is a shame. These critiques have to stop; there’s something wrong with a society that attacks its greatest child prodigy. How many people storm to the peak of their profession at 16 – and are still taunted mercilessly? When Wayne and Colleen moved to their new house, the headline that greeted the news was withering: "Coleen and Wayne move into Chav Towers". Rooney's isn't well educated in the typical sense, he spent his salad days pummelling the pavement with footballs, like a boxer's fists to a punch bag. All that time in the street playing has produced erudite, educated feet. He honed his craft there; the streets of Croxteth were his dojo, just as Dixie Dean's was his local church roof, where he perfected his legendary heading.
People make the ill-advised mental shortcut of drawing a parallel between Wayne from the north west, and Paul from the North East - somehow funneling all the frustrations about Gazza's ultimately disappointing career into Rooney. Abroad he is "a mix of bison and a viper," here he is a chav, a cultural clodhopper, and the missing link between Waynetta Slob and Shrek. English Football is lashed to the mast of "class" like no other country in Europe. Forget about the fact that the Premier League has attracted a sea of middle class fans, we take players from only one strata - and then we taunt them for what they are. "Rooney" is somehow a byword for being vulgar and yobbish - when in reality that's just what we are.
Kenwright rubbishes Moyes speculation
April 27 2010
Everton chairman Bill Kenwright has "laughed off" speculation manager David Moyes is poised to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United. Moyes last week described as "nonsense" reports he was being lined up to take over at Old Trafford when his long-serving fellow Scot eventually decides to step down. Kenwright is equally unimpressed and is determined the 47-year-old, who recently celebrated eight years in charge at Everton, should stay at Goodison Park. Kenwright told the Liverpool Echo: "It's absolute nonsense to infer that we would let David depart for Manchester United with our blessing. If a day like that ever did occur, Evertonians know that I would fight tooth and nail to keep our manager where he belongs."
He added: "Everyone will have read both David Moyes and Alex Ferguson's comments and what they both describe as typical summer speculation madness.
Everton FC targets set for Standard Liege exit
by Aaron Sharp. Published Tue 27 Apr 2010 18:14 Both Witsel and Defour are ex-team mates of Marouane Fellaini. Reports in the Belgian media this week have told of the impending departure of two Everton midfield targets from Standard Liege.
Team skipper Steven Defour and midfield battler Axel Witsel are two of Liege's most valuable assets. Thought to have been the driving force behind the Belgian champions' back to back title victories in '08 and '09 seasons, the pair are likely transfer targets after an unimpressive campaign sees Liege currently lying 9th in the table. Witsel is the type of tenacious midfielder thought to be favoured by Blues boss David Moyes. After winning the Belgian young footballer of the year award in 2008, Witsel was handed an eight match domestic ban after breaking the leg of an Anderlecht player. Disciplinary problems since have seen the 21 year old fall out of favour, making him a prime candidate for admiring managers, thought to be Martin O'Neill and David Moyes Defour was subject of an approach by the Blues last summer and Everton may regret not striking the deal when they had the chance.
A regular in Dick Advocaat's Belgium midfield, the 22 year old’s list of admirers has grown substantially since last year. Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal are all thought to be in the chasing pack with along with Everton.
Since Everton's two rejected bids last summer Defour has stated: “I have achieved what I wanted to achieve with Standard.” “Maybe it is best for my career to make an upward step. I feel the time is right for me to move on.” With such a poor show by Liege in their domestic league, a transfer looks immanent.
Everton FC fans letters: Steven Pienaar can go for right price
Apr 28 2010 Liverpool Echo
A HARD fought victory against a stubborn, well disciplined Fulham side, who realistically deserved a draw from the game. Again, Anichebe came off the bench and made an impact showing pace and strength, especially for the equaliser. But the concerning factor this week for the Blues is the Pienaar situation. He has done exceptionally well during his time here and therefore deserves parity with the high earners of the club. If, lamentably, his heart is set elsewhere, then Everton must be totally pragmatic and sell him for as much money as they can get. The figures quoted of £14-£16million would be excellent business considering the Blues bought him for £2million. Equally, there are a number of quality Premiership players available for free at the end of the season ie. Stephen Ireland, who would be a welcome addition.
If Everton do intend to sell the money could be appropriated to buy players such as Mkobani, or Landon Donovan.
WELL, we gave it our best shot but it looks like we’re going to fall just short of Europe. Our priority now is to convince our more senior players that Everton is the right club for them. There’s no doubt that when everyone’s fit, plus with a few necessary additions, this club can seriously give any team in the Premiership a game – convincing wins against United, Chelsea and Manchester City have proven this.
Let’s just hope we don’t have our now customary rubbish start to the season and really put a marker down from the off.
Frankie Lee, Walton
Everton FC must keep our star names, says Phil Jagielka
Apr 28 2010 by James Pearce, Liverpool Echo
PHIL JAGIELKA insists holding on to their star names is more important than Everton splashing the cash in the transfer market this summer. The Goodison defender believes the club’s current nine-game unbeaten run highlights the strength of David Moyes’ squad. It’s unlikely to be enough for Everton to force their way into the European places but Jagielka is excited about what the club could achieve next season if they can keep the current crop together. However, the 27-year-old expects Everton to have to bat off plenty of unwelcome attention from rival clubs once the transfer window opens. “The challenge this summer is to keep everyone together,” he said.
“It’s only natural when your good players play well that clubs with big cheque books will come calling. “When that happens and bids are put in it’s a massive pat on the back for those players. “What you don’t want is for that pat on the back to turn into anyone waving goodbye to the place. It’s going to be hard but we don’t want to lose key players. “The good thing is the club is stable enough not to have to accept just any old bid. “But by the same token everyone has their price.” One player who has been linked with a move away from Goodison Park this summer is Steven Pienaar.
The South African international has enjoyed a fine season and only has a year to run on his current contract.Moyes is confident Pienaar, who joined Everton from Borussia Dortmund for £2m in 2007, will pen a new deal and Jagielka believes the midfielder will commit his future to the club. “It’s massively important we keep hold of Steven,” Jagielka added. “I think Steven loves playing for Everton and it’s certainly not a case of him being desperate to go. “He’s only got one year left on his contract so there’s bound to be interest from elsewhere. “He just needs to know where the club are going and how they see him being part of that. “I’m sure everything will be cleared up and I don’t think there will be a problem. “Hopefully we can get him signed up for as long as possible because he’s a quality player.” Meanwhile, Mikel Arteta has set his sights on forcing his way into Spain’s World Cup squad. The Everton midfielder, whose late penalty secured a 2-1 victory over Fulham on Sunday, has been in great form since he returned to action from a long term knee injury. Arteta knows Spain have a vast array of midfield talent but he is refusing to give up hope of securing a place on the plane to South Africa. “I’m thinking positively that I can maybe get a call-up – you never know,” Arteta said. “But it’s not going to be easy as we’ve got some terrific players in the middle of the park. “I just need to wait and see what happens in May.”
Arteta, who has netted six goals in 11 starts since his return from injury, believes playing club football outside Spain has damaged his hopes of representing his country.
“Some of the players in competition are at big clubs and winning trophies. Playing in Spain is different,” he added. “But I’ve been working hard and I’ve been spending a lot of time in training to improve all the areas of my game and hopefully you can see that on the pitch as well.”
NIGEL MARTYN: New striker would just cause Everton FC more problems
Apr 28 2010 Liverpool Echo
I HAVE to disagree with the fans who say Everton need to sign another striker in the summer. Even though there are times they could have been more clinical in front of goal this season, I don’t think bringing in another centre forward is the answer.
In Louis Saha and Yakubu the Blues have two quality forwards, and you can see from this campaign that it’s rare they start a game as a partnership. Then you recall they have the goals of Tim Cahill, and two youngsters in Victor Anichebe and James Vaughan who have already proved they can find the back of the net when called upon.
I still don’t think David Moyes has the personnel to start playing 4-4-2 regularly, and it is hard enough to keep two top strikers happy when they are not starting all the time, let alone three. The only thing you could argue which is lacking from Everton’s forward options is searing pace. That’s why you could believe reports that David Moyes really has been scouting Jermaine Beckford of Leeds. Beckford can make very quick runs off the shoulder of the last defender. But there’s another dilemma. Watching him, I don’t think he could play as a lone striker, so you’d be asking someone who can hold the ball up to play alongside him. It just causes more problems than it solves as far as I’m concerned. The competition for places is going to be very tough next season already – particularly in midfield where the manager has a lot of very talented players at his disposal. It will be a perplexing task for David Moyes to find the right blend of players, especially when he has everyone, including Marouane Fellaini, fit. For me, playing five in the midfield is still the answer. As Everton have proved so impressively this season, it is no longer a negative formation.
Moyes rumours won't go away
BILL KENWRIGHT understandably wants the rumours linking David Moyes with the Manchester United job to go away once and for all. He is probably fed up of the talk about his manager leaving straight away should Alex Ferguson ever retire.
Sadly, the rumours are inevitable, and Moyes will be linked with the job again. What’s more, should United ever come calling, could you honestly say that Moyes doesn’t deserve a crack at it? Given the constraints he has worked under at Goodison, could David be blamed if he wanted to suddenly manage a club where money is no object? It would be very difficult for him to turn such a job down, and whatever happens he will be one of the main contenders. This summer, Everton will give him everything they can, and we just have to hope he picks the right players again.
* I WAS very pleased to be back at Goodison on Sunday for the game against Fulham.
I made the trip north with my wife, son and daughter in tow, and was reminded once again what a welcoming, warm club this really is. I popped in to see the gaffer and Jimmy Lumsden before kick-off, and I was up on stage in one of the lounges beforehand predicting the score. Having seen Fulham’s team sheet and knowing their focus would be on the second leg of their Europa League semi-final, I guessed the Blues would win by three or four. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the greatest game I’ve had the pleasure of taking in at Goodison. When Bilyaletdinov had that early chance, there only seemed like being one outcome. But Everton’s momentum soon faded and we began to make hard work of it. Luckily, we got the result but it hasn’t done much to improve our chances of European qualification. The teams around us haven’t faltered and even Villa, who I tipped to tail off, have had a fantastic run. It looks like eighth place is probably as good as it gets, and by next weekend we’ll probably be out of our misery. If Liverpool beat Chelsea that’s that. But even if Chelsea get the better of Liverpool, relegated Hull are unlikely to get a result against them. Even without the prospect of Europe next season, there is an awful lot to be positive about.
Everton FC's Mikel Arteta not giving up on place in Spain’s World Cup squad
Apr 28 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
MIKEL ARTETA is desperate to finish the season at his sparkling best for Everton – and bag a last-minute place in Spain’s World Cup squad. The Spaniard has scored six goals in just 11 games since his return from a 12-month injury lay-off, and won plaudits again with his display during Sunday’s victory against Fulham at Goodison.
Arteta, who held his nerve in injury time to coolly convert the winning penalty, hopes his return to form has come at the right time to be noticed by Spain boss Vincente Del Bosque. He said: “I’m thinking positively that I can maybe get a call-up – you never know. "But it’s not going to be easy as we’ve got some terrific players in the middle of the park. “I just need to wait and see what happens in May. I’ve been working hard and I’ve been spending a lot of time in training to improve all the areas of my game and hopefully you can see that on the pitch as well. “Some of the players in competition are at big clubs and winning trophies. Playing in Spain is different."
Spain are 4/1 favourites to scoop the biggest prize in football this summer, their first game is in Group H against Switzerland. Meanwhile, John Ruddy has admitted that an approach from Scottish giants Celtic would tempt him to finally make a permanent move away from Merseyside. Ruddy has enjoyed an impressive loan spell at Motherwell this season, were he has kept 14 clean sheets in 31 games, and appears to see his future in Scotland’s Premier League. The imminent arrival of Slovakian keeper Jan Mucha at Everton has pushed Ruddy further down the pecking order, and he is keen to carry on playing first team football elsewhere. He said: “They (Celtic) are a massive club and qualification for Europe is guaranteed every year. If an offer came in I’d discuss it with my family and decide what to do – but I wouldn’t say no to any move because I need to play.”
Peter Reid salutes Everton’s Smash Hits of 1984/85 as new DVD is launched
Apr 28 2010 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
THEY did it differently in the old days. Peter Reid’s eyes narrowed like a Cold War assassin, his voice hushed conspiratorially, as he hissed: “Brace teed him up and I . . . . well I just smashed him. That’s the way it was.” It was Brian Marwood, later to become chairman of the PFA, who had been on the receiving end of Reid’s vigilante style justice – but then five minutes earlier he had just ended Adrian Heath’s 1984/85 season with an X-rated challenge. Everton’s midfield enforcer recalled the incident as if it was yesterday. And he and his team-mates recalled plenty more as the club celebrates the 25th anniversary of the greatest season in Everton’s history with a special two-hour long DVD release. Almost every member of that historic 1984/85 squad is interviewed, with plenty of archive footage from a season which saw Everton land the League Championship, the club’s first European trophy – and were the width of a goalpost away from a then unprecedented treble. Much of the footage is familiar – although the famous Sunderland slaying is viewed from the Main Stand rather than the now familiar BBC gantry on Bullens Road, giving a fresh perspective – and there are less regularly seen reruns of the Goodison romps over Stoke City and Norwich.
But it’s the interviews which sparkle The banter around a Goodison Park tabletop between Graeme Sharp, Kevin Ratcliffe, Peter Reid and Andy Gray still brings a lump to the throat and a shiver to the spine. Younger fans who weren’t around when Gray’s infectious enthusiasm and warrior like forward play proved one of the catalysts for a halcyon era, should pay particular attention. Forget the occasionally disingenuous Sky analyst who sometimes sounds like he struggles to remember his time at Goodison Park. Gray’s Evertonian tendencies shine through – not least when he’s talking about how he reclaimed the number nine jersey before an away trip to Leicester.
“Because I was injured at the start of the season Sharpy wore nine, which I’d always worn before, then when Adrian went out of the team I took his shirt, which was eight,” said Gray. “I played eight or nine games with number eight on my back and never scored a goal. “The Leicester game Sharpy was injured and Trevor Steven was up front with me, so I thought I’ll take nine today. “So I took the nine, scored a couple of goals and kept the nine for the rest of the season – went on to get a hat-trick in Europe, scored goals in the other big games and the European Cup Winners’ Cup final. “So is there magic in the number nine for me? “I certainly think so as far as Everton are concerned!” There was also magic in the air when Everton claimed their first win at Anfield for 14 years one autumnal afternoon in 1984. Gray believes that victory was the day which convinced Howard Kendall’s emerging young side they could achieve something meaningful. “The win at Anfield really gave the lads belief,” he added. “Everything about our game that day – and I should know more than anybody because I was sat watching, couldn’t have been more impressive.
“This was obviously our biggest test of the season because they knew, they sensed ‘hold on a minute, this lot are on a roll. We’ll have to watch them this year’ and I think they were out to squash us down, stick us away. “I thought the way we went about it as a team, the way you lads went about it as a team was sensational. I think it was one of the most mature performances I’ve ever seen.” For Kevin Sheedy the following weekend’s 5-0 annihilation of Manchester United was the turning point.
“That was the nearest to perfection I’ve experienced,” he said. That grand old footballing sage Joe Mercer certainly agreed, describing it as one of the best Everton performances he had ever seen. Kevin Ratcliffe believed Everton came of age a few days later, when they went to Old Trafford in the League Cup – and beat United again.
“Revenge was in the air that night,” he recalled. “They had Whiteside, McGrath, Robbo – that was a physical night. But we still won.” Every member of that incredible squad is saluted – from Magnum lookalike physio John Clinkard, the late and sadly missed Mick Heaton, coach Terry Darracott and squad men like Ian Atkins, Paul Wilkinson, Alan Harper and Kevin Richardson. Then there was the goalkeeper, Neville Southall. “Obviously he’s the best goalkeeper Everton have ever had, the best player that I have ever played with and one of the best players I have ever seen in football. He was unbelievable,” purred his skipper, Kevin Ratcliffe.
But then there was so much to purr about in 1984/85.
lEverton’s Greatest Season – 1984/85 Season Review DVD is available now from official Everton stores and evertondirect.com RRP: £15.99.
The Jury: Everton FC fans on the Fulham win and the Blues' European hopes
Apr 29 2010 Liverpool Echo
TONY SCOTT, Walton
THE fat lady had sung her last note as she was walking down Goodison Road by the time Mikel Arteta slotted and kept our thin European hopes alive on Sunday.
Not getting into Europe is a concern but not a disaster because we don't budget our football club banking on European success like other football clubs do.
It’s been a frustrating season overall with the highlights ranging from Pienaar’s goal at Arsenal, Landon Donovan, Leighton Baines, Marouane Felliani, and also the Manchester United and Chelsea games. The lows were our two trips to Lisbon and the Merseyside derbies too. We have to win at Stoke on Sunday to keep up our slender chances of European qualification and also good luck to Liverpool on Sunday!
RICHARD KNIGHTS, West Derby
I’VE got those end of season blues… There really isn’t much to play for, little hope of breaking into the top seven. The agony or the ecstasy postponed. The title might be going down to the wire, but at least we’ve been excused the excruciating experience known as ‘Survival Sunday’ – cue film of traumatised men and weepy children, get over it, it’s relegation the end of human civilisation it isn’t! Or as Shankly might have said, ‘It’s worse than that’. The game against Fulham Reserves (official fan count 149) was a typical end of season no-show, dead rubber, CBA type of game.
The late spring sunshine added to the soporific effect. With Schwarzer the type of keeper who dominates his penalty area, why did we hoof the ball in the air? Thankfully the introduction of young Vic at half-time was the real game changer.
So Stoke on Saturday, over the top tackles, taking the man not the ball, putting the head in and that’s just in the opposition changing room!
COLE FRASER, Litherland
WITH an eighth place finish pretty much confirmed, I think we took the foot off the gas a little on Sunday. At this stage of the season, we have become accustomed to either battling to climb a position or to hold onto one. I think we were easily the better team and were worthy of the points, despite seemingly snatching it in injury-time. I think that had we played that side, with something more to play for, then we would have wiped the floor with them. Had Mikel Arteta been available during the first-half of the season, I think we would now be amongst the teams battling for fourth spot. Since his return, Mikel has been instrumental in the heart of our midfield, grabbing six goals in 11 games. Even since his recent lay-off he has picked straight up where he left off. To think a player of such raw ability and talent has never been considered to represent his country is unbelievable.
MICHAEL DRUMMOND, Speke
GETTING the three points against Fulham on Sunday was fully deserved in my opinion. Aside from our moment of madness where we practically gave Fulham the lead, Tim Howard had more or less an easy day. Our passing was great and despite going behind, we never altered our style of play, keeping faith in ourselves and eventually getting the break through. It looked like it would have been shares spoiled but our continued pressure paid off and the penalty was coolly taken by the best little Spaniard we know! It looks increasingly likely that we will finish in eighth place and narrowly missing out in Europe but we must not take that assumption into the Stoke game. They are difficult to beat at home and although we should win, anything but will all but end our hopes of a seventh place finish. I suppose there is the Intertoto to look at, it didn’t do Fulham any harm in Europe but I would gladly sacrifice a European place for a top four finish next season!
Everton FC star Phil Jagielka is confident the club can keep hold of its big names this summer
Apr 29 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
PHIL JAGIELKA believes Everton will cling onto their star names this summer based on the squad’s overall potential for next season. The Goodison defender believes the club’s current nine-game unbeaten run highlights the strength of David Moyes’ squad.
And although Everton are unlikely to force their way into the European places, Jagielka insists everyone is excited about what the club could achieve next season.
The 27-year-old expects Everton to have plenty of unwelcome attention from rival clubs this summer, but he said: “It’s vital we keep the lads together and the gaffer is desperate to.“I think he’s got a lot of say as well. "What happened with Joleon was a little bit different because you were talking ridiculous money, but I think the players that have been talked about as going, are actually happy here, they just want long-term commitment. “I don’t see there being an issue. I hope not, it’s a sign of being really ambitious for next season. “If you look at Spurs and Man City this season they’ve had no European football to deal with. “They have spent a lot of money on big squads, and these big squads have been able to stay nice and healthy. Think back to four months ago. “We had Tony Hibbert playing centre-back, Lucas Neill and John Heitinga playing centre-back. It’s easy to forget how depleted the squad was, especially in defence, so you’ve got to commend the boys for even giving us a sniff of Europe going into the last game of the season.” One player who has been linked with a move away from Goodison Park this summer is Steven Pienaar. The South African international only has a year to run on his current contract. Moyes is confident Pienaar, will pen a new deal and Jagielka believes the midfielder will commit his future to the club. “I think Steven loves playing for Everton and it’s certainly not a case of him being desperate to go,” he added. “He just needs to know where the club are going and how they see him being part of that.”
Portugese youngster Joao Silva speaks of his delight at ‘move’ to Everton FC
Apr 29 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
PORTUGUESE starlet Joao Silva has spoken of his delight at his reported “dream” move to Everton. The Toffees are believed to have agreed a £500,000 deal with second division Portugese side Deportivo Aves, and the 19-year-old striker will join in July.
Silva, who visited Everton’s Finch Farm training complex in March, has scored 13 goals this season and has attracted interest from a host of European sides.
He said: “I am calm and working for my club now, but I am happy because to play in the Premier League is a dream for any footballer because it is the best in the world,” he said.Meanwhile, Tim Cahill insists Everton need to take three points from Stoke on Saturday to crank up the pressure on Liverpool. The Blues are currently five points behind their local rivals, who host league leaders Chelsea on Sunday, and the Aussie wants to ensure the race for a Europa League place goes down to the season’s final weekend. The 30-year-old said: “It’s massive for us – we’re fighting for Europe and with another place up for grabs, I think it’s pivotal that we win. If we lose then we’re out the race for Europe. “At this stage in my career, I think it’s really important that I keep playing in Europe at every opportunity and we have to start at Stoke.”
One former team-mate of Cahill will be in opposition at the Britannia and he is looking forward renewing acquaintances. “Stoke have obviously got the weapon of the long throw,” he continued. “They’re very physical as well and they’ve got a good manager. It will be nice to see Beats (James Beattie) again after his exit from Everton.
“It’s definitely going to be a very physical game – it’s going to be hard.”
Cahill added: “Stoke are one of the most difficult teams to play against in the Premier League. They get the ball into the box at every chance and that throw-in, I suppose, makes it even worse. We’ve just dealt with Blackburn and now all over again with Stoke.” Cahill will be meeting fans and signing copies of his new DVD Tim Cahill: The Unseen Journey at HMV, Liverpool ONE this evening from 5pm to 6pm.
“Everton are a great club, I have seen them on television and they have great players.
“Due to my own characteristics, I believe it (England) will be perfect for me – it will be an enormous move for me but I am ambitious and will stay positive.”
Silva has been compared to former Portugal national side star Pauleta, because of their similar physique and the similar career path through the lower leagues in Portugal, rather than from one of the big clubs.
Steve Round: Diniyar Bilyaletdinov will come back stronger next season
Apr 30 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON assistant manager Steve Round has tipped Diniyar Bilyaletdinov to blossom into a key performer for the Blues next season. Round has seen signs during the Russian’s first Premier League campaign to suggest he can become a consistent weapon in Everton’s midfield next term. The 25-year-old, who has scored five times since signing from Lokomotiv Moscow last summer, has been in and out of David Moyes’ side over recent weeks. But Round believes the midfielder, who has been playing since March when the Russian top flight started, will benefit from a rest.
He said: “Bilyaletdinov has definitely shown signs of what he’s about. He found it a real eye opener at first and the speed of the Premier League surprised him.
“But he’s settled in and got some very important goals. He’ll benefit massively from having a bit of a rest in the summer and then coming back and doing a full pre season.
“If you ask the manager now I’m not sure he can necessarily name his best 11 right away. “Maybe now it’s more a case of his best 16. That’s got to be a good thing.”
Bilyaletdinov is aware that Stoke City will be tougher opposition than usual on Saturday – after their 7-0 thrashing by Chelsea last week. He said: “Of course it’s a bad thing for us that Stoke lost 7-0 to Chelsea, but we still need the points and we can play better than we did against Fulham. “At home they are good. I know they have really long throw-ins, put a lot of pressure on you and their corner kicks are very dangerous. “We need to think positively that we can hit the target and protect our goal. We still need six points, so we’ll see what happens.” Bilyaletdinov said he has enjoyed his first term on Merseyside, and is also hopeful next season will prove even better. He added: “It has been the best time in my career to be here and to play for Everton. “Not everything has been good for me, but I’m looking forward to next season.” Meanwhile, striker Lukas Jutkiewicz is eager to remain at Motherwell for next season as he approaches the last weeks of his loan spell in Scotland.
The 21-year-old has scored 10 goals for the Well despite playing through injury for almost three months. “I’ve been really happy here,” he said. “Since the manager and Archie came in, I have been injured a lot of the time. “I don’t feel they have seen the best of me yet. “ If they were happy to keep me, I would like to stay next season if possible. But a lot of it is out of my hands. “If it’s another loan deal, Everton risk losing me for nothing at the end of next season, so they might be looking to get a transfer fee. “But I’m really happy here so if I could stay it would be great.”
Everton Reserves trounced 4-0 at Blackburn
Apr 30 2010 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON Reserves ended their 2009/10 campaign with a crushing 4-0 defeat to Blackburn Rovers. Two goals for the hosts either side of the interval condemned Andy Holden's men to a disappointing result at Leigh Sports Village.
The Blues did find the net in the second half through James Wallace as he dribbled round Kean to slot home – only to be flagged offside. By that time the Blues were trailing 2-0 and a well placed free-kick provided the hosts with their third of the night.
Rovers concluded their tally with five minutes remaining for their fourth.
DAVID PRENTICE: Everton FC set for a record points tally – for eighth!
Apr 30 2010 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
BARRING a miracle, Everton won’t end the season any higher than eighth.
And while it’s probably not much consolation, if the Blues beat Stoke tomorrow and Portsmouth next Sunday, they’ll collect the highest eighth place points total in Premier League history. In fact a final total of 63 points would be two more than the Blues accumulated when they finished fourth and reached a Champions League qualifier in 2005. The last time an eighth placed team got more than that was the last time Everton won the title, when Nottingham Forest played 42 matches to collect 65 points. None of which tells us very much, other than Everton have been pretty unlucky to miss out on a place in Europe this season. And they’re very well equipped to finished much higher than eighth next season.
Foreign refs are worse than ever
CONTINENTAL referees used to be derided in this country.
They wouldn’t tolerate ‘proper’ tackles, they buckled in front of a partisan crowd – and they took bribes – as Bill Shankly and Brian Clough belatedly discovered.
But then a new age of strong and incorruptible foreign officials seemed to be ushered in, led by the steely-eyed Pierluigi Collina (forget his Villarreal abberation, even the best can make one mistake). But that was then. In the last two years the standard of refereeing in European matches has slipped and slipped – and it’s now influencing the outcome of the very biggest tournaments. France are in the World Cup finals rather than Ireland because a linesman couldn’t spot a handball. Chelsea were dumped out of the Champions League last season by an awful official. Bayern Munich are in this season’s final because of another (there hasn’t been a goal so offside as their crucial strike in Fiorentina since Don Revie invaded the pitch in protest in 1971). Then there was the abysmal decision to send off Cris in Tuesday’s semi-final, the almost as harsh sending off of Thiago Motta 24 hours later – and the strange decision to disallow Bojan’s ‘winner’. There’s no doubt that ref Horacio Elizondo received advice from the touchline when he sent off Zinedine Zidane in the last World Cup final.
So why not Champions League, too? The game is clearly too fast for referees. Give them help.
HOWARD KENDALL: Peter Reid will have Stoke City fired up for Everton FC's visit
Apr 30 2010 Liverpool Echo
STOKE are one of the last teams you’d want to be playing after they have been beaten 7-0. They’re a proud club with a good management team and Everton’s task will be made harder by the Stoke players who will be determined to make amends in front of their own fans. Peter Reid is loving every minute of his time as Tony Pulis’ number two, and Reidy will have them fired up with a few choice words make no mistake.
As much as he is happy as an assistant manager, I wouldn’t rule him out of taking over at another club if the right offer comes along – he’s a born leader.
Stoke have been very difficult to beat at the Britannia Stadium and Everton can’t afford to do anything but win if they want to keep those faint hopes of Europe alive.
It’s been said many times, but you can’t underestimate how well the boys have done to even have a whiff of Europe, given the problems they’ve had this season.
You’d have hoped that maybe Aston Villa might have slipped up in this closing leg of the race for Europe, but none of the teams above us have let up unfortunately.
All the manager can ask now is that they finish on a high with six points.
What makes it all the more frustrating is that Portsmouth lost their appeal, and seventh would guarantee European football. The vital thing now is that David tries to conjure up a better start from the lads next season. Although, they started slowly last season and still finished fifth, and when we won the title we started the season with two defeats to Spurs and West Bromich Albion. This is definitely no time for pessimism. Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka looking good for World Cup
THE WORLD Cup remains on everyone's’ lips, and Franco Baldini was at Goodison on Sunday to watch Everton’s last-gasp win over Fulham. No doubt he was there to watch Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka. Not ideal then, for Baines to make a very rare mistake and cost his side a goal. Hopefully Baldini recognises his excellent form all season, and takes into account that he will probably never make a bad pass like that again. It’s just a shame the Spain selectors haven’t been over to watch Mikel Arteta since his return from injury. The lad’s quality is beyond doubt, but you wonder if he is even on Vincente del Bosque’s radar sometimes. * FANS always like new signings but I don’t think Everton need to do any re-building this summer. Of course, if the manager believes he can make a genuine quality addition he will do it, but there is no panic. Everton’s bench is already very strong and it reminds me of when I had men like Alan Harper and Kevin Richardson who couldn’t always get in the team.
It’s going to be interesting seeing what David deems his best side when everyone is fit to play.
Everton FC confirm pre-season tour to Australia for July 2010
Apr 30 2010 Greg O'Keeffe
EVERTON will travel to Australia for their pre-season tour.
The club have confirmed their first visit to the country since 1987, when the then champions of England participated in a post-season tour, playing two games in Melbourne and Brisbane. The Blues will return to both Australian cities to face Hyundai A-League sides Brisbane Roar on July 10, Melbourne Heart on July 14, and will complete a three-game tour with an exhibition match against Sydney FC on July 17. David Moyes will prepare his non World Cup participating players for the start of the 2010/11 Premier League campaign by spending almost three weeks in the Southern Hemisphere, before returning to Finch Farm. He said: “Our pre-season will start with a trip to Australia and we’re looking forward to seeing all the Evertonians in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. “The facilities there are first-class and that’s important to us because the training and the games will be a good part of our pre-season preparations. “Thanks to Tim Cahill, the Aussies know all about Everton and I am sure we’ll get a typically warm Australian welcome.” Cahill, who will potentially still be involved with Australia’s World Cup campaign when the Blues make the trip, is looking forward to seeing his club meet up with the army of Evertonians in the country. He said: “I think it’s fantastic for Australian football and also Everton because Australia’s got a massive following of Everton supporters. “I get together and have a lot of signing sessions with the Everton supporters over there and they come from all corners of Australia. "They’re a proud following and I think for a Premier League team like Everton to grace the shores of Australia is absolutely massive.”
Kick-off times are still to be confirmed alongside ticket details for the matches.
FULL TIME: Blackburn Rovers reserves 4 Everton reserves 0
Thursday 29th April 2010 Lancashire Telegraph
BLACKBURN Rovers reserves have moved into third place in the table this evening after beating their Everton counterparts 4-0. Following on from Tuesday night's win at Liverpool, first half goals from Micah Evans and Nick Blackman gave Rovers the advantage at the break at Leigh Sports Village. Josh Morris then curled in a brilliant third towards the end, before Aaron Doran fired in a fourth to seal an impressive and deserved victory. Former Manchester City youth winger Evans was impressive throughout as was Zach Aley, on the left flank. A strong Everton side put heavy pressure on the hosts at times after the break but goalkeeper Jake Kean was in top form as he kept them at bay. ROVERS: Jake Kean, Jackson Ramm, Josh Morris, Grant Hanley, Matty Pearson, Jason Lowe, Micah Evans (Julio Santa Cruz 84), Michael Potts, Nick Blackman (Tom Hitchcock 86), Aaron Doran, Zach Aley (Dami Ajagbe 90) SUBS: Josh Swann, James Knowles
Stoke City: Pulis hopes for Sidibe return
April 30 2010 The Staffordshire
TONY Pulis is hoping to welcome Mama Sidibe back into his starting line-up against Everton tomorrow as the manager tries to put one of the more difficult weeks of his Stoke career behind him. City are expected to be without skipper Abdoulaye Faye who has a groin strain, but Sidibe is set to return after recovering from the thigh strain which ruled him out of the back-to-back defeats to Bolton and Chelsea.
Pulis, pictured below, said: "We are hoping Mama will be fit, which will be a massive bonus for us. "Abdy will struggle, but we are hoping we will be able to pick a team with Mama involved. "Mama is a very good player for us. If he had goals in him, the top clubs in the country would be trying to sign him because of the work he does and what he brings to the table. "You just wish the bugger would score a couple more goals to take the pressure off him." Sidibe has only scored two goals this season, but that doesn't account for his industry as Stoke's deep-lying striker. The 30-year-old Mali international has only started 16 league games this season because of injury, but the average points return from those games suggest City haven't suffered from his poor goalscoring return. They have claimed 1.25 points from the games he's started compared to 1.21 in the games when he hasn't been in the 11. Pulis has shown in the past that he favours Sidibe on football reasons alone. But the hitman is also in something of a minority as a City striker who hasn't been in the doghouse this season.
Pulis has been remarkably tolerant with Tuncay considering the Turk headed straight down the tunnel rather than watch the rest of the game on three occasions after being substituted. But Pulis has made clear this week that such reactions are not acceptable, and has been critical of Dave Kitson who headed down the tunnel after being subbed at Chelsea, pausing only to wave a gesture of frustration in the direction of the Stoke management. James Beattie has also failed to endear himself to the Stoke boss having made a formal complaint about the manager following their dressing-room spat at Arsenal in December. That forced an internal inquiry, but it is understood no disciplinary action has been taken after no witnesses supported Beattie.
Reports of the internal investigation were leaked to the national media this week, along with details of a dressing-room spat between Glenn Whelan and Abdoulaye Faye at half-time and full-time of City's 7-0 hammering at Chelsea.
Pulis can't prove who the mole or moles are, but says they have betrayed the rest of the squad, particularly Whelan and Faye who were horrified to see details of their bust-up plastered across the media. He said: "I spoke to the two of them on Monday and they were really disappointed that it got out. "You have to get on with it and move on, but I think the dressing room is even more disappointed than me." Stoke can at least draw a line under their miserable week by getting a result against Everton, or at least producing a performance more worthy of an excellent season in which they have secured their Premier status, reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and ensured they can't finish any lower than 13th. The walloping at Chelsea was the club's heaviest league defeat for 12 years, but City are the third team to have been hit for seven at Stamford Bridge following a 7-2 defeat for Sunderland and Aston Villa's 7-1 hammering. Pulis said: "We are in good company. You can catch Chelsea on days when they are the best team in the country, and that can cause you serious problems.
"I am not making excuses. We weren't anywhere near what we can be. When you play the top teams you have to have all 11 players at maximum. You can't try to carry six.
"That's what happened on Sunday, but you have to give credit to Chelsea."
However, the fact City may have lost to the league champions is little consolation to the City boss. "I have been really hurt," he added. "People who know me have stayed away from me." STOKE are holding a bucket collection at tomorrow's game to raise money for Tony Pulis's bid to climb Mount Kilimanjaro on behalf of the Donna Louise Children's Hospice Trust.