Your Everton first match memories
1 April 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
Everton games against Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham live long in memories
For some it is the white-heat of a derby with that lot across the park.
Others recall less momentous, but nonetheless cherished, trips to Burnley or Blackpool.
One Evertonian forged a life-long admiration for Neville Southall at his first game - courtesy of his Kopite dad! The ECHO's assistant head of sport Dave Prentice recalled his first Everton game yesterday, and asked for your memories too. His nostalgia sparked something - and replies came flooding in. Here's the first collection.
Patrick Buckley v Liverpool, 1986.
It was November 1986, I was seven and it was windy! For my Dad, he wishes that was the only memory of this day we both remember.
This is due to the fact that my Dad is a Red.
He had a season Ticket in the Main stand and fleetingly took me along to matches when Mum and sister were otherwise engaged on a Saturday. Was I a Liverpool fan? No my father tells me, whilst he was not overly ‘pushy,’ he said that I really did not take much notice of the football and instead played with my Knight Rider Car whilst he watched his beloved Reds on the Anfield turf.
My love for football had not been exposed. So back to Nov 1986, I remember it was a windy day and that my dad took me along to the Lower Bullens with a close friend of his to watch a 0-0 draw, which whilst it was a nil-nil I remember that action was not lacking and it was particularly an action packed stalemate. However my dad commented to me during our half time hot Oxo drink that his beloved Reds would be winning if it was not for Superman. Superman? This caught a seven-year old's attention. What do you mean Dad ? I asked.... Southall, came his reply, the Bin Man, the goalie, He is the Best in the World. England would have Won the world Cup if he was English.
And there it was, the Starting Point, the catalyst, the beginning of a something that will be with me forever. My interest as a 7 year old in ‘The Best in the World’ was intrinsically linked with my eventual obsession with everything that was and is Everton.
My Dad is a fair man, he tells me stories of how he was ridiculed growing up as a Red with his Blue friends, how Liverpool languished in the Second Division whilst Everton where unchallenged as the ‘Pride of Merseyside’, so this resulted in him allowing my love to blossom, and whilst it took three Christmases later to finally get a full Everton replica kit (I will excuse him for that) as I received a Barcelona, France and even a WBA ? - (apparently it had been on offer on Barnetshield House Sports at the time) he never tried to change me / persuade me that I had got it wrong.
Because I hadn’t! We always look back on that day. My dad always proposes that if he had not uttered those words then maybe over the past 22 years that I have been a Season Ticket holder and we could have gone the game together. I see the ‘romance’ in that as a Father now myself, I really do, but it was not to be and instead over the years we have only gone the match together as rivals.
One saying both my Dad and me recognise as being applicable to me. Once Everton had touched me, nothing was the same.
Thomas Jones MBA CAPM - Victoria BC
I was a season ticket holder to the Street End from about 1973 to 77 and was at every home game and some away ones too. I remember the silk scarfs....the fans that always seemed to climb up on the Church.....and I actually have the honour of starting the Street End off at the first home game of the season back then as well. I drove to Denver and met Moysie and the whole team when they were over here a few years ago and was in Salt Lake the year before and did the same.
David Edwards v Manchester City, 1958.
It was a night match, the season was 1958-59. I was in at Bullens Road end and I remember Tommy Ring playing on the wing. Also Micky Lill I think. A certain young man called Denis Law scored the winning goal for Man City as the game finished 2-1 for Man City.
Nigel Jones v Burnley
My Dad got a parking ticket parked on a side street off Goodison Road. Willie Morgan was sitting close to us in the Main Stand. Can't remember anything of the match, even the result - it was 44 years ago!
Graeme Tierney v Tottenham Hotspur,1990.
Aged 7 years, 5 months and 2 days, I went to my first game at Goodison after pestering my family for a good while. Extra excitement because the match was being televised on ITV and being teased that I might get on the telly, an idea of which I wasn’t in favour.
I travelled with my auntie Judith and my Grandad, although Grandad sat away from us because he had a season ticket, and as was customary with him, we arrived at the ground just as the gates opened (if I have my way, I still get there very early).
As with Dave’s memories of his first match mine is sketchy, although I remember Psycho Pat, Gazza, and Lineker lining up for the opposition along with Paul Stewart - remember him, Reds fans? - and that the pitch didn’t look much better than my primary schools field.
Kevin Sheedy, Everton
My all time favourite, Kevin Sheedy, played the full game and Stuart McCall scored our goal. I know I fell asleep not long before the end because I was convinced that Graeme Sharp, after whom my Mum had named me, had scored a last minute winner, but it turned out I’d dreamt it.
My next game didn’t come until over a year later against Forest - another draw. We finally won on my third visit against Oldham later that season.
David Owens v Blackpool, 1955.
It was on the 4th April 1955, 60 years ago this week. I have no memories as I was only two at the time! My dad had taken my mum to Blackpool for the weekend for her birthday and took me and her to the match.
Steve Ormand v Manchester United, 1969.
It was at Old Trafford, FA Cup 6th Round on 1st March 1969. Everton won 1-0 with a goal from Joe Royle. I went with a school friend and his Dad, both Man Utd fans, and stood with them in the Stretford End with my blue and white scarf hidden under my anorak! It was my first match and I had no idea that I would be with the Utd fans. I didn’t see much of the match just clips of play around the goal mouth. I didn’t see the goal, I just heard this massive roar from the other end and a lot of swearing where I was! The main thing I remember was the crush and just going with the ebb and flow of the crowd.
Andy Gill v Oxford United, 1985.
I recall very little as i was only six years old but I do know that we won 2-0 and that Sharp & Bracewell scored the goals. That Oxford team went on to win The Milk Cup that season and had players such as John Aldridge, Ray Houghton and Kevin Brock.
David Lowe v Manchester United, 1967.
I was seven and it was the start of the 1967-68 season at Goodison. I remember the noise of the crowd and the smell of cigarettes and hot tea as I sat on my Dad’s shoulders on the metal gate in the Paddock separating the Paddock from the Lower Bullens at the Gwladys Street side of the Paddock (and that gate is still there!). Bally scored and importantly for my first game so did my hero Alex Young.
Alex Young in action for Everton FC in 1963
The Blues won 3-1 and Dad was convinced we were going to win the league that season. We didn’t and I was taken to Wembley for the FA Cup Final that season and the name Jeff Astle still gets me upset as I cried after losing the Final. In April 1970 I still sat on that metal gate when the Blues beat West Brom 2-0 at a midweek night game to win the league, but I had to wait until 1984 to see Everton win the FA Cup at Wembley.
Everton's Phil Jagielka looks better than Smalling and Jones..he should be first-choice
1 April 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
Jagielka and Barkley receive high praise in national press for their parts in England's draw with Italy
David McDonnell: Jagielka - Key interceptions first half and best defender for England (6).
John Cross: "Walcott was hualed off to alllow Rooney to go up front with Ross Barkley slotting into the midfield. England improved dramatically, found some rhythm and finally made it a contest."
Dave Kidd: "Ross Barkley's introduction injected life into England."
Rob Draper: Jagielka - Heavy touch in bringing the ball out and, along with Smalling, failed to command the penalty area for Italy's goal. Looked ill at ease (5).
Ross Barkley - Brought fluidity and direction in midfield (6).
Martin Samuel: "The starting line-up so moribund, excitment and ambition only arrived with the second-half substitutions - Ross Barkley and Townsend in particular."
Martin Keown: "When you look at Phil Jagielka’s rise in international football, it has been completely without fanfare.
"He had a couple of hairy moments, but still looked the best defender on show in Turin, weighing in with countless clearances and blocks. He also reads the game very well.
"He was relegated to the Championship with Sheffield United in 2007 and bought by Everton, where he took a while to mature.
"But right now, he looks better than Smalling and Jones, who have had a lot more hype surrounding their breakthroughs into the England squad. Jagielka was left out against Lithuania, but showed he should still be first-choice."
Daniel Taylor: "Barkley looked eager to impress and finally England started playing with real impetus."
Henry Winter: "England were invigorated, looking far sharper. Rooney and Barkley linked well. Rooney almost scored, running on to a ball over the top but unable to beat Buffon."
Jeremy Wilson: Phil Jagielka - "England’s best defender but still not at the same level as Bonucchi or Chiellini. Made important first-half interception to deny Darmian and then again in the second-half to block Eder (6).
Jack Pitt-Brooke: "This has been a disappointing season for Ross Barkley for Everton, as the 21-year-old, famously and repeatedly hailed as a “football diamond” by Roberto Martinez last year has struggled for form in a side which has lost its way. Last night, though, he played with the enthusiasm of a young player trying to make up for almost a year of frustration.
"Barkley was a natural at the tip of England’s diamond, and he had the enthusiasm, touch and vision to give England more impetus in the second half. Carrick, ultimately, proved more influential, but Barkley did provide a spark which England had lacked until then. Raheem Sterling remains the best in that role if England are to persist with their diamond midfield but Barkley, in Turin, showed glimmers of what he can still do."
Dave Armitage - Barkley: Gave England an injection of life and enhanced the side going forward (8).
Phil Jagielka - Great interception on the line to clear real danger early on. Looked fairly comfortable for the most part but will probably question himself on whether he could have picked Pelle up for first half goal (6).
No Fear? Everton's Ross Barkley needs to recapture his freedom
1 April 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
Why is Everton midfielder Barkley more relaxed on international stage?
THE setting was Wednesday night at the Juventus Stadium, Turin, but for a thrilling half hour it might have been Goodison 12 months ago.
Ross Barkley, the ball at his feet, was making things happen at the home of the Old Lady.
Everton’s gifted midfielder was turning the clock back, and in one trademark express-train burst upfield he created a chance for darling-du jour Harry Kane. It was the sort of run, galvanised by self-belief, seemingly unstoppable, that has been too few and far between in a Blue shirt at the other Old Lady this term. What’s more, it was the body language of a young man playing without fear.
Joe Hart, the goalkeeper of one of many clubs said to covet Barkley, articulated it afterwards.
“Ross played with no fear and we need to encourage that in England,” said the Manchester City shot-stopper. “We need to back people like Ross Barkley.
“Obviously he has had difficult times of late, not playing to the standard we necessarily want from him, but he is a young guy - a real young guy - with so much talent and that’s something we should really encourage.” Roberto Martinez is no stranger to the power of playing free of fear.
He used to sign off his programme notes at Wigan “Sin Miedo”, which is that very phrase in Spanish.
Back in January the Toffees boss made no attempt to hide what has happened to his protégée this season. “Ross is someone who hasn’t enjoyed his football, like the rest of the team, and he’s suffered more than the rest because of that,” he said. “When Ross is at his best, he plays with a smile on his face and doesn’t worry about, ‘What if?’. He has an instinctive way of showing his talent. “He has taken too much responsibility into his play. He is considering every pass before he does it because he doesn’t want to miss it or be negative. “But it’s affected him for the right reasons. He is a responsible, proper Evertonian and knows how the crowd feels. Players like Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines know how to perform under these circumstances, but for a young player it is still a learning period. “I want Ross to enjoy his football and leave the pressure to me and others. I want him to think less and relax more because that’s when he’s at his best.”
It is a sad little conundrum. A player of Barkley’s grace and power feels less pressure representing his country against a super-power of European football, albeit in a friendly, than he does for the club he has played for since he was a child.
Martinez is right.
Barkley grew up in Everton kits, and not just when representing the Blues academy. He is an Evertonian. Of course he respects the England supporters, wants to impress, but he isn’t one of them. He doesn’t have the same innate understanding of their hopes and wishes as he does of the Gwladys Street. If hadn’t been born a footballer, Barkley would be sat among the throng urging on some other prodigy.
To an extent, they are him.
And you know the saying - ‘you’re your own worst critic’.
The 21-year-old feels every bead of sweat on fans’ backs when Everton are losing, every surge of anger when games are going awry. He more than most has been affected by the malaise hanging around Goodison so often during this woeful campaign.
So what’s the answer?
With eight games left the only realistic option for Barkley, and Everton, is to ride it out. To chalk it off. File this season under ‘Second syndrome’ just beside ‘Steep Learning Curve’.
Maybe now Everton have so little to play for, the real Barkley will flourish again before it’s all over in May. Maybe not. But Bluenoses will hope that flash of the recent past, in a white shirt on Tuesday, is not history for them. They, and Barkley, deserve to weave many more happy memories together. Without fear.
Roberto Martinez says Ross Barkley is best as a No 10
1 April 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Everton midfielder Barkley quoted as saying he thinks he's best as a striker
Roberto Martinez feels Ross Barkley is best suited to a No10 role with Everton at present.
The 21-year-old was quoted as saying he feels his best position is as a striker but Martinez believes Barkley’s words were mis-interpreted. Martinez says Barkley will benefit from having played in a variety of positions in the past couple of seasons, but is convinced that positioned just in behind Romelu Lukaku in the Blues’ attack is where he can flourish. “The quotes have obviously been taken out of context,” Martinez said. “Ross is a very honest person and always answers how he feels.
“All he mentioned was that he prefers to play off the striker – that’s not playing as a striker.
“We have seen that in the last two or three games he has looked like his normal self and it is part of his development. “This is his second full season as a key part of the squad and it is normal to go through these phases. “But it was very pleasing to see him perform in the manner that he did in the last few games for us and England. “His best position at the moment is probably that number 10 role, playing off the striker and having that little bit of freedom. He is a player that galvanises the game when he has space in front of him. You need to be able to have that kind of transition in his play. “But in the same manner he is only 21 and it will benefit him playing in a number of positions from a tactical point of view. “He can see the game from a different point of view from a deeper position for instance, and he has a fantastic quality in his passing range.”
A fierce debate has raged over whether Barkley, and a host of other young England players, should go with the under-21s to this summer’s European Championships. Martinez maintains that no decision has been made on whether the Everton midfielder will participate in the tournament or not. “I have never said that Ross wouldn’t benefit from going to that tournament,” the Blues boss added. “I always said that it was something where you need to allow the season to finish and assess the need from England’s point of view and from where the player is.
“I have been asked many times and I can give you an overall assessment that for players at younger ages, tournament experience is part of your development. “When a player has already played in a senior competition like a World Cup you need to see the value in him participating in one at a lower level. “But that is in general – that is not Ross Barkley. Ross has had a specific season and it is a very different angle now to what it was two months ago and it will be very different again in two months’ time. “We are going to make it as simple as it should be which is allowing Ross to finish the season as strong as he can be, enjoying his football, and at the end of the campaign we will sit down with England and we will make the best decision for all parties.”
Does Gareth Barry get a raw deal from refs?
1 April 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Everton midfielder Barry has most yellow cards in Premier League history - but is that fair?
Gareth Barry no doubt let out a sigh when the Premier League announced their referee appointments for this weekend’s matches. Lee Mason will be in charge when Barry returns to the Everton side after suspension for the home game with Southampton on Saturday afternoon.
It was Mason who handed Barry the 100th Premier League booking of his career on Boxing Day.
There he was, with the ignominy of topping a table nobody wants to be on and facing further accusations that he was one this era’s dirtiest players. Some probably see him that way. An old cynic who has mastered the darks and a midfielder more than happy to chop, block or hack an opponent down. Few were disputing that his foul on Steven N’Zonzi warranted a booking against Stoke that day but the what about his reputation? Is it a fair to label Barry in such a way and does his reputation go before him? Much was made of that unwanted century and it is difficult to shake the feeling that Barry has, simply, become an easy target for match officials.
In his next 11 domestic league and cup games after Stoke, Barry was booked four times and sent off once, in controversial circumstances at Chelsea, to bring his career bookings total up to 105.
His yellow card in the return fixture with Stoke on that dreadful night at the Britannia triggered an automatic two game ban but as he prepares to return to domestic action, is it time he was cut some slack? Barry is no angel but he would be right to question in inconsistencies in officiating this season that have seen him cautioned for a number of debatable fouls, while others such as Ashley Barnes and Maynor Figueroa escape punishment when they could have broken players’ bones.
Oh, and then there's the game that allows Branislav Ivanovic to strangle a player and get away scot-free, but sees Barry booked twice for the heinous crime of mistimed tackles. Sure, there have been plenty of times when he has fully deserved his bookings, games when he has been lucky to avoid a red card (Hull at home last season, for example) and moments when he has used his ‘experience’ to commit a professional foul. And some Everton fans will point to his ageing legs as reason for his 20 Premier League yellow cards since arriving at Goodison. But the idea that he is a dirty player is wide of the mark and he deserves fairer treatment from referees. The 34-year-old now has 105 yellow cards in almost 17 full seasons, where he has played 554 Premier League games.
It means he averages around six cautions a campaign and a yellow card, roughly, every five games.
Hardly the rap-sheet of a hatchet man. Wayne Rooney, for example, has picked up 85 yellow cards in his 400 Premier League games and Kevin Nolan has 84 cautions in just 392.
Barry will eventually be toppled as the leader of his unpopular pack and maybe it's time he got some help from the officials. Let’s see if that starts on Saturday with Lee Mason.
Everton's Baines and Garbutt surprise Alder Hey patients with Easter treats (pictures)
1 April 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Georgia Morgan
Blues players Leighton Baines and Luke Garbutt paid a visit to the wards in Alder Hey delivering Easter surprises
Everton FC’s Leighton Baines and Luke Garbutt paid a surprise visit to children at Alder Hey as they delivered Easter treats ahead of the weekend.
The two left-backs met young patients and their families and put a huge smile on all of their faces, with the help of lots of chocolate eggs. Leighton Baines said: “Us visiting with chocolate eggs can feel pretty insignificant in comparison to what the kids are going through, what they’re in here for and the period of time they’ve been here, but then you speak to some of the parents, they really appreciate you just coming in and breaking the day up. “Some of the kids I recognised from when we visited at Christmas and they haven’t been home since so every day is the same and it’s really tough for them. “You see unbelievable strength and character here, you look at what some of the kids are going through, it’s so tough and yet they’re still smiling. Hopefully we’ve brightened the day up even if it’s just for a short period of time.” The Blues footballers paid the special visit to the city’s children’s hospital after training, and really wanted to lift the patients’ spirits.
Baines added: “It’s very important for us to have a great link with Alder Hey. You can’t underestimate it when children are involved. So many children look up to footballers and as a player, you can forget that.” Alder Hey Children’s Charity has launched a £30 million appeal to raise funds. In September 2015 Alder Hey will open a new hospital next door to its current site.
View from the Gwladys Street: Everton win at QPR papered over the cracks
2 April 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Chris Beesley
...with ESPN's Luke O'Farrell
This week we speak to Luke O’Farrell (@lukeofarrell) who writes on the Everton section of www.espnfc.co.uk
Ross Barkley has said he’d be at his best as a striker, Roberto Martinez reckons his remarks were taken out of context. What do you think? Barkley distancing himself from the comments via a (since removed) tweet to a supporter on Wednesday seems the definitive word on the matter. Once you factor in the views of Martinez, it looks as though something has been lost or misinterpreted along the way. Personally, I agree with Martinez. The current position best suiting Barkley is the number 10 role behind Romelu Lukaku. His ability to draw opposing players toward him opens up space for teammates. That alone is almost reason enough to persist with the youngster, especially when you consider how effective opposing sides have become at hassling Everton players into basic errors in possession. Where I disagree with Martinez, though, is the use of Barkley on the flanks. The supposed long-term benefits of a young player learning a new position count for nothing if they harm development in his preferred position. As shown by his impact for the national team in midweek, Barkley is one of the few English players in this country capable of operating as the attacking point behind the forward(s). Burdening him with added defensive responsibilities runs the risk of damaging the natural attacking attributes taking him this far.
Central midfield may be his eventual destination, which is something Martinez has referenced in the past, but his game is still developing and he presently lacks the positional discipline and tackling ability required in the middle of the park. The role behind the striker is best for Barkley and best for Everton at this moment. Phil Jagielka won praise for his performance for England against Italy this week. Should he be one of Roy Hodgson’s first choice centre-backs and do you care?
Glancing around the domestic game, the choice of centre backs inspires little confidence, and there is no obvious alternative to the Everton captain. Gary Cahill is arguably the best among the rest, but there is little after the Chelsea defender, though the omission of Jagielka’s club teammate John Stones is perplexing to say the least. Jagielka certainly did not hurt his chances with his display on Tuesday. There may have been slight question marks over his part in the Italian goal, but it was a faultless display otherwise. As for whether it matters or not, then the answer is no. The reality is club outweighs country these days; the first thought during the international break is a clean bill of health for the Everton contingent upon their return. Perhaps it is a northern thing, but there is a sort of indifference toward the national team. On the other hand, it may be the lack of hope – any half-decent opponent stringing two passes together is usually too good for England when major tournaments arise. You want them to win, but no sleep is lost if they do not.
Southampton gave Everton quite a beating at St Mary’s back in December, how confident are you of the Blues getting some revenge on Saturday? The reverse fixture marked one of several low points this season. In terms of performance, only the defeats at Hull and Stoke rank lower on the dreadful scale, so there is a clear incentive for the players on Saturday.
There is a degree of confidence to take from recent home results against the Saints with the Blues unbeaten in nine and losing just once in their last 15 visits, but there is little confidence attached to the current situation. Three points at QPR papered over the cracks of an unconvincing performance. Better teams would surely have punished a defence sat too deep throughout. The reluctance to defend high up the pitch suggests a group of defenders with a lack of faith in the man between the sticks, and few could blame them. Do Southampton’s displays this season frustrate you even more when you consider how Everton have playing? Yes. They have taken up the mantle of those looking to challenge the established order at the top of the table. The summer fire sale had many (unwisely) tipping them to struggle, but shrewd replacements and a strong managerial appointment has seen them push on this season. They are reaping the rewards of a settled group comfortable in the questions asked of them by their manager.
The progress of Saturday’s visitors has mirrored the fall of the home side, and that only adds to the frustration, as there is a strong case for Everton possessing the better squad. However, for any number of reasons, it just has not happened this term. Each potential revival has become the latest in a long line of false dawns. The turning point never came.
Has the time come for Roberto Martinez to experiment with the side in the games ahead? If so, what would you like to see him try out? There is a fine balance in the eight matches remaining this season. With nothing to play for, there is a case for experimentation, but then the potential damage of a torrid end to an already disappointing campaign is the other side of using these matches to test new methods and combinations. That said there is no harm in minor changes with an eye to the future. With Sylvain Distin and Antolin Alcaraz out of contract in the summer, and neither appearing worthy of a renewal, there is a case, even if it is limited to bench duty, for integrating Brendan Galloway into the first-team picture. Greater exposure for Tyias Browning and Ryan Ledson is another possibility building toward next season and beyond.
Martinez has to restore confidence to his team and the best way to do that is by winning football matches, which is why full scale experimentation is unwise at this stage. Everton cannot afford to carry the remnants of this season into the next. A more realistic option is beginning to build the team around the quartet of Stones, James McCarthy, Barkley and – injury permitting – Lukaku. Then incorporate any other alterations around that. One such change would be the restoration of Joel Robles in goal. He had earned his place and should have kept it, and Howard’s poor form since returning has only strengthened Robles’ case.
What other business would you like to discuss?
Ticket prices are a topic of discussion on the back of the Football Supporters’ Federation march in London last week. However, there is little doubt clubs still fall short when it comes to valuing supporters. Everton are better than most, but room for improvement remains. The freezing of season ticket prices is a welcome gesture but one that is not quite as impressive when the magnitude of the new television deal is considered. Another point is the summer ahead; it is liable to define Martinez’s time at Everton. There can be no repeat of this season. This is a squad full of potential, but in other regards, it is also an ageing group in need of a significant summer overhaul. How Martinez handles that overhaul is going to be key to recovering from this forgetful second season.
Everton boss Roberto Martinez warns against danger of losing focus
2 April 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
Martinez insists 40 points remain Everton's top priority ahead of Southampton clash
Everton cannot afford to let their minds wander towards next season - with 40 points in the current campaign still a must, insists Roberto Martinez.
The Blues boss insisted he will not let relative safety from the drop after back-to-back wins lessen his focus on finishing as high as possible in the Premier League this term.
Southampton come to Goodison on Saturday, and Martinez said that Romelu Lukaku will have a fitness test tomorrow, while Kevin Mirallas, Steven Pienaar and Darron Gibson also have a chance to make the squad. Arouna Kone, he added, is "100% fit" and will be involved.
Six points are required in order for the Toffees to be mathematically safe, and Martinez insists that is his main target with eight games remaining of what has been a difficult season.
"It's about getting stronger as a squad and finishing as high up as possible to try and get that momentum," he said. "It would be a mistake to start thinking about next season. "In football it's quite straight forward. You need to get 40 points and then push up from there.
"That's still the target and nothing will change until we achieve that. Step by step we need to get there. We need to make sure we come out on top of all the little challenges we face in the next eight games. "The feeling in the league now is positive because we've had two wins."You get into the final third of the season and see how you are. For us the points aren't what we wanted but the truth is you have to face it. "It's always important the way you finish the season. It effects what you do the following season and how you assess it internally."There are no distractions. the league position is all that matters. "We have five games at home and three away which we don't take lightly. It's important to use that home advantage."The Saints by contrast have had a fantastic campaign, currently sitting just a point behind Liverpool in fifth place. And Martinz knows Ronald Koeman's men will represent a stiff challenge."We are facing a difficult side of the weekend," he said. "In my eyes they are the revelation team of the season. "I will be very very surprised if Southampton don't qualify for Europe and don't finish in the top five."They are very flexible in how they approach games tactically. They have foreign players who have come in and performed so well and that tells you a lot about the environment they have. It's very strong. "They are physically really strong, well structured and have creativity with the forward play."Defensively too they have the best record in the league and that's why they've been so competitive in every game they go into."
While Martinez will leave it until tomorrow to decide on Mirallas, Pienaar and Gibson, only Tony Hibbert and Bryan Oviedo remain unavailable with long-term injury problems.
Everton transfer rumours: Gerard Deulofeu 'dreaming' of Goodison Park return, Wolfsburg give up on Romelu Lukaku
2 April 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Joe Rimmer
A round up of today's transfer rumours - as Gerard Deulofeu is tipped to return to Everton
Everton fans rejoice - because Gerard Deulofeu might be on his way back to Goodison Park.
Well, according to reports today , anyway. The Spanish winger is reportedly ready to give up on Barcelona - with no path to the first team evident - and instead focus on making a move back to Everton in the summer. Roberto Martinez may have called them "just rumours" in this morning's press conference , but that won't stop the rumour mill from rumbling on.
Deulofeu made 29 appearances last season with Everton, scoring 4 goals. He's currently on loan at Sevilla. Even Deulofeu's Spain U21 manager, Albert Celades, has warned him that he faces an uncertain future at Barcelona. He said: "Not every player can succeed at Barcelona. Time will tell us how far Deulofeu goes in football. "We are very happy with Deulofeu's performances. He`s one of our captains and his integration into the team has been excellent. "The qualities which Deulofeu has aren't commonly found. It's not been easy for him, given he hasn`t played much for Sevilla, but I understand the competition that exists at Sevilla." Wolfsburg have reportedly given up on Romelu Lukaku. Only a year after missing out on signing him. The German club have constantly been linked with Everton's record signing this year, but according to reports today, have now moved on to Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez. How kind of them.
Everton made an error spending £28m on Romelu Lukaku
2 April 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Chris Beesley
Everton over-spent on Lukaku - Behind Enemy Lines with Southampton fan Ben Stroud
Ahead of the Saints visit to Goodison, we spoke to Ben Stroud (@ben_stroud) of Southampton blog @ArchersRoadEnd.
1. 30 games into the Premier League campaign, you must be pleased with Ronald Koeman’s first season in charge? Really pleased. He’s done an excellent job since he was appointed last summer, and was arguably the best signing of that transfer window. He’s an excellent man manager with a proven track record both as a player and a manager, and inspires respect within the squad.
The players have been fantastic this season (Ryan Bertrand, Sadio Mane and Toby Alderweireld in particular) but I think that Ronald should be the one taking the plaudits for adding a bit more of a steely pragmatism to our side. Under Mauricio Pochettino we conceded a lot of goals on the break, particularly away from home, with the 1-0 victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford being the stand-out performance.
2. Did you fear the worst when he had to rebuild the team last summer after several high-profile departures? I did, and I was delighted to be proved wrong. Koeman was tasked with a rebuilding job from the very beginning - a job he’s familiar with from his Feyenoord days, where players would often move on in the close season to larger Spanish or English clubs. In many ways, this will be the case for us once again this summer - a lot of our players are coveted by ‘bigger’ clubs, but if we can re-invest any money we get in good replacements, I can see no reason why we can’t continue to develop and climb up the league - within reason.
3. Where do you think Saints can finish this season?
Top 4 was a bit too much of a stretch for us - we just don’t have the squad depth, finances and, if I’m honest, quality to compete with Manchester United, City, Chelsea and Arsenal, who are on a completely different level to the other teams in the league.
I think that if we work hard as a team, there’s no reason why we can’t finish 5th, and qualify for the Europa League. It’s in our hands, so if we don’t, we only have ourselves to blame. The expectation at this point of the season should be there - but not entitlement. The team must work hard to achieve a Europa League place.
4. Does Everton’s disappointing season make you wary of getting a Europa League place?
No. I think that Everton are a great club, but they made a huge error spending the amount of money they did on Lukaku last summer, who now seems to be proving why Mourinho was so happy to see him go. £28 million is a lot of money for one player, and I think that it put too much pressure on a squad that was already fairly small to compete over four competitions, off of the back of a World Cup. It was a perfect storm, and I think that the lesson we should take from Everton’s season is to focus on good quality, and depth. They’ll be back next year. They’re a great club with a good history, and some of the best fans in the country.
5. If you could have one player from the Everton team who would you take?
Ross Barkley. There’s a bit of a queue though. I hope he stays at Everton, I think he needs to look at how it’s worked out for Scott Sinclair and Jack Rodwell before demanding a move. He’s still developing, and there’s plenty of time to get a big transfer. Or maybe he could look at developing overseas?
6. What’s your score prediction for Saturday’s game?
Everton are a bogey side for us - as in historically they’ve always been a bit better than us!
I’d say 1-1. Now I’ve given Lukaku a bit of stick he’ll probably score!
Roberto Martinez: Everton FC players are playing for their futures
2 April 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Neil Jones
Blues boss says players can 'change some big decisions in the summer'
Roberto Martinez says Everton’s players are fighting for their futures between now and the end of the season.
The Blues begin their run-in at home to Southampton on Saturday, one of five home fixtures in their last eight games. Martinez spoke on Thursday morning of how ensuring Premier League survival remained the club’s first target, reiterating the need to get to 40 points as quickly as possible – Everton currently have 34. But the manager has echoed the opinion of Leighton Baines, by suggesting his players have the chance over the next two months to make sure they are part of the club’s long-term future. Martinez said: “It’s not just a motivation for players, it’s the reality. We are in the results business, and always we need to be assessed in terms of being part of a winning team.
“The mentality of the football club is to win things and to be consistent in terms of the level that we showed last season. So for the next eight games, we are all fighting to be part of the future of the football club.” He added: “Maybe from the outside, it looks like there is not much to play for, but from the inside you realise that every position in the table matters, every point that you can win matters. “The competition for places that we have now is probably the strongest that we have had the whole season. We’ve got players like Kevin Mirallas, Steven Pienaar coming back from injury, and that internal competition is going to be vital for us. “Strong performances between now and the end of the season could change some big decisions in the summer. Trust me, this period is always significant.”
Not safe yet
Martinez rejected the idea that back-to-back wins over Newcastle and QPR, and a nine-point gap to the bottom three, meant Everton could afford to relax. “No, no, no, we don’t look at it that way,” he said. “We have 34 points, and there are eight games left. That’s 24 points to play for, which is a huge amount. “It’s a very tough end to the season. We’re fighting against teams that, for a number of reasons, has lots to play for, and that is why we cannot think in any other way. We need to approach these eight games as finals, and finish as high as we can in the table. He added: “A strong end to the season would change the feelings that we have had in the league. This season has been very tough.
“(Last season) we put ourselves in a position where we welcomed the expectations, we welcomed the possibilities. We showed what we can, and we need to finish this season with the same feelings.
“Nothing is better in terms of creating momentum than winning games. In Southampton, we could not have a bigger test. They are a team that, in my eyes, has been the revelation of the season, and it will be a really tough game.” Striker Romelu Lukaku is rated as “50-50” for the weekend, and will be assessed on Friday. Darron Gibson, Steven Pienaar and Kevin Mirallas will return to full training and could all be involved against Southampton. Arouna Kone is fit, while Bryan Oviedo and Tony Hibbert are ruled out.
Phil Jagielka is best skipper in Premier League, says Baines
2 April 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
Everton captain Jagielka best at leading by example says Baines
Phil Jagielka is the best "lead by example" skipper in the Premier League, according to admiring team-mate Leighton Baines.
Everton face Southampton on Saturday with the boost of back-to-back victories over Newcastle United and Queens Park Rangers in the League. Jagielka was instrumental in helping to get those vital six points, and the defender was again showered with praise following his display in England's 1-1 draw with Italy on Tuesday. Baines said: "He's had an unbelievable season, Jags. You look at his performances these last few weeks and he's really led by example, particularly at QPR.
"It was a proper captain's performance, kind of 'over my dead body' stuff. "For me, he's still the best around when it comes to that. You never see him get beaten. If there's a block to be made, he makes it. All the fundamentals of being a defender, there's no-one in the league better." A win on Saturday could lift the Blues up to 11th in the Premier League table and Baines added: "Now it's time to get focused on this final block of fixtures. "We've had a couple of good wins recently and we can start looking at the teams above us now, try to pick a few of them off and finish the season as high up the table as we can. "I've been really impressed with Southampton because they lost a lot of their big players in the summer, they lost a manager who had done a good job, and you were looking at it and thinking they could be struggling down at the bottom really. "But they've done great. The players and the manager who have come in have done an amazing job and, up until recently, they were right in that fight for the Champions League places. "It's going to be a tough game for us, because they've got some dangerous players."
Everton's George Green has been a breath of fresh air for Tranmere Rovers
2 April 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Nick Hilton
Tranmere's Steve Jennings hails on loan winger
Steve Jennings says Tranmere should try to take full advantage of the breath of fresh air blown through the dressing room by George Green.
The 19-year-old winger, who began a loan from Everton last weekend, is due to play his second game in a Rovers shirt at Stevenage this afternoon. Green made a spectacular impact on his debut, giving Wimbledon’s defenders a torrid time and scoring an injury time equaliser in the 1-1 draw.
Experienced midfielder Jennings said: “I have heard the gaffer say George is playing without fear. He is able to get on the ball in tricky situations. He wants the ball all the time and it’s up to us to try our best to give it to him.” Jennings admits Tranmere’s run of poor results and position in the basement division’s bottom two has impacted on players’ performances. “We are where we are and it’s getting a little bit scary at the bottom,” Jennings said. “With our home form the way it is, people have not been wanting the ball as much. “But the little fellow (Green) is coming here fresh. He is here to get games in and do the best he can. He is able to get on the ball and show what he can do.
“I don’t want to keep on saying George Green this and George Green that, but he came up with a vital goal for us and paid our supporters back.” Jennings acknowledges Tranmere will have their work cut out to gain some reward from a trip to Stevenage, who are chasing a play-off spot.
He said: “I watch them play at Burton at the start of the week and they are a well-organised side. But at this stage it’s all about us and what we can do. “Whatever they do, we have to do better.”
Roberto Martínez: Romelu Lukaku hasn’t changed agent to leave Everton
• Lukaku’s new agent Mino Raiola has championed Juventus move
• Sylvain Distin and Antolín Alcaraz set to leave Everton in summer
Thursday 2 April 2015 Guardian
Roberto Martínez has denied Romelu Lukaku’s decision to change agent is an indication the Belgium striker will look to leave Everton this summer.
Lukaku recently ended a long-standing business relationship with Christophe Henrotay to team up with Mino Raiola, the influential Italian-born agent who counts Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba and Mario Balotelli among his clients. Whereas Henrotay has close links with Everton, having also brought Kevin Mirallas and the Belgium Under-21 forward David Henen to the club, Raiola has already championed Lukaku as a signing who could turn Juventus into Champions League winners.
The 21-year-old signed a five-year contract at Goodison Park only last summer and, after an erratic start to the season, has emerged as one of the few positives in a poor campaign for Everton, becoming the club’s leading goalscorer in European competition in the process.
“He has changed his agent but we are not concerned. He is entitled to do that,” said Martínez, who will be without Lukaku at home against Southampton on Saturday should the striker fail a fitness test on a hamstring injury sustained before the international break.
“Everyone speaks about the colourful character that Mino Raiola is but he has a lot of players who are happy to stay at one club. I dealt with Mino Raiola at Wigan and not many people know that he had Danny de Ridder or Vladimir Weiss, players who have been happy to stay at a club. I don’t think there is anything to read into that. “It has been a very interesting season from Rom’s point of view. At the age of 21 he had to cope with coming back from a World Cup and it affected his physical level until January. Since January he has been very consistent and he probably hasn’t been given the credit his performances deserve. He has been performing really well.”
Two players who do appear destined for an Everton exit this summer are Sylvain Distin and Antolín Alcaraz. The veteran central defenders are out of contract at the end of the season and the 37-year-old Distin has been overlooked completely by Martínez since January. The Everton manager, however, insists all players are fighting for their futures in the final eight games of a dreadful season.
Martínez said: “It is too early to tell what will happen. I am sure the next eight games will tell us a lot about what is going to be the situation of every player at the club, not just the ones who are out of contract. “Just because you have a long-term contract it doesn’t mean you are guaranteed to stay in the squad. In the same manner, just because you are out contract it doesn’t mean you will leave. Every player in the situation we are in is giving you a lot of answers as to who is going to stay in the squad.”
Everton v Southampton - Facts and Statistics
3 April 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
Everton statistician Gavin Buckland's low-down on the numbers that count ahead of the big game
Everton are unbeaten in their nine matches against Southampton at Goodison, winning seven and drawing two. Last season we won 2-1 with goals from Seamus Coleman and Romelu Lukaku.
*Our last home defeat to the Saints was 2-0 in November 1997.
* In the Premier League our complete record against Southampton is P31 W13 D9 L9
We have lost the last two PL meetings against Southampton, both away from home, 3-0 this season and 2-0 last April. THREE Everton players have scored own goals in those matches.
* Roberto Martinez has won three and drawn two of his seven managerial games against Southampton. We have scored 99 league goals under the Spaniard.
The Toffees have not recorded three successive league wins since April 2014.
Kevin Mirallas requires one more appearance to reach 100 for Everton in all competitions.
* Darron Gibson requires one more start to reach 100 in his club career.
The last hat-trick by an Everton player against Southampton was scored by Gary Speed in our 7-1 win in November 1996.
With Leon Osman starting, Everton have won 62% of their PL games (21/34) since the start of the 2013/14 season, against 24% when the midfielder does not (8/34).
This season in the 33-year-old’s seven PL starts this season, Everton have WON FIVE and drawn ONCE .
* Everton have not lost any of their last 32 home games that have scheduled Saturday 3 pm kick-offs. The last defeat was to QPR in August 2011.
The Toffees have lost just one of their last 10 Easter fixtures since 2006, including winning the last three.
Roberto Martinez says Everton will be able to cope with Southampton's physicality this time around
3 April 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Neil Jones
Blues were undone in the air when sides met back in December
Roberto Martinez believes Everton are better-equipped to handle the threat of Southampton than when the sides last met.
The Blues’ 3-0 defeat at St Mary’s back in December stands as one of the low points of a disappointing season. It triggered a run of four successive losses, and eight games without a win in all competitions, as their domestic campaign unravelled. That day, Everton were unable to handle the aerial threat of Graziano Pelle and co, conceding two goals from set-pieces and another from a routine cross. Martinez defended his side’s overall performance in that game, but admits they have a better chance of coping with such an examination when Southampton visit Goodison Park on Saturday. He said: “That game was a key moment in both teams’ season. Southampton went into the game with six straight defeats, and we went in knowing that a good win could have taken our season in a different direction. “That day, Southampton played in a way that put a lot of physicality into our box, and we couldn’t cope with that. I don’t think it was a bad performance in terms of our overall play, but obviously if you cannot defend your box, you are not going to win football matches.
“We conceded two goals from corners, and another cross where the physicality of Pelle was too much for us. That’s quite rare, I haven’t seen that happen a lot to us before.
“It was a hurtful defeat from that point of view, and it’s something that you can put right the next time you face them.” Asked if his side would be able to cope with the physical challenge, Martinez said: “Yes, I think so. “In our last game, we played against a QPR side that has got a real strong forward line in Zamora and Austin, and I thought we coped with that really, really well.
“Obviously, we will be more aware of what we will face in Southampton, but we shouldn’t underestimate them. I don’t think they are a team that relies on physicality alone.
“They have phenomenal footballers that play behind the line, the likes of (Dusan) Tadic and (Sadio) Mane. The two full backs get forward really well and provide that balance, (Nathaniel) Clyne and (Ryan) Bertrand have been the two most consistent players for this side, I think. They are definitely not a one-trick pony, far from it. “They are very much a changed team since we faced them last time. We are going to see a very confident side, that has been to tough places like Stamford Bridge recently and performed well. “I think they are going to come to Goodison with a real desire to win, and will have a different approach to the one we saw earlier in the season.”
Why I admire Koeman’s Saints
Martinez, like most, has been impressed by the manner in which Southampton have developed under Ronald Koeman this season. They arrive at Goodison sixth in the Premier League table, their form giving hope to those clubs, including Everton, who hope to challenge the established order at the top of the table. “It’s not just that,” said Martinez. “It’s the way they play as well.
“They’re not a team that just wants to keep a clean sheet and then hope to score a goal. They are a team that knows how to defend, and has a terrific record, but which has really strong footballing concepts. “They want to get on the ball, they’re a very good team in possession, and they have a lot of talent all over the park. What they have been growing over the last two seasons is an incredible work-rate, that is allowing them to build into a very strong side.
“They are where they are on merit. It’s not that they have been lucky. If anything it has been the opposite. They’ve been unfortunate in a few games. “They are where they deserve to be, and that’s why we know we’re facing a team that will come to Goodison with a lot of confidence. Last season when they came here, we had a really good game, well contested, and we won it by a small margin. I expect something similar this weekend.”
Lee Mason has given penalties in both his previous Everton games this season
3 April 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Chris Beesley
Everton meet the ref: Bolton official took charge of three Blues away wins last season
Lee Mason has awarded penalties in both the Everton games he has previously taken charge of this season. The Bolton referee awarded the Blues as spot-kick in the 1-1 draw at Sunderland on November 9, 2014 which Leighton Baines converted. But on Boxing Day he upset Roberto Martinez’s men by pointing to the spot at Goodison after James McCarthy challenged Bojan with the Spaniard dusting himself down to score what proved to be the only goal of the game.
The 43-year-old booked three players at the Stadium of Light including McCarthy and Aiden McGeady while he issued five bookings at Goodison including Gareth Barry and Steven Naismith.
Mason has shown 85 yellow cards in 26 matches this term (3.3 per game) and has shown five red cards. Last season he took charge of three away victories for the Blues, 3-2 at West Ham United on September 21 2013, 2-1 at Swansea City on December 22 2013 and 3-0 at Newcastle on March 25 2014.
Mino Raiola: Romelu Lukaku would not be at Everton if I had him earlier
3 April 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
The controversial agent says Lukaku would have stayed at Chelsea and could move to another club in the future
Romelu Lukaku's new agent has declared the striker "would not have signed for Everton" if he had been guiding his future last summer.
The Blues signed Lukaku in a club record £28m deal from Chelsea last year, with the Belgium forward's previous agent Christophe Hentoray playing a key part in the switch.
Lukaku recently left Hentoray to join controversial super-agent Mino Raiola, who represents Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Mario Balotelli and Paul Pogba, and links quickly began to surface suggesting Juventus retained an interest in the Toffees star. Now Raiola is reported to have told Belgian newspaper Sudpresse that the 21-year-old wouldn't have made the move to Goodison Park had he been representing the frontman at that time. He said: "If we'd met earlier, he wouldn't have signed for Everton. He would have played for another club or maybe he would still be at Chelsea.
"I do not know if, in Belgium, you realize its immense qualities. He has all the physical, human and technical. "We often talk about football, but do not forget that this is also someone with a big heart.
"If anyone says that Paul Pogba is the future of the world, while Romelu Lukaku is the Paul Pogba of attackers. "Yes, he will become one of Europe's best forwards. I'm not saying this for fun, but when you see all that he has accomplished at a young age, it is only normal. It has already achieved great things while he has not exploited its full potential. "Later, he will play for a top club like Paris Saint-Germain, the two teams from Manchester, Barcelona or Bayern Munich."
Roberto Martinez tells Everton fans: Your team needs You
3 April 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Ian Doyle
Everton boss calls on Goodison faithful to rise to the occasion as Blues aim for home comforts
Roberto Martinez has urged the Goodison faithful to help roar Everton over the finishing line as he looks for a final flourish to the campaign.
The Blues will aim for a third Premier League victory when they resume top-flight duties at home to Southampton on Saturday. Five of their remaining eight games are at home, with Everton having arrested a poor record on their own patch with a hat-trick of successive wins in all competitions.
And Martinez believes Blues fans will have a part to play in ensuring their team engender a feel-good factor to take into the summer break. “Southampton is next, but we have five games (out of eight) at home, which is a huge amount – 15 points to fight for at Goodison,” said the Everton boss.
“We have to get together and help the players finish the season as strong as we can. That’s the focus, to see how close we can get to showing the kind of form we had last season in those final eight games.” Martinez added: “In the league it has been a disappointing season, in terms of not being able to grab the momentum that we showed last season.
“I think we showed what we are, and what we want to be, last season. That’s the level that we aspire to. “And I think now, after the two wins back-to-back, we want to try to reproduce that and show that kind of form, that we haven’t shown consistently this season.”
Everton haven’t won three successive Premier League games in almost 12 months, a sign of the inconsistency that has dogged their campaign. And Martinez said: “I have always said the Premier League is the most competitive league in world football. Every team fights for three points in a manner which you just don’t get in other leagues. “Every game brings a real challenge and a contrast in styles that you need to overcome if you are to get three points.”
Sixth-placed Southampton – who have won only one of 15 Premier League trips to Goodison – are still in the running for Champions League qualification having been marshalled superbly by boss Ronald Koeman. “Koeman has done a fantastic job. Southampton deserve to be where they are in the table. “They haven’t been overachieving at all. Their results are down to their performances.
“They are a very well-organised team and have tactical flexibility they use really well.”
Everton’s 3-0 defeat at St Mary’s before Christmas was one of the low points of their campaign and came after the Saints had lost their previous five games. Martinez, though, expects a different challenge at Goodison. “When we faced them at their place it was a different moment than we are facing them now,” he said. “They were in a bad moment and it was a really tense game and we needed that game to be a very important part of our season. “We were looking for a win but they had lost five games in a row and maybe they were motivated by that and were a bit defensive minded. “I don’t expect that approach at Goodison. I expect them to come here to win.
“They can replicate their very good performances at Stamford Bridge, Old Trafford and the Emirates. They have been travelling really well.” Romelu Lukaku and Darron Gibson will have a late checks on hamstring and stomach problems respectively while Arouna Kone, Kevin Mirallas and Steven Pienaar should be available.
Everton v Southampton - Which team should Roberto Martinez pick?
3 April 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
ECHO writers select their Everton starting line-up for the Goodison clash
Everton host Ronald Koeman's high-flyers tomorrow in a bid to secure a hat-trick of consecutive league wins for the first time this season.
Romelu Lukaku will face a late fitness test as he bids to recover from a hamstring injury in time, while Darron Gibson and Kevin Mirallas are also hoping to play some part.
But will Martinez risk all of the trio? How will he line-up?
Here's what our writers think - and why not pick your starting XI at the bottom too?
Greg O'Keeffe: Everton need to get back on track in front of the Goodison faithful and begin to heal the still open wounds of this painful season. That's why it's no time for Roberto Martinez to begin experimenting or blooding youngsters just yet. The side with back to back wins deserves to build on those belated signs of momentum - with one tweak - Barkley in for Kone.
Team: Howard, Coleman, Stones, Jagieila, Baines, Gibson, McCarthy, Lennon, Osman, Lukaku, Barkley.
Kristian Walsh: I would be inclined to start the same side as QPR, although it would be hard to leave Barkley out after his midweek showing for England.
With Lukaku not fully fit, maybe this is the chance to slot Barkley into a central position, move Kone up-front and have Osman and Naismith either side. Gibson probably also deserves a rest, so Besic can get a run-out.
Team: Howard; Baines, Jagielka, Stones, Coleman; Besic, McCarthy, Naismith, Osman, Barkley, Kone.
Ian Doyle: Relegation fears may have effectively been banished with victory at QPR last time out, but there is still plenty at stake for Everton.
I just can't see Roberto Martinez overly experimenting with his starting line-up – at least not yet – so I'd expect a strong team to face Southampton with the Blues reverting to a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Ross Barkley deserves another chance in a central position after his impressive cameo for England, while Aaron Lennon demonstrated at Loftus Road he warrants an extended run in the side.
Team (4-2-3-1): Howard, Coleman, Stones, Jagielka, Baines; Barry, McCarthy; Lennon, Barkley, Naismith; Lukaku/Kone.
Why Everton youngsters are leading the way - for both club and country
3 April 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Ian Doyle
Everton boss Martinez on Ross Barkley, John Stones and the starlets making waves in the Dallas Cup
Such has been the torturous nature of their team’s hugely disappointing Premier League campaign, Evertonians would be forgiven for already turning their focus on to next season.
And on opposite sides of the globe this week, there were plenty of reasons for future encouragement. In Turin on Tuesday night, Ross Barkley earned rave reviews when emerging from the bench to help England salvage a 1-1 draw in their friendly against Italy.
The previous night, John Stones was part of an England under-21 side that came from behind to defeat their German counterparts 3-2 at Middlesbrough. Meanwhile, over in the United States, Everton’s under-19 players were fighting their way through to the semi-finals of the prestigious Dallas Cup. With genuine concerns over an ageing first-team squad, bringing through fresh talent will be crucial in shaping the next Goodison evolution. Most expectation, of course, has been placed on the shoulders of Barkley, with the 21-year-old’s impressive midweek cameo prompting questions of why he has been unable to show such form regularly in an Everton shirt this season.
For Blues boss Roberto Martinez, though, it’s clear the youngster has simply been affected by the overall struggle for the Blues to replicate the previous campaign. “With a young player, you can see straight away if they have been affected by the environment and you can see if they have been affected by people saying good or bad things about you,” says the Catalan.
“The truth is that it has been a really challenging season for everyone, due to all the good things that we did last season. “Ross is someone who gets ready from game to game, and is someone who can affect games. I have said before that potentially he is the best English player that we have.
“To have been through this season, at the age of 21, I expect that his development will accelerate in the next two or three years, in different situations.
“He’s a phenomenal character, and he will fulfil his potential.”
Barkley will have the opportunity to build momentum and confidence when Premier League duties resume with the visit of Southampton on Saturday.
So too Stones who, having been contentiously overlooked by England’s senior side, instead starred for the U21s. “John and Ross are still very young, they love playing football and they love representing England,” says Martinez. “I don’t think (being in the U21s) was a problem for John. He got a lot of benefit in such a competitive game against Germany. They are big experiences.
“John and Ross are aware that whenever they are going to be called up, whichever level it is, they are ready to perform, to enjoy their football and to be an important part of England’s future.
“It’s not an issue.”
Youngsters will flourish after Dallas
Further afield, Everton youngsters have been making waves in the Dallas Cup, having shrugged off an opening defeat to Argentine side River Plate to progress to the semi-finals.
Ryan Ledson, Kieran Dowell and David Henen are among those to have impressed, although Martinez has urged caution regarding their first-team opportunities.
“I don’t know about (any one featuring) before the end of the season, but every player has his own individual programme,” says the Blues boss. “We’re really excited about the talent that we have got underneath. We have many different nationalities, but if you look at the U17s and U18s for England, for example, we have a strong representation there. “Some of those players have already made their first-team debut in the Europa League and been involved around the senior squad.
“The type of opposition they face (in Dallas) is completely different with different styles and the youngsters will get a lot out of it. “They’re developing really well, and that’s something that we will keep in mind when it comes to rewarding players with an opportunity in the first team.
“It fills everyone with real excitement that we have a really strong group coming through.”
At the other end of the age scale, 32-year-old skipper Phil Jagielka continues to set the example by transferring his fine club form to his country with a man-of-the-match display for England in Italy.
Jagielka will lock horns with Southampton’s Italian striker Graziano Pelle once again on Saturday.
And of his captain, Martinez says: “Phil showed two of the best performances he has this season against Newcastle and especially QPR, where he was magnificent.
“Pelle and Eder are a very strong partnership and Phil was very strong defensively and at times was the one who kept Italy at bay. “It shows the form he is experiencing and it was great to see him take it from club level to international level in such an easy and natural way.”
Everton's season is effectively over - here's what Martinez should do
3 April 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Barry Horne
Barry Horne on Luke Garbutt's future, the next eight games and the summer
Whatever anyone at the club says to the contrary, Everton’s season is effectively finished.
That might sound miserable but it’s hard to see it any other way.
We are probably a win and a draw away from being mathematically safe, and a million miles from challenging for Europe. At this time of the season the Premier league comes into its own; with the focus splitting between the excitement of the title contenders vying for glory and the desperate race to avoid the dreaded drop. Then there's the engaging side-show of the sides fighting to squeeze into that top five. Everton won’t figure in any of it. So what can the fans really get excited about? What is there to motivate them? From Roberto Martinez’s point of view there needs to be a strong run of performances which will do him no end of good personally.
Like it or not his position has been questioned during a season of inconsistency and it’s a chance to end on a high in terms of results at least. Maybe it’s also an opportunity for him to look at different ways of playing which is another bone of contention for the Goodison faithful.
For starters he could demand a more energetic, direct and aggressive, in terms of winning back the ball, style. Especially in home game. The fans would love to see Everton attacking teams with real pace and creating some excitement about the Old Lady from the first whistle.
Maybe then the supporters, who have had their patience severely tested over the course of the campaign, will at least end the season with renewed optimism.
At least they have characters in the team they can rely on - like the captain Phil Jagielka.
He was at his consistent best for England against Italy but the feedback, praise in some areas, from the national press was largely back-handed. I’m not saying we should feel sorry for him. He’s a big lad who has grown up under David Moyes and is very much of the school of ‘just get on with it’.
But it was distasteful when he received some flak after the World Cup and it still leaves a sour taste for me. My hope for Jagielka is that he can continue leading Everton so well, and in turn go into what will likely be his last major international tournament for England at the Euros in France next summer.
Everton playing for their futures? I'm not so sure
Roberto Martinez h Is said everyone at Everton will be playing for their futures over the next eight games. I’m not convinced that’s the case. At this stage the manager and his coaching staff will have made their minds up about the futures of the players who haven’t nailed down a starting spot this term. Of course there is the element of the unknown. We might get huge bids for Ross Barkley or Lukaku which could change the landscape but I suspect Martinez is trying to focus the minds of the dressing room. He won’t admit it, and rightly, but will have already started planning for the summer and next term, like all other managers.
Luke Garbutt should stay a while
With each passing day that Luke Garbutt’s proposed new contract remains unsigned the Blues risk further losing a shining young asset. I am sure everyone at the club is doing their utmost to get the left-back to commit and despite what he might perceive to be an immovable object blocking his first team hopes, in Leighton Baines, the grass is not always greener on the other side.
There will be some advising him to go and play first team football elsewhere, and there certainly won’t e any shortage of clubs keen to take him for a reduced fee. For a 21-year-old who has had some good first team experience already, the lad could do a lot worse than spending at least another season at Everton and seeing how things work out. If he can’t get the games he wants then I’m sure something could be done in terms of a move next summer. Even if he has to essentially continue in the role of under-study to a full England international like Baines, it would be more experience and he would be bound to get more exposure and chances to shine along the way.
A couple of eight-goal thrillers for Everton against Southampton
3 April 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Chris Beesley
Memorable matches when the Saints go marching in to Goodison Park
September 29 2012: Everton 3 Southampton 1
Goodison Park was treated to some of the Blues most free-flowing football in many years as they recovered strongly after falling behind to Gaston Ramirez’s sixth minute opener.
Everton wrapped up the points with a strong display before half-time with Leon Osman equalising on 25 minutes and a two-goal blast from Nikica Jelavic on 32 and 38 minutes which proved to be something of a last hurrah for the once-prolific Croatian as his Midas touch in front of goal sadly dried up.
February 22 2003: Everton 2 Southampton 1
After mostly a decade of struggle, the Blues were enjoying an exciting campaign in what was David Moyes’ first season in charge. Future Everton record signing James Beattie – who would go on to net 24 times in 2002/03 – but the Saints in front after 33 minutes but a barrage of second half pressure from the hosts eventually paid off.
Back in the days before he adopted the 4-4-1-1 formation, Moyes actually finished this match with a bold three up front formation after introducing substitutes Kevin Campbell and Wayne Rooney to support Tomasz Radzinski who turned the game on its head with goals in the 83rd and 90th minute to secure a well-earned three points.
November 2 1997: Everton 0 Southampton 2
Memorable for Blues for all the wrong reasons because this remains the Saints only Premier League win at Goodison Park to date.
Less than a year after their mauling (see below), Southampton, managed by former Everton defender Dave Jones, overcame Howard Kendall’s strugglers thanks to a 24th minute strike from Matthew Le Tissier and an impressive solo effort from a young Kevin Davies on 54 minutes – one of the highlights that prompted Blackburn to shell out £7.5million on his services the following summer.
November 16 1996: Everton 7 Southampton 1
This remains the Blues biggest Premier League win although the scoreline was matched against Sunderland in November 2007.
Gary Speed scored a hat-trick, Andrei Kanchelskis who had been devastating the previous season got two, while Graham Stuart and recently-signed club record £5.75million purchase Nick Barmby also netted with what was the former Tottenham and Middlesbrough man’s first goal for the club.
Joe Royle’s men were already 5-1 up at the break so the Blues boss withdrew Neville Southall at the interval to hand understudy goalkeeper Paul Gerrard his debut.
November 20 1971: Everton 8 Southampton 0
Amazingly, Harry Catterick’s side who had been crowned champions just over a year earlier started this game below the Saints in the table.
The game kicked-off in a heavy snowstorm and the Blues clearly fancied the conditions more as they destroyed the visitors.
Joe Royle netted four, grabbed a hat-trick while future Southampton man Alan Ball was also on the scoresheet.
Royal Blue: Ross Barkley can be number 10 for Everton FC and England
4 April 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Ian Doyle
Turin cameo will hopefully be spark for Blues youngster to resume his rise
History does have tendency of repeating itself.
In a former life, your correspondent was covering Everton back in 2003 when Wayne Rooney was going through an indifferent spell of form. By contrast, the youngster, having not long broken in to the England senior squad, was consistently producing excellent performances for his country.
Fast forward to the present day, and Ross Barkley finds himself in a similar predicament.
Observers were falling over themselves to prise the Blues midfielder’s impressive cameo from the bench in the second half to help England snatch a draw in their friendly in Turin against Italy on Tuesday. Roy Hodgson was delighted. Joe Hart said we should back players of such talent, even if they are going through difficult times as at present.
And then Paul Scholes said this.
“Barkley reminds me of a footballer I played alongside against Italy in La Tournoi in Nantes, 18 years ago,” says the former “That was Paul Gascoigne, a substitute that day and, at his peak, a brilliant creative player. “I think there is a bit of Rooney in Barkley, too.
“Barkley has the energy and enthusiasm of (Fabian) Delph and (Jordan) Henderson, but he has that creativity too, and that kind of ability will be what wins England games against the better football nations. “It is that creative position, the No.10, that Barkley can make his own. But he has to force the issue.” Scholes may well be on the money with all of his comparisons.
But there’s no doubt he is right in his final assessment of the midfielder needing to make that number 10 position his own.
And not just with England.
Driving forward from midfield, taking on players and feeding those around him, his display at the Juventus Stadium was precisely the type of performance Everton fans would have expected from the 21-year-old this season. Sadly, they have been few and far between this season. Primarily because Barkley’s opportunities in a central position have been curiously limited.
It’s from here Barkley undoubted does most damage.
Mind you, if you take the player at his own word then his preferred position would be up front, although that’s a different debate entirely. Yes, it also helped Barkley was surrounded by in-form players eager to impress, rather than be affected by the general malaise that has engulfed Everton’s campaign. As he demonstrated last year, it is a lot easier to produce your best in a winning team than, when still in his formative years, expected to take a struggling side by the scruff of the neck and drag them to victory. Barkley can do that best from a central position. But to do that, he needs to consistently impress Roberto Martinez from that position when given the opportunity.
While hugely supportive of the belief Barkley is best suited to an attacking midfield role, Martinez has, at least during this season, not been fully convinced.
Barkley will hope his Turin display gives him a chance during the last eight games of the season to change that. Rooney? He eventually played his way back into form and accepting his minor struggle as part of development that every youngster goes through.
Barkley will take solace from that. More importantly, though, he should take heed of Scholes’ comments.
Grass is Greener for George at Tranmere as he follows tried and tested route to first team
Want to know how well George Green has been doing at Tranmere Rovers?
Consider this tweet from journalist Nigel Adderley, who was at The Lamex Stadium for Rovers’ 2-2 draw with Stevenage on Friday afternoon.
“George Green is playing a different game to every other player on the pitch at Stevenage-Tranmere,” he posted. “It’s called football.” It’s fair to say Green has made a significant impact since moving to Prenton Park on loan last week.
On his debut, the 19-year-old winger smashed in a remarkable late equaliser to salvage a point at home to AFC Wimbledon. Then, on Good Friday, Green was at it again, having a hand in both goals if blotting his copybook somewhat with a late miss. Green’s emergence has, in truth, been a long time coming. Much was made of his signing from Bradford City as a 15-year-old back in 2011 but Everton were content to allow him to progress through the ranks. Green was a member of the side that own the U18 Premier League last year while making his mark for England at U16, U17 and U18 level.
His loan spell at Tranmere is the next step, not least with Rovers fighting for their lives at the bottom of the Football League. Seamus Coleman and Ross Barkley benefited from a temporary move elsewhere. In just two games, Green is already showing the same promise.
Everton 1 Southampton 0 player ratings: Tim Howard and Phil Jagielka impress as the Toffees triumph
4 April 2015
By Greg O’Keeffe
Howard made a crucial save before Jagielka scored the only goal of the game in Everton's win
TIM HOWARD: His wonderful reflex save was arguably the key moment of the game after just six minutes. Solid too when the Saints tested him afterwards, it was a much improved afternoon for the keeper. 8
LEIGHTON BAINES: Did his job defensively and whipped in a couple of dangerous free kicks but failed to get forward with his usual energy. 6
PHIL JAGIELKA: Proved once again what a dependable leader he is for this team. Scored the goal and played a major role in securing an all too rare clean sheet to cap a great week. 8
JOHN STONES: Some typically adroit interceptions and cool-as-anything play from the back as the game wore on. 7
SEAMUS COLEMAN: Excellent in defence and marshalled the threat of James Ward-Prowse admirably in the first half. 7
JAMES McCARTHY: Flourished in a more advanced role than usual. Clearly has more to offer than his trademark repertoire of defensive and high-energy work. 7
GARETH BARRY: Shielded the back four with his typical acumen but blotted his copy book with a couple of uncharacteristically sloppy passes. 6
LEON OSMAN: Limited impact out wide although he contributed more in the first half to a robust defensive effort. Tired as the second period wore on. 6
ROSS BARKLEY: More at ease on home soil than in a while. Never quite as dynamic as in that spell for England in Turin but nevertheless looked far more confident in a central role. 7
AARON LENNON: Industrious and bright. If he doesn't manage to convince Roberto Martinez to make his loan permanent then it won't be through lack of effort. 7
AROUNA KONE: Some flashes of quality with his interplay and worked hard but overall not quite enough. By the end he was playing most of his passes to Southampton defenders. 6
Naismith: Little chance to make an impact. 5
Besic: Looked rusty but willing as ever. 5
Everton boss Roberto Martinez to hold talks with Romelu Lukaku after agent Mino Raiola hinted Belgian striker could leave the club
Roberto Martinez has confirmed he will hold talks with Romelu Lukaku
Striker Lukaku has been linked with a move away by new agent Mino Raiola
Raiola said he would have never sanctioned Lukaku’s £28million move
Belgian international is one year into a five-year-deal at Goodison Park
By Jack Gaughan
4 April 2015
Roberto Martinez will hold talks with Romelu Lukaku after the striker’s new agent suggested he could leave Everton as soon as this summer.Mino Raiola, who has brokered big-money deals for Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Mario Balotelli, said he would have never sanctioned Lukaku’s £28million move to Goodison Park last summer.It has left the 21-year-old’s future on Merseyside up in the air, even though he is only one season into a five-year contract. ‘He is an agent that for whatever reason needs to do those comments,’ Martinez said. ‘I always speak with Romelu and all the players about those situations. Romelu made the decision of changing his agent. He is entitled to do that. It is a personal decision. ‘Romelu is a very important player for us. As a football club we showed an incredible respect and integrity in the way we conducted our decisions about him and his career and we will carry on doing that.’
Everton 1 Southampton 0: Home comforts back at last and four more things we learned from victory over Saints
18:51, 4 April 2015
By Greg O’Keeffe
Home comforts back at last
Barry Horne, bless his honest socks, said it in his Echo column - Everton's season is effectively over.They're not going down, they're not going back to Europe, their only remaining aim is to try and finish 11th. It doesn't quite light a fire in the belly does it?And yet – the Blues ran out before a sell-out crowd at Goodison Park against Southampton.Was it being deprived of home action for three weeks? Or the promise of a bank holiday and the unexpected sunshine providing a Spring in the step?Whatever prompted such a healthy attendance, it bodes well for the run-in which includes four further fixtures at the Old Lady.Home comforts, genuine home comforts of the sort L4 does so fiercely, have been few and far between this season, as supporters have grown increasingly frustrated with the football they've been served-up.Yet with nothing really to play for against the Saints, there wasn't a spare seat in the house.“We felt at ease playing at home which is the way it should be,” said Martinez afterwards.
Howard still divides opinion
Tim Howard continues to be something of a divisive figure for Everton's supporters.Many give little heed to eight years of relative solidity from the American, preferring to judge him on a distinctly below average season by his standards.For them, he can no longer do anything right. Period, as his countrymen might say.What then must the critics have made of the sixth-minute save which almost defied the laws of physics and certainly denied a certain lead for the visitors?Each time you watch the 36-year-old's stunning reflex stop it gets better. Grazianio Pelle was planning his celebration as he watched his deflected shot head over the line, but somehow Howard scooped it to safety.Later too, he stopped James Ward-Prowse's dangerous shot as the Saints hammered on the door.The end product was a clean sheet. Howard had not had enough this season, and he must privately accept that his errors have compounded what has been a torrid campaign.Martinez may still look for a long-term successor to Howard in the summer, but in the short-term he retains full faith in his first choice keeper's abilities. Like it or not, the fans will have to accept that, and maybe, in the end, give the USA international some credit.
Lennon's future hangs in the balance
Aaron Lennon's chances of earning a permanent place at Everton remain in the balance. Even if the fairly small sum of £6m would secure his services, the jury remains out on whether the Blues may be better to spend it elsewhere. But if he doesn't get a move North, at least one thing seems certain – it won't be for any lack of effort.The on-loan winger ran himself into the ground for his second consecutive game, and although there was no goal to garnish his efforts this time, they will still have been appreciatzsed in the manager's office. His end product remains hit and miss, but the wisdom of bringing him to Goodison for the short-term already seems to have been sound.
Jagielka back to his best
Cast your mind back to the start of the season. Phil Jagielka appeared variously to be running in mud, defending like Bambi on Ice, and suggesting the unjust criticism he received during the inevitable World Cup post-mortem had left his confidence shot through.Now look at him.Everton's captain is an inspiration. He was the first senior player in the Goodison dressing room to get his act together after the defensively chaotic start to the campaign, and on a personal level he hasn't looked back since that totemic display, and wonder-goal, at Anfield in September.His fifth goal of the campaign (Everton's only shot on target) was enough to secure the win over Ronald Koeman's side. But he was at his usual best when Southampton piled on the pressure, just like at QPR, looking for a way back.
Toffees need to beat the top teams
Victory over Southampton was the first time the Blues have beaten a club in the Premier League's top eight this term. It is a sobering statistic.Only Manchester United and Tottenham remain on the horizon in terms of notable scalps between now and the finish line in May.But if Martinez's men are to prevent this being truly a campaign to forget entirely, they must add morale-boosting wins over other big-hitting sides to this triumph over the high-flying South Coast outfit.The solace of a top ten finish remains highly unlikely of course, but Stoke aren't totally out of sight just yet.It might be grasping at straws, but something has to remain on the table for the next seven weeks to contain any allure.
Roberto Martinez: No issue over Romelu Lukaku's agent
4 April 2015
The Everton manager adds that Tim Howard was "at his very best" in victory over Southampton
Everton manager Roberto Martinez insists there is no issue with striker Romelu Lukaku's future at the club despite comments from his new agent setting alarm bells ringing among fans . The Belgium international, who was injured for the Toffees' 1-0 win over Southampton courtesy of Phil Jagielka's fifth goal of the season, has just signed up with Mino Raiola , who has the likes of Mario Balotelli and Paul Pogba on his books On Friday he gave an interview to a Belgian newspaper in which he said: "If we had met each other earlier, he wouldn't have played for Everton."We will see what happens in the summer but the Everton directors don't have to think Rom will play there for the rest of his career."Martinez dismissed the comments, suggesting Raiola was trying to make a statement of intent having taken over the 21-year-old's interest."He is an agent that has worked just a short period of time with a new client. For whatever reason he needs to do those comments," said the Everton boss."I am sure every agent will have some sort of comments about his clients. I am not going to get involved talking about an agent."From my point of view Romelu is one of the most important signings we have ever made; that shows the commitment and the investment we have made."He has an incredible talent and at 21 he has a long-term contract. For me there is not an issue."I always speak with Rom and all the players about those situations. Rom made the decision of changing his agent. He is entitled to do that. It is a personal decision."Romelu is a very important player for us. As a football club we showed an incredible respect and integrity in the way we conducted our decisions about him and his career and we will carry on doing that."Turning his thoughts to Everton's third successive victory , which has lifted them to 11th in the table, Martinez was pleased with the way his side ground out the result. "We stopped them from doing what they normally do. They found it hard to break us down," he added."It was a really interesting game from a tactical point of view. They only had two shots on target which shows you how well we defended but Tim Howard was at his very best."As a team we defended very well because from then on Southampton never had a shot on target."
Everton 1 Southampton 0 Match Verdict: A win without Romelu Lukaku but it wasn't pretty
19:36, 4 April 2015
By Phil Kirkbride
Phil Kirkbride's verdict on a third successive Premier League win for the Blues
Grit. Tick. Fight. Tick. Attacking flair?Two out of three ain’t bad and was good enough for Everton to grind out a third successive league win.But if Mino Raiola had his way then the Blues might have to play this way every week.Without injured top-scorer Romelu Lukaku, Everton found a way to move up the table this afternoon but it wasn’t pretty or ever totally convincing.Thankfully, the motor-mouthed super agent didn’t get his hands on Romelu Lukaku until after he had joined the Blues on a five-year deal for a club record fee.The Belgian striker is going nowhere but what a Lukaku-less Everton did against Southampton was reinforce the belief that they need to bolster their attacking options this summer.Roberto Martinez’s side won this game, to make it three Premier League wins in a row for the first time since last season, but did so having registered just one shot on target – and that came from a defender.Phil Jagielka’s match-winning goal, swept in from three yards out, was enough for Everton to move up to 11th in the table and deliver a dent in Southampton’s hopes of European qualification.Jagielka was superb once again and his first-half goal-poaching meant the Blues added to wins over Newcastle and QPR to move even further away from the bottom three.And in the context of their bitterly disappointing season, three-straight wins feels like a minor miracle.They achieved it here through a policy of containment, more than of one of the fearless attacking intent that took them into the top four mix 12 months ago.And tellingly the strength of Jagielka and Everton’s defending limited Southampton to just two shots on target.Martinez called for “focus” beforehand and his side required plenty of it as the Saints flew out of the blocks and dominated large spells of an underwhelming game.
Everton picked up an eighth clean sheet of the season to see Southampton leaving Goodison Park with a feeling frustration. They left Goodison having experienced what Everton have too many times this season. They had more of the ball, could do little with it and felt empty handed.The Blues could be forgiven for raising a wry smile at the end.Martinez called this a “tactical battle” and it was one he won by pushing James McCarthy further up the pitch in a ploy to offer Everton greater and more sustained pressing of the ball.It is a trait the Blues have lacked too often this season but for most of today’s game they refused to stand off as McCarthy and Aaron Lennon set about getting in Southampton’s faces.Martinez’s 4-1-4-1 formation left Gareth Barry to act as the pivot to mop the loose balls, with the visitors struggling to find total fluency as they were not always allowed to play from the back as they would like.Southampton, though, are a very decent side and their flying start to the game almost yielded the opening goal just over five minutes in but Tim Howard brilliantly clawed away Graziano Pelle’s effort from underneath his crossbar.The Everton goalkeeper also blocked a swerving effort from James Ward-Prowse after Jagielka had put the home side in front and watched as the same player sent a free-kick narrowly wide as Southampton probed to find a way back into the game.But Everton defended particularly well and succeeded in keeping the Saints at arms length for most of the game.However, they struggled to deter them with much at the other end.Arouna Kone ploughed the lone furrow upfront in place of Lukaku, who failed a fitness test on his hamstring on Friday, and though he offered a typically full-blooded performance, his impact was limited.Not only is he a striker rebuilding his fitness after a career-threatening knee injury but one also rebuilding his confidence.The ball wasn’t sticking upfront and when Everton found themselves in positions of promise, the moves would too easily break down.Kone is a valuable member of this squad but Martinez needs alternatives to the Ivorian, especially when Lukaku is sidelined with a hamstring injury, and will surely look to add to his attacking arsenal in the close season.Steven Naismith replaced Kone for the final 20 minutes of the game and injected cunning and energy but Everton rarely troubled the best defence in the division after Jagielka had pounced to score.Lukaku, with 18 goals in all competitions, elevates this side. They can win without him but it will be hard work.
Colin Harvey: Great to walk past dad during my finest hour at Everton
07:00, 5 April 2015
By Chris Beesley
Everton stalwart recalls 1970 title win
You’d be hard-pressed to find a bigger Blue than Colin Harvey, a man who has devoted his life to his beloved Everton.So securing the League Championship at Goodison Park in 1970 with his dad watching down on him from the stands is a moment that will always remain with him.Now 70, Harvey (inset) said: “I remember the game against West Brom when we clinched the title. I was never prolific but I opened the scoring that night and after the game when we went up into the stands to receive the trophy, I walked through the directors box and could see my dad in the stands.“It was one of the greatest moments of my career and there was my father – who like me had been an Evertonian all his life – watching us lift the trophy.“Winning the League with Everton was something I’d dreamed about when I was a kid and looking back on that memory now later on in life is something special for me.”Future generations have missed out on seeing the deeds of the Blues title-winning heroes of 1970s because manager Harry Catterick tried to keep television cameras away from their home games.Harvey said: “Mr Catterick wasn’t a great lover of television. I’m not sure why he kept the cameras away from Goodison though as a lot of our away matches were filmed.“We played a 4-3-3 formation which a lot of teams play today but at the time our manager was ahead of the game.“Myself and Howard [Kendall] sat deeper while Alan [Ball] was more attacking. We had just one up front with Joe Royle but with Bally joining in and then there were the likes of Jimmy Husband and Alan Whittle pushing up from out wide. We also had Johnny Morrissey who was the best left winger in the business.”Everton footballers Colin Harvey (left) and Howard Kendall sign autographs for young fans on April 24, 1968 He added: “The way we set up gave us a numerical advantage in the middle of the park and we really dominated games in midfield.“Harry doesn’t get the credit he deserves, possibly because he wasn’t particularly attractive to the Press.“He never really gave them much and he was something of an introvert.“If you consider that as well as winning the League in 1970, he was the manager when Everton were champions in 1963 and won the FA Cup in 1966, he was equally as good as anyone else in that era.“Saying that though we were all decent footballers so while Mr Catterick set out a framework for us, we weren’t bound by tactics. It wasn’t as rigid as now. Coaches try and take too much credit these days.”
Everton's 1970 title was Alan Ball's club highlight
07:00, 5 April 2015
By Chris Beesley
Blues legend's son recalls his dad's finest hour in a royal blue jersey
IT’S pretty obvious what the highlight of Alan Ball’s international career was but the World Cup winner’s son Jimmy says that clinching the 1970 League Championship with Everton was his greatest moment in club football.2015 is a busy year when it comes to Merseyside footballing anniversaries but in a season of memorable landmarks, the finest hour of the ‘Holy Trinity’ of Howard Kendall, Colin Harvey and Ball should not be forgotten.45 years ago this week, 58,523 crammed into Goodison to see the Blues crowned champions of England with a 2-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion and although he wasn’t born for another five years, Ball’s only son Jimmy says the memories of that season always remained strong in his house when growing up.Jimmy said: “After winning the World Cup, clinching the League Championship in 1970 was the next biggest achievement of dad’s career.“My dad always spoke very fondly about his time at Goodison. Everton was his club.“It’s not a secret that he didn’t want to go when he was sold to Arsenal. He was devastated.“He never quite captured his Everton form anywhere else. Nowhere else was he revered in the same way that he was by Evertonians and he felt the same way about the club.“When dad died I received lots of DVDs in the post from fans. Many were from people I’d never met.“Watching him play you can see how he would run games. He’d get back and help the defence and then you’d see him driving forward and linking up the play.”Ball had already departed the Blues for Arsenal when Jimmy was born and was at Southampton by the time his son started school but his colleagues at Everton remained friends for life.Jimmy said: “He loved his Everton team-mates. Of course there were his midfield partners Howard [Kendall] and Colin [Harvey] but there was Big Joe [Royle] too, Westy [Gordon West], Labby [Brian Labone] and Alex Young was his hero.“I still talk to Big Joe when I come up to Goodison, he’s a wonderful man and I see Howard and Colin when I can as well.“We always receive a great welcome from the Everton Former Players Foundation. Not many clubs look after their old players the way Everton do. There’s a real family feel.“You see it on their staff the way that John Ebbrell is back there and they’ve got Graham Stuart, Ian Snodin and Graeme Sharp as ambassadors.“I might sound a bit of a cliché now but my dad was right when he said ‘once Everton has touched you, nothing is ever the same.“There’s a real friendly, homely feel which is very unique.”
Respect is due
Although the managerial track record of Harry Catterick, who steered the Blues to the title in 1963 and 1970, stacks up impressively against more-lauded contemporaries such as Don Revie, Matt Busby and local rival Bill Shankly, the achievements of his sides are often overlooked beyond Merseyside.Jimmy said: “Away from Everton I don’t think that either the 1970 League Championship-winning side or 1985 League Championship-winning side get the credit they deserve.“I think the team in the 1980s would have gone on to be a big presence in Europe.“Dad’s Everton team do get a lot of accolades within footballing circles though. A lot of the old players from the late 1960s and early 1970s say they didn’t want to play against that Everton team because they had it all. You can’t take those memories away from either the players or the fans.”
Football was often played at a slower pace when Ball was at his peak, but his personal all-action style was similar to the pressing game now employed by the world’s leading teams.
Jimmy, who is now a professional coach at a Premier League Academy, has no doubt that his father would have been a star in the 21st century game.He said: “I’ve done a lot of studying of the game and I’ve looked at what football was like back when my dad played.“People can be a bit condescending when they talk about the game back then but Harry Catterick was very forward-thinking in the way he played three in midfield.“Looking at how my dad compares to modern players, his goal-scoring from midfield stacks up to the likes of Frank Lampard, he had the passing ability to split defences like a Cesc Fabregas or Paul Scholes.“He also had a more defensive side to his game but he could work both ends of the field. I think he would be invaluable in the modern game.“He could operate in multiple positions and still dictate a game of football the way people talk about Andrea Pirlo as doing.“It makes me smile when we see the likes of Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere being put up on a pedestal. I’ve nothing against the lad but I don’t think he’d even be fit to lace my dad’s boots.“It would be interesting to see how my dad would have figured on Opta stats or the other ways we track players now.“If you watch the 1966 World Cup final, it’s amazing to see the amount of grass he covered. To get the man-of-the-match award when Geoff Hurst scored a hat-trick is some going.”Everton's Alan Ball marches back to the home dressing room with the Football League Championship trophy under his arm after his team's 2-0 win wrapped up the title, followed by teammate Brian Labone (l)
As both the son and grandson of professional players – Ball’s dad Alan senior played for Southport before managing the Sandgrounders plus Halifax and Preston North End – Jimmy, who also has football connections on his mum’s side of the family, was surrounded by the game as a youngster but he was wasn’t pressured to follow in their footsteps.He said: “Dad let me make my own decisions. We’d have a kick about in the garden when I wanted to but he never forced me to play football and he never boasted about himself or his achievements. That wasn’t his way.“I only had a short career.“I could see the game and knew what I wanted to do but wasn’t blessed with enough talent to make it happen.“I’m more suited to the coaching side of things and after some time in the US and Europe enjoying myself I’m looking at moving things on in that respect now.”
Like his father, Jimmy remains a passionate Evertonian and always follows the Blues fortunes closely.He believes that a combination of silly mistakes and tactical adjustments from the opposition have been the downfall for Roberto Martinez’s side in what has been a hugely disappointing season in the Premier League.He said: “Other teams are now playing against Everton and showing a lot more respect.“Last season they were coming to Goodison Park and fancying three points but now they’re defending in numbers are desperate to try and get a point, forcing us to come on to them.“That leaves our team exposed at the back and it’s a vicious circle.“Also you can’t account for all the crazy individual errors this season that we didn’t have last year.“You can’t really account for somebody falling over. I’ve been left scratching my head over some players.“I hope the managers gets support over the summer, including financial, and then next season there will be no excuses.”
Romelu Lukaku's agent is an embarrassment - Carsley
5 April 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Lee Carsley
Comments over Everton striker were unacceptable
For Romelu Lukaku’s agent Mino Raiola to say that the player would have never come to Everton if he’d met him earlier is an absolute embarrassment from someone who is supposedly representing him.This type of behaviour is unacceptable.I can only presume that he’s never been to Goodison and he doesn’t know his history.Ultimately it’s just a cheap way of telling the world he’s now Lukaku’s agent.Considering the type of big-name players that he represents I would have thought that he would be used to saying the right things to the Press.It was poor to be honest. These top players need agents but Lukaku should let his football do the talking.He says his client is as good as Chelsea’s Diego Costa – I’m not sure about that.I’ve said all along that if any players wants to leave Everton and thinks they’re too good for the club then I’d pack their gear for them myself and leave it by the door.We’ve seen this kind of thing before when we hear that something has been lost in translation.The player himself needs to remember that a lot of clubs had a look at him last summer but only Everton put the money up front and showed the faith to take him at that price and I think you could expect some loyalty from him.It’s the last thing you want to read about as a supporter as you want your players to be fully focused.When I moved from Derby County to Blackburn and then Coventry City before I came to Everton I had a solicitor who looked after the contracts for me but the older you get you know what you’re actually worth.I deal with agents all the time now in my role as Development squad manager at Brentford but we can over-play their importance.Despite what some people say I’ve never actually known an agent to earn a move for a player – it’s ultimately down to their performances on the pitch.Everton V Southampton Premier League Match at Goodison Park Liverpool. Jagielka scores
Saints marching in was never a gimme
It’s important that we have a good finish to the season.It’s the first time in the current campaign that we’ve got three consecutive victories, and it’s was obviously nice to get another win in front of our home fans.It was never going to be a gimme because Southampton are a good team.I quite like Ronald Koeman, I think he’s done well for them this season considering the amount of players they lost last summer.They’re well-organised, he’s got some good players and they play with a lot of pace and energy.At one point it even looked like they might have a chance of finishing in the top four.It wasn’t the most entertaining of games but given the struggles we’ve had of late, a win’s a win.I know he didn’t get on but it was good for us to have Steven Pienaar back in the squad.He could be a big player for us late in the season.Steven gets on the ball no matter how the game is going and we could have done with him in the European campaign.
Barkley must keep playing with a streak of confidence
I hope Ross Barkley keeps playing with confidence because that’s the way he’s going to get back to his best.We saw during the England friendly in Italy during the week when he came on he was running at opponents straight away.People have been criticising him of late saying that he’s been getting into the wrong areas and is inconsistent in his play but he’s the sort of player who can make things happen and win a game with a bit of magic.I read a statistic recently that Lionel Messi has a 44% success rate when he takes on opponents so even the world’s best player fails most of the time when he’s trying something but it’s those times that he gets things right that make him special.Ross needs to get himself operating on the edge of the box and scoring goals and getting assists for others in order to get his momentum going again but he’s a game changer.I don’t want him to ever become scared of taking risks and playing within himself because he needs to show that expressive side to his play in order to kick on again.
Howard leads the way
Tim Howard made a couple of great saves against Southampton yesterday that were just as crucial as Phil Jagielka’s goal when it came to securing the three points.Tim’s come in for a bit of stick this season but I’ve played alongside him for Everton and I know exactly what he’s capable of.With the team that we’ve got there’s no way we’d be better off without Tim.Joel Robles is a valuable squad member but for me Tim remains our number one by a long shot.
Ross Barkley shouldn't play in this summer's U-21s European Championships, says Roy Hodgson
5 April 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Kristian Walsh
Roy Hodgson doesn’t believe Ross Barkley should go to the Under-21s European Champions this summer, citing his experience at senior level as reason to stay at home.Debate has raged over which players England U-21s boss Gareth Southgate will take to the tournament in Czech Republic, with several eligible players already full internationals under Hodgson.Blues boss Roberto Martinez has expressed his desire for the 21-year-old to not play this summer – and England manager Hodgson agrees.Hodgson said: “Ross is part of our national team and in his last couple of games has proved himself a worthy one.“I think the major argument, and one that Gareth is very much aware of, is that they have qualified and played all these games and worked very hard to qualify with a very good group of Under-21 players.“Harry Kane is a different kettle of fish because Harry, apart from these two (senior) matches, has played in every (Under-21) game.“He’s been there right from the start. Ross Barkley will have been catapulted in from the outside.”Barkley played a starring role off the bench during England’s 1-1 draw with Italy in Turin on Tuesday.Hodgson praised the midfielder for that performance, but believes there are no guarantees Barkley would achieve similar standards in June for the Under-21s.“I’m not certain you can guarantee Ross is going to go there, not upset the rest of the players, make Gareth’s team so much better, and be man of the tournament,” added Hodgson.“It could happen, who knows? But there is no guarantee of that.”Hodgson added Everton team-mate John Stones could feature, however, with the defender keen to play in the competition.The defender impressed in England’s games with Germany and Czech Republic, and has been in fine form for the Blues since returning from injury.“From what I have heard John Stones’ performances in these last two games, he’s been exceptional and it looks like he might want to play (in the tournament) as well,” said Hodgson.Euro 2015 gets under way on June 17 with England in Group B alongside Italy, Portugal and Sweden.
Everton FC 1 Southampton 0 talking point: Phil Jagielka's happy goal knack is a timely boost
5 April 2015
By Greg O’Keeffe
What have Mario Balotelli, Rickie Lambert and Fabio Borini got in common?Liverpool’s striking trio have each scored less than Phil Jagielka in all competitions this season.Jagielka’s fifth goal of the season, his side’s only shot on target against Southampton, was just another valuable contribution from the England defender in this fraught campaign.But aside from what Leighton Baines so vividly described as his captain’s “Over my dead body” defensive mentality, goals are something more pleasantly surprising that Jagielka has added to his cannon this term.It’s 20 years since Derek Mountfield scored a remarkable 14 goals as Everton reigned supreme, and seven since Joleon Lescott got into double figures.Granted Everton’s current-day captain isn’t exactly a sure-thing to reach double figures himself.He may not even see the net bulge again this term, but nevertheless his strikes have all been as important as they are rare.Look at his record; the 32-year-old’s previous best total for the Toffees was three, in David Moyes’ last season in charge.Perhaps galvanised by that wonder-stike from the Anfield derby, the England defender has that crucial bit of self-belief in front of goal.Unlike so many other centre-backs who find themselves in front of goal and start to flap like a flag in the wind, Jags believes. He backs himself.So he should. After all, the skipper did begin his footballing life as a midfielder at Sheffield United and scored the odd impressive strike in his time at Bramall Lane.But in a season when contribution’s from erstwhile attacking maestros Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman have waned, the captain’s journey of discovery has been very welcome.Consider this too – Jagielka is now the Blues fourth highest scorer this season.An achievement for him in a personal capacity, sure. But also another reason why Roberto Martinez must either find a way to cajole more goals from his current crop of midfielders, or invest in new personnel who can contribute from behind the strikers next term.Of course the Catalan, who famously disdains corners, may be a bit sniffy at Jagielka’s latest coming from a set-piece.But he certainly won’t be complaining about the priceless knack which is a bright point of a season which needs as many of them as it can.
Southampton manager Ronald Koeman admits his disappointment at the result but not the
performance of his team as they are beaten 1-0 by Everton
Sunday 5 April 2015 in Saints News
Last updated 3 hours ago by Adam Leitch, Chief Sports Writer
Ronald Koeman insisted he was disappointed by the result but not the performance of his side as they were beaten 1-0 by Everton. Saints slipped to the Goodison Park loss thanks to Phil Jagielka’s first half goal. Koeman did try and shake things up in the second period but chances proved hard to come by as Saints suffered a first defeat in four. Koeman said: “Yes of course disappointed, very disappointed, about the final result. Not disappointed about the performance of the team. “I think we had a great start in the game, we had a good chance in the beginning of Pelle and I think it was a great save of the goalkeeper Howard at that moment. “Unlucky to receive the 1-0 in the second situation about the corner kick but I think the reaction was good. “A few chances in the first half, the chance of Prowsey, the free kick of Prowsey, and the second half maybe it was a little bit more difficult, they dropped a little bit more back, and I have to say that honestly they are playing out of very good organisation, they had a really strong defence and it was difficult to create good chances in the second half. “We tried everything, we ended the game with four or five strikers, three at the back, to try everything at least to take one point out of this game but it wasn’t.”
Everton FC 1 Southampton 0: What the media are saying about Goodison win
5 April 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Kristian Walsh
Jack Gaughan of the Mail had some kind words for Phil Jagielka.
He writes: "What Everton were protecting was the scrappiest of goals, scored by their captain who led heroically at the back alongside a nervous Stones."The Merseyside relief was palpable, Jagielka aggressively punching the air after reacting quickest from Leighton Baines’ corner. Koeman will quiz his defenders as to why nobody in the heavily-populated six-yard box was able to stop Gareth Barry’s centre from the second ball, but Jagielka appeared to want it more, steering home his sixth of the season."That has secured Everton’s status as a Premier League side again - if ever it was in doubt, even to the most pessimistic supporter - and Martinez spoke of learning their lessons from a campaign of toil that had promised so much when Lukaku arrived for £28million last summer."
Chris Bascombe of the Telegraph, meanwhile, felt the game was a low-key affair.
"The low-key mood was unsurprising," he writes. "Premier League positions mean extra prize money, but there is already an end of season feeling at Goodison Park. For Everton it is a case of trying to give meaning to the ultimately meaningless."Martinez has suggested there are those playing for their futures. Arouna Kone, restored due an injury to Romelu Lukaku, may come into that category but it applied to few others in the starting line-up. Certainly goalscorer Jagielka has little to worry about."
The Mirror's David Maddock felt the Blues were fortunate to take all three points.
He says: "They have taken most of the campaign to do it, but the Blues have finally found the confidence and belief of last year to push themselves towards mid-table respectability, with what is only their fourth win in the Premier League in 2015."How they managed it though, will still baffle Southampton long after the final whistle, given the visitors dominated possession, territory and chances in this game, but came away with nothing for their efforts."Ronald Koeman's side were as compact as ever, and as neat as ever going forward, but they couldn't defeat an impressive Tim Howard in the first half when they repeatedly opened Everton up, and then failed to get beyond an improved Blues defence as the game became much tighter after the break."
Andy Hunter, once of this parish but now at the Guardian, said it was a 'un-Martinez' performance.
Hunter writes: "The difference here was a finishing touch. Phil Jagielka had one, indeed the England international’s performance had everything that Roberto Martínez’s team required from a captain, and Southampton did not. They took the game to Everton throughout and Tim Howard had to be in fine form to nullify a threat that evaporated after half-time, although the home side’s work-rate, tenacity and defensive organisation impressed."Aaron Lennon, Ross Barkley and, particularly, Jagielka, pitted against Italy international Graziano Pellè for the second time in five days, typified a committed display that gave Everton a third consecutive Premier League win for the first time this season."This was a most un-Martínez-like win from Everton, who resembled the away team at times with their willingness to sit back, absorb pressure and hit Southampton on the counter-attack. Not that Goodison had many complaints with Romelu Lukaku sidelined by a hamstring injury, Darron Gibson facing a spell on the sidelines with a broken metatarsal and safety now beckoning."
Everton FC's focus is on developing Romelu Lukaku, not his agent, says Roberto Martinez
5 April 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Kristian Walsh
Everton FC boss says the Blues have developed the Belgian striker\n
Roberto Martinez insists all his focus is on the development of star striker Romelu Lukaku, and not agent Mino Raiola, with the Belgian striker happy at Goodison Park.
And the Everton manager also reiterated how the Blues are happy with the Belgian, with Martinez believing his club is the right one for Lukaku, both now and in the future.
Lukaku didn’t feature in Everton’s 1-0 win over Southampton having been sidelined with a hamstring injury sustained against QPR a fortnight ago. But the Blues’ record signing dominated the build-up to the game after Raiola intimated his client’s long-term future would be away from Merseyside. The Italian, whom Lukaku joined up with in March, even went as far to suggest the £28m move would not have happened last summer if he had been advising Lukaku at the time.
The Catalan boss has already told of his lack of concern over Lukaku’s future, and further emphasised how well the 21-year-old has done under
“My focus is that Rom keeps on developing,” said Martinez. “Without a doubt we have been the best club for him because he has had his two best seasons that he has had as a professional and we love Romelu. “We love having him here and that is why we much such a big commitment in signing him on a long term contract. You can see the way he has been performing since January.
“It has been a joy to see him developing, there is going to be a lot of talk when you score goals as a striker, you are going to get the attraction of other teams - and when you play badly you are going to be criticised for it. “That is unfortunately a position that is going to attract a lot of attention from the media, but from my point of view he is on a long-term contract. The worry would be if his contract would be up in the summer.” Lukaku signed a five-year deal with Everton when making his loan move permanent last summer, and has repaid their faith – and investment – with 18 goals in all competitions. But despite his long-term contract, fresh doubt has been placed upon Lukaku’s future at Goodison – something Martinez understands, but does not entertain.
He added: “If an agent is going to make those comments, then it is normal that you are going to ask about it. An agent can say whatever they want and it is down to everyone else to see what is behind it. “We are not going to go into comments from agents. We shouldn’t call them agents now they are representatives or intermediaries - it is his prerogative [to make public comments] and you will have to ask him. “For me there is no issue for me to have to comment on, it is not as if the player wants to leave or that he is not happy. The player since January has been in terrific form.
“He is on a long-term contract and all I want is for Rom to be fighting for his place, because the team showed they are ready to fight and strength we have in the side is important for any player.”
The power agents hold has been on the agenda over the past week, with Raiola’s comments coming after Raheem Sterling’s representative, Aidy Ward, had his client do a television interview with the BBC. Everton had held a good relationship with Lukaku’s former agent Christophe Henrotay, who also looks after compatriots Kevin Mirallas and David Henen. When it became clear that Chelsea would let the Belgium international leave last summer, Bill Kenwright’s accord with Henrotay played a key part in helping the Toffees jump the queue to land the front-man’s signature.
But Martinez remains wary of the influence agents can have on a player, although he admits they serve an important purpose. “In modern game you don’t get the values of 25 years ago,” he said. “But when you have a player on a long term contract there is nothing to discuss. That is straightforward and clear.” When asked whether agent fees were a contributing factor, he added: “Well there has been an eternal debate about that. The new rules they are trying to change things around and it is very difficult. “It is difficult because our rules in the league are different to other leagues in Europe. So when you try and sign players you need to be universal with the way that the representatives are treated. “It is an impossible answer. Representatives are needed in the game because they do a very important job, but it is difficult to measure the re-numeration you should give them.” Martinez’s bolshiness over the future of Lukaku is replicated across the squad too. He believes the current crop of players signed up to the club have the potential to remain there for a long time. “Last season the last thing we wanted was to lose the squad and we managed to keep it all together,” he said. “What is important is the players who are out of contract, their futures are in their hands, the players who are under contract we are in control of.
“It is our job and role to make the strongest possible squad for Everton so that we take the football club forward and become a winning team. “I don’t see that as an issue just with our squad - that happens in world football and we are quite prepared as a football club.”
Gareth Barry says Everton injuries mean he's played more games than Roberto Martinez wanted
6 April 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Barry has featured 37 times this season in all competitions
GARETH BARRY admits he would not have played as many games this season if Everton hadn’t been hit with so many injuries.
The 34-year-old has made 37 appearances this campaign but knows that Blues boss Roberto Martinez would have rested him more if given the chance.
Everton have suffered injuries to midfielders James McCarthy and Darron Gibson throughout the season and so have needed Barry to play in the majority of league and cup games.
Only two suspensions and an ankle injury have prevented Barry playing more and even though the former Manchester City man says he feels as fit as he did 10 years ago, he concedes that ideally Martinez would have managed his game time more. “I certainly feel as I did five or 10 years ago in terms of playing 90 minutes and my body feels exactly the same,” Barry said.
“But when you get to a certain age - and I’ve had these conversations with the manager - playing three games in six days, you just can’t recover as quickly as you did when you were in your mid-20s.
“I know that, the manager knows that, and I’m sure if the manager had players fit I wouldn’t have played as many games as I have done. “So when this suspension came along, we agreed it would be a good thing because we have a lot of games coming up and it would give me some rest.”
Barry picked up the ankle injury at Sunderland in early November but given Everton’s injury problems in central midfield he was back in the side three weeks later for the game against Spurs.
And the ex-England midfielder says he was perhaps brought back too soon.
“The ankle has been fine since,” he said. “It was a bad injury at Sunderland and, in hindsight, I maybe came back too early but I’m certainly not feeling any ill-affects of it now.”
Ruud Gullitt was wrong: Ross Barkley IS being looked after at Everton says James McCarthy
6 April 2015 Liverpool Echo
Ross Barkley IS getting the protection and the guidance he needs at Everton says Blues midfielder James McCarthy.
Match of the Day pundit Ruud Gullitt highlighted the amount of unnecessary running Barkley put in against Southampton on Saturday, runs which several times left the 21-year-old with his hands on his knees gasping for breath. Gullitt cited Gareth Barry as an experienced player who should be "looking after Barkley" more. But McCarthy said: "Ross is a good lad and has his feet firmly on the ground and has a lot of people at the club looking after him.
"He won't get carried away. We have a lot of characters, a lot of experienced heads in the dressing room and there is no better place to be for him." McCarthy believes Barkley is more than capable of handling the highs and lows which accompany the tremendous expectation which rests on his shoulders. The 1-0 victory over Southampton, courtesy of captain Phil Jagielka's fifth goal of the season, was a case in point. In the first half he produced a brilliant piece of control and skill to skip past three opponents and launch an attack from deep inside his own half which brought Goodison Park to its feet. However, when his ambitious pass after the break gifted possession to the visitors the all-too familiar sound of loud groans echoed around the ground.
Then, to cap it all, manager Roberto Martinez's decision to replace him with 20 minutes to go - a requirement to help shore up a tight game - was greeted with disagreement and boos.
But McCarthy was delighted with Barkley's display. "I think Ross was different class," he said.
"I thought he worked really hard for the team and was a real nuisance driving at people and it was brilliant to see him high in confidence having been away with England."
With nothing to play for in their remaining seven matches McCarthy believes the motivation now is to remain unbeaten until the end of the campaign. "We want to kick on, go on a winning run and finish the season strongly," he added. "We have won three games and we want to go unbeaten until the end of the season, although that is easier said than done.
"There has been a big improvement. So far, so good, but we won't get carried away.
"The most important thing was to get three points and dig in deep to secure it with a clean sheet."
With leading scorer Romelu Lukaku not quite ready to return after a hamstring injury, the onus was on other players to step up, but few would have bet on Jagielka being the match winner against Saints. "He is different class. He is brilliant to have at the club and is a true leader on the pitch," said McCarthy. "A lot of people have been saying the last few weeks he has been exceptional, but for me he has been outstanding throughout the campaign and he is chipping in with goals."
Everton manager Roberto Martinez says "I'm not a stubborn manager."
6 April 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Blues boss says he is "one of the most flexible managers tactically"
ROBERTO MARTINEZ insists it is wrong to label him as a dogmatic coach saying: “I am probably one of the most flexible managers tactically that you could work with.”
The Everton boss is well known for his strong footballing principles but is adamant that he is not stubborn or inflexible when it comes to tactics and formations.
Without the injured Romelu Lukaku, Martinez set the Blues up in a 4-1-4-1 formation against Southampton on Saturday as he looked to apply pressure to the Saints’ back four who like to play their way out from the back. James McCarthy was pushed further forward to help press Southampton as Everton won 1-0 and restricted their visitors to just two shots on target.
Martinez, who has predominantly played with a 4-2-3-1 formation in his time at Goodison, has often been accused of being stubborn. But the Catalan says he is always tweaking and tinkering his approach. “The people who say that I am tactically not flexible are people who do not follow my work,” said Martinez. “I have been innovative at every football club I have been at with my tactics, my shape and my approach. “I am not someone who needs to defend myself but if you follow my work then I am probably one of the most flexible managers tactically that you could work with.”
Explaining his team selection and tactics for the win over Southampton, Martinez added: “It was because we didn’t have Romelu. “In certain games we played with two strikers, on Saturday we had Aaron Lennon really high up the pitch and James McCarthy had freedom.
“Every game is different. Southampton have a very strong back six that needs to be broken in different ways. “We don’t play the same way twice, but it is not for me to go openly and publicly and tell everyone what we have done.”
Don't label unlucky Darron Gibson 'injury prone' says Ian Snodin
6 April 2015 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
Snodin says he suffered the same as unfortunate Everton midfielder
DARRON GIBSON could miss the rest of the season after breaking a bone in his foot.
Everton are going to see how he responds to treatment before putting a time frame on his absence but the fear is that he’ll not play again this term.
What a massive blow. When I was handed Saturday’s team-sheet for the game with Southampton I was surprised to not see him in the starting line-up. But when I realised that he wasn’t even in the squad then I knew that he must be injured. Darron has been so unfortunate with injuries and he has no doubt been working extra hard in the gym over these past few months to get himself fit again.
After some major knee problems, Darron was fully fit again and of late had been looking a different class, so this latest set-back is really cruel. Darron has suffered with some horrible injuries in his career but I hate the phrase ‘injury prone’. People said it about me but all I suffered were genuine injuries and because I know how that made me feel, I don’t like hearing it said about Darron.
Being in the treatment room and working on your own rehab is a lonely place, I’ve been there so I hope Darron has a speedy recovery.
It was a tough game against Southampton.
And it wasn’t the prettiest of games but three weeks ago, when Everton were in need of wins however they came and we would most certainly have taken a scrappy 1-0 win over Southampton.
Saints are a good side. I’ve not seen a great deal of them this season but they have some very good players and it was a difficult game for the Blues. It was scrappy but I’ll take it all day long.
I felt the biggest thing was that the Everton players battled for each other and the players worked their socks off.
World class Tim deserves praise
I WANT to single out Tim Howard for some praise.
Tim has made a few mistakes this season and people have been slagging him off but he is Everton’s No1 and showed why against Southampton. He will hold his hands up to those errors but there is no denying that he pulled off two world class saves on Saturday. The first one, from Graziano Pelle, was fantastic as he was on his heels and had to quickly change direction to claw the ball away.
And the second was equally as good as James Ward-Prowse’s shot has moved so much in the air but Howard not only kept it out but had a strong wrist to make sure it was sent away from danger.
People have been quick to jump on his back this season but you have to give him credit for those saves at the weekend. Some supporters would have liked to have seen Joel Robles keep his place after deputising for Howard when he was injured. He’s a lovely kid and did fantastic in those few games he played. Joel’s confidence was sky-high and he didn’t concede too many so he would have naturally been disappointed not to have kept his place. If you’re an outfield player and you’d played as well then you’d fully expect to keep your place in the side so I do feel sorry for him.
But Howard is Everton’s No1 and proved on Saturday that he is still a quality keeper with two remarkable saves. And he will want the level of competition that Robles is giving him now, because he’s that kind of player. Some players will say they prefer it when they know their place is guaranteed in the side but Tim is the type of character that wants to be pushed and have his place under threat all the time. Tim realises that Joel is a top keeper and knows he needs to keep pushing himself.
Sporting week from heaven
AS sporting weeks go, this one has got to be the very best.
I have died and gone to sporting heaven. As well as Everton playing at Swansea City, this week sees the Grand National and the Masters. There is no better viewing for me and it’s compelling television.
The National is a magnificent horse race and the three days are a great occasion with an atmosphere that is always terrific. And the Masters will definitely deliver four days of incredible TV and I will be glued to it all week. I’ll not study the National field until a couple of days before but my tip for the Masters is Bubba Watson and, of course, I’m predicting an Everton win in South Wales.
Lukaku's agent just needs to let his client play
I WAS very disappointed by the comments that came from Romelu Lukaku’s agent last week.
What he said was disrespectful. Rom signed for us in the summer on a five-year deal and is being paid fantastic wages, so his agent just needs to let the boy play.
Let him get on with his career and if he is scoring 20 plus goals a season for the next couple of seasons then I’m sure Champions League clubs will be interested.
But what the agent is forgetting that Everton are a big club - for me there is no bigger - and our aim is to get into the top four, with Rom leading the way.
I hope that Lukaku’s success is here, at Goodison, so his agent just needs to let him get on with it.
Everton owe their fans at Swansea
SWANSEA CITY are a decent side and they beat us comfortably in the League Cup in December.
That was a particularly disappointing night and Everton owe the fans one.
Swansea is a hard place to get to, especially on a Tuesday night, yet they turned out in force that evening so the Blues need to give them something to shout about this time.
As I say, Swansea are a decent side and play good football but I’m optimistic about our chances going down there.
Tim Howard says Everton should have more clean sheets this season
7 April 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Blues picked up eighth shutout of the league campaign against Southampton
Tim Howard's wonder save which helped preserve a cleansheet against Southampton.
TIM HOWARD’S superb reflex save helped Everton to an eighth clean sheet of the league season - but the keeper said they should have more shutouts on their record.
The Blues had the third meanest defence in the Premier League last term as they conceded just 39 goals in their 38 league games. Everton have already shipped 42 goals this season with seven games of the campaign left to play but kept out Southampton in Saturday’s 1-0 win.
Howard has been disappointed that the Blues have not been able to match last season’s defensive standards but insists it has not been for the want of trying. “We obviously would want a clean sheet every week and we haven’t had enough,” Howard said. “But that doesn’t stop us going out there and training hard and that is what a lot of people miss, can’t see and will never see, our work ethic on the training pitch. Howard added: “It helps everyone when you can get a settled back four and gain consistency through wins, saves, blocks - whatever it is - you start to get momentum throughout the week and you start to feel good about yourself in training.” Everton have now won three consecutive league games for the first time since last March when the Blues started out on a run that saw them win seven on the spin. Howard is refusing to get carried away with their resurgence and says the trip to Swansea City on Saturday will provide a stern test. “We’ll try and make it four wins in a row next weekend and take it from there,” the American said. “We’re playing well at the moment, the confidence is high so we’ll go to Swansea - which will be a particularly tough place to go given the way they play their football - and win. “We played them well at home earlier in the season and will look to do the same down there on Saturday.”
Everton transfer rumours: Portuguese youngster scouted, Tottenham and West Ham want Kevin Mirallas
7 April 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Joe Rimmer
A round up of transfer rumours
Everton have sent scouts to watch Portuguese youngster Rafa Silva, according to reports on today.
The Braga midfielder is said to be one of the most exciting youngsters in Portugal, and Everton are one of a number of clubs rumoured to have scouts watching the 20-year-old in action weekly.
Everton reportedly sent scouts to Portugal to watch the league game between Gil Vicente and SC Braga last weekend. The Blues were also said to be present in Portugal on a frequent basis last season mainly to watch FC Porto, and during this campaign they have been attending Braga games to watch Rafa Silva. Silva has a reported buyout clause of around 20m euros, but could be available for around 10m less than that price. Tottenham and now West Ham have been linked with a move for Everton winger Kevin Mirallas, with the Mirror reporting that the Belgian is keen on a new challenge. Spurs were said to have been interested in Mirallas in January, and West Ham are looking to continue their investment into the club. Mirallas has one year left on his deal at Everton.
Gareth Barry wants another magnificent seven wins
7 April 2015 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
Everton midfielder has sights set on matching Premier League record run
Gareth Barry has his sights set on another magnificent seven victories in a row as Everton aim to end a frustrating season on a high.
But to match last season’s seven successive Premier League victories The Blues will have to win at Swansea on Saturday, overcome relegation battlers Burnley and end Manchester United’s recent resurgence at Goodison Park. Barry returned to Everton’s starting line-up after suspension for Saturday’s 1-0 win over Southampton, the Blues third league win in a row.
And he said: “We’ve got a nice little run going at the minute and we’ll try to keep that going for as long as possible.“I think we showed last year that we’re capable of going on runs like this. We won seven in a row, so if we want to try and keep winning, that’s got to be our target.
“There are some tough games coming up, starting at Swansea, but the confidence is growing and the form is coming back.” Last season Everton bounced back from an undeserved defeat at Chelsea to beat West Ham, Cardiff, Swansea, Newcastle, Fulham, Arsenal and Sunderland in quick succession – before a shock home reverse by Crystal Palace effectively ended hopes of a fourth place finish.
Everton’s record run of league wins in the modern era was a perfect 10 in 1985.
That sequence started on March 23 with a 2-0 defeat of Arsenal and came to an end almost two months later at Nottingham Forest, during which time Everton had clinched the league title, reached the European Cup Winners Cup final and got to the FA Cup final too.
Dodgy trophies: Eight unwanted cup competitions which aren't missed by Merseyside
7 April 2015 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
Everton FC lost to Crystal Palace in Zenith Data Systems Cup final - and there's plenty more now-departed cups
Twenty-four years ago today Everton faced Crystal Palace at Wembley Stadium in the penultimate Zenith Data Systems Cup Final.
The Blues lost a brutal clash 4-1 after extra-time. Few mourned.
A year later the Nottingham Forest beat Southampton in the last ever Zenith Data Systems Cup final. Even fewer mourned its passing. But that Cup final, watched by a healthy 67,688 fans, heralded the end of a period in football history when some of the strangest competitions were launched – and folded.
Here we look back at a few – and our local involvement in them.
The Screen Sport Super Cup
With English clubs banned from European competitions in the wake of the Heysel disaster, the Football League hatched a brainwave to fill the fixture list – and the gap in the competing clubs’ bank balances. It was called the Screen Sport Super Cup. And it was dreadful.
The six clubs scheduled to compete in Europe - Everton, Liverpool, Manchester United, Tottenham, Southampton and Norwich were invited. So insead of facing Barcelona, Bayern Munich or Juventus … Everton lined up at Carrow Road against Norwich City while Liverpool played Southampton.
The six clubs were split into two groups – with Everton and Liverpool conveniently kept apart – and initially there was interest. Everton won a thriller 4-2 at Old Trafford in front of 33,859 fans, while Liverpool’s opening group game against Southampton – a 2-1 win - attracted 16,189.
But by the time Everton played their semi-final against Spurs only 12,008 bothered to watch the second leg at Goodison Park, while Liverpool’s second leg against Norwich was watched by 26,696 in a send off for the real Cup Final four days later. The fixture planners couldn’t even squeeze the two-legged final into the 1985/86 season – so it had to be held over until the start of the following season. Liverpool won 7-2 on aggregate, yet perhaps the only significance were the five goals Ian Rush plundered to mover closer to Dixie Dean’s derby scoring record.
The Screen Sport Super Cup was swiftly consigned to the record books too.
The Mercantile Credit Football Festival
But for Johnny King’s Tranmere, the tournament hatched to celebrate the Football League’s centenary in 1988 would have fallen flat on its face. Qualification for the ‘Festival’ was unique. Points gathered between dates in January and March were totted up – and the leading teams in all four divisions were then invited to Wembley to face each other. Even though the Football League had survived a century using the 90-minute format, the organisers thought 40-minute games would increase excitement. It didn’t. All it meant was an unusually high level of 0-0 draws, something that contributed towards a dramatic slide in the number of people turning up to Wembley to watch the games; one that saw figures declining from 40,000 on the opening day to just 17,000 for the final.
Tranmere did provide some excitement, though, defeating FA Cup holders Wimbledon and a Newcastle team containing Paul Gascoigne to reach the second day.
Everton did win a rare penalty shoot-out, against Wolves, while Liverpool drew 0-0 with Newcastle and lost on penalties.
The Mercantile Credit Centenary Trophy
Failing to learn the lessons of the failed Festival, the Football League launched a Centenary trophy in 1988/89. Everton went out in the opening match to a Peter Davenport goal at Old Trafford, while Liverpool walloped Nottingham Forest 4-1 in their opening game then lost a semi-final to Arsenal – the only match which attracted more than 25,000 supporters.
The Full Members Cup
The Full Members cup ran for seven seasons between 1985-1992 and was a competition to fill the vacuum left by the loss of European football.
Yes bizarrely it was initially open only to clubs who hadn’t qualified for Europe! The Screen Sport Super Cup was the vehicle for those clubs.
Once the Super Cup died, the so-called ‘Big Five’ clubs were then invited to the Full members in its various guises - Liverpool, Arsenal, Spurs, Manchester United and Everton – yet the Toffees were the only club who opted to enter.
Quite why is a question which still remains unanswered.
It clearly wasn’t gate receipts.
The 7,914 which saw Everton beat Newcastle 5-2 in December 1986 was a high mark.
If anything could be said to illustrate just how sad a competition this was, then it’s the quality of the sponsorship. The Full Members Cup became the Simod Cup (training shoes apparently. The kind your well meaning Grandma buys for you from St John’s Market when you really wanted Adidas Gazelle), then the Zenith Data Systems Cup (an unglamorous computer firm).
Everton twice reached the final – the Simod Cup in 1989 and the Zenith Data Systems Cup three years later – but lost both to Nottingham Forest and Crystal Palace.
In the days before squad rotation, Chelsea and Manchester City faced off in the 1986 final at Wembley, just 24 hours after playing league matches.
They shared nine goals, five of them scored by Chelsea, whose 1986 title charge fell away at Easter as their players tired …..
Fans had quickly tired of the tournament and after 1992, with English clubs already back in Europe, it was abandoned.
The Watney Cup
The Watney Mann Invitation Cup (sponsored by a leading brewery of the day) was a pre-season knockout tournament, contested by the two top-scoring teams from each of the Football League’s four divisions. But this didn’t include anyone that had been promoted or qualified for Europe (essentially anyone good). The tournament did have some high points, such as the occasion when lowly Halifax Town beat a pretty full-strength Man Utd side 2-1. And it made a bit of history too, when Man Utd beat Hull via the first penalty shoot-out ever seen in England. George Best took the first penalty and then Denis Law became the first person to miss one.
But it was still a tournament greeted with indifference by the fans. Low attendances ensured that the Watney Cup was wound up after just four seasons. As a sad indictment, Derby County, who won the trophy in 1970 don’t even include it in their roll of honour.
The Texaco Cup
Another great idea. Let’s pit some English teams not good enough to qualify for Europe against some teams from Scotland. But not the good ones like Celtic and Rangers.
And let’s throw in a few Irish sides too? That was the thinking behind the Texaco Cup, which debuted during the 1970 season.
Everton were invited in 1973 but lost 1-0 over two legs to Hearts.
Texaco abandoned the competition in 1975, when the cup became the Anglo-Scottish Cup. It limped on for a few more years but with the English sides increasingly being drawn from further and further down the leagues it was eventually put out of its misery in the early 80s.
FA Cup 3rd/4th Place Play-Off
The FA thought it was a good idea at the time … a third and fourth place play off between the losing semi-finalists. After all, it works at the World Cup finals. But while Everton and Stoke City served up a five goal thriller at the bizarre venue of Selhurst Park on Friday May 7, 1971, a paltry crowd of just 5,031 quickly disabused the FA of the notion. A tankard awarded to one of the Everton players after the match currently sits in the Everton Collection. Perhaps fitting, it has a dent in it.
Anglo Italian Cup Originally launched in 1970, the Anglo-Italian Cup did what it said on the tin … intermittently until 1996.
Swindon Town were the first victors in a match that was abandoned early due to violence. During its time the tournament had a reputation for violence between fans, but it returned as a semi-professional tournament in 1976 and was known as the Alitalia Challenge Cup, Talbot Challenge Cup and Gigi Peronace Memorial before it was abolished again in 1986.
The tournament was re-established in 1992 as replacement for the Full Members Cup – when Tranmere enjoyed a couple of seasons of participation.
The trophy was a 22-inch high gold Loving Cup mounted on a wooden plinth.
But the tournament was never really loved and hasn’t been seen since.
Everton striker Romelu Lukaku rated as "50-50" for Swansea City game
7 April 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Lukaku misses open training to get more treatment on hamstring problem
Romelu Lukaku's chances of being fit in time to face Swansea City have been rated as “50-50”.
The Belgian striker suffered a hamstring injury against QPR last month and missed two Euro 2016 qualifiers as well last weekend’s win over Southampton.
Lukaku was left out of Everton’s open training session at Goodison Park earlier today as he continues to receive treatment on the grade one tear at Finch Farm.
Roberto Martinez says the £28m forward is itching to return to the side but he is refusing to rush his return. “He has worked really well yesterday but I do feel he is going to be 50-50 for Saturday,” Martinez said. “We need to make sure that when he comes back he is right.
“We need to get a really strong ending to the season with him.
“He wants to be involved on Saturday so we will take it day by day now.
“He worked well at Finch Farm today and given the amount of work we were doing today and in the wide open spaces we didn’t risk him.”
Everton midfielder Darron Gibson does not require an operation on broken foot
7 April 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Everton FC still expect Darron Gibson to miss rest of season despite good news
Darron Gibson does not need an operation on his broken foot.
But Everton boss Roberto Martinez still fears he will be without the midfielder for the rest of the season. Gibson, who missed the latest round of international games because of a stomach problem, fractured his fifth metatarsal in training on Friday. The 27-year-old missed the game with Southampton on Saturday and is facing up to being out for the final seven games of the season.
“He doesn’t require an operation but we fear he will be out for the season,” Martinez told the ECHO.
“But it is early to tell because the specialist was very pleased with the x-ray, in terms of where the fracture is, and feels he can heal quickly. “That is the best news we could have had in the circumstances but it is still a long-term injury.”
Everton's Steven Naismith: Short term pain can give long term gain
7 April 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Toffees are currently on their best run in 12 months
Everton FC's Scottish international Steven Naismith is convinced that short-term pain can produce long-term gain for Everton this season. The Toffees are currently on their best run in 12 months after a third successive Premier League victory - two of which have come following their exit from the Europa League. But while Everton were still fighting on two fronts earlier in the season they won just six league matches up to mid-March, a miserable run which briefly raised the spectre of relegation. Their early-season problems means a top-10 finish is now the height of their ambitions when a year ago they were dreaming of qualifying for the Champions League.
But Naismith believes Everton can learn from the experiences they have endured this season.
“Last season we were fighting for fourth quite late in the season and we would ideally like to be doing that again but we’ve had the European campaign and that has been a learning curve,” he said.
“To get the club to the next level you have to be able to maintain league and European form and we’ve not handled that as best we could this season but in the coming years hopefully we will be better for it. “We’ve also had injuries to key players which have not helped as well so there are few things which have contributed but we will not use any of those as an excuse.
“Overall we have done well the last three weeks to get good results and it has put us in a much healthier position in the league and we can build on that in the coming weeks.
“The first goal has to be to get into the top half of the league and from there we will push on.”
Phil Jagielka expects changes this summer but no squad overhaul
7 April 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Everton captain says movement in and out of the club is inevitible ahead of the 2015/16 campaign
Phil Jagielka fully expects that changes will be made to the Everton FC squad this summer - but does not believe the Blues need an “overhaul”.
The Everton captain says movement in and out of the club is inevitible ahead of the 2015/16 campaign but insists there remains plenty of talented players at Roberto Martinez’s disposal who have a point to prove after a desperately poor season. Jagielka’s goal against Southampton on Saturday steered the Blues to a third straight Premier League win and has given them hope of a top half finish with seven games remaining. The Blues skipper knows they must “hit the ground running” come the start of the new season in August but does not feel Martinez needs to make sweeping changes to his squad in the close season in order to do so. “There will be some people that leave, inevitably with contracts running out or because games are not getting played and you never know what sort of offers will come in for players,” Jagielka said.
“I wouldn’t use the word overhaul though.
“We’ve proved that we are still a pretty good team, it is just finding the formula.
“We’ve had quite a few lengthy injuries to key players and some that are obvious and some that are not so obvious, so it is making sure they stay fit and try and progress for the rest of the season and we try and get a healthy squad for the start of next. “And when the fixture list comes out we hit the ground running and get on that roll a lot quicker than we have done this season.”
Everton smashed their club record transfer fee when signing Romelu Lukaku last summer for £28m from Chelsea. But when asked if he felt it was important the Blues made another marquee recruit this time around, Jagielka said: “It depends who’s out there.
“We’re not going to have Champions League football to offer clubs and others can offer more wages.
“So it is a case of the manager sitting tight and seeing what is available and seeing what he can do.
“If we’ve got the money then by all means spend it but we have come that far in my eight or nine years here that we have been careful enough and been very astute with our business plan.
“We still have a lot of talent here and plenty of lads with a lot to give and a lot to prove so there will be a few ins and outs but I can’t imagine there will be a massive signing, but I’m not privy to what finances the club has got to spend and how many players the manager feels he needs.”
Jagielka was speaking at Chaophraya on behalf of Chang ahead of the Thai New Year, which takes place this weekend, by preparing some traditional Thai dishes with Head Chef Khun Kim.
Chaophraya Liverpool are hosting their own, FREE, Thai New Year festival this Sunday from 12noon.