Everton to decide on Buckley
Aug 1 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DELRON BUCKLEY brought his loan spell with Everton to a close today after giving David Moyes plenty to think about. The South African international first linked up with the Blues 16 day ago and had originally only been due to stay for a week but Moyes struck an agreement with his club Borussia Dortmund to have another look at him during the tour of the United States. Buckley impressed with his attitude on the training ground and looked bright in the four appearances he made, so the manager will now spend a few days deciding whether to take him on a season-long loan from the Bundesliga or pursue other alternatives. "We had an agreement with Dortmund that Delron would go back a day early and we will now have a look at it," said Moyes.
"We are quite interested in what we have seen. We just need to consider if it is something we want at this time." While Buckley has flown home to see his family in Germany to discuss his options - Bolton Wanderers and Charlton Athletic are understood to be keeping an eye on him - the rest of Everton's squad do not head back to England until tomorrow morning. Before returning, Moyes and his coaching staff have scheduled two more rigorous training sessions which will take the players another step closer to the condition he wants them in on August 19. But Moyes feels Saturday's performance against Club America has shown the Blues are already reaping the benefit of a tough schedule in the last few weeks and hopes it indicates that Everton will hit the ground running when Watford visit on the opening day.
"We brought them back in quite early because I want to try and get them ready for a big start if we can," said Moyes. "Their play has been very good and at the moment the competition we have got is very good. "You look at the way the forwards played against Club America and then think about the way young Victor Anichebe is playing. Look at the centre-halves as well. Joleon Lescott missed a bit but looked much more like it on Saturday after his illness. "Then you look at Joseph [Yobo], Davie [Weir] and Stubbsy and you see that they have all had really good pre-seasons. That's the type of competition that we want. Probably the only disappointment has been Tony Hibbert. "He didn't start because of his hernia, then he had an illness and has been sick since he's been out here. We don't know whether it is food poisoning or because of the heat. That's been the only negative." Hibbert has been under the weather since leaving training early 10 days ago, missing games against Celtic, Columbus Crew and Club America. Everton's medical staff are continuing to closely monitor his condition.
Arteta steals show - again!
Aug 1 2006 Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
IT'S late in the evening and Everton's squad have just returned to their base on the outskirts of Dallas after enjoying a meal to officially welcome the club's latest signings.
After a much-improved performance against Club America, spirits are understandably high in the camp and it's clear to see this tightly knit bunch have welcomed Andrew Johnson, Joleon Lescott and Tim Howard with open arms.
There is, though, an initiation ritual that the new boys must face, involving getting up in front of a captive audience and singing once dinner has been served. When they have faced the music, the established Blues finally get a chance in front of the microphone. Some wisely decline the offer but others can't wait and the reason for the fits of laughter on arrival back at the hotel soon becomes clear. Just as when he dons a pair of football boots, Mikel Arteta has stolen the show with a virtuoso performance.
His choice of song - 'I'm Gonna Be (500 miles)', by The Proclaimers - is appropriate considering some of the lyrics. Given the way he has been playing, Evertonians would be happy to walk 500 miles and more to see this midfielder, who oozes class in action.
Should he maintain the levels he has recently set himself, Arteta will without question become Everton's main man once the newcampaign gets underway. Left, right or in the middle, this son of San Sebastian makes the Blues dance to a beat.
David Moyes will be hoping he can strike the right chord with one man in particular. Although it is early days, the way Arteta and club record signing Johnson have been linking up offers plenty of encouragement.The goals may not have arrived thus far but Arteta is in no doubt that Johnson will prove to be ahuge success at Goodison Park; to ensure that happens the 24-year-old intends putting in extra hours on the training pitches. “We've worked together in training with AJ on his runs and we want to work more on that," Arteta revealed. "The most important thing until now during pre-season has been the fitness, but now the gaffer wants to work on more offensive things.
"Hopefully, we can do good things. AJ has unbelievable pace and can be an asset for us. He's scored a lot of goals in the last four years. The fans are happy because they needed to see something to help them start believing again in the team.
"As a player, you want your team to be the best and every time you sign good players and quality play-ers. We all want to improve. Hope-fully we've done that with the signings that we've made last year and this year as well. "I am going to be playing in different roles this season because the gaffer is going to change things around. We need to be ready to play in different positions. Even in the game on Saturday, I played on the left and the right and spent some time in the middle." As supporters and players alike are excited by Johnson's arrival, the current feelgood factor also stems from the fact that the squad is looking much stronger and better prepared for the rigours of Premier-ship battle. "The team is getting better," said Arteta, scorer of Everton's goal in the 1-1 draw at Pizza Hut Park at the weekend with a magnificent free-kick. "It was really hard to play in that heat. I thought we did well, we controlled the game and played some good football. "But by the end of the game against Club America, we were struggling to finish the game in this heat because we are not quite ready yet with our fitness. To play 90 minutes in that heat was difficult, butthe gaffer said we'd done reallywell and he was happy. "It is difficult to say how close we actually are to full fitness. Playing in Liverpool in 15 degrees is different to playing here with the heat and the humidity. We won't be 100 per cent now, as the best thing is to arrive at 90 per cent for the first game and step up after." The first chance to see how beneficial the 10-day trip to Columbus and Dallas has been will come against Aberdeen on Tuesday in game that promises to offer clues about the identity of Moyes' starting line-up against Watford on August 19. Many will say that Arteta is guaranteed to be in that 11 but he won't entertain such thoughts. Competition is intense at the minute and the manager is going to have some difficult decisions to make before the big day arrives. "We've been together for a longer time now," said Arteta. "AJ also came in and did well, I thought he looked very sharp with Faddy up front. Now there is more competitiveness in the team and that hopefully is going to make our level higher.
"There is a lot of quality on the bench and the gaffer has already shown he doesn't mind leaving players out. "Everyone needs to prepare properly because another player will be ready to come in."
Blues Ladies' Walker tribute
Aug 1 2006 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON Ladies football team and their opponents from Arsenal will pay tribute to murdered Huyton teenager Anthony Walker this week. Both sides will wear special "Kick Racism Out of Football" T-shirts, incorporating Anthony's image, during the warm-up to their Ladies Community Shield clash at Crewe's Gresty Road ground tomorrow.
Stubbs: We can make it to Europe
Aug 2 2006 EXCLUSIVE by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
ALAN STUBBS today set his sights on a top six place at the very least as Everton's successful 10-day tour of the United States came to an end. With confidence in the camp as high as it was when the Blues returned home from a similar trip to Houston two years ago, Stubbs sees no reason why they cannot repeat the feat of qualifying for Europe. After seeing manager David Moyes bring Andrew Johnson, Joleon Lescott and Tim Howard in during the summer, Stubbs is confident that Everton's squad is more than capable of rubbing shoulders in better company. But he feels Everton must use the new campaign to shake off their tag of being a yo-yo side and find a level of consistency. "We've got a great set of lads here and the ones who have come in have settled really well," said Stubbs. "Once we cross that white line we give everything for each other. You can't buy that. "The team spirit is as strong as ever and these trips can only enhance that type of thing. "There's just something about this team that tells me it's going to be an exciting season. "Hopefully it will be a battle for a top six place.
"We just missed out on a European spot last season after having a dreadful start. We would be foolish to not set ourselves a target of a European spot. We should be around that area. "In the past, it has been one season up, one season down. There has been too much of a yo-yo. We need a bit of consistency now." Meanwhile, Tony Hibbert's condition continues to give cause for concern and he may face a race to be fit for the opening day tussle with Watford. One of Everton's most consistent performers last season until a hernia problem ruled him out of the final five games, Hibbert returned to full training later than most of his team-mates and Moyes is anxious that he makes a swift recovery. "He is not too good," said Moyes. "We've hardly seen him since we've been out here and has been in his bed for the past few days with sickness and has been really under the weather. "He's been stop-start pre-season and has missed an awful lot of training. "He played a couple of games but this has set him back a bit. I don't know how long this is going to keep him out.
"I would not say that we are desperately short at right-back because we have Phil Neville and Sandro Pistone who can play there. "But I just hope that Hibbo can get sorted and that he will be better soon. He's not been good and that's a worry."
Why American trip has been a real pre-season
Aug 2 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
LISTEN to the chatter amongst Everton's entourage in recent days and it has been impossible not to draw parallels with the last time pre-season preparations included a transatlantic trip. Mixing plenty of tough training sessions with a couple of nights out to strength the bond between this band of brothers, David Moyes and his squad will fly home today knowing that a tweak here and an adjustment therewill have the players primed for business. Working in conditions when the mercury levels have often rocketed past 100 degrees, there is no question that the benefits will be reaped in the coming weeks and months in a less extreme climate. Given that trips to Houston and Dallas have been so beneficial, it would be no surprise if Everton return to the United States to prepare for the 2007-2008 Premiership campaign, so good are the facilities available. They are in stark contrast to what was on offer 12 months ago when Thailand was the chosen destination. While temperatures in the FarEast were similar to Dallas and Houston, high humidity and hard pitches made it difficult to do proper fitness work. It could, quite possibly, have contributed to the woeful start Everton made to last season and it is interesting to gather the thoughts of Moyes' right-hand man Alan Irvine about the differences between then and now. "Up until we went to Thailand, last pre-season was ticking along very nicely," reflected Irvine, whose first pre-season trip with Blues took him to Japan in the early 1980s. "Thailand, which we had to do,was great. It was a great place to see. "We were looked after brilliantly, the people were great but we missed out on training. During that time, we were unable to train as we really wanted to because of the games and the humidity. "Then there was the condition of the pitches and that was a major thing. They were bone hard. We felt as if we would get more injuries if we had trained harder. The great things about Houston two years ago and about here is that the pitches have been good."We have been able to train as normal. There hasn't been a competition, so you are not too bothered how you do in the game. That's not affected our thinking in terms of training.
"We have been able to work in the way we would like to and the games have been an extension of training. But when you go into a competition situation, it does change the emphasis a little. Last pre-season wasn't how I think pre-season should be.
"You arenot really ready fora competition and personally, I don't like the idea of having a competition in pre-season. I like to do things as you want to do them. You should be able to put out whatever team you want, youare not trying to win the game.
"You hope thatyou are going to put on a good performance and hope to win the game but that's not actually in your thoughts too much. That's more a by-product of what the players are able to do, it not something you are forcing to happen.
"This is much more like it. This has also given us great opportunities to bond as whole group, staff and the players. Last season, the new players didn't come in until very late. We tried to get them in early but that didn't happen and it made a big difference. Obviously you can't recreate things exactly but we are hoping that we can do something along those lines. It would be nice if we could have the same kind of results."
Not surprisingly, given the mood in the camp, the first big test against Watford can't come quickly enough but, sounding a note of caution, Irvine makes it clear that there are still a few areas that can be improved upon.
That said, the competition for a place in the starting line-up is intense and the way Irvine puffs his cheeks and scratches his head when asked who exactly is in the frame suggests that picking a team for August 19 is easier said than done.
"I would have liked the season to start a week earlier," said Irvine. "There are still plenty of things that we want to do thatwe haven't been able to fit in yet or felt it was the right time to do.
"There are things we need to do better but they are team things rather than individual things because the individuals are playing well. "Now there are people sitting on the side who are performing well too. I certainly wouldn't like to pick the team today.
"Hopefully things will become a little bit clearer but it's good to know that the players who aren't going to be picked in the team are all in form too. The competition is very, very fierce. The lads are in great spirits and are looking in really good shape."
More bite is needed where it counts
Aug 2 2006 icLiverpool & Liverpool Echo
OUR pre-season games so far show that Everton still lack that creativity to produce in the penalty box. Strikers need to be in the thick of it in the box and James Beattie seems to be out wide too much to make his presence felt. I hope Andrew Johnson is not told to play the same way. What a waste that would be. Moyes' era reminds me of Gordon Lee's regime at Goodison. He wants the fittest players in the league but they haven't got a clue how to punish their opponents.
John Connor, Hunts Cross
THE biggest positive out of the pre-season so far is the fact we have several academy players coming through for first team places this season. I was beginning to worry about the youth system we have in place but now we see the likes of Anichebe, Vaughan and Boyle coming through which I hope is the start of great young talent that I hope gets used fully. Harry Jones, Wavertree
I CAN'T wait for season to start, but we are still struggling to score.
I know friendlies don't count, but the problem has gone on all last season.
We are still crying out for an inventive midfielder. You can have as many strikers as you want, but you need somebody threading through the chances in the first place.
Jim Billows, St Helens
WHERE are the goals Andrew Johnson promised? I would kick the season off with Victor and young Vaughan and make the others wait for their place in the team. It just might be the motivation the seasoned forwards need. John Johnson, Walton
I REALLY like James Beattie, but he needs to be left out of the team on current performances.
What is it with his constant battle for fitness (or lack of)?
I would have thought the prospect of playing with Andrew Johnson would have well motivated him, but it hasn't. Victor Anichebe should be given a go while Beattie gets his act together. Is it just utter complacency about his place in the team or a genuine struggle for fitness? Johnson and Beattie should be a top partnership, but it won't get off the ground if he doesn't pull his finger out. Competition for places looks like it is having the desired effect in most other areas and cautiously optimistic for new season.
Vinny Brown, West Derby
EVERTON should sign Tim Howard up long term before his price rises. Howard is an excellent goalkeeper and once he performs consistently in the Premiership with us, his price will shoot up. Dave George, Liverpool
ANOTHER season is approaching and another opportunity seems to be passing David Moyes by. Moyes went out and strengthened our defence and forward line, when he really needs to add strength to the midfield as well. Surely anybody and every-body can see we lack a strong presence and a playmaker in midfield. The basis of a good side always stems from how strong your midfielders are. The midfield won the trophies for us in the 1980s and it's the same for the successful teams in the Premiership now. Last season we had a soft centre, and opponents went through us like a dose of salts. What I am really saying is that we need to get Tommy Gravesen back - and maybe another midfielder too. Roger Morton, Liverpool
AS another close season and transfer window nears an end, David Moyes sits on his hands and does nothing. As the remaining free agents and available players are snapped up all around us - David Nugent will be next - Moyes actually believes he's done enough. Only time will prove if I'm correct, but another trophyless season will leave Evertonians wondering why we can't be more ambitious.
Simon Flanagan, Chester
Whelan targets glory in Shield clash
Aug 2 2006 Women's Football by Paul Garrity, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON LADIES defender Fern Whelan is hoping her great week continues in tonight's Community Shield clash with double winners Arsenal at Gresty Road.
The 17-year-old has received her first senior England call-up and is now aiming to help the Blues secure their first piece of silverware of the season. "This is a big game and everyone is looking forward to it," said Whelan. "As long as we go out there and play as we did towards the end of last season, we should do well. "Pre-season has been going really well. We played four games out in Canada and it was a good experience. It's a lot better than doing just fitness training." After the match Whelan will join up with her England team-mates for the first time at a training camp.
She has only been playing Premiership football for a year and admits the call-up came as a big surprise. "When I was told it was a big shock," she said. "It's a big chance for me to test myself against quicker players and players with greater technical ability.
"I hope I can take the challenge on and maintain how I am playing at the moment.
"Being at Everton has helped me achieve this - playing and training with players of good ability. "As a result my touch has improved and I am more attack minded than I used to be." Tonight's game kicks off at 8.05pm and is live on Sky Sports 2.
Moyes: Let's get going
Aug 3 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES today (Thursday) admitted he has been so encouraged by Everton's pre-season preparations that the new Premiership campaign can't come quick enough.
The Blues touched down at Manchester Airport this morning after a successful 10-day tour of the United States which saw them take in friendlies against Columbus Crew and Club America. With only two more warm-up fixtures left against Aberdeen and Atletico Bilbao before the curtain-raiser against Watford on August 19, the manager is confident that it is simply a case of fine tuning a few things before Everton are ready to go. But the first home game at Goodison Park can't come quick enough for Moyes, who is eager to let his play-ers off the leash and cash in on all the good work that has been done since they embarked on their transatlantic trip. "I feel personally that I am ready just now and we are getting the final bits and pieces prepared," said Moyes.
"We have got a bit of work to do on the tactical side to do before we are ready. For example, we have not done any work on set-pieces and we need to concentrate on that, but overall we are looking in good shape and I'm pleased with how things have gone. "We have had a chance to get some good work into the players and the games have been good. Everyone is in good spirits at the moment. We are now getting into the final furlong to get ready for the new season."They are very close to being ready for the new season but there are three or four whocould do with a few weeks more training. I think, though, that the majority of them are going to be ready to start."
Those players who have been in America, plus the management and staff, will now have a couple of days off to get over the effects of jetlag, but those who remained at Bellefield will continue to train as normal. Andy van der Meyde missed the trip after injuring his groin in training after the opening friendly at Port Vale, while Nuno Valente only reported back from his summer holiday on Monday. Both, however, could be involved against Aberdeen next Tuesday. "I've not spoken to Andy or Nuno yet but I think they'll be fine," said Moyes. "We'll have a couple of days off now and then we will train on Saturday. I'm not sure about Sunday yet, we'll get Saturday's session out of the way first." While the prospect of Delron Buckley coming in on a season-long loan from Borussia Dortmund recedes by the day, Moyes is still looking to add to his squad before the transfer window closes later this month.
"I'm still hopeful that we can bring someone in before the deadline but there is nothing imminent," Moyes confirmed. "We are still looking and will continue to do so."
Gravesen feels heat in Madrid
Aug 3 2006 By Phil Barnett
THOMAS GRAVESEN looks set to leave Real Madrid after new coach Fabio Capello criticised the Dane's attitude during the club's recent tour of Austria.
Gravesen was involved in a bust-up with Brazil striker Robinho on the tour and when Capello was asked if he thought the former Everton midfielder was at fault, he replied: "Possibly. But I am not going to have problems with him. "He is a little different but he works hard, whichis important to me. "His behaviour? I don't like it, he wants everyone to do what he wants, and I have told him so." Gravesen is reportedly a target of several Premiership clubs and when Capello was quizzed on whether the midfielder would be leaving Madrid, he responded: "We shall see."
Despite the affection still for him at Goodison Park however, it is unlikely Gravesen will end up back at Everton if he decides to return to the Premiership. The 30-year-old has failed to nail down a regular first-team place at the Santiago Bernabeu since joining Madrid from Everton 18 months ago. His agent John Sivebaek has said that Gravesen is ready to return to England, but played down reports linking him with Newcastle. "He loved England and he is only 30, so he could still playat the top level. So why not move back to England? "I think some teams have contacted Madrid, butI don't know anything about Newcastle. "He's not looking to leave Madrid, but it seems that he's not going to play there. "He's not keen on leaving but if he's not going to play, he will look at other options."
Blues sunk as Gunners add to double delight
Aug 3 2006 Liverpool Echo
ARSENAL added another trophy to last season's double by defeating Everton in the FA Women's Community Shield at Crewe. Vic Akers' side, who were without skipper Faye White due to a long-term knee injury, scored two first half goals in their 3-0 win.
Kelly Smith's long-range effort dipped in for the opener, while debutant Katie Chapman bundled in the second. "It was great to get a goal to get me back on the scoresheet," said Chapman. Fellow England international Karen Carney also made her debut, and added: "We've got to go on from this and we can do a lot better."
Lianne Sanderson had a chance early in the second half but failed to round the Everton goalkeeper, with Arsenal holding on comfortably for the victory and extending their lead in injury time. Gemma Davison tapped in following a mix-up in the Everton defence as Arsenal lifted their first silverware of the season.
Smith added: "We had a few heavy legs after a trip to Germany but we came through it."
Cahill eyes big start
Aug 4 2006 Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
HAVING spent the early part of this summer embellishing his reputation on foreign soil, it was appropriate that Tim Cahill should show during Everton's pre-season tour that he is primed for Premiership business. Showing the benefit of making four appearances at the World Cup finals, one of which came against the eventual champions, this spiky Australian international was one of anumber of players who caught the eye in the United States. Never frightened to put his foot in and always looking to wreak havoc in the opposition penalty area, Cahill was particularly effective in last Saturday's 1-1 draw with Club America when David Moyes tinkered with the shape of his mid-field quartet. Deploying the ever dependable Lee Carsley as a shield to protect the defence, Cahill, Mikel Arteta and Simon Davies had more freedom to get forward and pop up in different areas or hunt together as a pack.
It should come as no surprise, however, that they performed as if their lives depended on the out-come. Competition for a place in Everton's starting line-up has reached fever pitch and the midfield, especially, is over-subscribed with men in form.
So even though his dynamic performance against Japan in Germany is still fresh in the mind, and few players possess the happy knack of popping up in the right place at the right time,the 27-year-old is taking nothing for g ranted. Football does not allow anyone to dwell on former glories and Cahill - despite a record of 20 goals in 77 Everton appearances - knows the importance of getting off to a flyer when Watford visit on August 19. "It's a big season for everyone," said Cahill. "We had a big start the season before last then last season we struggled a bit. But I think we have got to take a lot of credit out of what wedid last season. We were in one of the worst positions ever. "But we got together and made one of the best runs possible to keep us up there. We probably could have had a shot at Europe again. It's a big season and for myself, I just want to get off to a good start and play well for the team."Aberdeen next Tuesday evening offers the next chance forthe Blues to hone their skills, and it can be safely assumed conditions in the north of Scotland will be a good deal less sultry than they were in Dallas.
But it will be interesting to see what benefits the squad reaped during their 10-day tour when they run out at Pittodrie. Using all manner of contraptions to improve their fitness, Everton are guaranteed to strip fitter than when they were last north of the border.
"It's been good to be back amongst the lads again, training in some decent weather," said Cahill with a glint in his eye. "I looked forward to coming back and I've really enjoyed it.
"We needed it. We've been bonding but also need to get our football as clean cut as possible before the season starts. Going away to a place like that, where the humidity was quite crazy, were good circumstances to be in.
"We know what we've been doing. People might look at the results and think they were not good. But we've been working really hard, training on the morning of games, doing double sessions and we worked really hard. We were put through our paces.
"We want to try and show that on the football pitch now. We've got a few more games coming up and we now want to try and geta few results and a few goals. Everything will come good. It's all a matter of time and we want to be on blob when the season opens." One man to whom that last statement certainly applies is Davies. He has continually caught the eye in Everton's warm-up fixtures, especially so against Club America, and -like Cahill - looks ready to deliver. Though he had something of a tough time during his first year at Goodison, Davies has never lost the support of his team-mates and Cahill is in no doubt the former Tottenham man will get better and better with each game he plays. "Simon has always been a fantastic player," Cahill pointed out. "If he can get loads more games under his belt and keep getting 90 minutes, he's going to be a massive player for us. I think we are definitely going to see the best of him. "If you get 90 minutes and get a run of games like Faddy did, he started to get his goals. That's the best thing for Simon. At the moment, you can see how strong he is looking and how powerful he is. If stays like that, he will be a massive asset this season."
Vaughan set for comeback
Aug 7 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
JAMES VAUGHAN will take a significant step towards a return to action when he resumes full training with Everton's first team squad later this week.
The youngest goalscorer in the club's history has spent the past year battling to overcome a serious knee problem that required him to visit renowned surgeon Dr Richard Steadman in the United States. His last appearance for the Blues came against Fulham last August. Aware he has broken down a couple of times in recent months when looking to step up his rehabilitation programme, Everton will closely scrutinise Vaughan's progress to make sure he does not suffer a further setback. The signs, though, are promising and manager David Moyes is looking forward to seeing the 18-year-old back in action, as he is adamant Vaughan will be pushing hard for a place in his starting line-up once he is in peak condition. "James is due to start training in the next week," Moyes confirmed today. "But it will be a slow return for him rather than us rushing him back. We will take it easy with him but it will be good to see him again. "He would have been playing by now and would have been in the first team squad. We know he has a talent and the hard thing for him has been missing a crucial year of his development. "He has missed playing against experienced professionals and missed a year training with the first team but we will do our best to get that back once we can get him towards full fitness."
Van der Meyde in drink shock
Aug 7 2006 By Michelle Fiddler, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON winger Andy van der Meyde was rushed to hospital today over fears his drinks were spiked at a Liverpool bar. Police confirmed they were investigating allegations the 26-year-old Dutchman's drinks were tampered with, after he was taken ill at his Wirral home early this mor ning. Officers were called to the property in Bebington at 2.40am today by a woman, believedto be Mr van de Meyde's partner, after he had difficulty breathing. It is believed earlier in the evening he had been at bars on Liverpool's Albert Dock. The Dutch international was taken to Arrowe Park hospital where he has been detained. A police spokeswoman said: "We were called at 2.40am today by the female partner of a man who said his drinks had been spiked.
"We are carrying out checks at bars in Liverpool city centre which will involve looking at CCTV footage." The winger joined Everton last year from Inter Milan but missed much of last season due to injury. In June, van der Meyde told the ECHO of his distress at persistent rumours that he had a drink problem. He admitted to problems in his private life but said he was desperate to stay and revive his career at Goodison after a disappointing first season due to injury. After his plea, Everton manager David Moyes said he would be given every chance in the coming season.
He did not go on the pre-season trip to Dallas with the rest of the team as he was still recovering from a groin injury. An Everton spolesman said: "The club will be making no comment until after Merseyside Police have completed its ongoing investigation into the circumstances leading up to the admission of Andy into hospital."
Newcastle lead chase for Gravesen
Aug 7 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
THERE is no immediate possibility of Thomas Gravesen making a return to Goodison Park, despite Moyes revealing over the weekend that the Denmark international would be welcome back on Merseyside. Moyes is an admirer of Gravesen and if the 30-year-old indicated that he wanted to come back to the club where he was held in high regard, the door would be open for him. But as yet, Gravesen has not given the slightest hint that will happen. Leading the chase are Newcastle United and Aston Villa and it would seem that Gravesen's preference would be to go to either of those clubs, now that he has been given the all clear to leave Real Madrid. For the time being, Moyes' most pressing concern is tomorrow night's friendly against Aberdeen. He will take a strong squad to Pittodrie but Tony Hibbert won't travel as he still feels the effects of a virus that has laid him low. Simon Davies is also a slight doubt. The in-form midfielder was due to have a scan today on his foot after complaining of soreness around his right ankle. ..SUPL:
Moyes: My players are so determined
Aug 8 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON run out against Aberdeen tonight for their penultimate pre-season friendly - with manager David Moyes stressing his players are determined to secure a flying start to the Premiership. Everton, who have played five warm-up fixtures since returning from their summer break, have tonight's game against the Dons plus Atletico Bilbao at Goodison on Saturday in Howard Kendall's testimonial before the real business begins. Moyes has not read too much into recent results but agrees that a win at Pittodrie in Russell Anderson's testimonial would serve as a big confidence booster.
The manager, upbeat after the Blues successful pre-season tour of the United States, has some idea of his starting line-up for the Premiership's opening day visit of Watford but would be more than happy if someone emerges from the sidelines to stake a claim. He is impressing on his squad the importance of tonight's fixture in the Granite City and is expecting Everton to maintain the same attitude and professionalism of recent weeks. Said Moyes today: "Even though it is a testimonial, we know that it is going to be a good test. It is an important game for us. "At the moment, everything is geared up to being ready for the game against Watford and these pre-season fixtures have been an extension of what we have been doing on the training pitch. "There are three or four players who could do with that little bit more work but I am happy with the majority of them. "They look ready for a big start, so we will keep them ticking over for the next week or two." Given he played for Portugal on July 8 in the World Cup bronze-medal play-off against Germany, Nuno Valente only reported back from his summer break a week ago but he could play some part against Aberdeen. Definitely absent is Tony Hibbert, who is still under the weather. Simon Davies is a doubt after going over on his foot in training, while Victor Anichebe and club captain David Weir maybe forced onto the easy list.
"David Weir came off training on Monday morning and Victor Anichebe did as well so we need to assess where they are now," Moyes' right-hand man Alan Irvine reported. "David felt his groin and Victor got a bit of a knock on his ankle so the one that would worry me more is the David Weir one because it is a strain."
No room for sentiment as Wyness eyes victory
Aug 8 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
THE pre-match routine will be the same and the faces in the crowd will be familiar but for Keith Wyness, events at Pittodrie this evening will be unlike anything he's ever experienced before. Born in Aberdeen and brought up a staunch supporter of the local team, Everton's chief executive spent three successful years in a similar capacity north of the border before finding a move to Goodison Park in the summer of 2004 impossible to resist. Though he has rarely had the chance to return'home' since,Aberdeen still hold a special place in Wyness' affections but tonight sentiment will be cast emphatically to one side when Everton continue their preparations for the new Premiership season. Once pleasantries have been exchanged and Russell Anderson's testimonial is underway, Wyness' sole concern will be whether the Blues see a first return for the man who cost a club record £8.6m when joining from Crystal Palace in May. "I've nothing but good memories," said Wyness, reflecting on his time at Pittodrie. "I was born and bred in Aberdeen, so to become chief executive of my hometown club was very special. I'm looking forward to the game but there's only one result I want. "Aberdeen maybe the first result Ilook for on a Saturday afternoon at the end of an Everton game but there will be none of that for this match. Nothing would give me more pleasure than to see Andrew Johnson score his first goal in a blue shirt."
They are sentiments with which all Evertonians would find themselves nodding in agreement. Johnson was the main part of an aggressive recruitment drive on the Blues' behalf in May and June, Tim Howard and Joleon Lescott also arriving. As signings that will considerably beef up Everton's hopes of making a splash during the new campaign, it is only natural supporters should find themselves counting down the days until Watford arrive in town for the curtain raiser on August 19."Things have gone well during the summer," Wyness offered. "We looked to strengthen our playing staff early on, we did that and we have achieved stability. We've had stable results in pre-season and we are now hoping for a good season."
A repeat of Wyness' first year at the club would be the perfect outcome. In the 24 months he has been at the helm huge change has taken place behind the scenes and the benefit of cutting his teeth on football with Aberdeen has proven to be vital.
"An awful lot has happened and it doesn't seem like two years at all because so much has happened," said Wyness with a chuckle. "We've had some tremendous results, had a European adventure and we've changed the management structure of the club. These are exciting times. It was great experience being at Aberdeen and Ilearnt agreat deal, in terms of the ins and outs of a football club." The challenge now is to continue implementing the methods he pickedup in Aberdeen at Goodison Park and helping Everton get on a road that will see them challenging at English football's summit.
Continually on the lookout for new investment - thereisnoupdate to report on the Blues' search for a new home - Wyness believes Everton are heading in the right direction, ready to make the next leap forward. "There are parallels with Everton," said Wyness. "You only have to go back to the mid-1980s when Aberdeen were the pre-eminent side in Scotland and eventuallywon recognition of being the top side in Europe. "The trophy they were presented with after they had won the European Cup Winners Cup in 1983 and European Super Cup in 1984 by Adidas is still in the boardroom at Pittodrie. At the same time, Everton were the best team in England.
"Perhaps both teams haven't made the progress they should have done and it will be hard for Aberdeen to challenge Celtic and Rangers unless they receive the right investment. "But these are exciting times at Everton and we're all looking forward to the new season."
Aberdeen 2 Everton 3
Aug 9 2006 Liverpool Echo
IF an isolation booth plus a huge consignment of bubble wrap and cotton wool arrives at Everton's training retreat in the next couple of days, it would not come as a great surprise. Entering the final stages of their pre-season preparations, managers are understandably desperate to protect their most prized assets before the curtain raises on another year in the life of the Premiership. But David Moyes will be more anxious than most. Watching Mikel Arteta sprinkle another smattering of stardust in Aberdeen last night, the Everton boss would have felt a mixture of satisfaction and elation - but anxiety must also have lurked in the back of his mind. Every time Arteta is kicked or tackled at Bellefield, Moyes will have winced in fear. So too will the rest of his squad. The reason? It's quite simple. This little magician from the Basque country is the man who carries the dreams of every Evertonian into the new campaign. That point was hammered home at Pittodrie, as Arteta's introduction at half-time helped transform Everton's fortunes and saw them regain the winning habit, as they came from behind with goals from James Beattie, Tim Cahill and Victor Anichebe. Getting better with each game he plays, Arteta is going to see his name in bold type with an increased frequency in the coming months provided these levels are maintained.
Time to keep him wrapped up to ensure that happens. In contrast to Arteta, sluggish would be one of the kinder ways to describe some of Beattie's recent displays, but he started off here as if he had apoint to prove, pestering the home side's back three rather than waiting for things to happen. An early free-kick had Aberdeen keeper Jamie Langfield sprawling desperately to his right to keep the scores level, after he had demanded responsibility of the set-piece. Encouraging as that was, the surge out wide to create a chance for strike partner James McFadden shortly after showed Beattie to be more like his old self. His threat is infinitely increased when he hustles and bustles defenders, never allowing them a moment's piece. Mystifyingly linked on some websites with a move to Newcastle, there is no chance of one of Everton's better players being sold before the start of the new season. Besides, what sense would make selling to a potential rival? Ignore the rumours. That, though, does not mean his place in the starting line-up for the curtain raiser with Watford is guaranteed. Far from it. The form of McFadden, Johnson and Anichebe - particularly the latter two - should ensure he stays on his toes. Unfortunately, he didn't get much of a chance to make a further impression during the first half as Aberdeen - two games into their SPL campaign - set about giving Russell Anderson the perfect testimonial result.
Taking advantage of a defence playing together for the first time, Aberdeen, thanks to the dexterous Jamie Smith, had chances. The first when Darren Mackie should have profited when a below-par Joleon Lescott slipped but squandered the opening.
Smith then curled a free-kick inches wide on 11 minutes with Tim Howard stood helpless. And the midfielder went even closer shortly after with an effort that smacked against the crossbar but ricocheted to safety after bouncing on the line. Despite the gallant efforts of Alan Stubbs, trying to hold the back four together with Alessandro Pistone short of match fitness and Nuno Valente playing his first match after his summer holiday, Everton were vulnerable down the flanks. So it came as no surprise when Aberdeen took the lead. Michael Hart started a move that saw Stephen Crawford gallop down the right before his perfect cutback found Dempsey, who made no mistake from 12 yards. Predictably, Moyes made a number of changes at the break - introducing his record signing and main source of creativity -and the switch made an immediate impact. Phil Neville's presence at right-back helped stiffen the defence, but it was the pace of Johnson and Arteta's passing that helped swing the pendulum back in Everton's favour. Parity was restored on 53 minutes when Neville supplied Arteta on the left. His glorious cross may well have gone in without Beattie's intervention but the striker made certain with a glancing header. Job done, he was replaced by Anichebe. Somehow, though, Everton ended up chasing the game. Smith - Aberdeen's star player - popped up to rifle past substitute keeper Richard Wright and strike gold with his third shot of the night. "That goal came against the run of play," Moyes correctly observed. "I thought we were going to just dip under when Aberdeen scored because they have been up and running fora while and their season is going strong. But there were some good things from us." Particularly in the last 15 minutes. Reaping the benefits of the 10-day tour of the United States, Everton found plenty late on as Arteta stamped his class on the game. His ball freed Anichebe to tee up Cahill on 85 minutes and he then sent Neville galloping forward to provide the cross from whichAnichebe rifled home in the dying seconds. "That was a continuation of where we have been and we are just trying to keep it up," said Moyes, after a game that was played so far north it was a surprise not to see polar bears roaming nearby. Thankfully Everton's football took away the chill. "The performance was positive and we are all very pleased," Moyes added. "We are not just planning for Wat-ford. After that we have got Blackburn and Tottenham, so that's a lot of games in a week. "We need to make sure every player is ready when they are called on." Little wonder, then, that Moyes headed home sporting a huge smile. Everton are almost ready to come to the boil.
ABERDEEN (4-4-2): Langfield (Soutar 46); Hart, Anderson, Diamond (Considine 82), Touzani, Smith, Severin (Macaulay 65) , Dempsey (Lovell 65), Clark; Crawford (Foster 78), Mackie.
EVERTON (4-4-2): Howard (Wright 65); Pistone (Neville 46), Stubbs (Yobo 65), Lescott, Valente (Naysmith 65) ; Osman, Cahill, Carsley, Kilbane (Arteta 46); McFadden (Johnson 46), Beattie (Anichebe 65).
Referee: Alan Freeman
Goals: Aberdeen - Dempsey (40), Smith (69) Everton - Beattie (53), Cahill (85), Anichebe (89).
Art class can wow Premiership
Aug 9 2006 By Dominic King , Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES today boldly claimed that Mikel Arteta is primed to become one of the Premiership's star attractions after taking his pre-season form up another level.
Since returning from his summer break, the Everton midfielder has set tongues wagging with his performances at Bellefield and in friendlies but he surpassed any of his recent efforts with a master class in last night's 3-2 win at Aberdeen. It is rare for tough taskmaster Moyes to make such bold statements, particularly after a game that was nothing more than a training exercise, and he is eager to emphasise that Arteta still has room for improvement in one or two areas. The manager, however, knows that in Arteta, he has a player he can build his team around and believes that extra responsibility will bring even greater levels of consistency out of the man he signed from Real Sociedad last summer. "If Mikel keeps playing as he has been doing, he will become one of the top performers in the Premiership," Moyes declared. "He will have a fantastic season if he manages to keep playing in that kind of form.
"He needs to keep that up and we are trying to brush up on one or two little things with him but he has certainly got talent in abundance and he will be a big player for us this year. "We can play him on the right, on the left, in the middle of the park. All around, he is just a very, very good football player. He can pass, hecan make you play if need be. We'll chop and change him in some games. "But we shouldn't forget that we have got versatility in Leon Osman, who can drift and Tim Cahill - who scored a typical Tim Cahill goal last night - and he can play in two or three different positions as well. "I'm just hoping that with that versatility, we can change things about as games go on, but Arteta can be the one who will make us play in the right areas. But he has got to know his responsibility as a team player and the importance of the role he has." Arteta's performance aside - he had a crucial role in every Everton goal at Pittodrie - Moyes had plenty of reason to be cheerful on this afternoon's flight back home following a warm down at their Scottish base. "The players have come along together as a group," he added. "We are beginning to get players back. Nuno Valente got an hour after only just coming back from holiday which was good, while Sandro Pistone will be happy to have got another 45 minutes." Moyes, meanwhile, has again made it clear that he does not expect anynew arrivals at Goodison Park before the transfer window closes, adding it would be a "surprise" after spending close on £14m this summer. Manchester City's Antoine Sibierski was linked with a move to Everton yesterday but the silence from Goodison officials on the matter spoke volumes.
Goodison honours true great
Aug 9 2006 By Len Capeling, Daily Post
AS one of Everton's true greats - as player and manager - I expect Goodison to be near capacity on Saturday in homage to Howard Kendall. His testimonial against Athletic Bilbao (kick-off 3pm) also gives most supporters their first opportunity to see Andy Johnson in an Everton shirt. That's more than a detail, though the amiable Howard still takes centre stage, and rightly so. Last time I met him, he jokingly suggested - at least, I think it was jokingly - that I'd helped get him the push at one time or another.
Not guilty, Howard, but certainly guilty of being present during your marvellous, silver-strewn playing days and during the unforgettable years when, with league titles and cups European and domestic, you deservedly became Everton's greatest-ever manager. A title unlikely to be wrested from you in a soccer world that has changed out of all recognition. I wish you well on Saturday and for the future. You fully merit this heartfelt tribute from supporters who will always revere the man who, as player and gaffer, put his stamp on so many superlative sides. You were always good to watch, and so were the champions you helped forge. ¦ ANDY van der Meyde is a fool. An unfortunate fool, if, as he alleges, his drinks were spiked, but an idiot none the less. Injured and out of pre-season contention, you'd expect the Holland player to look after himself, not prop up the bar of a dockland nightclub. Maybe this is what David Moyes meant last season when he cited the player's poor attitude and lack of fitness.
Moyes wanted shut of Van der Meyde then, when the winger sounded gobsmacked at his manager's poor view of him Now we know why Moyes was so outspoken, and why the Dutch dunce may not linger long at Goodison.
Van der Meyde is hit by club fine
Aug 10 2006 EXCLUSIVE by DOMINIC KING, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON have fined Andy van der Meyde and given a written warning to the Holland international after he broke club disciplinary rules last weekend.
Van der Meyde was rushed to Arrowe Park hospital in the early hours of Monday morning with breathing difficulties after allegations that his drink had been spiked in a city bar. The former Internazionale winger, who missed Tuesday night's friendly at Aberdeen, returned to Everton's Bellefield training base this morning for talks with David Moyes. Though understandably concerned about the player's welfare, Moyes took a dim view that van der Meyde had been out drinking less than 48 hours before a game and the player has been warned about his future conduct. Moyes said today: "I have spoken with Andy and he has apologised. He is sorry for what has happened.
"He will be fined because he should not have been out but we just want to draw a line under things and hope that is the end of the matter now." Meanwhile, Moyes today urged James Beattie to maintain his goalscoring form as the battle to lead Everton's front line against Watford took on a new intensity. Having looked a little off the pace during the Blues' tour of the United States, the former England international enjoyed his best performance of pre-season in Tuesday's 3-2 win at Aberdeen. Apart from scoring for the first time since his double against Fulham on March 11, it was Beattie's energy and drive that particularly caught the eye. But if Beattie needed a reminder that he will not have things all his own way this season, his replacement Victor Anichebe scored and set another up for Tim Cahill in 25 energetic minutes and Moyes has warned his £6m man there can be no resting on his laurels. "I thought James was a bit more like himself at Aberdeen," said the manager, whose side wrap up their pre-season campaign against Athletic Bilbao on Saturday. "That was a bit more like what we are looking for from him. He was a bigger threat on goal. "Beats is one of those players who needs games to get himself up and running. He thrives on that.
"The competition will do him good but none of the strikers, or any play-ers for that matter, can take anything for granted. "If there is any of that around, I'm going to have to ask the chairman to bring more players in before the end of the transfer window.
"I've got nothing set in my mind who will start against Watford. I'm looking to see who is doing well just now and where the goals are coming from. "It's a case of wait and see, as we have got a few options."
Beattie urged to keep up top form
Aug 10 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES today urged James Beattie to maintain his goalscoring form as the battle to lead Everton's front line against Watford took on a new intensity.
Having looked a little off the pace during the Blues' tour of the United States, the former England international enjoyed his best performance of pre-season in Tuesday's 3-2 win at Aberdeen. Apart from scoring for the first time since his double against Fulham on March 11, it was Beattie's energy and drive that particularly caught the eye.
But if Beattie needed a reminder that he will not have things all his own way this season, his replacement Victor Anichebe scored and set another up for Tim Cahill in 25 energetic minutes and Moyes has warned his £6m man there can be no resting on his laurels. "I thought James was a bit more like himself at Aberdeen," said the manager, whose side wrap up their pre-season campaign against Athletic Bilbao on Saturday. "That was a bit more like what we are looking for from him. He was a bigger threat on goal. "Beats is one of those players who needs games to get himself up and running. He thrives on that. "The competition will do him good but none of the strikers, or any play-ers for that matter, can take anything for granted. "If there is any of that around, I'm going to have to ask the chairman to bring more players in before the end of the transfer window. "I've got nothing set in my mind who will start against Watford. I'm looking to see who is doing well just now and where the goals are coming from. It's a case of wait and see, as we have got a few options. We have got a lot of play-ers playing well." Whether that glancing header at Pittodrie sets Beattie off on a run, only time will tell, but the man who provided the cross from which he profited believes his team-mate can now start making up for lost time. "James has got longer hair now and that's helped him!" said Mikel Arteta. "I'm happy for him. I think he needed that goal and it will give him a little bit of confidence." Moyes, meanwhile, is enjoying seeing his forwards bringing the best out of each other - particularly the impressive Anichebe - and hopes the knock-on effect will be to banish the memory of a shot-shy campaign last season. "Victor has been making a name for himself in pre-season," said Moyes. "He is someone who has been doing very well. He made one and scored one at Aberdeen. But there is a lot of competition up front at the moment.
"James McFadden's form is good, we've got Beats and then we've got Andy Johnson. I'm hoping we'll see a few goals this season."
The inspiration behind Blues' golden period
Aug 10 2006 Liverpool Echo
THEY had been written off as injury prone veterans who had seen better days.
But in Peter Reid and Andy Gray, Howard Kendall saw the ingredients needed to help transform Everton into the finest team in the land. The acquisition of Reid from Bolton for just £60,000 in 1982 and Gray from Wolves for £250,000 the following year proved a masterstroke from the Everton legend. Their arrival preceded aspell of unprecedented success at Goodison as Kendall established himself as the most successful boss in the club's history. The FA Cup final win over Watford in 1984 was followed by a stunning league title success, the first European trophy in the club's history - the 1985 European CupWinners Cup - and another league title triumph.
Kendall, who will be formally honoured by the Blues for the first time on Saturday in a testimonial against Athletic Bilbao, recalled: "There was alack of confidence at the time - Reidy and Gray supplied that and really lifted the place. "We had good players but there were no real leaders. I could see the quality on the training ground but they weren't turning it on on match days. We needed something extra in the middle of the park and up front. "Both had had injury problems. Reidy hadn't played many games but Ithought at £60,000 it was worth a gamble. "But when we tried to buy him, Midland Bank would not give us the cash so the club changed banks to TSB just so we could buy Reidy! "They were both great characters and it rubbed off on the others who responded to them. "That side in the 80s were great on and off the field. They never believed they were beaten." Kendall pulled off asuccession of transfer coups with the signing of players like Neville Southall, Dave Watson, Paul Bracewell and Trevor Steven. Then there was Kevin Sheedy, areserve at Liverpool until Kendall splashed out £100,000 and transformed him into akey element of the Blues' all-conquering midfield unit. "People talk about Everton's midfield in the late 60s and 70s but Harry Catterick didn't just buy players, he bought balance," Kendall said. "That's what I tried to do in the 80s with Sheedy, Bracewell, Reid and Steven. Sheedy was a natural left footer, Reid and Bracewell were the hard workers winning the ball in the middle and Steven could go past players, had great balance and an eye for goal." The ban on English clubs prevented Kendall from adding to his European success and led to him leaving Everton in 1987 to manage Athletic Bilbao. But his heart remained at Goodison and he answered the call to return for two more managerial stints between 1990-93 and 1997-98. He said: "When I was invited to come back it was always too good to turn down. "My object as manager was to fill the ground and send the fans home with smiles on their faces so they would turn up for work on Monday mornings.
"The fans have always been brilliant to me and because I was successful as a player here it meant they were more patient when I was boss." In total, Kendall dedicated a remarkable 17 years to the club as player and manager. Between 1967-74 he made 274 appearances and formed one third of the magical midfield trio, including Alan Ball and Colin Harvey, who led the Blues to the title in 1970. Saturday's clash between David Moyes' side and Bilbao promises to be an emotional occasion. Spaniards are coached by Felix Sarriugarte, who played under Kendall in Spain. "I had an enjoyable two-and-a-half years at Bilbao and I'm delighted they're coming across for the game," he said. "When I went over there they were down the bottom and were one of only three clubs, the others being Barcelona and Real Madrid, who had never been relegated. "We finished fourth and got into the UEFA Cup where we beat AEK Athens before losing to Juventus. "We just failed to get into Europe the next season and then were mid-table when the president was up for re-election and it was time for me to come home. "They beat Middlesbrough last week and will provide a decent test.
"It will be a proud day for me and for a lot of Everton fans it will be the first opportunity to see the club's new signings in action. "A lot of hard work has gone into the day and I owe a lot of thanks to the Everton Former Players Foundation. I'm just grateful that everything has fallen into place." Many of Kendall's former team-mates and players will be in attendance, including Alan Ball and Colin Harvey. And as a curtain-raiser to the main event, a side boasting Andy Gray, Peter Beardsley, Paul Bracewell, Graeme Sharp and Trevor Steven will take on the Blues' under-16 academy side in a 15 minutes each way match starting at around 1.30pm.
The testimonial kicks off at 3pm. Tickets can be purchased in advance from the Park End ticket office or at the turnstiles on Saturday priced £15 for adults and £5 concessions.
Mcfadden: I will fight for starting role
Aug 10 2006 By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
JAMES McFADDEN is steeling himself for a battle to force his way into Everton's forward line as David Moyes admitted he has yet to decide on his strike pairing for the start of the season. McFadden played the first half of the Goodison side's 3-2 friendly victory at Aberdeen on Tuesday night as manager Moyes continues to mix and match his strikers during pre-season. The Scotland international earned the plaudits of Andrew Johnson after an impressive 45-minute display alongside the club record signing against Mexican side Club America in Dallas last month. But with James Beattie and now young Victor Anichebe also vying for a starting role, McFadden acknowledges there is now intense competition for places in attack. "It's going to be hard competition and I don't see myself playing in a role behind either James Beattie or Andy Johnson," said the 23-year-old. "I think I've got to fight both of them to get in the side and with Victor coming on as well, it's not a case of where I'm going to play, it's if I'm going to play and how I'm going to play." James Vaughan, who is returning to training this week, is another option for Moyes in attack, although the manager concedes he hasn't made his mind up on who will start up front when Everton begin their Premiership campaign at home to Watford on Saturday week. "I have not yet decided on who is going to play up front," said the manager. "I am looking to see where the goals are coming from, who is doing well and I will wait and see.
"The starting XI for Watford is in my mind. It is okay thinking about Watford but we have another 37 games but this is about having a squad of players. "Victor has done really well, James McFadden has been looking good, James Beattie was our top scorer last year and Andy has come in. "Last year we didn't score many goals but I think amongst the players we have available we have the balance that will bring goals."
Anichebe netted the winner at Pittodrie on Tuesday and has been the real success story of pre-season, Everton's top scorer in that period with four goals. But the 18-year-old's impact has not come as a shock to his team-mates. "Victor's not taken the players by surprise because he's been banging in goals regularly for the reserves," said McFadden. "He's a big strong lad and he adds a lot to the team. "He's maybe surprised the fans who maybe weren't expecting so much from him so soon. "But it's only pre-season so hopefully he can keep that up and take it into the season and then we'll have four strikers trying to get two places every week." Everton's victory on Tuesday was their first for five games, but McFadden believes the team's performances have been more encouraging than the results have suggested. "It's never easy but we've had a good pre-season even if we've not had so many good results," he added. "But we've played well and we are all up for it. We're sharp and we're hoping we can be more successful this season. "Last year we made a terrible start, going out of the Champions League at the qualifying stages and then by October we were at the bottom of the league. "But we picked it up and had a lot of good wins after that, so we can carry that on and start this season better. It will set us up for a successful season."
Tropical disease sidelines Hibbert
Aug 11 2006 EXCLUSIVE by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
TONY HIBBERT is facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines after it was confirmed today he will miss the start of the new Premiership campaign. The Everton right-back was initially sent home from training at Bellefield three weeks ago with what was thought to be a stomach bug, but his condition caused real concern during the 10-day tour of the United States when there were no signs of improvement. Subsequent tests have since revealed that Hibbert picked up a tropical illness during his summer holiday, which have resulted in him losing nearly a stone in body weight.
Having also returned to training late following a hernia operation in April, Hibbert will effectively have to start from scratch when doctors are happy he has fully recovered from the effects of the virus - and that might not be until the end of the month. Everton boss David Moyes confirmed: "Tony will see a specialist today and hasn't even been at the training ground this week. He has been really sick and we have to rule him out of the Watford game. "We think that he has picked something up from a parasite on his summer holidays. All the symptoms he has had have been consistent with that, such as sickness and diarrhoea and he has lost nearly a stone. It has set him back a good few weeks." Hibber twas one of Everton's most consistent performers last season before he was ruled out of the final five matches and Moyes admits his absence has come as a hugeblow, especially as the club are not overwhelmed with right-backs.
"It is a position where we are shorter than we would like to be," agreed the manager. "But we do have Phil Neville, who did well against Aberdeen in that role, and Alessandro Pistone who can play there. We should be okay." Apart from Hibbert, Moyes has other fitness concerns ahead of tomorrow's final warm-up fixture against Athletic Bilbao. David Weir is still troubled by a groin injury, while Nuno Valente (knee), Simon Davies (ankle) and Leon Osman (groin) are also doubts.
Over all, though, the manager is more than happy with the condition of Everton's squad and is looking for a win in Howard Kendall's testimonial to tee them up for next Saturday's opener with Wat fo rd . "This won't be a dress rehearsal in terms of the side Iput out nor will it be a guide to the first match as they will be two different types of game played at completely different paces," said Moyes. "Weare just hoping thatare good form can continue. I'm pleased with how we played and was happy with the performance at Aberdeen. "I hope we can keep that going when the real business starts and the confidence remains the same."
Blues' chief keen to honour the legend
Aug 11 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
IT would be impossible to estimate the number of phone calls Bill Kenwright has made on behalf of Everton FC. But there is one conversation that will stay with him for the rest of his life and always leave him smiling broadly at the memory.
Back in the summer of 1997 when the Blues were looking to find a manager to succeed Joe Royle, former chairman Peter Johnson requested Kenwright to get in contact with the man who had overseen some of the greatest nights in the club's history. The brief was simple: ask Howard Kendall if he wanted to return to manager Everton for a third time. Though it was late in the evening when he punched out the digits, the voice on the other end was as cheery as usual - until the request was made.
Then, there was nothing but silence. At first, Kenwright thought wires had been crossed somewhere along the line until the words of acceptance became audible.
Humbled by the prospect of returning, Kendall couldn't wait to board a flight 'home'.
"Howard was on his holidays in Majorca. I got hold of him around about midnight," recalled Everton's current chairman, taking up the story. "When Isaid to him 'Howardwe want you to come home. Will you come back and manage us.' The line seemed to go dead. But then I heard him repeat time and time again 'I'm so proud, I'm so proud, I'm so proud.' "When I asked if he wanted to discuss a salary before he got on the plane the following day, he flatly refused. 'Pay me what you want. Pay me the going rate. I am just honoured to be asked'." Like so many Blues, Kenwright will be at Goodison Park tomorrow to pay tribute to a man who truly deserves to have the moniker 'legend' before his name. As aplayer and manager, Kendall has made an indelible impression in Everton history and the reception he gets before his testimonial against Athletic Bilbao will prove that. "Howard will always be honoured to be asked back to his beloved Goodison Park," said Kenwright. "A legend both as a footballer and a manager - is it not staggering to think he was never capped by England? How many caps would he have won today? "A member of the greatest ever football Holy Trinity - Harvey, Kendall and Ball - and the man who every Everton manager will be judged against. I can tell you for afact that David Moyes will be saluting Howard and his achievements tomor row. "Rivalry is good in football. David Moyes is another great manager, who desperately wants to bring success back to this football club. But like all of us tomorrow, he will be applauding Howard Kendall. They'll be standing side by side as Evertonians." Indeed, Moyes is striving to join the select band of managers who have brought silverware back to the Blue half of Merseyside and is quick to acknowledgethe standards Kendall set during the glory years of the mid-1980s. "It'sgreat forHowardand we wish him all the best," says Moyes. "He thoroughly deserves his day for everything he has done for this club. "He was manager during the club's most successful period in recent years and was also a tremendous player. "I see him on the circuit and at functions and knowthat he comes to watch us whenever we are at Goodison. He is quite a character. "His period here as manager is associated with some great teams and it is my ambition to have a successful team here, too." Of course, Kendall's first spell at the helm before departing for Bilbao included two League titles, an FA Cup and the European Cup Winners Cup but they were only delivered after he had ridden a particularly fierce storm.
With many calling for him to be sacked, Kenwright vividly remembers the evening when the fortunes of Kendall and Everton changed dramatically in a Milk Cup tie against Oxford United back in January 1984. "Howard believed in the squad he had surrounded himself with and believed in the character and ability of not only that squad, but also the fans of the football club that he dearly loved," said Kenwright.
"I was in Australia directing a musical on the night of the Oxford match. It was the wee small hours of the morning over there and I was having the game piped through to me on the phone. "I spent most of the game heartbroken .. . until the famous Kevin Brock back-pass. I will always remember the moment Inchy (Adrian Heath) equalised.
"I was like a kid jumping up and down on my bed, going wild in the middle of the night in Melbourne! "God knows what the rest of the hotel thought I was getting up to in that room!"
Why Sharp's fears were unfounded
Aug 11 2006 By James Pearce, Liverpool Echo
GRAEME SHARP faced an anxious wait back in 1981.
Gordon Lee, the manager who had brought him to Goodison Park for £120,000 from Dumbarton a year earlier, had been sacked and the striker was nervous about who would take over the Blues' hot seat. But the Scotsman's fears were soon put to bed when Howard Kendall arrived as player-manager from Blackburn Rovers.
"You always want to play under the manager who signed you, so when Gordon left I didn't know what to expect," he said. "All sorts of names, including Brian Clough, were being bandied about. Howard came in at the end of the season and his first task was to take us to Japan for the Kirin Cup. "Everyone took to Howard. We had been used to running up and down hills, but Howard was a great believer in getting the footballs out. "He was like a breath of fresh air and got the respect of the players straight away." Kendall went on to become the most successful boss in the club's history and Sharp played his part in the greatest triumphs. But it wasn't all plain sailing. Everton struggled through the opening months of the 1983/84 season and just 13,659 fans turned out for a 0-0 draw with Coventry City at Goodison in December.
Frustrations grew, but chairman Philip Carter stood by his manager and resisted calls to sack him. After Adrian Heath grabbed a last-gasp equaliser to prevent an embarrassing defeat at Oxford in the League Cup, the tide began to turn.
Everton reached the League Cup final where they lost to Liverpool in a replay and went on to lift the FA Cup, with Sharp on target in a 2-0 victory over Watford.
In 1984/85 the Blues stormed to the title with a re-cord 90 points - 13 clear of second placed Liverpool - and lifted the European Cup Winners Cup after a 3-1 win over Rapid Vienna. Two years later the Blues' ninth championship success was secured.
"Things didn't work out immediately. There were some difficult times and Howard had to stick at it," Sharp admitted. "We may have lost to Liverpool in the '84 Milk Cup final, but that gave us the belief as a team to go on to bigger and better things.
"A lot of people thought Peter Reid and Andy Gray were over the hill but it was a fairly young team and Howard knew we needed some experienced players to lead the lads. He also spotted the potential of players like Paul Bracewell and Trevor Steven.
"He was a great believer in team spirit - getting everyone working for each other on the football field and having a good time off it. "Howard was also a great believer in discipline. He would fine you for each minute you were late for training or for the coach. If you were booked for dissent or for a needless foul you would also be fined. At the end of the season he would use all the fines to take us out." In the early 1980s, Sharp also got a view of Kendall the player, whose touch and vision had helped the Blues clinch the title in 1970. "It was a pleasure having heard everything about him to get the chance to play alongside him," he said. "He had been the player of the 70s and from training with him it was clear what a great player he was." Sharp will don his boots at Goodison tomorrow in a curtain-raiser to Kendall's testimonial against Athletic Bilbao, when a team of Blues legends take on the club's under-16 academy side in a 15 minutes each way game (1.30pm). Said Sharpe: "Playing 15 minutes each way is more my kind of game, but I'm not sure about how happy our boys will be about the opposition. "I've not told Andy Gray yet and I'm looking forward to seeing his reaction when he knows we'll be chasing after a bunch of 16-year-olds!"
Arrive early for fun day, fans told
Aug 11 2006 Liverpool Echo
FANS are urged to get to Goodison early tomorrow ahead of Howard Kendall's testimonial match - which kicks off at 3pm. There is a full afternoon of entertainment with a match between former Blues players and the club's academy under-16 side starting at 1.30pm. Tickets priced £15 for adults and £5 for under-16s and over-65s will be available at the turnstiles. Tickets for either the Park End or the Upper Bullens can also be bought in advance from the Park End Box Office.
All areas of the ground (except executive areas) will be unreserved seating.
Weir to remain skipper
Aug 14 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES today confirmed that David Weir will continue as Everton's club captain when the new season begins. There has been speculation as to whether Moyes would hand the armband to Phil Neville, who often deputised in Weir's absence in the most recent campaign and was again skipper in Saturday's 1-0 home defeat against Athletic Bilbao. But even though Weir not be guaranteed an automatic starting place any longer, Moyes has no absolutely no intention of relieving one of the club's most respected and dedicated professionals of his position. "Davie Weir will continue as skipper and Phil will help him," Moyes said. "We've also got Stubbsy if he's needed, so they are the people we would be looking towards." A groin injury kept Weir out of Everton's final warm-up match, while Tony Hibbert (sickness) and Nuno Valente (Achilles) were also sidelined but apart from that trio, Moyes was pleased to report his squad had come through with a clean bill of health. "We've no injuries, everyone seems OK and that is really a big plus," said Moyes. "It was probably the first pre-season game that was played like a pre-season game. I think by the way we have been playing, that was a step down. "The games we have played against Celtic and Aberdeen and certainly the games over in America were probably better tempo.
"So from that point of view, I wasn't pleased about it but other bits were fine. The boys did all we asked of them, really." If Moyes was disappointed with the tempo of Saturday's performance, he had no worries regarding Andrew Johnson's form.
Even though Everton's £8.6m signing failed to break his duck, the manager is convinced it won't be long before he dons his shooting boots. "I'm not worried one bit," said Moyes. "Maybe he could have had a hat-trick - the first was a great effort - but he will score goals and he will worry teams."
Carsley: Johnson can fire us to Europe
Aug 14 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
LEE CARSLEY today set his sights on helping Everton secure a return to European football ahead of the Premiership's imminent return. Like so many of his team-mates, Carsley has enjoyed a fruitful pre-season campaign, shrugging aside speculation regarding his own future to figure prominently as Everton's holding midfielder.
That was a role in which Carsley excelled in the season Everton secured a Champions League place but a serious knee injury limited his involvement last term and in total he made just six appearances. Happily, though, the 32-year-old's fitness problems are behind and he is looking forward to next weekend's opener against Watford but - as yet - Carsley has no idea what role he will assume. "Ever since I have been here, the competition has always been the same," said Carsley. "You wouldn't expect anything different. The fact we've been so active in the transfer market and the players we went for, shows what direction the manager wants to take us. "We've had a few team meetings and the main thing is that we have got to improve on last season. We have got to try and replicate what we did a couple of seasons ago. The new players have settled and that's good. "In terms of myself, a lot of it will be down to how the team plays. I'm sure the manager is going to want to change the system around at times and that's when I'll come into it." A 1-0 home defeat at the hands of Atletico Bilbao might not have been the best way to wrap-up pre-season preparations but, as Carsley points out, it effectively an extension of work done on the training ground. That said, Andrew Johnson once again caught the eye and Carsley is tipping Everton's record signing to make a big impact in the coming weeks and months. "It was a decent game and we knew that Bilbao were going to be tough opposition," said Carsley. "The gaffer made a few changes at half-time but I thought it was fairly even. I suppose in terms of a spectacle, it was a boring game. "But we are happy. Andy looked lively and he has been like that all pre-season. "You would be surprised how sharp he has been. He really is a good player. As soon as he starts scoring goals for us, I'm sure he is really going to kick on."
Undervalued Carsley can be Blues' holding hero
Aug 14 2006 Analysis by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
"DON'T pigeon-hole me," was Lee Carsley's heartfelt plea after Everton's final pre-season friendly on Saturday. Which is a difficult request to agree to. Because while he is undoubtedly versatile enough to play a number of roles across the Everton midfield and defence, he performs better than anybody else in the Goodison squad in the central holding midfield role. And it could be a silver lining for David Moyes that Tony Hibbert has fallen victim to a disease which sounds like a Star Trek life-form.
While Hibbert struggles stoically to shake off the affects of the Cryptosporidium parasite, Phil Neville is likely to be deployed at right-back rather than the midfield role he displaced Carsley from last season. Neville is better suited to that role, while the un-sung Irish international exerts a greater influence on Everton's performances than he is ever given credit for. Carsley made just five Premiership appearances during last season's frustrating campaign. The year before he started 36 in the unexpectedly outstanding fourth place finish. It is simplistic to say the two are directly related. But it would be just as foolish to dismiss the occurences as coincidence also.
Carsley's refusal to claim a first team place as guaranteed next weekend against Watford points to the healthy nature of Everton's squad. There is competition for places throughout the team - even up front where Andy Johnson now provides the pace and purposeful running which has been missing ever since Marcus
Bent decided chasing had been deleted from his contract. Everton took their foot of the gas somewhat against Athletic Bilbao on Saturday - possibly with Saturday's altogether more important fixture on the horizon. maybe to avoid the prospect of untimely injury - and slipped to a 1-0 defeat. Few minded. The purpose of the day, after all, was to pay tribute to the most successful manager in the history of Everton Football Club. And Howard Kendall himself once tried to sign Lee Carsley.
That should speak volumes.
Blues on ball in sales shake-up
Aug 14 2006 By Neil Hodgson, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON are gearing up for the big Premiership kick-off this Saturday, but the club's sales team began their push for glory much earlier. The 10 or 12 weeks of close season are the busiest of the year in terms of revenue generation, said head of sales Harvey Smith, who revealed several initiatives that will add to the club's bottom line and the "five hour experience" it sells fans each matchday. Stadium catering has been outsourced to the biggest stadium caterer in the UK, Sodexho Prestige which includes Royal Ascot, the Chelsea Flower Show and Scotland's Hampden Park among its clients. Mr Smith is also in the process of adding a tier of partnerships below main club sponsors Chang, Umbroand JJB. He said: "We are seen as hugely innovative in the market place to the point that people likeairlines and gaming partners would see the club as very attractive." Production of the match day programme has been switched to Trinity Mirror's Sportmedia and the club has replaced its traditional season ticket with a plastic card that doubles as a loyalty card linked to a range of trading partners, such as supermarkets and petrol stations. Mr Smith said the move tooutsource some functions, like the five-year Sodexho deal, is so Everton can concentrate on being afootball club: "We area business who's core product is playing football and winning football matches." And he revealed: "We are in the midst of a total review of where we get our business from and there will be no stone left unturned. We are looking to link with businesses from across the globe."
Nearer to home the sales team has been set an annual target of holding face-to-face meetings with 2,000 Merseyside businesses in a bid to build their corporate client base. "The sales team will visit firms and produce an individual proposal totally bespoke to that company for our suites and executive boxes, where our facilities are up with the best in the league," he said. Although he is targeting international opportunities, Mr Smith said: "We have to make sure that Merseyside businesses are aware of our potential first and foremost."
I must grasp final chance - Van der Meyde
Aug 15 2010 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
ANDY VAN DER MEYDE today pledged to put his troubles behind him and play a crucial role for Everton this season. The Holland international admits he has made mistakes - but he is desperate to show he can make up for his errors during the forthcoming campaign. "It's been unbelievable really," he said today. "People might not think it but I'm just a normal guy. All I want to do is play football for Everton.
"I've got to thank everyone at the club for the support they have given to me.
"I have spoken with the gaffer, I have explained a few things and he understands what is going on. "I just want the season to start and get back to playing football."
Van der Meyde was admitted to Arrowe Park hospital last Monday after complaining about breathing difficulties at his home in Wirral following a night out in Liverpool.
Everton boss David Moyes, though concerned about his welfare, was furious van der Meyde was socialising less than 48 hours before a first team match and hit the midfielder with a fine. Moyes has also handed van der Meyde a written warning, stressing he will not tolerate any more erratic behaviour - any further slips will see him hurried out of Goodison. It was the latest in series of incidents surrounding the 26-year-old and things worsened for him when his home was broken into on Saturday night. Van der Meyde, who was at Bellefield doing extra training today, came on as a substitute during Saturday's friendly against Athletic Bilbao and while he looked short of fitness, there was a genuine support from the crowd for him to do well.
Now, he accepts, the time has come to repay the goodwill that has been shown towards him. He said: "It was good to finally get backon the pitch and back to football. It has been a long time. "I had a good feeling on Saturday and I hope to take it into the next game. "I felt my normal self in the twodaysbefore the game.Before that I was still a bit dizzy. "I cannot wait to start and I am happy the season starts next week so we can get back into a rhythm and a routine. "That is what I am used to and it is nice to have that back again, playing and training every week. "I feel 200 per cent now and you are going to see the best of me again."
Blues star: Raid on home is latest agony
Aug 15 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON star Andy van der Meyde today made an emotional plea for the return of his stolen puppy. Nine-week-old Mac was snatched from the midfielder's Wirral home by burglars who also took two cars and jewellery. The thieves struck while the Dutchman was playing in Howard Kendall's testimonial match at Goodison Park on Saturday. Today he told the ECHO: "Obviously I want my stuff back, but I want Mac back more than anything. He is just a puppy. "I would be prepared to pay a reward to anybody who gets him back for me." It is the third high-profile break-in at the home of a Merseyside footballer this year. In June, medals and football memorabilia were stolen from the home of Liverpool FC goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek in Caldy.
Then in July the home of Wayne Rooney's parents in West Derby was also burgled and the England player's valuables stolen. Thieves broke through a back door of van der Meyde's home in Higher Bebington, taking eight Rolex watches, rings, a Ferrari and ablack convertible mini Cooper as well as Mac, a Dogue de Bordeaux.
The Ferrari was found outside a Norris Green cinema with its windscreen smashed.
The theft means more misery for the player after he was fined by Everton for staying out late. He ended up in Arrowe Park hospital after claiming that his drinks had been spiked. Van der Meyde added: "It's been an unbelievable couple of weeks. I thought when I went to the game and played on Saturday that everything would get back to normal. Then I came back to this. I wish it would just stop.
"When things like this happen people will automatically think I am a troubled person. But I am not. I am just a normal guy."
Fans urged to arrive at Goodison early
Aug 16 2006 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON today advised supporters to get to Goodison Park early on Saturday as the club launches its smartcard system. With season tickets replaced, the SeasonCard will allow fans entry to the ground quicker and easier through automated turnstiles.
But as the card system - which has been successfully introduced at other Premiership grounds - will be new to so many, officials have advised fans to allow extra time to get to the stadium in case there are any teething troubles. Alan Bowen, Everton's Head of Stadium Operations, said: "We believe the SeasonCard system is a major step forward and it is incredibly easy to use. "But we are also aware it remains a new innovation. With this in mind, we are asking fans to get to the ground as early as possible so to ensure everything runs smoothly. "For instance, one change with the new smartcard system is the fact each card can only be used via the specified turnstile highlighted on the card itself. "I know in the past some fans have entered the ground at varying turnstiles, aware that once in the stadium they will still be able to gain access to their seat. "However, each Season-Card will only work at the specified turnstile and we are urging fans to make sure they use the correct turnstile so as to avoid un-necessary queues."
Sportech in Blues link
Aug 16 2006 Liverpool Echo
LIVERPOOL gaming company Sportech has re-established a traditional link between Everton and Littlewoods. Former club chairman Sir John Moores founded the pools game, now owned by Sportech which today unveils a six-figure sponsorship deal with the Blues as the club's official football gaming partner for the coming Premiership season. The deal involves online and offline sponsorship and marketing initiatives covering the pools, spot the ball and online casino, poker and bingo games.
It's still too early to judge Blues new boys
Aug 16 2006 icLiverpool & Liverpool Echo
THERE seems to be an awful lot of negative comments flying about at the moment.
Okay, so pre-season hasn't been as hot as we would have liked, but Moyes has done what every Evertonian wanted him to. He bought a decent striker in Andrew Johnson and a young, highly rated defender in Joleon Lescott. Johnson hasn't delivered yet and Lescott is still finding his feet, but the season has not even started. Let's not start judging yet. Graham Brown, Aigburth
THINGS are slowly stabilising under Moyes and he is in the unfortunate position of being forced to only buy players who can bring immediate improvement to the team.
I'm concerned about the lack of goals so far from AJ but I'm quietly confident he will come good. This weekend is when it counts, not in training games. Martin Taylor, Wavertree
DAVID WEIR has been named as club captain but I'm not sure he will make the starting line-up much this season. I would be tempted to play Stubbs with either Lescott or Yobo in the centre of defence. It is good to have one with pace and one with experience. The Lescott and Yobo partnership is hopefully one for the future.
Daniel Dawn, Birkenhead
I WOULD have started the new season with a new captain - it should have been Arteta, Cahill or Neville. I am sure Weir would have understood the decision.
Peter B, Wallasey
McFadden in frame for kick-off
Aug 17 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
JAMES McFADDEN is set to celebrate his new four-year deal at Everton with a place in David Moyes' first starting line-up of the new season. Most observers expect James Beattie and new signing Andy Johnson to form the Blues' first choice strike-force against Wat-ford on Saturday. But Moyes warned today: "Faddy is definitely in the frame for Saturday. "I am quite excited by what I have been seeing from him pre-season. "His form has been very good, he looks stronger, more mature and his decision making is better. "People shouldn't immediately assume that James Beattie and Andy Johnson will be our front two this season. "I have to say that Faddy could quite easily start in his own right on Saturday." Moyes' words will reassure the Scot, who was said to have stalled on putting pen to paper this summer after the arrival of Johnson appeared to push him further down the pecking order at Goodison. The Blues' boss added: "I spoke to James about a week ago and we shook hands on the deal. "People forget he is still a young player. I am hoping that the next four years will be good years for him and I'm delighted to have him with us." McFadden could even start on the left against Watford, as Moyes aims to secure an opening day victory for the first time as Blues' boss. The fixture computer has not been kind to Everton during his reign as manager, throwing up two clashes with Arsenal, one with Manchester United and a visit from Tottenham on the opening day. But Moyes will not treat promoted Watford any differently on Saturday. "It's an opportunity to get an opening day win, but there's no way I will be taking this game more lightly than, say, the visit of United last season."
Johnson out to give Hornets nasty sting
Aug 17 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
ANDY JOHNSON is starting the new season exactly where he finished the last one . . . but this time he wants a very different outcome. Everton's record signing will make his Goodison bow against Watford on Saturday, just three months after the Hornets effectively ended his Crystal Palace career with a play-off semi-final defeat.
While a shock 3-0 first leg win at Selhurst Park as good as ended Palace's Premiership hopes, it perversely ensured that Johnson would be playing top flight football this season by accelerating his departure. The capricious nature of the football fixture computer means that Johnson faces the same opposition again on Saturday.
"Obviously it's a personal thing for me wanting to beat them," he said. "Everyone knows Watford beat Crystal Palace in the play-off semi-final, but the most important thing is just getting three points for Everton. "But it won'tbe easy. There's no reason why Watford should struggle this season if that's what people think. They are a very good, young, talented team. They are organised, they are hard-working and they are hard to play against. "I don't think anyone should take them for granted."
Johnson certainly won't be doing that. And he has certainly not taken his move to Goodison Park for granted either, where he firmly believe she has joined the footballing elite. The Premiership years have been fallow ones for Everton Football Club, but still only Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United have won more silverware. And glancing around the corridors of Goodison, adorned with pictures of title-winning teams, he admits: "Everton is a massive club. It's one of the biggest clubs in British football. What they have achieved in the past is amazing and the boys here know we have to try and do the same." A title challenge is clearly beyond the Blues in the short-term, but with the backing of the Goodison fans, Johnson believes he can help his new team achieve some measure of success. "It always helps when you play your first game at home, especially here where the fans are tremendous," he added. "That's one of the main reasons for coming here, so I can play in front of fans like that week in and week out. "It's been a hard three or four weeks pre-season training. It's been intense, but the boys are ready. The fitness levels are good and we're ready to kick on now. We went to the States where we played two games whichwere very hardin the heat, but we're feeling the benefits of that now. "The squad here's brilliant. We've got a great squad of lads with plenty of depth. There's22 to 24 players. Obviously they can't all play every week so that creates competition for places which is good. It keeps you on top of your game. "As for my place or possible partnerships, the manager hasn't said anything too specific to me yet. Obviously he just wants to see me do the things he bought me for. "He probably hasn't wanted to complicate things too much pre-season, but as the first game approaches, I'm sure he'll say a lot more.
"As far as I'm concerned it's all up for grabs. There's great competition for places with me and Beatts (James Beattie), Faddy (James McFadden) and young Victor Anichebe. There's no established partnership yet so it's all up for grabs."
It's down to us - Neville
Aug 18 2006 EXCLUSIVE by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
PHIL NEVILLE raised the stakes on the eve of the new Premiership campaign when he admitted "there can be no excuses" if Everton fluff their lines this year. The Blues get back to business tomorrow when Watford visit Goodison Park and Neville has been impatiently counting down the days until the big kick-off. Fresh in his memory are the disappointments of last season, when a wretched start ruined hopes of securing a place in Europe and - for a short spell - left Everton frantically scrapping to keep their heads above water. But as David Moyes has strengthened his squad during the summer and there has been nothing to distract focus,Neville knows there is a growing expectation among supporters for the players to deliver success - and that means qualifying for the UEFA Cup. "We've had a settled pre-season," Neville agreed. "We have got a settled squad - probably the strongest squad that Everton have had for a number of years, so there is no excuse for us now. "As I had only just joined the club, it didn't really sink in until Christmas the effect that the start had on us because I was still settling in during that period. But in looking back, the only thing you could say it was relegation form. "To pull ourselves out of the mire like we did was a great achievement but we should look back at last season as a disappointment. When you look at the players we have got, we should have been kicking on and got into the UEFA Cup. That's our aim now." In the likely absence of David Weir from tomorrow's starting line-up - he is still feeling a tightness in his groin -Neville will lead Everton out. But if they are to start the season with a win, the 29-year-old suggests every player will need a captain's frame of mind. "It's a great honour that I've been named vice captain to Davie," said Neville. "He will always be captain when he is on the pitch. He is captain of the club as well. But this season we need 11 captains, 18 captains. We need everyone to be a captain this year. "We are going to need 11 leaders out there, not just one." Everton have yet to register an opening day victory during Moyes' reign but are hot favourites to end that hoodoo against Watford.
"By no stretch of the imagination will this be an easy game," said Neville. "Watford deservedly came up through the play-offs last year.They play adirect type of football and will want to prove a point. "They will want to show that they can stay in the Premiership and sometimes when you play without fear, you play your best, so it is up to us to produce. It should be a great afternoon."
How fans left lasting impression on Howard
Aug 18 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
TIM HOWARD has not yet broached the subject with David Moyes regarding his last competitive visit to Goodison Park, but he has an inkling how the discussion will go if he ever does. The game in question is etched firmly into Everton folklore, a night when the famous old ground bounced and shuddered to its foundations in delirium as the Blues took a giant step towards clinching a place in the Champions League qualifiers. Mention that particular evening - Wednesday, April 20 - to Howard, however, and it soon becomes apparent that his memories are anything butfond, as he was buffeted from pillar to post as a certain striker waged a one-man war against Manchester United. "Yes, I played in the Duncan Ferguson game," Howard recalled. "I just remember getting kicked all over the park. "That was definitely the gaffer's game plan. I haven't spoken to him about it, but I'm sure it was. They were right up against us." In the days after that 1-0 defeat, the bumps and bruises provided a painful reminder that Goodison can be one of the Premiership's least hospitable venues for opposition teams, especially goalkeepers who stand in front of a baying, howling Gwladys Street. Yet, as the wounds healed, Howard kept thinking about the fanatical support the home side received. As impressive an arena as Old Trafford is, the prawn sandwich brigade - as Roy Keane so eloquently described United fans - do not generally make much of a din. So when Moyes moved in the summer to bring Howard to Merseyside, one of the first things he thought about was receiving the backing of Evertonians and the effect it could have on a campaign. Turn Goodison into a fortress and Europe may possibly beckon. "It works, without a doubt," said Howard. "I would think home form is going to be keytoany success we have. "I also played here in a 4-3 game when it was coming down with snow and sleet, then sunshine. That was some game, too. "This just seems like areal good ground with a good atmosphere if they're right behind you. "There'sonly one wayto do it and that's put in good performances. We know you can't win every week, but if you put in performances, the fans are going to enjoy it." Having opted to take his chance with Everton rather than spend time as Edwin van der Sar's understudy, Howard is looking forward to the opportunity of finally getting some much-needed minutes on the pitch. A single substitute appearance against Portsmouth represented the sum total of Howard's contribution to United's second place finish last season. They may have the Champions League but he suggests there is more to gain at this end of the M62. "Success is relative. It is something you think about all the time," said Howard. "If United don't finish top,it's a disastrous season. You know what I mean? For certain clubs, it's about avoiding relegation. For other clubs, it's about getting into Europe. "Success here, I think, would be Europe. From a team standpoint, we haven't really gone over too many of the goals yet. But I'm sure we will. "If youlook at the squad and see the talent that we have, Iwould say thatwould be arealistic expectation. But we will see how things get on." Everything points to Howard starting tomorrow's opener with Watford ahead of Richard Wright, but the USA international is taking nothing for granted, nor has he received any assurances from Moyes that the number one jersey will be his.
Given the intense levels of competition that have been so evident during pre-season, few members of the squad can confidently say they are guaranteed to face the Premiership's new boys and those levels will need maintaining if Everton are to flourish. Of course, a succession of friendlies offer no gauge as to how a club will do between now and next May, but the fine tuning has been done and Howard - like so many others - anticipates a bold start. "It was a quick decision," he said. "The size of the club, the stadium, the atmosphere. "It is a big club and I didn't take much convincing whatsoever. "Hopefully, we are not putting our best foot forward at the beginning of summer and getting worse. "We've done what we are supposed to do in terms of putting our performances right. "Bilbao was a good test forus. You hear a lot of managers say that you can't really take too much out of pre-season and I think that's kind of right. "At the same time, that result shouldn't have too much of an effect one way or another going into the Watford game."
Johnson talent obvious to goal legend
Aug 18 2006 Liverpool Echo
ANDY JOHNSON'S old youth team coach has forecast a goal-filled future for Everton's record signing. And the man in question should know. Bob Latchford is still revered by generations of Evertonians after a Goodison career which saw him celebrate 138 strikes. Latchford was youth development officer at Birmingham City when Johnson was a teenage talent. And while the Blues legend can't claim any credit for helping nurture the forward who followed him as a club record signing, he spotted his potential immediately. "I remember shortly after I came back to St Andrew's watching an under-15 match and turning to a youth coach and saying 'We've got to offer that lad a contract.' "It was clear he was going to be a player, although by the time I'd moved on from youth development to coaching he had already moved up to the seniors, so I never got the chance to work with him. "That's as much credit as I can claim, but I do remember he was a lovely lad from a good family. "He was always willing to listen and learn. "He can still improve, even now, and I know he is the type of person who will want to improve. "He has moved to a bigger club now than he has ever played at before, a place where the fans are steeped in the history of the club, and he will slowly come to appreciate the size of the place. "But he has bags of pace, which will give Everton an extra dimension, and his finishing is decent, too.
"He is not a clinical finisher in the Robbie Fowler mould, but he is a good finisher and he will definitely score goals. "It's just important for him to break his duck as quickly as possible. "I know from my own experience that when a club has paid a big price tag for you it weighs heavy on your shoulders until you start scoring. "Even though it has only been pre-season games so far, it will still be at the back of Andrew's mind that he hasn't scored yet, and he will want to end that statistic as quickly as possible," says Latchford. "I'm sure he will - and tomorrow against Watford would be a wonderful time to start." Latchford, himself, scored on his third Everton appearance at Leicester City, before following up with a Goodison double against Birmingham.
He went on to become a post-war record-breaking goalscorer, including a celebrated 30-league goal haul in 1977-78 which earned him a £10,000 cash prize from a national newspaper bemoaning the lack of out-and-out goalscorers.
30, the story of Latchford's triumphant 77-78 season, can still be purchased on www.boblatchford.com, with some of the proceeds going to the Everton Former Players' Foundation.
Everton star's Ferrari filmed in city cinema car park
Aug 18 2006 By Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
THIS is the moment robbers dumped Everton star Andy van de Meyde's Ferrari in the car park of a Liverpool cinema. The footage, taken by a witness on his mobile phone video camera, shows the thieves wrecking the £130,000 luxury sports car they had stolen on Saturday. Smoke pours from the exhaust as the they rev the engine and speed around the car park at the rear of the Showcase cinema on the East Lancashire Road. Moments later witnesses say one of the tracksuited pair leapt on the silver convertible's bonnet and kicked the windscreen until it cracked. The car was taken during a burglary at the Dutch player's Wirral home during which a Mini Cooper and his nine-week-old dogue-de-Bordeaux puppy Mac were also stolen. Ex-Inter Milan star van de Meyde was playing in Howard Kendall's testimonial match at Goodison Park when the break-in happened. The ECHO has handed the footage to police.
The witness, 25, from Huyton, who asked not to be named, described how he was testing his remote-controlled car with a pal in the Showcase car park when he saw the stolen Ferrari. He said: "I heard this really loud engine and this convertible Ferrari flew into the car park. "The engine was screaming and smoke was pouring from the exhaust. Thedriving was really erratic and they just kept revving the engine and driving around the car park." Stunned by the episode, the man grabbed his mobile phone and started filming. He said: "This lad was nuts. He seemed high or something because he jumped up on the car and started kicking the windscreen.
"Then his mate got out and seemed to grab a few things from the back of the car before both of them ran off. "When we went over to the car you could tell it was worth a fortune. "They'd wrecked the inside, though, and it seemed such a shame.
"Soon the police arrived and we knew it must have been a serious job. "It was only later when I read in the ECHO about van de Meyde's Ferrari being stolen that I realised that was it. "I feel sorry for the fella and Ihope they catch whoever did it."
But there was good news in the search for the star's nine-week-old puppy, Mac, who was stolen in the break in. The dog was found and returned to the player this morning and a spokesman for Everton said: "Andy is absolutely delighted." Anybody with information about the burglary and the thefts of the cars can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Blues' buys have hallmark of quality
Aug 18 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
BUY in haste, repent at leisure. Everton were once experts in the perilous art of purchasing a player on the eve of a brand new season. A little midfielder called Mike Milligan, recruited from Oldham and asked to become a new Peter Reid, was the shining example. And after that failed experiment, Daniel Amokachi, Iain Durrant and Tony Thomas all bore the hallmark of early-season desperation. Which is why Evertonians should be celebrating this summer's transfer policy. A pacy striker, a goalkeeper with authority and a young centre-half were all glaring requirements needed to address last season's shortcomings. And they were all enlisted before the players' pre-season tans had even started to fade. Andrew Johnson, Tim Howard and Joleon Lescott (below) all feel like part of a considered recruitment policy, rather than last-ditch bids to shove square pegs into round holes. Which is why Everton can look forward to 2006 - 07 with optimism. Of course there will always be if onlys. If David Moyes had a Fairy Godmother (or Blue Bill a rich sugar daddy) he'd ask her to conjure up a central midfielder with stature and snap, preferably young and with the ability to pass precisely. In fact, a photofit of the player he very nearly captured this time last year, now showing those qual -ities across the park. Th e lack of a player like Momo Sissoko means Everton's squad still looks better equipped for the 4-5-1 of two seasons ago, than 4-4-2. But the appalling goals return of 12 months ago means that Blues fans want more than 1-0 wins to celebrate, so 4-5-1 won't be contemplated . . . yet.
The pairing of James Beattie and Andrew Johnson, with Tim Cahill and Leon Osman taking advantage of the attention defenders will give them, should result in more goal-filled afternoons. The fixture list hasn't been kind, with Watford cast as a must-win match already with trips to Blackburn and the White Hart Lane graveyard to follow, then a derby. But wasn't it the same two years ago - with Crystal Palace a second match of the season six-pointer? Everton may not repeat their heroics of 2004-05, but they can improve on last season's shot-shy fare. And that's something to look forward to.
Blues can provide sting in the tail
Aug 18 2006 You Bet! with Adam Oldfield, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON have the job of ensuring Watford are given a baptism of fire as the Premiership season kicks off tomorrow. The Hornets visit Goodison in the hope of sending out a clear message to those questioning their survival abilities. But it may take some time for Adrian Boothroyd's side to find their feet, whereas the Blues are more close-knit than ever. Take David Moyes' men at 4-6 and, to complete a surefire Premiership selection, add wins for Liverpool (v Sheff Utd), Arsenal (v Aston Villa), Chelsea (v Man City), Newcastle (v Wigan) and Man Utd (v Fulham). The six-timer may only be 7-1 with totalbet, but it should allow for a winning start to the season.
Get wise on Reds' chances
PREMIERSHIP observers are again predicting another title-winning campaign for a Chelsea team fortified with world class internationals. Yet an industry-best championship price of 1-2 offers a worse return than their Millennium Stadium ticket sales. The arrival of signature striker Andriy Shevchenko and midfield powerhouse Michael Ballack may have elevated the expectancy levels of Jose Mourinho's squad, but if anyone knows how to undermine the free-spending Londoners, it's the ever-efficient Rafa Benitez. The Reds boss has recruited wisely this summer and with strength in depth now in place, a serious title challenge is in the of fing.
A price of 8-1 (Betfred) adds to the Reds' appeal, while another tempting wager is Liverpool ending the league campaign as the top northern club (11-10 Hills).
Their August fixtures cer tainly allow for a confidence-boosting start.
Following this weekend's opener against Shef field United, the Reds entertain Newcastle and West Ham - all very winnable games which could see them end the month as Premiership leaders (5-1 Paddy Power). However, Arsenal (5-1) may pip them to the accolade - on goal difference alone - thanks to their fixture schedule of Villa at home and trips to Wigan and Man City. Chelsea (9-4) could also be in the mix considering last season's blistering start. They went 12 games before tasting defeat, a figure which is likely to come down to 11 this season, with the trip to White Hart Lane on November 4 looking like the first game in which they will concede three points (11-1 Pinnacle). Tottenham themselves seem to be in reasonable shape and should claim a top six finish (2-5 Paddy Power), along with Newcastle (15-8 totesport). The acquisition of Andrew Johnson will improve Everton's goalscoring prospects and provide them with a top six challenge (11-2 totesport).
At the other end of the table, Premiership newcomers Reading (6-4 total-bet), Watford (1-2 Hills) and Sheffield United (8-13 totalbet) will do well to survive the drop.
If one of them avoids a quick return to the Championship, the remaining relegation place could be taken up by either Fulham (4-1 Coral) or Boro (14-1 Hills).
Beattie tribute to old pal Andy
Aug 21 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
JAMES BEATTIE today celebrated the old pal's act which fired Everton to an opening day victory over Watford - and set the Blues up for the rest of a difficult week. Beattie was thrilled to see his friend and strike partner, Andy Johnson, mark his Everton debut with a goal. Now he is hoping to form a lethal partnership with the England inter-national. "AJ has been a good friend of mine for a number of years and I think it shows a lot of ambition from the club when they sign a player of his calibre. He has shown what he is about," said Beattie. "When the manager signed him, I thought he was signing a tremendous player. He is a great lad, a tremendous footballer and he has got a work ethic and has settled in here really well. "We've had a successful trip to the United States. We've got some tremendous players in the dressing room and we all hope we can do well this season. We won't be telling anyone our aims and I will be doing the same myself. "Everybody in the team has a tremendous work ethic and we want to have success for everyone else. We will keep working hard and we know that we have got a couple of tough games coming up."
The Blues now face two difficult trips to Blackburn Rovers on Wednesday and Tottenham Hotspur next weekend. Both clubs are expected to be among the challengers for a European spot at the end of the year and expectations at Goodison Park are high that Everton will be in a similar position next May. While there were no complaints about the final outcome on Saturday, Everton made things hard for themselves and a scruffy final 10 minutes took some of the gloss off the win, when they benefited from a dubious refereeing decision. Television replays showed that Tim Cahill's cross hit Chris Powell in the face when referee Phillip Walton awarded Everton a penalty but Beattie says such fortunate incidents need to be capitalised upon. "I think it hit Chris Powell on the head," said Beattie. "But it is one of those decisions that we will get against us at some point during the course of the season. They even themselves out."
Johnson is the key insists Moyes
Aug 21 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES celebrated the striking difference Andy Johnson has made to his Everton side, after a goalscoring debut against Watford on the opening day of the season. Last season the Blues toiled to the lowest goals tally in the club's history, scoring just once in their opening eight Premiership fixtures. They doubled that tally in 90 minutes on Saturday, and Moyes said: "It was a different Everton I thought, when Andy was up front, than we were last season. "I think everybody can see something bright, sharp and liable to happen and that's good. "That rubbed off and we needed him today. We needed him to take the ball for a run sometimes and be a threat in behind, which he was. "It was a great start. I thought he looked a threat, whenever he picked it up you thought there was something liable to happen . . . and I think the goal is his! "In my mind it was never in doubt Andy would score and anybody who watched him play today will see he is going to get chances to score. "I said to him, that's you up and running. I told him to save the goals for the Premier League, and he will gain a lot of confidence from that. His play was good too, and he helped us with the way he linked up." Johnson scored after a slick link-up with strike partner James Beattie, and Moyes was pleased with both players' contributions. "For the goal they linked up tremendously well," he added. "It was great twin-striker play. It was a decent partnership between them both and there will be more to come.
"I think the two of them performed well, and it was Andy who got the goal.
"Strikers thrive on confidence and goals, Victor got his pre-season, James sneaked a goal, Andy's got his today and James McFadden has been in great form so I just hope they are all ready to score now. "I thought there were bits of our play which were good, but Watford put you under plenty of pressure and never let you settle.
"I was delighted with a winning start. Sometimes you can never tell how the first game of the season's going to be, especially against the promoted teams, but they gave us exactly the sort of game we expected and exactly what a lot of teams will get against them this season. "We hit the bar and the post and maybe if we'd got the second goal it might have allowed us to settle a little bit better, but it was only late on that we got that. "I've been drumming into them all summer that we want to get off to a good start and we did. You know when you play a new team who have just been promoted it will be tough. "You only have to look at Sheffield United who have drawn and Reading who won. This is what they have been planning all summer for."
The only disappointment for Everton after their first opening day win since 2001 at Charlton - and their first at Goodison for a decade - was an injury which forced off left-back Nuno Valente. "Valente has a bad dead leg and could have come off in the first half, but he wanted to give it a go in the second," said Moyes. "But it's badly swollen and he will be a doubt for midweek."
Johnson quick to establish rapport with Evertonians
Aug 21 2006 Analysis by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
PLAYER-FAN relationships are a curious thing - especially among the awkward buggers who inhabit Goodison Park. Gary Lineker once scored 40 goals in a single season, but never won over the hearts and minds of Evertonians because he'd replaced a legend who managed half that number in 68 appearances. Andy King was an unknown cockney signed for a modest fee from Luton Town, and was instantly adored, while Duncan Ferguson was a centre-forward who took seven games to break his duck, was breath-alysed on the eve of a Merseyside derby - and was still sung about on Saturday. There's no rhyme nor reason to who they take to - or don't. Just ask Geoff Nulty. Duncan McKenzie was once cheered when he scored at Goodison Park, for Chelsea, while poor Paul Rideout was the man whose goal brought a major trophy back to Goodison for the last time, but never had his own song. The good news for Andrew Johnson, however, is that he seemed to have struck up an instant affinity even before his debut goal. There was an air of expectancy around Everton's record signing, and he didn't disappoint. An enthusiasm for hard work obviously helps, but the quality he displayed in chesting down a one-two with Beattie before clipping a rising shot past Foster was probably just as important. The crowd want him to succeed. Even if there were others inside Goodison who seemed intent on hijacking his big day.
The tannoy announcer proudly proclaimed Goodison's first goal of the season as being scored by "...... Lee Carsley!" Then the big screen in the corner of the ground showed Johnson's shot clearly take a sizeable deflection off Lloyd Doyley's chest.
It made little difference to the celebrating hordes inside the ground. As Gary Lineker later pointed out on Match of the Day "If he doesn't have a shot, there's no goal."
Perhaps Lineker was belatedly trying to win back some Blue pals. Johnson had no such worries. His pace and persistence sparked roars of anticipation every time he drifted near the ball. A hopeful clearance from a 12th minute free-kick quickly became a threatening counter-attack because of his speed of thought and movement, he was fouled for the free-kick which Mikel Arteta curled against the crossbar and he was still chasing through-balls in the 93rd minute with Everton holding onto a precarious 2-1 lead. They did, to ensure an opening day success at Goodison for the first time in a decade. The last time that happened, there were pundits who genuinely believed the Blues could go on and win the title. No-one harbours thoughts like that any more, but Johnson's presence has helped instill an air of optimism around the place. Watford dominated possession and won more shots, tackles and corners.
But Everton won the kind of match they were routinely drawing last season because of their greater quality in front of goal. A ludicrous penalty decision also helped - full marks to the Gwladys Street for the assist - but there is a belief now that Everton can win matches they may not necessarily deserve to. And they can - and will, undoubtedly improve on Saturday's display. First day successes, apart from Johnson?
Alan Stubbs was immense in the centre of defence, Lee Carsley equally influential ahead of him - until he dallied on the ball too long near the corner flag and Watford snatched a late consolation - while Simon Davies was also bright and purposeful and desperately unlucky to come off early. Tim Howard also handled confidently, while James McFadden confirmed his manager's pre-season predictions with a bright cameo role in the last 17 minutes. Must do-betters? James Beattie looks short on fitness, while Mikel Arteta is wasted out on the left-flank. But the season is still in an embryonic state and Goodison is relishing a new crowd hero. Duncan Ferguson's retirement has left an emotional vacuum on the terraces, one a modest little striker from the Midlands looks well capable of filling. Another great debut by Blues
PAT on the back for the Goodison Park stadium organisers on Saturday.
With a season-ticket swipe card system making its operational debut, there were pre-match fears of Leyton Orient style chaos on the streets. There wasn't. A near capacity crowd was admitted efficiently, easily -and on-time, with no need for a delayed kick-off. Crowd cock-ups make headlines whenever they arise, so it's only right to point out operational successes, too.
Watford look on bright side
Aug 21 2006 By Paul Walker, Liverpool Echo
VETERAN Chris Powell was "flabbergasted" and manager Adrian Boothroyd insisted the penalty that killed their brave fightback was a "massive mistake," as Watford suffered a cruel end to their first day back in the top flight. Referee Peter Walton will now know from TV replays that Tim Cahill's cross hit defender Powell flush in the face for the penalty decision that gave an increasingly worried Everton a late two-goal cushion. Andy Johnson had put Everton ahead in the first half, and the Toffees had to withstand a vibrant fightback by the buzzing Hornets before Mikel Arteta's spot kick settled the game. Damien Francis's deflected stoppage time effort showed just what might have been. But the experienced Powell insisted on looking for the positives of an impressive Watford debut day display. He said: "I was flabbergasted with the penalty decision. "We had them on the rack in the second half, and we gave a very good account of ourselves." Boss Boothroyd put up a pretty impressive performance himself afterwards of calm reality. Boothroyd said: "It was a massive mistake, no doubt about it, and it just shows that referees and linesman need technical help to avoid errors like that in the future. "But I don't want that incident to ruin what was a very pleasing, positive performance.
Everton 2, Watford 1 (Echo)
Aug 21 2006 By Dominic King
WHILE a stadium announcer with the vision of Mr Magoo failed to spot it, just before 3.15pm on Saturday afternoon, every Evertonian crammed into Goodison Park got visual confirmation of what they had suspected all summer. On an afternoon when three points were more important than the performance, it was inexplicable that a buffoon in the stands could miss one of the most significant moments in recent club history. However, if proof were needed that the £8.6m spent to bring Andrew Johnson to Merseyside was money well spent, it came by the bucket load against Watford, during an energetic, enthusiastic performance that was capped perfectly by a debut goal. Some will quibble that Johnson needed a deflection to break his duck, while acertain individual thought Lee Carsley hit the net, but what's the problem? Now he is off the mark, Johnson will have the confidence to hopefully get plenty more in a Blue shirt. "Obviously the most important thing was getting three points for the team," said Johnson. "But I had been carrying a thing on my shoulders about getting the first goal and I got it, so I'm delighted. "It was a very tough game. Watford are a very hard working team who made it tough for us and missed some chances. But having said that, we hit the crossbar and the post, so if they had gone in, we would have won it comfortably." Quite right. There were some long faces afterwards, a grumbling few disappointed that Watford were not buried under an avalanche of goals. They rightly argued thatEverton's playlackedpizzazz and the newly-promoted side made things difficult. But having won just four times on the opening day of the season in the past 17 years, the fact Everton have three points to their credit already bodes well. What's more, there will be times when they play better and get nothing for their efforts.
Many people may have viewed the fixture as a 'gimme' given that Watford came up through the play-offs and have a squad that lacks star names. But they were rough, tough and wanted to send out a statement, never allowing Everton a moment's piece.
Yet with better fortune, Johnson's goal and Mikel Arteta's fortuitous late penalty would have been added to. Arteta was desperately unlucky to see a free-kick cannon off the crossbar and Tim Cahill deserved better than to head against an upright.
Had either of those opportunities gone in before the break, chances are Everton would have sauntered to victory. No matter. As things stand, a 100 per cent start to proceedings gives everyone reason for optimism. "There is a long season ahead of everyone but this is atime to dareto dream and our focus is very much on bringing success to Goodison Park," said David Moyes. "That's what I want, that's what the players want and that's what [the supporters] want. "Everyone connected with this football club knows all about the great tradition here and we all want to create some history of our own. I have every confidence in the squad here and it is my burning desire to do the very best for Everton." In signing Johnson, Moyes has certainly brought someone to the club out of the top draw. One of the weekend'sstar performers, he will add a significant dimension to the Blues' play in the next 37 games.
Laboured and lethargic at times last year, Everton have missed raw pace up front since Tomasz Radzinski was sold to Fulham, but Johnson will correct that. What's more, he clearly has an eye for goal. The way he linked with James Beattie was encouraging and it was fitting that the best move of the match yielded the game's opening goal and the one Blues have spent all summer dreaming about. Moyes may have been barking at Phil Neville to play a sensible ball inside to Simon Davies,but the skipper opted to go long to Beattie and his cushioned header landed at Johnson's feet. Back and forth the ball went between the front two at speed until Johnson had chance to gallop through on goal. Once in the clear, there was little doubt that the outcome would end in a goal and so it proved, his effort nestling in the Park End net. Unfortunately, the anticipated flurry of goals didn't arrive but there could be fewcomplaints at the final outcome and there is all the more reason to be satisfied with the final outcome when you think back to last season. An opening day defeat against Manchester United was the precursor to an abominable run and Everton didn't manage to record a victory at home until Middlesbrough visited on November 6. So while Saturday's display emphasises the fact that there is still room for improvement, there certainly shouldn't be any doom and gloom. Aside from Johnson, a few others caught the eye.
Arteta was again exquisite, his deliveries from the flank causing trouble and his execution of a dead ball often leading to havoc in the danger area. Johnson and Beattie will thrive on such service. The ever dependable Lee Carsley coveredacres to protect the defence, while Simon Davies was neat and tidy. With a bit more confidence and a run in the team, he will make an impact this year. At the back, Alan Stubbs ensured a rare Joseph Yobo off-day did not prove to be costly, launching himself into tackles, jumping for headers and barking orders at anyone within his vicinity. He more than vindicated Moyes' decision to start him. If Everton are to maintain the winning habit, his lion-hearted display will need to be mimicked at Ewood Park and White Hart Lane in the next seven days. It is a tough start to the season, but not impossible. For the time being, it is onwards and upwards.
EVERTON (4-1-3-2): Howard; Neville, Stubbs, Yobo, Valente (Lescott 49); Carsley; Davies (McFadden 74), Cahill, Arteta; Johnson, Beattie (Anichebe 74). Subs: Wright, Kilbane.
BOOKINGS: Stubbs and Beattie (both unsporting behaviour).
WATFORD (4-4-2): Foster; Doyley, Shittu, Mariappa (DeMerit 46), Powell; Chambers (Bouazza 46), Francis, Mahon, Young; Henderson (Priskin 79), King. Subs: Spring, Lee.
BOOKINGS: Shittu and Francis (both fouls).
REFEREE: Peter Walton (Northamptonshire).
Moyes to ring the changes
Aug 22 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES admits he is prepared to change a winning team at Blackburn tomorrow - to give his impressive pre-season performers a chance to shine.
James McFadden, Joleon Lescott and Kevin Kilbane were all left on the substitutes' bench for Saturday's opening day triumph over Watford. But they will come into contention for the short but testing trip to Lancashire tomorrow. "Tomorrow's selection is not cast in stone at all," said the Blues' boss. "We have three tough games this week and I will be looking to use as much of the squad as is necessary.
"James McFadden has been excellent pre-season, Joleon Lescott's chomping at the bit and we are still searching for the right balance in midfield. I have 15 or 16 players who are right to play at the moment and I'll be looking to use them all." Moyes pinpointed McFadden as the player who was most unfortunate to miss out on a starting place on the opening day. "Faddy has done very well pre-season," he reiterated. "He has probably come the closest to starting at the weekend, but in the end I decided to go with James Beattie and Andy Johnson. But that won't always be the case. "I don't think we got a proper grip of the game in midfield either, and we have options there as well." Moyes will check on the fitness of left back Nuno Valente, suffering a dead leg as a result of a reckless challenge by Damien Francis on Saturday.
Blackburn are waiting on the outcome of an appeal against Andy Todd's red card at Portsmouth on the opening day. Lucas Neill is suspended as a result of his sending off, but Rovers hope that skipper Todd's dismissal will be overturned by an appeals committee today, allowing him to face the Blues. Steed Malbranque, meanwhile, will not be the subject of a pre-deadline swoop by Everton. "I've seen the stories," said Moyes, "but there's no truth in them."
Blues ready for rocky roadtrips
Aug 22 2006 By David Unsworth, Liverpool Echo
AFTER a flying start on Saturday, Everton now have two very tough trips to negotiate. But I honestly believe they can go to Blackburn and win tomorrow, then end that White Hart Lane hoodoo which has lasted far too long. Ewood Park is always a tough place to visit, but I know from personal experience that the Blues will take a huge following there so the home advantage will be cancelled out somewhat.
The Gwladys Street proved on Saturday the value of a vocal support contesting every decision, and the Blues' travelling army can help them in Lancashire tomorrow.
If Everton can win, they will be buoyant for the trip to Spurs, where Everton haven't won for more than 20 years. I think sometimes players do think 'oh, oh, here we go again' about trips to particular venues, although personally I always enjoyed my visits to White Hart Lane. I scored an equaliser there on my debut, captained the Blues there for the first time in what was undoubtedly one of the proudest moments of my career, and managed to score a couple of penalties there. But sadly I could never help us to a win. I'll be delighted if that changes this weekend. I have to say that the manager has bought well this summer. His transfer policy hasn't always been so praiseworthy - notably when he released me to Portsmouth! - but this summer he's bought well.
Andy Johnson already looks an influential signing, while Tim Howard and Joleon Lescott are also important additions. I also think there's a player there who rarely merits a mention who can also enjoy an outstanding season. I saw the Blues a couple of times pre-season. I went across for the game at Preston and watched them on television against Celtic, and each time Leon Osman was excellent. Ossy is an excellent player - sharp, skilful and with a good eye for a goal - and I was disappointed to see than a niggling injury kept him out on the opening day against Watford. But he'll be back soon enough and I can see him enjoying a big season.
Video technology the way forward
Aug 22 2006 By David Unsworth, Liverpool Echo
ROB STYLES, sadly, got it totally wrong at Bramall Lane on Saturday. So too, more happily, did Peter Walton at Goodison. But I think both penalty incidents affecting Everton and Liverpool simply underline what I've believed for a long time now, that referees must be helped by video technology. I heard Watford boss Aidey Boothroyd call for refs to be supported by a video official in the stand after Saturday's opener, and I completely agree with him. Critics of new technology say it would slow the game down. I disagree. How long does it take a referee to calm down dissenting players after a controversial incident, book one or two of them and finally get a penalty taken? No longer than it would take to replay the incident a couple of times in the stands, I'm sure. The video officials might even have the answer before the players have finished arguing! I think the brief delay might even bring more excitement, and a sense of anticipation to matches. I'm not suggesting the cameras should be used for every contentious decision - but certainly for penalty shouts and goal-line appeals.
Rob Styles made a mistake on Saturday and it cost Sheffield United. At Goodison, Stubbsy was lucky not to concede a penalty for a cross which struck his arm - it was accidental but I've seen them given - then the award against Chris Powell was nothing short of a joke. Such decisions are simply too important now to be open to human error.
Moyes fires out striker warning
Aug 23 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON manager David Moyes has warned his in-form strike force to carry on scoring - or face the axe. The Blues boss has been delighted by the pre-season form of James McFadden, and pleasantly surprised that Victor Anichebe has carried on where he left off on the final day of last season against West Brom, when he scored his first Premiership goal. Andy Johnson scored on his debut last Saturday, from a pass by strike partner James Beattie, and both are likely to continue at Blackburn tonight.
But Moyes has warned that he won't be afraid to make changes if they fail to maintain that form. "Andy is proven in the Premier League and we are sure he will do for us what he has done every other time he has been in this league," said Moyes.
"But from my point of view I don't really care who scores as long as we get the goals. We have got good competition with James McFadden and Victor Anichebe also in good form. "I think all the strikers look good and we may rotate them. We want competition and if you are not playing well you cannot guarantee getting another game at the moment. "We need it to be tough. The players know I will be fair with them but they are going to have to play well. Moyes' chief concern ahead of the trip to Ewood Park is the state of his defence, with Portuguese left back Nuno Valente facing a late fitness test after being substituted with a dead leg on Saturday. Valente's absence could see a recall for Gary Naysmith. Borussia Dortmund striker Delron Buckley, meanwhile, who was on trial at Everton during the summer, has signed for FC Basel on a season-long loan. The 28-year-old South African, whose contract with Dortmund runs until 2009, has played 60 games for his country. He played 28 times for Dortmund last season, but failed to score and had just one assist.
City offers 2 sites to Blues
Aug 23 2006 EXCLUSIVE by Nick Coligan, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON FC have been offered two sites in Liverpool for their new stadium. Council leaders have suggested locations in the north and south of the city.
One is close to the Mersey retail park in Speke, while the other is a brownfield site north of Goodison Park - but its exact position is a closely-guarded secret because it is commercially sensitive. But the ECHO understands that an alternative proposal to move Everton to Kirkby is still the firm front-runner. Club officials have also not discounted the possibility of sharing a stadium with neighbours Liverpool FC if the Reds' plan to build a new ground on Stanley Park falls through. A spokesman for Everton said the club was keeping all its options open and had still not decided if it would definitely leave its historic home at Goodison. Council leader Warren Bradley, an Everton season-ticket holder, is desperately keen to keep the Toffees inside the city boundaries. He said: "We have discussed two sites, whichwe have done some early analysis on and put forward to Everton's chief executive Keith Wyness. "He has agreed to look at those suggestions, but the club is still talking with Knowsley council and has not made adecision one wayorthe other yet." If Everton leaves Liverpool, the city would lose the prestige of being home to two top-flight football clubs and the massive financial benefits that tens of thousands of fans bring each matchday.
But Liverpool council will have to go some way to equal the very attractive package put together by Knowsley.
Moyes looking to ease Cahil's attacking duties for greater good
Aug 23 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES is looking for a new, improved Tim Cahill this season.
The arrival of record signing Andy Johnson, to play alongside James Beattie up front, will see a shift of emphasis in Everton's attacking play. And the man whowill have to adapt his game the most is the Australian World Cup hero. The £2m signing from Millwall scored an excellent 12 goals from midfield in his debut Premiership campaign two years ago. He suffered like the rest of the team in front of goal last season, but still produced another eight in all competitions to highlight his quality in the 18-yard area. But with two proven penalty box predators now onboard, Moyes is looking for a more rounded midfield contribution from his 2004 Player of the Season.
And Cahill may have to sacrifice a few goals for the general good of the team.
The little midfielder still showed his goal threat in Saturday's opening game of the season against Watford, desperately unlucky to see a typical header crash off the inside of the post and back out. But Moyes said: "It does curtail Tim'sattacking role a little. It means he doesn't quite have the opportunities to get for-ward as much as he would normally do in a different type of system. "A lot of our success came two years ago when Tim Cahill had the chance to get forward in a freer role. But if you have two up front then it's not as easy to do that. "He has got to become a different type of midfielder now and we might need to alter the way we play now and again to fit round that. "His quality is going forward, but if he is going to become one of the central midfield players, then he needs to do other things as well.
"He will become a more mature player with age, but what we don't want is him to lose his big attribute whichis getting into the box and scoring goals."
Moyes highlighted the example of former Liverpool and Ipswich star John Wark, a midfielder who scored a remarkable 27 goals in his first full season at Anfield -18 of them in 40 league appearances.
"The one I remember is John Wark of Ipswich and Liverpool," he added. "He was one who didn't getinvolved in alot of things in the game, but tended to score a lot of the goals. "There are similarities in them both, but we want to keep Tim's improvement as a player continuing all the time, in all the things he does. "We have a versatility to our midfield players who can all do several jobs, but in the same breath we've just got to make sure that it doesn't get too complicated and they all know exactly what they've got to do." Moyes will add a goalscoring midfielder to his squad for to-night's trip to Ewood Park, with Leon Osman fit to return after recovering from a groin strain.
And the Blues' boss reiterated that there could be changes, even if Nuno Valente shakes off the dead leg which forced him off on Saturday. "In my mind I've got 15 or 16 players who could have started on Saturday, and I might decide to use them all because wehave three games in a week," he explained. "I'll have a look and make that decision tomorrow. "We're expecting a real hard game from Blackburn. They were a really good side last season, and after Watford we have three of the teams who finished in the top six last season, so it's a tough opening for us. "Blackburn will get respect from us." So, too, will former Goodison striker Francis Jeffers, now at Blackburn. "Franny Jeffers is a good player, but it just didn't work out while he was here," Moyes added. "I have no problems with Franny at all. I wish him well. I spoke to him when he went up to Rangers, but I just hope he doesn't do anything against us!"
Hughes still fond of Blues
Aug 23 2006 Liverpool Echo
MARK HUGHES may have spent only eight months as a player at Everton six years ago but the Blackburn manager retains a soft spot for the club. The two teams go head to head tonight at Ewood Park and it will be a special match for the former Manchester United striker. He said: "Everton are a fantastic club, there are great people in and around the place and it is real hotbed of football." Hughes has paid tribute to managerial counterpart David Moyes, who got his side off to a winning start against Watford. "He is very much an accomplished Premiership manager now," said the Blackburn boss. "He has had great success there already. "Knowing how he works and goes about his job, I am sure David will have continued success." Andy Johnson marked his debut for Everton following his £8.6million move from Crystal Palace by opening the scoring at the weekend. Hughes said: "They got an early return on their investment. "The partnership between Johnson and James Beattie already looks a good combination." Blackburn defender Zurab Khizanishvili could return to the side after the defeat by Portsmouth on the opening day following a groin strain.
Blues' room for improvement
Aug 23 2006 Letters, Icliverpool & Liverpool Echo
THE win against Watford was a good start and there was some good individual play from the Blues. There is room for improvement and better fitness though, but I look forward to the next two games. These are the teams we will be up against for a possible top six finish so we must dominate and win these games. Andy Johnson is a breath of fresh air and I hope this is passed on to the rest of the team. Rob Givens, Kirkby ALTHOUGH I'm very pleased with the result and glad we got off to a winning start I'm still baffled by some of David Moyes' selections. Why spend £5million on a young promising defender and then play a player whose best years are behind him?
And why play our best player by some distance on the left wing when he should be in the middle conducting the play? Jay Davis, Maghull GOODISON was virtually silent for the game on Saturday and it came as a big shock and disappointment.
I felt embarassed sitting by the Watford fans who never shut up all game while we couldn't even muster a faint hint of a chant or song. Adam Atkinson, Speke
THE second goal against Watford was a gift. It wasn't a handball but who cares? These things even themselves out over a season. Brett Evans, Crosby
PEOPLE have been slagging off Beattie, but if he had not been playing, Johnson wouldn't have scored on Saturday. He scored 11 goals last season, while playing up front by himself. He does more running than Ferguson ever did. Ian Dawes, Liverpool
AT last, an opening day win, but if Everton defend the way they did for the last 10 minutes against Watford, we will struggle to keep clean sheets. Linda Anderson Liverpool
Moyes' praise for super sub
Aug 24 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES today paid tribute to his second half super sub who didn't grab the headlines at Ewood Park last night. Tim Cahill and James McFadden came off the bench at Ewood Park last night - and after Cahill scored the 84th minute equaliser, Moyes saluted the man who made it, McFadden. "James McFadden made a big impact and it's important that you have people coming off the bench who can do that," he explained. "I have spoken to James and told him his form pre-season has been excellent and he can count himself really unlucky not to have started. "That's why every time people have mentioned the partnership of Beattie and Johnson, I've brought up James McFadden, because his form has been good. "He was a young player when he came here and he's improving all the time. I hope that will continue.
"We have 15 or 16 players who can play at the moment. Every other club moves players around and it's also right for us. Tim came on and showed what he's all about."
Cahill's equaliser gave Everton a hard earned point, but Moyes was baffled by referee Uriah Rennie's refusal to award a penalty kick to his team just minutes before that goal. "I have had a chance to see the Johnson incident again," he said, "and while I came out on Saturday and said we didn't deserve to get a penalty against Watford, I would expect people to come out tonight and say we did deserve to get the penalty.
"I've not seen the Joseph Yobo one again yet, but it was a penalty kick on Andy Johnson, definitely. I couldn't believe it wasn't given. "He's been pushed back and the boy Todd never ever looks at the ball, he's only intending to foul Andy, which means Andy has to run wider to get round him, which he does, before he humps him over.
"The first movement could have been an obstruction, but the second was definitely a penalty. "But we got one on Saturday, and didn't get one tonight. "I thought the linesman had to see it because he was that side. Sometimes referees are looking through players and at their backs and can't see it. But that wasn't the only incident."
After apoor start, Moyesbelieved the Blues improved as the match wore on.
"It was a good finish, and it could have been better in the end," he added. "I thought we played really well in the second half. In fact I don't think we deserved to be a goal down when we were. "We moved the ball well, made openings, and looked a bit more like I have seen us play in pre-season. Hopefully we are getting back now to what we were seeing earlier."
Blackburn 1, Everton 1 (Echo)
Aug 24 2006 By David Prentice
IT'S an accepted football philosophy that penalty controversies even themselves out over the course of a season. It's pushing it a little to expect them to do so in the course of four days. But Everton, fortunate beneficiaries of an outrageous penalty decision on Saturday, were the victims last night in Lancashire. Twice Uriah Rennie turned down cast-iron claims which might have turned a hard earned draw into a probably undeserved away win. Each time he contemptuously dismissed appeals.
Joseph Yobo was undeniably shoved by Steven Reid four minutes before Everton equalised. His collapse was overly theatrical, though - a little like Wayne Sleep running off the pavement to hail a passing cab, if you like - and Rennie ignored the appeal. But just two minutes later Andy Johnson was wrestled to the turf by Andy Todd, a man playing only because the FA overturned a red card for a penalty he conceded on Saturday, and this time the non-decision was inexplicable. Then again, so was Rennie's decision to deny Tim Cahill a first Premiership hat-trick last season when Aston Villa visited Goodison. Rennie is nothing if not consistently baffling.
Thefear, perhaps,is thatEverton have replaced one player whose reputation always went before him, with another. Duncan Ferguson was often earmarked by officials even before he stepped out onto the pitch. Johnson's last season in the Premiership was accompanied by accusations he went to ground too easily in the penalty box.
But even the most ardent Black-burn fan could hardlydeny there was contact made in last night's incident. If you could find one, that is. Some clubs set eight o'clock kick-off times to allow their supporters to get from work to the ground at night matches. With Blackburn, you suspect it's to scour the streets to apprehend stragglers on their way home from the shops to drag them in to Ewood Park kicking and screaming.
Just 22,015 watched the opening home match of the season, with comfortably a quarter of that figure from Merseyside. The away end contained more blue and white clad fans than the home section, butthey had little to cheer in a disappointing opening 45 minutes. Moyes was true to his word about making changes - Nuno Valente's replacement by Gary Naysmith was enforced, but Simon Davies and Tim Cahill were asked to make way for Leon Osman and Kevin Kilbane. As a result, Everton's midfield looked better balanced - on paper, anyway. But on the grass of Ewood Park it was only when James Beattie was replaced by James McFadden that Everton started to play the ball through the midfield area. Ironically, Beattie had looked much morepurposeful and positive than he had on Saturday, but the temptation, especially from the full-back positions, to seek out his head rather than a midfield option proved too tempting and too often Everton opted for route one. Tim Howard had to block with his legs when Jason Roberts got behind Everton's defence and tried to beat the keeper at his near post, while Yobo produced an heroic tackle to prevent Roberts from tapping in after Howard had come flying off his line, and watched in horror as Benni McCarthy touched the ball past him. Five minutes into the second half, McCarthy took his revenge. Yobo's clearance was mis-hit and picked up by the South African on the edge of the penalty area. The striker held off Carsley too comfortably and guided ashot around Howard into the far corner. Was it mere coincidence that Alan Stubbs had limped off just three minutes earlier? Probably not. Joleon Lescott looked steady enough - one fortunate slice into Howard's midriff apart - but in the first half Stubbs was the glue which held the Blues defence together. Moyes watched 13 minutes of huff and puff, before he decided to introduced McFadden and Cahill. Cahill's non-selection had been an interesting decision. Moyes was absolutely right when he declared that the little Australian needs to become a morerounded mid-field playerifhe is to effectively operate in a 4-4-2 system. Cahill's tackling can be ill-disciplined and his passing ineffective, but there is no doubt that he is one of the best midfielders in the Premiership at arriving undetected in the opposition penalty area to finish off a move. So it proved seven minutes from time - after Johnson had shot straight at Friedel when sent clean through by McFadden's pass, and Rennie had ignored the two penalty claims. McFadden had done the donkey work, chasing a long ball down the middle, touching it past Friedel and being denied a goal himself only by the goalkeeper hauling him back by the shirt to flap the ball against a goal-post.
Cahill's clinical finish spared Rennie the embarrassment of having to make another penalty call. McFadden might even have made more of a name for himself in injury time when a dazzling runwas crudely curtailed on the edge of the penalty area.
With the away fans anticipating a Mikel Arteta effort,McFadden himself took the kick, but without the finesse Blues fans have come to expect from the Spaniard.
Such was Mark Hughes' frustration with the way his team had tailed off he turned to the tried and trusted formula of the old boy always scoring against his former club.
Francis Jeffers' introduction, however,merely gave the largetravelling army an opportunity to exercise their lungs with colourful insults. The Blackburn fans' response was the, yawn, "Same old Scousers, always thieving" theme.
But this point was hardly robbery and has given Everton a solid start to the new season, which is just as well. Have you seen where they go next? The Blues have not won at White Hart Lane since going there as champions ... in 1985!
At least they will go there with confidence high.
BLACKBURN ROVERS: Friedel, Emerton, Todd, Khizanishvili, Gray, Reid, Savage, Bentley (Gallagher 73), Pedersen, Roberts (Jeffers 80), McCarthy. Not used: Brown, Kuqi, Mokoena.
EVERTON: Howard, Neville, Stubbs (Lescott 47), Yobo, Naysmith, Osman, Arteta, Carsley, Kilbane (McFadden 63), Beattie (Cahill 63), Johnson. Not used: Wright, Davies.
REFEREE: Uriah Rennie.
BOOKINGS: Osman (15 mins), Arteta (27), Pedersen (38) all fouls, Todd (41) obstruction, Bentley (45), Beattie (61), Khizanishvili (76) all fouls.
Blues boss calls on his leaders
Aug 25 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES is calling on the characters in his Everton squad to stand up and be counted at White Hart Lane. The Blues have made a solid start to the new season with a win over newly promoted Watford and a battling draw at Blackburn. But they now face Spurs in their biggest test to date, a trip to a stadium which hasn't hosted an Everton win for 20 years. Moyes, however, believes he has sufficient strength in his side to overturn that sad statistic. "I am hoping to see leadership from them all," he said. "The leaders have to show it in games. "I think Phil Neville has a natural ability to do it, which is why he has been given the armband, but so has Alan Stubbs, who has been skipper here before, and players like Tim Cahill has been here long enough now and Joseph Yobo who has experience with Nigeria. "All those players should take responsibility and make the right decisions and encourage each other.
"I think everybody is looking for the new, modern day leaders. I think they're slightly different from days gone past, but I think all those players are good pros and good individuals and they know exactly what I want so hopefully they can transfer that onto the pitch." Moyes has a major worry over Stubbs, who limped off at Blackburn in midweek with a tight hamstring. But he still has strength enough in depth to contemplate changes - one of which may be a return, on his old stamping ground, for Simon Davies. "I think Simon has had a great pre-season. It's probably as good a pre-season as he has had," said Moyes "but against Watford I thought it was difficult for any of the midfield players to get a good foothold in the game because of the way things were. But he has a lot of competition and he will have to work hard to keep in there."
Osman ready for lift off
Aug 25 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EWOOD PARK hasn't always been a happy hunting ground for Leon Osman.
In the spring of 1998, when neon Leon's foot-ball career was on the brink of taking off, Everton's inventive little midfielder scored a stunning goal in the first leg of the FA Youth Cup Final there, then sustained a serious knee injury which ruled him out of action for more than six months. While team-mates Danny Cadamarteri, Francis Jeffers and Phil Jevons all went on to break into the Blues' first team, Osman's progress was severely hindered. It took him another five years to finallyforce his way back into the Premiership spotlight. On Wednesday night at Ewood Park, however, under the interested gaze of England coachSteve McClaren, he kickedoff his fourth full campaign as a first team footballer. By common consensus he was the best player on the pitch. Showing the tight ball control, perceptive passing and clever shimmies he has always possessed, Osman also showed the steelier edge he will need if he is to overcome the slight frame nature has given him. David Bentley certainly felt the full force of his commitment, from a challenge which could easily have resulted in more than just the yellow card it received. But to sparkle against a side renowned for its physical approach suggested Osman could now be ready for an even more elevated grade of football. Not that the modest midfielder has even contemplated a call-up to an England squad.With David Moyes living up to his pre-match vow to change a winning team, he is desperate to simply hold down a place in the Blues' first choice XI. "We certainly think there is a healthy edge in terms of competition in the squad," said Osman. "We actually won on Saturday, but changed the team for Blackburn which shows the level of competition and how the manager has got trust in all of us. We are all chomping at the bit to be playing. "We have got a squad full of players all playing really well at the minute and it doesn't matter who is on the pitch, you will get a good performance out of them. "At Blackburn Faddy and Tim came on, Faddyset the goal up and Tim put it in the net. It was a tough game but we kept going right to the end and dug out the result. Now we have to keep that going at Tottenham."
White Hart Lane was the scene of Osman's first taste of Premiership football, although it is difficult to recall whether he actually touched the ball or not after coming on as an 89th minute substitute for Li Tie in 2003. He will be hoping to be significantly moreinvolved tomorrow, when manager David Moyes will be looking for his side to show character as well as class. White Hart Lane has replaced Elland Road as Everton's long-term bogey ground, a Gary Lineker header giving them their last victory there morethan 20 years ago. And it isn't just captain Phil Neville from whom Moyeswill be seeking leader-ship qualities this weekend. "I am hoping to see leadership from them all," he said. "The leaders have to show it in games.
"I think Phil has a natural ability to do it, which is why he has been given the armband, but so has Alan Stubbs who has been skipper here before, and players like Tim Cahill has been here long enough now and JosephYobo, whohas experience with Nigeria. "All those players should take responsibility and make the right decisions and encourage each other. "I think everybody in football is looking for the new, modern day leaders. I think they're slightly different from days gone past, butIthink all those players aregood pros and good individuals and they know exactly what I want so hopefully they can transfer that onto the pitch. "I think Phil's make-up is of that trend, someone who is committed and tries to makethe right decisions as often as he can and do the right thing. "He certainly has leadership qualities about him and he is one of the obvious choices to be skipper here when necessary."
Cahill could be key to Everton's success
Aug 25 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
ACTIONS speak louder than words. So while Tim Cahill declined to discuss the kick to his pants David Moyes' teamsheet had given him at Ewood Park on Wednesday, his reaction was commendable. Head down. No histrionics. And a burning desire to prove his manager wrong when he was belatedly given the chance to shine with the match 63 minutes old. Whether his clinically finished 84th minute equaliser did that or not is open to debate. Moyes was absolutely right when he asked for a broader spread of the midfield arts from Cahill this season. The little Australian's tackling can be ill-disciplined - 10 yellow cards last season, 12 the season before - his passing imprecise and unimaginative. But what he does best, and it is a considerable quality to possess, is the ability to arrive undetected in opposition penalty boxes and supply impeccable finishes. It is a role tailor made for a 4-5-1 system (ironically a formation the Blues might choose to employ at White Hart Lane tomorrow). But in the modern game, teams need a little more from their central midfielders when using a traditional 4-4-2 for mation. The days when players like John Wark and Andy King could neglect some midfield duties in pursuit of goals are long gone. The positive is that Cahill seems perfectly prepared to buckle down and try to add to his repertoire of skills.
Whether he succeeds could decide the direction in which Everton go this season.
Because while the defence looks settled, with Tim Howard's handling so far immaculate, and the forward line an obvious choice for now, midfield places are wide open. David Moyes craves a commanding, snappy central midfielder who can dominate that area of the pitch and dictate a game - someone like Momo Sissoko or Sean Davis, the men who got away, or Dietmar Hamann, a player he couldn't afford to chase. But in the absence of such a figure, he will shuffle his resources in an attempt to overcome that loss. If Tim Cahill could develop into just such a player, his value to the Blues would be inestimable.
* TWO games gone, two starts for James Beattie . . . no goals. But can anyone answer exactly how many crosses into the penalty area the Blues number nine has been asked to attack? Exactly.
Duo push England claims
STEVE McCLAREN was an interested spectator at Ewood Park on Wednesday.
And while Andy Johnson, James Beattie and Phil Neville were undoubtedly the players he had originally gone to analyse, Leon Osman's inventive and energetic performance did not go unnoticed. McClaren has also been an early season visitor to Anfield when Jermaine Pennant produced his first goal creating cross of the new campaign against Maccabi Haifa. Pennant has already built on that success, invaluably in Kiev. The decision to dispense with the services of old rusty balls has created an opening in the England squad for a young, bright newcomer down the right flank.
Aaron Lennon is the obvious choice . . . unless a couple of Mersey based youngsters can convince McClaren otherwise.
Like father, unlike son
THE only question more inexplicable than why Uriah Rennie didn't point to the spot at Ewood Park on Wednesday night, was how a centre-half as classy as Colin Todd could be responsible for siring a defender like son Andy. It is always difficult for sons to follow in the footsteps of famous footballing dads. just ask Paul Dalglish.
But in the case of snarling Todd junior, the resemblance is purely physical.
Fans are split on Blues move
Aug 25 2006 By Nick Coligan, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON fans have given a mixed reaction to their club's ongoing search for a possible new home. As the ECHO exclusively revealed on Wednesday, the Blues have been offered two locations in Liverpool where they could build a modern, multi-million pound stadium. The council's suggestions join two other proposals - to move Everton outside the city boundaries to Kirkbytown centre or green belt land at Melling, near Switch Island. But fans contacting our Talkback line were unsure if the club should even leave its historic Goodison Park home in the first place.
Theresa Fitzsimmons, of Lance Lane, Wavertree, said: "I think we should stay at Goodison and re-do the ground, not move outside the city boundaries." Dale Hayes, of Beechwood Gardens, Aigburth, said: "I have been an Everton fan all my life and I think it is disgusting to even consider leaving Liverpool. "We were the first team in the city and should stay thereforever. The stick we would get off Liverpool fans would be unbelievable." But William Barclay, of Churchill Road, Woolton, said: "In my opinion, an Everton move stems from when it was decided that Liverpool could build on Stanley Park. "I do not believe we should stay in Liverpool. I really think Everton should move to Bowring golf course, which was half taken by the M62. That would be the best position for services and road and rail links in and out of Liver pool.
"It would be more sensible for anyone coming along the M57 and M62 or by railway.
"The second-best position would be the old Huntley and Palmer site at the end of the M62, whichiswell coveredby rail and road. "Everton should leave Stanley Park to Liverpool." Liverpool council has offered the Blues a site near Speke's Mersey retail park and another north of Goodison Park. But the ECHO understands the Kirkby proposal - which would see Everton form part of a massive stadium and shopping development with Tesco - is still the front-runner. The club says it has three options: staying at Goodison, sharing Stanley Park with Liverpool or moving to a stand-alone stadium.
Don't judge Blues on tricky opener
Aug 25 2006 By Howard Kendall, Liverpool Echo
WHILE Everton fans were delighted with Saturday's opening day win over Watford, they were not universally happy with the performance. But I think it will be easy to criticise a lot of teams' performances against Watford this season. They are very much in the mould of the old Wimbledon team, and I can only recall one occasion when we were able to look good against the Dons. I think we won 5-0, but even that was a battle. More often that not, though, it would be impossible to get the ball down and play the kind of football the fans wanted to see against them. I think Watford will be similar this term. They will certainly be a threat at home, as they showed in midweek against West Ham, so I think it would be wrong to judge the Blues on a performance against them. It will be more of a litmus test to see how Everton perform at White Hart Lane tomorrow. I don't subscribe to the old bogey ground theory, I think Everton's record there has been so poor over the last 20 years simply because Spurs' results have traditionally tended to be good at home. It is away from London that Spurs have struggled. I regard Tottenham as being very similar to Everton, in that their fans always want success to come through a certain style of play. It's not just acase of winning football matches, it has to be done with a certain style.
Everton supporters are very similar. Already this season Spurs have shown their quality in front of their home supporters, but struggled when they went on their travels. It will be a tough test for the Blues tomorrow, but it will be more of a football match than a battle.
Refs not up to scratch
REFEREES have made a poor start to the season. We have only had two rounds of matches, and already they have got major decisions wrong on numerous occasions.
Not least at Goodison Park last weekend. But it wasn't just the two penalty decisions Peter Walton got wrong - the unfortunate Chris Powell and the fortunate Alan Stubbs - his overall performance was not up to standard. It was the same in midweek at Ewood Park, where Uriah Rennie got a penalty decision wrong. Referees are human - so we are led to believe, anyway - and it's understandable if sometimes they are influenced by a player's reputation. Last time he was in the Premiership Andy Johnson was renowned for winning penalties, so I hope that didn't go through Rennie's mind on this occasion. There is plenty of room for improvement.
Spurs duo in race to prove their fitness
Aug 25 2006 Liverpool Echo
TOTTENHAM head coach Martin Jol is sweating on the fitness of midfielder Jermaine Jenas and striker Dimitar Berbatov ahead of their clash with Everton at White Hart Lane. Jenas was unable to train on Thursday after suffering a knock on his toe while Berbatov is nursing an ankle injury. Both players were on the score-sheet in their 2-0 win over Sheffield United on Tuesday night. Jol said: "Berbatov got a knock on his ankle but hopefully he will be okay. JJ did not train on Thursday because he had a problem with his toe. We will have to wait and see but hopefully he will be available." Missing out would be a big blow for Jenas after he starred in the win over the Blades. It was the perfect tonic for Spurs after their opening defeat at Bolton and Jenas declared: "Saturday was tough for us at Bolton so it was good to get back to winning ways. "We knew Sheffield United would make it difficult for us so we had to get into it quickly and make it hard for them. Not only did we do that, we were brave, got on the ball and created chances. "The lads are delighted, we've got the three points on the board and can prepare for the next game now." Meanwhile, Robbie Keane, outstanding during their midweek win, believes Berbatov's goal will give the Bulgaria striker all the confidence he needs. Berbatov, a £10.8m signing from Bayer Leverkusen, took just seven minutes to score on his home debut. "It is important as a striker to get off the mark and full credit to him - hopefully now he can continue it," Keane said. Spurs captain Ledley King, who had surgery on a cartilage problem, is back in training but is unlikely to return to action for at least another we
Charity's tribute to Brian Labone
Aug 25 2006 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON legend Brian Labone's name will live on in a special trophy to be presented to a Health Through Sport youngster every year. Labone had agreed to become patron of the charity, before his untimely death earlier this year.
His great friend and former team-mate Joe Royle will now accept that honour, but an award will be presented every year in Labone's name. "When I needed a patron I could think of no-one better than my own hero, Brian Labone," explained Ronnie Goodlass.
"He was a role model for me and someone the youngsters could look up to, because in this day and age so many choose the wrong role models. "I spoke to Labby about the work we were doing and he agreed without hesitation to become patron. He was a big supporter of what we were trying to do and offered us lots of encouragement.
"Joe Royle has now kindly accepted that responsibility, but I am delighted that Pat and Rachelle Labone have given their support to naming an award after Labby, to present to one of our youngsters each year."
Local youngsters take on the world
Aug 25 2006 Liverpool Echo
FORMER Everton wing wizard Ronnie Goodlass is aiming to build a squad of young footballers to take on the world. But he won't worry if they don't win a single match!
The former Goodison player and coach has helped set up the Health Through Sport charity to give vulnerable and disadvantaged children on Merseyside the chance to improve their lives through playing football. And his aim is to take two age groups to Holland next year to play against his own former clubs NAC Breda and Den Haag, and Sami Hyypia's old club Willem II. "We coach kids from all over Merseyside," said Goodlass. "We have up to 500 kids involved every week and the idea is to keep them consistently busy; not just turn up for a one week every year and then them not see us again until the following year. "We don't want the best footballers and the best kids from every area. We just want to give kids the chance to get off the streets, do something healthy and try and teach them good habits." Goodlass has already taken teams to play at Leeds United, Wigan, Preston North End, Hearts in Scotland, Swindon Town and Leipzig in Germany. They work closely with the police, local authorities and youth provision services to deliver a full football coaching programme to disadvantaged young people. And on Friday, September 15 they are staging a fund-raising dinner at the Devonshire House Hotel. Liverpool City Council leader Warren Bradley, a keen football fan and supporter of the scheme, will be a top table guest, along with Joe Royle, Dave Hickson and Chris Lawler, while other attendees include Andy King, Mike Pejic and John Bailey.
Spurs 0, Everton 2 (Echo)
Aug 28 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON put out an appeal last Thursday.
There were 700 tickets still remaining for the trip to a stadium which hadn't hosted a Blues win for 21 years. Judging by the handful of gaps in the top tier, plenty reacted to the appeal to lend their support to what many had seen as a lost cause. But when Kevin Kilbane became another seated spectator with the match just 31 minutes old, they must have feared a wasted £36. Instead it became the most wisely invested away day for years. David Moyes has provided many must-see moments during his managerial tenure. The Rooney moment which ended Arsenal's enduring unbeaten run, an Elland Road win, even a success in a penalty shoot-out. But he beamed afterwards: "This is up there with them." The Blues lost Kilbane to a rash red card, responded heroically, and passed their way to a thoroughly deserved 2-0 win.
Against the battering rams of Watford and Blackburn the Blues had looked uncomfortable. But against a side willing to trade pass for pass, they excelled - eventually. The first half was something of a non-event, and if it hadn't been for Kilbane's red card, almost nothing would have happened. Lee Carsley sliced a Spurs throw into his own six yard box and Gary Naysmith was forced to frantically hook a clearance against the top of his own crossbar. But that was it for goal-mouth action, which suited the 10-man Blues down to the ground. Kilbane had been booked in the 15th minute for sticking out ahand to slow full-back Lee's progress. It was an inoffensive crime. Mark Halsey is one of the Premiership's more sensitive and sensible officials, but he left himself with the likelihood of brandishing his first red of the season with that impetuous action. Sixteen minutes later Kilbane's desperate challenge on the same player was mistimed. The full-back went down and Kilbane went off. Ireland team-mate Robbie Keane and Spurs boss Martin Jol consoled him. Indeed it was such an inoffensive dismissal that Kilbane was allowed back into the dug-out, changed and showered, to watch his team-mates take up the battle a man down. They did so magnificently. Short on physical presence - with James Beattie dropped to the bench, Everton passed the ball slickly. There were heroes throughout the side. Tim Howard handled impeccably, again, Joleon Lescott settled superbly on his full Premiership debut, Phil Neville was much improved, but there were none better than Gary Naysmith and Andy Johnson. Naysmith handled the dangerous Aaron Lennon magnificently, tracking his penetrating runs doggedly, showing him inside at every opportunity and lunging in with a series of tellingly timed tackles.
Up front, if Beattie is looking foran example on how to win his way back into the side, he could look no further than his strike partner. Johnson's work-rate was prodigious. He chased a succession of outlet balls down the channels, reaching them first in the majority of cases. He dropped deep to link up play with the over-worked midfield - and he still had the energy to make telling runs in the Spurs penalty box.
He was involved in both goals. On 53 minutes, he chased a pass aimed at the right corner flag, and was fouled as he looked like winning yet more possession. Mikel Arteta's passing had been uncharacteristically poor. But even on an offday his expertise from dead balls remains a lethal weapon. He clipped in a piercing free-kick, Lescott made meaty contact with his head and Joseph Yobo would have applied the finishing touch if Callum Davenport hadn't got there first and touched the ball into the empty net. In the 65th minute the Blues scored a stunning - and significant, second. Leon Osman held off the dogged intentions of Edgar Davids superbly to carry the ball across field and release Phil Neville on the right. With only one target to aim at in the Spurs' box, Neville's cross had to be laser guided.
It was a beauty, and Johnson gave it the finish it deserved, rapping clinically in with his right foot.
Lescott had to exit the fray seven minutes from time to receive six stitches in a head wound, but that simply ushered in the reassuring figure of David Weir.
Down to 10 men, the Blues refused to buckle even with one boot!
Cahill scuffed across and damaged his boot in the process. He simply launched it into the technical area, played on - and won a tackle against Davids with one sock exposed.
Spurs' only serious threat of the entire afternoon came three minutes from time, when usual tormentor-in-chief, Robbie Keane, failed to get a firm enough touch on Lennon's cross and the ball screwed wide.
But by then the sun had come out. And Everton had a famous victory to celebrate.
Where this takes them is anyone's guess. A similarly optimistic start to the 2004 season, with confidence gleaned from a deserved draw at Old Trafford, took Everton all the way into Europe. It's far too early to be thinking of targets like that just yet. But for now, Blues fans will dare to dream. Man of the Match: GARY NAYSMITH
ONE of David Moyes' 10 out of 10 performers, with the non-stop Andy Johnson not far behind.
Johnson can fire up England says Moyes
Aug 28 2006 By DAVID PRENTICE, Liverpool Echo
BLUES boss David Moyes believes that Andy Johnson can be the man to fire England to Euro Championship qualification this winter. Everton's record signing scored his second goal in three appearances at Tottenham on Saturday, but more importantly performed superbly. And a delighted Moyes said afterwards: "I think if England are looking for goals at the moment he's the man in form. "His all-round play is much, much better than Ieven thought. He links up play, he givesan outlet down the sides and then he'll get after it. "And he's so quick. If England are looking for goals at the moment I don't think he'll be far away. "He's scored two goals in three games and I think people who saw the Blackburn game will agree he was denied a penalty in that game, too. "I never thought it was a gamble signing him, not for one second.
"The price was high, but if you're looking around at what you're having to pay for players then maybe £8m is the new £5m. But he's worth every penny to us at the moment, that's for sure. "All I've ever said is if he does for Everton what he's done in the last three or four seasons it will be great." With seven points from three difficult looking opening fixtures, Moyes admitted his players had exceeded expectations.
"The good start means you're not worrying about results as much. "Coming to Tottenham in the past has been difficult for Everton and they're one of the teams people think could be breaking into the top four. "So for us to come here, to their place, with 10 men and win 2-0 takes some doing. "I said last season three or four games from the end, they were one of the best teams to come to us. Hopefully it's us who are getting better. "It's a good win and we want to try to get better. First of all we want to try to secure our Premier League status, then after that we'll see what challenges lie ahead. "If you look at my time here we've had one good season, one bad one, one good one, one bad one, so hopefully we're due a good one now!
"There are signs of Everton Football Club becoming more consistent now. Since the start of the Premier League I think Everton had only been in the top 10 twoor three times, but now we're beginning to look like a side capable of doing that more often.
"We've got players like Arteta, Osman, Cahill, Johnson, Hibbert, Lescott, Yobo - all relatively young, maturing players who hopefully we can try to build a team at Everton with."
Johnson hails tremendous team spirit
Aug 28 2006 BY IAN DOYLE, Daily Post Staff
ANDREW JOHNSON saluted Everton's team spirit after their fine victory at White Hart Lane on Saturday. The striker scored the second goal of a 2-0 win after Tottenham Hotspur's Calum Davenport had put through his own goal to give David Moyes's side the lead. It maintained Everton's fine start to the season, with the Goodison outfit having taken seven points from nine and lying second in the Premiership table. And Johnson believes the togetherness within the squad is a prime reason for their good form. "The team spirit is tremendous," he said. "In the dressing room afterwards, the lads were made up and everyone is happy and buzzing.
"Team spirit is a massive factor in football and if you have that togetherness it can take you a long way." Johnson's goal capped a fine week for the striker, who netted on his Goodison debut against Watford the previous Saturday and was then recalled to the England squad. "It has been a good week," he said. "We have had some great results. "The way we played after going down to 10 men shows the character we have got in the squad." Gary Lineker was Everton's last match-winner at White Hart Lane exactly 21 years earlier. And on his goal, Johnson added: "Phil Neville has put a good ball in from the right, and I knew he would put one in so I gambled on it.
"It's good to follow in the footsteps of a legend but I seem to have a bit of luck when I come here, I scored at that end the other year (with Crystal Palace)." Tottenham midfielder Edgar Davids admitted Everton were worthy of their victory. "The way that Everton played in the second half was the way we should play," he said. "It was looking like it was the other way round, like they had 11 men. "They played well. "They moved without the ball very well, they played as a good team, we only started pressing them 10 minutes before the end." Tottenham coach Martin Jol said: "After the sending-off you got the feeling that it could be easier than you thought, but I always knew that it could be difficult. "Everton looked a very good team even when they were playing with 10 men. "You need all the creativity and quality to score and that's what they did. "We had a couple of chances but it wasn't enough. "It was one of those poxy little days in England."
New boys bring signs of progress
Aug 28 2006 BY CONOR FRANCIS, Everton Supporter
SATURDAY'S victory at White Hart Lane provided the first evidence this season of the progress David Moyes has made to his squad over the summer. His two permanent signings, Lescott and Johnson were the pivotal performers in a determined and stylish Everton display. Johnson has already attracted most of the headlines and attention and has deservedly been named in the England squad. But Lescott, more of an unknown factor to Evertonians, has already shown enough to suggest he could become a Goodison favourite. At Blackburn last Wednesday and again on Saturday he formed a formidable partnership with Yobo. With two pacy centre-halves Everton look far more assured at the back. Lescott is naturally strong and good in the air but he also brings a much needed distribution quality to Everton's game. For too long the Everton centre-halves have simply lumped balls away from the danger zone, but Lescott shows a welcome enthusiasm for playing the ball into midfield, helping to retain possession and build more effective attacks. Shifting Phil Neville into right-back has also helped balance the side better, his support in attack was evident in Johnson's goal on aturday.
There is currently a lot to be optimistic about with this Everton squad. A confident Everton will now go into the Merseyside derby in high spirits, with hope of a better performance from the players than we have seen in this fixture in the last two years.
New boys bring signs of progress
Aug 28 2006 BY CONOR FRANCIS, Everton Supporter
SATURDAY'S victory at White Hart Lane provided the first evidence this season of the progress David Moyes has made to his squad over the summer. His two permanent signings, Lescott and Johnson were the pivotal performers in a determined and stylish Everton display. Johnson has already attracted most of the headlines and attention and has deservedly been named in the England squad. But Lescott, more of an unknown factor to Evertonians, has already shown enough to suggest he could become a Goodison favourite. At Blackburn last Wednesday and again on Saturday he formed a formidable partnership with Yobo. With two pacy centre-halves Everton look far more assured at the back. Lescott is naturally strong and good in the air but he also brings a much needed distribution quality to Everton's game. For too long the Everton centre-halves have simply lumped balls away from the danger zone, but Lescott shows a welcome enthusiasm for playing the ball into midfield, helping to retain possession and build more effective attacks. Shifting Phil Neville into right-back has also helped balance the side better, his support in attack was evident in Johnson's goal on Saturday. There is currently a lot to be optimistic about with this Everton squad.
A confident Everton will now go into the Merseyside derby in high spirits, with hope of a better performance from the players than we have seen in this fixture in the last two years.
Arteta: We need to enjoy this good start
Aug 29 2006 BY IAN DOYLE, Daily Post
MIKEL ARTETA believes Everton will not become carried away by their excellent start to the season. David Moyes's side currently stand in third place in the early Premiership table after securing seven points out of a possible nine following their win at Tottenham Hotspur at the weekend. The victory was Everton's first at White Hart Lane in 21 years and only their second triumph in London in 28 visits to the capital. It ensured Everton's best start to a season under Moyes but, with memories of last season's poor opening still fresh in the mind, midfielder Arteta has urged the Goodison side to keep building upon their improving form. "I don't want to think about what might happen or whether our start sends out a message to other clubs," said the Spanish midfielder. "All I know is that we had a bad start last season and we are having a good one this season. We should enjoy it, go game by game, improve on things every week and see what happens. "Hopefully we can keep this run going, because it's always nice to start a season properly. "Last year was very difficult for us in the beginning period, but it has been much better this time. The team has more confidence, we are winning games and the players have been working together for another year, which I have said before I think is important." Everton reverted to a 4-5-1 formation at White Hart Lane after beginning the campaign with the 4-1-3-2 line-up favoured by Moyes during pre-season, with tactics altering once against following Kevin Kilbane's 32nd-minute red card. And Arteta reckons the ease at which Everton's players assumed their changing roles illustrates the versatility of the squad.
"Everybody is playing well, and the manager is changing the team around now and we are able to play different formations," said the midfielder. "We started with a 4-5-1 at Tottenham, and after the sending-off we had to change things again. Every player is doing their job, and it's not easy when you change formations because it can take players a while to settle, but we're doing very well." "When Kevin was sent off it looked like it was going to be difficult for us, especially as they have so many attacking players and we'd have to play against them for 60-65 minutes with only 10 men. "But the sending-off gave us something of a lift, in a strange way. We knew we had to group together and to work hard because we wanted to keep our good start to the season going. "I think we not only held on, but we played good football, ran for each other, created chances and it ended up being a great game for us. Everybody played well." Meanwhile, reports in Norway yesterday stated Everton are close to signing highly-rated 16-year-old goalkeeper Lars Stubhaug on a two-and-a-half-year contract from Norwegian second division club SK Vard Haugesund.
Lethal Blues superb in all departments
Aug 30 2006 Icliverpool And Liverpool Echo
MAJESTIC in defence, clinical in attack and a display of true fighting spirit in the face of adversity - what a Saturday afternoon at White Hart Lane! Well done to Everton - the players deserve the credit for outplaying Spurs, and let's spare a thought for Moyes, who marshalled the lads courageously in what could have been a difficult trip to London. Andrew Johnson's goal was top class. However, credit to Ossie for starting the move, and working through midfield, and what a superb cross by Neville. Keep it up lads. Alan Clay, Liverpool.
SATURDAY'S display from Everton was very good. Johnson was outstanding, and the partnership between Yobo and Le-scott looked very good. Even Naysmith defended well against Lennon, but my man of the match was Leon Osman. He was superb all the way through, and seems to be getting stronger as the way he held off Davids in the move that led to the second goal showed. John Taylor, Gosport.
ANDY JOHNSON looked well worth the money we paid for him against Spurs.
Osman couldn't be touched in midfield, Neville passed superbly, Howard looked assured in goal and the defence looked as if they had confidence in him.
Overall, one of the best performances I have seen from the Blues for years.
Todd Dawson, Wirral.
WHAT a fantastic performance from the boys at Spurs. Some of the performances were fantastic. Even Naysmith played his part with some fantastic blocks as well as hitting the bar with a terrible clearance. Bob Lawrence, Crosby.
THE turning point of the season for me was before it started, when the moths flew out of the wallets of the board and we finally stumped up the cash for Andy Johnson.
Now if we can just turn over Liverpool, the confidence might drive us on to a good season again. Will Graham, Ormskirk.
WHAT a great victory on Saturday! I was really impressed with how the squad responded in the second half. I figured we would just sit back and hope to get a draw, but the whole team came together and played with great determination. Johnson's work ethic was unbelieveable. G Mather, Merseyside.
WHAT a performance, but please note we only actually started to play once Kilbane was sent off. Other than his moment of madness I can't pick any other faults in the game. Naysmith had a great game against Lennon, and what a buy Johnson looks to be at £8.6m! Kevin Shea, Belfast.
LEON OSMAN was fantastic against Spurs.
The way he initiated our second goal was superb. The way he held off Davids and moved the ball on to Neville proves he is no lightweight on the ball - and his fast feet and vision were priceless on the day. Hats off to Yobo and AJ who also starred in a great day for the Toffees. Mark Gorman, Speke.
WHAT a superb win at Spurs. Naysmith played the perfect game and nullified Lennon, Howard was confident in goal, Neville's cross and the move for AJ's goal was sublime, the midfield was creative and solid and AJ's workrate and pace was awesome. David Moyes was tactically superb. Claire James, Walton
Newcastle Res 2, Everton Res 2
Aug 30 2006 Liverpool Echo
YOUNG striker James Vaughan gave Everton another boost, returning after a year out to score in the opening game of the Reserve season at Newcastle. Following the Blues' great start to the Premiership, the sight of Vaughan back in a blue shirt will be pleasing for David Moyes, after the striker's year-long knee injury stalled what looked like a prom-ising career. Vaughan showed no signs of his lengthy lay-off and took his goal well, capitalising on a mistake by Newcastle keeper Tim Kroll, whospilled Bjarni Vidarsson's shot, to pounce. David Weir, Tony Hibbert and Victor Anichebe all started for Alan Irvine's side, and looked to be in control of the game until the 34th minute when Chris Shanks equalised, drilling in a low shot past John Ruddy.
Vaughan started the second half but was replaced after 63 minutes by summer signing Scot Spencer. Newcastle took the lead in the 73rd minute. Vidarsson only half cleared Finnigan's shot and Kris Gate followed up with a drive past Ruddy.