Everton 2, Werder Bremen 2 (Echo)
Aug 1 2007
by Dominic King at Goodison Park
A CATASTROPHE, says the Oxford English Dictionary, is a “momentous, tragic and unexpected event of extreme severity” but Evertonians may soon have a new definition. If the beaks at Oxford reassessed their tome in the next few days, they would be inundated with calls from the Blue half of Merseyside offering this meaning: Catastrophe – sudden, disastrous, inexplicable injury to midfield player worth his weight in goals. Given the wretched luck Everton have endured recently it is difficult not to fear the worst as Tim Cahill awaits the result of an x-ray on his damaged left foot. Only just back from injury, the alarm bells are ringing loud again just 10 days before the start of the new Premier League season. Given he has had two serious knee problems to go along with a broken metatarsal in the past 15 months, it was little surprise Cahill received the loudest cheer of all before last night’s friendly with Werder Bremen on his return to action. Snapping into tackles, firing in shots and making a nuisance of himself among the opposition ranks, Cahill was his usual feisty self and the sight of him in a Blue shirt once again was very welcome indeed. The sight of him hobbling off, however, was not so. It would be nothing short of a calamity if Cahill has suffered a relapse and impossible to put into words the damage it would do to morale. As they are operating with the bare minimum of players, any injury to an Everton player stretches things to the limit but when they happen to the most important members the repercussions are enormous. If it wasn’t bad enough losing James Vaughan for six months with a dislocated shoulder – he sat in the director’s box with his pal Leighton Baines, whose presence set tongues wagging – the consequences of Cahill cracking a bone again don’t bear thinking about. “He felt his foot,” said assistant manager Alan Irvine. “He felt a bit better in the changing room afterwards but was worried and had given himself a fright. I thought he had played well in the time that he was on.” He did. But Cahill was just one of a number of Everton players to catch the eye in the opening exchanges once Bremen had been bustled out of their stride; Victor Anichebe and Andrew Johnson offered plenty of pace and movement up front. Had it not been for some inspired keeping by Tim Wiese in the visitors’ goal, the Blues would have been ahead within eight minutes, but he managed to acrobatically deny Phil Neville after the skipper seized upon a loose ball. From the resulting corner, Wiese knew very little about the save he made to thwart Anichebe, kicking the ball away instinctively after the Nigerian had tried to toe poke Joseph Yobo’s downward header past him. Using possession wisely and working on tactics that had been hatched in the Home Depot Center, the Toffees might have forced their way in front when Cahill headed over a perfect Tony Hibbert cross over and Nuno Valente cracked a drive just past an upright. It was, quite comfortably, the best start Everton have made to a match this pre-season and the way Moyes’ starting line-up covered the ground assuaged fears that the recent trip to Los Angeles would have a negative impact. Then, sadly, the gas started to run out. While there is no doubts they will reap the benefits of intensive training in the long run, questions must be asked of the scheduling of some games this summer. Was it really sensible to play a game in Salt Lake City the day after they had travelled for 18 hours? Equally, might it not have been a better idea to try and push the contest back with Bremen back 24 hours to allow the squad to get over the effects of jet lag and a 12-and-a-half hour flight back from the west coast of the United States? “It was a day earlier than we wanted the game played,” agreed Irvine. “We wanted to play the game on Wednesday but we couldn’t. I’m still trying to get back on UK time and it was a demanding game for the lads but I felt they came through it really well. “They finished the game strongly and there are a lot of positives. There are certainly things that we need to improve on. We have lost another goal from a corner, like we did against Salt Lake, and we don’t like that at all.” While there was little that could be done to prevent the goal with which Bremen took the lead – Clemens Fritz and Diego carved Everton’s defence open with some slick interplay before the former crossed Boubacar Sanogo – the second was awful. Normally so strong and reliable at dealing with set plays, Per Mertesacker coasted in behind Valente to bundle a corner past Tim Howard with a number of Everton’s defenders looking around in a daze. One thing Everton are, nonetheless, is resilient and they deserve credit for twice coming from behind to draw a game they looked like losing against a side who will play Champions League football in September and were UEFA Cup semi-finals last season. That they twice achieved that feat was down largely to Mikel Arteta – a joy to watch whenever and wherever he sets foot on a football pitch – and James McFadden, another man with all the talent in the world. The Scotland international was in the right place at the right time to drill in Leon Osman’s knock down on 77 minutes and his inch-perfect cross in the final seconds allowed Anderson De Silva to grab Everton a share of the spoils. McFadden has his detractors on the terraces but if he is given a lengthy run of games, there is nothing stopping him from becoming Everton’s secret weapon. And if the worst comes to the worst for Cahill, that chance may arrive sooner rather than later. EVERTON (4-4-2): Howard; Hibbert, Yobo (Stubbs 46), Lescott (Jagielka 46), Valente; Neville, Cahill (McFadden 62), Carsley (De Silva 74), Arteta; Anichebe (Osman 46), Johnson (van der Meyde 74). WERDER BREMEN (4-4-2): Wiese; Naldo, Baumann (Schindler 83), Fritz, Borowski; Carlos Alberto (Vranjes 60), Diego (Jensen 60), Schulz, Mertesacker; Sanogo, Rosenberg.
Referee: C Foy Everton 2, Werder Bremen 2 (D,Post)
Aug 1 2007
by Ian Doyle at Goodison Park
AMID all the chatter of incomings, outgoings and comebacks, there’s one returning name that has been largely overlooked at Everton. The May recurrence of the foot injury that ruled him out for three months of last season meant James McFadden has been forced to play catch-up in his quest for fitness. As such, the Scotland international was making his first appearance of pre-season when he emerged an hour into last night’s Goodison friendly against Werder Bremen. And having missed huge chunks of his preparation, he didn’t waste time in announcing his return.
McFadden netted a 75th-minute equaliser before ensuring Everton earned a deserved draw from a lively encounter with the Bundesliga side by creating a last-minute goal for Anderson de Silva. But despite McFadden’s profitable cameo, the main talking points at Goodison came away from the action. Leighton Baines made a surprise appearance alongside close friend James Vaughan in the directors’ box to further fuel rumours of an imminent transfer to Everton from Wigan Athletic. And in the stands, the supporters had their first opportunity to express their opinion on the proposed ground move to Kirkby since the unveiling of the planned 55,000-seat arena. Of those voices that made themselves heard, the feedback was less than positive. The Gwladys Street made their feelings known with shouts of “We’re not going to Kirkby” and “Goodison”, while one fan sat in the Main Stand articulated his objection to the Kirkby move with a vitriolic outburst aimed at chief executive Keith Wyness. The vote later this month will determine the next move of the Everton board, but the early evidence suggests more work must be done to win over the hearts and minds of the club’s hardcore following. Back on the pitch, there was also a welcome return for Tim Cahill, making his first club appearance since breaking his metatarsal at Sheffield United back in March. With the rest of the squad on tour in the United States, Cahill had been training at Bellefield following Australia’s early exit from the Asian Cup earlier in the month. He began last night’s game on the right flank of a four-man midfield before being later moved to a more central position as Moyes tinkered with his tactics. Worryingly, Cahill ended the evening prematurely with ice packed around the same foot damaged at Bramall Lane after an awkward fall. The Australian will have a precautionary X-ray today, although Everton were keen to play down fears of a recurrence of his old injury. Phil Jagielka, the £4million arrival from Sheffield United, made his home bow as a second-half substitute, but Goodison was made to wait until a week on Saturday for their first glimpse of fellow new signing Steven Pienaar. The South Africa international, who has arrived on a season-long loan from Borussia Dortmund, is back in Germany to secure a visa after last week’s successful work permit application. Back on home soil, Everton were keen to make amends for the uninspiring performance against Real Salt Lake in their last proper friendly outing 10 days earlier. But a performance laced with verve and vigour was undermined by an indifferent final delivery, the erratic yet effective goalkeeping of Bremen’s Tim Wiese and some indecisive defending.With only Saturday’s trip to Crystal Palace to come before the start of the Premier League season, Moyes will be aware of the kinks that still need to be ironed out of Everton’s game. Wiese was first pressed into action in the seventh minute, clawing away a goalbound Phil Neville effort from a Victor Anichebe cross. From the resultant corner, the young striker helped on Joseph Yobo’s header only for Wiese to save with his feet. Mikel Arteta, best on show for the umpteenth occasion of his Everton career, saw a shot deflected wide and then struck a trademark free-kick from 25 yards that Wiese made hard work of saving. Everton’s finest move of the half came in the 25th minute, when a lengthy passing movement in which the ball was sprayed from wing to wing ended with Cahill heading over a Tony Hibbert cross at the far post. Nuno Valente thrashed an angled drive narrowly wide before Arteta caused a minor scare when he left the pitch for treatment after receiving a bang to the right knee in a collision with Bremen full-back Christian Schulz. Other than a Diego shot that ricocheted across Tim Howard’s goal, Bremen offered little in attack and could have fallen behind shortly before half-time when centre-back Per Mertesacker missed Arteta’s right-wing cross and the ball hit the unwitting Anichebe before bouncing inches off target. Soon after the restart, Neville punted two further efforts over the bar, the second after Andrew Johnson had harassed Wiese into gifting possession, only for Everton to fall behind after a rare moment of Bremen quality prised open the home defence on 55 minutes. A one-two with Brazilian midfielder Diego put right-back Clemens Fritz in behind the backline, the Bremen man executing a precise low cross for the incoming Boubacar Sanogo to slide home inside the six-yard box. Everton’s subsequent pressure lacked direction until, with a quarter of an hour remaining, a cross from the left by Nuno Valente into the danger area took a fortuitous bounce off Leon Osman and James McFadden was alert to slam home the loose ball via Wiese’s left-hand post. But Bremen reclaimed the lead 10 minutes later when a corner from the left was flicked on by Sanogo and Mertesacker forced the ball home at the far post ahead of Valente. Substitute Kevin Schindler, who netted against Liverpool a fortnight ago, missed a late chance to add another goal to his list when he dragged the ball wide. And it proved costly for the visitors when McFadden crossed from the left in the last minute for the unlikely figure of de Silva to equalise and earn Everton a draw. EVERTON (4-4-2): Howard; Hibbert, Yobo (Jagielka 46), Lescott (Stubbs 46), Valente; Cahill (McFadden 61), Neville, Carsley (de Silva 73), Arteta; Johnson (van der Meyde 73), Anichebe (Osman 46). Subs: Ruddy, Vidarsson, Beattie. WERDER BREMEN (4-4-2): Wiese; Fritz, Mertesacker, Naldo, Schulz; Alberto (Vranjes 60), Diego (Jensen 60), Baumann, Borowski; Rosenberg, Sanogo. Subs: Niemeyer, Schindler, Artmann, Vander, Harnik.
REFEREE: Chris Foy (St Helens)
NEXT GAME: Crystal Palace v Everton, Friendly, Saturday 3pm
Mikel Arteta running hot for kick-off
Aug 1 2007
Blue & Read
Liverpool Daily Post
MIKEL ARTETA believes Everton have returned from America both physically and mentally ready for the new season. Arteta was one of the players who visibly struggled to catch his breath while playing at altitude in Salt Lake City at the start of the tour. But once the lethargy and jetlag that affected the first leg of the tour had worn off, the players recovered to blaze their way through a week of intensive training in Los Angeles. "We enjoyed it," said Arteta. "When we are all together we always have a nice time. "The training was hard - it was very hot and at altitude as well, so hopefully now we will feel the benefits. "And mentally we are ready for the season to start." Arteta now feels the remainder of the pre-season friendly programme - which started last night with a 2-2 draw against Werder Bremen and continues on Saturday at Crystal Palace -will help Everton put the final touches to their preparations., "It is great to have games like this in pre-season you can see how the fitness is looking as well as how tactically the team is working," Arteta added. "These game are good for us to show where we are at."
Rodwell leads from the back EVERTON defender Jack Rodwell captained England Under-17s to their second Nordic Championship win in two days last night. After the 2-0 victory over Iceland on Monday, Rodwell's side followed up with the same scoreline against Finland. England play Sweden tomorrow and the final of the tournament, held in Denmark, is on Saturday.
Leighton Baines edging closer to Everton move
Aug 1 2007
by Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily Post
LEIGHTON BAINES last night moved a step nearer to joining Everton from Wigan Athletic – as Tim Cahill handed David Moyes an injury scare. Talks are ongoing between the clubs after the Goodison outfit lodged an improved offer for Baines. The bid is believed to be nearer the £6million Wigan accepted from Sunderland for the 22-year-old, a transfer the Kirkby-born player turned down earlier this week with his heart set on a move back to his native Merseyside. Wigan have already rejected a £4m-plus player bid from Everton, but accept the left-back’s future lies away from the JJB Stadium. And Latics manager Chris Hutchings is preparing for life without Baines by closing in on the capture of West Bromwich Albion full-back Paul Robinson. Although Wigan were playing a friendly at Barnsley, Baines was at Goodison last night alongside close friend James Vaughan in the directors’ box for Everton’s friendly last night against Werder Bremen. Moyes’s side came from behind twice to draw 2-2, James McFadden and a last-minute Anderson de Silva strike earning a share of the spoils after the Bundesliga outfit had twice gone ahead through Boubacar Sanogo and Per Mertesacker. But the home side were given an injury concern when Tim Cahill’s first outing for Everton since recovering from the broken metatarsal he sustained in March ended with the Australian hobbling off during the second half. Cahill will have a precautionary X-ray today, and Everton assistant manager Alan Irvine said: “He felt his foot again which obviously is a bit of a worry. He landed on it awkwardly, which probably frightened him a little. “It is something we will check out but having spoken to him, he is feeling better. “We will send him for an X-ray and hopefully everything will be okay. He was putting weight on it while in the dressing room after the game.” McFadden, who created de Silva’s late equaliser, was also making his first appearance of pre-season as he recovered from a recurrence of a similar injury. And Irvine said: “We were toying with the idea of not playing him and giving him a run-out in the game at Warrington on Thursday. “I think James was a bit disappointed when he thought that he might not be involved. “The last thing we want for him is to break down again. “He has broken down before and if it happens again we will be back to square one.” Of last night’s friendly, Irvine added: “A lot of these games are played with a low tempo with players not wanting to make tackles, but I thought it was a good game. “They are a good side and we are all well aware of a number of their players. “There are a lot of positives to take from this game but there are another couple of things we need to work on.”
1st view of the ’new Goodison’
Aug 2 2007
by Nick Coligan, Liverpool Echo
OPPONENTS of Everton FC’s proposed move to Kirkby today revealed their plan to rebuild Goodison Park to the ECHO. The Keep Everton In Our City (KEIOC) group gave you a sneak preview 24 hours before they invite the public to view their proposals. Its members hope to persuade Evertonians that there are other realistic options to the relocation to Kirkby, despite the club’s insistence that none are deliverable.KEIOC commissioned two architects to draw up their scheme, which involves a 57,000-seater stadium on the Goodison site, with the potential to expand. They believe demolishing the Park End and building a new lower tier over the course of a single summer would maintain the ground’s capacity above the 40,000 mark during redevelopment. Everton insist this is impossible and that the number of seats would dramatically reduce over the course of two or three seasons if Goodison was rebuilt. KEIOC’s scheme also includes building a hotel and apartments next to the new stadium, creating the much-needed “enabling” development to bring in private investment. Spokesman Dave Kelly said: “We have spent a lot of time and effort producing these images. “We believe there are alternatives to Kirkby out there, whether it is redeveloping Goodison or relocating to another site within the city, and we want Evertonians to see them before casting a vote. “This campaign is not ruled by our hearts, it is ruled by our heads. We firmly believe we should not betray 115 years of heritage by going to Kirkby.” KEIOC’s proposals will be displayed at a public consultation event at St George’s Hall tomorrow, along with another scheme to build a stadium off Scotland Road, which is championed by council leader Warren Bradley and Bestway. Everton season-ticket holders and shareholders are preparing for the start of a ballot on the Kirkby move, which starts on Monday and runs to August 23. In a pamphlet being sent to fans, the club says: “We believe that the deal which is on offer in Kirkby is too good to turn down. “Unless the board believed that this was not in the best interests of the club, it would not be supporting it. “The sad and inescapable truth is that Goodison Park has now become a financial liability.”
KEIOC’s consultation is at St George’s Hall tomorrow from 10am to 5pm.
Everton waiting on Tim Cahill x-ray
Aug 1 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
TIM CAHILL was today undergoing an x-ray to discover whether he will be fit to start the new season – as Leighton Baines moved closer to realising a boyhood dream.
The Wigan Athletic full- back set tongues wagging at Goodison Park when he was spotted next to his close friend, James Vaughan, in the directors’ box for last night’s 2-2 draw with Werder Bremen and saw Cahill worryingly hobble out of the action.
With the Latics also in action at Barnsley, speculation quickly grew that he was on Merseyside to sign for his boyhood club but Wigan – who have already rejected one Everton bid – confirmed he was allowed to be absent as he was suffering from a virus.
However, Everton are “hopeful” that Baines will arrive in the not too distant future as Wigan have paved the way for his departure by signing West Brom’s Paul Robinson, and the two clubs are expected to meet soon to thrash out a straight cash deal.
But the good news of edging closer to recruiting their third player of the summer was significantly tempered by the sight of Cahill limping from the pitch just 62 minutes into his first Everton appearance since March 3. According to assistant manager Alan Irvine, the Australian international gave himself “a fright” when he banged the foot he broke against Sheffield United and was immediately substituted to avoid aggravating the damage. There are fears, though, that he might have suffered a relapse. Everton’s medical staff will monitor his situation carefully but while they are keeping their fingers crossed for a positive report, a nagging doubt remains. If Cahill has suffered a setback, he will almost certainly miss the opening game of the campaign against Wigan at Goodison and that would be an enormous blow to David Moyes’ hopes of getting off to a flying start. “Obviously the history of the injury means that we have got to check it out thoroughly,” said Irvine. “Hopefully everything will be fine but until we know the full extent, we have just got to make sure that he is okay.”
James Beattie’s move to Sheffield United, meanwhile, could happen before the end of the week after sources in South Yorkshire claimed that they have now agreed personal terms after their £4m bid was accepted last Friday. The former England international played no part against Bremen and is now resigned to moving away from Merseyside. Birmingham also hold an interest in Beattie but a move to Bramall Lane looks more likely.
McFadden's chance to fulfil potential
Aug 1 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
ALAN IRVINE has urged James McFadden to use last night’s encouraging performance against Werder Bremen as the springboard for his best season at Goodison Park. The Everton striker replaced the stricken Tim Cahill on 62 minutes and made the most of his chance by scoring one and setting up another for Anderson De Silva in the 2-2 draw. Given that he only resumed full training in Los Angeles seven days ago after recovering from a stress fracture in his foot, McFadden’s effort was all the more eye-catching. Now Irvine believes the 24-year-old is ready to finally fulfil his potential but the nature of his foot problem means Everton will err on the side of caution for the moment. “He was terrific,” said Irvine. “In actual fact, we were toying with the idea of not playing him and instead leaving him to play some of the game against Warrington on Thursday. “Faddy was a bit disappointed when he thought he might not be involved. But we talked it through, spoke to Baz (physio Mick Rathbone) and we decided it would be okay. It was great for Faddy.
“The last thing we want is for him to break down again. It has happened once before and if it happens again, he is back to square one. We obviously can’t afford that.
“We were a bit reluctant as he only started training football wise last Monday. But we thought it was a calculated risk and we thought that it worked well.” McFadden looked as if he was ready to flourish at the corresponding stage of affairs 12 months ago but - bar a goal at Reading and a spectacular effort against Charlton Athletic - injuries, suspension and a loss of form compromised his chances. “He looked terrific last pre-season but then just hit a bit of a dip at the wrong moment,” Irvine continued. “But he has definitely got ability. “There is no doubt about that. We are hoping that he steps up again this year and shows more signs of improvement.” They are sentiments which apply to Everton as a whole and Irvine was satisfied with the workout his side got from a team who reached the UEFA Cup semi-finals last season. “I think the performance was another step up,” said Irvine. “It was a step up in terms of the quality of the opposition that we played and our lads stepped up a result of that. “They had their minds on the game beforehand. Bremen are a side full of internationals and have a lot of quality. It was a good game for us to have.”
The Everton fans who say: we want to stay!
Aug 1 2007 by Nick Coligan, Liverpool Echo
OPPONENTS of Everton’s proposed move to Kirkby will unveil their own plans to rebuild Goodison Park this week. The Keep Everton In Our City (KEIOC) campaign group has worked with two top architects on a scheme to redevelop the Blues’ home into a 57,000-seater stadium. Everton have repeatedly said rebuilding Goodison, is neither financially nor practically possible. But KEIOC will unveil its own proposal at a public consultation event at St George’s Hall on Friday. The ECHO understands it involves moving the stadium back slightly onto the Park End car park. Designers have also incorporated a hotel onto the redeveloped site, while including the potential to expand capacity to 70,000 at a later date. KEIOC spokesman Dave Kelly said: “We will be holding an exit poll for fans, because there are a lot of matchday supporters who cannot take part in the ballot as non-season ticket holders.” KEIOC will also display early proposals by Liverpool council and cash-and-carry firm Bestway for a site in Everton. The Scotland Road site was revealed two weeks ago by council leader Warren Bradley. In a pamphlet due to be sent out to 33,000 Evertonians along with ballot papers, the club insists Goodison cannot be redeveloped. It says: “New land would have to be acquired, which would mean the demolition of both houses and small businesses currently surround the existing stadium. “Any redevelopment of Goodison Park would have to be carried out over two, perhaps three, seasons – something which would greatly reduce stadium capacity and impact on revenue streams.”
* KEIOC’s consultation is at St George’s Hall on Friday from 10am to 5pm.
JAMES Barton, Evertonian and founder of city superclub Cream, said: “It looks like Kirkby is the only real option on the table and we should relocate. “I don’t think the fans should be too quick to criticise the board and the chairman so much when this has been an issue for many, many years. “Liverpool city council have got to take some of the responsibility. “We are not as rich as Liverpool and we have not been as fortunate in terms of benefactors. Now I am concerned that this debate will affect the footballing side of the club.”
. . . Against
DAVE Kelly, spokesman for the Keep Everton in our City Group, said: “I don’t believe we should betray 139 years of history, tradition and heritage and uproot from the city were the club was founded. “They should be exploring the option of retail partners in Liverpool which could lead to a stadium in the city, new ownership or redeveloping Goodison Park. “The ballot should be open to all match-going Evertonians. There are almost 12,000 fans without a voice and that is unacceptable.”
The view of our forums
FOR me it is somewhat of a no brainer.
We need a ground, Kirkby is near to Goodison, Tesco can be relied upon. I’m not really worried about the cost breakdown or who owns the ground. Against this we have some sites mentioned that seem OK until you look at the location or ask who will actually put up the cash.
NOBODY truly knows how the Kirkby financing works out; nobody has a clue how the stadium is to be filled. There's a lot of wishful thinking about the number of corporate boxes that can be filled; we must trust the man who has put us further into debt, and, of course, anyone who opposes the move is a caveman, traitor or numbskull. Is it really so hard for 'yes' supporters to grapple with the fact that they're being taken for a ride which might - and only might - lead to a tumble? At the very least, be suspicious.
I DO not see anything bettering the Kirkby deal by the time the vote comes in.
I still believe the Kirkby deal is deliverable. Having Tesco and council planners behind the deal is a massive bonus and there is a long, long way before any other site could be stamped ‘viable’.
THERE is no point moaning about it any more until the vote! I am all up for the move and will be extremely disappointed in fans if we don’t, but will just have to get on with it.
"I'm finding it difficult to separate emotion from reality when I think (daily) about ground debate"
Greg O'Keeffe, Evertonian
"Everton leaving Walton would be as devastating to the area as Fords leaving Halewood"
Tony Barrett, Liverpudlian
Walton will not survive this devastating move
Aug 1 2007 by Tony Barrett, Liverpool Echo
KEITH Wyness isn’t going to offer me a vote on whether or not Everton should remain at Goodison, which isn’t all that surprising given I’m a Kop season ticket holder. But maybe the Blues chief executive should consider rolling the referendum out to Kopites because that’s probably the only way he could guarantee a yes vote.
It’s not often that the most vitriolic of Reds find common ground with the Blues board, but on this issue they would be more than happy to back them all the way to Kirkby. Because if Everton do quit their home, at a stroke Liverpool would instantly become the one club of this city and all that “People’s Club” nonsense would ring even more hollow than it does already. There is no way back after you have signed away your birthright, and to do so to become subordinate to the Tesco shareholders and all for an extra £10m to spend each year – that’s half of Fernando Torres if you don’t already know – is as ridiculous as it gets. Everton are a Liverpool club. They are as much a part of the city as the Liver Birds and should remain here for as long as they do. But what concerns me most is what will happen to Walton if the Blues do up-sticks and leave a whopping big hole in the heart of the north Liverpool economy?
Walton is already one of the most deprived wards in the whole country, and now it could soon lose one of the few major businesses in its boundaries. There will be new jobs, extra investment and fresh money in Kirkby, but it will all be at the expense of Walton, an area which, don’t forget, has been home to Everton FC for more than a century, including during an era when football was nowhere near as fashionable as it is today. A recent independent report by accountants Deloitte and Touche put Everton’s turnover at £58.1m – can an area as poverty-ridden as Walton really afford to lose such a business from its economy? It would be as devastating as Halewood losing Fords, if not more so because at least the economic infrastructure of south Liverpool has developed enough in recent years to be able to cope with such a major setback. By comparison, north Liverpool is an economic backwater suffering from a chronic historical lack of investment which leaves it lagging some way behind the south of this city. That makes the referendum on the Blues’ potential ground move as much a vote on the future of north Liverpool as it is a vote on the future of Everton.
As a Red, I should, perhaps, be revelling in the potential departure of our local rivals.
But as a Liverpudlian, in the city sense, the thought of them moving to Kirkby genuinely disturbs me as I can’t see how it would be anything but a disaster for the people of Walton, setting regeneration plans back and sending out a signal that the area is unable to hold on to a major business with which it has been indelibly linked for more than 100 years. So if you are lucky enough to have a vote, think of Walton and just say No.
Tim Cahill out for three months with metatarsal injury
Aug 2 2007
by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON’S preparations for the new season were dealt a crushing blow today after their worst fears over Tim Cahill were realised. The Australian international was expected to receive confirmation that he faces up to 12 weeks on the sidelines after damaging the same metatarsal that he broke against Sheffield United in March.
It is devastating news for both the player and manager David Moyes, who was desperate to get the influential Cahill - who signed a five-year contract extension in June - back in his starting line-up. Having made only 21 appearances last season after damaging his medial ligaments and then breaking the fifth metatarsal in his left foot, Cahill was desperate to make up for lost time and had worked hard over the summer to get himself back into shape. After making four substitute appearances for Australia in their Asia Cup campaign, Cahill had looked sharp after returning to training at Bellefield last week and caught the eye during Tuesday night’s friendly with Werder Bremen. However, he limped off after 62 minutes after banging his foot, and though the Blues were hopeful that it would prove to be nothing more than a slight knock, it is far more serious. Meanwhile, Anderson de Silva is hoping his goal against Bremen will provide him with the impetus to push for a first team place. But he knows that he still needs to take his performance up another couple of notches. The Brazilian midfielder, who signed a 12-month contract extension earlier this summer, grabbed Everton’s second equaliser in the 2-2 draw and is ready to put in extra hours to take him up to the required level. “I am happy with the goal but I still have to work a lot and I am going to work very hard to try and stay here and help Everton,” he said. “Pre-season has been very good. It’s very important for every player. Afterwards we will see.”
Stadium debate drives some readers up the poll
Aug 2 2007 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON FC’s plans to make an historic move away from Goodison have understandably been making front page news. Our article on Friday July 27 entitled Kirkby Says Yes to Blues, provoked quite a reaction. It detailed the results of an independent ICM poll commissioned by Knowsley North Labour MP George Howarth which revealed that 51% of people surveyed in Kirkby were in favour of Everton moving to the town. David from Anfield writes: “How convenient a poll has confirmed that the people of Kirkby think it would be beneficial for Everton to move there. The poll is a sham. The ECHO quoted this as a “major poll”. Just how major is this? 500 people? More people live in my road. “59% of people voted in favour, but that means 49% were either unsure or were against this move.” Reader Elaine Parr emailed us to say: “It stated in your article that 'over 500', people were consulted with 51% saying yes. If you take it that 600 people were consulted and 51% said yes, then that would be 306 people. “At the same time you carried the story reporting on over 500 people attending St Chads church to oppose the proposal. It therefore beggars belief that anyone can conclude that from these two samples with an approximate 794 people being against the proposals and 306 being for the proposals that it can be considered that the majority of people want Everton to move to Kirkby.
“Please, please please, allow the people of Kirkby the courtesy of having a vote and the ability to once and for all show the TRUE feelings of each and every Kirkby resident, rather than manipulating straw polls.” The Reverend Tim Stratford, whose views were featured in an article in yesterday’s ECHO entitled Kirkby’s Backlash over Stadium Poll, also wrote in to say: “Please note that the ICM survey was not a poll of Kirkby residents as is stated in your article several times.Š ICM themselves describe the telephone poll only as "conducted in and around the town of Kirkby".Š Their methodology means that this would include residents of neighbouring communities, employees in the town, business owners and visitors.” Our story made it clear that it was a survey of 500 people and the headline Kirkby Says Yes to Blues had the words ‘(but only just)’ clearly displayed on the front page showing it was a very narrow margin. In the same article detailing the results of the poll we also reported on the meeting in St Chad’s church, Kirkby, attended by 500 people, organised by the anti-stadium Kirkby Residents Action and carried a photograph. ICM is a well respected research marketing company which carries out polls on a vast range of issues. Its survey was the most robust and scientific poll that has been carried out on the proposed Everton move to Kirkby to date and as such was newsworthy. The results of the survey merely widens the debate, it certainly doesn’t end it.
We will carry on reporting the different sides of the debate in a fair and balanced way, as we strive to do in all our coverage.
Mikel Arteta: We’ve learnt now from European mistakes
Aug 3 2007
by Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily Post
MIKEL ARTETA believes Everton have the experience to ensure they do not make the same mistakes as in 2005 when returning to Europe this coming season. But the Spanish schemer admits the Goodison outfit need to further bolster their playing numbers given the demands of competing for honours on four fronts. Everton’s most recent foray into Europe two years ago ended in dismal failure, with David Moyes’s side dumped out of the Champions League and the UEFA Cup at the first hurdle by Villarreal and then Dinamo Bucharest. Last season’s sixth-placed Premier League finish has given Everton another crack at the UEFA Cup, and Arteta is convinced the Goodison side is better equipped to make the most of their opportunity. “We have learned a lot from what happened last time we were in Europe, and we are determined not to let it happen again (what happened in 2005),” said Arteta. “We’ve got a great chance now to move this club forward again now and hopefully we can improve and have a good run in Europe and get better and better. “We have a better squad than two years ago to deal with being in Europe. We have more experience and much better prepared, we’ve grown together and have a great team spirit and that’s important for a team like us.” Nevertheless, the small size of that squad has been brought into sharp focus with the long-term injuries to James Vaughan and Tim Cahill. Moyes has already brought in Phil Jagielka from Sheffield United and Steven Pienaar on a season-long loan from Borussia Dortmund, and is closing in on Wigan Athletic’s Leighton Baines. But Arteta is hopeful of a clutch of further new arrivals before the transfer window closes at the end of the month. “If we can add some more players as well they would be more than welcome because we have a really small squad,” added Arteta. “We definitely need some new signings. It’s going to be a long season. If everyone is 100% and fit then maybe we’ll be okay, but if we get two or three big injuries we are going to need more players.” Arteta was the star performer as Everton continued their pre-season preparations with a 2-2 home draw with Bundesliga side Werder Bremen on Tuesday night. Since the split-team victories over a Northern Ireland XI and Bury, Moyes’s side have not won a friendly and conceded twice in both of their last two outings – a failing Arteta acknowledges must be eradicated before the season starts against Wigan in eight days’ time. “We deserved the draw on Tuesday, and if we’d have scored after we’d equalised the first time then I’m sure we’d have gone on to win the game comfortably,” he said. “But we conceded a second goal for the second time this pre-season. We can’t afford to give away sloppy goals like that when the season starts. We hardly ever conceded two goals in successive games during last season so we can’t let that happen again. “But that’s the best we have played so far in pre-season. It was more like a real game, there wasn’t the heat that we had in America, and we are a lot fitter now and sharper. “The trip to America was good, but the training was really hard. The heat made it very difficult, but I think we did well and we’re certainly sharper now as a result and we’re getting more ready for the start of the season. “Because we only played the one proper game in America, we wanted to show on Tuesday that we’d been benefited from the trip. “Werder Bremen are a really good team and in the Champions League, so it was a good game to see how far along the line we are in our preparations. “Some people might think we haven’t played enough games in pre-season, but we’ll only know more a couple of months into the season.” There had been speculation Arteta could begin the new season back in Spain. But the midfielder signed a new five-year contract during the summer and reveals he didn’t even consider leaving. “I am really happy at Everton,” said Arteta. “They value me here and for me going somewhere else didn’t really enter my head because mentally I was always going to stay here. “I know what this club means to me and the love I get from the supporters, so I was always going to stay.”
Everton wait on Steven Pienaar
Aug 3 2007
by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON are hoping Steven Pienaar will finally receive the paperwork he requires today to get his career on Merseyside up and running. The South African international was unable to play in Tuesday night’s friendly with Werder Bremen as he had not been granted a visa, but has flown to Dusseldorf in a bid to secure an appointment to rectify the matter. If Pienaar’s interview is successful - and there is no suggestion it won’t be - he will then fly straight to London to join up with Everton’s squad for their final warm-up game against Crystal Palace tomorrow. The hold-up, though, has been frustrating for both Pienaar and Everton’s coaching staff as he has been in sparkling form at Bellefield, leaving Alan Irvine adamant he will become an instant hit once they can let him off the leash. “We are absolutely desperate for Steven to play against Crystal Palace and we hope he will have that chance,” Irvine said today. “We have been trying to get him over to Germany in the hope that he can get an appointment and if he can get it all done and dusted, he will join up with us in London. Hopefully he will have a chance to get a game. “Steven is a very good footballer. He is very aware, very alert and though he has not got a massive physical presence, he has definitely got talent. He is a proper ‘Ajax’ footballer and is technically very, very good.” Pienaar, who started his career in Amsterdam, became David Moyes’ second signing of the summer when he agreed a 12-month loan from Borussia Dortmund and Irvine believes he will give Everton’s attacking play an added dimension. “Steven can play out wide but he is not a winger,” he continued. “He uses the ball well and is very quick. He is more a Mikel Arteta, Leon Osman type of player. He can play in the centre of midfield or just off the main striker. “He is versatile and very adaptable and, when you have a small squad like ours, that will be very handy for us. He has looked very good in training and we just hope he can get a proper game under his belt before the start of the season.” Given that a number of players are carrying bumps and bruises, Everton will leave it as late as possible before naming their starting line-up for the Palace game but hope to give as many of the squad a run out at Selhurst Park as possible. Though they are still reeling from the news that influential midfielder Tim Cahill has sustained a hairline fracture of the fifth metatarsal in his left foot, their pursuit of Leighton Baines is at least heading towards a successful conclusion. Everton and Wigan Athletic are expected to agree a fee for the 22-year-old shortly and while Manchester City have registered an interest in the left-back, Baines has his heart set on a move to Merseyside.
Alan Irvine: We must be fired up to storm Palace
Aug 3 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
AFTER a pre-season that has taken in four different countries and spanned five matches, Everton’s players take to the field tomorrow with words of warning ringing in their ears. Since reporting back to their soon to be defunct Bellefield base on July 2, the Blues have been on training camps in Scotland, Italy and the US and faced Bury, Northern Ireland, Preston, Real Salt Lake and Werder Bremen in keenly contested friendlies. It has been a demanding schedule but one Alan Irvine expects to have huge benefits in the long run; but both he and David Moyes want to see signs that the final game of their warm up at Crystal Palace has put the players spot on. The atmosphere is sure to be lively with Andrew Johnson returning to his former stomping ground and Palace will want to make it as tough a test as possible. But even though the final score at Selhurst Park will have little relevance in the grand scheme of things, Irvine has made it quite clear that anyone who drops their standards will find it difficult to get on the team sheet for Wigan Athletic’s visit a week on Saturday. Both he and Moyes will be impressing on Everton’s squad the importance of approaching the game in the right manner; if they don’t, and end up on the receiving end of a disappointing result, they will be in for a nasty shock when business starts for real. “We will be looking for another step up,” said Irvine, who was pleased with Tuesday night’s performance against Werder Bremen. “This is the last one before it starts for real and you always want to look as if you are getting there with your preparations. “You can be absolutely fantastic and be awful the following week when the season starts or vice versa but really we want to be looking as if the players are getting close to their very best for Wigan. “It’s a big, big game for Crystal Palace and they will be excited about us going down there. It’s their last match before the Championship starts and it will obviously give them a massive boost if they can get a result against us. “That’s an extra motivation for them and they will be glad to see AJ return. But our lads are playing for their places and we will be looking for big performances.” While the pressure will be cranked up in South East London, Irvine has been pleased with the last five weeks and believes a number of players have staked compelling claims to face Wigan.
“Picking the team for the first game is going to be difficult,” said Irvine. “But that is the position you want to be in. You want to have a lot of choices and you just hope everyone comes through the last game in good shape.”
Blues jurors wanted for 2007/08 season
Aug 3 2007 Liverpool Echo
ARE YOU a Evertonian?
Do you go follow the Blues from Fratton Park to the Riverside?
If you answered ‘Yes’ to any of those questions, and you can express your views clearly and concisely every week, then you could be one of the Echo’s jurors for the new campaign. The current jury are being released after many seasons’ faithful service, so we need new contributors ready, willing and able to take their place.
All we ask is that you are a season ticket holder at Goodison and go to away matches and cup ties, too. You’ll need to be available via email and phone and be ready to meet the Echo’s notoriously strict deadlines – sometimes even writing your 200-word contribution by 7.00am the morning after a big match. Fancy it? If so, email us a 200-word analysis piece about the Blues' pre-season build-up to firstname.lastname@example.org, with ‘Everton jury’ in the subject box, including your name, address and daytime contact details.
Everton table £10m for Porto’s Gonzalez
Aug 4 2007
by Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily Post
EVERTON have made a £10million offer for Porto midfielder Luis Gonzalez – as James Beattie last night agreed to join Sheffield United. Gonzalez, 26, is skipper of the Portuguese side and was part of the Argentina side at last year’s World Cup and the recent Copa America. Porto sources at last night’s Port of Rotterdam Tournament confirmed Everton’s interest in the player. David Moyes is prepared to splash out a major chunk of his transfer funds to make Gonzalez his major signing of the summer after the earlier capture of Phil Jagielka. Gonzalez, known as ‘Lucho’, can play as a central midfielder or as an attacking right winger. He began his career with Huracan in his homeland before moving on to River Plate in 2002, where his performances earned a move to Portugal three years later. Funds for the bid will be raised by the sale of Beattie, who has decided to leave in a £4million transfer to Sheffield United. The striker will bring an end to a frustrating Goodison career after agreeing terms with the Coca-Cola Championship side. Everton accepted a bid from the Bramall Lane side last Friday with Blades manager Bryan Robson having held talks with the player earlier this week. Beattie was keen to remain in the Premier League, with former club Blackburn Rovers and Birmingham City having previously shown an interest. But the 29-year-old has been persuaded to drop down a division after accepting his future lies away from Goodison. Beattie was Everton’s then record signing when arriving for £6million from Southampton in January 2005. But the forward netted just 15 goals in 86 appearances, and hasn’t scored from open play since March 2006. Goodison manager Moyes is stepping up his squad rebuilding and remains hopeful of bolstering his squad’s numbers with the capture of Leighton Baines. But Newcastle United are threatening to scupper Everton’s transfer plans for the second time this week by making a move for the Wigan Athletic left-back. The Magpies are understood to have revived their interest in the England under-21 international and could be poised to out-bid Everton for the player. Everton and Wigan have been thrashing out a deal worth around £5m for the 22-year-old over the past few days. But Magpies manager Sam Allardyce, who has signed one-time Goodison target Alan Smith, is set to make an increased offer for Baines. Baines is still said to favour a move to Everton but is believed to have told his close associates he is willing to uproot from the North West should an opportunity arise. Meanwhile, Steven Pienaar will have to wait until the opening day of the Premier League season for his first taste of action in an Everton shirt. The South African international, signed on a season-long loan from Borussia Dortmund, had been slated to appear in today’s friendly at Crystal Palace (kick-off 3pm). However, he has not yet received his visa and is therefore ineligible for the trip. Although Everton anticipate no complications and the matter to be concluded early next week, it means Pienaar will not have been able to play alongside his new team-mates ahead of the Premier League opener at home to Wigan Athletic next Saturday.
Fans launch bid for stadium at Goodison
Aug 4 2007 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
THOUSANDS of Everton fans have been shown alternative plans revealing a new home for their club in Liverpool. The two-pronged proposals, which involve a redeveloped Goodison Park or a new stadium on Scotland Road, were unveiled at a presentation in St George’s Hall by campaign group Keep Everton In Our City (KEIOC). They were drawn up by the top city architect responsible for the redevelopment of Newcastle United’s St James’ Park ground. The presentation came ahead of an official club ballot of fans which will decide whether Everton move to a new stadium in Kirkby. The move to another Merseyside borough outside Liverpool has sparked controversy among Everton supporters reluctant to leave the city and Kirkby residents opposed to the project. During the seven-hour presentation, supporters also voted in an alternative KEIOC ballot which asked whether they favoured a move to Kirkby. Representatives from Bestway, the group which owns the Scotland Road site championed by city council leader Warren Bradley, were also at the presentation. A spokesman said the cash-and-carry firm, which has an annual turnover of more than £1.7bn, had already paid architects and stadium designers to begin working on their own early plans for a stadium complex. He said: “A stadium on Bestway’s current premises could be a very real possibility for Everton F.C. and it is one which Liverpool council have expressed an interest in exploring.
“How that stadium would be developed and funded depends upon the extent to which a bigger development opportunity is created around the site. “We appreciate Everton are in a difficult situation and face a difficult decision. They have ambitions for the future and want to get the ball rolling, but we want to help that decision making process.” He said Everton could possibly recoup millions of pounds by selling the naming rights of a stadium nearer to Liverpool city centre. The images revealed in the ECHO on Thursday were produced by Trevor Skempton, the man who redesigned St James Park, and Liverpool council specialist Tom Hughes. And KEIOC spokesman Alfie Hinks said the plans would mean a 57,000-seater stadium - 3,000 more seats than the first stage of the Kirkby proposal. Everton bosses said the Knowsley stadium could be extended to 60,000 eventually. KEIOC said their stadium design could fit on the present Goodison Park site or the Scotland Road site. And they think demolishing the Park End and building a new lower tier over the course of a single summer would maintain the ground’s capacity above the 40,000 mark during redevelopment.
Everton said this was impossible and that the number of seats would dramatically reduce over the course of two or three seasons if Goodison was rebuilt.
Boost for city
A NEW home for Everton FC on Scotland Road could trigger vital regeneration for parts of North Liverpool. And bosses at cash-and-carry giant Bestway say a stadium on the so-called ‘loop-line’ site could become as iconic as the failed King’s Dock ground for Everton. They outlined their vision for the site, which is between a dual-carriageway, at a consultation event in St George’s Hall yesterday. Bestway currently owns the site and would look to become retail partners with Everton, although they admit their financial contribution could not match that of Tesco in Kirkby.
A spokesman said: “It would be a truly fantastic location.”
James Beattie agrees Blades switch
Aug 4 2007
by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
JAMES BEATTIE is on the verge of joining Sheffield United after Bryan Robson last night persuaded the striker to pursue his career in the Coca-Cola Championship. The Blades had a £4m bid for the one-time England international accepted by Everton’s board last week – it could reach £4.5m with add-ons – and, following protracted discussions, have now agreed personal terms with the player. The move will bring to an end Beattie’s two-and-a-half year association with the Blues, during which time he has contributed 13 goals in 76 league appearances. He had previously attracted the attention of Birmingham City boss Steve Bruce who was contemplating bolstering his strike options due to the uncertainly surrounding Mikael Forssell’s return from injury. For now though, it appears Beattie is content to link up with former Everton team-mate Gary Naysmith, who moved to Bramall Lane last month. Phil Jagielka, meanwhile, believes Everton are primed to hit the ground running when they face Wigan Athletic in next weekend’s curtain raiser at Goodison Park after an eye-catching performance against Werder Bremen. Everton’s main signing of the summer came on as a half-time substitute during the 2-2 draw with the Germans and impressed alongside Alan Stubbs at the centre of defence, the position he has played most of pre-season. Preparations for the new campaign end with a trip to Crystal Palace this afternoon but once that is out the way, Jagielka expects another few intensive training sessions will leave the Blues in tip-top shape. “It was nice to get on for the whole of the second half and continue my progress in pre-season. I got a few nice welcomes from the fans and hopefully that can continue,” said the England B international. “In patches we were fantastic. The boys who played the majority of the match will be a little tired after all the travelling but I am sure the gaffer will take a lot more positives from that game than all the other pre-season matches we have had. “The Salt Lake game wasn’t very good but it is getting better and better. We improved in this game and we have another match against Crystal Palace. We will see how that goes but we will be ready. Another five or six hard days of training and we will be flying.”
Johnson relishes Palace reception
Aug 4 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
ANDREW JOHNSON takes a trip down memory lane this afternoon but Alan Irvine hopes it is the start of a journey that will see him take his Everton career up another level. Having scored 85 goals in 160 appearances for Crystal Palace before he joined the Blues for £8.6m in May 2006, Johnson is sure to receive a warm welcome from supporters who idolised him when he returns to Selhurst Park. With nothing at stake other than improving fitness before the action starts for real next week, the atmosphere will be relaxed at Johnson’s former stomping ground, but that does not mean Everton will be soaking up the sun. Far from it. Given that Johnson had an ankle operation earlier this summer, Irvine wants to see signs in the Blues’ final friendly that he is getting close to rediscovering the zip that made him the scourge of Premiership defenders early last season. A couple of niggling problems have prevented Johnson from playing a full 90 minutes so far this pre-season but both he and Irvine will be hoping that stat is put right against Palace; this, after all, is the final dress rehearsal before Wigan Athletic arrive at Goodison Park. What he has shown so far, though, has been encouraging and Irvine believes it will only take one goal to open the floodgates - and if that happens, he is sure Everton will be on the road to another successful season. “It’s been a bit of a stop-start pre-season for Andy,” said Irvine. “He has not played as much as he would have liked but, from what I have seen of him, that is not a worry. He has looked very sharp so far and the only thing missing has been a goal. “I didn’t see him against Northern Ireland but from all accounts he played very well and since then, his contribution has been good. But the same thing happened last year and he started the season in terrific form. If the same thing happens again, we will be delighted.” So, too, will Johnson. At the corresponding stage of affairs 12 months ago, there was a hullabaloo in some quarters over the fact that he had not found the net but that changed dramatically after he broke his duck in the opening day win over Watford. Another five quickly followed as Everton began with an unbeaten run of seven games and, as a player who tends to score in flurries, it would not be hard to envisage his tally turning over at a rate of knots if he gets up and running straight away. Another aspect giving him confidence is the fact he is now fully settled into the Everton way of life. Shy and nervous when he first arrived on Merseyside, Johnson has now come out of his shell and is ready to show Evertonians what he can really do. “I finished the season early but I’m feeling good,” said Johnson, who reports the surgery he underwent to has corrected a problem that had nagged him for two years. “Pre-season is the most important part of the year for a footballer but we have got through it. “I had a couple of niggles last year with my knee, my hamstring and my ankle, but hopefully that is behind me. Hopefully I can get a bit more consistency and score a few more goals. The boys have helped me so much.
“It is the same for Joleon Lescott. We have both been here a year now and have bedded in. We had good seasons last year but there is definitely more to come from both of us. If I can stay injury free, hopefully you will see a lot more from me.
“There will be more expectations on me this year, I know that. I scored 12 goals last year and that was okay, considering the injuries. But the fans are rightly expecting me to score a few more and if I get a good start, the goals will come. “I owe a lot to Crystal Palace and will never forget my time there. But the reason I came to Everton was for the fans - there aren’t too many places you will play in front of 40,000 every other week. They give us such tremendous backing. They are fantastic.
“But I also came here to play in Europe and get myself back in the England frame, which I achieved last year. I wasn’t worried about my performances last pre-season and I’m not really bothered if I don’t get one now. The gaffer always says to me keep them for the first day.” Since David Moyes split his squad for against Northern Ireland and Bury three weeks ago, Everton have not won a game but that does not concern Johnson and he feels the squad is in just as good shape - if not better - then when he first arrived. “We got into Europe last season and we have raised the bar,” he said. “We won’t be expecting anything less than the same again. We’ve brought Jags in who is a top player and can play in a number of positions. “We’ll also be looking to strengthen the squad further. I know the expectations will be higher, but we are expecting to do well. Everyone wants to do well and we are looking forward to it.”
Quality not quantity the key to success for Blues
Aug 4 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
SITTING in the foyer of a Los Angeles hotel, Lee Carsley scrunched up his face and shook his head after being posed a question many Evertonians have been asking all summer – is a lack of transfer activity stretching the Blues to breaking point?
While some rattle like a string of worry beads that next Saturday’s Premier League opener against Wigan Athletic is the first step on the road to oblivion, there is a reassuring sense of calm amongst David Moyes’ squad and Carsley was only too happy to convey the message. “I think we’re in good shape,” offered the midfielder. “We’ve got fantastic players here. One of our biggest strengths is that we have got a small squad. Some people might see it as a negative but the fact is that what we have here already is quality. “Everyone is pushing for the first team. What’s the point of getting a couple of average players in? What are they going to do? What’s the point of bringing someone in who is not going to improve the squad? We have gone past that.”
So, with that in mind, here’s a thought. Rather than dwelling on what has gone ‘wrong’ this summer – be it arguments over Kirkby or ‘missed’ signings – isn’t it time for everyone to concentrate their efforts on helping the team get off to a flyer?
While it is only natural certain supporters harbour genuine fears that the numbers Moyes has available at present will not be enough to cope, surely such thoughts need to be pushed aside for now to rally round a squad that achieved so much last year and can do so again this time. Yes, Everton have one of the smallest squads in the Premier League and it is only right to wonder why more players have left Goodison Park since January 2006 than have been brought in; accusations of mismanagement, however, are grossly unfair. As Carsley points out, Moyes is comfortable dealing with the numbers he has at present and would anyone really want him to bring in a new face that would not improve the quality or run the risk of upsetting the atmosphere in the camp?
Of course, in an ideal world Phil Jagielka and Steven Pienaar would not have been the only players to be added so far and seeing Alan Smith maddeningly slip through the net a couple of days ago exacerbated feelings of angst. Here was a player whose versatility and European experience would have improved Everton’s squad yet, for one reason or another, he has ended up moving north. Take no notice of Sam Allardyce’s tiresome hot air – Goodison Park was Smith’s number one choice.
It may turn out to be a decision Everton are left to rue – some have questioned Smith’s effectiveness since he returned from an horrific ankle injury, but a lengthy run of games should change all that.Yet that argument is for another day. Lambasting the board or accusing the manager of being indecisive for a lack of signings is easy but this summer the goalposts have been moved in terms of conducting transfers and one club’s reckless behaviour has changed the shape of them forever. There has been a dearth of genuine quality players available and, aside from that, the ones who have moved have been enticed by West Ham United’s obscene policy to throw ridiculous wages around; some of the names they have tried to sign would surprise you.
Once Upton Park was seen as a home of traditional football virtues, it is now viewed by many in the games as a house of ill repute. Obviously, there will be no pleasing some people and they will feel Everton’s decision not to splash the cash means they have taken the first step backwards. But, until results back up those claims, it is much too soon to criticise. Given the sickening injuries James Vaughan and Tim Cahill have sustained in the past couple of weeks, heaven knows Everton could do with some good news and Leighton Baines’ imminent arrival from Wigan should help.
What would really be the ticket, though, is a rousing welcome for the players when they step out in seven days time. Save the protests, bottle the anger – a united front is the only way Everton will get off the to the best possible start.
Crystal Palace 0, Everton 0 (Echo)
Aug 6 2007
by Dominic King
COME on. Hold your hands up. How many of you believe Everton’s bid for Lucho Gonzalez is just another PR stunt? With tickets still available for next Saturday’s Premier League opener against Wigan Athletic, cynics will say this is just an attempt to prove to supporters that the club has ambition and quell the growing rumblings of discontent. After all, we’ve been in this situation before, haven’t we? Think Alan Shearer. Think Fabrizio Ravanelli. Think Michael Owen and Dirk Kuyt. It’s all very well talking a good game if you don’t actually have to go through with the transaction. Just pause, though, for a minute and consider this: would Everton run the risk of leaving themselves open to ridicule from an increasingly irate section of their fan base by entering into a race they have no chance of winning? Almost since the final ball of the last campaign was kicked at Stamford Bridge, Everton have found themselves being criticised for a perceived lack of ambition as players linked with moves to Goodison Park have ended up elsewhere. From Joey Barton to Alan Smith, with Jason Koumas and Kieron Richardson in between, the howls of derision have been growing louder and louder. It’s all the board’s fault. They won’t give David Moyes the ammunition to move onto the next phase of his job. Well how about this for a response? Make no mistake, Everton believe they have an outstanding chance of landing Gonzalez, who has been a key cog in helping Argentina become one of world football’s outstanding sides. Tall, athletic and with an unerring eye for goal, Gonzalez would be the kind of stellar signing Everton need and could there any better statement of intent than smashing the club transfer record to smithereens on the eve of the new season? There is still much to be done before Everton, who are close to adding Leighton Baines to their ranks, get the green light to talk to FC Porto’s captain, but everything they have heard so far suggests that he is keen on moving to Merseyside. It would, quite simply, be a remarkable piece of business if it comes off and would also make a mockery of arguments that Everton lack ambition. How can that be levelled at a club that is looking to break its transfer record for the third time in two-and-a-half years? Only time will tell if Gonzalez becomes an Everton player, but Saturday’s news certainly provided a talking point for those who had made the trip to Selhurst Park to see the final friendly before the action starts for real next week. No goals to shout about and very little incident to note, it was an unremarkable afternoon, but the display against Crystal Palace did suggest that Everton will be in tip-top shape for Wigan’s visit. Despite being short of numbers - seven players were absent for one reason or another - the Toffees had little difficult keeping their rivals from the Championship at arm’s length and, with better fortune, would have had the game wrapped up before half-time. With Mikel Arteta - who else? - pulling the strings, Everton passed the ball better than they have done all pre-season and only the woodwork denied Phil Jagielka a first goal for his new club. Victor Anichebe also suffered the same fate. “We looked a good side for periods in the first half,” said Alan Irvine. “We hit the bar a couple of times and had a lot of corners and free-kicks, which they defended very well. “The deliveries from Mikel were very good. Our movement was good too. “The one thing I have been disappointed about, though, is the number of players who have missed training with injuries. They have been carrying niggling injuries, which they couldn’t shake off. “They have tried to get back in but maybe too early. “We just don’t want to take any chances. If this had been a league game, we would have had other players available. But you just can’t risk things at this stage.” How true. The sight of Arteta hobbling off at half-time was enough to have every Evertonian offering prayers to a higher place but he will be fine to face Wigan, as will a number of his team-mates. “He got a whack and it’s sore,” said Irvine, before offering words of reassurance. “He was limping but it was a kick rather than anything else. It’s nothing more serious or sinister than that. He’ll be back in training in the next couple of days.” Another man who headed home from South London battered and bruised was Anichebe, but he, too, has received a clean bill of health and must also have played himself into Moyes’ line up for the first day. As was the case 12 months ago, he has been the one player to really catch the eye and this will be a big season for the 19-year-old; after all, the improvement he has shown made the decision to sell James Beattie to Sheffield United that much easier. There is little doubt that Anichebe is maturing with every game and provided his decision-making improves - and he can chip in with a regular supply of goals - what’s to say he won’t be Andrew Johnson’s partner for quite some time? Aside from Anichebe, others who have caught the eye in pre-season include Tim Howard, Lee Carsley, Arteta, Jagielka and Joleon Lescott and there is certainly no evidence yet to suggest that Everton have regressed. And if they can add Gonzalez to the mix, who knows what might be possible? This could be one of the most important signings in Everton’s history. CRYSTAL PALACE: Speroni (Flinders 46), Lawrence, Craig, Cort (Hudson 46), Watson (Moses 66); Soares, Fonte (Swaibu 80), Hughes (Martin 62), Green (Butterfield 46); Scowcroft (Kuqi 46), Morrison (Freedman 46). EVERTON: Howard; Hibbert (Valente 46), Stubbs, Yobo, Lescott; Arteta (Vidarsson 46), Jagielka, Carsley, de Silva; Anichebe, Johnson (Jutkiewicz 77).
Crystal Palace 0, Everton 0 (D,Post)
Aug 6 2007
by Chris Beesley at Selhurst Park
ANDREW JOHNSON may have left his throne at Crystal Palace more than a year ago but he is fortunate enough to be idolised by the supporters of two clubs and his still regarded as a king among men by the Selhurst Park faithful.
Everton’s record £8.6million signing scoffed at wide-of-the-mark stories earlier this summer in the southern-based Press that he was hoping for a swift return to the capital just a season after Goodison Park took him to their hearts, such is his contentment. While Johnson remains the main man for goals in David Moyes’s squad, the 85 strikes in 160 appearances for the Eagles – including 32 in a promotion season and 22 in the Premier League the following year – have not been forgotten by the fans of his former employers. However, the main reason that the England international was given such as rousing reception on his first return to SE25 is down to the way this true gentleman of the game conducted himself both at his time with Palace and following his subsequent move to Everton. Despite suffering relegation with Palace in 2005 after just a single season in the top flight, Johnson showed great loyalty to stay at the club for a further season and attempt what was eventually an unsuccessful bid to bounce straight back to the Premier League before earning his transfer to Goodison in order to further his career and help his international aspirations. As far as I am aware, the Bedford-born striker has never had an ill word to say about Palace, the club that made him, picking him up as a makeweight in a deal that took Clinton Morrison to Birmingham City, and kept faith with him when he failed to score in his first 10 league matches. Compare this to the conduct of another striker who has departed Goodison Park in recent years and was already a regular England international while playing at the club. The way this other player kisses the badge of his new team when he returns to the club that raised him in front of the supporters who used to adore him and the way in which he speaks about the manager who was only doing his best to protect him during his tender years shows a distinct lack of class compared to his undoubted talents on the pitch. Outside Selhurst Park there is a mural celebrating Crystal Palace’s centenary in 2005 and depicted on it for posterity is a painting of the same Andrew Johnson who was cheered by the home supporters as he disembarked from the Everton coach, had his name sang regularly throughout the match by Palace’s fans and who on being substituted 13 minutes from the end of the game was given a standing ovation by all sections of Selhurst Park. Footballers should never take the supporters for granted because ultimately they’re the constants that make every club. Players, managers and their coaching staff and even chairmen and directors to some extent, all come and go. If you show the fans respect then they’ll do the same for you. Nobody at Crystal Palace begrudges Andrew Johnson his move to the longest-standing club in England’s top division; they’re smart enough to accept that it was a necessary step to better himself. In the same way, even the staunchest Evertonian would begrudgingly be forced to accept that a certain player of immense ability may at some point want to leave Goodison Park but it’s the way in which this individual acts which ensures he has ruined any chance of being remembered fondly in years to come in the same way Johnson is at Palace. As for the mystery man who we all know I’m talking about, we’ll all remember the name, it’s just a shame he doesn’t remember his footballing roots. Talking of which, the journey from central London to Selhurst Park provides an illustration to Evertonians of the impending prospect of abandoning their home of the past 115 years. As my train left the station, the great buildings of the capital were in view majestically along the banks of the Thames. The Houses of Parliament, The Tower of London and Tower Bridge. There was no doubt which world famous city I was in, just as if Everton had moved to Kings Dock, their stadium would have shaped part of Liverpool’s distinctive skyline across the Mersey. However, half an hour later when I arrived at Selhurst stadium, I found myself well and truly in suburbia. The streets and houses could have been anywhere in England and there was no feel or indication whatsoever that I was in the same great metropolis of just a few minutes earlier. Palace’s unsightly home even has a major supermarket chain attached to one of its stands which was poignant in a week in which the ‘Keep Everton In Our City’ campaign revealed their intricate plans how Goodison Park could be redeveloped to a state-of-the-art 57,000-capacity stadium as well as promoting the possibility of building a new ground on the Scotland Road Loop site which would see the club playing in the district of Everton. It would seem that there actually is a Plan B, even a Plan C as far as many fans are concerned. Large sections of the club’s most devoted supporters, at least, showed their objections towards Kirkby at both this game and the Werder Bremen friendly at Goodison earlier in the week but it remains to be seen if all those eligible to vote, choose to make Liverpool a one-club city given the supposed Hobson’s Choice on offer.
In truth, it was no real surprise that this encounter ended goalless, near 90 degree temperatures in the capital made it uncomfortable to sit still, never mind play football. Everton were without captain Phil Neville due to a family bereavement, Leon Osman and James McFadden both carried knocks and were not risked while on-loan Steven Pienaar was unable to make his debut due to his visa still not being completed. The visitors almost found themselves a goal down just two minutes in when a slip by Alan Stubbs allowed James Scowcroft to go one-on-one with Tim Howard but his shot was straight at the American keeper. From then on, Everton’s goal was rarely troubled in a match in which both sides lacked a cutting edge. The visitors did strike the Palace woodwork twice in the fist half though as Phil Jagielka hit the crossbar following a free-kick from the right by Mikel Arteta while Victor Anichebe struck Julian Speroni’s left-hand post after connected with a right wing cross, again from the Spaniard. Moyes withdrew his playmaker at half-time and the game petered out after the break with a 25-yard volley by Lee Carsley when Palace only half-cleared a Nuno Valente corner, the only notable shot on target. The biggest cheer of the afternoon came 13 minutes from time and was of course reserved for Johnson – you wonder whether Palace would have even politely applauded had he scored for Everton – when he was substituted for teenage recruit from Swindon Lukas Jutkiewicz.
CRYSTAL PALACE: Speroni (Flinders 46), Lawrence, Craig, Cort (Hudson 46), Fonte (Swaibu 80), Green (Butterfield 46), Watson (Moses 66), Soares, Hughes (Martin 62), Scowcroft (Kuqi 46), Morrison (Freedman 46).
EVERTON: Howard, Hibbert (Valente 46), Lescott, Stubbs, Yobo, de Silva, Carsley, Jagielka, Arteta (Vidarsson 46), Johnson (Jutkiewicz 77), Anichebe. Subs: Boyle, Ruddy.
REFEREE: Phil Crossley (Kent) ATT: 10,010. NEXT MATCH: Everton v Wigan Athletic, Premiership, Saturday, August 11, 3pm.
Everton are still Johann Vogel’s choice
Aug 6 2007
Blue & Read
Liverpool Daily Post
JOHANN VOGEL still hasn’t given up hope of a transfer to Everton but Real Betis will have to grant him a free transfer if he’s to move to Goodison Park. Spanish Second Division club Cadiz have agreed a fee for the Swiss midfielder but the player would still prefer a crack at the Premier League. Cadiz coach Mariano Garcia Remon said: “We still need to convince the player, because he wants to play in the Primera and he also has offers from England.” Everton were poised to snap up the former Grasshoppers, PSV Eindhoven and Milan man last month. SVEN-GORAN ERIKSSON wants to make ex-Everton player Manuel Fernandes a Manchester City player in a £10m deal. Fernandes, who spent the second half of last season on-loan at Goodison after a similar spell at Portsmouth, would become Manchester City's most expensive pre-season signing yet. Everton were not willing to come up with the huge transfer fee set by Benfica.
Everton swoop for Leighton Baines
Aug 6 2007
by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON were today poised to make Leighton Baines their third signing of the summer - and then step up their efforts at landing Luis Gonzalez. Wigan Athletic full-back Baines agreed personal terms over the weekend and was expected at Bellefield for a medical that would rubber stamp his £5m move and see him join Phil Jagielka and Steven Pienaar at Goodison Park. And there is increasing confidence that a club record £11m bid for FC Porto’s captain Gonzalez will prove successful, despite reported interest from Valencia, Juventus, Lyon and Manchester City, though City are likely to drop out of the race if they sign Mark Bresciano. For the time being, the arrival of Baines - who made a surprise appearance in the director’s box at last week’s friendly with Werder Bremen - will bring a successful end to David Moyes’ summer long pursuit of the England Under-21 international. Newcastle were also interested in signing Baines but the lure of playing for his boyhood club in Europe was impossible to resist and Everton’s assistant boss Alan Irvine believes he will prove to be an outstanding acquisition. “Leighton has got real potential to play for his country. Anyone who saw him in the European Under-21 Championships would have been impressed with him,” said Irvine. “He is a good footballer, a nice passer of the ball, he has loads of energy and he is quick so there are lots of reasons for wanting to sign a player like him.” The Blues may not have been as active in the transfer market as some of their rivals this summer but Joseph Yobo would not be surprised if Baines’ imminent arrival starts a flurry of activity before they start their Premier League campaign. “It’s all about buying quality rather than quantity,” said Yobo today. “The manager knows what he is doing. “We all want to see better players coming in. We are playing in Europe and we know it is going to be a tough season. “Our squad is not the biggest and we have got a few injuries, to Vaughany and Tim. But they will recover before too long and who knows what will happen before the start of the season? “If we can sign one or two quality players, that would be great.” Everton were without seven players for Saturday’s friendly at Crystal Palace, which ended in a goal-less draw, but expect to have all bar Tim Cahill and James Vaughan available for the league opener against Wigan. Vaughan has had an operation on his dislocated shoulder and is not expected to return until November at the earliest but head physio Mick Rathbone reports the surgery seems to have gone without trouble. “James has been to see a specialist and things have gone tremendously well,” said Rathbone. “But we are looking at an estimated time of four months out, certainly no less.”
Alan Irvine: Time was right for James Beattie to leave
Aug 6 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
ALAN IRVINE believes James Beattie needed to move away from Goodison Park to rebuild his shattered confidence. Everton’s former club record signing joined Sheffield United in a £4m deal that could rise to £4.5m if the Blades win promotion during Beattie’s time at Bramall Lane. He leaves after scoring just 15 times in 86 appearances and the decision to let him leave was accelerated by the progress of James Vaughan and Victor Anichebe. But Irvine - who worked with the 29-year-old at Blackburn Rovers - was frustrated that things never went according to plan for Beattie and hopes a fresh start in South Yorkshire will do him good. “I’m disappointed that things never worked out for James,” said Irvine. “I have known him a long time and I honestly hoped and thought that it would work out for him here. “But it didn’t and that happens sometimes. I think it’s probably best for James to move on at this time and I’m talking as someone who knows him well as a person rather than Everton’s assistant manager. I will contact him and wish him all the best. “The emergence of Vaughany and Victor and the fact they have been doing so well has clearly added to it being more difficult for James. “Had they not played as well as they have been, James would have played more football and his confidence would have been higher than it is. The success of the young boys has certainly added to the problems that he has had.” Beattie, who joined the Blues for £6m from Southampton in January 2005, said: “The way things turned out for me at Everton was a bit of a nightmare. But life goes on and I’m excited by this challenge.”
Everton fans get chance to vote on club move
Aug 6 2007 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
A BALLOT of Everton fans to decide if the Blues should move to a new home in Kirkby got under way today. Around 38,000 current and recent season ticket holders, shareholders and members of official fan club Evertonia were sent their ballot papers this morning. The Blues enlisted the help of the Electoral Reform Society for the ballot – with the results due later this month. Chief executive Keith Wyness today said its aim was “to ascertain the level of support” for the move. The question will simply ask “Are you in favour of relocating Everton Football Club to Kirkby?”
Mr Wyness previously said a 51% vote in either direction would be considered decisive. If the answer is “yes”, negotiations will continue with Knowsley council and Tesco. If the answer is “no” there would be no further negotiations. Mr Wyness said: “The board has offered a very clear question. It will now be up to Evertonians.”
A partnership with Tesco and Knowsley council would see Everton leave Goodison Park. The board of directors will make a final decision on the club’s future guided by the results of the vote.
City to stay in the loop on Everton move
Aug 7 2007 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
THE first phase of top level council talks to create a new home for Everton in Liverpool will be finished in a month. Experts from Liverpool council and international developer and retailers Bestway are working together to explore the Scotland Road “loop site” as the location for the Blues’ new stadium.
Both groups have set up teams to test whether the site could be commercial and practical. The joint announcement was made as Everton FC began its official ballot of fans to decided on whether the club should move to a new home in Kirkby.
Blues bosses have described the move as “the deal of the century” and told fans there was no “Plan B”. Around 38,000 current and recent season ticket holders, shareholders and members of the club’s official fan club Evertonia were sent ballot papers yesterday morning. The Blues enlisted the help of the Electoral Reform Society for the ballot, with the results due later this month. Bestway head of property Malcolm Carter said: “We have been encouraged by our meetings with the city council’s team of senior executives and their determination to put all their energies and efforts behind the project. “We are equally committed to supporting this exciting opportunity for Everton Football Club and the communities of north Liverpool. “Our initial studies have established that a first-class stadium will fit on our site and we are confident that the wider area could accommodate a level of supporting commercial development.”
KEIOC has also produced drawings of an expanded Goodison Park. Group secretary Alfie Hincks, who lives in Kirkby, said: “We have shown everyone that there is not only a Plan B but a Plan C too and both options have the majority of fans’ support.”
Mr Carter said both Bestway and the council were committed to working constructively with the club on the loop site option. Liverpool council leader Warren Bradley said: “We will need to work closely with Everton Football Club to convince the club that a genuine alternative to the Knowsley move can be delivered within the city of Liverpool and in the heart of Everton itself. Bill Kenwright, fans like myself and everyone associated with Everton all want the best for this great club and I believe this is potentially the best site available.” The Tesco and Knowsley council deal would see Everton leave the ground that has been their home since 1892.
The board of directors will make a final decision on the club’s future – guided by the results of the vote.
Want to join our jury service for 2007/08?
Aug 7 2007 Liverpool Echo
ARE YOU a fanatical Kopite or a lifelong Evertonian?
Do you go home and away with the Reds, or follow the Blues from Fratton Park to the Riverside? If you answered ‘Yes’ to any of those questions, and you can express your views clearly and concisely every week, then you could be one of the Echo’s jurors for the new campaign. The current jury are being released after many seasons’ faithful service, so we need new contributors ready, willing and able to take their place.
All we ask is that you are a season ticket holder at either Anfield or Goodison and go to your club’s away matches and cup ties, too. You’ll need to be available via email and phone and be ready to meet the Echo’s notoriously strict deadlines – sometimes even writing your 200-word contribution by 7.00am the morning after a big match.
Fancy it? If so, email us a 200-word analysis piece about your club’s pre-season build-up to email@example.com, with ‘Everton jury’ or ‘Liverpool jury’ in the subject box, including your name, address and daytime contact details.
1,200 against Kirkby
Aug 7 2007
by Nick Coligan, Liverpool Echo
MORE than 1,200 Everton fans voted against moving to Kirkby after viewing alternative plans for a new stadium. The Keep Everton In Our City (KEIOC) campaign group held an exit poll of supporters as they left an exhibition of two proposals for a new home for the Blues. A total of 1,221 people voted against the club’s proposed relocation to Kirkby, while 36 were in favour of it. KEIOC admits the poll was “unscientific” but believes it indicates that support for the campaign is growing. Spokesman Dave Kelly said: “We were overwhelmed by the response. We started out with 1,000 ballot papers and were surprised to go through another 300. “We would not suggest the exit poll was anything other than unscientific though. “A couple of hundred people turned up on Saturday as we were packing up, and we put the display back on show for them.” KEIOC is promoting two proposals – the redevelopment of Goodison Park and a site off Scotland Road, Everton.
Grosvenor to fight Scotland Road stadium plan
Aug 7 2007
by Larry Neild, Liverpool Daily Post
LIVERPOOL council officials yesterday launched a month-long study into the viability of a site for a new Everton FC stadium that will keep the club within the city boundaries. It appears the so-called trumpet site off Scotland Road is now first choice for the city as it seeks to provide a Plan B for Everton fans who yesterday were sent their ballot papers over the proposed move to Knowsley. But the Daily Post can reveal that any development on the site will face tough opposition from city centre businesses, including the £1bn Paradise Street development. They will attempt to veto any significant commercial development that could pose a threat to the economical viability of the city centre retail core. Liverpool City Council and the owners of the trumpet-loop site, Bestway, have embarked on a series of technical and commercial studies to explore the viability of a stadium development at the Scotland Road site. A joint statement from the council and Bestway said both sides had established professional teams to progress the studies, and both believe that this key landmark site could be a real alternative to the Kirkby option currently being considered by Everton fans. Bestway head of property Malcolm Carter said: “We have been encouraged by our meetings with the city council’s team of senior executives and their determination to put all their energies and efforts behind the project. “We are equally committed to supporting this exciting opportunity for Everton Football Club and the communities of North Liverpool. “Our initial studies have established that a first-class stadium will fit on our site and we are confident that the wider area could accommodate a level of supporting commercial development.” Mr Carter also reiterated Bestway’s continuing commitment to its growing business in North Liverpool and to its staff and customers. It is anticipated that the first phase studies will be completed within the next four to six weeks. The statement continued: “Liverpool City Council and Bestway fully acknowledge and respect Everton’s need to resolve their future and deliver a new stadium worthy of a leading European club. Both parties are committed to working constructively with the club to progress the Loop Site option in the coming weeks.” Liverpool council leader Cllr Warren Bradley, a keen Everton supporter, said: “Clearly we will need to work closely with Everton Football Club to convince the club that a genuine alternative to the Knowsley move can be delivered within the city of Liverpool and in the heart of Everton itself. Bill Kenwright, fans like myself and everyone associated with Everton all want the best for this great club, and I believe this is potentially the best site available.” Campaigners fighting to keep Everton within the city, rather than move to a new home in Kirkby, have earmarked the land surrounding the Wallasey tunnel approach road as their favoured option, along with a possible redevelopment of Goodison Park.. Coun Bradley has also set his sights on the Bestway land as one of his top options to ensure the city continues as home of the Blues. But sources in the city centre retail world say a new stadium would only stack up if it was allied to significant commercial developments, embracing retail and leisure. The prospect of up to 500,000 sq ft of commercial schemes within walking distance of the city centre would generate tough opposition from the big retailers and businesses. It would also face opposition from Grosvenor who are investing £1bn on Europe’s biggest retail scheme in the heart of the city. The blow for the trumpet site comes as KEIOC, Keep Everton in Our City, campaigners outlined the site as a key alternative to the Kirkby move. Last night, Ed Oliver, deputy chairman of Liverpool Chamber of Commerce said: “A large commercial scheme so close to the retail and business heart of the city would almost certainly face opposition. I personally do not think it will come to that because I am sure there will be little demand for retail space on the fringe of the city when there is so much commercial activity in the city centre. “Whilst I agree with the general opinion that Everton should try to stay within Liverpool I do not see the trumpet site as a viable option, because it will probably not work economically and even if it was progressed forward there would be concerns and opposition raised from existing city centre businesses.” The issue of peripheral commercial development around the fringes of the city centre were raised by Grosvenor during the planning stages of their own Paradise Street scheme. In the past the city council itself has raised concerns about larger schemes because of the potential impact they could have on the viability of the city centre. Everton FC yesterday sent out ballot papers to fans who are being given the final say on the proposed move to Kirkby where a new stadium would be built alongside a Tesco superstore. Sources close to the club believe the Bestway announcement is a desperate attempt by Warren Bradley to undermine the Kirkby ballot. The club is expected, within 48 hours, to produce conclusive reasons why it believes the Bestway site will be ruled out of the Everton equation.
Leighton Baines will shine from start
Aug 7 2007
by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
LEIGHTON BAINES officially became an Everton player today with David Moyes hailing his arrival as a “signing for now and for the future”. The England Under-21 international has put pen-to-paper on a five-year contract after the Blues agreed a £5m deal with Wigan Athletic that could eventually rise to £6m depending on a variety of add-ons. Baines had agreed personal terms over the weekend but his move was only rubber stamped this morning when the results of the medical he underwent at Bellefield yesterday came back without a problem. Everton beat off strong competition from Newcastle United - who had put together a lucrative package - and Sunderland to land Baines but the club’s new number three is unlikely to make his debut against his former employers this weekend as he has a hamstring problem. But Moyes is thrilled to have added Baines - who starred for England during the European Under-21 Championships - to his ranks, as he has been tracking him for the past 12 months and was looking to recruit a quality left-back after selling Gary Naysmith to Sheffield United. “We are pleased to have him,” said Moyes. “It’s a signing for now and it’s also a signing for the future. “Leighton is someone that we have been after for a long time and he is someone who will give good competition to our squad. “We see him as a left-back. We already have Nuno to play there and Joleon Lescott can cover in that position, but we want him to be a central defender. “We needed to add to our squad after we lost Gary Naysmith. “We used him quite a bit last season and we needed to replace him. Leighton is a young player and he fits in with our policy of trying to buy good British players if we can. From all indications, he is a big Evertonian. “We have been impressed by him and the reports that we have had about him over the past 12 months have been good. “He really came to prominence last season and has done well in the Premier League and at the European Championships, so that was a big factor.” Ironically, Baines was released as a schoolboy by Everton in the same week 10 years ago as the club’s other big summer signing, Phil Jagielka, but the lure of returning to Goodison and playing in Europe was impossible to resist. Having made his debut for Wigan in a League Cup tie against West Brom as 17-year-old, Baines went on to make 166 appearances for the Latics .scoring four goals, including a spectacular one against Tottenham.
Alan Irvine: New boy Phil Jagielka can play anywhere
Aug 7 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
PHIL JAGIELKA has been Everton’s jack of all trades since ar riving on Merseyside – and Alan Irvine believes he has mastered them, too, during an impressive pre-season. Since becoming the Blues’ first summer signing last month, Jagielka has found himself deployed as a right-back, in central midfield and as a central defender in recent friendlies, particularly catching the eye against Werder Bremen and Crystal Palace. His performance at Selhurst Park at the weekend provided further evidence that he is quickly settling into life at Goodison Park and he was unfortunate not to register his first goal in Everton colours, only the crossbar keeping out a crashing volley. Having started alongside Lee Carsley, Tony Hibbert’s half-time substitution saw him end the 0-0 draw protecting the flanks, and assistant boss Irvine was once again impressed with Jagielka’s overall contribution. Given the size of Everton’s squad, such versatility will prove invaluable during the new campaign and Irvine reckons the £4m they paid Sheffield United to land Jagielka will be seen as a shrewd investment. “He was unlucky not to get himself a goal on Saturday and once again he had to play in a number of different positions,” said Irvine. “But we know that he can play in those positions comfortably. He has done a very good job in the past as a central midfielder player, we know he has played really well as a right-back and he can do it as a central defender, too. “These were the reasons that we signed him. He is a fantastic player, a versatile player and someone who will play a lot of games for Everton in the next few years. He’ll play in a lot of different positions and he will play well in them. We are really pleased with him. “We have had to play with a number of lads out of position at times this summer but Phil has shown his adaptability. Off the pitch, he seems a great lad and has fitted in very easily with the rest of the boys.”
Like his new team-mate Joseph Yobo, Jagielka played every minute of every Premiership game last season for the Blades, but he now faces an anxious wait to see if he has done enough to preserve that record against Wigan Athletic this Saturday.
In his favour, though, is the fact that he has been able to train without problem recently and Blues boss David Moyes will not draw up plans for his starting line-up until later this week once he has assessed his walking wounded. Mikel Arteta hobbled out of the Palace contest, while another seven regulars also missed out, including James McFadden, who had looked sharp when scoring one and setting another up against Werder Bremen. “Faddy had taken a whack on his foot,” said Irvine.
“It’s not a bad injury but it was just a bit tender and bruised. Obviously, with Tim Cahill’s problem and also Faddy’s recent injury, we didn’t want to take any chances with it against Palace.”
James Beattie’s tribute to Everton faithful
Aug 7 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
JAMES BEATTIE has paid a big ‘thank you’ to the Everton fans who provided constant backing during his difficult times at the club. The one-time England international joined Sheffield United at the weekend after failing to deliver goals on a consistent basis during his time with the Blues. Though he was once Everton’s record signing, Beattie - who cost £6m when he joined from Southampton in January 2005 - only managed to score 15 times in 86 appearances. But despite things not going as he hoped they would on Merseyside, he leaves with some special memories and will never forget the support he received from the terraces. "The fans were terrific to me," said Beattie. "From the moment I was introduced to the Goodison crowd on the day I signed they were always very supportive. "Even last week I had Evertonians urging me to stay and I really appreciated their backing. “Things didn't go well for me last season, for one reason or another, but I hope the fans appreciated my attitude.
“I never stopped working hard in training and always gave everything for the cause when I was on the pitch and that’s exactly what Evertonians expect. They are terrific fans and I will never forget them." Boss David Moyes was as frustrated as Beattie that more goals never arrived but he was quick to hail his attitude and admitted his bubbly personality will be missed in the dressing room. “We are sorry that it did not quite work out for Beatts here,” he said. “He was terrific to have around the club and we will badly miss him. “He was well liked among everyone here.”
Leighton Baines buy sharp-witted move from David Moyes
Aug 8 2007
by Christopher Beesley, Liverpool Daily Post
WITH foreign players now outnumbering their domestic counterparts in the Premier League, Everton legend Graeme Sharp is delighted that manager David Moyes has bought British again to add Leighton Baines to his squad. Kirkby-born Baines has returned to Merseyside from Wigan Athletic in a £6million move which makes him the most expensive defender in Everton’s history. But while some managers scoff at the price tags given to certain English players and rely heavily on cheaper foreign imports, fans liaison officer Sharp – whose Everton goals tally of 159 is second only to Dixie Dean – reckons that fellow Glaswegian Moyes is going down the correct route in his squad building. He said: “Leighton Baines is a talented player and as well as being one of Wigan’s better performers in recent years, he did well for England’s Under-21s this summer. “He’s an up and coming player but also he’s an English player. “While some managers are going out buying foreigners, I think it’s important to have an English base in your squad. “It seems that Uefa are trying to bring in a ruling over the next few years in which a certain number of players in English teams would have to be English so it can only be good for us.” When the Premier League kicked off 15 years ago with Sharp then playing for another Evertonian Joe Royle at Oldham Athletic, there were only 11 overseas players lining up for the 22 clubs. However, foreigners now outnumber the homegrown players in the top flight with 280 professionals from outside the UK and Ireland appearing in the Premier League last season while there were just 246 Englishmen. Sharp said: “Football has changed, especially with the freedom of movement throughout Europe. “Don’t get me wrong, there is some fantastic foreign talent in the Premier League now but it’s the likes of Trevor Brooking who will be worried in regards to the national side. “While at senior level, England feel that they’ve got their best batch of players for a long time, there’s not a lot underneath who will get the chance to step up. “Where are all the young British kids coming through at Chelsea and Arsenal or even Liverpool to a lesser extent. They’re going to get fed up if they don’t get their chance.” Although Moyes has also recruited South African midfielder Steven Pienaar on loan from German club Borussia Dortmund this summer and is also chasing Porto’s Argentine international Luis Gonzalez, Sharp is satisfied with the domestic core of talent at Goodison Park. He said: “There’s Tony Hibbert, Alan Stubbs, Joleon Lescott, Phil Neville, Phil Jagielka, Leon Osman, James Vaughan and Andrew Johnson and overall it’s a youngish side. “David has managed to bring down the average age of his squad having inherited a pool that was top heavy with older players from Walter Smith. “The English lads are supplemented by the likes of Tim Howard, Joseph Yobo, Mikel Arteta and Tim Cahill but most of them have got significant Premier League experience. “People have asked why Everton didn’t take a chance on David Nugent but he’s not done it in the Premier League yet. “We did get Tim Cahill three years ago and he’s done well but while sometimes you take a chance on other occasions you don’t. Manchester City have spent an awful lot of money on lots of players I don’t know so you’ve got to be careful. “Some people complain that English talent is too expensive and with young Leighton costing £6million they might have a point to a certain extent but at least his proven at this level.” With an estimated £350million spent by Premier League clubs on transfers this summer, Sharp believes that Moyes was right to bide his time in an inflated market place. He said: “It’s gone crazy but Everton needed quality not quantity and the manager has already gone on record saying that. “A couple of weeks ago there were lots of worried supporters at Everton ready to press the panic button but following the recent arrivals, things are looking a lot brighter. “People asked ‘Why aren’t we going for Alan Smith or David Nugent?’ but nobody knows the squad better than their manager. “As well as Baines and Pienaar we’ve brought in Phil Jagielka who, like Phil Neville, is very versatile. “With James Vaughan getting injured and James Beattie being sold to Sheffield United, there is a feeling in some quarters that we might need another striker but who’s to say that we won’t have one by the time the transfer window shuts although David seems to be tracking midfielder Gonzalez at the moment. “The important thing is for there to be no distractions come the Wigan game on Saturday. “There have been other issues such as the stadium debate going on but we need to get behind the team and get off to a good start.” * The inaugural Graeme Sharp Charity Dinner takes place on Saturday, September 8, at Aintree Racecourse. All proceeds from the event will go to Claire House, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and the Roy Castle Appeal and the evening will be hosted by Radio City’s Simon Ross and the entertainment will be provided by Merseyside comedian Sean Styles and “Live from Vegas” star Pete Sands. Sharp said: “Everton have done a lot of work with all three of these charities and obviously continue to do so. “They’re all great causes and I’m happy to put my name to the event for what will hopefully be a fantastic fundraiser for them all.”
Everton line up £18m double swoop
Aug 8 2007
by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON were today plotting a sensational double swoop for Manuel Fernandes and Yakubu after their efforts to land Lucho Gonzalez appeared to hit a dead end. The Blues had been desperate to sign the Argentina international and made a formal written offer in the region of £11m for FC Porto’s captain. But with Valencia, Juventus and Lyon all showing interest in Gonzalez, Porto took drastic action and announced last night that they had rejected Everton’s offer and bought the remaining 50 per cent of Gonzalez’s ownership rights for £4m. Though there has been no official word from Goodison Park whether they will return with an improved bid, it is now looking increasingly likely that attentions will be turned to Fernandes and Middlesbrough striker Yakubu. Fernandes became a crowd favourite during a successful loan spell with Everton last season, scoring two goals in nine appearances, and made no secret of his desire to turn his move from Benfica into a more permanent arrangement. Having starred for Portugal during this summer’s European Under-21 Championships, he had been linked with a move to Manchester City, but Everton’s re-emergence in the race for his signature makes them overwhelming favourites. It is the move for Yakubu, however, that intrigues most. Middlesbrough are understood to want between £10m-£12m for the Nigerian international, which would shatter Everton’s transfer record. With Fernandes also costing a similar amount, it would be an enormous, not to mention unexpected, outlay if both deals were completed. But costs could be reduced by taking Fernandes on loan for a year before his permanent transfer. Given that James Vaughan will be out until November at the earliest with a dislocated shoulder, Tim Cahill is facing between six-12 weeks on the sidelines with a metatarsal injury and James Beattie sold to Sheffield United, Everton are short of firepower. Yakubu, who has scored 25 times in 71 appearances for Boro, would certainly give Everton a physical presence up front and provide a foil for Andrew Johnson. Not surprisingly, David Moyes was keeping his cards close to his chest today, but it is no secret he is looking to improve his forward line, especially as the team has struggled for goals pre-season. “It’s been quite similar to last pre-season but we have not scored as many goals as we should have done. That would be my one concern.But maybe we are saving them up for the when it starts.”
Leighton Baines eyes Euro dream
Aug 8 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
PRE-SEASON friendlies are meaningless exercises, matches where the focus is on fitness, not scorelines. But it was sitting in the Main Stand, watching Everton’s 2-2 work-out with Champions League qualifying round contenders Werder Bremen last week, that Leighton Baines was convinced his future lay at Goodison Park.
The Blues’ new signing turned up to watch the warm-up match with the Germans, while still on Wigan Athletic’s wage bill, alongside England under-21 pal James Vaughan. “I watched Everton’s recent friendly with Werder Bremen with Vaughany,” he admitted “hopefully there will be a lot more European games like that this season.
“Europe is always something you are looking for as a player, and something I am happy about because you need that European experience to help you progress on to the next level. “Everton had a good season last time out, the lads did really well so hopefully we can build on that, get into Europe again and have a decent European campaign.” Baines, from Kirkby, was a childhood Evertonian and added: “I am very happy now it is all done and I am looking forward to getting on with it all here.
“People knew this was the place I wanted to come and I am glad now that it is all done. “I am a local lad and all my family support Everton so it’s good to be here at last.” Baines has now returned to a club who rejected him when he was just 12 and is the second player Everton have signed this summer who was shown the door as a youngster, following Phil Jagielka on a return ticket to Goodison.
Phil Neville's delight as former rival Leighton Baines joins Everton
Aug 8 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
PHIL NEVILLE needs little reminding about the afternoon he first bumped into Leighton Baines – Everton lost and he ended up covered in bruises. Shortly after Wigan Athletic had won promotion to the Premier League, they came to Goodison Park and won a keenly-contested match by a single goal thanks largely to Baines and his team-mates at the back defending for their lives. The England international received a few whacks and more besides from Baines but while some may have taken umbrage at receiving such overzealous treatment, Neville could not help being impressed by his young opponent’s attitude. Fast forward to the present day and Baines, who became the Blues third summer signing after he completed his £5m move from Wigan yesterday, now finds himself sharing a dressing room with Neville, who is only too happy to sing his praises. Feisty and determined are wo of the words you could use to describe Baines’ style and such an approach, his new captain believes, will ensure he has little trouble settling into life on Merseyside. “It’s a great signing as he’s one of us,” said Neville. “You need those type characters at your club. Local, English players. They know the game. “When Leighton first came up to the Premiership, I didn’t know much about him. But then I played against him…
“He’s a little tiger. I’ve watched him a lot for England’s Under-21s and he’s definitely someone who could progress into the full national side. “I don’t see many better left-backs in the Premier League who are English. “He is in your face, around your legs and never knows when he is beaten. He just impressed me straight away.
“You see someone of his stature and you think you will get at him. But we couldn’t that day. “He’s a great defender. He’s good going forward and is really strong and tough. He took no prisoners when Wigan won here and that is why he will fit in superbly here and that is why the fans will love him. “He’s a Scouser and he knows all about the club.” Newcastle United and Sunderland both wanted to sign the 22-year-old and each held talks with the player, but Roy Keane admitted after his round of discussions that he felt there was only one place Baines would end up - Everton.
That struck a chord with Neville and now he hopes the Blues’ new number three will flourish now he has returned to Merseyside, even suggesting that it won’t be too long before he is staking an England claim. With European football on the agenda and, possibly, a couple more signings efore the season gets underway this Saturday, Baines certainly has the platform to raise his profile and Neville expects him to do that.
“He wants to play here,” said a man who has been capped 56 times by England.
“From day one when everyone was bidding for him, you could tell that the only club that he wanted to join was Everton. That was pretty impressive. “I’m sure he was close to being called up at the end of last season when they called up Nicky Shorey instead. If there hadn’t been an Under-21 tournament, he may have just got the nod.
“No disrespect, this is a more fashionable club and what it will do is help his own game, playing in front of 40,000 every week. “The pressure is greater here and we are hoping that he is joining a better team. “On last season’s form, we were a better team than Wigan. We just need to prove to him that he is joining a team on the up.”
Mo Marley relishing European outing
Aug 8 2007 by Paul Garrity, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON Ladies fly out to Lithuania today to take part in their first ever European campaign. As a result of Arsenal lifting the trophy last season, the Blues were given a place in the Women’s UEFA Cup as reward for finishing league runners-up.
Mo Marley’s side will play three matches in a week as they attempt to progress to the next phase. They face a group comprising Glentoran Belfast United, FCC Zuchwil and Lithuanian hosts Gintra Universitetas. Boss Mo Marley said: “Obviously it’s the first opportunity the club has had to do anything as big as this. “It’s exciting and we’re going there with every intention of winning the group. “We won the league in 1997 but we didn’t have the opportunity to play in the UEFA Cup as the competition was brought in after that. So we feel we missed out on the opportunity back then.
“We’ve consistently been second in the league and I think it was fitting that we were the ones who were granted the place on the back of Arsenal winning the trophy.
“We think it’s the next stage in the club’s future. Hopefully this is an annual event for us. “We want all of our players to be at the peak of their ability. If they are then I think we have a good chance of doing well in this tournament.” After starring in the European Under-19 Championships in Iceland, goalkeeper Danielle Hill is in a battle with Rachel Brown for a starting place in Lithuania. Hill said: “It's a big opportunity for English women’s football in general and for Everton as a club. “We’ve been trying so hard just to get there and thanks to Arsenal we are. But we still had to work hard to clinch second place in the league. It was by no means given to us. “Even though we’ll be playing three games in a week, it’s no different to what we are used to, especially for the internationals in our squad.” Having been part of the England squad for the past couple of seasons, defender Lindsay Johnson is relishing the chance to test herself in Europe’s premier competition. “We’re pitting ourselves against some of the best teams in Europe, so I’m looking forward to it,” Johnson said. “We don’t really know much about our opposition, but on paper we’re probably the favourites going into phase one. We have to be professional and come back with three wins.”
Everton’s first match is tomorrow against Gintra Universitetas.
Everton FC deny ballot vote ‘flaw’
Aug 8 2007 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON today dismissed claims that the club’s ballot over their proposed new home in Kirkby is flawed. The club said a “minor problem” which sees 380 fans who have season tickets and own shares get an extra vote, will be dealt with by the Electoral Reform Society. Club spokesman Ian Ross said: “A small number of those fans have registered for their season ticket with a slightly different version of their name to the one they used to buy their shares. “The Electoral Reform Society’s computer has not picked this up. That is why they have been sent two ballot papers.
“They are aware of this and will deal with the duplicates when the papers are Returned.” The club wants to know if supporters accept what Everton’s chief executive Keith Wyness called the “deal of the century” to move out of the city and go to neighbouring Knowsley. Anything above 50% of the vote will decide the matter either way.
Tim Cahill refuses to put timescale on recovery
Aug 9 2007
By Nick Smith, Liverpool Daily Post
TIM CAHILL is refusing to put a timescale on his recovery from the foot injury that will keep him out of the early weeks of Everton’s season. The midfielder suffered his latest setback in last week’s friendly against Werder Bremen in his first Everton appearance since breaking his fifth metatarsal in March. The initial diagnosis found the damage wasn’t as extensive as it was when he sustained that initial injury but that he was still facing six weeks on the sidelines. However, Cahill said: "I think a CT scan this week will give us more information. "There’s definitely some damage to the foot, but it's not clarified yet and I think it's hasty to say." Everton have taken German goalkeeper Stefan Wessels on a short trial from Bundesliga side Cologne.
The 28-year-old, who began his career at Bayern Munich, is available on a free.
England call-up for Blues’ famous five
Aug 9 2007 by Paul Garrity, Liverpool Echo
FIVE Everton players have been called into England’s World Cup squad ahead of the tournament in China next month. Blues goalkeeper Rachel Brown is joined by defender Rachel Unitt, along with midfielders Fara Williams and Jill Scott.
Forward Jody Handley makes up the their contingent for the trip to the Far East, while winger Sue Smith (Leeds United), who hails from Merseyside, is also included.
After having such a big impact in the qualification for the tournanment, Everton’s midfield star Williams says it’s a relief to be in the squad. “I think anyone who is selected now is really pleased to be in there,” said Fara. “The work the whole squad has put in from September to now has been great. The fitness levels from everyone have improved and it’s been a hard decision that our manager Hope had to make. But I’m delighted to be going. “I’ve been in the squad on a regular basis and every game is a different challenge for me. I want to impress in all the games I play and so far in the qualifiers I feel I’ve done okay. Hopefully, I can take that form into the tournament.”
Everton vow £5 refund in kit price row
Aug 9 2007 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON today promised that fans overcharged for club shirts would get their money back. Supporters calling the ECHO were outraged at a last-minute price hike for the new strip. Adult shirts were originally priced at £35 and children’s sizes £25. But fans who turned up at the club’s Walton Megastore on Tuesday morning were faced with paying up to £5 more. But club bosses today said the prices had gone up “in error” and that anyone who had forked out too much should contact the Megastore for a refund. Fans groups today applauded the Blues for taking the right course of action. Ian MacDonald, a spokesman for the Independent Blues group, said: “Yet again people who know that fans are loyal, especially children who want to be seen in their team’s new kit, are taking advantage. “There are many parents who go without so their kids can have the latest strip but eventually they will say enough is enough.
“I applaud Everton for taking a stand against this.” Mary Gorman, 31, from Kirkdale, was in the club’s Walton-based Megastore buying new kits for her children Steven, six, and Michael, 17, when she realised the prices had gone up. She said: “I was trying to buy new home shirts for the boys so they can go the match on Saturday.
“I’d seen the shirts in JJB in Williamson Square last week but then they’d gone up yesterday. When I asked the girl in the Megastore she said she didn’t know why.
“Loads of people in the store were kicking off and wanting to know what was going on. “It’s out of order to try and fleece fans for an extra few quid just because the season has nearly started.” A club spokesman said: “Everton is dedicated to offering excellent value to supporters and, with that in mind, the price of a replica 2007/08 adult home shirt remains £35 in our Megastore at Goodison Park.”
Keith Wyness blasts rival stadium scheme
Aug 9 2007
by Nick Coligan, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON FC today delivered a damning verdict on a rival stadium project, dubbing it a rabbit pulled from a “cunningly-concealed hat”. Blues chief executive Keith Wyness cast doubt on whether it is a “genuine, realistic and deliverable” scheme and claimed it may take two years just to get council approval. He also said the timing of Cllr Warren Bradley’s unveiling of the proposal was “curious” – just as 33,000 Evertonians are casting their vote on the club’s proposed move to Kirkby. A Goodison Park season-ticket holder, Cllr Bradley is working with cash-and-carry firm Bestway to see if a new stadium on land off Scotland Road – known as the “tunnel trumpet” – is feasible. He is determined to provide a realistic alternative to Everton moving to Kirkby for the start of the 2010 season. But Mr Wyness today claimed: A stadium of the size of the Kirkby proposal would not fit on the tunnel trumpet site. The location was never mentioned during the club’s “exhaustive and lengthy” search for a new home within the city boundaries. The club does not believe the Scotland Road area could cope with matchday traffic and said bridges would have to be built so supporters could get to the stadium. There is “a very real possibility” of a legal challenge from developers Grosvenor and St Modwen who are developing major shopping districts nearby. Mr Wyness also posed a series of questions to Liverpool council about the feasibility of the scheme, which he insisted have yet to be answered. He said: “Why, if the site is both deliverable and suitable, is it only now being touted as a viable possibility? “We have been in talks with Knowsley council and Tesco about the possibility of relocating to Kirkby for the best part of 18 months. “And yet only now has this site been put forward as a possible alternative. “Until two weeks ago the council was enthusiastically claiming it had sites in Speke and Aintree which they believed were deliverable and which they wished us to seriously consider. “Since the announcement of the Scotland Road site there has been no mention of either – why is this?” CITY council leader Warren Bradley today said Everton were told of the Bestway site two to three months ago. He said: “The Everton board were made aware of the Bestway site as soon as we were made aware of it and we have always said we will endeavour to keep looking at sites in Liverpool and have also identified one in Aintree. “Everton have never come to the table concerning this site.
“Is Keith Wyness willing to come to the table and talk about the site which Liverpool city council and Bestway are already discussing? “This site is a 12 to 13 acres site and Arsenal’s Emirates stadium which is a much bigger foot-print is only an eight-acre site” Dave Kelly, spokesman for anti-Kirkby campaign group KEIOC (Keep Everton in our city, said: “We don’t want to be getting involved in a tit-for-tat argument with Everton, Bestway or Liverpool city council. “Our campaign has never been about personalities or individuals. “It is about disproving the myths and giving real, deliverable alternatives to the supporters.”
Gareth Southgate fighting to keep Yakubu
Aug 9 2007
by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
MIDDLESBROUGH are determined to resist Everton's bid to sign Yakubu by pricing him out of a move to Merseyside.
The Blues are prepared to shatter their transfer record to sign the Nigerian international and would love to have him in before the start of the new season, but the chances of that happening are rapidly receding. Boro have denied morning reports that Yakubu has handed in a transfer request and manager Gareth Southgate has told the 24-year-old who has scored 33 goals in 101 appearances at the Riverside - that he will play an integral role in the club's future. Portsmouth tried to re-sign Yakubu earlier this summer but were frightened off by an exorbitant price tag and it is now clear they intend to use a similar approach towards Everton, who are anxious to bolster their forward line after selling James Beattie to Sheffield United. "Naturally all on-going speculation over such a long period of time has unsettled Yakubu a little," chief executive Keith Lamb said today. "But the manager has made it absolutely clear to Yakubu that he has a big part to play in our future. We have absolutely no plans to sell him." Whether that deters Everton - who are still pursuing Manuel Fernandes' signature - remains to be seen but it is quite clear they will need to come up with an offer that dwarfs the £8.6m they paid for Andrew Johnson in May 2006.
Steven Pienaar in line for Premiership opener
Aug 9 2007 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
STEVEN PIENAAR could be involved in the Premier League curtain raiser against Wigan on Saturday after his visa problems were finally rectified. The South African international was approved for a work permit almost immediately after Everton signed him on a 12-month loan deal from Borussia Dortmund but he has spent the last fortnight kicking his heels in frustration. Now, though, he has been given the green light to start his career properly on Merseyside and having sparkled in training sessions at Bellefield, Blues boss David Moyes must decide whether to pitch Pienaar in at the deep end or adopt a more conservative approach. "Steven has looked okay so far but the problem is that we have not seen him in any games so far, "Moyes said today. "We will need to think about it over the next couple of days to see what we do. We are not sure about it yet." Moyes has not made any decisions about the shape of his starting line-up just yet and will check on his walking wounded over the next 48 hours but the manager is vitally aware of the need to get off to aflying start. "We had agood start against Watford last year and we would love to do the same again," he said. "We would like to get three points at the beginning of what is a hard week, with games against Tottenham and Reading to come. We know it will be tough."
Portugal star Manuel Fernandes set to join Everton
Aug 10 2007
by Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily Post
EVERTON are hopeful of signing Benfica midfielder Manuel Fernandes within the next 24 hours. The Goodison outfit are closing in on a deal for the 21-year-old for a fee believed to be in the region of £8million. David Moyes opted to move for the Portugal international after seeing his attempts to sign FC Porto’s Luis Gonzalez flounder earlier this week. Fernandes spent the second half of last season on loan at Goodison, and made no secret of his desire to make the switch permanent after scoring two goals, including a memorable strike against Manchester United, in nine appearances. Benfica were originally asking for £12m, but reduced their asking price after conceding defeat in persuading the player to remain at the club. The Portuguese star is expected to open talks today and Everton are confident he can become their latest summer signing following the arrivals of Phil Jagielka, Leighton Baines and the on-loan Steven Pienaar. Meanwhile, Alan Stubbs believes Everton team-mate Joleon Lescott can break into the England set-up this season. Lescott’s stock has risen significantly since making the step up to the top flight from Coca-Cola Championship side Wolverhampton Wanderers last summer. The 24-year-old’s fine performances following his £5million arrival at Goodison led to international recognition in May when he appeared for the England B team against Albania. Jamie Carragher included Lescott in a batch of up-and-coming young English defenders as he revealed he was considering his own international retirement. And Everton defender Stubbs said: “It speaks volumes that another player from across the park is talking him up. “I think Joleon can become an England regular. I’d have no qualms about him stepping up to the international stage, he’s more than good enough to do that. I’ve played alongside him and been very impressed by him.” Lescott played much of last season in an emergency left-back role, but is likely to be used more often in his preferred central position with Leighton Baines having this week been signed from Wigan Athletic. And Stubbs added: “He had a great season last season, but this season will be tougher for him,” he said. “People will know what he is all about, and this season it will be another challenge for Joleon. It’s okay doing it over one season, but it’s over a number of seasons when people will start to sit up and take notice.” Mikel Arteta acknowledges the importance of beginning their season on a winning note. While Everton got off to a flier last season with victory over Watford en route to eventually finishing sixth, the previous season’s 2-0 defeat to Manchester United was a signal of he struggle David Moyes’s side “It is very important that we start the season well and it is good that we are at Goodison for the first game,” he said. “When you win the first game it takes the pressure off and gets the confidence high. We do not want a repeat of two seasons ago. “I am ready and I am really looking forward to it. Hopefully we can get a result. “We have been preparing really well over the last six weeks and we want to show everybody how prepared we are.” Steven Pienaar, who has arrived on a season-long loan from Borussia Dortmund, will be available to make his debut tomorrow after his visa problems were rectified.
Phil Neville: Let’s get off to flying start
Aug 10 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
PHIL NEVILLE today urged his team-mates to set the tone for the season by getting off to the best possible start against Wigan. This will be the beginning of David Moyes’ sixth campaign in charge and the years they have flourished under him have all been distinguished by Everton - who are closing in on Manuel Fernandes’ signing - building up a head of steam early on and maintaining it. Last season the Blues opened up with a seven-match unbeaten run that provided a huge injection of confidence and Neville hopes they can do something similar this time as they look to cement their position in the Premiership’s top six. With trips to Tottenham and Reading on the agenda next, there is no disputing that Everton have been given some difficult early assignments, but the captain believes the squad is capable of coming through the test with flying colours. “I thought our start last year - the away win at Tottenham and the home win against Liverpool - set the tone for the rest of the season and it starts again tomorrow,” he said. “I can’t believe how quickly it has come around but I can’t wait to get going. “The great thing about going into a new season is that you do not have a clue how it is going to go. “That is the beauty of the game. You can train all pre-season, feel great yet you still go into the first game with a knot in your stomach wondering how you are going to do. “We have spoken about beating the targets that we set last season. If you talk about a bad season follows a good one, you believe that is what will happen. “We have just spoken about the positives and our objectives are beat what we did last year.” With Middlesbrough showing no sign of relenting on their stance over Yakubu, Portugal Under-21 star Fernandes looks like becoming Everton’s next signing.
Improvement on last season is a must - Joseph Yobo
Aug 10 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
BOOMS have preceded busts at Goodison Park in the past five years and few know that better than Joseph Yobo. As the first player signed by David Moyes in the summer of 2002, Yobo has had a front row seat to experience the rollercoaster Everton have ridden since, from the nadir of recording the lowest points tally in club history to the zenith of securing a place in the Champions League qualifiers.
Few clubs have experienced such fluctuating fortunes in that period but, with the squad settled and ambitious, the time has now come for the Blues to find the consistency that will see the ‘peak and trough’ syndrome consigned to the past.
With Moyes looking to make further additions before the transfer window closes at the end of this month, Everton should be well equipped to cope with the demands of a domestic and European campaign, and Yobo believes the future at Goodison Park is bright. For all the improvements that have been made, though, Yobo knows Everton cannot afford to sit back and admire their efforts of last season. On the eve of Wigan’s visit, he has mapped out his aims and top of the list is seeing Everton emerge as a force at home and abroad. “We have got to push on,” said Yobo. “Every season you need to improve. Last season, the team did okay and we qualified for Europe. But this season, the challenge that is facing us is much bigger. “What happened two years ago was very disappointing but now we have got to show everyone that we are ready to take it to the next level. “Hopefully, we will all work hard together and we will achieve something at the end of next season. “The circumstances and the way we went out of Europe last time was very disappointing, particularly against Villarreal.
“At that period, we felt we were playing very well in the league but we didn’t get any points and that really affected us. “Hopefully, we have learned from our mistakes. Now we have got a bit more experience and we are going to try to put that to good use. “We are going to take each game as it comes, starting with Wigan.”
Paul Jewell may have only preserved their top flight status by the narrowest of margins last May but, as Yobo suggests, anyone who expects them to arrive on Merseyside ready to run up the white flag is wide of the mark. Chris Hutchings, the new man in charge at the JJB Stadium, has spent a lot of money during the summer to bolster Wigan’s options and in Jason Koumas, who held high rank on Everton’s wanted list, he now has a potential match winner in their ranks. Home advantage, however, means the Blues will start hot favourites and if they can click into gear straight away, everything points towards the first maximum haul of the year. But Yobo does not see it as cut and dried as that. “Every Premier League game is tough, regardless of who you are playing,” said Yobo. “Wigan had a disappointing time last season but they are a good side. They have shown that against us. They will be looking to get to their maximum potential. “The good thing is that we are playing at home. We are going to have our fans right behind us. “We will give it everything we have got and, with a little bit of luck, hopefully that will be enough to get us three points.” Having played every minute of every Premier League game last time around, the effort of helping Everton secure a UEFA Cup place took a heavy toll and Yobo was forced to sit out Nigeria’s African Nations qualifier against Niger after injuring his back in Uganda. That ailment meant he started training two weeks later than the rest of his team-mates and it took him time to get back up to speed, but there were signs at Crystal Palace last weekend that he was coming back into form.
“I’ve been pleased with how things have gone,” said Yobo, who has racked up 164 appearances in his five years on Merseyside. “The lads started before me and I was a little bit behind but now I’m back on the same level as them. “My back is okay. I just hope I don’t bang it again. “If I fall on it, it might hurt me a little bit but it’s nothing too serious. Once I have a day or two to rest, everything is fine. “We are just being careful. At the moment it’s looking pretty good but I pulled out of some Nigeria games to make sure I’m ready to start. “Everybody needs a good start but we desperately need one. We know that if we do that, we will become very organised and it will be hard for people to break us down. “It’s a good thing that we are playing Wigan. We need to take advantage of that. It’s going to be tough, though.”
Tim Howard: This season will be tougher
Aug 10 2007 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON denied the odds last season to finish in the top six but goalkeeper Tim Howard believes it will be even tougher this time around. Everton face Wigan at Goodison Park tomorrow with their squad already stretched to the limits with Tim Cahill, new boy Leighton Baines and young striker James Vaughan all out injured.
Cahill and Vaughan will be missing for some time with a recurrence of a broken metatarsal and a dislocated shoulder. Baines is expected to be fit to make his debut next Tuesday at Spurs following a hamstring strain. But such problems before the season has even started have increased boss David Moyes’ desire to bring in new players. Howard accepts that with the UEFA Cup also on the agenda for Everton this term, they are entering a totally different level of expectation. And the USA international claims a good start is vital. He said: “Any team that does not start well put themselves in a terrible hole. If you look at the transfer window, clubs are buying all over the place.” The fact is that all the teams around them from last term, plus the four clubs who finished closest to relegation - Manchester City, West Ham, Fulham and tomorrow’s visitors Wigan - have all spent heavily. The need for reinforcement is not lost on Spanish midfielder Mikel Arteta, who will again be expected to work his magic from midfield. But he insists he needs help, certainly up front. He said: “To be at the top level you need three or four quality strikers. At the moment we’ve two, although we’ve got Faddy fighting back from injury as well.”
Kevin Kilbane to deputise for departed Leighton Baines
Aug 10 2007 Liverpool Echo
FORMER Everton favourite Kevin Kilbane is likely to play at left-back for Wigan tomorrow – because the Blues have signed the Latics regular player to fill that berth, Leighton Baines. Manager Chris Hutchings has run out of time in his bid to bring in a replacement for the defender before the opening day. New signing Michael Brown is ruled out through suspension while Ryan Taylor remains sidelined with a shin injury.
So the Republic of Ireland midfielder who left Goodison for Wigan last term is likely to deputise. Meanwhile, Dutch midfielder Denny Landzaat is convinced there will be no repeat of last season when Wigan secured their top-flight status in the final game.
The Latics were one of three clubs which could have been relegated on the last day of the season, but sealed their place in the Premier League by beating Sheffield United at Bramall Lane. He said: “We have signed some quality players. The club is looking forward and that is good. “We have a better team now. But we know it is important to get off to a good start this season. “I think I will be a better player as I now know what to expect of the league. “It was everything I thought it would be last season, fast and exciting. It is a fantastic league to play in. “My personal aim is to score more goals as I only got two last season.”
Tunnel site owners call for Everton FC talks
Aug 10 2007 by Nick Coligan, Liverpool Echo
CASH-and-carry firm Bestway today called for talks with Everton FC over its proposals for a new stadium off Scotland Road. Blues chief executive Keith Wyness yesterday cast doubt on the company’s plans, saying the site was not big enough for the club’s ambitions. But Bestway, which is working with Liverpool council leader Warren Bradley on a possible scheme, insisted its proposal was viable. It said its plans could gain council permission in as little as nine months and explained why the site – known as the “tunnel trumpet” or “loop” - was only very recently revealed by Cllr Bradley. About 33,000 Evertonians are currently voting in a ballot to decide whether the club should relocate to Kirkby. Bestway’s head of property, Malcolm Carter, said: “We would be delighted to have the opportunity to sit down with Everton and outline how we see a stadium development on the loop site progressing. “Initial sketches show how a 48-60,000 seater stadium could work on the loop site. We will provide detailed traffic impact assessment to show it will, and if there are any issues which we need to overcome to ensure highway capabilities will work, these are technical matters and can be shown to work. “If the ballot shows a majority are not in favour of the move to Kirkby, we hope the club will enter into discussions with the city and Bestway about keeping Everton in Everton.” Mr Carter said its site was only identified by Cllr Bradley as a possible stadium location nine weeks ago, when the firm approached the council about improved customer car parking. He said Bestway’s intentions were “genuine” and claimed the two-year timescale described by Mr Wyness for their proposal was the worst-case scenario. Mr Carter said: “It could be progressed very quickly – three months to complete a comprehensive feasibility study, a further three months to prepare a formal application and then three months to receive a planning decision and not get called in by the government.” Meanwhile, Cllr Bradley today said he shared information about the Bestway site with Everton and Tesco several weeks ago. He said: “I believe if the club works with the city and its partners and are prepared to entertain different funding models, this site and potentially others could enable it to relocate within Liverpool. “This is about the great tradition of this club, its home base and its future in a city which is really on the up.”
Dreams of glory for Red and Blue tribes
Aug 10 2007 by Greg O'Keeffe & Tony Barrett, Liverpool Echo
Greg O’Keeffe wants a season of solid achievement
AS THE migraine which has become Everton’s new stadium debate continues to rage, I’ll be welcoming the new season with open arms. It will be refreshing to have something else to think about rather than Kirkby, Tesco, Loop-lines, Bestway and bickering. Nice to get back to basics and the weekly 90 minutes of Premiership football. Results on the pitch are almost as crucial as investment to drive our club back to where we belong. That’s why this pre-season transfer chase, which got surreal at times, has been so frustrating. We’ve only added three new faces to one of the most threadbare squads in the league, and still look short in midfield and attack.
But it’s important to recall the positivity reverberating around Goodison after the win against Portsmouth last season which guaranteed UEFA Cup football. So, while I’ll still have my fingers crossed for a Yakubu, Fernandes or any other beneficiary of the decent transfer wedge we've suddenly acquired, I’m going for optimism.
Firstly I’d like this season to be about league consolidation. It would be nice to end the yo-yoing form which has been a negative during Davie Moyes’s reign.
It’s going to require luck with injuries, which was in short supply last term, and more big seasons from our rocks; Howard, Lescott, Arteta and Johnson. Arteta’s still the main man at Goodison and the defensive steel of Jagielka and co. will hopefully leave the little Basque more space to sparkle. Then, to the UEFA cup and a tournament which we ‘graced’ in 2005. I’d like to see the Blues glide through the group stages, give us a few sunny away days to savour and then see what the knock-outs bring.
Adding to our squad before the transfer window shuts will help prevent European football from knocking our Premiership form. Finally we could re-kindle the spirit of ‘95 and have a cup run to eventually give Moysie the chance to jig about at Wembley.
Mersey men can enjoy net profit
Aug 10 2007 by Adam Oldfield, Liverpool Echo
IT’S the season of the hired gun. With almost £200m sunk into new strike talent alone, the forthcoming Premier League campaign promises to be more potently packed than a drug smuggler’s rump. The South American import causing the greatest stir, however, has been Manchester United’s long-haired recruit Carlos Tevez, who has finally passed a stringent vetting procedure, despite his suspect package.
In comparison to the inflated prices his new employers have been forking out this summer, Tevez has proven to be a real Nick Nack. In fact, the pint-sized Bond villain could be the most understated arrival in Manchester since United’s 2006/07 European homecoming bus. They will, however, be without their most influential figure this season. Kieran Richardson’s £5.5m move to Sunderland is tolerable, but Graham Poll’s retirement will hit them hard. In comparison, title rivals Chelsea have been busy rummaging through the bargain bin and uncovered more cast-offs than a Southampton shipyard, while Arsenal have used the Thierry Henry purse to expand their crèche. The most impressive summer spending however, has been on Merseyside, where Liverpool’s affluence has been matched by Everton’s astuteness.
Fernando Torres has been the headline purchase for the Reds, while the Blues’ frugal capture of Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines could yet be trumped by a Yakubu/Fernandes double swoop. And it is here where the Premiership’s golden boot will be contested. Although United possess a deadly pool of strikers, Alex Ferguson will choose to rotate his front line at the same rate as his eyeballs. Instead, Torres (16-1) and ever-reliable Andy Johnson should be at the forefront of the scoring charts, with the latter having the edge at 25-1 (Ladbrokes). The other main contenders include Dider Drogba (9-2), Wayne Rooney (10-1) and Michael Owen (14-1), although the first two have fiery temperaments and Owen a hamstring also susceptible to snapping. As for the title itself, United are 5-4 (Betfred) fashionable favourites, followed by Chelsea at 13-8. But with Liverpool’s new squad depth, could this finally be the season where Rafa Benitez isn’t left riled by under-achievement? Take up the 6-1 that nothing gets his goat.
Premiership (Betfred): 5-4 Man United; 13-8 Chelsea; 6-1 Liverpool; 9-1Arsenal; 100-1 Tottenham; 200-1 Everton, Newcastle, Villa, Blackburn; 300-1 West Ham, 500-1 Bolton; 1,000-1 bar.
Weekend Accumulator (20-1): Everton (v Wigan); Arsenal (v Fulham); Charlton (v Scunthorpe); Sheff Utd (v Colchester); Nottm Forest (v Bournemouth); MK Dons (v Bury) and Peterborough (v Rochdale).
Robson ups the Beat
NEIL WARNOCK’S decision to desert a sinking ship was Sheffield United’s best result last season, but with Bryan Robson now at the helm, expect their Premiership absence to be brief. Having recruited James Beattie to spearhead their attack, the Blades are Championship contenders and, at 10-1 (totesport), a good investment.
Likewise, Nottingham Forest (4-1 SportingOdds) can make up for narrowly missing out on promotion last term by taking the League One crown. And MK Dons (9-1 Betfred) can remedy last season’s heartache by winning League Two. Bundling all three into a long-term accumulator with Boylesports could yield £3, 850 next May.
Everton Ladies off to Euro flier
Aug 10 2007 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON Ladies beat Gintra Universitetas 4-0 in their first European game yesterday in Lithuania. Goals before half time from Fara Williams and Jody Handley were added to in the second period by Becky Easton and Rachel Unitt. Its a good start for Mo Marley's side, although FCC Zuchwil beat Glentoran 5-1 in the same group earlier in the day. Blues boss Marley said: "I'm very happy with the result and happy we didn't concede any goals. It was our first game, so I'd have to be happy with that, although it took us a while to get going before we raised our game.” The Blues next fixture is on Saturday against Glentoran.
Yakubu can boost David Moyes’ firepower
Aug 10 2007
by Howard Kendall, Liverpool Echo
HERE we go again. Another Premier League season is upon us and, judging by the activities of certain clubs this summer, it promises to be the most keenly contested campaign for some time. West Ham, Newcastle, Tottenham and Manchester City have all spent fortunes since the last ball was kicked in anger and some supporters will struggle to recognise the new players on show, particularly if they haven’t been to any friendlies. It’s clear they all mean business, but just because Everton have not been as active as their rivals in the transfer market does not mean they are lacking in ambition. Far from it. The squad looks to be in terrific shape. In Tim Howard they have one of the best keepers in the country, the defensive record was outstanding last year and there is plenty of competition for places in midfield, too, which will increase if Manuel Fernandes arrives. There were patches after he arrived on loan in January when he looked tremendously exciting and Evertonians love nothing better than a player blessed with skill and ability. But I just felt there were occasions when he went missing too easily. He burst onto the scene with a couple of goals and there is no doubt the talent is there, but is that enough to fork out a huge amount of cash to sign him? And where would he fit in when Tim Cahill returns from injury? If there is a question mark hanging over the squad at present, it is up front. Are there enough goals around? James Beattie just did not do it and had to be moved on, while I still feel it is asking James Vaughan and Victor Anichebe too much too soon to score 15 goals per season. Andrew Johnson will get plenty but the need to bring someone else in is pressing and it would be a real boost if the move for Yakubu (pictured left) comes off.
Strong, direct, quick, he would be the perfect foil for Johnson and is a good age at 24. Getting him in now for £10m would not be a risk as he would always have a sell-on value. He has played in the Premiership for a number of years and I doubt it would take him long to settle in. Fingers crossed it is a deal Everton can do. Provided a new striker is brought in, I see no reason why the Blues can’t make it into the top six again – and a big thing for me would be a run in one of the cups.
Tesco boss: Why Blues must go to Kirkby
Aug 11 2007 EXCLUSIVE by Nick Coligan, Liverpool Echo
TESCO boss Sir Terry Leahy has urged Evertonians to let “our heads guide our hearts” when voting on the club’s move to Kirkby. In an open letter to supporters revealed exclusively in the ECHO, the supermarket giant’s chief executive urged fans to trust the Blues’ board and agree the controversial switch. Belle Vale-born Sir Terry, a lifelong Evertonian whose first game was a 3-0 win over Leyton Orient in December 1962, said: * The Kirkby ground would not be “a stadium on the cheap”.
* Locations in Liverpool are not realistic because they cannot offer Everton the same financial package as Kirkby.
* A new stadium in Kirkby would massively increase the prospect of outside investment coming into the club. Opponents to the switch outside the city boundaries are pinning their hopes on two alternative proposals - the “loop” site off Scotland Road, Everton, and redevelopment of Goodison Park. Sir Terry said: “As a businessman my head rules, as a football fan it is more complex - it is about heart as well as head. “Every Everton fan can make a rational assessment of where the club will end up at the start of every campaign, but in your heart you hope for a bit more. It is what generates the excitement, the anticipation. “When it comes to the vote on Kirkby, it must be the other way round, and in the best interests of the club we love, our heads must guide our hearts in making this decision.” Sir Terry admitted Tesco will gain from the £400m redevelopment of 80 acres of land just south of Kirkby town centre, but said “Everton will win too”. He said: “The success of Tesco has been based on creating maximum benefit and then sharing it between communities, customers, staff, shareholders and other stakeholders. “It is win-win, not win-lose. At Kirkby, the town wins, Tesco wins and Everton wins. “That transformation will generate thousands of jobs and hundreds of thousands of leisure and shopping visits, which will raise property values.” Sir Terry claimed Everton face “huge” costs if they build a stadium on their own, compared with a “very conservative” contribution of £25m to the Kirkby proposal. He said the stadium would be worth £150m when finished, but would be built for far less than that because of builder Barr’s “integrated design, steel manufacture and construction operation”. Sir Terry also said Tesco will forego its normal development profit of around £15m. He said: “If you went out to buy this stadium, it would cost you £150m. “It has been designed to be extendable to 60,000 seats which, when it happens, will cost another £25m. “There is ample space in the stadium to add further lounges, facilities and finishes to the highest standards in the Premier League when the club completes its investment, in addition to the very good provision from day one. “That could cost anything from £15-25m, dependent on what you ultimately want. “So you are looking at a stadium which when finally developed is worth around £200m, and £150m from day one.” Sir Terry claimed Tesco looked at more than 30 possible locations before settling on Kirkby.
He said: “The problem with the loop site and Goodison is that they could just accommodate a new ground, but there would be no adjoining land for commercial development to pay for it. “The entire cost of the development would fall on the club, a burden they could not bear. “Tesco owns a neighbouring site and we had hoped this would be the location for the club, but it simply could not be made to work.
“Clearly it is possible to lift the stadium design for Kirkby, or one like it, and drop it onto Goodison or the loop site - and in my heart as a fan, it looks nice.
“But unless the club is offered a concrete proposal to own a £150m stadium for around £35m investment by Everton, and delivered by 2010-11, then I am afraid it is not a realistic option.” Sir Terry also tried to ease concerns about Kirkby’s location outside the city, pointing out that Manchester United are based outside the city of Manchester. He said: “It is closer to Goodison than many of the locations suggested within the city boundaries. “The city of Liverpool has around 450,000 people. But the city region, including Kirkby, has around 1.4m. I believe it is right to think in terms of the city region. “The £3bn of investment going into Kings Dock, the Grosvenor scheme and the office district would simply not have happened if Liverpool was only 450,000 people. “It is an investment for the whole region, and the £400m investment in the regeneration of Kirkby should be seen in the same light.” Sir Terry, who is a special advisor to the Blues’ board, urged Evertonians to “trust” the club’s hierarchy when they urged fans to support the move. He said: “I have heard it suggested that a ‘no’ vote for Kirkby would precipitate a change at the club, and increase the likelihood of new investment. “I have two reactions. First, Bill Kenwright, Keith Wyness and David Moyes have turned a relegation side into a European side, something a number of better-invested clubs have failed to do. “Second, the prospect of outside investment in the club is massively increased by the Kirkby proposal.
“Without it, any prospective investor knows that the first £150m of investment would have to go into a stadium, with nothing to show on the pitch. “With Kirkby, new investment could go straight into the team, with the prospect of a return by way of better results. “In my business life, I have learned the most valuable commodity is trust. Without it, you do not have much to build on. “I may not always like it, but I have learned to trust the people closest to issues to make the best judgement.
“When the board, manager and leading players of Everton are unanimous that a move to Kirkby is right, I know they have the best interest of the club at heart and I trust their judgement. “Whichever way I look at it, the heart says Goodison but the head says Kirkby.”
Sir Terry Leahy's letter to Evertonians:
I have been an Everton fan all my life. The first game I saw was against Leyton Orient in December 1962 – I think we won 3 – 0. As a businessman my head rules, as a football fan it’s more complex – it’s about heart as well as head. Every Everton fan can make a rational assessment of where the club will end up at the start of every campaign, but in your heart you hope for a bit more. It’s what generates the excitement, the anticipation. Twenty teams enter a competition that only one can win, being a football fan essentially is not about being rational, more often than not the heart rules the head. I want to argue in this article that when it comes to the vote on Kirkby, it must be the other way round and in the best interests of the club we love, our heads must guide our hearts in making this decision. Now let me declare an interest right up front. Tesco will benefit if the £400 million redevelopment of Kirkby takes place. But that does not mean Everton will lose out. Everton will win too. The success of Tesco has been based on creating maximum benefit, and then sharing it between communities, customers, staff, shareholders and other stakeholders. It’s win win, not win lose. And at Kirkby the town wins, Tesco wins and Everton wins. How does it work? Well it’s an 80 acre site (Goodison is 7 acres) next to Kirkby town centre which Knowsley Council want to transform in a bold and ambitious way. That transformation brought about by the combination of Knowsley Council, Tesco and Everton will generate thousands of jobs and hundreds of thousands of leisure and shopping visits which will raise property values. It’s that increase in property values which allows all three partners to benefit from the scheme.
If Everton built a new stadium alone, rather than as part of an overall development, the cost would be huge. In the case of the Kirkby proposal, if you allocated a share of the traffic, infrastructure and land costs to the stadium, a very conservative figure would be £25 million. The construction of the stadium itself would cost around £110 million. Barr Construction have an integrated design, steel manufacture and construction operation which makes huge savings on that figure. Tesco as the developer is forgoing the normal development profit on the construction of around £15 million, in addition to the contribution it is making directly. So if you went out to buy this stadium it would cost you £150 million. It has been designed to be extendable to 60,000 seats which, when it happens, will cost another £25 million and there is ample space in the stadium to add further lounges, facilities and finishes to the highest standards in the Premier League when the club completes its investment. This would be in addition to the very good provision from day one, but could be anything from £15 – £25 million dependent on what you ultimately want. So you are looking at a stadium which when finally developed is around £200 million, and £150 million from day one. It is therefore, most definitely, not a stadium on the cheap. It will be a fitting home for a club of Everton’s tradition and standing. It won’t have the memories of Goodison, but it will be a massive improvement in every other respect. It will be owned by Everton, and because of the contribution of Knowsley, Barr and Tesco, at a fraction of the cost of a stand alone scheme. The club could not presently raise the money to go it alone or redevelop Goodison to a similar standard. Even if they could, the difference of over £100 million would be used up in construction. Now, if any of that money can be raised, it can be used instead to develop the playing squad.
I know there has been talk of other sites. Tesco has looked at over 30 possible locations. The problem within the ‘loop’ site (10 acres) and Goodison (7 acres) is that they could (just) accommodate a new ground, but there would be no adjoining land for commercial development to pay for it. So the entire cost of the development would fall on the club, a burden they could not bear. The loop site has an occupier which would have to be bought out. By way of interest, Tesco owns a neighbouring site and we had hoped this would be the location for the club, but it simply could not be made to work. The Long Lane site is larger, but has 60 occupiers and serious traffic difficulties. Clearly it’s possible to lift the stadium design for Kirkby (or one like it) and drop it onto Goodison or the loop site – and in my heart as a fan, it looks nice. But unless the club is offered a concrete proposal to own a £150 million stadium for around £35 million investment by Everton, and delivered by 2010 / 11 then I’m afraid it is not a realistic option. The Kirkby stadium is based loosely on the Cologne stadium. It will be a traditional four sided England Premier League ground, with 21st century facilities. Kirkby has the best access within 45 mins of any Premier League ground. Some people are worried Kirkby is not in the City boundary. (We all know that Manchester City is in the City of Manchester and Manchester United is not!) But it is closer to Goodison than many of the locations suggested within the City boundaries. The City of Liverpool is around 450,000 people. But the City region, including of course Kirkby, is around 1.4 million. I believe it is right to think in terms of the City region. I have been involved in the regeneration of Liverpool since 1999 through my membership of Liverpool Vision. The £3 billion of investment going into the Kings Dock, the Grosvenor scheme and the office district would simply not have happened if Liverpool was only 450,000 people. It is an investment for the whole region, supported by all the Councils of Merseyside and benefiting the wider region, and the £400 million investment in the regeneration of Kirkby should be seen in the same light. I have heard it suggested that a ‘no’ vote for Kirkby would precipitate a change at the club, and thereby increase the likelihood of new investment. I have two reactions; first Bill Kenwright, Keith Wyness and David Moyes have turned a relegation side into a European side, something that a number of better invested clubs have failed to do. Second, the prospect of outside investment in the club is massively increased by the Kirkby proposal. Without it, any prospective investor knows that the first £150 million of investment would have to go into a stadium, with nothing to show on the pitch. With Kirkby, new investment could go straight into the team, with the prospect of a return by way of better results. One final point, in my business life I have learned the most valuable commodity is trust. Without it you don’t have much to build on. I may not always like it, but I’ve learned to trust the people closest to issues to make the best judgement. When the Board, the manager and the leading players of Everton are unanimous that a move to Kirkby is right, I know they have the best interest of the club at heart and I trust their judgement. Whichever way I look at it, the heart says Goodison but the head says Kirkby.
David Moyes: I will splash the cash
Aug 11 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON hope to complete the £8m signing of Manuel Fernandes this weekend – and David Moyes says his spending won’t stop there. Blues chairman Bill Kenwright has made funds available for the big money swoop for Portuguese midfielder Fernandes and a bid for Middlesbrough striker Yakubu. Moyes said: “Does it increase the pressure on me? No. I’m going to spend every penny I get. “People were telling me I was getting put under pressure because I wasn’t spending, and now you’re telling me I could be under pressure because I’m spending more. I’m happy to take the pressure of spending money. “The board have been great, giving me as much as they can and it’s been very pleasing to see that some targets which I put forward in the past couple of weeks, they have encouraged me to go and try and get. “We’ve tried to go for two or three players in the past week or two who are genuine targets and people who we thought we had a good chance of bringing here.” Yakubu remains in Moyes’ sights, despite Boro boss Gareth Southgate’s declaration that the Nigerian is going nowhere. A successful swoop for the striker would need the Blues to smash their transfer record for the third time in three years, with Yakubu commanding a fee in excess of £11m. Kenwright is confident he can find those funds and Moyes said: “Take it from me, they are working really hard and I’m really grateful. If I’m getting this money with two weeks of the transfer window still left I’m delighted.
“What’s happened in the Premier League this year has been completely out of context with all other years. I think most years there has been an increase, but this year players have doubled in price in one year and that’s not a normal situation for football.”
Moyes kicks off his sixth full season in charge of Everton this afternoon. Only Harry Catterick and Howard Kendall have been in the Goodison hot-seat longer – and Kendall quit for Athletic Bilbao at the end of his sixth season. “Five-and-a-half years ago I got the job and it’s a hell of an achievement to become a Premier League manager for anybody, but I think it might even be a bigger achievement to stay in a job in the Premier League,” Moyes said. “I treat it as an achievement to be still working at a club like Everton and I think we have a better Everton now.
“One of the hardest things I’ve found this close season is actually to improve the team because to improve I think we needed to spend big money. “We wanted to try and do that, but it’s been very difficult to get better players than we already have. The players here have done really well for us and we shouldn’t forget that. But now I’m hoping we can add players who can help the team even more.” The Blues will be without James McFadden and Iain Turner against Wigan today, as well as new signing Leighton Baines and long term casualties Tim Cahill and James Vaughan. There are still a few hundred tickets on sale for today’s game. The ticket office is open from 9am.
Log on to www.liverpoolecho.co.uk to see video footage of David Moyes talking about the new campaign.
Forget size - Blues pulling together for top six push
Aug 11 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON’S workload may be set for a dramatic increase this season but don’t expect to hear anyone in the squad complain about it. While their rivals have spent money as if it were going out of fashion, Everton’s considered approach in the transfer market has left some supporters twitching anxiously that a lack of numbers might prove their undoing. It is an argument Phil Neville has heard often this summer but it is not something he subscribes to. Thoughtful and articulate, Goodison Park’s captain knows football has never been played at a higher pace than it currently is, yet players are fitter. But there is a good reason why the squad will be keeping quiet if they find themselves putting in longer hours and it goes back to the day before Everton played Aston Villa at Goodison Park last November. While some players just wanted to do light jogging and stretching, David Moyes had planned to give them a strenuous workout. Within seconds of the manager revealing his intentions there were complaints of tiredness. The following day, of course, a lacklustre performance ensured Everton slipped to a 1-0 defeat and it was not something that surprised the manager. Why? In his view, the white flag had been raised the moment he heard the rumblings of discontent. At the subsequent post-mortem, Moyes made clear his feelings and soon the penny dropped - “He shook it out of us,” said Neville - as a week later a turbo-charged display was good enough to beat Bolton Wanderers.
“I keep hearing whispers that we haven’t got a big enough squad,” he noted. “If you are a professional, you can use that as an excuse. “You only need 11 players on a pitch and sometimes if you know you are going to be playing you can relax and play better.
“If you know you have a big squad sometimes you can take the easy route out and have a weekend rest. “I used to hate that when I was at Manchester United. I don’t want to take the easy route out I want to play every game. “Yes, we are going to be pushed to the limits, but I think it is well within our capabilities that we can go on all four fronts. “If you tell yourself you are tired you will feel tired. But the more games you play here, the harder the manager works you in training. “It tends to be that reverse psychology and he tells you that you are not tired. It worked well last season.
“There were times when we had three games in a week and still worked hard. We probably had a grumble, but he said it was all in your mind. “You go back 20 years and teams only had 14 players and they still played up to 60 games a season.
“It is just that they didn’t tend to moan about it. It is just the way modern football has become that the top four teams have two players for each position. “I like playing every week and the players here like playing every week. I think it would be foreign now to these lads if we were in a position where we could rest people.” Though he was not always an automatic choice at his former club, Neville is now one of the first names on the teamsheet and his experience will be vital this season in helping Everton take the next step. Having arrived on Merseyside festooned with medals, the England international has a burning desire to win a piece of silverware at Goodison as he believes the club would take off if that happened. But for the time being his immediate priority is ensuring Everton take full advantage of the platform they built last season by improving on that sixth place finish. There is a feeling in the ranks that Everton are not far away from becoming an excellent side and if Moyes can make further signings before the transfer window closes, confidence would increase.
First, however, Wigan must be put to the sword. “It has been a trait of this club for a good season to be followed by a bad season and that is what we need to eradicate this season,” said Neville. “I got just as much satisfaction helping Everton finish sixth as I did when I used to win titles with Manchester United. “Finishing sixth with Everton was for me a massive achievement. “I was looking back in the summer and thought, ‘we are not at the top of the mountain yet’. There is still room for improvement and that is what excites me about this season. “There were times last season when we could have won games that we didn’t. “We drew games we should have won and we lost games that we should have got something out of. “I felt we dropped seven or eight points which might have taken us into the top four. “I am not saying that we are going to do that this year, but if we are going to improve on last season then I think we will finish higher than sixth. “There are other clubs who have spent money and spent well in the summer. That doesn't worry me. “We didn’t need major changes because the quality is already here. Everyone at the moment is sniffing that fourth place thinking it could be there to be taken. “It would be good for the league if the top four becomes a five or six. “It would be good for everybody and we aim to be up there. “I think there are times when we need to improve and we cannot play at the intensity we play week in, week out – Sunday, Thursday, Sunday, Thursday - and be successful. “How many times do you see the big teams in the league in the last 20 minutes, make three substitutions and basically finish the game at a canter? “Don’t even get a sprint up and get through by keeping possession. “Playing that way has got to be our next step.”
Pre-match run a five-star own goal disaster
Aug 11 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
1. August 18, 1956 LEEDS UNITED 5, EVERTON 1.
NEW Everton boss Ian Buchan used a cunning psychological ploy to undermine newly promoted Leeds United on their first day back in the big time for a decade.
“We’ll get off the team bus and jog the last two miles to Elland Road,” he barked. “They’ll be surprised by how super-fit we are.” They were surprised at how shattered Everton were – coasting to a 5-1 win. Buchan’s revolutionary methods saw Everton lose six of their opening seven games, and his spell as Blues boss ended after less than two years.
August 18, 1979REPUBLIC OF IRELAND XI 0, LIVERPOOL 2
2 LIVERPUDLIANS suffered their biggest opening day shock for years, before a ball had even been kicked. Construction work at Wolves’ Molineux Stadium meant it wasn’t ready for the opening day of the season. So Reds fans had to make do with a low-key friendly match at Dalymount Park while the rest of the country enjoyed the most eagerly awaited day of the football calendar. It didn’t get any better three days later when Liverpool belatedly opened their season at Anfield. Bolton parked a team bus in front of the Reds goal and held the previous season’s runaway champions to a 0-0 draw.
August 21, 1976QUEENS PARK RANGERS 0, EVERTON 4
3 DAVE Sexton’s vibrant young Rangers side had missed out on the 1975-76 title by a point, heartbroken by Liverpool’s last gasp win at Wolves on the final day of the season. Billy Bingham’s mid-table strugglers started the new season at Loftus Road, where they had been beaten 5-0 that season. They even had Dave Jones sent off after 20 minutes. But sporting a smart new Umbro kit (with diamonds down the sleeves, no less) the 10-men sparkled. They won 4-0, George Wood saved a penalty and Rangers never recovered, slipping from runners-up to 14th in 12 months.
August 29, 1981WOLVES 1, LIVERPOOL 0
4 LIVERPOOL suffered the rare ignominy of finishing as low as fifth in 1979-80, then went to bogey ground Molineux on the opening day of the following season.
“Wolves were there for the taking,” reported the Daily Post – Wolves won 1-0. Was a great Anfield regime finally about to go under? Nine months later they’d won the first of three successive titles and the European Cup.
August 20, 1977EVERTON 1, NOTTS FOREST 3
5 THE Toffees suffered a shock even before Brian Clough’s team of unknowns arrived at Goodison. Local authorities slashed Everton’s 55,000 plus capacity to 35,000 while essential building work was carried out. The Blues were stunned when a team which scraped promotion in third place the previous season ran riot.
August 18, 1962LIVERPOOL 1, BLACKPOOL 2
6 THE Echo’s Leslie Edwards said it all. “A more chastening opening to Liverpool’s first First Division season since their relegation eight seasons ago could hardly have been imagined. Here were more than 51,000 loyalists not merely at Anfield because they hoped their team would beat an ordinary looking Blackpool side. But Blackpool scored twice within the 75th and 77th minutes to take the points,
Incidentally, Blackpool “chanced their arm with a 17-year-old right winger who had never even played a Central League game for them.” His name? Alan Ball.
August 25, 1984EVERTON 1, SPURS 4
7 1984/85 was the most successful season in Everton’s history . . . eventually. On day one, however, the sun shone, the FA Cup and Charity Shield were paraded around the ground to an expectant audience – and an acquiescent official even awarded a soft penalty which Adrian Heath converted. Then Clive Allen woke up and showed some of the goalscoring form which would see him bag 49 goals two seasons later .
September 3, 1934ARSENAL 8, LIVERPOOL 1
8 NOT strictly speaking an opening day shock, but it did come in the opening week . . . and what a shock it was. “Liverpool suffered one of their greatest defeats at Highbury,” reported the Echo’s Ernest Edwards.
“A crushing blow and unfortunately the worst effects may be to follow as the Anfield side will not readily lose sight of the memory of this Arsenal outburst.” Edwards was unnecessarily pessimistic. The Gunners were crowned champions, but Liverpool recovered to finish a highly respectable seventh.
August 18, 1979EVERTON 2, NORWICH 4
9 GORDON Lee hatched a master plan for the opening day of the 1979-80 season, use a pacy and mobile central defensive partnership of Billy Wright and Colin Todd against a Norwich team which hadn’t won away for two years.
The only problem was that both were several inches short of six feet, while Justin Fashanu towered above them like, according to the Daily Post’s colourful Horace Yates “an upstanding 18-year-old like a mountain peak standing over the rest of the range.” He scored twice and Everton collapsed.
August 14, 1999LIVERPOOL 0, WATFORD 1
10 THERE was a time when Liverpool's first team was as unchanging as the Liver Birds. Against relegation favourites Watford – billing they lived up to – they played like they had met for the first time in the tunnel before the game.
Tommy Mooney scored to beat Gerard Houllier’s group of Czechs, Dutch, Norwegians, Finns, Guineans, Cameroonians and Scousers.
Everton 2, Wigan 1 (Echo)
Aug 13 2007
by Dominic King
DEEP in discussion as they ambled down Priory Road on Saturday evening, two Evertonians were dissecting that afternoon’s events when one posed a question which stopped the other in his tracks. “I don’t want even want to think about it,” he said, the tone making clear this was no light-hearted enquiry. “But could you imagine what would happen if he got seriously injured?” No prizes for guessing which player was being referred to. New season, same old hero. The more Mikel Arteta plays, the better he becomes yet, perversely, that means the less his adoring crowd can relax. You didn’t have to be one of football’s great visionaries going into the Premier League curtain raiser to appreciate that Arteta’s input will be absolutely crucial in helping Everton realise their ambitions this season. Carrying on from where he finished the previous campaign, the best little Spaniard that the Gwladys Street knows was outstanding against Wigan and - given he is not yet fully tuned up - his performance augurs particularly well for the future. But while it is only natural for some to worry what would happen if - heaven forbid - Arteta sustained the kind of injury which has accounted for Tim Cahill, it is disrespectful to his colleagues to suggest the wheels will come off completely if he is struck down. Adopting an approach that was more pragmatic than pizzazz, it could not be said that Everton played a brand of football that quickened the pulse en route to what was only a third opening day win in 11 years. It would, nonetheless, be churlish to pick holes. And compared to the corresponding fixture against Watford 12 months ago, this was an infinitely more entertaining spectacle; all being well, three points should provide a hefty injection of confidence for this week’s trips to Tottenham and Reading. Those games will provide a more realistic gauge of where Everton stand as clubs jostle for an early position but to say they will simply be going to White Hart Lane and the Madejski Stadium hoping to pinch a couple of points is well wide of the mark. Why? When you are fortunate enough to have a player of Arteta’s sumptuous ability in your ranks, it immediately spreads doubt through the opposition; think of the boost Thierry Henry gave Arsenal or Eric Cantona gave Manchester United in their pomp. During the periods when those two Frenchman were the dominant figures in English football, the panic whenever they received possession was tangible in their opponents and if he maintains his progress, there is no reason why Arteta can’t similarly inspire. Some will find such claims baffling, particularly as he has not even received a full international call up yet. Surely, though, it is only a matter of time before he does and it was interesting to hear the views of a man with reams of experience at that level. Kevin Kilbane has been capped 70 times by the Republic of Ireland and shared a dressing room with Arteta for 18 months at Goodison Park before his deadline day move to Wigan last August. He may have received a generous ovation from the home crowd before the game but, as he played at left-back, Kilbane was then subjected to a torrid 90 minutes, as Arteta’s dancing feet wreaked havoc. Not surprisingly, he was left doffing his cap in admiration. “I think this is the season where he could go on and become one of the stars of the Premiership,” noted Kilbane. “It is a bit disappointing for him that he has not made the Spanish team. He is good enough to be in there. “I think he will be looking to have a strong season to push himself forward ahead of Euro 2008. He has all the attributes. He is not restricted to one position in that midfield and his creativity is excellent. “His delivery from dead balls is second to none, really. He made a big impact straight away when he came here, but I think since he moved out to the wing he has blossomed. “He gets a bit more time to create, and whether he is on the left or right he looks like he is going to create chances for AJ, Victor or James Vaughan. I don’t think he would look out of place in any team in this league.” Few would disagree. Arteta aside, however, there were plenty of others clad in Royal Blue who started their campaigns brightly, notably Leon Osman, Joseph Yobo and Andrew Johnson, while Phil Neville and Lee Carsley were diligence personified. With Steven Pienaar sat on the bench, Manuel Fernandes next through the arrival’s gate and Tim Cahill to return from injury, soon there will be intense competition for places in midfield and some will have Osman circled as the man to make way. Yet Osman’s performance smacked of defiance; he took his goal superbly, made mischief whenever he took possession and only a last gasp tackle from Andreas Granqvist prevented him from doubling his tally. Though he made way for Pienaar - who had a helping hand in Victor Anichebe’s late clincher - Osman can feel satisfied with his efforts as, too, can Tony Hibbert, who provided the looping cross for the first half opener. Anyone looking to grumble will point to the uncomfortable final 10 minutes when Antoine Sibierski rifled in from close range. What should have been a canter turned into a backs-to-the-wall effort. As captain Phil Neville pointed out beforehand, the next logical step in Everton’s progression is for them to be able to keep possession in the latter stages of weekend games to conserve energy for what will hopefully be frequent midweek tests. The first comes in North London tomorrow evening and if Everton can repeat last year’s heroics - surely they won’t have to wait another 21 years for a victory? - it would give them a huge psychological advantage over Spurs already. After all, David Moyes and Martin Jol are the managers who are being tipped to upset the established order at the top of the table, so what better way for the Toffees to make a statement by beating their great rivals? To do that, Everton will need to find improvement from the Wigan game but that can almost be guaranteed - and when Arteta is batting for you, anything is possible.
Everton 2, Wigan 1 (D,Post)
Aug 13 2007
By Ian Doyle at Goodison Park
THE buzz among Evertonians walking up to Goodison for Saturday’s season opener was of the millions David Moyes is ready to splash out in the transfer market. But as they later strolled gleefully home having witnessed a winning start for their team, the supporters’ talk was instead of the current Everton player whose summer signing will have more influence on future success than any new arrival. Make no mistake, the five-year contract agreed with Mikel Arteta could well prove the smartest piece of business of any Premier League side during this transfer window. The Spaniard has long since been taken into the bosom of the Gwladys Street faithful following his arrival, initially on loan, from Real Sociedad in 2005, his consistently impressive performances drawing comparisons with the midfield schemers of Everton past. His displays have also caught the attention back home in Spain, with both Real Zaragoza and Atletico Madrid prepared to tempt Arteta into a La Liga return over the summer. Such approaches were rebuffed, and their loss will be Everton’s gain. No longer distracted by debate concerning his future, and with the incentive of a possible berth in the European Championships next summer with Spain, everything is now in place for Arteta to take his game on to the next level. Arteta’s outstanding showing in the weekend win over Wigan Athletic, a continuation of his fine pre-season, suggests the Spaniard acknowledges that time has arrived. Just ask Kevin Kilbane, handed the onerous task of marking his former team-mate as a temporary left-back following last week’s departure to Goodison of Leighton Baines. “Can Mikel become one of the best players in the Premier League? I think so,” says Kilbane, who endured a tortuous afternoon at the hands of Arteta. “He has the means to do that. “He flits and flirts and goes all over the place, and he is very hard to pick up. “He has all the attributes and is not restricted to one position. He can play anywhere across the midfield and his creativity and ability with a dead ball situation are second to none. “It has been a bit disappointing from his point of view not to have made the Spanish team because he is certainly good enough. It is a European Championship year, so he will be trying his best to get in the Spanish side. “When he first came to Everton, he was used to being in the middle. But actually being out there on the wings has improved him. He has a bit more time there and he will create chances for whoever is playing up front for Everton. “On the way up here, I thought we’d have a chance but Mikel is the kind of player who can unlock doors.” For once, it wasn’t Arteta who unlocked the doors that allowed Leon Osman and Victor Anichebe to score the goals that ensured victory in Moyes’s 200th league game in charge on Saturday. But the Spaniard was the beating heart of just about every other Everton attacking foray on an afternoon when the home team clinched a three points Arteta’s contribution alone merited. One moment on the half-hour particularly showcased his talents, Arteta’s dancing feet allowing him to skip down the right beyond Kilbane, Caleb Folan and Denny Landzaat before being halted by Titus Bramble. The crowd screamed penalty, but referee Mark Clattenberg’s assessment it was a fair tackle by the Wigan centre-back was later backed by Moyes. The danger, of course, is Everton becoming too reliant on the Spaniard, a point Moyes readily concedes and will look to address by bringing in another creative midfielder – Manuel Fernandes remains the priority – within the next fortnight. None of the manager’s new signings were in the starting line-up against Wigan as Moyes kept faith in the players who secured a top-six finish last season, meaning Joleon Lescott began the season still in the left-back berth given the absence of Baines. After 26 utterly forgettable minutes, Osman struck the first goal of Everton’s season in unlikely fashion Tony Hibbert’s cross from the right wasn’t dealt with by the perennially hopeless Bramble and Osman, the smallest player on the pitch, looped a header from 15 yards out that somehow dropped in over Chris Kirkland, despite the goalkeeper standing only a few steps away from his goalline. For Osman, the goal was the ideal marker given the competition for places Moyes is attempting to encourage across midfield this season. Arteta struck a free-kick wide before Andrew Johnson was denied first by a decent stop from Kirkland and then a fine block from the impressive Wigan centre-back Andreas Granqvist. With former Everton target Jason Koumas catching the eye on the left of Wigan’s midfield, the home team didn’t have it all their own way and the always dangerous Emile Heskey was within inches of equalising from a powerful drive that flashed inches wide. An alert Granqvist spared the hapless Kirkland’s blushes on the hour by clearing Osman’s effort off the line after the keeper twice failed to deal with an aerial threat under pressure from Anichebe following Arteta’s deep free-kick. Injuries to Tim Cahill and James Vaughan, the departure of James Beattie and the failure so far to sign a new striker have handed Anichebe the opportunity to strengthen his claims for a more regular starting role. The Nigerian striker will look to begin smoothing out the rough edges to his game without losing any of the power and physical presence that caused Wigan problems on Saturday. And Anichebe’s cause certainly won’t be harmed by him netting the game’s decisive goal on 75 minutes, although the forward made hard work of tapping in the lively Johnson’s low cross from the left, the ball eventually crossing the line via Bramble’s head and the crossbar. Steven Pienaar was finally available to make his debut in a 16-minute cameo as a late substitute, and was instantly involved in the build-up to Anichebe’s goal. Until then, Wigan had enjoyed the better of the second half without seriously troubling Howard. The Latics did pull a goal back 10 minutes from time with the best move of the match, Landzaat, Heskey and Scharner combining to present substitute Antoine Sibierski a tap-in. But a Scharner snapshot turned away spectacularly by Howard was the nearest the visitors came to earning a point they wouldn’t have deserved. Given the testing trips this week to Tottenham Hotspur and Reading, a second successive opening-day victory was an imperative for Moyes and his players. What wasn’t necessary, however, was for Arteta to remind everyone of his importance to any Everton success this season. EVERTON (4-4-2): Howard; Hibbert, Stubbs, Yobo, Lescott; Arteta, Carsley, Neville, Osman (Pienaar 74); Anichebe, Johnson. Subs: Ruddy, Valente, Jagielka, van der Meyde. WIGAN ATHLETIC (4-4-2): Kirkland; Melchiot, Granqvist, Bramble, Kilbane; Valencia, Scharner, Landzaat, Koumas; Heskey, Folan (Sibierski 67). Subs: Pollitt, Hall, Aghahowa, Skoko.
REFEREE: Mark Clattenberg.
NEXT GAME: Tottenham Hotspur v Everton, Premier League, tomorrow 8pm.
David Moyes backs Mikel Arteta to make Spanish steps
Aug 13 2007
by Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily Post
DAVID MOYES believes Mikel Arteta is on the verge of breaking into the Spanish national squad following his outstanding start to the campaign on Saturday. Arteta was the stellar performer as Everton secured a second successive opening-day victory by beating Wigan Athletic 2-1 at Goodison Park. The 25-year-old had already enjoyed an impressive pre-season after committing his future to the club by signing a five-year deal during the summer. And Moyes believes Arteta’s form is making it increasingly difficult to ignore his claims for an international call-up, with Spain taking on Greece in a friendly later this month. “Mikel has signed here for another five years and it shows he wants us to progress and play at a higher level,” said the Goodison manager. “He should be getting very close to the Spanish national team now. I think he would be good for Spain in the role he plays here at Everton, either on the right or left flank. “He is playing now for a club that has shown a level of ambition and we don’t want to disappoint him. “He has three years left on his contract, so it was not like he was going somewhere. But he has shown his commitment to Everton.” Of Arteta’s display on Saturday, Moyes added: “I thought there were bits which people, as the cliche goes, would pay to come and watch. I just thought we needed to finish off some of his moves, but his play was excellent. “The only thing that we have to do is to try and spread the play around the pitch and not just rely on him.” Nevertheless, Moyes believes Arteta is integral to Everton’s hopes for success this season at home and in Europe. “He is becoming a bigger and bigger influence for us,” said the manager. “I think that he realises that this is his Everton and he has a big part to play in where we will finish. “For me, the balance between his skill and his work-rate is right. He has got that Spanish attitude and an English work ethic, and he showed that on Saturday. “We will be the first people to tell him if we think he is showboating, but I thought that his decision making against Wigan was good.” Goals in either half from Leon Osman and Victor Anichebe ensured Antonie Sibierski’s late strike was nothing more than a consolation for Wigan. And it meant Moyes enjoyed victory in his 200th league game in charge since arriving at Everton in March 2002. “I didn’t realise it was my 200th league game until somebody told me just before kick-off,” he said. “It is good to think I have been in charge for 200 Premier League games. A lot of Premier League managers don’t get that opportunity so I’m grateful. “And to be manager here for five-and-a-half years is an achievement, I believe. “I thought we played well against Wigan and apart from the last five or 10 minutes we always looked like winning. We did miss a few chances and it could have cost us. “Leon Osman’s header was terrific. He was very clever in getting it in the only place he could score. “When it was 2-0 I thought it would have been a case of us getting a third rather than Wigan pulling one back, but you have to give them credit.”
David Moyes vows to keep faith in Victor Anichebe
Aug 13 2007
by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON’S opening day goal hero has been ordered to carry on until further notice.
Victor Anichebe is only 19 and has started just eight games for the club, but after claiming his fifth goal in Saturday’s 2-1 triumph over Wigan, delighted boss David Moyes said: “He’s going to have to play. “It's asking a lot for him at the moment, but I think if you asked him what would he want to do, he would want to play.” With the Blues trying to prise Yakubu away from Middlesbrough, and James Vaughan, Tim Cahill and James McFadden all injured – Anichebe and Andy Johnson are the only fit forwards available to Moyes. But the Blues boss is happy to hand the responsibility to the youngster. “He's been in and around the team now for about a year and he knows what the requirements are. He'll be glad to get that first game under his belt,” he added. “He started the pre-season very well and he's showing some good form. “He's a lad who needs to be given confidence and I'm sure the goal on Saturday and his all-round performance will make him feel good about himself. “He wants to improve all the time and he's a good lad to work with. “His work ethic is improving all the time which is something we always mention to him, but he has a lot of attributes and he got a goal today in the Premier League which is great.” Anichebe himself admitted he was terrified when he was presented with the chance to score on Saturday. “I am delighted, but when the ball came to me I was scared. That was the most scared I’ve been for a while,” he explained. “I had a chance like that in training on Friday and missed it. “It was good to see it go in, but we have been working hard in pre-season at linking up like that.” Moyes went on: “I thought he played very well for a young boy. He tired a bit, later on, like a few did in the heat but I thought he played well, in the first half especially when he was a real handful. “If we'd had a centre forward available on the bench we probably would have brought him off near the end just to freshen things up, but we didn't have that. “But this is a great chance for the boy. I thought today he did really well.” Everton’s other opening day marksman, meanwhile, Leon Osman, promised to raise his standards another notch as he welcomed the increased competition for a place in Everton’s starting line-up. “We needed the competition for places,” said Osman, who was denied a second goal when Andreas Granqvist blocked his effort on the line. “The manager has not had the chance to bring loads of people in but the people he has brought in are really good players. They will add to what we’ve got here already and they are capable of playing in different roles. “It’s raised the bar a bit. If the club is going to move on, it’s what we need. We need good players coming in. We are in Europe and hopefully we are going to have a good few more games to play, so extra players are needed. “It’s all about quality players. A lot of people have said that to get the quality of player we need, you are talking about a hell of lot of money. I suppose that we have just got to keep going.”
David Moyes celebrates landmark in style
Aug 13 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES celebrated an unwitting landmark on Saturday.
The Blues boss was in charge of Everton for the 200th time in a league match and enjoyed the same scoreline as he did in his first five-and-a-half years ago, a 2-1 win.
“I didn’t know it was my 200th game in charge until the guys from the press office told me on Friday, but it’s great to be in charge for so long and something I don’t think a lot of Premier League managers get the opportunity to do,” said Moyes.
“I’m grateful for having had that opportunity. “I thought we went about it correctly against Wigan and I thought our play maybe warranted a better finish at the right time, but in the main we were in control of the game and at 2-0 we were more liable to go on and make it 3-0 rather than get pegged back. “It was only in the last eight or nine minutes that there was any question about it really. We did miss a few chances which is something we need to brush up a little bit on.” Only Harry Catterick (500), Howard Kendall (419) and Cliff Britton (316) have been at the Goodison helm for longer, and Moyes joined an exclusive list of Premier League managers to have been in charge at one club for 200 matches or more. Sir Alex Ferguson heads the chart at Manchester United with 583 games as Old Trafford boss, followed by Arsene Wenger (411), Joe Kinnear who led Wimbledon 278 times, Harry Redknapp - 270 at West Ham and Alan Curbishley with 266 at Charlton. If Moyes remains in charge for the rest of this season he will overtake Sam Allardyce’s record at Bolton of 228 games and Gerard Houllier’s at Liverpool of 216. The Everton manager got his sixth full season off to a winning start with a victory which might have been made even more comfortable had referee Mark Clattenburg awarded a first half penalty for a foul on Mikel Arteta.
But after bemoaning his luck with penalty decisions many times last season - even sending a video to referees’ chief Keith Hackett - Moyes backed the official on Saturday. “At the time I thought it could have been a penalty, but I think the ref got it right,” he said. “It was a magnificent piece of individual skill from Mikel Arteta and I think everybody was either waiting for a finish or a penalty, but I think Titus Bramble touched the ball first.” Moyes admitted that he is hoping to see other players share the creative responsibility with Arteta in the weeks ahead. “A lot of our creative stuff does go through Mikel, which is why we’re looking at Steven Pienaar and we will try to change that with what we’re trying to do in the coming weeks.” he added.
“Leon Osman can do that too, although he’s not played much football recently which showed towards the end, but we’ll do what we think is necessary to ensure the creativity is spread around the team. “We brought Pienaar on and he had an influence on the game. He played a pass which led to the second goal. “If the game had gone a little bit longer at 2-0 we might have brought on Phil Jagielka, too, just to get him started. “We’ve not made an awful lot of signings, but we do have the nucleus of a good side here. The money needed to improve on that would be very expensive and maybe the players needed to improve on them aren’t available, but I have a lot of faith in the players in our team. “If you look around the Premier League you’ll probably see that there were a lot of signings who didn’t start today, who will do during the season. Tottenham paid £18m for Darren Bent and he didn’t start today. That’s more than we’ve paid for any player twice over.”
Little Latino’s flair lights up Goodison Park
Aug 13 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
WHEN you’ve watched football professionally for more than 20 years, it’s easy to become cynical, to be blasé, perhaps even contemptuous of the modest fare you’re forced to watch. Then someone like Mikel Arteta sweeps away all those notions.
The little Latino transformed Everton’s ordinary opening day success over Wigan on Saturday into something more spell-binding. There were no new faces on show, the visitors hardly charismatic and exciting goalscorers like James Vaughan and Tim Cahill sat forlornly in the stands. But Arteta enriched the afternoon with a wonderful array of dribbles, shimmies, passes and shots. He even took all the free-kicks and corners. And he confirmed the view that he is the most skilful midfielder to grace Goodison for 20 years. Andrei Kanchelskis was arguably more effective – although he was probably an out and out striker in any case – Anders Limpar more ingenious but more mercurial, but not since Trevor Steven glided effortlessly across the Goodison turf , not since Kevin Sheedy waved his wand of a left foot and not since Paul Bracewell and Peter Reid combined a compelling mix of silk and steel have Evertonians been blessed with such a talent. And it wasn’t just hoary old hacks who were entranced by Arteta. David Moyes, not a man to be captivated easily, said: “I know it’s a cliché, but I thought there were bits today from him that people would pay just to come and watch. “His play was excellent and I think he will become an even bigger influence because he realises now that it is his Everton. He has a big part to play on how we’ll finish and where we’ll finish. It is “his Everton” because he has just signed a new, long-term contract – and after a couple of seasons of settling in on Merseyside, he has matured into a midfielder of style and substance. The little Spaniard has probably never heard of the School of Science. But he embodies all the qualities of that old-fashioned phrase perfectly. And from the 48th second on Saturday he showed he was in the mood. Drifting easily past one challenge and dribbling past another he clipped in a damaging cross which Osman volleyed over. And it all looked so effortless. But Arteta is no faint-hearted fancy dan. He now mixes up the inspiration with perspiration, which wasn’t always the case. I remember Moyes almost incandescent with rage on a White Hart Lane touchline last season, as Arteta cheaply gave up possession time after time after time, before prompting a move which led to a match clinching second goal. But he appears to have matured as a player since then.
“I think the balance he has now is between his ability and his workrate,” added Moyes. “He has a British mentality to the level of work he produces, but I think he has the Spanish technical ability which he showed again today. “I think he should be getting very close to the Spanish team now and he deserves a chance in the role he plays for Everton which is just off the right or the left.” Evertonians will hope that Senor Aragones continues to ignore him – reducing the risk of injury and covetous glances from other clubs to a player who is so important to Everton. The downside of Saturday’s performance is that Arteta assumes so much responsibility you worry about where the creativity would come from without him. Happily, he wasn’t required to create either of Everton’s match-winning goals. Tony Hibbert crossed penetratingly for Leon Osman’s skilfully guided in opener, while Steven Pienaar passed and Andy Johnson turned, ran and crossed for Victor Anichebe to tap in the second.
But Arteta was usually at the heartbeat of everything good from the Blues.
Of course he will need support from elsewhere, soon. Surprisingly Moyes started with 11 players who were at the club last season. Phil Jagielka will surely enter the fray soon, as will Leighton Baines as soon as his fitness allows, while Steven Pienaar enjoyed a late 20 minute cameo from the bench. But there were precious few options available to Moyes had he wanted to shake things up otherwise. As it was, Arteta did all the shaking that was necessary. Supported admirably by the unsung star that is Lee Carsley, Everton were usually in command – although not exclusively against a Wigan team which enjoyed enough spells of dominance to suggest they haven’t bothered listening to forecasts of relegation and an early sacking for the affable Chris Hutchings. But Everton were deserved victors. Much tougher tasks lie ahead for the Blues, starting tomorrow, but they can approach them with optimism and confidence – and the knowledge that they possess one of the Premier League’s most sparkling stars.
It's all Blue skies above
Aug 13 2007 Liverpool Echo
FANS aiming to keep Everton in the city took their campaign to the skies before the first game of the season at Goodison Park. Members of Keep Everton in Our City (KEIOC) hired a plane to get their message across prior to the winning kick-off against Wigan. A banner trailing behind the light aircraft had the message: “KEIOC Say – Vote No to Kirkby.” The stunt was part of the group’s campaign to persuade fans not to vote to move to a new stadium in Kirkby in a ballot now under way. The proposed move is part of a joint deal between Everton FC, Knowsley Council and Tesco.
Amy Kane fires treble in goal blitz
Aug 13 2007 by Paul Garrity, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON LADIES continued their first UEFA Cup campaign with a 11-0 drubbing of Northern Irish side Glentoran. Mo Marley’s team had already made a winning start to their group as they overcame Gintra Universitetas 4-0 on Thursday. Emily Westwood opened the scoring against Glentoran, with Fara Williams and Amy Kane making it 3-0 before half-time. The second half saw Kane go on to complete her hat-trick. Jody Handley, Kelly McDougal and Michelle Evans also got on the scoresheet and defender Lindsay Johnson netted her first goal for the club. Youngster Toni Dugan’s fine pre-season form continued as she scored a brace in only her second appearance for the first team. The Blues top Group A1 and have a massive goal difference advantage going into tomorrow’s final fixture with FCC Zuchwil (kick-off 2.30pm). The squad will return to Merseyside on Wednesday and then Everton’s five England players will fly to China on Saturday to prepare for the World Cup.
As a result the Blues won’t play any domestic fixtures until their internationals return from the tournament at the end of September.
Manuel Fernandes set to seal Everton move
Aug 14 2007
by Nick Smith, Liverpool Daily Post
EVERTON are on the verge of breaking their transfer record by completing the signing of Manuel Fernandes today.
The Portuguese midfielder last night withdrew from the Benfica squad for tonight’s Champions League qualifier after the clubs agreed an undisclosed fee. Fernandes is now poised to decide on a permanent switch to Goodison and Everton hope to tie up the deal before tonight’s Premier League trip to Tottenham Hotspur. They have agreed to pay the amount – believed to be £9million – which requires Benfica to release the 50% they own of the player, who scored twice in the nine Premier League appearances he made on loan at Everton last season. The other half of Fernandes’s ownership is in a third-party management company, but Everton have gone through the correct FA and Premier League channels to ensure avoiding a repeat of the controversy surrounding Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano at West Ham last year. Fernandes appears to have made his mind up to move to Merseyside after failing to show up at the Benfica team hotel ahead of their Champions League third qualifying round first leg tie with FC Copenhagen. While David Moyes hopes the deal goes through in the next 24 hours, he is concentrating on his team’s first away league game of the season at White Hart Lane. And the manager has praised Victor Anichebe for stepping up to the mark while he suffers a shortage among his strikers. With James Beattie sold to Sheffield United and James Vaughan out with a dislocated shoulder, Anichebe and Andrew Johnson are the only recognised target men available. But they combined for the second goal in the opening-day win over Wigan on Saturday, with 19-year-old Anichebe scoring his sixth goal in an Everton career that has seen him make just eight starts. “We’ve got to remember his age and the expectations,” said Moyes. “At the moment we are relying on him quite a bit but he came in and did okay, got a goal and led the line pretty well. “It will do his confidence the world of good. He is improving and he’s not out of place at all for a young boy in this group. “So from that point of view we are really pleased with him.” Moyes is pondering adding James McFadden to the squad to boost the firepower after the Scottish striker, who was yesterday named in his country’s squad to face South Africa in a friendly next week, returned to full training after a foot injury. The manager, however revealed that Leighton Baines, last week’s acquisition from Wigan, is back in training but still a week away from coming back following a foot injury. “He trained for the first time today but he will need a week before we can really consider him,” said Moyes. “There has been no problem with him settling in and he has one or two friends here.”
Everton to fight off Manchester City for Manuel Fernandes
Aug 14 2007
by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
MANCHESTER CITY will try to hijack Everton’s bid to sign midfielder Manuel Fernandes. But the Blues are still favourites to complete an £8m deal. The Portuguese midfielder pulled out of the Benfica squad for tonight’s Champions League qualifier with FC Copenhagen and flew into London, where he will meet with Blues officials today. But City are also keen to speak to the 21-year-old. A report in Portugal last night said: “Benfica has now received an official offer from Everton to acquire the club’s 50 per cent economic rights for Manuel Fernandes. Benfica will now decide whether to accept Everton’s offer.” The spokesperson, however, added that the player’s own desires will be “decisive in influencing the club’s decision on this matter”. Fernandes’ decision to fly to London clearly indicates he believes his future lies away from Benfica. Media, Sports & Entertainment Investment Banking Group owns the remaining 50 per cent of Fernandes, but Everton have gone through the correct FA and Premier League channels to avoid a repeat of the controversy which dogged Carlos Tevez’s move to Manchester United.
Andrew Johnson ready to show his class
Aug 14 2007
by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES is backing Andy Johnson to become one of the season’s untouchables once again. The Blues striker kicked off last season with a burst of five goals in six games, and after creating a first day strike for Victor Anichebe on Saturday, Moyes believes he is close to recapturing that form again. “I thought there was a period at the start of last season when he was untouchable for a while,” said the Blues boss. “He was so quick and lively across the ground and when you look at how he started the season, both him and Tim Cahill were exceptional. “I think he probably has a couple of games to go this season before he’s back at that level again.” Johnson will spearhead Everton’s forward line at Tottenham tonight, the venue where he scored his second goal for the club last season. But Moyes believes the player’s game has come on significantly since then. “I think his general play has improved a lot and I’ve been saying to him I think he’s better than the 12 he scored last season,” he added. “He hardly took any penalties and maybe if he’d taken four or five he would have maybe ended up with 17 or 18 goals so I’m hoping that he’s going to do better. “We relied on his goals regularly last year and we’ll need them again. “He’s got more awareness and he has got much better with his hold-up play and his link-up play, but what we really want from Andy Johnson is to see him on defenders’ shoulders, always threatening to go in behind, because that’s what he does best. “I’ve said to him many times he needs to exude that confidence. If I’d scored 12 or 13 goals in the Premier League I would have been walking round with my chest out saying ‘bring it on.’ “But he’s quite a quiet boy, very humble, but he works very hard for the team as well and doesn’t really have an edge to him and that makes him a very likeable lad. “He has got something, but he needs to say, ‘Look, come on. I’m going to kick on here and be one of the top goalscorers in the Premier League now’ and he needs to make that his goal and his target. “Not only that but to become a part of the England squad which goes to the European Championships next summer.”
Leon Osman sets sights on Tottenham scalp
Aug 14 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
AS certain stadiums bring the best out of certain players, it is no wonder that Leon Osman is looking forward to the next two fixtures on Everton’s list. Having started the new Premier League campaign in the best possible fashion, the Blues will be looking to ensure the three points they took against Wigan on Saturday do not go to waste against Tottenham and Reading. Last season, of course, these were the venues for two of Everton’s best away days, 2-0 victories at each ground providing the impetus to secure a place in the top six and a passport into Europe. The win at White Hart Lane certainly ranks up there with the best moments of David Moyes’ time in charge, a performance which sent a message out that Everton were coming of age and it was a particularly special afternoon for Osman, too. After all, he played a starring role and left the capital with his manager declaring that if he produced such form over a consistent length of time, England honours would be forthcoming. Perhaps the nearest he got to replicating that effort was at the Madejski Stadium, when he was desperately unlucky not to score with a thunderous drive that rattled the crossbar but still pulled the strings in midfield alongside Mikel Arteta. Though he suffered a dip in form afterwards, he finished the year on a bright note and the 26-year-old returned to training this summer with a renewed hunger to play a part as Everton seek success on four fronts. So, buoyed by the confidence of scoring Everton’s first goal of the season, Osman would love to repeat the trick either this evening or on Saturday but, as he points out, the most important thing is building on the foundations they laid last weekend. “We know the importance of a good start,” he said. “We have been working hard all pre-season and preparations have been geared to ensuring that we get out of the blocks well. Nothing other than three points was what we were after.
“We are happy that we have earned them. Everyone knows the record that we had up until last season at White Hart Lane. It’s not an easy place to go to for anyone. They finished fifth last year and that was mostly down to their home form. “It’s a tough place to go. It’s the same with Reading. They had a great season last time around and they will be hoping for another good season again. We know how difficult it is going to be but we are going there looking for victories.” There may have been times in the past when Everton headed to White Hart Lane with the intention of surviving first and foremost, nullifying Tottenham rather than imposing their own style on the contest. Not now. With the squad aware that fortunes have fluctuated between one season and the next, there is a determination to find the consistency that will keep them in the top six and then push them on higher. That is why they will be ready to fight fire with fire. Growing in confidence that they deserve to be ranked among the leading sides in the country, Everton will not be erring on the side of caution too often this season and have the players to make that possible. “We would have a good season and then a bad season and alternate between the two,” Osman noted. “We are looking to step forward and keep ourselves up there every season, as we’ve done last season and back in 2005.
“Teams expect a hard game against us and we will be doing our best in every game. It’s a step forward. You can’t improve constantly by bringing in tackling players, physical players. You have to bring quality in. “Spurs will be trying that extra bit harder to beat us after the way we beat them last season. We go there expecting a massive challenge but it’s one that we are all aiming to conquer.” On a personal level, Osman has made it clear that he wants to ease some of the burden on the strikers’ shoulders by chipping in with a few more goals. Three was a disappointing return last year but he has got off on the best possible footing. “If I come off any game and haven’t scored when I’ve had the chance, then I’ll be very disappointed and upset with myself,” he said. “It’s good to have got one so soon though and hopefully I’ll get a few more. I don’t score many headers from that far out and it is unfortunate for goalkeepers when they get lobbed from that distance but I was absolutely delighted.”
He’ll be even happier if another three points follows this evening.
Stuart Pearce in Everton visit to tie Victor Anichebe to England
Aug 14 2007 Liverpool Echo
ENGLAND are trying to persuade Everton striker Victor Anichebe his future lies with them, not Nigeria. England Under-21 boss Stuart Pearce visited the Blues training ground last week to speak to the 19-year-old striker. And he will be hoping to benefit from a mix-up which prevented Anichebe from making his Super Eagles debut in June. Called up for a friendly match against Kenya, Anichebe didn’t arrive in Nigeria in time to play after a mix-up in travel arrangements. Club manager David Moyes said: “I can’t speak on his behalf, but Stuart Pearce came to see him at training the other day and had a chat with him, but I can’t say any more than that.” Anichebe will be in the Blues squad for tonight’s game at Tottenham, and boss Moyes revealed that new signing Leighton Baines could soon be joining him in the first team squad.
The recent capture from Wigan did not figure against his former club on Saturday because of a niggling hamstring strain. He will not figure at White Hart Lane either, but is nearing full fitness. Moyes said: “He trained for the first time today but he will need a week before we can really consider him. “There has been no problem with him settling in and he has one or two friends here.” James McFadden is back in tonight’s squad after recovering from the knock which kept him out last Saturday.
Robbie Keane is a threat to capital mission
Aug 14 2007 by Nigel Martyn, Liverpool Echo
PLENTY has been said this summer about Tottenham’s ‘Fab Four’ and one man in particular will be looking to ruin Everton’s perfect start to the season tonight.
Though they have spent an awful lot of money to bring Darren Bent, Dimitar Berbatov and Jermain Defoe to White Hart Lane, Robbie Keane, in my opinion, is still the main striker at White Hart Lane. Evertonians need little reminding about the goals he has scored against us down the years and I’m sure he would have been a big success at Goodison Park had we managed to sign him in the summer of 2005. I’ve known Robbie since our days together at Leeds and he has matured into a top player.
Everyone remembers him emerging at Coventry City and then going to Italy, a move that greatly helped his development. When he came to Leeds, we knew we were getting a good footballer but there would be occasions in his early days when he would over-elaborate and try a little flick instead of a simple pass. However, he has matured with age and I know David Moyes would have loved to sign him the year we got into the Champions League qualifiers and as far as I know, he actually came quite close to joining. Given the way the manager wanted to play at the time, with one man up front and tight four-man midfield, he saw Robbie as the ideal striker to play ‘in the hole’ and would have been a tremendous asset. Things don’t always come off in football, though, and Robbie’s only interest this evening will be on helping Spurs get their first win of the season but Everton have the ideal person to keep him under wraps. Lee Carsley rarely gets massive acclaim from the terraces but he does the ‘ugly’ side of football so well and, trust me, the manager and his team-mates know his worth. People will wonder if, at 32, he is getting past his best but every year Cars keeps coming up with the goods and proving his doubters wrong; you can guarantee he will be in the right place at the right time to cut out the balls to Robbie.
I bumped into him at Crystal Palace a couple of weeks ago and he was the same as always, that dry sense of humour never far away. Put him on a football pitch, though, and he is as serious as they come – he is absolutely vital in helping make Everton tick.
Although White Hart Lane was never the happiest of hunting grounds during my time with the Blues, maybe last year’s win was the signal for a change in fortunes and the lads will certainly go there full of confidence. It would be terrific if we could get a maximum return from the first two games but Spurs will be doing all they can to stop that happening. It all points to Cars and company having a busy evening but if they play to their best, what’s to stop them?
Blues will benefit from settled side
EVERTON might have started the campaign with established players but that should not be seen as a problem. Quite the opposite, in fact. When you look around the Premier League and see teams like Manchester City, West Ham, Fulham and Tottenham spending big amounts of money on lots of new signings, it is only natural to wonder why Everton have stayed on the edges. Having secured European football last season, everyone wants to see an end to the ‘yo-yo’ syndrome but watching Saturday’s game against Wigan, it’s clear to see that everyone is full of confidence.
And just because drastic changes are made, it doesn’t necessarily mean success will follow. Under Sven-Goran Eriksson, Man City could finish anywhere between fourth and fourth bottom. You just don’t know what will happen. Everton, though, are definitely heading in the right direction. The manager knows what he is doing, the chairman knows what he is doing and the squad knows the demands of the Premier League inside out. Unless a lot of key players are lost to injury, I’d be surprised if we aren’t up there challenging for a European place again and the added bonus is playing for supporters who are always right behind the players. The ’house full’ signs were up on Saturday and the atmosphere was terrific. It’s just a shame that they couldn’t get a few more in - that, though, is a debate for another day!
Tottenham 1, Everton 3 (Echo)
Aug 15 2007
by David Prentice
JUST like London buses. You wait 21 years – for nothing – then two come along all at once. And just like last year, Everton were full value for their second successive victory at White Hart Lane – their bogey ground for the past two decades. In fact the last time the Toffees enjoyed a run of success in this corner of North London, it was a halcyon period for the club. David Moyes hasn't guided the Blues to those kind of heights yet, but there's no doubt he's heading in the right direction. Just four days ago Tottenham had been tipped as the team most likely to gatecrash the big-four this season. So where does that leave Everton? Only time will tell. After all, just two matches have gone and it's barely a fortnight since Moyes was being berated for the paucity of his summer signings. But strangely that continuation has proved a strength. That cohesion, that affinity with each other's game, that togetherness is one of the reasons the Blues have got off to a flyer, while a team peppered with new signings has lost its opening two matches. Everton, meanwhile, are basking in the afterglow of having won their first two games in a season for the first time since 1993. That year Howard Kendall's unheralded side won its first three. They promptly lost the next three, mind, so no-one will be getting too carried away just yet. But there was no disguising the quality of last night's display. While Everton dug in and grafted 12 months ago to end their 20-year hoodoo at The Lane, last night they exuded authority and control. It's as if they've started to believe just how good they are, and how good they can become. Spurs wiped out Everton's early lead. But rather than sag, the visitors soared and it was an unusual sound to hear the away section chanting 'Oles' in the closing stages of the first half . . . at White Hart Lane. With more than £40m worth of striking talent on display, it took two centre-halves to show the way to goal. Joleon Lescott scored the second goal of his Everton career and Anthony Gardner only his second in eight years as the game fizzed into life. Just as David Moyes looked like having to wrestle with the problems of a second minute substitution, he was celebrating an early lead. Joseph Yobo reported a groin strain to the dug-out, Phil Jagielka was instantly sent to warm-up, then a jersey was tossed to Nuno Valente. But while all this frantic activity was taking place in the technical area, out in the opposition penalty area Joleon Lescott was just as animated. He lost his markers with the cunning of a veteran fox in the box – and planted an equally assured header past Robinson. The lead lasted 24 minutes, but in the quarter of a match which passed in between, Spurs' stellar strike force threatened just once, Keane cleverly lifting the ball over Carsley and pulling a pass back for Berbatov, who fired high over the bar. Lescott became the biter bit for the equaliser. Just as he had lost his markers for the opening goal, Anthony Gardner lost him to head past Howard, but after that goal it was Everton who got better and better. The passing was measured, the tackling spiky and the pressing relentless. And the reward came when Leon Osman restored the lead. Victor Anichebe had worked tirelessly, for barely no reward all evening, while Johnson's pace and persistence caused all the problems. But the big Nigerian finally got his payback when he collected the ball on the edge of the penalty area with his back to goal and shuttled it out to Arteta. The little Spaniard crossed, Anichebe guided it back to Osman and he volleyed a rising drive into the roof of the net. But there was even better to come. On the stroke of half-time Anichebe crumpled on the edge of the box. It was a soft free-kick, but there was nothing soft about the way Alan Stubbs sized up the opportunity. No cute precise top corner curls from the veteran centre-back. He might as well have taken a run-up, hollered "It's Clobberin Time" and let fly – in finest Ben Grimm tradition to the Fantastic Four afficionadoes amongst you. The deflection off the end of wall gave Robinson no chance. During the half-time break Spurs turned to the old and the new for inspiration – sixties striker Bobby Smith and the youth team which won the Verona Tournament pre-season. Both were wheeled out to try and lift the crowd, and for two minutes it looked to have worked. Keane drilled in a low shot which Howard scrambled to save, then Berbatov headed a Chimbonda cross against the post. But there was no cavalry charge, no clarion calls and no need for last ditch defending from the Blues. They were comfortable – and but for Robinson's positioning and athleticism Andy Johnson might have celebrated a second half hat-trick. As it was he had to settle for being one of the inspirations behind Everton's outstanding result, along with the magnificent Leon Osman and old Waldorf and Stadler themselves, the perennially unsung Neville and Carsley in the centre. The moment when it became clear it was Everton's night came in the 78th minute, when Tim Howard produced a stunning point blank save, a reaction which had Moyes applauding wildly in admiration from his dug-out. Afterwards, though, it was different. Last season he needed an operation to take the smile from his face after Everton's 2-0 win here. Last night's reaction was more measured. Maybe he's getting used to the sensation of winning at White Hart Lane. And that speaks volumes for the direction he's taking his Everton side in. TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (4-3-3): Robinson, Chimbonda, Kaboul (Rocha 17 mins), Gardner, Stalteri (Routledge 66), Malbranque, Zokora, Jenas, Berbatov, Keane (Defoe 61), Bent. Unused substitutes: Cerny, Huddlestone. EVERTON (4-4-2): Howard, Hibbert, Yobo, Stubbs, Lescott, Arteta, Neville, Carsley, Osman, Anichebe (Jagielka 79), Johnson. Unused substitutes: Ruddy, McFadden, Valente, Pienaar.
Referee: Mark Halsey.
Tottenham 1, Everton 3 (D,Post)
Aug 15 2007
by Nick Smith at White Hart Lane
PUT the tops back on the pens, close the chequebooks and stash them away in the drawer until January. Because it’s looking increasingly doubtful whether Everton really need to go splashing out big money on new players. After all, David Moyes had to combat more than £40million worth of them last night – and that was just in the Tottenham forward line. But not even the bold triple assault Martin Jol favoured last night could stop Everton storming to what could be another season-defining victory at White Hart Lane. This time last year it brought them their first away success at Spurs for 20 years. It was followed by a Merseyside derby victory that signalled, until last night, the last time Everton won two Premier League games in succession. The hoodoos have fallen heavier than the north London rain and been laid to rest as emphatically as Tottenham’s hopes of getting their points tally under way. All the qualities that served Everton so well here last August and, as a result, the rest of the season, all flourished gloriously once again. They stayed calm and disciplined when Bent, Berbatov and Keane threatened, stifled the midfield creativity and showed that oh-so-familiar team spirit to bounce back and produce a remarkable finish to a first half in which Joleon Lescott and Anthony Gardner had earlier traded identical headers. The excellent Leon Osman maintaining his 100% strike rate so far this season followed by Alan Stubbs’s deflected free-kick ensured the Spurs’ players were met with a surround-sound of boos before being greeted by a seething Dutchman. There could have been no sweeter music to Moyes’s ears, not least because the same noise circled him the last time the two teams met at Goodison in February. But anyone who contributed to that chorus has since been made to look foolish by the manager’s subsequent achievements and the heads should be hanging in permanent shame after last night’s sealing of the first maximum six-point haul since 1993-94. A bad omen perhaps, considering the legendary yet wholly unwanted conclusion to that season, but the chances of a repeat of that are already looking more than remote. But in truth, squad strengthening still clearly needs to be financed before the end of August to guard against the perils of a long season – the imminent arrival of Manuel Fernandes plus a potential club record capture among the strikers will be more than welcome. Only on this form, none of that would be necessary if Moyes could guarantee the 11 that have served him so well in consecutive games so far would stay free of injury and suspension throughout the campaign. But even then the prospect of a UEFA Cup run weighing heavily on the workload means cover is as imperative as it was during last night’s downfall. None of the events at White Hart Lane will alter the fact that Mikel Arteta would be the biggest loss. Again brimming with skill and flair, his overall contribution this time had goals to show for it. He delivered the crosses for the first two and it’s a shame his team-mates couldn’t get closer to some wicked deadball deliveries because the home defenders sure as hell couldn’t. However, before anyone starts thinking Everton are a one-man team it should be pointed out that Arteta’s ability isn’t some smokescreen hiding the failings of others – he’s merely thriving in a working environment that’s producing the goods. None more so than Osman, who epitomised the non-stop work-rate that pumps through the heart of the side from the back four, the holding midfielders in front of them and the two up front, one of whom – Jol take note – didn’t cost the club a penny. And it was youth product Osman who sent out the clearest message to potential new arrivals that they’ll face a sterling battle for starting places as Everton effortlessly moved to the top of the Premier League. And to think ahead of the game, Moyes was cautiously dismissive of Tottenham’s opening-day blip at the Stadium Of Light. Back then, however, it was easy to see why. For a start, as four of Sunderland’s woeful tally of 34 points in their previous two Premier League seasons came at home to Tottenham, maybe Saturday was a case of getting their bogey team out of the way. And the extra cup-final exuberance newly-promoted sides generate in their first home game can often throw up one-off results that distort the bigger picture. But the team sheets were still hot off the printer when it became clear just how different a proposition this would be for Moyes. When he glanced at his copy he must have been relieved he stuck with the double holding axis of Phil Neville and Lee Carsley to help the defence cope with the three strikers Martin Jol penned into his line-up. Bent joined Dimitar Berbatov and Robbie Keane for his first start in a Spurs shirt, replacing the man he came on for on his debut at Sunderland Teemu Tainio, in Jol’s only change to his starting line-up. Moyes went one better and made no alterations to the 11 that delivered him his first three points against Wigan, with James McFadden warming Andy van der Meyde’s spot in the only change to the bench. It’s that kind of familiarity this Everton outfit has with each other that allows them to settle so well in games these days, and they couldn’t have asked for a better start than taking the lead after just 133 seconds. On the form he showed against Wigan, it was only a matter of time before Arteta came up with his first assist of the season and he got the perfect chance when he won a free-kick on the right touchline. The Spaniard landed the ball on the head of Lescott, who had escaped all three of the forwards who could have been tracking him to plant a downward header into Paul Robinson’s top corner. While not showing a particular prowess for defending, Bent returned to where he belonged at the other end to force a corner off Joseph Yobo then bring a sprawling save out of Tim Howard form a narrow angle as Spurs searched a quick reply. But Everton seemed determined not to sit back on their lead and Robinson also had to get down quickly to prevent Victor Anichebe capitalising on some characteristic Andrew Johnson persistence. It was that combination that combined to see off Wigan on Saturday and here they were determined to ensure the sodden and slippery surface was the least of the Spurs defenders’ problems – and they merely looked to have intensified when £8m centre-back Younes Kaboul limped off in the 18th minute. But Tottenham’s midfield stepped up a gear and started to command more of the ball. When they used it to force a corner after 26 minutes it was the cue for an identical goal to the one they had conceded earlier as Anthony Gardner replicated Lescott’s aerial prowess to equalise. But with Arteta in the side it seems anything is possible at the moment and it was his delivery that once again proved priceless to Everton as they regained the lead in the 37th minute. Anichebe made a nuisance of himself as he tried to reach Arteta’s ball from the right and it created enough chaos for Osman to pounce and fire home his second goal in successive games. And that was the cue for Everton to dominate the rest of the half and get their rewards seconds before half-time when Stubbs struck a free-kick reminiscent of his strike against Manchester United towards the end of the last campaign. The fact that the 35-year-old had to rely on a deflection on this occasion didn’t dilute the celebrations. The aforementioned value of Jol’s forward line made it inevitable Spurs would throw everything at reducing the deficit early in the second half and Berbatov headed against the post within the first three minutes. An inch the other way and the second half could have become unbearable. As it was, Everton regained their control and composure and Jol got the white flag ready for hoisting when he cut Bent’s full debut short with the best part of half and hour left and handed Jermine Defoe the role of saviour. But even with him among three forwards and two wide men, it was still the ideal second half for Everton, i.e. largely free of incident. Johnson could even have added to the lead by forcing three late saves from Robinson, but it was Howard who made the save of the game when he deflected away Defoe’s far-post drive and, in doing so, a nervy last 10 minutes. But Everton could then enjoy themselves to the extent that Phil Neville was able to venture forward and find space to flash a shot narrowly wide late on. As if the night needed to be any more of a collector’s item. TOTTENHAM: Robinson, Chimbonda, Kaboul (Rocha 18), Gardner, Stalteri (Routledge 67), Zokora, Jenas, Malbranque, Keane, Berbatov, Bent (Defoe 61). Subs: Cerny, Huddlestone.
BOOKINGS: Malbranque, Jenas. EVERTON: Howard, Hibbert, Yobo, Stubbs, Lescott, Osman, Neville, Carsley, Arteta, Johnson, Anichebe (Jagielka 80). Subs: Ruddy, McFadden, Nuno Valente, Pienaar.
REFEREE: Mark Halsey (Lancashire) ATT: 35,716 NEXT GAME: Reading v Everton, Barclays Premier League, Saturday 3pm.
Everton board should have had courage to agree move to Kirkby, says lifelong fan Derek Hatton
Aug 15 2007
Liverpool Daily Post
EVERTON’S board was wrong to allow a ballot among fans to decide on a move to Kirkby, former council politician Derek Hatton said last night. The one-time deputy leader of Liverpool City Council during the controversial Militant era revealed he had voted in favour of the move. Mr Hatton, a lifelong Evertonian, told the Daily Post: “I voted yes because I believe Everton urgently needs a new stadium, and the one proposed happens to be in Kirkby. If we do not vote to move, we will be stuck at Goodison Park at a time when Liverpool is moving to a brand new stadium. “We just have to move forward, or face being left behind. We would be like a Vauxhall Conference club compared to the big teams in the Premiership. “I do not think the board should have agreed to a ballot among fans because it has caused so much friction. “People are passionate about the club and that is rightly so, but I was upset on Saturday when I saw fans fighting each other in heated arguments over the future of the club. “The board should have had the courage to make the decision and then stand by it.” Mr Hatton was at one time a community liaison officer for Knowsley council in Kirby. “I do not have a problem with moving because the border is an imaginary line on a map. “In 1972, a couple of men in pinstripe suits came to Liverpool from London and drew some lines on a map. “We wanted Kirkby and Huyton to become part of Liverpool because the vast majority of people there were Scousers. “Drawing the line that created Knowsley did not make them any less Liverpudlian.” Fans are currently involved in a ballot process over the hugely controversial move to a 50,000-55,000 stadium in Kirkby. The club has agreed to call off negotiations over the move if more than 50% of fans vote against the idea.
David Moyes backs Joleon Lescott for England role
Aug 15 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON boss David Moyes led the ‘Lescott for England’ calls last night - then added that if Mikel Arteta was English, he would be in Steve McClaren’s squad too!
The Blues boss was delighted by his side’s 3-1 win at White Hart Lane, in front of the England coach who selects his squad for next week’s friendly international against Germany on Friday. And afterwards he backed calls for defender Joleon Lescott to join club-mates Andy Johnson and Phil Neville in the international set-up.
“Lescott won’t let England down at centre-back or left-back,” he declared. “We’ll keep pushing him and keep trying to get him in, but my job’s hard enough without trying to pick the England team. “But he doesn’t get beaten, he doesn’t get run, his use of the ball could be better but if you go away and hope your boys at the back will keep you in the game Joleon will certainly do that for you. “He scored our goal, and should have done better for the goal Gardner scored but he is a very good centre-back.”
Moyes also praised the performance of Spanish midfielder Arteta. “He’s been pushing for the Spanish team, but I think if he was English he’d be getting in the English team.
“He has the British mentality with the Spanish technique.” Everton scored from two Arteta crosses to take the Blues top of the early Premier League table and Moyes added: “We played well, but you have to say that the effort and the work rate was incredible.” He also spoke of the decision to go into the new season without resorting to the kind of spending spree other clubs have undertaken. “I think there’s something to be said for continuity at a football club, both with managers and players,” he added. “I read something about some managers being under pressure after just one game, so you lot have to show some responsibility as well. “But continuity is important for players and it’s certainly also important for managers at a football club.
“It was a terrific team performance. “Our goalkeeper made one outstanding save in the second half, but overall he had less to do than Paul Robinson.” Despite reporting a groin strain in the opening minutes of the match, Joseph Yobo completed the full 90 minutes.
Duncan Ferguson backs us, say ‘stay in city’ Blues
Aug 15 2007 by Nick Coligan, Liverpool Echo
POSTERS declaring Everton legend Duncan Ferguson’s opposition to the club’s move to Kirkby have been given to fans. They were distributed to supporters who travelled to the Blues’ clash with Tottenham Hotspur last night, along with a rival plan to redevelop Goodison Park into a modern stadium. The posters were the latest tactic by Keep Everton In Our City (KEIOC) to persuade fans to reject the club’s proposed relocation to a new 50,000-seater ground in Kirkby. The retired Scottish striker, who became a talisman during his two spells at Goodison, is quoted as saying Everton “could no longer call itself the People’s Club” if it left the city.
Earlier this month, Blues players and manager David Moyes announced their support for the suggested Kirkby move, about which 33,000 supporters are currently being balloted. They said they feared the club being left behind its Premier League rivals if it did not move to a modern stadium. But Ferguson is quoted as saying: “Like I said at the beginning of the campaign, if you were to take Everton out of the City, Everton FC could no longer call itself the ‘People’s Club’. The best memory I have of my time at the club was when I scored my first goal in the derby game on November 21, 1994. It was then that I realised what fanatical support the club has. “After the game I headed into the city centre and my journey took me along County Road, Walton Road and then Scotland Road. “The sight was simply awesome – a sea of blue and white. I had no idea that so many people in the city supported the blues. “I had come down from Glasgow, another city renowned for its football fanaticism, but I truly had never witnessed what I witnessed in the city on that night.” KEIOC chairman Jim Reardon said: “We will be distributing these posters to fans, and some went down to Tottenham to give to away supporters.” As well as Everton’s manager and players, chairman Bill Kenwright, chief executive Keith Wyness and Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy have all urged fans to support the move to Kirkby.
Goodison campaigner to run for seat on council
Aug 15 2007 Liverpool Echo
ONE of the founding members of a campaign group against Everton moving to Kirkby is to run for a seat on Liverpool council. Alfie Hincks has quit his role as secretary of Keep Everton In Our City (KEIOC) to run as councillor for the Warbreck ward in Walton. The seat, which is set for a hotly-contested by-election, was vacated by the death of a former Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Cllr Joan Lang. Now Mr Hincks, 42, a member of the Liverpool Labour Community Party, will run partly in protest against Walton MP Peter Kilfoyle, who he believes has not done enough to keep Everton in Walton. He said: “I want to highlight the failure of the MP for Walton in keeping Everton in the city. “If I get in I will be doing all I can to make sure that happens and one of the biggest businesses in North Liverpool remains where it belongs. “Because KEIOC is a non-political group I have reluctantly stepped down from my role with them but they still have my full support.” Mr Kilfoyle has defended his stance on the proposed stadium move, saying: “I have always said that Everton will act according to what is the best business case for them.”
Euro delight for Everton Ladies
Aug 15 2007 by Paul Garrity, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON LADIES qualified for phase two of the UEFA Cup after their comfortable 5-0 win over Swiss outfit FCC Zuchwil in Lithuania. Having won their opening two games over Gintra and Glentoran, 5-0 and 11-0 respectively, the Blues knew a win or a draw would send them through to the next round. They made the perfect start and raced into a 4-0 lead before half time as Fara Williams bagged a brace, with defender Fern Whelan and striker Jody Handley also getting on the score sheet. Handley completed the scoring 11 minutes into the second half. The next round is also a group stage and will take place between October 11-16. The host team is still to be chosen but the Blues know they will be in the same group as German champions Frankfurt who won the trophy in 2006. Five Everton players leave for the World Cup in China this weekend. England’s opening match is against Japan on September 11.
‘Mikel Arteta is Everton’s best piece of business’
Aug 16 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON chairman Bill Kenwright has saluted Everton’s best piece of transfer business of the summer. Kenwright has sanctioned the signings of Phil Jagielka, Leighton Baines and Stephen Pienaar, plus bids for Manuel Fernandes and Ayegbeni Yabuku. But he believes tying influential Spanish midfielder Mikel Arteta to a long-term contract was his best business of the lot. “I’d go anywhere to watch the Spaniard,” he purred. “Mikel has become such an extraordinary member of this football club and that is the reason why the first month of the close season was making sure he was a long term Evertonian. “Negotiation is not easy these days but during all the time spent negotiating you knew that this boy wanted to stay.”
Two of the three goals at White Hart Lane on Tuesday night came from Arteta crosses, and as well as securing Arteta’s future, Tim Cahill signed a contract extension keeping him at Goodison until 2012. “Both Tim and Mikel did not want to go anywhere,” added Kenwright, “and I do believe that money was thrown at them by certain other clubs but we just talked through it. “We just wanted them to know how important they both were and how much we valued them.” The Blues chairman also revealed recently departed striker James Beattie sent a message of support to the Blues before the big kick-off last Saturday. “James is a lovely man. He sent me a text before his game (on Saturday) saying thank you for allowing me to play at one of the greatest clubs in the world and wished us all the best,” he went on. “He didn’t have the happiest of times at the club but Beattie was a good servant to the football club.”
Meanwhile, Leon Osman is hoping to continue his early season scoring form.
He has already equalled his goals tally from last term by netting in both of Everton's opening two games. After scoring in the 3-1 win over Spurs, he said that he is fully focused on extending his current good run. "It is something I aim to do in every game - score," said Osman. "I had a chance and managed to put it away." With Reading at the Madejski stadium next up, the Academy product is hoping he can play a key role again. "Hopefully the chances will keep coming and I will keep putting them away," Osman said. "We will go there confident as ever and hopefully come away with a win."
Aug 16 2007
What do you make of the Blues' start to the season?
TWO wins out of two is a fantastic start. The Wigan game was considered by many as a ‘comfortable’ win, but in my opinion, it wasn’t. We did not really look as though they were playing our first game of the season. The defence was caught out a few times and if it wasn’t for Arteta’s flair, the game would have been poor to watch.
I believed we wouldn’t beat Tottenham, but thankfully I was wrong. To score in the first two minutes was a great start, but we were losing the ball too easily afterwards and eventually we were punished. But we began to pick it up, and then Osman fired us ahead. We were quite comfortable then and even more so after going in at half time 3-1 up thanks to Stubbs’s free kick. In a hardworking all-round team performance, Carsley, Osman and, once again, Arteta, stood out, and Evertonians can take great encouragement from this game. MICHAEL DRUMMOND, Speke HANDS up all those Evertonians who, like myself, thought playing 4-4-2 against Spurs, starting with Osman, Neville and Carsley in midfield and picking Hibbert ahead of Jagielka were mistakes. But those of us who thought that were proven spectacularly wrong with one of the best away performances under Moyes. Whereas against Wigan, Mikel Arteta stole the show with a virtuoso display, on this occasion it was a total team performance with every player doing their bit for the Everton cause. It's alright having skill but you need grit, determination and team spirit to go with it if you are to flourish in the Premiership and at Spurs, Everton had all these qualities in abundance. It is still early days but Everton have definitely hit the ground running and who knows, if we carry on in this rich vein of form we might even find ourselves in the Champions League places come next May. TONY SCOTT, Walton SIX points from our first two games. What possible cause is there to be miserable? We ground out a win against a Wigan side expected to struggle, while Tuesday saw 11 heroes put in the perfect professional away performance. Our only real weakness in my eyes is our lack of depth. The fact that we have a heavily depleted squad makes the six points an even greater achievement. Victor Anichebe and AJ are currently our only strikers, while the injuries to Cahill and Baines have left us with an experienced, but ultimately negative, central midfield, and forced Joleon Lescott to play left back. If we can continue to play the good clinical football we did at Tottenham, Europe should again be an achievable goal. But one or two more injuries could just as easily ruin our season. Here’s hoping Moyes can add one or two more good players to the squad before the window closes, and we can finally have some luck with injuries! DEBBIE SMAJE, Upholland NOT many teams will go to White Hart Lane this season and come away with all three points, and we have done it deservedly. David Moyes will be celebrating a great tactical victory and will also be hoping that the fans will be able to bring their great away form back to Goodison. But no credit should be taken away from the players, who each gave 110% to the cause and their performance reaped the rewards. Everton were on top for long spells of the game and some of the players may feel slightly aggrieved that the winning margin wasn’t greater. This win, alongside Saturday’s victory over Wigan, has given us a good start to the season, and it was nice to see the name Everton topping the league table on Tuesday evening.
A win against Wigan was expected by the vast majority of the Everton faithful, but I hope the win at Tottenham may have set a standard for the rest of the season.
COLE FRASER, Litherland
Everton city stadium plan: first picture
Aug 16 2007
by Nick Coligan, Liverpool Echo
A RIVAL plan to stop Everton FC moving to Kirkby was unveiled today.
Cash-and-carry firm Bestway published the first images of the proposed 50,000-seater stadium on the site of its Scotland Road premises, also known as the “loop” or “tunnel trumpet”. It includes a landmark tower containing a hotel and other leisure facilities. Bestway has been working with Liverpool council on an alternative ground-move project in a bid to convince Everton FC to ditch its proposed relocation outside the city boundary.
Manuel Fernandes to sign in time for Reading trip
Aug 16 2007
by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
MANUEL FERNANDES could be in Everton’s squad for Saturday’s visit to Reading.
The Portuguese midfielder was expected on Merseyside for a medical today, after the complicated financial arrangements surrounding his transfer from Benfica were finally resolved. Benfica accepted a £6m fee for their 50 per cent part-ownership of the player, while the investment bank which owned the other half has also agreed terms.
Fernandes will now undergo a medical examination and, if successful, will sign a five year deal with the Blues. Boss David Moyes wants greater competition for places at Goodison, and pointed out that the players who have forged Everton’s hundred per cent start to the season have even demanded it. “I need competition to keep those players on their toes,” he explained. “I’ve got to say that the players have asked for the competition and I’m hoping to make it even stronger again if I can.” Moyes is also hoping that his interest in Middlesbrough striker Yakubu can be turned into a concrete move after Boro completed the signing of Spurs striker Mido for £6.8m.
Andrew Johnson worthy of England call
Aug 16 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
PHIL NEVILLE has urged England boss Steve McClaren to give his Everton team-mate Andy Johnson the chance to prove he can shine on an England stage.
Johnson was excellent during Tuesday’s 3-1 win at White Hart Lane in front of the watching McClaren. And with Wayne Rooney injured, Peter Crouch suspended for the Israel qualifier and Michael Owen yet to play for Newcastle this season, Neville has backed Johnson to fill the gap in England’s attack. Next Wednesday’s clash against Germany at Wembley gives McClaren the chance to look at Johnson.
Neville said: “AJ never let them rest for one minute, and that’s what he’s all about.
“I’m sure there will be a lot of talk about him playing for England next week now.
“I’m sure he would have played in the summer if he hadn’t been injured.
“He has carried on from where he left off last season – he terrifies defenders. He’s not just a goalscorer; his workrate is an example to every young striker in the game.
“He typified our spirit and work ethic. It starts from the front and he’s up there with the best.” Other strikers such as Jermain Defoe, Dean Ashton and Darren Bent have been desperate to get off to a goalscoring start to put themselves in the frame. But Johnson outshone Bent and Defoe on Tuesday. And Neville believes there is more to the striker’s game since he came back from ankle surgery in the summer.
“I think he has come back and improved on his link-up play, his touch, awareness and passing,” said Neville. “He has gone up a notch or two and he has brought the confidence from last season. All that’s missing is a goal – and I’m sure that will come.
“There were a few England strikers on show, but he really stood out. We have a friendly against Germany, and it’s the perfect time for Bent, Johnson and Defoe to be tested.” Johnson’s running at White Hart Lane was typical of David Moyes’ side.
“There’s more to come from us and that’s the level we have to play all season if we want to finish fifth or even fourth,” said Neville. “We must make sure we don’t fall below the standards we have set.”
How Bill Shankly set penalty record
Aug 16 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
WHO scored the last FA Cup penalty against Everton at Goodison Park?
The answer, to paraphrase the title of Gavin Buckland’s enormously entertaining new book, is “Strange but Blue.” Everton’s resident statistician has put together a splendid collection of tales which look like they might have been penned by Roald Dahl, except all are true. And one of the most unlikely is the identity of that FA Cup marksman at Goodison Park. Bill Shankly was a thorn in Everton’s side long before he took up the manager’s post at Anfield in 1959. And in 1946 he cooly converted a penalty kick at Goodison Park to send Preston North End through to the next round and knock Everton out. Remarkably a penalty hasn’t been scored against Everton in an FA Cup tie at Goodison since. Even more bizarrely, Shankly’s effort was the first example of what later became termed a ‘golden goal.’ The FA Cup was briefly going through a short-lived experiment of two-legged third round ties. Everton had lost 2-1 at Deepdale, but levelled matters at Goodison four days later when Joe Mercer scored from the penalty spot. After the match ended 1-0 after 90 minutes, a period of 20 minutes extra-time was played. Both teams managed a goal apiece, and in keeping with FA guidance it was decided that the next goal would be the winner.
Preston’s Livesey thought he’d scored it, but Norman Greenhalgh handled his goalbound shot, so, too, did Dougal who put the rebound away, but the referee had already awarded a penalty kick. So up stepped Shankly to claim his unusual place in Everton and FA Cup folklore. ‘Strange But Blue’ is packed full of similar yarns and curios – a romp through the unusual and the off-beat around Everton Football Club.
There’s the time the Toffees once scored eight at Anfield (and yes, Liverpool were in residence at the time), the occasion they forced 24 corners in a match – and lost, tales of goalkeepers doing the centre-forward’s job of scoring, centre-forwards doing the goalkeepers job between the posts, own goals, brawls, . . . and the bizarre picture of an Everton striker posing with great train robber Ronnie Biggs. The infamous Leeds United clash in the 1960s, when the players were asked to leave the field to ‘cool off’ is included, as is the war-time friendly against a Boxers XI, reviews of more than 50 off-beat matches and archive pictures from the extensive vaults of the Liverpool Daily Post & Echo.
* Available in books shops now priced £8.99, from Trinity Sports Media at the Echo offices or on www.merseyshop.com
Goodison Park's FA Cup penalties
IN more than 120 years of FA Cup ties at Goodison Park, only two penalty kicks have ever been scored. Here's the list in full:
* March 10, 1906: Sheffield Wednesday's Harry Davis has his shot saved by Blues' keeper Billy Scott.
* March 10, 1906: In the very same match, Davis exacts revenge and nets in the second half, but Everton hang on for a 4-3 victory.
* January 9, 1946: Shankly scores the extra-time 'golden goal'.
* February 14, 1948: Henry Freeman slides a spot-kick wide with only 10 minutes left, but Fulham still win 1-0.
* January 28, 1959: 74,000 fans see Sam Lawrie shoot wide as Everton go on to win 4-1 after extra time.
* January 27, 1962: Albert Dunlop saves from Bill Leivers as the home wide win 2-0.
Dinner date for legends
Aug 16 2007 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON legends Howard Kendall, Colin Harvey, Gordon West and John Bailey are the special guests at a Blue themed sportsman’s dinner later this month.
The event will be held at the Gladstone Liberal Social Club, Church Road, Birkenhead, from 7.30pm on Friday, August 24. Tickets are £15 with comedian Mickey Finn and compare BJ Lawson completing the evening entertainment.
For further details call John Cuff on 07710 541189.
New stadium is club cash cow
Aug 16 2007 by Neil Hodgson, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON and Liverpool will be heartened by findings that a move to a new stadium increases a club’s turnover by 66% on average in the first season – even before TV revenues. New figures from the Sports Business Group at business adviser Deloitte show that revenue increases were mainly driven by a 51% increase in average attendances in the first season after a move. Twenty-five new football stadia have been built in England since 1990 and eight clubs in the Premier League play in new grounds built since the league was formed. About £2.2bn has so far been spent on new grounds in England. And at least half of all Premiership clubs have plans for further investment in new stadia or redevelopment of their existing ground.
Everton fans are currently voting on a proposed move to a new home in Kirkby and Liverpool FC plans to relocate to a site on nearby Stanley Park. Among the benefits a new ground can reap are increased capacity, an enhanced live experience, more corporate hospitality income, enhanced opportunities to drive sales in catering and retail and the opportunity for non-matchday revenues from ventures such as conferences, hotels or exhibitions. However, Mark Roberts, senior consultant in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte, added a note of caution, saying that although “the new stadium effect” can drive attendances by 51% at first, unless the momentum is maintained by the club’s on-the-pitch performance these gains can quickly disappear, particularly among recent ‘converts’ to following the team live. He said: “Stadium development remains a hot topic for many clubs, but it is important they have a well-researched business plan that proves there is a genuine need for, and return on, investment in the stadium. “Unfortunately, we have seen some clubs press ahead with stadium development plans without the evidence to substantiate the proposed development. In these cases development plans often tend to come unstuck when funding for the plans is sought, or, worse still, a white elephant is born.”
Everton dismiss cash and carry site as ‘too small’
Aug 17 2007
by David Bartlett, Liverpool Daily Post
EVERTON FC last night remained clear that a site occupied by a cash and carry chain is not big enough for a new stadium for the club. It came after the Bestway Group released pictures of a proposed design for the Loop site, off Scotland Road, as revealed first on liverpooldailypost.co.uk yesterday. The Bestway Group has enlisted the help of the architects HOK Sport, who were behind Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium and the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, to help with the feasibility study into building a new ground on its site. Another firm of architects has now completed an initial rendering of some early images of a stadium with a tower structure. Bestway said the tower would help lend the site a landmark status and increase its visibility. The tower element would also provide a hotel, leisure facilities and other associated commercial uses. Bestway said their new images show that a 50,000-seater stadium could fit on the site. However, the Daily Post understands that club officials privately hold the firm belief that a stadium of only 25,000 capacity could be accommodated in the Loop. Liverpool council leader Warren Bradley is hoping he can put a package together to convince Everton FC to stay within the Liverpool city boundaries. The club’s season ticket holders and shareholders are currently voting in a ballot on whether to move to a new 55,000-seat ground in Kirkby. The final date for ballot papers is noon next Thursday. Opponents have hailed the Bestway site as a viable alternative to that move. Last night, club spokesman Ian Ross said: “We still do not believe that it is big enough for the ambitions of Everton FC.” Bestway head of property Malcolm Carter said: “We hope that fans can see that there is a reason for voting to keep Everton in Everton.” Bestway and Liverpool City Council are undertaking technical and commercial studies to explore the viability of a stadium development at Scotland Road. HOK are to be joined by WSP Group – a leading global engineering consultancy with a specialist stadium team. “The size and stature of these two companies shows how serious we are about the project and I know that the city council shares our determination,” said Malcolm Carter.
A spokesman for the Keep Everton in Our City campaign group said: “KEIOC would like to thank Bestway for producing these initial images. “We urge our custodians to consider this site urgently and give the project a fair timescale for an in-depth feasibility study.”
Manuel Fernandes has medical but must wait
Aug 17 2007
by Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily Post
MANUEL FERNANDES is on the verge of completing a permanent switch to Everton – but is likely to have to wait for his ‘second’ debut. The Portugal midfielder was on Merseyside yesterday to undergo a medical ahead of his protracted move to Goodison from Benfica. Fernandes has agreed personal terms on a five-year contract after the Lisbon outfit accepted a bid for their 50% part-ownership of the player, with Everton having also negotiated a deal with Kia Joorabchian’s MSI group, who own the other half. Everton have already discussed the potential problems of the deal with the Premier League and the Football Association to ensure there is no possibility of a repeat of the Carlos Tevez saga that has only recently been resolved. The Goodison outfit have to prove in writing that there will be no third-party owner influence, although the fact the deal is going ahead suggests both governing bodies are satisfied with the situation. The transfer should be completed today, but Fernandes’s registration is not expected to come through in time for him to receive international clearance to be available for the Premier League trip to Reading tomorrow. It means the 21-year-old would be in line for his first appearance as a full Everton player when Blackburn Rovers visit the following week. Fernandes, who scored two goals in nine games during a six-month loan at Goodison earlier this year, will arrive at a club buoyant at the top of the Premier League after their 3-1 win at Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday. Nevertheless, even Everton’s current players accept the need for further new signings between now and the close of the transfer window in two weeks’ time. And Goodison manager David Moyes said: “I need competition to keep those players on their toes and I’ve got to say the players have asked for that competition and I’m hoping to get it. “And I’m hoping to make it even stronger again because I want us to have a chance if we can.” Having netted the winner on the opening day against Wigan Athletic, Victor Anichebe once more impressed up front alongside Andrew Johnson. His performances have caught the attention of England under-21 manager Stuart Pearce, with Anichebe still yet to fully commit his international future to initial preference Nigeria and Moyes moved to praise the striker, and said: “Young Victor has had two terrific games leading the line, two great games for a young boy to play in and just think how much that has brought him on and sometimes you have to give young players a chance to see what they can do. “He’s been great. Stuart Pearce came up and had a chat with him last week and I think he is improving as a young centre-forward and I’m open minded for him to do what he wants.” Meanwhile, Pearce said of Anichebe: “I spoke to him, registered an interest from my point of view and the ball is in his court. “I would like him involved in the Under-21s, obviously family pressures and other things are playing (a role) one way or another.”
Yakubu deal is next for Everton
Aug 17 2007
by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES wrapped up a deal just short of Everton’s club record to snap up Benfica midfielder Manuel Fernandes today – now he intends to smash that mark to land Middlesbrough striker Yakubu. The Blues will step up their bid to lure the Nigerian striker to Goodison, and are prepared to offer £11m. And they won’t be put off by Boro boss Gareth Southgate’s protests that Yakubu is “still with us and he’s still part of what we want to do.” Southgate added: “Until that changes he’s a very important player to us.” That may change as soon as Everton make a firm offer for a player who looked completely disinterested in his side’s performance at Wigan on Wednesday night. Fernandes came through his medical safely yesterday and completed an £8m transfer, but his international clearance is unlikely to come through in time for him to figure at Reading tomorrow. Everton new boy Phil Jagielka, meanwhile, is prepared to be patient to force his way into the starting line-up. “I knew I would have to bide my time,” he said, after making a late substitute’s appearance at Tottenham on Tuesday. “The lads did fantastically well last season so the gaffer is playing the team that more or less finished last season. “It is a squad game. I had my 15-minute cameo at White Hart Lane so hopefully I will get on again – because I cannot see the gaffer changing it for Reading – and see how I do. “Nine or even seven points from the first three games would be a fantastic start and hopefully we will have a good result on Saturday.” England under-21 boss Stuart Pearce, meanwhile, has described Everton’s other summer signing of Leighton Baines as “inspired.” A thigh strain means that the £6m left-back is still waiting to make his debut, but Pearce said: “I think Leighton is an inspired signing and one that will enhance his reputation over the years. “Leighton has got great qualities on the ball, a good engine to get up and down the field and as we saw in the summer he can deliver a great cross and get the odd goal. “There are not too many great left-backs that spring to mind that are available at the moment – I think it is good business for the club.” The Blues will sport a new dark blue away kit, meanwhile, for tomorrow’s trip to Reading. The third strip will be used whenever there is a clash with teams who wear blue and white – Everton’s regular change kit this season is white. The new third kit will be available to buy from Thursday from the Everton Megastore, the Everton store in Birkenhead, or local JJB Sports stores.
Moyes happy to leave spending to others
Aug 17 2007 Liverpool Echo
David Moyes believes that managers who spend, spend, spend on new players can give themselves too many decisions to make. The Everton chief sees his side top of the Barclays Premier League ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Reading, with one of the smallest, and least changed squads, in the division. Everton made a mockery of Tottenham’s expensively re-built outfit in winning at White Hart Lane on Monday, achieving their second straight victory of the season with not one new player in the starting line-up. Moyes, who is bringing in Benfica’s Manuel Fernandes and is likely to bid for Ayegbeni Yakubu from Middlesbrough, still accepts that he has few options in a hugely committed and organised outfit. Moyes said: “Sometimes managers do give themselves too many decisions to make and we tend to work with a smaller squad because it suits us. But that is partly down to the finances here. “But we are looking to have a 65-game season with good cup runs and in the UEFA Cup, so we are going to need more players. And that is why we are trying to improve in that way.
“The chairman here, Bill Kenwright, has done everything in his power to get us higher up the table with cash to buy. They are continuing to try to do that now.
“We do want to break into that top four, we did it once. We don’t want the same top four every season, but then 10 years ago you would not have thought of Chelsea as a top four club. “Money came along to help them, and we are always trying to do that. We got into the top four two seasons ago, can we do it again? I don’t know myself, look at West Ham, Spurs, Portsmouth, who are all spending money to try to do the same thing.” He added: “There is no guarantee how any of them, or ourselves, will do. We must just wait and see. “Maybe the gap has closed, but sometimes you spend money and it works, sometimes not. “People say spending makes it happen, it might do. But then again it might not, but there is no guarantee to it. “There’s more teams trying to get into the top six and feeling that is the way forward and they must try to do something about it. The money coming into the game has made it easier, some clubs have new owners which has freed up some money from the banks.
“This season is different from any other. There is a wash of money around and most people have spent it.” And, although delighted with the start his under-rated but effective side has made, Moyes is quick to play down expectation. He said: “It has been a good start but we won’t get giddy on winning two games. “People seem to ask what we have done differently because we have won a couple of games, but nothing much really. We always try to do the right things, sometimes that doesn’t always get you results. “Then you start asking what is needed to put things right, when really you should just keep doing the right things as usual. “My players have been setting standards for themselves for a long time, over the last four years or so it has gradually been creeping up. “You don’t get half a dozen big new signings and a massive big jump, gradual improvement is what we have had and maybe some people have not noticed it. But I have. “But you look at the Premier League and what has been happening this summer and you can see so much money being spent. That is why I must temper my own feelings of expectation and hope we continue the way we are.
“I do not want to lump any more expectation on the players than they have to contend with at the moment.” Moyes has defender Joseph Yobo struggling with a groin injury, but although Leighton Baines is in training now after a hamstring problem, he will not be involved at Reading.
David Moyes pays a glowing tribute to unsung duo
Aug 17 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERY great Everton side has boasted an unsung midfielder – an artisan who does the dirty work which lets the artists flourish. Ask older Evertonians who was the inspiration behind the title winning team of 1963, and their answers will be split between Alex Young and Roy Vernon. Ask any player from that era, however, and he’ll instantly answer Dennis Stevens. In 1966 it was the gritty Jimmy Gabriel adding the basalt base, four years later Johnny Morrissey provided the foil for Ball-Harvey-Kendall, the platform for the 1995 FA Cup win was constructed by Joe Parkinson, while Paul Bracewell was a grafter with the touch of class who gave Sheedy and Steven the licence to thrill. Fast forward to the present, and David Moyes’ side now has two unsung stars. After back to back wins in their opening two matches this season, the plaudits have flown thick and fast. Mikel Arteta, Leon Osman, Joleon Lescott, Andy Johnson, Victor Anichebe, Alan Stubbs, Tim Howard . . . all have had their plaudits. But skipper Phil Neville and midfield partner Lee Carsley have quietly, but effectively gone about their business unnoticed. But not by boss David Moyes.
“Phil Neville and Lee Carsley have given us a platform – both of them,” he declared. “They are experienced, and they provide the foundation for other players.
“We look at the stats after every game and Phil is consistently on the ball more than any other player, while Cars breaks up more things than anybody else. The two of them are really influential, but they tend to go unnoticed. “As well as that, Cars has a real personality about him, a side to him which makes him really popular around the training ground, while Phil, I’ve got to say, is a fantastic captain. “He’s continually geeing people up, his professionalism rubs off and even behind the scenes he does a great job. “He’s always making sure that things are right for the lads, checking on what they want. “Cars is also somebody we have better results with him than without, which is a credit to him. “They allow players like Mikel Arteta and Leon Osman to get forward and express their creativity, and when Tim Cahill is in the side it’s the same. “It’s fashionable for most teams to have a holding midfielder nowadays, but they each have other parts to their game as well. “Cars can run on and get goals and Phil is always willing to do whatever will contribute to the good of the team. They have both contributed to the start we have made as much as anybody.”
Typically, the only time either player has figured in newspaper headlines so far has been whilst championing the cause of team-mates, Neville talking up Andy Johnson’s England claims. Moyes added: “That’s just like them. The two don’t seek headlines. At the end of the game on Tuesday Phil was saying ‘we’ve set the standard now, we’ve got to keep doing it,’ while Cars was delighted with another good performance away from home. He loves to be a part of good defensive operations and thrives on that.” After 2-1 and 3-1 victories in their opening matches, the Blues will now be seeking a first clean sheet of the season at Reading tomorrow. They will also be looking to break an historic statistic. Not since the 1969-70 title winning season has an Everton team won its opening two away matches. Arsenal and Manchester United, no less, were the victims back then, as the Blues were out of the traps so fast they headed the league table almost from start to finish. Tuesday’s outstanding success at White Hart Lane means this current Everton side are also trying to defend a table-topping place. But Moyes is refusing to get carried away too quickly. “I was asked on TV whether we could break into the top four, and I replied that we did it two years ago. “I’m certainly not going to come out and say we will do it again, but we’ll try the best we can. “At the moment we don’t have that expectation and I don’t need to burden myself or the players with that, but maybe I’ll start thinking soon I should do.”
If Everton do enjoy another successful campaign, you can guarantee that Carsley and Neville will have been at the heart of it.
Mikel Arteta joins such special company
Aug 17 2007 by Howard Kendall, Liverpool Echo
MIKEL ARTETA collected all the accolades after last Saturday’s opening day win over Wigan, and quite rightly so. But here’s another, which I consider to be praise indeed. The two names which came to mind while I watched Arteta on Saturday were Alex Young and Trevor Steven, and you can’t get a bigger compliment than that.
Both had exceptional balance, incredible skill and were easy on the eye.
Arteta is the same and it’s easy to see why he is such a big crowd favourite.
In fact if you talk about strengthening the current Everton line-up I’d say the only area you could look at presently is up front, because every other department looks in good shape – and of course there are still players like Phil Jagielka, Leighton Baines and Stephen Pienaar to come in. Ultimately I’m sure Joleon Lescott will move to centre-back and Baines will come in, but at the moment Alan Stubbs’ form has been so good that there has been no need to rush that. Lescott is fully deserving of a call-up to the England squad. He scored on Tuesday, which immediately thrusts him into the spotlight, but I’m sure Steve McClaren knows all about him already. He has a lot to offer and he certainly looks good enough for international football. The big problem for McClaren surrounds his goalkeeping options. For me there is still a question mark over Paul Robinson. There has always been a question mark over David James.
But beyond that, apart from the inexperienced Rob Green there simply isn’t one currently first choice keeper for his club, which underlines the problems Steve has – problems caused by the number of foreign players invited to this country.
There are plus points to that influx – seeing players like Arteta every week – but downsides for international bosses.
A word of warning
AS a manager I always used to say two things to my players before every season.
One: Try and get the first home win under your belt as quickly as possible. And two, try and win away as soon as you can. Successfully completing those two targets means critics can’t write about them and the pressure is lessened. If you haven’t managed to win game for half-a-dozen matches or so, you can guarantee it will be the first thing people talk about before every away match. But Everton have got both those statistics out of the way already, which is great. A word of warning, however. We won our first three matches of the 1993-94 season. That campaign ended with the famous Wimbledon relegation. In 1984 we lost our first two, and went on to win the title!
Oster poses a threat
JOHN OSTER could be up against Everton tomorrow, a full decade after I brought him to Goodison Park. That move never really came off for the lad. Maybe it was too soon for him, perhaps he started believing he’d already made it when he got here – but for whatever reason he never consistently showed the ability I knew he had.
When I was at Sheffield United he tore us apart once for Grimsby, and his potential was so good that Man United wanted to take him on an end of season trip to assess him. He left Everton and ended up at, among others, Sunderland, Barnsley, Grimsby again, Leeds and Burnley before Reading gave him a belated opportunity.
He seems to have settled down again and Everton will have to watch him carefully. The lad certainly has talent and has the ability to undo Everton’s fine start.
No place like home for Dunc
Aug 17 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
AFTER another prolonged spell of enforced silence, the Tartan Trappist himself provided a remarkably eloquent and articulate statement for the campaigners striving to keep Everton in our city. Duncan Ferguson spoke volubly and at length this week in an impassioned plea about the allure of Goodison Park and its environs. It has also been suggested that he will use the two season tickets he bought for the Platinum Lounge last season to vote ‘No’ to Kirkby. Which all begs the question, if Ferguson is so keen to keep Everton close to their spiritual home, why has he not been back to Goodison Park once since he hung up his boots 15 months ago? Just wondering, like?
Blues come before England, insists Johnson
Aug 18 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON forward Andy Johnson insists he will put club before country – after he was singled out as the man to solve England’s striking crisis this week.
The Blues hit-man was named in Steve McClaren’s 28-man England squad for next week’s friendly international against Germany along with team-mate Phil Neville.
With Wayne Rooney injured and Peter Crouch suspended for the vital qualifier in Israel on September 8, Johnson has been tipped as the man to fire England to the European Championship finals. But he said this week: “It is exciting times. There has been a lot of talk about me being involved for England in the last few days but for me that is on the backburner. “The most important things for me this week have been Tottenham and Reading. My focus is just on Reading on Saturday, getting off the mark personally and helping us get another three points. “I feel as sharp as ever, I feel my game has gone up a notch now and my hold-up play is a lot better. I feel my game is good right now. Training week-in, week-out with the boys we have here is only going to make you a better player. “As a striker, obviously I want to get off the mark as soon as possible. I will be looking to do that this weekend but as long as we are scoring goals and winning games, it doesn't really matter who is putting the ball in the net. “We are tight as a group and I am buzzing for Ossie (Leon Osman) because he has scored two in two. We have goals from every area of the side already and the main thing is we get the points and keep putting in good performances.” Despite his own outstanding form, however, Joleon Lescott has been overlooked for McClaren’s England squad, with veteran Sol Campbell and Newcastle youngster Steven Taylor being preferred.
Day devils; dwarfs giants and villains came to Goodison
Aug 18 2007
by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
WHEN did the panto season last arrive at Everton? Was it the colourful ’94/95 campaign which started with relegation fears and ended with FA Cup glory? Or perhaps the eventful 1997/98 season, when 34 different players figured? Or how about way back in the Victorian era, when goalkeepers (clearly as eccentric then as they are now) could “cooly saunter down the field with a greatcoat on, puffing a cigarette,” . . . during a Cup semi-final no less! Everton historian Billy Smith, however, has unearthed the real thing in his remarkable new publication “The Blue Correspondence – Season 1888-89.” A lifelong Blue, Billy spent seven years diligently and exhaustively scouring Victorian newspaper archives to produce the most thorough analysis of Everton’s first league season ever compiled. And he hopes to make the publication the first of an encyclopaedic series.
Every single match report of every single match played by the early Toffees in their debut League season has been collated – that’s 22 league matches, 45 friendlies, 27 reserve games and three Lancashire Senior Cup ties – and the charity match against Sock and Buskin on February 13, 1889 is undoubtedly the most intriguing. According to the contemporary report Everton took on a side of 26 “spirited devils, dwarfs, giants, villains, Highlanders, clerics, policemen, brigands, clowns, harlequins, fat boys and pick witches” and lost by three goals to one! There are more than 200 pages of reports in this first volume, and the statistics section is exhaustive. “I am a big cricket fan and I was jealous of the reference books they have, so I decided to try and do a series of Everton books with everything absolutely right,” explained Billy. “It’s the Everton equivalent of Wisden.
“In order to do that I had to research the archives of not just one paper, but several – the Liverpool Post, the Mercury and the Courier. Unfortunately it was a few years before the Echo started doing comprehensive reports. “What became apparent through researching the reports was the enormous influence the early Victorian writers had on team selection. “Journalists would complain to the board of directors about the performances of some players and how others had impressed in the reserves, and the following week their selections would be in and the other players left out!”
“It was also interesting to see the origins of some modern day traditions. The tradition of the fans behind the goal applauding the opposing goalkeeper seemed to start back in the Victorian era.
“It’s been a real labour of love. The actual writing took about three months, but the research took six or seven years.” The first league season, of course, featured matches against well known names like Accrington, Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion. Less well known clashes, however, came against the quaintly named Crewe Steam Sheds, Battlefield and Derby Juncture. Billy has collected the information to turn his debut publication into what could be the first in an encyclopaedic series of Everton volumes. “I have to sell 500 and then I can cover my expenses to have the next batch printed,” he explained. “I have the information to go right up to 1900, but I’d like to keep going as far as I can if possible.” You can help Billy in his quest, and help support the creation of a detailed Everton database, by buying “The Blue Correspondence” from the author outside the Winslow on matchdays, priced £9.99 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Everton star Andy Van der Meyde suspended
Aug 18 2007 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
TROUBLED Everton star Andy Van der Meyde’s career was today in crisis after he was barred from the Blues’ training ground and fined. The Dutch winger was suspended by boss David Moyes for missing a training session and warned that his future now hangs in the balance. But the star today revealed his torment at the illness plaguing his baby daughter and appealed for understanding from the club and fans.
Moyes said: “Andy has had numerous warnings about this type of thing and we won't tolerate it any longer. “I will make a decision regarding the player's future next week.”
But today the ECHO can reveal how Van der Meyde’s five-month-old baby Dolce has not been allowed home from Alder Hey children’s hospital since her birth.
The 26-year-old’s friend and solicitor Tony Nelson, of Birkenhead firm Haworth and Gallagher, said: “He bitterly regrets what has happened. Andy and his partner visit Dolce every day and it has placed a huge strain on them both. “The baby was in the neo-natal ward until June and is still permanently on a ward. “Andy is very much aware that this conduct could be perceived as reckless and irresponsible and deeply regrets it. “He pleads for the forgiveness of the manager, the club and its fans. He also assures me there will be no similar repetition.” The ex-Inter Milan player missed the club’s pre-season American tour because of his daughter’s illness. Missing the training session was the latest in a string of problems for the player In June the Dutchman denied suggestions of a drink problem in an exclusive ECHO interview.
Months later burglars stole cars and jewellery worth thousands during a break-in.
They also stole the family dog Mac, but returned it after an appeal in the ECHO.
Unsung hero who likes to stay out of the spotlight
Aug 18 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
JOSEPH YOBO famously played every minute of every Premier League match for Everton last season. But Lee Carsley clocked up even more match minutes.
He started every match in every competition, and failed to finish just five times.
But it was Yobo who grabbed the headlines, while Carsley quietly went about doing the highly effective job he has done ever since he signed from Blackburn five-and-a-half years ago. Typically he didn’t mind. “It’s been like that throughout my career,” he explained. “But as long as I’m playing that’s enough. “I’m not fussed about being a star, or chucking in a few step-overs. I’m just happy doing my bit. “I know what my strengths are. I know what I bring to the team. Basically my job is to give the ball to the likes of Mikel and Ossie because they basically are our match-winners.
“Personally, when you talk about football I don’t feel valued or under-valued.
“There’s much more to life than football. You talk about accolades, but I’m not really fussed about them as long as the wife and kids are happy and healthy.
“I’ve always had a good relationship with the manager. He does make me feel appreciated and the fact that you are picked for the majority of the games gives you confidence as well.” It’s clearly a two-way street. Everton’s results with Lee Carsley in the side have consistently been better than without. He was almost ever-present during the fourth-place finish of 2004/05, then was injured in the final match of the season. As a result he sat out almost the whole of the following campaign, when Everton struggled. Last season he was back performing his unsung role, and statistics show that Everton are a more efficient side with him in their line-up than without. Which is what makes the events of this summer all the more astonishing, when Carsley came within a hairsbreadth of kicking off the season against Everton at Goodison Park. “I came quite close,” he admitted. “There was a week after the season had finished when, through no fault of myself or the gaffer, things went a bit crazy. “We were pushing for the UEFA Cup and I didn’t really want to talk about contracts until the end of the season. Then I was away and then the gaffer was away and it sort of went mad. “I spoke to quite a lot of clubs and I had a medical at Wigan, so it was close. “It was a bit rushed and I just wanted everything sorted out quickly, when probably I should have been a bit more patient. But luckily enough it all worked out. “A lot was going on at the club. I’m sure they were trying to sign other players as well and it was just a case of getting some kind of agreement. “It was never the case that I wanted to leave. “How do I feel now I’ve committed myself for another year? “I feel good that I’ve had the chance to play for a club like Everton. I realised in the summer that the chance to play for a club of this size, with fans who show the kind of passion ours show, does not come along every day. “This is definitely the best team I’ve been involved in. Especially when you look around you and you see players like Leighton Baines, who still hasn’t been involved, Phil Jagielka – and what a fantastic player he is, Tim Cahill and James Vaughan who both have to come back. And it looks like we have Manny Fernandes. Everywhere you look we have good players. “The squad strength is the highest I’ve been involved in.” Of course that might mean less appearances in the starting line-up for Carsley in the future, but it’s a sacrifice he is willing to make. “We haven’t got a massive squad so you do get the chance to have a run of games which obviously builds confidence and gives you confidence in your team-mates,” he added. “I’m not sure how I’d handle squad rotation, but that’s the way it’s going isn’t it? “The gaffer said in the summer that if we do well in the UEFA Cup we could be playing 60 games. “Last season I played 40-odd games and that was hard enough. “The season we finished fourth so many things went for us. We didn’t get many injuries and we didn’t get many suspensions. “We basically had the same team week in week out, and when we lost, everyone lost, when we won a lot of teams around us lost so there was a lot more to us finishing fourth than us being fantastic every week. “Towards the end of that season we nosedived quite rapidly, so to finish fourth was a fantastic achievement. But it probably came two or three seasons too early. “I definitely think we are stronger now.” Six points from six, including an outstanding win at White Hart Lane, underlines that claim. But with today’s tough trip to Reading offering another stern challenge, Carsley is taking nothing for granted. Neither are his team-mates, but with Carsley at the heart of the Blues midfield, statistics suggest they’ll do better with him in the side than they would otherwise. Even if he doesn’t grab any headlines afterwards . . .final match of the season.
As a result he sat out almost the whole of the following campaign, when Everton struggled. Last season he was back performing his unsung role, and statistics show that Everton are a more efficient side with him in their line-up than without.
Which is what makes the events of this summer all the more astonishing, when Carsley came within a hairsbreadth of kicking off the season against Everton at Goodison Park. “I came quite close,” he admitted. “There was a week after the season had finished when, through no fault of myself or the gaffer, things went a bit crazy.
“We were pushing for the UEFA Cup and I didn’t really want to talk about contracts until the end of the season. Then I was away and then the gaffer was away and it sort of went mad. “I spoke to quite a lot of clubs and I had a medical at Wigan, so it was close. “It was a bit rushed and I just wanted everything sorted out quickly, when probably I should have been a bit more patient. But luckily enough it all worked out.
“A lot was going on at the club. I’m sure they were trying to sign other players as well and it was just a case of getting some kind of agreement. “It was never the case that I wanted to leave. “How do I feel now I’ve committed myself for another year?
“I feel good that I’ve had the chance to play for a club like Everton. I realised in the summer that the chance to play for a club of this size, with fans who show the kind of passion ours show, does not come along every day. “This is definitely the best team I’ve been involved in. Especially when you look around you and you see players like Leighton Baines, who still hasn’t been involved, Phil Jagielka – and what a fantastic player he is, Tim Cahill and James Vaughan who both have to come back. And it looks like we have Manny Fernandes. Everywhere you look we have good players.
“The squad strength is the highest I’ve been involved in.” Of course that might mean less appearances in the starting line-up for Carsley in the future, but it’s a sacrifice he is willing to make. “We haven’t got a massive squad so you do get the chance to have a run of games which obviously builds confidence and gives you confidence in your team-mates,” he added. “I’m not sure how I’d handle squad rotation, but that’s the way it’s going isn’t it? “The gaffer said in the summer that if we do well in the UEFA Cup we could be playing 60 games. “Last season I played 40-odd games and that was hard enough. “The season we finished fourth so many things went for us. We didn’t get many injuries and we didn’t get many suspensions. “We basically had the same team week in week out, and when we lost, everyone lost, when we won a lot of teams around us lost so there was a lot more to us finishing fourth than us being fantastic every week. “Towards the end of that season we nosedived quite rapidly, so to finish fourth was a fantastic achievement. But it probably came two or three seasons too early. “I definitely think we are stronger now.” Six points from six, including an outstanding win at White Hart Lane, underlines that claim. But with today’s tough trip to Reading offering another stern challenge, Carsley is taking nothing for granted.
Neither are his team-mates, but with Carsley at the heart of the Blues midfield, statistics suggest they’ll do better with him in the side than they would otherwise.
Even if he doesn’t grab any headlines afterwards . . .
My big doubts over Yakubu joining Blues
Aug 18 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON’S start to the new season has been better than even the most optimistic Evertonian could have imagined. All summer Spurs were tipped to become the team most likely to break into the Champions League chasing pack, but after our excellent display there on Tuesday, why not Everton? In Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka, David Moyes has signed two lads who tick all his boxes perfectly.
There’s no secret that he wants another two players of similar calibre, and it was interesting to note the contrast in midweek when Spurs had five strikers – with Mido still at the club at the time – to choose from, while Everton had just two. That’s a glaring deficiency and one David Moyes is doing his best to address before the transfer deadline with plenty of speculation surrounding a swoop for Yakubu.
He is a player who, from a distance, has always struck me as inconsistent.
Reports of his performance for Middlesbrough at Wigan in midweek ranged from “disinterested” to “shocking.” Any player who can turn in displays which elicit that kind of reaction doesn’t seem to be a photofit of a Moyes type player, with attitude and work ethic being at the top of his list. I’ve heard Harry Redknapp describe Yakubu as having “good days and bad days.” But if you look at Yakubu’s record more closely he has played more than 30 matches a season ever since he moved to the Premier League, and with 53 goals in 129 games he has scored a goal around every two-and-half games, which is an encouraging statistic. Maybe my initial feelings were a little harsh, but I have seen matches in which he has been very peripheral.
Even when Andy Johnson is not having a good game, he contributes to the team.
Hopefully if Yakubu does sign, he can get the mix right and have more good days than bad, because he has undoubted talent.
Reading 1, Everton 0 (Echo)
Aug 20 2007
by David Prentice
DAVID MOYES mounted a full-scale Drog search on Saturday afternoon.
Something expansive and colourful, capable of altering the outlook of a football match. James McFadden’s inspiring cameo was as close as he got, but ultimately he was left with a post-trip crash. “Reading were the better team against Chelsea in midweek and it was Chelsea's top quality players who baled them out,” he explained afterwards. “Drogba lashed one in from 25 yards. Maybe that was the difference today. Chelsea had that real top edge quality to pull the game back. “We maybe didn't have that today.” But that didn't stop Moyes from trying. For clubs with a combined history spanning 265 years, Reading and Everton have faced each other just four times. But for clubs so unfamiliar with each other, both are remarkably similar in their outlook. Hard working, resilient and spirited, they rely on one or two individuals for their inspiration. Everton’s creative catalyst is Mikel Arteta. Reading rely heavily on Irish maverick Stephen Hunt. On Saturday Hunt enjoyed an excellent afternoon. Arteta didn’t – and that, in essence, was the difference. The burden of creativity the little Spaniard carries is one the Blues are keenly aware of. It is why Manuel Fernandes was enlisted at the weekend and why Aiyegbini Yakubu has been targeted to bolster a decimated forward line. David Moyes tried what other inventive options he had. Stephen Pienaar was introduced in the 56th minute and showed flashes of promise, then James McFadden came on with 25 minutes left and brightened up Everton’s efforts enormously. But it was all too little too late and ultimately a wretched goal on the stroke of half-time proved the only difference. David Moyes had been forced to make his first change of the season when Joseph Yobo failed to shake off a groin strain and Joleon Lescott returned to centre-back duties with Nuno Valente coming in. But the switches couldn’t be blamed for the kind of goal Zingari League sides would have been embarrassed to concede. Ulises De La Cruz tossed in a straightforward throw-in. Everton moved in slow motion, as Lescott misread the throw, Kevin Doyle outmuscled Alan Stubbs and Hunt nipped in ahead of Tony Hibbert. It settled the match, although for 15 minutes Everton looked like carrying on where they had left off at White Hart Lane. If anything, the Navy Blues (the first appearance of the season of a third kit) looked over-confident. Mikel Arteta might have shot in the 10th minute but tried to put a chance on a plate for Andy Johnson. The ball got caught in his feet and when he dug out a shot it was blocked for a corner. Then Arteta was fouled 25 yards from goal but rather than spot the ball for a free-kick opportunity, opted to take a quick kick and keep the ball moving. It was all very expansive and optimistic, but couldn’t be sustained against Reading’s in your face attitude. Andy Johnson was the man highlighted as Reading’s pre-match bogeyman, following a remarkable run of eight goals in eight games against the Royals. But he was restricted to a handful of rushed, long-range strikes until the heartbreaking moment six minutes from time when the same post was struck twice in a few seconds. Everton had gradually built up a modicum of pressure as Moyes reassessed his options. Already shorn of the attacking influence of Tim Cahill and James Vaughan, the Blues boss saw Victor Anichebe drop painfully to the turf after kicking the back of Hunt’s boots. He gingerly tried to continue, had another go after treatment, but ultimately had to concede defeat and allow Stephen Pienaar to come on. The South African was bright in flashes, but it wasn’t until James McFadden followed him into the fray that Everton looked like unpicking Reading’s defensive locks. McFadden almost rescued a point with six minutes left. Drifting dangerously in from the right he stepped over the ball once, twice, then curled a delicious left-footed effort goalwards. Marcus Hahnemann looked up in horror, totally beaten, but the ball bounced back off the post. Even then there should have been an equaliser. Johnson dug the ball away from De La Cruz, but crashed the ball off the inside of the same post having done the difficult bit. You could say Everton have done the difficult bit, too, coming through their opening three fixtures – two of them teak tough tests – with six points. But they can’t breathe out now with Blackburn and Bolton looming. Both will offer the same kind of physical challenge, and will ask Everton to find creative solutions to points gathering. They didn’t quite get it right at Reading.
Reading 1, Everton 0 (D,Post)
Aug 20 2007
by Ian Doyle at the Madejski Stadium
A TRIBUTE to the great strides Everton have taken in the last year could be heard on the final whistle at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday. Having seen their team resist a late surge from the visitors, Reading’s supporters greeted the conclusion of the match with the same gusto as if the Barclays Premier League itself had been won. It’s a sign of the growing regard in which David Moyes’s side find themselves being held by their Premier League peers that their defeat is met in such vociferous manner. But that back-handed compliment was scant consolation for the Goodison outfit after they were knocked off the top of the table with their 100% start to the season ruined on a dreary afternoon in Berkshire. The sloppy manner of Stephen Hunt’s winner two minutes before the break encapsulated a flat Everton performance that only in the closing moments threatened to hit the heights of their midweek triumph at Tottenham Hotspur. That the players headed back to Merseyside disgruntled at what they considered a missed opportunity underlined the expectations heightened by their opening two victories than their display on the afternoon. True, a manic 85th minute in which James McFadden and Andrew Johnson both struck the woodwork gives Everton strong claim they were a touch unlucky not to have at least kept their unbeaten run intact. Overall, though, this was curiously subdued showing from Moyes’s men – a third start inside a week for almost all the players – lacking the vitality and spark that had seen them storm up the Premier League standings. No doubt there will be those that quickly point to the largely ineffective display from Mikel Arteta, a talismanic presence against both Wigan and Spurs, for this defeat. For whatever reason, the Spaniard – employed largely on the left flank – didn’t click into gear, his contribution fitful and even his dead-ball prowess lacking the trademark consistent accuracy to hurt the Reading defence. But while singling this out is grossly unfair to both Arteta and his team-mates, it exposed the danger of Everton becoming over-reliant on the Spanish schemer’s box of tricks. Encouragingly, then, there were flashes from some of his colleagues that they are prepared to help share the creative burden, with the arrival of Manuel Fernandes also easing the pressure on Arteta. Loan man Steven Pienaar, in an extended second-half cameo, showed some clever touches and forced a smart save from Reading goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann with a near-post effort, and must be close to being handed a full debut. McFadden, too, staked his claims for a start with a lively display after replacing Tony Hibbert in an attacking move midway through the second half. The Scotland international was lively and impressive – if maybe not when earning a booking for diving in the Reading penalty box late on – and was the catalyst for Everton’s best chance with five minutes remaining. Dribbling in off the right flank, McFadden curled a left-footed shot that drifted over Hahnemann but struck the top of the goalkeeper’s right post. Reading substitute Ulises de la Cruz made a complete hash of clearing the ball, possibly handling in the process, but recovered to block Johnson’s shot, the striker then hurriedly belting the follow-up against the same post from six yards. With eight goals in eight previous appearances against Reading , the home faithful had good reason to make Johnson public enemy number one at the weekend, and it was with great delight that they revelled in the striker’s misfortune in front of goal. Johnson, a tireless outlet throughout, actually hasn’t scored since netting the winner against Arsenal in March but it wasn’t for the want of trying on Saturday, his goalbound shot deflected over by Andre Bikey after Arteta had elected to lay off Hibbert’s cross rather than shoot. That chance came during a lively opening period from the visitors, with Leon Osman’s near-post shot blocked by Nicky Shorey from a cross from Victor Anichebe, a diligent worker before succumbing to injury after half-time. But midway through the first half, Everton began to fade and it was during that period that Reading , hard-working if largely uninspired, struck the fatal blow. Hunt had already missed a decent chance at the far post, heading Kevin Doyle’s ball across the area when an effort on goal seemed the easier option, when he capitalised on some indifferent Everton defending a minute before the break. A long throw from de la Cruz was allowed to bounce in the area, Doyle outmuscled Alan Stubbs and Hunt nipped in ahead of Hibbert to thump past the otherwise untroubled Tim Howard. Perhaps the chief concern for Moyes will be this is the third game in succession his usually stingy team have failed to keep a clean sheet. The Everton defence was missing Joseph Yobo who, having played every minute of the previous Premier League campaign, was forced to give up on his attempts to repeat that achievement this season in just the third game, his groin problem giving a recall for Nuno Valente with Joleon Lescott pushed across to centre-back. Valente was largely undistinguished – ill timing with new arrival Leighton Baines making the bench on Saturday – while Lescott had a fortunate escape when the ball hit his hand inside the area on the 19th minute. Steve Bennett, Moyes’s least favourite official, for once gave Everton the benefit of the doubt and waved play on. Lescott’s presence in the opposite penalty box almost led to an equaliser in the 66th minute, the centre-back challenging Hahnemann for Arteta’s deep free-kick, the ball bouncing goalward off Bikey before the Reading centre-back eventually cleared. But despite dominating possession in the closing quarter, Everton couldn’t craft anything to work Hahnemann until McFadden and Johnson struck the same post within seconds to leave the travelling support resigned it just wasn’t going to be their team’s day. Mischief-makers have pointed out that the last time Everton won their opening two league games, they had to beat Wimbledon on the final day to avoid relegation. There’s no chance of that happening this season, and with Moyes having refused to become carried away by his team’s fine start, there now won’t be any over-reaction to what was admittedly an avoidable setback. After all, Reading’s reaction to the result suggests Everton are on the right path. READING (4-4-2): Hahnemann; Murty (de la Cruz 36), Ingimarsson, Bikey, Shorey; Seol (Oster 71), Harper, Gunnarsson, Hunt (Convey 79); Doyle, Long. Subs: Federici, Fae.
BOOKINGS: Ingimarsson (foul) and Long (unsporting behaviour). EVERTON (4-4-2): Howard; Hibbert (McFadden 66), Lescott, Stubbs, Valente; Osman (Jagielka 89), Carsley, Neville, Arteta; Johnson, Anichebe (Pienaar 57). Subs: Ruddy, Baines. BOOKINGS: Lescott (foul) and McFadden (simulation).
REFEREE: Steve Bennett. ATT: 22,813.
NEXT GAME: Everton v Blackburn Rovers, Barclays Premier League, Saturday 5.15pm
Alan Stubbs: We must keep clean sheet
Aug 20 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON defender Alan Stubbs has targeted a clean sheet as a platform to help the Blues regain their winning momentum. David Moyes’ side conceded a goal for the third time this season at Reading on Saturday, but after 2-1 and 3-1 wins in their opening matches, this time Stephen Hunt’s solitary strike proved the match-winner.
“It is disappointing that we have not kept a clean sheet so far this season,” said Stubbs. “We could have kept out one or two of the goals that we have conceded. Whether it’s early season sloppiness or simply us not concentrating, I don’t know.
“We attack as a team and defend as a team, so we have to look at the goals we have conceded and put them right. But I don’t think it’s a problem. “We have raised the bar on our own standards. We have added a few new players which helps the strength of the squad and we can take it from there." Everton were undone by a sloppy 43rd minute strike at the Madejski Stadium and Stubbs added: “It didn’t really happen for us. We had enough of the ball to come out of the game with something, but we haven’t. “It’s one of those games where we walk away from it wondering how we didn’t get anything from it. “We did not look tired, and we were getting about them. We thought it would be a tough game as they play with a high tempo and try to smother you. “They did that in the first half and had a few attacks, but I didn’t see that they were hurting us. We had an ample amount of the ball but we didn’t create anything clear-cut. “But It’s still a decent start to the season and it shows how for we have come that we were looking for nine points from our first three games against Wigan, Spurs and Reading. “We have got six points out of nine, and if you had offered us that an hour before the start of the season, we would have snatched your hand off. “This result is a blip but we are playing well enough to go into our next game and be confident of getting another result. “We will look at Saturday’s game, and whatever we did wrong we will look to put right against Blackburn.”
David Moyes: Did we deserve to lose? Probably not
Aug 20 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
BLUES boss David Moyes was disappointed by his side's display at Reading on Saturday. But he still felt his side could have snatched a point and maintained their unbeaten start to the season. "We're disappointed with the way we played, but did we deserve to lose? Probably not,” he declared. "You have to give Reading credit. They do what they do really well. They always keep you under pressure. Probably the 10 minutes or so prior to half-time they did that and kept the pressure on and we lost a schoolboy goal from the throw-in. "Doyle edged Alan Stubbs out of the way and some referees would have given a free-kick for that. "But we shouldn't have allowed the ball to bounce in the middle of the box. We're well aware of Stephen Hunt who's very good at nipping in and scoring goals. We're disappointed because they were well warned.” Moyes also had words of sympathy for striker Andy Johnson, who now leaves for international duty with England after failing to break his goal duck.
After eight goals in eight appearances against Reading, Johnson saw a close range strike hit the inside of a goalpost and Moyes explained: "I don't think Andy missed that chance, I think the goalkeeper probably pushed it onto the post. "But if you look at it again it comes off the bar and hits De La Cruz on the arm. It's a penalty kick. It changes the direction of the ball, Andy changes direction and hits it and on another day it hits the post and goes in. "If he plays on Wednesday and does well it will benefit England and it will benefit Everton. He's a perfect team player and that is one thing he did today even if the goal didn't come for him. He didn't have too many chances but his team ethic and his teamwork will never be in question.
"We had pressure at times but never really created enough good opportunities and when we did, Reading defended well. "But we had Tottenham away on Tuesday night and Reading away on the Saturday. You'd probably say coming away and winning one of them is a hard thing to do. Spurs finished fifth last season. Reading were up there all season, so we've had a pretty tough week. I think the disappointing thing is that we had a chance today to do more than we did do. "We can play much better than we did today and maybe we could have got something more. "If we had drawn at Tottenham and drawn today you might have said that was a fantastic start by Everton, but as it is we actually have one point more, so we can't complain too much.” Reading boss Steve Coppell was simply relieved to have got through a match without Andy Johnson scoring against him. "I said to him afterwards 'that's the first time you haven't scored against us', " he said. "I think we did a really good job on him because he is a good player. He's always there niggling away all the time. He's like toothache. You just know he is so sharp he will either score or create something during the course of a game and we did as well today as we've ever done against him. "Everton are a very resilient side and they looked as though they were capable of springing us. But we made some critical interceptions and just about came through it.”
Residents blast 74-house plan at Everton FC’s training ground
Aug 20 2007 by Nick Coligan, Liverpool Echo
A LUXURY housing development is planned for the site of Everton FC’s training ground. The club has submitted its multi-million pound proposal to construct more than 70 large detached homes at its Bellefield base in West Derby. Everton are putting the finishing touches to their new training ground at Finch Farm in Halewood, before manager David Moyes moves his first-team squad in the next few weeks. That will free up the 8.9-acre Bellefield site for housing and the club has teamed up with developer David Wilson Homes to put together a scheme. It would see the existing training facilities, including the indoor practice area and changing rooms, demolished, along with four properties in Sandforth Road. An estate of 74 detached homes, all with four, five or six bedrooms, would be built in their place, with a new access road laid off Sandforth Road. Neighbouring residents have already been asked for their views on the plans, and changes made as a result. Liverpool council will make a decision about the application later this year. A planning statement says: “Not withstanding its recent successes, the club has a need to generate income to invest in its infrastructure and secure its future growth. “This is increasingly necessary if the club is to maintain its current status and continue to function effectively within the highly competitive Premier League. “The value generated by redevelopment of Bellefield would be injected straight back into the club for its proposed stadium regeneration strategy.” But some residents are not happy at the idea of the Blues’ training ground of 40 years being redeveloped. Mother-of-one Andrea Taylor-Kong , of Apsley Road, said: “There has been a lot of property development around West Derby in the last couple of years. “People who own traditional properties are worried about house prices, who is going to buy a 1920s semi when you can get a brand-new house down the road cheaper? “The roads are congested here at the best of times and another housing estate will put pressure on school places.” Finch Farm has 10 full-size grass pitches, a floodlit synthetic pitch and specialist training areas.
Youngsters too good for Bristol
Aug 21 2007
by Chris Wright, Liverpool Daily Post
EVERTON under-18s scored an excellent 4-2 opening-day victory over Bristol City at Netherton on Saturday. In a lively match Everton were full value for their victory against a Bristol side, the majority of whom were older than the home youngsters. Neil Dewsnip’s side began brightly and took advantage of some excellent dead-ball deliveries from Danny Redmond. They took the lead on 15 minutes when England schoolboy international captain Jack Rodwell scored from Redmond’s corner. Cory Sinnott made it 2-0, heading home another of Redmond’s deliveries. The wind was causing both sides a problem and Bristol reduced the arrears on the hour with a header, but almost immediately Hope Akpan also headed in from another Redmond corner. An error of judgement by Everton’s Australian goalkeeper Michael McEntagart saw Bristol score again. But with five minutes left Lewis Codling secured a 4-2 victory and all three points. Coach Dewsnip said: “They were quite big and strong and athletic with some older players. They has three under-19s boys and we had only three U18s so it was a massive difference in age really. “But we started well and the first half performance was very good. The second half was a bit of rollercoaster. But it is always good to start with a win and we are very pleased. “The first day of the season is traditionally a bit mad. But our quality was there in the first half and that ultimately won the match.” Everton are next in action on Saturday when they travel down to London to face Tottenham Hotspur for their first away fixture of the campaign (kick-off 11am). They will be hoping to emulate the first team, who won their second successive match of the season at Spurs last week. Dewsnip said: “We always have really good football matches with Tottenham and we are really looking forward to that. “We are a young side. Eight first years started against Bristol. “We have a few of the older boys who can come back in if needed. But they will have to force their way into the side now, following Saturday’s performance by the younger lads. “Last year we had that problem of going 10 or 11 games without winning, so it is better like this and something we can build on.” EVERTON UNDER-18s: McEntagart; Sinnott, Barnett, Rodwell, McCarten; Krenn, Akpan, Redmond, Stewart; Agard, Codling. Subs: Hall, Stubhaug, McCardle, Wallace, Brizell.
Everton confident over Yakubu deal
Aug 21 2007
by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON are still “confident” a deal can be struck for Aiyegbeni Yakubu, despite Middlesbrough’s asking price rising to £12.5million. The Blues have had a starting bid of £10.5m rejected by Boro, but believe a compromise can be reached with the Teesiders, who need cash to push through a £6m deal for Brazilian striker Afonso Alves. Yakubu has made it clear to club officials at the Riverside he wants to move to Merseyside and was withdrawn from the squad which won at Fulham on Saturday. But Boro are determined to squeeze as much cash as they can from his departure, with West Ham and Portsmouth also monitoring the situation. In Everton’s favour, however, is Yakubu’s desire to switch to Goodison Park, and talks will continue over the next few days. The Blues have also had discussions with the advisors of CSKA Moscow’s Brazilian striker Wagner Love as a possible alternative, but the Russians’ valuation is way in excess of what Everton believe the 23-year-old to be worth. The elaborately coiffured front-man does not have a prolific goalscoring record, but was impressive in both the Champions League last season and Brazil’s 6-1 demolition of Chile this summer. The complicated paperwork surrounding Manuel Fernandes’ £8m signing from Benfica, meanwhile, is still being worked on and the Blues hope to have the midfielder’s signing completed soon. New signing Leighton Baines, meanwhile, will make his first appearance in an Everton shirt in a behind closed doors friendly with Barnsley at Bellefield. Phil Jagielka, Anderson Silva and striker Lukas Jutkiewicz are also expected to feature. Meanwhile, Tim Cahill is leaping back to fitness. But the Blues are trying to keep their influential Australian’s feet firmly on the ground for the next few weeks. The goalscoring midfielder could be back to fitness by the end of September, but physio Mick Rathbone has warned that the incredible spring Cahill generates may have contributed to him twice suffering a broken foot. “Tim jumps very high and unfortunately has a habit of landing on his left foot,” he explained. “So like at Sheffield United when he landed and overbalanced, he cracked it. “It was similar against Werder Bremen, albeit five months after and he had trained every day for a month and played three games for Australia. “But with that kind of force going through it, it just caused a little injury to the site again. “So while we’re happy he’ll soon be back training, it is in our minds that he has to jump and land on that.” Cahill is itching to get back into training, but the Blues are urging caution in order to avoid any recurrence. “He’s walking round with no symptoms at all now,” added Rathbone. “It’s so frustrating. We’re looking for 6-12 weeks on that. “Getting him back into training isn’t so bad, getting him back running round isn’t a problem, but getting him jumping like he does, and landing full force on the outside of his left foot, it’s going to be a while before it’s going to be strong enough to be able to do that.”
Andrew Johnson ruled out of England game
Aug 21 2007 By Aaron Boland, Liverpool Echo
ANDREW JOHNSON will miss England’s friendly against Germany on Wednesday due to a knee injury. The Everton striker is to return to Merseyside for treatment for fluid on his knee, paving the way for Michael Owen to start. England manager Steve McClaren said: “It's an ideal game for him to get some minutes under his belt.”
Owen has made just six starts for both England and Newcastle since last year’s World Cup. McClaren said: "He is a very important player for us and one that we are looking forward to getting back into the squad." The injury adds to McClaren’s selection woes following the withdrawal of Steven Gerrard and Owen Hargreaves from the squad, meaning Manchester United’s Michael Carrick looks set to partner Frank Lampard in midfield. Micah Richards is likely to feature in the centre of defence alongside Chelsea captain John Terry. The England boss praised the Manchester City defender saying: “When Micah Richards played centre-half for Manchester City he was the best player on the field by far. He has all the credentials." McClaren’s options are further limited by injuries to Darren Bent and Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney, who has suffered a broken metatarsal. Forward Peter Crouch is suspended for next month’s Euro 2008 qualifier against Israel and Tottenham’s Jermain Defoe has yet to start for Tottenham this season.
Nigel Martyn: Caps will come for Lescott
Aug 21 2007 by Nigel Martyn, Liverpool Echo
ALAN STUBBS has been largely responsible for the effortless way in which Joleon Lescott has become an integral and influential part of the Blues’ back four.
He might have unwittingly played a part in Joleon missing out on an England call-up this week, too! Joleon has been desperately unlucky not to be called up by Steve McClaren this time. But perhaps playing at left-back towards the end of last season and in the opening two games this time counted against him, because since he joined the club he has been a revelation. If he had been playing centre-half more consistently he might have got the nod for tomorrow’s friendly, but if he carries on playing the way he has been the time will come when McClaren won’t be able to ignore him.
For such a young player he shows an enormous amount of maturity and there’s no doubt he has been helped playing alongside Stubbs. Alan has so much experience, so much knowledge of that position . . . so much so in fact that he’s probably responsible for Joleon having to play left-back! But I’m sure his international opportunity will come. David Moyes will have been pushing his claims whenever he speaks to McClaren and if Everton stay in the top six he will get plenty of exposure. in the media and on the television. Joleon’s a nice guy and the other lads love him. He has fitted in superbly on and off the pitch. But at least his absence from the international squad gives his manager one less headache to worry about on Wednesday night. David will be praying that Andy Johnson comes through safely if he is selected against Germany, and isn’t asked to push himself too hard. It always seems to be Chelsea and Man United players who are asked to give 45 minute cameos, while players from other clubs get to run around for 90 minutes. On the other hand, David has said he wouldn’t mind James McFadden getting a decent run-out for Scotland to work on his match fitness. Having James fit again will give David another attacking option. Faddy looked really bright when he came on at Reading and because he’s been at Everton for a few years now, people forget how young he still is. When he first came down from Motherwell he started like a house on fire. He’s definitely got natural talent and finding naturally gifted players like that is hard. Competition for places looks like it has really been cranked up. Manuel Fernandes’ imminent arrival will put pressure on Phil Neville and Lee Carsley in the middle, and of course there’s still Tim Cahill to come back. Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines are straining at the leash, and there’s James Vaughan to come back from injury, too. Competition is as intense as it’s been for some time and hopefully that will be enough for the lads to maintain their solid start to the season. There was obviously disappointment at the result at Reading. But before the season we’d have jumped at a win on the opening day and draws at Spurs and the Madejski Stadium. As it is we’re actually one point better off than that!
Don't expect a classic
THERE used to be a time when Evertonians talked about a live TV jinx, because we rarely performed well when the cameras were in town. Hopefully the performance at White Hart Lane last Tuesday has pointed towards a reversal of that because Saturday’s match against Blackburn is also live on satellite TV. Mark Hughes has created a hard working team which is difficult to beat, and in all honesty I don’t see it being a classic. But I don’t think Blackburn have quite enough to break Everton down and as long as they don’t make mistakes, the least the Blues can expect is a draw.
After that they just need to find a spark or two of inspiration to celebrate another win and underline what would be a superb start to the season.
Moyes won't be rushed
THE anticipated arrivals of Manuel Fernandes and Yakubu at Goodison will intensify competition for places even more, and give David Moyes valuable strength in depth for when the European campaign kicks off. But fans shouldn’t worry about the time it appears to be taking to land them. I know from experience that Moyes is very methodical when he signs players. I could have joined the club three weeks earlier than I did, but he wanted to be absolutely certain in his own mind that it was the right deal for the club. e is meticulous about checking everything and wanted to be absolutely right before he committed the club to what, comparatively speaking, was a modest fee. I hope he feels that he got value for money!
Worries over closed count of Everton vote
Aug 21 2007 Nick Coligan, Liverpool Echo
THE count of votes on Everton’s proposed move to Kirkby will be held in secret.
The ballot of 33,000 supporters closes at noon on Thursday, but the count at the London offices of Electoral Reform Services will be behind closed doors.
The decision was today crit-icised by opponents of the Kirkby move, who want to witness the conclusion of the three-week vote. But Everton said ERS were renowned for their “professionalism and integrity” and that there was no need to monitor the count. ERS said it was very rare for their ballots to be held publicly, with only one or two out of every 100 watched by interested parties. Dave Kelly, spokesman for Keep Everton In Our City, said fans’ concerns about the vote meant it was vital its completion was open. “We believe it is in the interests of democracy for the count to be open and transparent, so we can see for ourselves what happens if more than one vote is received from the same person.” But Everton said ERS, which says it has systems in place to ensure votes are not duplicated, do not need monitoring during the count. A spokesman said: “By asking to be there, KEIOC are challenging the integrity of ERS, acknowledged experts in their field. ERS have handled the entire process in an impeccable manner.” ERS director Simon Hearn said: “We are trusted as an independent organisation, who declare results accurately.”
Keeper Stefan Wessels signs deal at Goodison Park
Aug 22 2007
by Christopher Beesley, Liverpool Daily Post
STEFAN WESSELS has become the first German player to sign for Everton after arriving at Goodison Park on a Bosman free transfer. The 28-year-old goalkeeper left Cologne last season and will contest the number one spot with American international Tim Howard. Wessels, who will wear the number 33 jersey, has signed an initial one-year contract. He said: “I am excited to be here in England. It is the first time I have played for a club outside of Germany but the English Premier League is a very exciting league and I am looking forward to my time here at Everton.”
Wessels, who has represented Germany at various levels up to under-21 internationals, was on trial at Everton earlier this month and spent several days training at Bellefield. His career began at Bayern Munich and deputising for German international Oliver Kahn. Although David Moyes also has Iain Turner, 23, and John Ruddy, 20, at his disposal, he has been without a second experienced goalkeeper since Richard Wright’s release and subsequent move to West Ham United over the summer.
Everton agree fee for Yakubu
Aug 22 2007 By James Pearce and David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON have agreed a fee with Middlesbrough for the sale of striker Yakubu.
The 24-year-old Nigerian has been given permission by Boro to begin talks over a move to Goodison Park, believed to be for a fee in the region of £12million.
The Blues had a starting bid of £10.5million rejected by the Teesiders but boss David Moyes remained confident that a compromise could be reached. Yakubu made it clear to club officials at the Riverside he wanted to move to Merseyside and was withdrawn from the squad which won at Fulham on Saturday. But Boro have been determined to squeeze as much cash as they can from his departure, with West Ham and Portsmouth also monitoring the situation. Manager Gareth Southgate needs the cash to push through a £6m deal for Brazilian striker Afonso Alves. Blues boss Moyes has been keen to strengthen his attacking options since selling James Beattie to Sheffield United and losing James Vaughan to injury. Yakubu will now discuss personal terms with the Blues and looks set to join his Nigeria team-mate, defender Joseph Yobo, at Goodison. The striker has scored 35 goals in 88 games for Boro since arriving in a £7.5million deal from Portsmouth in July 2005.
Andy Johnson's England withdrawal a worry for Everton
Aug 22 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
ANDY JOHNSON was back at Bellefield today, just as he had hoped to be preparing for an international start at Wembley against Germany. The Blues striker reported some slight swelling to his knee after a training session on Tuesday. England physio Gary Lewin performed a scan which showed no obvious problem, but with the game only a friendly international it was decided to pull the player out. Johnson mmediately returned north and reported to Everton's training ground this morning.
The knee problem is not something Johnson has suffered with before, but with James Vaughan and Tim Cahill already on the injured list and the Blues still haggling with Middlesbrough over a fee for Yakubu, they will not want to take any chances.
Johnson was in line to start tonight and the Blues will anxiously monitor his fitness ahead of Saturday's visit of Blackburn, with James McFadden also on international duty for Scotland tonight.
German keeper Stefan Wessels signs on at Goodison
Aug 22 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
OLIVER KAHN'S one-time understudy, Stefan Wessels, was a surprise arrival at Bellefield yesterday – joining Everton on a free transfer from Cologne.
The 28-year-old former Bayern Munich keeper, the first German to join the Blues, signed a one-year contract and will immediately provide experienced cover for Tim Howard, with Iain Turner recovering from injury and John Ruddy having made just one first team appearance as a substitute since his £250,000 switch from Cambridge.
"My first ambition is to get to know everybody and to get to know the league, but I would like to play some games," said Wessels. "I would like to play regularly but Tim Howard is a really good goalkeeper and I will work hard and give him good competition. "I'm really proud to be here. Many people in Germany are interested in the Premier League and when Everton gave me the chance to come here I was really proud. "I'm looking forward to it. There's a really nice atmosphere here and I'm excited about seeing Goodison and the atmosphere in the Premier League. The fans in England may be even better than the BundesligaI'm sure there will be some joking tomorrow after the international match at Wembley, and I hope for me it will be good banter!" Wessels spent five years at Bayern Munich, but after making his debut in a Champions Lague clash against Glasgow Rangers in 1999 found his appearances restricted by the formidable presence of Oliver Kahn. He joined Cologne in 2003, playing 54 games in the top flight and 39 in the second division as Cologne yo-yoed between the Bundesliga and the lower division, before losing his grasp on the number one jersey to Colombian Faryd Mondragon this season. "We have accepted the wishes of the player to leave the club due to the new situation in goal," explained Cologne general manager Michael Meier. "We regret that he has left us, but can understand his decision."
Rival stadium plan WILL fit in the city
Aug 22 2007 by Nick Coligan, Liverpool Echo
OPPONENTS to Everton FC’s proposed move to Kirkby claim to have proof that a rival site is big enough for a 55,000-seater stadium. Liverpool council and cash-and-carry firm Bestway have now released the results of a feasibility study into the Scotland Road location by a respected architect. They say it shows a 55,000-capacity ground would fit on the “loop” site, despite Everton’s insistence last week that there is only room for a 35,000-seater. The study was published on the eve of the conclusion of a ballot of around 33,000 Blues fans about whether the club should relocate to Kirkby. It also says: The stadium’s layout would be influenced by major roads around the site and a full development would involve building over the tunnel link road.
The site’s proximity to the city centre presents a real opportunity, with a pedestrian route to the stadium recommended. It would be necessary to acquire additional land to achieve pedestrian and service vehicle access and circulation. In the 18-page report, architect HOK Sport – involved with Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium and the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff – and engineering firm WSP Group suggest further design work and a detailed technical assessment of the site. Council leader Warren Bradley added: “This shatters the myth that the site is too small for Everton’s ambitions.
“Clearly there would have to be work done before it became a reality, but the club owes it to its fans to take on board this very realistic option and give it the most serious consideration. “It is time Everton gave their supporters a real choice and they should start proper talks about this option. “This means that the exclusivity period they have with Knowsley must be lifted so that we can get those talks underway.”
Bestway’s head of property Malcolm Carter said: “The findings bear out what we have been saying since day one - the site could provide a new home for Everton.”
Last week, a member of Everton’s design team said there was only enough room for a ground similar to those in Middlesbrough and Reading. He also said there would not enough room for fans to circulate around the outside of a 50,000-seater stadium, putting a safety certificate in doubt.
Bill Kenwright facing anxious wait for stadium vote
Aug 23 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
BILL KENWRIGHT will anxiously await the results of today’s historic Everton ballot after confirming: “If a majority vote no, it’s very simple, we don’t go.” The Blues chairman took the unprecedented decision to allow the club’s fans to vote on whether to switch stadia. Despite owning more than 10,000 shares in the club, Kenwright has just one vote in the ballot, the same as a season ticket holder in the Gwladys Street End or a Family Club Enclosure member. He explained: “It never occurred to me that we wouldn’t give the fans their say. “That’s because people say to me ‘What’s it like to own a football club?’ I don’t own a football club. “I am a shareholder with three other major shareholders. The fans do own the football club and that’s why we go back to what is a good chairman? “Maybe I’m a lousy chairman for doing it this way. Certain other chairmen look at me, shake their heads and say ‘Why did you do it? You have to be crazy to do that.’ I did it because that’s the way I do things. I wanted them to have their chance to say what they felt. It was very simple. There was no choice.”
Kenwright has remained tight-lipped during the voting process, but on the eve of the announcement he explained why he felt the club had to leave its 115 year old home.
“Why do we have to go?” he said. “That’s an easy question. If you remember on day one, June 1 four years ago, when Trevor Birch arrived at the club and I was made chairman, Trevor and I walked into an interview room and the first words Trevor said were: ‘Everton have to move.’ “You sit at Goodison Park now and I sit in my seat, I look across and I am in heaven. That’s my world. I am in paradise. I think how can we go? “But I know that I am privileged. I wouldn’t mind being at the back of the stand or even standing in the boys pen. I would still be there. “But I know modern day football doesn’t allow us to make the kind of money that we need to by staying in a stadium like Goodison Park. “It’s a magnificent stadium. It’s one of the great old stadia, but we have reached the optimum at that stadium financially that we possibly can. “There are so many obstructed view seats that for us to sell out every home game would be more than difficult.” The results are expected tomorrow and Kenwright confirmed: “If more than 50 per cent say no, we don’t go. “The ballot is about whether we give the board permission to pursue further to the next stage to take the football club to a new home in Kirkby.”
Shattered: The dream of being an Everton player
Aug 23 2007 by Ben Turner, Liverpool Echo
RHYS JONES was an Everton-mad youngster who dreamed of becoming a professional footballer. And today one of his heroes spoke of his shock at hearing about the murder of the Blues fan. Everton midfielder Tim Cahill said: “It’s unthinkable that a young kid playing football can end up being killed.
“My heart, prayers and sympathy go out to the family. I’ve got young children of my own and I can’t begin to imagine just how Rhys’s family are feeling right now.
“I just hope that whoever carried out this act is brought to justice. It’s unbelievable and such a tragic waste of a young life.” Elaine Spencer, the headteacher of Broad Square community primary school, said his death was “a tragic waste of life”.
She described Rhys, who was due to start at Fazakerley high next month, as one of her “top performers”, with dreams of becoming the next David Beckham. Mrs Spencer said: “The last time I spoke to him I said ‘you make sure you come and visit us’ and he just laughed with a cheeky smile. It hasn’t really sunk in yet.” The stunned head, who lives on the same Xander Grove estate as Rhys’s family, added: “He was a lovely boy who loved his football and had done very well in his SATs. I knew somebody had been shot last night and only found out it was Rhys this morning. It is such a tragedy.
“He was never in any trouble, certainly not the sort to hang around with gangs , just an innocent bystander. “He talked like lads do of being the next David Beckham. He had his whole life in front of him, one of our top performers who had the potential to do very, very well.” She said there would be a memorial service when the children returned to school. Deputy head Norma Wright, who taught Rhys a year ago, added: “He was a lovely boy, a really nice boy. “When something like this happens you always wonder whether it’s somebody from this school, but you never would have thought it would have been him. I just can’t believe it.” Mrs Wright also spoke of how the youngster dreamed of becoming a professional footballer. “His mum was lovely. She used to worry about whether he was getting influenced by footballers - they were really caring parents. “He was a staunch Evertonian - whenever we had a dress-up day, he would be there in his Everton kit.” One of Rhys’s young friends today said: “If he didn’t have his Everton kit on he always had something blue on.” The boy’s mother said: “My son plays for a different team who train down on the same fields.
“You should be able to let your kids walk five minutes around the corner.
“Everyone with kids round here knew Rhys because everybody used to knock for each other and have a kickabout together.” Fighting back tears she added: “Everyone is absolutely devastated.”
Uncle's moving words on Blues website
A MOVING tribute to Rhys was posted on Everton fans website bluekipper.
The words were posted hours after his death by a man describing himself as the 11-year-old's uncle. The online message also urged anyone who might be able to help police catch the killers to turn the "vermin" in. It said: "This child had no possible need to be involved in gang culture. "He had a loving family and unlimited access to his first and greatest love which was to kick a football, at which I might add he was very good. "He lived for the game and was a fervent Blue. I have just come away from bereavement suite at Alder Hey where I saw my nephew looking for all the world as if he was asleep. "The only clue as to his real state being the blood around his neck and face. "His parents are hard working, respectable people, for whom the world is crying out. "I know there will be those who in a situation like this will say that there is more to this than meets the eye. But let me assure you that in this case there isn't.
"When I was a kid I was able to chase a football around until I knew it was time to return home, and sometimes beyond. "When kids are engaged in an activity no more threatening, or anti-social, than playing the game they love, they should be able to do so in safety. "There have always been attendant dangers to childhood, but getting shot should not be one of them. "Sometimes life reaches out and touches you in away that seems incomprehensible, and as you get older you will I am sure share the pain that my brother, his wife and the rest of the family are experiencing. "I only hope that you can deal with it as men instead of year 10s. "Rhys was a devoted Blue, and a corking little footballer who deserved to grow up as the happy little Corinthian he was, a kid who loved football so much that he could think of little else and his team - Everton.
"Once again I urge any of you who can assist in the apprehension of the absolute vermin responsible to contact the Merseyside police by whatever means is available.
"Let's do something for the good guys, eh?"
Kirkby doubts on the Everton stadium
Aug 23 2007
by Nick Coligan, Liverpool Echo
HUNDREDS of Kirkby residents have agreed their town centre needs a big overhaul. But many have questioned why they need Everton FC’s proposed new stadium to reach that goal. They have also asked questions about what impact the Blues’ possible move to their town would have on traffic, anti-social behaviour and noise. Those were the biggest issues to be raised during a consultation of households about Everton and Tesco’s proposals to change the face of Kirkby. When the plans were opened to the public in June, more than 2,000 people bombarded Knowsley council with comments and questions about the £400m development Council officers today said they were pleased the majority supported the idea of completely regenerating the town centre, saying it was clear Kirkby needed improving. But they warned residents that the huge shopping district, community facilities and transformed town centre could not happen without Everton’s presence. They also said the many unanswered questions about traffic, community safety and costs would be answered if the Blues decided to move to Kirkby. Mike Harden, the council’s director of corporate resources, said: “The biggest single message that came back was that something needs to be done with Kirkby town centre. “Even people opposed to Everton moving there accept the town centre is not perfect. There is still a long way to go and this is not a done deal. “Some people said they want to see something big, but asked why it has to include a stadium. “If Everton get a ‘no’ vote from their fans and decide not to come, it would be extremely difficult to put a planning argument for a development as big as this. We cannot have it all without the stadium.” Cllr Eddie Connor, cabinet member for leisure and communities, said: “We have listened to people’s views and it is now our duty to act on them. This was the start of a long consultation process and has provided valuable information we will use to get the best possible outcome.” If Everton decide to move to Kirkby, the council will put together a new “vision” for the town, which will then be sent back out to the public for more consultation. Development Securities, the company which owns much of the existing town centre, has also started talks with the council and Tesco about the Everton proposal.
Aug 23 2007
What is your ideal Everton forward line this season?
IF the performance against Reading could speak, it would have been crying out for a striker to head the ball.
Reading prevented us from playing football on the floor, and with no real threa t in the air, we looked defeated from the off. With the closure of the transfer window on the horizon, I think that we desperately need to invest in a Duncan Ferguson-esque striker with real aerial power. With Yakubu looking to be on his way, although I’m questioning the exaggerated price tag, it’s good to see us bring someone in before the closure of the transfer window. Before the season got underway, I was disappointed to see us miss out on Alan Smith, and now with the sale of Beattie and the injury to Vaughan, I thought that Moyes might well have been kicking himself for missing out on Smith and David Nugent. Even with Yakubu set to partner Andy Johnson up front, we should not forget Victor Anichebe’s good early season form - he will be an able deputy for either of them. Cole Fraser, Litherland
WITH maximum points from the first two games, and the team playing its best football for ages, most Evertonians ahead of the game with Reading were bracing themselves for a return to reality - and so it sadly proved. However, we should not be too downcast. We already know that without Arteta at his best we will struggle against even average sides, so the signing of Fernandes has to be welcomed. He will help take off some of the pressure and expectation. More worryingly, it is clear that unless a striker of proven ability is bought soon, the goals may start to dry up. AJ has class but, in my view, he needs somebody of Yakubu’s proven quality to play alongside if his game is going to develop at this level. Hopefully, that combination will be on view at Goodison shortly. All things considered, we should still be happy with this start - and a win against Blackburn will ensure that the momentum is maintained. Mike Williamson, Chester
A STRIKER is needed to take the pressure off Victor Anichebe before the transfer window closes next week. Yakubu is big and strong and also a proven Premiership goalscorer. We would have an excellent partnership with Johnson and Yakubu, with Anichebe and McFadden on the bench and Vaughan to come back after Christmas. It was good being top while it lasted with Reading bringing us back down to earth. Our performance was below par but we still had a few chances to score, and were unlucky when McFadden and Johnson hit the woodwork. Arteta had a quiet game by his very high standards but it was nice to see Leighton Baines on the bench. Hopefully he will come into the team for the Blackburn game. With Blackburn at home and Bolton away coming up, we have a good chance to get a couple of wins and stay near the top before the visit of Manchester United next month. Keep the faith, Evertonians. We are still in the top four! Lee Molton, St Helens
ANDREW JOHNSON is the main ingredient for the Blues this year. If he is fully fit then James Vaughan, Victor Anichebe, James McFadden or even Tim Cahill could partner the England forward to some degree of success. But Everton have talked a lot about progress and attempting to bridge the gap between the top four and the rest of the Premier, and Yakubu could be the answer. Aged 24, he is a proven international striker who has hit the back of most Premiership nets up and down the country. With a Yakubu and AJ alliance up front then I am more than confident this could generate a 25-35 goal partnership that would push the club’s final standing come the end of the season to new heights. Other names over the summer like Smith, Nugent, Healy and many others haven’t really excited me. But with Yakubu set to be unveiled, Everton have a major opportunity to move forward in the pecking order, with plenty of goals in the process.
David Wallbank, Huyton
Yakubu to take No.9 shirt in record Everton deal
Aug 23 2007
by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
AIYEGBINI YAKUBU is set to become Everton’s new number nine after the Blues agreed a club record £11.25m fee with Middlesbrough for his transfer. And with personal terms and a medical expected to be completed today, the 24-year-old Nigerian is in line to make his debut on Saturday. Blues chairman Bill Kenwright brokered the compromise deal last night after Boro demanded £12.5m and Everton originally offered £10.5m. The prestigious number nine shirt was last worn by James Beattie. Yakubu replaces Andy Johnson as Everton’s record signing, but is likely to partner him in Saturday’s tea-time televised clash with Blackburn. Johnson pulled out of last night’s England friendly with fluid on his knee, but the Blues expect him to be fit to play. Joseph Yobo is also making rapid progress from the groin strain which kept him out at Reading, and with Victor Anichebe also having trained all week after limping out of that match, David Moyes has a number of selection decisions to make. Yakubu, however, is expected to make his debut. The centre-forward scored 35 goals in two seasons at the Riverside, but became disillusioned with life in the North East and failed to find the net in his last 14 games. The Blues are trying to take their spending for the week past £20m, by arranging a contract for Manuel Fernandes which is mutually agreeable to themselves and the Premier League. Fernandes’ contract was co-owned by Benfica and a group of investment bankers called Global Sports Agency, but the Premier League is desperate to avoid any repeat of the Carlos Tevez/Javier Mascherano affair which marred the end of last season. League rules allow the outside ownership of players provided that the third party does not have the “ability materially to influence” club policies or performance. The League’s chief executive Richard Scudamore, however, has moved to tighten the rules following the unseemly saga over Tevez’s transfer to West Ham. Clubs are now required to ensure that all documentation relating to the registration and employment of a player is submitted in advance of each transfer.
EXCLUSIVE: Everton fans vote yes to Kirkby
Aug 24 2007 by Nick Coligan, Liverpool Echo
EVERTONIANS have voted to move their club to Kirkby.
A clear majority of the supporters who voted in the Blues poll agreed with the proposal, which could see a new 50,000-seater stad-ium built in the town in time for the 2010 season. Announcing the results of the landmark poll today, Everton said 59% (15,230 people) voted in favour, with 41% (10,468) against. The question they were asked was: “Are you in favour of relocating Everton football club to Kirkby?”
Around 11,000 votes were not returned during the three-week ballot, making the response 70%. Everton thanked the season ticket holders, shareholders and fan club members who took part, saying they were “pleased” a positive result was achieved.
The club will now continue neg-otiations with Tesco and Knowsley council to try to make the £400m plan for a new stadium and shopping district south of Kirkby town centre a reality. But fans and residents were today warned there was still a long way to go before the proposal achieved the final go-ahead. A club statement said: “Everton are pleased that a majority of those Evertonians who were eligible to vote in the ballot do support the club in its desire to relocate to a new home in Kirkby.
“We are the only major club in Europe to have handed over a decision of such importance and magnitude to its fan base, something which simply serves to underscore the enormously high regard in which we hold our supporters.
“We now have a mandate to carry on negotiations with Knowsley council and Tesco.
“The club’s board of directors, the management staff and the players would like to thank all those who participated in the ballot. “We would also like to thank Electoral Reform Services, who ran the ballot on our behalf in a diligent and wholly professional manner.” Everton managed to win over the majority of eligible fans despite a hard-fought battle by opponents of the Kirkby move, who still hope to persuade the Blues to stay within the city boundaries. The club had said it would end all negotiations with Tesco and Knowsley council if it lost the poll. Over the past few weeks, two rival proposals emerged. The club statement said: “While the proposed move has undoubtedly provoked a heated debate, it is reassuring to know the majority of Evertonians support the club as it pursues its long-held desire to provide a world-class stad-ium for its world-class support. “The result comes at the end of a transparent, democratic process and we believe that now is the time for all supporters of Everton to set aside any differences of opinion. “We all want the same thing, a thriving, ambitious and prosperous club away from the field, and an attractive, competitive team on it.” The Kirkby proposal, described as “the deal of the century” by chief executive Keith Wyness, is still some way from certainty. Although the club and Tesco have unveiled images of how they want the development off Valley Road and Cherryfield Drive to look, Knowsley council must first draw up a new “vision” for Kirkby and consult residents for a second time. If that passes smoothly, a planning application will be submitted. If it gets the go-ahead, government officials will cast their eye over the proposal, which could be “called in” for further scrutiny.
A council spokesman said: “The ballot result is clearly a step forward for Everton. The views of fans are important and so are those of the Kirkby community.
“Although we welcome the fact that Everton fans think Kirkby would be a good place for the club, it is important to stress there is still a lot to be done.”
Kirkby’s new centre
PLANS unveiled this summer showed how Kirkby town centre would be completely transformed by the £400m arrival of Everton and Tesco. A 50,000-seater stadium would be built on open land off Valley Road, with the potential to increase capacity to 55,000 or 60,000 at a later date. It would have four distinct stands, rather than being bowl-shaped like the new Wembley or Arsenal FC’s Emirates Stadium.
Designers believe this would help retain Goodison Park’s unique atmosphere.
A multi-storey car park for 1,000 vehicles would be built north of the ground, with a 200-space coach park to the south. Tesco plans to double the size of the town centre by creating a shopping district on land currently occupied by playing fields, a small housing estate and All Saints Catholic high school. They include: A Tesco Extra store on the All Saints site, on stilts with a car park underneath. About 50 high street shops around a 3,500-space car park, with 1,000 spaces set aside for supporters on matchdays. A new public square on Cherryfield Drive, lined with a modernised bus station, new council offices, shops, restaurants and cafes. A central pedestrianised boulevard from the existing town centre into the new shopping development, three times wider than current walkways. Development Securities, which owns much of the current town centre, is now in talks with Tesco and Everton about how it can be improved.
The Blue road to a future outside city
Jun 15, 2006 - A multi-million pound plan to build a new stadium in Kirkby is revealed. Everton, Tesco and Knowsley council are talking about a 55,000-seater ground and shopping development near the town centre.
Aug 23, 2006 - Liverpool council suggests two other sites in Speke and north Liverpool.
Nov 3, 2006 - Everton have begun talks with leading stadium developer Barr about the Kirkby proposal.
Dec 11, 2006 - Everton sign exclusivity deal with Tesco and Knowsley, meaning they cannot discuss any other site. Club agrees to hold a ballot.
Mar 28, 2007 - Liverpool council leader Warren Bradley calls on Everton to re-enter talks with the city.
Apr 26, 2007 - The Keep Everton In Our City (KEIOC) voices reasons why the club should not move to Kirkby.
May 31, 2007 -Knowsley residents will be shown two options for Kirkby - with and without Everton.
Jun 26, 2007 - The stadium location is unveiled - open land off Valley Road and Bewley Drive.
Jul 16, 2007 - Everton announce that 33,000 season ticket holders, shareholders and fan club members will decide if the club should move.
Jul 17, 2007 - Blues chief executive Keith Wyness says the move to Kirkby would leave the club virtually debt-free.
Jul 21, 2007 - Cllr Bradley reveals three locations he can offer in Liverpool - Long Lane, Scotland Road and Speke Road.
Aug 3, 2007 - KEIOC unveil two alternative proposal, a rebuilt Goodison Park or a new stadium off Scotland Road.
Aug 11, 2007 - Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy urges Evertonians to “let our heads guide our hearts” when voting on the move.
Aug 21, 2007 - Knowsley’s consultation shows most residents want regeneration, some without Everton.
EVERTON Football Club stands on the brink of a bold new future. It could also be on the edge of civil war. Which is why the ECHO today calls for unity from its fans.
A majority of supporters have voted yes to the club’s Kirkby proposals. A significant minority, however, either said no or abstained. Further protest, continued campaigning and prolonged dissent will only be damaging to the club. The simple fact remains that more Evertonians want to move to Kirkby than don’t. Whether they voted yes or no, the fans must now embrace another, usually alien, word . . . and stand united.
Everton needs its supporters to do just that right now . . . and support their football club.
Steven Pienaar all geared up to prove himself again
Aug 24 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
STEVEN PIENAAR has enjoyed a low-key kick-off to his Premier League career – and that’s just the way he wanted it. But after a fortnight spent finding his feet following his switch from Borussia Dortmund, and then a couple of brief substitute appearances, Everton’s on-loan South African star is now hoping to make a more meaningful impact, starting tomorrow against Blackburn. When he first burst onto the scene at Ajax early in the millennium, his dazzlingly effective displays were regularly accompanied by phrases like “wonder-kid,” “starlet” and “prodigy.” For a spell he enjoyed the adulation, but then the attention began to bring him down. After playing a starring role in an Ajax side which reached the Champions League quarter-finals in 2003 – part of a sparkling attacking line-up featuring Rafael van der Vaart, a fully fit Andy van der Meyde, Hatem Trabelsi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, he saw a move to Borussia Dortmund as the next stage in his development. It did not pan out that way and after just 12 frustrating months in the Bundesliga he agreed to join Everton on a season-long loan. “When I was at Ajax I was an unknown youngster,” he explained. “I came into a side which was playing really good football and | found it quite easy to adapt. “All of a sudden everyone was talking about me and it was all a bit too much for me at the time because was I was so young and new to the game. “Every time I was on the ball people wanted to see something nice from me and it was a bit too much. “Then I moved to Germany and there was a lot of pressure on me to perform and to carry a team which hadn’t been playing so well. It was difficult. “Holland was almost like a second home to me. It didn’t feel like I was in a foreign country, but when I moved to Germany it was quite difficult. “There were always people around me to talk to in Holland but that wasn’t the case in Germany. But we learn from our mistakes and I’m just looking forward to establishing myself. “I want to establish myself in the Premier League and to make my move permanent. “At the moment I’m just here on loan, but it’s not in my mind that I’m here on loan. I’m here to play football and fight for my place and it’s up to me to make it permanent by working hard and showing I deserve to be here. “The bad season is behind me and I’m just looking forward to playing football and enjoying myself again.” After citing a lack of creativity as a problem at Reading a week ago, Blues boss David Moyes may consider a full debut for Pienaar against Blackburn tomorrow. It would be a day to relish for the 25-year-old, with close pal and international team-mate Benni McCarthy in the Blackburn line-up. “I’m quite close to Benni because we have the same agent and we try to room together with the national team,” added Steven. “But the move to England was something I was looking to do anyway. “Moving from Ajax to Germany was to take another step ahead from the Dutch League to see how I was physically – and that was good preparation to come to the Premiership. “But Benni was happy to hear I was coming over here and he doesn’t live too far away so we get to see each other quite often. “I’m settling in well here. The guys are quite friendly and are helping me settle into a new culture so I’m happy. “I’d seen English football on television a lot before I came, but my international colleagues always phoned me and told me I must come over to England and play because the game is fast and I would enjoy it.” Pienaar also has a pal even closer to home, Liverpool’s £11m summer signing Ryan Babel.
The pair were together at Ajax and Steven said: “We are really close. I always called him when I was in Germany and he was still at Ajax, and when he broke into the first team at Ajax we talked a lot. “We are close, but we are rivals on the field now!”
Pienaar’s immediate priority is to break into David Moyes’ starting line-up . . . but he also wants to celebrate a goal sooner rather than later. After scoring 15 goals in 83 Eredivisie starts for Ajax, he failed to find the net once in Germany. It’s something he hopes to change. “I’m a football player and I want to play in all the matches, but I just have to work hard and show I’m up to the challenge,” he said. “It’s up to the gaffer then to decide when he wants to use me. “I want to play matches and score goals, because last season was one of my worst seasons ever for scoring goals.
“I didn’t know a lot about Everton but I saw they had a good season in the Premier League and my former colleague, Delron Buckley, came here on trial last summer and told me it was a good team to play for because they want to play football. It was quite exciting for me to hear all that stuff.” He’s also been happy to let other players take the spotlight so far this season . . . for now. A televised appearance against Blackburn Rovers could be the stage for that to change.
David Prentice: Blues’ fans must now show a clear sense of unity
Aug 24 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
FORTY-ONE per cent of Evertonians may think otherwise, but today's vote in favour of a move to Kirkby is a good result for Everton Football Club. Not because I'm a yes-man. I'm still torn between the obvious financial appeal of Kirkby and the long-term wisdom of moving further away from a reborn and culturally vibrant Liverpool city centre. But because the results of today's vote give the guardians of Everton Football Club a mandate to build for the future. Not an overwhelming vote. Far from it.
But a majority nonetheless. And it’s crucial now that Evertonians do what their ground poll results have singularly failed to – and show a clear sense of unity.
More than 15,000 fans supported a move to Kirkby. Almost 10-and-a-half thousand, however, said ‘no.’ But significantly there were almost 11,000 abstentions, men, women and children, like myself, who can’t decide what would be best for Everton Football Club. For the good of the club, the best thing everyone can do now is back the Blues’ board in their future rebuilding plans. A battle has been waged inside and outside Goodison Park, on the pages of this newspaper, on internet message boards and even in the skies above Walton. Surely now is the time for a united front.
But while it would be heartening to think that every Evertonian will now pull together and support the majority vote, it would also be naive. There are still conspiracy theorists out there who believe that the board of Everton are either incompetent or part of some complex and cunning plot to run the club into the ground. These internet columnists and tap room experts are entitled to their opinions. But the facts suggest otherwise. I've been critical of Bill Kenwright in the past. We once went more than a year without exchanging a word - which took some doing as the then Everton correspondent of this newspaper - but on this hugely sensitive issue I can't see how he can be chastised. The simple fact is Kenwright didn't need to offer fans a vote.
Such an offer is unprecedented in the football world and his decision to make the decision a democratic one should be hugely applauded. Sadly there are some supporters out there who refuse to give Kenwright any kudos at all.
This is despite Everton standing fourth in the formative Premier League table, despite Everton finishing last season in sixth place and qualifying for Europe, despite breaking the club's transfer record three times in three seasons, despite tieing up the club's two most coveted stars on long-term contracts this summer, despite lowering the average age of the squad by seven years in five seasons and despite moving the club to a brand new state of the art training complex. And, of course, despite offering the opportunity to vote on the prospect of a brand new stadium without the debilitating shackles of an enormous accompanying debt. Leaving Goodison Park will be a heart-wrenching moment. But as I've said before, the Goodison Park of 2007 is a different stadium to the one where I saw David Smallman hook a ball over his shoulder past Alan Hodgkinson, where Bob Latchford crashed in his 30th league goal and where Howard Kendall's class of '85 tore apart Bayern Munich. I wasn't granted a vote, because my last Everton season ticket was bought 30 years ago.
But I'm still not sure how I would have voted even if I did have one.
Because while the leaving of Liverpool concerns me, I still haven't seen any other alternative which is, to borrow Keith Wyness' favourite catchphrase "deliverable."
The Scotland Road Loop has huge emotional appeal, but doesn't stack up financially.
The opportunity to stay in the city was passed up several years ago when the King's Dock crumbled (amidst much rejoicing from a strident Goodison For-Everton campaign if you recall). The latest campaigners, KEIOC, have fought a commendable - if outspoken - campaign. But the silent majority have carried the day. Now the Blues board must act on that vote. More than a decade ago 86 per cent of Evertonians gave Peter Johnson a mandate to move. It didn’t happen. Evertonians have given the guardians of their beloved football club a second chance. It is a huge responsibility - and this time the Blues must not welch on the promise. There are still questions to be answered, details to be explained. But I dearly hope it can be done together.
Civil war produces widespread casualties – and with every other area of Everton Football Club showing signs of revival, it would be tragic if their fans were now at each other’s throats.
Yakubu record just speaks for itself
AIYEGBINI YAKUBU appears to be a footballer who inspires opinion - not all of it positive. It’s been suggested by his oh so loyal Middlesbrough team-mates that he didn’t pull his weight towards the end of his Teesside career. And it’s been pointed out that Yakubu failed to score in his last 12 games of last season and the last 16 of the season before. So here’s another stat. Who is the second highest Premier League goalscorer after Thierry Henry over the past four seasons? Yes, that’s right. Aiyegbini Yakubu.
Howard Kendall: Spin over Yakubu makes no sense
Aug 24 2007 by Howard Kendall, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON signed a new number nine this week – but Yakubu’s move from Middlesbrough was instantly surrounded by some Teesside generated spin.
Reports claimed that the Middlesbrough players were happy to see the back of him because he didn’t pull his weight, and some pointed out that Yakubu’s goalscoring record had tailed off towards the end of each of his two seasons on Teesside.
But for me it was more significant to read that Harry Redknapp wanted to take the player back to Portsmouth. It’s always encouraging to read that managers want to take a player back. It doesn’t suggest any problems with the player’s attitude and it shows how highly Harry rated him during the time they worked together. A lot seems to have been made of Yakubu’s disinterested attitude during Middlebrough’s televised defeat at Wigan – but that must have been a very difficult match for the player.
He obviously knew a deal was in the offing, psychologically he won’t have wanted to run the risk of getting injured and it must have been difficult to concentrate.
Yakubu is built like an ox, a very different striker to those the Blues have had in recent years, and his body shape reminds me of Bob Latchford. Strangely Latch was often accused of being lazy or overweight, too, but it never affected his goals return.
I remember when I came back to Goodison Park with Birmingham and gave young Joe Gallagher a little advice on how to handle Latchford. “Just have a quiet word with him before the game, ask him how he’s settling in . . . but whatever you do, don’t upset him,” I suggested. What did young Joe do? In the first minute he ploughed through the back of him and I instantly thought “Oh dear, what have you done now?”
Bob was on fire, scored twice and we lost 4-1.
Ref storm over the top
I COULDN’T believe the fuss generated this week over a referee making an honest mistake and then owning up to it afterwards. Referees make mistakes every week.
But because Rob Styles made his mistake in a match between Chelsea and Liverpool it has been highlighted like never before, the ref has been suspended and even his business interests outside football have been spotlighted. It was all totally over the top and stemmed, I am sure, from the identity of the teams involved rather than the severity of the mistake.
Number one priority
EVERTON signed a new, experienced goalkeeper this week. And while Stefan Wessels’ arrival may not have caused many shockwaves, finding experienced cover for a first choice keeper is often very difficult. I used to think that a young goalkeeper who was happy to come to a big club was the best choice as cover for Neville Southall, but I changed my mind. I decided that experience was more important so went for Irish international Gerry Peyton. Gerry was happy to work with Neville and wait patiently for a first team opportunity. In the event he never got that chance, such was Nev’s remarkable consistency. Stefan Wessels will be hoping for more of a chance himself, but David Moyes will be reassured to have some experienced back-up.
Terry's special mission
AN old Everton favourite, Terry Darracott, was back at Goodison last Saturday . . . plotting the downfall of his old club. Terry, of course, now works for Blackburn and he will have gone back to Lancashire with a report of a solid, difficult to beat Everton side. What the Blues will need against Mark Hughes’ well-organised side, however, is a little attacking inspiration. If they can find that they can celebrate a win which would constitute an excellent start to the new season.
Paddy Shennan: Democratic... but still feeling Blue
Aug 24 2007 by Paddy Shennan, Liverpool Echo
Paddy Shennan, who voted “No”, tries to come to terms with the fans’ vote to move to Kirkby
DO the powers-that-be know what they’re doing? Do the “Yes” voters know what they’ve done? I hope so. I really do hope so. So, Everton are going to Kirkby. And we’d better get used to it because we won’t be going for a holiday. We won’t be going for just a few seasons. This will be Everton’s home for the rest of all our lives.
Unless, I suppose, Liverpool city council leader Warren Bradley is right and the new stadium does turn out to be a glorified cowshed – and collapses during a light summer breeze. To me, moving to Kirkby will be a bitter pill but, as I believe in democracy, I’ll take a deep breath and swallow it. And here, I wish to applaud Everton chairman Bill Kenwright for his insistence that more than 30,000 Evertonians should be given the chance to vote on such an important issue. How many other clubs would do the same? However, the concept of “choice” presented here was a touch unusual. Did we want:
A) A future in Kirkby, or ...
B) No future at all?
Evertonians cannot be blamed for having low expectations off the field, as their club hasn’t the best track record in what chief executive Keith Wyness would term “deliverability”. There was, for example, the Kings Dock stadium-that-never-was and the Fortress Sports Fund investment that didn’t happen. And the more some fans heard from Wyness, the more some fans dug their heels into the ground occupied by the “No” camp. He told us there was no Plan B, which left many Blues speechless. And frustrated. And angry. Then, after Bradley and the Bestway company put forward plans for a stadium in Scotland Road – a dream prospect for romantic Evertonians – he seemed to come over all bullish and belligerent. Wyness ended a highly-sarcastic open letter by saying: “Without wishing, in any way, to call into question the integrity and professionalism of those who have pulled the Scotland Road ‘rabbit’ out of a hitherto cunningly-concealed hat, we do find it curious that it is being portrayed as a genuine, realistic and deliverable scheme at the precise moment our supporters are being invited to participate in a ballot about our proposed relocation to Kirkby.”
He must have been so confident of a “Yes” vote. What would have happened if it had been a “No”? How would he have approached that difficult first meeting with Bradley, arranged to discuss keeping the Blues in the city? Or would he have just told his chairman: “Well, there’s no Plan B – so I’m off!”? I feel it’s important to stress here that while I believe Bradley deserves credit rather than scorn for his recent efforts – and don’t forget the practical difficulties he faced while Everton, Knowsley council and Tesco were cosying up during their exclusivity phase – Everton and its fans have been let down by earlier city council inactivity. Although it’s been difficult to call (I sensed many fans were keeping their “Yes” votes to themselves), there is one reason why – deep down – I’ve felt that this particular Everton project would succeed.
And his name is Sir Terry Leahy. How often does the man with the Midas touch back a loser and end up with egg on his face? Not very. He succeeds. But if he succeeds in getting me excited about Kirkby he’ll qualify for superhero status. The debates entitled “How important are political, administrative and geographical boundaries?” and “What is a Scouser?” will splutter on, but the fact remains that Kirkby is part of Knowsley, not Liverpool. Yes, our new home will be just a few miles from L4 4EL – but so is Birkenhead and I don’t think it’d be right for Everton to relocate to Wirral, either. And yet, to my eyes, it’s not as simple as that. Would I be happy to move to any area which falls within the Liverpool boundaries? No, I wouldn’t. Speke is in Liverpool but, like Kirkby, I view it as being out on a limb. No offence, Kirkby. No offence, Speke. In the petty and childish world of football banter, some of those loveable Reds are bound to roll out the “One city, one club” line, but we can be petty and childish right back and remind the Johnny-come- Latelys we were Liverpool’s first team, they wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for us and that these, for them unpalatable, facts can obviously never change. But, still, things would perhaps have been much easier if the Boundary Commission had been successful in its bid, back in 1990, to wipe Knowsley off the map and place Kirkby, Huyton and Co into Liverpool.
Perhaps it can try again. No offence, Knowsley council. And if a few of Liverpool’s best pubs could be moved, brick by brick, to the Kirkby area, all the better.
My late grandmother, who lived in Garston (miles from Kirkby!), always told me: “You can get used to anything.” I hope she was right.
Yakubu to miss out on Everton debut
Aug 24 2007
by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON manager David Moyes must plan for tomorrow’s visit of Blackburn without record signing Aiyegbini Yakubu. The Blues are waiting on results of a work permit application for the Nigerian international. But because the player fell out with his national coach and has figured in only five of his country’s last 13 matches, he does not meet the necessary criteria. That means the initial application will be rejected and the Blues will have to appeal, a hearing likely to be heard next week. Given that Yakubu has been playing in this country for five years the Blues are hoping for a favourable outcome, but not in time for him to feature tomorrow. One of the quirks of the work permit system is that Yakubu could carry on playing for Middlesbrough without censure, but permits cannot be transferred between employers. Yakubu’s international career suffered when he refused to go the African Nations Cup finals in January 2006 as a result of a fall-out with his international coach. That saw his international appearance record slide below the Department of Employment’s requisite figure. The Blues, however, were hoping for a successful resolution of the Manuel Fernandes saga today, giving Moyes at least one new face to select from tomorrow. Leighton Baines has also declared his fitness and will be in the squad for the visit of Blackburn. Victor Anichebe missed training yesterday, but is expected to resume today, while Leon Osman has also failed to train all week after picking up a knock at Reading. Stephen Pienaar is standing-by for his full debut, while Andy Johnson is expected to be fit after pulling out of the England squad in midweek with fluid on the knee. The Blues still have tickets available for tomorrow’s 5.15pm kick-off. They are available from the ticket office up until kick-off time.
EVERTON MOURN DEATH OF YOUNG FAN
25th August 2007
Football will take second place on Saturday evening as Everton mourn the death of one of their youngest fans, 11-year-old Rhys Jones. The youngster was murdered in nearby Croxteth this week, and his death has shocked not only the Everton community but the entire nation. Everton will honour the youngster with a minute's silence ahead of their Premier League match with Blackburn, and the players will all wear black armbands. Croxteth is only a couple of miles from Goodison Park, and it has been revealed that it was the Everton players who insisted on the marks of respect that will be witnessed by millions on television today. Ian Ross, the club's director of communications said: "This has really touched everyone deeply. We have held minute's silences here, sadly on a regular basis, over the last 12 months after losing several Evertonians from the armed forces in Iraq. "This maybe is a little different. The decision to hold a minute's silence came first from within the dressing room before it had even been discussed at boardroom level. "The players have been particularly touched by what they have heard and read, and in particular after the TV interview with Rhys' parents which was heartbreaking. Anybody who knows English football would tell you that we are a family-orientated club, and proud of it.
"And it digs deep when something like this happens. Footballers get a lot of bad press for the high wages they earn and their lifestyles. But it is interesting to see when you get a tragedy like this how deeply it does affect these people, most of them are family men with kids of their own. And they have done what everyone else has done in the country, and put themselves in the position of Melanie and Steve, Rhys' parents, and found it very difficult to cope with it." Everton captain Phil Neville added: "Everyone at Everton, and the players especially, send our condolences to the Jones family after the tragic death of their son Rhys. We all here at the club have families of our own, and we cannot comprehend what you are going through."
MCFADDEN RESCUES TOFFEES
25th August 2007
James McFadden scored his first goal of the season to scramble a 1-1 draw for Everton in a game they had looked like losing for long spells.
Blackburn, still unbeaten, led in the first half with Roque Santa Cruz's third goal of the season and opted to try to contain Everton having dominated them in the first period. But with 12 minutes left, McFadden popped up to sweep home a Mikel Arteta cross and save the day for the Toffees. Rovers dominated the first period, and led through Roque Santa Cruz's third goal of the season, but opted to try to contain Everton in the second half. But Everton have a reputation for late recoveries and it was James McFadden - starting his first game of the season - who stabbed home the equaliser from Mikel Arteta's cross. Brad Friedel saved well from an Andrew Johnson hook and them blocked a fierce Alan Stubbs free-kick. Then on 15 minutes, Rovers broke out and took the lead. A foul by Lee Carsley on Robbie Savage produced a free-kick that Joseph Yobo headed out. Savage lifted the ball back into the box, Morten Gamst Pedersen hooked a shot on to the bar and Santa Cruz fired the rebound home.
Christopher Samba almost made it two and then Tim Howard turned over a 20-yard effort from David Dunn. Howard pulled down a Pedersen header following David Bentley's cross before Everton took off Carsley and sent on Phil Jagielka in central midfield, the hosts having been largely out-fought. Moyes introduced Joleon Lescott for the second half, and Everton started to improve and after 78 minutes they dragged themselves level. Arteta found space at last on the right and drilled in a low cross that McFadden reached first a split second ahead of Warnock and Samba challenges and struck just inside Friedel's near post.
Blues told: Fight for your place
Aug 25 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has warned “things will be different at Everton this season” – with players in his expanded squad fighting for starting places. The saga to sort out Manuel Fernandes’ complicated contract issues look like reaching a successful conclusion over the weekend, while an appeal into Aiyegbini Yakubu’s work permit situation will be heard next Wednesday. With Leighton Baines, Phil Jagielka, Steven Pienaar and Stefan Wessels already on board, Moyes said: “We have a squad of players here now who all expect to play, so things will be different here now. “We have increased the numbers, we have increased the quality and hopefully that’s going to raise the standards. “But we’re going to need all these players hopefully in the coming months when the games come thick and fast.” Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate, meanwhile, paid tribute to Yakubu after agreeing an £11.25m fee with Everton for his transfer. "His head had been turned by the possibility of moving on and I can understand that," said Southgate. "He is a young lad, he wants to go and do different things and experience different things and I then felt it was the best thing for us to get the best fee we possibly could. "I have got a lot of time for him. He is a lovely lad. In the end, his head was turned and it looks as though he will be moving on.
"But he was a big player for us, especially last season for me. In the early part of the season, his goals kept us in matches and won us lots of games and I wish him good luck. "I do not think there is an ounce of malice in his body. He is a really lovely kid and I hope things work out for him as he hopes."
Soccer school of science
Aug 25 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON stage their latest Soccer School next week at St Edward’s College, West Derby. Running from Tuesday August 28 to Thursday, August 30 inclusive the camp costs £50 per child and is organised by Everton in the Community – a registered charity with all proceeds reinvested to fund programmes within the local community.
Each camp runs from 10am until 3pm and is open to boys and girls aged 5-14 years old of every ability level, from beginner to superstar! A typical day at camp includes a full warm-up, skill sessions, penalty competitions, small sided games, and water breaks, of course! The last half-hour of each day consists of a tournament for the youngsters to show off their newly acquired skills. Each day is carefully structured to give children the opportunity to learn new techniques, to enjoy football and meet new friends. In addition, every participant receives a goody bag containing a certificate of achievement. Bookings and more information are available by calling 0870 442 187 or by visiting evertonfc.com
Barnsley’s Silva lining
Aug 25 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON’S Brazilian midfielder, Anderson da Silva, has moved to Barnsley on loan. Anderson, 24, has made just one Premier League appearance since joining Everton from Montevideo. His stay in Yorkshire is scheduled to last until at least September 27. Da Silva signed a one-year deal at Goodison during thesummer.
But despite netting a late equalising goal in a friendly against Werder Bremen he has found first team openings difficult to come by. Everton assistant manager, Alan Irvine, said: "The door certainly isn't closed for Anderson and we look forward to having him back here at Goodison at the end of next month."
A Labone goes back onto the books for Blues
Aug 25 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON have signed up another Labone, and the free transfer will ensure the famous name continues at the club 50 years after Brian first signed professional forms with the club. Brian’s wife, Pat, has agreed to become the new secretary of the Everton Former Players’ Foundation, the registered charity her husband helped set up nine years ago. And she admitted this week: “It is very emotional for me. There’s no two ways about it. “But I wanted to do something in Brian’s memory because he was so attached to the club – it was his passion – and this helps me feel a little bit closer to him. “I have to say that I’m absolutely amazed at the amount of effort and work that goes into running the Foundation.” Pat became more aware of the work of the Foundation when they stepped in to help her and daughter Rachelle organise Brian’s funeral 18 months ago. “Rachelle and I were given such tremendous support over Brian’s funeral by the Foundation,” she added. “Harry Ross, in particular, was an absolute tower of strength to us and I’ve never forgotten that kindness. I just thought if I could help in any way at all – even if it was shuffling papers and putting them in date order or something – I would.” Rev Harry Ross, the vicar at St Luke’s Church in the corner of Goodison Road, is a trustee and founder member of the Former Players Foundation and was instrumental in bringing Pat into the organisation.
“We’re delighted to have her on board,” he said. “Pat’s new role is to bring the expertise that she has – which are organisational abilities, secretarial skills and her own personality, which is well known to the fans – plus the opportunity to have a Labone working with the club once again. “It’s also nice to have a female face to look at rather than all those old men!” Founded in 1998, the Everton Former Players' Foundation (EFPF) raises money to help ex-players who have fallen on hard times – paying for everything from operations, to home improvements, to holidays for wives when their husbands are having surgery. The Foundation raises over £200,000 a year – and redistributes every penny to worthy causes. All its trustees and helpers are volunteers. For further information and to make a donation, follow the links on evertonfc.com.
Blue skies ahead for Moyes’ men – Ferguson
Aug 25 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
ONE half of Merseyside may be off Alex Ferguson’s Christmas card list, but the Manchester United manager extended an olive branch across Stanley Park last week.
While the North-west Reds were rowing over the future of Gabriel Heinze, Ferguson picked out the blue half of the region to provide the likeliest challenge to the so-called ‘big-four’ this season. Everton and Blackburn – because of their continuity of manager, continuity of players and impressive summer acquisitions – were picked out by Ferguson as the sides most likely to cause him consternation. And both come head to head at Goodison Park at tea-time tonight. “It was very kind of Sir Alex to say that. I think he knows his stuff doesn’t he?” joked Blues’ boss David Moyes. “I think Blackburn and Everton are quite evenly matched. We’re both good sides and I think Blackburn will go close this year. “I think we can both play, we can both handle ourselves when we need to as well, and they have a good squad of players as well, with some variation there. They have some quality, some good strikers, which is what we’re trying to do as well. “Making the impact they made on the UEFA Cup last year might have affected their league form, but they did well in both competitions and this summer came through the Intertoto and made it look quite simple.” Moyes shares Ferguson’s admiration for Blackburn, and was at Ewood Park to watch the clash with Arsenal which ended with Arsene Wenger infamously accusing Rovers of “a desire for violence more than commitment in their challenges.” Moyes said: “I was at the game last Sunday and I didn’t see that. “You have to remember that football is a strong sport. There are tackles in football - it’s part of the rules, there are challenges - that’s part of the rules as well, we can only ever follow those rules. “I actually see Blackburn as a better football team than people give them credit for. “When you play the top teams you have to bridge that gap - and working hard and not giving them any time or any space on the ball is part of it. “Blackburn work really hard and I don’t see a physical edge to them, I just see a good team.” The same accusations have been levelled at Everton in the past, but while Moyes was pleased with his side’s attitude and work-rate last weekend, he wants to see an extra spark of creativity to make the difference tonight. “I want us to play better than we did at Reading,” he declared. “We have now had one game at home and two away and we need to get the points ticking over by taking advantage of our home games and keep ourselves at the right end of the league. “How can we find that creativity? “Steven Pienaar has come on already in a couple of games and done okay. But in the same breath, Mikel Arteta has given us creativity, Leon Osman has weighed in with goals so we do have creativity, and we also have good solidity with Lee Carsley and Phil Neville, who have been pretty consistent for us. “If we get Manny Fernandes in that will give us a little bit more craft at the right times in midfield, too. “We’re beginning to get a squad and we’re beginning to get selection dilemmas which is nice.” The Blues were hoping to complete Fernandes’ signature in time for last night’s 5pm deadline to allow him to be included in today’s squad. Aiyegbini Yakubu, however, must wait on the outcome of next Wednesday’s appeal against his work permit rejection, with the Blues hopeful of a favourable outcome. There still could be at least one new face on display today, though. The £6m summer signing from Wigan, Leighton Baines, is in the first team squad and Moyes said: “I brought him into the squad last week. “But that was a little earlier than I would have liked and was because of our injury situation. “I wanted him to get another week’s training under his belt, which he’s done, and he played in a behind closed doors friendly this week, so he’s further down the line. “ He’s under consideration.” So, too, are Everton’s top six credentials – and a home win tonight would underline Sir Alex Ferguson’s predictions. l There are still tickets available for tonight’s clash, on sale from the ticket office up until kick-off time (5.15pm).
MOYES RELIEVED TO TAKE POINT
26th August 2007
Everton boss David Moyes admitted he was relieved to have grabbed a point against Blackburn after being out-played in the first half of the 1-1 draw at Goodison Park. Blackburn went ahead through Roque Santa Cruz in the opening period and dominated for long spells before James McFadden earned his side a point with a late leveller. Moyes said: "We did okay early on but once they scored we were second best until the break. They played much better than us and I was happy we were only 1-0 down at the break. But in the second half we did much better. Earlier we had huffed and puffed and not got anywhere but eventually I felt we deserved the draw."
He added: "We are missing something up front at the moment and everyone knows we are trying to do something about that. Victor Anichebe has not trained all week with an ankle problem and with other players fit I would not have even put him on the bench. "But he had to have a go at it and eventually we managed to pull the goal back when Mikel (Arteta) got a good ball into the box for James McFadden to get on the end of." Rovers boss Mark Hughes also accepted the draw as a reasonable result, saying: "If you can come away from Everton with a point you have done okay. This is one of the most difficult grounds in the Premier League to get anything, and I felt for long periods we were the better side. "It got more difficult after the break, you always know they will come back at you in a situation like that and keep getting the ball into the box. "We pride ourselves on stopping teams from doing that, but Everton manage to do it very well." He added: "I am pleased we maintained the level of performance we showed last week in drawing against Arsenal and maybe we had enough chances early on to have been comfortably in the lead at the break. "But our aim is to take points from teams we feel will be around our position in the league, and that in the end is what we have done so I have to be pleased with that."
FERNANDES OPTS OUT OF EVERTON MOVE
26th August 2007
Everton have been stunned by Manuel Fernandes' decision to join Valencia - less than 24 hours after he was their guest at Saturday's home game with Blackburn.
The Benfica midfielder even spent an hour with chairman and owner Bill Kenwright assuring the Merseysiders that he would be joining them, before apparently heading home. In fact, Fernandes flew to Valencia, and now looks certain to join them for a £12million fee. He had already successfully completed a medical at Goodison Park, and the contracts - which included issues of third-party ownership - were being studied by Premier League officials. Everton boss David Moyes claimed a week ago that Fernandes would "be an Everton player within 24 hours". And as late as Friday the club were expecting clearance for Fernandes to be in their squad for the Blackburn game. But the whole deal has been turned on its head, even though Everton had actually agreed to meet the £12m asking price for 100% of the player. Previously it was believed that they had agreed to pay Benfica £6m for their half of Fernandes, with the third-party owners holding the other 50%. That initially caused problems for the Premier League, who are clamping down on all third-party transfers in the wake of the Carlos Tevez affair, and Everton then moved to buy out the other 50% from the owners. But at the last moment it looks as if Valencia, who play in Spain's Primera Liga where third-party contracts are no problem, have stepped in and offered around £10m for just 50% of the player, which means his owners would retain an interest in the player and any future transfer fees.
YAKUBU APPEAL ON WEDNESDAY
26th August 2007
Everton's appeal against the Home Office's decision to refuse Ayegbeni Yakubu a work permit will be held on Wednesday, the club have confirmed. The Merseysiders agreed an £11.25million fee with Middlesbrough for the Nigerian striker earlier this week, but the move was delayed when he was refused a permit. Yakubu opted out of playing for Nigeria during the 2006 African Cup of Nations and as a result failed to meet the Home Office's benchmark of having played in 75% of his country's games over the past two years. But club officials will travel to the hearing confident that their appeal will prove successful, given that only former Arsenal frontman Thierry Henry has scored more Premier League goals over the last four years.
Yakubu permit hearing date set
Aug 26 2007 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON will find out on Wednesday if £11.25million club-record signing Yakubu is to be granted a work permit. The striker, who is second only to Thierry Henry in the Premier League scoring charts over the past four years, doesn’t automatically qualify for a work permit because he has not played enough international games for Nigeria in the last two years. But Yakubu hopes to beat that ruling by pointing out the only reason he hasn’t reached that criteria is because he chose to stay and play for Middlesbrough rather than represent his country in the 2006 African Cup of Nations.
An appeal hearing has been set for Wednesday, Everton said, and the Blues would be attending it.
FERNANDES UNVEILED BY VALENCIA
27th August 2007
Manuel Fernandes has been presented as a Valencia player after snubbing Everton to complete his move from Benfica. The 21-year-old Portugal midfielder has penned a six-year contract with Valencia and is set to be the Primera Liga club's final capture of the summer. Fernandes, who came through the youth ranks at Benfica before having loan spells with Portsmouth and Everton, said: "I thank Valencia for their confidence and hope to be in my new team for many years." He added: "I have spoken before with Miguel (Valencia's Portuguese full-back), and he has told me that it is a great club, with the possibility to grow." Fernandes, who Spanish media are reporting will cost his new club 18million euros (£12.2million), knows he faces a challenge to earn a starting spot at star-studded Valencia, but that is what he has set his sights on.
"It is never easy. I respect my team-mates, but I have come here to play and to be a starter," he added. "I am a player for the centre of the field, a team player. I am combative and I hope to help the team, I play for my team-mates." Everton had thought they had sorted out a deal to take Fernandes to Goodison Park on a permanent basis but after watching their home 1-1 draw with Blackburn on Saturday he opted to move to Spain.
FOOTBALLERS PAY TRIBUTE TO RHYS
27th August 2007
Players from Everton Football Club paid tribute to Rhys Jones as they visited the scene of the 11-year-old's murder. The squad, led by their captain, Phil Neville, stood with their heads bowed and in silence at the makeshift shrine outside the Fir Tree pub in Croxteth, Liverpool. England striker Andy Johnson, along with international stars James McFadden, Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta, laid a signed number 8 shirt and a pair of boots. A wreath in the shape of a blue and white football bore the message: "With deepest sympathy to the family of Rhys from all at Everton Football Club."
Praising the courage and strength of the Jones family, Neville said: "They have been very strong. It would have been one of the hardest days of their lives. We all have families and love our children. All our love is with the Jones family at the moment."
He added: "We all feel very sad. We are here today to pay our respects and appeal to anyone to come out and give information about the person who did this terrible thing. Rhys was an 11-year-old lad and massive Evertonian. We just hope this thing never happens again." Defender Alan Stubbs said the shooting of little Rhys had devastated the city of Liverpool. He added: "What's happened is a tragic, tragic event. Anyone with any information to help the police, please come forward." The players had signed touching messages on their shirts and boots delivered to the scene. The one from Spaniard Arteta read: "To Rhys, see you in heaven." Australian Cahill's boots bore the message: "Lots of love" - the same message Johnson wrote on his shirt. Defender Joseph Yobo's number 4 shirt was signed: "To Rhys, God bless, Joseph."
A massive bouquet of lilies rested against an Everton shirt and carried the message: "To Rhys, such a tragic loss, rest in peace with the angels. All the players and staff at Blackburn Rovers Football Club."
Everton 1, Blackburn Rovers 1 (Echo)
Aug 27 2007
by Dominic King
WHAT better way to respond to the threat of a new arrival than producing a match-saving performance? The subject of strikers has been a hot topic on Merseyside in recent weeks, particularly with Aiyegbeni Yakubu set to become the most expensive player ever recruited in Everton’s history. But if he had any notions that a transfer fee alone will carry him into David Moyes’ starting line up, they will have been swiftly dispelled on Saturday evening; clearly James McFadden is not going to give up his place without a fight. While some supporters are getting excited about Andrew Johnson linking up with the burly Nigerian, seeing them as the perfect blend of pace and power, McFadden has quietly gone about his business and could be set to reap his rewards. On a deeply emotional afternoon when 33,850 spectators shared the overwhelming grief of Melanie, Stephen and Owen Jones, who had been robbed of their beloved Rhys last Wednesday, events on the pitch paled into insignificance. That was something McFadden eloquently pointed out afterwards and he was right. When an 11-year-old is shot dead on his way home from a game of football with his friends, other problems instantly become trivialities. The horrifying fate which befell that poor Evertonian has affected everyone in this city and his murder has had an impact on the players Rhys idolised, many of whom have young children themselves. Still, they had a job to do against Blackburn Rovers and few did theirs better than McFadden. Sharp, bright and always eager to try the unexpected, he richly deserved his point-salvaging goal. Now, hopefully, this will provide him with the platform that enables his career on Merseyside to finally take off. Blessed with a God-given talent, McFadden’s unpredictability could be a secret weapon for Everton this season. His critics, of course, may argue that too often he makes the wrong decision or lacks a yard of pace and there have been times in the past when such claims have been valid. But this year, McFadden gives the impression that is maturing rapidly. Since he was given the green light to return to full training in Los Angeles last month, the Scotland international has continually caught the eye and took off against Blackburn where he had finished the previous weekend’s encounter at Reading. If only the same could be said about the majority of his team-mates. With the notable exceptions of Tim Howard, Leighton Baines, Phil Jagielka and - in patches - Mikel Arteta, Everton were sluggish and had trouble keeping Blackburn contained. With Morten Gamst Pedersen and David Bentley causing mayhem and Roque Santa Cruz a menace up front, Everton were forced onto the back foot almost from the off and it was hardly a surprise when Santa Cruz put them ahead. That their lead was not doubled was down to some desperate defending and inspired goalkeeping; there might not be much of Baines but he has a big heart and there was nothing wrong with his debut. In the right place at the right time to clear a Christopher Samba header off the line, he was strong in the tackle and looked to get forward whenever he could. His pace down the flanks and crossing ability will be a huge asset. Howard, meanwhile, had to be at his acrobatic best to keep out a blistering drive from David Dunn and also reacted smartly to thwart Gamst’s flying header before half-time. What a terrific player; no wonder Hughes is so desperate to keep hold of him. Yet while there is no questioning the talent of the visitors - Mark Hughes’ side will certainly win more games than they lose between now and May - Everton did not help themselves by the amount of times they surrendered possession so cheaply. In the opening period especially, the balance did not look right and it is something Moyes acknowledged afterwards. Should Manuel Fernandes finally complete his complicated move from Benfica, that will be rectified. “We need someone who can pick out a pass,” Moyes noted. “We are trying to do something about it. It was a strange game. We didn’t play well in the first half but ultimately we huffed and puffed to get the draw.” That they did. It would be stretching credibility to say that Brad Friedel was overworked in Blackburn’s goal but the pressure after the break was relentless, as Everton prodded and probed for a way back in. Taking over from Lee Carsley in the engine room, Jagielka can feel rightly satisfied with his efforts and, with better fortune, may even have got his first goal in Everton colours. He can certainly go on from here. Once Arteta got the bit between his teeth and injuries to Alan Stubbs and Lee Carsley had led Moyes to shuffle his pack, they hemmed Blackburn into their own half and McFadden confidently dispatched the one chance which came his way. The manager’s demeanour afterwards, though, suggested he was far from pleased with what he had seen and there will be a couple of things on his mind before next Saturday’s trip to Bolton. Apart from getting the Fernandes and Yakubu deals wrapped up, Moyes, who surprisingly relegated Joleon Lescott to the bench, will be hoping Andrew Johnson can shake off the fitness problem that compromised his weekend input. Without a goal since March 18, Johnson looks like he needs one to go in off his backside to get an injection of confidence. Surely, then it will only be a matter of time before the player who terrorised defenders 12 months ago returns? Confidence, however, should not be an issue for one man in particular. McFadden has shown sporadically in recent seasons he can be a match winner - remember goals against Fulham and Charlton? Now the challenge is for him to do it regularly. If he can do that, there is no question that he will be an asset this season for Everton regardless of who Moyes brings in. All eyes turn to the Reebok Stadium, then, for the next instalment.
Everton 1, Blackburn Rovers 1 (D,Post)
Aug 27 2007
by Nick Smith at Goodison Park
IT’S not just defenders across the land who dread the considerable presence of Ayegbeni Yakubu – the Everton forwards can feel him breathing down their necks too. But at least any anxiety James McFadden might have had about the Nigerian’s imminent arrival pushing him down the striking pecking order will have been eased by the point he rescued 12 minutes from the end of a largely frustrating Saturday evening at Goodison. By the time the Scot swept home at the near post he had been shifted out to the left, but it was the penalty-box instinct and predatory stab at Mikel Arteta’s cross that will have struck in the mind of David Moyes. McFadden has many more qualities, of course – no need to list them, just refer back to his last Premiership goal against Charlton in April. But he’s not unique among Everton strikers at the moment, in that he’s recently seen more of the treatment room than the training pitch. Strengthening the squad in the final few days of the transfer window is as imperative as strengthening those weary limbs. With Victor Anichebe only shaking off an ankle injury to allow him on the bench, McFadden started alongside Andrew Johnson, himself struggling for full fitness after the knee problem that curtailed his England involvement in midweek. It has to be considered a bonus, therefore, that McFadden found the finishing touch that prevented Roque Santa Cruz’s scrappy opener being what would have been a disappointing winner given the way Everton started and finished the game. And the Scot has outlined his determination to not let any record signing automatically oust him from his favourite role – although Moyes had already done that by moving him out wide in the search for a point. “I don’t enjoy playing on the left,” admitted McFadden. “I got a goal and I’ll play wherever I need to play but I enjoyed my run-out up front. “It’s been a while since I started a game apart from for Scotland on Wednesday so it was nice to get a chance to get up front today. “There’s tremendous competition for places and we’ve got a few injuries at the minute so I thought there was a chance I would be involved – and hopefully I’ve taken my chance. “But I need to keep working and see how it goes.” The fact remains, however, that Everton need Yakubu. At one point, you could almost sense the sound of Middlesbrough directors kicking themselves at not holding out for more than £11.25million such was the obvious need for them to shake things up and get back into the game. Moyes, pondering the situation with the furrowed brow of his chairman on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire later on Saturday night, recognised this and sacrificed McFadden’s central role to allow Victor Anichebe to replace right-back Tony Hibbert. But the manager has already expressed concern at the workload the 19-year-old has had to take on in the early weeks of the season, and although he proved more of a match for the colossal Christian Samba than anyone else on the day, he still had to play through the pain barrier. It was the sheer size of Samba and Andre Ooijer that was making the loss of skipper Ryan Nelsen through suspension a side issue. If Johnson was a tennis player he’d ruffle Roger Federer, but the work he endlessly puts in to unsettling defenders and causing panic needs to be supplemented by a more powerful force and McFadden isn’t it. And he himself acknowledged the need for increased competition by saying: “It’s part of football that when you’re at a big club to move forward you need to bring in good players. “We’re bringing in a striker that guarantees you 15 goals a season and I think we need that. It puts a marker down for us to work harder to get in the team and hopefully I can do that. “But there’s going to be extra games this season if we get a run in the UEFA Cup so we need a squad to tackle that kind of season. So there will be chances and you have to take them when you get them. “Strikers are judged on goals but you need to play well to stay there and if you’re out of it you need to work hard to get back in it.” But the variety up front Everton lacked was the kind of thing that was key to Rovers getting so close to the three points. It’s why last season’s 23-goal talisman Benni McCarthy, who has had his start disrupted by injury and is yet to get off the mark, struggled at Goodison yet his side hardly suffered for it. It was because Mark Hughes has another World Cup striker with valuable European experience to call on to make up for what McCarthy is currently lacking – strength in depth in the forward line that Moyes maybe won’t be as envious of when Yakubu finally completes his move this week. Roque Santa Cruz displayed the basics of strength, skill and an eye for goal that makes his storming start in English football – Saturday’s was his third goal in four games – proof that work permits are worth waiting for. His finish was rather scuffed and scrappy when he followed up after Morten Gamst Pedersen’s overhead kick struck the crossbar but more impressive was the impact it had on the pattern of the game. Santa Cruz had already fired a volley straight at Tim Howard, but before he beat the American in the 15th minute, the other end of the field monopolised the action. The link-up play was quick and incisive, tackles flew in with typical Everton ferocity and Brad Friedel was on his toes to keep out Johnson and another one of those free-kicks Alan Stubbs is becoming famous for. But you need the ability to strike a blow out of nothing the way Santa Cruz did, because it set the tone for the remaining half-hour of the half, dominated by a Rovers side who were denied extending their lead by some Howard heroics. But Everton, thanks largely to Arteta’s growing influence and promising home debuts for Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka, used the break to re-gather their composure and, rather like at Reading a week earlier, looked in good shape to claw back their half-time deficit. As the pressure built Jagielka headed wide of a goal that, thanks to Johnson’s movement, was unguarded by Friedel before Anichebe replaced Tony Hibbert to confirm Moyes’s commitment to throwing everything at the cause. It paid off in the end and could have brought a winner too, although as Johnson endeavours to get off the mark, he came closest by deflecting Bentley’s injury-time free-kick on to the bar. Although seven points from the first 12 games is a satisfactory statistic, the breakdown of one in the last six available is perhaps less so. All of which will only serve to further convince Moyes that the anticipation of the arrival of Yakubu is far more overwhelming than any marginal vote in favour of a move to Kirkby. “It’s okay,” said Moyes when asked to assess his team’s start. We would have liked it to be better. But in the same breath, today was a hard game and we have had a couple of hard away games too. “But I think we can play better than we have done in the last couple of games. “I always think that good performances lead to good results and I don’t think the last couple of performances have deserved an awful lot more.” EVERTON: Howard, Hibbert (Anichebe 64), Yobo, Stubbs (Lescott 46), Baines, Arteta, Carsley (Jagielka 41), Neville, Osman, McFadden, Johnson. Subs: Wessels, Pienaar. BLACKBURN: Friedel, Emerton, Ooijer, Samba, Warnock, Bentley, Savage, Dunn (Mokoena 86), Pedersen, McCarthy (Derbyshire 74), Santa Cruz (Roberts 90). Subs: Brown, Kerimoglu. BOOKINGS: Ooijer, Pedersen. REFEREE: Mike Riley (Yorkshire) ATT: 33,850 NEXT GAME: Bolton Wanderers v Everton, Barclays Premier League, Saturday 3pm
Everton team visit Rhys Jones murder scene
Aug 27 2007 Liverpool Echo
THE EVERTON team paid their respects to Blues-mad schoolboy Rhys Jones as they visited the scene of his murder. Led by captain Phil Neville the players, dressed in full Everton kit, left a blue and white football made of flowers from everyone at the club along with signed football boots and shirts from the players. The team bowed their heads in a silent tribute to the 11-year-old Everton fan. All of Rhys’s favourite players, including Joleon Lescott, Joseph Yobo, Mikel Arteta and Andy Johnson, made time before training to visit the makeshift shrine that has sprung up close to the pub car park where Rhys was shot. Hundreds of bouquets, Everton shirts, condolence cards have been left from people touched by the youngster’s death. Mr Neville said: "We all feel very sad. We are here today to pay our respects and appeal to anyone to come out and give information about the person who did this terrible thing.
"Rhys was an 11-year-old lad and massive Evertonian. We just hope this thing never happens again."
Everton in fight to save Fernandes deal
Aug 27 2007
by Nick Smith, Liverpool Daily Post
BEMUSED Everton officials were last night trying to contact Manuel Fernandes in a bid to resurrect his move to Goodison Park. The club were stunned to see Valencia claiming that he had joined them from Benfica just hours after verbally agreeing his switch to Everton with chairman Bill Kenwright following Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Blackburn Rovers. But the Spaniards released a statement saying they had finalised a six-year deal with the Portuguese Under-21 international and are understood to be paying £10million for a 50% ownership. However, it is believed Everton were willing to break their transfer record yet again with a £12million fee to buy Fernandes out of his third-party ownership with Global Sports Agency. As far as the Merseysiders were concerned, it was a done deal following the agreement of a fee, personal terms with the player and the successful completion of his medical. If his registration had been completed in time, he could even have made his debut as a permanent Everton player against Blackburn. But officials are now left searching frantically for answers after Fernandes seemed to have a last-minute change of heart and flew from Liverpool to Spain yesterday morning to meet with Valencia. The 21-year-old has openly expressed his desire for a return to the Premier League following loan spells with Portsmouth and Everton last season, although both clubs were originally unwilling to meet Benfica’s asking price. His third-party ownership, given the controversy over Carlos Tevez and Javier Masherano joining West Ham last year, also clouded the issue, which is why Everton were in the process of raising the money to own 100% of him. But because third-party contracts are no problem in Spain’s Primera Liga, the Valencia deal means his owners would retain an interest in the player and any future transfer fees. Fernandes also appears to have been lured by the prospect of Champions League football, which Valencia will achieve if they defend a 3-0 first-leg lead in Elfsborg this week . Until Everton hear directly from the player and the Spanish club, they are refusing to accept the deal has collapsed but the Valencia statement claimed Fernandes is due for a medical there and they will unveil him as their player later in the week. Meanwhile Everton manager David Moyes is hoping Wednesday’s appeal to secure a work permit for record signing Yakubu will finally allow the £11.25million man to complete his move from Middlesbrough. Moyes is keen for more striking competition and admitted he was reluctant to send on Victor Anichebe on Saturday as the teenager was still recovering from an ankle injury. “We are not bleating about it but if there is one area we are a little short of at the minute it is up front,” said Moyes. “Victor Anichebe hadn’t trained all week and I wasn’t sure about putting him on the bench but we had to. “We had to try and go for a goal and we thought that our last substitution had to be positive, even though James McFadden was struggling to play the 90 minutes. “And you have to remember that we don’t have James Vaughan or Tim Cahill at the minute.” That shortage has led Moyes to challenge McFadden to impose himself on the squad as he edges towards full fitness. It was McFadden who stole the goalscoring glory on Saturday when he struck 12 minutes from time to earn the point against Blackburn. “He has got an unpredictability about him and he popped up with an important goal for us. He can do that,” said Moyes. “We want James to play a big part in what we do. We brought him here when he was a young lad and we want him to be a big part of the squad “I think he’s found it tough because he hasn’t played a lot of football. He’s had a metatarsal injury. “In fact, he’s only played two 45 minute games in the whole of pre- season. But he had to play the 90 minutes today because of other injuries. “I think he was actually tired from his midweek performance (for Scotland) but I think the 45 there and the 90 here will put him back on the road to full fitness. It was a good finish. “He knows what I’m after and he will get better and sharper because I think he has got a little bit more fitness to go. He will get better as the weeks go on.”
James McFadden dedicates equaliser to Rhys Jones’ family
Aug 27 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
JAMES McFADDEN today dedicated his match saving goal against Blackburn Rovers to the family of murdered schoolboy Rhys Jones. A minute’s applause was held before Saturday’s game at Goodison Park in memory of the 11-year-old and the Scotland international admitted that Rhys’ death had had an affect on the dressing room. Though Everton’s display was far from fluent, McFadden rightly suggested that events on the pitch were of little consequence and hoped Everton’s fightback gave Rhys’ devastated parents Melanie and Stephen and brother Owen some solace.
“Hopefully the police can get the person who did it and help them deal with what’s happened. It’s always very tragic,” said McFadden. “It was hard to start with and it shook us up. We’ve had minutes silences and minutes applause before for people who have been killed in Iraq. They are never nice times but this one was especially hard.
“This was for an 11-year-old boy who was walking home from a game of football and gunned down in such terrible circumstances. It’s an absolute tragedy. “It shakes you up and when you see his picture up on the board, it’s not nice, especially if you have kids yourself. It’s a horrible feeling. “It puts everything into perspective, really. It was hard at the start of the game because you couldn’t put it to the back of your mind. Hopefully we have put on a decent enough performance for his family. “I’ve got a wee boy and you want to see your kids grow up, so it’s tragic. I know it’s not going to comfort them. At the end of the day, it’s only a game of football. But he was passionate about his football, so it was nice to sneak a point for him in the end.”
Having fought his way back to fitness after a metatarsal problem, McFadden made the most of a surprise starting opportunity to give David Moyes a selection headache ahead of next Saturday’s trip to Bolton Wanderers. “I thought there was a chance that I would be involved so I just had to get myself ready,” said McFadden. “Hopefully I’ve taken my chance. I don’t really enjoy playing on the left, but I got a goal and I’ll play wherever I have to play. “Everybody wants to play. We've got tremendous competition for places. We've got a few injuries at the minute so I was probably a bit fortunate to get a game. “I’d like to think I’ve taken my chance, but I’ll have to wait until next week to see what happens.”
Mystery over Manuel Fernandes claim
Aug 27 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON were today trying to solve the riddle surrounding Manuel Fernandes after claims that Valencia had hijacked his move to Goodison Park. A report on the Spanish club's website last night suggested that Fernandes had agreed a six-year deal at the Mestella and would sign subject to passing a medical. Given that Fernandes has been training at Bellefield for the past week and was at Goodison for Saturday's 1-1 draw with Blackburn Rovers, Blues officials were understandably mystified by these latest developments. Everton had been hoping to make Fernandes – who scored two goals in nine appearances during his spell on loan last season – their fourth major summer signing but, as he is part owned by Global Sports Agency, negotiations have been complicated. They now face an anxious wait to see if the 21-year-old has turned his back on a move to the Premier League or if it is another party trying to get him a better deal by linking him with another club. One signing that Everton hope to complete later this week is a club record deal for Middlesbrough striker Aiyegbeni Yakubu. The Nigerian international's hearing for a work permit will be heard on Wednesday and his £11.25m move from the Riverside Stadium should then be rubber-stamped.
David Moyes: We’ve still room for improvement
Aug 27 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has urged his Everton players to raise the bar when they travel to Bolton next weekend to turn a steady start into a good one. The Blues are fifth in the fledgling Premier League table after taking seven points from the first 12 available and a number of clubs who have spent heavily over the summer would happily swap places with them. Moyes, though, has been concerned by certain aspects of Everton’s last two performances against Reading and Blackburn Rovers and believes there is plenty of room for improvement ahead of their trip to the Reebok Stadium.
So while he is relatively satisfied with Everton’s current position, he expects it will get better once they recapture the spark that was missing for much of their tussle with an eye-catching Blackburn team. “We would have liked our start to be better,” said Moyes. “But in the same breath, it was a hard game and we have had a couple of hard away games too. “That’s it. But I think we can play better than we have done in the last couple of games. I always think that good performances lead to good results and I don’t think the last couple of performances have deserved an awful lot more.
“I thought it was quite nip and tuck. Maybe I saw it differently. I thought Blackburn played well for a period in the first half but when I think how Tottenham played here last year, that was miles away from that. “I thought it was exactly what it was going to be. It was going to be a tight game. There is very little between the two clubs at the moment. Blackburn have got a good side and we have got a good side.”
Chief reason that Moyes was able to walk away with a point on Saturday evening was down to James McFadden, who scored his first goal of the campaign with a crisp finish from Mikel Arteta’s cross. The Scotland international - who has dealt with a number of serious injuries in the past 12 months - has been threatening to become an influential member of Everton’s squad and Moyes feels he is getting close to delivering. Saturday was the first time he has played 90 minutes since December 3, 2006, and with that under his belt, Moyes hopes McFadden can fill the void left by the stricken James Vaughan and Tim Cahill. “I think he was actually tired from his midweek performance but I think the 45 there and the 90 here will put him back on the road to full fitness. It was a good finish,” said Moyes of a player he signed from Motherwell four years ago this week. “He has got an unpredictability about him and he popped up with an important goal for us. He can do that. We want James to play a big part in what we do. We brought him here when he was a young lad and we want him to be a big part of the squad. “He knows what I’m after and he will get better and sharper because I think he has got a little bit more fitness to go. He will get better as the weeks go on. You have to remember that we don’t have James Vaughan or Tim Cahill at the minute. “We are not bleating about it but if there is one area we are a little short of at the minute it is up front. Victor Anichebe hadn’t trained all week and I wasn’t sure about putting him on the bench, but we had to and he contributed in the end, too.”
John Thompson: The day when a Blues’ cathedral meant so much
Aug 27 2007 by John Thompson, Liverpool Echo
I LITERALLY bumped into an old pal as I shuffled along with thousands of Everton supporters past the Park End after the game with Blackburn. “Moyes hasn’t got a bloody clue tactically,” said this disgruntled blue, clearly cheesed off his side hadn’t consolidated their good start to the season with a home win over a likely close rival. All I could do was smile and give George’s shoulder a squeeze. For once, whether he had a point or not, it really didn’t seem to matter. Goodison Park may be past its sell-by date as a football ground. But as a cathedral to its community of devoted followers, it remains perhaps uniquely impressive and relevant. And at 5.10pm on Saturday afternoon, almost ethereal. In the past couple of years, this great football club has had to applaud too many times before a ball has been kicked. More than once, resounding tributes have been paid to fallen soldiers in Iraq who were brothers in footballing arms here, too. More than once fans with tears in their eyes have said emotional farewells to legends. No one present will ever forget the club’s moving recent farewells to Brian Labone and Alan Ball, lost suddenly and shockingly as they entered the later years of their lives. But surely never before has there been a more poignantly raw moment than that witnessed when the family of little Rhys Jones appeared on the touch line alongside David Moyes and Mark Hughes. If there was ever a louder round of applause which belted into the ears at this football ground then maybe it came when Dixie Dean scored his 60th goal of the season back in 1928. Perhaps even that celebration was eclipsed by the defiance and the show of support which erupted as 34,000 people battered their palms together to the point where it started to hurt the hands. On Saturday evening, as David Moyes rightly said, Everton Football Club spoke not just on behalf of itself, but on behalf of a city and a nation. The message was both painstakingly loud and clear. In the depths of their anguish, it is to be hoped Stephen and Melanie Jones and their families were able to take some crumb of comfort in knowing that they were not alone in their sorrow, loss and anger.
They’d lost a son. But all Evertonians felt they’d lost a little brother. And how they showed it. And so began a game of football. Everton were poor and disjointed in the first half. Nothing seemed to stick up front and few moves of any consequence were built as the cohesion went missing. Maybe even the occasion got to the players themselves. They may be extraordinarily well-paid professionals, but they are only human too, you know. Blackburn, however, were as smooth and efficient as they were robust. And they deserved their half time lead, albeit via a fortunate mis-hit shot.
Thankfully their manager’s post match acknowledgement that he knew a David Moyes side would rally and they would not have it so easy in the second half, proved correct. The Blues prodded and probed and fought much better, almost digging themselves out of their first half malaise through sheer determination. There was no easy on the eye football but there was a sense of spirit which saw them begin to mount some telling attacks. And when James McFadden eventually guided home an equaliser there was a feeling of relief that, points aside, the Blues might not now lose a match which, for pretty obvious reasons they may have regretted losing just that little bit more, given the heartache which has once again cast a dark cloud over this club. So while George plodded home briefly pulling a face at two points lost, he and other like-minded fans, probably calmed down to conclude, as did Mark Hughes, that it had actually been a pretty good and entertaining Premier League game.
If any of us could have asked just one person on Saturday night what he’d made of the game, it wouldn’t have been George. Or David Moyes. Or Mark Hughes.
It would have been little Rhys Jones. You suspect that, like most 11-year-old Evertonians, he’d have been telling his dad with a smile what a cracking goal McFadden’s was. And how they’d beat them next time. Farewell Rhys Jones,
Not everyone in Goodison Park knew you. But no one who rose to their feet to applaud you on Saturday evening will ever forget you.
ANGRY TOFFEES' SEARCH GOES ON
28th August 2007
Everton will continue to seek midfield reinforcements after hitting out at Manuel Fernandes for spurning them at the last minute to join Valencia. The 21-year-old midfielder passed a medical and trained with Everton last week before attending Saturday's match against Blackburn as a guest but stunned Everton by agreeing a six-year contract at the Mestalla. A statement on the club's website, evertonfc.com, said: "On Saturday we were informed that another club had come in with a rival bid and despite sustained efforts over the remainder of the weekend the player joined Valencia. David Moyes and his coaching staff are continuing to seek the extra addition to our squad, which they feel they require for this season." Fernandes was presented in Spain on Monday and said: "I thank Valencia for their confidence and hope to be in my new team for many years. I have spoken before with Miguel (Valencia's Portuguese full-back), and he has told me that it is a great club, with the possibility to grow." Fernandes, who Spanish media are reporting will cost his new club 18million euros (£12.2million), knows he faces a challenge to earn a starting spot at star-studded Valencia, but that is what he has set his sights on. "It is never easy. I respect my team-mates, but I have come here to play and to be a starter," he added. "I am a player for the centre of the field, a team player. I am combative and I hope to help the team, I play for my team-mates."
SOCCER IDOLS IN TRIBUTE TO RHYS
28th August 2007
By Sue Foster
EVERTON football stars paid an emotional tribute to murdered fan Rhys Jones yesterday as they laid signed shirts and boots at the spot where the 11-year-old was gunned down. The players also left wreaths and stood with heads bowed at a makeshift shrine outside the Fir Tree pub in Croxteth, Liverpool. Praising the courage of the Jones family, Everton captain Phil Neville, 30, appealed for the killer to come forward. He said: “We all have families and love our children. We all feel very sad. We are here to pay our respects and appeal to anyone to come out and give information about the person who did this terrible thing.” Fans’ favourite defender Alan Stubbs, 35, born nearby in Kirkby, said: “It has affected everyone, it has affected the whole city. What’s happened is a tragic, tragic event.” England striker Andy Johnson, 26, with stars James McFadden, 24, Tim Cahill, 27, and Mikel Arteta, 25, left behind boots and signed shirts. Their visit came as police released six arrested teenagers.Two boys and two girls were freed without charge. Two youths, aged 16 and 19, were given bail. Detectives privately admitted they are “baffled.” Officers said Rhys may have been caught in the crossfire in an ongoing feud across Liverpool’s east side involving 72 thugs – 31 in the Croxteth Crew and 41 in The Strand Gang.
Detectives said the ages of gang members range from 16 to 50.
Spurs sunk by Jose Baxter’s strike
Aug 28 2007
by Chris Wright, Liverpool Daily Post
JOSE BAXTER scored the only goal of the game to maintain Everton under-18s’ 100% start to the Premier Academy League season as they won 1-0 at Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday. Despite again fielding a much younger side than their opponents and also having five players suffering with a stomach bug, Neil Dewsnip’s side earned an excellent and deserved success. Bootle-born Baxter was one of three schoolboy players in Everton’s line-up and he scored five minutes before the break. It was a well-worked strike as Danny Redmond fed London-born striker Kieran Agard, and from his pull-back England schoolboy international Baxter fired in. Tottenham had lots of possession, but a solid team performance ensured all three points. And has Agard not fired just wide when through on the keeper the margin of victory could have been greater Having opened the campaign with a 4-2 home win over Bristol City, Everton coach Dewsnip was delighted with his side’s performance and a second victory. He said: “It was a fantastic result. But it had been a bit scary before the game because we had five boys who were ill with a stomach bug overnight. “That was a challenge but I think in a way that might have worked in a positive way, in that they all stuck together and got through the game. “It was very hot and Tottenham had a lot of possession, but without hurting us really. “Defensively the lads were very well organised and disciplined in their performance. “We had a great shape when we were defending and Michael McEntagert in goal didn't have a real save to make apart from long-range efforts. “And when we attacked we always looked like we would be able score a second goal on the break.” Dewsnip added: “It was a great team effort and the results have been very positive so far, and the performance of the group is good.“The Tottenham people were very complimentary about our team ethic. That pleases me, because that is part of what we are trying to do.” Everton look to keep up their fine start to the campaign when they entertain Leeds United at Netherton this Saturday (kick-off 11am). Dewsnip said: “As always the boys are desperate to do their best and they have started very positively.
“We obviously want to continue that against Leeds, but it will be another very tough match.” EVERTON UNDER-18s: McEntagart; Stewart, Sinnott, Barnett, McCarten; Krenn, Akpan, Redmond, Baxter (Wallace 65), Agard (Sheppard 87), Codling (McAlaney 65). Subs: Stubhaug, McCardle.
Manuel Fernandes snub forces David Moyes into race to sign new midfielder
Aug 28 2007
by Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily Post
DAVID MOYES faces a race against time to capture a new midfielder after Everton were left outraged by Manuel Fernandes’s sensational snub yesterday. The Portugal midfielder’s remarkable change of heart saw him sign for Valencia on a six-year deal despite agreeing a move to Goodison Park less than 48 hours earlier. Fernandes shook hands with Everton chairman Bill Kenwright on Saturday after verbally giving assurances on a club record £12million transfer from Benfica. The midfielder, who had been training at Bellefield last week while waiting for the deal to be completed, was a guest of the club at Saturday’s 1-1 home draw against Blackburn Rovers. But the 21-year-old left his Merseyside hotel on Sunday morning before flying to Spain to rubber-stamp a move to La Liga outfit Valencia – without any explanation to Everton. The Goodison outfit’s attempts to contact the player were thwarted by the fact Fernandes had his phone turned off, after which they discovered Valencia had announced they were due to sign the midfielder for a similar £12m outlay. Reports in Portugal last night suggested Benfica had persuaded Fernandes to move to Valencia because the La Liga team were prepared to pay a greater chunk of the fee up front, as well as offering a higher salary. Everton last night released a detailed statement regarding the situation, and are privately fuming at the player’s conduct. “Everton Football Club feels it should clarify the situation with regards to Manuel Fernandes,” said Ian Ross, the club’s director of communications. “We worked hard all last week on what was a very difficult and complex three-party agreement. “Everton staff worked through the night on Thursday, finally reaching agreement with the English footballing authorities on Friday afternoon. “A similar night’s work on Friday left us satisfied that we had both addressed and agreed all issues with the other involved parties. “However, on Saturday we were informed that another club had come in with a rival bid and despite sustained efforts over the remainder of the weekend the player today joined Valencia. “David Moyes and his coaching staff are continuing to seek the extra addition to our squad, which they feel they require for this season.” Only last Friday, Moyes considered the Fernandes deal “nearly done” and was hopeful of parading the player later this week alongside the incoming Aiyegbini Yakubu. Instead, the Everton manager now has only four days in which to find an alternative midfield reinforcement before the transfer window closes at the end of the week. Fernandes scored two goals in nine appearances while on loan at Goodison last season and had long expressed his desire to make the move permanent. However, the issue of Fernandes’s registration had been the perennial sticking point of any transfer, with the player part-owned by a group of investment bankers called Global Sports Agency. Everton had negotiated a deal that would see the whole fee paid to Benfica, who would then sort out how much money would go to the third party for their half of the player’s rights. But with Spanish football accepting of third-party ownership, the entire £12.2m of Valencia’s offer could conceivably go into the Portuguese club’s coffers, therefore making their deal far more appealing to the Lisbon side. On being unveiled at Valencia last night, Fernandes claimed to “know nothing” about how the Everton deal collapsed and insisted he was persuaded to move to Spain by fellow Portuguese player Miguel. “What happened with Everton are things that I know nothing about and what is most important now is that I am here,” said Fernandes. “I did not expect everything to happen to me so quickly, but I am very excited to be here. I talked to Miguel and know that I am joining a good club and a place where I can grow.” Despite the setback with Fernandes, Everton are confident their move for Yakubu will be given the green light when the appeal over the initial rejection of his work permit is heard tomorrow.
Phil Jagielka aims for Everton start
Aug 28 2007
by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
PHIL JAGIELKA is hoping an impressive first Goodison Park appearance will hold the key to him making his full Everton debut this weekend. The England B international was the Blues’ first signing earlier this summer when he joined from Sheffield United but, so far, he has been unable to break into David Moyes’ starting line-up. Before Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Blackburn, he had been restricted to brief substitute appearances against Tottenham and Reading, but a groin injury to Lee Carsley gave him a chance in the centre of midfield. Grasping it with both hands, Jagielka played his part in helping Everton secure a point off Mark Hughes’ side and now the 24-year-old is waiting to see if he has done enough to warrant a start against Bolton. “As soon as Cars looked like he was struggling, the gaffer told me to get warmed up and I was itching to get on,” said Jagielka. “It was nice to get just over 45 minutes, especially at home as it is the first time I’ve played here. “I hope I gave the team a little bit. The reception I got was fantastic and after we scored the goal, the atmosphere was electric. “Competition for places is good but it is only good when you are playing. I don’t want there to be the best competition in the world if I’m not playing every week. “I’ve come here to play but I know I have got to be patient. It’s up to me to prove to the gaffer that I can get a place in the team and nail it down. “It was nice to get on against Blackburn and I thought I gave a decent enough account of myself. We’ll see what next week brings. “Obviously I didn’t want to lose my record of playing in consecutive games but it is a new start for me here and I am playing with better players in a better team. “It might take time but if I get in, hopefully I’ll stay there.” Though he was satisfied with his contribution and felt the performance was a step up on the previous week‘s effort at Reading, Jagielka was thankful that James McFadden spared his blushes after he fluffed a glorious opportunity to score his first goal. “We didn’t play too well at Reading but we gave a decent account of ourselves against Blackburn,” said Jagielka. “They have got a good team and hit us on the counter attack but thankfully Faddy popped up and didn’t leave it to me to score! “When I saw AJ get hold of it, I knew I had to make a run in to the six yard box but the ball just skidded off my face and went wide. “If it had smacked me in the face, it would probably have gone in. I was nearly in tears when it went past the post.” Meanwhile, Manuel Fernandes completed his surprise move from Benfica to Valencia yesterday, despite assuring David Moyes he would move to Goodison Park over the Bank Holiday weekend. Fernandes, who was on loan at Everton last season, arrived in England on Thursday to sort out his transfer and was in the stands on Saturday. He even passed a medical with the Blues, but the midfielder then signed a six-year deal at Spanish side Valencia for a total fee of £12m.
Everton stars pay silent Rhys Jones tribute
Aug 28 2007 by Mary Murtagh, Liverpool Echo
THE players little Rhys Jones loved and looked up to yesterday paid their respects to the boy who lived and breathed the Blues. It was a touching silent tribute to a boy who adored taking his seat in the stands at Goodison Park and cheering them on.
Led by captain Phil Neville the players, dressed in full Everton kit, lined up in front of the makeshift shrine that has sprung up close to the pub car park where Rhys was shot.
All of Rhys’s favourites, including Joleon Lescott, Joseph Yobo, Mikel Arteta and Andy Johnson, took out time before training to pay their respects. Hundreds of bouquets, Everton shirts and condolence cards have been left from people touched by the youngster’s death. The players left a blue and white football made of flowers from everyone at the club along with signed boots and shirts. The card read: “With deepest sympathy to the family of Rhys from all at Everton Football Club.” Arteta left a shirt with the handwritten message “See you in heaven” handwritten in the number six.
The team bowed their heads, occasionally casting an eye over the hundreds of bouquets, before filing back to the team coach. One or two made the sign of the cross as a mark of respect before leaving. The only sound was the flapping of police tape and the snapping of photographers’ cameras. Neville said: “We all feel very sad. We are here today to pay our respects and appeal to anyone to come out and give information about the person who did this terrible thing. “Rhys was an 11-year-old lad and massive Evertonian. We just hope this thing never happens again. “The family have been very strong. It was probably the hardest day of their lives on Saturday to come and see Everton play without their son. Our love and respect is with them at the moment.” Defender Alan Stubbs said: “It has affected everyone, it has affected the whole city. What’s happened is a tragic, tragic event.” Their silent tribute came less than 48 hours after Evertonians paid their respects with a minute’s applause before Saturday’s match at Goodison.
Nigel Martyn: Faddy has qualities to make big impact
Aug 28 2007 by Nigel Martyn, Liverpool Echo
TRANSFER deadline day in the summer of 2003 was probably one of the most hectic afternoons in Everton’s history and one that I remember particularly well.
It was, of course, the day when I, Kevin Kilbane and James McFadden all put pen to paper for the Blues, but with Francis Jeffers also doing likewise, it probably made settling in for three of us quite easy. Franny got the headlines then but, within a couple of weeks, all talk was about James, and after his first two performances when he ran riot it looked as though he had the world at his feet. Some even referred to him as the “Scottish Rooney”. Things might not have always gone to plan for James since then, but I was impressed with what I saw from him on Saturday against Blackburn Rovers. There was a lot to like about the way he took his goal and, make no mistake, he is a fine player. Knowing James as I do, he is desperate to establish himself in the first team and hopefully this will be the season when he does just that. He has got terrific talent – all that has been missing is the consistency. I’ve heard some people question his pace, as he is not the type of player who will race away from a defender, and you couldn’t categorise him as an out-and-out goal poacher, either. But he is one of those players who has the priceless ability of being able to conjure something out of nothing. I’ve stood in goal enough times to see the way he can put tremendous amounts of bend and dip on his shots that give you no chance whatsoever.
James is a tricky footballer and is always thinking that next step ahead of how to get past the person who is marking him. He isn’t an out and out winger but if he plays down the centre he will produce the goods. I was delighted for him at the weekend and hopefully he will come on tremendously now. Missing a chunk of pre-season was far from ideal, but the 90 minutes on Saturday on the back of a 45-minute run out for Scotland should benefit him. His was one of the highlights of a performance that deserved a point against a side who will be challenging us for a top six position later in the season. Blackburn are a quality outfit who will be winning more often than they lose. Obviously, you want a maximum return from your home games but a draw with Blackburn is not the worst result in the world by any means. They are incredibly difficult to play against and after being a goal down, you would settle for a point.
Had Tim Howard not made such a terrific save from David Dunn, it might well have been a different outcome. But, thanks to Faddy, there was a relatively happy ending. Hopefully, that goal and performance will be the making of him.
Joe has top talent to seeoff Anelka
HAVING made a sound start to the season, Everton travel to the Reebok Stadium this weekend where one of the most enigmatic strikers will be lying in wait.
Unless something dramatic happens, Nicolas Anelka is likely to be a Bolton Wanderers player on Saturday and if that is the case, one of two things should happen – he will either go missing or be primed for a starring role. He looked sensational at times against Reading last weekend but, to me, it was as if he was playing for a move. Such a shame. He’s got a fantastic talent and if he used it consistently, we could be talking about one of the best strikers in the world. That said, Everton have a player who is more than capable of holding his own against Anelka. Nothing seems to phase Joseph Yobo and he is perfectly suited to dealing with a player in Anelka’s mould.
Strong, quick, great in the air, Joe has everything and sometimes it is as if he finds life in the Premiership too easy, which may seem strange to say. He has such tremendous talent and it now seems as if he has stopped those lapses in concentration.
David Moyes used to be always on his back about not switching off, as I did when I played behind. I’m sure Tim Howard is the same now. But if he keeps progressing, he can go to the top. That’s why dealing with Anelka won’t phase him at all.
Anfield will echo to sound of Z-Cars
Aug 28 2007 by Tony Barrett and Mary Murtagh, Liverpool Echo
LIVERPOOL Football Club will today pay Rhys Jones the ultimate tribute by playing the murdered youngster’s beloved Everton anthem at Anfield. The Z-Cars theme tune “Johnny Todd” – which traditionally heralds the Blues’ arrival on to the Goodison Park pitch – will be played prior to You’ll Never Walk Alone before Liverpool’s Champions League match with Toulouse. Liverpool chiefs made the unprecedented move after being inundated with requests from Reds fans who wanted to mark the 11-year-old’s death and show solidarity with his family. Chief executive Rick Parry made contact with the Jones family who informed him they would be delighted if the club were to stage such a unique tribute. Rhys’s parents, Stephen and Melanie, will be at Anfield for what is sure to be an emotional occasion and both are expected to wear Everton colours in memory of their son. Today, Rhys’s uncle, Neil Jones, told the ECHO the couple were overwhelmed by the idea of such a show of solidarity from Everton’s historic rivals. He said: “When I told them about the proposed tribute at Anfield, Melanie said playing Johnny Todd at Anfield would be a unique event, a complete one-off, just like Rhys, and a fitting tribute to him as it was his favourite tune. “She's also pretty sure he'll have a little mischievous grin on his face at the thought of being the cause of it.” After the two songs, there will be a minute’s applause and the Liverpool players will wear black arm bands in memory of Rhys.
The idea for Johnny Todd being played at Anfield came from ECHO feature writer Tony Barrett who put it forward on his blog on the newspaper website the day after Rhys was tragically killed. The idea was picked up by numerous Liverpool fans who contacted the club to appeal for it to be acted upon. Chief executive Rick Parry got in touch with the Jones family to discuss the proposal.
YAKUBU DEAL COMPLETED
29th August 2007
Everton have sealed a club record £11.25m deal to bring Nigeria striker Ayegbeni Yakubu to Goodison Park after winning their appeal for a work permit. The Toffees agreed the terms of the transfer with both the player and Middlesbrough a week ago, but his move to Merseyside was delayed when the Home Office refused to grant the former Portsmouth star the necessary paperwork. Yakubu failed to meet the government department's criteria for international appearances over the last two years, but, after an appeal hearing in Sheffield, the Home Office agreed to relent, allowing the deal to go through, and Yakubu has signed a five-year contract. The 24-year-old becomes Everton's record signing, outstripping the £8.6m manager David Moyes agreed to pay Crystal Palace last summer for Andrew Johnson, and he could now make his debut at Bolton this weekend. Yakubu told evertonTV: "I am happy to be here. It is a great feeling to come over and meet a lot of good players and see the spirit that they have. "I have always said I want to play for a club that plays in Europe, and I think they have the ambition to move forward and they want to finish in the first four and the Champions League and UEFA Cup and for me that is my dream. "I know there is a long way to go and I want to be part of that - to be successful and to have that dream." Yakubu revealed that Boro's failure to build on their run to the UEFA Cup final in 2005-06 was a major factor in his deciding to quit the Riverside. "I chose to go to Middlesbrough because they were in Europe. At the moment they are not doing it," he added. "I think I made the right decision to come to this place. It is a massive club and it is a great feeling. There are great players and you want to play for a big club."
Steve Staunton recalls Lee Carsley to Irish national squad
Aug 29 2007
by Ian Parkes, Liverpool Daily Post
EVERTON midfielder Lee Carsley has been recalled to the Ireland squad for their next two European Championship qualifiers after being left out of last week’s friendly against Denmark. Republic of Ireland manager Steve Staunton insists his side cannot afford to lose either of the games next month if they are to qualify for the finals. Staunton yesterday named a 25-man squad for the Group D games against Slovakia in Bratislava on September 8 and the Czech Republic in Prague four days later. Behind runaway leaders Germany, the runner-up spot in the group is a battle between the Czechs, Ireland and the Slovakians. With all three teams having five matches to play, the Czechs are a point clear of Staunton’s Republic, who are a further four ahead of Slovakia. “I’ve said since the start this September would be crucial due to two away games coming together, and the group is very tight now,” said Staunton. “We know all about the Czechs, and the Slovakians we’ve had watched for the past 18 months. “Since they changed the manager they’ve a younger squad together, athletic and strong, which we saw in Dublin. “They’re a useful outfit – they may even be better than the Czechs at this point – and to stay on course we can’t afford to be beaten by them. “If they do, it puts them right in there and would put us under real pressure to beat the Czechs. “Ideally, we can’t afford to lose either game.” After missing last week’s 4-0 win over Denmark in Aarhus with a groin injury, vice-captain and goalkeeper Shay Given returns to the squad. Staunton is fully expecting the Newcastle star to be available, adding: “Shay has been training since last Monday and doing very well. “He was on the bench against Middlesbrough on Sunday, so I don’t expect any problems, but you never know. Hopefully he’ll come through the next week or so. If he plays or not will be down to Sam Allardyce at Newcastle, but if he doesn’t then there’s no harm done. Despite the scoreline in Denmark, Staunton was still far from happy with some aspects of his team’s performance. “The Danish result was great, but so long as the players don’t get carried away,” insisted Staunton. “We could have been 2-0 down in the first 20 minutes of the game because we weren’t closing down properly and getting at them quickly enough. “The defenders and the keeper did their bit, and then after that we played well and scored some very good goals before ending the game quite sloppily.”
David Moyes steps up search for midfielder
Aug 29 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES was today ready to step up his efforts to recruit another midfielder – as Everton expected to receive the green light to make Aiyegbeni Yakubu their record signing. With Manuel Fernandes surprisingly opting to join Valencia over the weekend, the Everton manager is anxious to bring in another body and is pursuing a number of options. A move for Johann Vogel – who was on the verge of moving to Goodison Park last month – could be resurrected, while Fulham’s Papa Bouba Diop is another under consideration. Fulham boss Lawrie Sanchez has told the Senegal international he is free to leave Craven Cottage and would command a fee in the region of £3m. Nicknamed ‘The Wardrobe’, Bouba Diop would add a physical presence and height to Everton’s midfield and has made it clear he would welcome a move to a club competing in Europe. A number of other options are also being explored – though Bolton Wanderer’s captain Kevin Nolan is not among them – and Goodison officials are hopeful that something can be done before the transfer window closes on Friday night. One man who should be in before then is Yakubu, whose appeal against the rejection of a work permit was being heard in Sheffield this morning after his initial application was turned down. The 24-year-old did not meet the necessary criteria of international appearances, as he had missed a number of Nigeria’s games following a fall out with Austin Eguavoen, who coached the Super Eagles before Berti Vogts. But as Yakubu has played in England since 2003, Everton do not anticipate any problems and – if all goes to plan – he could be in line to make his debut in this Saturday’s game against Bolton. His imminent arrival will increase competition for places up front and Moyes expects it to bring the best out of Andrew Johnson, who is still looking to break his duck for the season. The England international has not scored since his winning goal against Arsenal on March 18 but Moyes believes once he gets that elusive first, his tally will tick over as frequently as it did at this stage 12 months ago. “You have to remember that Andy finished last season with an injury and maybe it will take him a few more weeks to get up to full fitness,” Moyes said today. “But we don’t have any worries about Andy. We are pleased with him and his all round play has been good.”
Rhys has reunited Reds and Blues fans
Aug 29 2007 by Tony Barrett, Liverpool Echo
Tony Barrett on an emotional night which united Reds and Blues for the sake of Rhys Jones THE theme from Z Cars – a tune Liverpool fans usually do their best to drown out when they are at Goodison Park. A song that is as associated with Everton as You’ll Never Walk Alone is with Liverpool. But last night it brought a city together, succeeding in doing something so many of us had forgotten could actually happen – it united Reds and Blues. Not since 1989 and the aftermath of Hillsborough has such a display of city unity taken place. The only sore point is that it took another tragedy to do it. The death of 11-year-old Rhys Jones has touched everyone on Merseyside. In four days we have seen more than 75,000 football fans at Anfield and Goodison put on the most poignant displays of solidarity with the youngster’s family it is possible to imagine. Last night’s events, though, were almost unimaginable.
When the idea to play Johnny Todd at Anfield was first put forward there were those who, quite understandably, said it would never happen. Even when Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry courageously agreed to allow it to go ahead the critics argued it would fall flat or be spoiled by the odd mindless idiot in a crowd of thousands.
But from the moment Rhys’s parents Stephen and Melanie and big brother Owen stepped onto the Anfield turf, proudly wearing their Everton colours, to the moment they departed with a hug from Rafa Benitez, they were on the receiving end of a show of love and affection which belied local football rivalries. The arrival of the Jones family pitchside was poignant in itself. Here were three people, clad in royal blue and from the “wrong side” of Stanley Park, venturing into the home of the “enemy”.
No doubt they were nervous about the reception that awaited them. But they need not have worried because no place in this country – and maybe even beyond – pulls together like Merseyside does at a time of tragedy and so it proved once again last night. When former Reds star Brian Hall announced the Z Cars theme would be played over the Anfield tannoy a huge round of applause erupted around the stadium.
At that point any doubts that this was the right thing to do evaporated.
This wasn’t a time for division and it certainly wasn’t the time for misplaced rivalry – it was the time to show solidarity with a Liverpool family during their darkest and most difficult hour. As the opening bars of the stirring sea shanty sounded it signalled not the roar that usually greets it at Goodison, but a reverential hush which was only punctuated by the odd gulp or sigh as high emotion kicked in. The fact that this was Anfield on a European night, occasions when the stadium traditionally turns itself into a cauldron of noise, only served to make it even more poignant. Johnny Todd was faded out and You’ll Never Walk Alone kicked in, another song which divides Merseyside along football lines and which Evertonians enjoy about as much as a derby day defeat. But here it was a unifying force, sung as much (if not more so) for the three dressed in blue than it was for the 11 men dressed in red. Voices creaked with emotion on the Kop but the feeling was clearly there. It was so raw many minds were cast back to 1989 when Everton fans on the Gwladys Street joined in with Gerry Marsden’s most famous hit in tribute to the 96 people who went to an FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough and never came home. The solidarity shown at that time was unforgettable as red and blue came together as one in a show of civic unity which many thought to be a one-off. Last night proved it was by no means unique, and there was even a nod to those days when a section of the Kop chanted “Merseyside, Merseyside” - just as supporters of both clubs had done on several occasions in the 1980s. In death little Rhys Jones has achieved something so incredible that it will never, ever be forgotten – he has united Merseyside once again. As his mother suggested Rhys would last night have been looking down and smiling in the knowledge that he was the reason why Z Cars was being played at Anfield. Enjoy the moment, little fella.
GRAVESEN BACK AT GOODISON
30th August 2007
Thomas Gravesen has returned to Everton just over two years after his shock move to Real Madrid. The 31-year-old has been signed on a year-long loan from Celtic and is clearly the midfield re-enforcement manager David Moyes wanted after his attempts to sign Manuel Fernandes from Benfica collapsed at the weekend. Gravesen has been out of favour at Celtic for some time and the subject of transfer speculation involving Sheffield United and Fulham this summer. The Denmark international first moved to Everton from Hamburg for £2.5million but with his contract due to expire in the summer of 2005, Everton sold the player to Real Madrid for £2.5million in the January of that year. But now he is back on Merseyside, where he became a cult figure among Toffees fans. He said: "I am really looking forward to coming back to Everton, it is a chance to play top-flight football in the Premier League again."
Gravesen moved to Celtic in 2006, where he has had a chequered time, and he has not figured in any of their matches this season.
Aug 30 2007
How do you feel about Everton's start to the season?
TWO wins, one draw and a defeat for us so far, but I do believe we could have done a lot better in both the Reading and Blackburn games. David Moyes must look to strengthen our small squad by tomorrow's transfer deadline, especially after the Fernandes debacle. A central midfielder, following Yakubu’s signing, is a must if we are to stand any chance of winning some silverware. With Bolton and Manchester United next up, I'm sure most fans would take four points out of those games. I'm pleased with Leighton Baines so far and I'm happy with Yobo and Lescott as our centre halves, with Stubbs providing experienced support. But I'm not to sure about Tony Hibbert at right back any more. His confidence seems really low and I would put Phil Neville in ahead of him. I'm impressed with Jagielka in the middle and would like to see an attacking midfielder alongside him. Andy Johnson is crying out for help up front and hopefully Yakubu can give him that. Again I must emphasise the importance of our board pulling something out the fire because a lot of fans are losing patience with Bill and Keith. TONY SCOTT, Walton
SATURDAY’S performance aside, the start to the season has had some encouraging signs.
After taking maximum points from our opening two fixtures, the Blackburn game was our opportunity to make up for the points dropped at Reading. The first half display against Blackburn reminded me of the Everton of 10 years ago, and the manager’s decision to drop Joleon Lescott to the bench continues to baffle me. Once he came on Lescott was one of the better performers, alongside Goodison debutants Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines. Phil Neville showed that his inability to pass the ball to another blue shirt is greater than ever, while Tony Hibbert continued to stake his claim for a place in the reserve team. To prevent another shambolic display like Saturday’s, I think that Moyes has to ‘bite the bullet’ and drop Neville from his holding role and use him at right-back. Jagielka can fill in the vacant midfield role alongside Lee Carsley. Fingers crossed that Yakubu, and the return of Tim Cahill, can resuscitate our good form.
COLE FRASER, Litherland WITH such a dominant three points won at Spurs, I wonder why Everton have been so poor in the other three games we have played so far. Seven points is a decent total from these four games, but the manner of performance, Spurs aside, doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence. The most worrying aspect seems to be the style of football. The succession of long balls pumped up to little AJ and McFadden is baffling, but also underlines a terrible lack of creativity in the centre of midfield. The collapse of the Fernandes deal is a huge letdown, and highlights that creative void even further, as well as leaving Moyes with limited time to find someone else. On a plus note, Jagielka and Baines made their first lengthy appearances on Saturday, and both looked bright prospects. Jagielka seems a promising successor to Carsley, while Baines is a fine full-back. So things are by no means perfect, but we are maybe just a central midfielder short of a good looking team. DEBBIE SMAJE, Upholland HAVING only played four games, seven points out of a possible 12 is a good start to the season. However, our performances at home this season will be key - they are must-win games if we are to maintain or even exceed last year’s position. Therefore, I find it a little negative that we have started our home games with two defensive midfielders when we should be all- out attack against teams such as Wigan and Blackburn and leave defensive tactics for away games. The Tottenham match proved this point. We have made three great signings so far, and with the addition of Yakubu we have a greater goal threat then we’ve had for a while. However, we need a player who plays the ball along the floor. After missing out on Fernandes, and with only a day or so left in the transfer window, it will be difficult for Moyes to find a long term replacement, especially with the demands of Europe. But I would rather see quality than quantity. MICHAEL DRUMMOND, Speke
Yakubu signs for Everton - but the search goes on
Aug 30 2007
by Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily Post
EVERTON yesterday finally completed the club record £11.25million transfer of Ayegbeni Yakubu from Middlesbrough – then stepped up their race to sign a new midfielder before tomorrow’s transfer deadline. Yakubu has put pen to paper on a five-year deal after being granted a work permit following a hearing in Sheffield yesterday. The 24-year-old forward’s initial application was automatically rejected because he had not figured in the required 75% of Nigeria’s internationals in the last two years after a falling out with a previous coach. But, as expected, Everton successfully argued their case for Yakubu to be granted a new permit given he has been plying his trade in the Premier League with Portsmouth and then Middlesbrough since January 2003. Yakubu becomes Everton’s record signing, surpassing the £8.6million they splashed out to sign Andrew Johnson from Crystal Palace last summer. And the forward reveals the lure of competing for Champions League qualification convinced him to swap the Riverside for Goodison. “I am happy to be here,” said Yakubu. “It is a great feeling to meet a lot of good players and see the spirit that they have.“I have always said that I want to play for a club that plays in Europe and I think they have the ambition to move forward.
“They want to finish in the first four and the Champions League and play in the UEFA Cup, and for me that is my dream. I know there is a long way to go and I want to be part of that, to be successful and to have that dream. “I chose to go to Middlesbrough because they were in Europe. “At the moment they are not doing it. I think I made the right decision to come to this place. It is a massive club and it is a great feeling. “There are great players and you want to play for a big club.” Everton manager David Moyes expressed his delight at finally capturing his fourth major signing of the summer, with Yakubu having netted 78 goals in 195 appearances since moving to England. “He has a very good goal scoring record in the Premier League and he also offers strength and power,” he said. “We hope he continues his good scoring record with us. “We have some good strikers in our squad already and he adds further depth and quality to our squad.” Only Thierry Henry has scored more Premier League goals than Yakubu over the past four years, who could forge a £20million strike partnership with Johnson for Saturday’s trip to Bolton Wanderers. Moyes hopes to have also brought in a new midfielder by then after Manuel Fernandes opted to join Valencia instead earlier this week. With the transfer window closing tomorrow for four months, Everton are pursuing a number of options, including Fulham’s Papa Bouba Diop and Stephen Appiah of Fenerbahce. Diop, a 29-year-old Senegal international, is keen to depart Craven Cottage and has been told by manager Lawrie Sanchez he can leave for a fee of around £3million. Everton are believed to have made an enquiry for Appiah and been told the 26-year-old Ghana international is not for sale. However, they won’t be deterred as the player is desperate for a move to England and is also being tracked by West Ham United. Moyes is also exploring a number of other options, although a fresh move for Swiss international Johann Vogel of Real Betis is considered highly unlikely. Meanwhile, both Yakubu and Victor Anichebe have been called up by Nigeria for their final African Cup of Nations qualifier against Lesotho on September 8.
Aug 2007 – Aiyegbeni Yakubu £11.25m from Middlesbrough
May 2006 – Andrew Johnson £8.6m from Crystal Palace
Jan 2005 – James Beattie £6m from Southampton
Nov 1996 – Nick Barmby £5.75m from Middlesbrough
Aug 1995 – Andrei Kanchelskis £5m from Manchester United
Dec 1994 – Duncan Ferguson £4m from Rangers
Aug 1994 – Daniel Amokachi £3m from Bruges
Jul 1988 – Tony Cottee £2.2m from West Ham United
Jul 1985 – Gary Lineker £800,000 from Leicester City
Jan 1982 – Adrian Heath £700,000 from Stoke City
Oct 1979 – John Gidman £650,000 from Aston Villa
Aug 1979 – Asa Hartford £500,000 from Nottingham Forest
Feb 1974 – Bob Latchford £350,000 from Birmingham City
Dec 1972 – Joe Harper £180,000 from Aberdeen
Oct 1970 – Henry Newton £150,000 from Nottingham Forest
Aug 1966 – Alan Ball £110,000 from Blackpool
Mar 1964 – Fred Pickering £85,000 from Blackburn Rovers
Dec 1962 – Tony Kay £55,000 from Sheffield Wednesday
Nov 1960 – Alex Young £40,000 from Hearts
Mar 1960 – Jimmy Gabriel £30,000 from Dundee
Feb 1960 – Roy Vernon £27,000 from Blackburn Rovers
Sep 1958 – Bobby Collins £23,500 from Celtic
Oct 1950 – Harry Potts £20,000 from Burnley
Jul 1948 – Aubrey Powell £10,000 from Leeds United
David Moyes: Yakubu can repay us in goals
Aug 30 2007
by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES believes Aiyegbeni Yakubu will prove himself to be an £11.25 million bargain if he maintains his outstanding goals to games record for Everton. The Blues boss smashed the club transfer record for the third time since January 2005 yesterday when the Nigeria international finally completed his move from Middlesbrough. Having been allotted the most famous jersey in the club’s history – number nine – and after signing a five-year deal, Yakubu immediately set his sights on helping Everton make the leap from the top six into the top four by becoming the elusive “20-goal a season man”. Only Thierry Henry has scored more goals in the Premier League during the past four years and if Yakubu shows the form that made him such a success at the Riverside – and for Portsmouth – Moyes feels his transfer fee will become a snip. “You would not expect to get a striker with his record for the price that we have paid and hopefully that will look good business if he keeps going as the way he has been,” Moyes said today. “In today’s market, it is a massive price for some other people but we have never really been big spenders but what we have tried to do is improve the squad whenever the right players have become available. “We might have relied a bit too much on AJ and Tim Cahill at different times and we hope he can take some of the pressure off them.” Yakubu trained for the first time with his new team-mates this morning and he could be in line to make his debut alongside Johnson when Everton face Bolton at The Reebok on Saturday. “Most people know a lot about him already but we are delighted to have him,” Moyes continued. “He has done extremely well for someone so young in the Premier League and, given his age, we hope that improves again during his time with us. “He will give us strength and pace up front and other options. “We want to be playing a lot of games this season and AJ and Yakubu will have their parts to play for us. But we have other people who can play up front as well.” Moyes is now hoping to bring in another midfielder before the transfer window closes tomorrow night and a number of options are being explored, among them Ghana’s captain Steven Appiah. Blues chairman Bill Kenwright said today: “We are totally committed to supporting David to make the kind of signings that he believes are necessary to take our club forward.”
Gravesen poised to re-sign for Blues
Aug 30 2007 EXCLUSIVE by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
THOMAS GRAVESEN is on the verge of making a sensational return to Goodison Park. With David Moyes anxious to bring in a midfielder before the transfer window closes tomorrow evening, he has explored a number of options and it is understood that Gravesen is at the top of his list of candidates. The Denmark international was first joined Everton in the summer of 2000 from SV Hamburg and went on to become a cult figure during his five years at the club, making 155 appearances before he moved to Real Madrid in January 2005. His spell at the Bernabeu, however, did not go according to plan and, frustrated by a lack of opportunities, he joined Celtic 12 months ago and helped the Bhoys retain their SPL title. But Gravesen has not started a match for Celtic this season and has been told by Gordon Strachan that he is free to find another club, which has alerted Moyes, who last week saw top target Manuel Fernandes move to Valencia. Sheffield United and Manchester City have also made enquiries about the 31-year-old but it is looking increasingly likely that Gravesen will put pen-to-paper on a deal and was set to have a medical on Merseyside this evening.
Though some regard Gravesen as a maverick, there is no question that he has ability and with Moyes making no secret of the fact that he wants to recruit another ball playing midfielder, he fit’s the bill. We need someone who can pick out a pass,” Moyes noted after last Saturday‘s 1-1 draw with Blackburn Rovers. “We are trying to do something about it.” Ghana’s captain Stephen Appiah - who missed Fenerbahce’s Champions League qualifier last night - has also been mentioned as a possible target but a move for him is now looking increasingly unlikely.
Yakubu’s arrival shows we mean business - Phil Neville
Aug 30 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
“I always believe if you put someone in charge, you must support them. We have always got to be looking to reach that little bit further” - Bill Kenwright, March 15 2007. THERE have been times during this turbulent summer when some Evertonians, aware that a number of their rivals were spending cash as if it were going out of fashion, wondered if their beloved club would go the extra mile to recruit new players. But, as was the case when David Moyes went to Kenwright with the names of James Beattie in January 2005 and Andrew Johnson 18 months later, once again the board has dug deep to ensure Everton do not get left behind. Having had his application for a work permit approved, Aiyegbeni Yakubu officially became the most expensive signing in Everton’s history yesterday afternoon and it was a move welcomed as much in the dressing room as it was among supporters. Although there is no question that Phil Jagielka, Leighton Baines and Steven Pienaar are all improvements to a squad that booked a return to European football in May, it was inescapable that the Blues needed to make a signing that would place their rivals on edge. Captain Phil Neville has watched events unfold this summer as keenly as those who travel in their thousands to watch Everton home and away every week and he feels the £11.25m it has taken to land Yakubu should now finally settle a few nerves.
With Kenwright and company going “that little bit further” to do the deal for Yakubu, few could dispute that Moyes has put together the best Everton squad in a decade. But, as Neville knows only too well, with that comes expectation. As the chairman has backed his manager, now the players must do likewise by getting results on the pitch. But Neville feels that task will be made a lot easier now they have a player who scores goals with a monotonous regularity. “It is a massive statement of intent and every Evertonian must be excited by his arrival,” said Neville. “He is a top class striker, proven at the highest level and his ratio of goals in the Premier League these last few years has been up with the very best. “I’ve no doubts that he will fit in superbly here and I’m sure he will give our attack an extra dimension. It is just the type of signing that we needed to make to show everyone that we mean business.
“Each summer, you hear people ask the same questions: Will they make the next step up? Do they have the ambition to do it? Can they raise the bar? Well, in my opinion, this should answer any questions people have had of us in no uncertain terms.
“I know our fans were worried earlier in the summer when they saw other clubs going out and paying big money for players and, to some extent, we (the players) were wondering what was going to happen, too. “But this signing shows that we want to take the next step. Last year, the club paid big money for Andrew Johnson and now they have done it again. Even in this day and age, £11.25m is a massive fee.
“The squad now is in terrific shape and we are going to need more players with Europe coming up. Everything is in place for us to be successful but now we have got to go and do it out on the pitch.” As only Thierry Henry has scored more goals in the Premier League than Yakubu in the past four years, it is hard to knock the 24-year-old’s pedigree and Neville is well aware of the damage he can do to opposition defences. The first time their respective paths crossed during a Champions League group game in Nicosia in October 2002 and Neville – then a Manchester United player – needs little reminding of the outcome. Maccabi Haifa won 3-0 and Yakubu capped a terrific display with a penalty. Shortly after that game, Yakubu arrived in England and he has continued to torment Neville occasionally since, so it is little surprise that the Blues skipper is breathing a sigh of relief now they are going to be colleagues. “The biggest compliment I can pay him is that he was the type of player I really did not like playing against,” said Neville. “You knew from the first moment that you would face a torrid time against him. “He is strong, quick and always threatens to score. “This club has a proud tradition when it comes to centre forwards and hopefully he can uphold that. He is the type of player who can excite the crowd and I’m sure he will do that in the next few years. Hopefully, he will be part of a successful team.” For his part, Everton’s new number nine is sure he has made the right decision to leave Middlesbrough and with the prospect of a European campaign on the horizon – the UEFA Cup draw takes place tomorrow – Yakubu can’t wait to get going. “I am happy to be here. “ It is a great feeling to come over and meet a lot of good players and see the spirit that they have,” said a man who averaged a goal every three games at the Riverside. “I have always said that I want to play for a club that plays in Europe. “I think they have the ambition to move forward and they want to finish in the first four and the Champions League and UEFA Cup and for me that is my dream. “I know there is a long way to go and I want to be part of that– to be successful and to have that dream. I think I made the right decision to come to this place. It is a massive club and it is a great feeling.”
John Thompson: A gesture which restores faith in human nature
Aug 30 2007 by John Thompson, Liverpool Echo
IT WAS a gesture which will go down in Merseyside football history. But let’s also hope it is a landmark moment with a lasting local legacy. Because when football restores your faith in human nature, you know something pretty special has happened.
Special because it was, in fact, quite ordinary. Everyone has been instinctively horrified by the murder of Rhys Jones. Everyone naturally wants to send a message to his family and help support them amid their deep shock and grief. This city’s football stadiums were always likely to be the congregational points for that to happen en masse. But when one of those locations was the sacred ground of an opposing faith, it was never going to be quite that simple in practice. Hence the look on the faces of the Jones family as, clad in their Everton colours, they stood nervously on the touchline at Anfield on Tuesday clearly wondering just what was about to happen. The spontaneous, loud applause which then somehow brought a smile to the face of brave Melanie Jones was a moment too touching for words. But it spoke volumes in itself.
Everton and Liverpool Football Clubs are two halves of the same city, a city united in a common shock this past eight days. Of course the ultimate gesture must be for politicians and people in Liverpool - and beyond - to actually start tackling the source of the dreadful social breakdown which saw a little boy gunned down in the street.
But for now, the city’s football clubs and their supporters are speaking for us all. And making everyone immensely proud of them for doing so. All traces of the enmity which has surfaced at too many derby matches for the past decade or so have suddenly been hurled to the sidelines where they belong. Let’s all hope they now stay there for good. Because those who mock the old derby spirit which once almost defined the city of Liverpool are both cynical and wrong. The burning passion has always been there with Merseyside’s two great Premiership clubs, on and off the pitch.
But during the sixties, seventies and eighties it was generally accompanied by a real sense of decency and perspective - and sharp humour too. They actually were days when reds and blues mingled in the same sections of each other’s grounds, when they travelled together to games and shared the same pubs afterwards. The chants and the banter would flow as freely as the beer. But it was nearly always more fun, win or lose. And simply just better behaved. This week’s gesture from Liverpool Football Club and its supporters now mirrors that sent by Evertonians in the aftermath of the Hillsborough Disaster - a time when Manchester United fans too travelled into Liverpool to show their support and empathy. No one wants the game we all love to go soft, or for the fiery nature of the competition ever to be diluted. But we must all demand that decency and respect prevail amid the vagaries of derby day fortune.
When you hear the Blues signature tune Z Cars being played at Anfield, when you see the Kop clearly aiming its famous anthem towards a family of Evertonians in their darkest hour, with its sentiments obviously appreciated, you can’t help but hope everyone has now stepped well back over a line that should never have been crossed by some in the first place.
Man United Res 1, Everton Res 0
Aug 31 2007
Liverpool Daily Post
EVERTON Reserves lost their opening FA Premier Reserve League fixture of the season after a late Febrian Brandy goal gave Manchester United a 1-0 victory at Northwich Victoria last night. Andy Holden’s side deserved more from the match and suffered due to some controversial refereeing decisions Everton thought they had taken the lead in the eighth minute when John Paul Kissock’s cross was headed home Kieran Agard, but the referee’s assistant ruled that the ball had crossed the goal-line before Kissock had centred. Midfielder Steven Morrison was unlucky with a 25-yard free-kick after Kissock had been brought down. United had chances to open the scoring themselves but Fraizer Campbell fired over after Lee Martin’s initial shot had been blocked.United were on top for most the of the second half, but every time the defence was breached goalkeeper John Ruddy was on hand.He saved superbly from Darron Gibson and also Campbell.But with six minutes remaining Ruddy could only parry Sean Evans’s drive and substitute Brandy, on for Dong Fangzhou, turned in from close range.EVERTON RESERVES: Ruddy; Densmore, Dennehy, Boyle, Irving; Vidarsson, Morrison, Harpur (Krenn 74), Kissock, Jutkiewicz (Downes 83), Agard. Subs: Jones, Spencer, Sinnott, Barnett.
Thomas Gravesen in shock return to Everton
Aug 31 2007
by Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily Post
THOMAS GRAVESEN made a dramatic return to Everton last night – with David Moyes still keen on signing another midfielder before the transfer window slams shut this evening. Gravesen has signed on loan until the end of the season from Scottish Premier League side Celtic almost three years after leaving Goodison to play for Real Madrid. The 31-year-old spent five years at Everton prior to his £2.5million move to the Bernabeu in January 2005. Gravesen becomes Moyes’s fifth major signing of the summer following Phil Jagielka, Steven Pienaar, Leighton Baines and club record arrival Ayegbeni Yakubu. And the Denmark international said: “I have always said I would never want to come back to any other club in England other than Everton – I am an Everton player. “In my five years here we improved all the way and we ended on a high and that is what I want to achieve again. “This is a great feeling. I have been privileged to wear this shirt before but over the last few years Everton has improved a lot. “Some fantastic players have come into the squad now and I am definitely pleased to be here, that is for sure. It is always difficult to come back to a place but I hope it goes well. I will definitely do my part and for me, it is very important for me to prove after being given another chance in the blue shirt.” Gravesen made 155 appearances during his first spell on Merseyside after arriving from Hamburg in the summer of 2000, scoring 12 times and becoming a cult figure among the Everton faithful. But with his contract due to expire in the summer of 2005, he was sold to Real Madrid in the January of that year before moving on to Celtic 12 months ago. However, Gravesen has been out of favour in Glasgow for some time and was the subject of transfer speculation involving Sheffield United and Fulham this summer. Moyes was forced to make the surprise late move for the Dane after the collapse of the £12m deal for Manuel Fernandes earlier this week. And he is striving to bring in a big-money signing before the transfer deadline at midnight tonight, with Fenerbahce’s Ghana international Stephen Appiah still among a list of targets. “I’m hoping to have two more players in before the deadline, possibly two midfielders,” said Moyes yesterday before the deal for Gravesen was sealed. Meanwhile, Yakubu was officially unveiled at Bellefield yesterday following his £11.25m transfer from Middlesbrough. Delighted to finally have his man, Moyes is backing the 24-year-old to build on a goalscoring record that has seen the Nigerian net 78 goals in 195 appearances since moving to England and Portsmouth in January 2003. “We’ve got a relatively young player who is able to continue improving,” said the Goodison manager. “We know there are things he can do better, but I’ve found him a really nice boy in the time that he has been here. “He’s shown in the past that he can finish and we just have to make sure we give him the opportunities to do that. “It’s a big move for him and I feel it’s a step up for him. Hopefully he can show what he can do here.” Although having smashed the club transfer record for the third time since January 2005, Moyes believes Everton could have a comparative bargain in Yakubu, who is likely to make his debut at Bolton Wanderers tomorrow. “We are ambitious, but in this market and this transfer window I don’t think the money we’ve spent is awfully big,” he added. “If he continues his goalscoring record, then you have to say it’s a good price and his best years are still to come. “I know he hasn’t scored since February, but we hope that when he gets off the mark he can go on a run. He’s a forward a bit like that who can go on his runs of scoring.“We did not have a centre forward on our agenda but we lost Tim Cahill and James Vaughan through injury and sold James Beattie, so the whole situation changed. And to be fair to the board, they told me to go and get what I thought we needed.”
Everton face trip to Ukraine
Aug 31 2007
By Aaron Boland, icLiverpool
EVERTON will start their UEFA cup campaign at home against Ukrainian outfit FC Metalist Kharkiv.
The Ukranian side finished third in their country’s national league last season and could provide Everton with a tough start.
The first leg will take place at Goodison on the 20th September, with Everton facing the second leg in the Ukraine on the 6th of October. The Blues avoided an opening confrontation with Spanish side Villarreal who controversially knocked Everton out of the Champions League qualifiers two years ago, as both teams were seeded.Sammy Lee’s Bolton Wanderers will travel to Macedonia to face Rabotnicki for their opening game
Thomas Gravesen can bring magic back
Aug 31 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES today welcomed Thomas Gravesen back to Goodison Park and hopes he can recapture the magic of his first spell on Merseyside. The Denmark international, who made 155 appearances for Everton between July 2000 and January 2005, became Moyes’ sixth signing of the summer last night when he completed a 12-month loan deal from Glasgow Celtic. Though Moyes has until midnight if he wants to make any further additions to his squad, it is looking likely that Gravesen will be his last piece of business and the 31-year-old could be named in the squad for tomorrow’s trip to Bolton. Gravesen was a regular when he was initially at the club but, given the numbers Moyes now has at his disposal, he may have to play a bit part, yet the manager does not envisage that to be a problem, as the former Real Madrid midfielder jumped at the chance to return. And if Gravesen can recapture the swagger of his final six months at Goodison when he played an instrumental role in helping Everton finish in the top four, Moyes feels he will prove to be a smart acquisition.
“We have got Tommy back in, he will be a part of the squad and he knows the situation,” said Moyes. “We needed someone of his type, he is a good player. Things have changed since he was last here but he was happy to come back and we are delighted to have him. “I think Tommy has always had a good relationship with everyone here and even when he was at Real Madrid and Celtic, he kept in touch with a lot of people, so when we went in for him it was easy to say ‘yes’. “There were other clubs in the Premier League who wanted him but he only wanted to come back here. We have got a good side and he will be an important member of the squad. Hopefully he will make a good contribution. “We’ll have to wait and see how he is in training before we make a decision but he hasn’t been injured and if he does okay, then there is a chance he will be in the squad for the game against Bolton. Nothing has been decided yet.” The Blues, meanwhile, were set to discover the identity of the side they will face in the UEFA Cup first round this afternoon. Standard Liege (Belgium), FC Sion (Switzerland), Leiria (Portugal), Metalist Kharkiv (Ukraine) and BATE Borisov (Belarus) were possible opponents.
Yakubu: Goals are my game
Aug 31 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
NOT many players turn down the chance to don the shirt made famous by Dean, Lawton, Royle and Sharp, but there is method to Aiyegbeni Yakubu’s madness.
Some of the greatest players in Everton’s rich history have worn the number nine jersey, buccaneering centre forwards whose exploits in front of goal ensure they still get talked about today. Yet Yakubu, whose £11.25m transfer from Middlesbrough on Wednesday created a little niche for him in Goodison’s annals as the most expensive signing ever made, has decided to go for number 22. Why? The reason is simple. The Nigerian international has faith that he will score goals as frequently as some of his illustrious predecessors, but the sight of “two little ducks” on his back will keep him on his toes. A staggering 15 years have passed since an Evertonian broke through the 20 barrier – Peter Beardsley managed the feat in 1992 – but Yakubu is ready to change all that and will be spurred on by his constant reminder. “I knew number nine was available but I asked for number 20,” said a man who has only been outscored in the past four seasons by Thierry Henry. “It had gone already, so they were going to then give me number 10. I didn’t want that. I wanted a big number. “I want to score that many goals. I like the number, it is good. If I wear that number, I think I can do that (score 22 goals). I would love to do that. Should it have been 99 instead? I don’t know about that!” Cue fits of laughter. While Yakubu may be all pace, power and raw aggression on the pitch, away from football he is quite the opposite. Softly spoken and courteous, he eschews the limelight and likes to relax by watching Bruce Willis DVDs. That serene approach to life, however, does not disguise the fact that he is fiercely ambitious and, having plied his trade with Portsmouth and Middlesbrough, the 25-year-old feels he now has the perfect stage for his talents. Endless conversations with Joseph Yobo on international trips had alerted him to Everton’s ambitions to become a force in the Premier League, as well as European regulars, and that struck a chord with a man who is originally from Benin City. So, as the dust starts to settle on his move from Teesside, Yakubu knows the onus on him to start repaying that transfer fee quickly. But he thinks that task will be made a lot easier, given the attitude, ability and application of his new colleagues. “This is a big step for me,” said Yakubu, whose path to the top began when he scored seven goals in eight Champions League games for Maccabi Haifa in 2002. “Joe has always talked to me about the direction of the club, even when we were back at home. “They want to achieve something here and that is my dream, you know? I want to be a part of a club that achieves something special. Joe did a lot of talk but I knew whenever I played against him that Everton are a hard team, a good team. “They are difficult to play against and I am lucky to be here. I believe in myself and I want to score a lot of goals. If a striker can score 20 goals, it means he has had a great season and this is what I want to do.
“In partnership with AJ, I think we can do that. I need to work hard, though, just like the players do here. Everton have always been a hard working team, with players who want to win for each other. They are all quality players. “Everyone here is so determined to win. I think I am fit enough to play against Bolton but that is up to the manager. I had a great partnership with Mark Viduka at Middlesbrough but I think if I work hard with AJ, we can do the same.” Blues boss David Moyes has given no indication whether Yakubu will be handed his eagerly-awaited debut at the Reebok Stadium tomorrow, but even if he has to wait he has no doubts that his decision to move to Merseyside is the right one. The one thing he is impatient for, however, is the opportunity to end a sequence that has been gnawing away at him; for someone who has a reputation for being a peerless finisher, it is surprising that his last Premier League goal came on February 24. That was against Reading. But a change of scenery could be just what Yakubu needs to awaken his killer instinct again and he can’t wait to get cracking. After all, he has a big target to aim for. “There was a lot of speculation going around and people were asking ‘Is he going? Is he staying?’ but now it is done,” said Yakubu. “I am just looking forward to getting going as this is the start of a new season for me. It’s a new challenge. “They have spent a lot of money to sign a striker and you have to work hard to impress. I am used to the pressure. Almost all my life I have had the pressure of being a striker. You need to score goals and help your team. I am up for the challenge. “I have played for six or seven years as a professional but I have never been through a spell of not scoring a goal for two months. I wasn’t happy towards the end at Middlesbrough but I am happy now. I hope it will be a good season for everyone.”
Howard Kendall: Fernandes deal a lucky escape?
Aug 31 2007 by Howard Kendall, Liverpool Echo
SO the week has ended with Everton parading a new club record signing and the squad is now in good shape for the challenges that lie ahead in the coming weeks and months. Aiyegbeni Yakubu’s arrival is great news, yet some will wonder what might have happened if Manuel Fernandes had decided to put pen-to-paper last weekend, rather than jump ship for Valencia in the most startling manner. While there was no doubting he has talent, I don’t think the midfielder had done enough for Everton to smash their transfer record for him. Yes, he is a good player and David Moyes obviously saw what he could give to the side, day in and day out at Bellefield.
But, in a couple of years, he might just realise that it was a lucky escape.
If Fernandes didn’t want to play for the club - which is looking more and more obvious - don’t shed a tear over him. You need committed players, if you want to be successful. Put it this way, do you really think it took a day to arrange a £12.25m transfer to Valencia? Exactly. It’s quite obvious that his agents have been in talks with other clubs while Fernandes was training with Everton, looking to get the best possible deal for themselves and their player. In many ways, he reminds me of a player who Everton will come up against tomorrow. With the transfer window open, was it any surprise that Nicolas Anelka started the season in blistering form?
Draw your own conclusions. When he is in the mood, there is no doubting that Anelka is one of the best in the business and he will represent a threat to Everton’s ambitions at The Reebok, but I think it was a blessing in disguise that Bolton got their first win of the campaign last week. I was pleased for Sammy Lee that he was able to relieve some of the pressure on his shoulders with that victory over Reading, as he is a great little character and I sincerely hope that he makes a success of things there.
It will take time for him to get things just how he wants them but Everton might be able to take advantage; in the past you had to win a war of attrition when you went to The Reebok but Sammy’s approach to football is more subtle than Sam Allardyce’s.
As that is the case, I don’t think Everton should be overly worried about tackling Bolton. While I expect them to be challenging the Blues for a place in the top six, they are not world beaters by any means and, all being well, the sound start to the season can continue.
City ace Ball has shown the perfect attitude
LEIGHTON BAINES made an impressive start to his Everton career last weekend, but another left-back not too far from here has caught my eye lots of times since the start of the season. Michael Ball has resurrected his career at Manchester City and, whenever I have seen him recently, he’s looked very comfortable, no matter who he has been up against. He’s got a contract and it’s no surprise he has settled down.
People might have doubted his fitness but he has come back strongly and it’s great to see him and Richard Dunne doing so well. They might have strayed off a right line at times when they were kids but have matured now and learned from their mistakes.
He has got all the talent in the world and he will continue to be an asset for City - and Baines can do the same for Everton. Quick, strong in the tackle and blessed with the ability to deliver a great cross, there will be plenty more to come from him once he settles in.
David Prentice: Building bridges out of a tragedy
Aug 31 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
I DEARLY hope little Rhys Jones was looking down with a mischievous grin on his face. And I hope he continues to look down proudly. Because the message which stemmed from Tuesday’s magnificent gesture by Liverpool Football Club and its fans was one of hope. Hope that the atmosphere which has soured relations between Everton and Liverpool fans since the 1990s can be restored. Liverpool’s reaction to Z-Cars being played at Anfield was generous, moving and magnificent.
It was the same, 18 years ago, when Evertonians sang You’ll Never Walk Alone at Goodison Park. But since then the mood between both sets of fans has soured poisonously. My own pet theory is that a more partisan atmosphere was inevitable as soon as both clubs started slashing the allocation of tickets for visiting fans.
At the Wembley showpieces of the ‘80s, the split was always 50-50.
In Anfield and Goodison derbies of the same era, away fans would always dominate at least one section of the stadium - with a healthy minority finding their way into other sections also. Blue on the Kop? Red on the Gwladys Street? It happened regularly.
Until the late 1980s. The outstanding Anfield administrator Peter Robinson explained: “After Heysel and Hillsborough, ground capacities were reduced dramatically as all-seater stadia were introduced. “I think Anfield came down from 48,000 to 42,000. We were the first club to host a derby match after the changes and in order to satisfy our season ticket holders I think the only section remaining for visiting fans was a small standing area of 1,500. “We reduced the allocation for away fans, but Everton did exactly the same.” All-seater stadia meant smaller capacities - smaller capacities meant smaller away allocations - and smaller away sections led to a small-minded mentality towards the now isolated away fans creeping in.
On Tuesday night, however, Melanie, Stephen and Owen Jones were as vulnerable and as isolated as it was possible to be. Yet they were warmly, generously and protectively embraced by the entire Anfield crowd. Is it too much to hope that the next time Liverpool fans hear the Z-Cars theme tune, at Goodison on October 20, the nasty, spiteful edge which has blighted so many recent derbies is, at the very least, tempered slightly? Wishful thinking maybe, but then so was the thought that Z-Cars could ever be played at Anfield.
Food for thought over the long Mersey grounds debate
LAST week I suggested that when Everton’s bid to build a new stadium at the King’s Dock crumbled, a strident Goodison For Ever-ton campaign rejoiced. It seems I got my ground-move votes mixed up. The GFE campaigners contested Peter Johnson’s original plan to take Everton to an unspecified site in 1996 (for which 82 per cent of fans voted ‘yes’), but in October 2000 the campaign wound-up after Everton lodged its King’s Dock bid based on the results of a second, equally one-sided, fans’ vote.
GFE founder, Greg Murphy, rang to point out the discrepancy. And during the course of our conversation a tale of intrigue was revealed which might have been plucked from a Frederick Forsyth novel. Just digest the following chronology of Everton and Liverpool’s respective ground moves, penned by Greg for an internet article called “Too late to cry.” While Liverpool were scrutinising sites for a new stadium (Anfield was never considered because the existing site could not house a 60,000 seater stadium) the Reds were approached about taking up residence on the King’s Dock.
Liverpool stunned the council by rejecting the idea, based on the fact that the capacity would only be 50,000. At the same time Everton asked the council about the possibility of encroaching on Stanley Park, but were knocked back because of a protective Victorian covenant which existed. Undaunted by, or perhaps unaware of Everton’s approach, Liverpool made a similar request, backed up by the threat that the alternative was to take the club outside of the city boundaries. The city council swiftly changed tack. They offered the King’s Dock to Everton, and this time Bill Kenwright jumped at the opportunity of a stadium “on the banks of the Royal Blue Mersey.”
It was surely no coincidence that only weeks later, in June 2000, Rick Parry announced that Liverpool had solved its stadium dilemma and that a solution had been “under our noses all along.” Namely, a new stadium on Stanley Park. No mention of a Victorian covenant, no mention that “Liverpool’s city parks will be safe forever,” as then council leader Mike Storey suggested. Double standards appeared to be at work, but Everton never complained, being full steam ahead on their doomed King’s Dock venture. The Blues believed they had got one over on their rivals - and when the King’s Dock dream collapsed in 2003, it was too late to complain. None of which affects the present ground-move negotiations. But food for thought nevertheless.
Problem is solved
MANUEL FERNANDES’ spectacular U-turn has at least solved one problem, namely what to call the elaborately coiffured midfielder. The tabloids preferred Manu, radio commentators and his former team-mates used the nickname ‘Manny’, while the broadsheet press went with the more formal, Fernandes. But henceforth, Evertonians will always go with “sly, conniving, little double-crosser”.
EVERTON FACING UKRAINE TRIP
31st August 2007
Everton were paired with Ukrainian outfit Metalist Kharkiv in the draw for the first round of the UEFA Cup. David Moyes' men will play the group two first leg tie at Goodison Park before tackling the return trip against a side that finished third in their league last season. Bolton were drawn against Macedonian outfit FK Rabotnicki in group one. Sammy Lee's men face an away trip first before returning to the Reebok Stadium. Rabotnicki were league runners-up in Macedonia last season. The first legs will be played on September 20 with the return fixtures on October 4. Blackburn were drawn against Greek outfit Larissa in group five with the first leg in Greece for Mark Hughes' men. Tottenham will face Cypriot side Anorthosis Famagusta with the first leg tie at White Hart Lane.