NIGEL MARTYN: Everton defender Joseph Yobo has bouncebackability
Dec 1 2009 Liverpool
IT’S been a difficult few weeks for Joseph Yobo. He had a thigh problem which ruled him out of a couple of games, then a bang on the head against Wolves which saw him sit out three matches. When he came back he found Tim Cahill had claimed his role as stand-in skipper, then after overcoming the physical pain he had the emotional trauma of Sunday to deal with . But knowing Joe as well as I do, I can guarantee he will bounce back with a run of form. He was desperately unlucky with the opening goal in the derby. It was just an instinctive reaction to a fierce shot and the ball could have rebounded anywhere. It was typical of Everton’s luck on the day that it span into the one area of the goal where Tim Howard couldn’t reach it. But while Joseph was unfortunate with that strike, he will admit himself that he switched off for the second goal and we were caught out. There might have been a few eyebrows raised when the manager then decided to haul him off. We are not exactly blessed with centre-halfs and to undermine the confidence of one of our only two fit specialists for that position may seem a risky tactic. But I can understand the manager’s thinking. He has to get his point across. He has to make it clear that mistakes cannot be tolerated.
And you can bet that if Joseph puts in a terrific performance in Athens tomorrow, David will be the first person to put an arm around his shoulder and say ‘Well done.’
Joseph is a really good defender. He’s good in the air, quick, reads the game well and is a confident lad. And the quicker he puts the last few weeks behind him the better.
We now have a run of what you would call big games coming up. There’s the vital Europa League game tomorrow, followed by the visit of Spurs to Goodison on Sunday and then a trip to face the league leaders Chelsea. In some respects that’s a good thing. We’ve struggled to get ourselves up for games against what you would call lesser sides on occasions this season. But we showed on Sunday how we can raise our game.
We’ll have to do that in our next three matches, but we’re capable of it. Sunday’s defeat was tough to take, but it can still be a springboard.
My respect for Pepe Reina
I HAVE to admit to a grudging appreciation of Pepe Reina’s stunning save on Sunday. Don’t get me wrong. Goalkeepers’ union or not, there’s no other place I’d rather the ball had ended up than in the back of the Gwladys Street net.
But when Reina made such a good save to stop Tim’s header, and then got up so quickly to spread himself for Fellaini’s follow-up, I said to myself ‘Yeah, you earned that.’ The first save was superb, but the follow up block was something else.
But the fact that we created chances meant that I am confident we can soon start winning matches again. I heard Graeme Sharp on the radio say that it was possibly the worst Liverpool team he’s seen at Goodison for years. I’d go the other way and say that’s a testament to how well Everton played. We have to take encouragement from that and look to bounce back tomorrow night.
Pienaar shows just what Everton have been missing
STEVEN PIENAAR’S sparkling return to form was one of the most positive aspects of Sunday’s derby. The way he has hit the ground running it’s difficult to believe he’s been out injured for more than two months. We have clearly missed him, and it’s reassuring that he has come back playing as well as he has before the injury.
The more serious the injury, the longer it can take for a player to learn to trust his body again. That’s probably why Steven has come back flying while Yakubu is still feeling his way back into form, Obviously missing two months of the season is bad enough, but Yak was out for almost a year. It’s not just the strength and flexibility in his Achilles that he needs to rediscover, it’s learning to trust that body part again so he can put total faith in it. For a striker who relies on explosive pace off the mark or the ability to leap above a defender, that is crucial. I’m sure Yak will get there, but he will have to be patient. In the meantime we can be thankful that Pienaar has come flying back into the fold. His performance showed just what we’ve been missing.
Cup runs ensure Everton FC bank another record year
Dec 1, 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool
EVERTON today announced new record financial results boosted by two Wembley appearances and another top five finish in 2008/09. The club’s financial results for the year ended on May 31 reveal a 5.3% increase in turnover, influenced by TV income and gate receipts. Revenue generated from the sale of match tickets and corporate hospitality rose to £21.9m, with the cash received from TV up by £2m to £48.6 million thanks to a record number of 17 live televised Premier League games.
Turnover overall increased £4m to £79.7, which is a new club record. The wage bill was also increased to £49.1m in the financial year. It all means the club’s operating profit, excluding player trading, was £6.3 million. However, the inclusion of the amortisation of players’ registrations of £13 million gave rise to an overall operating loss of £6.7 million. In a statement to shareholders, chairman Bill Kenwright said: “Our wonderful FA Cup run quite possibly deflected attention from what was another hugely-satisfying Premier League campaign. “To again finish fifth in what remains Europe’s toughest and most unforgiving league was a magnificent achievement – one which guaranteed another European campaign which continued the steady progress which has hall-marked David Moyes’ tenure as manager. “Maintaining our progress, continuing to punch above our weight if you like, will be very difficult but I stand by my assertion that we have a manager who will go down as one of our all time greats and a squad of players that is amongst our very best over the last two decades.
“As has always been the case, David was fully supported by myself and by my fellow Board members. "He remains the single, most important figure at the Club and we all strive – on a daily basis – to provide him with the tools he believes are necessary if we are to continue to evolve and develop into a genuine, meaningful force within both English and European football.”
Tony Hibbert all set to be a Euro record breaker for Everton
Dec 1 2009 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool
TONY HIBBERT is preparing to write his name in Everton’s history books by helping the blues quest for Europa league progress. The right-back, who enjoyed an impressive return to the first team during Sunday’s derby, is in line to equal the Toffees’ European appearance record currently held jointly by Colin Harvey and Brian Labone. Hibbert has played 18 times in European competition for the Blues, and needs just one more game to see his name added alongside those two legends.
The Huyton-born 28-year-old is expected to start in an Everton defence which will be without John Heitinga and Lucas Neill. Neither were registered in time to take part and are ineligible. Everton can secure qualification to the next stage of the Europa league if they beat AEK Athens, and Benfica beat FC BATE Borisov in Minsk.
Joseph Yobo, however, has not travelled with the squad to the Greek capital.
The Nigerian centre-back was forced off during Sunday’s defeat by Liverpool with a hamstring injury and it will keep him out of the Group I encounter against the side he scored against at Goodison Park in September. Teenage midfield- er Jack Rodwell has travelled, despite missing the derby with a groin strain. French striker Louis Saha has also made the journey, but continues to carry a thigh injury. Meanwhile, Steven Pienaar has prom- ised to overcome his injury problems in order to boost Everton’s season. The South African midfielder returned from an extended spell on the sidelines to play two games in five days last week, playing 90 minutes in the defeat at Hull before producing a Man of the Match display in the derby. The 27-year-old admits he is still not 100 per cent pain-free in the knee he injured during the 1-0 win at Portsmouth earlier in the season. He said: “I still feel a bit of pain, but it’s going to be there for a while. So I just have to keep on playing because it’s important if I want to stay fit. “I’ve missed 10 games already, so it doesn’t matter how many games I play in a week as long as my body can take it; I’m prepared for it. “On Thursday (after the Hull game) my body was stiff. I had a lot of aches but that’s normal. You just have to be mentally strong, express yourself and I feel okay.” He also backed his team-mates to bounce back against AEK. “Sometimes in football you get an opportunity to make things right quickly and this game is one of those opportunities. We want to take it.”
Pienaar believes Everton can turn derby misery into a new beginning for their worrying season. And the 27-year-old from Johannesburg insists a run of just one win in 11 matches “is nothing to panic about, even if we are in a mess.” Pienaar believes he saw enough in the Merseyside derby to believe things are about to change.
He said: “We now have a Europa League game in Athens, and we go into that after another defeat, which is not the best preparation. “But what is in our favour is that we know that we played well, and we have an opportunity to get ourselves back on track quickly if we can achieve the result we want in Athens. “We go into Europe determined to make things right. If we get a victory in Athens it will be a real morale boost for the team ahead of next weekend’s home game with Spurs.”
He added: “We did feel we played well against Liverpool, that is a boost for us even though we lost. Another win in the Europa League will give us even more confidence, and lift our spirits. “I know that our fans must have left Goodison on Sunday feeling very disappointed with losing to Liverpool, but they will hopefully have had a smile too because of the performance and effort that we managed. “Now we must take that level of performance into Europe and then the next league match because we have been dragged into the relegation fight. “We did not think we would be in this position at the beginning of the season, but sometimes you have a bad run and that is what is happening to us. “But there is a lot of games still to go, and if we get as couple of wins in a row we will be right back into midfield. This situation is nothing to panic about.” Pienaar accepts another damaging defeat is just adding to Everton’s worrying season that sees them just three points off the bottom three. He added: “Obviously we were very disappointed to lose a derby game, they are so important to us and the fans.
“It hurts to lose, especially the way we lost with a deflected goal and then a late one when we were pushing up trying to get the equaliser. “We had several chances, but they got their goals from very few opportunities. Liverpool are a good team and they will take advantage of things like that. “Once they score it is always hard against them, even if we did really have a go at them. The plan was to put them under pressure, but we didn’t take our chances.” He continued: “The turning point was probably those two saves from Pepe Reina in the second half. He is a world-class keeper and he kept his team in the game. “If either had gone in it would have been a different game. We were on the front foot, and we would have gone on to win the match. Manager David Moyes believes it is only a matter of time before his side rediscover their form. “For a team that hasn’t been doing too well in recent weeks it didn’t show (in the derby),” he said. “I saw the players’ endeavour and energy. I thought they put on a really good show. “I have been critical of performances this season but I couldn’t be critical of Sunday because I could see things – because of that extra effort – starting to go for us. “For us, at the moment, a good performance is a start. If you have good performances it ends up getting you good results.
“In the past we have not had good performances so, in the end, that turns into not good results.”
Sylvain Distin major doubt for Everton FC's key Europa league match in Athens tonight
Dec 2 2009 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
SYLVAIN Distin has emerged as a major injury doubt for Everton’s key Europa league match in Athens tonight. The French centre-back is suffering from a hamstring strain and becomes the latest name on a long injury list, leaving manager David Moyes with a selection headache ahead of the Group I game with AEK.
If he does not recover enough to take part at the Olympic stadium, it could mean Moyes having to ask rookie defender Shane Duffy or fellow youngster Shkodran Mustafi to form a makeshift and completely untried centre-back partnership with Tony Hibbert. Lucas Neill and John Heitinga are ineligible for the game, and Joseph Yobo is also ruled out with a hamstring injury suffered in Sunday’s derby.
Despite travelling to the Greek capital with the squad, Jack Rodwell is also unlikely to return. Moyes said: “We have had to do with the likes of Tony Hibbert and Phil Neville playing at centre-half already this season and it makes the game more difficult. “We have got to look at it for what it is. We will be going into the game with possibly a really young centre half depending on how Sylvain is.”
Louis Saha has offered his manager some respite however, by taking part in training yesterday and is likely to figure in the match which could make Everton’s progress in the competition a formality. The Blues lie in second place of the qualifying section, three points behind leaders Benfica and two ahead of both AEK and FC BATE Borisov. Victory tonight will be enough to book Everton’s place in the last 32 if FC BATE Borisov fail to beat Benfica in Minsk. Moyes said: “For me the Europa league is a great tournament and I hope we stay in and progress further in it. “I see this being a tough game, it will be hard for us, but we need to try and start to build on Sunday’s improved performance. The Everton manager added that he has reservations about the quality of the pitch at the Olympic stadium. He said: “It’s well documented that I don’t think the surface is the best but the stadium is fabulous. I look forward to Everton playing here.”
Everton FC need Greek gods help against AEK Athens
Dec 2 2009 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool
THERE have been few moments to savour during Everton’s faltering season so far.
But back in September the Blues revived the spirit of their previous successful campaign and gave supporters something to smile about, with a convincing 4-0 win against AEK Athens at Goodison. Subsequently, circumstances have overtaken the optimism generated by the performance on that early autumn night, and even suggested it was a red herring. Fast forward two months and David Moyes’s men face the Greeks in their own back yard, struggling to recapture their verve and confidence, and not guaranteed to progress in the Europa League. Every step forward is tempered with new negatives. The Blues play some of their best football of the season in a derby they are unfortunate to lose, but take heart. The same personnel were ready to take on AEK Athens. Then Sylvain Distin’s hamstring is tweaked and suddenly his manager is trying to plot a victory with the prospect of playing a career right-back at centre-half alongside a largely untested rookie. And Everton’s manager knows his team face an AEK side who are a very different prospect at home. Speaking at the impressive Olympic Stadium, he said: “AEK are a different team here. They beat Benfica at this stadium and we know it will be a much harder task at their own pitch.”
But when asked to comment on the financial benefits of Europa League football after Everton’s figures were released yesterday, the Scot was philosophical. Tonight’s opponents are in a far worse financial situation than the Blues, who released figures showing record turnover but an overall loss in profit. AEK are in the midst of deepening financial crisis. Major shareholder Nikos Notias has embarked on a worldwide search for an investor who could pull the club out of its troubles, as rumours abound that their players are not being paid properly and club morale is low.
“It’s the world we are in just now. The finances are difficult,” said Moyes.
“It’s the same for all football clubs, not just in our country but every country – proving the point with the team we are playing. “But it’s not all about making money – it’s about winning a trophy. I was delighted when we qualified for the Europa League and I’d be delighted if we could qualify again. If I can’t be in the Champions League, I want to be in the Europa.” His defiant optimism was echoed by goalkeeper Tim Howard, who believes in the redemptive powers of simply winning a game.
“People always talk about starting points and turning points and that is what we need now,” he said. “We are looking for a half-decent performance but the result is what really matters to put us through to the next stage. Football is funny – just one win can make a massive difference. It gets you buzzing again for the next week. Yes, that is just how quick it can all change. “Wins create confidence and that is all we are lacking at the moment. One win and I am sure we can then string a few performances together. “We all felt good about Sunday’s performance against Liverpool, if not the result. We certainly felt we deserved something out of the game. “It was a well-competed derby match and it sucks to have come out of it with nothing, having played so well. “But at the moment that is where we are – things just aren’t going for us.
“Just look at the goals in that game. I had the first one covered and thought it was going to go wide of the post and then it takes a big deflection and there is nothing you can do about it. “Then I got a good hand on the second and the ball could easily have fallen to one of our players and instead it fell perfectly for Dirk Kuyt. “Those things certainly aren’t lost on me but at the moment these little things won’t run for us. “We know how it all balances out. There were certain periods last year when we seemed to have all the luck and it will come around again. “We are not in a great position but we are certainly not feeling sorry for ourselves. It is a long season and we just need to get a few more points on the board and we will climb a good way up the table. “There is certainly no feeling of panic at the moment. No-one likes being in this position and we would certainly like to be higher. We just need one win to kick-start it all.”
Everton FC fans letters
Dec 2 2009 Liverpool Echo
A DISAPPOINTING result against Liverpool but on the whole a much improved performance, and with a bit of luck Everton could well have won the game.
However, certain aspects of the match and throughout this season are becoming more apparent. Too many goals are being conceded via deflection. Joseph Yobo is too indecisive to be a first team regular and importantly, have Everton seen the best of Tim Cahill? For all his belligerence and pugnacious spirit he doesn’t have the pace or creativity to change the game, even in a 4-5-1 formation. Equally, he cannot operate effectively in a 4-4-2 formation either. I would personally like to see Pienaar and Bilyaletdinov accommodate the centre midfield berths playing behind a lone striker with a holding player behind them. They play centre midfield for their respective countries and have the ability to create openings for the striker(s) to run on to.However, two wide players with pace will be needed next month.
With reference to Kirkby, the right decision was made by the Government as on the whole the town centre’s infrastructure was too small to accommodate a 50,000 stadium and importantly, would have undoubtedly affected the lives of the local people. Therefore it is essential in these economic times for both Everton and Liverpool to sit down and discuss the possibility of a shared stadium and not let footballing parochialism get in the way of undoubted progress. If achieved Everton will then have a buyer for the club and Liverpool’s cost for the stadium is halved.
Fundamentally, it is a no-brainer, but a site has to be found.
SEEING Eusebio’s picture in the ECHO recently brought back memories to me.
I was in the massed bands at the Brazil-Portugal game in 1966 at Goodison.
As we were marching off at half time, the man himself walked past me, smiled and patted me on the shoulder. I just melted.
Charles McKibbin, L14.
I REMAIN increasingly concerned that too many people seem to think that all will be well once our injured players are back. The reality though is that injuries are an on-going part of the game and affect all teams. Who’s to say that as soon as ‘this’ player returns ‘that’ player then gets injured? e.g. Pienaar comes back and now Rodwell and Yobo have picked up injuries. Also in our case the progress – sorry setbacks – suffered by Arteta, Jags and Neville leave you wondering just when they will be fit enough to reclaim their places in the team. And when they do, will they take as long as Yakubu to reproduce their pre-injury form? We must also remember that come January we are also going to lose some players to the African Cup Of Nations so there is another player selection problem looming on the horizon. If our season is going to get back on track, the only way forward is for each and every one of the players who are fit and playing now to get their act together and put 100% effort into every game and make it harder for the injured ‘stars’ to just walk back into the team when they are fit. Even with our current injuries I still think that on paper at least we are putting out a decent side match after match but the problem is that the players themselves are letting the club down by under-performing as individuals.
David Moyes 'delighted' with Everton FC win - but fresh injuries jolt Blues
Dec 2 2009
DAVID Moyes savoured a return to winning ways after his team secured a determined victory over AEK Athens to clinch a place in the knock-out stages of the Europa League. Russian midfielder Diniyar Bilyaletdinov scored the only goal of the game on a rain-soaked night at the Olympic Stadium in the Greek capital to hand the Blues only their second win in 12 matches and three vital points which ensured they qualified alongside Benfica from Group I with a game to spare. It was a gutsy display from Moyes’ team, who were forced to defend for long spells in the second half after losing defenders Dan Gosling and Sylvain Distin and Brazilian striker Jo to injuries during the game. "I was pleased, especially with the outcome of the game," said Moyes. "The early goal helped us. The young players who came in did really well tonight and I’m delighted with them. "It’s very important to have qualified with a game to spare as it gives us a week where we don’t need to be too intense with the squad." Heavy rain just before kick-off and during the game meant the state of the pitch deteriorated, and surface water troubled both teams. Moyes admitted the conditions made it difficult for his team to grind out the result. "I think the conditions did play a part. It was an energy-sapping pitch," said the Scot. "It was like back to the old days. I would have enjoyed it in my playing days but I don’t know how some of the players felt about the conditions out there." With an ever increasing injury list, Moyes revealed that Distin and Gosling, who departed proceedings in the first half, could face lengthy spells on the sidelines. "I don’t think Jo’s injury is serious," Moyes said. "I am concerned about >fr 1,8<Sylvain>fr 3,8< Distin and Dan >fr 1,8<Gosling>fr 3,8< as both are both hamstring strains. We will have them assessed tomorrow. "I think the main reason for the injuries is down to overloading them. Sylvain has had to play just about every minute of every game." Moyes hopes the result will instil confidence in his players as they look to climb away from the lower reaches of the Barclays Premier League. "Tonight was a case of needs must and I think the spirit of Everton was apparent among both the younger and more experienced players," he said. "Tony Hibbert, again playing out of position at centre-back, did a great job. "They all worked so hard to get the result, it shows there is a heartbeat at the football club and hopefully we can kick on from here and improve."
AEK boss Dusan Bajevic, who left four regular starters on the bench in Ismael Blanco, Nacho Scocco, Gustavo Manduca and defender Carlos Araujo, defended his decision despite seeing his team’s interest in the competition ended. "I wanted to give some others an opportunity, I don’t think it was a mistake," said the Serbian coach, whose team are also out of the Greek Cup and are languishing 12 points off the pace in the Greek Super League. "We have many important league games coming up and a lot of the players are carrying injuries and need rest. "If I could have used the players from the start I would have. We can still do a lot this season. We can improve, and we must if we want to get ourselves out of the situation we find ourselves in."
AEK Athens 0, Everton FC 1
Dec 2 2009
Diniyar Bilyaletdinov’s early goal was enough to give Everton a vital victory over AEK Athens which sealed a place in the last 32 of the Europa League for David Moyes’ team.
Bilyaletdinov raced on to Jo’s brilliant through-ball to slot past AEK goalkeeper Sebastian Saja with aplomb after just six minutes, and the Russian midfielder’s goal proved the difference on a rain-soaked evening at the Olympic Stadium in Athens.
The result, combined with Group I leaders Benfica’s 2-1 win over BATE Borisov, means the Toffees have qualified for the knockout stage as section runners-up with a game to spare. It remains to be seen at what cost Everton’s return to winning ways after just one win in 11 previous games has come at, however, as defenders Dan Gosling and Sylvain Distin, along with Jo, were all forced off due to injuries.
A heavy downpour just before kick-off meant the already fragile pitch deteriorated further, and surface water troubled both teams as the rain continued to fall throughout the first half. Despite the difficult conditions, the visitors, featuring a makeshift central defensive pairing of Distin and Tony Hibbert - who equalled Everton’s European appearance record of 19 matches previously held by Colin Harvey and Brian Labone - opened the scoring with their first shot on target in the sixth minute.
Bilyaletdinov lashed the ball past Saja after collecting Jo’s pass following great hold-up play by the Brazilian striker. Everton were hit with the first injury blow when Gosling departed in the 11th minute to be replaced by Jose Baxter after falling awkwardly. Next to leave the pitch seven minutes later was Distin, who was a doubt beforehand due to his hamstring strain. The Frenchman was replaced by Shane Duffy and Moyes must have been left wondering who would be next. AEK desperately tried to regroup but the best they could manage was a Pantelis Kafes header which looped a couple of feet over Tim Howard’s crossbar. Players were dropping like flies with AEK midfielder Grigoris Makos submitting to an ankle injury just before the half-hour mark, former Benfica man Gustavo Manduca replacing him. It took 32 minutes for the hosts to register a shot on target but Howard was equal to Panagiotis Tachtsidis’ long-range effort, parrying the young striker’s shot to safety.
Everton seemed content to sit back on their advantage, while looking to catch AEK on the counter-attack by hitting passes into the spaces down the flanks where Jo and Bilyaletdinov were constantly troubling the home side’s rearguard. Nacho Scocco replaced Leonardo at half-time as AEK coach Dusan Bajevic tried to freshen up his attack, but Everton remained comfortably in control. When AEK did break forward in the 54th minute, Hibbert was on hand to block Tachtsidis’ shot on the turn from close range. The visitors almost conceded just before the hour mark, though, when Youssouf Hersi was given time and space to shoot from the edge of the penalty area, the Dutch midfielder’s shot shaving Howard’s left post. Jo responded immediately for Everton, Saja doing well to tip the Brazilian’s powerful shot around his left post. That was the striker’s last contribution, however, as he also limped out of the match with what seemed like a knee injury with Ayegbeni Yakubu replacing him.
It was becoming a backs-to-the-wall affair for Everton as the hosts threw everything at them, and Howard had Baxter to thank after the substitute cleared Manduca’s shot off the line with 14 minutes left. But the visitors held firm under intense pressure in the closing stages to secure the win.
AEK Athens 0 Everton FC 1: Everton leave the ruins way behind
Dec 3 2009 by Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily Post
IN the shadow of the city’s historic ruins, Everton began the process of rebuilding their season in Athens last night. A hard-earned victory amid monsoon-like conditions earned David Moyes’s side passage to the knockout stages of the Europa League.
But the manager will hope this triumph also acts as the catalyst for a change in the domestic fortunes of his side. Typical of this most testing of campaigns, Everton were forced to do things the hard way for only a second win in 12 games. Already missing a clutch of first-team regulars, Moyes saw his gameplan further disrupted by injuries to Dan Gosling and Sylvain Distin inside the opening 18 minutes, the crocked duo joined by Jo during the second half. But given the platform of Diniyar Bilyaletdinov’s sixth-minute goal, the Goodison outfit called upon their deep reserves of character and resolve to hold off a strong second-half fightback from AEK Athens.
Such effort was epitomised by Tony Hibbert. The defender, making his 19th European appearance to equal the club record held jointly by Colin Harvey and Brian Labone, marked the occasion with an outstanding display as a makeshift centre-back for the third successive Europa League away game. That experience came to the fore as Hibbert guided both 17-year-old debutant Shane Duffy, on for the injured Distin, and 21-year-old right-back Seamus Coleman, making only his second appearance, through the match as Everton secured a first clean sheet in 13 outings. With another 17-year-old, Jose Baxter, also thrown into the fray, Moyes’s squad had reached breaking point, yet AEK, beset by their own problems, never really threatened the win that would have taken Everton’s Europa League destiny out of their own hands. Benfica’s victory against BATE Borisov in Group I’s other fixture last night meant the Goodison outfit qualified for the last 32 with a game to spare. And although comprehensively outplayed in both games against the Portuguese, Moyes’s men have, by the admission of AEK coach Dusan Bajevic, thoroughly merited their progress.
Everton had impressed in unfortunate derby defeat to Liverpool on Sunday, but the atrocious conditions in Athens meant this wasn’t an evening for silky one-touch football. Instead, the confidence gleaned from that display manifested itself in other ways, the youngsters and their more senior colleagues rising to the challenge, most notably the untried central midfield partnership of Steven Pienaar and Marouane Fellaini who both continued their encouraging form by running themselves into the sodden ground. That the Olympic Stadium’s glorified golf buggy was perhaps the evening’s most prominent performer spoke volumes of Everton’s continuing injury jinx. There had been a genuine fear the game wouldn’t even go ahead as the pitch, having already caused concern among the Goodison ranks, became sodden by the heavy downpours to have struck Athens during the previous 24 hours.
With puddles of standing water around the pitch affecting the roll of the ball, it was clear from the early moments the surface could prove dangerous. So it proved for Gosling, the teenager leaving the field less than 10 minutes in after catching his studs in the turf while stretching for a pass and twisting his right leg. He was followed eight minutes later by Distin, the centre-back aggravating the hamstring strain that had made him a major doubt before the game. AEK didn’t escape the injury woes, Grigoris Makos also departing before the interval after being caught by a heavy challenge from Steven Pienaar. Indeed, if Everton thought they had selection problems, they were nothing compared to those facing their opponents last night.
Half of AEK’s expected starting line-up – led by Argentine duo Ismael Blanco and Nacho Scocco –were on the bench amid rumours they had turned up late in protest over unpaid wages, with the club stricken by severe financial difficulties that have left them £30million in debt. It meant only four of the players who started the 4-0 thrashing at Goodison earlier in the competition began the game. AEK’s fans had grown weary of the off-field problems, given the 71,000-capacity Olympic Stadium – a temporary home as they wait for a new ground of their own that many supporters suspect may never arrive – was less than a quarter full. Nevertheless, those present were intent on making life as intimidating as possible for the visitors, huge explosions intermittently rocking the arena while one fan even targeted Everton’s players with a laser beam. The poor pitch, inclement weather and succession of injuries ensured grit rather than guile required from both teams during a fractious first half.
And Everton made the perfect start when they forged ahead in the sixth minute. A punt upfield by Howard was flicked on by Tim Cahill into the path of Jo – again preferred as the lone striker – and the Brazilian held off Daniel Majstorovic before playing in Bilyaletdinov, who directed a crisp finish above goalkeeper Sebastian Saja into the roof of the net. The home side took until the 32nd minute to force Tim Howard into a save, the American beating out a speculative long range effort from Panagiotis Tachtsidis. The same player threatened again after the interval when finding space inside the six-yard box only for his shot to be blocked by Hibbert.
With the rain having temporarily subsided, the game opened up. Youssouf Hersi’s angled drive hit the outside of the post with Howard beaten and, seconds later, Jo drew a good save from Saja with a similar effort, although it failed to merit a corner from any of the five officials in operation. AEK came closer still in the 75th minute when, after Coleman misjudged a low cross, substitute Gustavo Manduca’s shot was cleared off the line by the retreating Baxter. But in truth, the home side never convinced they would find a way through. No Greek tragedy for Everton, then. The recovery starts here.
AEK Athens 0, Everton FC 1: Blues' muddy marvels get slice of luck to clinch Europa League qualification
Dec 3 2009 Greg O'Keeffe Liverpool Echo
LUCK – that most fickle of qualities had been referred to repeatedly in the build-up to Everton’s crucial Europa League tie in Athens. Tim Cahill wondered when he would find some in front of goal again, and David Moyes no doubt pondered whether his injury-hit squad would benefit from it in time to save their season. With the hurt of a derby reverse still fresh in his mind, keeper Tim Howard said a turning point would come if the rub of the green, and a win, were forthcoming. Well Everton did find some luck here in the ancient cradle of Western civilisation. Their opponents didn’t really show up – literally. Most of AEK’s star players were benched, amid reports they had vowed not to play in protest against non-payment of their wages. It certainly put recent talk of Everton’s financial situation into perspective. But it also gave an unconventional Everton defence a shred of comfort ahead of their ultimately successful quest to secure qualification from Group I. The Blues halted their losing streak bravely and ensured the season will still have the added spice of European football in the new year. Yet while Lady Luck may have smiled on them in one sense, she decided that an already decimated squad needed a few extra injuries. Just for good measure. Before kick-off the Olympic Stadium pitch was in worse condition than Tiger Woods’ marriage. There was even speculation that the game may have been postponed if further rain fell, so the mischievous Gods waited until referee Claudio Circhetta blew his whistle to unleash a downpour that made it even worse.
Think a Liverpool Sunday League surface in the middle of January and you’re not far off. Despite the conditions, it took the Blues just six minutes to take the lead. A typically acrobatic flick-on from Tim Cahill was seized upon by Jo, who showed surprising strength to hold the ball up before offloading it to Bilyaletdinov, who lashed it into the roof of the net. It was a rare early lead for the Blues this season, and gave them something to rally around. But if David Moyes had fears about the pitch, they were justified when Dan Gosling caught his studs in the mire and needed to be stretchered off in agony shortly after. It meant 17-year-old Jose Baxter was called upon to make his bow in European football, replacing Gosling on the right.
Before the game Sylvain Distin’s involvement had been doubtful at best, and his injured hamstring allowed him just 16 minutes of the tie. Cue the introduction of another 17-year-old, Shane Duffy. By then Everton’s bench resembled a WWI field hospital, as David Moyes patrolled the touchline with the worried expression of a general who had just sent his boys over the top at the Somme. When the pitch allowed any football to be played in the first half, it was the Blues who obliged. They tried to pass the ball and aquaplane their way into the opposition penalty area, with Jo looking lively. But in truth the first 45 minutes offered little of note after that opening goal.
A morbid sideshow was the motorised stretcher circling the pitch like a desert vulture waiting for its next victim to drop, such was the inevitability of further injuries.
Not long before the break Grigoris Makos became the next victim, clutching his foot after a heavy Steven Pienaar tackle. These were testing conditions for a seasoned veteran, and Moyes’ youngsters did him proud. Baxter used possession cleverly and was unafraid to shoot when the chance presented itself. Meanwhile, Seamus Coleman and Duffy acquitted themselves splendidly. Half-time saw AEK coach Dusan Bajevic, who is struggling to keep control of a club £30m in debt, replace Leonardo with Nacho Scocco. Tim Cahill soon followed Tony Hibbert into the referee’s book for a handball, which allowed AEK to apply further pressure with a swirling free-kick and a subsequent effort by Brazilian Manduca. Then Everton, buoyed by news of Benfica taking the lead in Minsk, went close themselves with Jo just failing to control in the box. Moments later Tim Howard became the third and unlikeliest of Everton players to be booked, for time-wasting. As the Blues battled on in the rain, injury reared its ugly head again – Jo suddenly pulled up in agony grasping his knee and Yakubu replaced the stricken Brazilian. Moments later Jose Baxter cleared off his own line to stop AEK equalising and Everton held on. It remains to be seen if this is the turning point Howard hoped for. But Everton have a habit of re-igniting seasons with one definitive performance, and whisper it quietly, maybe luck is finally on their side.
EVERTON: (4-4-1-1) Howard, Coleman, Hibbert, Distin, Baines, Bilyaletdinov, Cahill, Fellaini, Pienaar, Gosling, Jo.
AEK ATHENS: Saja, Kafes, Hersi, Geraldo, Majstorovic, Juanfran, Leonardo, Makos, Pavlis, Georgeas, Tachtsidis.
REFEREE: Claudio Circhetta (Switzerland).
Fresh injuries sober up Everton after Europa League win in Athens
Dec 3 2009 by Our Correspondent, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES savoured a return to winning ways after his team secured a determined victory over AEK Athens to clinch a place in the knock-out stages of the Europa League. Russian midfielder Diniyar Bilyaletdinov scored the only goal of the game on a rain-soaked night at the Olympic Stadium in the Greek capital to hand the Blues only their second win in 12 matches and three vital points which ensured they qualified alongside Benfica from Group I with a game to spare. It was a gutsy display from Moyes’ team, who were forced to defend for long spells in the second half after losing defenders Dan Gosling and Sylvain Distin and Brazilian striker Jo to injuries during the game. “I was pleased, especially with the outcome of the game,” said Moyes. “The early goal helped us. "The young players who came in did really well tonight and I’m delighted with them. “It’s very important to have qualified with a game to spare as it gives us a week where we don’t need to be too intense with the squad.” Heavy rain just before kick-off and during the game meant the state of the pitch deteriorated, and surface water troubled both teams. Moyes admitted the conditions made it difficult for his team to grind out the result. “I think the conditions did play a part. It was an energy-sapping pitch,” said the Scot. “It was like back to the old days. I would have enjoyed it in my playing days but I don’t know how some of the players felt about the conditions.” With an ever increasing injury list, Moyes revealed that Distin and Gosling, who departed proceedings in the first half, could face lengthy spells on the sidelines. “I don’t think Jo’s injury is serious,” Moyes said. “I am concerned about (Sylvain) Distin and Dan (Gosling) as both are both hamstring strains. We will have them assessed tomorrow. “I think the main reason for the injuries is down to overloading them. Sylvain has had to play just about every minute of every game.” Moyes hopes the result will instil confidence in his players as they look to climb away from the lower reaches of the Premier League. “Tonight was a case of needs must and I think the spirit of Everton was apparent among both the younger and more experienced players,” he said. “Tony Hibbert, again playing out of position at centre-back, did a great job. “They all worked so hard to get the result, it shows there is a heartbeat at the football club and hopefully we can kick on from here and improve.” AEK boss Dusan Bajevic, who left four regular starters on the bench in Ismael Blanco, Nacho Scocco, Gustavo Manduca and defender Carlos Araujo, defended his decision despite seeing his team’s interest in the competition ended.
“I wanted to give some others an opportunity, I don’t think it was a mistake,” said the Serbian coach. “We have many important league games coming up and a lot of the players are carrying injuries and need rest. If I could have used the players from the start I would have.”
The Jury: Everton fans on the Blues' qualification-clinching Europa League win in Athens
Dec 3 2009 Liverpool Echo
TONY SCOTT, Walton
THERE has been a massive turnaround in performances in our season over the last week or so and it has coincided with the return of Steven Pienaar.
Brilliant against Liverpool and outstanding once again in the Greek capital last night, he deserves all the accolades he gets. We were beaten by Liverpool after performing so well but we can’t complain one bit because we did exactly the same at Portsmouth.
Last night saw our much-admired youth academy come to the fore once again. It witnessed a solid Shane Duffy debut, a superb display from Jose Baxter and an outstanding performance from Seamus Coleman. Everton fans take real pride with all these youngsters coming through and special praise also must go to Tim Cahill and Tony Hibbert who typify our club motto.
DAVID WALLBANK, Huyton
ON a pitch more like a ploughed field in places and persistent rain not helping – this resulted in us losing two more players due to the conditions – we did tremendously well indeed. We also had to use 17-year-old Seamus Coleman and making his Everton debut Shane Duffy. Both did a remarkable job in the terrible conditions.
The team played well as a unit and all did their jobs with great confidence.
None more than Tim Cahill who did a captain’s job. Jo and Pienaar also stood out but there was also a great display from Tony Hibbert who maybe just edged the man-of-the-match for me. The main result is we are through to the knockout stage. Let’s hope that all our injured players will be fit by then. I just hope we are able to field a team strong enough for Sunday’s game against Tottenham. Although the team did so well in Athens last night, Spurs are going to be a different proposition altogether.
MICHAEL DRUMMOND, Speke
AFTER a bleak few weeks for all Evertonians, there is finally something that we can all look forward to in the New Year – the Europa League.
I don’t like us scoring too early as we tend to sit back for the rest of the game; however, we had no choice to sit back regardless because of the two injuries in the first 15 minutes. Nevertheless, Coleman and Duffy did well given the fact that they have not even played a full game in the Premier League, so to keep a clean sheet, on an awful pitch and with an unusual back four, we did very well! Although the defence was good, we were also a threat going forward, creating a few chances where on another night (or season!) we would have put them away. Our confidence is certainly growing by the game – likely because Pienaar is back. We have missed him a lot indeed.
RICHARD KNIGHTS, West Derby
IT’S been a funny old week.
The worst performance of the season at Hull City; Destination Kirkby gets kicked into touch; our best performance in a derby game for years (Steven Gerrard hardly gets a kick) ends in defeat; finally an injury-wracked squad manages to qualify for the knockout stage of the Europa League. The main decision facing the club has to be the stadium. Why was there no plan B? Shared stadium? Great if you want the pitch to resemble a First World War battlefield – three matches a week? Let’s be realistic, it won’t happen. That leaves us with redeveloping Goodison Park and keeping the memories intact. My prediction – Europa League Final, Hamburg, May 12, 2010 – Everton 1 Liverpool 0. Hibbert scores, Rafa resigns
Europa League round-up: Benfica book last 32 place but Lazio crash
Dec 3 2009 Liverpool Echo
BENFICA booked their place in the last 32 of the Europa League with victory over BATE Borisov in Belarus. The game came alive after a turgid first half as Argentinian forward Javier Saviola put the Lisbon giants in front within seconds of the restart, and he laid on a second for Fabio Coentrao. BATE defender Sergey Sosnovskiy halved the deficit in the 69th minute but Benfica, who came into the match needing only a point to reach the knockout phase, went above and beyond for coach Jorge Jesus.
But there was a shock as Lazio crashed out of the Europa League following their 2-1 defeat at Salzburg and Villarreal’s 2-0 win at Levski Sofia. The results left the Italians third in Group G and unable to catch second-placed Villarreal, who ensured their progress to the last 32 alongside pool winners Salzburg. Rabiu Afolabi put Salzburg ahead early in the second half and, although they were pegged back by Pasquale Foggia’s leveller five minutes later, Somen Tchoyi struck the winner 12 minutes from time. Salzburg’s victory – their fifth in as many games – kept them six points clear of Villarreal, who eased past sorry Levski thanks to goals from Giuseppe Rossi and substitute Marcos Senna. Villarreal are three points ahead of Lazio with one game still to go, but hold the better head-to-head record against the Serie A side so are guaranteed to progress. Fenerbahce secured top spot in Group H with a 1-0 win at FC Twente. Diego Lugano’s second-half strike clinched the three points for the Turkish club to put them in an unassailable position. The result left the outlook less rosy for Twente, however. Steve McClaren’s side must win at Steaua Bucharest in a fortnight’s time.
Everton FC star Tim Cahill hails fighting spirit after Europa League win in Athens
Dec 3 2009 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
TIM CAHILL today hailed the fighting spirit that saw the Toffees survive a night of fresh injury setbacks to qualify for the next stage of the Europa League.
The stand-in skipper led by example in a battling Blues performance, and revealed he was inspired by Aussie boxer Danny Green who shocked the sport world by beating legendary cruiserweight Roy Jones Junior. Cahill, 29, is pals with fellow Sydney-sider Green, who stopped Jones Jr in the first round of their IBO world cruiserweight title fight on Tuesday. He said: “I sent him a text beforehand and he just texted me after the game. "They said he had no chance but that’s the Aussie spirit. He trained hard, and has come out and knocked out a boxing great. “I was definitely inspired by Danny. Everton went back to the basics – we’ve gone back to winning the balls, winning tackles and make no mistake AEK are a very good team. They beat Benfica here and you can see why they beat them here, because they were compact and have good midfielders who can score. “But we fought to the end tonight and showed that extra spirit and hunger. It’s unfortunate because AEK have been going through some difficult times and so have we, but we had the edge. And the midfielder saved extra praise for Everton’s trio of youngsters who helped the Blues hold on to a 1-0 victory in a rain-soaked Olympic stadium. “It’s a massive win for us," hCahill said. "We had to pull together. Seeing Distin go off, then Gozzer and then Jo and saying to yourself ‘What are we going to do?’, but this is when the youngsters need to step up.
“It’s for them to help us become stronger. Duffy came on and was composed. Then seeing how Seamus dealt with Juanfran and how well Jose Baxter did – I’m very proud of them. “Special praise for Tony Hibbert too. Week in week out you can trust him to give 100% and for me having players like that in the team is huge.”
Cahill had a hand in creating the Blues’ goal with a superb header and said it gave him a personal boost. “It’s nice to be involved in the goal. We wanted to press their defenders and Brazilian Jo did well.” Everton will now re-group and assess their squad before Sunday’s match against Spurs. Dan Gosling left the Olympic stadium on crutches and Sylvain Distin (hamstring) and Jo will also keep physio Mick Rathbone as busy as ever.
Europa League triumph will give us boost - Everton boss David Moyes
Dec 3 2009
David Moyes’ appetite for getting Everton back on track has been whetted by last night’s gutsy 1-0 triumph at AEK Athens which saw his team clinch a place in the last 32 of the Europa League. The 46-year-old Scot was heartened by his players’ determination as they ground out a 1-0 victory which saw them qualify for the knockout stage with a game to spare. It was backs-to-the-wall stuff in the closing stages as the Toffees’ makeshift line-up defended the sixth-minute lead given to them by Russia midfielder Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, and the Blues did just enough to earn what was only a second win in 12 matches. “I feel as if the blood is pumping through the veins again,” said a delighted Moyes. “I think that a result and performance like this can get the players going and if it does then that’s great. “This has helped in the past and I’m sure it will boost our confidence but it is still going to be very tough.
“The players know what is required to start getting results and (last night’s) performance will help. “We want to build on this and I think things will be even better when we get some of the players missing through injuries back.” It remains to be seen at what cost Everton’s return to winning ways has come, however, as defenders Dan Gosling and Sylvain Distin, along with striker Jo, were all forced off due to injuries to add to the club’s ever-growing crocked list. “I don’t think Jo’s injury is serious,” Moyes said. “I am concerned about Distin and Dan though as both are both hamstring strains. We will have them assessed tomorrow.” A heavy downpour just before kick-off meant the already fragile pitch deteriorated further, and surface water troubled both teams as the rain continued to fall throughout the first half. Despite the difficult conditions, the visitors, featuring a makeshift central defensive pairing of Distin and Tony Hibbert - who equalled Everton’s European appearance record of 19 matches, held by Colin Harvey and Brian Labone - opened the scoring with their first shot on target. Bilyaletdinov lashed the ball past AEK goalkeeper Sebastian Saja in the sixth minute after collecting Jo’s through-ball following great hold-up play by the Brazilian.
The visitors were content to hold onto their slender advantage thereafter, and Moyes admitted the conditions made life difficult to grind out the result. “I think the conditions did play a part. It was an energy-sapping pitch,” Moyes said. “It was like back to the old days. “I would have enjoyed it in my playing days but I don’t know how some of the players felt about the conditions out there. “I was pleased, especially with the outcome of the game. “The early goal helped us. The young players who came in did really well and I’m delighted with them.” After their 2-0 defeat to Liverpool in last Sunday’s Merseyside derby at Goodison Park, Everton are languishing dangerously close to the relegation zone on just 15 points from 14 games.
And Moyes is hopeful the team can now start to turn their season around.
“(Last night) was a case of needs must and I think the spirit of Everton was apparent among both the younger and more experienced players,” he said.
“They all worked so hard to get the result, it shows there is a heartbeat at the football club and hopefully we can kick on from here and improve our situation.”
Everton fans can meet Blues players in Liverpool stores tomorrow
Dec 3 2009
This Friday sees Louis Saha and Tim Howard in a signing session at Everton One, while shoppers visiting Everton Two at Liverpool One can expect to see Leighton Baines and Club captain Phil Neville. All four players will be in store between 5pm – 6pm and will be happy to sign any item purchased from the store. This is the second player signing session at the Everton stores in the run up to Christmas. After the success of last week’s signings, where hundreds of fans visited the stores to get Everton memorabilia signed by the players and take photos of their heroes, it is sure to be another very special occasion. Commenting on the player signing evenings, Ray Evans, MD of Everton’s retail partner Kitbag said, “We are thrilled to offer fans the chance to meet more of their favourite players. We have a host of promotions available in store for the fans throughout the festive period; including many three for two offers and £10 off all replica home shirts. It is a very exciting time for shoppers.”
Tony Hibbert’s delight at joining list of Everton FC legends
Dec 4 2009 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
TONY HIBBERT today spoke of his pride at writing his name into Everton’s history books during the Blues’ Europa league triumph in Athens. The 28-year-old made his 19th European appearance for the Toffees against AEK on Wednesday, equalling the club record jointly held by Colin Harvey and Brian Labone. Hibbert, who made his European debut against Villarreal in 2005, said: “They are legends so to equal the 19 games of them shows what the club has done and how we have done in Europe in the last three or four years. On a personal note, it does feel a great achievement to equal their record.” And the Huyton-born right back, who has been a mainstay of David Moyes’ Everton teams since the manager’s reign started in 2002, is relishing the opportunity to go on and become a record breaker. “It’s a nice record to have, and hopefully I can go on to beat it if I can avoid injury now,” he said. “The squad that we have now and the way we are playing, we’ve shown in Europe we have the experience. “I don’t see any reason why I can’t have the chance to make more appearances.” Now Hibbert could be asked to reprise the centre-half duties he impressively fulfilled in Greece again on Sunday. The Blues entertain Harry Redknapp’s ambitious Spurs, and Sylvain Distin and Joseph Yobo remain injury doubts. With Jack Rodwell’s involvement also not guaranteed, it could mean a defensive line-up similar to the one which finished the game against AEK.
Australian international Lucas Neill will be available for selection and can also play in central defence. But another potential centre-back, John Heitinga, will be forced to sit out the Goodison clash after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season in last weekend’s derby defeat
Howard Kendall: Blues in positive mood ahead of Tottenham clash
Dec 4 2009 by Our Correspondent, Liverpool Echo
THE arrival of Tottenham at Goodison this weekend poses another big challenge for Everton. Harry Redknapp has spent a lot of money to make Spurs more competitive this season. They went out of the Carling Cup at Old Trafford this week but their main priority is to try and break into the top four in the Premier League. It’s a big ask but they have shown signs already that they are up for the fight and head into the weekend’s round of fixtures third in the table. Harry Redknapp has bought wisely, bringing in players he knows and trusts such as Peter Crouch and Jermaine Defoe; two strikers who provide different threats and will have to be marked carefully should they both play against Everton. It’s a difficult game, but the confidence from Athens, plus a good performance in the derby, mean the Blues will go into Sunday’s game in a positive mood.
Everton FC’s Tony Hibbert is growing in stature
Dec 4 2009 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
AS the saying goes, Tony Hibbert is the sort of man you would want next to you in the trenches. That’s fortunate for his Everton team-mates, because in Athens on Wednesday they were playing on a pitch which at times resembled a Great War battlefield. As fresh casualties dropped to the turf every few minutes, Everton’s players battled in the sludge simply to stay on their feet. But at the heart of a central defence which succeeded in keeping a clean sheet against the odds, there was Tony Hibbert – Everton’s most reliable senior professional. Hibbert was quietly effective, and his broad grin at full time reflected not only his joy at being part of a potentially pivotal win, but pride at entering the club’s record books. The dependable 28-year-old made his 19th European appearance for the Toffees against AEK, equalling the club record jointly held by Colin Harvey and Brian Labone. But it is safe to guess that the unassuming native of Huyton, and schoolboy acquaintance of Steven Gerrard, never imagined he would equal that record playing at centre-half. At 5ft 7in the career right-back has been forced to play there for the Blues thanks to their well-documented injury list. And, as ever, he has let nobody down. Hibbert has played in the heart of central defence in all three Europa League group away games after being sent off away in the qualifying round He said: “When I played at centre-back with Sylvain, he helped me an awful lot. I am not really familiar with the position, but when the manager asks you to play in a different position you do all you can to help the team.”
On Wednesday his task was made even more complex when the comforting presence of Distin was withdrawn thanks to a troublesome hamstring, and untested youngster Shane Duffy replaced him. “Shane came on with Seamus already there at right-back, and both young lads were different class,” said Hibbert. “The older lads helped pull them through it. We knew it would be a difficult night given the conditions and the injury problems we had, but the lads were unbelievable.” Typically, Hibbert does not fret when asked to play out of position. His theory? The art of defending translates across the back four. “There’s no trepidation when I’m asked to play at centre-back,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s still defending although you do have to adjust your position. Having played on the right for so long, it’s a bit weird to get in the right positions, but even when Duffy came on he was helping me with that. But you’ve just got to get on with it. “You do find yourself wanting to wander over to the right wing, but then you remind yourself that you’re playing centre-back and with everyone talking around you, it keeps you in shape.” The only thing which does give Hibbert cause for concern is the alarming rate with which Mick Rathbone’s physio room fills up lately. He no doubt shook his head in disbelief along with every Everton supporter as Wednesday’s game claimed Dan Gosling, Jo and Sylvain Distin. But like David Moyes, Hibbert believes that – on paper at least – the current Everton squad is the most formidable he’s played in. The trick remains to get them all fit and playing.
“The squad now is the strongest during my time here,” he said. “This season, though, the injury problems we have had are frightening. You know you are going to get injuries during a season, but the amount we’ve had is unbelievable. “But we’re a good group of lads. We stay together, get our heads down and keep on playing through it all no matter what.” He also mused how the boost that finally winning a game gave Everton could even propel them to the later stages of the Europa League – after a timely break in proceedings. “Hopefully, the players who are coming back – and they are top-class players, so that’s even better – will be available when we come back to the Europa League in February. The break from the competition can do us good,” he said. Now Hibbert can look forward to potentially coming up against a man nearly a foot taller than him in his next outing. Peter Crouch, the Spurs striker, is almost 6ft 7ins. The pair’s meeting on Sunday at Goodison will be intriguing, and don’t bet against Hibbert coming out on top. In the heart-felt words of his manager: “He has done great in Europe, he's a 'small' centre-back but he's quick and sharp and knows where to be. Tony Hibbert has been a great player for Everton."
THE Big Everton Quiz night takes place tonight at Goodison in the Alex Young suite. Entry is £2 and the quiz, which involves four rounds of Blue-themed questions, starts at 7pm. To book call the events team on 0151 530 5250.
Howard Kendall: Tony Hibbert proved a tower of strength in the middle
Dec 4 2009 by Our Correspondent, Liverpool Echo
IT was great to see Everton progress to the knockout stage of the Europa League with a hard frought win in Athens on Wednesday night. But when are the injury problems going to end? Just as the Blues take a step forward they seem to take two steps backwards. It was always going to be a gamble to play Sylvain Distin, but with the prospect of having to use inexperienced youngsters Shane Duffy and Seamus Coleman at the heart of the defence from the start,David Moyes did what he thought was best. When Distin was forced off, I was particularly impressed with Tony Hibbert’s performance. This wasn’t the first time Hibbert has been drafted into the middle this season and, once again, he was immense. He’s got great defensive qualities but, because of his height, you wouldn’t have him down as a central defender. He reminds me of Michael Ball in that sense. When Michael was coming through we initially earmarked him as a centre-back but his size made him vulnerable in the air so we moved him to left-back. Hibbert has gone the other way when called upon – from right-back to the centre – and has done very well. After the defeat at Hull, Everton’s last two performances have provided good signs. They played very well in the Merseyside derby and deserved something from the game. Of course, if you don’t take your chances you won’t always get your rewards but Everton were desperately unlucky with the first goal. It’s taken a wicked deflection to wrong-foot Tim Howard and changed the course of the game. Despite this the crowd were fantastic. They stayed behind the team throughout. Players never need motivating for a derby but the crowd’s response definitely helps. The fans have been there for the team throughout a difficult spell and will no doubt be in good voice against Tottenham on Sunday.
Everton FC manager David Moyes backs Leighton Baines for England World Cup squad
Dec 5 2009 by Greg O'Keeffe
DAVID Moyes today encouraged Leighton Baines to stake his claim for a place in next summer’s England World Cup squad. The Everton manager believes the Kirkby-born left-back is well placed to play his way into national coach Fabio Capello’s plans for the tournament in South Africa. Baines has already been named in a provisional 30-man squad for England internationals against Slovakia and Ukraine last March, along with team-mates Joleon Lescott and Phil Jagielka. He was watched by Capello’s number two Franco Baldini during last season’s 3-1 win over Stoke at Goodison, and was capped 16 times at Under-21 level. Moyes said: “Bainesey has been in and around it and has a chance. He has got more competition this year. “Stephen Warnock’s performances have improved his chances and obviously Bridge and Cole are in front of him, but he had a really steady year last year and has started well for us this time around. Now he just has to keep his form up.” After a difficult start to his Everton career, Baines became an ever-present last year, and showed why David Moyes signed him from Wigan Athletic for £6m in August 2007. Moyes will give Joseph Yobo every chance to prove his fitness for Sunday’s Spurs clash at Goodison, but Dan Gosling and Sylvain Distin are likely to miss out. Brazilian loan signing Jo is more likely to feature against the London side, despite also limping off against AEK Athens. Moyes wants to use the Europa League win to kick on in the Premier League.
He said: “We hope the win in Athens on Wednesday gives everyone a bit of confidence. “We now know that we're through in the Europa League and we have that to look forward to in February. “But I'm looking first and foremost to get started in the Premier League. We have to put our league form right. We have to get points in the Premiership. And we also want to put an FA Cup run together before Europe comes around again. “But first it's the league and Tottenham at Goodison Park is very important to us. I'm not happy with our form in the Premiership this season.
“We know that our performances should have been better. We're not even thinking about qualifying for Europe next season at the moment. We're not playing well enough for that.” Meanwhile, Motherwell want to keep hold of on-loan Everton pair John Ruddy and Lukas Jutkiewicz. The Everton keeper and striker are scheduled to return to Merseyside when their current contracts with the Steelmen runs out in January. Well boss Jim Gannon said: “I've been able to sit down with the chairman and I discussed the bigger picture.It's just a question of sitting down with them over the next two or three weeks to explain where we see the club going.”
GREG O'KEEFFE: Teen dreams coming true for Everton FC youngsters at Goodison Park
Dec 5 2009 Liverpool Echo
THE kids are more than alright at Everton – they’re outstanding. The fruit of all the hard-work done by Ray Hall and everyone at the Blues’ academy was there for the world to see in the most testing of circumstances on Wednesday night. Some clubs would see it as exacting to have to introduce one 17-year-old to a team in a crunch European tie which to all intents and purposes was a must win. But David Moyes found himself in the situation where he had to ask two 17-year-olds; Jose Baxter and Shane Duffy to step-up to the plate along with largely untested right-back Seamus Coleman. Of course their introduction was partly necessary because two other teenagers in Jack Rodwell and Dan Gosling who have been thrust into the position of first-team regulars, were injured. But as was the case whenever Rodwell and Gosling have been called upon, the trio of academy graduates who helped Everton’s vital win against AEK did not let anybody down. More than that, Seamus Coleman recovered from a debut to forget against Benfica, which would have been a tough night for a seasoned veteran, to a performance which purred with self-assurance and maturity in the ancient Greek capital. If there was a league table of Premier League clubs with the most successful rate of turning academy hopefuls into first team players Everton would surely be running away with it. Time and time again the manager has seen his squad ravaged by injury after injury and looked to his young guns for the answer.
He joked yesterday that there have been times when him and reserve manager Andy Holden, both centre halves in their day, have considered bringing their boots.
A lot of the reasons for the success behind the smooth integration of raw kids into the first team is sewn to the overall family feel of the club. Senior players go out of their way to make the youngsters feel at home and take them under their wing.
Tim Cahill in particular has been looking out for the latest trio off the production line, and the difference which a few words of praise and gentle guidance from Everton’s star players makes to their confidence cannot be underestimated. It’s normally Phil Neville who reaches out, but the Aussie has assumed that responsibility with as much professionalism and fervour as he has the captain’s arm-band. The veteran first teamers are aware that the Blues’ teenage starlets are, to some extent, being asked to run before they can walk in terms of the level they have competed at. In one sense it is a fantastic opportunity which does not exist at many big clubs like Everton.
But on the other hand it is a big ask- and thankfully one that they have all responded to with aplomb. Long may it continue
Marouane Fellaini and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov are finding their feet at Everton now - David Moyes
Dec 5 2009 by Greg O'Keeffe
IT IS sometimes easy to forget amid all the talk of big transfer fees and even bigger hair, just how young Everton’s Belgian enigma Marouane Fellaini is. The former Standard Liege recruit celebrated only his 22nd birthday last month, with the team’s fortunes at a perilously low ebb. Fellaini may look older than 22, and is now into his second full season as a premier league player, but he is still young enough to be learning. During that learning curve though, he has fast become a major talking point among supporters. What is his best position? Is his work-rate good enough? Have we yet seen his new potential? Fellaini has been the name on bluenoses’ lips perhaps more than any other player since his £15m arrival. He did not enjoy the smoothest of pre-seasons, laid low with a virus and losing enough weight to concern his manager.
But the laid-back midfielder has gone about quietly answering the doubters with a string of recent superlative performances in a blue jersey. Likewise an even newer recruit, Diniyar Bilyaletdinov. The 24-year-old has spoken candidly of the big differences between the Russian top flight and the Premier League, and how getting up to speed has been a tall order. He has had to contend with the frustration of a three-match ban after a straight red-card against Aston Villa which said more about his attempts to embrace the tackling art of the English game than any malicious streak.
Then he fluffed a chance in last weekend’s Goodison derby that could have set Everton on the way to a deserved victory. Instead of moping or allowing his confidence to dip, the former Lokomotiv Moscow scored a vital early goal in the next game against AEK and led the charge from midfield in the rain of Athens.
The two examples of players responding positively to pressure have not gone unnoticed by their manager David Moyes. “Felli has played very well and I think I always said that he would find the start of this season a struggle. “I’m not saying that’s proved to be right but he has certainly shown better form in the last few games and a bit more maturity as well. “His English is beginning to improve. He has been here just over a year now and he had a really good first season in the English premier league. “It’s a hard league to come into and make an impact and he did that. His goals were important. He was a bit unlucky to not score last Sunday against Liverpool, and a good save kept him out but he is still getting into one or two positions to score and I hope he does because we relied on goals from him and Tim last season.” Moyes is also keenly aware that Bilyaletdinov may need a season before he shows the full palette of his considerable artistry. “Bily took his goal well against AEK. If he had scored against Liverpool as well he would have been getting close to being one of the top scorers at the club, so for someone who is having to contend with a difficult start he has had a contribution in some ways,” he said. “As I said, I think it might be next season before he gets used to the Premier League. Also it’s now the end of the Russian league season. His season is officially finished and he is in over-time. “I’ll need to see (how his fitness is affected). I just don’t have people available to give him a break because we don’t have any options. “The physical development will come. Like when Mikel Arteta came to the premier league, and Steven Pienaar they weren’t necessarily physical players but they developed and are able to cope with it now. “It’s just time and getting stronger and understanding what’s required. They will get their strength work done here as well, which will help, but it’s more about the understanding.” Both players are likely to figure against resurgent Spurs on Sunday, and Moyes knows it won’t be easy. He said: “They are capable of challenging for the top four with the squad they’ve got. “They’ve always been spenders and Harry Redknapp has brought some good players in. Peter Crouch is a big threat and that’s why he’s been a good player wherever he’s been.”
BARRY HORNE: Everton's Athens win must be followed up in Premier League
Dec 5 2009 Liverpool Echo
IT has been a week of typically mixed fortunes for Everton and Evertonians.
Like most people I left the derby feeling strangely optimistic, despite the fact we’d just lost to a poor Liverpool team. The highlight of the afternoon was undoubtedly Steven Pienaar’s return. He was the main reason for a much improved performance and gave us a reminder of what we’ve been missing in terms of quality through the absence of himself, Phil Jagielka and Mikel Arteta. Such is the confusion surrounding the failed stadium move proposal, and the financial situation at Everton right now, I fear Pienaar could be targeted by other clubs, if not in January certainly next summer given the continued good form he’s shown. In between the derby and Wednesday night’s game in Athens I was asked in several interviews the same cliched question as to whether the Europa League is a good or bad thing for Everton.
My answer is always the same; it’s better to be in that out of any competition you enter. A seriously patched up team pulled together in Athens to produce a favourable result, albeit against a club whose financial state of affairs make Everton look like Manchester City. The result came at a cost in terms of injuries, but it was fantastic to see Dimitar Bilyaletdinov put his derby day hesitancy behind him to finish exquisitely with his left foot. I’m really pleased we’ve reached the kncockout stages, plus with a game to spare. It provides some optimism moving forward. Of our next five or six league games the perceived wisdom is that we have a few matches where we can pick up points. I’m not necessarily talking about Tottenham and Chelsea but some of the games after that. We can get something from Spurs at home this weekend but the chances are that Chelsea will beat us as things stand. If we don’t get anything from these two games though - against two very good teams – it’s important we don’t get carried away with being sucked into things at the wrong end of the table.
Based on where we are in the league, the subsequent games with Burnley and Birmingham are the really big games for Everton. Like it or not we’re at the wrong end of the table and need to beat the teams around us.
How do agents earn their money?
There’s been a lot of talk about agents fees this week. It’s said a figure of £70-plus million has been paid by clubs to agents. I’d guess this is nowhere near the actual figure that’s gone out of English football. Reading many of the articles agents were talking about their role as if they were going to get their boots on and run out on the pitch, claiming themselves to be essential and ‘totally necessary’ in oiling the wheels of the transfer. Yet nowhere did I actually see any of them explain quite what it is they do that is so essential and necessary. A top QC can expect to earn several hundred pounds an hour after many years of training and providing an expert service.
I wonder what the hourly rate of agents in some of the recent transfers would work out at? I can’t understand why club chairmen, chief executives and some managers are doing so little about it.
Everton FC 0-0 Tottenham: Half Time Report
Dec 6 2009
EVERTON belied their injury problems as they put up a real fight against fourth-placed Tottenham in a goalless first half at Goodison Park. The patched-up Toffees lost Joseph Yobo with a 15th-minute recurrence of a hamstring problem but were lucky not to have midfielder Maroune Fellaini sent off for an elbow on Peter Crouch.
Neill moved into the centre to join fellow full-back Hibbert and Coleman took his place on the right of defence. Referee Andre Marriner then incensed the home crowd by booking Rodwell for a late tackle on Kranjcar despite the midfielder appearing to get the ball first. Despite his propensity for being caught offside Jo showed he posed a threat to the Spurs defence with a low snap-shot from the left of the penalty area which went just wide of the far post. However, his inconsistency was no more evident than when Coleman, showing no nerves on his first Goodison outing, and Pienaar combined down the right. The latter’s cross into the six-yard area was tailor-made for the Brazilian but he got his legs in a tangle and bundled the ball wide.
Dawson was booked for bringing down Cahill and then Leighton Baines curled a free-kick which had Gomes diving to his left. But Defoe remained a danger and when Palacios and Kranjcar combined through the inside-right channel the striker whipped a shot inches outside the far post. In the 36th minute Assou-Ekotto was lucky to escape with a yellow card after appearing to scrape his boot down the back of Cahill’s head as the pair lay on the floor and then pushing the Australia midfielder and Marouane Fellaini. Fellaini was also cautioned in the same incident, which prompted the Belgium midfielder to explode with rage and he should have been sent off seconds later for elbowing Crouch. Once the football resumed Hibbert’s perfectly-timed tackle and Howard’s large frame twice denied Defoe.
Everton FC 2-2 Tottenham: Full Time Match Report
Dec 6 2009 By David Randles at Goodison
THE green shoots of recovery continued to flourish at Goodison as Everton displayed the fighting spirit to come from two goals behind to draw 2-2 with Tottenham.
An injury time penalty save by Tim Howard from Jermain Defoe ensured a point apiece from a pulsating encounter in which Louis Saha and then Tim Cahill cancelled out goals from Defoe and Michael Dawson. Following on from a positive derby performance last week and reaching the knockout stage of the Europa League with a hard fought victory in Athens in midweek, Everton halted an alarming run of form that had previously yielded just six points from a possible 24 in the league.
After a positive first half display, hope of taking anything from this game appeared to be extinguished within 15 minutes of the restart when Tottenham romped into a two-goal lead. Instead, Everton dug deep to fight back and earn a morale boosting draw against the Premier League high-flyers. With Sylvain Distin and Dan Gosling joining the injury list in midweek, Everton could at least welcome back Joseph Yobo and Jack Rodwell for the visit of Spurs. Yobo’s return proved only a temporary reprieve for David Moyes however, who was forced to withdraw the Nigerian international after just 15 minutes following what appeared to be a recurrence of the hamstring problem that saw him limp out of the derby a week earlier. As in Athens, Moyes had to reshuffle his pack, bringing on Seamus Coleman who went to right-back while Lucas Neill slotted in next to Tony Hibbert at the heart of the defence. A bright first half brought plenty of goalmouth action at both ends. How it remained goalless at the break was a mystery. Early pressure from Everton saw Diniyar Bilyaletdinov attempt to thread Jo in, the ball ricocheting off Sebastien Bassong forcing a save from Heurelho Gomes after just two minutes. Tottenham then went straight up the other end to win a corner; Michael Dawson heading over the crossbar. The game pointed towards an open, free-flowing affair when Jack Rodwell then tested Gomes following some neat link-up play with Steven Pienaar. And all this in the first five minutes. Tottenham’s 4-1-3-2 formation makes them dangerous on the break however, and it was Aaron Lennon who caused the Everton defence problems nine minutes in.
Picking up the ball from Wilson Palacios, the England winger weaved between Blue shirts to play Peter Crouch in on the edge of the area. With the Gwladys Street appealing for offside, Crouch spun swiftly to fire a shot high over the bar.
Just three minutes later Tim Howard had to save well from Jermain Defoe as Tottenham swept forward again. This time it was Tom Huddlestone driving through the middle who picked out Defoe 20-yards away from goal. The diminutive striker made the most of a Tony Hibbert slip to skip inside and shoot straight at Howard who saved with his feet. Rodwell picked up a harsh booking after 20 minutes for what appeared to be a perfectly timed challenge on Niko Kranjcar before a positive burst forward from Coleman sent panic through the visitor’s defence when the youngster’s low cross drew Gomes off his line only for Dawson to slide the ball out for a corner.
Rodwell’s clipped ball forward then picked out Jo inside the Spurs penalty area. With seemingly nowhere to go, the Brazilian turned inside his marker to get a low shot away that saw Gomes stretching as it fizzed past the far post.
Jo should have broken the deadlock shortly after when Pienaar’s drilled cross found him bearing down on goal on the edge of the six-yard box. Under pressure, the Blues forward fluffed the chance, getting the ball caught in his feet to see it out for a goalkick. Sustained Everton pressure led to Dawson booked for a foul on Tim Cahill. The resultant freekick saw Gomes diving to his left to prevent Leighton Baines’ goalbound effort hitting the back of the net. Next it was Tottenham’s turn as Defoe flashed a shot across goal after Vedran Corluka played him in 12 minutes before the break. Goodison sprang to its feet when Benoit Assou-Ekotto decided to take on both Marouane Fellaini and Tim Cahill following a couple of meaty challenges on the Spurs left-back. As handbags ensued, both Ekotto and Fellaini were booked by referee Andre Marriner toward the end of an entertaining half of football. With Ekotto walking a tightrope, Harry Redknapp replaced him with Gareth Bale at the interval but it was on the other side of the pitch where Everton would soon be found wanting.
It took just two minutes for all of Everton’s hard work in the opening 45 to be undone when Defoe ghosted in behind Hibbert to divert Lennon’s cross past the stranded Howard for his 13th goal of the season and 12th in the league. Until then, Everton coped well with Defoe’s threat restricting the Premier League’s top scorer to long range efforts. However, the England international showed how deadly he can be when afforded space inside the area, something that will annoy Moyes when he looks at the replay. Defoe was involved again when Howard was called on to make a finger-tip save just moments later to prevent Tottenham doubling their lead. The striker’s knockdown found Crouch who aimed shot toward the bottom corner before Howard leapt to his left to get a crucial touch. Eleven minutes later, Everton were two-nil down. Again, there was little Howard could do as Neill stood and watched Dawson come on to Kranjicar’s corner to bury his header. That prompted Moyes to bring on Louis Saha and Yakubu for Jo and Rodwell, sacrificing the defensive midfielder for a more attacking formation. The introduction of the attacking pair gave Everton added impetus going forward but, with the luxury of a two-goal cushion, Spurs were able to retreat deeper as the Blues pressed for an equaliser. This made the visitors more difficult to break down but also dangerous on the break, with the pace of Lennon on the right always a threat. With 18 minutes remaining, Cahill was booked for a trip on the pacy winger. It was an unwanted birthday present for the midfielder who will now miss next week’s trip to Chelsea. Bale was next into the book for a late challenge on Coleman a few minutes before Crouch spurned the chance to put the game beyond reach, dragging a shot wide after Corluka split the Blues defence open.
How telling that was when a minute later Saha got Everton back into it, finishing superbly from close range after great work fro Coleman on the right.
With 10 minutes to go, Bilyaletdinov shot inches wide as Everton pressed for the equaliser. It eventually came seven minutes later when Cahill stooped to head a Leighton Baines cross-come-shot past Gomes. However, all of Everton’s late endeavour was nearly wiped out when Tottenham were awarded an injury time penalty after Hibbert fouled Palacios with just two minutes remaining.
Instead, Howard saved brilliantly with his feet from Defoe as the Blues held out for a well earned point.
Everton 2, Tottenham 2: Fortune finally looks kindly on David Moyes' men
Dec 7 2009 By Ian Doyle
CONTEMPLATING his team’s recent poor form in his matchday programme notes, David Moyes was compelled to repeat an oft-quoted mantra. "There’s a saying that ‘the harder you work, the luckier you become’," said the Goodison manager.
"Maybe we need to work harder and our luck will change." The benefits of that approach were evident yesterday as a dazed Everton dragged themselves off the canvas to fight their way to an unlikely point and take another step forward on the road to recovery. Two goals down after an hour with an already makeshift defence further stretched by Joseph Yobo’s enforced first-half exit, only some slack finishing from free-scoring Tottenham Hotspur kept a faint flicker of hope alive for Everton.
Moyes’s side could easily have thrown in the towel. But, invigorated by a bold double attacking substitution, they dug deep to make the most of their respite, as Louis Saha pulled one back before Tim Cahill celebrated his 30th birthday with a dramatic 87th-minute equaliser. Even then, Tim Howard was forced to make an injury-time penalty save from Jermain Defoe to copper-bottom Everton’s fightback. Seasons have turned on less. And Moyes will hope the penny has finally dropped with his players after a week from which everyone at Goodison should take great encouragement.
Yes, Everton have still not claimed victory at home in league since September 20, have won only two of their last 13 games in all competitions and stand a worrying three points off the relegation zone with Christmas on the horizon. But, after gaining immense honour in derby defeat last Sunday and Europa League progress three days later, this was another welcome confidence boost on an afternoon Goodison rediscovered its voice. And the fans could hail a new hero. Everton’s chronic injury problems have opened a window of opportunity for a clutch of the club’s youngsters, and yesterday it was the chance for Seamus Coleman to impress on his Premier League debut as substitute for the hamstrung Yobo. The Republic of Ireland under- 21 international suffered a harrowing experience at left-back on his first senior appearance in the 5-0 Europa League defeat at Benfica in October but, in his more accustomed role of right- back, he shone brightest here, playing a part in both Everton’s goals and a constant attacking menace throughout. Saha’s goal-scoring knack remains undimmed – this was his 11th of the season on, curiously, his 100th appearance as a substitute since arriving in England – and when both he and Yakubu were introduced shortly after the hour, Everton began to ask questions of a Tottenham defence that all-too-readily crumbled under the pressure to cast doubt on their capability of breaking into the top four. Of course, barely six months ago it was Everton who were the most likely to end the Premier League’s quadopoly. Circumstances have since changed, yet the evidence yesterday may well leave Moyes to ponder on what might have been. There remain concerns for the Goodison manager, however. The injury crisis shows no sign of abating, with both Sylvain Distin and Dan Gosling sidelined yesterday by hamstring problems sustained in Athens. After a honeymoon period, Diniyar Bilyaletdinov is becoming an increasingly peripheral figure as he grows accustomed to the hurly-burly of the English game. And although ending a 12-game goal drought, Cahill received the unwanted birthday card of a booking that rules him out of Saturday’s assignment at leaders Chelsea.
Another game, another defensive line-up. Tony Hibbert started alongside Yobo at centre- back, but was soon joined by Lucas Neill, the Australian celebrating his 500th appearance in English football. Such defensive disruption has become a depressing norm for Everton in the past two months, and no matter the commitment or determination of those filling the breach, that shortcoming will eventually be exposed.
And while it took Tottenham until the second half to find a way through, the warning signs had been there from as early as the eighth minute when Peter Crouch blasted over when put into space by Aaron Lennon. Defoe, though, was the biggest danger, striking Howard’s legs after being freed by Tom Huddlestone, sending an improvised volley over from Niko Kranjcar’s cross and sweeping an inviting effort wide after incisive pass from the same source. On the backfoot for the most part, Moyes’s side enjoyed a purple patch midway through the half. Moments after Coleman’s low cross caused consternation in the Spurs’ penalty area, Rodwell clipped a ball into the box towards Jo, who swivelled and dragged a shot narrowly across the face of goal.
The striker, though, should have done a lot better with Steven Pienaar’s right-wing cross to the near post, failing with an elaborate left-footed flick when a simple finish with the right foot would have sufficed. Tempers flared eight minutes before the break when, after bumping Marouane Fellaini off the ball, Benoit Assou-Ekotto appeared to rake his studs down the back of Cahill’s head after the pair tumbled to the ground.
Fellaini, still unhappy with the earlier challenge, raced to confront the Tottenham left-back and, after a brief handbags session, the pair were booked by referee Andre Marriner. That, however, riled Fellaini even further until the Belgian was physically dragged away by Pienaar before he could talk himself into a red card. Home resistance was finally ended in the 47th minute, inevitably through Defoe. When Everton failed to properly clear Howard’s punch out, the visitors fed the ball to Lennon on the right who crossed to the near post where Defoe, having momentarily lost the attentions of Hibbert, did the rest. It knocked the stuffing out of Everton, with Crouch just inches away from doubling Tottenham’s advantage with a shot Howard did brilliantly to turn behind – even if the save wasn’t spotted by the officials. But Tottenham didn’t have to wait long for their second, which arrived shortly before the hour. After Huddlestone’s shot was deflected behind, Kranjcar curled the resultant corner to the far post where a dozing Neill allowed Michael Dawson to crash a diving header beyond Howard.
Substitute Gareth Bale and Crouch both came close to extending the lead before the dynamic of the game changed on 78 minutes when Coleman danced beyond Bale down the Everton right and crossed to the near post where Saha stabbed home.
Game on. Saha came close with a spectacular overhead kick before Everton drew level three minutes from time, Coleman’s cross from the right reaching Baines on the opposite flank, the left-back driving a shot into the floor and Cahill stopping to head home from six yards. But Everton’s comeback almost counted for nothing as, deep into injury time, Crouch nodded a long ball into the path of the incoming Wilson Palacios, who was barged off the ball by Hibbert inside the area. Howard, though, guessed right and saved Defoe’s spot kick with his legs. It was the little bit of luck Everton’s hard work had earned. They know more will be required at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
Everton FC 2, Tottenham 2: Seamus Coleman could be mustard
Dec 7 2009 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool
GOODISON PARK has witnessed more than its fair share of seismic debuts from youngsters in royal blue. From the era of a fearless 16-year-old Joe Royle to a rampaging Wayne Rooney, the Old Lady has had a habit of smiling kindly on potential prodigies. Now Seamus Coleman, not long 21-years-old, has added his name to folklore with a home debut which suggested he is a young man on the brink of an illustrious career. That the Donegal-born defender has recovered from a career-threatening foot injury in the summer and an away debut to forget against Benfica, adds an extra fateful flourish to his story. Then to play such a memorable part in a morale-boosting draw for the Blues, from the less eye-catching role of right-back, hints that once again Everton have plucked a star. Yet it was almost a case of what might have been for David Moyes. His team produced a spirited performance in a thoroughly absorbing first half, but were still 2-0 down within 15 minutes of the second. They were self-inflicted wounds too. Indeed, Evertonians could have been forgiven for thinking that all the talk of a turning point being found in Athens was about to be made redundant. The Blues had welcomed Joseph Yobo back into the heart of defence alongside Tony Hibbert, with Lucas Neill coming back into the side at right-back. Moyes also asked Steven Pienaar and Marouane Fellaini to fire the midfield by continuing their fine form. The pair were soon at the heart of some excellent play, linking up with Tim Cahill on the edge of the Spurs’ box with swift one-touch passing. Then another delightful touch from Pienaar sent Rodwell racing through, but his shot under pressure from Ekotto was straight at Gomes.
Spurs for their part are not sitting pretty in the top four for no reason. A surging run from the tricky Aaron Lennon, saw him play through an offside Peter Crouch who nevertheless blasted his shot over the Gwladys Street bar. Then Lennon showed more skill to nip the ball masterfully past Leighton Baines, and fire in a low cross with just too much pace on it to reach a lurking Defoe. A deft through ball from Bilyaletdinov played in Jo who will know he should have done better by latching on to it, and at least testing the hap-hazard Gomes. Instead the Brazilian failed to anticipate the pass properly and never really looked like capitalising. Then fate played its hand. Similar to Distin in mid-week, Yobo’s hamstring lasted just 16 minutes before he was forced off in discomfort to be replaced by Coleman who slotted in at right-back. Everton’s defence suddenly seemed alarmingly short on height in the face of Spurs’ onslaught but the Blues were full of fight. A crunching but perfectly timed tackle by Rodwell on Kranjcar saw the teenager win the ball with no complaints from the felled Croatian.
Inexplicably ref Andre Marriner booked the Everton midfielder, unaided by any interjection of logic from his assistant who had enjoyed an even better view.
Then at the second attempt Coleman did well to burst into the Spurs box, and whip a low cross into the area which panicked Gomez and had to be sliced out for a corner by Dawson. Dawson was booked on half an hour for a scything tackle on Cahill when he won far less of the ball than Rodwell. Then a Baines free-kick drew a diving save from Brazilian Gomes. If Rodwell was harshly booked earlier, he was perhaps fortunate not to receive a second booking when he was late on Lennon but was saved by some common sense from the official. It was rare prudence from the referee though, as he then booked Fellaini for having the temerity to mildly object to being pushed by Ekotto, after a scuffle with Cahill. Coleman was already building on the promise he showed in midweek against AEK, offering intelligence and delivery in attack along with defensive nouse. Another great raking ball from the Irishman played in Pienaar who was wiped out by Bassong for a free-kick on the edge of the area near to the touch line. Everton’s manager was no doubt full of praise and encouragement at half time, and his players should have started were they left off. Instead they were a goal down within two minutes of the re-start. Lennon crossed for Defoe, and Hibbert allowed the England striker to drift ahead of him and side foot himself to the top of the goal scoring charts with his 13th strike of the season. Alone in attack, Jo was appearing increasingly ineffectual but before Moyes could asses and make his changes, Lucas Neill allowed Michael Dawson to burst past him and score with a bullet header from a Kranjcar corner. All of Everton’s attacking gusto and tenacity seemed to have been rendered academic within 15 minutes. Enter Louis Saha and Yakubu, as the Everton manager reacted decisively to the set-back which could have killed the game. Stand-in skipper Cahill received a yellow card to go with his 30th birthday ones for a trip on the flying Lennon, ensuring he misses next weekend’s trip to Chelsea. The odds on a Blue fight-back were looking poor. But then another splendid surge into the box by Coleman left Bale stranded, and his low cross was blasted home by Saha with a flourish. Minutes later the rejuvenated Blues were nearly level when Bilyaletdinov latched onto a Fellaini knock down, twisted and turned in the box and fired just agonisingly wide. Saha then just missed with an over head kick from Pienaar’s peach of a cross. The stage was set for late drama. Coleman was involved in a move which fed Baines, and the left-back’s low driven cross was headed home by Cahill. As the Aussie unleashed his trademark right –left combination on the Gwladys Street corner flag, Goodison Park rocked like never before this season.
Everton had only to see out four minutes injury time to take a point. It seemed straight forward enough, until Tony Hibbert body checked Wilson Palacios in the Everton box and Marriner pointed to the spot. Defoe prepared to seal the points but Howard – after a word in his ear from Saha – guessed right and pulled off an impressive save.
The final whistle was greeted with clenched fists and relief all around. David Moyes headed straight over to hug Tim Howard, no doubt recalling why he rates the American as one of his three best Everton signings. Howard left the pitch safe in the knowledge that he had earned his wages, maybe dreaming of thwarting Defoe again in next Summer's World Cup. Moyes then sought out Coleman for a slap on the back, aware like everyone else, that the defender had enjoyed an afternoon which will linger in the memory. Everton’s season is alive and back on track
Tim Cahill - Everton FC deserved Tottenham draw
Dec 7 2009 by Our Correspondent, Liverpool
TIM CAHILL insisted Everton deserved the point after fighting back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Tottenham at Goodison Park.
Tim Howard saved a last-minute penalty in an early World Cup one-on-one between the American goalkeeper and England striker Jermain Defoe as the Toffees avoided defeat after Louis Saha and Cahill had cancelled out goals from Defoe and Michael Dawson. “We tried our hardest,” Cahill said. “We went down, picked ourselves up and Tim Howard produced a great save and I guess there’s a bit of justice.”
Howard was given some advice by substitute Saha during a lengthy delay between Wilson Palacios being fouled for the spot-kick and it being taken. The instructions appeared to have been relayed from the home dugout. “He gave me a word of advice,” Howard confirmed. “I kind of new what to expect. “There’s so much video now that there’s not one penalty taken that’s not there to see. “You try your best not to leave any stone unturned.” Blues boss David Moyes had feared another league loss when Spurs opened up their two-goal advantage. “I was thinking it was going to be worse but credit to the boys,” Moyes said. “They got a great result.” Youngster Seamus Coleman, a first-half replacement for injured defender Joseph Yobo, provided the thrust for Everton’s attacking resurgence late in the game. “He undoubtedly changed it,” beamed Moyes. “He did really well.”
David Moyes praises Everton FC youngster Seamus Coleman
Dec 7 2009 by Our Correspondent, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES led the plaudits for Seamus Coleman after the youngster produced a man-of-the-match display to help Everton salvage a point against Tottenham.
The 21-year-old defender was handed a baptism of fire on his debut in the 5-0 defeat at Benfica in October before coming on as a late substitute in the 3-2 loss at Bolton later that same month. However, following an impressive performance in last week’s 1-0 win in Athens, that saw Everton reach the last 32 of the Europa League, Coleman caught the eye yesterday after being forced into action as a 15th minute replacement for the injured Joseph Yobo. The £150,000 summer signing from Sligo Rovers played a vital part in Louis Saha’s goal that hauled Everton back into the game and his manager was delighted with his contribution. “He was undoubtedly man of the match,” said Moyes. “His run for our first goal was excellent and he’s played really well throughout. “He got forward and made a difference for us at times.
“After the game at Benfica, which was really difficult for him, the boy has come on a tonne, he really has. “He played left-back at Benfica but played in his preferred position at right-back against Tottenham and showed what he’s all about.”
With the match goalless at the break, Everton had to dig deep to earn a draw after goals from Jermain Defoe and Michael Dawson handed Tottenham a two goal cushion early in the second half. Added Moyes: “At 2-0 down, with the team they had out, you’re thinking it could get a lot worse. But credit to the boys, they kept at it and got a great result. “It could be an important point for us. The players are beginning to see that we’re going to have to work really hard and stick together.
“There’s a really good spirit amongst them. While they have that, there’s always hope. That spirit will help us until we regain some of the numbers we need to get back.”
Moyes pulled off a masterstroke when, at 2-0 down, he sent on Louis Saha and Yakubu. “I was thinking of putting them on at 1-0 down to be honest,” revealed the Blues boss. “I thought we contained Tottenham as best we could in the first half. Both sides had chances but I wanted to see how it went after the break.
“Obviously when they got the goal right after half-time I was contemplating making the changes sooner.” Saha grabbed his 11th goal of the season to kickstart the revival after replacing Jo, leaving Moyes to answer why he chose not to start with the Frenchman. He explained: “I thought Jo played really well last week and he also did well today for 60 minutes or so. “Louis, by his own admission, has been a little bit under it. He’s not been playing as well as he had been, plus he’s been carrying a bit of an injury. “We’ve tried to bring him back. He’s had various bits of treatment at different places over the last few weeks or so. We’re trying to get him back to his best.” Moyes contested the injury time penalty that saw Spurs midfielder Wilson Palacios stretchered off following a clash with Tony Hibbert. He will feel justice was served when Tim Howard saved Defoe’s spot-kick and says it was time his team enjoyed some luck. “My first thought was that it was a penalty but I’m not so convinced that a defender’s not allowed to go for a ball in that position.
“Someone will always get there before somebody else. That’s part of football. If it’s outrageously badly timed then it’s a penalty kick. But I don’t think it was outrageously badly timed. It was a harsh penalty kick. “We were due a bit of luck and I think we’ve earned it. The boys stuck at it and never gave in. Maybe we got that luck when Tim has made a very good save, a vital save. “We’ve come back and tried to get back into it. It’s not like at 2-0 down we’ve given up. We’ve earned a little bit of fortune.”
Gordon Brown: ‘I will revive Everton FC stadium, shops dream’
Dec 7 2009 by Rob Merrick, Liverpool
GORDON Brown has personally stepped in to try to save Everton’s aborted plans for a new stadium in Kirkby. The prime minister has asked for high-level talks to focus on reviving the proposal for a 50,000-capacity stadium and a Tesco store, but without the accompanying shops that led to the scheme's rejection. Under the new plan, the huge additional retail space would instead be built in Kirby town centre proper – one of the centres that a planning inspector ruled would be damaged by the original proposal. Intriguingly, the rescue plan will be put forward after Mr Brown urged his ministers to find a way out of the wreckage of “Destination Kirkby”.
The prime minister is concerned not only about the impact of the rejection on the region, but also its effect on England's troubled bid to win the 2018 World Cup.
The bid organisers believe Liverpool – with its proud footballing heritage and fanaticism for the sport – simply must have a modern stadium good enough to host some of the matches. Now Phil Woolas, the “Minister for the North West”, will meet senior officials from Knowsley council and, later, Tesco chiefs to try to breathe new life into the Kirkby move. Senior government figures believe they enjoy some leverage over Tesco because the food giant's big expansion plans include proposed stores at major sporting venues, including the Old Trafford cricket ground.
Furthermore, Tesco chief executive, Sir Terry Leahy, is a lifelong Everton supporter and is known to have been bitterly disappointed by the Kirkby knockback.
Mr Woolas said: "This issue is far from over and the needs of Everton Football Club are still real. "The government is committed to the regeneration of both Kirby and Skelmersdale and we will be working behind the scenes with all parties to see if we can take forward a Plan B. "We are not going to leave this to the free market. I will be meeting with local civic leaders to use government power to intervene in this."
Mr Woolas will report back to the prime minister on progress. A key issue is whether the stadium, Tesco and other shops can still be part of a single planning application – with Mr Woolas convinced they can be. George Howarth, the Knowsley North and Sefton East MP, who supported the project, said it was "too early to say" whether the rescue plan could succeed. But he added: "There are high-level talks and it's very encouraging that Phil Woolas, with the blessing of the prime minister, is engaging with Knowsley Council, Tesco and others to see what can be done."
It is 12 days since Communities secretary John Denham decided the £400m Destination Kirkby project would breach shopping policies designed to prevent supermarket chains from sucking business away from town centres.
However, ministers sensed a chink of light with the inspector's conclusion that it was the large amount of accompanying retail – not the Tesco store – that broke the guidelines. After the Kirkby decision, Everton chairman Bill Kenwright told the ECHO “in terms of Kirkby the chapter is over and the book is closed.”
However government sources believe the club does still retain an interest in reviving the project, provided other parties do the “heavy lifting”.
Louis Saha aims to climb goalscoring charts for Everton FC
Dec 8 2009 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
LOUIS SAHA today set his sights on firing Everton up the league table – and climbing up the Premier League goalscorer charts in the process. The French striker, who has struggled with injury this season, scored the Blues’ first goal against Spurs on Sunday and hopes his team-mates take confidence from the eventual hard-won point.
The strike was Saha’s ninth of the season and he said: “It’s an important goal for the team and every goal gives us confidence. It’s a shame that we conceded a penalty at the last minute but Tim did well.” Ex-Fulham and Manchester United striker Saha was shown whispering into Tim Howard’s ear by the TV cameras, moments before the American thwarted Jermain Defoe’s spot-kick. And Saha revealed: “Yes I gave him the advice of the bench which was to make his mind up quick, and I think that’s why he was moving just before the strike by Jermain. It was a great save.
“Seamus Coleman was amazing too but I’m not surprised at all. I think he has great quality and he has shown real character in a hard game.” Saha also revealed that he has enjoyed some banter with South African team-mate Steven Pienaar since the World Cup draw pitched France and the host nation together in the same group.
He said: “Yeah we have had a little (banter) it’s great. For both teams in a World Cup you are going to come up against big confident players, world class players.”
And Saha added that he has not given up on a place in the France squad. “Yes, it’s something I try to just put on the side and concentrate on my form with Everton in every game,” he said. He is disappointed at the ongoing fall-out from Thierry Henry’s controversial hand-ball against the Republic of Ireland, which secured France’s qualification. He said: “It’s a shame that people talk too much about the decision – it was not a last minute decision and there was plenty of time for them to score another goal. I think France did its job.”
NIGEL MARTYN: Tim Howard is Everton FC’s super saver
Dec 8 2009 Liverpool
EVERY so often you will come away from a game when a save has been more important than a goal and that was certainly the case for Everton on Sunday.
Had the Blues suffered last-gasp heartache against Tottenham Hotspur, after working so hard to get back into the contest, there is no telling what damage it might have inflicted to a precariously balanced season. True, we bounced back from losing to Aston Villa in a similar way 12 months ago but the injury crisis was nowhere near as bad then as it is now, while our position in the table was a lot more positive.
So for Tim Howard to come up trumps and keep Jermain Defoe’s penalty out could turn out to be the defining moment of Everton’s campaign – the lift it will give to everyone in the squad should not be underestimated. Some people, of course, will still quibble about the quality of Everton’s performances but one thing that is never in doubt is the spirit, resilience and character in the ranks. Tim has been at the club almost four years now and he embodies all that is good at Goodison Park but, more than anything, he is an outstanding keeper. I’ve said it before on many occasions on these pages he is up there with the best and you can see how much homework he does to prepare. In my early days as a professional, you had to rely on judging a penalty taker’s body language or hope to win a battle of wills but now the saturation of coverage means keepers are seldom surprised in penalty situations.
Still, it is easier said than done keeping a spot kick out, so Tim deserves every bit of praise that has come his way for keeping that kick out; it could just kick start Everton back to life. Yes, it will be difficult going to Stamford Bridge on Saturday, especially with Chelsea being in such fine form at home and our resources being stretched to the limit. David Moyes desperately needs some central defenders to return to fitness, as Lucas Neill and Tony Hibbert – honest though they are – do not offer the same kind of protection that Sylvain Distin or Joseph Yobo would provide. At least, though, we can head to Stamford Bridge on a high because drawing with Tottenham in some ways felt like a win. It has been a difficult few months but all being well, Tim’s save and the fight back, gives hope for the future.
Blues should push for European glory in New Year
IF Everton’s form in the Premier League has been patchy this season, it has been assured in Europe. Yes, there was a freak result in Benfica and we couldn’t get near the Portuguese side at Goodison Park but we’ve dealt with our other opponents comfortably. The Europa League might not be to everybody’s tastes but as we are going to be in the last 32 come the New Year, I see no reason why Everton should not give it anything other than their best shot. Our chances of qualifying for the tournament next year via our league placing is rescinding and it might be that we have to win the tournament to be involved again. That, of course, is a long shot but it is important to have aims and David Moyes will be eager to boost Everton’s profile in Europe. Provided we have no worries with the squad, it makes sense to push for Hamburg after progress was assured by beating AEK Athens last week.
World Cup draw just the ticket for England
WORLD Cup fever has started to grip the nation and hopes are high after the draw was made for next summer’s finals. As a proud Englishman, I was absolutely delighted that we were paired with the United States, Algeria and Slovenia and we have got to be looking to progress from Group C as winners. Before everyone starts to get carried away, though, it is important to remember that there is more to winning a World Cup than just knocking over three lesser teams in your particular section.
Fabio Capello, certainly, would have liked a more high profile name in Group C, simply so that he could gauge where England stood going into the business end of the tournament. You want to be toughened up before tackling the likes of Spain, Italy, Brazil and Argentina but, that said, the early signs are good. I was really impressed by the way England went about their business in qualifying and if they can pick up where they left off in South Africa, maybe this will be the year we finally crack it.
Make no mistake, England are in with a real chance and confidence is going to build the closer we get.
David Moyes sensing Everton FC work ethic will pay dividends
Dec 8 2009 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON manager David Moyes admits it has taken a while for some of his players to realise hard work can compensate for many deficiencies in football.
The Toffees’ injury-ravaged squad fought back from 2-0 down with two goals in the last 12 minutes to draw 2-2 with Tottenham at Goodison Park on Sunday.
Having shown their battling spirit in the Merseyside derby defeat the previous weekend and following that up by defeating AEK Athens in the Europa League, Moyes believes a realisation has dawned among his players. Shorn of major figures like captain Phil Neville, centre-back Phil Jagielka and playmaker Mikel Arteta – who make up just some of the lengthening injury list – the team have been drifting the last couple of months. They have won only once in nine Premier League matches and are three points above the relegation zone. However, Moyes has sensed a change of attitude in the last three matches. “To be 2-0 down against Tottenham and come back and get a draw is an unbelievable result with the way they are playing and the amount of goals they are scoring,” said Moyes. “The players are beginning to see that we are going to have to work really hard and stick together. “We know we are lacking the qualities we had last season because we don’t have our better players but, if you don’t have them and are not playing well, you always fall back on your foundations.
“Our bedrock has been hard work, commitment, being well organised and disciplined, and if you have that there are times in football it might get you through.
“A lot of them didn’t know what it meant but I think a few of them in the last couple of games – in the derby and yesterday – now do. There is a different feeling.
“If you are not playing that well, everyone wants to see a trier – no-one ever complains about a trier. “There’s a really good spirit among them and because of that there’ll always be hope. “That spirit will help us until we regain some of the numbers back.” Crucial to Sunday’s draw was Tim Howard’s penalty save from Jermain Defoe two minutes into added time at the end of the match. Moyes praised the USA international for holding things together in a time of crisis at Goodison Park.
“I wouldn’t swap him for any other goalkeeper in the division at this moment,” said the Scot. “He is carrying the team because we don’t have that many leaders of men and he is doing that really well.” Howard admitted the side are struggling under the weight of their injury list but backed Moyes to get the best out of what he has available to him. “It is tough to say because we are professionals but injuries have killed us,” said the 30-year-old American. “The manager has done a good job of biting his tongue and putting a smile on our faces, keeping everyone upbeat and trying to will us on. “We know when we have a squad we can show what we can do, as we did last season.” Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp was less than impressed with his side’s defending but denied Everton exposed weaknesses that will cost his side in their bid to secure Champions League football for the first time. A draw meant Spurs could not re-take third place in the table from arch-rivals Arsenal and they are now only a point ahead of fifth-placed Aston Villa. “Overall, in the general pattern of the game, I couldn’t fault how we played,” said Redknapp. “It is disappointing but it can happen to anyone. Arsenal were 2-0 up against West Ham and cruising and ended up drawing 2-2 (in October). “It was a one-off day. I don’t think we did too much wrong.
“I don’t think it is complacency. We are an open team and play an open game.
“We were the away team, but I don’t think we got casual
Liverpool FC and Everton FC towards bottom of ticket price league, survey reveals
Dec 8 2009 Liverpool Echo
BOTH Liverpool and Everton football clubs are towards the bottom of the Premiership “rip-off” league. A Liberal Democrat survey found they charge less for tickets than most rivals. The price for kits is around the average, but alcohol costs are among the most expensive. The clubs signalled that they don’t want to turn football spectatorship into an unaffordable “luxury” during a recession. Current Blues match tickets range from £32 to £35, the joint fourth cheapest in the 20-strong league, compared with £62.60 to £92 at Arsenal matches. Reds prices go from £36 to £38, with only Wigan, Burnley, Sunderland and Bolton Wanderers averaging less.
Liverpool adult kits cost £68, with Everton’s £1.97 more. Across the league such kits range from £78 (Tottenham Hotspur) to £57.97 (Tottenham Hotspur).
Liverpool shirts cost £40 and Everton’s £39.99, around a fiver less than Tottenham and a fiver more than Birmingham City, Stoke and Sunderland.
A pint of lager at both Anfield and Goodison Park costs £3.20, compared to a £2.50 national average outside grounds. It also compares to £2.30 at Aston Villa matches, £2.70 at Burnley, and £2.90 at Bolton and Wigan. The most expensive football pint is £3.80 charged by Chelsea followed by a £3.60 tab at West Ham. Everton PR boss Ian Ross said: “We are acutely aware that watching football can be a very expensive pastime and that our fans are suffering from the recession. That is why – and this applies to both city clubs – we have bent over backwards to keep down the price of tickets. “We have actually cut season ticket prices for those who applied early.
“We don’t want football to become a luxury item unaffordable by the traditional spectator family.” But he added: “It is a balancing act. We also need to maintain a revenue stream to compete and to maintain a top squad.” Liberal Democrat Shadow Sports Secretary Don Foster hit out at clubs who continue to “rip off” fans.
He said “The cost of going to a premier match varies wildly between clubs.
“These figures show that Premier League bosses are a long way from ending their love affair with money. “Not only do fans have to pay sky-high ticket prices, but they pay way over the odds to enjoy a pint. “They must not continue to take advantage of the goodwill of their dedicated followers particularly in this time of economic recession.”
Seamus Coleman 'at right club' to continue development
Dec 9 2009 By David Randles
SEAMUS COLEMAN is at the right club to fulfil his potential.
That is the opinion of Sligo Rovers manager, Paul Cook, who sanctioned the defender’s January switch to Everton. After a shaky start against Benfica in Lisbon in October, Coleman bounced back to claim the man-of-the-match champagne with a stirring performance in Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Tottenham at Goodison.
His former manager believes the youngster has all the right attributes to reach the top with Everton and that he is in the right environment to cope with the sudden praise being aimed his way. "Of course, you’re going to be a little bit surprised with him, doing so well for Everton against Tottenham in the Premier League just a few months out of the Irish league," says Cook. "It’s a big learning curve for Seamus. I’m not saying he’ll be starstruck as such, but being on the same pitch as Crouch and Defoe must have been a big thing for the lad. "He’s ice cool though. Seamus made a couple of runs in the second half against Spurs, two of which led to Everton’s goals. He can lift a crowd like that, plus it will give him great confidence. What he’s got at the moment are qualities that could eventually see him become a very good player. He needs to keep his feet on the ground and I’m sure he’ll do that at Everton."
While delighted at the progress Coleman has made so soon after leaving Sligo, Cook adds a note of caution and says David Moyes is the perfect man to protect the Irish protege. "Seamus has only played a couple of games. Young lads at that level need nurturing and helping. "People have got to be realistic. There’s often a tendency in football to try and elevate good, young players too quickly before knocking them down just as fast. "Seamus has been thrown in at the deep end by Everton. That’s largely down to injuries but, still, he’s come in and given an idea of the qualities he’s got. "More than anything, Seamus is a good professional who wants to be a good footballer. His biggest quality right now is his desire to succeed. With people like Moyes, Andy Holden and Alan Stubbs around him, he’s got a great opportunity.
"Seamus has got a great mentor in Moyes. He’s the right manager to bring him along and get the best out of him." Cook inherited Coleman when he took charge of the League of Ireland Premier Division club in April 2007 and spent the next two seasons overseeing his development from teenage rookie to potential Premier League star.
"In that time he matured from a very young, raw footballer with a lot of good qualities to the level he was at when Everton came in for him. "Seamus eventually broke into the Ireland U21 team with us. We thought then that he was going to have to move to progress even more. When Everton came in it was the perfect time for Seamus to make the step because he’d probably gone as far as he could with us.
"Already at Everton he’s shown the attacking qualities that made him so important for us week in, week out. He can certainly tackle and defend, plus he’s got great energy and desire. "I can’t speak highly enough of this kid. He’s one of the nicest lads you could meet. "In my two years working with him he was a breath of fresh air. His training ethic and attitude, his time keeping, everything was spot on. If ever a kid deserves to succeed it’s this lad. "Seamus has got everything there. People just need to keep the kettle boiling with him."
'Young kid' Seamus Coleman starting to fulfil his promise for Everton FC
Dec 9 2009 By David Randles
IN 1939 Sligo Rovers pulled off a major coup when they coaxed Dixie Dean across the Irish Sea. At 32, the former Everton striker's best days were behind him. Still, it was the deal of the century for Irish football. On his arrival, the Railway Pub in Sligo town centre was said to be crammed with wondrous locals, clamouring to catch a glimpse of the legendary player. He scored 10 goals in seven games for the Connacht club and history had been made. Some 70 years later Everton’s and Sligo's worlds collided again, only this time there was no grand unveiling. Seamus Coleman slipped into Finch Farm last January with little fanfare after David Moyes dipped into the petty cash to pay Sligo Rovers £150,000 for the Republic-of-Ireland U21 international. Should the unassuming Donegal defender live up to the expectation that suddenly surrounds him following an eye-catching man-of-the-match display against Tottenham at the weekend he will be a snip at the price. It may not be on a par with Dean's brief foray to the Emerald Isle, but deal of the decade? You never know. Coleman's rise from obscurity began three years ago when he was spotted by former Sligo manager, Sean Connor, who took his team to the then teenager's hometown of Killybegs for a pre-season friendly against amateur side St Catherine's.
The story goes that Connor was also using the trip to look at property in the area. Instead, he returned to Sligo with a different kind of asset. "With 20 minutes to go, St Catherine's put this young lad on at centre-half and I knew straight away he had something," recalls Connor. "It was only 20 minutes but he was flying into tackles, driving forward and displaying this fantastic energy. "By the end we'd won 4-0 but there was only one thing on my mind. I had to sign this kid. "I didn't leave the ground until he'd agreed to sign. "The piece of paper he signed wasn't even a proper contract. I just wanted him to sign something there and then before we could get a proper contract in front of him a few days later." That kid was Coleman whose impressive cameo earned him a move to Irish Premier Division new boys Sligo.
Like those supporters who turned out to see Dean, Connor knew he was looking at something special. After gaining promotion to the top flight, the Belfast-born manager parted company with Sligo later that season. He has since had stints in charge of Bohemians and more recently guided Dundalk to fifth in the first division before stepping down at the end of last season. Throughout that time, Connor has kept track of Coleman's progress and was delighted to hear his former player had stolen the show against Spurs. "I didn't see the Tottenham game but heard Seamus did well," says Connor, who was recently linked with the vacant manager’s post at Tranmere Rovers. "Then I started getting texts and phone-calls from people telling me he was man-of-the-match. "Of course, you feel pride, just as I did when he made his debut for Sligo and then Ireland U21s. "I've always believed in pushing young players as far as they can go. "If you see the potential in them you can't stand in their way when a better opportunity comes along." Connor believes the qualities he spotted in Coleman will stand him in good stead in the Premier League. "He's got great pace and is strong in the tackle. "Seamus is fearless but his main attribute is his mental strength " It is this kind of mental strength that separates top players from average players. He can go all the way. "After a shaky start away to Benfica, Seamus has shown great mental strength to come back and do so well. "It also says a lot for the faith that David Moyes has in him to put him straight back in when some managers would have waited. "It's a massive step to go from the Eirecom League to the Premier League but I thought it wouldn't take him long to be knocking on the door of the first team. "His progress doesn't surprise me." Everton were one of several clubs interested in Coleman who, adds Connor, has the potential to be one of Ireland's best exports for years to come. "When I had him at Sligo, Birmingham were interested. Steve Bruce asked me how good Seamus was and I told him I thought he can go on to be better than Steve Finnan. He's got that much potential. "He maybe has to work on his defending and positional play but that will come with good coaching and playing more games. "The thing with Seamus is he'll know that he's still got a lot to learn if he is to realise his full potential. But he's always willing to do that and will certainly keep his feet on the ground amid all the praise he's now getting. "Tony Hibbert is a good seasoned professional and will keep Seamus out of the first XI for now.
"Maybe a loan spell with a Championship club would do him the world of good later this season if he's not playing regularly at Everton. "After that, I think next season could be really big for Seamus."
Conor McAleny heads home extra-time winner at Middlesbrough to send Everton through to fourth round of FA Youth Cup
Dec 9 2009 by Chris Wright, Liverpool Echo
CONOR McALENY’S extra-time header booked Everton Youth’s place in the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup after a 1-0 win over Middlesbrough at Billingham Synthonia last night. Neil Dewsnip’s side had to wait until the 103rd minute to take the lead, but McAleny’s header proved decisive. Everton produced some good football throughout and also hit the woodwork three times. Captain Jose Baxter was at the heart of much of Everton’s good work and saw an effort come back off the post deep into injury time with Everton already 1-0 up. Ross Barkley had hit the bar and the post in the second half while Nathan Craig saw an free-kick effort ruled out at the start of the second half for an infringement spotted by the assistant referee.
Everton keeper Adam Davies had to be alert to save Cameron Park’s 25-yard, while the Boro striker also hit the angle of the post and bar in the first half. But Dewsnip’s youngsters ran out deserved winners and can forward to another Youth Cup tie in the New Year.
Everton FC fans letters
Dec 9 2009 Liverpool Echo
AT last a promising young right-back.
Seamus Coleman was a breath of fresh air against Spurs on Sunday.
Quick, decisive, always looking to get forward and provided a useful cross into the box, and even take on the man with some intelligent bursts of pace. He should surely be coached and schooled into a more permanent role. Having said all that, I’ve got a slight bit of sympathy for Tony Hibbert who, despite bearing the brunt of some of the Goodison faithful, has given his all for the cause during a long career with us.
It’s ironic that he’s turned in some of his best performances for us this season at centre-back – who’d have thought that. Chris Keating, Formby I CAME away from Goodison on Sunday in positive mood again despite only one point out of six.
We have just played two teams with very expensive and large squads whose fans were confident in rolling us over. You can only praise the attitude and character of the fit, and almost fit, players who are turning out twice a week and that includes Jo who is receiving some negative press. Let’s hope we can give the same commitment against a Chelsea side which is smarting from their defeat to Manchester City. Fingers crossed.
JD, via email TIM HOWARD has for a long time been one of our true unsung heroes and on Sunday he proved once again what a valued player he is for us.
It’s such a shame that people had to focus on the World Cup – USA v England – scenario, rather than Everton’s fine keeper. If it wasn’t for Howard’s ability – and Peter Crouch’s woeful finishing – earlier in the game Spurs would have been out of sight long before the Blues’ keepers penalty save from Defoe. Hopefully we can kick on against Chelsea this weekend – I wouldn’t put it passed us to get another point, and maybe even sneak a win.
John Farrington, Ormskirk
GOOD to see several of our big players improving at long last. Fellaini, Cahill, Pienaar and even Jo have started to look decent in the last few games and it was also nice to see several of our young players getting in on the action. Seamus Coleman looks to have potential, which would be a major bonus for David Moyes as investing in a defender would be costly and we simply haven’t got the cash.
James Mahon, Kirkby
The Jury: Everton fans on the draw against Spurs and Seamus Coleman
Dec 10 2009 Liverpool
LEE MOLTON, St Helens
WHAT a comeback from the Blues on Sunday, thanks to the excellent performance of the young full-back Seamus Coleman! He was willing to get forward and put quality crosses into the box and had a hand in both of the goals. Seamus has a bright future ahead of him. Tim Howard made a great save for the penalty to become the game’s other hero! The most pleasing aspect of the last two home games has been that the fighting spirit is returning to the Blues. It won’t take us too long to get some wins back on the board and get up the table again. This week’s match at Chelsea will be tough, but we have put in very good performances in the last few seasons and come away with very creditable draws. We could do the same again with some solid defending to take us into the busy Christmas period where we need to pick up a couple of wins.
COLE FRASER, Litherland
FINALLY we are playing some better football and there is no doubt that we will pick up more points if we can keep it up. I feel that we were unlucky on Sunday. We were much better than Tottenham in the first half and only sloppy defending saw us go two goals down early in the second. All credit to the boys though for working hard to get us back into the game. Everybody witnessed how well Seamus Coleman played – his direct approach created chances, which is what we have been lacking recently.
Well done to Tim Howard too, who is making a name for himself as something of a penalty specialist! Chelsea at the weekend is inevitably a tough game and heading into it minus Tim Cahill is a big blow. Tim hasn’t been as much of an asset this season, but without him as he has in past seasons, though there is no denying that he is invaluable to our team. Without Cahill, I expect a two-man strikeforce at the Bridge.
DEBBIE SMAJE, Up Holland
IT’S not often a draw feels that much like a win!
As if it wasn’t a big enough boost to come from 2-0 down with 12 minutes left, Howard’s stoppage time penalty has done wonders to keep morale at the club on the up. It was obvious at the end just how much it meant to all of the players.
The commitment of some has been questioned this season, and while some heads dropped when we went behind, there were still strong enough characters within the team to eep everyone going and drive us on for that point. Our recent injury problems have robbed us of most of the team’s natural leaders, but Pienaar, Hibbert and Fellaini especially have lifted their games lately and inspired all around them. Seamus Coleman was an inspiration too. There aren’t many rookie full backs who could inspire a comeback in those circumstances, but he already looks like yet another one with a bright Everton future. Chelsea won’t be easy this week, but with confidence soaring, and Chelsea stuttering, anything is possible.
MIKE WILLIAMSON, Chester
IT seems odd to feel optimistic after two home games that yielded only one point, but it is only right to praise the players for giving their all and playing like the team of last year. We were robbed in the derby but that’s gone and if we keep playing with the kind of spirit and tempo we have shown recently then happier days will surely return soon. Jo has played his heart out and given everything for the cause recently but there can be no serious argument about whether he should start in preference to the Yak or Saha. And Moyes’ insistence on waiting until the game is almost beyond us before making the inevitable change remains a major source of frustration for most fans.
It is baffling but typical of a man who will always see the possibility of one point as preferable to trying to win all three.
Everton FC must relax to beat Chelsea says old boy Graham Stuart
Dec 10 2009 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool
GRAHAM STUART today insisted Everton can beat Chelsea at their “fortress” Stamford Bridge – if they relax and play attacking football. The former Chelsea and Everton midfielder thinks the Toffees’ respectable record in West London should give them confidence ahead of their clash on Saturday. Carlo Ancelotti’s high-flyers will be hurting from their rare defeat against Manchester City last weekend, and will be looking to get their title bid back on track. But David Moyes’ men travel to the capital on the back of a morale-boosting draw with Spurs, and Stuart believes they are capable of a win. He said: “I don’t know if there is ever a good time to go to Stamford Bridge. They have made that place a fortress and after losing to City you’ve got to think it’s very rare they lose two on the spin. “It’s a tough, tough task for us but as long as we go there and be positive I think it can be done. “I’d love to see Everton relax and have a go at Chelsea. I’ve seen too many teams just accept that they will be on the back foot against teams like Chelsea. “I’ve been involved in teams where we have been chasing shadows all day, and I have seen it as a supporter – it’s very difficult.” “It’s a plus for Everton that players of the calibre of Michael Essien are probably missing on Saturday. But the reality is that they just bring in a couple of other internationals.” Everton have drawn during their last two league visits to Stamford Bridge, but have a point to prove after losing to Chelsea in the FA Cup final in May. And Stuart, who scored 22 goals in his 136-game Everton career, said: “Perhaps you’d take a point before kick off, but Everton have got as good a track record down there as anyone. “Maybe a lot of supporters would accept getting beaten 4-2 if they had watched their side trying to have a go and make Chelsea worry about them instead of sitting back. “Having Steven Pienaar back playing for the Blues is a massive boost. He’s someone who can put his foot on the ball and create something out of nothing. “He can give the back four a break by keeping hold of it, and win you free kicks as well, because he has such great feet. Steven will get defenders diving in on him because he’s so hard to catch. “Set-pieces will certainly be a way for Everton to get at Chelsea and could well be their best way. “We’ve missed Steven when he has been out injured just like we’ve missed Arteta and Osman. They’re all those sorts of players.” But Stuart, who got his start in professional football with Chelsea, maintains that Everton do not have to start with two strikers up front to be considered attacking.
He said: “David Moyes has had his hands tied a lot this season when it comes to his formations and tactics. “His personnel have been badly limited because of all those injuries. But Everton have been playing one up front for a few seasons and it’s set us in good stead. “It had suited Tim Cahill down to the ground last season and Marouane Fellaini did very well when he was asked to play up front too. The Blues reacted well when they were forced to play either one of those two up top. “I don’t think one up front has to be negative at all. Arsenal play it and you’d never suggest they are defensive – so do Liverpool quite often when they play Steven Gerrard just behind Torres. “You can actually make a 4-5-1 a positive and that is what David Moyes has done with his side too.” Referee Phil Dowd sent off John Terry in the corresponding fixture at Goodison last season for a high tackle on Leon Osman, and will also take charge of the fixture on Saturday. Everton have not beaten Chelsea at Stamford Bridge since November 1994, when Paul Rideout scored the only goal. Rideout was also the player who headed home the rebound from Graham Stuart’s shot to win Everton’s last piece of silverware – the FA Cup in 1995.
Everton eye LA Galaxy loan star Landon Donovan
Dec 10 2009 Greg O'Keeffe
EVERTON are hoping to sign USA international Landon Donovan on a three-month loan deal in January. Donovan, a Los Angeles Galaxy club-mate of David Beckham, needs to play competitive football at the end of the Major League Soccer to maintain his fitness for the World Cup finals in South Africa in June. It is understood that a deal has yet to be finalised for the 27-year-old, but a potential move would be similar to the one that Beckham has agreed with AC Milan. Donavon is the USA’s all-time leading scorer, and is likely to face England in the group stages in South Africa.
He can play as an attacking midfielder or operate on either wing, and has won the MLS Honda Player of the Year award a record six times. A move to Merseyside would boost Everton’s injury-ravaged squad, and he would be able to play in the next stage of the Europa League. Donovan has previously had spells with Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich, but failed to find his best form in the German Bundesliga. David Moyes could be hoping that a move for Donavon would work out similarly to his loan-signing of American Brian McBride in 2002. Moyes, who also signed McBride while he was boss at Preston North, was rewarded when the striker scored four goals in eight games during a three month spell with the Toffees.
Meanwhile, Blues’ skipper Phil Neville has revealed how his comeback from knee injury has left him deeply frustrated. Neville has been out of action since the middle of September after he was stretchered off during the defeat at Fulham. He said: “The rehab is going really well. It was a bad setback for me when I was told I needed an operation but the surgeon did a fantastic job. “He said I would be back in no time and since I woke up from the anaesthetic my knee has felt great, better than it was before.
“This setback has been a real test of my mental strength. had set my heart on being fit for the Manchester United game last month. “Even just a couple of days before I was well on schedule but it turned out the knee wasn't quite strong enough. “I had the wash-out on my knee and since then it has been about focusing on the rehabilitation.”
David Prentice: Time has passed for footballers to party like it’s 1999
Dec11 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
CHRISTMAS came early at Stoke City this year. So early no-one even had time to shoot the Pope in the chest with a real live gun (Everton 1993), reach for the whipped cream and strippers (Liverpool 1998) or toss any dwarves against a velcro backed landing strip (Chelsea 1994). Stoke’s Yuletide plans were thrown into disarray when boss Tony Pulis played Ebenezer Scrooge to James Beattie’s Bob Cratchett.
The parsimonious Potters’ boss refused to give Beattie and his team-mates TWO days off to recover from their festive shenanigans, and the pair came to blows.
Beattie clearly fancies a future career in event management. During his time at Everton his organisation of the Christmas party involved a stretch limo to Bournemouth, a crawl of the town’s night spots, then flights back home. A round trip of 600 miles just to celebrate the festive season might seem an unusually ambitious undertaking. But in the circumstances it was an eminently sensible decision by Beattie. His side had just been beaten 4-0 at home by Bolton – and neighbours Liverpool were contesting the World Club Cup Final the same day. The celebration passed off without incident. Flushed with the success of that operation, Everton’s wannabe Thomas Cook arranged an even more complicated excursion the following spring to the Cheltenham races, involving fast cars and helicopters. While Beattie’s travel plans were very 21st century, his ideas were still grimly old fashioned. The players’ Christmas party was a very English exercise, endured by some managers, encouraged by others. Why? Presumably because of its a) roots in tradition and b) its apparent ability to bond previously disparate individuals. The football club Christmas party was a traditional affair, following traditional rules. Fancy dress was mandatory, there were drinks round town, nightclub and strippers – then hordes of specially invited wannabe WAGs were allowed into the nightclub. I can speak with some authority on the running order. Before football clubs had media departments and journalists still routinely drank and socialised with footballers, the Echo would always be invited to the players’ Christmas party. It was harmless enough fun. No-one was badly hurt – just kidneys, livers and the damaged egos from entering into the cruelly competitive world of dressing room banter (oh, apart from the Everton striker who decided to wrestle with a fire extinguisher in a hotel corridor – and lost).
But it was of its time. And that time has clearly passed. Like players running up and down terraces in training, or having a dirty sponge applied to strained ankle ligaments, the Christmas party is an outmoded and occasionally damaging exercise.
But in its day it still raised a smile. I can still recall Pat Nevin slinking into the toilets at the old Club Continental, dressed as a cat. It was a thorough and convincing outfit.
Pat was covered from head to toe in fur, just one – necessary – appendage, visible as he took his comfort break. A fan shuffled in between us – glanced either side, then did an understandable double take when he spotted his feline companion.
“It’s Pat isn’t it?” he shouted. “Great goal last week mate.” The frustrated feline turned, shook his head, and purred ‘Why did I bother with the fancy dress?’
l P.S. Neither Everton nor Liverpool have plans for a Christmas party this year.
At a time when both teams have five games in 17 days, that’s probably sensible.
Everton welcome brave young fan to Goodison Park
Dec 11, 2009 by Tina Miles, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON recently welcomed a brave guest to Goodison Park. Evertonian Courtney Naraghi and her family travelled from Bournemouth to watch the Blues take on Tottenham Hotspur as the Toffees’ VIPs for the day. The family enjoyed hospitality in Club Everton and got the chance to meet the players before the game.Courtney, 11, contracted a life threatening condition called meningococcal septicaemia when she was only 22-months old. Courtney’s mum Lisa thanked the club adding: “Courtney had a fantastic time.”
Howard Kendall: Tim Cahill is a loss, but no fear factor for Everton FC at Chelsea
Dec 11 2009 Liverpool Echo
NOBODY needs reminding that Chelsea represent a stern task for David Moyes’ men on Saturday afternoon. Mnds will inevitably turn to the FA Cup final in May when the Blues were beaten in very difficult weather conditions.
The sun was beating down on both sides and Everton struggled to cope with it that day. It will obviously be totally different weather on Saturday and after last weekend’s performance against Spurs then players will be on a high. They certainly won’t go there fearing Chelsea. Of course Tim Cahill will be a big loss for Everton as he sits out the game with his yellow-card ban, but Chelsea will also probably be missing a certain Michael Essien who would also be a big player for any club to be without.
If Everton are awarded a penalty at Stamford Bridge they will hope there is a similar delay between it being given and taken. At Goodison on Sunday there was a long delay while Wilson Palacios received treatment after Tony Hibbert’s challenge.
For Jermaine Defoe, or whoever is taking a penalty, it is very hard. All kinds of things are going through his mind - should he place it right or left or belt it down the middle? The longer it drags on the more they think about it. Instead of just acting on instinct and taking it straight after the foul, this delay gives the keeper a rare advantage over the striker. Normally the keeper can’t really lose in penalty situations. They are not normally expected to save them, and the onus is on the taker to score - anything else is a bonus. I suspected Tim Howard might make the save and sure enough he did.
I wouldn’t take anything away from Tim though. It was a great save with his legs.
If a keeper has a good record from the spot that can also play on a striker’s mind. I remember Paul Cooper at Ipswich was one who had a reputation for saving pens.
It didn’t stop Kevin Sheedy putting two free-kicks past him in our 1985 cup tie though. There are not many players with the skill and composure to score a free-kick, have to re-take it, and score again
David Unsworth sings the praises of Everton FC boss David Moyes
Dec 11 2009 Liverpool Echo
THERE may be some football managers who would dwell endlessly on an FA Cup final defeat like the one Everton suffered against Chelsea in May. Having beaten Middlesbrough, Liverpool, Aston Villa and Manchester United along the way, only to taste the sourness of defeat in Wembley could give other coaches sleepless nights for months after. Not so David Moyes, according to a man who played under him in royal blue and is now following in his coaching footsteps. Former Everton hero David Unsworth is currently a youth development coach at Preston North end, the club where Moyes cut his own teeth in management. The 36-year-old centre half is enjoying life as part of the set-up created by Moyes’ former right-hand man at Everton, current PNE boss Alan Irvine. And ‘Rhino’ insists that defeat by Chelsea in May will be the last thing on Moyes’ mind, as he heads to Stamford Bridge tomorrow to once again do battle with the West London billionaires. “The cup final will be the furthest thing in David’s mind and the thoughts of his players as well,” he says. “The manager moves on very quickly because he is such a forward thinking coach. He is very positive and never dwells on defeat, he just learns from it. “For David it’s all about the next game. The old saying goes that you are only as good as your last game but for David teams are only as good as their next. “If anyone can go to Stamford Bridge and spring a surprise by beating them it’s Everton. People would be impressed if the Toffees won on Saturday but I don’t think they’d necessarily be surprised. Everton have got that in their locker definitely.” Despite his optimism, the history books suggest the odds on an Everton victory are not going to be favourable before 3pm tomorrow. Unsworth himself played the last time the Blues took all three points from a league trip to Stamford Bridge in 1994, thanks to a solitary first-half Paul Rideout goal. That was 15 years ago. “I’m amazed it’s been so long to be honest,” says the Chorley-born Everton-supporting defender. “It’s unbelievable that we haven’t won there in the league for so long. “ The improvements they have made since that day are massive. “They have redeveloped their stadium, acquired an enormously wealthy new owner and shipped in loads of great players. “The players they have brought in are absolute quality. “ They’ve got one of the best attacking midfielders in Europe in Frank Lampard and arguable one of the best strikers in world football in Didier Drogba. “Then you remember their home record which is phenomenal. It’s very very rare that any club, let alone one from outside the top four, beats Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.” The managerial dilemma of just how to cause an upset by beating Carlo Ancelotti’s men is not lost on Unsworth who is becoming well-versed in the art of the tactician. “It’s a case of where do you start?,” he says. “A lot of teams will go there and set their stall up not to get beat and that’s understandable. “If you try and match them and play open football you almost risk getting embarrassed and nobody wants that. The after-affects of a thrashing are not good for a team. “In a perfect world you’d go there and be attacking, but I think Everton will go and be tight. They will want to keep it watertight at the back and in the centre of the park and then look to set-pieces to get a goal. “Fifty percent of goals in the Premier League are from set-pieces and they certainly represent the best ways of scoring against the top sides. That’s why it’s a shame that Everton are without Tim Cahill. “Of course if Everton get a chance they have to be clinical and take it, because realistically they are likely to be without the ball for large periods of the game. “The vital element a team needs to beat Chelsea as well as taking any chances, is a strong keeper and that’s where the blues can be positive because Tim Howard is doing very well.” Unsworth is fully aware of the difference between the era when his Everton side beat Chelsea in their own back-yard compared to the present day. “You always did get a tough game at Stamford Bridge anyway,” he says. “But we were at the start of a successful side which went on to win a trophy and we had some quality players. At the same time we could keep clean sheets. “I remember that Chelsea were still re-building one of their stands and so the atmosphere at the Bridge was not the best - nothing like it is now. That obviously helped even though they had a strong team too and brought on Glen Hoddle that day. “The main thing Everton will want to do early doors tomorrow is quieten the Stamford Bridge crowd. It won’t be easy but if they can do that, then snatch a chance, they can put an end to that horrible record.”
Everton FC in race to tie up striker Louis Saha in transfer window
Dec 11, 2009 by Nick Peet, Liverpool
EVERTON are in a race against time to tie up striker Louis Saha before the Januray transfer window. The Frenchman, who has netted nine times already this season, is out of contract in the summer and is free to sign under a Bosman ruling with foreign clubs after January 1. According to reports in France, there is a host of clubs including Roma, Bordeaux and Atletico Madrid who are interested in the 31-year-old former Metz, Newcastle, Fulham and Manchester United hitman. Meanwhile, Everton chief executive Robert Elstone has confirmed the club are in talks to bring Los Angeles Galaxy striker Landon Donovan to Goodison Park on a short-term loan.
Major League Soccer’s season has finished and any deal to secure Donovan would be similar to the one which has seen Galaxy team-mate David Beckham re-join AC Milan next month. “Landon is a player David Moyes has identified as someone he would like to bring to the club,” chief executive Robert Elstone told the club’s website, evertonfc.com. “We are working to make that happen and hope we can reach agreement soon with all the appropriate parties.” If negotiations are successfully completed, the forward would join Everton on January 2. Joseph Yobo hopes to be back in action by the end of the year. The defender limped out of Everton's game against Tottenham last weekend with a recurrence of a hamstring problem.
He explained that he needs to rest the injury but is hopeful of returning to boost the Blues sooner rather than later. “A scan carried out showed that it was a familiar hamstring injury, that I should rest until the end of the year,” Yobo said.
“They (doctors) anticipate that I should be fully back at the end of December.
“Unfortunately, that will cost me a chance to help out my club at this demanding and crucial stage of the season.”
Joseph Yobo injury means Everton boss David Moyes will seek new defender in January
Dec 12 2009 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES will trawl the January transfer market for a centre-back after learning Joseph Yobo will be out injured for four weeks. The Everton manager wants more central defensive cover with Sylvain Distin also facing three weeks on the sidelines. Everton are still in talks with USA star Landon Donovan over a potential three-month loan deal in January, and Moyes hopes the midfielder is not the only addition. He said: “I could do with players in several areas and I hope to be able to do that. Everybody who’s fit is fit, but Joseph Yobo is going to be out for probably four weeks with a hamstring injury.” If Yobo recovers in time, the Nigerian will also be missing while he plays in the African Cup of Nation’s along with team-mate Yakubu. The Nigerian FA is expected to ask its players to report for a pre-tournament training squad on January 2. However, one player that the Everton boss is unlikely to target is Arsenal starlet Jack Wilshere. The 17-year-old has admitted he is open to a loan move, and would prefer to make the temporary switch to another Premier League club. But when asked whether he would inquire about the midfielder, Moyes said: “Probably not at the moment but I’ll always have to consider people who are loanable.” Tim Cahill is suspended for today’s match with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, after picking up a fifth booking of the season in the 2-2 draw with Tottenham at Goodison Park last weekend. Dan Gosling is also a doubt, as he recovers from the hamstring injury he suffered in the win at AEK Athens. Leighton Baines hopes to impress England coach Fabio Capello today. The left-back is keen to stake a claim for a place in this summer’s England World Cup squad, but knows he faces stern competition. He said: “I don't think anyone could argue with Ashley Cole being first choice. For me he is the best left-back around, no question. But there will be a few of the England boys on show and I'm sure the England manager will be paying close attention to the game. So there is that extra incentive to really go out and put in a performance. “I've always been a massive admirer of Ashley Cole. Right from his younger days at Arsenal, it's fair to say that I was in awe of him. “I think he's showing that form again right now. He's back to his very best, I think; playing some wonderful stuff.” Baines who celebrated his 25th birthday yesterday, feels that he has some way to go to overtake Cole in Capello's plans. “If anyone was to make any sort of comparison, I'd take that as a massive compliment. “Although I understand that I'm not at that level, I think I can see similar characteristics in our game, but I've got a lot to do to get to that level.” Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti has also revealed eight of his starting line-up for the game against Everton. The Italian was asked to name his side at yesterday’s Press conference and responded by naming eight players who will start at Stamford Bridge today. Petr Cech, Branislav Ivanovic, Ricardo Carvalho, John Terry, Ashley Cole, Michael Ballack, John Mikel Obi and Frank Lampard, were the players listed. Meanwhile, Everton have been handed another away tie in the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup against either Northampton Town or Brighton following their 1-0 extra-time victory at Middlesbrough in the third round in midweek.
The game must be played before January 16.
Louis Saha is so valuable to Everton FC - David Moyes
Dec 12 2009 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES believes Louis Saha can help Everton’s climb up the premier league table – even if he is half-fit. The Blues manager was delighted with the Frenchman’s typical strike that prompted his side’s fightback against Spurs, and is convinced there is more to come from him. Everton are currently in talks with Saha, who is out of contract in the summer and free to talk to foreign clubs in January under the Bosman rules, and Moyes unsurprisingly hopes he stays. “He’s been complaining about a calf strain and he’s not felt 100 per cent with it,” said the Scot. “We’ve brought him in and out. “It was the same earlier in the season when he came off the bench against Fulham and won us the game. It got him off and running again. “It made a difference and helped him to get back into it. That’s the same way he’s coming off the bench now
“Hopefully we can get him back to full fitness again and flying. His contract is up in June so we know he can talk to foreign clubs. We’ve been speaking to him (about a contract). We’re happy for him and would like to keep him.” Saha is on the brink of double figures in Premier League goals, no small feat considering his limited involvement in games so far. And Moyes feels that the creative influence of team-mate Steven Pienaar has also benefited the team “He’s one of our key performers,” said Moyes. “We missed him when he was out for 10 games. Since he’s been back he’s made a difference. He was an influence from the wing and because we’ve lacked a bit of creativity we’ve used him more as a central midfield player and he’s done well there too. “We know he plays in behind a striker for South Africa, so I know we can play him in several positions and he’ll do well for us.” Moyes has had to rely on the positional flexibility of key players so far in this campaign, but he acknowledges Tim Cahill’s return to his favoured central role has coincided with a return to form.
He said: “In the last few games he’s been back to his favourite position. But before that because of what we’ve had available he’s had to play in other positions, on the right and on the left, at times. “Tim’s had one or two opportunities lately and missed them. I can think of one against Stoke. It’s done him good to score, and on his birthday as well which was nice for him. It was a Tim Cahill type of finish.”
Cahill is not the only player who has been asked to adapt to different positions. Tony Hibbert has played centre half in key games and faced 6ft 7ins Peter Crouch last Sunday. But Moyes insisted it was merely a short-term solution to his injury problems, and Hibbert may not have to face Didier Drogba from a central role today.
He said: “I also have Johnny Heitinga, who has played centre-half for Holland, and Lucas Neill, who has played centre-half for Australia, so I have options if I want to use them. “Tony did okay. But I don’t think it’s something we can do regularly, but we can call on him to do a job if we have to.” Moyes was also adamant that May’s FA Cup final defeat by Chelsea will not be playing on his team’s mind ahead of their league clash. “We got to the Cup final and we conceded that on the day Chelsea were the better team,” he said. “I don’t think the players have got anything to prove to anyone from that day. That game is gone, it’s water under the bridge and in the same breath I don’t think Chelsea will be thinking about that game either.
“They also beat us the season before in the Carling Cup semi-final. But we’ve done all right against them in the League. “Stamford Bridge is always a really hard place to go to because of the players they have. We will try to do something similar to what we’ve done there in the past. “Their system has changed. They favoured 4-3-3 for a few seasons. Now they’ve changed to more of a diamond formation. Overall the thing about them is that they’ve got quality players in most positions.” Moyes also reflected that the most important riposte to Chelsea’s depth of squad and quality is the fighting spirit his side displayed to peg Spurs back. “We’re going to need it throughout the season,” he said. “If you are not playing that well it can sometimes carry you through.
“We need to show that in every game to have a chance of getting a result. You go 2-0 down, then you get a draw. It feels like a victory, especially when they miss a penalty. I’m sure for Spurs it felt like a defeat. “But we have to make sure we don’t get ourselves in the position again if we can help it.”
BARRY HORNE: Everton starlet Seamus Coleman is at the right club to progress
Dec 12, 2009 by Barry Horne, Liverpool Echo
THE scratch team that David Moyes put out against Spurs last Sunday did themselves and the club proud yet again. It was another heroic quarter of an hour which left Evertonians feeling like we had just won against all the odds. To come back from 2-0 down takes some doing in any circumstances. But to do so having lost yet another senior player from an already patched up starting XI, against a team filled with great players in fine form and playing with confidence is quite remarkable. Tim Howard’s save just served to heighten the sense of elation in what are, let’s be honest, trying times for everyone at the club. Necessity, as the old saying goes, is the mother of invention – and so as David Moyes dips ever further into his reserves – in every sense of the word – necessity provided the opportunity for another youngster to make his mark. Seamus Coleman certainly did that, and his forward running and adventurous wingplay has quite deservedly been applauded and talked about in all quarters.
Whilst I obviously appreciate all the things he did going forward, equally important to me – and something which says a lot about the lad – was the magnificently timed tackle in front of the Main Stand early in the game. If you speak to any of the old school players they will all tell you that few things get the Goodison crowd up on their feet and behind the team better than a great tackle like that. There have been scores of players making a fantastic impact very early on in their would-be career, only to fade away into relative obscurity. Seamus Coleman is, as we have seen, a fantastic talent and I believe he is at the right club at the right time to give him a chance to fulfill his potential. David Moyes has proved his ability to nurture young talent – not that he has any choice in the matter anyway, bearing in mind the financial situation during his time at the club. If you consider 18-21 years old as being a reasonable development period for a young footballer, it is likely there will be opportunities for a player who can defend like Tony Hibbert and has the athleticism and ability to get forward regularly to create openings.
Chelsea shouldn’t be a Bridge of sighs for Blues
I SAID some weeks ago that, in the current circumstances, the Spurs and Chelsea games should be enjoyed as a spectacle of top class football, rather than games likely to yield a rich crop of points. So it is a real shame that the huge lift resulting from our performance last Sunday, is likely to be nullified by the timing of the fixture when we travel to Stamford Bridge with an injury list as long as anyone can remember.
The word ‘fortress’ is one of the most overused cliches in sport. But whatever criteria you use Chelsea’s record at Stamford Bridge certainly stands up to the scrutiny of that definition. And so the difficult thing for fans and players alike is to go there, enjoy the occasion, give it their best and not be too disheartened should we not come away with a result. The final three games of 2009 against Birmingham, Burnley and Sunderland certainly could yield points. So it’s important that we go into that trio of matches with a sense of belief. We need as many points as possible so we’re not wallowing too close to the relegation zone at the turn of the year.
GREG O'KEEFFE: Trust Everton boss David Moyes to get it right on loan deals
Dec 12, 2009 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool
IF ALISTAIR Darling had any sense he would grab five minutes with David Moyes before announcing the budget. Because, like his countryman and former chancellor Gordon Brown, Moyes knows all about somehow producing the goods on a shoe-string with more complicating factors than the Iraq War inquiry. Moyes (as I think I may have been mentioned before) has consistently worked miracles in the lower end of the transfer market; taking risks when nobody else would (Tim Cahill), plucking England centre halves from the Championship (Phil Jagielka) and spotting diamonds in the rough (Steven Pienaar). Oh, and that’s not to mention his best loan signing ever, step forward the Best Little Spaniard we Know – Senor Mikel Arteta. With such pedigree he could give seminars on the topic of cutting your cloth accordingly at FA coaching courses – complete with a comedy ‘Ooops how did that get in there?’ slide of Segundo Castillo at the end. It’s a track record which hands the Everton manager instant benefit of the doubt when he looks at a loan buy, and means we can look forward to the potential capture of Landon Donovan. As ever, Moyes is likely to have very little cash to spend in January. The staggering Lescott fee (which looks more of a bargain as the weeks pass) has been well and truly spent. Unless Bill finds a spare million behind the couch, or Blood Brothers is suddenly bought and made into a new motion picture by Disney Pixar, it’s likely that the Everton manager will have money to spend on wages only. Once again he will become the loan ranger. That’s why a player like Landon Donovan ticks all the boxes. He’s young (ish), a proven international, plays in a position Everton need to strengthen and even has experience in Europe. He will also have a compatriot and national team-mate in Tim Howard to help him settle quickly. Settling quickly would be vital too, with the deal essentially mirroring David Beckham’s arrangement with AC Milan where a big-name MLS player comes over to Europe to keep fit during their domestic close season.
It won’t be feet-up time for Donovan or a bit of a novelty footballing culture crawl either. Although he is the biggest name in US soccer, Beckham aside, he will want to build up a personal head of steam before the World Cup finals in South Africa.
He may even consider playing in the Premier League as an extended scouting mission for US coach Bob Bradley, with the Americans being drawn in the same qualifying group as England. With Yakubu likely to be going to the African Nations Cup with Joey Yobo in January, the arrival of Donovan as a utility forward, and another defender would make perfect sense. Meanwhile, followers of Premier League clubs outside the top four will have been excited by an admission from Arsenal’s Jack Wilshire that he would consider a loan-move to boost his career. Wilshire looks like being a first-team superstar for the Gunners one day, but for now he reckons a short-term loan could suit him. This week he said: “I know I need to play and gain experience and if that means a loan deal, then that is something to consider – but particularly if it is to another Premier League club.” Sadly, as much as we’d all love to see Wilshire at Goodison, I’d rule that loan possibility out. Arsenal are unlikely to approve a loan deal for to a club which has finished fifth in consecutive seasons.
Granted the Blues hardly look like bothering the top six at the moment, but you wouldn’t rule out a surge up the table when injured stars return. It’s more likely if Wilshire is loaned out by the ever-shrewd Wenger that it will be to a bottom four club or even a championship side. Still, Evertonians may yet be pleasantly surprised by the business manager David Moyes does in the loan market and who knows, he may even find another Mikel Arteta out there kicking his heels in the French league until the man himself gets back to full fitness.
Time for James Beattie to use his head and apologise
JAMES Beattie knew a thing or two about throwing his head in at inopportune moments while he was at Everton. The likeable striker, who was allegedly on the receiving end of a butt from his Stoke manager Tony Pulis at the weekend, once famously lost his temper against today’s opponents Chelsea. Inexplicably our £6m striker saw red while chasing after Chelsea defender William Gallas at Goodison, and butted the Frenchman in the back of the head. Beattie was initially unrepentant (notice a recurring theme here?) insisting Gallas “would have stayed down a lot longer” if he had headbutted him. He later apologised. This time around it is Beatts who was the victim, according to the reports, when his half-naked manager’s temper boiled over after a row about the Christmas party. And it’s being reported that this latest flare-up could spell the end for the 31-year-old’s Stoke City career. That would be shame. Beattie is a nice guy and a talented striker who on his day, sadly too-rare in blue, could score spectacular goals. His effort against Fulham at Goodison Park will live long in the memory, and it seemed that the ex-England man was enjoying a late career flourish in the Midlands. Let’s hope he says sorry again.
Goodison Park lands the X-Factor
Dec 12 2009 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
UNLIKE the brethren across the park, Evertonians aren’t quite so taken with singing at the match. That’s probably a good thing as, let’s face it, there isn’t exactly an archive of songs for every occasion during a game. Evertonians prefer to talk tactics and make a less tuneful noise when it suits them. But now in a concession to the times, Everton have embraced the obsession for everything X-Factor.
Goodison’s Peoples’ Club suite hosts an X-Factor night on December 19. Fans can enjoy a three-course meal and followed by a singing contest. It all costs £39. Call Helen Rudge (0151 530 5251).
Chelsea 3 Everton FC - final whistle report from Stamford Bridge
Dec 12, 2009 By Phil Kirkbride
EVERTON battled to a pulsating draw at Stamford Bridge this afternoon. For the second consecutive game, the Blues fought back to claim a point in a compelling contest, this time with Premier League leaders Chelsea. The draw signals a three game unbeaten run in the league at the home of the London side for the Blues following a 0-0 stalemate in April and 1-1 in the 2007/08 season. Despite taking an early lead when goalkeeper Petr Cech scored an own goal, Chelsea responded to take the lead and command of the game midway through the first half. But David Moyes' Everton side bagged an equaliser just before the break courtesy of substitute Yakubu and did likewise through Saha past the hour mark after Didier Drogba had given Carlo Ancelotti's men a 3-2 lead. Everton manager David Moyes made two changes from the side which thrillingly drew 2-2 with Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.
Out went the suspended Tim Cahill and the injured Joseph Yobo and in came Johnny Heitinga after his one match ban and Louis Saha following his scoring appearance as a substitute last weekend. The Blues started with a 4-4-2 formation, opting against the 4-5-1 they adopted at Old Trafford in November which offered little joy.
And it was Heitinga and Neill who were charged with the task of marshalling Didier Drogba and Nikolas Anelka as Tony Hibbert reverted to his natural position of right-back. The home side were incessant from the off and their pressure forced the first opening as Michael Ballack pounced on Pienaar's waste of possession before feeding Drogba – fortunately the Ivorian's shot dragged wide from the angle. Though not to be outdone, Everton tested Petr Cech for the first time four minutes later when Jo worked space for himself on the right before striding across the home area and then firing low on goal with Chelsea's No 1 forced to palm away for a corner – Saha's shot on the turn briefly after failed to make the keeper work however. But the Frenchman and Everton's leading scorer hit the target on 12 minutes to put the Blues ahead as he met Leighton Baines' whipped free-kick with a glancing header which hit the on the way over the line. Saha would be claiming his 10th goal of the Premier League season though the powers in the dubious goals panel may disagree as John Terry and Cech appeared to get a touch before it crossed the line. Regardless, the hosts were level seven minutes later after a move of clinical precision. Capitalising on Marouane Fellaini's loss of the ball, Ricardo Carvalho moved the ball to Frank Lampard whose first time touch set Drogba free and his left foot strike planted into Tim Howard's top corner for 1-1. Chelsea by this point had their tails up and roared on by an increasingly vocal home support, they subjected Moyes' men to a barrage of attacks which Everton did well to keep at bay, for a time at least. All their defiance was undone when a routine clearance from a corner proved too much and Branislav Ivanovic was able to poke the ball into the path of Anelka who showed unnerving accuracy to find the top corner from 10 yards. Chelsea dominated the remainder of the half with a powerful display and Jo became the first victim of the battle but as he limped off he inadvertently paved a route back in for his side. On came Yakubu and within two minutes of his introduction he levelled the game, profiting from Chelsea's inability to deal with Diniyar Bilyaletdinov's long throw into the box. No doubt some choice words were offered at half-time Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti as his side emerged after the break bombarding the Everton goal. The Blues held off their opponents for 14 minutes of the second period when Drogba bagged his second of the match, volleying home Ivanovic's deep cross. Yet Everton would not lie down as this thrilling fixture took another twist with Chelsea undone by another set-piece on 63 minutes.
Heitinga's free-kick was met by Saha who, with the aid of a defending Drogba, beat the advancing Cech to the ball to loop a header into the home goal – there was little doubt the Frenchman could claim the strike this time round. The second equaliser of the game from Everton only served to surge the league leaders on and Ballack forced Howard to tip over from a dipping free-kick before Howard was at full stretch to palm away Drogba dangerous ball into the area. Chelsea peppered Howard's goal with numerous crosses and shots but Everton held firm to record a fine draw.
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Cole, Carvalho (Belletti, 86), Terry (c), Ballack, Lampard, Mikel (Borini 88), Cole (Malouda 76), Drogba, Anelka. Subs: Hilario, Zhirkov, Ferreira, Matic.
Goals: Drogba 19 & 59, Anelka 23,
Yellow cards: None
Red cards: None
Everton: Howard ©, Hibbert, Neill, Heitinga, Baines, Pienaar, Rodwell, Fellaini, Bilyaletdinov, Saha (Agard 90), Jo (Yakubu, 45). Subs: Nash, Coleman, Duffy, Akpan, Mustafi
Goals: Cech (own goal) 12, Yakubu 45, Saha 63
Yellow cards: Heitinga 37,
Red cards: None
Attendance: 41, 579
Referee: Phil Dowd
Assistant referees: Mark Scholes and Scott Ledger
Fourth official: Paul Taylor
Chelsea 3, Everton FC 3: Fortune finally starts to favour the brace as Blues fight back
Dec 14 2009 by Philip Kirkbride, Liverpool Daily Post
THE Everton players have reputedly canceled their Christmas party after a poor start to the season – but you would forgive them if a few glasses were raised on Saturday night. In a week when arguments over festive fun reached boiling point in some quarters of the Premier League, it was player power of a different kind which gave David Moyes’ men their finest result of the campaign. When you are nursing yourself back to full health the last sight one would wish to come up against is a wounded Chelsea, but the Goodison Park outfit displayed a battle-hardened spirit, the kind which can only be forged from times of adversity, the likes of which the club have been subjected, to claim a richly deserved point. Too, there was some fortune, long overdue in a period when Moyes’ brave troops have gone into combat low on numbers and ammunition, often with little hope of achieving victory.
And in many respects this is why a point at Stamford Bridge against the Premier League leaders should be celebrated like a triumph. To do so is not to concede a drop in standards or aspirations, but is to acknowledge circumstance has dealt the club a harsh blow this season and the rare moments of relief should be savored and built upon. For this in essence is what Saturday’s thrilling draw with Chelsea signifies; a watershed moment in their revival; first there was slog in Athens, then the pulsating fightback against Spurs and now we have the battle of Stamford Bridge.
Of course the point did nothing to improve the position of the Goodison Park side, who still languish in 15th, but it gives greater credence to the school of thought which says Everton’s dark days are behind them. Yet coming into this match very few of the even the most ardent Evertonians would have foreseen scoring three goals at the home of Chelsea, equaling the number registered in the club’s record win at Stamford Bridge in 1913, especially in light of yet more selection concerns. Not even the knowledge Everton have achieved parity in their last two league visits would have inspired many to dream of points once more and given Chelsea’s run of two defeats and a draw in their last three matches, thoughts of a heavy defeat as the result of a backlash were not far from people’s thinking. Holding court with the nation’s media after the match, Moyes candidly revealed his own pre-match worries over containing Chelsea with the players at his disposal. Even the most experienced of centre back pairings fear the threat of Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka, never mind one so untested as Lucas Neill and Johnny Heitinga. Yet they typified what Everton were all about at the weekend and though any defence conceding three goals is rarely deserving of praise, it feels appropriate to make an exception in this case.
A rearguard action of epic proportions is par for the course when you visit this patch of west London. Few sides have dominated Chelsea in the lion’s den since the Jose Mourinho era, but there is a growing fallibility about the side since he left.
This season the Achilles heel for Carlo Ancelotti’s men has been defending set pieces and this would be from where Everton gained their reward on Saturday.
Though Chelsea started brightly it was Moyes’ side who struck first when Leighton Baines, impressive all afternoon, whipped a free-kick into the home penalty area for Louis Saha and John Terry to nudge the ball goalwards. Who got the telling touch would be irrelevant as the ball rebounded off the post and onto goalkeeper Petr Cech’s back before crossing the line. Football of course rarely goes to plan and on Friday night as Moyes dreamed of a fairytale win at the country’s top side, Everton certainly would not have grabbed a goal as early as the 12th minute – the fear was it arrived 78 minutes too early. Having played the division’s big hitters this season, the Goodison Park club would no doubt confirm Chelsea are a different proposition to the rest of the league; a different beast all together. Powerful and imposing, they swarm and smother sides – taking the lead at Stamford Bridge only served to anger an already hurting animal and so their devastating response came as little surprise. Yet Everton did little to help themselves; Saha was dispossessed in his own half by Ricardo Carvalho who fed Frank Lampard. With his first touch the ball was moved to Drogba and the Ivory Coast striker found the top corner past Tim Howard for 1-1 to complete a ruthless move. Four minutes later and the Chelsea juggernaut gathered pace and as Saha failed to clear a routine corner Branislav Ivanovic poked the ball into the path of Nicolas Anelka who would find Howard’s other top corner with unnerving accuracy.
Everton were now having to remain steadfast to halt the flow of home attacks and as the game quickly became a ‘sleeves rolled up’ period for Moyes’ men, the battle claimed its first victim in forward Jo. But as the Brazilian limped off having gone over on his ankle, he inadvertently paved the way for his side to level the game as Chelsea’s vulnerability from set-pieces was laid bare once more.
Diniyar Bilyaletdinov’s long throw, flicked on by Marouane Fellaini, caused havoc in the area and as Baines charged in the ball fell kindly to Jo’s replacement Yakubu who struck past Cech from close range. It changed very little in the pattern of the game however and only succeeded in surging Chelsea on further; Drogba’s neat side foot volley from Ivanovic’s deep cross re-established their lead just before the hour.
But Everton were defending with too much heart and are filled with too much pride to have accepted defeat; they have dealt with unprecedented adversity this season to shy away from the challenge. And four minutes later they were back on terms when Heitinga’s free-kick was met by Drogba who succeeded in heading against the challenging Saha only for the ball to loop over a stranded Cech – the adage that fortune favours the brave played out for all to see. Ancelotti’s men probed in search of the winner most expected them to achieve but Everton’s remarkable fightback had taken the life out of Chelsea and they seemed devoid of ideas the further the game progressed. In a game when the nerves of the Everton supporters were tested once more, it was reassuring that manager Moyes appeared to be the calmest man in the ground – he too must feel as the year draws to a close, 2010 holds even better things. Cheers to that.
Chelsea 3, Everton 3: Blues' spirit is a real banker
Dec 14, 2009 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool
THE bookies in all their calculating wisdom had written Everton off at Stamford Bridge. A home win for the Chelsea juggernaut was easily the most likely outcome, they reckoned; punters judged foolhardy enough to back an Everton victory were offered 16/1. Neither were the visitors much fancied to share in the spoils, a draw so apparently unlikely that wearers of blue-tinted specs could have a go at 9/2 if they were daft enough. Not even a scoreless draw at the same ground last season was enough to trigger some sympathetic odds which Evertonians could take pre-match comfort from. But once again, David Moyes’s men proved that although they continue to be damned by adversity, you should never bet against their spirit. This was a draw forged from a mixture of tenacity, effort and riding a fair share of timely good fortune.
It also continued to underline how an undeserved derby defeat at Goodison last month seems to have galvanised Everton’s season. Few Evertonians would entertain the concept that losing to their rivals at home could be a good thing, and there is no doubt that a derby win would more than likely have offered a similar jump-start.
Yet Everton’s performance that day was so clearly better than anything else they had served up during this stuttering campaign and the manner of their defeat so galling, that it forged the sort of resolve which has served them so well in the past.
That burning sense of injustice fired the Blues to a win at AEK in the Europa League, and saw them refuse to know when they were beaten by Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham. Now Everton have continued their streak of form with an impressive and deserved point against a side many commentators were speaking of as champions-elect before we had even reached the New Year. Some may have been surprised to witness Everton boldly starting with two strikers – Jo and Louis Saha – but once again, it was mainly an indication of injury and circumstances forcing the manager’s hand. With his talisman Tim Cahill sitting out the encounter after his fifth booking of the season against Spurs, Moyes decided the Aussie’s place would go to Saha, asking Jack Rodwell and Marouane Fellaini to shore-up central midfield against the Londoners’ world-class threats. But despite all the pre-match talk and bookmakers’ predictions, it was Everton who struck first. Steven Pienaar, Everton’s most creative threat, won the first of many free-kicks. Leighton Baines, who enjoyed an impressive display in front of the watching Fabio Capello, swung in a delightful cross which Saha headed onto the post. The ball then bounced off Chelsea keeper Petr Cech and went over the line. Everton were unable to cling onto the lead for very long, though.
Saha was unable to hold up possession for the Blues, and Chelsea capitalised.
An exchange of fast passing between Ricardo Carvalho and Frank Lampard slipped in Didier Drogba who finished past Tim Howard. The goal heralded a period of Chelsea dominance, with the Toffees pegged back. A second for the Premier League leaders seemed inevitable, and so it proved – Saha was too easily shoved off the ball in his own box by Branislav Ivanovic who slipped it to Nicolas Anelka and the Frenchman made no mistake. Everton needed to regroup to stand any chance of not being swept aside, and they managed to survive the onslaught and ease their way back into the game. Lucas Neill was enjoying a strong display at centre-half alongside an ever-alert John Heitinga, and Everton went close from a move born of the Aussie’s patience and composure. Neill swapped passes with Tony Hibbert three times in the Everton half before resisting the urge to hoof it and instead intelligently finding Fellaini. The Belgian played in Baines who provided a sweet ball that Saha headed wide.
But just as Moyes needed his team to prove their mettle and see out the half, Jo hit the deck with an ankle knock. The Brazilian’s writhing served only to break down a promising Everton move, and his manager could be forgiven for expecting a little more mental toughness. Certainly, the young loan signing must display more durability to go with his better moments of skill before he convinces Evertonians.
His replacement, Yakubu, has nothing to prove in terms of his goal-scoring, and he struck moments after coming on as the break loomed. A long throw-in from Diniyar Bilyaletdinov was flicked-on by Fellaini and the ‘Yak’ was fed, seizing on a defensive mix-up to side-foot in. Although Chelsea reasserted their dominance after the break, Everton refused to be totally cowed. However, the home team re-established their lead when Everton were guilty of not clearing their lines. Ivanovic’s cross to the far post picked out Drogba who smashed home a side-footed volley. The game had developed an unusual pattern. Chelsea attacked forcefully enough, but then allowed Everton to respond. It was a risky tactic for the home side who were defending erratically and giving Everton too many set-piece opportunities to hurt them. A deep Heitinga free kick troubled Chelsea sufficiently for Drogba to head the ball against Saha and it looped over Cech and into the net. Everton were destined to face further barrages from the hosts, no doubt frustrated at sensing another blip. Late on, Michael Ballack lifted a free-kick over the wall which was just tipped over by Howard, and Everton were under threat every time they lost possession. Late changes from Carlo Ancelotti cranked on further pressure, but the Blues’ spirit was underlined by young substitute Kieran Agard who replaced the limping Saha in the final moments of the contest.
Agard chased down a ball and made a sliding block which won an Everton throw-in and allowed them to see out the remaining seconds. For the second game running the Blues had secured a point, which felt like so much more. If they continue showing such resilience and heart, maybe even the bookmakers will give them some credit.
EVERTON: Howard, Hibbert, Neill, Heitinga, Baines, Rodwell, Fellaini, Pienaar, Bilyaletdinov, Saha (Agard 90), Jo (Yakubu 44). Subs (not used) Nash, Coleman, Duffy, Akpan, Mustafi.
CHELSEA: Cech, Ivanovic, Terry, Carvalho (Belletti 86), A Cole, Ballack, Lampard, J Cole (Malouda 76), Mikel (Borini 88), Anelka, Drogba. Subs (not used) Hilario, Zhirkov, Ferreira, Matic.
REFEREE: Phil Dowd.
Tim Howard: It's an awesome honour to skipper Everton FC
Dec 14, 2009 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool
TIM HOWARD today spoke of his pride at captaining Everton during their hard-fought draw against Chelsea. The USA keeper became the latest senior player to be handed the skipper’s armband by David Moyes at Stamford Bridge, in the absence of injured club captain Phil Neville. Howard made a string of vital saves in the second-half of the 3-3 draw against Carlo Ancelotti’s side, and was inspired by the trust shown in him by his manager. He said: “It felt amazing wearing the captain’s armband. I know the history of this club very well now and even if it’s only for one game, for the manager to put that type of responsibility on me and show that appreciation for me is awesome. “I know who the true captain of this team is but I’m happy to fill in and it’s an honour. “You usually don’t come away from a game conceding three and have a big smile on your face, but I feel like we earned that.
“The resilience we showed, and commitment and endeavour has been unbelievable in recent weeks and we showed it again in abundance.” Everton took an early lead in the game, only to find themselves 2-1 down shortly after. Howard continued: “The great teams such as Chelsea in this league can do that to you. “Credit to us, we didn’t let our heads hang and we kept cracking on. We gave them two goals and two opportunities in the first-half, that although they did well to finish them, could have been eliminated and we thought we had our share of chances as well. “There was our goal and a free-kick which nearly went in, and we thought if we carried on pressing we could get something.” Howard is also hoping that Everton are successful in their pursuit of loan-signing Landon Donovan. The pair are international teammates and friends. Howard said: “He really is a talented player. “I don’t know the whole situation but if he came through the doors, it’d be great. “He is a friend but he is also a top quality player and the more of those we can bring in the better. Landon can bring several strengths to the team. He can play wide right and underneath the strikers, he has got good pace with the ball and he runs and runs all day long. “He's got a fantastic touch with both his left and right. He can cross the ball well and shoot the ball well – he has got a bunch of attributes that mean he'll do well in the Premier League.”
David Moyes: I was expecting the worst - Everton FC latest
Dec 14 2009 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON boss David Moyes celebrated a Stamford Bridge draw for the fourth successive season on Saturday night. But the Blues manager admitted he had been bracing himself for a heavy defeat! “The players were great. I was concerned before we came down here. To come to Chelsea and get a result is a great one,” he declared.
He picked out the makeshift central defensive pairing of Lucas Neill and Johnny Heitinga for special praise, after the duo went head to head with the in-form Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka. “They were great and did a very good job today,” he added. “They stuck at their jobs, they're both experienced enough and we needed that today. “It was one of those days where I thought we might have to take a sore one and I didn't want that. “We’re trying to regain a little bit of confidence; the players did that today and hopefully we can build on that.” Moyes believed the 3-3 draw was his team’s best result of the season. “It was a great draw for us,” he added. “I’d have certainly taken a draw before the game with the team that we had out. “They didn’t half show great resilience and endeavour. We know the quality Chelsea have got, and we know that at the moment we can’t match that. “I have to give great credit to the boys that played today. I thought they were immense. “Chelsea have very few weaknesses. Undoubtedly they are in the top three teams in this country and the same in Europe. They have very few weaknesses, and I thought today we kept at it.
“The team showed a great spirit and that’s what we’ve tended to do at Everton.
“I’d say this was our best result of the season. Chelsea caused us lots of problems but I think we’re entitled to that bit of luck.” Chelsea counterpart Carlo Ancelotti rebuffed suggestions that Chelsea are in crisis after some desperate defending from set-pieces allowed Everton back into the match. “Who can say we are in crisis?” asked Ancelotti. “I don’t think so. I want to be objective and when I look at the game and the way we played I saw that my team played very well. “We didn’t win because of mistakes at set-pieces. But we played very well for 90 minutes with intensity and good concentration. “We created a lot of chances to score and were unlucky today. I am happy because Chelsea played very well for 90 minutes, (but) I am unhappy with the result. I didn’t have to say anything to my players because they did the maximum.
“We didn’t win but that can happen in football – you can draw at home “We defended too close to our goal. It was not necessary. The defence stayed close to the goal and Cech had no room to catch the ball. “We conceded three goals from the same situations. We had the same problem against Aston Villa earlier in the season and we have to improve again. “We still have the same chance to win the title. It will be a long race until the end of the season. The Premier League is very competitive.
“We did not make individual mistakes, they were collective ones.” The Italian was adamant that he would not be signing any players in January and is clearly getting frustrated with that familiar line of questioning. Drogba, Salomon Kalou, Michael Essien and John Mikel Obi all leave for the African Nations Cup after Chelsea’s fixture against Fulham on December 28. “I believe Didier Drogba, at the moment, is very important for us but I believe we can win without him in January,” added Ancelotti. “I would like to say, for the last time, we will not buy anybody in January - 100 per cent.” Chelsea were rocked in the 12th minute when Louis Saha headed a free-kick from Leighton Baines against the post and into the net off the back of Petr Cech. But goals from Drogba and Nicolas Anelka put the Blues in command only for Chelsea to fail to deal with a throw-in and substitute Ayegbeni Yakubu pounced to put Everton level in first-half stoppage time. Drogba then restored Chelsea’s lead in the 58th minute but the Blues failed to deal with another free-kick in the 63rd minute and a poor clearance bounced off Saha and into the net.
Chelsea boss Ancelotti still upbeat after Everton FC draw
Dec 14, 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool
COACH Carlo Ancelotti insists Chelsea can still enjoy a “fantastic” season even though they have not won in four games and have been dumped out of the Carling Cup. Ancelotti’s side have now conceded 10 goals in their last four matches, including a Carling Cup quarter-final exit on penalties to Blackburn, and Everton’s three arrived courtesy of two free-kicks and a throw-in. “I am working with fantastic players and we have a good opportunity to do a fantastic season,” said Ancelotti.
“But we have to improve on the set-plays because we conceded three goals from them. It was the same against Aston Villa. We lost that game on set plays but we worked on the situation and we improved. We have to do the same now.
“For these particular situations, we have to find better positions in the penalty box and continue to work. “We went 10 games without conceding a goal at home and we then concede three.”
Everton FC hotshot Louis Saha’s double boost for Blues fans
Dec 15, 2009. by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
LOUIS SAHA has been named Everton’s Player of the Month for November.
And the in-form French striker handed Blues fans a double boost when it was revealed that talks have started about a new deal to tie him to the club. Reports in the French media claimed that Roma, Bordeaux and Atletico Madrid are all tracking a proven international goalscorer whose contract is up at the end of the season. One weekend report even linked neighbours Liverpool with a cheeky bid for the former Manchester United and Fulham forward. But after Saturday’s 3-3 draw at Chelsea – when Saha was on the scoresheet again – Blues boss David Moyes said: “His contract is up at the end of the season, so he could speak to foreign clubs in January. We have been speaking to him. "We’re happy with him and we’d like to keep him here.”
Saha has scored 12 goals this season – including strikes at West Ham and Hull last month – and also won the club’s Player of the Month award in September.
“It is always nice to get awards and I am pleased that I have been recognised for the work I have done for the team,” he said. “The result against Chelsea means confidence is high again and we hope we can continue to move up the table.” Recent speculation about the future of outstanding young midfielder Jack Rodwell was also dismissed when the teenager insisted he is not being distracted by rumours linking him with a move away from Goodison Park. “I don’t read anything into the speculation,” he said over the weekend. “All I'm focusing on is the next game. I've got to be ready to start the next game and be in the manager's thoughts. “I really am happy playing for Everton. I enjoy it there. It's where I've always been and I love it. “The gaffer has been brilliant for me. He has put his trust in me, playing me at such a young age, and he has always tried to look after me. I've got a lot to thank him for.” Rodwell became the youngest player ever to represent Everton in Europe when he came on as a 16-year-old substitute against AZ Alkmaar in December 2007. He added: “At first it was a bit surreal playing in the Premier League at 16, coming up against world-class players, because it had always been my dream. “But it becomes second nature. It has happened with me a lot. I played in the Under-18s when I was 14, then the reserves at 15.
“At first it's daunting, but then you get used to it.”
NIGEL MARTYN: Why Everton must leave Lee Carsley and James McFadden disappointed on Saturday
Dec 15, 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool
COUPLE of popular ex-Evertonians will return to Goodison this weekend – and both Lee Carsley and James McFadden will, I’m almost certain, be guaranteed the warmest of receptions. But it’s one of my old team-mates at Leeds that I think the Blues will have to be even more conscious of. Cars will be desperate to play, but hasn’t been involved that much in recent weeks for Birmingham, while Faddy will also be keen to make an impact. But Lee Bowyer has been increasingly influential for Birmingham and will pose a real threat on Sunday. He has scored six goals from midfield this season – in much the same way that Tim Cahill does for Everton – and three of them have been priceless matchwinners in single goal successes. Despite the bad press he has received in the past, I never saw that side of Lee. I only ever saw a quiet, incredibly hard-working lad who ran miles in training, then covered even more ground on match days You can guarantee that he will track every single run our midfielders may make on Sunday, but we have to ensure that we follow him, too, when he makes his regular incursions into our territory because he can certainly finish. Sunday has suddenly become a very important game for us. The way we came back to draw against Tottenham and the point we claimed at Stamford Bridge means that a little momentum is finally starting to grow – from the unlikeliest of fixtures. Birmingham are in a great run of form themselves at present and will no doubt be privately disappointed to have seen the draw we got at Chelsea. You could see from the reaction of our players, the manager and the backroom staff on the final whistle how much that result meant. Turning points in seasons can only ever be identified months down the line, but there’s a possibility that last Saturday’s result, or maybe Tim Howard’s penalty save against Spurs, could be one of those pivotal moments.
That’s why it’s so important that we build on those results with another good result against Birmingham. We can give Cars and Faddy a warm reception before the kick-off, then hopefully get about them and send them away disappointed!
NIGEL MARTYN: The harder Everton work, the luckier they get
IF ever a football club has deserved a slice or two of luck this season, it’s Everton.
That’s why I wouldn’t worry too much about the fortuitous goals we scored at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. We’ve had players dropping like flies all season, we endured a local derby where everything went the way of our neighbours, so perhaps it’s time the balance was redressed just a little the other way. But picking up a point at Chelsea – even a Chelsea side which has dipped just a little in recent weeks – isn’t just about luck. You still have to show spirit, fight and resilience to come away from a ground like that with anything, and that’s just what Everton did. I actually felt a little for Petr Cech afterwards. He could hardly do anything about his own goal or Yak’s finish for the second, while the third goal was a freak. But it’s about time the Blues got the rub of the stick like that.
Time for Carlo Nash to be Everton’s number one
THURSDAY night could finally be the time for Goodison goalkeeping spotters to clap eyes on a particularly rare breed – the lesser spotted Carlo Nash! The visit of BATE Borisov is one of those rarities in modern football, a match with absolutely nothing at stake. Everton are through to the knockout stages of the Europa League, the Belarussians are out – so there is only pride to play for. Tim Howard might not agree with me, but this could be the chance for him to enjoy a small breather. His place isn’t under threat, and with an important game against Birmingham looming it would be the perfect time to give Carlo some well earned first team experience. It’s hard work travelling around the country and Europe, only to sit on a substitutes’ bench every week, so this could be a reward for his efforts. I can understand the personal pride Tim will feel at wanting to play every match this season, but imagine how he would feel if he did play and picked up an injury. It would be silly to risk him and if Tim sits down and thinks about it he would probably – reluctantly – agree.
Everton's Diniyar Bilyaletdinov looking forward to return of pass masters
Dec 16 2009 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool
DINIYAR Bilyaletdinov is hoping Everton can pass their way to success over the Christmas period. The Russian international winger believes he is adapting to the physical side of the Premier League after his summer transfer from Lokomotiv Moscow, but he dislikes the long ball approach of some English teams. Bilyaletdinov is hoping that the return of injured players like Mikel Arteta and Leon Osman, along with the continuing fitness of Steve Pienaar, will help the blues play more fast-flowing football. He said: “I like passing football. "I don’t like it when the game is like ping pong. "It’s boring to watch and boring to play in. "I know many teams play like that, and it’s about hard work but it’s not good to see. “I hear about players like Arteta and I’ve seen him play. I have also played with Leon Osman before his injury.
"I am excited about playing with them, but I’m excited to be playing alongside all my team-mates. “I enjoy every second on the pitch in the Premier League.
"It’s very physical but it’s more about thinking of the second and instant decision-making.” Bilyaletdinov was speaking during the Everton players’ annual visit to Alder Hey childrens’ hospital. Along with the rest of the first team squad and manager, he visited various wards to chat with the young patients and hand out Christmas gifts.
He said: “In Russia we do the same thing three or four times a year, and it’s very sad when you see the kids who have cancer. “I remember before I came to England when Chelsea and AC Milan played in the Russian Railways cup, the teams came to the main hospital and took presents and brought a smile for the kids. I’ve not seen so many happy kids in my life when they visited. “I have not got any children, but I have a younger brother so I know how to make small kids laugh and be happy.”
Meanwhile, Leon Osman returned to full training yesterday after recovering from a foot injury sustained in October. He said: “I had my first training session and it went pretty well. I've still got quite a bit of work to do, but progress has started. I'm targeting each day as it comes at the minute, and we'll go from there.”
Everton FC fans letters: Steven Pienaar return crucial to Blues’ great revival
Dec 16 2009 Liverpool Echo
THE pivotal moment for the Blues in recent weeks has been the return of Steven Pienaar. The little South African is by far our most influential player, and I am including Arteta in that assessment. The lad is sure to become a global star at next year’s World Cup so why haven’t Everton got his contract all sewn up?
Surely we can’t be about to let him go for free on a Bosman? I dread to think of an Everton midfield without the little dynamo, but imagine a fully fit line-up that included Arteta, Bilyaletdinov, Jack Rodwell and Pienaar. That would surely be one of the best midfields Everton have been able to pick in many a year.
Harry Scott, Fazakarley
I WISH some Everton fans would stop picking out a player for ‘special’ abusive treatment – why do we always have to have a boo-boy? At the moment the victim is Jo, who is lambasted for even the slightest transgression while other players’ mistakes are glossed over or dismissed as being unlucky. Jo played superbly against Spurs last week, holding the ball up to support the midfield and making intelligent runs to create options when we were in possession. Despite this, some ‘supporters’ chose to pick on the Brazilian and target him as the reason Everton weren’t winning the game.
Give the lad a break, he is only 22, playing a completely alien style of football that does not complement his South American knowledge of the game, and despite this is doing a sterling job under trying circumstances. Remember – he cost us nothing so Everton are in a win-win situation with him.
Frank Lester, West Derby
WHY does David Moyes insist on starting matches with that useless striker, Jo?
Apparently he is Brazilian, well I’m not so sure. He has no first touch, can’t pass, is hopeless in front of goal and has managed one shot on target in the last four games.
He gives Everton absolutely nothing – which is thankfully what we have paid for him.
We should send him back to City – if they’ll still take him – and let them pay his wages. He must be the worst striker in Everton’s history. Him and Lucas at Anfield must be two of the worst players the Brazilians have ever produced.
Tommy Doyle, Clubmoor
THANKFULLY Everton seem to be getting some form back with recent results showing an upturn as well as our performances. The two players we really need back now are Phil Neville and Phil Jagielka, big characters who can make a tremendous difference to the psychology of the team. We are still in the Europa League and going well and with the FA Cup about to start up we can look to our season being restarted in the New Year. Maybe we can even dream of some silverware in May.
John Mathews, Speke
Tony Hibbert’s pride at reaching European landmark for Everton FC
Dec 17 2009 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
TONY HIBBERT today spoke of his delight as he prepares to become an Everton European record-breaker. The right-back will captain the team against FC BATE Borisov at Goodison Park tonight, making a club-record 20th European appearance.
It puts the versatile defender one ahead of Everton legends Brian Labone and Colin Harvey, and he will be watched from the stands by his proud family.
He said: “It’s a great achievement for me and it will be a proud night for me and my family. “It shows how good the team have become. Look at the world class players and legends who have played for the club.” Hibbert will be the second oldest player in a much-changed Everton line-up, behind stand-in keeper Carlo Nash. But he is backing the club’s youngsters, including 16-year-old Jack Bidwell and 18-year-old Adam Forshaw to thrive on their debuts. He said: “Some of the young lads have been at the club for a while. You can see their ability and hopefully they can show that ability on the pitch. “The experience they will gain from playing will be unbelievable
“I’m sure a few will be nervous. We’ve got to all stick together and it’s down to the older lads to pull them through. “Playing at Goodison, no matter what, you want to win. The young lads will know that from the start. “In our minds yes, we’re already through, but we want to put on a display in front of our home fans.”
Everton manager David Moyes said: “The reason Tony has got those figures is the competition has changed. We have group stages now. “It is still a terrific honour. His name will be at the top of that list when people talk about games in Europe.”
Leon Osman will also return for the Blues after injuring a bone in his foot against Wolves in October. Everton starting XI: Nash, Coleman, Duffy, Hibbert (c), Bidwell, Osman, Forshaw, Baxter, Rodwell, Yakubu, Agard.
Everton boss David Moyes turns to his little boys Blue for Europa League test
Dec 17 2009 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
DON’T be surprised if applications to join Everton’s Academy hit a record high when they next begin recruiting. There was a time that becoming part of the youth set-up at a club the size of the Toffees meant the start of a long and winding road towards, just maybe, one day playing for the first team. Things are slightly different this season.
Thanks to a well-catalogued but nonetheless horrific injury list, David Moyes has named two Academy players in his side to face BATE Borisov in the Europa League tonight with another on the bench. Jack Bidwell, a 16-year-old left-back from Southport and midfielder Adam Forshaw, who is only two years older, will line-up for the Blues in a side which makes Jack Rodwell seem like a veteran. In total, five players make full debuts, as keeper Carlo Nash gets his first senior start since joining the Blues in the summer of 2008 replacing Tim Howard. Shane Duffy and Kieran Agard, make the starting line up for the first time. Everton have already secured a place in the last 32 and the squad is riddled with injuries, so Moyes insists his team selection is the only common-sense approach to the dead-rubber tie.
Moyes said: “We have earned the right to do that by getting through in the competition already and with the amount of injuries we’ve got, I’ve got to protect them for the Premier League. “We’ve tried to give the Europa League every respect by playing all the players that we have done, but we will change it for Bate.
“There is a little bit of concern that BATE are a decent side. I thought they and Benfica would be our biggest threats. “BATE have a number of international players in their squad but whatever opportunities you have in life, you have to try and take them. “And there are opportunities here for youngsters at Everton because we do not have the biggest squad.” Bidwell has played for England Under-17s and Under-16s and has forced his way into the reserves this season. He has already savoured scoring at Goodison Park, finding the target in the FA Youth Cup win over Nantwich last season. Liverpool-born Forshaw is playing regularly for the reserves and is making a name for himself as a dead-ball specialist. Another 16-year-old, left-back Luke Garbutt, will be among the substitutes. He was signed from Leeds in the summer for an initial £600,000 fee. Moyes admits he is pleased his team will, after tomorrow, be taking a break from European competition for a couple of months. He added: “I do not think people realise what it takes out of the players. “We have had to play nearly the same team in every game. It has really taken its toll on us. “We have had Sunday, Thursday, Sunday, Thursday for weeks now and had 10 or 12 players out.
“It has been a dreadful situation. But we wanted to get through and did it.”
It means the Everton manager has made nine changes from the side that drew 3-3 with Chelsea on Saturday. Moyes said: “We’ve asked UEFA if we can put the young lads on and they’ve said yes. “I think the Everton supporters would expect us to change the team. If we were putting out a full team you’d maybe question the wisdom of it.”
However, the Scot deliberately named his team 24 hours before the game so paying supporters could make an informed decision whether to be at Goodison. He said: “Its only right that at an expensive time of year the supporters know the side, but I actually think they might enjoy coming to see some of the youngsters play. “There are names which will be unknown to a lot of people. We would want the likes of Dan Gosling, Victor Anichebe, James Vaughan and Iain Turner to be around that list but they’re all injured so we can’t even put those players out. “Kieran Agard will work hard and give us a different type of centre forward than the others we’ve been playing. He’s quick and works hard for the team. “This will show the young lads the level they have to play at. Sometimes a young lad gets thrown in and they have to sink or swim. Unfortunately there are a lot of them getting thrown in together but it’s an education for them and if you were a young player you’d want to play. “Playing at Goodison under the lights for a European tie. For some of them it might never get any better.
“They should make the most of it and try and enjoy it. “Rodwell came on at Alkmaar and is one of the older ones but still young in football terms.” Moyes knows that the silver lining of his enforced youth policy could mean more talented youngsters like Rodwell choosing to come and start their careers at Everton. He said: “At Everton if you do alright you will get in. I have to say there were a couple even younger who were in contention and we had a think about it but decided not. “If you’ve got a talent and you’re out there wanting a chance, you can see how many young players at Everton are getting a chance. Even parents could be looking at it with their sons.”
Landon Donovan keen on Everton FC loan deal
Dec 17 2009 Liverpool
USA star Landon Donovan has declared he wants a loan move to Everton – while committing his long term future to LA Galaxy. The 27-year-old striker is expected to join the Blues in January for two and a half months, and final discussions about the move are ongoing. He said: “You want to go where you are wanted and Everton have been incredibly professional and expressed their interest, and I feel that is a place where I would feel very comfortable. “There's already a lot of Americans that play there (English Premier League) and it would be interesting. But we will cross that bridge when we come to it.” Donovan was talking during a press conference in Los Angeles when it was announced he will sign a new four-year contract with Major League Soccer side LA Galaxy. His move to Goodison would be similar to David Beckham’s loan switch to AC Milan, with the Galaxy duo using the moves to keep fit during the MLS close season. Everton chief executive Robert Elstone said: “A finalised deal is not too far away. Positive discussions have been ongoing and we expect to have Landon join the Club when the window opens on January 2.”
Galaxy general manager Bruce Arena also confirmed that they expect a deal to be completed soon. Arena added: “A loan deal has not been finalised, we're hopeful it will and it will likely be with Everton. “Everton is a club with a small roster and a congested schedule over the next few months. It's a great fit for Landon and the clubs have an understanding of the agreement.”
The Jury: Everton FC fans on the draw at Chelsea and the games ahead
Dec 17, 2010 Liverpool Echo
TONY SCOTT, Walton
EVERTONIANS more than anyone get immense pride watching youngsters come through and cracking into the first team. I would even argue that Everton’s Academy system is the best in the country, continually proven to pick the best of the crop of each generation season after season. From Wayne Rooney to Jack Rodwell, Everton's Academy will continue to set the standards that other football clubs aspire to.
Shane Duffy, Seamus Coleman, Jake Bidwell, Adam Forshaw, Jose Baxter and Kieran Agard will get the chance to stake a claim tonight and prove age is just a number. The Premier League’s form team, Birmingham City, will prove a sterner test on Sunday but Everton should be looking for no less than three points if we want to move on to better things in 2010.
RICHARD KNIGHTS, West Derby
LET’S not talk about injuries! Or maybe we should. Just imagine the whining, the bleating and pitiful excuses if Chelsea had had to play for months without Terry, Lampard and Drogba. Every week David Moyes faces the equivalent of ‘Scrapheap Challenge’ – welding random bits together, tying pieces up with string and nicking parts off other cars. As he gets to the start line the exhaust falls off and Tony Hibbert has to play centre half. Not that Chelsea face that problem every week. Courtesy of Roman Abramovich, they start with a brand new Rolls Royce. We’ve played three top sides, put in three top performances, but only gained two points. Now we need to start collecting them. Some questions. Is Jo really a Brazilian? Has Bily forgotten how to cross the ball? Are our defenders slipped sleep-inducing drugs into their half-time drinks? Christmas cracker question. Why has Rafa given all his players cigarette lighters? Because they’ve lost their matches! Ho, ho, ho. MICHAEL DRUMMOND, Speke
IT’S not like we have won the last two games. We’ve only drawn them, but they have had such significance in showing how far Everton’s confidence has grown over the last few weeks. In both games, we have shown a fighting spirit and a belief that, if we are 1-0 down, we can still get a result whereas earlier on in the season, we wouldn’t have. I don’t think it is a coincidence that we have only started showing this fighting spirit since Steven Pienaar has come back into the side. His attacking mind has shown our squad that we can get up there and create something. When he was out, this was all just talk and no one was really proving it. It was great to see Yakubu score a goal as well. I’m sure that will do the world of good for his confidence and hopefully he will get a good partnership going with Saha before he goes to the perfectly timed African Nations Cup in January.
DAVID WALLBANK, Huyton
AFTER finding our feet in recent weeks you have to ask the question ‘Have Everton really turned the corner?’ I would say after Liverpool’s pin up poster boy Dirk Kuyt scored the second in the derby, the corner had already been turned. The Blues have put in a few decent shifts of late. I doubt many more Premiership teams will go to Stamford Bridge and score three goals, sadly none of which will be goal of the season contenders. It’s fantastic news that the Yak is back and amongst the goals again. Fingers crossed he will continue to find the net and maybe give Saha a run for his money. The non-entity game against FC BATE awaits tonight, and Moyes could use this game as a chance to let players like Coleman, Duffy, Baxter and Agard gain experience. I am bored even mentioning our injury list yet again, but if we get the troops back soon I would expect a great second half to the season. Dare I mention the possibility of winning some silverware?
Will tonight's be the youngest Everton team in history?
Dec 17, 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
COULD tonight’s Everton line-up be the youngest in the club’s history?
On May 28, 1985, with the League title already won, Howard Kendall sent out a team containing three 17-year-olds and two 19-year-olds.
They lost 2-0.
Luton Town v Everton
May 28, 1985
Neville Southall (26)
Darren Hughes (19)
John Bailey (28)
Alan Harper (24)
Pat Van Den Hauwe (24)
Kevin Richardson (22)
Johnny Morrissey (20)
Rob Wakenshaw (19)
Paul Wilkinson (20) replaced by Neil Rimmer (17)
Jason Danskin (17)
Derek Walsh (17)
BATE Borisov aim to go out of Europa League on a high at Everton
Dec 17 2009 Liverpool Echo
BATE Borisov coach Viktor Goncharenko has called on his side to finish their Europa League campaign on a winning note. They face a young Everton team knowing they are out, while their hosts and Benfica have already qualified for the last 32.
Goncharenko said: “While this is not a very important game for us in a sense, we would like to finish with a victory. “However we know it will be difficult no matter what team Everton put out. “If you name younger players you know they will be eager to please.” Goncharenko, who played for BATE before a cruciate ligament injury ended his career, believes the club are taking small steps forward. They played in the Champions League last season and managed to upset the odds and draw twice with Juventus. He said: “I think we are improving all the time even though we lost to Benfica in our last game in the group. “The five matches in the Europa League have been good experience for everyone connected with the club.” BATE Borisov have been preparing for tonight’s match by training in Italy. It is the close-season in the Belarussian League.
Everton 0, BATE Borisov 1: Youthful endeavours the bright spot as experiment ends in defeat
Dec 18 2009 by Philip Kirkbride, Liverpool Daily Post
IT is safe to say the mind was allowed to wander at Goodison Park last night. Amid the festive chill, Everton’s low key Europa League defeat by BATE Borisov will have only heightened dreams of a trip to warmer climes in the knockout stages.
Not that much was really expected of a game which would have no bearing on either sides’ European fate; it developed into an occasion for experimentation and not entertainment. The match would prove an unremarkable closing chapter to a European campaign which may yet hold exciting times for Everton. Last night’s subdued final Europa League Group I match was devoid of action and only served to officially ratify David Moyes side’s progress in the knockout stage of the competition. Aleksandr Yurevich’s low drive past Carlo Nash, which won the game for BATE, was the exception to the rule in a tie which will not live long in the memory. The game was unfortunately all too predictable with a home team including names unfamiliar to many Everton supporters, and an opposition still in pre-season training, the match had the feel of a summer saunter about it – even if the temperature dropped below zero.
Games with more spark, life and ultimately with more significance await the Goodison Park outfit and the thought of the stellar names Everton may be pitted against in the round of 32 would have been the only thing keeping the supporters warm last night. Goalmouth action was in short supply though the endeavour shown by the raft of Everton youngsters brought into the side can not be faulted, they just lacked the guile to penetrate their Belarusian visitors. As secured before kick-off, Everton finish the Group in second place with nine points. Manager Moyes made the unusual step of naming his starting line-up for last night’s clash on Wednesday, saying he felt it only right the Everton fans knew the side ahead of this ‘dead-rubber’.
With the Goodison Park outfit’s qualification into the knockout rounds of the Europa League already secured, Moyes was able to make nine changes from the side who thrillingly drew 3-3 at Chelsea on Saturday. Making their full debuts were youngsters Shane Duffy, 17, Jake Bidwell, 16, Jose Baxter, 18 and Kieran Agard, 20 whilst Carlo Nash’s patience playing deputy to Tim Howard was rewarded with his first start.
It was perhaps telling of the emphasis Moyes placed on youth in this match that even Seamus Coleman fell into the category of players with ‘experience’.
There was of course a sprinkling of ‘old heads’ amongst the clutch of fledgling stars and Leon Osman’s return from injury was a welcome sight – his leadership in midfield was where Everton dominated play early on. Whilst some people will have been turned off given the line-up, made in light of Everton’s place in today’s typically laborious round of 32 draw from Nyon already secured, for the others, including the manager, Thursday night’s Europa League Group I encounter was all about the future.
Whether given time to reflect on where the European road may lead Moyes’ men next or to assess the credentials of those emerging from the grounds of Finch Farm, last night’s match at Goodison did have something to offer, although it was not immediately clear. It too offered a chance to celebrate how Everton have navigated what can be generously described as a ‘tricky’ group. The superstars of Benfica proved a notch above on both occasions but a comprehensive victory over AEK Athens at home, followed by wins in Belarus and Greece, all achieved in the midst of a crippling injury crisis, must be hailed as notable feats of spirit and man management. That Everton are now looking at potential glamour ties with heavyweights Juventus or Shakhtar Donetsk is testament to them punching above their weight having emerged from the European backwater of SK Sigma Olomouc in the play-offs. Although the night would not break any box office records, history was made when Tony Hibbert, captaining his side on the night, made his 20th appearance for the Goodison Park side in Europe, a club record. Previously held jointly by Brian Labone and Colin Harvey, Hibbert’s landmark is a fitting accolade for a man derided in some circles but a professional player with honesty and dedication.
However as much those at Goodison Park arrived with an air of optimism, it was soon dampened when Rodwell pulled up 10 minutes in having pulled his left hamstring – on a rare evening when Moyes was allowed some breathing space the withdrawal no doubt an annoyance at best. But persevere, against opponents who were poor in the opening exchanges, they did and there was growing sense Coleman fancied repeating his buccaneering exploits so well executed in the 2-2 draw with Tottenham Hotspur.
Sergei Sosnovski though would give a gentle reminder they did not want to end their Europa campaign with a whimper as he leapt free at the back post from a corner, only to misdirect his effort badly back into a crowd of players; Igor Shitov would also blaze over from a set-piece. Anyone unfamiliar with the ability of goalkeeper Nash were given a first glimpse just past the half hour when he had to be alert to hold onto Aleksandr Volodko’s vicious drive as the visitors began to improve. Hibbert survived a strong penalty shout after felling Maksim Bordachov before Agard had Everton’s first meaningful attempt moments later, just firing over from the angle.
Sergei Krivets would waste a chance on the turn five minutes before the break as the game slumped from its bright opening into what everyone feared it may become.
On the opposite flank to Coleman was Southport-born Bidwell and together with the anticipated tenacity, he showed remarkable composure on the biggest night of his career to date. As the crowd trickled back to their seats with the second half already underway, it was Borisov who made the early strides to break the stalemate and in a brief flurry of action Pavel Nekhaychik’s effort was cleared off the line by Duffy.
Borisov’s superior play was rewarded however with 15 minutes remaining when Yurevich’s drive from Sonsovski’s lay-off travelled through a throng of players and past Nash who saw it late. Everton attempted to stage a late comeback but Jose Baxter’s well hit, but off target, free-kick and Agard’s late misdirected drive were as close as they came. The 72 travelling fans from Belarus were the ones who went home happy.
Everton chief Robert Elstone: "We battled with UEFA over Europa League kick-off time"
Dec 18, 2009 By David Bartlett , Liverpool Echo
EVERTON FC’s chief executive Robert Elstone today said he “battled” with Uefa after being told the club would have to play its next Europa league tie with Sporting Lisbon at 5.45pm on a Tuesday night. It will leave thousands of fans with a headache over how to get to the match in the first knock-out stage of the competition.
Uefa said the move was necessary following a fixture clash with Liverpool, who face Unirea Urziceni in the standard Thursday night slot on February 18. Mr Elstone said: “We battled Uefa extremely hard and made the obvious issues very clear indeed, trying every route to find an alternative. But the reality we were left with meant there was no other option.” Everton club secretary Dave Harrison added: “In circumstances like this Uefa have a stadium and cities clash document which quite clearly indicates the procedures that need to take place and the order of priority for eligibility.
“Unfortunately, as a result of those priorities Liverpool have staked a claim for the Thursday night standard Europa League kick-off time. “The same document makes it clear fixtures should be fulfilled on Tuesday with an 18:00 CET kick-off (5pm GMT) if they cannot be played on Thursday. We have managed to negotiate an extra 45 minutes beyond that time.”
Everton complete loan signing of USA star Landon Donovan
Dec 18 2009
EVERTON today completed the loan signing of USA star Landon Donovan.
The American international has been signed on a two and a half month loan deal and will join the Blues during the first week in January. The 27-year-old LA Galaxy player will return to California and the NLS at the end of his loan spell. Meanwhile manager David Moyes will continue to try and boost his squad with further additions in the January transfer window.
Europa League: Liverpool meet Unirea Urziceni while Everton face Sporting Lisbon
Dec 18, 2009 By James Pearce
THE draw for the last 32 of the Europa League has handed Liverpool a clash with Romanian champions Unirea Urziceni, while Everton will meet Portuguese outfit Sporting Lisbon. Both Merseyside clubs will be at home in the first leg with the Blues playing at Goodison on Tuesday, February 16 with a 5.45pm kick-off. The Reds will play their game at Anfield on Thursday, February 18. The away legs are scheduled to be played on Thursday, February 25. If the Blues get past Sporting they will face either Atletico Madrid or Galatasaray in the last 16 with the first leg to be played away. Liverpools reward if they get through is a clash with either Lille or Fenerbahce and Rafa Benitezs side would also have home advantage in the second leg. The dates for the last 16 matches are March 11 and March 18. Unirea are from south east Romania and like Liverpool dropped into the Europa League after finishing third in their Champions League group. They are managed by former Chelsea defender Dan Petrescu and picked up eight points from their six games. The Romanians were unbeaten at home as they drew 1-1 with both Rangers and Stuttgart, and beat group winners Sevilla 1-0. They also won 4-1 at Ibrox but in their other away games lost 2-0 to Sevilla and 3-1 to Stuttgart. Sporting Lisbon qualified for the last 32 as winners of Group D. They gained 11 points from their six games to finish ahead of Hertha Berlin, Heerenveen and FK Ventspils. They are currently seventh in the Portuguese top flight and Everton have never met them before.
EUROPA LEAGUE DRAW
Last 32: Rubin Kazan v Hapoel Tel Aviv; Athletic Bilbao v Anderlecht; FC Copenhagen v Marseille; Panathinaikos v Roma; Atletico Madrid v Galatasaray; Ajax v Juventus; Club Brugge v Valencia; Fulham v Shakhtar Donetsk; Liverpool v Unirea Urziceni; Hamburg v PSV Eindhoven; Standard Liege v Salzburg; Villarreal v Wolfsburg; FC Twente v Werder Bremen; Lille v Fenerbahce; Everton v Sporting Lisbon; Hertha Berlin v Benfica
First legs to be played on February 18. Second legs to be played on February 25.
Last 16: Hamburg or PSV Eindhoven v Athletic Bilbao or Anderlecht; Rubin Kazan or Hapoel Tel Aviv v Villarreal or Wolfsburg; Atletico Madrid or Galatasaray v Everton or Sporting Lisbon; Hertha Berlin or Benfica v FC Copenhagen or Marseille; Panathinaikos or Roma v Standard Liege or Salzburg; Lille or Fenerbahce v Liverpool or Unirea Urziceni; Ajax or Juventus v Fulham or Shakhtar Donetsk; Club Brugge or Valencia v FC Twente or Werder Bremen
First legs to be played on March 11. Second legs to be played on March 18.
Leon Osman praises Everton youngsters as Jack Rodwell’s hamstring problem adds to injury woes
Dec 18 2009 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
LEON OSMAN today insisted he is raring to go after making his return to first team action during the Blues’ Europa league defeat against BATE Borisov – as the night was tarnished by a hamstring injury to Jack Rodwell. The midfielder was full of energy throughout the tie despite having little time to build up his match fitness beforehand, and relished the task of encouraging his young team-mates.
Everton finished the game with eight teenagers on the pitch, and Osman felt the mix of Academy youngsters and first-team fringe players acquitted themselves impressively. He said: “I saw both sides of it. In one way it brought back memories of making my debut and it was all good memories, but then it was a case of being the senior player helping the young lads through. I remember that feeling before the game well, the nerves before you get your first touch. “I didn’t have to do much because the lads played really well considering the team of internationals they were up against. They won their domestic league and are in the champions league every year.
“To almost come through the game and then lose to a deflected shot near the end was disappointing but they can come away from it with their heads held high. I hope it’s the first of many appearances for them. Now they know the levels they have to maintain.” Osman also bemoaned the bad luck with injuries which continues to curse the Blues’ season, Jack Rodwell limping off early last night. The 18-year-old will today undergo a scan on is hamstring, but it is hoped the injury will not mean a lengthy lay-off. Osman said: “It’s unbelievable the injuries we’ve had this season, and once Jack went off I had to adapt and do a bit more sitting in midfield. Hopefully for him it won’t be anything serious. “I’m desperate now to get myself back into the first team. I want to be playing as much as possible. It’s been eight and a half weeks since I injured my foot and I want to be involved against Birmingham on Sunday.
“It’s been the most frustrating part of my career so far while I’ve been out but I’ve rushed my rehab and I want to keep going.” Manager David Moyes said: Moyes said: “The young players stuck at it but I was disappointed at the way they goal came about.
“One or two of them did okay. They know at this level you have to keep the ball and limit your mistakes.”
Europa League last 32: Group winners: Sporting Lisbon, AS Roma, Galatasaray, Salzburg, Fenerbahce, Benfica, Shakhtar Donetsk, PSV Eindhoven, Werder Bremen, Valencia, Anderlecht, Hapoel Tel Aviv.
Runners-up: Everton, Hertha Berlin, Fulham, Panathinaikos, Villarreal, FC Brugge, FC Copenhagen, Athletic Bilbao, Lille, Ajax, Hamburg, FC Twente.
Champions League: Liverpool, Juventus, Marseille, Wolfsburg, Atletico Madrid, Rubin Kazan, Unirea Urziceni and Standard Liege.
DAVID PRENTICE: Could Liverpool or Everton score this season’s 500th Premier League goal?
Dec 18, 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
SOMEONE, somewhere will score the 500th goal of this Premier League season tomorrow. Niko Kranjcar poked the 499th on Wednesday night, meaning that Liverpool’s early kick-off at Fratton Park should provide us with the 500th.
Liverpool and Everton players have often supplied the 500th goal in previous Premier League seasons. And there have been some unlikely names too.
Graeme Stuart, who got there in 1996/97, was a regular Goodison marksman, but the same certainly couldn’t be said of Craig Short who scored 1995/96’s 500th goal – his first goal for the Blues in a Boxing Day demolition of Middlesbrough.
In 1999/2000 Don Hutchison was the 500th goal scorer, then in 2004/05 it was Luis Garcia – a season when another famous goal overshadowed any other he’s ever scored.
Everton FC face more more cold hard truths
Dec 18 2009 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
TO death and taxes, add another couple of certainties.
Everton will lose a player to injury during matches this season, and dead-rubber Europa League ties with precisely nothing at stake will result in dull games.
Toffees supporters hardy enough to brave the arctic temperatures at Goodison Park last night, were at least given notice by manager David Moyes that they would be watching a sub-reserve side.
Moyes sent out his kids against BATE safe in the knowledge that he had earned the right, after his senior team had done the hard work of qualifying for the Europa League’s last 32 with a game to spare. With injuries and circumstances continuing to curtail options, the Scot decided to follow his tried and trusted principle of trusting in youth. Indeed Moyes admitted before the game that he had considered fielding players even younger than 16-year-old left-back Jack Bidwell, and then thought better of it.
This was after all, a BATE team who won the Belarussian League in November and consisted of several internationals. But despite their opponent’s pedigree Everton’s spring chicken line-up, with an average age of 22 years and nine months, rarely seemed troubled. Instead they turned out a promisingly professional performance which certainly bodes well for the future. But of the present and the inevitable injury per game front, Jack Rodwell – a seasoned veteran by comparison to most of the starting 11 – limped off with a hamstring injury after barely five minutes.
It was an inauspicious start. Fellow 18-year-old Hope Akpan replaced him as Moyes shook his head in bewilderment and probably wondered what his football club has done to deserve such rotten luck. It meant the early balance of the side had to be shifted. Instead of playing 4-1-3-2 with Rodwell sweeping up in front of the back four, Akpan was accommodated with Osman having to sit a little deeper.
Fortunately the pace of the game in the opening stages was never quick enough to trouble Everton’s reshuffled pack. Gradually the Blues started to get the better of the play, most of their best work coming when Baxter and Oman swapped passes in central midfield. An early free-kick was drifted in by Baxter but cleared convincingly by Bate before more neat interplay from Forshaw and man-of-the-moment Seamus Coleman earned the Blues a corner. Bidwell enjoyed an equally encouraging start, refusing to allow a mix-up with Carlo Nash when the youngster headed behind for an unnecessary corner, to unsettle him. Chances for either side were in short supply though and Volodko enlivened one slow period with a rocket which Nash, in his first Everton start, did well to handle. It sparked a response from Everton. Osman broke and played in the ever willing Agard whose powerful shot was narrowly over. For his part, Osman showed impressive fitness despite a lengthy lay-off with an injured bone in his foot. The Everton midfielder clearly seemed glad to be back and dictating his team’s play from the central role he prefers. On the night that David Moyes equalled Harry Caterick’s record of managing 25 European games for Everton, he will have taken solace from the sight of one of his long-term injured senior players returning so convincingly. Elsewhere, Yakubu was quiet alongside Agard. The Nigerian striker is undoubtedly a class act for the Blues when it counts, but he perhaps missed an opportunity to sharpen his fitness. BATE went close in stoppage time of the first half, but really began to show their teeth in the second 45 minutes, and Shane Duffy had to be on top of his game, after receiving an early booking, to clear off his own line. The big Irishman slid in after the Turkish referee allowed BATE advantage from an Akpan foul and they broke into the Blues’ box. Then with 15 minutes remaining, BATE lingered on the edge of Everton’s box and conspired to fluff one chance on goal before the ball found right-back Aleksandr Yurevich, who unleashed a rocket from 25 yards that nestled into the corner of Nash’s net. That the goal came via a slight deflection will be some comfort to Nash who otherwise proved a capable number two for Tim Howard. Moyes then introduced German teenager Shkodran Mustafi for skipper Tony Hibbert, and shortly after Leon Osman made way for Nathan Craig. It meant Yakubu was the Blues’ third captain in seven minutes. Moments after the changes, the lively Baxter went close with a curling free-kick on the edge of the BATE box and then with five minutes to go, Kieran Agard fired narrowly wide after his own good work earned him a shot on goal. BATE’s players did little to endear themselves to the Goodison faithful in the last quarter of the game, with enough amateur dramatic injury posturing to almost make you think there was something resting on it. Of course the outcome was meaningless. Yet it was enough to give Evertonians, as they await the promise of today’s draw for the next stage of their European adventures, a glimpse of what the future offers. Overwhelmingly that glimpse was of a group of young players who, if they improve at the rate expected of them, will have a chance of gracing many more important games than this.
EVERTON: Nash, Coleman, Duffy, Hibbert (capt), Bidwell, Rodwell, Baxter, Forshaw, Osman, Yakubu, Agard. 4 -1- 3- 2
BATE: Veremko, Likhtarovich (capt), Sosnivski, Shitov,Yurevic, Volodko, Krivets, Nekhaychik, Skavysh, Bordachov, Rodionov.
REF: Dereli Selcuk (Turkey)
HOWARD KENDALL: Everton FC boss David Moyes takes sensible option with team choice
Dec 18 2009 Liverpool Ech
I’M totally against what Mick McCarthy did in midweek, when he fielded such a weakened team against Manchester United. For me it undermines the importance of the Premier League, not only in this country but across the world where it is so popular. Anything which detracts from the reputation of the Premier League as the best is unfortunate. Mick says he was resting them for their game with Burnley, but I’d like to see what odds Burnley are to win now. The situation with the team that David Moyes had to put out last night was totally different. He has put out strong teams in every game during the Europa League and that was the only sensible option for him with a Premier League game at the weekend. For the young lads who played it would have been amazing. I was 16 when I made my debut for Preston against Newcastle, the team I supported then. We got a draw and I did okay. My Everton debut against Southampton didn’t go quite as smoothly. I’d had to wait for it and I was full of nerves and tension. In the end I had a nightmare. That’s why it helped the young boys last night that there were a few of them. They wouldn’t have been as nervous as if it was just one individual. Equally they probably weren’t expecting to play all week so didn’t have much time to get worked up.
HOWARD KENDALL: Three points are a must for Everton against Birmingham
LOOKING forward to Birmingham, I think it’s important Everton get three points.
A draw against Spurs after coming back from 2-0 down was great, as was taking something from Stamford Bridge. But it reminds me of when I was playing for Birmingham after I’d left Everton, and I bumped into Joe Mercer who knew me from my Everton days. He asked me how we were doing and I said we were okay, winning some and losing some. Joe said: “That’s not bad. “The time to worry is when you’re drawing some and losing some.” The last two draws have been satisfactory, but David Moyes will be looking at the league table and targeting the win regardless of the great form Birmingham are enjoying. They’re on a great run and like David Moyes, Alex McLeish is a Scottish manager who has created a great spirit in his squad and got them playing for each other. But I watched them against Blackburn and Everton have nothing to fear. I’d like to see David start with two up front, but that poses him a headache in midfield. Does he play Fellaini or Cahill? Like with Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard for England, there’s an argument that the Everton pair are a bit too similar to play in central midfield together. Whatever team he sends out, Everton seem to have turned a corner after the derby. Onwards and upwards must be their attitude. A final mention must go to Michael Dawson of Spurs. He’s a centre-half who has really caught my eye lately, and should go to South Africa in England’s World Cup squad.
David Moyes backs Landon Donovan to fire Everton's Europa League dream
Dec 19 2009 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES today backed Landon Donovan to help fire Evertons Europa league dream in the new year. The Blues boss believes his American loan signing, who will be eligible to play against Evertons next opponents Sporting Lisbon, has the pedigree to help his temporary team progress. Moyes will also be able to register Aussie centre-half Lucas Neill to play in the last 32 stage, but cannot register Dutch signing John Heitinga because his former club Athletico Madrid are also in the competition.
He said: Landon Donovan is one of two or three players I wanted to get in January to strengthen the squad. He will come in and add pace and he is a good finisher.
Landon was voted the best player in the US and he is captain of his national team, so with the goals he has scored and his experience he will help us. He can play wide right, on the left and up front so he gives us more alternatives. I need players who can hit the ground running and he is one of those hopefully. The US have got a league which is improving all the time. Over here Clint Dempsey is doing well for Fulham, Tim Howard has done great for us and Brian McBride did well too. Landon is a naturally very fit boy and it will just be a case of getting him playing football when he arrives. He is only here for a relatively short two and a half month period.
Meanwhile, teenage midfielder Jack Rodwell is a doubt for tomorrows Goodison showdown with Birmingham City. Everton are still waiting for the results of a scan on Rodwells injured hamstring, suffered against BATE Borisov on Thursday.
Moyes is weighing up whether to Leon Osman after he played almost 80 minutes of the 1-0 defeat by Borisov. l Evertonians will have the opportunity to take part in a free question and answer session with Graeme Sharp on Tuesday at the Everton collection in the Central Library (2pm).
Beware Birmingham’s Scot talent raps wary Everton boss David Moyes
Dec 19 2009 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
DAVID Moyes is relishing locking horns with fellow Scot Alex McLeish as Everton take on resurgent Birmingham City on Sunday. The Blues boss has been impressed with the form of Birmingham so far this season, who sit in seventh place in the league table equal on points with Liverpool after winning five games on the run.
Now he must prepare to try and halt the progress being made by his friend and former Aberdeen centre-half McLeish. He said: I always look forward to coming up against any Scotsman but big Alex has been a friend of mine for years and he was a really good player at Aberdeen and Scotland who I played against in my early days.
Now hes proven his worth as a manager as well. I think he would say there have been bits of his career very good and bits of it up and down so far but him and Roy Aitken are a smashing team together. Birmingham are a side who a lot of people thought may well be nearer to the bottom of the league but they have shown they can be at the top. Theyve had good management and made one or two good signings and Alex has already proved it at Rangers. But Moyes conceded it can be difficult for managers swapping the Scottish premier league for the English top flight. He said: It can be different football completely and I think Alex wold be the first to admit its taken him time to get used to it and understand it, but its working out nicely for him now.
Birminghams squad feature two popular former Everton players in Lee Carsley and James McFaden and Moyes is hoping to see them both on Sunday. He said: I hope the two of them are back and we can see them because they are really good lads and did great for me. Faddy was one of my early signings when I joined Everton from Motherwell and cars was already here and became a stalwart for us and we were delighted to have him. I hope they would both say they enjoyed their time here as well. I can really see Birmingham surviving in the premier league. Five wins on the bounce is a tremendous achievement and that would be really hard for the top teams in the league to do. They are in a strong position. Moyes noted that Birmingham have also benefited from the financial windfall of new ownership, after being taken over by mega-rich Hong Kong businessman Carsten Yeung. He said: Alex is probably sitting on a bit of cash so can see a route ton take his team forward and he has got a grasp of the club and fallen on his feet. Lee Bowyer has done well for them and is a player weve known over the years. We know a bit about him and he is part of a team which is full of confidence. I watched them play against Blackburn with a lot of style and flair and Barry Ferguson is playing well and pulling the strings for them.
For Moyes, selection continues to be a headache after losing Jack Rodwell to injury during Thursdays Europa league clash with BATE Borisov at Goodison.
It meant Leon Osman had to play longer than anticipated in his return to first tea action after two months on the sidelines, and Moyes is concerned whether Sundays game will come to soon for him. He said: Sometimes adrenaline gets you through the first game and then it catches up with you. Ideally Id have liked to have a few days training with him but were glad to have him back. Hes another body and one weve relied on over the seasons. Is he ready for this one? Im not sure.
Fixture farce looms for Everton in Europa League
Dec 19 2009 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES today hit out at the Uefa bosses who have handed Everton a fixture headache for their last 32 Europa league tie. The Blues were drawn out of the hat to face Portuguese giants Sporting Lisbon, with the first leg at Goodison Park.
But Liverpool, who dropped into the Europa League after failing to progress from the Champions League group stages, were also drawn at home against Romanians Unirea Urziceni, with the Reds taking the Thursday night kick off slot on February 18.
Meanwhile, Everton have been handed an impractical 5.45pm kick off on Tuesday Feb 18. Liverpool were given the better slot under Uefa regulations which favour whichever team finished higher in their domestic league. Moyes said: I'm disappointed because I think we've played every Thursday throughout and I'm disappointed some supporters are not going to be able to make it. We've finished fifth in the premier league and earned the right to do so. "Yes, you can see the fixture congestion and it is ludicrous in a way, but we were stitched up with the Tottenham game in the Carling Cup and you can't get the people who marking these decisions to come forward either so we just get on with it. I don't know how we're going to get a full house, or how we're going to get people to steward the game with it being in the afternoon. Tuesday it's going to be - and we hope that we can get as many supporters there as we can. But Moyes believes Uefa are sending out mixed signals in their bid to convince people that the Europa League is not inferior to the Champions League.
He said: They are diminishing it for us anyway. You all know our attitude has been to try and do as well as we can in it and they've not helped us one little bit.
But in saying that I can't criticise Uefa too much, if I do that I've got to criticise the football league for putting us against Spurs on the Tuesday night. It's just people with very little idea about football in general.
GREG O'KEEFFE: Everton fans will hand it to vintage Lee Carsley
A GOODISON Park crowd very rarely denies former players a round of applause as their name is read out when they return. Nick Barmby and Wayne Rooney may argue otherwise, but Everton supporters are normally charitable even if the player in question did not exactly set the world on fire in royal blue. But one man guaranteed universal acclaim again at Goodison on Sunday, is Lee Carsely. He is a player who, for many Evertonians, underlines the saying that you dont know what you got til its gone. Im biased of course, as a card carrying member of the Lee Carlsey appreciation society. But from a mixed start to his Everton career, when he seemed destined to be a likeable journeyman akin to Mark Pembridge or Simon Davies, he has slowly become something of a folk hero around L4. Carsleys peak in form coincided with the best period under David Moyes reign so far. Sitting diligently in front of the back four, the Irish international did the (at the time unfashionable) messy work. He broke things up, won the ball and distributed it intelligently to players like Arteta and Gravesen with more creative flair in their feet. His tackling was almost always immaculate - tough but fair. Carsley was doing a job which Liverpool paid Javier Mascherano £18m to do. Of course, Super Lee really wrote himself into Everton folklore by scoring the winner in the 200th Merseyside derby at Goodison in 2004. The photograph of the piley-on which ensued, with Tim Cahill on top, is a permanent reminder of Carsleys popularity in the dressing room too. He was not just a good player for Everton. Carsley is an immensely likeable, humble man, and with his soft Brummie brogue he kept morale up with jokes at Finch Farm and had time for everyone. His son Connor was born with downs syndrome, and the situation gave Carlsey a perspective on life not shared by many premier league footballers. He was a big supporter of the excellent Down Syndrome Liverpool charity, and maintained that patronage even after departing Merseyside. When it came to leaving, few could argue with Moyes decision to allow Carsley to go. Aware of his age, Everton could only offer him a one year contract and Birmingham stepped in to offer two years. It was a no-brainer for the player; extra security for his family, and a move nearer to his Midlands home where his wife and children had remained while he played for Everton, so as not to unsettle Connors specific care needs. Like with Liverpool and Sami Hyppia, Everton were not going to make life difficult for Carsley when he decided to go. Nobody was surprised when Evertons midfield missed him badly, and equally nobody was shocked that his move to Birmingham coincided with them winning promotion and him being handed the captains armband. Cars has been less involved in Alex McLeishs starting XI of late, but even if named among the substitutes his name will bring out a hearty cheer tomorrow. But back to his folk hero status, the excellent Everton fans site When Skies Are Grey featured this jokey list of Carsleys attributes on its forum.
Heres my top five:
1 Lee Carsley won a stare-out contest with the sun.
2. Lee Carsley once refused the title of the worlds strongest man, claiming it didnt do him justice.
3 Lee Carsleys name is ALWAYS down and he ALWAYS gets in.
4 A Lee Carsley tackle was first used to split the atom.
5 Halleys Comet is actually a Mitre Multiplex Lee Carsley volleyed dead high in training.
The blue sadness felt all the way through city
IT JUST seems lately that every young person from this city who dies in tragic circumstances is an Evertonian.
We have felt that shiver down our spines too often at images of mourners in Everton shirts, watching little blue coffins being carried into churches.
From the almost unspeakable sadness of Rhys Jones funeral in the Anglican cathedral when Z Cars was played on muted organ, to 13-year-old Liam Gill electrocuted on a railway line, and now little John Paul Massey. Seeing the pictures of the four-year-olds distraught family in blue shirts at his funeral is sad enough, but the picture of the beaming tot in his new Everton shirt is particularly tough to take. Along with that internationally-recognised photo of Maddie McCann in her favourite clubs colours, it underlines how much the club is ingrained in peoples lives. I have sadly lost count of the number of blue scarves draped over the coffins of soldiers from the region killed in action over in Iraq and Afghanistan too. Closer to home, the family of AJ Clarke, murdered after a night in town, are still waiting for his killers to be caught and brought to justice. I hope John-Pauls loves ones and the all those families know that all football fans, blues and reds in this city, feel for them. No stopping the Cannonball as he keeps on firing DAVE Hickson has been busy picking up more awards as he recovers from a recent leg operation. The Cannonball Kid was given the Corinthian award at a sports persons dinner at the Devonshire Hotel arranged by ex-Everton winger Ronnie Goodlass. Ronnie runs the awards as part of his Health Through Sport charity to help underprivileged kids in the region. The Alan Ball Ball of Fire award was given to Sandra Rothwell from Barclays bank for all her support for the charity. Joe Royle, John Bailey, and Billy Ashcroft attended and Sean Styles compered.
The next night will be on Friday, May 7.
Uefa refuses to budge over Everton FC tea time match
Dec 19, 2009 by David Bartlett
UEFA today refused to budge over ludicrous rules which will force Everton FC to play a key European tie at 5.45pm on a Tuesday. It will leave thousands of fans with a headache over how to get to the first-leg clash against Sporting Lisbon on February 16 and has left fans groups fuming. Uefa said the move was necessary following a fixture clash with Liverpool FC, who face Romanian side Unirea Urziceni in the standard Thursday night slot on February 18. European footballs governing body said Evertons match could not be played any later than 5.45pm or it would clash with Champions League TV coverage. Today, Everton said the timing of the fixture would hit attendance at the match. Fans groups hit out at Uefas rules, which moved the Blues to the inconvenient slot instead of the Reds because Liverpool finished higher in the Premier League last season. John Munro, chairman of the Southport Everton Supporters Group, said: These people sit in their offices drinking fine wine and could not care less about the supporters. I do not give a damn who finished higher in the domestic league this is the Europa League we are talking about. Surely it would have been fairer to toss a coin. Uefa spokesman Rob Falkner said because both Everton and Liverpool were unseeded in yesterdays last 32 draw, they had to play their first leg matches at home, causing the clash. He added: It is a shame there is a clash, but it is not the only case it is just the peculiarity of the draw. I am sure Everton fans will manage to get there on time. Everton FC chief executive Robert Elstone said the club had fought Uefa to attempt to reverse the decision. He added: We battled extremely hard and made the obvious issues very clear indeed, trying every route to find an alternative. But the reality we were left with meant there was no other option.
Everton club secretary Dave Harrison revealed the club had managed to negotiate the kick-off time back by 45 minutes from 5pm. He said: In circumstances like this, Uefa have a stadium and cities clash document which quite clearly indicates the procedures which need to take place and the order of priority for eligibility. Unfortunately, as a result of those priorities, Liverpool have staked a claim for the Thursday night standard Europa League kick-off time. The same document makes it clear fixtures should be fulfilled on Tuesday with an 5pm kick-off if they cannot be played on Thursday. We managed to negotiate an extra 45 minutes beyond that time.
Communications director Ian Ross said the timing would affect the attendance.
He added: It is just a question of how much. Several thousand people who would attend will probably not be there. Mr Munro said Uefas rules were a nonsense and feared the club would suffer a poor gate on the night. He added: Our members are going to be very angry. Dave Kelly, of fans group Keep Everton In Our City, said: This is outrageous you would expect it to be a full house.
BARRY HORNE: Mick McCarthy’s team selection can change the face of the Premier League
Dec 19 2009 by Barry Horne, Liverpool
I HAVE just watched a week of brilliant football Evertons two thrilling draws, taking a point off Chelsea yet seeing the London Blues still increase their lead at the top of the table, then a typical midweek of shocks and upsets which makes the Premier League what it is. Unpredictable, exciting, compelling and above all, ultra competitive. Enter Mick McCarthy, with a team selection that really does threaten to change the face of the Premier League. It has long been received wisdom that there are leagues within the league. If more teams are to follow McCarthys lead that could actually become a real truth. I have seen a lot of Burnley this season and they always have a go. As a result they beat Manchester United, Everton and drew against Arsenal.
Eight of Owen Coyles men have played in every single game this season.
Sunderland went to Old Trafford and had a go. They were unlucky not to win, yet have lost or drawn to West Ham, Portsmouth, Wigan and Fulham. Oh and by the way they beat Arsenal and Liverpool too! The moral must be that nothing should be taken for granted and there really is an obligation to make every game as competitive as possible. In addition Mick McCarthy has now heaped incredible pressure on his players for Sunday. McCarthy has been quite open about his plans, yet is still unlikely to be punished for blatantly breaking a law which requires a club to field its strongest team at all times. McCarthy will undoubtedly point to other clubs who have gone unpunished Myself and Dave Watson were rested ahead of the FA Cup final in 1995. Nothing was said because there was nothing riding on the last league fixture of the season. Manchester United and Liverpools defence would be that squad rotation is necessary and that their reserves should be good enough. That isnt the point. The Premier League rule does not allow for ifs, buts and particular circumstances.
In not making a stand in the first instance, they are going to find it incredibly difficult to make an example of Wolves. I think the best we can hope for is a strongly worded letter warning clubs of their future conduct.
Europa League early starter is a nonsense
WHILE Thursday’s Europa League tie might have been something of a non-event it was nonetheless heartening to see Everton put out a team consisting largely of home grown talent. Whilst it was well short of Middlesbrough’s achie- vement of fielding 11 Middlesbrough-born lads in a Premier League fixture it was nevertheless an indication that there is good work being done at Finch Farm, Having qualified from the group stages Everton were then handed an almost perfect draw. Sporting Lisbon are a team with tradition which should have ensured a decent gate, yet are eminently beatable. Everton have, however, unfairly fallen foul of what appears to be a sponsor driven ruling regarding kick-off times and must start at 5.45pm. What an absolute nonsense. On any given Champions League night viewers can choose from between up to eight fixtures. What does one more fixture matter? There seems no reason why Everton couldn’t kick of at 8pm to give them the opportunity to draw a better crowd.
Everton FC 1, Birmingham City 1: full time report
Dec 20 2009
EVERTON ended Birmingham’s five-match winning streak after outplaying the visitors at Goodison Park in a 1-1 draw. Diniyar Bilyaletdinov’s sixth-minute goal was all the hosts had to show for their early dominance and they were caught cold when Sebastian Larsson equalised with Birmingham’s first shot of the match midway through the first half. Everton continued to control the game after the interval but never really threatened to add a second. Not only did the result end Birmingham’s excellent run of results, it also extended Everton’s sequence to just one victory in 11 league matches. And David Moyes’ side have not won at home since they beat Blackburn 3-0 on September 20. The atmosphere inside Goodison at kick-off was as cool as the strong, chilly wind blowing off the Irish Sea, but that soon changed in the fifth minute. Tony Hibbert’s throw was cleverly chested into the path of Bilyaletdinov by Louis Saha and the Russian cut inside on his left foot to beat Joe Hart at his near post with a 12-yard drive. Saha had the ball in the net moments later from Tim Cahill’s reverse pass but was flagged offside, although television replays showed the Frenchman had timed his run to perfection. Cahill was next to leave Hart clawing at thin air as his left-footed drive went narrowly over after a quick Everton counter-attack. Everton were totally dominant in the opening 20 minutes and when Steven Pienaar and Hibbert cut Birmingham open down the right Leon Osman, starting his first league match since October 17, had his shot blocked by Roger Johnson.
However, they failed to make their chances count and the visitors equalised with their first shot in the 22nd minute. Larsson picked up the ball in midfield, played it in to Christian Benitez on the edge of the penalty area and continued his run to collect the return pass and clip a shot past Tim Howard. The goal drained all the confidence out of Everton but the visitors still allowed them too much possession and Saha’s back-header from Leighton Baines’ inswinging 29th-minute free-kick went just over.
Birmingham, however, sensed they always had a chance against a patched-up defence whenever they went forward. Just before half-time Lee Bowyer threaded a pass through to Cameron Jerome on the edge of the penalty area and only a last-ditch tackle by Hibbert prevented the striker having a clear shot at goal. Everton began the second half as they had the first and eight minutes after the restart Cahill’s diving header at the near post went just wide from Baines’ cross while Saha curled a 25-yard effort over. The crowd screamed for a penalty on the hour when Marouane Fellaini’s cross to the far post was volleyed by Baines straight at Scott Dann and Johnson cleared the danger as referee Stuart Atwell waved play on. Unlike the first half Everton managed to retain control of the game but despite their endeavour they struggled to find the necessary creativity in the final third of the pitch. For the final 20 minutes Moyes’ switched to 4-4-2 by sending on striker Ayegbeni Yakubu for Bilyaletdinov. Pienaar was next to blaze well over and as Everton continued to pressure the Birmingham defence. However, Alex McLeish’s side were able to soak up all that was thrown at them and although they surrendered their winning sequence, they extended their unbeaten run to nine matches.
Everton 1, Birmingham 1: Alarm bells replace sleighs bells as Goodison winless run continues
Dec 21 2009 by Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily Post
IF Thursday gave Goodison a glimpse of the future, then yesterday came the grim reality of the present. Home comforts, so hard to find for Evertonians this season, again remain elusive after Birmingham City became the latest visitors to enjoy the hospitality of David Moyes’s men. Speaking before the game, Moyes had revealed his frustration that Everton were no longer being mentioned as a contender to break into the top four. Yet their current run of form suggests it’s the bottom four that should be of far greater immediate concern to the Goodison manager. Small wonder. This depressing draw means Everton have won just one of their last 11 Premier League games and will go into the festive period in 16th place, potentially just a solitary point above the relegation zone. Not such a happy Christmas. And there has been precious little for the paying home supporters to be cheery about during the past two months.
Since defeating Blackburn Rovers on September 20, Everton have gone eight games without a home win – their worst such run since May 1972 and only one game shy of their longest-ever sequence without a Goodison triumph set in 1957. There was more of the same yesterday, when the platform of Diniyar Bilyaletdinov’s fifth-minute strike was frittered away in front of an increasingly agitated home faithful. Matters, of course, may have been somewhat different had Louis Saha’s strike not been incorrectly chalked off moments after the opener, particularly with Everton still buoyed by their morale-boosting 3-3 draw at Chelsea the previous weekend.
But from the moment Sebastian Larsson equalised against the run of play midway through the first half, self-doubt and lack of confidence crept further into Everton’s efforts the longer the game progressed. Yes, Moyes’s side enjoyed plentiful possession. But Birmingham goalkeeper Joe Hart had barely a save to make as the home threat petered out against a superbly-organised visiting back-line for whom centre-back pairing Scott Dann and Roger Johnson excelled. As Moyes later accepted, Everton are suffering a shortfall in guile, missing the final killer pass that could unlock the packed defences that are finding it too easy to turn up at Goodison and return home with some reward. Following his well-taken goal, Bilyaletdinov was curiously anonymous, leaving Steven Pienaar and the impressive Leighton Baines to shoulder the creative burden. And the harsh fact is that if Saha is not firing on all cylinders, Everton struggle to find the net. The Frenchman has netted 10 league goals this season – the rest of the team between them have only managed 11.
With Jack Rodwell, hamstrung early on when among the youngsters to face BATE Borisov on Thursday, joining flu victim Jo in the treatment room, there were two changes from the team at Stamford Bridge. Yet there were also signs on the teamsheet that the injury list is at last starting to clear. Having played 81 minutes on his return to action in midweek, Leon Osman made his first league appearance since the home draw against Wolverhampton Wanderers on October 17. Osman has never been the most heralded of Moyes’s personnel, but his tenacious character and under-estimated attacking threat became notable in its absence.
And it was similarly encouraging to see James Vaughan given a late cameo from the bench, a first Everton appearance for the injury-jinxed striker since August.
Birmingham should have been the perfect opposition for Everton to register a much-needed home triumph, the Goodison outfit having lost just three of the last 47 meetings between the teams and not on home soil since November 1957.
The Midlanders, however, are the Premier League’s form team and were defending an eight-game unbeaten run of which the last five had been won. But it took a rejuvenated Everton only five minutes to find their way through the visitors’ defence and set the tone for a largely one-sided first half. It was a good goal, too, Saha using his chest to divert Tony Hibbert’s throw into the path of Bilyaletdinov, with the Russian taking the ball in his stride and then lashing a left-footed shot into the roof of the net from 12 yards. Everton’s lead should have been doubled five minutes later when Saha finished clinically past Hart after being sent clear by Tim Cahill, only for the Frenchman to be denied by the assistant referee’s flag – a wrong decision, given the evidence of the television replays. Not that anyone was overly perturbed by the mistake at the time, Everton’s utter dominance of the early stages suggesting a second goal was a mere formality. The lively Pienaar, buzzing with intent throughout, found Cahill who unleashed a venomous shot that flashed just inches over the flailing Hart’s crossbar, and John Heitinga swiped wide as the home side continued to press.
They came close again on 17 minutes, Birmingham’s defence first blocking an Osman shot after a right-wing cross from the raiding Hibbert deflected into the path of the midfielder before breathing a sigh of relief when Cahill then headed narrowly off target. So it was with some surprise that Birmingham drew level midway through the half. The equaliser owed much to the patience of Christian Benitez, the Ecuadorian allowed to hold up play inside the Everton area before passing inside for Larsson to sidefoot first-time into the bottom corner beyond the reach of the previously unemployed Tim Howard. The goal lifted the visitors and knocked much of the wind out of Everton’s sails. Everton, though, began to impose themselves again after the interval, a stretching Cahill close to gaining a full connection with his head to an inviting Baines cross from the left. On the hour, Marouane Fellaini did well in a tight area to dig out a deep cross from the byline that was knocked back into the danger zone by the tireless Baines into the path of Cahill, whose effort was blocked on the line by Roger Johnson. Moyes threw on Yakubu for Bilyaletdinov to partner Saha up front, but despite cranking up the pressure, Everton struggled to fashion clear-cut openings. There were muted calls for a penalty five minutes from time when Stephen Carr appeared to bat away a Lucas Neill long pass from the top of Saha’s head, but after Hart smothered the Frenchman’s intended pass for Yakubu, with it went Everton’s last real chance of an equaliser. While a Boxing Day trip to Sunderland is the more pressing appointment, the next visitors to Goodison are Burnley, who have taken just one point in nine away games this season. Failure then is surely unthinkable.
Everton FC need to go in for the kill says Steven Pienaar
Dec 21 2009 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
STEVEN PIENAAR believes Everton need to rediscover their killer instinct after the missed chances which denied the Blues a much-needed home victory over Birmingham. The South African was bitterly disappointed after the Blues could only draw 1-1 with Alex McLeish’s side despite dominating the game’s early stages.
Everton saw their chances of sealing the win crucially hampered when referee StuartAtwell wrongly ruled a Louis Saha goal offside in the first half. Pienaar said: “If you play at home you have to take three points from games like this to get out of the position we are in, and it is very frustrating. “We had chances and we could have scored two or three but that’s football. The last two games felt like wins even though we drew but drawing against Birmingham felt like a loss. “We played some good football and had a lot of possession but we just didn’t have the killer instinct.”
Everton are currently only four points ahead of bottom club Portsmouth, and Pienaar knows that they must take any opportunities to haul themselves away from the drop-zone. He said: “We knew Birmingham was a good chance to get all three points and now we have to go all the way to Sunderland to try and get a win. That’s not going to be easy the way they are playing at home and Steve Bruce is doing a good job.
“It’s going to be tough but we need to keep going.” Pienaar added that Everton’s reliance on his creative ability can take its toll during games. He said: “It’s always nice having a lot of the ball for me in games, but sometimes it’s draining because I have to move all the time and sometimes my legs go. That’s just part of the game though and I have to give it everything. Other players will start taking responsibility too. “I promised myself I would score against Birmingham but I got a bit overexcited when the ball came to me twice in good positions.”
Everton 1, Birmingham 1: Frustrated Blues crave win
Dec 21 2009 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool
SOMETIMES a draw can be borne of such graft in the face of adversity that it can feel like a win. Everton’s players rightly took heart from successive points against Spurs and Chelsea, with the battling results firing their confidence. But the solitary point which the Blues took from their meeting with in-form Birmingham City left only an over-riding frustration. It was frustration because Everton created more than enough chances to win the game handsomely but spurned them. In his programme notes, David Moyes admitted his pain that Everton are no longer spoken of as challengers for the top five this season. He pointed out how the Toffees are currently denied even a passing mention in the list of sides capable of breaking into the Big Four.
Perhaps Everton’s players are also struggling to come to terms with their lowly league placing at present. But as Moyes fully accepts, the table never lies and Everton currently sit only four points ahead of bottom club Portsmouth While the club’s injury crisis continues to be the bottom line in terms of overall assessment of their season so far, Everton’s ailing home form cannot be ignored. Indeed this spell is the Blues worst run of form at Goodison since 1972, eight games passing without a win. Only two visiting sides, Blackburn and Wigan, have been defeated at Goodison in the league.
It means the league table continues to be unpalatable reading, and the visit of Birmingham was a good opportunity to do something about it. For the first 20 minutes it looked like Everton were primed to do just that. They came out of the blocks in scintillating fashion, carving Birmingham up at will and no doubt leaving Alex McLeish fearing a hiding. Birmingham’s defence was rocked and in various states of inaptitude when Bilyaletdinov waltzed through them and unleashed a rocket to give the Blues the lead, and mark his fourth goal of the campaign. Shortly after the Blues took the lead came a turning point of sorts. Louis Saha was played in with delightful through ball by Pienaar, and the Frenchman finished coolly only to see the strike wrongly judged off-side by referee Stuart Atwell. The goal would have cemented the sort of stranglehold on the game Birmingham would have found it difficult to recover from. Initially the Blues refused to let it deter them. Everton again went close minutes later when Pienaar slipped in Cahill who shot just over. Then Baines drifted in a free-kick, after more slick work by Pienaar, and Fellaini found space to send a goal bound shot at Hart which was blocked. Before the game Moyes had identified Barry Ferguson as the man who pulls the strings for the opposition, but it was Pienaar who bossed the early stages. His energy, intricate passing and astute movement were a constant threat to the Midlanders. Frustratingly the Toffees were not taking their chances, going close again when a low cross from Hibbert just evaded Saha and the onrushing Leon Osman’s goalbound effort was blocked. For all Everton’s dominance, Birmingham are a team in form and proved that the early goal and lack of possession had not dented their confidence beyond repair. Out of a lull, Sebastian Larsson swapped passes with Christian Benitez, and as Lucas Neill backed off, Larsson was able to pick his spot and level matters. As two former centre-halves Moyes and McLeish would have been shaking their heads at the defending leading to both goals.
How Moyes will yearn for the period last season when clean sheets were a regular occurrence for his side. Scouser Scot Dann enjoyed an impressive game at the heart of Birmingham’s defence, but his clattering of Pienaar gave Everton another opportunity when Saha flicked his header from the free-kick over the bar. As the missed chances stacked up and the half progressed, Everton’s momentum faded and the game developed a scrappy pattern. At times Everton’s communication across the back four left a little to be desired, but it is easy to forget that John Heitinga and Lucas Neill are a relatively new central defensive pairing. As the snow fell heavily the second half brought more Everton chances, but Louis Saha’s edge was lacking in a display which fell short of his normally high standards. He fired one speculative effort into the side netting, perhaps hopeful that Stuart Atwell would repeat his infamous blunder and give the goal, but it summed up his afternoon. A diving bullet header from Cahill almost found the back of Joe Hart’s net again, and Everton had an optimistic penalty handball shout from a low Fellaini cross. With 20 minutes left former Blue James McFadden was replaced after a subdued performance and Bilyletdinov was swapped for Yakubu moments later. The game was poised at next-goal-the-winner stage.
The ever-willing Leighton Baines caused Birmingham headaches with raids down the left, and Saha headed over another chance but Steven Pienaar knew he fluffed two bona-fide chances to settle the result – twice curling efforts over the bar.
Birmingham’s supporters were in high spirits, chanting about their hopes of a top five finish. And their dreams of a Channel Five Thursday night slot next season put Everton’s frustration into context. Birmingham are a club looking to emulate the Blues in many ways. They have an ambitious Scottish manager, but McLeish is still some way behind David Moyes’ achievements in the Premier League.
Back-to-back fifth place finishes have put Everton back onto the European map and earned them the right to be regarded as perennial Euro contenders. It all makes their position in the table more frustrating, and the reality of having to consider a relegation battle instead of the top five more galling. It is a situation Everton’s players need to readjust to – and fast.
EVERTON: Howard; Hibbert, Heitinga, Neill, Baines; Fellaini; Pienaar, Cahill, Osman (Vaughan 90), Bilyaletdinov (Yakubu 70); Saha. Subs: Nash, Coleman, Duffy, Agard, Baxter.
BIRMINGHAM: Hart; Carr, Dann, Johnson, Ridgewell; Larsson, Ferguson, Bowyer, McFadden (Fahey 69); Benitez (Vignal 82), Jerome. Subs: Taylor, Phillips, McSheffrey, Johnson, Carsley. BOOKINGS: Larsson and Jerome (both fouls) and Hart (timewasting).
REFEREE: Stuart Attwell.
DAVID PRENTICE: Goodison dark needs to lift soon for Everton
Dec 21, 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool
TODAY is the shortest, darkest day of 2009. Unless your passion is of the Royal Blue hue. If so, yesterday was a decent contender for the gloomiest so far.
Because Everton sparkled for 22 minutes against Birmingham; they didn’t play badly after the visitors’ shock equaliser either. But they still couldn’t end a depressing home run which is now beginning to nag away at Evertonian consciousness like a festering sore. It’s 91 days since a Goodison victory. That makes for the worst home run since 1972. And even the always eagerly anticipated visit of Birmingham City couldn’t alter that bleak statistic. The second city Blues have won just three of their last 47 clashes against Everton – and for 20 minutes it looked like another comprehensive home win was likely. Which made the ultimately dispiriting draw all the more disappointing.
That opening 20 minutes at least underlined that Everton do have the ability to improve their currently worrying position. They fired sharp, precise passes to mobile runners, all making imaginative angles to create a succession of shooting opportunities. The first was clinically dispatched by Diniyar Bilyaletdinov after only five minutes. Coincidentally, the ball rippled the Park End net just as Kevin Sheedy – an Everton legend that the Russian is occasionally and optimistically compared to – was taking his seat at the back of the Directors’ Box. But then we saw one of those turning points that modern Premier League officials throw up so regularly.
Cahill’s pass played in Louis Saha, and his finish was equally comprehensive.
However a linesman with a face like a robber’s dog, but eyes nowhere near as sharp, ruled that Saha had mistimed his run. He hadn’t. But the ‘goal’ was ruled out, Everton’s confidence building comfort zone disappeared and the Blues didn’t manage to carve out a chance anywhere near as good again. Fellaini, Heitinga, Osman and Cahill all saw efforts fly with varying degrees of accuracy in or around Joe Hart’s goal – then Sebastian Larsson equalised. It wasn’t exactly akin to a balloon popping, but Everton’s confidence visibly drained. And against opposition as willing and full of confidence as Birmingham it was always going to be a difficult task to chisel out a win. The work ethic Alex McLeish has imbued in his team is impressive.
Everton undoubtedly boasted the better quality individuals – even in the midst of an injury crisis – but the visitors simply worked harder. The Blues usual suspects gave their usual 100 per cent, lung-burning workrate – Steven Pienaar, Leon Osman, Tim Cahill and Leighton Baines. But that work ethic has to be matched by all 11 players if a technically inferior, but willingly superior side is to be bested. Marouane Fellaini switched off momentarily, but fatally when Larsson swept in Benitez’s pass. While Diniyar Bilyaletdinov clearly has quality, but shows it only in flashes.
Moyes suggested afterwards that different qualities will be needed from his players now that the goalposts have shifted quite significantly from last season’s Euro and Cup chasing campaign. Whether they like it or not, the Blues are currently embroiled in a relegation fight. Just two points separate them from the drop zone, and even that slender margin could be reduced by the outcome of the Bolton-Wigan clash later today. If this makes for unseasonally grim reading, I make no apologies, because a reality check is required by some inside Goodison. Everton can be much better than they are showing at present, while sides like Birmingham are performing better than they are. The Christmas period has provided seasonal turning points for Everton in the past. The 0-0 draw with Coventry on the final day of 1983, the final whistle blown to an accompanying soundtrack of boos and jeers, has passed into Royal Blue mythology. But so, too, has a more recent clash, Tim Cahill’s last minute header at the Stadium of Light sparking a second half revival in 2005/06.
Today is the darkest day of 2009. At least that means from tomorrow every day gets just a little lighter. How fitting that Everton’s next challenge takes them to the Stadium of Light.
David Moyes urges his Everton players to lift the gloom at Goodison
Dec 21, 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
’CONCERNED’ Everton manager David Moyes has warned his thin blue line of Everton troops that they can’t afford to wait for the Goodison cavalry to come to their rescue. Everton welcomed back Leon Osman and James Vaughan from their colossal injury list yesterday, but still couldn’t end their three-month run without a home victory. And with influential men like Mikel Arteta, Phil Jagielka, Sylvain Distin and Phil Neville some way off a return, and Joseph Yobo and Yakubu soon to disappear on African Nations Cup duty, Moyes has urged the players he currently can call upon to seize the moment. “I’m concerned because we’re in the wrong part of the league,” he said after yesterday’s 1-1 draw with Birmingham. “But I’ve been concerned for a month or two. “The injuries might not be back, so if the injuries don’t come back in time then you have to win your games now. You can’t be waiting on other people coming to help. That’s the message I’ve been trying to put out. “I did say a month ago that if we’re not careful we could end up at the wrong end of the table. And we are at the wrong end of the table. “It is a different challenge for the players now. They have to realise that’s the position we’re in just now. “There’s different skills required from when we were fifth or sixth from the top.” The Blues opened well yesterday, but the turning point was a wrongly disallowed goal from Louis Saha which would have opened up a two-goal cushion. “We had opportunities in a game which I thought we were in control of, and should have won,” added Moyes. “I didn’t think the disallowed goal would be a turning point at the time, because I thought we were dominant in the game and playing so well. I thought we would go on and score other goals. I thought our play was fine, but in the final third we were wasteful – with our final pass and our finishing. “It did prove to be a turning point, but I didn’t think so at the time.
“But you make your own luck and Birmingham have earned theirs. They were really resilient today. “For me they earned that by working really hard to stay in the game. We’ve just not been quite good enough to break them down today.
“I’ve seen the incidents again, yes. Saha’s goal wasn’t offside and Stephen Carr does punch it off his head late in the game. “You hope you get the best officials in the country to come and do the games, and that’s all you can ask for.”
Everton FC's James Vaughan hoping to put injury troubles behind him
Dec 22, 2009, By James Pearce, Liverpool Echo
JAMES VAUGHAN is desperate to put his injury troubles behind him and force his way back into Everton’s starting line-up. The 21-year-old made his first Premier League appearance of the season as a late substitute in Sunday’s 1-1 home draw with Birmingham City. Now the striker is hoping to get the chance to impress manager David Moyes if he gets the nod at Sunderland on Boxing Day. “I’ve been back training for a couple of weeks and it was nice to get some game time on Sunday,” Vaughan said. “The crowd are always brilliant with me and it was great to be playing out there in front of them again. “To have as many injuries as I’ve had isn’t nice but hopefully that is all behind me now. I’m hoping it’s the last problem I’ll have for a long time. “We’ve got a lot of people out injured at the moment so I want to make the most of that and get some games under my belt.” Vaughan went on loan to Derby County back in September but made just two appearances for the Championship club before a knee injury cut short his stay. He underwent surgery and completed his rehabilitation at Finch Farm before recently returning to training with the Blues.
Rams boss Nigel Clough has admitted he is keen to re-sign him on loan in January, but Vaughan insists his only focus is on forcing his way into Moyes’ plans.
“I’m not really sure what’s going to happen in January,” he said. “My target is to get back in the first team here. “Whether that’s by going out on loan and playing games or staying here, training and playing for the reserves it’s up the manager. I’ll do whatever the gaffer wants me to do.” Moyes’ injury problems increased yesterday when it was revealed that midfielder Jack Rodwell will be out for four weeks with a hamstring problem. Rodwell pulled up after just eight minutes of last week's 1-0 defeat to BATE Borisov and a scan has revealed the extent of the damage. Meanwhile, Leon Osman has urged the Blues to stay positive ahead of their trip to the Stadium of Light.
The midfielder admits there was frustration at their failure to secure a morale-boosting win against Birmingham after Diniyar Bilyaletdinov had opening the scoring.
“We started the game really well and we dominated the game,” Osman said.
“We created a number of chances but only managed to take one. “When you do that the opposition has always got a chance to get back into it and that's what happened.
“It is still a point and another game unbeaten so we’ve got to try to take the positives out of it. “But we know we need to try and win these games. We will certainly go into the next one at Sunderland looking for the win.” The Blues will travel to the North East on Christmas Day to prepare for the meeting with Steve Bruce’s side.
“That’s part and parcel of football,” Osman added. “As soon as we knew we were playing away on Boxing Day we all accepted that we would be away on Christmas Day to prepare for it. “We’ll be giving it our all to come away with the three points.”
NIGEL MARTYN: Everton FC must not shy away from threat of relegation
Dec 22 2009 Liverpool Echo
WE would have of course preferred to have been beating Birmingham City on Sunday and if a certain goal had been allowed to stand, then I'm sure Everton would have.
To have Louis Sahas goal disallowed was unlucky, but these things happen and Birmingham have been on a good run yet Everton have aspirations of finishing above them this season. Every team wants their home form to be spot on which has not been the case at Goodison Park this season. But I believe the side are capable of putting on a run of winning their last eight or nine games at home. Where we are in the table, it would be rude to the other clubs down there if we said we were not amongst the relegation fight. But the club and manager have experienced a couple of survival battles which should hold them in good stead and I dont necessarily see us fighting down there for a long time. By the end of January we should be away from it and pushing towards mid-table but of course you cant rest on your laurels.
David Moyes has said he would like to add one or two more players in the January transfer window, together with Landon Donovan who has agreed to join the club.
The positions he looks to strengthen will all depend on how long Phil Jagielka and Mikel Arteta are out but with Jack Rodwell out for four weeks the midfield may be his priority. But finding replacements of the calibre required in January is always difficult
Our lack of depth and the injuries at centre-back could be exposed on Boxing Day at Sunderland. The Black Cats have been inconsistent but in Darren Bent and Kenwyne Jones have a strikeforce who are a threat to anyone. Hopefully we will have our centre-halves back and fit. The rest of their side is more hard-working than anything else but they do have a very good manager in Steve Bruce.
Finally, I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas.
NIGEL MARTYN: Home leg vital when Everton play Sporting Lisbon in Europa League
WHOEVER Everton got in the draw for the knockout stages of the Europa League, it was only going to be a difficult proposition. And so it has proved as we face Sporting Lisbon over two legs in February. If we are going to progress through to the round of 16 then the majority of work will have to be done in the home leg. A clean sheet and a lead will mean we go to Portugal with a lot of hope. Sporting are doing well in the Portuguese League, a division with Benfica in second, who proved just too good for us. But we played against them without our best players and a run of results in the lead up to the first leg would give us some real confidence we would then give Sporting better games than we did against Benfica. I thought the side were a bit unlucky against BATE Borisov on Thursday and it was great to see so many youngsters given a chance. I thought 16-year-old Jake Bidwell did really well at left back and at centre-half, Shane Duffy had a very good first half. All the signs were very encouraging and the side did not get over-run.
Diniyar Bilyaletdinov will show more flashes of brilliance
DINIYAR BILYALETDINOV has made an up and down start to his career at Goodison Park. There has been some real quality moments mixed in with moments of frustration. He gives the ball away a bit cheaply at times and can give the team a little bit of a problem. No doubt after a few games in the Premier League he was left thinking Oh my God, is this what it is all about?. He has had to adapt to a different country and a different mentality and is still settling in. Bily is certainly one for the future but we do need him to start producing now and his finish against Birmingham was certainly more like it. The quality and flashes of brilliance are there.
I understand when some people say he is too lightweight but the club will be working on those aspects. And if you are clever enough on the ball then you are able to get yourself out of trouble.
Everton FC fans blamed for rise in number of football fans arrested at matches in Liverpool
Dec 23 2009 by Rob Merrick, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON fans were blamed for a worrying surge in football trouble in Merseyside last season, bucking the national trend of better behaviour. Nearly twice as many Toffees supporters were arrested as in the previous campaign, according to official figures – a total of 129, compared with 77. In contrast, the 100 arrests of Liverpool fans at home and away games had changed little from the 96 held during the 2007-08 season. Everton’s arrest total gave the club the third worst record in the Premier League, behind Manchester United (185) and Newcastle United (144).
Trouble was slightly on the rise at Tranmere Rovers, where the number of fans detained rose from 25 to 29. The rise in arrests was not mirrored across the country, where there was a 2% fall last season. Fewer football banning orders were imposed in the region last season, a total of 51 at the three Merseyside clubs, down from 65 in 2007-08.
Everton FC fans letters: Blues lacking a creative spark
Dec 23 2009 Liverpool Echo
DISAPPOINTINGLY, for all our endeavour and hard work we did not get a deserved win against Birmingham City on Sunday. But maybe that’s the problem. Too much endeavour and not enough creativity to change draws into wins. We still persist with the 4-5-1 formation at home which has been detrimental as Tim Cahill does not have the pace to get behind the opposition defence any more and cannot operate in a 4-4-2 formation. We cannot rely wholly on set pieces to justify his inclusion in the first team. To redress this, in the January sales we need to go shopping for wide players with pace, giving the central midfield an outlet ball. Equally, I would like to see us give Seamus Coleman a run in the side in order to complement Leighton Baines on the left. Aside from this, if England do get the 2018 World Cup then Goodison Park, understandably, will not feature as a stadium. It is imperative, in conjunction with the City Council, Government and Liverpool Football Club for the benefit of the region that the possibility of a shared stadium is discussed. This is a concern for both clubs and to achieve a modern 70,000 all-seater stadium will undoubtedly galvanise the local economy. If there is too much objection for a shared stadium, it will be a lost opportunity and halt much-needed investment. If the Milan and Rome clubs can share, I see no reason why Everton and Liverpool cannot do the same.
I HAVE no sympathy for Mark Hughes. The man has a cheek complaining about his treatment. When he attempted to undermine David Moyes whilst poaching Joleon Lescott he explained then that “it's the nature of the game”. I for one am happy!
IT’S absolutely vital we get a full return of points from our two games over Christmas. Sunderland away on Boxing Day will be very tricky and their home record is not bad at all – they’ve already beaten Arsenal and Liverpool there – but given our precarious position, three points are a must. The same goes for the Burnley match on Monday. They are hardly the pushovers some ‘experts’ predicted they would be, and have shown they can compete at the highest level. In any event, we’ll have to avenge our disappointing defeat at Turf Moor at the start of the season. Our injury crisis is bad, but somehow Moyes must rally our troops to give their all for these two matches.
After all, the six points on offer here could prove priceless come the end of the campaign.
SAD to read in the ECHO that Jack Rodwell will now be out of action for a month with a hamstring strain. On a positive note, it’s great that James Vaughan is back in contention for a place in the starting XI. It seems Derby are looking to extend his loan deal but I think David Moyes should think long and hard before allowing him to leave again, especially with the way our injuries are.
SO we’re going back to Lisbon again in the New Year – but this time, it’s Sporting and not Benfica we’re facing in the Europa League. I’d like to think that the result will be a whole lot different than the last time out there. The home leg could be pivotal but that 5.45pm kick-off time for it is an absolute joke.
Everton FC boss David Moyes says Blues deserve their lowly league position
Dec 24 2009
DAVID Moyes reckons Everton are down at the bottom of the Premier League because they deserve to be. The Goodison Park boss will have no truck with suggestions the Toffees are too good to be 15th in the table and two points off the relegation zone. Moyes takes his injury-ravaged side to Sunderland on Boxing Day and then has a home clash with Burnley on Monday as Everton search for the points to haul themselves away from the drop zone. Moyes, who is unlikely to have much room for changes to his side due to the continued injury problems, said: "By this time, the league has taken shape and we have an idea of where clubs will be. "You will get someone making a push at the top, and someone down at the bottom. "We have to make sure that is us because we are too near the trap-door for comfort at the moment. "Our form has improved, the points tally has not. But draws against Spurs and Chelsea have certainly lifted the confidence, and we played well enough to have beaten Birmingham who are on a good run at the moment. "I am frustrated with the results of late, but performances have improved. We just need to get three points to go with better displays, though. "Things can change very quickly over Christmas, with a couple of games in quick succession, and we want to make that happen.
"But I don’t want anyone saying we should not be where we are. The league is forming now, you can see the various levels. "We cannot say the current position is not a true reflection on our season because it is a true reflection." Moyes who hopes Phil Neville, Joseph Yobo and Sylvain Distin will be back from long-term injuries in the next few weeks, certainly needs their experience. He added: "We have not been playing well enough. But everyone is very tightly bunched at the moment and a couple of games can change all that very easily, but I must underline that I do not believe the positions of clubs are far wrong. "Relative to the squad we have, we are in a false position, but with so many out injured we are not able to say we are in a false position regarding who we have available, because they are not in a position to change things much. "We do not the luxury of leaving people out even if they are not doing so well, we have to stick with what we have got." And the Scot is aware his side will be running into Darren Bent, a player he has always admired and one who has had an inspired goal-scoring campaign since joining Sunderland in the summer.
He continued: "Steve Bruce has done a good job at Sunderland, he has made good signings. "Bent has been a real threat, he has scored goals regularly and that has been a real boost for Sunderland. He is a player we have always liked, but he has always been too expensive for us! "Sunderland have done really well and got themselves into the top half. Their expectations may even have increased since the start of the season.
"This season Bent has been as good as anyone in the Premier League with his goals, as good as Craig Bellamy or Wayne Rooney have been." And Moyes’ view on the sacking of Mark Hughes, who he crossed swords with during the summer over the Joleon Lescott transfer saga, is: "I am always disappointed to see a fellow manager lose his job, it is never good. But was anyone surprised?"
Everton FC: Phil Jagielka ‘desperate’ to return and end his world of pain
Dec 24 2009 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
PHIL JAGIELKA today said he is desperate to get fit and wear the new Everton kit for the first time – instead of worrying about his England world cup place.
The 27-year-old has been sidelined since rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament against Manchester City in April. And while he admitted his World Cup dream has been left in doubt by his lengthy recovery, he insists his priority is returning in Everton colours. Jagielka was initially expected to begin light training last month, but suffered a setback that required surgery to repair a tear in his cartilage.
The centre-back has revealed it could be another three weeks before he even has an idea when to set a realistic comeback date. Jagielka has won three England caps under Fabio Capello, the most recent of which came in the World Cup qualifying win over Ukraine at Wembley just three weeks before his injury. But when asked about his chance of being on the plane to South Africa in the summer, he said: “I am not sure. I was looking to get back before Christmas and hopefully stake a claim but unfortunately I don’t know when I will be back, so I am not looking at the World Cup at the minute. “I just want to put the new Everton kit on and run around on the pitch in it.” it will take time for him to rediscover his full match sharpness. He said: “I tried setting goals early doors, say six, seven months, but obviously at the moment it’s been a little longer than I would want. “Unfortunately it’s quite a complicated injury with your knee. You have to do a lot of work with it and take it week by week. I am feeling good, I’m quite refreshed at the moment and hopefully in the next few weeks I will have an inkling as to when I’ll be back playing again. “(It will) probably be in the next two or three weeks, but after eight months or so I can’t imagine my first touch being as it was, so it might take me a little while to get sort of game-ready, but I am looking forward to it. “It’s going well, still quite slow but that’s part and parcel of it at the moment. I’ve just got to wait, and hopefully a few weeks into the New Year I’ll be able to start training and see where it goes from there.” He added that he is pleased with the loan signing of Landon Donovan. He said: “I've been watching the US team and have seen how well they have done recently and he's been an integral part of that.
“He's a good player and hopefully he'll add some quality to the team. We've not got that many players at the moment, so he's another body with some quality.”
Everton FC star Yakubu happy to help local children
Dec 24 2009 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
GATHERED together by the entrance, the three young friends speculated on how the superstar footballer would arrive. “Do you think he’ll come by helicopter because of the snow?” asked one of them excitedly. “No, he’ll probably come in a Ferrari with his own driver,” said his pal. “I can’t wait to tell him we play for Everton,” said the third, clutching a football. We were at Claire House hospice in Wirral and the boys were residents, all suffering from conditions which means they are permanently in wheelchairs. They play wheelchair football under a scheme run by Everton, and were waiting for a visit from Blues striker Ayegbeni Yakubu. Unprompted by anyone at his club, Yakubu had telephoned hospice staff to arrange a visit and enquire how he could go about making a donation. When he arrived, in a black 4x4 as it happened, the boys stopped racing each other in the snow and came inside to meet him.
Yakubu had brought along his new wife Yvonne and their 10-month-old daughter Kayla to see the hospice, which opened its doors to children in December 1998.
The 3.5 acre hospice complex is home to young people with life threatening or life limiting conditions and their families from Merseyside, Cheshire, North Wales and the Isle of Man. Among the rooms he was given a tour of is the multi-sensory room, an interactive, stimulating environment where children can relax on a heated water bed and the hydro pool and Jacuzzi room. Lastly he is taken to the Butterfly suite, a room brightly lit by the winter sun which overlooks a private garden at the hospice’s rear. This is where young residents are taken after they have died. It’s where the Claire House care continues until the time for their funeral. Families are free to come and go as they wish and bring photographs, posters, toys and bed linen into the room. It is where they say goodbye, in less traumatic settings than a hospital ward. “This is a really happy place,” says Yakubu, back in reception after signing autographs for the young footballers. “When you think about it before you come, you imagine people crying and a sad atmosphere but it’s a happy place and the kids are smiling. Seeing that makes me smile.” The Yak was greeted with smiles, which soon grew wider as the relaxed player chatted amicably with youngsters and charmed volunteers .
Volunteers fuss over Kayla, as Yvonne smiles and asks polite questions about the facilities. “I was looking on the internet and saw this place,” says 27-year-old Yakubu. “I had the opportunity to come here and see these young kids and give something back. It’s a dream come true. I’m happy to give what I can afford to give to them.”
Yakubu, from Benin City, Nigeria, plans to set up his own football academy to help poor children in his own country, similar to team-mate Joseph Yobo’s charity.
“I am looking forward to doing things like this back home,” he says. “I will go back to Benin and Lagos and help young people to realise their dreams. “Unfortunately a lot of them don’t have the opportunity to do that. I am very pleased to be able to encourage them and give them a boost.” Yakubu has only recently returned to the Everton team, after recovering from an Achilles injury so severe it ruled him out of action for a year. His period on the sidelines gave him time for reflection, as did starting a family with Yvonne. “When you grow older you have more experience in life. I see on TV and listen on radio about kids in the world who have nothing. How they live is unbelievable,” he says. “I got injured for 10 months and I couldn’t do what I love to do. “Then you see young people, like the kids here, who can’t do what they want to for whatever reason it makes you sad. “Back home some of the kids are very poor and are stuck in a rut. I want to give them a helping hand. “I’m lucky that Kayla is happy and healthy. She’s a lovely kid and is doing really well. Yvonne is so supportive and for me it’s the best feeling in the world.” Yakubu’s contribution was a significant boost in what has been a lean year for the hospice, which relies entirely on charitable support.His visit brightened everyone’s day – even if he didn’t arrive by helicopter. For more on Claire House go to www.claire-house.org.uk. For information on how to donate call 0151 343 0883 or e-mail email@example.com.
David Moyes: Let’s do our talking on the pitch - Everton FC latest
Dec 26 2009 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES today vowed that Everton will do their talking on the pitch and shrug off refereeing mistakes and injuries. The Blues boss insisted that Stuart Atwell’s decision to disallow a legitimate Louis Saha goal cost his team against Birmingham, but said his players should have scored more anyway. He also urged Everton’s players to repeat their result at Sunderland in 2005, when a late Tim Cahill goal fired their ailing season. Everton have won nine of the last ten games against the Weirsiders, and Moyes said: “The best way is not to start relying on referees to get the decisions right. They are going to get decisions wrong. “If they are putting out the best referees, we’ve got to recognise that they can’t get all the decisions right. “It’s assistants as well because the goal that really mattered (against Birmin- gham) was more to do with the assistant so we can’t really blame the referee for that call.” Moyes wants his players to continue their spirited displays and show their hunger. He said: “We’re not playing fluently enough to say we can sit back and pass it nicely so we have to get tough.
“The players are showing a better level of commitment and energy and they need to, to get themselves out of this position. We are concerned enough to think we’ve got to get some points on the board here. “We can’t keep saying we’ve got to get players back from injury. What if they didn’t come back? We can’t bury our heads in the sand. We’re down at that end of the table but I think we’ve got a better squad and players who can move us up the league.” The Scot also hailed Marouane Fellaini’s recent performances as a big plus. He said: “Marouane is getting better at playing the holding role and is understanding his duties. He’s not chasing around all over the pitches. He’s played very well, arguably our best player. Generally he’s settling down and he’s an influence on the pitch.” Moyes also revealed that club captain Phil Neville is close to a return. He said: “Phil has got a chance of maybe being involved in the next game.”
‘Hibbert Scores We Riot’ banner makes Everton FC’s right-back smile, but his main goal is pushing his side up the table
Dec 26 2009 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
A WARNING to police on Wearside – if Tony Hibbert scores today, get ready for a riot. Evertonians, with tongues firmly in their cheeks, have been promising to spark mayhem if the right-back finds the net since the peak of their FA Cup run last year.
Banners with the ‘Hibbert Scores We Riot’ slogan were paraded at Wembley, and there was even a group set up on social networking site Facebook. It all centres on the unassuming Everton right-back’s record of no goals in 244 games. But ask him about it and responds with a wry smile. “Going that long has been a bit of a surprise – although it shouldn’t be, with people starting to tell me about it every day,” he says.
“That doesn’t help. You look at the games and think ‘will I get a chance in this one,’ but that’s just how it goes. “I can’t even remember the last chance I had, it was so long ago. I think the last goal I scored – although the lads will tell you I get plenty in training – was in the reserves, or even the youth team, when I was a kid.
“I was right-back then, though, it’s not as if I was further forward.” Hibbert is fully aware that modern Premier League full-backs are asked to get forward at every opportunity, but prides himself primarily on the art of defending. “The lads have a bit of a laugh about it, but I keep telling them I’m a defender and it’s not my job,” he says. “I’ve no idea what I’d do if I ever did score – I certainly haven’t got a celebration planned. “I’ve not thought of asking for a penalty if we were three or four up either. That’s just the way it goes, and I’m happy enough with my game. I’m a defender and I like defending.” Hibbert has re-established himself in David Moyes’ side this season, bouncing back from a torrid afternoon in May’s FA Cup final when he was substituted during Everton’s 2-1 defeat But Hibbert has been around the block enough times, and has thick enough skin, to prevent his confidence from being terminally damaged. He says: “You have to have character to come back every season, not just this one. The games come so thick and fast these days that you can’t dwell on what to do, or what you’ve done. “You just have to get on with it, give everything and hope the manager picks you. “He’s stuck with me so far and I do think that, even though we’ve had a lot of injuries so far, we’ve got a good squad here now.”
Hibbert has won praise from Moyes for playing at centre half during the club’s ongoing injury crisis, most notably during the 2-2 draw with Spurs at Goodison Park when the right back, who is 5ft7in, faced 6ft7in striker Peter Crouch. “I moved inside to centre-half because I had to, with a lack of numbers,” he says. “To be honest it’s not that much difference really, although coming up against Peter Crouch recently was a bit frightening. “I’ve known him for years and what he’s capable of but we did all right. It didn’t help that the centre half next to me went off injured. I thought ‘here we go,’ but Lucas Neill has played there for Australia and talked me through it.
“I know I’m just filling in in that role, and I think I’d need to be a bit bigger for it to be permanent. It’s different in Europe, because we’ve not come up against any really big sides, they tend to be smaller and faster. It’s a bit different in the Premier League itself, though.” Hibbert believes that the derby day defeat by Liverpool fired Everton’s team spirit and they have been unbeaten since, although they face Steve Bruce’s Sunderland today needing three points. “That (the derby) was definitely a turning point for us,” he says. “Okay, the result wasn’t, but the performance gave us all confidence. “I think the lads have kicked on from that and although the result wasn’t what we wanted, our display that day was good.”
Barry Horne: Clowns still in charge of Manchester City circus
Dec 26 2009 by Barry Horne, Liverpool Echo
THE weekend saw the departure of a class act from a circus.
It would appear that Mark Hughes has been a dead man walking since Garry Cook brought in the Arab money to Manchester City. No matter how polished and pristinely presented their hostesses, receptionists and corp- orate lounges might be, everyone in football can now see them for what they are in their treatment of a decent bloke.
Francis Lee, a man who wore the pale blue shirt with great distinction and who went on to be chairman of the club, once said: “If there was a cup for cock ups, City would win it every year.” Manchester City fans over the decades have, almost to a man, been heard to utter the phrase “Well it is Manchester City” to explain away their latest misfortune. City, in many ways, were many people’s second favourite team for the way in which they were always so endearingly incomp- etent. But their latest behaviour is leaving them in very real danger of replacing Chelsea and Manchester United as the most reviled football club amongst ordinary fans.
Barry Horne: No draws for concern with battling Blues - Everton FC latest
THE result was disappointing, but I was at the Birmingham game and thought Everton were absolutely fantastic. We started quickly, moved the ball as well as I’ve seen us move it for a long, long time and Baines, Pienaar and Osman gave us a reminder of what we have latterly become used to under David Moyes. That we could play so well despite an extraordinary list of injuries continues to say a lot about the resolve within the squad. The only thing lacking on Sunday was the second goal which would have put the game to bed. Whilst I thought Stuart Attwell had a great game in the middle, he was clearly let down by his assistant incorrectly flagging Louis Saha offside when Everton were terrorising the Birmingham defence. I thought Attwell was patient with the players and was in no rush to get his cards out – which was fort- unate for Marouane Fellaini – and his only two mistakes cancelled each other out.
I felt Diniyar Bilyaletdinov could possibly have been pulled up for control- ling the ball with his upper arm prior to his goal, while Stephen Carr was fortunate to escape when he punched a cross off the head off Saha. So a very disappointing result, but a very heartening and promising display. It’s no secret how much I rate Osman and his return was pivotal, but Leighton Baines, too, is becoming a class act. And as for Steven Pienaar, what an enormous relief it was when I discovered he wasn’t going to the African Nations Cup. THE result was disappointing, but I was at the Birmingham game and thought Everton were absolutely fantastic. We started quickly, moved the ball as well as I’ve seen us move it for a long, long time and Baines, Pienaar and Osman gave us a reminder of what we have latterly become used to under David Moyes. That we could play so well despite an extraordinary list of injuries continues to say a lot about the resolve within the squad. The only thing lacking on Sunday was the second goal which would have put the game to bed. Whilst I thought Stuart Attwell had a great game in the middle, he was clearly let down by his assistant incorrectly flagging Louis Saha offside when Everton were terrorising the Birmingham defence. I thought Attwell was patient with the players and was in no rush to get his cards out – which was fort- unate for Marouane Fellaini – and his only two mistakes cancelled each other out. I felt Diniyar Bilyaletdinov could possibly have been pulled up for control- ling the ball with his upper arm prior to his goal, while Stephen Carr was fortunate to escape when he punched a cross off the head off Saha. So a very disappointing result, but a very heartening and promising display.
It’s no secret how much I rate Osman and his return was pivotal, but Leighton Baines, too, is becoming a class act. And as for Steven Pienaar, what an enormous relief it was when I discovered he wasn’t going to the African Nations Cup.
Leon Osman named an ambassador for the Toffees - Everton FC latest
Dec 26 2009 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
LEON OSMAN has been appointed as the Everton Collection Charitable Trust ‘Schools Ambassador’ He recently attended the Everlution display with trustees Lord Granchester and Max Dunbar. Speaking at the event, he said: “I was delighted to be asked to support the Collection. Its so important to educate the youngsters about the history of our club. “I have had a look around the display and its amazing. My son enjoyed it too because there are some interactive bits and pieces for the smaller Toffees.”
New sound for Z-Cars, but tradition still rules - Everton FC latest
Dec 26 2009 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
CERTAIN parts of the match-day experience at Goodison Park are rightly considered sacrosanct. From the Toffee Lady scattering her famous wares around the ground to the playing of Z-Cars as the players run out of the tunnel. It was a point emphasised in the 1994/95 season when Z-Cars was bizarrely replaced with the theme for 2001: A Space Odyssey and Bad Moon Rising in a badly-misjudged experiment. The change lasted for two games before disgruntled fan power won out, and the roar of the crowd when Z-Cars returned meant it has never been meddled with since. So, it took a brave bunch of musicians to re-record Z-Cars and The Goodisons are the men who have done it. Fear not though, the club insists that their new version is in no way a replacement for the original track by Johnny Keating The new CD, which is an official Everton product, also features the original version and is available to buy from Everton One, Everton Two and evertondirect.com. The Goodisons consist of 'Grammy' award winner Frank Maudsley from A Flock of Seagulls, Cook Da Books’ Owen Moran and Mark Comer, former tour manager and producer of the Z-Cars CD.
A percentage of the sales will be split between Liverpool Unites, Everton’s nominated charity for the 2009/10 season, and the Rhys Jones Memorial Fund.
Wish list for Blues to offer festive cheer - Everton FC latest
Dec 26 2009 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
BILL Kenwright got it spot on with his Christmas wish-list. The Everton chairman made a typically heartfelt statement on the club’s website listing what he hoped to find under the Christmas tree. The list included that elusive billionaire the club so desperately needs, swift healing and a swift return to the injured players and continued strength against the odds for David Moyes. He added, ‘I wish our Manager sufficient time in which to fully reflect upon precisely what it is he has achieved for our great club over the years - and a peaceful five minutes in which to enjoy the absolute knowledge that our thoughts and total support are with him as he plots our New Year revival’. Never a truer word spoken. So in the same spirit as Bill, I’ve drawn up a Christmas wish-list for some of Everton’s players. Carlo Nash - More chances to get some match practice in. The F.A. Cup game against Carlisle game could be an option for the Evertonian. Tony Hibbert - Plain and simple - a goal. Be it a winner or consolation, the fans will riot ! Leighton Baines - A plane ticket to South Africa in June. With a couple of friendly matches coming up soon for Capello's men, and injuries to Lescott and Bridge surely the Italian has to take into account Baines’ impressive displays so far this season. Johnny Heitinga - A game in Europe. His old club Athletico Madrid need to be knocked out of the Europa League so he can play in the competition. Bless those not at all awkward Uefa Rules . Phil Jagielka - A chance to wear the new Everton home kit he so desperately wants . Oh, and a seat next to Baines to South Africa. Diniyar Bilyaletdinov - New football boots. Preferably not the red stripe ones he tried to colour in with a black marker pen ! Louis Saha - A signed contract. Louis is free to talk to foreign clubs from January, let’s hope it gets signed as quickly as he scored in the FA Cup Final. Mikel Arteta - The all clear from the physios and surgeons. The Gwladys Street faithful desperately want to sing their famous "best little Spaniard we know" chant to him once again. James Vaughan - A lady that goes by the name of Luck. The 21-year-old’s attitude is second to none, and he deserves a bit of fortune for once Sylvain Distin - A clear run in the team. Distin was as steady as anyone until the Somme-style pitch took its toll in Athens and he limped off with a hamstring injury. Tim Cahill - A goal at Anfield in February. Tim just needs one more goal to become Everton’s leading scorer in post-War league derby matches. Phil Neville - His captain’s armband back. It has been passed around to just about every senior player since he last wore it back in September.
Dan Gosling - A framed picture of THAT goal which gave Blues so much to smile about in 2009. And a year’s supply of Tic Tacs. Steven Pienaar - Some goals. For someone so attacking minded it is amazing the talented South African isn’t on the scoresheet more often. Add goals to his game and he would be the complete midfielder. Leon Osman - a medal for taking on all the off field duties he has done. Ossie is involved in so many club charity schemes it proves he has blue blood.
Tim Howard - A clean sheet. Despite being consistently great, the American hasn’t had one in the league since September. Marouane Felliani - A pair of scissors? No, we wouldn’t have him any other way. I hope he gets more goodwill from fussy referees,
Jack Rodwell - A passport or some ID to prove his age. Nobody can be that good with both feet at the grand old age of 18 ! Seamus Coleman - More games, and not on his Ps3. The young Irishman will be hoping for a few more first team opportunities after his stirling performances so far. For the rest of us? I think most fans will take a top half finish and a nice cup run.
Sunderland 1-1 Everton: Full Time Match Report
Dec 26 2009
MAROUANE FELLAINI proved the hero of the hour as his late strike rescued a valuable point for Everton at Sunderland this afternoon. The Belgian international smashed home Tony Hibbert's cross after the Black Cats failed to clear the ball to send the travelling supporters into raptures. For long periods it looked like being another frustrating afternoon but David Moyes' men showed their typical resilience to fight back and claim a fourth successive draw. Darren Bent had given Steve Bruce's side a 17th minute lead when heading home Kenwyne Jones' cross but an improved second half showing from the away side saw them to the draw which keeps them two points outside the Premier League relegation zone. After the experimentation of last week's Europa League match with BATE Borisov, manager David Moyes recalled his senior stars though with injuries still rife throughout the squad, though the makeshift defensive pairing of Johnny Heitinga and Lucas Neill was asked to fill the void as they did so well at Chelsea. However a sign that Everton's luck may be on the rise was captain Phil Neville's name on the teamsheet; out since September when injured against Fulham the skipper's presence came as pleasant surprise to all Evertonians.
Nine minutes in and Leon Osman struck side-footed from the edge of the area only to see his strike shave the outside of Fulop's left hand post; a melee in the box allowed the ball to arrive at the midfielder's feet. Osman, who played in the Group I defeat last Thursday, started the game brightly and though Sunderland were buoyed by a bumper home crowd it was the neat passing of Steven Pienaar and Leighton Baines on the Blues' left which allowed for the most meaningful forays of the opening period.
Indeed top scorer Louis Saha went close twice in quick succession as Moyes' men settled in a comfortable rhythm. However Everton were knocked off their stride in clinical fashion 18 minutes in as the Black Cats registered with their first attack of any substance. Darren Bent out jumped Heitinga to head into Kenwyne Jones' path and the frontman returned the favour with a fine cross into the area which Bent duly dispatched past Tim Howard. Sunderland, now with their tails up, almost struck again as Bent swept Jordan Henderson's cross goalwards only for Neill to clear off the line.
Without question the goal rattled Everton; their passing was suddenly wayward and the movement minimal- the growing sense of frustration was palpable. The rest of the half did little to improve the mood of the Everton faithful and though enjoying the majority of possession following the goal, Moyes' men created little with it.
Everton emerged for the second half earlier than their hosts looking to overturn six years of hurt by coming back fro ma half-time deficit to claim all three Premier League points. Marouane Fellaini leapt highest from a corner as the early signs looked promising for a Blues fightback. Twice Saha was unable to find enough space to profit on through balls from Tim Cahill and Fellaini before he flashed Baines' corner just wide after the ball ricocheted out to him. However Sunderland were once more proving a threat on the counter and from an Everton corner. Bent broke with speed before finding substitute Bolo Zenden, who shot straight at Howard. The Blues keeper was called upon when Paulo Da Silva headed goalwards from a free-kick but the American tipped over well. With 20 minutes to go, Moyes introduced Yakubu to give Everton a more standard 4-4-2 formation. And though shots from Pienaar and Saha would go agonisingly wide, the change did little to aid their fortunes. But Fellaini would spearhead Everton's display of perseverance when firing home pasty Fulop with less than five minutes remaining.
Sunderland (4-4-2): Fulop, Bardsley, Mensah (Nosworthy, 72), Da Silva, McCartney, Malbrannque (Zenden 58), Henderson, Cana ©, Reid, Bent, Jones. Subs: Carson, Meyler, Healy, Murphy, Campbell.
Goals: Bent (18)
Everton (4-5-1): Howard, Hibbert, Baines, Neill, Heitinga, Pienaar, Osman (Yakubu, 70), Fellaini, Bilyaletdinov, Cahill, Saha (Vaughan 87). Subs: Nash, Vaughn, Neville, Coleman, Duffy, Baxter.
Goals: Fellaini (85)
Cautions: Cahill, Saha
Att: 46, 990
Referee: Martin Atkinson
SUNDERLAND 1 EVERTON 1
December 26 2009
Marouane Fellaini snatched a late equaliser as Everton salvaged a deserved point against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light. The midfielder crashed home from close range in the 85th minute, latching on to a cross from the right. The goal was the result of steady second-half pressure from the Toffees, who had been pressing forward after Darren Bent's earlier effort T￼he Black Cats striker struck in the 17th minute with a well-worked goal that ended up with the England international powering a header past Tim Howard after a perfect cross from strike-partner Kenwyne Jones. But Bent's goal was not enough for Sunderland, leaving Steve Bruce's side without a win in six games. Sunderland will make the trip to Blackburn next week having taken only two points from their last three home games, having seen victory snatched from their grasp late on by both the Toffees and Portsmouth either side of defeat at the hands of high-flying Aston Villa It was the home side who staked their claim first, and Bent could easily have collected a hat-trick within the opening 21 minutes as a central defensive pairing of Lucas Neill and John Heitinga struggled to contain he and strike partner Kenwyne Jones. The unmarked England international should have done better when Andy Reid picked him out 12 yards from goal with a sixth-minute free-kick, but he powered his header wide of the target. However, he made no mistake 11 minutes later when he timed his run to perfection to meet Jones' cross with a firm downward header which comprehensively beat keeper Tim Howard. It might have been 2-0 within four minutes after midfielder Jordan Henderson made the most of Everton's inability to clear their lines wide on the left and surged into the box before pulling the ball back to the near post. Bent's flick turned it across goal, but Neill got in an important block to save his side any further punishment. The concern for Bruce was his side's recent failure to kill off sides, and with memories of Pompey's late fightback to snatch a point from their recent trip to the Stadium of Light , there could be little doubt over the theme of his half-time team-talk. But it was Everton who always looked more likely to score in the second half. Their reward finally came with five minutes left, when Fellaini controlled Tony Hibbert's cross before smashing a shot high into the net to grab a point. * For a full match report, pictures and analysis, don't miss Monday's Echo Attendance 46,990
Paulo da Silva
Sunderland 1, Everton 1: Blues industry delivers reward
Dec 28 2009 by Philip Kirkbride, Liverpool Daily Post
ON THE banks of the built-up River Wear it was perhaps fitting Everton’s industry won them a valuable point on Saturday. For long spells it looked as though the Goodison machine had once more broken down but whipped into shape by their taskmaster David Moyes, everything went full steam ahead in a powerful second half performance. In many ways this Boxing Day clash, with the north-east’s industrial heartland as a backdrop, was typical of Everton under the tutelage of their manager; reverting to basics in the second half coupled with their unwavering resolve helped carve out a much warranted point. Not that everything on Saturday ran like a well oiled machine. Their dominance over a limited Sunderland side would only yield one goal and frustrated Everton into a fourth consecutive draw in the Premier League – extending their winless run to seven matches and leaving them still two points outside the drop zone on Saturday evening. And as much as Moyes would take great solace from the fighting spirit his side showed once more, he must have concerns over the inability to convert the majority of possession into chances of significance.
Indeed, as we saw against Birmingham City in their previous game of deadlock, Everton horded possession but being able to produce little with it, the latest travail which hurts Moyes’ side is a lack of killer instinct – hopefully the imminent arrival of Landon Donovan is the key to solving the riddle. But the weekend’s revival would ultimately have to be met with a differing approach and spearheading the charge was Marouane Fellaini; his vicious strike six minutes from time after Sunderland failed to deal with Tony Hibbert’s cross restored parity and probably a sense of footballing justice as Moyes’ men were deserving of sharing the points at a packed Stadium of Light. The Belgian is fast becoming something of a mercurial figure for Everton and divides opinion like no other player in the current squad, but was a major source of satisfaction for manager Moyes on the day after Christmas. Looking aimless one minute yet unplayable the next; that the 22-year-old was hailed by his manager after the game as the country’s form midfielder is telling of his influence in the second half on Boxing Day, though the latest praise will no doubt stoke up the fire of debate once more. Yet even if you stand on the less complimentary side of the great Fellaini debate you would be hard pressed to deny the game, and Everton, needed what the midfielder brought after the interval – leadership and direction. Club captain Phil Neville, an unused substitute, bellowed instruction and encouragement from the sidelines throughout the game but even the inspirational leader could do little to improve a tepid opening 45 minutes. Skipper for the day Tim Cahill was unable to exert his usual brand of no-nonsense play on the game, at times stranded as Louis Saha’s chief support from midfield and after going behind to Darren Bent’s 17th-minute header, his side floundered.
Out went the early promise, built on neat interchanges between Steven Pienaar and Leighton Baines, and was replaced by wayward passes beyond, wide and away from static team-mates. It was a worrying period and in the Stadium of Light, Moyes must have been fearing a return to the dark days. After the experimentation of last week’s Europa League match with BATE Borisov, the manager recalled his senior stars though with injuries still rife throughout the squad, the makeshift defensive pairing of Johnny Heitinga and Lucas Neill was asked to fill the void as they did so well at Chelsea. And as good as they were in the battle at Stamford Bridge two weeks prior, perhaps their collective inexperience as a defensive unit was the undoing for Sunderland’s goal. Heitinga was beaten to the header by Bent who found the on-rushing Kenwyne Jones who returned the pass with a precise cross into the area which the former dispatched with ease as Everton’s Dutch defender trailed in his wake.
Everton were wobbled by Bent’s blow and still reeling on the ropes, Neill had to be alert to clear the ball from the line. But Sunderland failed to press home the advantage, looking a tad sluggish as though the previous day’s festive excess was weighing heavy – together with Everton’s poor showing it resulted in a game which did little to warm the soul on a fresh Sunderland afternoon. But the signs of an improved second half were clear; Everton emerged early, eager to right the wrongs of what had gone before. Fellaini leapt highest from a corner only to direct his header just wide as the early signs looked promising for Everton to overturn a half-time deficit and claim all three Premier League points for the first time in six years.
Twice Saha was unable to find enough space to profit on through balls from Cahill and the talismanic Fellaini before he flashed Baines’ corner just wide after the ball ricocheted out to him. It was becoming an assault on the home goal, only a counter-attack which resulted in substitute Bolo Zenden shooting straight at Tim Howard stemmed the flow of crosses and shots on Marton Fulop’s goal. But given the trials and tribulations Everton have suffered this season, there will not have been too many of the travelling faithful who felt the Sunderland road block would be knocked down.
As the game moved ever closer to what looked like a home win, thanks to Sunderland’s first home goal against Everton in the Premier League since December 2001, Fellaini pounced to lash the ball home. We can now only hope Fellaini’s second half showing has given Everton the tune-up needed to start firing on all cylinders.
Sunderland 1-1 Everton: Marouane Fellaini emerging as Blues' key man
Dec 28 2009 By Greg O'Keeffe
MAROUANE FELLAINI the footballer has occasionally been overshadowed by Marouane Fellaini the cult figure during his time at Everton. The big-haired Belgian quickly achieved a hero status of sorts among some fans after making the switch two summers ago, weighing in with some important goals in his first campaign.
But equally he divided opinion, with some labelling him a dilatory enigma and others doubting whether he would ever fit comfortably into Everton’s team. Make no mistake about it now; Fellaini is more than a novelty haircut who scores the odd goal. Much more. The midfielder has grown with maturity in every game this season after recovering from a virus which hampered his pre-season, and David Moyes is being proved right for investing £15m in the former Standard Liege man’s talents.
Playing in the deep role just ahead of the back four, where he excelled for Standard Liege, he has suddenly started taking games by the scruff of the neck.
His performance in the Blues’ draw with Sunderland at the Stadium of Light was his best yet this season. Enough even for his manager to hand out high praise indeed – labelling him one of the best midfielders in the Premier League. Phil Neville made a welcome return to the squad against Sunderland, albeit on the bench, and like Everton’s other returning stars the skipper will know that it won’t be Fellaini who will drop out of the team for him. The Blues survived an early scare against Steve Bruce’s men, when Tim Howard punched away a high ball under pressure from Kenwyne Jones and Steed Malbranque, but they soon began to dominate possession.
Leon Osman had the first chance, his swift interplay with Diniyar Bilyaletdinov saw the ball break through a tangle of legs back to him and he steered a delicate chip just onto Marlon Fulop’s post. But while they were enjoying lots of the ball in the first 45 minutes, the Toffees weren’t doing much constructive with it. Their set-piece delivery was particularly poor. Leighton Baines is rightly lauded for the quality of his corners and free kicks, but he was having an off-day with the dead-ball. Still, the Blues somehow won a corner from one aimless free-kick. Then from an equally poor corner, Bilyaletdinov played in Saha who was hanging on the shoulder of the defender. The Frenchman turned and dragged a low shot narrowly wide, reminding everyone how a half-chance is a chance when it’s at his feet. Then ‘King Louis’ went close again, this time sliding wide after a through ball on the right from Pienaar. But Jones can be formidable on his day too, and he provided Sunderland’s lead. Atoning for a weak effort earlier, Jones broke down the right after being fed by a Darren Bent header and whipped an exquisite cross into the area. Bent didn’t even have to check his lung busting run to head the cross decisively past Howard. It almost got worse for Everton five minutes later when Lucas Neill had to clear off his own line after some docile defending. Frustratingly, then Andy Reid was allowed to win a header in the Everton area under zero pressure, the Blues’ blushes only spared by Reid’s lack of support. Suddenly, Everton were being bombarded and inviting further torment with uncharacteristically nervy defending. Still, they had plenty of possession and still failed to capitalise on it. Bilyaletdinov summed it up when he turned and fired a cross high and handsome – far away from the increasingly isolated Saha. Sunderland were not allowing the Blues to settle, pressuring every area of the pitch while looking to counter attack quickly. But with the ball on the floor Everton still threatened and created chances, moves largely breaking down when long balls were pumped towards Saha’s head instead. It has been six years since the Blues came back to win a league game they were losing at half time, a fact which offered little comfort at this stage.
And just before the break, Baines had to be alert to head an Andy Reid free kick off the line. But Everton started the second half with more intent, winning an early corner which Fellaini headed just wide. Then, as they continued to make Sunderland seem like the away side, Saha neatly chested a long ball down for Cahill who played a one two which the Frenchman was just unable to take in his stride as Mensah tackled.
Then Saha was nearly in again, this time from a delightful defence splitting pass from Fellaini. Everton’s passing was improving steadily, but then from another in a long line of corners they could suddenly have conceded. Tony Hibbert was dispossessed while trying to cross in the Sunderland box by George McCartney, and he fed Darren Bent who burst forward at pace. Had the striker played in Jordan Henderson instead of Bolo Zenden the Blues would surely have been 2-0 down. Tim Howard then had to be at the top of his game to tip a powerful goal bound header from Da Silva over the bar after a Sunderland free kick. Despite the scares, the Blues increasingly began to look good value for an equaliser. Osman was replaced by Yakubu, as Moyes opted to go with two up front, and then Pienaar struck a scorching volley wide. Ever the club captain, Phil Neville prowled the touchline, peppering his warm-up with encouragement for the team and scorching the assistant referee’s ears on occasion.
Finally though, the goal came. The Sunderland defence failed to deal with a Tony Hibbert cross, and the ball dropped for Fellaini who smashed it emphatically into the net to send the travelling fans into delirium. The Belgian’s roaring celebration was full of passion, proving once and for all he has more settings than ‘laid-back’.
Then Everton went close again with a scuffed Tim Cahill strike, before Sunderland almost netted themselves. In the end a fourth successive draw for the Blues brought a valuable away point, and nudged them up to 14th. The game hinged on Fellaini’s goal and his emerging presence. In their song about him, Everton fans jokingly promise the Belgian he can have his wicked way with their spouses to the tune of Andy William’s ‘I love you Baby’. But Fellaini’s realisation of his own promise and the growing fire in his belly is no joke. In fact, it really is music to everyone’s ears.
John Heitinga: Marouane Fellaini’s influence so vital to Blues - Everton FC latest
Dec 28 2009 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
JOHN HEITINGA today applauded the growing influence of an all-action Marouane Fellaini on Everton’s season. The Dutch centre-back believes Fellaini was the star man during the Blues’ 1-1 draw with Sunderland, and is enjoying the extra cover the Belgian provides the defence. Fellaini scored Everton’s equaliser during a man of the match display and Heitinga said: “Fellaini is very important to us because he clears a lot of balls for us and if you see the game he was the best player on the pitch.
“The team spirit is good. Me and Lucas are playing well together and learning how to play even better together.” David Moyes also welcomed club captain Phil Neville back into the first team squad, with the ex-Mnchester United man fit enough to go on the bench. Heitinga said: “It was good to see Phil back. Even when he’s not playing, he’s our leader and our captain. Mikel (Arteta) is working hard and it’d be great to see him back soon too. “We’re not happy because we don’t have the three points despite playing very well. Like against Birmingham, they create one chance and have a share of the points. If you see our squad and the last few games there are too many draws.
“If we keep playing like this, the confidence is good and the wins will come.
“The only thing we need to do now is to finish our chances. Like against Birmingham we scored a goal and then scored our second goal because it was not really off side, but if we had scored again the game was over. Then it was 1-1 and you see the confidence goes backward.” But Heitinga is desperate to face Owen Coyle’s Premier League newcomers Burnley, and get that elusive three points the Blues crave.
He said: “We need to beat Burnley because of where we are in the league. We can’t wait for that game now." Meanwhile, Everton new-boy Landon Donovan has spoken of his admiration for David Moyes. The U.S.A captain said: "I had heard great things from Tim (Howard) about the manager and I have spoken with him myself.
"I have to say I was very impressed with his knowledge of the game over here and of my situation personally. He was very straight and honest with me and I am really looking forward to working with him." The LA Galaxy star is still on the other side of the Atlantic but can't wait to link up with his new teammates after Christmas.
He said: "I am really looking forward to coming over. For any American player, or any player in the world for that matter, the opportunity to play for a club like Everton is a very exciting one. "Tim and I have spoken a couple of times about it and he has told me all about the club and all about the expectations at Everton. I'll be travelling over on January 1 and I can't wait to get started."
David Moyes sets Blues goals - Everton FC latest
Dec 28 2009 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES is looking for Everton to rediscover their clinical touch as they attempt to climb away from the Premier League’s basement battle.
The Toffees extended their unbeaten run to four games with a 1-1 draw at Sunderland in Saturday, and, with their crippling injury problems finally starting to ease, are starting to look upwards rather than over their shoulders. However, today they face promoted Burnley, who have proved formidable at home but less effective on their travels, at Goodison Park seeking a first win in any competition on their own pitch since defeating Blackburn on September 20 – a run of eight games. Six of those have come in the league, and although only derby rivals Liverpool have won there, that sequence of fixtures has yielded just five points. After seeing his team last keep a home clean sheet against Rovers three months ago, manager Moyes believes Everton must be more ruthless in front of goal to take three points. He said: “At home, we have struggled a little bit recently. We have not turned draws into victories, so we have to do that. “In some of the games – Birmingham last week as well – we have dominated the majority of it, but gave them one chance and they scored. “It looks like we are going to have to score more than one goal at this present time to win, and that’s what our problem has been, we have not been doing that.” One goal at the Stadium of Light was enough to claim a point, although the visitors had to wait 85 minutes to get some reward for a performance which improved the longer it went on.
Moyes, for all his interval warning, was satisfied with a point and delighted with the performance which earned it. “It was a reward for how the players have played in the last week or two,” he said. “We have played much better and looked more like ourselves, and in Marouane Fellaini, we have probably got the best midfield player in the country at the moment. “He is outstanding the way he is playing. He was exceptional on Saturday and his goal was deserved for the way he played.” There was a welcome sight for the travelling fans on Wearside as Phil Neville took a seat on the bench on his return from the knee injury he suffered in September. He was not used after getting just a day’s training under his belt, but could figure if required today.
Moyes said: “He came in on Christmas morning and said he would like to come (to Sunderland). “He had trained the day before and felt he was okay, so I got him on the bus right away.” But asked if anyone else is likely to return for the Burnley game, Moyes joked: “Graeme Sharp, Peter Reid – they are both available. “I would settle for them both at the moment, take it from me. “They would certainly get me my goals and make sure we were at it in midfield, that’s for sure.” Meanwhile, Nyron Nosworthy has urged his Sunderland team-mates to be more ruthless at both ends of the pitch if they are to get their season back on track. The Black Cats head for Blackburn today having won just one of their last 10 Premier League games and collected only six points in the process. Eighteen of their haul of 22 points to date have been secured at the Stadium of Light and they have lost seven of their nine away games to date, including each of the last five. Nosworthy, who could find himself thrust back into the team at Ewood Park amid a fresh selection crisis, admits Sunderland need to be more clinical in both penalty areas if they are to arrest their decline. He said: “It’s a bit of both – it’s being ruthless in front of goal and defending as a team, as a whole.
“You can’t always rely on the boys up front to be putting away loads of goals to ease the pressure on us. “Sometimes, we have to take a 1-0, whether it be home or away and, if it gets ugly, just make it ugly as long as we get the result we need, which is three points.” Only four points separated Sunderland in 10th place from West Ham in 17th after Boxing Day’s round of fixtures, and Bruce knows just how difficult it will be to improve upon that situation at Blackburn. Sam Allardyce’s side returned from their trip to Wigan with a 1-1 draw and will be in no mood to allow the Black Cats to bring an end to their dreadful run of results on the road. Bruce said: “The Premier League, in my experience of it, whoever you go to on their own ground, you have got to do very well, and it will be no different at Blackburn. But we have got to start somewhere and I am convinced we can be better. I am sure we can be better away from home in the second half of the season.”
David Moyes sets Blues goals - Everton FC latest
Dec 28 2009 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES is looking for Everton to rediscover their clinical touch as they attempt to climb away from the Premier League’s basement battle. The Toffees extended their unbeaten run to four games with a 1-1 draw at Sunderland in Saturday, and, with their crippling injury problems finally starting to ease, are starting to look upwards rather than over their shoulders. However, today they face promoted Burnley, who have proved formidable at home but less effective on their travels, at Goodison Park seeking a first win in any competition on their own pitch since defeating Blackburn on September 20 – a run of eight games. Six of those have come in the league, and although only derby rivals Liverpool have won there, that sequence of fixtures has yielded just five points. After seeing his team last keep a home clean sheet against Rovers three months ago, manager Moyes believes Everton must be more ruthless in front of goal to take three points. He said: “At home, we have struggled a little bit recently. We have not turned draws into victories, so we have to do that.
“In some of the games – Birmingham last week as well – we have dominated the majority of it, but gave them one chance and they scored. “It looks like we are going to have to score more than one goal at this present time to win, and that’s what our problem has been, we have not been doing that.” One goal at the Stadium of Light was enough to claim a point, although the visitors had to wait 85 minutes to get some reward for a performance which improved the longer it went on. Moyes, for all his interval warning, was satisfied with a point and delighted with the performance which earned it. “It was a reward for how the players have played in the last week or two,” he said. “We have played much better and looked more like ourselves, and in Marouane Fellaini, we have probably got the best midfield player in the country at the moment. “He is outstanding the way he is playing. He was exceptional on Saturday and his goal was deserved for the way he played.” There was a welcome sight for the travelling fans on Wearside as Phil Neville took a seat on the bench on his return from the knee injury he suffered in September. He was not used after getting just a day’s training under his belt, but could figure if required today. Moyes said: “He came in on Christmas morning and said he would like to come (to Sunderland). “He had trained the day before and felt he was okay, so I got him on the bus right away.” But asked if anyone else is likely to return for the Burnley game, Moyes joked: “Graeme Sharp, Peter Reid – they are both available. “I would settle for them both at the moment, take it from me. “They would certainly get me my goals and make sure we were at it in midfield, that’s for sure.” Meanwhile, Nyron Nosworthy has urged his Sunderland team-mates to be more ruthless at both ends of the pitch if they are to get their season back on track. The Black Cats head for Blackburn today having won just one of their last 10 Premier League games and collected only six points in the process. Eighteen of their haul of 22 points to date have been secured at the Stadium of Light and they have lost seven of their nine away games to date, including each of the last five.
Nosworthy, who could find himself thrust back into the team at Ewood Park amid a fresh selection crisis, admits Sunderland need to be more clinical in both penalty areas if they are to arrest their decline. He said: “It’s a bit of both – it’s being ruthless in front of goal and defending as a team, as a whole. “You can’t always rely on the boys up front to be putting away loads of goals to ease the pressure on us.
“Sometimes, we have to take a 1-0, whether it be home or away and, if it gets ugly, just make it ugly as long as we get the result we need, which is three points.”
Only four points separated Sunderland in 10th place from West Ham in 17th after Boxing Day’s round of fixtures, and Bruce knows just how difficult it will be to improve upon that situation at Blackburn. Sam Allardyce’s side returned from their trip to Wigan with a 1-1 draw and will be in no mood to allow the Black Cats to bring an end to their dreadful run of results on the road. Bruce said: “The Premier League, in my experience of it, whoever you go to on their own ground, you have got to do very well, and it will be no different at Blackburn. But we have got to start somewhere and I am convinced we can be better. I am sure we can be better away from home in the second half of the season.”
Everton 2 Burnley 0: Everton ease relegation fears at Goodison Park
Dec 28, 2009 By David Prentice
JAMES VAUGHAN ended two years of injury hell at Goodison Park this afternoon, with a vital 83rd minute breakthrough against Burnley. And Steven Pienaar added a second in injury time as Everton finally ended a miserable run of home results with a 2-0 triumph which took them above their visitors in the Premier League table.
An increasingly desperate home crowd had feared the Blues extending their miserable run without a home win to a record equalling nine games. But after chances had gone begging and with time running out, David Moyes threw on the young striker who has been plagued with knee, shoulder and foot injuries in recent years. Only seven minutes remained when Marouane Fellaini collected Steven Pienaar's pass on the touchline and drilled a cross into the six yard box. Yakubu just failed to make contact but the ball broke to Vaughan who gleefully drilled past Brian Jensen with his left foot, ebfore pointing to the heavens in celebration. It was a huge relief for the home side, especially after a stubborn Burnley side had lost defender Steven Jordan to a red card with half-an-hour remaining. With Louis Saha and Jo sidelined, Yakubu started his first Premier League match since November 25 and went closest to breaking the deadlock with a controlled volley against the post. Everton had started boldly enough, with Yakubu predictably looking bright in his final match before disappearing on African Nations Cup duty. The Nigerian reacted swiftly to reach a ball heading behind for a goalkick, but pulled the ball back narrowly behind the inrushing Osman, then it was his shot which clearly struck defender Michael Duff on the left hand only for referee Howard Webb to rule that the interception was unintentional.
Everton's approach play, as it has been for some weeks now, was good in the first two-thirds of the pitch, but in the final third a marked lack of ruthlessness let them down time and again. Osman skewed one half-chance wide, Cahill broke and fed Pienaar, but the little South African produced an uncharacteristically poor cross, Osman hooked another chance wide then Yakubu connected cleanly with leighton Baines' but lobbed against the goalpost from eight yards. The inability to finish gave Burnley optimism they could snatch a goal themselves on the counter, and three times in quick succession Howard saved at full stretch before Bilyaletdinov was played clean through on the advancing Jensen. The Russian kept his shot firm and low, but Jensen, already a considerable physical presence, made himself even bigger and blocked the effort. Johnny Heitinga lazed an effort narrowly over the bar on the stroke of half-time, and despite plenty of hustle and bustle Everton failed to troule the big Danish keeper again until the match had reached the hour mark. By this time childhood Blue David Nugent had seen a dream Goodison return turn sour when he swivelled and shot against the goalpost, then was sacrificed when Steven Jordan's second cautionable offence - a blatant tug on Pienaar's shirt - saw him dismissed and Owen Coyle reshuffled. Just a minute earlier David Moyes had made an enforced change of his own, replacing the injured Tim Cahill with fit again skipper Phil Neville. That thrust Fellaini up into the forward line, but Everton still resisted the temptation to go route one trying to play their way through the stubborn, and increasingly desperate, visiting rearguard. Bikey, Eagles, Elliott and Duff all saw yellow, Duff for cynically bringing down Bilyaletdinov as he shaped to shoot after Yakubu held up the ball for him, and when Jordan was cautioned a second time for dragging back Pienaar it gave Everton the numerical advantage to dominate the final half-hour.
Everton 2, Burnley 0: Blues so grateful for James Vaughan's goal
Dec 29 2009 by Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily Post
THE stadium announcer may have been a tad premature, but the message eventually came booming out loud and clear. With Everton toiling to overcome a stout Burnley rearguard midway through the second half, the pronouncement “all clear Operation Goodison Exercise” was relayed to the increasingly agitated Blue faithful.
By full-time, however, David Moyes’s side finally followed the script to sign off 2009 with an all-too-rare home victory. Given the Tannoy declaration, it was apt that James Vaughan should provide the cure for Everton’s ailing home form, this their first win at Goodison since Blackburn Rovers were downed on September 20. The striker has spent much of his career on the treatment table after announcing his arrival with a record-breaking debut against Crystal Palace in which he became both Everton’s and the Premier League’s youngest-ever goalscorer, a litany of injuries subsequently restricting the striker to just eight league starts in more than four years.
But for Vaughan’s most recent setback, a cartilage problem that required surgery in October, he would have been lining up on loan for Derby County at Newcastle United yesterday in the Coca-Cola Championship. Instead, the fates transpired in Everton’s favour with the 21-year-old stepping off the bench to end Burnley’s stubborn resistance by sidefooting home seven minutes from time with practically his first touch. His first goal since netting at AZ Alkmaar more than two years earlier, the mixture of joy and relief from the celebrating Vaughan was palpable.
It was matched by that of his team-mates, who made hard work of beating a Burnley team that had previously taken just one point from 27 on their Premier League travels this season. Profligate after dominating the first half, Everton struggled to make their superiority count even after the visitors were reduced to 10 men with the sending-off of Stephen Jordan for a second bookable offence. There was even an whiff of controversy surrounding Vaughan’s opener, with Burnley manager Owen Coyle claiming Yakubu was stood in an offside position in front of goalkeeper Brian Jensen.
Steven Pienaar’s well-crafted injury-time strike added a gloss to the final scoreline that was perhaps unfair given Burnley’s significant contribution to an absorbing encounter. Not that Everton will care. They avoided equalling an unenviable club record of nine successive home games without a win and, while only their third triumph in 18 games, it extends their unbeaten Premier League run to five games.
And having opened up a gap to the relegation zone, Moyes’s men can go into the New Year looking up the table rather than over their shoulders. Everton’s one change from the team that eventually prised a point from the Stadium of Light on Boxing Day was an enforced one, with Louis Saha missing out with a hamstring problem – surprisingly only his second absence from a league game this season. It gave Yakubu the chance from the start to realise his ambition of signing off his Premier League efforts with a goal before departing for the African Cup of Nations with Nigeria next month.
The striker came close in the 22nd minute when failing to properly control a fine cross from the left by Leighton Baines, the ball looping away from Burnley keeper Jensen and smacking against the post. It summed up Everton’s endeavours during an entertaining if frustrating first half in which, as at Sunderland before Marouane Fellaini found a late way through, they created chances but failed to find the finish to match. The signs were there from the first minute, when Pienaar released Yakubu down the right but Leon Osman couldn’t control the Nigerian’s cutback before the Burnley defence ushered the ball clear. There was fury on the pitch and in the stands in the fifth minute when referee Howard Webb chose to ignore Everton’s claims for a penalty despite Yakubu’s shot clearly striking the left hand of centre-back Michael Duff. Osman, again employed in a central position, then twice had openings but struck the first at Jensen and then rushed a shot wide. The Burnley keeper was required to make a much more impressive save in the 33rd minute, when Diniyar Bilyaletdinov barged his way past left-back Jordan on to Pienaar’s pass but directed his side-footed shot too close to Jensen, who parried clear low down to his right. Burnley, though, weren’t without their openings, and were almost rewarded for manager Coyle’s persistence in playing the passing game with a purple patch midway through the half.
After Steven Fletcher’s snapshot from 20 yards solicited a smart parry by Tim Howard, the Everton goalkeeper was required to make a similar stop to deny Wade Elliott. From the resultant corner, Andre Bikey’s goalbound volley was well blocked by a brave Cahill. Both defences appeared teetering on the brink throughout, and Burnley almost capitalised on slackness in the Everton backline shortly after the interval. A direct run from Chris Eagles down the left ended with Kevin McDonald slicing a shot that flew across the face of goal, before a failure to clear a Burnley corner gave Elliott the chance to feed the ball into the back of the box where Nugent, an Everton fan who attended the FA Cup final in May, shot against the same post Yakubu had in the first half. Yet the dynamic of the game turned again when the hapless Jordan, earlier cautioned for fouling Bilyaletdinov, picked up a second yellow card for a silly tug on Pienaar’s shirt. Fellaini glanced a Baines cross at Jensen and the goalkeeper stretched to palm over a Yakubu header after substitute Christian Kalvenes’s clearance ricocheted fortuitously off the Nigerian. The handball penalty shouts were balanced out in the 69th minute when Webb ignored Burnley claims after Graham Alexander’s cross struck a sliding Lucas Neill on the arm. But Everton had finally wrested an initiative they were never to relinquish. A shot from Baines was deflected behind after a clever combination with Pienaar, Bilyaletdinov had a speculative effort blocked and Pienaar slashed wide. The goal had to come, and it arrived six minutes from time. After Fellaini and Pienaar exchanged passes down the left, the latter’s low cross was missed by Yakubu and rolled into the path of Vaughan to sidefoot home. Yakubu then helped make the game safe in injury time, winning the ball off a tired Alexander before advancing and slipping in Pienaar, who thundered a left-foot finish beyond Jensen and ensure a happy New Year for Everton.
DAVID PRENTICE: James Vaughan operating in role everyone at Everton FC wants to see
Dec 29, 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
AND here’s us all thinking “Commence Operation Goodison” was a stewarding exercise. With the PA announcer’s words resonating around an increasingly desperate Goodison Park, David Moyes tossed on a young striker for whom the word ‘operation’ has become a curse in recent years. And it finally gave us a Goodison feelgood tale after what seems like months of hard luck stories. James Vaughan has suffered more than any young footballer should have to. At the still tender age of 21 he has seen more surgeon’s scalpels than Burke and Hare, suffering serious knee, shoulder and foot injuries. And even when he was finally given something to celebrate yesterday it was a moment tinged with pathos – the youngster pointing to the heavens in memory of his dear, recently departed, nan. Vaughan is a footballer who always seems to elicit emotion – whether it’s becoming the youngest goalscorer in Premier League history – or slotting the coolest of penalty kicks in a nerve shredding semi-final shoot-out. And yesterday was no different. It was certainly a significant strike, personally as well as in its importance to Everton’s season. Vaughan and Phil Neville became the Everton equivalent of the cavalry against a stubborn Burnley side.
And the significance of the scoreline should become evident in the future. Perhaps the very near future. Everton are back at Goodison Park on Saturday, and this time they should relish home advantage. That certainly wasn’t the case with 10 minutes remaining yesterday. A lack of final third creativity and a dogged determination from their visitors left the Blues facing the prospect of an unwanted home record.
Ironically it was December 28, more than half a century ago, when Everton last went nine home matches without a win. Vaughan’s late strike and an injury time second from Steven Pienaar at least avoided that mantle. David Moyes’ record as Everton manager has embraced some curious extremes. Only the ungracious would contest his claim to be the best Everton manager since Howard Kendall packed away his trophy winning tactics board. Moyes has consistently achieved the Blues’ best league positions for 20 years, interspersed with an FA Cup final appearance and a reinvention of the club from perennial Premier league strugglers to regular European qualifiers.
But that has to be tempered with the seasons from hell – the campaign which yielded the lowest goals tally ever; the season which produced the lowest effective points tally for a century; the heaviest Premier League and European defeats – and this near miss.
As ever, the post-match reaction seemed to surround David Moyes and his decision to play one up front. “Why only one up front against a team with an away record like Burnley,” seemed to be the popular refrain. Simple really. Louis Saha, Victor Anichebe and Jo are injured, James Vaughan is fit enough for only a cameo run-out, and Marouane Fellaini’s imperious form in central midfield means he should be allowed to get on with that job rather than acting as an emergency striker again.
Moyes ability to cajole such decent displays from his team in recent weeks, despite those difficulties, should be applauded not derided. Because those selection problems don’t look like easing any time soon. Tim Cahill limped off yesterday and Yakubu is jetting off, but despite their difficulties Everton are improving. “I felt that we turned the corner some time ago,” he said. “We have been playing well enough of late to have deserved more. We deserved this, we had played some smashing football at times and I always believed our luck would change.” Everton’s football in the first two-thirds of the pitch yesterday was very good. It was the final third which let them down, until Pienaar and Fellaini finally combined for Vaughan to pounce. Everton are improving, and yesterday’s scoreline underlined that fact. Another home win on Saturday and the Blues can look forward to 2010 with optimism . . . and that goes for James Vaughan too.
NIGEL MARTYN: Deserved victory over Burnley a big boost for Everton
Dec 29 2009 Liverpool Echo
I WAS amazed to hear that Everton were on the brink of equalling an unwanted home record at Goodison yesterday. And just as relieved that they came through and avoided it. Failure to beat Burnley would have seen Everton not win a home game for nine matches, and given the quality of this current Everton squad that’s a bizarre statistic. Having played for and against Everton at Goodison Park, I’ve seen both sides of the divide. As an opponent you knew you would always be in for a tough match regardless of where Everton were in the table. As an Everton player, however, you always knew the crowd would demand, and usually get, that extra bit of intensity and drive which could help take you to victory. That’s what happened yesterday.
The result itself will give everybody a huge boost, but so too will the return to first team action of Vaughany and Phil Neville, who came on for the final quarter.
Even though Louis Saha and Jo were unavailable yesterday, we still had Leon Osman back in action again and helping knit things together in midfield. Leon Osman probably isn’t the first name on David Moyes’ team-sheet. He doesn’t figure near the top of fans’ favourite player lists. But that doesn’t bear any resemblance to his value to Everton Football Club. You count how many matches he plays in a season. You work out how many games he starts. It will be 30-plus, even in a campaign like this one where he has been injured. That’s because his manager knows he can trust him.
He played for 80 minutes agsinst Borisov in Europe, managed 90 minutes barely three days later against Birmingham, climbed off his sickbed to run himself ragged against Sunderland and then got through another 80 minutes yesterday, just 48 hours after his Boxing Day bravery. It’s that kind of attitude which proves infectious and certainly helped Everton over the line yesterday
Marouane Fellaini is proving influential for Everton once again
IT’S good to see Marouane Fellaini making headlines for all the right reasons this season – although I have to admit I was worried in the immediate aftermath of his point-saving strike at Sunderland on Boxing Day. As he ran to the travelling Everton fans to celebrate his equaliser all I could hear was the referee blowing frantically on his whistle! He clearly thought Fellaini’s celebrations were too enthusiastic – obviously a referee who’s never scored a goal five minutes from the end of a Premier League match – and wanted Marouane to come away from the supporters.
Happily he turned almost instantly and tried to come away from the touchline – only to find an army of excited team-mates engulfing him. That indicates how much more focused Fellaini has become this season and he has now become a very important part of David Moyes best starting XI. He puts himself about, he can pick out a pass and he is a serious aerial threat in one penalty area whilst offering a solid defensive presence in the other. He was massively influential once again against Burnley yesterday and deserves the plaudits which are now coming his way.
Carlisle should pose no problems for Everton in the FA Cup
I STILL do some coaching work with Bradford, so I know a little about Everton’s FA Cup opponents Carlisle – and without being complacent there’s nothing Everton should be overly concerned about at the weekend. The Cumbrians knocked Bradford out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy earlier this season, although the Bradford lads’ assessment of them was “they weren’t that brilliant”. The match swung on a red card and Carlisle went on to win 3-0, but there was absolutely nothing to suggest that, provided Everton go about their business in the correct manner, there will be an upset at the weekend. It’s one of those games that we should be able to use as another week closer to fitness for some of the injured lads. Phil Neville could come in, Ossie could get another game under his belt and Louis Saha may be able to rest his bumps and bruises.
Everton 2, Burnley 0: James Vaughan banishes Blues stats spectre
Dec 29 2009 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
IT WAS a statistic which hovered hauntingly over Everton like the ghosts of 52 Christmases past. Had the Blues failed to beat Burnley at Goodison, they would have equalled their worst ever home run since 1957 – going without a win for nine games
After so many positives during his reign, it is not the sort of entry in Everton’s history books David Moyes would have wanted associated with his tenure. Thankfully, that hovering spectre was banished by a ghost buster who has sometimes seemed destined to become a mere footnote in Everton’s history himself. James Vaughan became the youngest ever Everton goalscorer when he netted as a 16-year-old against Crystal Palace in 2005. He has suffered endlessly since as injuries, injuries and more injuries have ravaged his young body. Crucially though whenever he has fleetingly reappeared, his attitude has always been beyond reproach. Vaughan may well have had some dark nights of the soul when he doubted if he would ever fulfil his own promise, but he carries himself without a hint of self-pity. Pleasingly for the Everton manager Vaughan’s inner belief is in keeping with the rest of the squad.
The Toffees have taken more points from the last ten minutes of games than any other sides in the premier league this season, and their never-say-die spirit served them well against Owen Coyle’s Burnley. Much had been said beforehand about Everton’s need to rediscover their killer instinct. Too often teams had been mauled to near-breaking point only then to be spared by consistently slack finishing. They started against Burnley in a similar full-throttle vein as against Birmingham and Sunderland, dominating possession and passing neatly. Yakubu was looking like he meant business in his last league game before he departs for the African Cup of Nations, and deserved a penalty when Michael Duff handled his shot in Burnley’s box.
Howard Webb waved away Everton’s protests and no doubt tested Moyes resolve before the game to stay cool in the face of official’s blunders. Everton then survived a scare against the run of play when Lucas Neill and Tim Howard suffered crossed wires, and the Aussie headed weakly under pressure to David Nugent. Then Tim Cahill broke, carried the ball for 20 yards and slid in Pienaar whose cross was uncharacteristically poor. Bilyaletdinov looked lively and linked up cutely with Osman moments after, only for the little midfielder to miss narrowly. At the other end, Burnley suddenly threatened again; first forcing a corner and then Andre Bikey swivelled and fired a volley at Howard which was blocked, before Chris Eagles sent a stinging long range effort at the American. But Everton were pouring forward at will and unsettling Burnley’s back four. Lucas Neill charged forward and set up yet another chance for the Blues which went begging. Then Bilyaletdinov nearly opened the scoring, firing low at Jensen before Baines broke into the box from a Yak flick on. The untaken chances were piling up ominously, and it seemed like a repeat of the home stalemate against Birmingham was on the cards. As the clock ticked down to half time, yet more Everton possession this time saw Osman find John Heitinga only for the Dutch international to fire over from 15 yards. That elusive killer instinct still seemed in hiding. Chris Eagles seemed Burnley’s most threatening asset, and he drifted a shot wide of Howard’s left hand post as Burnley broke early in the second period. Then a surging run by Yakubu at the other end saw the Nigerian upended, and from the resultant free kick John Heitinga rifled a daisy cutter which beat the wall but travelled straight to Jensen. It was one in a series of weak set pieces which have afflicted the blues recently. And the problem with not taking your chances is that you can be stung, and Toffees supporters feared the worst when one of their own in David Nugent hit the post with a turn and shot at the Park End. With half an hour left, Goodison welcomed back skipper Phil Neville for the injured Tim Cahill, and Neville was only on the pitch for a few minutes when the Blues got a potentially match-defining opportunity. Stephen Jordan, who had already been booked, tried to rip off Pienaar’s shirt and was dismissed by Howard Webb. It was Jordan’s second career dismissal at Goodison Park, and gave the Blues even less excuse for not taking the three points on offer. Michael Duff became the seventh Burnley player to be booked for tripping Bilyaletdinov on the edge of the box in prime free kick territory.
Baines’ curling effort was headed behind for a corner, and then the left-back was slipped in via a quick one-two with Pienaar but his low shot was parried. What Burnley might lack in flair, they make up for in heart and were defending heroically.
So Moyes chose to give fresh and willing legs a go and unleashed James Vaughan.
It reaped instant reward, as Pienaar and Fellaini conspired to fire low across the Burnley goal, and with Yakubu wrong footed Vaughan pounced – side footing home at the far post. If anyone deserved his moment it was Vaughan, and he wheeled away after scoring his first goal in two years pointing to the heavens. Everton made the result a formality in stoppage time, Yakubu leaving for the African Cup of Nations on a high by threading a lovely pass through for Steven Pienaar to finish with aplomb.
The result may have avoided an unwelcome historical record, but more importantly it had an immediate impact on Everton’s present. Suddenly rocketed away from the drop-zone, they now sit in 11th. It is one of football’s most abiding clichés that a single win can make all the difference to a team’s fortunes. But with their home voodoo toppled a clean sheet and a moment to savour for a young man with so much promise, who would now rule out another charge towards the top five?
EVERTON: Howard, Hibbert, Heitinga, Neill, Baines, Fellaini Cahill (sub Neville), Bilyaletdinov (Vaughan), Pienaar, Osman, Yakubu. Subs: Nash, Vaughan, Neville, Coleman, Duffy, Agard, Baxter.
BURNLEY: Jensen, Alexander, Duff, McDonald, Fletcher (sub Thompson), Elliott, Mears, Bikey, Nugent (sub Kalvenes), Jordan, Eagles. Subs: Penny, Kalvenes, Gudjonsson, Edgar, Blake, Thompson, Guerrero.
Ref: Howard Webb
Attendance: 39, 419
James Vaughan dedicates Everton comeback goal to his late grandmother
Dec 29 2009 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
JAMES VAUGHAN today revealed how he dedicated his first Everton goal in two years to his late grandmother who helped him stay positive during his injury nightmare. Vaughan scored the first of Everton’s two goals against Burnley at Goodison, and celebrated by pointing to the sky and kissing a tattoo on his wrist which he had done in honour of Margaret, who died two months ago. The 21-year-old’s goal helped Everton take a vital three points from the game, and saw them move up three places in the table to 11th. He said: “She passed away a few months ago and I had a tattoo to commemorate her because she was a massive part of my life, and she was the one who instigated me to keep going with my football. “She was one of my biggest supporters so I was glad to pay my last respects to her in that way.” Vaughan has only recently returned to the first team squad after a string of injuries that plagued his early career and he said: “It’s been frustrating but like I’ve always said, injuries happen and mine have just all come early in my career. “I’ve had great people around me who’ve kept me going at the club and my friends and family have been superb.”
Vaughan also insisted he has both the mental strength and ability, to recapture the form which saw him touted as one of the best young strikers in the league when he broke into Everton’s first team three years ago. He said: “I’ve never doubted I could come back. I will give 100% every time I step on the pitch, that’s all I can do and whatever happens happens. “At the end of the day the goal was a tap in but all you can do is be in the right place at the right time. It was a great team goal and we deserved the three points. “I’ve been gradually getting more and more time on the pitch. I’d almost forgotten what it feels like to put the ball in the back of the net but I’m just relieved it’s out of the way now. “You see how many places that win has put us up the table. There is a lot of football to be played yet this season and hopefully we can go on and make an impact in the league. “You can never rule us out of carrying on up the table. We’ve got the players in our dressing room to beat almost anyone on our day and this will give us the confidence to go forwards.” Vaughan had to curtail a loan stint at Derby County earlier this season when injury struck again, and David Moyes has since resisted the option to send him back on loan. But the striker said he is willing to rejoin Derby to further his ambitions with the Toffees. He said: “I will do whatever it takes to get back into the Everton first team and if that means going out on loan I’d be glad to do that. “I had a great time at Derby and they made me feel very welcome.”
David Moyes delighted for Everton goal hero James Vaughan
Dec 29 2009 Liverpool Echo
Everton boss David Moyes hailed injury-plagued James Vaughan’s goalscoring return to the side as the Toffees hauled themselves away from the relegation dogfight.
Birmingham-born Vaughan has fought his way back into the frame after seeing more than two years of his career ruined by serious injuries. And on only his third substitute appearance of the season yesterday, Vaughan put Everton ahead within seconds of coming on to set up a 2-0 home win over Burnley. Everton grabbed a second in injury time through Steven Pienaar to leave Burnley still searching for their first away league win of the season. Moyes said: “I am really pleased for James. He has had a terrible time with injuries for more than two years now. “This time he has come back without even a reserve run-out. He has missed so much of his development, we are just trying to nurse him through to get him back to what he was like as an outstanding teenager.”
Vaughan has suffered serious knee and shoulder injuries and had not scored since a UEFA Cup tie in December 2007 against AZ Alkmaar. His last league goal was against Chelsea in May the same year Yesterday’s game had been a close affair until Burnley had full-back Stephen Jordan sent off with half an hour left for a second bookable offence. And furious Burnley boss Owen Coyle insisted that Everton’s breakthrough goal from Vaughan should not have been allowed. It looked as if Ayegbeni Yakubu was standing in an offside position in front of Burnley goalkeeper Brian Jensen and blocking the Dane’s view. Coyle said: “Yakubu was definitely offside in front of Jensen, he is a big lad and our keeper could not see the play. Jensen stuck out a foot but Yakubu was clearly interfering with play. “Howard Webb is a good referee and he was in no position to see it, but he should expect to get assistance from his linesman who could surely see where the Everton player was standing when the ball went into the net. “It influenced the game. I just want fair decisions and that was not fair.” Coyle had little complaint about Jordan’s red card, though, saying: “He will learn from that, he made the referee’s decision for him having already been booked. “He will learn that in that situation you do not pull someone back, you let it go and don’t get yourself booked again.”
Ex-Everton assistant boss Alan Irvine sacked by Preston North End
Dec 29 2009
Preston have sacked manager Alan Irvine - little more than six months after he guided them into the Coca-Cola Championship play-offs. The former Everton assistant boss has won many admirers since being appointed at Deepdale in November 2007 and they claimed a top-six finish last season. Yet the Lancashire outfit have struggled badly in recent weeks and chairman Derek Shaw decided to swing the axe after yesterday’s 1-0 loss at Sheffield United left North End with just one win in their last 10 league outings. Shaw said: “The decision was not taken lightly. "Alan did an extremely good job in keeping us in the Championship and took us to the play-offs last season. “However, after a good start to the 2009/10 campaign we have only picked up seven points from a possible 30 since our last away victory against Sheffield Wednesday on October 20. “In that period we have only scored six goals and that sort of record is not something we could allow to continue without addressing it.”mfl 2 SOCCER Preston Preston lie 16th in the Championship - eights points from both the play-off places and relegation zone - and operate with one of the smallest budgets in the division. They face Colchester at home in the FA Cup third round on Saturday. Shaw, who is currently putting together an interim management team for that game, paid tribute to Irvine for his efforts. “I would like to place on record the club’s sincere thanks to Alan for his efforts in his time here,” he said. “We will make further comment and announce who is in charge for the weekend’s FA Cup tie later this week.”
Mikel Arteta hopes injury hell will be over in two months: Everton FC latest
Dec 30, 2010 by James Pearce, Liverpool
MIKEL ARTETA believes it could be another two months before he can join Phil Neville and James Vaughan in the Everton comeback camp. The Basque star now looks like spending an entire year on the sidelines after suffering knee ligament damage during his side's goalless draw against Newcastle United in February.
A setback ruled out an expected return in October and although the 27-year-old is back in training, he does no expect to be in contention for several weeks.
“For the past few days I have been able to run at a good rhythm and I am starting to train with the rest of the squad,” said Arteta. “I don't have pain in my knee. I expect to be back on the pitch in less than two months.” The former Real Sociedad star admits he cannot wait to help his faltering side. “It has been hell,” he said. “I would spend eight to 10 hours a day just dedicated to recuperating. I was obsessed. But now, fortunately, I can say that everything is going well and all I want is to be with my team-mates and help the team.” Meanwhile PHIL NEVILLE has revealed his delight after enjoying a successful return to action. The Everton skipper made his comeback from injury as a substitute in Monday’s 2-0 win over Burnley at Goodison Park.
It was Neville’s first appearance since he suffered knee ligament damage at Fulham back in September and he came through the 30-minute run out unscathed.
Now the 32-year-old midfielder is hoping to line up against Carlisle United in the third round of the FA Cup on Saturday. “The knee feels great,” Neville said. “I had only trained for a couple of days before Monday so for me to actually be back involved was a little bit of a miracle. “It was the biggest injury I've had in my career and I'm just thankful now that I'm back on the pitch doing what I enjoy most, playing football, and helping out the players and playing in front of those great fans.”
It’s been a long road back to fitness for Neville, who had to undergo surgery on torn cartilage last month, and he believes he owes a major debt of gratitude to the club’s medical team. “I’ve been working really hard and we’re lucky here at Everton that we’ve got unbelievable medical staff,” he added. I know they've probably had the worst spate of injuries ever, but we have got the best medical staff and we’re in the best possible hands. “The icing on the cake was going out there on Monday and enjoying us winning, which we needed to do.” Neville admitted he feared it was going to end in another frustrating stalemate as Everton struggled to find a breakthrough against a Clarets side reduced to 10 men following the dismissal of defender Stephen Jordan. However, late goals from James Vaughan and Steven Pienaar ensured the Blues ended a run of eight home games without a win. “It looked as if it was going to be one of those days,” Neville said. “I think the game at Sunderland was like that and the game before against Birmingham was like that. “I think we probably need a little bit more composure and quality in the final third. And if we get that we're going to run up a cricket score because on Monday we were worthy winners. “We controlled large parts of the game, and if we had converted our chances then we would have won by a much bigger margin.”
Everton v Carlisle: Beware the ghosts of Christmas past!
Dec 30, 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool
THE Cumbrians are coming!
But while Carlisle United will arrive at Goodison Park on Saturday hoping to cost David Moyes a few grey hairs and perhaps a headache or two, their first visit to Everton 35 years ago this month cost the Blues much, much more. The proud, but unheralded soccer outpost was the unlikely club which cost Everton the league title in 1974/75. In the days of two points for a win, Everton missed out on the Championship by three points – and they were beaten home and away by the team which finished rock bottom of the First Division table, Carlisle United. What made it worse was that Everton had actually led the Goodison clash 2-0 – and still lost. The man who scored the matchwinner at Goodison Park, Carlisle midfielder Les O’Neill, recalls the day as if it were yesterday. “You have to remember that playing in the First Division was a massive thing for Carlisle United so I remember it really clearly,” said Les, a scout for Queens Park Rangers these days. “To get there in the first place was a wonderful achievement and it sticks out as the high point in my career. “Going to places like Goodison Park, Anfield and Old Trafford is something I’ll never forget.
“As for that goal, of course I remember it. It was a header and I’m only five feet six inches tall! “I played midfield but was always likely to get one or two goals and I always set a target every season of double figures. “We were two-nil down in that game but what I remember is that Everton were a really good footballing team and we liked to play football, too, so they let us play. “We used to allow teams to play against us, but Everton allowed us to play as well. “It was a really good football game and because visits to grounds like that were new to us we actually looked forward to it. Instead of playing in front eight or 9,000 at Brunton Park we were playing in front of 30, 40 and 50 thousand fans and we loved the experience. “The atmosphere at Goodison that day was fantastic. The noise when we ran out was incredible and the crowd at Everton was really fair. “If you played good football they appreciated it and they appreciated the fact that we weren’t such a bad side. “We had a group of players who had a real togetherness and spirit.” The Everton unit built by Billy Bingham was also useful, although lacking in one or two vital components to create a titlr winning side. An effective, if largely uncharismatic side, British transfer record signings Bob Latchford and Martin Dobson had helped take the Blues to the summit of the First Division the week before Christmas 1974. Just seven days earlier a Latchford header had given the Blues victory at eventual champions Derby on the infamous Baseball Ground quagmire and Blues fans scented success. Then came Carlisle.
“Every one of us had a ground we wanted to visit that season,” added O’Neill. “For me it was St James’ Park because I’d started my career at Newcastle, but we all really looked forward to going to Goodison. “We were two-nil down but we were still playing very well and got back to 2-2. “I rememeber the winning goal so clearly. Chris Balderstone picked up the ball on the right and I’d seen him do this same move so many times before. “If Chris had an extra yard of pace he would have been a top, top player, but as it was he was still very good and when he got possession I knew he’d take the full-back on and try and get the cross in to the near post. “Chris had so much ability that he wouldn’t just sling the ball in, he could pick you out, and I knew if I could get ahead of my man to the near post he would pick me out. “That’s exactly what happened, I got my head on it, scored and we won 3-2.” As if to underline their jinx status, Carlisle entertained Everton at Brunton Park in March, with Everton clinging on to title hopes that were beginning to falter. The Cumbrians won 3-0 for a result that was even more startling than the Goodison Park success had been.
O’Neill isn’t entertaining thoughts of such a shock this weekend, though.
Carlisle drew 0-0 at Tranmere last Saturday to stay 15th in League One, and O’Neill added: “I am still involved as a scout for QPR and I’ve seen Carlisle a couple of times this season. “Earlier in the season they were playing well but not scoring enough goals, but now they are posing more of a threat. “The striker, Vince Pericard, is a handful. “But you know that any side David Moyes sends out will have a real work ethic and that should be enough to ensure their greater quality comes through.
“But you never know. We’ve done it once before . . “
Complacency cost Everton dear in 1974 recalls Roger Kenyon
ROGER KENYON was the Everton skipper who would have lifted the League Championship trophy in 1975 had Everton seen through their early season promise.
In addition to Carlisle’s double whammy, the Blus also lost 2-1 at relegated Luton with four games of the campaign to go. Then after hopes briefly flickered again with a 1-0 win at Newcastle, the Blues led Sheffield United 2-0 at Goodison Park, lost 3-2 and title hopes were extinguished for good – for another decade in fact.
Kenyon has a rueful reflection of that Carlisle clash in December 1974. “I think it was probably a little bit of complacency more than anything else,” he explained.
“We were two-nil up, Carlisle were struggling at the wrong end of the division and we switched off mentally. “We probably thought we were going to win five or six, but they were a good footballing team and kept going. “They had that cricketer playing for them, (Chris Balderstone) and they caught us cold. “Those two games against Carlisle cost us the league.” A tale Kenyon recalled underlined Everton’s dominance in the early part of that 1974/75 title race. “I remember being away on England duty, when Don Revie called a huge squad get together,” recalled Kenyon. “I was sat with Alan Ball, Malcolm MacDonald and Alan Hudson. “All three of them said ‘You’ve won it easily’ and whilst secretly I agreed with them I didn’t want to sound too big-headed so I just said “Oh I don’t know, there’s a bit to do yet.’ “Unfortunately I was right.”
Kenyon has no such fears about the modern Everton coming a cropper at Goodison Park on Saturday, however. “I don’t think complacency will be an issue this time,” he added. “Everton are just starting to play well again, we got a good point at Sunderland on Boxing day and the victory over Burnley on Monday was very welcome.
“It was important that we won that game to just end all the talk about us having some sort of jinx at Goodison this season. “We’re starting to pull up the league and an FA Cup run as well would be a real confidence booster. “Just as long as we don’t start thinking we’ve got it won if we go two-nil up!”
Holland international John Heitinga happily settling in at Goodison: Everton FC latest
Dec 31 2009 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
JOHN HEITINGA believes he is happily settling into his role with Everton after a turbulent start to his Toffees career. The Dutch international swapped Spanish giants Athletico Madrid for a club who had achieved back-to-back fifth place finishes in the premier league and reached an FA Cup final. He hoped the Blues would make an early charge for this season’s top five after his £6m move, but has instead been pitched into a stuttering campaign. The 26-year-old has been asked to play in various positions, from right-back to central midfield, by David Moyes as he tries to manage an injury ravaged squad. Now he is forging an ever-improving central defence partnership with fellow summer recruit Lucas Neill, and after the Blues’ recent run of undefeated games he feels things are on the up. He said: “It’s difficult for me because when I joined they had just finished fifth the previous two seasons. It’s not easy of course with all the teams in the Premier League to finish every year in that place.
“Since I’m here we’ve been missing so many players and I’ve already played so many positions in the team and I hope we can get more settled in the future. “With or big players starting to return soon I know we can go on and do well this season.”
Meanwhile, Yakubu has joined up with the Nigeria squad ahead of this month's African Cup of Nations. The striker, who is the only fit Nigerian in the Everton squad at present, has left for Angola where the Super Eagles will take on Mozambique, Benin and Egypt in Group C, starting on January 12. He said: “If we keep giving our best on the pitch and working for each other we can achieve something. “We are playing three tough teams in the group and it's not going to be easy. But we will give it our best and hopefully it will be our year to win the Cup.” Now fully fit again, the 27-year-old wants to use the Cup of Nations to rediscover his goal scoring touch, having registered just twice for Everton so far this campaign. He said: “I think at the moment my fitness is good and I'm 100 per cent okay. That is good and hopefully I will start scoring goals for my country and carry it on for Everton when I get back from Angola.” Yakubu will return to Merseyside immediately after Nigeria’s exit from the competition. If they reach the final, that game is on January 31.
Rollercoaster of Wembley highs to crippling lows - the Everton year in pictures
Dec 31 2009 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
IT has been a year of dazzling highs – from a Wembley cup final via a dramatic derby success, to frustrating lows as injuries bit deep into Everton's squad. As ever, there was never a dull moment. If supporters weren't plotting a way to get to places like Borisov and Athens, they were learning the various ways a player's cruciate knee ligament can go wrong. Here Everton writer Greg O’Keeffe picks his favourite images which illustrated the Blues’ 2009...
PHIL Jagielka wheels away in a victory lap propelled by relief and delight in equal measures, after tucking away the penalty which saw Everton overcome Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-final on April 19. The Blues had a worrying start to the shoot-out with Tim Cahill blasting his kick over the bar, but Tim Howard saved Dimitar Berbatov’s tame effort to give them hope. Then conversions from Phil Neville against his old club and James Vaughan steadied nerves before Jags’ big moment. The centre-back had been immense all season, but perhaps recalled his saved penalty against Fiorentina which contributed to Everton bowing out of the UEFA Cup the season before. Yet from the moment he planted the ball purposefully on the spot, there was ice-water flowing through the Yorkshireman’s veins. Jags made sure with a faultless spot-kick. Cue mayhem in the stands and massive grins amid the euphoria when the theme from Z Cars blared out over the Wembley PA.
It was a flitting, happy moment for the England centre-half before missing the final through injury. That he hasn’t played since, adds a poignant edge.
AT FIRST it seemed so innocuous. Mikel Arteta took a gentle tumble without an opposition player in sight as the Blues fought out a draw against Newcastle United on Tyneside. But then the look on his face. Sheer, searing agony as the Spaniard grasped for his knee unaware then that the fall and twist had shredded his cruciate knee ligament. It was the injury no professional footballer would wish on another. One which has haunted Michael Owen and a host of other big names. That it should befall Everton’s star player and creative heart-beat was enough to depress supporters. That it should then deprive them of their inspirational centre-back Phil Jagielka too, was beyond frustrating. Arteta’s recovery has been fraught with set-backs and he approaches 10 months out of the game next month. How supporters long to see the sparkling skills of the player they call the best little Spaniard they know light-up the Premier League again.
IT has been a year of dazzling highs – from a Wembley cup final via a dramatic derby success, to frustrating lows as injuries bit deep into Everton's squad. As ever, there was never a dull moment. If supporters weren't plotting a way to get to places like Borisov and Athens, they were learning the various ways a player's cruciate knee ligament can go wrong. Here Everton writer Greg O’Keeffe picks his favourite images which illustrated the Blues’ 2009...
THE third of three FA Cup fourth round games against city rivals Liverpool in two weeks. Two had previously ended in stalemate. In injury time, this was getting to boiling point. As Goodison howled and urged the Blues onwards, teenager Dan Gosling swung a boot and sent a shot arrowing at Pepe Reina’s goal.
A crucial deflection carried it past Reina into the Park End net and signalled pandemonium. Gosling’s status in Everton’s history books was irrevocably changed. As he raced away to slide to his knees in celebration, Leighton Baines gave chase.
Meanwhile, viewers outside Goodison were livid. ITV had mistakenly switched to an ad break for Tic Tacs and missed the winning strike! SEA of blue descended on Wembley for the 2009 FA Cup final. Everton’s opponents Chelsea may wear the same colour shirts, but it was tempting to wonder if Everton were playing their own reserves, such was the number of Toffees who swarmed into London.
Some fans dressed as blue smurfs to celebrate with full body paint. Others wore David Moyes face masks, like this dejected young fan after Everton’s dream had finally wilted in the baking sun of May. IF ONE player seized the chance to make his name amidst the terrain of Everton’s injury-ravaged midfield this year, it was Jack Rodwell.
The Birkdale teenager had already played for the Blues, making his debut as a 16-year-old substitute in the UEFA Cup in December 2007, but in 2009 he practically became a regular. Tall and athletic with a composure beyond his years, the academy graduate scored his first senior goal for Everton in February’s 3-1 win over Aston Villa to help secure a place in the last eight of the FA Cup. He committed his near future to the Blues by signing a five-year deal the next day, a fact which has not deterred rumour mongers or interested suitors like Manchester United or Chelsea.
The Jury: Everton FC fans reflects on the Blues fortunes in 2009
Dec 31 2009 Liverpool Echo
TONY SCOTT, Walton
I REMEMBER at some stage last season, some so-called Everton experts, fans, journalists and radio commentators twisting the knife into our record signing’s performances. Step forward the giant shadow figure of Marouane Felliani.
He has been undoubtedly Everton’s best player this season shrugging off any suggestions he can’t cope in the Premier League. I’ve defended the big Belgian on more than one occasion this year, and still stand by my decision that we are lucky to have him. It also seems to be totally ignored that the 22-year-old was our top scorer last year in his first season. The Premier League is poor and with a couple of decent results you will be back up there again. With the majority of our players now back from injury, we cannot afford any more slip-ups or excuses.
RICHARD KNIGHTS, West Derby
LOOKING back, it’s been a year of two halves – fifth place and the FA Cup final, followed by all those horrendous injuries that have decimated the team.
Burnley, worst away record in the Premier League and yet even against 10 men we laboured to score. How many shots were yards wide or hit the corner flag?
It was great to see James Vaughan back, hungry to play. The main worry is players struggling for form. We know Tim Cahill is playing through an injury, but he looks a shadow of the player from previous seasons. Come on Tim! The FA Cup game against Carlisle is the kind of easy fixture that has turned into a kind of pratfall from You’ve Been Framed – Port Vale, Shrewsbury, Oldham. Let’s hope Phil Neville will be back to steady the ship.
RICHARD KNIGHTS, West Derby
LOOKING back, it’s been a year of two halves – fifth place and the FA Cup final, followed by all those horrendous injuries that have decimated the team.
Burnley, worst away record in the Premier League and yet even against 10 men we laboured to score. How many shots were yards wide or hit the corner flag?
It was great to see James Vaughan back, hungry to play. The main worry is players struggling for form. We know Tim Cahill is playing through an injury, but he looks a shadow of the player from previous seasons. Come on Tim! The FA Cup game against Carlisle is the kind of easy fixture that has turned into a kind of pratfall from You’ve Been Framed – Port Vale, Shrewsbury, Oldham. Let’s hope Phil Neville will be back to steady the ship.
DAVID WALLBANK, Huyton
FINALLY, three points at Goodison – and it was overdue.
I think the Burnley result probably flattered us, but previous games at home have seen us play much better football but sadly come away with only a point or less.
It was great to see James Vaughan come back with a goal, but I am sure he already knows the hard work begins now; he needs to regain match fitness and try to win a place in the team. It was also fantastic to see the return of Phil Neville, who instantly added calm to the side and in my opinion made the rest of the team up their game.
Carlisle arrive on Saturday for the third round of the FA Cup – that shouldn’t be too much trouble. Let’s remember our run last year and let that motivate us to victory.
Arsenal and Man City follow in the next few weeks – I’d settle with four points from these two games, as you can see signs that we’re starting to grow in confidence.
Merseyside Sport Review of 2009: Distant days when the city went springing towards glory
Dec 31, 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
IT was a year of two halves. The first half brought near misses for Everton and Liverpool, but the promise of better things to come. The second half, well . . . let’s just say 2010 can’t come quick enough.
But that was only on the football field. In gymnastics, boxing and basketball Merseyside enjoyed a glittering year. Here’s the words and pictures which made up 2009.
LEST auld acquaintance be forgot . . . some hope! Everton and Liverpool kicked off the New Year with a trio of derbies – after Dave Beasant’s giant hands plucked out the first FA Cup derby for 18 years from the FA’s drum. Before the first of the Mersey clashes could kick-off though, Rafa kicked off on Fergie. As he spoke at a Melwood press conference, he had in his hand a piece of paper. But it was all-out war rather than “peace for our time” that it promised. Alex Ferguson said: “There’s no doubt they will get nervous.”Rafa responded with a series of “facts” – criticising Alex Ferguson’s lack of respect for officials, the FA and the fixture planners.
When Everton secured successive draws at Anfield, in Premier League and then Cup, the pundits claimed Ferguson had won the psychological battle.
Jermaine Pennant left Anfield to move on-loan to Portsmouth. Off the football field Everton Tigers claimed their first domestic title, lifting the BBL Cup by blitzing Plymouth Raiders at the NIA Arena in Birmingham.
QUOTES OF THE MONTH
“It does now seem as if certain individuals are determined to ruin Everton Football Club.” An Everton official after Liverpool City Council rejected planning permission to build on the site of Bellefield. There was worse to follow later in the year.
“Robbie Keane does not want to leave Liverpool. When he signed for Liverpool last summer he said it was his dream move.” A well meaning pal of the soon to be Spurs’ bound striker. “You could say he is our La Vision de Oro.” Everton chairman Bill Kenwright shows off his master of tongues in comparing Mikel Arteta to The Golden Vision. “It might be Everton’s turn this year to win the FA Cup, who knows? I’ve got a sneaking feeling for them. They just need a little bit of luck.” Like his Everton managerial career, Gordon Lee nearly got it right, but not quite. “Rafa is going to be manager of Liverpool for the next five years. and we’ll work through these little lawyer issues.” Tom Hicks after Rafael Benitez had rejected a contract offer because of the lack of overall control offered. IT was a year of two halves. The first half brought near misses for Everton and Liverpool, but the promise of better things to come. The second half, well . . . let’s just say 2010 can’t come quick enough.
THE month opened with one striker in and one striker out on Merseyside.
Jo arrived at Everton on loan from Manchester City, but Robbie Keane’s return to Spurs barely six months after his dream move to Anfield created even more shock waves. “Sometimes good players cannot settle down in the team and when this happens you have to consider the situation and try to react quickly,” explained Rafa Benitez. Jo settled very quickly kicking off with a brace against Bolton.
But the most seismic strike of the month came from the right boot of an unheralded youngster. “All week I had been saying to people that if I got on, I was going to score. Honestly!” said Dan Gosling after a 119th minute winner in the FA Cup derby match replay. The only downside for Dan was that ITV had elected to go to a Tic Tac commercial seconds before his winner and the moment was missed by millions of armchair fans. It wasn’t clear if Victor Anichebe was one of them. He had been ordered home from training on the eve of the FA Cup replay after reacting badly to David Moyes’ decision to block a loan move to Hull City. But he was back in an injury hit squad for the fifth round clash with Aston Villa, where he made up with an outstanding performance. Jack Rodwell opened the scoring with his first senior goal, and celebrated afterwards too with the award of a five-year contract.
But there was grimmer news elsewhere for Evertonians. Mikel Arteta’s seemingly innocuous tumble at St James’ Park resulted in a ruptured cruciate ligament. Anichebe was also left injured by Kevin Nolan’s les than innocuous challenge. Neither has played a match since. On an odd afternoon rumours swept Madrid that Benitez was on the brink of quitting Anfield. “I’m telling you, he’s said his goodbyes at Melwood,” was the tone of many callers to the Echo office. It was merely the kind of rumour this city specialises in And after Liverpool ended Real Madrid’s spectacular run of nine wins in a row with a Yossi Benayoun header there was even less chance of him going.
One Anfield stalwart who was going, however, was Rick Parry, who announced his exit – effective from at the end of the season. The Echo reported Peter Johnson’s return as Tranmere chairman, taking over from Lorraine Rogers, while boxer Carl Dilks was robbed of his perfect record in the Sky TV Prizefighter ring after the judges had added up a split decision incorrectly.
IT was a year of two halves. The first half brought near misses for Everton and Liverpool, but the promise of better things to come. The second half, well . . . let’s just say 2010 can’t come quick enough.
IF Liverpool’s Premier League ambitions appeared to have ended at the end of February on Teesside – “Masters in Madrid, miserable in Middlesbrough” wrote Tony Barrett – they were spectacularly revived in March. The Reds recorded 2-0, 4-0, 4-1 and 5-0 victories over Sunderland, Real Madrid, Manchester United and Aston Villa and Rafa Benitez signed a new five-year deal to seal “the perfect end to a perfect week.” Tranmere closed in on a play-off place with victory over Swindon, while Everton were celebrating too in a magnificent March for all of our clubs. David Moyes was named manager of the month for February and Phil Jagielka the Barclays Player of the Month – and 14 years of Wembley hurt was ended when headers by Louis Saha and Marouane Fellaini saw Middlesbrough beaten 2-1 in a nervy FA Cup quarter-final. Sami Hyypia and Bill Kenwright showed their charitable side, Hyypia making a £23,000 donation to a hospital charity appeal at Arrowe Park, while Bill Kenwright helped towards the cost of bringing murder victim Gary Dunne’s body back home from Spain. But the Cheshire police acted less than charitably when they arrested Victor Anichebe out shopping in Knutsford for “acting suspiciously”.
Those “suspicious” actions were window shopping, on crutches, outside a jewellers.
“At the time I asked the officers if they would have taken the action they did had I been white rather than black,” complained an understandably irritated Anichebe.
Leighton Baines capped a good week for the Blues with a call-up to a provisional 30-man England squad, Fran Halsall set a new British record in the swimming pool in the 50m freestyle and Paul Smith secured the WBA International super-middle crown beating Rashid ‘Snakeboy’ Matumla in six minutes. But the boxing story of the month, certainly the year and possibly the decade came at the Echo Arena on March 28 when Tony Quigley was crowned Cock of the Dock after a stunning 12 round war with Tony Dodson. Dodson was ahead on points in their British super-middleweight contest when Quigley stopped his opponent to earn the title ‘Cinderella Man’.
QUOTES OF THE MONTH
“Galloping Major, Alfredo di Stefano, Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham . . . your boys took one hell of a beating” Echo comment on Liverpool’s 4-0 demolition of Real Madrid “Are you Madrid in disguise?”
The Echo’s page one headline after a 4-1 win at Old Trafford
HE’S won it five times! Steven Gerrard scoops the Barclays Player of the Month award for an unprecedented fifth time – but that was anything like as much a shock as what happened at Aintree in April. Record breaking crowd of 70,130 saw Mon Mome become only the fifth 100-1 winner, leading home Mike Torpey’s tip, Comply Or Die.
It was a remarkable month on the football field. Chelsea won 3-1 at Anfield in the first leg of Champions League quarter-final, after which Fabio Aurelio vowed: “It’s not over yet!” But even he couldn’t have contemplated the stunning drama at Stamford Bridge Just 24 hours before the 20th anniversary of the Hillsborough tragedy Liverpool fought out an epic 4-4 draw at Chelsea, and Pepe Reina declared the players were inspired by 96 souls. Sadly Charles Itandje was less inspired and his inappropriate behaviour at the Hillsborough Memorial Service effectively spelled the end of his brief Liverpool career. Bizarrely Liverpool shared another eight goals in their very next match, this time against Arsenal at Anfield, and in another stunning development Rafa Benitez exclusively revealed to the Echo that he wanted Kenny Dalglish back at Anfield. Across the park, Everton made a comeback of their own – returning to Wembley for an FA Cup final for the first time in 14 years. The Blues beat Manchester United 4-2 on penalties on a magical afternoon for Evertonians in a Wembley FA Cup semi-final. Tim Howard was the hero with two crucial stops, while Phil Jagielka kept his cool to dispatch the winning kick. Sadly for Jagielka, the sweetest of months very quickly turned sour when he became the latest Goodison star to sustain serious injury, rupturing his cruciate knee ligament just six days later.
Beth Tweddle claimed two golds at the European Championships in Milan and Gary Davies won the vacant British bantamweight title with a seventh round stoppage of Matthew Edmonds.
* DON'T MISS Part Two, May to August, in tomorrow's ECHO
Everton FC young gun Kieran Agard wanted by Hearts
Dec 31 2009 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON striker Kieran Agard could be set for a loan move to Scottish premier league side Hearts. Hearts boss Csaba Laszlo revealed that he is considering signing the striker on a short-term deal next month. Former Manchester United and Rangers midfielder Bojan Djordjic may also be on Laszlo’s radar after revealing he was aware of interest from the Tynecastle club. Laszlo, who is also looking to wrap up loan deals for strikers Izale McLeod and Steven MacLean this week, told the Edinburgh Evening News: “In the last couple of days, we have brought two players here and we must make a decision about this. "Then we have one month to do something.
“Agard is still in my mind, and we also have other names who wish to come to us.”
Agard, 20, broke into the Everton first team this season, making his first senior start in this month’s Europa League win at BATE Borisov. Agard started in the Arsenal youth team before moving to Everton in the 2005–06 season. He played for the club's Under-18 team, before moving into the reserves, becoming the reserve team player of the year in 2008–09 His first team debut came in the 4–0 away win at Hull City in September’s Carling Cup tie. He made his premier league debut against Chelsea coming on in stoppage time. Agard is eligible to play for the English, Jamaican, Dominican and St. Vincent national football teams. The Blues have already allowed another young striker Lukas Jutkiewicz to move to Scottish side Motherwell on loan earlier this season, along with goalkeeper John Ruddy. Motherwell boss Jim Gannon has stated his intention to try and keep hold the pair, who have enjoyed successful stints. Ruddy, who saved his second penalty of the season during this month’s defeat by Celtic, has been instrumental in Motherwell's promising campaign.
Jutkiewicz has netted seven goals in his last nine Clydesdale Bank Premier League games. Gannon said: "They have all really enjoyed their time. They are all in the situation where I think they are unlikely to play for their parent club. There may well be interest in all three from other clubs. “Then the player has to decide whether to go back to his club, stay here or go to the third party."