Royal Blue: Mirallas has had to work hard for his popularity
1 Feb 2014 Liverpool Echo
Belgian finally hits right note with fans
Liverpool FC v Everton FC in the Barclays Premier League at Anfield. Kevin Mirallas shows his support for Bryan Oviedo at the final whistle. Pic Andrew Teebay.
Everton FC supporters have seen various different sides of Kevin Mirallas since he signed from Olympiakos in 2012. From fragile flair-man to fitful performer, he has rarely been anything short of entertaining, without ever quite becoming a bona fide hero of the Goodison faithful.
Liked, sure – but universally loved by Evertonians? Not quite. Whether it’s his penchant for gloves with short sleeves, or even the odd snood in training, he is admired frequently but not held in the same universal adoration as previous gifted midfielders like Mikel Arteta. However this season has marked something of an upturn in the Belgian’s approach which has not gone unnoticed.
Even before the signing of a genuine contender for his place on the right side of the Blues midfield in Aiden McGeady, the winger has been in flying form. But it’s not just Mirallas’ flashing feet and eye for goal. More importantly it’s his work-rate, commitment and refusal to give up – not qualities previously associated with him. If the Goodison derby back in November displayed a rare streak of aggression via that memorably mistimed challenge on Luis Suarez, it also showed his ability in front of goal when he pegged Liverpool back after their opener. Fast forward to an infinitely less enjoyable evening for the blue half of Merseyside on Tuesday, and one of the very few positives was the performance of the galvanised wide man. Mirallas didn’t stop, even when it was painfully clear Everton were going to have to swallow a seismic hiding. It wasn’t a one-off either. He was a committed worker against West Brom, and helped the Toffees stamp their class against Stevenage in the FA Cup. Evertonians have always prized skill and flair highly, but to truly take a player to their heart it has to be consistently matched with work-rate and character.
It was the human side of the 26-year-old which likely won over any lingering doubters in Hertfordshire last weekend. He was in tears at the shocking injury to close pal Bryan Oviedo and held the shocked defender’s hand as he was stretchered from the field.
Then, instead of psychologically folding, he carried on taking the fight to the League One club.
Mirallas had a vest made just in case he notched at Anfield which read ‘Oviedo Baby!’ in tribute to his pal.
Of course he never got to show it.
But if Roberto Martinez turns to him against Aston Villa today in the central striking role he can certainly fulfil, he may yet get to reveal his supportive message. And the applause from the Goodison gallery would be from a fan-base well on its way to being fully won over.
Skipper Phil impressed by city’s top class school
Phil Jagielka returned to his youth on Thursday when he visited one of the Everton Free School sites at City of Liverpool College to find out more about the opportunities it offers to young people across Merseyside. Jags had his own personal tour guide around the school in the form of Poppy, a former student who, with the help of the facility has turned her life around and has since gone on to achieve six GCSEs and is currently studying an apprenticeship with Everton in the Community focusing on social inclusion. The Blues skipper said: “I knew a bit of basic information about the Free School before I came but after looking around here today I’m blown away by the facilities that are on offer here to these young people and the high standards that are being displayed by everyone.
“Poppy is a brilliant advocate of the school and what you can achieve by coming here; she didn’t stop smiling all afternoon when we were re-visiting her old classrooms and tutors. Not everyone thrives in a traditional educational environment and a facility like this can help you find the right path to follow.”
Launched in September 2012 by Everton in the Community, the school caters for youngsters aged 14-19 who have become detached from traditional schooling.
Blues join mourners for funeral of great Collins
Everton were represented at the last farewell to former Blues and Scotland legend Bobby Collins.
Famous names such as Norman Hunter, Eddie Gray and Johnny Giles, all gathered at the funeral of one of football’s finest on Thursday.
Hundreds of mourners including ex-Blues FA Cup hero Derek Temple, former coach Jimmy Lumsden and media and publication manager Darren Griffiths, packed into Leeds Minster as they paid their respects to the man who graced Goodison before helping Leeds United’s ascent in the 60s.
Earlier, the City of Leeds Pipe Band played a piece of music called Highland Cathedral. Wreaths had been sent from Celtic and Everton among others. One bore a message from Bill Kenwright, saying: “Thank you Bobby for the wonderful memories.”
Everton FC: Roberto Martinez taking positives from derby day video nasty
1 Feb 2014Daily Post
By Neil Jones
And Toffees will bounce back in Saturday's Premier League clash against Aston Villa
The last thing any Evertonian wanted to do this week was watch a re-run of Tuesday night’s Merseyside derby. For Roberto Martinez and his staff, however, the video analysis is an integral part of the Blues’ preparations. Not an enjoyable part, but a necessary one. The Catalan sat his players down at Finch Farm on Wednesday and ran them through the worst 90 minutes of their season.
It was a far from explosive meeting, of course. No ranting, no raving, just a chance to learn, to improve and, hopefully, to move on. Quickly. “We always analyse any game, no matter what,” says Martinez. “It’s no different just because it was a derby. Every game is a unique opportunity to assess and to look back and to grow.” Positivity has been a feature of Martinez’s reign on Merseyside so far. He is, in many ways, the ultimate ‘glass half-full’ manager. A 4-0 defeat at the hands of your local rivals can dampen even the happiest of souls – but Martinez, though he may be alone in this, insists he still saw some positives at Anfield. He says: “I think if you look at the game, we were paid a big football compliment in that Liverpool were quite happy to play on the counter-attack and allow us to control the game. That was something we didn’t take advantage of. Maybe it made us feel a little bit uncomfortable. “I still think that we were always in the game. The character that we showed in adversity was good. “Conceding from a set piece and losing our striker straight away was a massive, massive blow, but I think it was a combination of aspects that we couldn’t really cope with. “The reality is that we need to learn, to understand what happened, and we need to make sure that we become a stronger side after that.” Martinez admitted he had taken a number of risks with his team selection at Anfield, with at least three players – Antolin Alcaraz, Ross Barkley and Steven Pienaar – asked to make premature returns from injury. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but does he have any regrets over the way he set his side up? “Not really, no,” he insists. “It is not a time to give excuses, but we had three players out in the long term, and in the last five games we have been unfortunate in losing a player in each game, mostly through accidents, that you can’t do anything about. “That put us in a situation where we had six players injured, and probably three of those had to play. We didn’t have any other option. “It’s been a freak period regarding injuries, and the quicker we get through it the better, but the way that we get through it is by taking a strong approach towards it. We can’t shy away. “What pleased me before the Liverpool game is that we have such strong characters in the group, that three players made themselves available against the medical odds, if you like. “That pleases me a lot more than the performance worries me, because that character and desire to represent our shirt will give us a lot of points between now and the end of the season. “I do feel that this weekend’s game could be the type that we all need internally, to make sure that we bounce back as a team, and that we hit the level that we have shown so far.”
Those levels dipped dramatically against Liverpool, but Martinez is eager for his side to rediscover their mojo in today’s home clash with Aston Villa. And he has called on Everton’s supporters, who are of course suffering just as much as the players, to help rally their team this weekend.
“It hurt us because you don’t want to lose games,” he says. “This is only our third defeat of the season, and every time we have had a defeat it has really hurt us. The fans know that. We know how important the derby is, and this is the last emotion we want to be feeling. “The support has been really good so far, but this is a moment where we need to rely on our fans and make sure as a football club that we help each other to face the game on Saturday. That’s the real test for us.
“So far this season, the team has performed magnificently. We couldn’t add any points to our tally on Tuesday, but we have another opportunity against Villa. “To be in that elite group of having lost just three games is a real positive. Tuesday’s game we can look at as an accident, and we can become stronger from it.” Everton fans will hope he is right. It may not look the most appealing on paper, but Villa’s visit suddenly feels like a much bigger deal.
Mirallas stunner wins it for Everton
February 1 2014 Express & Star
Late goals from Steven Naismith and Kevin Mirallas helped Everton bounce back from their Merseyside derby drubbing with a 2-1 victory over Aston Villa at Goodison Park.
For a long time it looked like this would be another miserable 90 minutes to go with Tuesday's 4-0 defeat by Liverpool, with Leandro Bacuna giving Villa a shock lead in the 34th minute.
But Everton ramped up the pressure in the second half and got their reward when Naismith struck 16 minutes from time and only four minutes after his entrance as a substitute.
Mirallas then had the final word with a stunning free-kick in the 85th minute to get Everton's top-four challenge back on track. Former Celtic winger Aiden McGeady made his first ever Barclays Premier League start, and he almost opened the scoring inside three minutes.
A free-kick from Leighton Baines was cleared out to the right by Villa where McGeady picked the ball up, cut inside and curled a shot beyond the reach of Brad Guzan and against the far post. It was desperately unlucky for the hosts, but did not prove to be a sign of things to come. New signing Lacina Traore was introduced on the pitch before kick-off but is still a week or so away from a possible debut because of a hamstring injury. Romelu Lukaku was also absent with the ankle problem he picked up in the derby, which left Everton boss Roberto Martinez without a recognised striker. The Spaniard opted for Mirallas in attack but the Belgian struggled to get into the game, and Villa looked extremely comfortable defending in numbers on the edge of their penalty area. Villa were offering very little in attack, but from their first chance in the 34th minute they scored.
Ross Barkley was trying to do too much when he got the ball, and he paid for it when a tackle from Fabian Delph robbed him of possession 30 yards out. Bacuna picked up the ball and played a one-two with Christian Benteke before slotting the ball past Tim Howard from a tight angle.
The full-back has shown a real eye for goal since joining Villa from FC Groningen in the summer, and this was his fourth strike in the Premier League and second in two games. A few Everton fans voiced their displeasure at half-time, and Martinez reacted to his side's struggles by replacing Barkley with Steven Pienaar for the second half. The South African offered support to Mirallas, and immediately Everton looked more of a threat. With 55 minutes gone, Leon Osman robbed Ashley Westwood on the edge of the area but could only screw his shot across the face of goal. The frustration for the home fans now was that their team were not creating the chances to match their dominance, with Villa proving resolute in defence. With 20 minutes left, Martinez sent on Naismith for full-back John Stones, and moments later the hosts nearly found their equaliser. Baines' free-kick was not well dealt with by Villa and the ball hit Benteke in the face before dropping agonisingly wide of the post. But in the 74th minute they finally pulled level, and it was substitute Naismith who provided a composed finish. Former Villa man Gareth Barry played the ball in to Pienaar on the edge of the box and his lovely flick sent Naismith clean through, with the Scot giving Guzan no chance. Everton immediately set about chasing a winner, and they found it with five minutes left. Mirallas had had a torrid game up front but when he was fouled 30 yards out by Ciaran Clark he stepped up and curled the ball beyond Guzan and into the net. Baines has made such situations his speciality but the full-back watched on in admiration this time. Naismith should then have made it 3-1 but the substitute directed a free header straight at Guzan. Villa tried to respond and substitute Marc Albrighton let fly from distance, but his shot was deflected just over and that proved to be the final chance.
Mirallas magic clinches Blues fightback - final whistle report
1 Feb 2014 Liverpool Echo
Blues struggle but substitutes change game for the better
After the hangover came the cure. Eventually.
A dramatic late comeback secured a deserved victory for Roberto Martinez’s side against Aston Villa yesterday and began banishing the memory of Tuesday’s derby beating.
Not, though, before their fans took another trip on the emotional rollercoaster that had sent them plummeting into the depths of despair at Anfield. Behind to Leandro Bacuna’s 34th-minute strike and jeered off by sections of the Goodison crowd at half-time, Everton were out of sorts, out of ideas and, as the clock ticked down during the second half, running out of time.
Then, gradually, the headache started to clear. First substitute Steven Naismith, introduced only moments earlier, capped a fine 74th-minute move by prodding home the equaliser.
And then, with just five minutes remaining, Kevin Mirallas curled a sublime 25-yard free-kick into the top corner for a goal worthy of winning any game. Make no mistake, this was a massive result for the Blues. And not just in terms of responding to the loss against neighbours Liverpool.
With Manchester United losing and Tottenham Hotspur drawing, these could be a crucial three points in the race for Champions League qualification, a battle of which the Blues most certainly remain part. It didn’t appear that way at half-time, though. Spooked by Martinez’s self-confessed insistence on containing Villa’s counter-attacking threat, Everton were far less effective than at Anfield four days earlier, their efforts encapsulated by the sight of Mirallas floundering as a centre forward. Thankfully, the Blues boss realised his error. And with substitute Steven Pienaar pulling the strings in the second half, Everton reverted to the approach that has served them so well under the Spaniard. The stats told the story. Martinez’s men, so dominant after the interval, had 71% possession while Villa’s goal was the only shot the visitors managed on target. And the manner of this victory will surely act as a catalyst for regaining any momentum lost against Liverpool, Mirallas’s free-kick a potential turning point of an already enthralling campaign. Before kick-off, however, not even the introduction of on-loan striker Lacina Traore could lift an unsurprisingly subdued atmosphere at a wet and windy Goodison. With Pienaar benched in favour of a full debut for January signing Aiden McGeady, Martinez made three changes against a Villa side who had demonstrated their threat on the road in a 2-2 draw across Stanley Park a fortnight earlier. Early signs were promising for the Blues with McGeady mere inches away from instantly winning over his new support on his first Goodison appearance. In the third minute, the Scottish winger retrieved a deep free-kick on the right flank and then drifted inside before curling an effort from 15 yards that beat Brad Guzan but struck the Villa goalkeeper’s far post. That, though, was the only action of note during a dull opening half-hour in which the Blues appeared to be suffering a derby hangover.Arguably the only positive for the Blues against Liverpool was the performance of Mirallas, and it was enough for the Belgian to be preferred to Naismith – scorer of two goals in last Saturday’s FA Cup win at Stevenage – in the central attacking role. It was a failed experiment, Mirallas unable to temper his natural inclination of drifting into wide positions meaning too often Everton’s midfielders were left with few options going forward and instead playing the ball square or backwards to the increasing agitation of the home fans. Villa boss Paul Lambert had done his homework by anticipating the Blues’s striking woes and employing a three-man back line.
And with Martinez setting his team up to counter Villa’s threat on the break, it made for a dire stalemate. The mood around Goodison became gloomier on 34 minutes when the visitors took the lead. Bacuna seized on possession after Ross Barkley was dispossessed near the halfway line by a strong but fair challenge from Fabian Delph. The Villa man exchanged passes with Christian Benteke, raced into the penalty area and struck an angled shot under Tim Howard.
The interval could not come quick enough with Martinez keen to reorganise and regroup.
Barkley, still not fully fit, was replaced by Pienaar, who came in on the left wing with Osman pushed inside behind Mirallas.
Everton were a team transformed.
With Pienaar providing increased support for Mirallas and the Belgian more disciplined in sticking to his front-man role, the Blues began to punch holes in the Villa rearguard. Mirallas was close to connecting with a diving header, James McCarthy had a shot blocked while Leon Osman capitalised on a loose touch from Ashley Westwood and burst into the box but dragged his shot wide of Guzan’s far post. Osman, more lively in a central role, twisted into space inside the area but shot tamely at Guzan before a corner dropped to Pienaar but the South African drove at Guzan.
By then Naismith had been introduced with the Blues finally fielding a recognised centre forward.
And four minutes later the Scot drew Everton level with a well-worked move.
A square pass by Barry found Pienaar and the South African’s clever flick behind the Villa defence released Naismith into space inside the area to prod the ball underneath the onrushing Guzan.
Suddenly, the Blues sensed the victory, and the deciding strike came on 85 minutes when, having been fouled by Ciaran Clark, Mirallas picked himself up and curled a magnificent free-kick into the top corner from 25 yards. Naismith wasted a glorious chance to ease any late nerves when he headed straight at Guzan, but Villa’s only threat came from an ambitious shot from substitute Marcus Albrighton that was deflected over the bar. It may have taken time.
But the Blues are back on track.
Guzan saved from Naismith late on while Villa's only threat came from an ambitious shot from substitute Marcus Albrighton that was deflected over the bar.
EVERTON (4-2-3-1): Howard; Stones (Naismith 70), Jagielka, Distin, Baines; McCarthy, Barry; McGeady (Hibbert 87), Barkley (Pienaar 46), Osman; Mirallas. Subs: Robles, Coleman, Vellios, Garbutt. BOOKING: Baines (foul).
ASTON VILLA (3-4-1-2): Guzan; Vlaar (Albrighton 80), Baker, Clark; Bacuna, Delph, Westwood, Bertand; Weimann (Tonev 87); Benteke, Holt (El Ahmadi 61). Subs: Steer, Helenius, Sylla, Lowton.
REFEREE: Robert Madeley.
Martinez salutes “most satisfying victory” of his Everton reign after Villa win
1 Feb 2014 Liverpool Echo
Blues boss hails fighting spirit as Toffees stage dramatic comeback
Kevin Mirallas celebrates after scoring Everton's winner against Villa
Roberto Martinez saluted the “most satisfying victory” of his Everton reign after a dramatic comeback against Aston Villa. A magnificent 25-yard free-kick from Kevin Mirallas five minutes from time ensured the Blues bounced back from their midweek derby defeat with a 2-1 home win.
Everton had trailed to Leandro Bacuna’s first-half strike but drew level through substitute Steven Naismith’s third goal in as many games on 74 minutes. And Blues boss Martinez said: “It was a great fightback and from our point of view the most satisfying victory of the season. “I couldn’t be more proud of the second-half performance. “To win it with a magnificent free-kick from Kevin was very pleasing. It’s a moment to get really excited about after that kind of performance.”
Results elsewhere mean Everton are now in fifth place, just a point adrift of neighbours Liverpool, who play at West Bromwich Albion tomorrow. The Blues were out of sorts during the first half with Martinez accepting blame for his team’s poor display. “I was more annoyed with myself than the players at half-time,” said the Catalan. “I took the freedom from the players in the first half. The work we had done on the training ground during the week was focused too much on the tactical aspect of the game. “They took it down to the letter and that was my fault. Making a tactical change shouldn’t mean the players aren’t free. It was the wrong example of how football should be played.
“The approach to the game should always be to enjoy it. We are a team who when we enjoy ourselves are difficult to beat. “Once we freed ourselves in the second half and tried to be ourselves, we are a team that never accepts defeat and has an incredible knack of facing adversity in the right way.” Asked about a top-four finish, Martinez added: “We have performed really well all season. When you have nine or 10 games to go that’s when you set your aims and you can ask me about Champions League qualification.” Martinez – who revealed the decision to substitute Ross Barkley for Steven Pienaar at half-time was purely tactical – praised matchwinner Mirallas, who spent much of the game employed as a central striker. “The quality of free-kick Kevin Mirallas has is as good as Leighton Baines,” said the Blues boss. “It would be difficult to separate them.
“What I like isn’t so much the execution, but the meaning of how to score a goal that earns three points. “That is something you are born with. Some players freeze when faced with those moments.” Pienaar made a huge impact by creating Naismith’s equaliser with a clever flick, a goal Martinez believes underlined his team’s approach. “In football you have to be stubborn with what you are doing,” said the Blues boss. “The first goal was a real reflection on what we are trying to do.
“To be able to be patient when you are one goal down and feeling the anxiety around Goodison, that gives me incredible pleasure. “Steven was back to his old self but we have been building him up. It was important that Steven was on the pitch finishing the game. We are building his match fitness up to 90 minutes and we hope he will be there in the next few weeks.”
Ian Doyle: Eight lessons learned in the Merseyside derby
2 Feb 2014 Liverpool Echo
Roberto Martinez Lessons both sides can take from Liverpool 4 Everton 0
Things we learned from Tuesday’s Merseyside derby.
Big games need fit players
It’s one thing to have players missing, as both sides had. But it’s another to rely too much on players who weren’t match sharp, match fit or, well, not fit at all. Roberto Martinez included Antolin Alcaraz, Ross Barkley, Steven Pienaar and Phil Jagielka, all of whom were either rushed back from injury or playing through the pain barrier. All four were ultimately exposed through no fault of their own. Martinez will have learned the lesson. Form books do sometimes go out of the window
Everton had conceded only one first-half goal in their previous 10 Premier League games.
Steven Gerrard can influence a game from any position
Questions had been asked over whether the Reds skipper could hack it in a holding midfield role.But Gerrard has done the business in the past from central midfield, attacking midfield, right wing and even right-back.He just needed a little cajoling. And a derby always brings out the best in Gerrard.Everton wouldn’t have lost so heavily under David MoyesBut by the same token they’d not have drawn 3-3 in November’s Goodison derby. Martinez has unshakeable faith in his approach, which remains unchanged even when his team are winning or, as was the case at Anfield, being beaten heavily.
Wigan were at times thumped under the Spaniard. There will be bumps in the road, but Martinez has the Blues on the right path.
Hey, it even happened to Manchester United on occasion during their glory period.
In pictures: 222nd Merseyside derby
Philippe Coutinho played like a Brazilian
The diminutive midfielder has lost his way in recent weeks but was revitalised on Tuesday and will play an important role for Liverpool between now and the end of the season.There’s no room for sentiment in footballIt was all good natured when Gerrard gave Daniel Sturridge the chance to net a famous derby hat-trick. But matters turned a bit sour, at least temporarily, when Sturridge put the spot-kick into orbit.Sturridge had been excellent until that point, a performance that shouldn’t be overshadowed by his perhaps not unsurprising grump at missing the penalty and then being substituted.You might want to keep him off pens though, Brendan.Throwing coins is so 1970s
It’s not big and it’s not clever.Plus, given the economic climate, why on earth offer cash to such well-paid sportsmen?Neither side should become carried awayThere is still a third of the season remaining, and while Everton are better than the scoreline suggests, Liverpool will acknowledge not all their opponents will be as injury ravaged.
Better Leighton never...
It was a job he successfully managed during the latter stages of his Everton tenure.
But has David Moyes again helped persuade Leighton Baines to stay at Goodison?
The left-back gave Roberto Martinez a pre-derby fillip earlier this week by finally putting pen to paper on a new contract.In the summer, though, it appeared set to be a different tale.Baines was wavering at the prospect of a move to Manchester United and the chance to link up with former manager Moyes.It never happened. And now, barring some unforeseen events, it surely never will.
Baines assessed his options and decided life under Martinez was more appealing than that with Moyes at United.That’s not entirely Moyes’s fault, of course. He inherited a host of problems that will take time and money to fix, and there’s not even any guarantee United will take their customary berth in the Champions League next season.Everton are a better top-four bet this season. And aged 29, Baines clearly felt he couldn’t run the risk of missing out on that.Friday night woes
Jim White looked absolutely gutted.Try as he might, even television’s most excitable sports presenter couldn’t quite gather the enthusiasm.Friday night’s transfer deadline day was a damp squib.Across the country, clubs were doing, well, not a lot, with many of the last-minute transactions restricted to Crystal Palace and Fulham.
The best story was happening over at Leeds United, whose new owner was being barricaded into Elland Road by fans unhappy manager Brian McDermott is reportedly about to be sacked presumably on the basis of not being Italian.But the cameras, in their infinite wisdom, were elsewhere, focused on poor reporters stood outside in the cold, wind and rain delivering updates that stretched their ability of finding new ways to say nothing was happening.It could become known as the transfer window where Lee Cattermole nearly joined Stoke City.“Do I take the wife out 2nite or watch deadline day on ss1?” tweeted Everton midfielder Darron Gibson on Friday afternoon.You’ll be pleased to hear he chose the first option.
Lee Carsley: Goalkeepers fear free kicks from Mirallas and Baines
2 Feb 2014
It was absolutely vital that Everton showed a response to our derby debacle at Anfield but the lads’ attitude was terrific to come back and win against Aston Villa. The way the home crowd at Goodison stuck with their team on what for large periods was a very testing afternoon also showed that they as well as the players are getting used to the new style at Everton and have embraced the fresh philosophy that Roberto Martinez is implementing.It was another game that the Blues bossed possession-wise but both the team and the supporters alike had to remain patient to take their chances and turn things around after going a goal down against the run of play.Such an approach takes some getting used to and when Villa went ahead it would have been easy for Everton to have started feeling sorry for themselves – especially after what happened earlier in the week. However, as much as that result hurt – and believe me it still does – that was only the Blues’ third Premier League defeat of the season and this side have proven themselves to be quite a resilient bunch.
A lot of fans were telling me before the game that they were fearing the worst because Villa are our ‘bogey team’ but I can guarantee the players wouldn’t have been thinking like that.It was encouraging to see Steven Naismith coming off the bench to grab the equaliser because he’s got a great attitude.He’s so energetic and what I like about him is that he just gets on with things without any fuss. You could feel the sense of anticipation when we got the free-kick that led to the winner.Having both a quality left-foot option in Leighton Baines and right-foot option in Kevin Mirallas provides us with such a great weapon from set pieces like that.When you’ve only got one of those type of players the goalkeeper can hedge his bets and plan for which side he’s going to go to but with those two both standing over the ball, he knows it’s going to be tough.We’ve had a few injuries of late but I think we’ve got options in several areas now. In the past we’ve had to rely on a core of around 14 or 15 players but now we’re finding many different ways to win a game and that breeds confidence.
Chance for Traore to make big impact
Romelu Lukaku's injury means that Lacina Traore has the chance to make an instant impression.The Big Ivorian has said that he hopes to be fit in time for the trip to Tottenham next weekend and given his height at 6ft8in, he’s obviously going to provide Everton’s forward line with a whole new dimension.We can expect to see a few more crosses coming in from wide areas but Traore has already declared how he chose the Blues because of their style of play so we certainly won’t be seeing any kind of switch to route one and I imagine he’ll also get a lot of balls played to his feet. A lot has been made about Lukaku’s injury but after his prolific start he’d only actually scored once in his last 10 games.The good thing about this Everton side is that they can score goals from all angles and players from a variety of positions can chip in as we’ve already seen this season.Kevin Mirallas has done so well in a central striking role of late, I’d expect him to stay up there.
Derby hurt but battle is not over
I woke up in an awful mood on Wednesday morning.At first I couldn’t fathom just why and then it hit me: I recalled everything I’d witnessed in that Anfield horror show the night before.You don’t expect to see a performance like that from Everton at any point, but especially not in a Merseyside derby.It was the perfect counter attacking display from Liverpool but we played right into their hands.We got caught out of position far too many times which is so unlike us and the nature of the goals was so disappointing. I know just how much the game means to Evertonians but there were still only three points riding on the game. I remember in 2005 when we were going toe-to-toe with Liverpool for a top four place, we lost the derby at Anfield much later in the season but we still held on to finish above them.I do like to keep looking over the fence to a certain extent but we’ve got to remember that Liverpool’s team is two years down the line in what they’re doing and we’re only six months into a new project in which a new manager is adopting a different approach and style.Everton are still a lot further along at this stage than I thought they would be.
Reidy backs Oviedo to beat broken leg
2 Feb 2014
The sight of James McCarthy with his head in his hands said it all.As Bryan Oviedo lay prostrate on the Lamex Stadium turf last weekend, his Everton team-mates swiftly gathered around him.Phil Jagielka held the Costa Rican’s injured leg. John Stones cradled Oviedo’s head.McCarthy could barely comprehend what he was seeing.And Kevin Mirallas was so shocked at the plight of his colleague that tears welled in his eyes.The millions watching on television at home could see something was horribly wrong.Oviedo left on a stretcher and was in hospital even before Everton had secured their passage to the FA Cup fifth round with a routine 4-0 win at League One strugglers Stevenage.A double fracture of his left leg was swiftly diagnosed, instantly casting doubt over Oviedo’s participation not just for the remainder of the season but also this summer’s World Cup.One former Blue could certainly feel empathy for the stricken Oviedo.Peter Reid suffered a succession of injury setbacks during his early career at Bolton Wanderers, including a broken leg suffered on New Year’s Day in 1979 in a collision with Everton goalkeeper George Wood.Having initially been slated for a £600,000 move to Goodison, the Blues ultimately bought Reid a few years later for a tenth of the price due to his fitness problems.Of course, Reid went on to become a key component in Everton’s all-conquering side of the 1980s, an example of how serious injury can be overcome.And the Blues legend is backing Oviedo to follow such an example – with the World Cup and a showdown with England in Brazil still a possibility. “I was watching it last week and, like everyone, could immediately see something was wrong,” says Reid. “I had a couple of bad injuries early on in my career when I was a young lad. I did a knee ligament and when I came back from that, I broke my leg in two places. “I am confident Oviedo will come back stronger and a lot quicker than I did. The injury against Everton alone put me out for a year. “They have a great medical team at Finch Farm. They will know how best to help him recover and rehabilitate. “Can he make it back in time for the World Cup? If it’s physically possible, I wouldn’t rule it out.” Reid points to advances in treating serious injuries by comparing recent incidents to his own experiences. “Medical science has developed greatly since I was playing,” he says. “When I broke my leg, I was in plaster for three months. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Oviedo is on crutches and wearing a leg brace before too long. “Look at Falcao at Monaco. He did his cruciate ligament the other week. “That put me in plaster for three months as well, but Falcao was walking around in a press conference a few days later.“It’s incredible the progress they have made in treating injuries.”Rather than merely the healing of broken bones, Reid believes it will be the strength of Oviedo’s character that can accelerate his recovery. “I had four injuries on the trot,” he recalls. “I broke my kneecap, I did my ligaments, broke my leg and then had a cartilage problem later on. “When you get four injuries on top of each other like that, it does become a problem. How do you get through it? I think you just have to take a positive attitude, work hard and want to get back as soon as possible. “But to be a professional footballer at the highest level, you need to be strong mentally anyway to be able to go out there and play.“There are a lot of players who had the talent but just can’t cope with the mental pressures.” Signed by David Moyes in August 2012, Oviedo made only three starts under the Scot but has featured more regularly since Roberto Martinez’s arrival. A hugely popular figure around Finch Farm, the Costa Rica international gained instant cult status among the Goodison faithful with his historic goal in December that earned Everton their first win at Old Trafford in more than 21 years. “Losing Oviedo is a big blow for Everton, no doubt,” says Reid. “He has done brilliantly in a number of positions. “I was at the game against Manchester United when he was up against Antonio Valencia. “I thought United might look to get at him, but he was terrific. He looked after Valencia and had enough time to get forward and get the winning goal. “He has tremendous all-round ability. And he also has character and shows the positivity that Roberto Martinez has brought to the club. “Oviedo is going to need both of those qualities when he is fighting back from his injury.”
Practice pays off for Everton FC goal hero Kevin Mirallas
2 Feb 2014
Practice made perfect for Kevin Mirallas as his stunning free-kick earned Everton FC an important victory over Aston Villa at Goodison Park.The 2-1 win not only put the Toffees’ top-four challenge back on track but was also a morale booster after their 4-0 midweek derby defeat to Liverpool.All was far from rosy at half-time on Saturday as an unusually hesitant Everton trailed 1-0 to Leandro Bacuna’s 34th-minute opener.But the arrivals of Steven Pienaar and Steven Naismith from the bench changed the game, with the latter equalising in the 74th minute before Kevin Mirallas had the final word.Leighton Baines is regarded as Everton’s free-kick specialist but the full-back stood and watched as Mirallas placed the ball just inside the post from 30 yards with five minutes to go.Mirallas said: “I practise free-kicks every day to try to get them right on the day of the game.“I’m very happy because my father and my mother came to see the game and it was a good goal.”Injuries have taken their toll on Everton and, in the absence of Romelu Lukaku and new signing Lacina Traore, Kevin Mirallas was asked to play as a makeshift striker.The winger has experience of the role from his Olympiacos days but had endured a frustrating afternoon prior to the spectacular denouement.He said: “I played as a striker. It’s not my best position but I worked for the team. It was a nice goal and it was very important to win because in the last game against Liverpool we played badly. It was a bad result and we needed a win.”Defender Sylvain Distin, who returned to the side earlier than expected from a hamstring problem, admitted the Liverpool result played a factor in their first-half performance.He said: “I think maybe we were a bit cautious in the first half, and maybe we still had the Liverpool game in our minds. In the second half we started to play our game.“We had most of the ball and they didn’t look dangerous so it was frustrating to concede a goal but that’s part of football. We spoke in the dressing room at half-time and we knew it wasn’t good enough.“We know it’s going to be extremely difficult to finish in the top four but there’s no reason not to believe and be positive.”Bacuna has shown a real eye for goal since joining Villa from FC Groningen in the summer and Saturday’s confident finish gave him a fourth in the Premier League this season and second in as many games.The full-back felt the result was rough on the away side, saying: “I think we defended well and had a great game, we were a bit unlucky with the first goal and the second goal was just a good free-kick.”Villa had turned their form around with four points from their previous two games to climb to 10th place, but the close nature of the bottom of the table means they are closer to Cardiff in 19th than they are to Southampton in ninth.“We’re 10th and want to go up, we’re looking up,” said Bacuna.Villa’s cause was not helped by captain Ron Vlaar being forced off 10 minutes from time due to injury.Manager Paul Lambert said: “It’s his hamstring so we’ll just have to see how he is. Hopefully it’s not too bad.”The Scot was largely positive about his team’s display and felt they deserved to leave Merseyside with something for the second time in a fortnight.Two weeks ago Villa drew 2-2 with Liverpool, and Lambert said: “It’s not a bad sign if you can come to these two places and walk away disappointed.“We’re a young team and they’ve got to feel it, they’ve got to realise they’re good enough to compete.”
Everton FC 2 Aston Villa 1: Naismith and Mirallas score late goals to turn match around
Late goals from Steven Naismith and Kevin Mirallas helped Everton FC bounce back from their Merseyside derby drubbing with a 2-1 victory over Aston Villa at Goodison Park.For a long time it looked like this would be another miserable 90 minutes to go with Tuesday’s 4-0 defeat by Liverpool, with Leandro Bacuna giving Villa a shock lead in the 34th minute.But Everton ramped up the pressure in the second half and got their reward when Naismith struck 16 minutes from time, just four minutes after his entrance as a substitute.Mirallas then had the final word with a stunning free-kick in the 85th minute to get Everton’s top-four challenge back on track.Former Celtic winger Aiden McGeady made his first ever Barclays Premier League start, and he almost opened the scoring inside three minutes.A free-kick from Leighton Baines was cleared out to the right by Villa where McGeady picked the ball up, cut inside and curled a shot beyond the reach of Brad Guzan and against the far post.It was desperately unlucky for the hosts, but did not prove to be a sign of things to come.New signing Lacina Traore was introduced on the pitch before kick-off but is still a week or so away from a possible debut because of a hamstring injury.Romelu Lukaku was also absent with the ankle problem he picked up in the derby, which left Everton boss Roberto Martinez without a recognised striker.The Spaniard opted for Mirallas in attack but the Belgian struggled to get into the game, and Villa looked extremely comfortable defending in numbers on the edge of their penalty area.Villa were offering very little in attack, but from their first chance in the 34th minute they scored.Ross Barkley was trying to do too much when he got the ball, and he paid for it when a tackle from Fabian Delph robbed him of possession 30 yards out.Bacuna picked up the ball and played a one-two with Christian Benteke before slotting the ball past Tim Howard from a tight angle.The full-back has shown a real eye for goal since joining Villa from FC Groningen in the summer, and this was his fourth strike in the Premier League and second in two games.A few Everton fans voiced their displeasure at half-time, and Martinez reacted to his side’s struggles by replacing Barkley with Steven Pienaar for the second half.The South African offered support to Mirallas, and immediately Everton looked more of a threat.With 55 minutes gone, Leon Osman robbed Ashley Westwood on the edge of the area but could only screw his shot across the face of goal.The frustration for the home fans now was that their team were not creating the chances to match their dominance, with Villa proving resolute in defence.With 20 minutes left, Martinez sent on Naismith for full-back John Stones, and moments later the hosts nearly found their equaliser.Baines’ free-kick was not well dealt with by Villa and the ball hit Benteke in the face before dropping agonisingly wide of the post.But in the 74th minute they finally pulled level, and it was substitute Naismith who provided a composed finish.Former Villa man Gareth Barry played the ball in to Pienaar on the edge of the box and his lovely flick sent Naismith clean through, with the Scot giving Guzan no chance.Everton immediately set about chasing a winner, and they found it with five minutes left.Mirallas had had a torrid game up front but when he was fouled 30 yards out by Ciaran Clark he stepped up and curled the ball beyond Guzan and into the net.Baines has made such situations his speciality but the full-back watched on in admiration this time.Naismith should then have made it 3-1 but the substitute directed a free header straight at Guzan.Villa tried to respond and substitute Marc Albrighton let fly from distance, but his shot was deflected just over and that proved to be the final chance.
Naismith: Champions League boost as injuries ease
2 Feb 2014 Liverpoool Echo
By Greg O’Keefe
Everton FC players starting to return
Steven Naismith believes the end of Everton's injury nightmare will provide a timely boost to their Champions League hopes. The Scotland international started his side's fightback against Aston Villa at Goodison on Saturday, as Sylvain Distin and Steven Pienaar returned to play influential roles in a 2-1 win. With Seamus Coleman and Gerard Deulofeu also on the comeback trail, Naismith reckons Everton's bid for the top four will soon have fresh momentum, following a weekend which saw them reduce the gap between them and Liverpool to two points. He said: “We've gone through every defensive partnership possible in the previous weeks but we're slowly starting to get bodies back.“Sylvain came back on Saturday and showed his class, and Ross is a massive player for us. It maybe wasn't his day against Villa but he's one of our best players and a main asset going forward. To get lads back and competing for places again is important for us. It'll help us push on now.
“There's definitely strength in depth here, but when any squad gets the injuries we've had it's going to be stretched. “Everyone in the squad believes they can play and the manager believes in them too. If you look at our full squad we've got maybe four who can play up front, a lot who can play advanced midfield roles and our defensive options have worked because we've had cover every time. “I'm pretty sure if you ask the manager he's happy with this squad going into the end of the season.” The victory over Aston Villa ended an otherwise difficult week on a high, after losing 4-0 to Liverpool at Anfield on Tuesday. And Naismth, 27, admitted the hangover of that set-back had still not subsided during a lacklustre first half against Villa. “Before the game we were focusing on just getting back on the winning trail with the least amount of damage possible,” he said.
“Obviously it was a terrible night on Tuesday and the players felt it hard. We knew it was going to be difficult against a Villa side which are arguably the best at counter attacking in the league, and we had a slow start. “It wasn't until we got the goal that we started playing our stuff, but the change in bringing Ossie central and getting him on the ball made a difference in the second half.
“I managed to get us one back and the momentum took us through after that. It was a world class free kick from Kevin which won the game. “After Tuesday there was nerves in the team and we didn't knock the ball about as fluidly as we normally do, especially at home. The manager told us at half time he never wants us to be like that. "He said for us not to be afraid to give the ball away, if it happens, it happens just win it back and go again. That's the attitude we should have.”
Naismith took his goal tally for the season to five after coming on as a 70th minute substitute for John Stones. Roberto Martinez asked the Scot to take up a central striking role, and he said he relished the chance after being crestfallen not to have started the game in Romelu Lukaku's absence.
“I was very disappointed not to get the nod to start because after Rom getting the injury the position was going to be taken by somebody,” he said. “When it wasn't me I was bitterly disappointed but from then you just have to back the team and be ready when the manager calls on you. I've done all I can by coming on and scoring, and being more of a presence up front than anything else.”
On his goal, a smart link-up with Steven Pienaar, he added: “I enjoy getting played through like that. I came deep just to get the ball off Aiden (McGeady) and played a wee bit of the build-up but then when it came to Steven I knew, and he gave me the shout he was going to play it first time.
“I timed my run well and then you have to wait for the goalie to plant his feet and put it around his feet so he can't move. That's what happened.”
Kevin Mirallas free-kick keeps Everton in Champions League contention
Everton 2 Aston Villa 1
The Guardian, Sunday 2 February 2014
Everton have never had cause to doubt Kevin Mirallas's ability since his £6m arrival from Olympiakos. Availability and responsibility maybe but there has been no better illustration that he has remedied both than when the Belgium international lifted Everton from their Merseyside derby depression against Aston Villa. Mirallas was one of the few to escape criticism in the 4-0 defeat at Liverpool. His reward on Saturday was the arduous task of facing three Villa central defenders on his own in the absence of the injured Romelu Lukaku and Lacina Traoré. As at Anfield, the 26-year-old responded tirelessly for little return. Until the 85th minute when his stunning 25-yard free-kick, a replica of one in his previous home appearance against Norwich City, kept Everton in Champions League contention and broke Villa's seven-season unbeaten run at Goodison Park.
"Anyone can learn the technique to take a free kick," said Roberto Martínez. "But to want the opportunity to win three points and not freeze, you have to be born with that."
Mirallas has accepted the responsibility of carrying Everton through a demanding, injury-hit period. He has also appeared in every Premier League game this season and not missed a league game for 12 months, a somewhat surprising statistic given the stop-start opening to his Goodison career.
The Everton manager said: "When you get players from abroad and a league like the Greek league it will take time to settle in but now you see he is himself. That is him. That is the player you saw at Olympiakos. He brings that star quality when it is needed. On top of that he has a work ethic for the team so it is really pleasing to see him develop. The physicality of this league is unique. Now his body is ready and his mind is ready and he is at the right moment in his career to cope with it."
Kevin Mirallas celebrates with manager Roberto Martínez, right, after scoring Everton's second goal. Photograph: Paul Currie/Action Images Mirallas's latest set-piece speciality and Steven Naismith's polished team goal capped an impressive and crucial comeback against a Villa side set up to capitalise on Everton's shortage in attack. In contrast to a cutting display at Anfield a fortnight ago, Paul Lambert played three central defenders, aided and abetted throughout by Leandro Bacuna and Ryan Bertrand at wing-back, to absorb pressure. The plan to hit on the counter worked to perfection when Bacuna gave Villa a first-half lead but otherwise the visitors offered little in the final third. It was Martínez's team who overcame the psychological weight of the derby, their injury problems and – with away trips to Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea on the horizon – the pressure to take three points. Only in the second half, however, with Steven Pienaar a major influence after replacing Ross Barkley, did Everton find the urgency and penetration required. "Since the turn of the year we've been in pretty good form," Lambert said. "We came up to Merseyside the other week and did well. Everton have turned over some teams and it's not like they had a comfortable afternoon against us. I think tiredness crept in in the last part of the game and [it was] a wonder goal [that] settled it." The victory and performance vindicated Martínez's faith not only in his attacking philosophy but in the character of an Everton team who, in fairness, have not exposed themselves to scrutiny on many occasions this season. "It was an exciting performance because it shows we can challenge in the final third of the season," the Everton manager said. "You don't get a harder test of a team than on the back of a derby defeat, the way that it hurt everyone, and then conceding a goal to be behind like that at half-time. That sort of adversity is going to tell you an awful lot about a group of players and how you are going to finish the season. "We showed we are not going to accept adversity – we are just going to change it. Even with the anxiety around Goodison we showed we can do what we have to do. For me it answered so many questions about the players and showed that we have learnt from painful lessons. From now on we are going to see a much stronger Everton."
Man of the match Kevin Mirallas (Everton)
Mirallas crucial to Blues' success says Martinez
3 Feb 2014 Liverpool Echo
Belgian curled home late winner against Aston Villa
Match-winner Kevin Mirallas has matured into one of Everton’s most important players, says manager Roberto Martinez . The Belgium international curled home a magnificent 30 yard free-kick on Saturday to hand the Blues a 2-1 win over Aston Villa. Mirallas led the line in Romelu Lukaku’s absence and his tireless efforts were rewarded five minutes from time when he fired past Brad Guzan. Martinez says the 26-year-old is now setting an example for his team-mates and has become a ‘different footballer’ from the one who started the season. “It has been a change in Kevin’s mentality,” said Martinez. “Earlier in the season he was a player helping the team but now he is desperate to set standards week in, week out. “And that, for a striker or attacking player, is very rare and that is why I had no problems of playing him in a different position and moving him around because I think he has that maturity now. “I have seen the change in him in the second or third month and he has become a different footballer. “It is just that mentality of knowing how important he is for our football club and the squad. As a footballer you sometimes just go through the motions, show your talent and help the team. But when you become a bit more experienced and mature you become a player who sets standards week in, week out. You see that with Tim Howard, Phil Jagielka, Leighton Baines and Kevin now is in that stage of his career. “It is quite interesting when you see that over the course of a six or seven month period.” Mirallas struggled to deal with the physical nature of the Premier League in his debut season in England. But the former Olympiakos man has featured in every league game this campaign. “I knew Kevin would benefit from playing a season in the Premier League,” added the Blues manager. “Coming from a league like the Greek league, you know it was going to take a little bit of time for him to settle in. But now you can see it’s the player he was at Olympiakos and he brings that star quality. On top of that he has a real work ethic for the team. “The physicality of this league is unique and your body needs to get ready for it. “That’s what Kevin has now, his body is ready and he’s ready.”
Everton 2 Villa 1: Greg O'Keeffe on the solid bond that shows true Goodison strength
3 Feb 2014 Liverpool Echo
Belgian's celebration with boss after late winner is indicator of true Blue grit
It was the sort of pivotal moment that can define a season.
Not just Kevin Mirallas ' perfect free kick at Goodison, but his subsequent reaction.
The winger is from the new-school of modern footballers who usually celebrate goals with an ostentatious flourish. Maybe it's a finger to the lips, an intricate hand gesture or a dramatic ego-drenched exaltation to the sky. Not on Saturday. Mirallas sprinted over to his manager and shared the moment in a gesture of sheer, unadulterated solidarity. It had been a long, painful week but the grey skies had just parted to reveal a shaft of sunlight. For more than an hour beforehand it had felt like Everton's season was wilting. That morale-crushing derby defeat, it seemed, had left a legacy of doubt and disappointment which was going to ensure another defeat. Leandro Bacuna's first half goal for Aston Villa could easily have sapped the life out of Roberto Martinez 's men. Lesser sides may have crumpled. But – as underlined by Mirallas' pointed celebration – this is a team which is absorbing their manager's virtues of belief, patience and positivity. Even Martinez for all his renowned optimism must have wondered whether that hiding at Anfield would take a costly toll on the Toffees. Results like that can crush momentum, and sour a previously good campaign.
And even when Steven Naismith equalised against Paul Lambert's side, the potential point wasn't really enough. It's not like a draw, or even a defeat, would have mathematically ruled out Everton's hopes of the top four. But the gut-wrenching low of the previous fixture demanded a reaction, and failure to beat Villa could well have sown the seeds of decline. Victory should do the opposite. “We can get excited about the end of the season after that performance,” was Martinez's verdict, and he is right. In the misery of Tuesday's aftermath more than a few Blues on social media clung to cliched quotes about it not mattering how deeply you fall provided you bounce back even higher.
Once you excuse the cloying sentiment, they had a point. Everton fell pretty deeply, and as they struggled to reach their usually fluency and chased the game against Villa they were in danger of plumbing new depths. But the character and resilience shown in fighting back speaks volumes. As their manager insisted, it suggests the Blues really could achieve something special this season. Just as one defeat can potentially derail a campaign with its devastating impact, a victory like Saturday's can reignite one. Suddenly that trip to the capital on Sunday stirs memories of the belief and style Everton showed the last time they visited North London before Christmas It helps that the gloom which offered such mitigation for the derby is easing. Sylvain Distin was back against the Midlanders, making his 500th top flight start in the Premier League, and adding all his subsequent experience and solidity. The man who makes a mockery of accepted norms when it comes to the ageing process of footballers will be valued for the extra season he has agreed to spend at Goodison.But more importantly when chasing the game in the second half, Steven Pienaar was also back to his best. The midfielder was a shadow of himself against Liverpool, but reunited down the left flank with Leighton Baines, he was crucial to Everton's success four days later. The duo helped peg an opposition side back that arrived in L4 on a high after a dramatic 4-3 win in their own derby showdown with West Brom last week. The Midlanders scored against the run of play, and rarely saw the ball subsequently – as underlined by possessions statistics of 70% in Everton's favour. However, the Blues had more possession in the derby too, and the nature of good counter-attacking sides means there can often be little solace in stats. For the first half on Saturday most of Everton's passes were short, sideways or backwards, and Martinez later claimed that was down to a mixture of nerves and fear. Pienaar helped their dominance mean something, and with Seamus Coleman and Gerard Deulofeu on the way back too there is further cause for relief. In the end, there was another significance to Mirallas' self-less celebration. For the first time during his reign, Martinez had faced a few doubters last week. Stung by Tuesday's result and then frustrated by the lack of further signings on deadline day, some supporters had started to grumble. Yet the Blues boss can point to two tactical switches which seized three points on Saturday, and the abundance of spirit he has fostered in the dressing room which bodes so well. He won't ever want to revisit the pain of that evening at Anfield, but as ever he will ensure his side takes whatever positives from it they can. It got worse before it got better, but Saturday was a good way to start.
Everton 2 Aston Villa 1 - Mat Kendrick's Big Match Verdict
3 Feb 2014 Birmingham Mail
Paul Lambert’s men need to take the kind of adventurous approach from the Anfield and Albion fun-fests, rather than the meeker method that ultimately resulted in defeat at Everton
Aston Villa's quest for that No.10 goes on...
Having missed out on a No.10 style playmaker during the transfer window, Villa have a very real window of opportunity to gain tenth place in the Premier League this season – if they choose to grasp it. But from what we have learned about Paul Lambert’s claret and blues it will take the kind of adventurous approach from the Anfield and Albion fun-fests, rather than the meeker method that ultimately resulted in defeat at Everton. Bitter sweet experience tells us that Villa would surely be better advised to ‘twist’ than ‘stick’ in their next two games at home to West Ham and away at Cardiff, which could potentially decide whether they end the season battling relegation or consolidating in mid-table. In a still too-close-for-comfort congested scramble for safety, Villa need to focus all their energies on the energetic, exciting, effervescent style that has brought them the most success. Anything other than the high-tempo, pressing, in-your-face football which frightened Liverpool and beat the Baggies to glean four points from the previous two pulsating matches doesn’t seem to suit this Villa team. Watch Mat Kendrick's windswept post match analysis
And while they sacrificed boldness for steadiness with a game plan to frustrate Everton, which proved effective if insipid for three-quarters of the match, if and when the opposition score and Villa fail to adapt, that gameplan becomes redundant. That’s precisely what happened.
Whether it was the post-derby fatigue, the continued absence of counter-attacker-in-chief Gabby Agbonlahor or both, Lambert chose to alter the formation and personnel and intentionally or otherwise changed his players’ mindset, too. Instead of rocking up with a swagger, gatecrashing the party and lining up the shots like they did at Anfield two weeks earlier, Villa preferred to sit quietly at Goodison and tried to make one bit of bubbly last them. Everton are genuine Champions League chasers, but Villa’s tactics possibly paid the Toffees too much respect, especially as they were coming off the back of a derby drubbing in their Scouse skirmish across Stanley Park and also had half a dozen players, including spearhead Romelu Lukaku, missing through injury.
Having said that, there could have been few complaints about the effectiveness of Villa’s first-half efforts as Leandro Bacuna slotted them in front on 34 minutes from their only attack following an exchange of passes with Christian Benteke after Fabian Delph dispossessed Ross Barkley.
Barring home debutant Aiden McGeady’s early curler striking the post, Villa’s defensive trio of Ron Vlaar, Nathan Baker and Ciaran Clark – supported by wing-backs Bacuna and Ryan Bertrand – limited Everton before the break and the Goodison grumbles at half-time were in stark contrast to the vocal Villa fans bouncing happily in the away section. But the longer the match wore on the likelier the Liverpudlians were to break down the Brummies, especially when Martinez’s tactical tweaks turned the match with two of his substitutes combining for the equaliser. While the Spaniard was able to replace Barkley with Steven Pienaar at half-time and had the wisdom to sacrifice defender John Stones for forward Steven Naismith on 70 minutes, Lambert was not blessed with the same options or intuition. Ostensibly playing three up top, with Grant Holt handed a first start alongside Benteke and Andi Weimann in support, was not the most negative idea against hosts in touching distance of the top four. But the strike trio were so starved of the ball that all three were peripheral figures, in the second half especially. By the time Karim El Ahmadi replaced Holt just after an hour in a bid to stop Villa being overrun in midfield, the visitors had retreated so deep that the mild Moroccan simply joined his central colleagues on the edge of his box. Indeed, Benteke’s best chance of the game almost ended up in his own net midway through the second half when the Belgian took a Leighton Baines free-kick full in the face after coming back to defend. Ashley Westwood was also caught out just outside the area as Leon Osman shot just wide. To their credit, for most of the match, Villa did defend resolutely – but they had to given that they only had 29 per cent of the possession. At this rate they might have to start bringing their own ball. But the relentless rearguard action inevitably led to tiredness and a lapse of concentration proved costly when Naismith rolled a 74th-minute leveller past Brad Guzan after former Villa man Gareth Barry’s pass was subtly helped on by Pienaar. With Villa hanging on it was not the best time to lose Vlaar to injury with the leader limping off with a hamstring problem for the final ten minutes. Weariness no doubt contributed to Vlaar’s departure and it also played a part in Clark’s rash decision to foul Mirallas five minutes from time. Mirallas exacted his own revenge, swishing a sublime free-kick winner past Guzan into the left corner from 25 yards before the keeper parried Naismith’s headed attempt at an Everton third.
The attitude shift required to throw caution to the wind arrived too late for Villa, who took until stoppage time to threaten when substitute Marc Albrighton’s deflected strike from distance whizzed just over as he tried to make it 2-2. If Villa are to make it ten by staying in the top half of the table, then fortune favours the brave.
Powers of recovery! Blues passed mental test against Villa, says Martinez
3 Feb 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Late fightback secured confidence-boosting win after derby nightmare
Roberto Martinez says Everton passed a mental test in their comeback win over Aston Villa.
The Blues headed into the game on the back of their derby defeat against Liverpool and found themselves 1-0 down at the break. But Martinez made tactical switches during the second half and Everton's perseverance was rewarded when substitutes Steven Naismith and Steven Pienaar combined for the equaliser before Kevin Mirallas struck the winner five minutes from time.
And after responding to the setback in such fashion, the Everton boss has no doubts that his side will continue to get stronger as the season progresses. “In the dressing room we always speak about the technical, tactical and physical aspects,” Martinez said. “But what people forget about is the psychological aspect and the character of a group of players. You don't get a harder test than this.
“Coming in on the back of a derby defeat, that hurt everyone, you then hit the post and then concede a goal. “From that point on, how you face adversity as a group of players is going to tell you how you are going to finish a season. “I have no doubts about that. “From that point on it was a real answer that we're not going to accept defeat, we're not going to accept facing adversity.
“We are just going to change it. At times you could feel the anxiety around Goodison but the players never stopped doing what they had to do. And the first goal came out of that patience and that stubbornness and quality in the players. “For me, that answered that we are ready and we are ready to learn from the painful lessons we had. “The way they reacted means I know that next week we are going to be stronger than we were a week ago and I just feel as a team we are going to finish stronger than we started.”
Comment: McCarthy's midfield fight helps Blues turn the tide
3 Feb 2014 Liverpool Echo
Hiding places play no part for Macca
Everton have played 28 games under Roberto Martinez and have lost just four times. After every defeat the Blues have responded with a win. Martinez calls it “dealing with adversity” and Everton have shown themselves to be the top flight avengers this season. On Saturday, the Catalan's team produced the most significant victory of their campaign when they dragged themselves off the canvas to beat Aston Villa. But it wasn't just that they trailed at home to a side below them in the league. The Blues kicked-off still licking their wounds after their humbling derby defeat at Anfield four days earlier. Everton found themselves desperately needing to summon a response because consecutive defeats did not bare thinking about. Losing again did not particularly appeal to James McCarthy much either. Early on, the 23-year-old personified the sense of stage fright running through the Everton ranks. Martinez described the Blues as “cagey” and they played as if the defeat to Liverpool was fresh in their minds. McCarthy prompted a smattering of moans from the stands when he insisted on playing consecutive backward passes as Everton chased an equaliser.
It was a moment that encapsulated their uptight start to the game. Martinez said he was annoyed with himself for the first-half lethargy and made changes throughout the second half that would turn the game on its head. The introduction of Steven Pienaar was the catalyst for a victory that moved Everton up to fifth in the table but one that felt much more significant. But there was also a transformation in McCarthy. He wasn't enjoying his most productive of days but the young Irishman refused to sulk. McCarthy knuckled down and put in one hell of a shift. No Everton player made more tackles than the 23-year-old. McCarthy won the majority of his aerial duels, looked after the ball with an 86% pass completion rate and ran himself ragged. It was a selfless performance that was so vital to the cause. For nearly 20 minutes, McCarthy was asked to fill in at right-back as Martinez sacrificed John Stones in order to bring on Steven Naismith. Typically, McCarthy got on with the job without any fuss and in time added on it was the £13m man that was charging down the right wing in pursuit of the ball.
So what? Some of you may ask.
What's the big deal about a footballer working hard? It should be a given, of course.
Such effort should come as standard. But in the context of this game it played a telling role in Everton's comeback. McCarthy's work rate and dogged pressing of the Villa midfield ensured Gareth Barry had the time and space to dictate the pace of the game in the second half.
Barry made a league high 86 passes on Saturday. And when Martinez needed to add the cunning of Naismith, he knew he could rely on McCarthy's flexibility to fill in at full-back. Without a recognised striker and injuries still to contend with, it was not always easy to share the manager's belief that Everton would emerge stronger from their loss to Liverpool. But by full-time it seemed foolish to have ever doubted him. And we should have known better than to question Everton's ability to bounce back with McCarthy in the team. After he tasted defeat at Fulham in the Capital One Cup, McCarthy was brilliant in the win over Newcastle United. After Manchester City inflicted a first league loss of the season, McCarthy's desire shone through in the second half against Hull City as Everton won 2-1. And after being one of the 10 men to cruelly lose at home to Sunderland, McCarthy was a midfield force against Southampton, laying on the assist for the winning goal.
Martinez asked his players to show the “true Everton spirit” before the Villa game.
McCarthy has it in abundance.
Naismith can flourish as a number nine says Martinez
4 Feb 2014 Liverpool Echo
"He is playing very well. It is the most natural position for Steven, that No.9 role"
Roberto Martinez believes Steven Naismith can shine for Everton in a central striking role after his game-changing substitute appearance against Aston Villa. The Scot’s second-half introduction against Villa turned the game in the Blues’ favour, and kept their bid for a Champions League qualification spot on track. Everton trailed 1-0 when Naismith replaced John Stones in the 70th minute, but four minutes later he had grabbed an equaliser with a nerveless finish, and Kevin Mirallas’ late free-kick completed the comeback. Naismith is in good form, having scored twice in the FA Cup fourth-round win over Stevenage last month. He has only two Premier League goals to his name this season, but Martinez believes the 27-year-old will relish the chance to stake his claim for a regular starting place. Martinez said: “He is playing very well. It is the most natural position for Steven, that No.9 role. “He has shown over the months that he can play in a number of positions, but that is him at his best, his most natural play. “You don’t do yourself any harm when you play in the manner that he did today. “He has shown that he is ready to cope with the pressure, and to cope with what is needed to win games.” Naismith himself admitted he had been disappointed not to start against Villa, with Mirallas instead preferred as the Blues’ lone frontman.
Meanwhile, Martinez paid tribute to Sylvain Distin, after the defender made an earlier-than-expected return from injury at the weekend. He added: “I thought the game for a centre half would be quite comfortable, for him to manage himself and get through the 90 minutes, but it shows you again what an incredible performer he is for us. “We always take it day-by-day in those situations.
“Obviously Sylvain reacted quicker to treatment than we expected, and once you get the medical green light it is more of a decision on match-fitness and how long the player can play.”
Elsewhere, defender Matthew Pennington has extended his loan spell with Tranmere Rovers for another month. The 19-year-old said: “I’m really enjoying it. I’m glad to get some league games under my belt, which will hopefully improve my ability. “I’ve been grateful for the chance to regularly get 90 minutes on the pitch and I think that’s where I’ll get better. “All the lads at Tranmere are really nice and welcoming and in this next month I hope to play more games and continue to improve.” Clatt's back...again After five years without taking charge of an Everton fixture, Mark Clattenburg has been handed his second Blues match in barely five weeks.The referee will take charge of Everton’s trip to Tottenham this Sunday, just weeks after he took charge of Everton’s 2-1 victory over Southampton on December 29. That was his first visit to Goodison since a controversial Goodison derby in 2007 in which he officiated. The Blues played 162 matches in more than five years before Clattenburg was finally handed an Everton fixture again, at Aston Villa in January 2012.
"I'll be Aiden McSpeedy soon" says new Blue
4 Feb 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Neil Jones
27-year-old still working his way back to full match-fitness after his arrival from Spartak Moscow last month Aiden McGeady says it won’t be long before Everton fans see him at his best.
The Irishman made his Goodison Park debut against Aston Villa on Saturday, and almost marked the occasion in fine style, hitting the post with an excellent first-half effort. The 27-year-old is still working his way back to full match-fitness after his arrival from Spartak Moscow last month, but says he should be at full throttle before long. McGeady said: “I was obviously a little bit apprehensive at the start, a little bit nervous. In the first half I thought I did okay and the second half I probably let myself down a couple of times. “But I kept going to the end and I’m just happy that we won. It was a great first game for me – not because I played great, because I didn’t – but because the team ultimately won and that’s the main thing. “There were a few little things I was disappointed with. If I was on my game I know I wouldn’t have done those things, but I can’t be too harsh on myself because I need to bide my time and be patient. “Hopefully in the coming months I can get up to full speed.”
Rovers seal deals for defenders
4 Feb 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Nick Hilton
Tranmere secure loan extensions for Matthew Pennington and Stephen Arthurworrey
Tranmere have secured extensions to the loan arrangements for Matthew Pennington and Stephen Arthurworrey, teenage defenders who are learning fast as they adjust to the demands of League One football. Pennington, 19, a right-backcentre-back from Everton and Arthurworrey, 19, a centre-back from Fulham, completed the first month on assignment at Prenton Park by helping Rovers to a 1-0 win at MK Dons last Saturday. The youth loans were extended by the respective Premier League clubs yesterday. Everton added a further month to Pennington’s stay and Arthurworrey’s loan will be extended by a month subject to Football League and Football Association clearance. Manager Ronnie Moore said: “Stephen has done well since he has been here. He’s only young so he’s still learning the game but he’s shown that he’s a strong defender who is settling in well to League One football. “I’d like to thank Fulham for letting Stephen stay with us and hopefully they’ll see the benefits.” Tranmere are confident Everton will also agree to extend the loan of winger Matthew Kennedy, also 19, when his initial month-long spell comes to an end following the home fixture against Preston on Saturday. Moore added: “The three young loan players are adjusting pretty well. It can be difficult for them because there is a big difference between playing under-21 football with Premier League clubs to playing in League One, where people’s livelihoods are on the line. It is a must-win situation in every game. “I’m not suggesting that players in under-21 football don’t want to win but the results are not so important. It’s more about progression at under-21 level. Now they are seeing players around them who are hungry for results. It’s the real world of football. The three of them have adapted well to be fair.” Pennington said: “I’m really enjoying it. I’m glad to get some league games under my belt, which will hopefully improve my ability. “I’ve been grateful for the chance to regularly get 90 minutes on the pitch and I think that’s where I’ll get better.”
All three loanees are enjoying their first taste of senior football with Tranmere. Pennington has established himself as first-choice right-back in six consecutive appearances and notched his first League goal with the winner against Crewe Alexandra last month. Arthurworrey has also played half a dozen games since moving north from Craven Cottage and is forming a promising centre-back partnership with Ash Taylor. Kennedy joined a week later and has five games under his belt.
Moore says he will have to send out players from his own squad on loan to other clubs, thus reducing the wage bill, before Rovers can afford to make any further loan signings this season. Although the close of the January window shut out the prospect of any permanent deals, Football League clubs can make use of the emergency loan system until late March. The manager isn’t short of options in terms of numbers in the dressing room. Moore has a fully fit squad to select from for the first time this season. “It is the strongest hand I have had all season and it will be interesting to see how we go from here,” he said.
Blues pioneer to be saluted
4 Feb 2014 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
Everton Heritage Society to rededicate Will Cuff’s grave
The Anfield grave of long-serving Everton administrator Will Cuff will be rededicated next Monday, thanks to the Everton Heritage Society. Cuff served the Blues for more than half-a-century until his death in 1949 – and oversaw two FA Cup wins, three league championships and the growth of the club from Victorian pioneers to modern 20th century football club. He was a president of the Football League and vice-president of the FA, and on the weekend of his death all league and cup matches observed a period of silence and every player wore “black armlets.” With his surviving family having emigrated to Australia, however, his grave in Anfield Cemetery has become overgrown and dilapidated. Heritage Society chairman Paul Wharton explained: “Given Will Cuff’s stature in football and his place in Everton’s history we thought it appropriate that his grave should be properly tended. “It will be rededicated on Monday at 2pm and we hope supporters will turn up to witness the occasion. “Not only was he a great Evertonian, but he was a great product of the city of Liverpool.” Current Blues officials are expected to attend the short ceremony at Anfield Cemetery on Priory Road to pay their respects to a man who served the Blues as a director, secretary, reserve team manager, board member and chairman for more than half-a-century. On his death in 1949, the ECHO reported: “Football has lost a great and gifted legislator in the death of W C Cuff, President of the Football League, which took place suddenly yesterday in his 81st year. “Will Cuff never allowed anything to interfere with his duty to football. He devoted a lifetime’s loyal and invaluable service to the game and lived for nothing but the betterment of it. He was a man of immense energy and great foresight, who brought a trained legal mind to the manifold problems of the game which he had loved since his earliest days.” Those earliest days went back to league football in its most raw form. A committee man of the old St Domingo’s Church team which Everton was formed from, Cuff became an Everton shareholder in 1892 and supported his great friend George Mahon in the stand against John Houlding which led to the split which formed Liverpool FC. He became an Everton director in 1894, aged just 26, was appointed club secretary in 1901 – at the time the only paid position in the club’s management structure – was appointed chairman in 1921 and then president of the Football League in 1938 until his death in 1949. As secretary he was largely responsible for team selection and as such oversaw the club’s first FA Cup win in 1906, the title triumph of 1914/15 and was behind the decision to send the Blues on the ground-breaking 1909 tour of South America.
He was chairman during the halcyon years of the late 1920s and early 1930s when Everton were twice crowned champions and won the FA Cup for a second time in 1933.
He also sanctioned the £3,000 purchase of a young Tranmere Rovers striker called Dixie Dean and later said: “Contentious commentators may argue the difference between a (Pongo) Waring or a (Tommy) Lawton and a Dean, but in my humble estimation, William Dean was the greatest of all centre forwards. “Dean was a thorough sport, but to youngsters in hospitals, to charity appeals, to any cause of worthy character, he was just a slave. He made a packet out of football and being the light-hearted sportsman he was. He sacrificed a good deal of it and now is engaged at Chester at the Dublin Packet Hotel, and making another “packet” I hope.” Dean famously wore the number nine shirt for the first time in the 1933 FA Cup final, and Cuff was instrumental in the numbering of shirts being adopted universally throughout the league. “At his first annual meeting it looked as though nobody would have the courage to propose it,” reported the ECHO. “The president took the bull by the horns and put the matter to the vote as a private motion of his own. It was duly carried.”
Cuff took a three-year hiatus from football in 1919 during which he helped develop the city law firm Cuff-Roberts (incorporated into Halliwells in 2004) and supported the creation of first EFC shareholders Association in 1938. He stood down as chairman at the outbreak of War in 1938/39, but continued to serve on the board of directors for another decade. He fell ill after returning from making an FA Cup draw in London and died on February 6, 1949. His funeral service was presided over by reverend James Jackson (the former Liverpool player known as Parson Jackson).
Ian Snodin: Mirallas’ free-kick taught me to keep my big mouth shut!
4 Feb 2014 Liverpool Echo
Snods on Everton's set piece specialists
I enjoyed 20 years as a professional footballer, but after Saturday I would be surprised if my commentary career reached similar heights. To put it mildly, I’ve had a shocker!
I was doing to co-comms for Everton TV on Saturday, alongside Darren Griffiths. And when Ciaran Clark ploughed into Kevin Mirallas five minutes from time, I let my mouth talk before my brain had engaged. “It’s too far out for a shot,” I said. “I think they’ll work it into the box.”
I looked at it, 30 yards from goal, and thought that if Brad Guzan was beaten from there, then Aston Villa fans were entitled to ask big questions of their goalkeeper.
How wrong was I?!
Mirallas picked out an absolute peach of a free kick, straight into the corner. It was unstoppable, and it will teach me not to open my mouth in future! I played alongside Kevin Sheedy, and he was the best around when it cames to dead balls. He was a naturally-gifted striker of the ball, and he practiced a lot to perfect his technique. Everton fans will always remember the two free kicks he scored in the same game against Ipswich, before I joined the club. The current squad, though, has competition for set-pieces. Mirallas, Leighton Baines and Ross Barkley have all scored direct free-kicks this season, which is staggering when you think about it. How many other clubs have three specialists? Mind you, Everton needed Mirallas’ intervention this week. Badly. After the disappointment of the derby - I won’t be going in-depth about last Tuesday night, trust me! - they needed a response. For 45 minutes against Villa, it just never happened. Goodison was flat, and so was Everton’s performance. It wasn’t for the want of trying, but it just didn’t happen. We didn’t move the ball quickly enough, we didn’t create enough, and we got caught cold for their goal, losing the ball in midfield and then not recovering our defensive shape quickly enough.
At half-time, it looked like we would be settling for a point at best, but we showed our character and turned it round in the second half. It was a massive win for us. We got two superbly-worked goals, and the overall performance in the second half was vastly improved. It would have been easy to go under after a derby defeat and a poor first half, but the players stood up to be counted, and gave the fans something to shout about at the end of a disappointing week. Goodison, so quiet and nervous in the first half, was bouncing by the end, and I was in the middle of it, singing the Kevin Mirallas song!
Blues right not to spend
It was a quiet day at Goodison on transfer deadline day, but I don’t think Everton fans need to be too disappointed with that. I agreed fully with Roberto Martinez in what he said. January is a gambler’s window, and if you get it wrong, it can do more damage to a club than good. Everton brought in Aiden McGeady and Lacina Traore, who are both promising signings. When those two are up and running, and when the likes of Deulofeu, Coleman, Lukaku are back playing, our squad looks more than strong. Add in Darron Gibson and Arouna Kone, and it looks even better. The time to strengthen for Everton will be in the summer, if they lose their loan players. Not in January, when things are going well. Everton don’t need saving, they need fine tuning, and in a concentrated window like January, that is nowhere near as easy as it sounds. I don’t think either Nikica Jelavic nor John Heitinga are any great loss, given the minutes they have played this season, we could afford to lose them. Fans always want new signings, but I think Everton were absolutely right to keep their powder dry on this occasion.
Naisy deserved acclaim
There's nothing better as a footballer than hearing supporters chanting your name.
Steven Naismith hasn’t necessarily had that experience during his time at Everton, but he enjoyed it on Saturday. Deservedly so, as well. He was excellent when he came on, working hard, and putting their defence under pressure. He took his goal well, and he, along with Steven Pienaar, changed the game in Everton’s favour. It can be difficult for bit-part players, but credit where its due; Steven deserved the acclaim.
Ready to take Spurs
Tottenham are hovering on the horizon for Everton, and what a game that promises to be.
The big clashes are coming thick and fast. I can’t wait to see the Blues get stuck into them.
They’re a good side, Spurs, with some very good players. They have a bit of pace, a bit of power, and a bit of height. They are capable of causing us problems. But at the same time, they are vulnerable at the back, and you have to fancy us to do the same to them.
Right now, I’d take a point. But I bet Roberto wouldn’t!
Fit and proper? Not at Leeds!
I'd never argue with any fan that wants their club to have the best possible financial backing, or the best possible players. After seeing the weekend’s events at Leeds, mind, I would urge any supporter to think very carefully before wishing for wealthy foreign owners. I was at the Dockers Club for an amateur boxing competition on Friday night when I got a text from a friend which read; “only at Leeds! Manager sacked on deadline day!” I couldn’t believe it. Recent form hasn’t been great, but that is no way to run a club, or to treat a manager. Brian McDermott deserved much better.
Some of the stories coming out of Elland Road have been barely believable. Taxis being chased around the car park, new players turning up and there being nobody there to sign the transfer forms, and McDermott being sacked and then reinstated - it was a return to the farcical days of the early-2000s. Everton fans might not be 100% happy with the way their club is run, but I can guarantee that it is a million times better than what is going on at some clubs. I only hope Leeds and Brian McDermott come out of this happy, but I suspect that it might get worse before it gets better.
I hope I’m wrong.
Everton FC's Gerard Deulofeu back from hamstring injury
5 Feb 2014 Daily Post
But lack of match fitness may mean he is not ready for Sunday's trip to Tottenham
Everton FC's on-loan forward Gerard Deulofeu has given manager Roberto Martinez a boost having recovered following a hamstring injury. Deulofeu, on loan from Barcelona, has been sidelined by the injury since December 14 but is now fully recovered, although his lack of match fitness will be taken into account by Roberto Martinez ahead of Sunday’s trip to fellow Champions League-chasing rivals Tottenham. However, with leading scorer Romelu Lukaku out for at least the next month with an ankle problem, having the 19-year-old Deulofeu back is a welcome boost for Everton.
Defender Seamus Coleman, who was an unused substitute for Saturday’s win over Aston Villa after returning from injury himself, looks likely to start at White Hart Lane. Martinez said: “Everyone is massively needed. We are in a situation were a couple of players will come back from injury and that puts us in a better position than we were a couple of weeks ago. “Gerard he such a positive young man and the fact he has been missed so much at Everton is a reflection of the type of person he is.
“We have the game on Sunday so we will be able to assess him as the week goes on but he is fully fit from a medical point of view. It is making sure he is match fit. “Seamus is fully fit from a medical point of view and although he was on the bench on Saturday it was too much of a risk to bring him on. January loan signing Lacina Traore is probably a week away from consideration after arriving from Monaco with a hamstring problem. “We will take our time with Lacina to make sure he is fully fit,” said Martinez.
Everton FC announce record five-year kit deal with Umbro
% February 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keefe
British firm will take over as club’s kit supplier from American brand Nike this summer
Everton FC have announced a club record five-year kit deal with sportswear manufacturer Umbro.
The British firm will take over as the club’s kit supplier from American brand Nike this summer.
It resumes an old partnership with the Blues, who sported the Umbro double diamond for many previous seasons, most recently from 2004-09, and last won the top flight title and FA Cup in their kits. Toffees chief executive Robert Elstone said: “The club is delighted to be entering into this new and exciting partnership and looks forward to working alongside the Umbro team over the next five years. “Umbro has an unrivalled football heritage and is committed to maintaining its reputation for design excellence and innovation. “Of course, we’re starting from a good place. Based on many years of working together, Umbro enjoys a great affinity with Evertonians.”
The arrangement, which officially begins on June 1, will also see Umbro take over as sponsors of some of the club’s grass-roots initiatives. Everton have given no details of the financial aspects of the agreement but the ECHO understands it to be a club record for a deal of its type.
The Blues invited a select bunch of supporters to Umbro’s Manchester headquarters for a secret unveiling yesterday, after keeping the fans guessing about where they were headed until they arrived. Roberto Martinez then took part in a question and answer session with the Evertonians after the kit deal was announced. The Blues boss said: “Everyone at the club is not only delighted, but excited, to be back wearing the Umbro diamond next season. “I have been involved in a number of discussions with Umbro over the past few months in preparation for next season and their approach to quality, design and the technical aspects of the product is unique and I have no doubt it will help us to perform to our full potential on the pitch.” The new home kit will be on sale in July this year and will include sizes in all ranges and available for men, women, juniors, infants and babies, something which was an important part of the deal according to Elstone.
"Supporters can expect bespoke kit designs and great-looking, technically advanced training wear," he added. "It was also really important that we could guarantee fans across all ages could show their colours with pride and, as Umbro’s flagship club, all Evertonians can look forward to enjoying quality product over the term of the deal.” Paul Nugent, vice president of Global Marketing for Umbro, said: “Everton is a club with the right character, personality and tradition so it’s the perfect partner for Umbro. The prospect of working with a club that is as ambitious as we are is hugely exciting. “Umbro celebrates its 90th birthday this year and, quite simply, no other brand shares our experience of making football kits. We appreciate the importance of kits to both players and fans. We are meticulous about creating both technical and stylish product for players to perform to their best in, and that fans are proud to wear. “Everton fans can expect smart, modern and importantly, unique kits next season.”
Deulofeu desperate to show Blues what they have missed
5 Feb 2014 Liverpool Echo
Gifted Barcelona loan star is expected to return for the Blues trip to face Tottenham on Sunday
Gerard Deulofeu is desperate to show Everton FC what they have missed while he has been out injured, insists Roberto Martinez. The gifted Barcelona loan star is expected to return for the Blues trip to face Tottenham on Sunday after a near two-month injury lay-off.
Deulofeu, 19, is raring to shine for the Blues between now and the end of the campaign, and will return an even better player according to the Toffees boss. He said: “He’ll definitely come back stronger. He’s excited about playing. He’s been suffering away from Finch Farm watching the games.
“I can guarantee the fans they will see a very different Gerard Deulofeu and someone who is ready to be very important.” Martinez revealed that Deulofeu has taken his temporary club to his heart so much that he returned from Barcelona, where he has been recovering from a hamstring problem suffered in December, to watch a number of Blues games. And his familiarity with the Goodison set-up will mean he can hit the ground running. “He travelled over to watch the team in action in a couple of games, and he just really wants to help now,” said Martinez. “When you’re a young man it’s even harder being out injured and I can’t wait to see him helping the team again.
“Gerard already has an incredible experience under his belt. He’s come back completely refreshed and desperate to play for Everton. “The good thing is now he comes back to an environment he knows well. In the summer he came into a club with only an idea of what he might find, but it surpassed his expectations. “The fans welcomed him and they were delighted in the manner he performs and brings something unique.” Martinez added that another influential performer, Seamus Coleman, is also in the running to face Spurs at White Hart Lane on Sunday.
Despite a crippling spate of injuries over the winter period, the Blues have maintained their ambition for a European return and head to North London a point ahead of sixth-placed Spurs.
“They are very important players and we have had good news on them. I would say Seamus is probably in the right category [to play]. “Gerard is back from Spain, and is training too. Obviously we will have to assess him to see how quickly we can get him match fit.
“From a medical point of view, he is fit and that's really positive and we have to make sure we give him the right doses of work. “We're really excited at having those two back. Sylvain Distin and Phil Jagielka came through the game against Aston Villa with no problems. We are getting important numbers alongside Lacina Traore, who is working well on a daily basis and getting close to being ready to make his full debut.”
Greg O'Keeffe: Five things we learned during Everton's transfer window
5 Feb 2014 Liverpool Echo
Everton FC writer Greg analyses January for the Blues
Everton FC enjoyed a productive January transfer window as the squad was reinforced with new arrivals while the club retained the services of Leighton Baines.
But after a few day's grace, what are the key lessons we can learn?
1) Roberto Martinez has his predecessor's eye for a bargain
David Moyes specialised in discovering under-appreciated gems and polishing them up into crown jewels. His hit-list in that respect takes some beating; Steven Pienaar, Mikel Arteta, Joleon Lescott, Tim Cahill etc. He also had a rare eye for a bargain, and with the capture of Aiden McGeady Martinez has proved likewise. At a rumoured £200,000 the Republic of Ireland winger has Champions League experience and joins the Blues for more than £9m less than Spartak Moscow paid for him four years ago.
2) Martinez keeps his word
The Blues boss promised Nikica Jelavic and John Heitinga they would be allowed to leave and seek first team football elsewhere in order to boost their World Cup hopes, and even though the departure of the experienced pair arguably weakened his squad, he kept to his vow.
3) Leighton Baines was going nowhere Martinez insisted that Everton's outstanding left back would be going nowhere in January, and so it proved. He managed to persuade Baines to end months of unhelpful speculation and commit his future to the club.
4) Everton have begun to depend on Seamus Coleman
It's no coincidence that the Irishman's absence in recent weeks has come at the same time as some poor results.
The Toffees need experienced, attack minded full-backs to make Martinez's high line, passing tactical approach work – and while John Stones is a genuine prospect at centre-back, he hasn't got the adventure or flair of Coleman.
5) It may not be possible to rely on Gareth Barry all season
If Martinez was going to do any business on deadline day it was for a defensive midfielder. He held talks with Mario Suarez of Atletico Madrid but couldn't push through a deal.
That, along with Darron Gibson's long-term absence, suggests he sees the previously indomitable axis of Gareth Barry and James McCarthy of needing some support. Barry has played almost every game since he joined in the summer, and at 32 it is not something he is used to after a season on the bench at Manchester City. Martinez must hope now that the former England man can maintain his stamina for another few months.
McCarthy's our Mr Reliable
6 Feb 2014 Liverpool Echo
McCarthy makes team tick, says Martinez
Roberto Martinez has hailed the reliability of Everton FC’s unsung hero James McCarthy.
The Republic of Ireland midfielder was temporarily shifted to right-back on Saturday as the Blues chased the game against Aston Villa. McCarthy, 23, slotted in seamlessly to help Everton regain the upper hand and ultimately grab three points, and Martinez believes he can rely on his £13m summer capture from Wigan in any situation. He said: “James is one of those players you sometimes don’t appreciate but he’s always there making sure the team has the right balance and what it needs.
“He allows others to shine. “He can adapt to different situations during a game when you need him to because of the tactical awareness that he has. “At the weekend you saw that influence in the manner that we were able to get men forward, and give us the momentum to make it hard for Villa to keep a clean sheet.” McCarthy has already made an impressive 156 Premier League appearances despite only being 23, and made his top flight debut for Wigan Athletic against Manchester United at the age of 18. It is that maturity and wealth of experience which make him such a valuable player, added Martinez. “James never plays according to his age because of the incredible amount of experience he already has at 23,” he said. Meanwhile, Kevin Mirallas has admitted that winning the club’s player of the month award for January was soured by the disastrous derby defeat at Anfield. The forward’s two goals contributed to the 2-0 home win over Norwich City and a 1-1 draw at West Bromwich Albion. And while he was pleased to be given the award for the first time, the Belgian said: “Last month was good for me. “It was tough because I will always think of it as the month where we lost the derby but what is important now is to go on and try to win every game.
“My best moment was probably the free-kick against Norwich. “I’d tried something similar against Stoke in the first game of January but hit the post. “Against Norwich, it was the same free-kick but I scored and I was happy. “I also enjoyed the assist for Johnny (Heitinga) against Stevenage because it was Johnny’s last goal for the club. “I meant maybe to score a goal, but it was good for Johnny, good for me and good that we won the game.”
Blues freeze kids' season ticket prices at £5 per game
6 Feb 2014 Liverpool Echo
Rise in adult tickets, but discounts for anyone renewing their ticket early
Everton FC will freeze season ticket prices for all junior schoolchildren at £5 per game for the third season in a row. The club’s £95 season ticket has proved hugely popular since its introduction with an annual 8% increase in uptake from young supporters. All children in year six (aged under 11) or below in the 2014/15 season are eligible, and the offer is available for all areas of the stadium including the family enclosure. Junior season ticket prices for children in year 11 (under 16) or below have also been frozen at £149 for next season, less than £8 per game, in the family enclosure and £199, just over £10 per game, throughout the remainder of the stadium.
There has been a small increase in adult and concession season ticket prices, with adult prices starting from £444, an £18 increase on the price of £426 for the current campaign.
The Blues are also keen to reward fans who renew early, with a discount for returning or renewing season ticket holders that offers a minimum 25% saving when compared to purchasing on an individual game basis. There is also a 20% minimum discount for any supporter purchasing for the first time before the early bird deadline of Tuesday, April 22. Everton has also extended its payment plan options. In addition to an Everton MasterCard nine month interest free offer, the club will offer supporters the opportunity of paying by direct debit in up to 10 monthly instalments.
Chief executive Robert Elstone said: “The combination of exciting football, great results and a fair pricing policy means we are seeing more full houses, record half season ticket sales and a healthy increase in average attendance. “For 2014/15, it was really important that Goodison remained affordable. I am delighted to confirm a price freeze on both our junior season ticket offers and retain prices lower than they were a decade ago. I’m also pleased to be able to respond to requests from fans to extend our payment plan options and we can now allow fans to spread their season ticket cost over a 10 month period.” As in previous years, there’s no booking fee for online purchases and season ticket holders will be able to re-sell their ticket for games they are unable to attend through Stubhub, the club’s official secondary ticketing partner.
Everton FC jury on Mirallas, Spurs and Seamus Coleman
6 Feb 2014 Liverpool Echo
Blues fans have their say on the issues of the day
Paul McAllister, Fazakerley
SATURDAY was the toughest test of our entire season so far. I really feared that the annihilation we suffered at Anfield could have completely killed off our season.
Thankfully, Mirallas’ world class free-kick gave us the three points we desperately needed. That, along with our rivals slipping up, means that we’re still firmly involved in the race for fourth.
Before his goal Kevin had a quiet game against Villa playing up top but nevertheless, I would stick with starting him as our lone striker for the trip to Spurs, assuming Traore won’t be fit.
It may seem harsh on the in-form Naismith but the Belgian always has a trick up his sleeve and is a born match-winner. John Stones, as talented a young man he is, is clearly not a full-back. He has looked very uncomfortable playing out wide since filling in for Coleman. Coleman’s return can’t come quick enough.
Matthew Jones, Prenton
YOU could sense the trepidation around Goodison Park as Everton trudged off at half-time 1-0 down. against Aston Villa. It was the kind of uninspired 45 minutes those of a blue persuasion would have feared after that defeat in the derby, and with a squad riddled by injuries, Three points looked a long way off. But some shrewd managerial changes, spades of character and a sprinkling of Kevin Mirallas stardust saw the Toffees secure a vital win. in their pursuit of Champions League football. And with Liverpool, Spurs and Manchester United all dropping points, all of a sudden things are looking a little brighter – especially with a host of players returning after that mini injury crisis.
That should buoy the players ahead of a huge game at Tottenham on Sunday. It’s a great chance to leave a mark on an immediate rival for one of those top four spots. and hopefully make some ground up on Liverpool, who will have their work cut out against leaders Arsenal.
Spurs have been a little inconsistent and occasionally unsure under Tim Sherwood and whilst they have played some bright attacking stuff, they seem to be creaking defensively. Everton can take advantage of that. and with Seamus Coleman set to return and Gerard Deulofeu ready to play some part, the squad looks a whole lot stronger heading into this one.
Martin Shaughnessy, Prenton
THE shock and disappointment from that derby nightmare seemed to still be lingering around the whole of Goodison on Saturday. With feelings of déjà vu, one mistake and one breakaway – we were 1-0 down and nerves and tension multiplied. Credit to Martinez for making the positive changes and making them with sufficient time to have an impact. Likewise the players – they could easily have panicked and lost all confidence but they stuck to it and put in a much-improved second-half performance. One of the few to come out of the derby with any credit, Mirallas seems to have found his self belief and looks to be up for the challenge of pushing the big boys all the way.
Hopefully our injuries have peaked – the bench is starting to look strong again with players who can make an impact.
Lee Molton, St Helens
THE Blues left it late, but a fantastic free-kick from Kevin Mirallas got the three points to send the Evertonians home happy on Saturday. Everton kept up their great home record to beat Aston Villa 2-1 and keep them in the hunt for Europe. Steven Pienaar came off the bench at half-time and helped change the game along with Steven Naismith.
He took his goal really well.
We seem to have got through our injury crisis now and are getting players back.
It will be good to welcome back Gerard Deulofeu at the weekend.
The game at Spurs on Sunday is a big game for us and if we could win, we would really put the pressure on Liverpool for fourth spot.
Tottenham are certainly beatable and a draw would also be good.
Fourteen games to go – and we still have a lot to play for in the League and the Cup.
Martinez has turned Everton into a team of thinkers' claims Leighton Baines
7 Feb 2014 Daily Post
'You enjoy it if you enjoy thinking about football. I enjoy figuring things out and solving problems. Just trying to get on the same page as the manager and his staff' Leighton Baines believes Roberto Martinez has turned Everton into a team of thinkers, who are excited about developing their tactical knowledge as they progress. The England left-back credits Martinez with playing a major part in his decision to commit his future to the club recently by signing a new contract. And Baines, 29, claims the change in methods under the Catalan has rejuvenated the Goodison dressing room, and convinced them they would be well suited to European football again if they can achieve their aim of a return to the continent next term. He said: “It’s still a work in progress at times. Every time we get comfortable in certain aspects the manager will introduce something else. We’re slowly improving as a team. “You enjoy it if you enjoy thinking about football. We’ve got a lot of players doing their coaching badges so it’s interesting for them. I enjoy figuring things out and solving problems. Just trying to get on the same page as the manager and his staff. “It comes naturally. I watch games differently from how I did as a teenager. You’re watching a game but from a tactical point of view. You see what someone is doing and how the other team is combating that to get their advantage.
“This is the style that probably all the top teams in Europe play. If we qualify for Europe then our style automatically fits to Europe and we don’t have to adapt. “As players you want to pit your wits against the top sides on the continent. Now we’ve got from now to the end of the season to try and give everything we've got to try and get there.” Baines said he is relieved to have put the doubt over his future to rest by signing his contract. “It was great to commit to the club and put everything else to bed,” said the defender. “I can focus on football and the future now and move forward.” Baines believes his best years are still ahead of him, adding: “I’m still in good shape and adding experience. “I can evolve and become a different player as I approach my 30s and beyond. In each position all of us are playing slightly different to how we did before and the manager says that can keep us playing longer which is a good thing.” The Toffees go into Sunday’s game with Tottenham in fifth place, a point ahead of the Euro-chasing Londoners. And Baines hopes the Blues faithful can be rewarded for their devotion with a special end to Martinez’s first season. He added: “This season might have been viewed as transitional and we may have got away with that if it hadn’t gone great.“But we’ve got some really good results and performances. Now we’d like to improve again and give ourselves the best chance of trying to get into European football. “For a club as well-supported as Everton to be starved of success makes everyone hungry. That’s felt from the board to the players to the fans. We’re all champing at the bit and working towards that.”
Everton FC's Leighton Baines and Steven Pienaar will help Blues season flourish
7 Feb 2014: Liverpool Echo
By Peter Guy
Dynamic duo ready to return to their brilliant best, says Martinez
Where once they sparkled, this season they have fizzled.
Everton’s left-sided combination of Leighton Baines and Steven Pienaar had become one of the most feared partnerships in the Premier League in recent campaigns. Yet this term a combination of injury and a tactical shift under Roberto Martinez has reduced the focus on the duo.
Surprisingly, Baines is yet to produce an assist in the league this season even if he has weighed in with three valuable goals, while Pienaar has only been on the scoresheet once. However, Martinez believes ‘Bainaar’ is back – and their potent cameo during the victory over Aston Villa last Saturday was proof. “For one reason or another we haven’t been able to build that constant momentum down the left hand side,” says the Toffees boss. “But I think it’s fair to say that when they are on song you won’t find many better partnerships in Europe never mind the Premier League. “You need to understand that sometimes the opposition will really go out of their way to stop that. “But they still have that special chemistry to be influential in everything we do going forward, and they showed that against Aston Villa. It was a joy to watch. “It’s stylish but it’s really effective too and we need to make sure we keep it going now for the rest of the season.” Martinez added that Pienaar’s injury problems are behind him, and that will help the pair to increasingly flourish as the business end of the campaign approaches. “It’s great to see them getting back to their best," he says. "It’s been important to get Steven back to full fitness, and we’re going to see the benefits now. “They’ve had that intuitive relationship for years and they were one of the most feared duos in the "Persuading Baines to sign a new deal was dubbed one of the coups of the January transfer window, during a period when Martinez otherwise preferred not to splash the cash on new players. However, he emphasised the reasons behind his low-key approach in the market last month, and was keen to underline that there are funds available for him when he thinks it best to spend.“I always felt like spending money in January was going to be just if we could get the players we wanted,” he says. “Clearly we got that without needing to spend the money in the end, and that’s important to me because it’s a difficult window in terms of spending a bigger amount of money.“As I’ve said, you can lose what you have in the squad if you’re not careful. Normally it’s a panic window because maybe things aren’t going well or you have difficult dynamics in the dressing room that you need to change. “Then you have to possibly gamble. We didn’t need to gamble – we have an incredible core of players and the last thing we wanted was to disrupt it. All we needed was little additions to the group and Lacina Traore and Aiden McGeady bring that. “We will spend the money at the right time and we will do it in a well measured way.”
Howard Kendall: Case for Blues to counter at White Hart Lane
7 Feb 2014 Liverpool Echo
Playing positive football the Martinez way
I’m a huge admirer of Roberto Martinez ’s positive approach and his commitment to ensuring his Everton team play their own game regardless of the opposition.
It’s one of many reasons the Catalan has been such a breath of fresh air around Goodison this season. However, I do think there’s a time when you have to tweak your tactics depending on the nature of the side you’re facing away from home. Sunday’s visit to White Hart Lane to face Tottenham is a good example. With the players available to Martinez I’d be tempted to go and play a more counter attacking game. Perhaps be a bit safer to start with, and then use the natural pace we have in our ranks to try and hit Spurs on the break. There should be less pressure on Everton away from home to dominate, press high and get forward like we’ve done so stylishly at home.
I’m not advocating this approach for every fixture on the road but perhaps against sides with a lot of quality themselves, like Spurs, it could be fruitful. To be a good counter-attacking side you need pace of course, which was one of the reasons I was disappointed with Aston Villa at Goodison on Saturday. Grant Holt and Christian Benteke wandered around up front offering very little. As a strike force they were embarrassing. There’s beginning to be some evidence that Benteke was a flash in the pan, and I hope Romelu Lukaku doesn’t suffer the same fate after a few indifferent games recently. It was a great fight-back for the Blues and although John Stones was taken off in the second half I still think he’ll be a top player given time. IT seems that Adam Johnson still has the chance to become England’s World Cup surprise inclusion when Roy Hodgson watches him on Saturday after his sensational run of form. Hodgson is making his first trip to Sunderland as England manager to watch Johnson against Hull, following his eight goals in as many games during their recent revival under Gus Poyet. Johnson scored Sunderland’s second goal at St James’ Park against rivals Newcastle, and is looking more like the player who Manchester City signed for big money.
But I have to wonder about the wisdom of an international manager coming out and saying he is going to watch any player. As far as I’m concerned it only serves to heap pressure on the shoulders of the individual who then fears he could be judged solely on the basis of that one game and it can hit their form. Roy must already know all about Johnson. He will have every stat possible at hand and will have had the luxury of watching his performances on DVD. By all means go and watch him in person, that’s important, but don’t broadcast it beforehand. It could have the reverse effect on the lad.
I have a degree of sympathy for West Ham’s plight with Andy Carroll’s red card which they failed to get over-turned.
I saw a similarly dubious sending off for Cristiano Ronaldo last week.
What irritates me about these incidents is the play-acting of the supposed victim, who hits the deck and rolls around like they’ve been shot. It’s a trait I wouldn’t normally associate with the English game but it’s starting to be more prevalent and I have a real issue with it. How do you nip it in the bud? If the review panel decide to rescind the booking on the basis the other man was acting, then that player should then get the subsequent ban. It would soon discourage those sorts of antics.
David Prentice: The season Everton took average to completely ordinary levels
7 Feb 2014 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
Prenno on the most 'balanced' of Blues campaigns...
After 27 games of their Isthmian League Premier Division season, Metropolitan Police’s record is rather fitting 9-9-9. But it still can’t compare with the most evenly balanced campaign of all-time – the season Gordon Lee’s Everton took average to completely ordinary levels.
In 1976/77, after 42 league matches – Everton had won 14, drawn 14 and lost 14, goals scored 62, goals conceded . . . 64. Just two more goals for the most beautifully balanced season of all-time.
If only Andy King hadn’t missed that penalty against Norwich City .
David Prentice: Is Moyes an unlucky manager?
7 Feb 2014 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
"The evidence that misfortune follows David Moyes around like dog dirt on the sole of your shoe is persuasive"
David Moyes blamed Manchester United’s latest defeat, at Stoke City, on misfortune.
“We had bad luck, we really did,” he said. And it wasn’t sour grapes.
United really were unlucky (stop sniggering at the back).
But it begged the question, is Moyes a manager who is dogged by managerial misfortune?
To put it bluntly, is he an unlucky boss? David Moyes is a good manager. That is unquestionable.
But it was Napoleon Bonaparte who famously declared: “I would rather have a general who was lucky than one who was good.” The evidence that misfortune follows David Moyes around like dog dirt on the sole of your shoe is persuasive. It surely wasn’t his fault that four professional footballers missed penalty kicks in a recent League Cup semi-final shoot-out. Was it?
How could he anticipate a superbly consistent centre-half passing straight to Luis Suarez while his side was leading an FA Cup semi-final? How could he expect another six feet two inch centre-half, enjoying an outstanding season, to be outjumped by a five feet five inch winger in the last minute of a League Cup semi-final first leg at Stamford Bridge? Or to guide his team, against all odds, to a Champions League qualifer – then draw a Spanish side good enough to reach that season’s semi-final? Not to mention a referee to inexplicably disallow a perfectly legitimate Duncan Ferguson goal with the scores locked at 1-1? Or how about Mike Riley awarding the softest of penalties to Manchester United 12 minutes from the end of a match which would have seen his side qualify for Europe in his first full season of top flight football? All human error. All could be considered bad luck. Or is the answer more complex than that. Do you make your own luck in football? Does the luck that is supposed to balance itself out over time balance itself more profoundly in your favour the more positive your decision making? “I don’t think we deserved to lose the game,” said Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert after last Saturday’s dramatic defeat at Everton. Maybe not, but Roberto Martinez’s bold substitutions ensured they did. Is Martinez a lucky manager? Or does he make his own luck? You can make your own mind up. I know which camp I’m in.
David Prentice: Resting in Royal Blue heaven - tribute to Evertonian Dick White
7 Feb 2014 Liverpool Echo
"Everton has lost one of its oldest family members"
Last summer I spent a riveting couple of hours in a pub beer garden with an old Evertonian who had witnessed Dixie Dean score his 60th league goal. One of the last men still around who had been inside Goodison Park that historic afternoon, Dick White recalled the afternoon vividly – both the build-up and the denouement. He explained how his father, a dignified police officer – insisted on walking his young son to the same spot at the same time outside Goodison Park every home match, then collected him afterwards. And Officer White refused to change his routine just because a young Everton striker was on the brink of making history. Dick explained: “I was jumping around desperate to get to the ground. But my father refused to be rushed. “When we got there and he handed me my gate money, I rushed round to the turnstiles and saw with horror that the gates had already closed. “The handful of spaces still left in the ground were in the main stand, and I didn’t have enough money for a stand seat. I just stood there and burst into tears.” It seems that the concept of the Everton family was alive and well even 86 years ago. A kindly gentleman, having witnessed young Dick’s distress, asked him what was wrong then promptly gave him the extra gate money. The good samaritan allowed the youngster entrance to still the most celebrated moment in Everton’s long history. “It was wonderful,” said Dick, vividly detailing Alec Troup’s cross, Dixie’s nodding head and the rapturous ovation that ensued. “But my father was far from impressed. When he picked me up at the designated spot after the match, and I told him what had happened, he told me off for taking money from a stranger!”
It was well worth the punishment.
Dick went on to engross a growing beer garden crowd with memorable tales from almost 90 years of watching his favourite football team.
The best line-up he’d witnessed in that time?
The 1962-63 title winners.
The best player (Dixie apart)?
The majestic TG Jones.
The best match? Simply too many to list, although the famous FA Cup defeat of Sunderland in 1934 merited a special mention.
It really was a sparkling evening.
Dick White was laid to rest yesterday at St Peter and Paul’s Church in Crosby.
Everton has lost one of its oldest family members.
But he spent a richly lived lifetime passing on his faith to others.
Rest In Royal Blue Heaven, Dick.
Spurs star Christian Eriksen looking forward to Everton clash
By Essex Chronicle February 07, 2014
Christian Eriksen believes spurs have to take their chances when they face Everton on Sunday.
The two sides - both with top-four ambitions - drew 0-0 at Goodison Park in November, but Eriksen felt the visitors could have won that game. The Dane was a substitute that afternoon but, now a key player under Tim Sherwood, he is expecting to start on Sunday.
And the importance of the fixture is not lost on him.
"It is a really important game,” he told Spurs' official website. “Last time we started really well and I think in the first half we should have been in front. “Then they got into the game but we still had our chances, especially in the first half when we played really good. "So I think there are possibilities this time to make our chances count. “All the teams in the Premier League are hard to break down of course, but Everton are on a run and they’ve got a lot of confidence.
"But we know what we are capable of and hopefully it’s going to be a good game.”