Bill Kenwright: We'll work 24/7 to bolster Everton squad
Jan 1 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
BILL KENWRIGHT has promised he and David Moyes will be working “24/7” to bolster Everton’s squad during the transfer window. The Blues’ number one priority in the next month is to recruit a striker to cover for long-term absentees Ayegbeni Yakubu and James Vaughan. Moyes has drawn up a list of possible targets and one name that figures prominently is Fiorentina’s highly-rated forward Giampaolo Pazzini. The 23-year-old wrote in his name in the history books when scoring a hat-trick for Italy’s Under-21 side in the first competitive game at the new Wembley Stadium. But Pazzini has since become unsettled and grown frustrated with life in Florence, as opportunities have been limited since Alberto Gilardino joined La Viola from AC Milan. Everton will be looking primarily for loans but despite some of their rivals having deeper pockets, their chairman is convinced they will improve the squad.
“Hopefully we will be able to do some good deals in the January window,” Kenwright said. “Nothing makes the transfer window easier. “The only thing that makes it easier is the knowledge that you are as one. You can’t be ‘got at’ if you have total trust between chairman, board and manager. “We know exactly where we are at and as long as we are in it together, I don’t think we have ever failed each other on that respect. “We know what we need, and we will be working 24/7 - just as we were throughout the summer.” Though Moyes did not do any business until the final week of last summer, he still spent more than £20m and broke the club transfer record to land Marouane Fellaini. That late flurry of activity had an impact on Everton’s form in the autumn but things have started to bed down and Kenwright believes the second half of the year can be fruitful. “People forget what was achieved this summer,” said Kenwright. “Because we loaned Steven Pienaar last summer people forget that we actually bought him this summer. “We extended the most important contract of all, which was David’s, and we brought in a remarkable young player, Fellaini.
There were several loan signings, which cost a few bob, and I do think that is beginning to bed in. “We have been blessed over the years when we have made decisions early-on. “This year it was just not possible. It was 24/7, non-stop, but the fact that it was deadline minute on deadline minute doesn’t negate the fact that we made some really good strategic moves.”
Gordon Lee: Everton can achieve FA Cup dream – if Lady Luck smiles
Jan 1 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
GORDON LEE has a hunch that this season’s FA Cup could be sporting Royal Blue ribbons in May – provided Everton enjoy the one quality he lacked when he was Blues’ boss – luck. A bright and energetic 74-year-old, Lee’s four-year spell as Everton manager is often unfairly described as a failure. But during that period he came agonisingly close to landing silverware. Beaten by Aston Villa in the last minute of the only domestic Cup Final to go to three matches, he had every sympathy with Everton’s experience in this season’s dramatic Premier League about-turn against the same club. He also lost two FA Cup semi-final replays, each in controversial circumstances, and guided a free-scoring team to third and fourth places finishes in his first two full seasons. “Football’s like that. It has its ups and downs,” reflected Lee wistfully. “When I saw Everton’s game with Villa this season and that dramatic last few minutes, my memory went back to the games we had with them in the League Cup Final and I wondered if we were jinxed! “That was a dramatic finish, but you can’t really get much more dramatic than the games we had with them in 1977.”
After an uneventful goalless draw at Wembley, when the Football League bizarrely decided no extra time would be played, Everton drew a Hillsborough replay with the last kick of normal time, led a second replay at Old Trafford, trailed 2-1 before Mick Lyons staged another last gasp rescue act, then lost with the last kick of extra time.
It was an era when Everton regularly suffered the cruellest luck. Leading an FA Cup semi-final against West Ham, Brian Kidd was controversially sent-off, the Hammers snatched a replay which Frank Lampard senior’s late goal won 2-1. Then there was Clive Thomas. But more of him later. “I just hope these things even themselves out,” said Lee. “It might be Everton’s turn this year to win the FA Cup, who knows? I’ve got a sneaking feeling for them. “I think the top four are out on their own then there’s a big gap between them and the rest. “Having said that, there is going to be a team that could put a run of results together – and maybe enjoy a little bit of luck “And I have a sneaking feeling that Everton could be that team this year. I hope I’m right because they do deserve something. They have competed well and kept in there without the resources of the other big clubs. “They just need a little bit of luck. I only hope they don’t have the luck we had when we faced Liverpool in the semi-final.
“I just hope this time Everton get the rub of the green, not like when I was here.”
There’s no escaping it. Much as the Class of ’77 tried to put that semi-final controversy behind them, Clive Thomas’ decision to disallow Bryan Hamilton’s late winner will never go away – possibly because the Welsh self publicist refuses to acknowledge the damning video evidence available and admit he might just have made a mistake. “I still feel so hurt about it and for the Everton supporters really,” shrugged Lee, sadly. “I was at Wembley. And I think Bob Paisley, God rest his soul, also thought we were at Wembley. We had won the game. But these things happen.
“You can’t really know how to talk about them. It’s just an experience that hurts and I just hope they get the breaks this year, get the rub of the green and win the FA Cup . . . because that would be wonderful. “I do believe that was the beginning of the big matches on television and that the refs refereed the games differently when they were on TV, they had a different attitude. “Clive Thomas was the referee that day and that was a good example. “When I see some of the decisions this season I see the same attitude. “But these things hopefully even themselves out and I hope Everton get the luck this season – they can win it. “They’re a decent team, they’ve got some good players, with a nice mix of youth and experience.” Even with luck on his side, Lee might have struggled to overcome Everton’s near neighbours in the late 70s.
It was Lee’s misfortune that his time as Everton manager coincided with one of the greatest – and certainly most successful – Liverpool teams in history. “It wasn’t about breaking into the top four when I was manager,” he recalled. “The only priority I had was to finish above the Reds. That was the thing. If we finished second, but they won it, that wasn’t good enough. If we finished third and they finished second it was a big problem. “It’s the same now, but they always had more available to buy bigger and better players. “They used to have reserves on the bench – apart from David Fairclough who was a local lad – who cost fortunes. “I think as far as the game is now, the clubs outside the top four have to realistically target the two cup competitions as their best chances of glory, provided they get a good draw and can sustain a good performance every few weeks. “If David Moyes can get his best team out and enjoy a little bit of luck I don’t think there’s any reason why they can’t beat anybody.” Lee will certainly be willing them on at Macclesfield on Saturday.
Now enjoying his retirement in Lytham St Anne’s with wife Irene, his involvement in football today is merely a watching brief. His management career ended at Leicester in 1991, his final achievement being to successfully stave off relegation to Division Two with a last day win over Oxford. But he still wonders what might have been at Goodison Park with just a little luck . . . a commodity he hopes David Moyes’ men might enjoy this time around.
Gordon Lee factfile
Lee's first managerial job was at Port Vale, where he succeeded Sir Stanley Matthews and won promotion to the old Third Division at the first attempt. He also led Blackburn to promotion to Division Two, before guiding top flight Newcastle to the League Cup Final in 1976. In his first full season at Everton the Blues topped the First Division scoring charts with 76 goals. Only his fourth match in charge of the Blues was a League Cup semi-final second leg at Bolton. Everton won 1-0 to reach Wembley for the first time in nine years. Lee signed Graeme Sharp and gave Kevin Ratcliffe his Blues debut. He finished 3rd and 4th in his first two full seasons at Everton and reached two FA Cup semi-finals and one quarter-final. After a spell in charge at Preston, Lee coached KR Reykjavik in Iceland - who later faced the Blues in the European Cup Winners Cup. Fondly remembered for his spell as Leicester caretaker boss in 1991, when he saved the club from relegation to the old Third Division. Presently retired in Lytham.
Andy King - bubbly star who became fans' favourite at Everton
Jan 1 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
“THERE have only ever been three decent Cockneys in the history of the world. One of them was Andy King. The other two are Joe Brown and Cathy Burke.”
Fans’ internet message forums are the resting place of some of life’s more extreme opinions, and this one was clearly formed before Graham Stuart signed for Everton.
But it underlined the affection that bubbly Londoner Andy King built up in the hearts of Evertonians during two spells in the 1970s and 1980s. Now chief scout for Championship side Plymouth Argyle, King’s latest assignment has just seen him return from Japan where international midfielder Akihiro Ienaga is currently on trial with the Pilgrims. King was appointed Paul Sturrock’s chief scout 12 months ago, after a short spell as boss at Grays Athletic. “Andy King has been a very busy man taking in two games a day, but it is very difficult for a head scout to take over at a football club when he has not been a head scout before,” explained Sturrock.
“He has to build up a dossier, so, so he is on catch-up at the moment. It is much easier for a man who has been a head scout to move because he takes a scouting system with him..” Twelve months on, Plymouth appear to be benefiting from the system King has built up.A goalscoring midfielder signed by Billy Bingham but who flourished under Gordon Lee, King is fondly remembered on the blue half of Merseyside – not least for his habit of scoring goals in Merseyside derby matches. He spent two spells at Everton, the second under Howard Kendall, before being appointed player-manager of Irish side Waterford United in 1989. He received his first managerial chance in England at Mansfield in 1993 and led them to the Third Division play-offs in 1995.
He joined Swindon as assistant to former Everton team-mate Colin Todd in 2000, taking over the reins when Todd quit to join Derby. He was replaced by Roy Evans in 2001, but returned as manager a few months later when new owners took over at the County Ground.
The Jury: Everton fans look ahead to 2009
Jan 1 2009 by Our Correspondent, Liverpool Echo
Debbie Smaje, Upholland
AFTER an average middle of the year, 2008 didn’t end too badly for us, with two more excellent performances, two more clean sheets, and two more wins.
Sunderland admittedly were one of the poorest teams we have faced this season, but the big win will keep that confidence going, especially in Arteta who has been back to his best recently, but improved even further after his two goals on Sunday.
The introduction of Dan Gosling has been a surprising positive too. Despite playing his first two games for the Blues out of position, he looks like another player our light squad can rely on when injuries kick in, as they usually do! Looking ahead, an FA Cup run would be nice, after last season’s UEFA and League cups generated so much excitement. Macclesfield is the typical ‘easy on paper’ tie, but hopefully nobody at the club will be allowed to forget the Shrewsbury debacle.
Michael Drummond, Speke
IT'S made my Christmas to see our home season has finally taken off without hindering our away form. We couldn't have asked for anything more from the players and credit must also go to Moyes for keeping the players as a unit throughout the tough period. I usually find all the 'high spirit' and 'togetherness' a bit cheesy but I do honestly think that these qualities have played a huge part in our form. People may think because we are playing well without a striker, we could make do through the season. Well I hope Moyes does not have this thought and looks for one, although January is a bad time to get quality players, only squad players, which is not what we want. It's too early to link us with a return to finishing fourth, I'd love it to happen but I'd like to see where we are come March.
Richard Knights, West Derby
JANUARY: Michael Owen signs and says he was a ‘boyhood Evertonian’. Andy van der Meyde scores a spectacular diving header to clinch victory in the derby. Liverpool’s 1-0 win takes them back to the top of the table. February: Michael Owen injured – out for the rest of the season. March: Saha and Anichebe out for the rest of the season. Everton fail to win planning permission for the Kirkby stadium.
April: Everton unveil ‘Destination Dingle’ – a new stadium built on reclaimed mud flats. As most of the midfield succumb to injuries, Moyes experiments with the ‘T formation’ – Tim Howard in goal and ten players across the back. May: Local residents form ‘Keep Everton Out Of Dingle’. Everton win FA Cup, in ‘The van der Meyde Final’. Liverpool lose the title, on goal difference, due to a last minute Carragher own goal. Flooding destroys the foundations of ‘Destination Dingle’.
David Wallbank, Huyton
WHO would have predicted that Everton would be sitting in sixth place in the Premier League as we enter 2009? As a result of a terrible injury list David Moyes has found a new winning formula in the face of adversity. Big performances from Howard, Jagielka, Neville, Cahill and the repositioned Arteta have been the cornerstone of Everton’s climb up the league table. Pride has certainly been restored to the blue half of Merseyside. The January transfer window is now open and you would hope Moyes will be able to improve the squad, but we have to remain realistic. It is well worth mentioning the introduction of young Dan Gosling over Christmas. It’s not ideal being forced to blood youngsters due to injuries, but Dan did a fantastic job against Boro and Sunderland.
Ex youth star Ray Deakin dies aged 49
Jan 1 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
FORMER Everton youth team captain Ray Deakin died from cancer on Christmas Eve aged 49. A highly regarded youth team star under Colin Harvey, Deakin was a key member of the side which reached the 1977 FA Youth Cup final, losing 1-0 to Crystal Palace. He never made a senior appearance for the Blues, but played 247 games for Burnley between 1985 and 1991. And he and also played for Bolton and Port Vale.
I’m ready to quit Inter – ex-Everton star Olivier Dacourt
Jan 1 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
FORMER Everton midfielder Olivier Dacourt is angling for a return to England – with Hull City reportedly interested. Now 34, Dacourt has been overlooked by Inter boss Jose Mourinho since recovering from knee ligament damage which ruled him out of the second half of last season. “I am thinking about leaving," revealed the French midfielder. "There are some offers and I am ready to go. I have offers in Italy and England. "My age does not matter. The important thing is to want to play." Dacourt spent the 1998-99 season at Everton after signing from Strasbourg for £4m. A classy, if confrontational midfielder, he missed much of the season through constant uspension and returned to France to join Lens the following summer, before moving to Leeds.
Louis Saha out for another month - Everton latest
Jan 2 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON’S need to sign a new striker has become even more urgent after David Moyes revealed that Louis Saha faces another month on the sidelines. The France inter- national has been out with a hamstring problem since he pulled up lame during the Blues’ 1-0 win at Tottenham Hotspur on November 30. Moyes had hoped to have Saha fit for the Christmas period but despite doing every- thing correctly during his rehabilitation, he never looked like getting fit. That prompted Everton’s medical staff to send for another scan, which showed significant damage to the muscle and means Saha is back to square one. “Louis has been re-scanned and he will be out for another four to five weeks,” Moyes confirmed today. Though Victor Anichebe has recovered from a back problem, Tim Cahill will be asked to lead the line again when Everton start their FA Cup campaign against Macclesfield. Some managers will be tempted to make significant changes to their line-ups this weekend but Moyes has promised to play the strongest team he possibly can. Having won their last two fixtures in convincing style, Everton will head into the tie at Moss Rose full of confidence and Moyes is anxious for that run to continue. “The boys are playing really well at the minute and I’m pleased with how they are doing. Long may it continue and we are all looking forward to the game,” said the manager. “We want to do well in the FA Cup. It’s been a long time since we had a run in it and hopefully this will be the year when we change that. “The level of our performances have improved dramatically from what they were a couple of months ago when I wasn’t pleased with what I was seeing.
“We have had Macclesfield watched a number of times and we always do our homework,” said Moyes. Segundo Castillo may return to the squad after recovering from a hamstring injury, while Lars Jacobsen - who dislocated his shoulder in September - is back in full training.
Phil Neville: There’s a real swagger about Everton's play now
Jan 2 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
IT is the time of year when little Davids load their slingshots, dreaming of the chance to take the scalp of a Goliath. Though some may argue otherwise, FA Cup third round weekend still has a magic about it and it is almost inevitable that there will be stories come Monday morning about how a footballing minnow toppled one of the Premier League’s big boys. Everton, of course, are no strangers to such tales. Mention of the names of Shrewsbury Town and Oldham Town are enough to make Blue blood run cold and there are sure to be some nerves in certain quarters ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Macclesfield Town. After all, everything is ripe for an upset; a small, tight ground, a rutted pitch and the prospect a team that has been struggling for form being galvanised by the arrival of television cameras and a number of household names.
But having fallen at the first hurdle in two competitions already this season, Phil Neville has promised he and his team-mates have no intention of bringing up an unwanted hat-trick at Moss Rose or making headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Aware that Everton have everything to lose and very little to gain, the captain is affording Macclesfield every respect as the prospect of becoming a giant killing is too much for him to stomach. “There is no other competition that can throw up results like the FA Cup does and anyone who thinks you only have to turn up for these games to get through is in for a big surprise,” said Neville, a three-time winner of the famous old pot. “Last year against Oldham we had a team packed with internationals but look what happened to us. We never performed as we should have done and ended up paying a heavy price. It can’t happen again. “Since we got knocked out of Europe, our workload in terms of games has been much less than we wanted and we want a run in this competition to keep things interesting. We want to keep the excitement in the season. “We will be expected to beat Macclesfield but if we don’t approach the game right, we will have problems. It only takes a couple of bad passes or missed tackles early on and all of sudden you find yourself in the middle of a battle. “It’s a great tie and personally I feel Macclesfield versus Everton is what the FA Cup is all about – there are bound to be shocks this weekend but we have got to make sure our name isn’t among them.” Should Everton reproduce the form they showed over the festive period that yielded two wins in the space of 48 hours against Middlesbrough and Sunderland, Macclesfield will, all things being equal, have their work cut out.
That the Blues have started keeping clean sheets again – there have been five shut outs in the last six matches – and struck upon a formation that is bringing the best out of their big players also augurs well for the second half of the campaign. Neville, not surprisingly, is hoping that season will have a silver lining and it is clear to see how much he wants to visit Wembley with Everton but he knows those dreams will turn to dust if they let their guard slip. “It’s all about being professional,” said Neville. “There is no point in playing fancy Dan football or looking for nice little flicks here and there – let’s get in and get the job done and make sure we are in the hat for the next round.
“Our preparations have been good this week and there is a real swagger about the way we are playing again. There was an air of arrogance in the dressing room before we played Sunderland and you could see the confidence in our play. “Now we have got to keep it going. When you go to a little ground like Moss Rose, it is an eye-opener for some of the foreign lads – you have to stress to them how important playing in this competition is. “For the English lads, the FA Cup is still massive. I don’t care what anyone else says, this competition hasn’t lost its shine and it would give me enormous pride to play for Everton at Wembley in the Final.” It will be 13 years in May since he first lifted the trophy with Manchester United after they beat Liverpool 1-0 and Neville was fortunate to sample the experience a couple more times. No wonder, then, that he wants to do it again. “I can’t really remember much about the first one, other than the result,” said Neville with a mischievous smile. “The second and third time you get there, you soak up the atmosphere a bit more and can take things in.
“It’s a fabulous occasion, something that you never forget and there is no reason why this club can’t get there this year. We have to stay in the draw for as long as possible to give ourselves every chance.”
HOWARD KENDALL: David Moyes should resist tinkering with Everton's team
Jan 2 2009 by Howard Kendall, Liverpool Echo
A TIE against League Two opposition might give some managers reason to tinker with their line-ups but David Moyes should make a statement tomorrow afternoon.
Though it would be understandable if he chose to shuffle his pack for the trip to Macclesfield, I doubt he will do that and I would expect the first name he writes down on his team sheet to be that of Tim Howard. There is no point jeopardising things by making changes for the sake of it and you only have to look at the fates that have befallen some teams to see why you should name your strongest possible line-up.
If and when you establish a healthy lead, then you can start to make changes or think about giving players a rest but until that point arrives, it’s imperative that you treat the opposition with maximum respect. However, I don’t for one minute think that David would do anything but that and he will be absolutely desperate to take Everton on a lengthy FA Cup run, so I would be surprised if he does make changes.
Macclesfield will start the game going at 100 miles per hour but they will find it impossible to maintain that pace and that’s when Everton’s superior fitness and ability should kick in. It has been a fantastic Christmas for the Blues and they start 2009 in flying form; it’s important, then, to keep the momentum behind that by getting another good result at Moss Rose. We are long overdue a run in the FA Cup and we can take the first step towards Wembley with an assured display against Macclesfield; a place in the fourth round beckons.
No sense in selling Arteta
THE transfer window has opened and it was perhaps inevitable that Everton were involved in the first big ‘story’. Mikel Arteta is apparently wanted by Arsenal with a fee of £12m being bandied around for his services; I don’t envisage Everton selling but you have to think whether that represents good value. If you were to get £12m, would you be able to get a better replacement for less money? Unlikely. To replace Arteta, some such as Stewart Downing would have come in but is he a superior operator to the Spaniard? Arteta has roared back to form in recent weeks and his execution of set pieces is second to none. In my opinion, he’s the best deliver of the ball we have had at the club since the days of Kevin Sheedy.
David Moyes eyes chance to end Everton's cup nightmare
Jan 3 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
WHILE the FA Cup has given Everton some of the greatest days in their history, forDavid Moyes the competition is synonymous with two words – Shrewsbury Town.
This weekend marks the sixth anniversary of Moyes taking the Blues to Gay Meadow for a tie they were expected to breeze through but ended up flattened and humiliated by as Nigel Jemson scored two late goals. Though he has had a number of chances to put things right, Moyes and the FA Cup have not been comfortable bedfellows, Everton falling at the first hurdle in each of the past two years. Little wonder, then, that he is not taking anything for granted about this season’s assignment. Macclesfield Town may operate three divisions below Everton but have league positions ever mattered in the FA Cup? But, equally, those chastening experiences against Shrewsbury and, most recently, League One Oldham are something that Moyes feels can be used to Everton’s advantage and he is determined there will be no slip-ups here. “Shrewsbury was one of the real low points of my time here,” the manager recalled. “It was a huge disappointment and it was a major upset. It came at a time when we weren’t expecting it. But here we are again and hopefully we won’t see a repeat. “The feeling was of real despondency afterwards. We had been knocked out and we had made the news for all the wrong reasons. You mention to the players beforehand about past experiences and you warn them. “When I was at Preston, I used to tell the boys ‘come on, this is your chance to make a name for yourselves’ so I have had a shoot of the boot with both feet. You never want it to happen again but it happened to us last year against Oldham, too.” Having endured so much misery in the FA Cup – the furthest Everton have been under Moyes was to the fifth round in 2005 – perhaps he is due a change of luck and the determination to embark on a run is all the more apparent after events earlier in the year. Being knocked out of Europe in a qualifier at Standard Liege and a no show at Ewood Park ruined two chances of winning silverware, so the decks are clear for a concerted push towards Wembley.
For all the sterling work he has done since taking over in March 2002, Moyes won’t settle until he has something tangible to show for his efforts, and while they could not have asked for a more attractive tie to get the ball rolling, he is taking nothing for granted.
“The cups have been a frustration and probably what happened earlier in the season is an incentive,” he said. “We were disappointed to go out of the UEFA Cup and we just didn’t play well enough at Blackburn in the Carling Cup; we would like to do better.
“I‘ve experienced both sides of the coin. This is a great opportunity for the players and management at Macclesfield, just like it was for Shrewsbury and Oldham when we played them. I know exactly what it means to them. “It’s an important game for these people but I would still say the managers of these clubs would always but the priority on their league games. Realistically it’s very difficult for any team to go and win the Cup. “It’s a long journey and a lot of sides will have their full focus on the league. But I want to have a focus on the Cup this year.” The recent cold snap means referee Peter Walton will stage a pitch inspection early this morning but Moyes hopes the Moss Rose pitch is declared playable, as the idea of blank weekend does not appeal.
“The game is at the right time for us,” said Moyes, whose side have struck form in the past month. “We don’t want it to be squashed in somewhere later on; we’d rather have it over and done with on Saturday and get the game played.” If Moyes is respectful of Macclesfield’s chances, the same can be said of their manager Keith Alexander, who has dismissed claims that Everton’s injury list means they are ripe for a giant killing.
“Everyone keeps telling me that Everton have no strikers but I don’t buy that,” said Alexander. “Just look at the way that players like Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta keep raiding through from midfield. “The truth is that they can all play up there and they’re all superb players, whether in defence, midfield or up front. I admire all their players.
“Every one of them appears to be an absolute credit to his profession. “As, of course, is their manager David Moyes, whom I would describe as a managers’ manager. Of all the top managers in the Premier League, he has probably achieved the most with the least money. “His record is fantastic. He learned his trade in the lower leagues and now has a superb record at the very highest level over many years. He’s a man I very much admire and against whom I am looking forward to pitting my wits.”
DOMINIC KING: What matters now for Everton is a very happy ending
Jan 3 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
CAST your mind back to the final day of last season and think how you felt when leaving Goodison Park after Newcastle had been swatted aside. Brimming with confidence and bravado, surely you would have felt that 2008/09 would be the campaign when Everton, who had just set a club record in terms of points gathered and goals scored in the Premier League, really pushed on. So had someone then said to you that come the first Saturday in January, Everton would have fallen at the first hurdle in both the Carling Cup and UEFA Cup, endured a torturous summer in the transfer market and won only two games at Goodison Park, it would not have gone down well. First thoughts, undoubtedly, would have been to dismiss the season as an utter failure. Inevitably, there would also have been feelings of crushing disappointment and anger. But as the Blues now head into 2009, satisfaction and assurance must be the emotions which currently grip Evertonians. Though those defeats against Standard Liege and Blackburn brought two possible avenues to silverware crashing down before the clocks went back, performances in the past month have shown reports of Everton’s demise to be premature. At the corresponding stage of last season, when 20 games had been played, the Blues were in sixth place with 33 points and had shown that they were going to be a force to be reckoned with in the second half of the campaign – Europe was very much on their agenda.
So when you take into account the problems that blighted the start of this year, it is remarkable when you make the comparison. Again 20 games have been played, again they are in sixth place, the only difference being the points column – Everton’s current tally stands at 32. That they have given themselves an opportunity to qualify for the UEFA Cup again has been down to a wonderful team spirit, players returning to form in a system that suits and the fact Everton are one of best outfits in the division. Others maybe spending fortunes, buying all kinds of exotically named players, but when you have solid foundations, a sympathetic board and a manager who can stay focused in difficult circumstances, it is easier to rediscover your equilibrium if things have not gone to plan. “We all muck in, the boys all know it and have that wee bit between their teeth and have been playing well for the past month now,” said David Moyes at the end of a fruitful Christmas period that saw EvErton draw with Chelsea and beat both Sunderland and Middlesbrough. Five clean sheets in six games shows the defence is functioning smoothly once again, Mikel Arteta has rediscovered the zip which made him the undisputed darling of the Gwladys Street, while there have been important contributions from Steven Pienaar, Leon Osman and Tim Cahill.
What’s more, Marouane Fellaini – the man who cost £15m when he arrived from Liege on transfer deadline day in September – has been getting better and better with every game and it is safe to say his best days are yet to come. When you then throw into the equation that young men like Jack Rodwell, Dan Gosling and Jose Baxter have also figured, the minuses which led to brows being furrowed in the opening weeks have been cancelled out by a number of plusses. “What we have missed is centre-forwards scoring regularly or being at the top of their game,” said Moyes. “If we’d had that, we would be a real force. We need some additions to join them, so we can have a good squad for the rest of the season.” That is imperative. Moyes must make a couple of additions, as team spirit can only carry you so far, but if he can pull a couple of rabbits out of the hat, the second half of the campaign need not hold any terrors. Provided perspiration and inspiration remain the fuels which pump this team, that, in all likelihood, should mean there are broad smiles once again on the final day.
BARRY HORNE: Everton would be wise to consider selling Arteta
Jan 3 2009 by Barry Horne, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON have made it clear that no players will be leaving Goodison Park during the January transfer window – especially my favourite Everton player, Mikel Arteta.
It’s reassuring to hear statements like that, but if rumours of an Arsenal bid for the Spaniard prove founded I believe it would have to be given serious consideration.
Midfield is an area where Everton are currently strong, and I would put Arteta’s reluctant departure in the same category as when Wayne Rooney left the club.
You don’t want to see it happen, but sometimes you have to think about such an unwelcome decision for the future good of the club. With the diagnosis of Louis Saha’s hamstring offering more grim news, we face the prospect of going through the next six weeks with one barely fit striker at the club. David Moyes has spoken of his desire to bring in a loan signing, but as we know strikers don’t come cheap even when they arrive on short term deals. I hope Arteta is still an Everton player in February, but equally I could understand why, if a significant offer came in, why the Blues may have to seriously consider it.
DOMINIC KING: Selling Mikel Arteta would make absolutely no sense
Jan 3 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
NO sooner had the transfer window opened this week than the first ‘big’ story about Everton was unveiled which linked Arsenal with a £12m move for Mikel Arteta.
You may have noticed that there has also been no official comment from anyone at Goodison Park but do not take that as a sign that the Blues are preparing for life without the Spanish midfielder. The reason the silence has been deafening in response to those stories is simple - they have no intentions of giving credence to something that they perceive is salacious gossip. Of course, you can never say ‘never’ in football, particularly during the transfer window, but consider these circumstances.
Firstly, Arteta – in his current form – is absolutely vital to everything Everton are trying to achieve. Why would they sell a prized asset? It would take a fee of more than £12m to find a suitable replacement and clubs do not sell their best players at this time of year - unless they are Newcastle United. Another thing worth thinking about is Arsene Wenger’s prudent approach to buying - he would not pay more than £9m for Xabi Alonso, as he was 26 in the summer and Arteta is a similar age. Finally, when Everton’s squad is stretched to breaking point by injuries, why would Moyes weaken it further by sanctioning any deal to let Arteta leave? It makes no sense on any level.
DOMINIC KING: Why Dan Gosling was brought back to earth!
Jan 3 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAN GOSLING had a Christmas to remember and there aren’t too many people who can say they received two standing ovations after their home debut. The 18-year-old deserved the acclaim he received from the Goodison Park crowd after capping a sprightly cameo against Sunderland with the final goal in that 3-0 win last Sunday.
He was one of the last to leave the pitch and was soaking up the atmosphere on the way back down the tunnel but a surprise lay in wait for him in the dressing room – as he made his way back, the rest of the squad spontaneously gave him another ovation.
This time, however, there was also a good deal of leg pulling and Gosling was quickly reminded of his junior status in the squad.
BARRY HORNE: It’s time to deliver in the FA Cup
Jan 3 2009 by Barry Horne, Liverpool Echo
IT’S fair to say that the one competition David Moyes hasn’t enjoyed any lasting success in at Everton is the FA Cup. A draw against League Two opposition in the third round certainly offers a great incentive to get this season’s competition off to a flying start. Let’s face it, if Everton prepare thoroughly and apply themselves properly, they should go through comfortably. And after that it’s all down to the luck of the draw again.
BARRY HORNE: Hopeful eyes are turning to Europe
Jan 3 2009 by Barry Horne, Liverpool Echo
WHO would have thought that we would be entering a new year awash with optimism – albeit guarded – after Everton’s traumatic summer? The shaky start to the season has been overcome thanks to the resilience of a tight group of players, coaching and management staff. In spite of that lack of available numbers, performances have consistently improved, culminating in back to back wins over north eastern opposition when both Middlesbrough and Sunderland were completely outclassed. With European qualification now seriously back on the agenda, attention will switch to the January transfer window – and the teams Everton are currently jostling with for UEFA Cup football next season. Manchester City have already started spending and Aston Villa and Tottenham look likely to, but Everton have already made it clear that loan signings will represent the summit of our spending. Bringing in five or six players in January isn’t necessarily a good thing. I’m a firm believer in the tactic of adding one or two quality players to a team which is performing well. That’s what Alex Ferguson has been doing for years at Manchester United. As Sven Goran Eriksson discovered at City, however, introducing five or six players at the same time can be as disruptive as it can be successful.
Moyes not rushing to the January sales
Jan 3 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES will not rush into making any hasty transfer decisions this month - nor will he sell any of his players to build himself a kitty. The Everton manager has made no secret of his plans for recruitment during the window and, with money tight, is only going to pursue one or two loan deals. There has been speculation linking Joleon Lescott with Manchester City and Mikel Arteta with Arsenal but Moyes has made it abundantly clear that neither is for sale. All Moyes is concerned about is bolstering his squad, but that is easier said than done and he recognises it will be tough to find someone of suitable quality on a temporary contract. “It’s very difficult to find a loan player who is going to improve a side that is sixth in the Premier League,” said Moyes, whose side are due to face Macclesfield in the FA Cup today.
“The problem is whether you decide to bring someone in for numbers who aren’t of the quality required or do you wait to see if somebody of a better quality becomes available. “I’ll be waiting. We won’t be buying anyone. The value of the Euro will definitely have an impact. You may have bought someone for 5m euros but that worked out at £3.5m. “Now you are looking at paying nearly £5m. If you want something, it is very dear. Even Bosman signings are not cheap. Say a player has six months left on his contract, clubs just won’t let them go on the cheap.”
Moyes has laughed off suggestions that he could be tempted by a bid of £12m plus from Arsenal for in-form midfielder Arteta or a similar offer from City over Lescott.
He is not, however, agitated by such stories, as he believes they reflect well on the quality of player now at Goodison. “I definitely wouldn’t consider selling to buy,” said Moyes. “I have no intention of doing that. There’s nobody I want to sell, it’s as simple as that.”
Macclesfield 0, Everton 1: TV left disappointed by safe passage
Jan 5 2009 by Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily Post
FOR many Everton supporters, Saturday evenings have long been a source of irritation and indignation. Despite having become firmly ensconced in the upper echelons of the Premier League, their team is, more often than not, a long way down the running order for the highlights of that day’s action. But those same fans will have been greatly heartened to find Everton in their seemingly accustomed position when the weekend’s FA Cup round-up was broadcast at the weekend. The cameras descended upon Macclesfield Town’s intimate Moss Rose stadium in the hope of seeing David Moyes’s side maintain the dismal form they have shown in the competition during recent seasons. Yet those sensing a shock were to be disappointed as Everton sidestepped a potential banana skin with relative comfort to ease into the fourth round. It’s easy to see why this was earmarked as a potential upset.
Travelling to lower league rivals in quaint surrounds on a freezing afternoon, there were more than a few reminders for Everton of the 2003 embarrassment against Shrewsbury Town. Macclesfield’s substitutes even included Jamie Tolley, a midfielder who was in opposition that infamous afternoon at Gay Meadow.
The 2-1 defeat still rankles with Moyes who, having also seen his side stunned at home by Oldham Athletic 12 months ago, is all too aware of the dangers football’s oldest knockout tournament can possess. But after a few early warnings from a spirited Macclesfield team, there was rarely cause from concern from the moment Leon Osman’s ultimately decisive strike calmed any nerves shortly before half-time.
While talk of Wembley is grossly premature, a sign of how serious Moyes is taking this season’s competition came when the team-sheets were handed out.
Of course, given the injury crisis that has gripped the already threadbare squad, wholesale changes were never on the cards. But the manager resisted the temptation to hand youngsters Jack Rodwell and Dan Gosling a start with the only omission, that of Marouane Fellaini, a precaution with the Belgian one booking away from a two-match ban and the Merseyside derby – or now derbies – looming on the horizon.
Moyes admits exiting at the first hurdle of both the Carling and UEFA Cups earlier this campaign has made a lengthy FA Cup run an imperative.
Indeed, having previously won just four games in six seasons in the competition before Saturday, a serious crack at the trophy is long overdue. And Moyes will have no option but to field his strongest team after yesterday’s fourth-round draw handed his side a trip to Anfield for a first Merseyside derby in the FA Cup for 18 years.
It was also important for the Goodison Park outfit to maintain the momentum that has been growing in recent months. Everton have lost just two of their last 13 games and, following their uncharacteristically leaky start to the season, the defence has now kept five consecutive clean sheets. The absence of the injured Joseph Yobo has made little difference, with Joleon Lescott seamlessly reverting to his favoured centre-back role and Leighton Baines adding the forward thrust from the left-back position.
There were a few anxious moments on Saturday as Macclesfield, well-drilled and motivated by manager Keith Alexander, sought to land an early blow.
Striker Martin Gritton, a willing worker throughout, struck a decent effort off-target in the third minute but the Silkmen’s best chance came on 10 minutes when, after a clever free-kick released James Jennings into the area, the full-back’s cross was wastefully headed over at the far post by the unmarked Nat Brown from six yards.
While Macclesfield didn’t come as remotely close again until the final seconds, they could fairly claim to have had the better of the possession before Osman’s 43rd-minute winner. It was a goal to grace any cup tie. After a concerted bout of Everton pressure, Mikel Arteta’s cross from the left was headed away by Gritton to the edge of the area where Osman, loitering with intent, controlled the ball on his chest before unleashing a venomous half-volley that Macclesfield goalkeeper Jon Brain could only help into his top left-hand corner. Osman is already halfway towards improving on last season’s best-ever tally of seven goals, and his versatility means he remains a key weapon in Moyes’s armour. With Fellaini benched, the fit-again Victor Anichebe returned to the starting line-up to give Everton a natural striker for the first time in almost a month.But aside from one second-half shot that curled narrowly off target, the Nigerian must do more to convince Moyes he can shoulder the forward burden with Yakubu and James Vaughan out for the season and Louis Saha sidelined for at least another month. Having gained a half-time advantage, Everton’s superior class told during the second half in which they dominated possession but curiously failed to force Macclesfield keeper Brain into a worthwhile save. Tim Cahill, who had scuffed one first-half shot straight at Brain, forced another effort over the bar after the break, the busy Steven Pienaar drove a shot across the face of goal, Phil Jagielka volleyed over and Leighton Baines was within inches of converting a clever chip.
The late introduction of John Rooney – younger brother of Wayne – solicited jeers from the away fans, but it prompted a late flurry from Macclesfield as they went in search of an equaliser. Substitute Danny Thomas volleyed an inviting ball over and, with virtually the last touch of the match, a previously unemployed Tim Howard dived to his left to repel a dangerous volley from another Macclesfield substitute, Simon Yeo. A postscript. Peter Clarke made only one further start under Moyes after playing the full 90 minutes of the defeat at Shewsbury six years ago. Now captain of Southend, the former Goodison schoolboy made the headlines at the weekend by heading in an injury-time equaliser at Chelsea. The magic of the FA Cup lives on.
This time, however, it was not at Everton’s expense.
Macclesfield 0, Everton 1: Blues put the past firmly in its place
Jan 5 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
SOME managers never learn but others find inspiration from moments of desperation. Thankfully for Everton, David Moyes falls into the latter category. While some of his Premier League counterparts will be licking their wounds today, sifting through the wreckage that an early exit from the FA Cup has brought, Moyes can start plotting for the glamour tie of the fourth round later this month. It makes a happy change.
Too often in recent years, Everton have paid the heaviest price in third round weekend for fielding a weakened team and few would dispute that two of the most disappointing results of his reign have come in this competition. If losing to Shrewsbury Town in 2003 was awful, the defeat at Goodison Park against Oldham Athletic 12 months ago was as unacceptable as it was avoidable and provided emphatic proof that making changes for the sake of it is akin to playing Russian roulette. So when the teams were announced before kick-off at Moss Rose on Saturday afternoon, Evertonians had good reason for feeling thoroughly reassured ahead of what was unquestionably a tricky assignment against Macclesfield Town.
No alterations to the defence, no changing of the goalkeeper or major tinkering with the midfield, the only amendment Moyes made to his starting line-up was replacing the suspension threatened Marouane Fellaini with Victor Anichebe, and that spoke volumes. Having just found their feet after what was a potentially ruinous start to the campaign, it would have been madness for Moyes to shuffle his pack dramatically and run the risk of losing all the momentum Everton have built in the past month.
Form is not something that can be switched on and off like a tap and, to be brutally honest, Everton do not yet have a squad that can cope with a variety of modifications and expect to win in a common canter. Given the improvements in training methods, techniques and diets, the days when top flight teams used to run up cricket scores against lower division opposition have long since gone and it was naive for anyone to have expected the Toffees to do that here. Macclesfield, after all, were determined to enjoy their moment in the spotlight, full of enthusiasm and endeavour, and had the aid of an icy pitch that had only been deemed fit for play after some of their supporters had battled against the elements throughout the night. Quite simply, it had all the ingredients for a ‘proper’ cup tie and was the kind of afternoon which reminded you why the famous old pot is still one of football’s most glorious prizes. Neutrals, therefore, may have been banking on a shock. When Terry Dunfield crashed a shot over the bar with barely 90 seconds on the clock and Nat Brown then missed a glorious headed opportunity moments later, fears began to grow that Moyes would be on the receiving end of another calamitous result. Not so. Once Everton got into a rhythm, knocking the ball from side to side, probing for openings, the gulf in class soon became apparent and with more of a killer instinct, their passage into yesterday’s draw would have been all the more comfortable.
That they were able to have matters under such control was thanks mainly to the efforts of a back four that look as if it has been reading books by George Carman on how to mount a watertight defence.
Everton have now kept six clean sheets in their last seven matches but that record should not really come as a surprise when you take into consideration just how well each member is playing at present. Take Tony Hibbert. It is a measure of how highly Moyes rates the club’s longest serving player that he returns the right-back to the fray whenever he has recovered from injury and regardless of how much training he has done. Hibbert was outstanding on Saturday, never putting a foot wrong, galloping up and down the flank from first minute to last and his efforts were summed up by an immaculately timed tackle on Gareth Evans. On the other side of the park, Leighton Baines also caught the eye, whipping in a number of dangerous crosses that, with better fortune, would have yielded goals for Leon Osman and Phil Jagielka. He also went close with a deft chip of his own. Things have not always gone smoothly for Baines since he joined the Blues in August 2007, but his last four performances augur well for the future. The pace and energy he provides give the team an extra attacking dimension. Moyes is certainly going to face a big decision when the hamstrung Joseph Yobo returns to fitness, but it would be harsh in the extreme if any of the defence finds themselves dropped to accommodate the return of the Nigerian. One man who certainly won’t be losing his place in the near future is Tim Howard, who had a relatively untroubled afternoon but was still needed in injury time to make a flying save to beat away a volley from substitute Simon Yeo. The hallmark of a top-class goalkeeper, of course, is one that can be redundant for 89 minutes and 59 seconds yet produce the goods at the death - few would dispute that is exactly what Howard does.
What’s more, it is worth remembering that the last time Everton’s blue-and-white bunting was draped off the FA Cup in 1995, they had a similarly obdurate defence - might this group replicate the efforts of Watson, Southall and company? They are, after all, one step nearer after Osman’s fabulous half-volley in the closing stages of the first half, a strike that was enough to have the visiting support broadcasting to all and sundry that ‘We’re all going to Wem-ber-lee’. At this time of year, winning the FA Cup is just a dream. But wouldn’t it be nice to think that a route back in to Europe could be secured with a piece of silverware? ‘We won the Cup’, you will agree, sounds infinitely better than ‘We finished sixth’.
Ecstasy and agony of Liverpool and Everton FA Cup meetings
Jan 5 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
WE’VE been here before, of course. But not for 18 years. Not since names like Rush, Southall, Barnes and Watson were derby day heroes have Everton and Liverpool clashed in the FA Cup. And just like that never-to- be-forgotten trilogy of ties in 1991, this latest Cup collision is preceded by an appetiser in the League. Eighteen years ago Liverpool won that league starter 3-1 – David Speedie making an instant impact which didn’t last – before Everton returned to Anfield eight days later and earned a goalless draw. But that was just the start of a series of derbies with seismic ramifications. The nation might have gasped in gleeful anticipation yesterday at a Mersey derby double-header kicking off on January 19, but this city groaned.
That’s because we’ve seen what back to back derbies can do to a team.
The potential for injuries, the likelihood of suspensions, not to mention the mental exhaustion that two derbies in a week provide – and that’s always hoping that the Cup tie is settled at the first time of asking – can be costly. Just cast your mind back to 1991. Liverpool were chasing George Graham’s Arsenal in a bid to retain their title, when they drew their closest rivals in the FA Cup fifth round. Such were the mental demands of that series of ties they lost their manager after the apocalyptic 4-4 draw and eventually finished a distant second. Everton also suffered. Ecstatic after winning the second replay at Goodison Park to set up a quarter-final at then Second Division West Ham, they left some of themselves on the derby day battlefield, couldn’t repeat the intensity of that night and slipped meekly out of the cup. The repercussions, however, are for the future. No-one wanted an FA Cup derby, but now that it’s inevitable it will be all that’s talked about for the next three weeks. It was ever thus.
For the record, there have been 20 FA Cup derbies. Liverpool have won nine, Everton six with five drawn. There have been two cup finals – the only English city to provide both participants in an FA Cup final – three semi-finals and a semi-final replay. But only two have been at this same stage of the competition. In 1955 Second Division Liverpool went to Goodison Park and shocked their top flight hosts with a remarkable 4-0 win. Then in 1981, Imre Varadi’s reward for a fourth round match winner was a meat pie to the head thrown by a dead-eyed Liverpool fan. Derby day rivalry is already fiercely intense. But for a Cup tie the psychological screw is twisted another couple of turns tighter. Liverpool had only been a football club for nine years when the cup draw pitched the new rivals together for the first time in 1902. The upstarts upset the old established order, drawing 2-2 at Anfield then crossing Stanley Park to win 2-0 at the brand new Goodison Park. There were five FA Cup derbies in that first decade of the 20th Century, Everton coming out on top in the 1905 first round and then winning an FA Cup semi-final 12 months later. It was another 70 years before the sides would clash again with such regularity in the nation’s premier Cup competition.
But then in the 1980s Everton and Liverpool were the finest two teams in the country.
Varadi’s Park End strike saw Everton start the series with a win in 1981, but the Reds salved that wound, opened up another one and then rubbed salt into it with two Wembley Cup final triumphs and a fifth round success at Goodison Park sandwiched in between. By this time the League Cup was an established competition – and such was the success of both Mersey clubs they also clashed regularly in that competition.
In the autumn of 1987 we had back to back clashes which most closely resemble this latest draw. On Wednesday, October 28, Everton went to a then rampant Liverpool in the Littlewoods Cup, and Gary Stevens’ deflected shot at the Kop End gave them a 1-0 win. The teams had just four days to regroup before they met again on the same Anfield stage. This time Peter Beardsley and Steve McMahon turned the tables. Everton might have progressed in the Cup, but Liverpool added another three points to a tally which would see them romp to the league title with nine points to spare.
Between March 1984 and April 1987 the old rivals clashed an astonishing 16 times. That series included a testimonial match for Phil Neal which deserves inclusion, because that five goal thriller was just as intensely challenged as any other.
Derby day is not for the faint hearted – and FA cup derbies are more intense than most. Dave Beasant’s giant hands have already damaged Liverpool’s FA Cup aspirations once before. By plucking their name out of the drum first in yesterday’s draw, Reds’ fans will be hoping he hasn’t done so again. Everton fans will be just as apprehensive about the impact the games will have on the rest of their season.
The nation might be rubbing its hands in glee at the prospect of two Merseyside derbies in a week. For now, at least, we’re rolling our eyes.
FA CUP DERBIES
25th Jan 1902: Liverpool 2 Everton 2
1st round replay
30th Jan 1902: Everton 0 Liverpool 2
4th Feb 1905: Liverpool 1 Everton 1
1st round replay
8th Feb 1905: Everton 2 Liverpool 1
Semi-final at Villa Park
31st March 1906: Everton 2 Liverpool 0
4th Feb 1911: Everton 2 Liverpool 1
9th Jan 1932: Everton 1 Liverpool 2
Semi-final at Maine Road
25th March 1950: Everton 0 Liverpool 2
29th Jan 1955: Everton 0 Liverpool 4
11th March 1967: Everton 1 Liverpool 0
Semi-final at Old Trafford
27th March 1971: Everton 1 Liverpool 2
Semi-final at Maine Road
23rd April 1977: Everton 2 Liverpool 2
27th April 1977: Everton 0 Liverpool 3
24th Jan 1981: Everton 2 Liverpool 1
FA Cup Final
10th May 1986: Everton 1 Liverpool 3
21st Feb 1988: Everton 0 Liverpool 1
FA Cup Final
20th May 1989: Everton 2 Liverpool 3 (after extra time).
17th Feb 1991: Liverpool 0 Everton 0
5th round replay
20th Feb 1991: Everton 4 Liverpool 4 (after extra time)
5th round 2nd replay
27th Feb 1991: Everton 1 Liverpool 0
DAVID PRENTICE: Learning lessons from experience
Jan 5 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
ALMOST seven years on, David Moyes - the third longest serving manager in the top flight - is still learning lessons. Lessons like; never make the same mistake twice.
Everton’s FA Cup ambitions were embarrassed last season, when the selection of a goalkeeper short of match practice backfired spectacularly against Oldham.
Stefan Wessels didn’t have much to do against League One visitors to Goodison, but he was still unable to deal with the one looping effort which did come his way.
Exit Everton. Fast forward 12 months and the selection of a first choice starting XI at Macclesfield, and more importantly a first choice goalkeeper. Tim Howard is enjoying an excellent run of form – he kept four successive clean sheets before Saturday’s Cup tie. And he had only one shot to stop with the very last kick of the match – 40 seconds after the three extra added minutes Peter Walton had decided to add on.
But he made it. Howard plunged to his left to make a spectacular save. The benefits of continuity were evident elsewhere. Everton trained at a local school the morning of their ignominious exit to Shrewsbury, an enthusiastic new manager trying to make an impression on his new players. This year they spent the night before the Macclesfield match casually inspecting the humble surroundings of the Moss Rose. As a result there were no nasty surprises on Saturday lunchtime when the team bus parked up.
The pitch, of course, was still covered on Friday night. But when the giant covers were removed they revealed a playing surface surprisingly flat and willing to take a stud. As a result Everton’s approach play was slick and accurate. But a final ball was tellingly absent – most notably when Victor Anichebe crossed behind Tim Cahill with the makeshift striker waiting to tap in a pass from an only recently fit forward.
It needed a flash of first-class inspiration to settle the tie. Leon Osman provided it, but the portly little pitch invader who clambered over the wall to offer his congratulations ignored the goalscorer. The object of his affections was Mikel Arteta. The Spaniard’s name will be at the forefront of Evertonian discussions this month, with rumours of bids by Arsenal and Manchester City, and a suggestion by ECHO columnist Barry Horne that the Blues’ striking problems may force them to seriously consider any offers. Blues chairman Bill Kenwright has said he won’t. And that should be good enough – because Arteta is still the most creative outlet Everton possess.
Like most of his team-mates, his influence was occasional on Saturday.
Both full-backs were given time and space to raid regularly, but only Leighton Baines got to the byline often enough to threaten. That meant that Everton were always just a solitary goal to the good – but they were never clinging on. The only romance on offer came from the Macclesfield fan who asked the tannoy announcer to make a proposal by proxy to girlfriend Katy, her answer to be delivered to a steward. Not exactly Officer And A Gentleman, but then this never really looked like being a Cup giantkilling. The last time Keith Alexander managed a side against Everton, his Lincoln City side scored three and threatened a Rumbelows Cup shock. They eventually lost 4-3. But on Saturday the threat was all contained in the opening 20 minutes. Terry Dunfield blazed over from a promising position, while the most worrying moment came after 10 minutes. Everton lost concentration at a free-kick and James Jennings was able to clip an inviting cross to the far post. Nat Brown will have nightmares for the rest of his life about his reaction. As adrenalin pumped through his veins, he excitedly snatched at his header, planted the ball over the crossbar and pounded the turf with his fists in despair. Macclesfield never threatened as dangerously again. The second half saw the League Two side pressed back into their half for long periods with Everton failing to chisel open their rearguard. But they still had near-misses from Victor Anichebe and Phil Jagielka, twice. Simon Yeo’s last gasp pile-driver apart, it was a comfortable progression. Everton scrambled past lower league opposition in the third round the last time they won the Cup, then survived an almighty scare in the fourth round at Bristol City. Saturday’s experience wasn’t anything like as traumatic. And for that we can thank the benefit of experience.
Tony Hibbert fired up by super charged FA Cup derby draw - Everton latest
Jan 5 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
TONY HIBBERT was today rubbing his hands with glee at the prospect of the “electric” derby double header after Everton and Liverpool were paired in the FA Cup fourth round. Anfield will stage the first FA Cup meeting between the Reds and Blues since February 1991 on the weekend of January 24/25 after both clubs successfully negotiated their third round ties. Yesterday’s draw has, not surprisingly, dominated conversation around the city ever since and as someone who was born in Huyton, Hibbert is relishing the occasion. The cup clash will be preceded by a Premier League meeting, also at Anfield, on January 19 and Everton’s longest serving player expects them both to be fabulous occasions. “To be first out of the hat was unbelievable,” said Hibbert. “It’s a great draw for the city but probably not one that either team would have wanted at this stage of the competition. “The atmosphere in derby games is electric at the best of times but this will be something else again and we are all looking forward to it. “The FA Cup is something we have grown up with and all the lads here would love to get into a final but there is a long, long way to go yet before we can think about that.” Everton secured their place in the fourth round after Leon Osman’s first-half goal gave them a 1-0 win at Macclesfield Town but Hibbert felt they could have made things easier for themselves. Having dominated possession and created a number of clear openings, the Blues would have been taken to a replay but for Tim Howard’s stunning injury time save from Simon Yeo. Hibbert, though, was also quick to point out that it was a professional job well done and believes Everton’s form will improve further when they sharpen their cutting edge. “It’s never easy going to those places,” said Hibbert. “The pitch in places was very icy and hard, which made it even more difficult, but I thought the lads did a brilliant job coping with it.
“The performance was good but we didn’t make it easy for ourselves by missing a few chances and that’s something we will have to improve on. “But the main thing was getting the win and getting through to the next round. We really wanted to put a show on for the fans and we should have done that with the chances we created.”
David Moyes: Leighton Baines facing tough competition - Everton latest
Jan 7 2009 Dominic King
DAVID MOYES today challenged Leighton Baines to maintain the form that will give him a welcome selection dilemma in the coming weeks. Everton have not conceded a goal since Baines returned to the team as substitute for Joseph Yobo during the draw with Chelsea on December 22 and he has caught the eye.
The left-back’s pace and willingness to get forward has given the Blues an extra attacking dimension and Moyes has been impressed by Baines’ contribution.
However, Yobo is making good progress in his bid to overcome a hamstring strain and Baines may have to up his game another couple of notches in order to stay in the team. “Bainesy has done well in the games he has played,” said Moyes.
“He’s doing fine. There is a good player there and we know that. But the competition is stiff. “That’s what happens when you come to big clubs - the competition will always be tough. "We have that at the back with Joleon, Jags and Joe. It’s tough competition.”Baines has endured a stop-start time on Merseyside since joining the Blues in a £6m deal from Wigan in August 2007, with a number of ill-timed injuries.
But the performances of Joleon Lescott in his favoured position have also contributed to him spending time on the sidelines and the manager can understand any frustrations the 24-year-old may have had. “He will obviously want to play more,” Moyes said. “I don’t think he accepts the situation and nor do I want him to accept it. He wants to play, which is good. “But, in the same breath, Joleon Lescott probably became as good a left-back as there was in the country last year. “We didn’t buy him to make him a left-back,” he pointed out. “We just found him playing there because of what happened with injuries and suspensions. “Joleon has ended up developing and been capped for England due to his form at left-back. That is where the competition has come from.” Moyes, meanwhile, is encouraged by the way Yobo has responded to treatment. and he could soon be given the green light to start full training.
The Nigerian has been closely monitored by the club’s medical staff at Finch Farm and he should be ready for the tussle with Liverpool on January 19 if Saturday’s home date with Hull City is deemed too soon. “Joe is training and is doing some light jogging,” Moyes said. “His hamstring doesn’t seem too bad. We didn’t want to risk him at Macclesfield and we’ll see how he is.”
Everton Kirkby inquiry: Row on noise at stadium
Jan 7 2009 by Richard Down, Liverpool Echo
MATCH-DAY noise at Everton FC’s proposed stadium will be as loud as a vacuum cleaner for neighbouring families in Kirkby, according to an acoustics expert.
Jim Powlson, a consultant for Manchester based WSP Acoustics, speaking on behalf of Tesco and Everton at the stadium planning inquiry, said people living on the Grange estate would have to cope up to 73 decibels at worst and that fell within approved guidance. But Andrew Pykett, sitting on the bench alongside planning inspector Wendy Burden, accused Mr Powlson of picking and choosing which bits of guidance he accepted. He said: “It’s almost as if you’re extracting the bits that suit your argument.” He asked why Mr Powlson had chosen to rely on the environmental nuisance regulations which govern acceptable levels of noise at pop concerts, when the stadium proposals rule them out. Mr Pykett said: “In short, you don’t need as much noise to affect amenity as you do to get on to the level of an environmental problem. “Using the Pop Code (the environmental nuisance regulations governing rock concerts) was inappropriate.”Instead, he suggested the noise assessment used a set of criteria that the stadium development would easily meet. But Mr Powlson said that, in fact, he had used pop concert codes as well as planning guidance to determine whether the stadium would affect its neighbours. The impact was considered “moderate adverse” at worst thanks to the stadium’s enclosed design, he concluded. Although he declined to answer why no roof had been used as in the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff to contain noise, despite frequently referencing it in his written evidence. Even if the stadium doubled in size, he continued, the noise level would only go up by three decibels. Mr Powlson also faced two hours of grilling from The Grange Residents’ Association, allaying fears that construction work would damage their buildings. He said it would take considerably greater levels of vibration than would occur with this development to cause structural damage.
David Moyes: Dan Gosling can make an impact - Everton latest
Jan 6 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES today hailed Dan Gosling’s impressive start to life in Everton’s first team and vowed to find the opportunities that will accelerate his progress.
The 18-year-old made his debut on Boxing Day against Middlesbrough and was one of the Blues’ star performers in a comfortable 1-0 win at The Riverside Stadium.
He then followed that up with an eye-catching cameo display from the bench against Sunderland and put the gloss on 48 hours he will never forget with the last goal in that 3-0 victory. Further proof that Gosling figures prominently in Moyes’ thoughts came on Saturday when he was given another brief run out at Macclesfield – and his attitude has thrilled the manager. Now Moyes has promised to reward the midfielder by squeezing him into his side if and when the chance allows. “Dan has been terrific,” said Moyes. “His performance at Middlesbrough was really strong for a young boy.
“He has got a lot going for him. “He was very close to starting in the next game (against Sunderland) but I just felt it was right for Leon Osman, who had been injured, to come back in. “However, Dan came on later and scored. He’s made a good start. Now we want to make sure he keeps progressing. “We are going to try to give him moments on the field to make sure that happens. We just hope he can keep developing.” Some youngsters can get carried away when thrust into the spotlight, but the most encouraging aspect about Gosling’s emergence has been the level-headed way he has dealt with things. But that has come as no surprise to Moyes, who signed the England under-18 international from Plymouth Argyle 12 months ago in a deal that could eventually cost the Blues £1.2m “The big thing for me was that Dan had three chances to score against Middlesbrough,” said Moyes, who is still scouring the market to find a player who will bolster Everton’s attack. “Dan is showing that he can help the team and make a difference, so that gives me confidence and belief in him.
“It’s not just a young boy coming into the team. “He is a player who can actually make an impact. That’s a big thing for a young player to be able to do.
He is a good boy, very level headed and he’s got a good work ethic about him.
And the manager added: “We had to get him when he was a 17-year-old and we paid decent money for him, but hopefully in time that money will represent good value.”
NIGEL MARTYN: Tim Howard is one of Premier League's best goalkeepers
Jan 6 2009 by Nigel Martyn, Liverpool Echo
SHOT stopping and cross gathering are two skills a goalkeeper must have, but nothing is more important than having perfect concentration. Ray Clemence was the absolute master of it in the 1970s. He would be unemployed for the majority of most games but, when he was needed, everyone could rely on him to make a fabulous save.
Which, of course, brings us to Tim Howard. It was only to be expected that Saturday’s FA Cup tie at Macclesfield Town was going to be one of his least busy days, but he proved his worth with a fabulous save from Simon Yeo in injury time. Do not underestimate how good it was. Given it was an extremely cold afternoon, the biggest problem Tim will have had is keeping warm but, at the same time, keeping his mind focused on the matters unfolding in front of him. That will have meant him doing plenty of stretches and jogging round his area. And, above all, shouting at his defenders. It was no fluke, then, that he came up trumps just when it looked like Macclesfield might snatch a draw. It is a save that will have given Tim great satisfaction and he will also have been delighted that he kept his run of clean sheets going – six in the last seven games speaks volumes for the work he and the defence are doing and shows Everton are back to their best. How good is Tim? Well, he must be in the top four keepers in the Premier League. The top four have a monopoly on quality, but our man is comfortably better than Manuel Almunia. I often hear Petr Cech being described as the best in the world. But he is becoming more and more prone to making mistakes and I would argue that Liverpool’s Pepe Reina probably has better claims to that title than Chelsea’s keeper. Tim deserves his place in the top bracket. He is a good organiser, kicks well, has terrific concentration and rarely makes mistakes. And it would be great to see his sequence of shutouts continue against Hull at Goodison this weekend to maintain what has proved to be a fruitful period.
Why Blues can etch their names in cup folklore
SHORTLY after 3.30pm on Sunday, I got the feeling that overwhelms every retired footballer at some point. You won’t be surprised to learn that it came just after ball number 28 had been paired with ball number three in the FA Cup draw.
It would be absolutely amazing to be involved in the build-up to that week.
I used to love playing in derby matches and have experienced both the highs and lows at Anfield. I had quite a good game in a goalless draw, but also pushed a volley from Fernando Morientes into the path of Luis Garcia for what turned out to be the winner.
Much will be written about the contests, but I can confidently say that if any Liverpudlian thinks there will be two comfortable home wins, then they will be sadly mistaken. I can imagine a lot of Blues were disappointed after the draw, but that’s only due to the fact everyone would have wanted a home tie against Blyth Spartans or Kettering. Liverpool, however, are not unbeatable and David Moyes will be telling that to his players as soon as the Hull fixture is out of the way. Then they can think about etching their names into folklore.
Given should be allowed to call the Toon
AS a fully paid up member of the goalkeeper’s union, I can understand the frustration that Shay Given will have felt last week. It may have surprised some people that he issued a statement via his lawyer effectively saying that he wanted a transfer. But his loyalty to Newcastle over the years cannot be questioned. He has been a top professional for the past decade and if he wants a move to a club that is going to challenge for honours, would anyone really begrudge him it?
Lars Jacobsen aiming get back into action for Everton
Jan 6 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
LARS JACOBSEN is poised to make a belated first start for Everton this evening – weather permitting. The Denmark international became David Moyes’ first signing last summer when he joined the club as a free agent on a 12-month deal, having negotiated his release from FC Nuremburg. However, his dream move to the Premier League turned sour within a fortnight as he dislocated his shoulder playing for Denmark in a World Cup qualifier against Portugal in Lisbon. Jacobsen has spent the last four months trying to regain his fitness but he has stepped up a gear in recent weeks and will feature for the Blues’ reserves at Manchester City. That fixture, though, is in jeopardy, as frost has got into the pitch at the Athletics Stadium where City’s second team play their home games and match officials have been forced into calling a lunchtime inspection. If the elements prevail, Jacobsen might have to wait another fortnight before he gets some action under his belt, as Everton reserves’ are not due to play again until January 20, when Hull will be the visitors to the Stobart Stadium in Widnes. “Lars has been back in full training for a few weeks now and is coming along nicely,” said Everton boss David Moyes. “But he needs games now and we are looking to get him going again as quickly as possible.” Even when Jacobsen is match fit, however, he is going to face a difficult task of forcing his way into a defence that has kept six clean sheets in seven matches and features a number of players who are in top form. Leighton Baines is one man who caught the eye during the recent run; he starred in Saturday’s 1-0 FA Cup third round win at Macclesfield and thinks the fact Everton have an English speaking rearguard has contributed to the improvement of their defensive record. “It’s unusual to have an entirely English back four,” said Baines. “It’s nice to play alongside the lads and I think having an all-English back four can sometimes boost communication and make little things easier.
“Earlier on in the season we couldn’t seem to get too many but now it’s all fallen into place and we’re keeping clean sheets. “That’s a credit to Tim Howard and not just the players at the back but the lads in front of them as well. "I think everyone’s playing really well at the moment as a team so that helps massively.”
Everton and Liverpool reserve games called off
Jan 6 2009
BOTH reserve team fixtures involving Everton and Liverpool due to be played this evening (Tues 6th) have been postponed. Liverpool were due to take on Sunderland at the Halliwell Jones stadium in Warrington while Everton were set to face Manchester City at Hyde's Ewen Fields ground but both matches have fallen foul of the freezing weather conditions.
Everton Kirkby stadium probe reaches second half
Jan 6 2009 by Richard Down, Liverpool Echo
THE inquiry into Everton FC’s planned move to Kirkby was due to restart today.
Inspector Wendy Burden has already heard more than four weeks of evidence from the club, its partner Tesco, and Knowsley council. Today marks the approximate halfway stage in proceedings, at which the council will present more expert evidence before the first of the scheme’s opponents takes the stand. The inquiry has heard from Knowsley chief executive Sheena Ramsey, Everton chief executive Robert Elstone and Tesco’s architects and retail experts.
Tim Cahill is my freedom fighter - Everton boss David Moyes
Jan 8 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON manager David Moyes today hailed the Blues ‘freedom’ fighter Tim Cahill as the Australian prepared to lead the line again this weekend against Hull City.
Moyes believes Cahill is enjoying extra leeway in the striking role since losing senior strikers Yakubu and Louis Saha, to injury. Moyes has had no option but to use Cahill, 29, in an advanced position – a role he’s filled for the past month. The results - both from his own and the team’s viewpoint - have been better than anticipated.
Cahill has scored winning goals against Manchester City and Middlesbrough but it is the relentless work ethic and attitude which has impressed his manager so much.
Moyes has been thrilled with the example Cahill has set to his team-mates and has no doubts he will be able to reproduce his efforts when Hull visit Goodison on Saturday.
“Tim has done a really good job for us in the last few weeks,” said Moyes of a player who has averaged a goal every three games for Everton. “He has relished playing up front and maybe that’s the reason he has come back into top form again - he’s enjoying playing with a little bit more freedom. “It’s giving him opportunity to attack more and it’s released him from the job he’d had to do before. “We couldn’t be happier with him. “I’d go as far as saying his performances have been the best from centre-forward that we have had this season. His effort has been tremendous.”
Having missed the start of the season due to the after effects of summer foot surgery, Cahill’s form dipped at as Everton were struggling for results. Extra hours on the training ground, though, have had the desired effect and Moyes feels he is now back to his best. “Maybe it took him a bit longer than we expected to get over the injury,” said Moyes, who signed Cahill for £1.7m from Millwall in 2004. “But he’s looking sharp and working hard. The way he goes about his job has been pleasing to seeI have always thought that Tim had the talent to play as centre forward. I’m not surprised he has done so well in that role.” Yakubu is still on crutches after an operation on his ruptured Achilles tendon last month, while Louis Saha is not expected to be fit for another three weeks.
Lee Carsley: Leaving Goodison was a massive wrench
Jan 8 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
THE statement was typical of the man, self deprecating and humble to a fault: “You must be desperate for stuff if you need to talk to me.” But while it may come as something of a surprise to Lee Carsley, Evertonians have been eagerly awaiting to hear the tale he has to tell about how life has changed for him since he closed the Merseyside chapter of his career and headed to Birmingham City. Some were happily waved away and others brought in more money but few departures from Goodison Park last summer caused more chatter than Carsley’s, with many Blues attributing the club’s poor start to this campaign down to the fact he was no longer around.
It was easy to see why. There may have been no frills to Carsley’s game but, as the sentry in front of Everton’s back four, he performed a role that was absolutely pivotal to the team’s success, the cog that made the wheels turn smoothly. Those wheels, however, looked to be coming off in the opening weeks of the campaign, a stuttering, spluttering start that saw Everton dumped out of Europe and the Carling Cup and led many fans to claim those defeats would have been avoided had Carsley been in situ.
Mention this to the 34-year-old, who proudly wore the Royal Blue jersey on 198 occasions, and he is slightly embarrassed by the thought – as someone who happily left others to hog the spotlight, it doesn’t sit comfortably that he had been put on a such pedestal. “It was a massive wrench to leave and the decision wasn’t made overnight,” said Carsley. “It took a while for me to come to terms with it. But what really made my mind up was that we had finished in a position that got us into Europe again and we’d had a fantastic season. “I’ve got no regrets. David Moyes is a fantastic manager and he brought some great players in after I had gone. Though it took them a while to settle, I still think it was best that I left when I did. I was never a star or someone who would stand out by doing something brilliant. “I suppose I’m the type of player that tends to get noticed when I’m not around but things move on. I had a fantastic relationship with Everton’s fans and I think they appreciated what I did for the team – I always put my team-mates first. “The six years I spent at Goodison were wonderful and I’ll never forget them. If I’m honest, things couldn’t have ended better as we had got back into Europe and that’s exactly where a club like Everton deserve to be.” His final appearance, of course, came in the 3-1 victory over Newcastle United which ensured Everton signed 2007/08 off in fifth place with a record Premier League points total of 65 and their passports ready to be stamped ahead of another UEFA Cup adventure. Carsley was one of the last players to leave the pitch following the lap of honour that ensued, determined to soak up every last bit of the atmosphere, as he knew the time had come to move on and tackle a new challenge. “It was an emotional time,” he recalled. “All my family were at the game and a minibus of 14 came up from the Midlands. Everything just felt right about the day, we got the result we needed and it was amazing walking around the pitch at the end. It was the perfect way to say goodbye.” Given the esteem in which he was held by everyone at the club, ranging from the kit men to the chairman, the welcome mats will be laid out if and when Carsley decides to take in a game at Goodison once more but, so far, he has declined all offers. Birmingham’s crammed schedule of two Championship matches a week was a big factor but there was another factor; as a sign of respect to his former team-mates, he did not want to cast a shadow over them by going back when they were out-of-sorts “We have been playing two games a week and it’s been frantic,” explained a man who cost Everton £1.9m when he joined from Coventry in 2002. “But, not only that, I didn’t think it would have been very fair of me to show up for a game, particularly when the lads were not doing so well. “People didn’t need to see me hanging around the place. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to go back because Everton are a club that will always hold a special place in my heart – once you have played for them, you will never forget what they mean. “But I just didn’t think it was appropriate at the start of the season. Hopefully the chance will come up soon and it will be fantastic to see everyone at Goodison again, we’ll just have to see when the time is right.” If Carsley doesn’t venture back to these parts, the likelihood is that he will return with Birmingham next season, as Alex McLeish’s side are battling to gain promotion as champions and it would be fitting if he finds himself with a medal draped from his neck in May. “It took a while to get used to things but we’re ticking along nicely now,” said Carsley, who has played in each of Birmingham’s 28 League and Cup matches. “We have got ourselves into a good position, we’ve got a great manager and some great players and we’ve got two old Evertonians in Marcus Bent and Faddy (James McFadden) “I’ve even been trying to convince Tommy Gravesen to come here, so we can set the old team up! We’ll have to see how results pan out and there’s a long way to go but, yes, it would be nice to think there will be a reunion of sorts next year.” And if that happens, Carsley will be given the ovation he deserves.
Derbies the most enjoyable of all – when you win
DERBY fever will grip David Moyes’ players next week and one of his former trusted lieutenants is braced for the rollercoaster ride a local tussle brings. Lee Carsley, after all, can expect to be in the thick of the action when Birmingham City tackle Wolves in their rearranged FA Cup third round tie. Middlesbrough await the winner in the last 32 but all eyes, understandably, will be on Anfield at the end of the month when Liverpool and Everton collide. As someone who is no stranger to the cut and thrust of a Merseyside derby, Carsley is sure to tune in for the game and he hopes it turns out to be a high energy affair. “It’s a great draw,” said Carsley. “I watched the last derby and it seemed to be pretty low key, which would have suited Liverpool more than us.
“We are at our best when we have the chance to build up a real head of steam from the first minute and I’ve got no doubts that’s exactly what will happen. “The likes of Ossie, Phil Neville, Joleon and Timmy Cahill all know what it’s about now and they are the men who are going to set the example.” Carsley, of course, famously settled the 200th meeting in December 2004 and is hoping that Everton’s supporters will be celebrating just as joyously after the games at Anfield. “They are never good games to play in as you want them over and done with as soon as possible but if you win they are the most enjoyable games of all,” said Carsley. “I was lucky enough to be involved in a couple of wins and the one I scored in probably summed up exactly what that season was about. We wanted to win it for the fans.”
Duncan Ferguson and Bill Kenwright storm into Everton Hall of Fame
Jan 8 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
THE last names to be elevated into an Everton Hall of Fame have been revealed – and current chairman Bill Kenwright has joined Duncan Ferguson, David Unsworth, Graham Stuart and Tony Kay as the final Evertonians to be admitted. But there is no place for FA Cup winner Mike Trebilcock, two-time title winner Pat van den Hauwe, or the highly regarded Kevin Campbell and Nigel Martyn. More than 6,000 fans voted in the poll to select the final inductees to the Gwladys Street Hall of Fame.
A total of 3,980 votes were cast online via the independent Everton fans’ websites, NSNO and Toffeeweb, while another 2,144 votes were recorded via postal voting.
Fans were given a list of 20 eligible Evertonians, of which five could be chosen to join the 119 Hall of Famers already inducted into the body initiated by David France in 1996. Duncan Ferguson was inducted by a landslide vote, collecting 1,020 votes – 68 per cent of the total. There was also healthy backing for David Unsworth – 607 votes, while chairman Bill Kenwright finished third in the voting with a total of 406.
Graham Stuart and Tony Kay took the last two places – Kay pipping Pat van den Hauwe by seven votes! France, who created Gwladys Street’s Hall of Fame in 1996, when 75 peerless players and five distinguished club officials were originally elected into an Evertonian elite, said: “The addition of Tony Kay is the biggest upset, although it will be no surprise to those who saw him play. “His poor judgement before he moved to Goodison hurt all Evertonians, but his punishment was harsh. And, unlike the football authorities, we are a forgiving lot. “I know that he’ll receive a tremendous reception at the Adelphi dinner. That said, I’m a bit disappointed that Pat van den Hauwe missed out by a handful of votes.
“He was an important member of a truly great team, all of whom have been inducted already. Of course, there are a few of my own favourites who remain in the cold. Also there are one or two members whose induction still surprises me – a feeling shared by some of their team-mates!” On Kenwright’s induction, France added: “I was criticised by some for including him on the shortlist, but I was always confident that the voters would show fairness. It’s a part of our royal blue pedigree. “To his credit, Bill has steered us through some extremely turbulent times during which the club and the business of football have changed. Thankfully, he provided stability and an enthusiastic voice for the club. But more than anything, we did not forfeit our Premier League status. “He invested everything he had into the club when no-one else was prepared to do so. Others kept their hands firmly in their deep pockets as the club faced the abyss.” There will be two other additions to the Hall of Fame. Extensive research by the acclaimed author, Peter Lupson, and Everton historian Steve Flanagan have revealed the significant, yet previously overlooked, contributions of Alfred Wade and Ben Swift Chambers to the club’s development. Victorian pioneers, Rev Chambers started St Domingo Football Club and effectively set a football rolling on Merseyside, while Wade, who was a mainstay at the St Domingo club, appeared in the very first Everton fixture against St Peter’s and later served on the club’s board of directors. Their addition will make a total of 126 Hall of Famers – a galaxy of stars, plus two knights, one doctor, one minister and an accountant. The seven new members will be inducted at the eleventh and final Hall of Fame dinner on Thursday, March 19, at the Adelphi Hotel. Tickets will be available from Brian Snagg at 07747-011014 on a first come, first served basis.
Everton Kirkby inquiry: Blues risk 10,000 cut at stadium
Jan 8 2009 by Richard Down, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON FC could see its stadium capacity in Kirkby slashed by 10,000 seats if it fails to hit transport targets. A planning inquiry, now into its fifth week, heard that the club has vowed to get 45% of all its fans out of their cars within three seasons if the new stadium is approved. At present 78% of fans travel by private car or taxi.
It has also promised to meet a catalogue of transport conditions in its Travel Plan for the £400m joint plan with Tesco. Everton and Tesco’s travel expert Joe Ellis said: “We didn’t want to just replace what happens in Goodison at present, we want to bring in a sustainable transport solution.” He told the inspector that a legally binding section 106 planning agreement between the club and Knowsley council had set up a unique penalty system. Mr Ellis explained: “We have spoken to Knowsley council about the issue and if Everton doesn’t abide by requirements of its travel plan or get more people to use public transport, the capacity of the stadium will be reduced to 40,000.” In his written evidence he outlined a raft of measures the developers will have to adopt. These include: “Significant enhancements to the railway station. Substantial new provision of coach and bus services on match days, enhancements to highway safety and capacity, and a major investment in traffic management for the motorways and local roads.” However, much of the opposition to the stadium and superstore bid has focused on Everton’s transport plans. Groups such as Keep Everton In Our City and Kirkby Residents Action Group have claimed them to be unworkable.
But the “carrot and stick” approach, Mr Ellis explained, demonstrated how committed the developers were to setting up a workable transport solution. He said: “If the club didn’t believe its measures were based on good sense and were not workable it would not risk staking a fifth of its gate receipts on it. “If they didn’t (meet these conditions), you’d have to ask why they bothered moving in the first place?”
Fastest pints at Goodison
Jan 8 2009 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON fans now drink their half-time pints from the fastest beer pumps around.
Goodison Park catering bosses installed the new pumps – which pour a pint in under one and a half seconds – this season. Sales manager Tony Watson says it has improved the speed fans can be served with their pints of Chang. “It means the fans can spend more time talking about the game and less time queuing.”
The Jury: Everton fans give their views on all things Blues
Jan 8 2009 Liverpool Echo
Lee Molton, St Helens
IT'S the calm before the storm!
Two derbies in a week – I don’t know whether to laugh or cry! Another win for the Blues in the cup with another clean sheet, too. It was a professional job with a stunning winner by Osman. This week’s game against Hull will be tough as they are playing a lot better than when we met them last September. It is another chance for us to turn our home form round and pick up three more points. The next round of the cup should be a cracker with Liverpool fearing the Blues, as we have such an impressive away record. A positive approach to the game is needed with a few early tackles to upset their rhythm. This was how Joe Royle’s teams used to play and beat Liverpool, so let’s get the Dogs of War back and even Big Dunc!Let’s continue our run to Wembley.
Mike Williamson, Chester
AFTER a start to a season we will always remember (for the wrong reasons), Evertonians can be justly proud of the team’s results and performances of late – and I must temper my previous criticism of David Moyes by giving him the credit for the turn around he rightly deserves. Just one small blip on that bright horizon – the other lot across the Park (their name escapes me). We will be underdogs in both games against them but that’s hardly worrying and it will be the Dream of Dreams to go there and get something each time Fellaini’s presence will be critical but just as important will be the approach – we have to learn the lessons of the early season defeat at Goodison and not sit back too deeply, allowing Torres and Gerrard to destroy us before we even get going.
Tony Scott, Walton
THE last time an Italian's right hand caused such a stir, it ruined the blue half of Merseyside's dream back in August 2005. Four years after Pierluigi Collina's five minutes of fame it was Roberto Di Matteo's turn to make history but this time both sides of Merseyside took a belated breath. As he presented the No28 ball to the camera, every household in Liverpool shook with shock and excitement – plus the thought of knocking your arch rivals out of football’s most famous competition.
To do this our players must do everything they didn't do in last year's derby.
Compete, tackle, pressurise, show passion – it’s the least all 6,000 Evertonians sat in the Anfield Road end will expect. There's nobody in the world who feels like we do about our team. Different fans support different football teams but we support each other.
Cole Fraser, Litherland
SO the mouthwatering cup clash with Liverpool has set tongues wagging across Merseyside and for Blues it couldn't have come at a better time. Having been unbeaten in five games and not conceded a single goal, I don't see why we can't head into both Anfield clashes confident of coming away with something. The whole team is playing better as a unit now, and will be brimming with confidence. A lot of Evertonians have been admitting that they would rather have been drawn at home, however taking some of our performances away from Goodison into consideration, I think the away draw may have gone in our favour. Having won seven out of 10 away league games this season, we have been a much better side on our travels.
Everton youngster Dan Gosling can prove inspiration - Academy coach Neil Dewsnip
Jan 8 2009 by James Pearce, Liverpool Echo
ACADEMY coach Neil Dewsnip is hoping his youngsters will be inspired by Dan Gosling’s breakthrough into Everton’s first team. The 18-year-old midfielder made his debut in the Blues’ 1-0 win at Middlesbrough on Boxing Day and then came off the bench to net his first goal for the club in the 3-0 victory over Sunderland at Goodison two days later. Gosling, who joined Everton from Plymouth Argyle 12 months ago, also made a late substitute appearance in last weekend’s FA Cup tie at Macclesfield.
“We’re all delighted for Dan,” Dewsnip said. “He’s a really good young man in the making and it’s wonderful when a manager feels he can give a young lad an opportunity. “Dan’s done everything right since he joined the club from Plymouth last year. “He came in and out of the youth set-up here pretty quickly as he had already played first team football at Plymouth and he has been a key part of Andy Holden’s reserves. “It’s great for our academy lads to see another young lad make the step up.
“It’s another sign that there are opportunities for young players here at Everton.
“Giving talented youngsters with a good attitude the chance to shine is something David Moyes has done readily over the last few years and long may it continue..
The young Blues returned to training last Friday after the Christmas break and are preparing for next Wednesday’s FA Youth Cup clash with Burnley. The tie has been switched from Turf Moor to Accrington Stanley’s Fraser Eagle Stadium (7pm) as Burnley are involved in an FA Cup third round replay at home to QPR the previous night. Dewsnip went on: “The lads have been involved in some fitness testing at the university this week. They are tested throughout the season to ensure they are hitting the levels we aim for. “We’ve got a friendly at home to Derby County on Saturday and we’re hoping the weather will be kind because we would like to get a game in before the FA Youth Cup tie. “We’re looking for more of the same in the second half of the season and we’re hoping the players will continue to improve.
“It’s a very important time, especially for our second years, who will be looking to gain the best education they can going into their under-19 year. We are obliged to prepare them the best we can.” l Admission prices for the FA Youth Cup clash will be £3 for adults and £1 for concessions.
Name: Moses Barnett
Born: London - 03/12/1990
Joined Everton from Arsenal at the end of the 2006/2007 season. Able to operate at either centre-back or full-back, Barnett is a powerful young defender who has represented England at Under-17 level. After making his debut for the under-18s in May 2007, Moses has become a regular fixture in the academy team
Stephane M'Bia: My decision to snub Everton was spot-on
Jan 8 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
STEPHANE M’BIA has declared that his decision to turn down a move to Everton last summer has been justified – because Serie A giants are now tracking his signature. David Moyes hoped to lure Rennes’ Cameroon international to Goodison, only for the midfielder to elect to stay put in France. But now M’Bia is attracting interest from Milan and Fiorentina. “I could have joined Everton, but I decided to stay at Rennes, the club which gave me my chance and trusted in me,” said the combative defensive midfielder this week. “I am indebted to them, and money is no longer important to me. I think my decision was the right one because I am still being followed by some big clubs. “Which ones? I will keep their names to myself!”
M’Bia has just returned to the Rennes training ground after an absence of several weeks with a thigh strain. The 22-year-old revealed that he would prefer a move to Italy rather than England. “Between Serie A and the Premier League I probably prefer Italy, but you should never say never. “I mean what about Spain? How could I refuse an offer from Barca or Real Madrid?”After holding out for M’Bia and Sporting Lisbon midfielder Joao Moutinho, Everton eventually made a last ditch bid to beat the deadline swoop for Standard Liege’s Belgian international Marouane Fellaini.
JACOBSEN LEFT OUT IN THE COLD
DEFENDER Lars Jacobsen is still waiting for his first run-out for Everton after Tuesday's reserve team clash with Manchester City fell victim of the cold snap.
The 29-year-old Denmark international was in line to make his long awaited bow after dislocating a shoulder in September but a frozen pitch at Hyde put paid to his hopes.
Jacobsen became David Moyes’ first signing last summer when he joined the club on a free transfer from FC Nuremburg. His move to the Premier League turned sour within a fortnight as he dislocated his shoulder playing for Denmark in a World Cup qualifier against Portugal. Jacobsen might have to wait another fortnight before he gets some action as the reserves’ next league game is not until Tuesday, January 20 at home to Hull City.
David Moyes: Forget the Merseyside derby and focus on Hull
Jan 9 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has demanded his players forget all thoughts of the imminent derby double header and channel their energies into beating Hull City tomorrow.
Everton are poised to embark on a sequence of fixtures that will see them tackle Liverpool twice, Arsenal and Manchester United in the space of a fortnight.
Talk among supporters, not surprisingly, has been all about the two dates in the league and FA Cup at Anfield but there has been no mention of that at Finch Farm this week.
The manager’s thoughts have simply centred on plotting Hull’s downfall at Goodison Park tomorrow, as he knows it will be no easy task against Phil Brown’s men.
“I’m only interested in the game against Hull and nothing else,” Moyes said today.
“The next game is always the most important one and that will always be the case.”
Since losing to Aston Villa in heartbreaking style on December 7, Everton have put together a five-match unbeaten run in which they have not conceded a goal.
Yet despite being content with form, Moyes knows the Blues will not have it all their own way as Hull have managed to score on every one of their away days so far.
“The players are doing well at the moment and have found themselves a nice niche and we want to keep that going for as long as we can,” he said. “But it will be a difficult game. Hull have got some good results away from home, such as winning at Arsenal and Spurs, and it is no fluke that they have such a good position. “They have got the ability to score goals and they always try to be positive and that is something we will need to guard against.” When the sides met earlier in the season, Everton had to fight back from two goals down to clinch a point at The KC Stadium and Moyes has been impressed by Brown’s work. “Phil has done a really good job and it looks as if they can see the safety line - but I’m sure he will be looking for them to get a really a strong finish,” said Moyes. The Blues have no fresh injury worries ahead of a game for which tickets are available but Moyes is likely to bring Marouane Fellaini back at the expense of Victor Anichebe. Meanwhile, Everton have been tracking Hearts’ central defender Christophe Berra with a view to signing him in the summer. Everton have had scouts at each of Hearts’ last four matches to watch the 23-year-old Berra, who has been capped twice by Scotland. He would cost in the region of £3m.
Leon Osman worth his weight in gold - Everton's Tony Hibbert
Jan 9 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
LEON OSMAN rarely scores goals that can be described as simple, but gone are the days when he used to dazzle one of his team-mates with his liking for the spectacular.
Everton’s industrious midfielder may not be prolific in terms of ticking his tally over, but the manner in which he tends to end barren runs is, more often than not, well worth the wait – as he proved at Macclesfield last Saturday. In the blink of an eye, Osman was able to find some space, change his weight and readjust his feet before dispatching a perfectly executed volley into the top corner of the net, an effort which even drew appreciative applause from home supporters. Tony Hibbert, however, has lost count of the occasions he has seen Osman conjure up a goal to take the breath away. Quite simply, he has been doing that ever since they were scholars in Everton’s Academy more than a decade ago. Something which has surprised Hibbert, though, is the fact Osman seldom gets talked about in the kind of glowing terms that are lavished on those who command transfer fees similar to a king’s ransom but aren’t blessed with as much ability. Had Osman been unveiled at a press conference amid a barrage of flashing cameras, rather than coming off the Everton production line, perhaps things may have been different, but the Blues’ longest serving player feels it is time his efforts were recognised. “Ossie is different class,” said Hibbert. “His feet are unbelievably quick but he never surprises me when he scores the kind of goal he did at Macclesfield because he’s been doing it consistently from the time we were kids.
“He is a great player and always has been for Everton. He never stops trying or working hard and you know that he has the ability to pull something special out of the hat when you need it most. “The fact he has come through the ranks means he probably doesn’t get quite as much credit as he deserves from a wider audience.
“If you wanted to go out and buy a player of his quality, you would easily be looking at paying £6m or £7m. “I’d like to think, though, our fans know what they have got with him and recognise what he does but it is always the same with home grown talent. “More often than not, they get put in the shade by the big money signings.
“All Ossie can do is keep playing the way he has been. The goal at Macclesfield summed him up and he is always likely to produce something special.
“He is a wonderful player and it’s always great to watch what he can do.”
If Osman’s talents sometimes go unappreciated, the same could also be said of Hibbert, who would have clocked up far more than the 206 appearances he has made for the Blues were it not for a succession of injuries in recent seasons.
But it says much for the way David Moyes thinks about the right-back that he invariably pitches him back into battle whenever he is available – his engine and ability to time tackles to perfection are assets that would grace most teams.
He certainly played his part in helping Everton progress to the FA Cup fourth round last weekend with a man-of-the-match performance, but Hibbert has no intention of resting on his laurels. After all, Premier League points are at stake against Hull tomorrow. “It’s nice to have come back into a team that is keeping clean sheets,” said Hibbert. “We want the run to continue and we knew as a back four last week there was no margin for error because we would have to deal with a lot of high balls.
“Now we have to make sure we take that into the game with Hull. We are playing good football again, we’ve kept six clean sheets in the last seven games and that’s a big factor why our position has improved so much. “I knew it was only a matter of time before we came good. The lads here are great and the spirit has always been good, but we have got to keep it going. “What’s the point in winning the odd game here and there? We’ve got to remain consistent.” Should the Toffees see off Phil Brown’s men at Goodison Park, they would consolidate their position in the top six and it would set them up nicely for a run of fixtures that will see them face Liverpool twice, Arsenal and Manchester United. There is good reason for predicting a home win, but, equally, Hibbert knows there is also room for improvement, and Everton will need to have a sharper cutting edge than the one which was on show at Moss Rose. “The performance was good last week, the only problem was that we didn’t take our opportunities,” he said. “Winning is what football is all about, but we really wanted to put on a show for the fans who had travelled. “With the chances we created and the amount of play we enjoyed, we really should have made things a bit more comfortable for ourselves. “The lads knew it afterwards and it is something we can improve on.”
HOWARD KENDALL: Hull boss Phil Brown may regret his on-pitch rollicking
Jan 9 2009 by Howard Kendall, Liverpool Echo
PHIL BROWN has received plenty of positive headlines this season, but he may end up getting remembered for the moment he lost his temper. While I can understand the decision he made to issue a half-time rollicking to his players after they had conceded four goals at Manchester City, it may be something he lives to regret in the coming months. I was involved in a similar incident during my final spell as Everton manager. Nobody will need reminding of the absolutely diabolical performance at Coventry City when we were beaten 4-1 in the League Cup. The result and the efforts of some of the players utterly enraged me and at the final whistle, I decided to make the team do some running around the pitch – to show the supporters how angry I was.
It hurt that our fans had paid good money for their travel, admission and expenses and I wanted to make a statement, but there were some individuals – namely Craig Short – who were not interested in what I was saying. To be fair to Craig, he was a top professional and had tried his hardest that night and as he marched off the Highfield Road pitch, he was followed by the rest of the squad and I have to say it was bad management on my behalf. Of course, we all get angry but Hull have had a terrific campaign and it was possibly a bit premature for Phil to fly off the handle – from where I’m standing, it looked as if that was their first really bad performance.
They are a good side and it will be interesting to see how they set up at Goodison Park tomorrow, but I would hope we have got enough quality to see them off so that we can head into the derby double header in high spirits. High spirits, though, are not something that Nick Barmby will be granted if he plays for Hull. I always found him a great lad to deal with and a good professional but the moment he crossed Stanley Park became the point of no return for him with Everton.
WE couldn’t let this column pass without making reference to the FA Cup draw, and I think the derby will be a fabulous occasion. The only shame is that it means one of our clubs will be out of the competition at an early stage. But while the Blues may be left to rue the draw, Liverpudlians won’t be singing from the rooftops, either. Hopefully, it will turn out to be a game to remember.
Clough can carry on family tradition
MANY people have tried to copy Brian Clough and all have failed, so it was terrific to see Nigel Clough’s first interview as Derby manager this week. His Dad was a one-off and nobody will repeat Cloughie’s achievements at Derby or, for that matter, any of the other clubs he managed, but Nigel is astute enough to realise that and he deserves this opportunity. He did an excellent job in building Burton Albion up, but it’s clear to see that he knows he has everything still to prove and you get the impression he will go about things in a measured, controlled way. Nigel is a totally different person to Brian, but he has got a good football brain, he has plenty of experience and I, for one, wish him and Derby every success in the coming years.
DAVID PRENTICE: Why are Liverpool and Everton so slow on the FA Cup draw?
Jan 9 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
IT’S all Everton and Liverpool fans have talked about since Roberto di Matteo plucked out ball number 28 last Sunday, but don’t expect players or officials at either club to wax lyrical in the build-up to the derby double-header. Enquiries at both clubs this week were met with Basil Fawlty-esque replies: “Don’t mention the draw!”
Tony Hibbert refreshingly broke ranks to describe the forthcoming cup tie as “electric”, but since then a gagging order appears to have been put in place.
Perhaps it’s a symptom of the recent spats between the clubs – people are terrified of pouring petrol onto a powder keg – but can’t we be just a bit more mature about this?
This is an historic occasion. The words spoken before and after this FA cup tie will pass into the history books of the future. It’s good to talk, you know?
Transferring the cash problems
IF institutions as reassuringly familiar as Northern Rock, Woolies and M & S can be credit crunched, how long before our football clubs start to suffer?
The answer is, they already have – and in more ways than is immediately obvious.
We all know about stadium constructors downing tools on the new Anfield because of rising building costs, Liverpool’s American owners struggling to refinance their borrowings and Everton finding it well nigh impossible to attract new investors.
But there are other, stealthier, concerns brought on by the economic downturn.
Everton spent a club record transfer fee to bring Marouane Fellaini from Standard Liege. But his signature may cost the club quite a bit more than the advertised £15m as a result of the falling pound. Unless the Blues have hedged against foreign currency transactions – for accounting ignoramuses like myself, that means paying for a financial instrument that protects against foreign currency movements – the falling pound could mean a bigger transfer fee. When Fellaini signed on September 1, a euro was worth around 81p. Then Alistair Darling said that Britain was facing the worst economic conditions in 60 years and the pound went into freefall. Now a euro is worth almost as much as a pound. Which all means Fellaini’s transfer fee could rise by a couple of million unless the pound recovers. Then there’s the issue of wages.
Everton and Liverpool pay their players in pounds – even the ones who hail from Europe – which means their salaries, albeit spectacular, are still not worth as much back home as they were when they signed their contracts. There is no suggestion that the issue is upsetting anybody at Anfield or Goodison, as it shouldn’t when you’re talking about such stellar salaries. But it’s worth noting that Manchester United have circumvented any potential problems by paying for some transfers and some wages in euros. It’s an increasingly precarious world out there, and our football clubs are suffering as much as everyone else.
A manic for all seasons
EVERYONE loves a good conspiracy theory. Gun shots from the grassy knoll, Neil Armstrong not casting a shadow on the moon or Phil the Greek putting a contract out on his daughter-in-law. All good knockabout nonsense, of course, except for the grassy knoll. That’s true. But the football authorities fiddling the fixture list? This time Alex Ferguson really does seem to have lost the plot. And for once it’s playing into the hands of his rivals. For those of you who missed the latest fantastic plot from Fergie’s manic mind, it went something like this. United have had to play away from home in the first half of the season against nine of the ten teams who finished directly below them in the Barclays Premier League last season. And that’s, er, sort of scuppered their title push. What? You don’t understand? Me neither?
But Sir Alex got very upset about it. Pointedly, however, he didn’t start snarling at the start of the season when the fixtures were announced, but just now when United find themselves trailing Liverpool at the halfway point of the title race. Of course if you were to give Fergie’s fusillade any credibility, a couple of points would instantly flash through your mind. Like, when the Premier League can’t even organise teams closer than a hundred miles of each other to play fixtures at Christmas and New Year, what chance have they got of organising such a deep and intricate plot to derail United’s title charge? And, er, why would they? The problem for Fergie is that, finally, his tirade has backfired. Once perceived as the master of the psychological mind games – witness Kevin Keegan cracking a decade ago – people now just laugh at the United manager. He will almost certainly try to get under Rafa Benitez’s skin in the next few months. But, like the rest of the country, Rafa won’t be listening.
Lowe on a high!
WHO’S the greatest Scouse boss of all time? Title winner Ron Saunders? Everton’s FA Cup winning Joe Royle? Roy Evans, who guided the Reds to a League Cup triumph? All worthy of mention. But no-one can top the claim to fame of Netherley’s David Lowe. He took charge of Derby County for the first – and probably last – time on Wednesday night. He stepped down afterwards with a 100% record and a win over the reigning world champions.
David Moyes to gamble on Marouane Fellaini - Everton latest
Jan 10 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES will place his faith in Marouane Fellaini and play him against Hull City today - even though one false move will shatter his dreams of facing Liverpool.
Everton’s club record signing has accrued nine bookings so far this season and his next will trigger an automatic two-match ban, which starts seven days after an offence. Should he enter Martin Atkinson’s note book this afternoon, he would miss both the League and FA Cup matches at Anfield. But if the Belgian international were to be booked in the first meeting with Liverpool, his suspension would not start until the game against Arsenal on January 28. The Belgian has been walking a disciplinary tightrope since he was yellow carded at Middlesbrough on Boxing Day and he missed last Saturday’s win at Macclesfield. However, he has become an important member of Everton’s team since his £15m move from Standard Liege and Moyes has no intentions of holding him back against Hull, with Victor Anichebe the man most likely to make way for Fellaini’s return. “The bookings Felli has received so far have been very innocuous,” said Moyes of a man who has scored three goals for the Blues to date. “We’ve had a look at them and seen things which have been a little unfair.
“The last one at Middlesbrough was very harsh. He was done (by Mike Riley) for persistent fouling but it was only his third one. Mido, on the other hand, made eight and never got booked. “With maturity and age (his decision making) will improve. But it might take until next season for that to happen. He had a reputation (with referees) in Belgium. And I think it is very much down to his size. “Sometimes he can be a little bit late getting there but I think he’s been done for lots of small things and that has culminated in the bookings. “There certainly hasn’t been a tackle where you would turn around and say ‘that’s a right good yellow’.” After a slow start, Fellaini has blossomed in recent months and Moyes believes he is beginning to show why Everton made such an investment in him. “He’s been close to being our best player in the majority of the games he has played,” Moyes said. “He’s done an awful lot of good things and he tends to get chances. “We paid £15m and it was more than we wanted to pay. But some of the prices I’m seeing now for a 21- year-old is making me think that we got good value for money.”
Tim Howard is up there with Everton boss David Moyes' top signing
Jan 10 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
GIVEN that his only concern is the team, David Moyes does not tend to single out individuals and lavish them with praise. But it is a measure of the contribution that Tim Howard has made to Everton’s progress during these past three seasons that the manager has felt compelled to compare him to a man whom he describes as being ‘the best signing’ he ever made. When injury forced Nigel Martyn to call time on his career in the summer of 2006, Moyes knew he faced an enormous task in trying to find a goalkeeper who could match the consistency and talent of the Cornishman.
His search for a new number one eventually led him to Old Trafford and Alex Ferguson happily agreed to a loan deal. But while Howard’s credentials were there for all to see, the then 27-year-old had something to prove. Things went askew during his final year with Manchester United but a switch to Goodison revitalised Howard and he has since become one of the most important and influential members of Everton’s team. Today he is hoping to register his seventh shutout in eight games when Hull City arrive at Goodison Park and though the Tigers have scored in each of their Premier League away days to date, they are unlikely to have come up against a keeper in Howard’s form. “Tim has been one of our top performers recently and we are really pleased with him,” said Moyes, whose side have put together a five match unbeaten run that has carried them back into the top six and secured an FA Cup fourth round date with Liverpool. “He has shown the consistency we have come to expect from him. But goalkeepers have to do that. Nigel Martyn was probably the best signing that I have ever made because I got him for nothing and he turned out to be fantastic for us. “We all know how good he was. It was no easy task for Tim to come in and replace him but he has gone on to do it. It is so important to have a goalkeeper that you can rely on and Nigel had the quality to win us a number of points in the Premier League. “But Tim has been winning points for us too with his quality. He made a terrific save against Macclesfield last week to make sure we got the win. The big thing about it was his concentration; it was a cold and he didn’t make much to do but still got there.”
BARRY HORNE: Eight referees can’t be wrong about Everton's Marouane Fellaini
Jan 10 2009 by Barry Horne, Liverpool Echo
THERE is no doubt that Marouane Fellaini is an outstanding player in terms of his appearance on a football field. But I'm afraid that the assertions by Everton's coaching staff that it is his striking appearance that is behind his disciplinary record this season are somewhat wide of the mark. Everton's record signing goes into today's match with Hull knowing that one more yellow card will see him suspended for both derby matches. But if the worst does happen, I'm afraid he only has himself to blame.
Let's face it, whatever you think about the standard of Premier League refereeing, eight different referees have booked Fellaini this season – Mike Riley the only official to punish him twice – and they can't all be wrong. Fellaini actually came to this country with a reputation for regularly falling foul of referees. So it's not as if he is simply trying too hard or struggling to come to terms with the Premier League.
It would appear that it's simply the nature of the beast and a part of his game he has to modify. In the matches I have seen, Fellaini might even consider himself fortunate not to have been sent off this season. There is no doubt that he is not a malicious player, or even 'dirty' in the sense that he goes out to hurt an opponent. He is just, in my opinion, a poor tackler. He can be clumsy and awkward when he challenges for the ball and all of his bookings have been as a result of a succession of minor or petty fouls. I was at Middlesbrough on Boxing Day when it was clear after only 20 minutes that Fellaini was going to be cautioned. The inevitable happened, and there were a number of other petty fouls when he could have received a second yellow.
That is something that he has to take on board and try to adapt. Once he has picked up three or four free-kicks against him he must know he is skating on thin ice.
After all, they are being continually assessed and are instructed to punish persistent offenders. If Marouane Fellaini is to become the influential and pivotal player that David Moyes predicts, he can't afford to be missing for five or six matches every season through suspension.
Team selection a pointer to derby
THE FA Cup draw produced a first Cup derby match for 18 years. All Evertonians are desperate for a good Cup run this year. It's the one thing David Moyes hasn't yet produced during his time as manager, but the draw has handed him an away match at the league leaders who are one of only two top flight teams not to have lost a home match this season. The optimists, of course, will say that beating Liverpool will just make progress to the fifth round all the sweeter and it's true that we are in pretty good shape ourselves at the moment, especially away from home. It promises to be a cracking match, but we could have had any one of 30-odd easier teams.
With FA Cup 4th round day sandwiched between a league derby and a tricky trip to Wigan, I will be interested to see how Rafa Benitez prioritises his team selection.
Because I suspect that any sign of weakness in his starting XI will really give Everton a great chance of progressing.
Everton Kirkby inquiry: Stadium plan ‘like St Helens’
Jan 10 2009 by Richard Down, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON FC and Tesco’s plans for Kirkby were compared with the successful rugby league stadium deal in St Helens at a public inquiry. Knowsley council planning consultant Gary Halman made the claim amid accusations the £400m Destination Kirkby scheme bypassed the proper development process. Roger Lancaster, representing the opposition councils, yesterday drew on a series of planning and development documents to repeat the allegations. He quoted the government’s policy on planning for the future of town centres, saying: “Any significant change in role and function of centres should come through the development plan process, rather than through planning applications.” Mr Lancaster added: “Are you saying in your evidence you have a carte blanche to deal do this on an ad hoc basis?” But Mr Halman replied: “There have been others that have done it. Look at St Helens rugby league stadium, which came about through a planning application.” Langtree and Tesco’s application for St Helens was passed unanimously last May and involved linked developments, but unlike Kirkby, it had overwhelming support of fans and residents.
DOMINIC KING: Not a transfer window to go leaping clean through
Jan 10 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
GARY MEGSON, Bolton’s straight talking manager, doesn’t pull his punches, so it was no surprise he had an opinion to offer when asked for his views on the transfer window. “It’s nonsense,” he told a TV reporter at a press conference last week. “It’s like saying to your cameraman that if his camera breaks in September, then he has got to wait until the New Year before he can think about buying a replacement.”
A perfect analogy. While the opening of the January window causes a buzz among supporters and allows column inches and airtime to be filled, the time has now come where managers are seeing it more as a hindrance than a help to them. It is no secret that Everton have been looking to bolster their forward line ever since Ayegbeni Yakubu and Louis Saha pulled up lame in the same game at Tottenham on November 30 but, fortunately, those injuries haven’t impacted results. Still, should Moyes manage to unearth a target , it still leaves the impression of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted. Everton’s boss, of course, would have wanted his business done much earlier. Instead, he is forced to join what is effectively a jumble sale where prices are massive and the quality of a purchase can’t be guaranteed to be of top quality, hoping to strike it lucky. Teams do not sell their best players in January unless they receive offers too good to refuse, so Moyes and some of his counterparts are left with the dilemma of getting bodies in just to bulk up the squad. If anything, some of the best deals Moyes and Bill Kenwright have done in this window have actually been sales – three years ago, remember, they brought in almost £6m when selling Marcus Bent and Per Kroldrup. In 2007, they recouped £3.5m for Simon Davies, while 12 months ago they squeezed £5.75m out of Birmingham when James McFadden was deemed surplus. The irony with the last deal, of course, is that McFadden – who had become frustrated by a lack of opportunities – would, in all probability have filled a key role in the time since, if you take into account some of the injuries which have hit the squad. So does Moyes stick or twist? The sensible thing to do might be to leave well alone unless there is a guarantee that any individual(s) coming in is fit, ready and able to make an impression straight away. At the back of his mind, though, will be the fear that Everton are one injury to a key performer away from things going askew spectacularly; they only need to lose – heaven forbid – someone from Tim Cahill, Steven Pienaar or Mikel Arteta to be in trouble. There are undoubtedly players who Moyes could go and get right now but, with funds not exactly in plentiful supply, the majority are not going have supporters jumping out of their seats in anticipation of the day they pull on a Blue shirt. Needs must, of course, and Moyes will only give the thumbs-up to a deal once every facet has been thoroughly researched, so he won’t recruit in haste and repent at leisure. But the more you consider the implications, the more absurd the scenario actually is. “When you are looking at buying someone in January, you have to pay top whack,” he explained. “If you want something, it is very dear. Even Bosman signings are not cheap. Say a player has six months left on his contract, clubs just won’t let them go. “It’s very difficult to find a loan player who is going to improve a side that is sixth in the Premier League. You have to decide whether to bring someone in for numbers who isn’t of the quality required or wait to see if somebody of a better quality becomes available.” A month of unsettling uncertainty follows but if Everton don’t dip their toe in, don’t shed too many tears.
Sometimes it is best to leave others to the frenzy.
When a certain journalist ended up with a red face over his Rooney enquiries
BEING in a press box before a game kicks off invariably means that you will hear all sorts of bewildering questions and that was very much the case at Macclesfield last Saturday. One of Everton’s press officers was asked by a broadcast journalist - who shall remain nameless to spare his blushes - whether John Rooney, brother of Wayne, had changed his name in the run-up to the tie. “No,” came the rather bemused reply.
“Are you sure?” persisted the individual. “As he’s not on the substitutes’ bench.”
“Yes he is,” insisted the Blues delegate. “No he isn’t. He’s nowhere to be seen on Everton’s bench,” argued the broadcaster. “That’s for good reason - he plays for Macclesfield.” It was at this point the penny dropped and the conversation came to an abrupt end.
Screen test a huge success
EVERTON have hailed Saturday’s beam-back of the FA Cup third round clash at Macclesfield Town as a huge success. More than 2,500 supporters congregated at Goodison Park, in the Park End, to watch the game on a big screen after free tickets were offered to season ticket holders on a first come, first served basis.
“We are delighted so many of our supporters were able to see us progress in the FA Cup,” said acting CEO Robert Elstone. “The beam-back produced a great atmosphere and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those supporters who turned up to the stadium on Saturday afternoon to show their support.”
Everton 2, Hull 0: No fear for Merseyside derbies despite missing midfielder
Jan 12 2009 by Nick Smith, Liverpool Daily Post
IT was a reaction that says so much about Everton’s progress in the past month. Marouane Fellaini, after underlining his importance to that resurgence with the opening goal in Saturday’s win against Hull, then picked up the almost inevitable yellow card to rule him out of both Merseyside derbies. But if Phil Jagielka’s light-hearted assessment of Fellaini’s disciplinary record is anything to go by, then Everton should be able to cope just fine. “He’s no longer getting booked every game,” said the centre-back. “It’s only every other game now – so he is learning and improving.”
Typical. See the funny side, shrug your shoulders and move on. And that is exactly how Everton have dealt with every challenge this season – and why it is now looking so promising. Why they have managed to hit on a winning formula despite having no fit strikers. Why, since the alarming surrender to Wigan in November, they have kept clean sheets in seven of the subsequent eight games. And why, although they will be going to Anfield without Fellaini, they will be going without fear as well.
“We don’t cry about things we can’t do anything about,” Jagielka added. “We get on with it, just as we have in recent weeks, when all our strikers have been out.”
Saturday’s victory gave a clear indication of why a third successive top-six position is there for the taking. Phil Brown might have complained that a failure to spot Fellaini in an offside position contributed to their downfall because the first goal was vital to the pattern of the game. But what the Hull manager should recognise is that his side were never going to get it, and the fact that they had previously scored in every away game of their first campaign in the top flight is testament to the solidity of Everton’s defence. No wonder Jagielka was in such buoyant mood after the game. Saturday was the sixth successive afternoon he has finished with a clean sheet in the bag – as, you suspect, he will with the club’s player of the season awards whatever happens between now and May. And at the other end, the inspiration needed to provide the decisive goals is in full flow too, thanks mainly to Mikel Arteta’s overdue emergence. His two goals in the last league game at home to Sunderland came from free-kicks and he thrilled the Gwladys Street End again on Saturday with a 30-yard thunderbolt.
The fact that it came just seconds before half-time must have irked Brown, but there was no way he would have contemplated making his players stay on the pitch for one of his open-air team talks on this occasion – there was nothing anyone could have done about such a stunning strike.
But that should have made Brown realise how futile his post-match complaints were. Quite simply, Arteta scored because he had a shot at goal – something Hull failed to manage all afternoon.
Yes, some of Martin Atkinson’s bookings were a bit petty, but surely Brown can’t complain that he was biased. Why else would David Moyes’s assistant Steve Round join him in the queue outside the official’s door after the game? Atkinson actually got the backing of Rafael Benitez during his tirade against Alex Ferguson on Saturday, and the Liverpool manager won’t have been too displeased by his zero tolerance approach to Fellaini’s careless but ultimately harmless high foot on Sam Ricketts less than two minutes into the second half. In the Belgian’s first interview after he became Everton’s record signing he expressed his hope that referees in England would be more lenient to his style of play than they were in his homeland. Becoming the first player to get into double figures in the yellow card count suggests his pleas fell on deaf ears and you can understand why Moyes didn’t risk him at Macclesfield.
The pursuit of three Premier League points presented the manager with a very different dilemma at the weekend, however, and perhaps left him in a bit of a no-win situation where Fellaini was concerned. As terrible as Hull were, 2-0 is just not a comfortable enough lead to disrupt the system that had established it. Being wise after the event, City were so inept that Fellaini could have been replaced by Andy van der Meyde at the break and no-one would have questioned that as a gamble. But as Arsenal and Liverpool have already surrendered five points to them on their own grounds this season, their ability to launch a comeback could not be under-estimated and half-time changes were not on the agenda. Subsequent events have taken a bit of the gloss off the victory as Fellaini, who proved the value of his knack of getting on the end of crosses with the glancing header that opened the scoring, would have no doubt been fired up for another crack at Liverpool following the Champions League exit he suffered at their hands with Standard Liege earlier in the campaign.
And from Moyes’s point of view, he now has to contemplate the horror of playing a centre-forward in his line-up. The first time he was shorn of all his strikers, at Manchester City last month, it seemed that he had lurched into an injury crisis even his players’ powers of versatility would struggle to overcome.
But they won that game, as they have every other since, apart from the draw with Chelsea. All without conceding a goal.
Indeed, having no strikers has transformed Everton to the point that Moyes, even with a fit one, left him on the bench. That’s no disrespect to Victor Anichebe. It’s just that even he has to concede that the way the players have pulled together and turned this adverse situation to their advantage has revived the ambitions for this campaign.
All the evidence was there on Saturday. Phil Neville again thrived in a central midfield role, with Tony Hibbert effortlessly shrugging off his injury problems at right-back – Everton have yet to concede a goal since he returned. On the opposite flank even better news. Leighton Baines has taken full advantage of Joseph Yobo’s absence and his cross for the opening goal was the kind of touch Moyes will be hesitant to be without when the Nigerian is back in contention. The bench, of course, couldn’t be more fragile if it was infested with woodworm. But in terms of the starting 11 he sends out these days, there’s no reason to believe Everton can’t compensate for the loss of another vital component as they work towards two punishing shifts on the other side of Stanley Park. Talking of local rivalry, Nick Barmby’s first return to Goodison since switching to Liverpool eight years ago provided further evidence of how the mood has considerably lifted as the season has gone on. If he had come back in August you’d have struggled to make out the abuse the 34-year-old was being subjected to, buried as it would have been amongst the many howls of derision ringing round the ground in those depressing late summer days. On Saturday however, the boos rang out as loud and clear as the message Everton are sending out to anyone who doubts their ability to shrug off another setback.
Everton 2, Hull City 0: Marouane Fellaini scores but will miss both Merseyside derby matches
Jan 10 2009 David Prentice
EVERTON extended their unbeaten record to an impressive six matches at Goodison this afternoon – and secured yet another clean sheet - but not without cost.
First half goals by Marouane Fellaini and a Mikel Arteta thunderbolt earned a fourth successive victory, Hull City the victims this time. But the yellow card Marouane Fellaini feared was brandished just a minute after half-time ruling Everton’s record signing out of the derby double header. The first half was all about Marouane Fellaini.
Everton’s instantly recognisable Belgian scored the opening goal, was spoken to by referee Martin Atkinson and was generally at the hub of all the Blues’ best moves.
The record signing went into the match knowing a 10th yellow card of the season would rule him out of the looming derby double-header – and the visitors were obviously acutely aware of that statistic too. Kamil Zayatte left the big Belgian flat out on the turf after a shuddering challenge from behind, while a succession of ordinary Fellaini challenges were met with theatrical tumbles and falls. Only 15 minutes had gone when referee Martin Atkinson spoke to Fellaini and warned him about any further transgressions. His response was to head Everton into the lead. Steven Pienaar, whose passing up to that point had been patchy, linked well with Leighton Baines on the left flank and the full-back clipped in a superbly inviting cross which received the header it deserved from Fellaini. The Belgian darted to the near post and guided a header back across goal and just inside the far post. Everton settled to their task after that and played some neat, probing football. All it needed was a finish, as Osman flashed one ball across the face of goal and Fellaini guided another header well wide from Cahill’s cross. When the finish finally came it was well worth waiting for.
Turner was penalised for a push on Cahill 25 yards from goal. The free-kick was almost central – perfectly positioned for Mikel Arteta - and Everton’s Spanish midfielder produced a stunning finish. He crashed a rising drive past the wall and into the top left hand corner with Boaz Myhill helpless. Everton went in at the interval jubilant, but the mood changed within seconds of the restart. Fellaini challenged for a loose ball on the halfway line with his foot raised. Samuel Ricketts was stooping to head the ball, and while no contact was made referee Atkinson ruled the challenge dangerous and booked the Belgian for persistent misconduct. David Moyes was distraught on the touchline, while Fellaini was joined in his protests by a number of team-mates. But the damage had already been done. Every Hull challenge was met by howls of protest from that point and Kamil Zayatte was booked – although deservedly – for a heavy tackle from behind on Cahill, then Cahill swiftly followed him into the book – although he argued with some justification he had been shoved by Turner into a collision with goalkeeper Myhill. The old complaint about refereeing inconsistency then reared its head when Mendy booted the ball from almost off Osman’s head – but didn’t even concede a free-kick. With the match finally beginning to lose a little spark and impetus Moyes decided to preserve Tim Cahill’s fitness by introducing Victor Anichebe with 17 minutes remaining. He had time for an optimistic penalty appeal - turned down - but little else as Everton successfully closed out the game.
EVERTON (4-4-2): Howard, Hibbert, Jagielka, Lescott, Baines, Osman, Neville, Arteta, Pienaar, Cahill (Anichebe 73), Fellaini. Unused subs: Nash, van der Meyde, Castillo, Rodwell, Jutkiewicz,Gosling.
HULL CITY (4-5-1): Myhill, Ashbee, Turner, Barmby, Geovanni (Cousin 65), Mendy, McShane (Halmosi 78), Ricketts, Marney (Fagan 54), King, Zayatte. Unused subs: Doyle, Duke, France, Boateng.
Referee: Martin Atkinson.
Bookings: Mendy (38) foul, Fellaini (45) persistent misconduct, Zayatte (55) foul, Cahill (58), Ricketts (63) foul, Cousin (78)..
GOALS: Fellaini (17 mins) 1-0, Arteta (45 mins) 2-0.
Everton FC heroes make Georgie O'Hare’s day
Jan 12 2009 by Vicki Kellaway, Liverpool Echo
A YOUNG boy overcame tragedy as a toddler to run out as a mascot with his Everton heroes. Little Georgie O’Hare was only two when his identical twin brother Jack fell from a first floor window of his home and died. The boys had been playing together when they climbed onto a roll of carpet and managed to open the window.
Georgie saw his brother fall and was only coaxed away from the open window by a neighbour who saw the tragedy unfold. Mum Katie O’Hare, 25 said the seven-year-old pupil at Our Lady of Good Help primary school in South Drive, Wavertree, was overjoyed at the chance to meet his favourite team. She said: “He was over the moon when he found out he had been chosen and he really enjoyed himself. “It was such a wonderful day and the club were fantastic.”
Everton 2, Hull 0: Day the big gamble backfired
Jan 12 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
THE world of gambling is fraught with danger but there has long been a rule of thumb designed to help punters stay out of trouble: never bet more than you can afford to lose. While many happily stick to it, inevitably some decide to take a high-risk approach that occasionally pays-off but, more often than not, leaves them with burnt fingers and counting the errors of their ways. It seems strange, then, that a man who has no interest in having a bet placed a wager on Saturday afternoon which looked doomed from the outset and predictably left him ashen-faced and clasping his hands to his head once the flutter hit the rocks. David Moyes does not throw caution to the wind when preparing for games. Methodical, thorough and a man who leaves no stone unturned, few Premier League managers do as much homework as Everton’s boss ahead of each assignment. That is the one of the major reasons the Blues have become one of the most reliable teams in the division, a unit which can make light of any number of handicaps and obstacles because Moyes has his players so well drilled.
So it is all the more puzzling why he chose to send Marouane Fellaini out for the second half of a contest Everton had totally sewn up against Hull City when he surely knew the Belgian was walking an increasingly wobbly tightrope. There is no such thing as a certainty in sport but from the moment ultra-fastidious referee Martin Atkinson called Fellaini to one side early in the first period, it seemed a question of ‘when’ not ‘if’ his name would appear in the Yorkshire official’s notebook.
Now it must be pointed out that Fellaini did not make anything remotely resembling a malicious or cynical foul nor did he show unacceptable levels of dissent but his awkward, ungainly style of play clearly irked Atkinson. But rather than give him the sanctuary of the dressing room after his header and a Mikel Arteta howitzer had put Everton beyond recall, Moyes decided to send Fellaini out for the second half – 110 seconds later, he had lost one of his stars for two Merseyside derbies. Yes, the ‘foul’ for which he picked up that costly card was a nonsense – Hull defender Michael Turner actually ducked into the challenge he went for – but Fellaini was fortunate that Atkinson did not see him swing an elbow at Ian Ashbee in the first half.
Swing and roundabouts, as they say. On a day when elation should have been the emotion for those supporters who had braved the wintry conditions to see their heroes put on another fine show, there was a sense of deflation at the final whistle.
Fellaini’s ban should not have been the topic that dominated post-match conversation nor should anyone have been talking about the fact that he appears to have got himself a reputation with referees in this country similar to the one he had in Belgium.
The reason for everyone’s disappointment, however, was obvious. Following a display that was crammed with industry, endeavour, subtle passing and yielded a thoroughly deserved goal, Fellaini will be desperately missed when Everton tackle the old enemy. If the squad was looking threadbare beforehand, it is now down to the marrow and circumstances mean that Moyes is unlikely to be able to count on the element of surprise when naming his team at Anfield in seven days time.
Given he only has 12 senior players available, neutrals will be predicting a comfortable Liverpool victory in the run-up to round 209 of this local squabble.
But those who do will not be taking into account Everton’s ability to bounce back in the face of adversity. What’s more, the Toffees are now operating close to last season’s levels. The pace, fluency and drive in their play was, at times against Hull, a joy to behold with Arteta and Steven Pienaar particularly prominent figures.
Those two men stood out like beacons against a team who have become 2009’s answer to the Bolton Wanderers class of 2003 and are managed by a man who looked as if he should be standing in a showroom rather than on the touchline.
With a ‘fashionable’ scarf draped around his neck and a coat that he was surely wearing as part of a dare, Phil Brown resembled a used car salesman, only the lack of a trilby and his perma-tan prevented comparisons with Arthur Daley. Brown’s actions in the technical area became more irritating with each passing second and there was a delicious irony that Everton’s opener should actually have been ruled out.
“You need a bit of support from the officials and I am after the big decisions,” Brown moaned afterwards. “The first goal was two yards offside, the linesman is looking right down the line. Why is he not flagging?” Possibly because none of his defenders appealed? Blaming the officials, though, is a way of trying to hide how bad Hull actually were and if Atkinson had not taken the wind out of Everton’s sails by booking Fellaini, they might have scored four, five or six. Leighton Baines and Pienaar enjoyed great joy down the left flank and combined beautifully to provide Fellaini with the chance to set the wheels in motion, while Arteta sprinkled stardust on this encounter, despite suffering from illness. His goal – a free-kick which raced into the top corner of the Gwladys Street net – was absolutely magnificent and the least his performance deserved. He certainly has the bit between his teeth once again.
Losing Fellaini for both trips across Stanley Park is sickening but there is no reason why it should be a fatal blow to Everton’s ambitions of registering a first win on enemy territory in almost a decade. All it means is that one colleague has an opportunity to etch his name indelibly into Blue folklore; the intrigue comes from trying to work out who will rise to the task.
Man of the match
MAROUANE FELLAINI:Forget the booking, this was the best he has played for Everton. His physical presence and skill were too much for Hull’s harassed defenders to cope with. Top man on a day when there were many contenders.
DAVID PRENTICE: The heavy price of David Moyes' tunnel vision
Jan 12 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES tried hard to keep the derby out of Everton’s last league fixture before the six-day Civil War. But it permeated every pore. From Marouane Fellaini treading on egg-shells to Tim Cahill’s early substitution, from a crowd seemingly saving its energies for the bawl games ahead to a dressing room blanket ban on even discussing the fixture. The one man who refused to be distracted was David Moyes.
But perhaps the Blues boss should have allowed himself just a little peek into the future. Because taking measures to ensure his side saw out an enormously impressive dismantling of Hull City, has now left his side severely disadvantaged for the derby-double header. Martin Atkinson’s decision to finally brandish a yellow card at Marouane Fellaini was, undeniably, harsh. But referees are. And the Blues’ dug-out can’t say they hadn’t been warned. Fellaini was warned after only 15 minutes, and with Kamil Zayatte making it his personal mission to get his rival booked the warning signs were clanging ever more dangerously. The second Mikel Arteta’s quite wonderful free-kick crashed into the Gwladys Street net, Marouane Fellaini should have been enjoying an early shower – and not at the referee’s invitation. That’s not a conclusion reached with the wonderful gift of hindsight. They were words uttered throughout the Press Box as soon as Everton had established a 2-0 lead.
Because this team certainly knows how to defend. And the cost of Fellaini’s absence to Everton can’t be under-estimated. Putting aside the fact that he’s an enormously talented footballer, the unconventional partnership he has forged with Tim Cahill is an incredibly difficult one to handle. Neither he nor the little Australian are out and out strikers. Which means they choose unconventional moments to arrive in opposition penalty boxes. Manchester City, Middlesbrough, Sunderland and now Hull all found it impossible to defend against, while Chelsea were seriously wobbled. Now the opportunity will fall at Victor Anichebe’s feet, and he will have to show significantly more than he managed in 90 minutes at Macclesfield and 15 minutes yesterday if he’s to adequately replace Fellaini. But while Everton bemoaned yet another savage blow to their already devastated attacking options, defensively the Blues are in outstanding shape. Not since the mid-90s has an Everton side kept six successive clean sheets. On that occasion Joe Royle’s team secured seven shut-outs, had to make an enforced change when midfield anchorman Joe Parkinson was injured – and promptly shipped four at home to Sheffield Wednesday. The point of that little history lesson being, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Because Moyes will be sorely tempted by Joseph Yobo’s likely return next week to make a significant switch. Yobo offers pace and experience at the heart of the Blues rearguard, but sometimes the sum is better than its individual parts and the recently thrown together back-four of Hibbert, Jagielka, Lescott and Baines has been faultless. Baines even got forward often enough to supply the goal creating cross for Fellaini on Saturday, while defensively Everton were, quite simply, impeccable.Hull City have scored in every single away match this season – including trips to Old Trafford, Anfield and the Emirates. But they never looked like scoring on Saturday. That sort of defensive resilience will be necessary if Everton are extend that clean sheet record by a couple more weeks at Anfield. And while Yobo would appear to offer the obvious counter to Torres’ pace, there’s no certainty that the Spanish striker will even start next week. What is certain is that Marouane Fellaini won’t be involved. But before Blues fans start getting too down in the mouth about his absence, here’s another historical reminder. Everton suffered a similar blow when another exciting continental talent had exploded into Evertonian consciousness a few years ago. Olivier Dacourt had collected almost as many yellow cards as he had tributes after Walter Smith had lured him to the Premier League from Lens.
Then he went to Wimbledon knowing one more caution would rule him out of a Goodison derby debut. After treading on egg-shells for 75 minutes, he bizarrely chipped a ball into an empty Selhurst Park net about five seconds after a referee had blown his whistle. Without Dacourt, the Blues still drew 0-0 anyway. With him making a goalscoring return to the side at Anfield later in the season, they lost 3-2.
Derbies can be curious affairs. And the loss of a significant player need not necessarily spell Armageddon. It doesn’t help though.
Everton FA Cup Merseyside derby tickets
Jan 12 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON have received an allocation of 6,000 tickets for the Anfield FA Cup derby to be played on Sunday, January 25 (4pm). Monday, Jan 12: Season ticket holders and nine away games; Tuesday, Jan 13: Season ticket holders and six away games; Wednesday, Jan 14: Season ticket holders and four away games; Thursday, Jan 15: Season ticket holders and three away games; Friday, Jan 16: Season ticket holders and two away games; Saturday, Jan 17: Season ticket holders and one away game.
On Monday, January 19 and Tuesday, January 20 Season Ticket Holders will be able to purchase tickets without having attended any previous away games this term.
From Wednesday, January 21 the criteria will switch to ANY supporters who have attended nine or more away games this season. Once again, the criteria will change on a daily basis until the allocation is sold out. Thursday, Jan 22: Any fans with six away matches, Friday, Jan 23: Any fans with four away matches, Saturday, Jan 24: Any fans with two away matches. Please also note that corporate members should apply directly with the corporate sales team at Everton by calling 0151-530-5300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Tickets are priced £38 adults, £28.50 over 65s and £19 under 16s. Those supporters that have opted to join the Auto Cup scheme should be advised that payment will be taken from their nominated bank account from today.
Steven Pienaar: We'll cope despite Marouane Fellaini derby blow - Everton latest
Jan 12 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
STEVEN PIENAAR today promised Everton will not let the disruption of losing Marouane Fellaini distract their focus as they plot a first win at Anfield in a decade.
The Blues face two trips across Stanley Park in the next fortnight but must do so without their club record signing, who picked up a costly booking in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Hull City. Fellaini’s tenth yellow card of the campaign triggered an automatic two-match ban and his absence will be keenly felt after a man-of-the-match performance, which included Everton’s first goal, at the weekend. But, on the back of a six-match unbeaten run, Pienaar insists Everton have the confidence and belief to make light of his absence and says the squad are relishing the challenge of beating Liverpool on home soil for the first time since 1999. “Our performances in the last few games have been improving and if you compare us to the start of the season, we are unrecognisable,” said Pienaar. “It’s a big blow to lose Felli – he’s been important for the team. "He scores goals, is in the heart of the midfield and we will miss him in such an important match. “But we will get on with it. "Even before we played Aston Villa, things had started to improve but we have kept going since then and we are pushing hard for the top five.” Pienaar was one of many in a Blue shirt who impressed against Hull and his fortunes have mirrored those of the team, in that he has improved dramatically in the past month. “We have got some difficult fixtures ahead of us,” he added. “But these are the games that you want to be involved in and we want to test ourselves against the best. “I’m looking forward to it and so are the rest of the guys. We are playing really well and we want that run to continue for as long as possible.”
Phil Jagielka, meanwhile, is similarly relaxed about Everton’s prospects of coping without Fellaini against Liverpool but hopes the Belgian learns the error of his ways.
“Being realistic, the way Felli plays he is hardly likely to go four or five games without a booking so there was always going to be a risk,” said Jagielka. He does seem to be a target for referees and his size probably doesn’t help.
“But our attitude is that someone will come in and we will go to Anfield determined to do a job.”
I’ve apologised to Everton team-mates – Marouane Fellaini
Jan 13 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
MAROUANE FELLAINI today apologised to his team-mates for the booking that means he will have to watch the two biggest games of the season on the sidelines.
The Blues’ record signing picked up the tenth yellow card of his 18 game Everton career during the 2-0 win over Hull City on Saturday which triggered a two-match ban. It ruined what had been a hitherto impressive individual performance, which was capped by a stooping header that gave the Blues a lead they never looked like relinquishing. Fellaini cut a distraught figure in the dressing room afterwards as the realisation that he would not be involved in either of the games against Liverpool at Anfield sunk in. But while he won’t be able to influence matters on the pitch, the 21-year-old has vowed to give every bit of support he can from the sidelines to help Everton’s cause. “First and foremost, I have apologised to my team-mates because it is two big games against Liverpool and I will not be there to help them out,” said Fellaini, who starred for Standard Liege in their Champions League qualifier against the Reds. “I didn’t think it was a bad foul and I have done everything I can to try and not get yellow cards but there you go again, I have got another one. “It is difficult. You pay attention to where you are putting your feet, but if you put it in the wrong place then that is what happens. “It is always difficult watching games from the stand but I will be right behind them, rooting for them.” Fellaini has become much more attuned to life on Merseyside in recent weeks, having previously endured a difficult time after his £15m move on transfer deadline day. He has been taken aback by the sight of supporters wearing wigs in appreciation of his unique Afro hairstyle and was delighted that he managed to score in front of the Gwladys Street at the weekend.
His fortunes have mirrored that of the team, in that they have improved dramatically during the winter and he hopes the second half of the campaign will continue to be fruitful for him and the Blues. “It is great and it’s always makes you happy to score a goal,” said Fellaini, whose tally now stands at four. “Everyone likes scoring and I’m no exception. “The main thing is the victory. “By paying that amount of money the club have shown faith in me and it’s nice to be able to repay that on the field by goals, but getting victories for the team is the main thing. “I think we have been playing some good stuff for two or three months now, and let’s hope it continues. “Certainly, success brings success and that gives us the confidence to get better and better.”
Everton star Yakubu back at Finch Farm but progress slow after op
Jan 13 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has welcomed a familiar face back to Finch Farm – but Ayegbeni Yakubu is facing a long journey on the road to recovery. Everton’s main striker saw his season end when he ruptured his Achilles tendon during the first half of the 1-0 win at Tottenham on November 30. Yakubu subsequently underwent an operation in London and was afforded a few weeks away from the club during December as he came to terms with the severity of his injury. The New Year, though, has seen him back on Merseyside and he has been checking in with the Blues’ medical staff to make sure there are no hiccups at this delicate stage. But Moyes is quick to stress there is absolutely no chance of him making a whirlwind recovery, as doctors have forbidden Yakubu from doing any strenuous activity for the time being.
“Yak is making slow progress at the minute,” Moyes confirmed. “His leg is still in plaster and the only change is that he gets the elevation of it altered by five degrees every couple of weeks. “He can’t do anything at the moment in terms of exercise or rehabilitation work, as it is still too early for him and the wound from his operation is still relatively fresh. “As that is the case, the doctors don’t want him doing anything yet, as they don’t want any sweat or infection to get into the wounds.
“But, considering the injury that he sustained, he is in relatively good spirits and we are seeing him every couple of days. As yet, though, we don’t know when he will start training. The initial diagnosis was that he would be on the sidelines for nine months and we won’t rush that, as it was such a serious injury. We don’t want any setbacks.”
One Everton striker who could get a chance to shine in the next few weeks, though, is Victor Anichebe and Marouane Fellaini’s suspension has certainly opened a door for him. He, too, has struggled with injury this season – Anichebe missed a couple of games at Christmas because of back trouble – but Moyes reports him to be back on song now. And, with games against Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United coming up in the next fortnight, Moyes hopes Anichebe keeps his focus to help Everton come through strongly. “I thought he did well when he played against Aston Villa and we have got him ready to go again now after his back problem,” said Moyes.
“We have not got an abundance of strikers, so we need Victor to perform at the minute. “He is getting better (as a player) and we can see that in the games he plays.
“Now we are hoping he is going to be able to show his talent because he is going to get chances in the coming weeks to show it.”
NIGEL MARTYN: Battered Everton still posing David Moyes a selection dilemma
Jan 13 2009 by Nigel Martyn, Liverpool Echo
WITH a threadbare squad hit by injuries and suspensions, you might assume Everton’s team for next week’s Anfield showdown picks itself – think again.
Joseph Yobo’s imminent return to fitness means David Moyes is likely to face a huge selection dilemma for the games against Liverpool involving the Nigerian and Leighton Baines, who has done all that has been asked of him and more in the past few weeks. He was a young player of some promise when at Wigan but things have not always gone according to plan for him since joining the Blues - reflected by the fact he has only made 24 starts since August 2007. However, since Joe pulled up with a hamstring problem in the game against Chelsea before Christmas, Baines has slotted in nicely, provided good energy from left-back and done little to suggest he should be the man to accommodate Joe’s return. If it was up to me, I would go with man in form – namely Baines. For all Joe’s assets, it would be harsh in the extreme to remove someone from a defence that has not conceded a goal in nine hours of play and who has made a big contribution to a six-game unbeaten run – just look at the cross he provided for Marouane Fellaini against Hull. But the manager will be looking at the derby, considering the fact that Liverpool have a number of tall players and wondering whether he has to combat their aerial threat by switching Joleon Lescott to left-back and putting Joe in the middle. Things, obviously, have been complicated by Fellaini’s tenth booking of the campaign; having him in the ranks would have added a string to our bow both attacking and defending set pieces but now, unfortunately, the team isn’t blessed with inches. Leon Osman, Steven Pienaar and Mikel Arteta are all below six feet tall, ditto Tony Hibbert and Baines, so David has a problem that needs solving and it could mean Baines has to settle for a place on the bench. That, of course, would be harsh but there is a derby that needs winning and, contrary to popular belief, Everton have a good chance of emerging from behind enemy lines with all three points. What they must do is compete, tackle and work as hard as they did against Chelsea, rattle Liverpool if they can and be ruthless if and when chances arrive. Should that happen , there is every reason a six game unbeaten run can be stretched.
Artistry is off to a tee
IF Mikel Arteta ever turned his hand to golf, it would be pretty easy to envisage him having some of the best accuracy statistics from the tee. The connection he made with his free-kick against Hull City was absolutely magnificent and, thankfully, it got the rewards it deserved – you won’t see a better goal at Goodison Park between now and the end of the season. What has struck me more, though, in recent weeks is the way his standards of performance have improved. He looks a different player to the one who struggled badly at the start of the season and it’s no surprise that results have improved accordingly. There is no getting away from the fact that Mikel is a player who oozes class, he really makes us play and could be the one who causes Liverpool problems, especially if seeing enough of the ball at key times. Hopefully we will be treated to another command performance.
Don’t be a spent force in January
THE January transfer window does not enjoy overwhelming popularity with managers and it’s easy to see why. David Moyes would, I’m sure, love to strengthen Everton’s squad, particularly with James Vaughan and Yakubu long terms absentees, but he doesn’t have much money to throw around. Better, then, to focus on what he is good at and that’s squeezing the maximum out of this group of players; sure he would love to splash some cash but if the quality isn’t there, he’s better to keep the purse strings closed.
Phil Jagielka: "We must do ourselves justice against Liverpool" - Everton latest
Jan 14 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo PHIL JAGIELKA is counting down the days to the derby double header and promised: “We’re ready to do ourselves justice”. Everton’s last two meetings with Liverpool have been bitterly disappointing affairs for all Blues, with a 2-0 defeat at Goodison Park in September preceded by a 1-0 reverse at Anfield last March. Few players were more disappointed than Jagielka with those performances, but he is heartened that Everton have struck upon their best form ahead of next Monday’s Premier League showdown. Aside from the two tussles with the Reds, Everton also face Arsenal and Manchester United in the next fortnight. But rather than being daunted by what lies in store, the England international says this sequence of fixtures can prove to be inspirational. “Everyone who comes to this club wants to play in these kind of fixtures,” said Jagielka. “The bigger and better the club you are at, the more important these games become. “A local derby in the Premier League, followed six days later by an FA Cup clash, is something that has captured everyone’s imagination and we are all looking forward to it. “As soon as the numbers came out alongside one another, I just chuckled. All you can do is enjoy it and hopefully we can go over there and cause an upset. “That’s what it will be if we do win. We didn’t do ourselves justice when we played them earlier in the season and we want to put that right. “It is always tough at Anfield and they are flying high, but they will be two very interesting games and we are confident we can upset them.”
Everton have not conceded a goal since the 3-2 defeat against Aston Villa on December 7 – a run of 540 minutes – and Jagielka and company will be looking to extend that sequence to a seventh game. And while he knows they will be given a searching examination across Stanley Park, the 26-year-old points to the fact that the Blues are working together as a collective unit, rather than relying on individuals.
“We are all playing well and it’s not just down to the defenders and the keeper that it’s been a while since we conceded a goal,” said Jagielka. “Look at the role Mikel Arteta is playing. He’s not a defensive-minded player but he’s doing the holding role and he’s getting through a hell of a lot of work. “Not only that, he’s spraying passes around and winning headers; he’s putting tackles in and that’s maybe not something you would associate with him. He’s been fantastic. “Luckily he’s mis-hitting free kicks that are going in as well! “Seriously, everyone is working so hard that it makes our job easier.”
Beware danger of the Clarets, says Dewsnip
Jan 14 2009 by James Pearce, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON under-18s coach Neil Dewsnip is hoping his players will be firing on all cylinders in tonight’s FA Youth Cup fourth round tie with Burnley at Accrington’s Fraser Eagle Stadium (7pm). The Blues youngsters have not played since beating Nantwich Town 2-0 in the third round on December 15. “It is a concern that we haven’t had a game in almost a month but the positive thing is that we will be fresh,” he said. “They are a dedicated bunch and have been doing their best. Nobody else has been playing because of the weather so it is a level playing field. “One bonus is that everybody is fit, all the niggles have cleared up and they are raring to go.”
The reward at stake tonight is a fifth round clash at home to Norwich City but Dewsnip is wary of the Clarets. “Burnley are top of their league and haven’t been beaten,” he added. “It’s going to be a very difficult tie and they have our utmost respect. We have some good friends there with Martin Dobson, who is the head of their youth set-up. “The key will be taking any chances that come along. I thought we did well until the final third in the last round but we will be looking to be better at that this time.”
Watch me top the mop of Everton star Marouane Fellaini
Jan 14 2009 by Tina Miles, Liverpool Echo
AN Evertonian has taken on the challenge of growing his hair in the style of star midfielder Marouane Fellaini for Liverpool Unites. Steve Owen’s impressive mop of hair has had many comparisons with his team’s £15m record signing – and it will now earn cash for the ECHO’s official charity. His girlfriend Sandie Hewitt is ready to take the clippers to his shock of curls, but ECHO readers can save the afro by sponsoring him online. The 36-year-old dad-of-two, of Bebington, wants to raise money by leaving his barnet untouched for a further three months. The Goodison Park season ticket holder also intends to dye his hair purple, the colour of Liverpool Unites, before it is finally shaved off on April 14. Mr Owen, dad of Dylan, seven, and Charlie, three, said: “I had been growing my hair for a couple of months and people started remarking about the similarity to Fellaini. “People at work have noticed it and even random strangers have commented on it and called me Fellaini’s dad.
“My kids love it – they think it is really funny. It has got me a bit of stick from my mates so I thought it would be great to do something for charity on the back of it.
“I always grow my hair in the winter and have it really short in the summer, but this year it seems to have grown a massive amount.” Liverpool Unites was set up in memory of murdered schoolboy Rhys Jones in September 2007. It was relaunched to help thousands of children on Merseyside on September 27 last year. Mr Owen, who works at insurance firm Unisys in Old Hall Street, said: “I work near the ECHO building and the work for Rhys was highlighted through the Liverpool Unites derby at Goodison. “It is just so worrying what is happening on the streets.” Liverpool Unites fundraiser Tom Woolley said: “It is great to see people coming up with fun and original ways to support Liverpool Unites. “I hope everyone will really get behind Steve and support him with this challenge.”
The ever-changing barnet of Marouane Fellaini
MAROUANE Fellaini was hardly a cut above the rest with his earliest effort. This style would have blended far too easily with the regulation cuts – although it was noticeably thicker than most.
LUCKILY, the Belgian soon began to unleash his early potential. Here, he has allowed his locks go their own way. The curls are beginning to flourish, leaving an enviable crop of tight ringlets.
EVENTUALLY, the star’s patience was rewarded with the a most recognisable barnet. If you can match it, clip a picture to your fridge and remember, your hairdresser is no longer your friend.
How you can support Steve in his mop top challenge:
Sponsor him online at www.sponsor-me.org/stevesbighairday
Send a cheque or postal order to: Liverpool Unites: Steve’s Big Hair Day, Liverpool ECHO, PO Box 48, Old Hall Street, Liverpool L69 3EB.
For more information about Steve’s challenge or any Liverpool Unites initiatives, call 0151-285 8452 or 0151-239 5948 or email email@example.com
We will be following Steve’s progress in our Liverpool Unites column every Tuesday.
History’s hairs and faces
KEVIN KEEGAN: Set in motion the wave of 1970s and early 1980s perms which afflicted even the likes of Phil Thomp-son and Graeme Sharp.
JASON LEE (pictured): Ex-Southend & Notts Forest striker who was famously regaled from the terraces with “He’s got a pineapple on his head.”
CHRIS WADDLE: The Geordie King of the Mullet exported his unique style to the continent when joining Marseilles from Spurs – the Parisian fashion houses didn’t have much to worry about.
BOBBY CHARLTON: His endearing if naive refusal to accept his baldness ensured the “last strands of hair swept over bald pate” look is now globally associated with him.
PATRIK BERGER: The Czech winger’s flowing locks were often kept in place by an Alice band – it used to terrify the life out of opposing full-backs.
ABEL XAVIER: The combination of bleached blond hair and accompanying goatee meant most Merseysiders were laughing hard enough not to notice him crossing Stanley Park
Everton boss David Moyes backs appeal to create refuge for bullied children
Jan 14 2009 by Tina Miles, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON manager David Moyes has pledged his backing for the James Bulger House appeal to create a refuge for bullied children. Moyes heard about the plan to open the Red Balloon learner centre when he met Denise Fergus, the mother of the murdered toddler. Denise and her husband Stuart spoke to the Blues manager, along with players Marouane Fellaini and Tim Cahill, when they visited the club’s Finch Farm training ground. Mrs Fergus said: “It was a real honour to meet David Moyes and members of the team. “We explained what we are doing in raising money to create James Bulger House.” The appeal was launched in March last year with a target of raising £1m to fund a centre in Liverpool. The campaign got a major boost in December when ITV featured the story of how James, two, was abducted and murdered in 1993 by two 10-year-old boys. The Real Crime documentary also showed how last year, the year James would have been 18, Mrs Fergus started to pour her energy into the Red Balloon charity. She said: “David Moyes told us he watched the documentary and was really moved by it. He said he would back us in any way he can with fundraising for James Bulger House.” To help, contact Penny Growcoot on 0151-329 2024, by post at PO Box 1305, Liverpool L69 23LB, or by e-mail on firstname.lastname@example.org
I'll make an impact in the Premier League - ex-Everton star James Beattie
Jan 15 2009 by James Pearce, Liverpool Echo
JAMES BEATTIE has vowed to prove he’s still good enough for the Premier League.
The 30-year-old ex-Blues frontman is back in the top flight after leaving Sheffield United to join Stoke City. Beattie has signed a two and a half year contract after arriving for a fee that could rise to £3.5million. “I was sure I was always going to get back into the Premier League one way or another,” he said. “I still believe I can do it in this league. I’m proven in this league so there’s no reason to say I can’t do it.
“I’ve got 81 Premier League goals and I’ve always said I want to get 100 goals.
“Kevin Blackwell and Sam Ellis at Sheffield United were desperate to keep me, but the club wanted me out for financial reasons and nailed their colours to the mast on that one.” Beattie joined Everton for a then club record £6million from Southampton in January 2005 but over the next two and a half seasons he failed to consistently impress manager David Moyes. He was sold on to Sheffield United for £4million in August 2007. “I enjoyed my time at Everton, apart from the last 12 months when the manager didn’t see me in his plans and didn’t really treat me that well off the pitch,” he added. “It left a bit of a sour taste and it was a really big decision to drop down a division.”
SHREWS MOVE FOR CHADWICK
FORMER Everton striker Nick Chadwick has joined Shrewsbury Town until the end of the season. The 26-year-old was out of contract after his deal with League One outfit Hereford United expired. Chadwick failed to impress for the Bulls and scored just once in 12 appearances this season after leaving Plymouth last May.
“He’s a six foot target man with an eye for a goal who will improve our squad,” said Shrews boss Paul Simpson. Chadwick was a promising youth player at Goodison and made his Premier League debut against Sunderland in 2001. He went on to score six goals in 21 appearances, 17 of which were as a substitute, but couldn’t establish himself and was sold to Plymouth for £250,000 in 2005. Chadwick made 83 appearances and scored 10 goals for Argyle before they released him last season.
Neil Dewsnip's delight at Everton's FA Youth Cup progress
Jan 15 2009 by James Pearce, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON under-18s coach Neil Dewsnip saluted his youngsters after they eased to a comfortable FA Youth Cup victory over Burnley at Accrington Stanley last night.
Second half goals from Lewis Codling, Jack Rodwell and Tom McCready booked the Blues a fifth round clash at home to Norwich City. “It was great to advance and great for the lads to get another go at Goodison Park,” he said. “We expected Burnley to come at us strongly and they did - we were happy to be level at half-time.
“That was the game plan to be nice and steady and to go for it in the second half and it worked out exactly. “I just thought we had a little bit more quality at times than they did and that was the difference.” Dewsnip was able to call on striker Jose Baxter and defender Rodwell, who have both been part of David Moyes’ first team squad.
“Without a doubt that gave us a bit more experience and quality,” he added.
“We were fortunate the way the fixtures worked out at the first team end to allow them to play a full game. “It was great to have them with us and both contributed really well.” Chances were at a premium in a scrappy first half but Hope Akpan had a header palmed away by Burnley keeper Stefan Ritchie. The deadlock was broken three minutes into the second half when Ritchie kept out Baxter’s shot but Codling was on hand to nod home the rebound. Everton doubled their lead on 59 minutes when Rodwell headed McCready’s free-kick past the keeper. McCready then slid in at the far post to poke home Moses Barnett’s cross on 72 minutes before James Craggs grabbed a consolation.
Name: John Paul Kissock
Born: Liverpool, December 2, 1989
The quick-footed midfielder has excellent vision and a strength that belies his small stature. After joining the academy, the Fazakerley youngster became a regular with the under-18s and the reserve side. In January 2008, Kissock was sent on loan to Scottish Premier League club Gretna until the end of the season. He made his debut against Hearts and finished the season with 11 league appearances before returning to Everton.
Bill Kenwright: Mikel Arteta is Everton's new 'Golden Vision'
Jan 15 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON chairman Bill Kenwright today handed Mikel Arteta the ultimate compliment as he labelled him Everton’s modern day Golden Vision. The Blues’ in-form midfielder emphatically dismissed all suggestions earlier this week that he would be leaving Goodison Park during the current transfer window. Both Arsenal and Manchester City had been linked with Arteta, but he admitted that it had become “tiring” dealing with speculation and he was “proud” to represent Everton. Those words struck a chord with Everton’s chairman and it has led Kenwright to compare Arteta to Alex Young, a man whose grace on the pitch and humility off it has long since secured his place in the club’s Hall of Fame. “I was not at all surprised by Mikel’s statement,” said Kenwright. “In fact, I would have been surprised if he had said anything else. “As well as being a fantastic footballer, Mikel is an honourable, loyal man. On the field, his talent often reminds me of The Golden Vision and off the field he has qualities similar to Alex The Great. You could say he is our La visión de Oro.” Arteta’s form since being switched into a more central position has dramatically improved and he has scored three times during Everton’s six-match unbeaten run, his latest effort a spectacular free-kick which secured last Saturday’s 2-0 win over Hull City. Everton’s fortunes, though, have been on an upward groove ever since Kenwright and manager David Moyes took the squad out for a meal two days before they beat Tottenham in November. Liverpool, of course, will represent a different challenge on Monday evening at Anfield, but Kenwright believes the group’s solidarity can stand them in good stead. “I’m pretty sure over the last few seasons Evertonians have come to appreciate the spirit and the unity of the current squad,” he said. “Over the last few months, we have seen this in spades. “I could go on forever about their individual qualities, but it is enough to say that, both as individuals and as a team, they have made me hugely proud to be their chairman. “I have a lot to be grateful to David Moyes for and I honestly do not believe there is a more united squad or club in the country.” Arteta, meanwhile, has set his sights on helping inspire Everton to a first victory at Anfield since September 1999, so they can continue pushing to secure a place in Europe once more. “We’ve played some great football recently,” he said. “We should be aiming for a top six finish because I feel we’re playing the best quality football for many seasons.”
Imre Varadi: Merseyside derby day was like war!
Jan 15 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
THE MODERN Merseyside derby is the most fiercely fought fixture in the football calendar. But despite an eye-watering record of 17 red cards in the Premier League era – including eight in the last four years – Everton derby hero Imre Varadi believes the fixture is a stroll in the park compared to the brutal battles of the seventies and eighties. Varadi was a fleet-footed striker who grabbed the winner for Everton the last time the Mersey clubs collided in a fourth round FA Cup clash. That was January 24, 1981 – almost 27 years to the day from this season’s tie – and Varadi, now a football agent based in Sheffield, still shudders when he remembers some of the tackles.
“I still have that game on tape and if I get it out to show people they all say there would have been about 10 sending-offs if it was played today,” he recalled.
“Some of the challenges were bordering on GBH. “I remember Steve McMahon topping Phil Neal with one tackle which sent Neal somersaulting right up in the air – and he got away with it! “It was like a war. Unbelievable. “The atmosphere, the passion, the speed . . . it was an incredible experience.” That 1981 Cup tie saw Liverpool cast as favourites – bookies Ladbrokes opened a special office in Walton Road to deal with interest in the match – and priced the Reds at 6/4 with Everton out at 15/8. But even though the Reds were reigning champions and went on to lift their first League Cup and third European Cup at the end of the season, they were knocked out of the domestic competition by their neighbours. Peter Eastoe and Varadi gave Everton a two-goal lead before substitute Jimmy Case scored a 78th minute consolation – while referee Clive Thomas booked six players and claimed his usual headlines by rushing over to the Everton bench within two minutes of kick-off.
“I can’t have officials gesticulating and waving at players or I would never keep control,” he explained afterwards. When told the ‘official’ was injured Everton keeper Jim McDonagh he added “It’s a good job I didn’t send him off, is it? That would have been something for you to write about, a man sent off who wasn’t even playing!”
Thomas also explained that he spoke to Varadi after his goal. “I asked him to hurry up and get back for the kick-off, but he didn’t take much notice and I can’t really blame him.” Varadi doesn’t recall the telling off, but everything else is etched on his mind.
“I can remember it clearly. They were proper derbies then, when people tackled people,” he remembered. “Liverpool had a great side – Dalglish, Souness, Hansen and all that, but Everton had a good side as well and it was a great derby match.
“There were 54,000 inside Goodison, it was my first derby, it was 100mph – and obviously I scored the winning goal which was great. “I can remember that goal like it was yesterday. Peter Eastoe played the ball out to Eamonn O’Keefe and I made a run towards the far post. The ball came in and I actually caught it on the half-volley and put it past Ray Clemence into the top corner.” The strike also spawned a funny aftermath to rival Andy King’s “Get off the pitch!” moment. Varadi remembers the moment with a mixture of amusement and revulsion, even now. “The funny thing about the goal, though, was that I was so elated I ran behind the goal where the players all started jumping on me,” he said. “But with it being a derby match, the Stanley Park End was full of Liverpool fans and someone threw a meat and potato pie which hit me squarely in the face! “I can still taste that bloody pie now. We all went out celebrating that night. We ended up in a place called Snobs in the city centre. People were going to the bar and ordering Varadi and Cokes instead of Bacardi and cokes. It was a great night! “Ever since then I’ve drunk Bacardi and coke. I love the stuff now! But that was the first time I’d ever drunk it. “There were lots of great characters in that Everton team and I loved my time there. “There was big Micky Lyons, Peter Eastoe, Mark Higgins was coming through, there was Eamonn O’Keefe and of course George Wood was a real character, although I think Martin Hodge was in goal for that cup tie.”
Varadi will be watching the 2009 rematch, and he has no idea who will emerge victorious this time. “It’s difficult to say who will even be favourites for these two derbies,” he added. “People will tip Liverpool, but last season Manchester City won home and away against Manchester United so you can never tell. “It won’t be a football match as such. There will be tackles flying in, plenty of closing down and it’s a hard one to call. “But of course I’ve still got affection for the Blues.
“I work for the Stellar Group as a football agent now and we have offices in Liverpool so I get over there every now and then. “I’ve been doing that for nine years now and love it.”
Born: Paddington, 1959.
Clubs: Sheffield United, Everton, Newcastle, Sheffield Wednesday, Sheffield United , West Brom, Manchester City, Leeds, Luton, Oxford and Rotherham. A fully licensed FIFA agent since 2004 Varadi enjoyed his most prolific spell at Newcastle, 39 goals in 81 appearances, where he forged an exciting partnership with Kevin Keegan and Chris Waddle. His strike-partnership with Lee Chapman towards the end of his career helped Leeds to promotion into the top flight. He scored 154 goals in his professional career.
Kids are learning the Blues
Jan 15 2009 by Michelle Fiddler, Liverpool Echo
A SCHOOL has teamed up with Everton FC to create a curriculum around football.
David Spruce, a teacher at Hillview primary in Runcorn, wanted to inspire a healthy lifestyle among pupils and improve their literacy. Science lessons revolve around looking at what the Everton players eat and how it affects their performance, as well as learning anatomy and the parts of the body they use, how they can get injured and why. They are also looking at the history of the club, the women’s team and key landmarks with a link to the club. Future projects as part of the programme include creating a Match of the Day programme at a TV studio with the children as pundits, making a virtual tour of the ground, designing and creating a new home strip with a costume designer, producing clay models of the tower and the cups Everton have won, and looking at the diet of a footballer with help from the Everton bus. Pupils were given a personal tour of Goodison by Everton legend Graeme Sharp and two Everton Tigers basketball players Marcus Bailey and Olu Babalola.
The Jury: Everton fans look ahead to the double derby showdown
Jan 15 2009 Liverpool Echo
Michael Drummond, Speke
WE have not won at Anfield for 10 years and to play them twice in one week gives us the biggest opportunity to change that statistic. Is it possible? Of course it is! I've never considered Liverpool unbeatable although, rivalry aside, you can't deny that they are a good team. With the form we've been in, we can match them no problem, but you know the saying, form goes out of the window in a derby! It is a massive blow that Marouane Fellaini is out because he has been such a presence in the last few months. It's frustrating that he gets booked nearly every game, but it shows he's getting stuck in there. It's just a shame that his 10th booking had to fall now!
Another person I have been impressed with is Mikel Arteta. His all round performance has improved immensely since moving to the middle. I hope that middle role is his for good now! He will have a huge impact in the next few games, for sure!
Debbie Smaje, Upholland
THIS could easily be the best, or the worst week Everton fans have had in a long time. But despite our current outstanding form, I’m not confident. When it comes to derby games, I never am. The loss of Fellaini for both Liverpool games has been the main talking point since the Hull win. There is no doubt we will miss him, mostly because it forces us to use Anichebe and push Cahill deeper. This system works with Fellaini behind Cahill, but just doesn’t seem as effective without him. It could be worth giving Gosling another chance on the right, and playing Osman in the free role behind Cahill, as he has the intelligence to make runs, and spot the runs of other players.
Strange that choosing to play without our only recognised striker should be seen as a more positive move, but that sums up Everton’s last month!
Richard Knights, West Derby
POISON. Welcome to the Merseyside derby where the atmosphere is as friendly as a dose of anthrax. Like a pathetic playground spat, it has all escalated out of control. No-one is going to stop because they ‘didn’t start it’. The parentage of certain players’ children is questioned, someone gobs down the back of Phil Neville’s shirt, then there are chants about a former player’s disabled child. Hatred, vitriol and abuse? We used to leave that to games between Brummies, Cockneys and the dreaded Mancs.
Remember when the Kopites presented Gordon West with a handbag? Happy days. Evertonians could stand in the Kop and Reds watch the game from Gwladys Street.
It’ll never be a love-in, but someone has to call a halt. After the Hillsborough tragedy, the first scarf laid at the Anfield memorial was a blue one. Let’s support our teams and cut out all the crap – we’re better than that.
David Wallbank, Huyton
EVERTON have once again become a hard to beat team and a fantastic 2-0 win over Hull City can back this argument up. The current form of the Blues is based firmly on keeping clean sheets and scoring goals, surprisingly without any strikers.
The trips across the park to our friends at Anfield will be spectacles for everyone in football to drool over. I sense a buzz around these fixtures that has been absent for many years. If I am honest I never look forward to these encounters but this time my emotions are really positive. Even with the absurd enforced absence of Fellaini I fancy the Blues to gain two victories over our arch rivals. Everton may be short on numbers but in terms of determination and togetherness I feel the Blues must be the envy of the Premiership.
Phil Neville: Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez ‘cannot outwit Alex Ferguson’
Jan 15 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
PHIL NEVILLE has relished the row between Rafa Benitez and his old Manchester United boss, Alex Ferguson. But he believes the Reds boss is wasting his time trying to outwit the man he believes is “the king” of mind games. The Everton skipper has revelled in the verbal volleys tossed between the two title rivals, and he said: “I think these things are absolutely brilliant for football – it’s what sets our league apart from any other league in the world. “You don’t see Spanish La Liga managers doing things like that. "It’s fantastic viewing from the outside and it’s going to be a fantastic end to the season, I’m sure.” But Neville sent a warning to Benitez that he is taking on an unbeatable foe in his former manager. “I don’t think you can beat Sir Alex at mind games,” he added. “Experience is a great thing and when you’re going for titles you need experience and he’s the king.” Phil Neville is guaranteed a starting place at Anfield on Monday night, but young striker Victor Anichebe is eager to lead the line in both derby clashes, despite accepting there may soon be a new rival for a starting place. “It’s an exciting prospect,” said the Nigerian international. “But like the manager has said he could look to bring someone in. We need to be prepared for that.
“We’ll see, if I’m the one who’s playing, I’ll be happy to do so. “Three points would obviously take us closer to the top four but it’s also vital for Liverpool as well.
“They’re sitting top of the Premier League and want to stay there. “We’re trying to get there so it will be a massive game. “Our form’s good but that means nothing on the day. “The run could stop at any time so we’ve got to keep our heads down, keep doing what we’re doing, not think we’re above ourselves and just go for it.” One of Everton’s potential transfer targets, Fiorentina striker Giampaolo Pazzini, joined Sampdoria yesterday for £7.2m.
ECHO comment: Mad rule for chanting fans
Jan 15 2009 Liverpool Echo
NO ONE can condone some of the sick chanting that takes place at the once-friendly Merseyside derby. But surely no one can deny that attempts to arrest and prosecute fans for “criminal chanting” could cause as many problems as they solve.
We have quite rightly seen fans ejected from football grounds and later charged for racially abusing and physically assaulting players, but these new proposals will puzzle many decent fans. Police are drawing up a dossier of what are deemed offensive songs ahead of the forthcoming derbies and fans could find themselves with a criminal record if caught singing them. But for this to be seriously put into action, the force and the Crown Prosecution Service need to spell out what can and cannot come out of the mouths of fired-up fans during the games. While the police have the best of intentions, the proposal appears to have more holes than the leakiest of defences.
Chief supt Dave Lewis, football commander for Merseyside police, says his officers, “won’t be arresting hundreds as we haven’t got the resources to do so, and could prompt a melee”. This, itself, underlines the problematic nature of the proposal – the likely arrest of just a few scapegoats and the possibility of serious disorder.
Many modern-day chants may be unsavoury, but Liverpool-Everton fixtures have never been for the faint-hearted, even if the atmosphere is still nowhere near as aggressive as that at many other derbies. The hope is for the kind of self-policing which helped drive out the racist chanting that was depressingly widespread in the 1980s. Players also have a responsibility not to further inflame the situation with thoughtless gestures and actions. As for the police and CPS – please, don’t score an own goal.
Everton Kirkby inquiry: Questions on Blues’ need for 60,000 seats
Jan 15 2009 by Richard Down, Liverpool Echo verdict'
EVERTON FC does not need to build a 60,000 capacity stadium, an inquiry heard.
Mark McVicar, a commercial expert for Liverpool council, said the size of the proposed stadium in Kirkby was dictating the scale of the shopping development alongside it, which was “unnecessary”. But Patrick Clarkson, representing Everton FC and Tesco, questioned Mr McVicar’s expertise and whether the council had changed tack in opposing the stadium, not just the shops element. Mr McVicar said: “It is expensive to relocate a football club, so there is a financial shortfall and you need a lot of retail development to help meet the cost of that shortfall. “If the stadium was only for 50,000 seats, the scale of the cross-subsidy would be far smaller. “Is there really a need for this, because it impacts on policy, the town centre and other town centres?”
He also said Everton did not have a large waiting list for season tickets and the extra 10,000 seats would have to be built, at significant cost, before being “mothballed for an unknown amount of time”. Mr McVicar said the £400m development could even damage the existing town centre by drawing shops into the new development when their leases expired over the next five years. But Mr Clarkson asked: “Are you telling us you are a football stadium expert and have more expertise on these matters than Robert Elstone [Everton’s chief executive]?” Mr McVicar said he was not an expert, but there was no expert evidence submitted to the inquiry. He asked: “Where is the evidence they need this stadium [size]?” Mr Clarkson replied: “You could have asked Mr Elstone that during his evidence, but you did not.”
Police crackdown on Liverpool FC v Everton FC derby day chanting
Jan 15 2009 by Luke Traynor, Liverpool Echo
LIVERPOOL and Everton fans were warned today they could be prosecuted for “criminal chanting” at this month’s two Merseyside derbies. They could be thrown out of the ground and charged for singing inappropriate songs. Police are taking action after unsavoury terrace chants at recent derbies, and are involved in talks with the Crown Prosecution Service. Liverpool and Everton meet in a Premiership game on Monday evening and the following Sunday afternoon in the FA Cup, both at Anfield.
One song is said to be of particular concern to police, whose football intelligence officers will draw up a dossier of chants. Police today warned they would remove offenders from the ground and seek bans. Officers are to speak to both clubs asking them to present a united front against unacceptable abuse from the stands.
Football commander for Merseyside police Chief Supt Dave Lewis said: “We will speak to the CPS to see if what is sung is viewed as abusive. “We could arrest people and charge them. We won’t be arresting hundreds as we haven’t got the resources to do so and could prompt a mêlée. “Some of the singing can be abhorrent and we have to draw a line under it.” The action comes in the wake of alleged racist and homophobic chanting directed at Portsmouth defender Sol Campbell during a match against former employers Tottenham Hotspur. A number of people were charged by Hampshire police. Everton FC spokesman Ian Ross said: “We always urge our fans to behave appropriately, not just at derby games, but at every match. “At a previous derby at Anfield there was some pretty unpleasant chanting from both sets of supporters, although it was not racist or homophobic.” There was no-one available to comment at Liverpool FC.
Everton will block Manchester City swoop for Joleon Lescott
Jan 16 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
MANCHESTER CITY are ready to intensify their efforts to sign Joleon Lescott when they begin the next stage of their January recruitment drive. Everton boss David Moyes has made it clear on a couple of occasions recently that he is not interested in weakening an already threadbare squad by selling any of his players. But with money no object to the men from Eastlands, City, whose first objective is to land Kaka, are not going to be deterred in their pursuit of the England international. Lescott has made 121 consecutive appearances since moving to Goodison from Wolves in June 2006 and signed a four-year contract extension last March. He has played a key role in the progress Everton have made over the last few years but, inevitably, has meant that he has attracted a number of admirers - notably City. Mark Hughes has been desperate to land a top class left sided central defender and, aside from Lescott, he had looked at Arsenal’s Kolo Toure. However, that deal has collapsed and Lescott is the man Hughes would like to sign, after he has wrapped up the signings of Roque Santa Cruz and Craig Bellamy. Everton, of course, will not budge from their stance that nobody will be heading out of Goodison during the window. ECHO Sport understands that no official contact has been made at boardroom level but sources in Manchester insist it is only a matter of time before that changes. And Hughes has confirmed that aside from the pursuit of Kaka, he wants to make several additions before the window closes. “There is no time limit other than February 2, which is the day for all deals, but that applies to every bid we have put in,” he said. “Ideally we would have brought more players to the club by now. That is still our aim. I want players who would enhance our squad.” Everton have been inactive in terms of recruitment since the window opened a fortnight ago but they are still pursuing a number of leads as they look to bring in a centre forward. Moyes would also like to add a wide midfielder to his squad and is scouring Europe for any suitable short-term deals. “We are looking in the loan market,” he confirmed. “Anyone who talks about me signing players is wide of the mark. Nothing has changed. “I would prefer (to bring someone in). But, as I have said, it is not easy to improve a side when you are trying to pick up loans from other clubs to help you.”
David Moyes sets Everton star Mikel Arteta a new goals target
Jan 16 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
MIKEL ARTETA may have been subject to comparisons with one of Everton’s favourite sons this week, but he should be aware that David Moyes is ready to raise the bar again. Having endured a spell in the doldrums at the beginning of the campaign, the Spaniard has roared back to form in recent weeks, a point proven by the sumptuous free-kick he smashed past Hull City’s startled goalkeeper Boaz Myhill last weekend. And, perhaps, it was fitting that strike whistled its way into the top corner of the Gwladys Street net – after all, some of Arteta’s most memorable goals have come at that particular end of Goodison Park. In November 2006, he settled a keenly-contested battle with Bolton Wanderers after skipping past a couple of challenges before unleashing a left-footed drive which left Jussi Jaaskelainen grasping at thin air.
Last season, of course, he conjured a similarly memorable effort in the epic tussle with Fiorentina, a swerving, jinking run that ended when Arteta launched a guided missile which was still gaining speed as it flew beyond Sebastien Frey.
Clearly he is a special player capable of magic moments and that is the reason why Bill Kenwright felt compelled to mention the Spaniard in the same breath as Alex Young, but Moyes is not the type of manager who will allow a player to rest on his laurels. If anything, the opposite is true. Pleased as he is that Arteta has taken his tally for the campaign up to five, Moyes would like to see the 26-year-old, who made his 150th appearance for the Blues last week, hit the target more often from open play, rather than relying on set pieces. No wonder. the only goals Arteta has scored in the past two seasons which have not come directly after a referee’s whistle were against Fiorentina and Brann in the UEFA Cup and Derby County in October 2007, so what better place to change that than at Anfield next Monday? “He is capable of scoring goals,” said Moyes, who first brought Arteta to Merseyside in January 2005. “I want to see him score more goals from open play now, as well as free-kicks. We have talked to him about it and hopefully that will be the on-going process of him developing. “He has to have the confidence to shoot. Maybe the key is for him to have confidence to go into those positions. But Mikel also sees himself as having a responsibility of not leaving us empty in the middle of the park. He’s done a good job and he’s helped us play better.” While his improvement in form may have led to some tedious speculation that he would soon be heading for pastures new – Everton, for the record, have not received one phone call about him – neither player nor manager paid any attention to such chatter. Their only concern has been ensuring his recent performances become the norm once more and it certainly seems as if being switched from the flanks, where he had spent much of his career for the Blues, into the middle has rekindled Arteta’s fire. He has had the confidence to demand possession from central defenders once more and been eager to make the passes that keep Everton ticking over as an attacking force, leaving Moyes to suggest a man who has played for Paris St Germain, Rangers and Barcelona has matured. “Mikel has come good after a difficult spell,” said Moyes. “Probably even last season he didn’t hit the notes. He had an injury problem which really set him back. But we paid £3.5m from Real Sociedad and I think it has proven to be really good value. “Mikel has become a good player for Everton and a very important one, too. If people play well, you will always get recognised. It happens to any player in the country. Mikel is going through a good spell. “He has done well for us and we have worked hard to bring him on. He has developed. Mikel came as a central midfielder but he wasn’t quite ready for the role. He’s played on the right and left and been in terrific form in those positions at different times. “But maybe he’s getting close to being a central midfielder again. He has matured, he has become stronger and understands the role a bit more. He maybe even understands the Premier League a bit more than he did in the past, such as the physicality. “He is more complete and ready to be a central midfielder now. He is working really hard and preparing himself as best he can. You notice when someone of his ability isn’t playing to the levels they can. But Mikel works hard and is a big influence. He’s a very conscientious boy.”
Reds and Blues sign up to ‘lose a million’ challenge
Jan 16 2009 by Helen Hunt, Liverpool Echo
MERSEYSIDE’S Premier League giants today teamed up to help Liverpool families lose weight. The Blues and Reds are preparing for two derby clashes – but stood together to get behind the ECHO-backed Lose A Million campaign.
The scheme, launched by Liverpool primary care trust in September, is encouraging everyone in the city to lose a combined million pounds of weight by getting active and eating more healthily. Today, players from both sides of Stanley Park came together with a united message urging people to get involved. Everton midfielder Tim Cahill said: “All players are aware food is very important for our fitness. “The PCT is doing the right thing by encouraging people in the city to lose a million pounds in weight. Everyone knows when they are overweight, they are not at their best. “Cutting down on fat and eating more healthy food is very important. If you start doing that, you really will feel the benefits. “It is a great campaign and it will make a real difference if people sign up.” Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher said: “A good diet and exercise are vitally important for good health. “Professional footballers need to be at the top of their game, and we have experts to guide us through what we eat and how we train.
“I fully support the Lose A Million campaign, and people who sign up will soon notice the difference. “It really can change your life. You will feel better, look better and be healthier. “It is a win-win situation – and you have everything to gain.”
So far, city residents have pledged to lose 70,135 pounds and 5,707 people have signed up, but more are needed to join the challenge. PCT chairman Gideon Ben-Tovim said: “Liverpool’s challenge is inspiring and supporting so many people across the city to adopt healthy lifestyle changes and lose weight. “We have already had a good response. The New Year is the perfect time for people who have not yet signed up to join. “This is the biggest health challenge Liverpool has ever faced, but the momentum is now beginning to grow.” Liverpool’s public health director Paula Grey said: “Even a small amount can make a positive difference to your health.”
People can pledge their pounds and sign up to the challenge by calling 0800 012 1733 or by visiting www.liverpoolchallenge.nhs.uk Health experts in the Lose A Million tanker will be in Williamson Square today and throughout the weekend to advise people who are being encouraged to sign up. The tanker will then embark on a tour across Liverpool.
DAVID PRENTICE: At the end of the day, we must close cliché window
Jan 16 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
ON Monday night, for the 209th time, the formbook will either fly or be tossed out of the window, depending on your preference for derby day’s most enduring cliche.
Well it’s time that awful phrase followed it through Everest’s finest. Because the formbook doesn’t go out of the window. Well very rarely, anyway. I’ve worked out that Monday night will be the 33rd successive derby match I’ve attended as a journalist. There have been at least another 30 witnessed from outside the comfort of the press box – and the times I’ve been genuinely surprised can be counted on the fingers of one hand. There was the occasion Everton produced a performance so abject in a League Cup tie at Coventry that Howard Kendall tried to do a Phil Brown and send his team back out at the end. Three days later they beat Liverpool in an upset so great that the Goodison tannoy announcer played the signature tune to Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected at the final whistle. Then there was Joe Royle’s first match in charge when Liverpool were top and Everton rock bottom, and the Blues triumphed 2-0 – and apparently a famous occasion in 1955 when Second Division Liverpool trounced top flight Everton 4-0 at Goodison Park. But they’re the exceptions. The rule is that games largely go the way of the team in form.
The problem with Monday’s set-to is that the current form table of the Premier League has Everton and Liverpool separated by a single point, in fourth and fifth place of the Last Six Matches table. So there are no real clues as to a likely winner there.
Nor is there in trying to work out the benefits of home advantage. Liverpool haven’t lost a match at Anfield for 11 months, but Everton’s away record hasn’t been bettered since Ball, Harvey and Kendall were thrilling travelling fans. So what about team selection? David Moyes has the bigger problems to attend to following Marouane Fellaini’s daft suspension, but Rafa Benitez has the bigger decisions to make.
Does he play Robbie Keane? Can he play Fernando Torres? Should Martin Skrtel come in for Daniel Agger? Who is this week’s left-back? With only 12 fit senior professionals to choose from, David Moyes’ task is less difficult. But even here normal rules don’t apply. Liverpool’s best results this season have come when they have been significantly undermanned – they beat Manchester United without Torres and Gerrard, and won at Stamford Bridge without Torres. But Everton haven’t conceded a goal since Joseph Yobo was injured – and have scored in almost every match since their entire strike force joined the injury list. Put simply, Monday night’s mayhem is impossible to predict. Which is just how we’d like it. Most Reds fans would prefer the league points, most Blues would prefer progress in the Cup, but football never works out that conveniently. As we’ll see on Monday – when people will tell us the formbook was tossed out of an Anfield window once again.
Double Mersey derby hero Peter Beardsley: Nothing compares to the big one
Jan 16 2009 by Tony Barrett, Liverpool Echo
IF anyone is well placed to tell the Liverpool and Everton players what lies in store for them over the next ten days it is Peter Beardsley. A hero on both sides of Stanley Park, Beardsley knows all about the spine tingling expectation, unremitting drama and the overwhelming sense of joy and despair that two Merseyside derbies in such a short space of time can bring. In 1987, the Geordie was a key part of the Liverpool side which lost to Everton in the League Cup on a Wednesday night before beating them in the league four days later. And he also featured heavily – although perhaps not as much as he would have liked – in the famous trilogy of cup games between the Mersey giants in 1991. “They are fantastic memories for me,” said former Anfield No7 Beardsley, now working behind the scenes at his beloved Newcastle.
“To play in a single Merseyside derby is a magnificent experience that will live with you forever but when you are able to play in a couple in such a short space of time it becomes even more special. “So for Liverpool and Everton to be drawn together in the FA Cup and face each other twice in a week is brilliant. “I know it happens quite a lot in Scotland where Celtic and Rangers play each other four times in the league every season and also tend to meet in the Scottish cups quite often as well but it’s nowhere near as common on this side of the border. So when it does happen you really have to enjoy it.” Beardsley has the rare distinction of having scored in the Merseyside derby for both Liverpool and Everton and the pleasure he took from such high octane occasions is still evident today. Now he hopes players of both clubs derive as much enjoyment from these matches as he did. “I am sure that they will do,” he said. “Because when it comes down to it, these are the games that you want to play in.
“I’d been told all about the atmosphere but until you experience it for yourself you can’t even imagine how special it is. “I know times have changed and the two sets of fans might not mingle as well as they once did but there is still something unique about the Merseyside derby that you won’t find anywhere else. “I love the fact you still get fans of both clubs watching the game from the same parts of the ground, I really do think that’s great. “Unfortunately, that isn’t always possible in other parts of the country. It doesn’t happen in games between Newcastle and Sunderland or in the London and Manchester derbies so this makes the Merseyside one pretty special.”
Beardsley celebrates his 48th birthday tomorrow and with the approach of another milestone in his life comes a retrospective of his halcyon days in a red shirt.
A key component of Kenny Dalglish’s wonder team of 1987/88 which went 29 games unbeaten at the start of that season before delivering the league title with a style and grace which had the footballing world in raptures, Beardsley loved his time at Anfield and particularly Liverpool’s encounters with their neighbours. “It was a fantastic time for me and for the club,” he recalls. “The football we played that season was brilliant. I was lucky enough to be part of a team that included some really tremendous players.
“That season was special and ironically our unbeaten run came to an end when Wayne Clarke scored the winner for Everton in the Goodison derby. We had already met three times before that game. We lost a League Cup game, won the league game at Anfield and beat them in the FA Cup at Goodison so it really was competitive.
“The league game at Anfield is the one I remember most because I scored my first ever derby goal – a really special moment.” The three FA Cup games in 1990/91 prompt bittersweet recollections for the former England man. Left on the bench for the initial tie, he forced his way back in for the replay which ended in that famous 4-4 draw and kept his place for the decider at Goodison – settled for Everton by a Dave Watson strike. “In the first game David Speedie played but I got back into the starting line up for the 4-4 game and that was another fantastic occasion,” said Beardsley.
“For me it was a travesty Liverpool only drew that game because we went ahead four times and played some brilliant stuff. But credit to Everton they kept coming back at us and in the end we had to have another replay. “It was a tough time for everyone at Liverpool because Kenny left after the 4-4 game – that was disappointing for all of us.
“We ended up getting beat in the second replay which was not such a memorable game but Everton got the goal and that was enough to beat us on the night.
“They were all brilliant occasions though and I am sure it will be exactly the same this time around. “My advice to the players? Just to go out there and enjoy it.
“It is a real privilege to play in front of two such magnificent sets of fans who have such incredible passion for their clubs so all you can do is enjoy it.”
TOMORROW: Beardsley delivers a fascinating verdict on Robbie Keane - now wearing the No 7 shirt at Anfield.
PETER BEARDSLEY FACTFILE
PETER BEARDSLEY joined Liverpool from Newcastle United in the summer of 1987 for a then British record fee of £1.9m. He went on to score 60 goals for the Reds in 177 appearances. In his time at Anfield he won two league championship medals and one FA Cup winners medal. After four years at Anfield, Beardsley was sold to Everton for £1m by Graeme Souness and he went on to equal David Johnson’s feat of scoring Mersey derby winners for both clubs. He won 59 England caps and was awarded the MBE for services to the game in 1995.
Let’s put an end to ‘nasty’ Merseyside derby chants
Jan 16 2009 by Luke Traynor, Liverpool Echo
REDS and Blues supporters today called for a return to traditional values on the terraces ahead of the two Merseyside derbies. Debate has raged among Liverpool and Everton fans after the ECHO revealed Merseyside police’s intention to prosecute people at Anfield next week for “criminal chanting”. Songs heard in recent years at both grounds have been described as “abhorrent” and officers could now be given powers to eject fans and charge them. Liverpool and Everton meet in a Premiership game on Monday evening and the following Sunday afternoon in the FA Cup, both at Anfield. Ian Macdonald, spokesman for the Everton Independent Blues, said he was pleased with the police’s decision. He said: “There are a lot of fans who are sick and tired of it. If police do it fairly, then fair enough. “All we can do is ask the decent fans to drown out any obscene songs. It is very sad, but the ‘Merseyside, Merseyside’ chants of the 1980s are long gone. “It has turned nasty now. Let’s not stoop to the level of insulting their players – we would be much better with three points and passage into the next round of the FA Cup. “The police have laid down the gauntlet. I would ask supporters, how would they feel not being able to follow your club for three years after 90 minutes of losing it?” James McKenna, from the Spirit Of Shankly LFC fans’ group, said: “It is unusual for the police to say this – it should be policed by the fans themselves. “Relations between the fans have sunk to a massive low and it is hard to see it getting any better. “It is tit-for-tat – I have gone to parties and been insulted for being a Liverpool fan. If police try and get involved, it will cause even more problems. “Tribalism seems to take over when you go through the turnstiles, and when there are thousands of you there, even the most mild-mannered of people can snap.” Top-level negotiations have taken place between the police and the Crown Prosecution Service to check the feasibility of prosecutions.
One song is said to be of particular concern to police, whose football intelligence officers will draw up a dossier of offensive chants.
OPINION FROM ECHO WEBSITE FORUMS
RedSilver: There will be nasty chants from both sides, make no mistake. I hear them myself when I am sat on the Kop on derby day. I am not saying it is right but what do you expect the police or authorities to do about it? Arrest the whole away end? Nothing will be done about it but plenty has been and will continue to be said and it will continue. I’d bet my house on it. l22red: Homophobic and racist chants are Illegal, giving Gerrard stick isn’t, unfortunately. I’m sure Gerrard isn’t expecting any sympathy from the Blues fans, and will be well-prepared for what they come up with.
BloodRed: I’m sure some lyrical genius over there has thought of an alternative to the Gerrard chant, something of the usual high standards you’d normally expect from Lennon or Dylan. To be honest, while playing I wonder how much they actually hear. In the stands it can be hard to understand most chants, on the pitch it must be near impossible especially as you’re not listening out for them. benno: Where has the sense of humour gone? This is just another nail in the head for football. Callys_heroes: Let the stewards deal with it, and the clubs ban offenders, but the police shouldn’t be involved. Catmc: There will be a few scapegoats arrested, it’s pathetic really. What harm comes from chanting at derby matches? There’s been some horrible ones going on for years aimed at Lescott, Gerrard and Carsley. Why are the police so scared now?
Stephen Pienaar eyeing first Everton win at Anfield in a decade
Jan 17 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
THE FA’s dubious goals panel is well known for making dubious decisions where Everton players are concerned. Just ask Steven Pienaar. Leon Osman was once the man who had suffered most at the hands of the powers that be, having what appeared to be perfectly legitimate strikes against Portsmouth, Wigan and Charlton taken off him during the course of 2006. Now the beaks at Soho Square have turned their attentions to Pienaar, deeming the effort which he squeezed in at Tottenham in November to be a Vedran Corluka own goal, even though his shot would have made Heruelho Gomes work. No matter. Osman got over his frustrations simply by putting together a sequence of the spectacular – can you remember the last ‘straightforward’ goal he scored? – and Pienaar has conjured up a plan on how to get his own back.
“I don’t know who the guys are that make the decisions but what can you do?,” Pienaar asked with a smile that suggested he has not lost too much sleep over the issue. “We won the game at Tottenham and that was the most important thing. Who scored didn’t matter. “I don’t score many but maybe I’m saving one for Anfield. I’ve told one of my good friends who supports Liverpool that’s what I want to do. If that happens, maybe he won’t speak to me for a while! We’ll just have to see what happens.” Round 209 of this neighbourhood squabble takes place on Monday evening and Pienaar, for one, cannot wait, as Everton seek a first victory on enemy territory since Kevin Campbell found himself in the right place at the right time in September 1999. Derbies, of course, are the matches which see friendships placed on hold and though Pienaar grew up in Johannesburg, he is well aware that local bragging rights are at stake, particularly given that two of his old team-mates are now in Liverpool’s ranks. Pienaar’s stints with Ajax and Borussia Dortmund mean that he knows both Ryan Babel and Philip Degen but while banter is part and parcel of the build-up to a derby, he has refrained from getting involved in the phoney war. “I saw Ryan a couple of weeks ago and I text Philip but I haven’t got in touch with them in the last couple of weeks,” said Pienaar. “I don’t bother playing mind games, I just leave everything for the pitch.” Though he prefers to stay out of the limelight, on the pitch Pienaar is certainly no shrinking violet and it is no surprise that Everton’s performances have improved dramatically since he recaptured full fitness. Absent for a 2-0 defeat at Goodison Park in September when Liverpool had things their own way, the Reds can expect headaches if Pienaar is given the slightest sense of freedom and he is determined to head back across Stanley Park with some reward. “Even a draw will cause them problems,” he said. “It will affect them because they can’t afford to drop any points. Chelsea are close to them, so are Manchester United and we are not going to make it easy. We are going out to play our own game. “As long as we keep the teams behind us off our backs, that is the main thing. This is an important month – after Liverpool, we have got Arsenal and then a trip to Manchester United. If we can get points from those three games, it would be amazing for the club. “It would also boost our confidence even more and set us up for the rest of the season. We just have to get through the difficult games. “We are playing good stuff. Myself, Mickey and Leighton are combination footballers and we are linking well. Since Mickey moved into the middle, he is closer to me and it is much easier for us to combine. It’s working really well.” Numbers might be short but six games unbeaten and no goal conceded in 540 minutes shows Everton are playing their best football of the campaign and while next week’s Cup tie is an intriguing side show, Pienaar makes it quite clear where his priorities lie. “It was a blow to lose Felli but we will get on with it,” said Pienaar. “We have been playing well. Even before we lost to Aston Villa we had won at Tottenham. We also played well against Villa but we gave it away so simply. You can’t do that at this level. “But six clean sheets in a row was the best way to answer that. We are all looking forward to the next few weeks. Speaking for myself, I always enjoy the big games because you want to test yourself against the very best players. “When the Cup draw was made, I wasn’t too bothered. That is for the future and my concern was the league as we want to get as many points as we can. The Cup will take care of itself.”
The Merseyside derby: Why we have to stand together
Jan 17 2009 Liverpool Echo
AS Merseyside police today warned fans could be prosecuted for “criminal chanting” at this month’s two Merseyside derbies, ECHO bloggers Luke Traynor and Greg O’Keeffe spell out why the matchday atmosphere must change
LIVERPOOL fan Luke Traynor says . . .
IT’S about time something was done to stop the sad deterioration of relations between Liverpool and Everton supporters in recent years. Whether police yanking people out of their seats and plonking them before the courts is the right way to deal with it remains to be seen. First, it’s true, a watershed has been reached in recent seasons with fans’ behaviour at derby games sinking to new lows of indecency.
Personally, coming from a family of Evertonians, I’ve never harboured that festering resentment for the Blues. Years gone by, if they remained below us in the table, I was usually relatively pleased if they won. That changed a touch in the Unsworth-Fowler derby at Goodison in 1997 when the Blues held us to a draw when we were pushing for the title. I remember the bile and hatred pouring from the stands as gleeful Evertonians sang more about Liverpool than their own team. But while I’m not as complimentary about the Blues as back then, there’s a certain side up the East Lancs, or another in a posh borough of London, who I’m much more prepared to harbour distaste for. That aside, any good-natured past Merseyside banter is small fry compared to the nasty small-minded songs which have surfaced in the last five years, from both sides. References to football tragedies, players’ own children being mocked – some of these “fans” should truly be ashamed of themselves. I speak to some people who quickly pipe up with the line: “Well, they started singing about XXX first!”
Who gives a monkey’s? How about people being the bigger person and start acting like mature adults? It’s one thing creating an intimidating atmosphere for visiting teams; it’s another descending into playground ugliness to score pathetic points.
One Merseyside policeman tells me of how he once stood on duty at a derby and saw two young boys watching in astonishment as their fathers, presumably mild-mannered when sat in their armchairs at home, spew forth cruel obscenities. What a lesson to be teaching! How will the kids will behave at the match in a decade’s time? It’s time everybody grew up.
EVERTON fan Greg O’Keeffe says . . .
THERE will be the usual controversy, recriminations and hyperbole once the whistle has gone on the anticipated derby double-header. We wouldn’t expect anything else.
But there could also be queues outside the custody suite in Walton Lane police station longer than Rafa’s list of perceived misdemeanours by “Evil Alex Ferguson”.
That’s if Merseyside police follow through with their warning to prosecute fans for “criminal chanting” and it’s not simply a tactic to diffuse the tinder box.
Yes, recent derbies have undoubtedly witnessed new lows in the taste stakes when it comes to chants about players’ appearance or their children. In fact, Rafa Benitez showed poor judgement on a par with trying to out-psych Alex Ferguson when he – with amusingly partisan semi-deafness – criticised Everton fans for chants after last year’s game at Anfield and said nothing of his own supporters. But as unsavoury as those chants may were, I’m pretty sure they weren’t criminal in the same sense as what some Spurs supporters sang at Sol Campbell were. None of the chants are homophobic or racist and the only one which could potentially be interpreted is unlikely to be aired because of injuries to certain players. If Merseyside police does arrest fans, I can only imagine they will work with stewards to target and then pluck out individuals who stand up and start specific chants. Surely it will be a thankless task which your average matchday bobby will relish about as much as a visit of Manchester United. Police shouldn’t face condemnation for trying to stamp out abhorrent chanting but they should be sensible enough to pick battles they can win.
And in private they should be briefing both football clubs’ managers and players to steer away from any outbursts or behaviour which will really up the ante and could trigger drink-related derby violence in the city with far more consequences than a chant.
Everton’s pedigree will be fully tested
Jan 17 2009 by Phil Hayes, Liverpool Echo
IT MAY be stating the obvious, but I think our excellent recent form will be tested severely over the next few weeks. With our forthcoming fixtures being against Liverpool (twice), Arsenal and Manchester United, these trials will prove whether we have improved on last year’s form. I think we will draw both games against Liverpool (winning the cup replay at Goodison) and possibly steal a sneaky win against Arsenal. However I do think we will struggle against Manchester United and will be lucky to get anything out of the game. If that happened I wouldn’t be too disappointed. I hope I am wrong and we get all nine Premier League points and thrash Liverpool in the Cup!
EVERTON have been fantastic recently, given the fact that the same 11 have had to play virtually every minute of every game. Whatever the results in the next four matches, I guarantee United, Arsenal and Liverpool will all know they’ve played against the Blues.
IT’S stupid that there’s going to be a sudden clampdown on chanting.
It's obvious they are talking about Everton fans winding Steven Gerrard up. There is no way accusing someone of punching a person, is as bad as what has been said in the past about Lee Carsley’s child. There will be a few scapegoats arrested, while most people get away with things which are completely out of order. I predict there will be more police surrounding the away fans at Anfield, with most of the home team’s chants ignored.
I HAVE often been critical of David Moyes, but always admitted that he has done a reasonable job under difficult circumstances. At the moment he is doing a very reasonable job, under very difficult circumstances. Most of the time we fail to move forward during the transfer window and have sometimes made poor moves, like the re-signing of Alessandro Pistone. We have not spent any money in the last three January transfer windows and I don't expect any change now.
I question our scouting system, when compared to the likes of Wigan. Then I ask myself, if we handled transfers a little better, would we have any more money for wages?
THE fact is, we desperately need to sign a striker – most probably on loan due to a lack of funds. The problem for fans is that there does not appear to be any urgent attempt by the club to try and get someone in. We are over two weeks into the transfer window and we are not even being linked with anybody, now that has to be worrying!
BARRY HORNE: Everton still have the spirit to beat adversity
Jan 17 2009 by Barry Horne, Liverpool Echo
THE two managers go into the derby double header from almost polar opposites.
Rafael Benitez has virtually a clean bill of health in his squad and has to decide which of his multi-million pound stars to use in which derby match. But David Moyes has to juggle an ever thinning squad and, if he does want to make a change, will have to include at least one young, inexperienced player in his starting XI. That’s not always a bad thing, though. I’ve played in a derby match where 18-year-old Bill Kenny took the occasion by the scruff of the neck and played so well he not only helped us to a 2-1 win, he earned himself a brand new contract from Howard Kendall the following day.
Then there was the afternoon the 17-year-old Danny Cadamarteri terrorised Neil Ruddock and Bjorn Tore Kvarme – or a game at Goodison when teenagers like Michael Branch, Richard Dunne and Michael Ball all played significant parts in us earning a deserved draw. I suspect that David Moyes will go with as experienced a side as he can muster on Monday night, but Marouane Fellaini’s suspension could not have come at a worse time. Certainly no-one will be able to accuse Moyes of being negative in his team selection for the sake of it; he has so few options available.
There has been no transfer movement and even precious little transfer gossip this week, but to David Moyes’ credit he was up front from a very early stage about the difficulties we would face in bringing new faces in despite the almost desperate situation we find ourselves in at present. The Liverpool manager has, in the past, misread the significance of the derby match, but on this occasion, with Manchester United exerting pressure, I expect him to field his absolute strongest side.
But in the face of adversity comes strength – and Everton have shown that quality in abundance. They will travel to Anfield with a fantastic team spirit – and don’t be surprised if a youngster is the hero.
Kaka would enter strange new world
THE more things change, the more they stay the same. So while Manchester City are ready to break world records to land a player who has only just relinquished his World Player of the Year mantle, the club still seems to be run like a circus. Knowing that Kaka is a person of high intelligence, good education and high moral standards, I ask myself why he would even consider going to City. He is already wealthy beyond his wildest dreams, and if City did persuade him to sign, you then have the problem of trying to assimilate someone into the squad who is light years ahead of everyone else in terms of stature, ability and wages. It just doesn’t make sense – but then Manchester City rarely does.
David Moyes keeps his sights on a loan star - Everton latest
Jan 17 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES is hoping to repeat some of his previous successful transfer forays by bringing in a loan star before the window closes. Given that Everton do not have a substantial war chest with which to do business this month, Moyes is looking for temporary deals to bolster his squad. Though it would be preferable to have the finance to go and compete for players’ signatures, Moyes is no stranger to wheeling and dealing and has struck gold in the past. Mikel Arteta, for one, was initially brought to Goodison Park from Real Sociedad on loan in January 2005 and his recruitment helped Everton finish fourth that season. Eighteen months later, Tim Howard was drafted in on a temporary basis but his performances were so good that a permanent deal was quickly struck with Manchester United. Then in the summer of 2007, Moyes took a gamble on Steven Pienaar, who had fallen out of favour at Borussia Dortmund, and saw it pay off spectacularly, as the South African has become one of Everton’s most important players. Moyes is keeping his fingers crossed that he will again strike it lucky but admitted the club’s progress in recent years has changed the goalposts slightly. “We have taken chances before,” said Moyes. “Mikel came on loan, so did Steven Pienaar. Some have worked well for us. “Sometimes I have had to take a punt but the level that we are at is different to the level of those times. We are after a different level of player if possible. “If there aren’t any there, I won’t be able to add any. I would like to do it if I can but the task for us is not easy as we have moved on as a club.” Everton are no closer to seeing any of the leads they are pursuing bear fruit but, contrary to some reports, they have not been chasing Stoke City’s Ricardo Fuller, Marlon Harewood of Aston Villa or Tottenham midfielder Jermaine Jenas.
Meanwhile, Jack Rodwell is hoping he will have a role to play on Monday night as Everton aim to carry their recent good form into the derby. The 17-year-old scored in the Blues’ 3-1 FA Youth Cup win over Burnley in midweek and came on as a late substitute for Arteta in last weekend’s 2-0 victory against Hull. “It is a massive game and I would love to play in it,” said Rodwell. “There are other players who could come in, but obviously it would mean a lot to play in a derby.”
Everton's Golden Vision: Forever Alex Young
Jan 17 2009 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
Greg O’Keeffe looks back at the career of The Golden Vision, Everton legend Alex Young BILL Kenwright is renowned for his theatrical statements but he surpassed himself when he compared Blues star Mikel Arteta to all-time icon Alex Young by declaring him – “La visión de Oro”, The Golden Vision. Knowledgeable football fans were instantly aware that the Everton chairman was handing Arteta the ultimate compliment. Because few names – even in the illustrious history of Mersey football – can compare to the blond-haired Scot who lit up Goodison Park during the 60s and won the respect of both sides of Stanley Park. Alex Young’s grace on the pitch and humility off it has long since secured his place in Everton’s Hall of Fame.
And Kenwright, who watched Young in his pomp from the old Boys’ Pen at Goodison, said: “As well as being a fantastic footballer, Mikel is an honourable, loyal man. “On the field, his talent often reminds me of The Golden Vision and off the field he has qualities similar to Alex The Great. You could say he is our La visión de Oro.”
The appreciation that flooded from the terraces for Young was only matched by the depth of his talent. Spoken of in glowing terms by those who witnessed his magic and equally so by those who have heard of it second hand, Young etched himself into the list of Goodison legends during a seven year spell. He was 18 when he arrived in the English top flight from Heart of Midlothian with some claiming he was overpriced at £40,000. Speaking ahead of his testimonial game against Espanyol, on August 13, 2001, he said: “Without being big-headed, I think I was pretty popular with the fans at Goodison Park. “It was they, partly, who made me the success I feel I was when we won the League and Cup. It was a tremendous surprise when I came to Merseyside to realise how interested and how warm the Everton supporters were. “When I was in Edinburgh playing for Hearts I found the fans there warm enough, but they weren't nearly as warm and affectionate as Everton fans. “They have a peculiar way of making you raise your game even when you are playing well.” In 1963, Young and his team mates amassed 25 victories and only six defeats to steer Everton to their first league championship in 24 years, with a six point winning margin over Tottenham Hotspur at the final reckoning. “In 1962 we regarded Spurs and Manchester United as our main challengers for the title and having done the double over United we were certain we could lift that championship. “We had some great players in that side, men whom I consider it a great privilege to have played alongside – Roy Vernon, Tony Kay, Jimmy Gabriel and the like.” Just three years later Young helped Everton add the FA Cup to the collection of silverware with a dramatic 3-2 victory over Sheffield Wednesday.
Maenwhile, defeat against Inter Milan in the opening round in 1963 put an end to their European Cup aspirations in the 60s. Young recalled it in an interview years later. "We had the chances to have won that tie,” he said. “Not just at Goodison, where it finished 0-0, but in the San Siro too. It is the most terrifying stadium I have ever played in. “In this country if a visiting team does something good it is appreciated and they will get applause. Not there. Even if you have only got possession the crowd will start that hideous whistle or go completely silent until Milan regain the ball.”
Sadly by 1968 the Golden Vision had vanished, not just from Goodison but from English football as well. Although still a pleasure to watch, Young had slowed down, and as the end of the decade approached, his Goodison career fizzled to a natural end.
In 1968, he left for Irish League Champions Glentoran for a stint as player/coach.
Everton’s supporters had not been happy to let their idol leave without a fight. But Young had refused to lay blame at the door of the then manager Harry Catterick despite protests from fans. He left nevertheless and supporters found comfort years later in the cherished teleplay based on supporters following the team around the country named ‘The Golden Vision’. “Naturally I was flattered by being the subject of that film,” he said. “I could recognise a few Everton fans and I could identify with some of the characters portrayed in the film. “I can honestly say that I enjoyed the play and the interviews. But it was when you were playing that you appreciated the fans the most.” The feeling, for thousands of Evertonians, was mutual.
DOMINIC KING: Time for arrival of a new Everton legend
Jan 17 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
VOTING for the last admissions into Everton’s Hall of Fame has been closed but the decision to end the ballot may seem hasty in a couple of weeks. After all, a derby double header beckons and an opportunity presents itself to one member of David Moyes’ squad to seize the moment by carving their name indelibly into Blue folklore.
Almost a decade has passed since Everton last crossed Stanley Park and returned with their satchels full, a period of time that every man, woman and child who follow this proud club’s fortunes will deem to be far too long. Unfortunately, victories over the Red half in the years that followed Kevin Campbell’s strike into The Kop in September 1999 have been few and far between – bar a smattering of draws, the only verdicts that have gone Everton’s way have been at Goodison Park. Lee Carsley’s strike in December 2004 and the Andrew Johnson show in September 2006 will be talked about with great affinity for eternity, but surely the time has come for a new hero to step forward? Campbell, for some reason, did not secure a place in the last raft of admissions, which included current chairman Bill Kenwright, Duncan Ferguson, David Unsworth, Graham Stuart and Tony Kay. A Hall of Fame, of course, should not have unlimited places as that would only dilute its impact but the fact that no member of the current playing staff may turn out to be a cause for some regret. Just consider this for a moment: say Tim Cahill pops up in the right place at the right time – as he has done so often in the past – in one of these fixtures against Liverpool and makes another decisive intervention. Given his astonishing goals to games ratio – an average of one in three appearances for a midfielder, remember – and the role he has played in the club’s development, would he not have claims to be considered a genuine Everton great? What about Mikel Arteta? Back in vogue after a disappointing start to the campaign, he, arguably, remains the most popular player in the ranks at present and his name is the subject of the most imaginative terrace chant. Yet were he to smash a free-kick past his good friend Pepe Reina that either secures three priceless points or a place in the fifth round of the FA Cup, the esteem in which he is held would soar to an unprecedented high. That said, the feeling persists that while there is no question that these two men are highly thought of by supporters, as are a number of their team-mates, Everton lack the kind of player who is universally idolised. One does not wish to make comparisons with the team from across Stanley Park but Fernando Torres has that kind of following. The last Everton player to enjoy such a following? Duncan Ferguson by a country mile. How did he secure his place in the heart of Blue affections? With a bullet header that effectively settled a derby at Goodison in November 1994. It must be pointed out that scoring the winner against Liverpool does not secure eternal popularity; Johnson, for one, broke a golden rule when he refused to play for the Blues in a pre-season friendly. More often than not, however, producing the goods in this local squabble is a way to put the gloss on player’s relationship with the crowd. One wonders, then, if a new hero will be in our midst following this double bill.
Aggressive stance on and off field
FOR Hull City 2009, read Bolton Wanderers 2003. A side that eschews the finer points of the beautiful game and prefers to concentrate on the rough stuff.
The link, you will obviously be aware, comes with Phil Brown, who was Sam Allardyce’s assistant at the Reebok Stadium and now finds himself in sole command of matters at the KC Stadium. Listening to him speak after Hull’s trip to Goodison Park last weekend, you may have been forgiven for thinking that Everton had not been interested in playing football and instead wanted to get into a wrestling match.
“The first three free kicks Tim Cahill is not even looking at the ball,” Brown suggested. “He has assaulted, for want of a better word, my two central defenders. They are down there, both with bloodied noses and one of them has stitches over his eye.” Hang on, didn’t Hull number Kamil Zayette and Ian Ashbee among their defenders? Did those two individuals not spend the vast majority of the 90 minutes kicking, pulling and chopping down Marouane Fellaini and Cahill? Yes, Everton’s attackers gave as good as they got when necessary – Cahill certainly wouldn’t let anyone trample over him – but for Brown to effectively claim that physical intimidation set the tone for victory is absurd. Hull have won many friends, but it would be a shame if Brown ruined that with ridiculous statements.
Splashing out to boost kids’ fund
PHIL NEVILLE took a break from preparations for the Merseyside derby this week by taking charge of a rather large cheque. Everton’s skipper is trying to help raise £20m for a new children’s hospital in Manchester and the coffers were boosted by a generous donation of £1.3m from Peel Holdings. The figure was raised from fundraising activities which included Peel’s development director James Whittaker swimming the 36-mile length of the Manchester Ship Canal.
David Moyes: "We'll take fight to Liverpool" - Everton FC latest
Jan 19 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES will challenge his players to have courage of their convictions and carry the fight to Liverpool at Anfield tonight. Mindful of the fact the last two derby matches have been bitterly disappointing affairs for Evertonians, Moyes is determined to avoid any repeats. And the Blues boss is quietly confident Everton are capable of rattling their neighbours. Unbeaten in six games, the Blues have not entered a derby in such form since beating Liverpool 3-0 at Goodison in September 2006 and Moyes is demanding more. “We have got to have the courage to take the ball and to play under pressure,” said Moyes. “We have got to have confidence and hopefully we will be able to show it in this one. “I don’t think we have shown it in the last two games against them. That’s what I’m hoping for. I want to see more composure, a more controlled game. “But, again, it always comes back to the quality of the opposition you play against. They can have a big effect on what you do yourself.” Everton’s last two meetings with top four teams – against Manchester United and Chelsea – have dramatically improved and Moyes is urging his players to remember that. “When we played Chelsea, we played without fear and with a bit of freedom,” he said. “Okay, Chelsea played with 10 men for 60 minutes but I thought there was less fear. “We respect our opponents but hopefully we will pick up three points if we can. There is more to it because it’s a derby. “What I want from the players is to maintain their standards. If we can do that again, I will be very happy. “It would be great for the fans if we could do it. Moyes must decide whether to hand Joseph Yobo a recall.
Everton skipper Phil Neville keen to Kop special Mersey derby result
Jan 19 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
PHIL NEVILLE has been fortunate to experience many highs during his career and a glance at his medal collection confirms there have been plenty of special moments.
Red letter days have come at some of the most famous grounds in the business, such as Old Trafford, Wembley, the Nou Camp and Villa Park. But ask Everton’s captain where the sweetest victory he ever tasted came and his answer is instantaneous: Anfield. That he follows up by rattling out the date it happened - April 19, 1997 - confirms this is not something being said for effect. Once of Manchester United, now a fully-fledged Blue, nothing stirs Neville’s soul more than the thought of beating Liverpool on home soil. It is to his frustration, though, that he has only ever experienced the elation of celebrating in front of Anfield’s visitors section with his former employers, but Neville is not the type of person to dwell on disappointment.
The next six days provide two opportunities to correct that anomaly and, listening to him speak, it is quite clear how much it would mean to Neville if he and his team-mates can register a first victory on enemy territory since September 1999.
“It’s the best place to win in football,” he declared. “I’d put it ahead of Wembley. Honestly. It’s the toughest place to play, the atmosphere, everything. Obviously the two teams I have played for makes it a bit interesting personally. “But my dream is to experience what it would be for an Evertonian to win at Anfield. I know what it means to beat them at Goodison and the euphoria that goes with it but to be part of a team that wins at Anfield would be something else. “I’d be enormously proud to captain the team that does that. It’s one of my aims and hopefully in the next week, we might have done it twice. Maybe these two games will provide the chance for someone to make a real hero of themselves.” Those are words that Neville will utter in the dressing room shortly before kick-off this evening, with the hope that one of his colleagues will seize the moment and score the goal that will keep Everton’s six-match unbeaten run intact. But having become adept at beating the sides below them in the table, the next part of Everton’s development must come - hard though it may be - by regularly taking points off the teams who have made the top four a closed shop in recent years. Last year, for example, their efforts from eight fixtures with Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool yielded just one point which ultimately cost them the opportunity to dislodge their neighbours from the Champions League places. This year, however, there has already been an improvement - draws have been obtained against United and Chelsea at Goodison Park - now Neville believes the time has come for the Blues to make a statement.
Fuelled by the anger that Everton failed to turn up for the last two derbies, Neville, arguably enjoying his best run of form since he signed for the club in August 2005, has vowed they will not suffer stage fright on this occasion.
“I was looking at our record from last season against the top four a couple of days ago just to remind myself how we had done,” he said. “But rather than get despondent about it, I took heart because we still managed to finish in fifth.
“These next four games are like a free hit in cricket. Let’s just have a crack. We’ve got absolutely nothing to lose and we need to remember that. We have let ourselves down in the past derbies and we let the supporters down. We went out with a whimper. “So we have to remember these games are won in the first 10 or 15 minutes. It’s all about making that first tackle count. We have learned from our past mistakes, as those mistakes meant we came out with regrets after the last two meetings.
“But I can guarantee we won’t have any regrets this time and who knows? Maybe we are due a win. Look at what we did against Manchester United when the fear came out of our game, and it was similar against Chelsea. “The top four teams are expected to beat the rest, so there are no expectations on us from a wider audience. If you are going to die, you have got to die trying.” After what happened at Goodison three months ago and at Anfield last March, that is the minimum Evertonians will be looking for on this occasion, particularly as the latter contest was effectively settled when Fernando Torres scored within seven minutes. “They caught us at the perfect time,” Neville recalled. “Our energy had gone, we’d been knocked out of the UEFA Cup and we’d basically hit the wall. We went in to the game with the best intentions, but we just couldn’t get going and never created a chance. “It was similar at the start of the season when they caught us cold again. This time, though, we are going into the game with all the boxes ticked and everything is looking rosy. We aren’t going to let anyone down.” History shows that it is folly to make predictions about the outcome of derby matches, but Neville, who turns 32 on Wednesday, is happy to predict Everton will show themselves in an infinitely better light. Victory would be the best present of all.
Everton boss David Moyes rap for West Ham & Portsmouth's transfer policies
Jan 19 2009 by David Jones, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON boss David Moyes has described the transfer policies adopted by West Ham and Portsmouth as “a danger to football”. All the attention may be on Kaka’s potential £100million-plus move to Manchester City, but Moyes believes it is clubs offering big wages that have upset the balance of the market. Moyes said: “I think what happened at Portsmouth and West Ham in recent times was a danger to football.
“They bought players and gave them big wages. That made it difficult for clubs like Everton because we would try to get similar players but they blew us out with higher wages, far more than Everton could afford. “It upset the whole market. Now they are backing off and selling players because they paid them higher wages than maybe they should have. “In truth, the people who went into those clubs are now either one down, or bankrupt, or can’t afford to pay the wages. “Now Portsmouth might say ‘We had our day in the sun. We won the FA Cup and we don’t really care’. “But I think those sort of clubs are the ones which have disrupted the wages in the Premier League.”
Liverpool 1-1 Everton: Merseyside derby ends in stalemate
Jan 19 2009 By Ian Doyle at Anfield
AS someone with a self-professed love of chess, Rafael Benitez understands there is little value in a stalemate. And having seen negotiations over his contract ground to a halt, last night it was Liverpool's title challenge that encountered an insurmountable obstacle in the shape of their neighbours. The disappointed home supporters that trudged out of Anfield will have few qualms with the experts that regard yesterday as the most depressing day of the year. But for Everton and their jubilant followers, it was most definitely a Blue Monday to savour. Tim Cahill maintained his penchant for netting in these fixtures and Everton’s tendency for late drama to earn his side a point and prevent Liverpool from returning to the top of the Premier League.
Steven Gerrard’s goal midway the second half was the first Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard had conceded in 608 minutes and had appeared enough to bring Everton’s six-match unbeaten run. It was the certainly a welcome fillip testing week for the Liverpool skipper. But Gerrard and Liverpool’s joy was shortlived as Cahill’s 87th-minute header smashed into the net to earn the visitors a point. And it will do little to quell the growing opinion that Benitez, who returned to the dug-out for the first time since his kidney stone complaint, has unnecessarily unsettled his team’s title challenge with his recent declarations. Everton return here on Sunday for their FA Cup fourth round tie and will fancy their chances at thrusting another dagger into the heart of Liverpool’s season. Fresh from his attack on Sir Alex Ferguson and the decision to call off his contract talks, Benitez made another strong statement of intent last night by fielding what, in an attacking sense, was his strongest available side.
Fernando Torres, making his first start since November 26, was paired with Robbie Keane up front for only the seventh time in the Premier League this season, while the fit-again Xabi Alonso partnered Gerrard in central midfield. With Marouane Fellaini suspended and Joseph Yobo having not recovered sufficiently from his hamstring problem, Victor Anichebe partnered Cahill in attack for Everton. And Anichebe wasted no time in announcing his arrival, soliciting a fine save from Pepe Reina after just 34 seconds, the Liverpool goalkeeper diving low to his left to keep out a 20-yard snapshot. It set the tone for a lively first half that, while being played at the traditional hectic pace, still produced clear chances at both ends. The most clear-cut fell to Torres on 28 minutes. A simple long ball from Sami Hyypia dropped beyond the Everton defence and into the path of the alert striker, who held off the attention of Phil Jagielka but struck his shot past Tim Howard and against the point. Leighton Baines had earlier produced a fine block to deny a goalbound Dirk Kuyt effort after Everton failed to clear Gerrard’s free-kick from the left. But the visitors were the only team to register an effort on target during the first half, the dangerous Cahill also drawing a good save from Reina down to the goalkeeper’s right after rising above both Jamie Carragher and Martin Skrtel to meet Anichebe’s right-wing cross at the far post.
Reina safely guarded a tame Osman shot from range and Cahill attempted a cheeky lob from the halfway line that drifted harmlessly off target, while shortly before the break a loose pass from Tony Hibbert was pounced on by Albert Riera and the Liverpool winger flashed a shot narrowly wide. Moyes was disappointed Everton had failed to do themselves justice in their last two meetings, surrendering meekly on both occasions. But, buoyed by their unbeaten run, there was genuine fire in the belly as the visitors impressed themselves on proceedings, Cahill heading the battle from the front. Liverpool were happy to stand toe-to-toe to their rivals but, whereas Everton have become impressively accustomed to a gameplan that has been imposed on them in recent weeks by a lack of fit strikers, Benitez’s side struggled to gel as a unit.
Those hankering for the Spaniard to employ a 4-4-2 formation more regularly won’t have had their cause enhanced by the first-half evidence. With the onus on them to attack, Liverpool needed to improve after the break. And they did. Torres had a decent claim for a penalty three minutes after the restart when feeling the full brunt of a rash Jagielka challenge from behind. On 56 minutes, after Skrtel had kept the ball alive inside the area, Gerrard’s shot was parried by Howard and the again-alert Baines did enough to pressure Sami Hyypia into side-footing the rebound wide. Torres then curled an effort over and, mere seconds after referee Howard Webb had rightly waved away appeals for an Everton penalty when Anichebe bounced off Skrtel, Liverpool went ahead midway through the half. A square pass from Riera found Gerrard who, with the Everton defence having momentarily parted before him, unleashed a venomous low drive from 25 yards that skimmed off the sodden Anfield surface and into the bottom corner. It was in many ways symbolic the goal arrived mere second after the peripheral Keane had been substituted for Yossi Benayoun. Reina clutched a shot from Osman but Liverpool appeared to be comfortably seeing the game out until three minutes from time. The ever-willing Anichebe was fouled on the left wing and, from Arteta’s whipped in free-kick, a criminally unmarked Cahill glanced in at the near post.
Liverpool 1, Everton 1: Stalemate causes a Blue Monday for all
Jan 20 2009 by Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily Post
THE disappointed home supporters that trudged out of Anfield will have few qualms with the experts who regard yesterday as the most depressing day of the year.
But for Everton and their jubilant followers, it was most definitely a Blue Monday to savour. As someone with a self-professed love of chess, Rafael Benitez understands there is little value in a stalemate. And having seen negotiations over his contract ground to a halt, last night it was Liverpool’s title challenge that encountered an insurmountable obstacle in the shape of their neighbours. Tim Cahill maintained his penchant for netting in these fixtures and Everton’s tendency for late drama to earn his side a deserved point and prevent Liverpool from returning to the top of the Premier League. Until then, Steven Gerrard’s well-taken goal midway the second half – the first Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard had conceded in 608 minutes – had appeared enough to bring an end to the Goodison outfit’s six-match unbeaten run.
This result will only increase the growing opinion that Benitez, who returned to the dug-out last night for the first time since the three operations to address his kidney stone complaint, has unnecessarily unsettled his team’s title challenge with his recent politicking. Certainly, if Cahill’s sense of timing was perfect then Benitez’s continues to be called into question. Liverpool’s title challenge has been undermined by their home form, and this was another Anfield failure to add to a list that already includes Stoke City, Fulham, West Ham United and Hull City. But, unlike on those other occasions, Liverpool had got their noses in front only to be hamstrung by an uncharacteristic attack of nerves in the closing moments. Manchester United may only lead the table on goal difference but, with a game in hand, the momentum has most definitely transferred down the other end of the East Lancs Road to Old Trafford in the past fortnight. Momentum is something Everton have in abundance right now and, while unable to sufficiently demonstrate the guile their manager had called for, the visitors’ fighting spirit and never-say-die attitude remained present and correct.
David Moyes was disappointed Everton had failed to do themselves justice in their last two meetings but, in contrast to those meek surrenders, there was genuine fire in their bellies last night. Liverpool were happy to stand toe-to-toe to their rivals but, whereas Everton have become impressively accustomed to a game-plan that has been imposed on them in recent weeks by a lack of fit strikers, Benitez’s side struggled to gel as a unit. Those hankering for the Spaniard to employ a 4-4-2 formation more regularly won’t have had their argument enhanced by this showing. Fresh from his attack on Sir Alex Ferguson and the decision to call off his contract talks, Benitez made another weighty statement of intent last night by fielding what, in an attacking sense, was his strongest available side. Fernando Torres, making his first start since November 26, was paired with Robbie Keane up front for only the seventh time in the Premier League this season. But the Spaniard, who sent a glorious first-half chance against the post, was patently short of match sharpness and largely kept in check by the game’s stellar performer, Phil Jagielka. Keane, meanwhile, suffered another evening of anonymity before being replaced mere moments before Gerrard’s opener. The concerns about the Irishman simply won’t go away. Instead, the best strikers on show were in Everton colours. Cahill has revelled as a makeshift striker and was his typical nuisance self, but the real revelation was Victor Anichebe. With the influential Marouane Fellaini suspended and Joseph Yobo having not recovered sufficiently from his hamstring problem, Anichebe was given the nod by Moyes. And his manager was rewarded with a barnstorming performance that a beleaguered Sami Hyypia won’t forget in a hurry. Anichebe took only 34 seconds to signal his intent, soliciting Pepe Reina into a smart save down to his left to keep out a 20-yard snapshot.
It set the tone for a lively first half that, while being played at the traditional hectic pace, still produced chances at both ends. The most clear-cut fell to Torres on 28 minutes. A simple long ball from Hyypia dropped beyond the Everton defence and into the path of the alert striker, who held off Jagielka but struck his shot against the point.Leighton Baines had earlier produced a fine block to deny a goalbound Dirk Kuyt effort while, shortly before half-time, Albert Riera thrashed a shot just wide after capitalising on a slack pass from Tony Hibbert.At the other end, Reina did well to repel Cahill’s header after the Australian leapt above both Jamie Carragher and Martin Skrtel to meet Anichebe’s right-wing cross at the far post.The onus was on Liverpool to improve after the break, and they responded. Torres had a decent claim for a penalty three minutes after the restart when feeling the full brunt of a rash Jagielka challenge from behind. Soon after, with Skrtel having done well to keep the ball alive inside the area, Gerrard’s shot was parried by Howard and the again-alert Baines did enough to pressure Hyypia into side-footing the rebound wide. Torres then curled an effort over and, mere seconds after referee Howard Webb had rightly waved away appeals for an Everton penalty when Anichebe bounced off Skrtel, Liverpool went ahead on 68 minutes. A square pass from Riera found Gerrard who, with the Everton defence having momentarily parted before him, unleashed a venomous low drive from 25 yards that skimmed off the sodden Anfield surface and into the bottom corner.
For Liverpool this season, that is normally that. But Everton refused to give in, and were rewarded three minutes from time when, after Anichebe was needlessly fouled by Benayoun on the left wing, Arteta whipped in a free-kick and a criminally unmarked Cahill glanced in at the near post. Everton return to Anfield on Sunday when they will seek to thrust another dagger into the heart of Liverpool’s season.
Not quite a new order on Merseyside, but it is the Reds feeling blue this morning.
Liverpool 1, Everton 1: Tim Cahill's late show has old enemy whistling Dixie...
Jan 20 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
GIVEN the amount of punches a certain football manager has been throwing lately, he should perhaps have envisaged there would be a time when he received some in return. Rafa Benitez has made an extraordinary start to the New Year with outbursts aimed at flooring Alex Ferguson and Rick Parry, but last night he was flattened by a player with an extraordinary gift for scoring goals. Tim Cahill has been known to David Moyes as ‘Johnny on the Spot’ for the past 18 months, such is his ability to deliver the goods, but now there is a case for that nickname to be shelved for something more befitting his talents. Dixie, anyone? While Benitez was aghast at the sight of Cahill bobbing, weaving and jabbing the Anfield Road End corner flag in celebration, for Evertonians there was no sweeter image to savour. It would have been a travesty had they headed home empty handed. Fortunately that was not the case and thanks to this feisty Australian – who became the first Blue to score on three separate visits to Anfield since the great William Ralph Dean in 1931 – Everton’s excellent run of form continues. But would that seven match unbeaten run have looked anywhere near as attractive had, for some reason, Cahill not been available for selection? In a word, no. His goals, after all, mean that Everton are five points better off than they might have been. Pause for a moment and look at things another way: in that period, Cahill has had to reinvent himself from an attacking midfielder to centre-forward due to a crippling list of injuries yet ended up producing performances that have put some strikers to shame. Bursting with brio and determination, Cahill heeded the message which Moyes had delivered beforehand and carried the fight to Liverpool’s defenders from the first whistle, harassing Martin Skrtel, in particular, to the point of distraction.
“At times I was running in shadows,” Cahill reflected. “It seemed like I couldn’t get close to anyone but I knew that I couldn’t stop trying. If I stopped, the midfielders might have stopped, then the defenders might have stopped. So I just ran my socks off.” How it was appreciated. The last two derby matches have been non-events for Evertonians but this latest collision saw normal service resumed with Cahill and his 10 comrades desperate to right some wrongs. Superbly organised and making light of Marouane Fellaini’s enforced absence, the first half went more or less according to plan from a Blue perspective, as Liverpool never once threatened to build up a sustained spell of pressure. That, simply, was down to the fact Everton were first to every loose ball, strong in every challenge and, possibly, more prepared for a fight; wintry conditions ensured this was no evening for faint hearts but the commitment of Cahill and company stirred the soul. If you get off to a bad start in one of these skirmishes, it is almost impossible to regain a foothold – think back to last March for a chilling reminder – but on this occasion, the Toffees bounced out of the stalls full of running. Such an approach almost yielded an early goal – Victor Anichebe’s aerial tussle with Sami Hyppia resulted in the young Nigerian winning possession 25 yards from goal and cracking an instant volley which gave Pepe Reina his first anxious moment. Certain sections of Everton’s support remain sceptical about Anichebe and there are valid criticisms that he goes to ground too easily or does not get into enough scoring positions. The only way to silence the doubters is by producing the goods when crossing the white line and, while it was clear that a few edges still need polishing, nobody could have had any real complaints regarding Anichebe’s efforts here. Aside from the dipping volley which had Reina scurrying across his goal, the 20-year-old produced an inch-perfect cross for Cahill but his header was pawed away by the Spanish keeper, who was by far the busier of the two goalkeepers.
For all that Everton were assured, it would be totally wrong to say Liverpool were out of it and had they not come up against a more robust defence, then the final situation may well have been different. Fortunately, Tony Hibbert, Joleon Lescott, Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines maintained the levels that had enabled them to keep six consecutive clean sheets going into this collision, with the last two particularly effective. It is going to take something astonishing to prevent Jagielka winning Everton’s Player of the Year award in May and he showed why that will be the case, when refusing to buckle despite being given a stern examination by Fernando Torres.
Baines, meanwhile, gave the kind of performance that many have been waiting to see ever since his £6m move from Wigan, making a mockery of suggestions you need to be tall to play in these encounters. A terrific tackler, blessed with pace, and capable of landing crosses on a sixpence, Baines will one day play for England and showed international class defending to deny Dirk Kuyt and Hyppia certain goals either side of half-time. Maybe this effort will help him get the extended run in the side that circumstances have, thus far, not allowed; the challenge now for Baines is to maintain those high standards – a comment which you might also feel is applicable to this progressive team. In the past, there has been a tendency going into games against the top four to worry more about what the opposition might do, rather than concentrating on the problems Everton are capable of causing themselves. Yes, the next three fixtures – against Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United – are demanding but they are not impossible by any means and Cahill’s dramatic late header from Mikel Arteta’s sumptuous free-kick has given all Blues fresh energy and belief.
Play with this kind of spirit on Sunday afternoon and there is no reason why an FA Cup fifth round spot cannot be secured – especially when Moyes now has a player in the ranks who happens to answer to ‘Dixie’.
David Prentice: Everton's Leighton Baines has grown up on the big stage
Jan 20 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DERBY day on Merseyside is an unforgiving arena – an occasion when a reputation can be made, or broken. Just ask Glenn Keeley, Bjorn Tore Kvarme and Sandy Brown – the victims of this historic event – or David Fairclough, Graeme Sharp and Ian Rush – heroes who still dine out today on their derby exploits. Last night added a couple more names to its roster of villains and victors. Leighton Baines produced his most accomplished display in a Royal Blue jersey to date, while to say Robbie Keane went missing in action would be to suggest that he was actually involved in some form of meaningful activity during the 66 minutes he toiled. The £20m man is fast running out of excuses for his below par performances. Last night he was given the perfect platform – Torres ahead of him, Gerrard behind, the 4-4-2 formation he craves.
He flopped. Again. His threat was snuffed out utterly by the excellent Jagielka and Lescott, but neither of that colossal duo were even Everton’s best performers.
Baines has waited almost 18 months for a consistent run of appearances.
If he starts on Sunday – and after last night’s monumental display only injury or David Moyes taking leave of his senses can see him left out – it will be the first time in his Everton career that he has put together six successive starts. He’ll have to go some to top last night’s performance. The popular thinking around Baines’ many absences from the Blues first team is that his lack of inches leads to a fear of Everton getting caught out at their far post. So it was heartening that his two best moments came in that very area of the pitch – a truly heroic block to thwart Dirk Kuyt and another to prevent Sami Hyypia becoming an unlikely matchwinner. But while the ability to make and break reputations was a familiar characteristic of last night’s derby – so much else was different. For a start, we witnessed plenty of football. Everton were excellent in the first 45 minutes, when Liverpool’s returning big guns looked ring rusty. Then, after the break Liverpool enjoyed a stirring 20-minute spell, capped by a classic Steven Gerrard strike. The fans largely responded to the police appeal for respectful chanting – “Rafa’s cracking up!” fell on the tolerable side of the divide – and the punches swung in the Lower Centenary and the half-wit who tossed insults at Bill Kenwright on the final whistle were isolated incidents. In many respects it was a derby to enjoy – and it hasn’t been often we’ve been able to say that in recent years. And the credit for that has to be given to the players who shaped it. The derby matches of the 1980s were so compelling because we were watching the best two teams in the country. Last night was the closest we’ve come to achieving that parity. Liverpool have led the league table for long chunks of the campaign, but Everton did not look out of place. They had no record signing, no top scorer, no back-up strikers to call on – and precious little experience on their subs bench. But they produced a performance full of vim and vigour. Tim Howard produced a wonderfully telling phrase to describe team-mate Tim Cahill last season – “he’s like a particularly annoying gnat,” he drawled. Last night Cahill buzzed, flitted and tormented the Reds rearguard before he eventually stung them. Goals on three successive appearances at Anfield is a reputation-making achievement. Which brings us back to derby day making or breaking reputations. The fact that so many men in Blue enhanced theirs will underline who was happier about last night’s result. Across the park, fewer players will be satisfied with their performance. Torres did all that could be expected of a player making his first start for two months – short of steering a 27th minute shot inside the post rather than against it – while Gerrard’s 67th minute strike was worthy of winning a derby. That it didn’t was a fair reflection on the night. Whether the draw has changed the dynamics of Sunday’s repeat performance we’ll have to wait and see. Rafa Benitez will undoubtedly change his starting line-up – perhaps with justification – David Moyes will be unable to. But it is Rafa’s men who will have to raise their game if they’re not to endure further frustration.
Tim Cahill: That was one for our fans – Everton FC latest
Jan 20 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
TIM CAHILL today dedicated his last-gasp leveller to Everton’s supporters as he reflected on the moment he wrote his name into derby history. The Australian goal machine once again popped up in the right place at the right time to rescue a point for the Blues with a header that secured a fully deserved 1-1 draw. That was the third time Cahill has scored against Liverpool at Anfield and no other Evertonian has achieved that feat since Dixie Dean. He was clearly taken aback to be informed of that record, but Cahill was more content with the spirit and attitude which Everton had shown to fight back after Steven Gerrard had put the Reds ahead. “Has everyone started calling me Dixie? I don’t know about that – to be honest, I’m more concerned about what the goal meant for our team and supporters,” said Cahill. “You work so hard chasing after defenders and great players like Steven Gerrard and we take great pride from getting a point because Liverpool are a great team. “They deserve to be top of the league. We deserved a point and Pepe Reina deserves a lot of credit as he made a couple of world class saves. “I thought I’d scored in the first half with a header but the spring on him to get to it was ridiculous. But we got there in the end and I am really happy for our fans.” Cahill celebrated with his trademark ‘boxer’ routine in the corner of the Anfield Road End but, aware that emotions were running high, he made a point of cutting short the merriment. “I didn’t want to show any disrespect to Liverpool whatsoever,” said Cahill. “I’m lucky to have scored at Anfield three times now but I didn’t want to get anyone in trouble by celebrating too much. I just wanted to see if we could score another.” Although a winning goal ultimately proved elusive, it still turned out to be an altogether happier derby experience both for Cahill and the rest of his team following the no-show at Goodison last September. Liverpool ran out comfortable 2-0 winners and Cahill was sent off but the Blues’ spirit and endeavour allowed them to make amends. Not surprisingly, he is now looking forward to Sunday’s FA Cup tie.
“You get your rewards by working hard and keeping going,” said Cahill.
“Our fans should enjoy this moment but so should Liverpool’s - it was a draw and both sides deserved the point. “We’ll come back here on Sunday and we’ll prepare the same way. We’ll do what we think is right and we’ll try to put right any mistakes we think we made.”
David Moyes: Result shows how far Everton have come
Jan 20 2009 by James Pearce, Liverpool Echo
MANAGER David Moyes insisted Everton got what they deserved after securing a point at Anfield last night. The Blues cancelled out Steven Gerrard's strike with just three minutes to go when Tim Cahill headed home Mikel Arteta's free-kick.
It extended Everton's unbeaten run in all competitions to seven games.
"I thought the players showed how they've been playing recently," Moyes said.
"They played with confidence and for bits of the game we did very well.
"We had to defend well and overall I was pleased with them. "We tried to put Liverpool on the back foot as much as we could from the start and disrupt their rhythm. They've got a great rhythm with a lot of mechanical moves in their set-up.
"I thought maybe it wasn't going to be our night, but in the end we got the goal that we deserved. I thought a draw was a fair result. "It's another point against a good team who are working hard to win the championship. "I think tonight shows how far Everton have come. "The stability we've got at the football club allows us to come to places like this and a get a result. "For Everton to come here and give them a good game says more about Everton than it does about Liverpool tonight."
Moyes reserved special praise for defender Phil Jagielka, who rose to the occasion and proved to be a rock at the back. "Phil has been like that all season," he added.
"He made one mistake against Aston Villa but that's it. Him and Joleon have done really well for us. "Phil's a good defender and is playing as well as he did last season. He's been really consistent." Both teams had strong claims for a penalty when it was goalless as Jagielka escaped punishment for a strong challenge on Fernando Torres, while Victor Anichebe saw his pleas for a spot-kick waved away after clashing with Martin Skrtel just seconds before Gerrard scored. However, Moyes had few complaints about the performance of referee Howard Web, who booked just two players all night. "I thought the referee had a really good game," he said.
"The only one I was disappointed with was the Steven Pienaar booking. I didn't think that was a yellow card. "They had a claim for a penalty kick and we did as well. My first viewing of ours was it was a penalty but it was much easier to see my end than theirs. "I was disappointed with the players for their goal because we turned off after the penalty decision wasn't given. "We lost concentration for a minute and Liverpool took advantage. They counter attacked from that situation and scored the goal.
"I was more disappointed with that than us not getting the penalty kick.
"To be fair up until then the players' discipline and concentration had been excellent all night." Despite the Blues' late show, Moyes believes there will be no psychological advantage for his side heading into Sunday’s return to Anfield for the FA Cup fourth round tie. “I don't think tonight will count for anything on Sunday,” he said.
“The cup is a completely different game. It's half-time in the two games and now we'll start getting ready for the next one. We had to do the job in the first game and we got what we deserved. The result was right.” Jagielka maintained referee Howard Webb had made the right decision in not awarding a second-half penalty after Fernando Torres went down “He ran into me and went down,” Jagielka said “Thankfully the referee saw it that way. I didn’t really try to make a tackle.”
Portugal striker Hugo Almeida tops Everton list
Jan 21 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON are weighing up a loan move for Portugal striker Hugo Almeida in an attempt to bolster their depleted strikeforce. Blues boss David Moyes has drawn up a shortlist of four possible targets and the name of Werder Bremen frontman Almeida figures prominently on it. The 24-year-old, who has been capped 14 times by his country, has been with the German side since the summer of 2006 and scored 11 goals as they finished second in Die Bundesliga last season. However, Almeida has found regular starts hard to come by this year – he has only featured from the beginning in eight of Bremen’s 17 fixtures – and Moyes is giving strong thought to handing the former FC Porto frontman a new challenge. Moyes has been desperate to add a striker to his squad since the transfer window opened, with Ayegbeni Yakubu and James Vaughan out for the season and Louis Saha still three weeks away from regaining fitness. Tim Cahill has been leading the line but his performances have ensured that none of the stricken trio have been missed, his latest effort against Liverpool producing the goal which secured Everton a share of the spoils in the 209th derby.
Cahill’s tally for the campaign now stands at five but Leighton Baines says his efforts in leading from the front have been inspirational for the team. “I’d mentioned the stat about Dixie to Tim before the game, as I’d seen it in the programme,” said Baines, referring to the fact that Cahill became the first Everton player since Dixie Dean to score on three different occasions at Anfield. “But he’s been superb for six weeks and more. It’s the sheer honesty about his play. He chases everything down, contests every ball. If you knock a ball long to him and he doesn’t get it, he doesn’t mind. All he does is ask you to put it in the same place again. “Aside from that, we all know he is a threat. What he did against Liverpool is his trademark. He just keeps popping up with these important goals and he has done so much for the club. “Just looking back over the past month, he’s scored massive goals for us against Manchester City and Middlesbrough. “But he does it time and time again. He gets in the right place at the right time and we’d be lost without him.” Baines is now looking forward to Sunday’s FA Cup clash and believes Everton can take heart from their efforts during the 1-1 draw. “We acquitted ourselves quite well,” he said. “We had a few problems that keep getting talked about – mainly the amount of players that we can pick – but the lads who went out there were fantastic.” email@example.com
Mersey derby special: Rats always put the boot in but Rushie still scored
Jan 21 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
THEY were the fiercest of derby day rivals – on the pitch. Yet off it they remain firm friends. Everton’s most successful captain of all time and Liverpool’s most prolific marksman sat down with the ECHO this week to discuss all things derby related. Ian Rush asks Kevin Ratcliffe “Why did you always boot me?” While Ratcliffe reckons he’s finally worked out why Rush always seemed to score against the Blues. Settle down and listen in to their conversation.
ECHO: Ian, no other outfield player played in more derby matches than you. Which is your personal favourite? RUSH: If I had to take one with me, it would be the one where I scored four goals. Being selfish I’d take that one, although if it was from a team point of view it would be the 1986 FA Cup final. ECHO: I bet that match put a strain on your friendship. RUSH: I was banned for speeding at the time and Kev had to give me a lift home with the match ball. He got more stick than me from the Evertonians because he was giving me a lift home! RATS: What made it worse was he asked me to get the ball signed for him! The atmosphere in the car wasn’t as bad as it could have been, because I hadn’t even broken into the team then. Howard had brought in Glenn Keeley . . . I remember sitting in the stand and next to me was Mark Higgins and next to him was Brian Labone. I think Labby was better than Glenn Keeley then and Labby had been finished for 20 years. It was one-way traffic after Glenn had been sent-off. RUSH: It would have been more if he’d stayed on!
RATS: One of the things I can always remember from that game is every time Ian scored there was a figure sliding into the back of the net. That was Brian Borrows. he should have realised after the second one he wasn’t going to get anywhere near them that day. ECHO: Why do you think you tormented Everton more than any other club?
RUSH: I’m not being funny, I scored 26 against Everton, but Neville Southall saved at least 26 as well. The saves he made were unbelievable – and they had Kevin who was probably the quickest defender in the league, so you have to put it down to the team you’re playing with – having players like Dalglish and Souness around you. Everton also liked to play a high line. RATS: I think that’s what suited him. He liked to work off the last defender and he was the best I’ve ever seen at doing that and staying onside, and when you have the likes of Souness and Dalglish putting balls into space behind teams . . . maybe that was our downfall playing against him. Maybe we should have dropped off a bit deeper or played with a sweeper. RUSH: They relied on Kev’s pace, but I wouldn’t play off his back, I’d maybe play off the full-back or Mark Higgins or someone who wasn’t as quick. RATS: Yes, looking back now Ian definitely benefited from us playing a high line.
ECHO: But you had your moments, too, Kevin.
RATS: Yes, I had a couple of favourites, too – probably the ones at Anfield. The one where Sharpy scored was so good because it was the first time we’d won there for a number of years and really put us up there because they were the team . . . they were the team of the 70s and 80s. Back then when you were asked what’s your ambition, it was ‘finish above Liverpool’ because you’d have won the league. Then it was vice versa in the 80s and they were saying the same thing about us. But that game, where Sharpy scored that goal from 30 yards – which gets a but further out every time he talks about it – gave us credibility. And of course there was the game where I scored . . We used to socialise a bit afterwards. I think the game where I scored we were on international duty straight afterwards. We were rooming together. It was his turn to make the teas!
RUSH: Once you kick-off it’s like you’ve never known any of the players before. Everyone hated each other. I was desperate to beat Everton and they were desperate to beat Liverpool. When you’d finished again we were mates. You wouldn’t get away with some of the tackling now that went on then. It’s more of a continental game now. Back then you had players like Reidy and Souness. RATS: You wouldn’t get booked then. Now you’d get seven years for tackles like that! RUSH: I always remember that we’d kick-off and within a minute he used to boot me! We were playing with Wales once and I said ‘You boot me in every derby’ and he said ‘It’s alright. the ref gives you 10 minutes to get into the game.’ So the next derby I said to the ref, ‘Hey ref. You can book somebody in the first minute as well as the last you know’ but it carried on.
ECHO: You both played in the last FA Cup derby. How do you think Sunday’s Cup tie will go?
RUSH: I think there will be more goals in the cup game than the league match, because both teams will have to go for it more.
RATS: I can’t call it. Everton have shored up their defence now. When they met earlier in the season Everton weren’t playing well and Liverpool comfortably won. I think this time they seem to have their house in order. We stood off them in the first game and gave them too much time and space and you can’t give quality players that kind of space. I didn’t think that was an old fashioned derby even though there were bookings and a red card. I think a Cup Final is what the club needs now. I think we’ve established ourselves as a top six side. Now we have to try and break into the top four. But with us already being in the top six now we have to be looking at winning cups. I thought the UEFA Cup last year could have been our year.
RUSH: Cardiff was lucky for Liverpool, but we really want to get to the new Wembley. I still think the priority for Liverpool this year is the league, but it’s the FA Cup. It’s the most famous cup in the world.
NIGEL MARTYN: Unity is keeping Everton in great shape
Jan 21 2009 by Nigel Martyn, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES chooses his words carefully before big matches so it was significant when he chose to say Everton were “top of the league” in terms of spirit before the derby. If that was the case, the only conclusion you can take from Monday’s tussle with Liverpool is that the Blues have extended their lead in that table; the Reds may hold sway in terms of technical ability but they are behind us in so many areas.
A point was the least Everton deserved from the trip to Anfield and they were able to achieve it thanks to remarkable effort, spirit and commitment – here were 11 players working their socks off for each other, desperate not to let anyone down.
Without such unity, it would have been impossible to have come through the past month in such good shape and I don’t believe there is a team in the division who could have obtained the results that we have done devoid of strikers.
Don’t get me wrong, Liverpool are a terrific side and have players in the shape of Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres who would walk into any team anywhere in the world but Rafa Benitez’s side strikes me as being a collection of individuals.
They play some nice stuff but what we might lack in skill, we can bridge the gap thanks to our strength of character and there is little doubt the point we took can give us an impetus for the remainder of the campaign. I’ve heard Manchester United supporters on the radio in the time since Monday night thanking Everton for the point but, if we are honest, they can keep those thoughts to themselves as everything that was done at Anfield was done for ourselves. If we can get another four points from our next two Premier League fixtures – against Arsenal and Manchester United – why should we not be thinking about bustling up those teams in the Champions League places? I’m sure David would love to have the size of squad which enabled him to give some players a rest but the lads are just going to have plough on; fatigue is arguably going to be our most difficult opponent in the final months of the campaign.
However, a result as good as the one we obtained at Anfield can work wonders for combating tiredness and who knows where we might end up if we get another favourable scoreline this weekend?
Prepare for goal glut in Red rematch
WITH Premier League business off the agenda this weekend, Merseyside will be gripped by Cup fever for the next few days. I would, however, expect a very different game from the one we saw on Monday evening when Everton return across Stanley Park; in fact, I’d go as far as saying this could one well turn out to be packed with goals. It’s a big ask for players to get up for two games of such magnitude in such a short space of time but when you face Liverpool, you could have one leg hanging off and still deem yourself fit for selection. Some people are saying that Liverpool may make wholesale changes with this being the FA Cup but I honestly don’t think they will; if anything, they will be fired up for revenge after conceding a late goal in such an important match. But we have our own motivations and a run in the FA Cup would be fabulous for the club; it’s part of Evertonian tradition and it’s high time that we kept an interest in it past the end of January for once.
Everton kit gifts to Rhys Jones football team
Jan 21 2009 by Ben Rossington, Liverpool Echo
RHYS Jones’s football team will run out in his favourite strip after a special donation from his beloved Everton. Blues’ chiefs and kit supplier Umbro surprised the young players of Fir Tree Junior FC when they gave them full home and away kits for all the squad, balls, cones, training gear, kitbags and bootbags. Now, the Tuebrook junior league team will leave behind their current light blue strip in favour of the royal blue of the Everton kit, which has been specially produced by Umbro to carry the logo of the Rhys Jones Memorial Cup Trust – the tournament set up in remembrance of the 11-year-old schoolboy. And, as a mark of respect, Fir Tree have retired the number 11 shirt which left winger Rhys made his own. Steve Geoghegan, Fir Tree coach, said: “The club and Umbro have been fantastic giving us all this. “Results this season have been a bit up and down but a big improvement on last year. Although we got walloped 8-0 at the weekend, we’ve still got games in hand and if we win them, we can go into the top six. “Hopefully, we’ll do Rhys proud wearing his favourite kit.” Dave Bandell, from Umbro, said: “It is the least we could do. When Everton came to us, we were happy to help. “Everton are the people’s club and nothing has struck at the hearts of people in this city like Rhys’s tragic murder.” Gary Wilton, Everton’s senior business development manager, said: “It is something close to all our hearts. “Rhys was Everton-mad and in every picture you see of him he is wearing his Everton shirt so we just wanted to do something to remember him.”
How you can help
TO donate to Liverpool Unites – the ECHO’s anti-gun crime charity set up in the wake of Rhys’s death – write to The Liverpool Unites team, Liverpool ECHO, PO Box 48, Old Hall Street, Liver-pool, L69 3EB, ring 0151 285 8452 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Everton fury at Bellefield homes blow
Jan 21 2009 by David Bartlett, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON FC today hit out at city council leaders after losing an inquiry into the building of homes on its former training ground. The decision will result in the loss of up to £10m from the sale which was due to part-fund the club’s proposed move to Kirkby. Although the loss will not impact on the proposed move – the club will now find the cash elsewhere – the board of directors and chairman Bill Kenwright are furious at the decision. The inquiry upheld Liverpool council’s decision to block the club’s plans to build 74 large family homes on the Bellefield site in West Derby.
Councillors on the planning committee had rejected the proposals even though the city’s assistant chief planning officer, Mike Burchnall, recommended the scheme for approval. Sources within Everton believe privately this was Liverpool council’s way of punishing the club for planning to leave the city. Today Everton’s acting chief executive Robert Elstone said: “The truly disappointing aspect of this is that the politicians who run this city went against the recommendations of the city council's own planning experts “In such circumstances you have to ask, why that is. What is the point in employing experienced and learned experts if you are simply going to ignore their advice? “Over the past few years we have constantly shown a willingness to work with Liverpool city council to safeguard the long-term future of our football club. Sadly, it does not appear to be a reciprocal arrangement. “The council's own senior planning officer threw his weight behind this project – he believes it to be suitable and sensible, and so do we."In dismissing Everton’s appeal, planning inspector Karen Ridge said there was nothing to suggest that the proposal would have a detrimental effect on the living conditions of residents by virtue of the increased traffic movements. But she said she also looked into the principle of residential development having regard to loss of green space, housing and land supply matters, and its effect on the Housing Market Renewal Initiative. She said: “I conclude that the principle of residential development on the appeal site is unacceptable.”
Today council leader Warren Bradley called on the club to meet the council to work out a way for developing Bellefield. He said: “The planning committee made the decision to refuse the application. “I know the officers of the council were confident that they reached the right decision, and that has been vindicated by the inspector.
“I would call on Everton Football Club to come to the table in a collaborative way and let’s resolve the issues around Bellefield, taking the views of the residents on board.”
Everton Kirkby inquiry: Civic pride a ‘key issue’ in bid
Jan 21 2009 Liverpool Echo
THE passion and civic pride that Everton FC as a top-flight club generates in Merseyside is a key planning issue, an inquiry heard yesterday. John Barratt, Knowsley council’s barrister, used St Helens RLFC and Tesco’s successful three-way planning application last May to draw analogies with Everton’s application.
Reading aloud he said: “It is impossible to think that the club (St Helens RLFC) could prosper elsewhere, nor that the town would retain its identity, civic pride and self-respect if they were to move. “They are more intrinsically embedded into the social fabric than any other entity.” He then referred to the Saints Community Development Foundation, which he said parallels Everton In The Community’s work in Walton.
Thomas Ferguson, development manager at St Helens council, whose evidence strongly opposes the Destination Kirkby bid, admitted the parallels. But he said the Kirkby site would be too big and would impact on St Helens, damaging the vitality and viability of the town.
Jacobsen booster as Everton Reserves crash
Jan 21 2009 by James Pearce, Liverpool Echo
LARS JACOBSEN made his first appearance in royal blue as Everton Reserves were beaten 1-0 by bottom club Hull City. The Danish defender, who has been out since dislocating his shoulder while on international duty in September, completed 77 minutes. An early goal from Matt Plummer was enough to condemn Andy Holden's side to defeat at the Stobart Stadium. The Blues started poorly and were on the back foot in the opening exchanges. They failed to clear a free-kick and when the ball came back into the box, Plummer helped it over the line after Iain Turner failed to hold a header. Lukas Jutkiewicz thought he had equalised soon after when he climbed well to head home Jose Baxter’s exquisite cross, but it was ruled out for a foul on the Hull defender. The Blues continued to threaten but Dan Gosling’s shot flew wide and Jutkiewicz’s shot struck the post. Frustration started to kick in towards the end of the first half and Baxter was booked for wrestling Andy Dawson to the ground
In the second period Baxter’s 25-yarder had the keeper scrambling to save and he went close again with a header. Hull finished with 10 men as Wayne Brown went off injured after they had used all their substitutes.
Blue Boys: Dewsnip accepts blame for defeat to Crewe
Jan 22 2009 by James Pearce, Liverpool Echo
UNDER-18s coach Neil Dewsnip has held his hands up for Everton’s 3-0 home defeat to Crewe. The Premier Academy League Group C clash came just three days after the Blues cruised into the fifth round of the FA Youth Cup with an impressive 3-1 win over Burnley. “I take responsibility for the result last weekend,” Dewsnip said.
“We made nine changes from the team in midweek and in hindsight that was probably too many because those who hadn’t played in the Youth Cup game hadn’t played for over a month. “We started sloppily against Crewe and although we improved towards the end by then the game was over. “The positive thing is that it means all the lads have now had a game since Christmas and we’re back into a rhythm after the break.”
The Blues face a tough test this Saturday when they travel to second-placed Manchester United but Dewsnip is relishing the showdown. “Games between the two clubs are always very competitive and it’s a perfect game for us to try to bounce back,” he added. Dewsnip will be hoping his youngsters can rediscover the form they showed in the FA Youth Cup last week when Burnley were brushed aside.
Lewis Codling, Jack Rodwell and Tom McCready netted as the Blues booked a fifth round clash at home to Norwich City. The winners of that tie will travel to Manchester City or Newcastle United in the quarter-finals. “The performance was very good at Burnley and it got better the longer the game went on,” Dewsnip said.
“The lads hadn’t played for nearly a month so it wasn’t a surprise that we started slowly. “We expected Burnley to come at us strongly and they did - we were happy to be level at half-time. “The game plan was to be nice and steady and to go for it in the second half and it worked out exactly. “It’s fantastic for the lads that they are going to get another chance to play at Goodison.” Everton youngster Shane Duffy, 17, has been selected for Ireland Under-18s next month in the Copa Del Atlantico in Gran Canaria.
Name: Jose Baxter
Born: Bootle - 07/02/1992
The 16-year-old has been at Everton since he was just six. He toured Switzerland and America during pre-season just two months after leaving school. Baxter can perform in midfield or attack and has represented England at every age group up to under-17s.
Broke James Vaughan’s record as the club’s youngest first team player at 16 years and 191 days in his substitute appearance against Blackburn in August. He then became the youngest ever Everton player to start seven days later at West Brom.
Phil Neville: "We've got it all to do again" - Everton latest
Jan 22 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
PHIL NEVILLE today urged his team-mates to forget the past and maintain their focus as they seek FA Cup success at Anfield. Everton’s captain was thrilled with the performance which secured a 1-1 draw against Liverpool on Monday evening but knows a very different challenge awaits them this weekend. Having conceded a goal so late in that game, Neville expects the Reds will be smarting for revenge and has warned Everton will pay a heavy price if they are in any way complacent. But, at the same time, Neville believes Tim Cahill’s equaliser has provided the Blues with a shot in the arm as they bid to secure a place in the fifth round for the first time since 2005.
“We need to take confidence from Monday’s result into the next three games, as we have got some terrific fixtures in the next 10 days,” said Neville. “But Monday night has gone and we have got to do it all over again. We need to make sure that we are prepared and remain as composed as we were then. “We went out with a bit of a whimper in some of the games against the top four teams last season but our last three efforts have been a step in the right direction. “The aim before the match was to make sure we didn’t fall flat on our faces, particularly after what had happened earlier this season and on our previous trip to Anfield.” Neville was one of many Everton players who stood out earlier this week and he felt Cahill’s header was the least they deserved after matching Liverpool for so long. That result extended Everton’s unbeaten run to seven games but if they are to get through the next three fixtures - against Rafa Benitez’s men, Arsenal and Manchester United - he feels performances will have to be taken up another level. However, he has been encouraged by the way results have improved in meetings with the top four this season and is hopeful they will secure an elusive win against one of them before too long. “We have got to make sure that we come out of these games without regrets and content that we have given it our all,” said Neville. “The result on Monday shows we are halfway there but that’s all it is. We will treat this game as another free hit. We’ve got nothing to lose.
“I hope there are some similarities with what happened at West Ham last season. We are going into this game in our best form of the season. What have we got to lose?”
Everton legend Kevin Campbell wants to lose special derby record
Jan 22 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
A shrewd, intelligent man, Campbell was never going to be the type of character who spent his time after football on golf courses or taking endless holidays, so it comes as no surprise to learn that his fledgling security company is starting to flourish.
Mention of his name in derby week, though, should put a smile on the face of every Blue. He, after all, remains the last player to score a winning goal at Anfield, the effort he swept past Jamie Carragher and Sander Westerveld being one of the high points of his Everton career. When you remind the man himself, though, that nearly a decade has elapsed since that magic moment – one that has been relived on countless occasions – he laughs almost in disbelief as, in his words, “it seems like only yesterday”. Much, of course, has changed for both clubs on and off the pitch since that stormy night when three red cards were shown, but the one thing that has remained constant is the one thing Campbell hopes will be altered this weekend. Time, then, for someone to take over his mantle. “Time waits for no man but you just don’t believe that it moves so quickly,” said Campbell, still affectionately known on the Gwladys Street as ‘Super Kev’. “The most pleasing thing of all has been the development Everton have made in that period. “As for the actual night, the thing which really surprised me was seeing so many Evertonians in The Kop. The derbies that I had been involved in previously were played with total segregation. “But it is a testimony to both sets of supporters that they can sit with each other and conduct themselves so well. It also speaks volumes for the people of a city that I have always found the most welcoming.” Especially on the Blue half. Eyebrows may have been raised in some quarters when Walter Smith took Campbell on loan from Turkish side Trabzonspor in March 1999, but the impact he made was staggering. Though he drew a blank in his first two appearances, Campbell scored nine times in six matches on a run-in which was laced with peril to help drag Everton away from the relegation zone and ensured his stay was made permanent that summer.A proud wearer of both the captain’s armband and the fabled number nine shirt, he spent six happy seasons with the Blues, with his 164 appearances yielding 51 goals – both those tallies would have been significantly improved had injuries not intervened.
He left Goodison in January 2005 for West Brom, but his place in the affections of supporters had been secured many years before and, like so many of his former colleagues who moved to pastures new, still has a huge affinity for the club.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “I tend to bump into a lot of football fans and the nice thing is that I get remembered more for playing for Everton, than I do for Arsenal. It’s such a welcoming club that I’ll never forget it. It’s a special place. “I captained the club and that was another fantastic milestone. To be the first black captain is something that I will cherish forever and it was a privilege every time I was able to pull the armband on. “Of the current squad, Tim Cahill is the man I speak to most. I don’t live too far away from him. Jimmy Martin is another man who I’m in contact with, as is (players liaison officer) Bill Ellaby. You don’t tend to forget people at that club nor do you neglect it. “My son is with Manchester City’s Academy now and I went to Finch Farm not so long ago to watch him play, but that also gave me the chance to catch up with all the old faces, like Sue (Palmer, David Moyes’ PA). These people played such a big part in my life.” Life now involves overseeing operations at his security company and while some players yearn for the game in which they made their living when retired, the forward-thinking Campbell is cut from a different cloth.
“Touch wood, things are going very well, even though the hours are long. It’s like being a manager! I know it’s not for everyone, as football for some guys is all they know,” he said. “It’s rewarding getting things done for people and I have always been a people person. It’s nice to be able to offer a service that people require. Do I miss football? I have to be honest and say ‘no’ – I don’t. “I had 22 years in the sport, but all good things must come to an end and this is my time to do something completely different. I didn’t want to keep doing the same thing over and over again. I wanted to test myself.” Talk switches back to this weekend’s derby cup meeting at Anfield and, inevitably, Cahill’s name comes up. Few were happier then Campbell to see the Australian score the equaliser on Monday and his hopes for him to repeat the trick are two-fold. “I’ve just sent him a couple of texts since, as I don’t want to mither him,” he said. “Yes, it would be nice if he was the one who scored the winner but, more importantly, it would be fantastic for Everton.”
‘Silver lining on horizon for Moyes’ men’
FIGHTING for silverware was something Everton never managed to do during Kevin Campbell’s time at Goodison but he feels that can soon change. He was one of the senior professionals who helped foster the unity in the squad during the early years of David Moyes’ reign and is thrilled to see the team spirit remains as good as ever.
Now, like all Blues, he hopes the manager can lead the squad to Wembley and would be even more sweet on Everton’s chances had the striking department not been hit by so many injuries. “You see how good the spirit is and you just hope they can get some success, as the supporters so deserve it,” said Campbell. “They are going about it in the right way and they just need a couple of strikers to come back fit. “The frustrating thing is that I see four lads who have got everything you need. You have got youth and energy with Victor and Vaughany, Yak will always do the business, while Louis Saha was a fantastic signing.” Even without their main strikers, Campbell’s convinced Everton can cause Liverpool problems this weekend. “The lads were outstanding on Monday,” he said. “They were very committed, as usual, and they are the standards you would expect from Everton under David Moyes.” Business commitments have meant Campbell has not been back to Goodison as much as he would have liked in recent years but that will change soon and a warm welcome will await.
“I’ll be up before the end of the season and plan to go around the lounges with Graeme Sharp,” Campbell said. “He’s a fantastic ambassador for the club.”
Kevin Campbell factfile
Date of birth: February 4, 1970
Clubs: Arsenal, Leyton Orient (loan), Leicester City (loan), Nottingham Forest, Trabzonspor, Everton, West Brom, Cardiff City
Everton appearances: 164
Everton goals: 51
Honours: League Championship (Arsenal 1991), League Cup (Arsenal 1993), FA Cup (Arsenal 1993), European Cup Winners Cup (Arsenal (1994), Football League Championship (Nottingham Forest 1998)
The Jury: Everton fans on their deserved Mersey derby draw
Jan 22 2009 Liverpool Echo
Mike Williamson, Leasowe
MONDAY night’s performance will be remembered by Blues fans for a long time.
As usual, we haven’t had a fraction of the praise we deserve but the possibility, just a few short months ago, of the Blues putting in a display like that against any team was very remote. The whole team deserve credit but players like Baines and Anichebe summed up everything that is great about us at present – committed, full of passion and willing to run for that Blue shirt until midnight. Baines, in particular, was outstanding and we now look much more balanced with players comfortable on the ball. Do we change it for Sunday? I can’t see why we should not start with the same eleven, though Moyes will have noted the drop in energy levels of some players in the final 30 minutes.
Cole Fraser, Litherland
SO Benitez thinks that Liverpool dropped two points on Monday because he felt his side should have taken their opportunities to finish the game off, I think Rafa was watching the wrong game.ŠIn truth there were long periods in the game when Everton looked like the only team capable of taking the points and, but for some top goalkeeping, we could have had the win wrapped up at half-time. ŠSome of the players put in inspiring performances, most notably Baines, Jagielka and Cahill, the former giving his best display in a Blue shirt so far. Full credit to the players for not letting their heads drop after we went behind and pushing on to grab that equaliser. With the old enemy's title challenge stuttering they will want to pick up some kind of consolation on Sunday. But if we do everything that we did on Monday then a win will not be beyond us.
Tony Scott, Walton
LET’S have a look at some facts !
The entire Everton team that took to the field on Monday night cost the equivalent of Robbie Keane and Andrea Dossena. Whichever way you looked at the match, Everton thoroughly desevered the draw. To be honest, I was expecting a better perforfance from the title challengers who had all their best players on the pitch. Without five first team players, a record signing suspended, only one fit striker and a team that consists of home grown, English and ex Championship players it's a satisfing result in more ways than one. How proud every Evertonian is at the moment with the work-rate and team spirit they have that money can not buy. Tim Cahill £1.7 million - Priceless !
Lee Molton, St Helens
THAT man Tim Cahill does it again and comes up with a priceless late strike to send Evertonians delirious. He is our modern day Big Dunc in derbies! There were some very good performances from Anichebe, Neville and the back four. My man of the match was Jagielka. A similar performance on Sunday is needed if we are to progress. It will be a great atmosphere with over 6,000 Evertonians packed behind the goal. I think it could be another draw with the Blues winning the replay at Goodison. We will be fed up of the sight of our neighbours by the time this month is out.
The next home game against Arsenal is certainly winnable as they are not at their best at the moment. A packed Goodison under the floodlights is always an intimidating place. Let’s keep smiling and get behind the lads again on Sunday.
Everton Kirkby inquiry: Retail element ‘vital’ for Blues stadium bid
Jan 22 2009 Liverpool Echo
THE collapse of Everton FC’s plans for its former training ground has made the retail element of its Destination Kirkby project vital, an inquiry into the move has heard.
Yesterday it was revealed how Everton’s appeal against Liverpool planners’ rejection of a major homes development at Bellefield in West Derby had been turned down.
It had been hoped the deal would have provided £8m-£10m towards the Kirkby project, although the club insists it will find the money elsewhere. At the public inquiry into Destination Kirkby, Patrick Clarkson, Everton and Tesco’s QC, said: “The simple point about Bellefield is that element of contribution towards the stadium has been lost and so the urgency for funding the stadium is there, isn’t it?”
He fired the question at Andrew Peplar, an adviser to Liverpool City Council on retail matters. Mr Peplar’s evidence argued that the sheer scale and reach of the edge of town shops that Tesco intends to build alongside its new superstore and Everton’s stadium is too big. But Mr Clarkson, in cross examination, won an admission from him that Everton’s stadium would have some regenerative effect.
Walter Smith: "Everton woes were worse than Rangers"
Jan 22 2009 by James Pearce, Liverpool Echo
WALTER SMITH is enduring some tough times at Rangers but he insists it's nothing compared to the financial meltdown he faced during his tenure as Everton boss.
Rangers are just two points adrift of Celtic in the Scottish Premier League but fans are angry at the way the club is being run. Ibrox owner Sir David Murray has come in for some flak after revealing that one key player would have to be sold this month to help balance the books. When Smith was in charge at Goodison he was forced to sell the likes of Duncan Ferguson to Newcastle for £7m and Michael Ball to Rangers for £6.5m to avert a cash crisis. "What's happening at Rangers is nothing compared to the events at Everton," Smith said. "The consequences at Goodison were far greater.
"The club was put up for sale by Peter Johnson and I had to help run the place with the chairman. "We brought in players and then three months later found we just couldn't honour the commitment. Payments couldn't be made. We were fire-fighting.
"I brought in youngsters such as Olivier Dacourt and Marco Materazzi. But they had to be sold and went on to do well in their careers. "I had to bring in Paul Gascoigne and Richard Gough for a spell to help patch us up. Overall I had 86 transfers in and out."
JACOBSEN WILL NOT GIVE UP ON GOODISON HOPE
LARS JACOBSEN is eyeing a first team debut after taking his bow for Everton Reserves on Tuesday night. However the Danish defender, who has recently returned to fitness after dislocating his shoulder on international duty in September, admits it will be difficult to force his way into David Moyes' line-up. He said: "I just want to get as many games as I can and get as fit as possible. "The team are playing great at the moment - not conceding many goals. "It will be tough getting into that defence but you have to get in there, believe in yourself and wait for your chance. "There are some things I have to get used to defensively, but I'm learning quickly and hopefully I'll be able to play alongside some of the great players we have in the first team.”
Robert Elstone confirmed as Everton's new chief executive
Jan 23 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
ROBERT ELSTONE was today confirmed as Everton’s new chief executive.
The 44-year-old has been overseeing the role since Keith Wyness resigned last July, but Blues chairman Bill Kenwright has made the position permanent.
Elstone has been at Goodison Park since 2005, when he was brought to the club by Wyness as chief operating officer, and has been credited with making sweeping changes behind the scenes. His efforts have clearly impressed Kenwright, who said today: “Over the past few months Robert has helped the club through what have been busy and challenging times. “He has more than proved his worth. Robert has a first-class team around him and I believe our great club to be in safe and accomplished hands.” Elstone, who had previously worked with top accountants Deloitte, addded: “I’m absolutely delighted and proud to be offered this role. “This is a big job – one of the biggest in world football – but I can promise all Evertonians I will work tirelessly for the cause.” Meanwhile, David Moyes will reward the back four that has transformed Everton’s season by asking them to frustrate Liverpool’s attack at Anfield once again. Though Joseph Yobo is chomping at the bit for a recall after recovering from a pulled hamstring, Moyes will place his faith in the four Englishmen who have performed with such credit in the past month for Sunday’s FA Cup fourth round clash.
The only goal Everton have conceded since losing to Aston Villa on December 7 was Steven Gerrard’s second half strike on Monday. Key to the defensive improvement has been the team’s relentless appetite for hard work, and Phil Jagielka is quick to point out the contributions of his team-mates. “I think you have got to give credit to the gaffer, the coaching staff and the players for that,” said Jagielka. “But it’s gone right through the team – Victor and Tim set the tone on Monday with their work rate. Everyone else took on board what they were doing and tried to do something similar.”
Moyes’ squad, meanwhile, is close to having some depth again. Aside from Yobo, Marouane Fellaini will be available after suspension next Wednesday and Louis Saha is edging closer to making his long-awaited return to first team action. Everton’s number nine has not played since he pulled up lame during the 1-0 win at Spurs on November 30 with hamstring trouble. What the Blues hoped would only be a minor problem turned out to be more serious after a second scan in December showed significant muscle damage. However, Saha is now back in light training at Finch Farm and, if all goes to plan, he could be available for the games with Manchester United and Bolton next month. The Frenchman has scored three times in 13 appearances since moving to Goodison from Old Trafford last summer and his return will give the squad a huge lift. Saha’s progress, though, has not put the brakes on Moyes’ search for a new striker and he is continuing to explore a number of options. Hugo Almeida remains high on the manager’s wanted list and the Werder Bremen front man has made encouraging noises about a possible loan move. He said last night: “It would be a dream for me to play in England, but I have to remain calm while negotiations take place. It is a possibility that pleases me. I’m happyEverton are interested.”
Everton's Leighton Baines eyeing FA Cup upset at Anfield
Jan 23 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERY TIME Leighton Baines has looked in the mirror this week, he has been given a painful reminder of his first completed Merseyside derby. But rather than grumble about the black eye he sustained following a coming together with Jamie Carragher, Baines could not be any happier. After all, he’d much rather be in the wars than sitting in the stands. While Everton’s in-form left back headed home on Monday evening trying to keep a lump the size of a golf ball above his right cheek under control with a huge pack of ice, the discomfort was easily outweighed by a sense of contentment.
Since being signed from Wigan Athletic in the summer of 2007, all Baines had wanted was an opportunity to play for the Blues in a game of such magnitude, rather than being forced to assume the role of frustrated spectator. Few would dispute that he made the most of his chance – two terrific blocks to thwart Dirk Kuyt and Sami Hyppia were his stand-out moments. But the energy and drive he provided down the left flank ensured Carragher always had something to think about. As someone who was brought up on a diet of football in these parts, Baines needed no reminding of what was at stake. But a lively conversation with his Everton-supporting uncle Steven and cousin Michael – a Liverpool fan – beforehand left in him no doubt that he had to get stuck in. No surprise to learn, then, that he has sported his shiner like a badge of honour since the 1-1 draw. “When you come away with cuts and bruises, that’s what you want really,” said Baines. “It wouldn’t be right for a defender to come away unscathed from a derby! “I was at my nan’s the day before the game and I had an uncle and cousin there. One was Red, the other was Blue, so I was getting it both ways. But it’s all good. I’ve got friends who are Reds and Blues, but all the banter is friendly. “It’s all good fun but you never forget how massive these games are. There is so much pride at stake. We had to go to Anfield and get something from the game because the last few derbies haven’t gone well for us. “In the first half we set our stall out, without playing as well as we have done. We would have liked to play with a bit of style, like we had done in some recent games, but we still managed to threaten from set plays and we got better as the game wore on.
“You never want to concede but, in a strange way, going a goal down probably suited us. Liverpool were maybe happy to win the game 1-0 and they started dropping deeper at the back. They tried to knock it around. “That took a lot of pressure off us and, in a sense, there was nothing to lose. We took the shackles off because we were no longer hanging on for a point. It gave us the opportunity to try and press for a goal. Thankfully, we got it.” As satisfied as he has been with his efforts since coming back into the fray just before Christmas, there is no hint of ego from Baines. If anything, he knows that Joseph Yobo’s imminent return from injury means the onus is on him to raise his standards further. “I’m just pleased to be playing,” he said. “Things have been like that for me. I seem to get half a dozen games, then something stops me. I feel that I’ve always done well when I’ve played but, for one reason or another, I’ve not been selected. “I’ve never managed to put 12 or 15 games together in succession. I have got to just try and play as well as I can. If the team keeps playing well and I can keep myself in it, that’s all I can ask for.” Not quite. He may want to stay in the team but the 24-year-old also wants Everton’s name to be in the draw for the last 16 come 7.00pm on Sunday evening, and hopes that David Moyes can mastermind a first success at Anfield since September 1999. There is little doubt that Tim Cahill’s late header has changed the dynamics of the tie. But while some over-exuberant supporters feel the Toffees are as good as through, Baines has no intention of making such predictions. “It gives us confidence that we can go back and acquit ourselves well,” said Baines. “We feel that we can go over there and win but every derby has got to be treated as an individual and you can’t read too much into what has happened. “There is no chance of us getting carried away and we spoke about that afterwards. It’s half time, if you like, so there is no point in us singing and shouting just because we got a point in the league game. “It would be even worse if we came back and didn’t do ourselves justice. We have got to come out and prove that what we did on Monday night wasn’t a fluke. We’ve got to aim to produce something better.” Safe to say he only wants to leave Anfield this time with a place in the fifth round. email@example.com
HOWARD KENDALL: Everton can keep the dream alive
Jan 23 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
THE moment David Moyes sees Liverpool’s team sheet on Sunday will determine whether Everton go into this FA Cup tie full of confidence – or absolutely flying.
With a Premier League game at Wigan on the horizon next Wednesday, you can bet your bottom dollar that Rafa Benitez will make changes to the 11 that started on Monday night but the question is: How many? If, say, he drops Steven Gerrard, Everton could not get any bigger boost. David and his players will rub their hands with glee if Liverpool’s best player begins the game on the sidelines and it would also demoralise the home crowd. Aside from that, though, I think it would be a disgrace if Rafa does not select his captain for what is an enormous match. Surely he understands how much this game means to supporters and the importance which is attached to it?
Given that Liverpool are chasing the title, I would say this game is more important to Everton and with their place in the top six established, now is the time to start thinking about making a genuine push to win this competition. It would take a hell of a lot of getting over if we were knocked out of the Cup at Anfield, but I have a sneaky suspicion that things will be okay for the Blues, particularly after the impressive efforts of Monday. Mikel Arteta’s delivery from set pieces remains second to none and Tim Cahill capped a fabulous individual performance with a fully deserved goal – with the shortage of strikers remaining, free-kicks and corners will remain Everton’s best hope of scoring. Of course, it will be difficult and there is little doubt that the draw could have been kinder, but it would be nice to think we could get through and make progress towards Wembley. What could provide better impetus than winning at Anfield?
Kilbane is a top pro
NOT too many transfers have caught the eye during this window but one which grabbed my attention was Kevin Kilbane’s switch to Hull. He was always a player who I liked during his time at Everton and I felt he had a lot to offer at the time he was sold to Wigan. Kevin is a terrific professional, he’s still got a great engine and he reminds me in many ways of Paul Power, who I signed when we won the title in 1987. I’m sure he’ll do a great job for Hull.
CASEY WAS GREAT SERVANT
IT was with great sadness that I learned that an old friend of mine, Tom Casey, passed away recently. Tom was an old wing-half for Newcastle United when I was in school and he went on to become a member of Everton’s coaching staff during my time at Goodison as a player. When Harry Catterick was taken ill for a short spell, he and Stewart Imlach oversaw the running of the first team and he made a great contribution to the club. He was also a great character and used to have a saying that everyone who played under him will remember: “Give it the hoofty up the hey diddle diddle!”
Basically translated it meant “knock it long!” but it was him in a nutshell. He will be sadly missed and my condolences go to his family.
DAVID PRENTICE: Mersey fans' derby behaviour harking back to good old days
Jan 23 2009 David Prentice
THE second most watched TV channel in the Prentice household* flashed back 25 years this week to reshow a famous Everton victory at Anfield. The on-pitch action was as familiar as an old shoe. Motty might not have seen a goal quite like that in a Merseyside derby for years, but we’ve seen Graeme Sharp’s volley at least a couple of times a month ever since. But it was the scenes off the pitch which were both unfamiliar, but telling – the crowd shots of a packed and swaying Kop, with blue interspersed with red, kids with blue caps hanging through the Kop railings, red and white scarves clearly waving on a swirling Anfield Road End – and a bizarre figure dressed as Superman taking a football off Ian Rush. Everton won their first match at Anfield for 14 years – but there were no arrests, no punch-ups, although the front window at Yates’ Wine Lodge probably took its traditional battering at about half past 10. The difference was that derby day back then was usually self-policed. Everton and Liverpool both have their minority of idiots – but they’re outnumbered by the decent and sensible majority. And when both fans mix together, the decent fans can usually shout down the half wits with a well-timed “Behave yourself!” That happened all the time in the 70s and 80s. But when you create polarised sections of supporters – as all-seater stadia did – you lose that ability to mix – and the self-policing element is lost.
I mention the old days, because the FA Cup’s unique rules mean that more than 6,000 Everton fans will be inside Anfield on Sunday. For the first time in 18 years the percentage of opposing fans at a derby will be greater than three or four per cent.
And I’m hoping both sets of fans can build on Monday’s encouraging atmosphere.
There may not have been a thaw in relations – but there was still a marked and noticeable improvement in behaviour. The vile chants which have been aimed at Steven Gerrard and Joleon Lescott in recent years were both short-lived and sporadic.
Reports claimed the police made just five arrests – all for minor offences, and both sets of fans listened to the public appeal for more tolerant chanting. We may never hear “Merseyside” sung in a football stadium again, but this was a step in the right direction. *With an 11-year-old ruling the remote, Hannah Montana, Zack and Cody and the Wizards of Waverley Place mean Disney still gets top billing.
ARTETA EXORCISED HIS DERBY DEMONS WITH ANFIELD SHOW
WHEN Bill Kenwright hailed Mikel Arteta as a modern day Golden Vision, he meant it as a tribute. A few Blues old enough to remember, however, pointed out that the one match Alex Young always struggled to make an impact in was the derby.
His shimmering skills were often too lightweight for the brutal intensity of that particular clash, and he ended his glorious Goodison career by joining the ranks of unlikely derby day duck eggs like Kevin Keegan and Bob Latchford. Arteta might not have scored on Monday night, but he exorcised any derby demons he might have harboured – like the red card in December 2005 – with another excellent performance and the decisive free-kick delivered onto Tim Cahill’s head. Arteta is a Golden Vision, with a cast iron core.
Bellefield call makes no sense
LOSS of green space was, according to yesterday’s reports, one of the main reasons for Liverpool City Council throwing out Everton’s plans to build houses on Bellefield.
The two full size football pitches which remain behind the houses on Sandforth Road are undeniably green, but quite how much of a haven they are for wildlife is unclear.
If successive groundsmen like Doug Rose or Bob Lennon had so much as sensed a mole or an earthworm at work on their beloved pitches, the RSPCA might have been required. And with Croxteth Park barely a five minute walk away, is the loss of two pitches really so significant? The words uttered by a ‘source close to the club’ yesterday were harsh – “It does now seem as if certain individuals and the council are determined to ruin Everton Football Club” – but they are also wholly understandable.
Goals with glam touch
SCOUTS scour every nook and cranny on the planet trying to unearth their club’s next top scorer. But there’s one market which, so far, has remained spectacularly untapped.
We’re clearly not realising the full potential of the WAG. This week, Harry Redknapp reckoned: “Even my missus Sandra could have scored that one.” Dennis Smith put down Wayne Rooney’s first goals in senior football, sayingwith the claim: “My missus would have put them away,” while Peter Taylor once said: “My nan would have scored that and she would have been knitting.” There’s clearly strikers rich seam of goalscorers out there being ignored. because they’re not young men. * QUOTE of the week was the line sneaked into Georgie Thompson’s news bulletins at least six times on Wednesday, after news of her relationship with Declan Donnelly became public knowledge. The consummate pro, she was able to say “It will be all hands on Dec this week,” with only the merest hint of a smirk.
Footy play is a game of two halves
Jan 23 2009 by Joe Riley, Liverpool Echo
THE Friday twixt two derby clashes is an ideal time to talk of a third – this time on stage. Nick Leather, 30, life-long Evertonian, has arranged this match. He’s also created it. Billy Wonderful is the story of a teenage soccer protege, told via a live clash between blues and reds. It plays a tour of Merseyside schools and community centres from February 4, before ending up with a three-week run at the Everyman.
For award-winning playwright Nick, soccer and drama make a fine pairing: “Everything I learned about theatre, I learned from football, including the story-telling” he insists. “The structure of a good game is also good theatre.
“There are the clear objectives of the team, and the tactics of who will triumph.
“The one thing football has over theatre is being written on the spot. Equally, there is no excuse for a nil-nil draw in the theatre (despite Monday’s on- pitch result?).
“But even if you don’t follow football, you can tap into Billy Wonderful.
“Most people have got that thing about the talent they have, either used or not used.”
Billy is the Wayne Rooney of his day: Which way will fortunes go, as we watch his life over 22 years up to the age of 30 (in a two-act play of 11 years per half, spread over 90 minutes)? “The action is very physical. The key element is to create the Merseyside derby Billy played in when he was 19, and to tell his life story through that match,” says Nick. Perhaps past hyped Everton wunderkinds like Billy Kenny, Danny Cadamarteri and Francis Jeffers, and what became of them, will come to mind.
The sub-plot is just a bit cheeky: Billy’s dad is a Liverpool fan who had an early career in the lower leagues, and is now a Liverpool groundsman. All this told by five actors who double as players, referee, managers, physios and more than two dozen other roles.
“The aim is that by the time the final whistle blows, they really will look as if they’ve had a game,” says Nick, who like hero Billy, was taken to his first Everton game at eight.
His grand-father Bill, from Halewood, and his father, Neville, were both blues fans.
Living in Newton-le-Willows meant young Nick nearly got swayed towards Man U: “I put up a poster of Gary Bailey the Manchester United goalkeeper, so my dad whizzed me to the next Everton game. “This was clearly going to decide which team I would follow, and Everton won 5-0 – and against Man U. That was 1984.
“So I thought that was what football was all about – you go and you win.”
In theatre, Nick is already a winner, having taken the prestigious Pearson writing prize (judges included the late John Mortimer as well as Liverpool’s Beryl Bainbridge).
To date he has written for BBC radio and television; London’s Royal Court ( a play about John Lennon’s mum and dad), and Manchester’s Royal Exchange.
He’d watched Shakespeare at School, with little joy. Not until seeing the Liverpool-based Kaboodle company’s production of Arthur Miller’s A View From The Bridge at the Everyman, and Joe Orton’s black comedy, Loot, at the Exchange, did he get the theatre bug. “My ambitions were to write a play for both of those theatres, as well as an episode of Coronation Street, and to win an Oscar. “So far, I’ve managed two of them,” jokes Nick, who read literary studies at Liverpool John Moores University.
“But right now I want to change people’s opinions about what theatre can be. I want it to be anything but boring. “As for football, it’s the first thing I think of when I wake up in the morning and the last before I go to sleep: working out our best team, who we could sell, and who we could buy with that money.” Billy Wonderful is at the Liverpool Everyman March 12 to April 4.
David Moyes tells Victor Anichebe to stand up and be counted – Everton FC latest
Jan 24 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has challenged Victor Anichebe to show he deserves to be a first team regular by helping Everton’s bid to reach the FA Cup’s last 16. The young Nigerian striker was one of Everton’s better performers during Monday night’s 1-1 draw with Liverpool at Anfield and relished his battle with Sami Hyypia.
But there have been times in his short career – which began three years ago this weekend when he came on as substitute in a 1-1 draw with Chelsea – when he has flattered to deceive. Though Anichebe has made 83 appearances for the Blues, only 25 have been from the start and as he turns 20 in April, his manager now wants to see him rise to the occasion. “Victor is a young boy who has been (thought of as) a young boy for a long time and he has now got to step up and become a real part of the squad,” said Moyes. “He has found himself at times a little bit behind that but he’s getting opportunities now. He had his opportunity against Aston Villa and played well in that game. “He then missed out for three or four matches with injury, so part of it for Victor is making sure he gets a consistent run where he is available to play.
“On his day he can become a real handful. He took a knock in the game but he’s trained and I expect him to be okay. “He had a habit of coming off the bench in European games and scoring and he did very well in that role. We have had some big performances from him.” Anichebe’s only goal this season came in a 3-2 win at Stoke City on September 14 but there could be no better time to end that barren run than against Rafa Benitez’s men. Moyes believes he should take confidence from the way he gave Hyypia and Martin Skrtel plenty to think about and is urging him to keep his focus. “Victor has been around it and he knows how it works,” said Moyes, who is bidding to reach the FA Cup’s fifth round for only the second time in his career at Goodison. “He is maturing with it and he’s getting better. I think he knows that when you get opportunities in football, you have to be ready for them. I’ve always said that.
“But I think Victor is ready and I’m sure he will do it again. Victor will continue to get chances to show what he can do. The Cup is important and we want to get through.” Everton are still looking to add to their squad before the transfer window closes and Moyes has confirmed that he has a number of irons in the fire.
“We have got offers in for a couple of players to take them on loan,” he said. “We are waiting on replies back from their clubs.”
Robert Elstone: ‘Everton role is a great honour’
Jan 24 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
ROBERT ELSTONE is ready for the challenge of helping Everton compete with the best in the business after being made the club’s permanent chief executive.
Having overseen the role since Keith Wyness hastily quit Goodison Park last summer, the 44-year-old was given the job on a full time basis yesterday following discussions at board level earlier in the week. Elstone, who is a keen marathon runner and cyclist in his spare time, has impressed in his duties, particularly with his determination to bring the relationship between club and supporters closer together. It has not been an easy start for him by any means – he had to prepare for an EGM within five weeks of Wyness’ departure, while the last couple of months have been dominated by the public inquiry into Destination Kirkby – but Elstone has risen to the challenge.
However, he has promised to maintain the hard work and does not anticipate there being any radical changes now his role has been confirmed. “I’m very pleased,” said Elstone. “It’s a great honour and a great opportunity but I don’t expect there will be any change from what we have been doing since I was given the role last August. We have got a lot of hard work ahead of us. “We want to keep expanding the club, building our loyal fan base, which is absolutely key, and building loyalty to allow us to compete on the pitch at the highest possible level. It is about giving our supporters a real stake in the business. “I have a great relationship with our chairman Bill Kenwright and the board of directors. I want to thank them for putting trust in me. This is a big job – one of the biggest in world football – and I can promise I will work tirelessly for the cause.” Elstone moved to Goodison Park in the summer of 2005 from top accountants Deloitte to take over the role of Chief Operating Officer, having previously worked for BSkyB as Director of Football Business Affairs. His background may have been in economics – he graduated from Hull University – but Elstone has reams of football experience and was involved in the deal that saw the Glazers buy Manchester United. During his time on Merseyside, Elstone has been credited with making sweeping changes behind the scenes and was also responsible for securing a record shirt sponsorship deal with Chang last year. But he has always maintained that anything he has achieved would not have been possible without good people around him and Kenwright expects him to continue to flourish in the role.
“ Over the past few months Robert has helped the club through what have been busy and challenging times,” he said. “He has more than proved his worth. Robert has a first-class team around him and I believe our great club to be in safe and accomplished hands.”
Mikel Arteta's message to Liverpool: The phoney war is over!
Jan 24 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
BALL 28 had barely had a chance to nestle alongside ball three when Mikel Arteta’s phone was bombarded with a string of text messages. The prospect of Everton and Liverpool locking horns in the FA Cup fourth round had captured the imagination of the Reds’ Spanish contingent and they wasted no time in reminding their compatriot from the other side of Stanley Park that they meant business. First to start the banter was Pepe Reina, who has been friends with Arteta since they shared a room at Barcelona’s La Masia Academy as teenagers, swiftly followed by Fernando Torres before Xabi Alonso rounded things off. It was, of course, all good natured stuff. Though they are intense rivals when Merseyside’s Red and Blue camps collide, away from the pitch they are almost inseparable and meet every Sunday, when the fixture list allows, to discuss the week gone by. If Arteta’s relationship with Alonso is well known – childhood friends in San Sebastian who became next door neighbours in Liverpool – the bond he has with Reina and Torres is similarly strong, so much so that Arteta will be godfather to the goalkeeper’s newborn this summer. “We talk all the time,” said Arteta. “I’ve known Xabi since I was eight. I’ve known the other two since I was 15. We’ve been so close for 11 years. It’s strange that we have all ended up playing in the same city, so funny. “We meet every weekend. I got texts straight away when the draw was made. Pepe was on the phone first, then it was Fernando. Then Xabi followed straight after with one saying “I’ll see you twice that week, mate!” They send the jokes if they win, if we win they get them off me – I promise!”
Arteta may have had the last laugh on Monday, when Tim Cahill diverted his precise free-kick past the startled Reina, but he knows his pal at the other end of the pitch is capable of swinging the pendulum back in LIverpool’s favour. Torres may have shown signs of rustiness on what was his first start since November in that 1-1 draw, hitting a post with the kind of chance he normally gobbles up, but Everton’s midfield maestro knows ‘El Nino’ can’t be given space. “I don’t think people realise how hard it was for Fernando at Atletico Madrid,” said Arteta. “He was captain of them when he was 18 – just one-and-a-half years after he had been a professional. There was so much pressure on him and he was only a kid. “Since moving here, all that pressure has gone away. He couldn’t even walk down the street when he was in Madrid. Being in Liverpool was like a release for him and I think he has been unbelievable since he came here.
“He settled in so quickly, he scored a lot of goals and everyone is really happy with him. He’s got a great character. But if we leave him like we did at Goodison? We know what is going to happen....” It is a warning that will doubtless be heeded. But while Arteta respects Liverpool’s capabilities, he is just as quick to point to the fact that Everton have rediscovered the groove that enabled them to enjoy some success last season. What’s more, he is playing with a swagger that had been missing for much of last season when a severe groin problem – Arteta described it as feeling like a knife had been stuck inside him – kept stopping him in his tracks. “I feel really comfortable,” said Arteta. “I’m much more involved playing in the middle than I used to be on the wing. It’s been a bit different for me than in past seasons. Everyone is focused at the moment and I’m so happy to be over the injury nightmare.
“The doctor was saying that I had to stop but I wanted to keep playing. I couldn’t train, it was awful. But it is over now. I feel no pain. I started pre-season late and it took time for us to get going. But, it was so difficult. “We didn’t play three games together as a unit. Felli was late coming in, Tim Cahill was injured. Yak was missing, Louis Saha came in late, Steven Pienaar had a broken foot – you need to recognise why things were going wrong.” Happily, however, things are going right again. Unbeaten in seven games, the prospect of beating Liverpool on home soil to book a place in the last 16 is something Evertonians have been dreaming of since the fourth round draw was made and Arteta is no different. Wembley, clearly is on his mind.
“It was always on TV and I remember watching some great finals and the fact they are played at Wembley makes it even bigger,” said Arteta. “I know the competition has been devalued by some teams making so many changes in some games. “But a game like this can only be good for the image of the competition. If we get past Liverpool, I’m sure we’ll get another tough draw. But I’ve heard fans saying if we beat Liverpool, we’ll win the cup. If it was only that easy!” firstname.lastname@example.org
DOMINIC KING: Every football fan should see red over Harry Redknapp's way
Jan 24 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
JUST when you think the famous old pot is starting to get its sheen back, along comes someone to give it a good buffeting. The build up to FA Cup fourth round weekend should, in normal circumstances, have been all about Everton and Liverpool locking horns once more, with the rest of the nation joining this city in anticipating a classic.
While there may have been initial groans when the teams were paired against each other at the start of the month, excitement has been building ever since and, all things being equal, it should be a terrific occasion at Anfield tomorrow. Unfortunately, though, one man has ensured the focus has been switched away from Merseyside to Manchester but the reasons are in no way positive; if you are unaware of Harry Redknapp’s comments earlier this week, run your eyes over the following.
“We’ve got some tough games - we’ve a game at Man United that really is so secondary to me now as we are in a relegation battle ,” he said after Tottenham fortuitously reached the Carling Cup final on Wednesday after scraping past Burnley.
“I can’t risk Jamie O’Hara, Jonathan Woodgate and Michael Dawson at Old Trafford. It’s scary - I have to go to Old Trafford with that group of players that we had tonight. If Alex (Ferguson) is listening, I’m really going to send a real mish-mash team up there. “I hope it doesn’t upset the fans, but we played extra time and we’re out on our feet a little bit.” Everybody say ‘ah’. Isn’t the point of becoming a professional footballer being able to play in big games at the best stadiums? Redknapp - who won the Cup with Portsmouth last season - might not want to “upset the fans” but he’s done a good deal more than that. While basically ignoring the aspect of thousands of Tottenham supporters having purchased tickets to travel to Manchester, Redknapp has insulted the competition as a whole and surely the FA have grounds for examining his comments. Is this not bringing the game into disrepute? That’s not suggesting that Tottenham have no intention of winning the tie, but Redknapp’s defeatist attitude points to United breezing into the fifth round. Tired? Tottenham have a squad of 35 players and so far during this transfer window have spent almost £30m to sign Jermaine Defoe and Wilson Palacios; it is a situation of which David Moyes can only dream. Contrast this with Everton; Moyes has only had between 12 and 14 fit senior professionals since the first weekend in December yet still managed to conjure a run of results that have given the Blues an outstanding chance of qualifying for Europe again. Not only that, they appear to be getting stronger and stronger, a point proved by the fact Everton were able to rescue a point from Monday night’s tussle with Liverpool in the dying minutes; in their opinion, there can never be too many games.
Moyes has never made a secret of the fact that the league always takes priority but could you imagine if he turned around and said his players were “a bit tired” and he’d play a “mish-mash” team in the Cup? There would, understandably, be outrage if he did, regardless of the opposition. But, then again, that is something Moyes would never do, is desperate to win a piece of silverware for Everton and understands the value of the competition. The days when you used to tune in at 9am on the morning of a Cup Final to watch may have gone but it is a disgrace that some managers are so brazen about having no interest in succeeding in it. Steve Coppell at Reading, Tony Pulis at Stoke - both said their teams could not win the Cup but is that really true when you think that the semi-finalists last season comprised West Brom, Barnsley, Cardiff and Portsmouth? Evertonians would give their right arm for a trip to Wembley once again and with a bit of good fortune, they might be a step nearer come Monday morning. Fingers crossed those teams who play weakened sides will pay the ultimate price - particularly Tottenham.
BARRY HORNE: Everton deserved far more credit for derby spirit
Jan 24 2009 Barry Horne
PICKING up the papers on Tuesday morning, as an Evertonian, I was disappointed but not surprised. The headlines were, quite rightly I suppose, all about how the previous night’s derby had been a bad result for Liverpool and a damaging game for Rafael Benitez. There was little credit given to Everton for how well they had played and what a good point it was for them. I was in agreement with Tim Cahill when he said that all the Everton players’ focus was on achieving a result for their own top six challenge rather than denting their neighbours’ title ambitions. On the night Everton had the better of the first half, although Liverpool did have the best chance, then Liverpool had the better of the middle part of the second half when they scored their goal. Not enough credit, however, has been given to Everton for keeping their heads up and their chests out – and showing the remarkable resilience which has become such a familiar trait now amongst this group of players. When Rafa Benitez sent an invitation to those Blues’ players with his substitution of their most dangerous player, they were only too happy to accept it gladly. The point and the performance will stand the Blues in good stead not just for tomorrow’s Cup tie, but for the run of incredibly tough Premier League fixtures which follow. Knowing they are good enough to go to Anfield and come away with a point from a title challenger will do wonders for their confidence – not least for tomorrow.
DAVID MOYES’ players have enjoyed five full days of rest and preparation, fully focused on tomorrow’s Cup tie. The players will almost certainly have known their starting XI all week, will know how they are planning to approach the tie and will have been able to work all week on what system they are going to use. I would imagine Liverpool’s planning would have been somewhat less clear-cut, given the greater options available to Rafa Benitez, and having seen Manchester United go above them at the top of the table with a game in hand. That will have done nothing for their confidence – and hopefully mean that the FA Cup is very low on their list of priorities this week.
Cahill can take pride at record
TIM CAHILL’S record of scoring in three successive Anfield derbies may well be a convoluted one, but it’s still an exceptional achievement. For any player to score on three consecutive visits to Anfield is rare – there can’t be many players who have achieved that record – and for Tim to do it in the heat of a local derby is outstanding.
I said some weeks ago that Everton weren’t just starting to win games, but that they were also starting to play really well again. That coincided with big players like Joleon Lescott, Mikel Arteta and Tim Cahill all starting to find their best form again.
Tim, in particular, has had a disjointed 18 months when his best form has sometimes proved elusive, even though his attitude has always been nothing less than excellent.
He has been a hugely important player for David Moyes throughout his time at Everton – and I hope that continues tomorrow.
Guess who is Des and win a year's subscription to Setanta plus much more
Jan 24 2009 Liverpool Echo
Setanta Sports is again using the services of Des Lynam for its latest advertising campaign. This time, Des provides the voice to his 2-D counterpart – a cartoon version of himself complete with trademark tash and sharp suit, known as ‘Flat Des’!
To celebrate the Merseyside derby, Liverpool vs Everton in the FA Cup 4th Round, which is live and exclusive on Setanta Sports this Sunday, Setanta is inviting you to study this photograph of the teams in action and identify which player is hidden behind the face of ‘Flat Des?’ Identify the name of the player correctly and the first FIVE winning entries will each win a years subscription to Setanta Sports and an exclusive Setanta ready Freeview subscription pack, so you can enjoy all the fantastic exclusively live sporting action on Setanta, including Barclays Premier League, FA Cup, England Internationals, US PGA Tour Golf, World-Class Boxing and much much more.
Simply email your answer to email@example.com along with your name, address, and telephone number. Competition will open on Friday 23rd Jan 2009 and will close at Midnight on Sunday 25th Jan 2009. Winners will be notified on Monday 26th Jan 2009 by telephone. No Purchase Necessary. Usual TM terms & conditions apply - see www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/rules for details.
Liverpool vs Everton is exclusively live on Setanta Sports from 3.30pm, Sunday 25th January 2008. To subscribe visit: www.setanta.com or call: 0871 200 7494.
Liverpool 1-1 Everton: Another Merseyside derby draw
Jan 25 2009 Liverpool Daily Post
Steven Gerrard produced another stunning goal to force a Merseyside derby replay.
Liverpool and Everton will be sick of the sight of each other by the end of this marathon, with the replay on Wednesday, February 4 at Goodison Park.
These sides clashed in the Barclays Premier League last Monday with Gerrard - who else - belting in another cracker to secure a 1-1 draw. Now with the forthcoming replay they will meet three times in 17 days, rekindling memories of the four-game cup saga they fought out over a fortnight in 1991, which Everton won in the end.
The Toffees will fancy themselves again, having produced a defiant defensive display here to go with their hard-earned league point on Monday. Joleon Lescott gave them a first-half lead and only the combined brilliance of Fernando Torres and Gerrard denied them a famous victory. Suggestions that Reds boss Rafael Benitez would under-value the tournament and make a string of changes were unfounded.
There was no Diego Cavalieri in goal, Jose Reina kept the position for his first FA Cup game since the 2006 final. Elsewhere Liverpool went for more width than in the 1-1 league draw, Ryan Babel and Alvaro Arbeloa detailed to patrol the flanks while Javier Mascherano returned to midfield and Jamie Carragher to the centre of defence.
Liverpool were further boosted by the absence of the influential Mikel Arteta from the Blues ranks with bruised ribs. The Reds had started slowly in the previous game and allowed Everton a foothold in the game they never relinquished, but today they set about stamping some early authority.They pushed Everton back with sustained possession and after Steven Pienaar’s theatrical collapse in the box under pressure from Arbeloa failed to win a penalty, it was Liverpool who were flooding forward.
But they found their attacking waves crashing against the usual formidable rocks in Everton’s defence. Lescott and Phil Jagielka were outstanding as Leon Osman and Phil Neville toiled diligently in front of them. Liverpool barely created a decent scoring chance in the opening half, and the first time Everton broke out they won a 27th-minute corner that produced a goal to stun the Kop. From Liverpool’s point of view it was yet another set-piece disaster. Tim Cahill, booked early on for deliberant handball, flicked on Pienaar’s flag-kick and Lescott nodded past an exposed Reina.
Everton had two free headers in that set-play, and Lescott was totally unmarked six yards out. From then until the break Everton defended deep, with great resilience and rendered Liverpool frustrated and chanceless. Torres found Jagielka no less an obstacle than seven days earlier. Xabi Alonso was booked for a foul on Pienaar and Carragher too on his way off at the break for dissent, having become increasingly annoyed with Everton’s constant time-wasting. It needed something special to break Everton’s iron grip, and it came from Torres and Gerrard, combining to stunning effect after 54 minutes. Torres juggled the ball and then produced a breathtaking back-heel to send the ball flying into Gerrard’s path. The captain surged into the box and drilled a shot inside Tim Howard and the near post. The American should have done far better, but he partly redeemed himself three minutes later with a miraculous save from another Gerrard drive as a revitalised Liverpool powered forward.
Everton sunk even deeper into defence now, 11 men behind the ball, and after 71 minutes they took off striker Victor Anichebe and sent on midfielder Dan Gosling.
Now with Cahill on his own up front, Everton had midfielders breaking from all angles, only heightened when Jack Rodwell took over from Segundo Castillo in central midfield. It gave Liverpool a real problem. They were pushing forward, and liable to be caught out by quick midfielders if their concentration dropped at the back.
Pienaar was booked for a foul on Martin Skrtel, and Albert Riera came on for Babel. The action was now fast and very furious, with Dirk Kuyt wasting a good opportunity from 12 yards and Torres seeing a close-range shot deflected away by Lescott.
But Everton’s defence stood firm, and forced a replay they fully deserved.
Funeral of veteran hero George Martin
Jan 26 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
THE funeral of much loved former local footballer George Martin will take place at St Luke’s Church next to Goodison Park tomorrow. Martin died last week, aged 65, only a few years after finally hanging up his boots for good. On Everton’s books in the 1960s at the same time as Alex Young, Bobby Collins and Roy Vernon, Martin found it impossible to force his way into Harry Catterick’s first team but moved on to Rochdale where he gave eight years of steadfast service. He then moved on to Bangor, but when he eventually called time on his professional career, his amateur days were only just beginning. After playing for Collegiate Old Boys for several years, he was snapped up at the tender age of 45 for Ivor Scholes’ “Over The Hill Mob” – a local old boys team which played regular charity matches and featured stars like Dave Hickson, Ronnie Goodlass and Gary Jones. “He was a smashing fella,” said Scholes. “He played inside forward or midfield, was very skilful and loved the game. We’ll miss him terribly.” A lifelong Evertonian, George was at the Hull City match recently alongside Jimmy Harris and Derek Temple, and was a regular sight in recent years jogging around Stanley Park. His funeral service starts at 1.30pm.
Liverpool 1, Everton 1: Knockout punch proves elusive
Jan 26 2009 by Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily Post
ACTIONS speak louder than words. And the two players targeted for abuse by rival supporters dished out their own form of retribution at Anfield yesterday.
Now Liverpool and Everton must go again on Wednesday week to discover who progresses from their FA Cup fourth round tie after a second meeting inside a week once more failed to separate the Merseyside rivals. Steven Gerrard and Joleon Lescott have long been the focus of tasteless jibes from opposing fans that have gone beyond typical derby banter. So for both to land the significant blows of a tense, absorbing heavyweight encounter suggests, should it be necessary, that such taunts are counter-productive. While the scoreline was the same as last Monday’s Premier League encounter, the situation was reversed with Liverpool fighting back from going behind to earn a draw. Some things, however, remain the same. Liverpool’s continued shortcomings at defending set-pieces allowed Lescott to glance Everton into a first-half lead in front of the Kop end, only for Gerrard, as last week, to prove Liverpool’s saviour with a 54th-minute shot that somehow evaded Tim Howard.
Certainly, recent performances have justified Rafael Benitez’s faith that Gerrard’s game is unaffected by his current off-field distractions. Both Benitez and Everton counterpart David Moyes later claimed the moral victory, but it’s the latter who will be by far the happier with this result, returning across Stanley Park once more with their unbeaten run intact despite missing the injured Mikel Arteta. The Spaniard’s absence helped dictate the rhythm of a game in which Liverpool dominated, particularly during the second half, the possession and chances with Everton reliant on the dogged defence that has conceded just twice in eight games. But the visitors were admittedly helped by Liverpool having reacquired the unwanted habit of being unable to turn superiority into goals. Both Dirk Kuyt and Fernando Torres spurned decent opportunities late on to avoid another high-profile fixture Benitez could have done without as Liverpool resume their Premier League title challenge at Wigan Athletic on Wednesday. A frustrated Benitez’s post-match moans about Everton’s defensive attitude simply smacked at an attempt to mask his own team’s deficiencies. After all, Moyes was merely playing to the strengths of those players available to him, and how profitable that is proving.
The loss of Arteta, who suffered a rib injury during training, was a major blow to an Everton side already missing the cutting edge and creativity of Yakubu, James Vaughan, Louis Saha and the suspended Marouane Fellaini.
Arteta’s only previous absence this season was the dismal Carling Cup elimination at Blackburn Rovers during which Segundo Castillo was hauled off at half-time.
The Ecuador international, again deputising for the Spaniard, lasted 75 minutes yesterday and played his part in a central midfield that, at times overrun by Xabi Alonso and a rejuvenated Javier Mascherano, found their primary role was to protect an again impressive back four.
Benitez juggled his resources but retained a strong spine to a line-up that reverted to his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation after last week’s unwise flirtation with 4-4-2.
It meant there was no room on the bench for Robbie Keane. Indeed, the Irishman, so disappointing in last Monday’s derby, was not even in the stadium.
Having allowed Everton to gain an early foothold in last Monday’s derby, Liverpool were determined not to give their neighbours similar encouragement and were the brighter during the opening quarter. Alonso dragged a shot wide in the first minute before a neat piece of skill from the unlikely figure of Jamie Carragher – playing at centre-back for the first time in a month – to accept a pass from Gerrard and turn away from Leon Osman ended with an angled shot into the side-netting. In between, there were ambitious shouts for a penalty from Everton when Alvaro Arbeloa brushed Steven Pienaar inside the area, the appeals rightly waved away by referee Steve Bennett. But with only their second real attack, the visitors went ahead on 27 minutes. Martin Skrtel conceded a corner and, from the left, Pienaar’s deep delivery was headed on by Cahill for the similarly unmarked Lescott to glance beyond Reina, the Liverpool keeper making his first appearance in the FA Cup since his match-winning saves in the 2006 final shoot-out against West Ham United. It wasn’t quite a carbon copy of the set-piece from which Cahill capitalised on Monday, but it was alarming that, for all the talk of learning their lesson, Liverpool again left the Australian unattended. The lead allowed Everton to do what they do best; sit back and defend. And while Liverpool enjoyed the best of the first-half possession, Moyes’s side were comfortable, Howard a virtual spectator.That changed nine minutes into the second half. Liverpool attacked with greater conviction and, moments after looping an ambitious effort over the bar, Gerrard drew his side level. Inevitably, it owed much to his re-established partnership with Torres. With Liverpool breaking forward, Gerrard’s flicked header found the Spaniard who controlled and then released his skipper on goal for a low shot that went through Howard at his near post. For once, Benitez had reason to be thankful for the intervention of an American.
The Everton goalkeeper was far more resourceful moments later when turning over a powerful Gerrard volley after neat interplay between Ryan Babel, Kuyt and Torres fashioned the opening. Despite ceding the initiative, Everton remained confident in their ability to soak up pressure and threaten on the counter-attack, despite neither Cahill nor a subdued Victor Anichebe having the same joy as six days earlier.
However, it was from one such rare forward sortie that the home side came close again, Everton’s defenders subsequently out of position as the ball broke down the other end and Gerrard fed Kuyt only for the Dutchman to shoot tamely at Howard.
Another dangerous pass from Gerrard found Torres but his goalbound effort was blocked by Phil Jagielka, and with that went Liverpool’s best chance of victory.
So the most-played tie in FA Cup history requires another game, this latest encounter maintaining the tradition of every Anfield meeting between the teams in this competition ending in a draw. Who has the final say, however, is still very much in the balanc
Liverpool 1, Everton 1: Threadbare but so brave
Jan 26 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
ANOTHER Anfield derby, another barbed attack from Rafa Benitez, another wedge driven into the relationship of these old rivals. Clearly irked that Everton considered defence the best form of attack in yesterday’s FA Cup fourth round tie, Benitez reacted similarly to the way he did after a goal-less draw at this ground in February 2007. But isn’t it funny how time distorts the memory? Correct us if we are wrong, but did Liverpool not reach the Champions League final in 2005 with a display in the semi-finals against Chelsea that saw them defending for their lives and nicking an early goal? Ever since Benitez’s fit of pique almost two years ago, the connection between him and David Moyes has deteriorated and you would never describe their relationship as being cordial; they don’t even look each other in the eye now when shaking hands. Moyes, though, is not going to get hung up about such an issue and his retort after being told that his team had played 90 minutes “with 10 players behind the ball” was one that will have left Evertonians deeply satisfied. “I didn’t come looking for a draw but I would have taken it at the end,” said Moyes, choosing his words carefully. “This (Liverpool) is a great football club but Everton do things with dignity and style.” Too true. While Anfield continues to be a circus, the machinations at boardroom level seeming as if they have been scripted by soap opera writers, the Toffees continue to try and make progress as quietly as they can. One wonders, however, what Benitez would have done had he been away from home, minus Fernando Torres, Robbie Keane and Dirk Kuyt, and had lost the services of his best player shortly before kick-off? But that was the conundrum Moyes had to find a solution to yesterday – no Ayegbeni Yakubu, Louis Saha, Marouane Fellaini or Mikel Arteta – and rather than make a song and dance about things, he simply got on with the task in hand. The news that had been swirling around the city for more than 24 hours was confirmed shortly before kick-off and was greeted with audible groans by every Blue harbouring hopes of winning on enemy territory: Arteta’s ribs had taken a battering. Given the influence he has had during what had hitherto been a seven-match unbeaten run, it was a crushing revelation. If it was not bad enough coming to Anfield without both senior strikers, losing the creator in chief was almost too much to bear.
It is no exaggeration to say that Arteta has been in his best run of form for nearly two years, showing a refreshing energy and drive in his performances that have shown once and for all he is over the injury which proved so traumatic But, to be blunt, there is no point worrying over the ones who can’t have an impact; better instead to channel your thoughts into those who are able to make a difference and, come kick-off, that was exactly the attitude the masses in the Anfield Road end adopted. And, given the type of game that ensued, he wasn’t exactly missed in the opening 45 minutes as a Blue wall erected in front of Tim Howard’s goal that sent out the challenge to Benitez’s men: “Break us down if you can”. They couldn’t. Despite making almost four times the amount of passes, Liverpool’s attempts to find the opening goal floundered as Phil Jagielka and Joleon Lescott hurled themselves into challenges, while the men on the flanks were equally doughty. If Leighton Baines was Everton’s star man in the Premier League meeting six days previously, Tony Hibbert took over his mantle here, seeing off any number of foes bedecked in Red. Whether Benitez had identified Hibbert as Everton’s weak link, only he will know but from the moment the 27-year-old got the better of an aerial duel with Ryan Babel inside the first 90 seconds, he never put a foot out of place. First Babel tried to run past him, when he failed Andrea Dossena had a go, Gerrard then took over before Torres tried to shuffle and shimmy his way around but all ended being shown up blind alleys; this was a full-back playing at the peak of his powers. Baines’ efforts on Monday were summed up by last-gasp blocks on Kuyt and Sami Hyppia, so it was fitting that Hibbert’s stellar moment was a tackle to deny Torres a certain goal in front of The Kop. He was outstanding, as were the men immediately to his left. Phil Jagielka once again showed why he must be considered the best English central defender in the country at present, while Lescott had his finest afternoon of the campaign to date. Commanding on the floor and in the air, Lescott was never found wanting in his battle with Torres and even found himself in the right place at the right time to divert Tim Cahill’s header past Pepe Reina to give Everton the lead. How he enjoyed the goal. It was an advantage that many believed they could defend but the second period was a completely different story, Liverpool raising the tempo from the first whistle and playing with a speed that would have flattened lesser teams. Gerrard, especially, was terrific and it was perhaps inevitable that he rustled up the equaliser, though not so inevitable was the manner in which it came; while the back heel that Torres sent him galloping clear with was sublime, Tim Howard’s efforts were not. So out of character; 999 times out of 1000, Howard would have saved Gerrard’s shot with his eyes closed but, unfortunately, this was the one that squirmed through his grasp. Happily he atoned moments later with an outstanding save to deny Liverpool’s captain.
Liverpool may feel aggrieved that they didn’t settle it on the day but Evertonians are equally wounded about Benitez’s latest observations. Hold on to your hats, then, for the final instalment.
DAVID PRENTICE: Rafa Benitez takes the bait to open up another derby day dispute
Jan 26 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
RAFA BENITEZ tried to bite his lip. He tried to keep his frustration bottled in. The Reds boss sat in front of a gallery of hacks and even said: “I will not talk about this because I know where you want to go.” But in the end he couldn’t quite help himself.
“Have you ever put 10 men behind the ball?” was the question that did it.
“At Valencia, never,” he snapped. “With Extremadura sometimes, but never with Valencia. “They had players missing, yes, but they did more or less the same on Monday.” And in that one frustrated phrase he opened up another derby day row.
In a one-sided second half Everton did park up the bus. “They even put the handbrake on and tossed away the key, before asking Liverpool: ‘Do you have the ingenuity to unlock the door?” One gloriously inventive moment apart, the answer was no.
But in the circumstances, could anybody really blame the Blues? Already deprived of three of their four front line strikers, and with a record signing sat suspended in the stands, they suffered another crushingly cruel blow on the eve of kick-off when in-form playmaker Mikel Arteta pulled out with bruised ribs. Everton overcame the most trying of circumstances to claim a moral victory. Then Benitez’s barb gave David Moyes the opportunity to grab the moral high ground, too. He did so impressively.
“Liverpool is a great football club,” he shrugged. “They have a great chance of winning the Premiership. But Everton do things with dignity and style.”
Liverpool are undoubtedly well placed for Premier League glory, but Wednesday week’s replay – sandwiched in between the visit of Chelsea and a trip to Portsmouth – will hardly help. Everton will relish the replay more. Their aspirations for silverware are based solely on the FA Cup, but a word of warning. While they were much the happier team with yesterday’s draw, Goodison Park has been the scene of some of Liverpool’s more convincing derby performances in recent years. This tie is still wide open, but Everton’s confidence is growing. They produced another impressive defensive display yesterday, even though they were effectively down to the bare bones. Segundo Castillo was the man selected to replace Mikel Arteta. It was hardly a like for like swop. Three times in the first half hour the Ecuador international passed the ball sloppily to a player in Red, although at least he found a player. On two further occasions he passed the ball straight into touch. But Everton still had their moments.
In the 26th minute Tim Cahill repeated his astonishing ability to lose markers inside the six-yard box. And once again Liverpool made a strange choice of man to pick him up. On Monday it was Riera, this time it was Alonso – and on both occasions the little Australian made them look like mugs. His header might even have found the corner of the Kop net on its own, before Joleon Lescott made absolutely certain with a telling close range header. Such was the excellence of Everton’s defending – Phil Jagielka excelled again under Fabio Capello’s watchful gaze and Phil Neville was an unsung hero – that Everton looked capable of grinding out yet another clean sheet.
But Steven Gerrard has the bit between his teeth these days and when Fernando Torres’ sublime backheel gave him a glimmer of an opening, he took a little American assisted advantage. The conundrum for Rafa Benitez to juggle with now, is whether both can possibly play in Wednesday week’s replay in between the testing Premier League assignments against Chelsea and Portsmouth. Graham Poll’s recently unearthed Rule 11 means that we might not even be looking forward to a third derby in a fortnight if both managers had agreed. The truth is, in a masochistic fashion, we kind of like these parochial set-tos. Yesterday’s showdown lacked the quality and late drama of Monday night’s clash, but then something similar happened way back in 1991. We could be set for fireworks again at Goodison Park.
Trip on Steven Pienaar was penalty raps Everton boss David Moyes
Jan 26 2009 David Prentice
DAVID MOYES believed his side’s second successive draw at Anfield might have been an even better result, had referee Steve Bennett had the courage to award a penalty in front of The Kop. Steven Pienaar had his heels clipped by Alvaro Arbeloa just five minutes into yesterday’s fourth round tie. And the Blues’ boss rapped: “I’ve seen it again and it’s a penalty kick. “I think late in the second half they gave one very similar on Dan Gosling when he tripped someone on the far side. I thought it was very similar to the penalty kick. “They gave a free-kick for that, but didn’t give the penalty for us. “The referee only has a chance to see it once, so it’s difficult for him. But I’ve had a second chance to look at it and he definitely catches his back leg. “The question has to be, would it be a penalty for Liverpool in front of The Kop? We didn’t get it.”
But overall Moyes was pleased with the chance to have another crack at the Reds, this time with possibly one or two reinforcements available. “I’m satisfied with the draw because it was a real tough game and we’ve been to Anfield twice in a week and got draws,” he said. “A lot’s been said that we wouldn’t be in the next round, but we’ve given ourselves a chance now. “We never came looking for a draw that’s for sure. I might have taken a draw in the end. But we look after our own business here. We do things with a bit of dignity at Everton. “In the end we got a good point in the league on Monday and we’ve taken a good side to a replay in the Cup, so from that point of view Everton can hold up their hands.” Moyes admitted that Liverpool’s leveller came from a rare Tim Howard mistake, but he also backed his American keeper.
“The goalkeeper was terrific and has been all season,” he added. “Yes they make mistakes sometimes, but we were a wee bit of a mess before that and there was also an exquisite bit of skill by Torres who backheeled the ball into Gerrard’s path, so sometimes you hold your hand up and accept that. “We’ve got players to come back and hopefully that will help us. We had Yakubu out and Saha out and Fellaini and Arteta who all could have helped us. I think Liverpool had all of their players over the two games available. “As you could see today, when we went one each there was very little we could do to try and find another way of getting a second goal. “We really didn’t have the physical capabilities within what we had. We’d have liked to, but we didn’t have it. “I still don’t think we’ll be favourites for the replay. You couldn’t class Everton as favourites at this moment in time, but what you do know is the players are extremely resilient. We’ve come here in two 90 minutes and made things very hard for a team which has high aspirations. “I was disappointed Liverpool got so much possession, but I have to say Liverpool played well at times. “But in the main I felt quite comfortable defensively – again Lescott, Jagielka, the goalkeeper did well – the boys are in good form and showed it. “We went 1-0 up at half-time and I said to the boys, the last seven games you haven’t conceded any goals, just go out and do it again in the second half and you’ll come in winners. But a goal was scored and we have to do it again.”
Everton v Liverpool FA Cup replay details
Jan 26 2009
EVERTON'S FA Cup fourth round replay against Liverpool will take place at Goodison Park on Wednesday, February 4 (8pm). The away game against Manchester United, originally planned for Monday, February 2, has also been rescheduled as a result of Sunday's 1-1 draw at Anfield and will now be played on Saturday, January 31 (Kick-off TBC). Tickets for the FA Cup replay against Liverpool go on sale from today. Sale arrangements are as follows: Today: On sale to STH's (to purchase their own seat) & Evertonia members. Tuesday (Jan 27): On sale to STH's (to purchase their own seat) & Evertonia. Wednesday (Jan 28): On sale to STH's (to purchase their own seat) & Evertonia members. After this date STH's seat will be released for the other groups. Thursday (Jan 29): On sale to displaced STH's (due to competition regulations, additional seating in sections of the Upper Bullens, Lower Bullens and Paddock will be allocated to the visiting support, so this day is exclusively for those STH's to buy an alternative seat).
Friday (Jan 30): On sale to supporters who have attended 6+ home games from this season.
Saturday (Jan 31): On sale to supporters who have attended 2+ homes games from this season.
Sunday (Feb 1): On sale to supporters who have attended 2+ homes games from this season (open from 10am until 4pm).
Monday (Feb 2): On sale to supporters who have attended 2+ homes games from this season (open from 10am until 4pm)
Tuesday (Feb 3): On sale to supporters who have attended 1+ homes games from this season.
Wednesday (Feb 4): On sale to supporters who have attended 1+ homes games from this season.
Tickets are priced at the usual Everton v Liverpool Premier League prices: £33-£39 per adult, £14-£18 per junior and £20-£22 per senior.
Season Ticket Holders who are subscribed to the Auto Cup scheme for home FA Cup matches should note that due to the short time scale, payment will be taken from Monday, January 26. Season Ticket holders are reminded that they can purchase their own seat via eTicketing, simply by logging on using their Customer number.
Season ticket holders are also reminded that when purchasing their own seat, their season ticket smartcard will be activated. Tickets will only be printed for those season ticket holders who are unable to purchase their own seat. The FA Youth Cup encounter between Everton and Norwich City has also been moved as a result of the FA Cup replay and will now take place at the Halton Stadium, Widnes, on Thursday, February 5.
Joleon Lescott: Don't blame Tim Howard - Everton latest
Jan 26 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
JOLEON LESCOTT today leapt to Tim Howard’s defence as he insisted Everton fully deserved their latest Anfield draw. Though Liverpool dominated possession in yesterday’s absorbing FA Cup tie, Lescott’s first half header had looked as if it was going to send the Blues into the fifth round draw. However, Steven Gerrard set up a Goodison Park replay on Wednesday week with a shot that squirted through the hands of the normally ultra-reliable Howard early in the second period. The American goalkeeper cut a desolated figure as he left Anfield but his team-mates were quick to rally around him, particularly Lescott, who made a point of extolling his virtues.
“Stevie is a world class player and any time he gets into the penalty area, there is going to be danger,” Lescott said. “Tim might feel disappointed but, shortly after that, he made a world class save from Stevie and you have to remember he’s been doing it all season. We certainly won’t be blaming him.” Lescott was Everton’s star performer yesterday, highlighted by his fourth goal of the campaign but it was his efforts at the other end of the pitch that were so eye-catching. Alongside Phil Jagielka, he kept Fernando Torres quite for long periods and was a little bit frustrated that the Blues never managed to see the game out “We were confident at half-time that we could hold on to the lead,” he said. “Our defensive play has been good but it wasn’t to be.
“They had a lot of possession but didn’t cause us too many problems. The first half was probably even but we knew it was going to take a massive effort in the second half. “We were quite resilient but they deserved their equaliser. We are confident at the minute. We are defending well as a team; it’s not just the back four. Everyone is doing their bit.” That ‘one for all, all for one’ attitude was epitomised by Segundo Castillo, who came in for the injured Mikel Arteta – a late absentee because of a rib problem – and ran himself to a standstill. “Mikel was a massive loss,” said Lescott. “He’s been a star for the club since long before I arrived here; it’s always a disappointment when you haven’t got him in the squad. “But Casty came in, did well and that’s what this squad is about. It was going to be tough whoever we had out there but Casty is an experienced international.” As for his goal, Lescott said: “I just wanted to try and cause a bit of panic.”
Marouane Fellaini back in spotlight for Arsenal's visit to Everton
Jan 27 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
MAROUANE FELLAINI will return to centre stage tomorrow with Phil Jagielka expecting a performance to make up for lost time. Everton’s club record signing was forced to sit out both his side’s trips to Anfield as he served a two-match suspension, but he is expected to come straight back for Arsenal’s visit to Goodison. With Mikel Arteta still struggling to overcome a rib injury, Fellaini’s availability could not have come at a better time for David Moyes, whose side are protecting an eight-match unbeaten run. Fellaini enjoyed arguably his best performance in a Blue shirt when scoring in the 2-0 win against Hull on January 10 and showed he is more attuned to the pace of the English game. That’s why Jagielka is hoping Fellaini can harness the exuberance which has seen him pick up 10 bookings to date and help inspire Everton to a win over Arsene Wenger’s men. “We’ve missed him for the two passionate games, but we’ll welcome him back for Arsenal and with a bit of luck he will perform really well,” said Jagielka, who continues in fine form. “He’s a young lad, he’s very enthusiastic and has played an important role for us in the past couple of months. It’s just a shame he hasn’t had a break from the referees. “It’s something he is going to have to learn to deal with. I think he is getting better and is learning about the English game all the time; maybe he will have to adapt his game a little bit more. “The physical side of his game is important. We bought him for that and that’s the type of style which really suits us. We are very much ‘up and at em’ and Felli plays a key role. to miss out but there will be plenty of other chances for him in the future and maybe this little break will have done him the world of good.” The sight of Fellaini in a Blue shirt is sure to be well received by supporters, who have taken the Belgian to heart and have even started wearing ‘afro’ wigs as a sign of their affection for him.
He was taken aback when first seeing them on the Gwladys Street but just hopes he can continue to repay that faith by helping Everton secure a return to Europe next season. “It all came down to hard work,” said Fellaini. “All you can do is give your best. I think I have given it my best shot and I will continue to do my best for the club.
“I don’t know if that’s the reason the fans have started wearing wigs. But it’s been nice to see the fans imitating me, it’s been a real boost. We want to keep getting good results. “We want to be in the top six at the end of the season and we need to keep winning games. “You only get victories by working hard.”
Special bond is pointer to Everton's bright future
Jan 27 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
WHEN Rafa Benitez was asked whether he’d ever sent out a team to play like Everton, he reacted sniffily. But there’s one aspect of Evertonian life the Reds boss would gladly copy. Robert Elstone was appointed Everton’s Chief Executive Officer last week, completing a three-man chain of high command which advertises admirable unity. The manager makes a transfer decision – and his chairman and chief exec try to facilitate it. No transatlantic phone calls subject to changing time zones, no split thinking on possible transfers, no accusations of dragging feet over identified targets.
It’s a model Elstone has been delighted to step into. "It’s very clear how it works here," he said. "Fundamentally there is an extremely close and effective working relationship between the chairman and the manager. "They speak – I was going to say daily – but it’s far more regularly than daily, especially during a transfer window. That relationship has stood the test of time and recent form, form over the past three or four years, has proven that it’s a partnership which works really well. "If it ain’t broke don’t try to fix it. So my role is to pick up where the chairman or the manager wants me to get involved, to move things along, to help facilitate things, make things work maybe quicker as and when required. And I’m comfortable with that role.
"What is very, very clear in the world of buying and selling players is that what is most important of all is clarity of decision making and speed of decision making. The more people who are involved in doing that, the more there are challenges to doing that. "What we have at Everton is a very clear and very strong relationship between chairman and manager and that works well." Of course problems arise when a chief executive wants greater influence. Keith Wyness’ sudden and still unexplained departure last summer has been attributed in some quarters to frustration at his lack of involvement in some areas of club policy. But Elstone offers reassuring words.
"I absolutely don’t feel like my nose is pushed out of joint," he declared. "I’m involved in transfers, of course I am, but our track record shows that we’re doing something right and my intention is to stick with that." Managerial stability has been one of the keywords of Everton’s Premier League progress in the millennium era.
But if the manager’s seat has been one of the safest in the country at Goodison Park, the Blues have stopped just short of installing a revolving door on the chief executive’s office. The 44-year-old graduate of Hull University is Everton’s fourth full-time CEO in five years, but Elstone’s words suggest he plans to be a more enduring club official. "I think that the reputation and status and profile of this club, on the field, grows week on week, month and month," he added. "The rest of the game looks at us and thinks in particular what David has achieved. There’s a great deal of respect and in some quarters a great deal of envy. "What I want to do is replicate that off the field. What I want to do is I want to be here in three, five years time, when this club is renowned and known with the same level of respect and credibility as it is currently on the field. "I don’t think we’re a million miles short of that. I’m a great believer in our Latin motto because only the best is good enough and that’s something I’m intent on driving through. "It’s something I’ve been striving for in the three-and-a-half years since I’ve been here and I’m confident I have the team around me that can live up to that. Where David is on the field I want to be, held in the same light, off the field." Clearly investment would help in that aim – but Elstone remains unconvinced that billionaire owners with deep pockets and cloudy principles is the only way forward. "Obviously that is one aspect of trying to bridge that funding gap, trying to find a new investor with very deep pockets," he added. "The other side of that coin, of course, is to grow our own operating revenue potential, which is stadium related, sponsorship related and retail related. "That’s probably the biggest priority of my job, to make sure that within the landscape we play in we optimise that revenue. That’s the big challenge. "Newcastle United in the five years up to 2006/07 had earned, I think, about £450m. Everton, in the same five year period, had earned £260m. That gap is pure spending power. Newcastle’s spending power has been double Everton’s – but you ask the question would they swop what Everton have done over the past five years and the answer is of course they would. "They’d bite our hands off. "But no, a new investor is not absolutely crucial. We have performed near the highest level for quite a number of years now based on where we are, but I think it will get harder and harder.
"The economics of the Premier League are changing all the time. It’s getting tougher and tougher to compete. I think I said at the EGM that there are two business models emerging. One is facility and fan base led. The other one is billionaire led. "If we find a billionaire, fantastic, if we don’t we go down the facility and fan base model which is Arsenal and Emirates, Man U and Old Trafford, packing 60 and 70 thousand in every week. "Kirkby can take us a long way towards that. But it would be nice to have both!"
We’re one of soccer’s Old Masters
EVERTON are one of the old masters of Premier League football. Which is why Robert Elstone insists that the Blues can’t just jump into bed with the first billionaire collector who shows an interest. “You have to find the right person and find someone who is in it for the long term and for the right reasons, someone who will cherish and protect the heritage and history of the club and look to expand upon that,” he explained. “That’s not always easy. “But I think Everton is an incredibly attractive investment opportunity. The Premier League is the best league in the world, there are only a few clubs within that Premier League who have genuine heritage and tradition, who have been around for the long term. “It’s almost like the world of masterpiece paintings where there were only so many of them ever made – and they become more coveted, and more scarce and their value grows and I think Everton is almost in that category of investment. “130-odd years ago there were a certain number of clubs made and there aren’t ever going to be any more so I think it is a valid analogy. “That gives me confidence in terms of attracting investment.” Elstone offers similar confidence that the future of Everton is in capable hands.
NIGEL MARTYN: Arsene Wenger’s right – hard work never hurt anyone
Jan 27 2009 by Nigel Martyn, Liverpool Echo
ARSENE WENGER is a man who is never afraid to speak his mind, and something he said at the weekend really registered with me. When asked whether he was worried that Arsenal faced a trip to Goodison Park so soon after facing Cardiff in the FA Cup, Wenger said: “Not at all – they are footballers. Shouldn’t they want to be playing football?” Excellent point, well made. Never mind the fact that limbs may be aching and fatigue might be setting in, it’s surely better to be involved in games, rather than being sat around or working overtime on the training ground. So while there is no doubt two tussles with Liverpool in the space of six days will have taken a bit out of Everton’s players, you can rest assured that they will be relishing the prospect of another massive occasion tomorrow night. The Blues were never better last season than when their fixture list was crammed. Each game seemed to bring steady improvement and I don’t think it’s any surprise that our performances since Christmas have followed a similar pattern. Arsenal are a fabulous footballing team, capable of passing the ball at bewitching speeds, but this season they have looked vulnerable on a number of occasions and they certainly won’t get things their own way here.
David Moyes has always enjoyed games with Arsenal at Goodison – maybe it had something to do with the heady occasion that Wayne Rooney’s first goal for the club induced. I remember one game three years ago when James Beattie bullied Sol Campbell and Phillipe Senderos into submission and scored the only goal, while 12 months later Andrew Johnson pounced in the dying moments to send us on the way to Europe. If we can remain as doughty and determined at the back as we have done in recent weeks, I believer we can cause them problems and the manager will be reminding his players what three points in the encounter could do for the season.
Arsenal are only a couple of points ahead of us, so why should we not be aiming to overhaul them before the end of May? There is no saying how far this never say die attitude will carry us and it would be brilliant if we can extend our unbeaten run into another game.
Howard anger shows he cares
WHILE the majority of Everton’s squad left Anfield in high spirits, Tim Howard was a noticeable exception to the rule. Understandably frustrated that he allowed Steven Gerrard’s drive to slip through his guard, he will have felt – like all goalkeepers do at some point – that he had let his team-mates down, but I actually think it’s a good sign when you see a player suffering. Why? It shows they care. Nothing infuriates more than seeing somebody laughing and joking after they have missed a chance or made a rick, so the fact Tim was upset is something that should strike a chord with all Blues.
He is a top class keeper whose praises I have sung many times, and that point was proved when he denied Gerrard a certain goal with an outstanding save shortly after – had the error affected him, I doubt he would have got a hand to it. We’ve all felt after games “what if I’d done that instead” but, to look at things from another viewpoint, Tim could have saved the one that got away and we may have still ended up getting beaten by three or four goals. He shouldn’t lose any sleep over one minor blip.
Everton shirts for Ethiopia
Jan 27 2009 by Tina Miles, Liverpool Echo
FOOTBALL fans in Ethiopia are now proudly wearing shirts donated by Everton FC.
Members of Everton’s Former Players Foundation promised to help the shirts campaign after seeing the work done by ex-Liverpool midfielder John Barnes.
As part of the Score Ethiopia campaign, Barnes went on a week-long van dash around every Premier League club, including Goodison and Anfield. He was presented with signed shirts which were auctioned to raise funds for football facilities, schools and water amenities. The 500 blue and gold tops donated by the Former Players Foundation were delivered to the Ethiopian town of Lalibela. The Rev Harry Ross, a foundation trustee, said: “When we read the story in the ECHO about John’s activities and spoke to Graeme Sharp, who presented the shirt to John, we knew instantly it was a campaign we wanted to help out with. “I would like to think we put a few smiles on faces in Ethiopia.”
David Moyes: 'Let's close gap on Arsenal' - Everton latest
Jan 28 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES today challenged his players to take their biggest scalp of the season as he revealed the secret of Everton’s recent success – hard work. The Blues have had a demanding schedule since the middle of December but, despite being down to the bare bones, have flourished during an eight game unbeaten run. They will bid to extend that sequence tonight when Arsenal arrive at Goodison Park and though this contest comes just 72 hours after a hard fought 1-1 draw against Liverpool, Moyes believes the squad are thriving. He can see parallels with last year, when Everton had to juggle the demands of playing in Europe with the Premier League and Carling Cup, and believes they can raise their game again to take three points off the Gunners.
“The run we have had has been the best preparation for the Arsenal game,” said Moyes, who knows a win tonight can cut the deficit between the side to two points.
“But when you play the top teams you know you have to play every well and be disciplined if you are going to win the game. “The regular games in the UEFA Cup last year worked for us . It made us play better. In these situations you find you are only recovering and preparing for games. “I don’t see any signs of tiredness among the players. I see them growing in confidence. I see lots of self-belief and the recent run of results has helped that.” Marouane Fellaini will return to the starting line-up after serving a two-game ban, while Mikel Arteta has, according to Moyes, a “50-50” chance of recovering from the rib injury that forced him to miss Sunday’s FA Cup tie at Anfield. After tonight’s game – for which tickets are still available – Everton then face Manchester United and Liverpool but he is not worried about having to get his players up for the big occasions. “I’ll be more concerned how we are after we come out of this period,” said Moyes. “We are very focused at the moment and the level of games helps focus the mind. “This group of players are on top of the ground, standing up in the saddle. They have attempted to gain something and have given their maximum in every game. “Arguably the way we are playing now is better than last season when for long period we were in fourth place and ended up finishing fifth.
“But I think our best season was when we finished fourth. That’s the standard I need to reach again and one that I have to drag the team kicking and screaming to make sure we get there again if we can.”
Joleon Lescott: Rock-solid Everton defence can halt star strikers
Jan 28 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
FIRST Emmanuel Adebayor, then Dimitar Berbatov with Fernando Torres to round things off; the strikers set to face Everton in the next seven days reads like a who’s who of European football. For some defenders, the prospect of coming up against talent with a value of more than £100m would induce sleepless night and trigger bouts of nerves but, rather than cower at the thought, Joleon Lescott is rubbing his hands with glee. Europe may have been off Everton’s agenda since last October yet a run of games against Arsenal, Manchester United and an FA Cup replay with Liverpool has added an exciting dimension to a campaign which has suddenly gathered pace.
Should David Moyes’ side negotiate this sequence without defeat, talk of rubbing shoulders with the continent’s best next year will increase but if that is going to happen, Everton’s defenders are going to have a big role to play. Outsiders may think it is beyond the realms of possibility for Everton to shut out the attacking talents of three clubs which regularly compete in the Champions League but it is a challenge Lescott and Company will embrace. Having recently racked up a tally of 607 minutes without conceding a goal, the Blues’ back four has been in fine working order, particularly Phil Jagielka and Lescott, both of whom were colossal in Sunday’s 1-1 draw. Their respective performances are sure to have struck a chord with the watching England manager Fabio Capello and if they maintain such consistency, they are sure to be in the Italian’s squad for the friendly against Spain in Seville next month.
That, though, is for the future and Lescott’s immediate priority is to help Everton keep another clean sheet against The Gunners at Goodison Park tonight, which would strengthen their position in the top six. “The time we have played together means we are all getting a better understanding of one another’s game,” he said. “We know each others strengths and weaknesses. It would be nice if we could get into the squad, hopefully we have done enough to get in there. “Our defensive play has been good of late and we are very resilient; we thought we could have hung onto the lead on Sunday but, unfortunately, one bit of magic (Fernando) Torres got them through and it was the one time Liverpool scored. “There are some massive games coming up but we are confident that we can hold out in them. And we are showing good things going forward too – we have got Tim (Cahill) and Victor (Anichebe) in good form and Marouane Fellaini to come back in as well. “We have never doubted ourselves in the big games and we showed against Liverpool that we can cope. It’s hard not to stay focused when the games we have coming up are so big and have so much riding on them. “Every team you come up against has world class players, you know you have got to be on your mettle to stop them. We are confident going into every game and we’ll believe again that we can get a result.” Had Everton been playing with the belief they have shown during the past six weeks when they went to the Emirates Stadium in October, there is every reason to believe they would have headed home from the capital with three points. Leon Osman’s opportunistic strike early in the first half was scant reward for the way Everton took the game to Arsene Wenger’s men but rather than building on that advantage in the second period, they collapsed and were ultimately beaten 3-1. It was an experience, though, that Lescott says the players have learned from and he hopes in the coming weeks and months the Blues will be able to show a new maturity to their play by seeing important contests out. “That’s probably been the difference between ourselves and the top four,” said Lescott. “We can sustain pressure but they have been doing it for years. If they go a goal down, it doesn’t affect their play. “We have got to try and get that ruthlessness into our game. If we do that, I’m sure we can challenge them. We are confident. We are defending well as a team; it’s not just the back four. All the lads in front of us are doing their bit.”
While Arsenal and Manchester United are massive contests in their own right, the final part of the trilogy with Liverpool casts a shadow over both these next two fixtures and, not surprisingly, it has been the subject of much chatter in the dressing room. But David Moyes will not allow his squad to lose their focus and Lescott has promised that all thoughts of taking what might be the next step on the road to Wembley will be put to the back of everyone’s mind until the appropriate time.
“Derby games are massive occasions,” he said. “For the clubs, for the city and for supporters and we have got two massive games before that but I’m sure when the replay comes around, our fans will be ready for it.”
* Joleon Patrick Lescott grew up as an Aston Villa fan.
* He was involved in a mid-air terrorist alert en route to a post-9/11 New York.
* At the age of five, he was knocked over by a car and nearly died.l His choice of song at the traditional pre-season initiation ceremony for new signings was Oasis’ Wonderwall.
* Lescott recorded the Premier League’s best goals to shots ratio last season of 42.1%, way ahead of the Premier League's next best – Yakubu, with 28.3%.
Everton 1, Arsenal 1: Blues' dejection after Robin van Persie nicks point
Jan 29 2009 by Nick Smith, Liverpool Daily Post
IT’S not just the late January mist swirling around Goodison Park that can lead to you losing your focus and seeing things in a slightly different perspective.
The gut reaction to last night’s result for Everton? Heartbreaking. The final minute of stoppage time was barely seconds old when Robin van Persie swooped to rescue a season-changing point. After all, Tim Cahill’s header had put Everton seconds away from closing the gap on Arsenal to two points. The fact that it remains at five now makes the top five a tough ask even for a team who have made overturning odds second nature in this campaign. It’s perhaps the lowest you could possibly feel about holding Arsenal to a draw. But then look at it another way. Setbacks against the Gunners are easily overcome in these parts. The 4-1 opening day defeat at Goodison hardly set the tone for a 2004/05 season that would yield Champions League qualification and last season’s repeat of that scoreline didn’t disrupt Everton’s path to fifth. Although the same can’t be said of last night’s result given the gap that now exists between David Moyes’s men and the top five, the result and performance shouldn’t lead to anyone taking it out of context. Because it doesn’t change the fact the signs of progress and promise are, like the fog, swirling around Goodison.
And there’s no obscured vision going on – because the qualities that have come to the fore to somehow inspire another push towards European qualification are clear for all to see. This season, it’s obvious they have added another one – an ability to compete over 90 minutes with the teams above them. “It’s amazing how far you’ve come when you’re disappointed to only have taken a point against Arsenal,” Moyes observed afterwards. This was the fourth successive league game in which Everton have avoided defeat against teams recently, but thankfully no longer, known as the ‘big four’. Those match-ups are still the best barometer for measuring your own standing in the English game and four straight draws with Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and now Arsenal suggests Moyes has finally closed the gulf in class.
Agonisingly, he was just seconds away from his first success over any of the Champions league elite since a 1-0 win in this corresponding fixture in March 2007. But last season those clashes brought a solitary, miserable one point from a possible 24 – so at least they are going in the right direction. As do most connections Cahill makes with the ball inside the penalty area. Maybe Moyes should rethink his idea to stick the Australian up front for the remainder of this season – the way he’s going, he should be kept there for the rest of his career. Shorn of strikers, most managers would seek out sympathy – Moyes just seeks out the player who represents the best bit of business he’s ever done. Cahill’s strike was the fourth of his spell as a lone centre-forward and 100 career goals is an impressive landmark for any midfielder yet to reach his 30th birthday. But those who marvel at Everton’s achievements in light of the lack of forwards are looking at the wrong end of the field. It’s at the back where they are now most formidable and after leaking 20 goals in the first 10 games of the campaign, there’s belts in this recession that haven’t been tightened as drastically since. You get the feeling that, such is the dominance of Phil Jagielka and the way it has rubbed off on Joleon Lescott alongside him, it will only take something special to get past them. And in fact, it has – Steven Gerrard was the only player to breach the blue backline in eight games before last night, and van Persie’s effortless chest-down to elude Jagielka before smashing the ball past Tim Howard certainly falls into that category. Which doesn’t make it any easier to take. Moyes was disappointed that his players didn’t close down Arsenal quickly enough in the build-up but he can’t complain about the way his players made them look so ordinary throughout the previous 92 minutes. But Everton have lost none of their last nine matches and that run has provided the platform for another top-six finish. For once, Moyes was actually able to name a strengthened squad rather than a depleted one, with Mikel Arteta recovering from a rib injury and Marouane Fellaini available again following the suspension that kept him out of both derbies. Given the satisfactory outcome of both of those Anfield encounters, the Belgian wasn’t really missed, but there’s little doubt that his menacing presence gives his side an extra dimension going forward.
The catch in the deal to make him the club’s record signing is, of course, his disciplinary record. Referees don’t write his name in the book, they use a stamp.
But what stands out, apart from the sound microphone that passes for a hairstyle, is that Fellaini undoubtedly makes Everton look more like a team going out to win a game. Rafa would be pleased. They certainly started the brighter in a game that was primarily midfield battle high on industry but low on ingenuity.
Everton’s first opening of the game was carved out from a now familiar source, Baines sweeping in one of those low crosses to the near post, where Johan Djourou slid in to deny Fellaini a decisive touch. But it sparked a brief spell of pressure and subdued an Arsenal attack that took 33 minutes to create its first sight of goal, with van Persie volleying over Samir Nasri’s cross. The surging van Persie also threatened at the start of his second half, as he teed up Denilson for a clear shooting chance, which he ballooned way over the bar. Early in the second half Cahill pounced on a loose ball, evaded Djourou, but could only hit the side netting – but when the Australian gets a feel for the where the goal is, it’s never too long before he invariably finds it. And just past the hour mark that’s exactly what he did. Steven Pienaar laid the ball out to Baines and his lofted ball in was ideal for Cahill to leap towards and direct into the far corner. With Everton tails up, Osman cut inside form the right and curled one narrowly wide then Cahill went looking for more as he slammed the ball into Almunia’s chest. At this stage, it appeared that if the game would see a second goal, 2-0 would be a far more likely outcome than 1-1. Arsenal lacked inspiration in their search for an equaliser, with Adebayor looking off colour and Tim Howard easily dealing with a succession of hopeful pumps into his penalty area.
But the last one, from Abou Diaby, proved fatal. Van Persie, just as he did against Liverpool last month, showed immaculate chest control to take the ball away from Jagielka and he volleyed in to inflict more Merseyside misery.
Everton 1, Arsenal 1: Pain game can lift Blues to greater glory
Jan 29 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
IF the maxim of needing to experience pain to understand pleasure is true, a pick-me-up of enormous proportions must surely await David Moyes and his players.
Nothing can be said or done today to soothe the aching that every Evertonian has felt since Robin van Persie slammed a 92nd minute equaliser past Tim Howard last night and it is unlikely the anger and frustration will have subsided by tomorrow, either.
Nor should it. Football, like life, is often so unfair and it was a travesty that Everton did not come away from an enthralling contest against Arsenal with three points in safe keeping; in many ways, it as if David Moyes’ men were beaten.
Arsenal have long been one of the four teams that the other 16 in the Premier League have aspired to be but, for long periods here, they were given the runaround by an Everton side that looked much more realistic contenders for a Champions League spot. Maddeningly, the victory that should have ensued was snatched away by the one flash of genuine magic that Arsene Wenger’s players were able to conjure up and it keeps them five points clear of the Blues in the table. The bitter irony of it all, however, is the fact that the stress all are feeling at present is actually a good thing; being disappointed with a draw after outplaying a fine footballing ensemble is a signal that genuine progress is being made. With a bit more experience and the right additions to the squad, there is no reason why Everton cannot be regular challengers for a place in the top four in years to come and who is to say it won’t happen this year? Have a look at the teams who currently lie ahead of Everton in the standings – all bar Manchester United and Aston Villa have serious problems and more twists before May 24 seem inevitable, which begs the question: can Moyes and Company take advantage? On this latest evidence, you would have to say ‘why not?’; there is a swagger and energy about their play once more, they have one of the most dependable defences in the country and players who can decide encounters by sprinkling stardust when it matters.
What may ultimately stop Everton is a shortage of bodies, a naivety in certain situations and the inability to make significant investment in the playing staff during this window.
Hard work is not, as yet, hurting them but one wonders what might happen come the middle of April, say, if the same group has been playing week after week and suddenly they hit a brick wall, just like last season.
Should Moyes be able to freshen things up by bringing in a loan or two by next Monday – though the chances of that happening are ebbing away – it would allow him the ‘luxury’ of having options if some start to flag. Counting on new arrivals, though, would not be wise – the market, for starters, is not geared towards helping clubs without reservoirs of cash – and one thing Everton could do in the meantime to improve their prospects is stopping making the odd mistake. Complaining after a Herculean effort may seem churlish but the brutal truth is that van Persie would not have had the chance to score if Steven Pienaar had not frittered possession away so cheaply or if Victor Anichebe had put pressure on Abou Diaby. As was the case against Villa, a fatal switch off by two individuals in the dying seconds has had enormous repercussions and it was no wonder Moyes headed home smouldering rather than smiling; he knew his defence deserved a clean sheet. It would be wrong to say this was a cathartic experience for Phil Jagielka as – with the exception of that errant back pass against Villa – he has been Everton’s top performer by some distance this campaign. But Arsenal, remember, were the opposition for arguably the most chastening 45 minutes of his career on Merseyside, as last season’s game on home soil saw him slip, slide and slither during a second half when Everton conceded four times. Happily, there was no chance of a repeat here. Strong as an ox, intelligent in his positional play and sensibly choosing the moments he either went in gung-ho or jockeyed for position, Jagielka was imperious throughout. Emmanuel Adebayor is no slouch but he was never given a look in, something William Gallas also discovered when Jagielka buffeted him out of a dangerous position in first half stoppage time.
Each passing minute saw Jagielka and the equally impressive Joleon Lescott grow in stature, dominating Wenger’s forwards with a relentless workrate that was mimicked by Phil Neville, Leighton Baines and Tim Cahill to name but three. Some supporters will have turned up wondering whether two battles at Anfield had taken too much out of the Toffees but, as Moyes had predicted beforehand, such worries were allayed from the first whistle, with Cahill helping set the tone. Many words have been written on these pages about the Australian, ranging from the fee that was paid to Millwall for his services, the value he has given, his importance to this team and the goals he has scored down the years. After a bullet header from Leighton Baines’ cross that brought his career tally to 100, it is worth re-emphasising the contribution he has made these past two months; Cahill has, quite simply, been a colossus, epitomising all that is good about Everton. Maybe if he had not hobbled off with an ankle problem – prayers were immediately offered to a higher place that all his metatarsals remained intact – things may have been different, as Cahill would surely have hustled and harried Diaby in the dying seconds. No doubt he will be feeling a little tender at present but the whack on his foot can be cured with ice, injections and bandages; the only way the pain van Persie inflicted is by winning a big game. Saturday or next Wednesday, then, would do nicely.
EVERTON (4-5-1): Howard; Hibbert, Jagielka, Lescott, Baines; Osman, Arteta, Neville, Fellaini, Pienaar; Cahill (Anichebe 86).
ARSENAL (4-4-2): Almunia; Sagna (Eboue 72), Gallas, Djourou, Clichy; Nasri, Denilson, Song (Bendtner 72), Diaby; Van Persie, Adebayor.
Goals - Cahill (61), Van Persie (90 +2)
Bookings - Diaby (27), Nasri (36), Hibbert (77)
Attendance - 37,097
Referee - Andre Marriner
David Moyes pays tribute to stars of Everton’s defence
Jan 29 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
ROBIN VAN PERSIE may have broken Evertonian hearts last night but David Moyes refused to dwell on the moment a priceless victory was snatched from his hands.
The Arsenal striker’s sensational volley in the dying seconds rescued a point that his team scarcely deserved and left Moyes shattered. But while Everton’s manager was left thinking what might have been after the 1-1 draw at Goodison Park, he was also clearly proud of his players’ efforts. With better fortune and sharper concentration, the Blues would have been celebrating their most significant win of the season today but Moyes is content with their progress. “It doesn’t feel too good but I have to look at how well the team have played throughout the game – I thought they were excellent,” said Moyes. “We deserved the three points but I have to give Arsenal credit as they kept going. I’m angry that we conceded the goal, as I thought we had a chance to keep the ball. “But we gave it away and it led to them scoring. There were also moments after that when we could have done better as well. “I’m disappointed because of how hard the players worked; they had earned the victory and it was another chance for them to show how far they have come. “They did that. What it doesn’t do, though, is reflect on the league table. We should really have another two points on our total. But I have got to say well done to the boys.” There were suggestions after the match that Tim Cahill, Everton’s goalscorer, had suffered a serious injury but Moyes was quick to allay fears “The injury doesn’t look bad,” said Moyes, who confirmed the Australian was due to be checked out at Finch Farm today. “He’s just taken a kick on his foot.” Cahill – whose thumping second half header past Manuel Almunia brought up a century of career goals – was one of many in a Blue shirt to excel. Aside from the Australian, Phil Jagielka and Joleon Lescott never put a foot out of place to leave Moyes nodding his head in approval of their contribution. “I thought Lescott and Jagielka were out of this world,” he said. “Their performances were outstanding and the standards they have set are so high. “But it has got to be like that because of the calibre of player they are coming up against. “We are disappointed we have drawn with Arsenal and that shows you where we have come from. We played well, passed the ball and limited them to very few chances.”
Ian Snodin’s place in Everton fans’ affections
Jan 29 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
IT is the title nobody wants but which will ultimately be given to one unfortunate soul – the worst player in Everton’s history. While we could fill the pages of this publication many times over with a list of Goodison Park’s great and good, there is also reason for believing the same could be done with a rogue’s gallery – those who have left supporters covering their eyes in disbelief. So it begs the question: Who would you bestow the title on? Per Kroldrup is one with genuine claims, as his short stay on Merseyside in 2005 could best be described as ‘wretched,’ and Brett Angell is another sure to command a high percentage of votes. Glenn Keeley, of course, would be right in the mix, as would Bernie Wright, while supporters of a certain age may put Albert Juliussen forward – if you are unaware, he blamed the “north west air” as the reason he struggled in the 1950s. But Ian Snodin? Surely not. A key member of Everton’s last title-winning side, the affable Yorkshireman spent eight years at Goodison and to this day is still revered by supporters for his wholehearted commitment and willingness to run the extra mile. Had you tuned into Radio City last Saturday afternoon for Snodin’s ‘Terrace Talk’ show, however, you could easily have been left speechless and/or eager to contact the editor of a well known football magazine following one particular segment. For those of you who don’t know, Snodin’s co-host, Ian St John, brought up the contentious subject of best and worst players and proceeded to allegedly read out a page from ‘FourFourTwo’ that was centric to the Blues. Best, it is no surprise to learn, was Dixie Dean. But there were gasps all around when Snodin was supposedly revealed as the man who was the pits. Not surprisingly, the show was inundated with messages complaining – but all was not as it seemed. “When ‘The Saint’ read that out I was thinking to myself, ‘hang on, that’s a bit much,’ and started trying to think of who might have been worse than me. I could even name a few I played with down the years!” said Snodin, taking up the tale.
“It was only about ten minutes later, though, that it eventually became clear that it was a wind up. Someone in the office had mocked up the page and it looked absolutely brilliant, so they got me hook, line and sinker. Put it this way, I’d have been gutted if it was real.” No wonder. Snodin, signed by Howard Kendall in January 1987 from Leeds United in a deal that cost the Blues £840,000, was held in the highest esteem on the Gwladys Street from the moment he put pen to paper, as he turned down the chance to join Liverpool. That popularity was cemented over the course of the next five months, as he made a significant contribution to helping Everton win their ninth league title – his ‘never-say-die’ attitude and tough tackling in midfield hitting the right notes.
Easy to see, then, why he loved the cut and thrust of derby matches so much, and events over the past month in the Premier League and FA Cup have left him aching to pull on his boots once more to savour the experience.
“They were such fabulous occasions,” said the 45-year-old, who is universally known as ‘Snods’. “Everything about them, the build up, the banter, and everyone loved being involved in them. When I first joined Everton, we were the two best teams in Europe.
“Things have obviously changed since then, not least between the squads. The Liverpool and Everton lads used to meet up for drinks during midweek and we were all good friends, as you either lived out in Southport or over on the Wirral.
“But that made things all the more ferocious when we were on the pitch with each other, as the competition was so intense. You could get away with much more in terms of tackling, as there weren’t so many cameras as there are now. “I remember the first derby match I played in. The first 19 minutes, all I did was run around – I know that as I asked the referee how long had gone. A minute later, my first meaningful involvement was a thigh high tackle from Steve McMahon. “That was what it was all about. No matter what went on during the game, you knew you would meet up for a few drinks in the bar afterwards and everything would be forgotten. It’s so much different now.” Midfield may have been the area where he made his name but it was as a marauding right-back that he really flourished. Such was the progress he made in that position that Bobby Robson called him into the England squad for a friendly against Greece in 1989. Unfortunately, injury forced him to pull out of that game and a serious hamstring problem eventually became the bane of his life. Several operations forced him to miss the 1991-92 season. Clearly, with better fortune, he would have made far more than 201 appearances for the Blues before leaving for Oldham in 1995. But Snodin, who is a regular at Goodison on match days, is not the type of person who will dwell on ‘what ifs’. He simply considers himself blessed to have played for a club such as the Blues and has no cause for regret. “People often ask me whether I made a mistake joining Everton rather than Liverpool. But every time I tell them the same thing – no chance,” said Snodin. “I’m sure I would have loved Liverpool if I’d gone there, but Everton was the one for me. “That’s just the way it was. I had a brilliant time there as a player and I took the club to my heart. I’d like to think that supporters always felt I gave 100 per cent.” And they would never think of him as Everton’s worst. DONNY’ TIE WOULD BE DREAM CLASH
THE draw for the FA Cup’s fifth round has thrown up a number of ifs, buts and maybes, and Ian Snodin hopes the equations will throw up a dream tie for him.
Should Everton knock Liverpool out, they will host either Aston Villa or Doncaster Rovers and Snodin is making no secret where his colours will be nailed to.
“The ideal scenario sees Everton play ‘Donny’ and, please God, that will happen,” said Snodin, whose career began at Belle Vue. “It is going to be tough against Liverpool and I still think they will be favourites. But after the last two performances, I’ve got confidence that we’ll do it at Goodison. “I was a bit disappointed with some of Rafa Benitez’s comments, but what did he want us to do? Attack and lose 4-1? It should make things interesting next week.” Like so many Evertonians, Snodin has been pleased with the club’s progress and believes everything is geared towards a top six finish. “The most impressive thing has been everyone’s determination to battle for one another,” said Snodin. “David Moyes has done a terrific job.”
Ian Snodin factfile
Date of birth: Rotherham,August 15 1963
Clubs: Doncaster Rovers, Leeds United, Everton, Sunderland (loan) Oldham Athletic, Scarborough, Doncaster Rovers
Everton appearances: 201
Everton goals: 7
Honours: League Championship 1987, 1 England ‘B’ cap, 4 England Under-21 caps.
The Jury: Everton fans on the Blues recent progress
Jan 29 2009 Liverpool Echo
David Wallbank, Huyton
EVERTON were very unlucky not to take all three points last night, and I hope the players aren’t too downbeat. The Blues kept possession well and passed the ball with confidence. Hibbert looked fantastic and brimmed with buoyancy, and as usual Jags and Lescott were solid. The whole team did a solid job, but just lacked maybe a final cutting edge. Only a slight lapse in concentration cost Everton the win that not even Wenger would complain against. I won’t bemoan the referee but Diaby, who played the ball through for the Van Persie goal, shouldn’t have been on the pitch after he was kindly let off what should have been a red card by Andre Marriner. I just wonder if Fellaini would have been showed such leniency. The Blues go to Old Trafford next and a win there would in fact be a dream for both sets of fans on Merseyside.
Debbie Smaje, Upholland
IT’S a sign of how well Everton are playing when you’re so disappointed to draw with Arsenal. For the first half last night, a draw looked very likely, as neither team really took control or threatened the opposition keeper. But we came out flying in the second half and Tim Cahill’s 100th club goal looked a deserved winner. But when Robin Van Persie takes one down like that, he doesn’t often miss. The biggest worry is Cahill’s injury. As shown again last night, he is a talisman. He scores crucial goals at crucial times and most importantly, given the run of fixtures we’re in the middle of, he has a knack of scoring against the big four. Hopefully he will be fit and his substitution was a precaution, as it will already be a tough task to score against a seemingly unbeatable United defence on Saturday even if he does play.
Richard Knights, West Derby
I WAS waiting in anticipation for the Arsene Whinger press conference. “We vere kicked off the park… we had no protection… we can still win the League.” Delusions, visions and hallucinations. Then suddenly in a flash, at the death, a draw snatched from the jaws of victory. Like one of those slow motion traffic accidents where time seems suspended, the ball in the net. Staring in disbelief, mouths gaping, hands clasped to heads, total silence, tumbleweed blowing across the pitch, the bell tolling, Jags collapsed in a heap. Even the Park End had stayed to the bitter end.
Let’s remember. Without Yobo, Fellaini, Arteta, Yakubu, Saha, Vaughan and now Cahill, through injury and suspension, the squad have battled their way through against the best. A team built on a shoestring budget with no ‘big stars’, a team that plays for each other.
MICHAEL DRUMMOND, Speke
WHEN it comes to comparing Everton to the rest of the league, I consider ourselves, in my opinion, as a top six side. AFTER last night, I definitely see Everton as genuine contenders for a top six finish. Five years ago, if someone said, would you take a draw at home against Arsenal, i would have taken their hand off! We have improved so much! So much as to consider that drawing with Arsenal is like a defeat!
There was no defying our defensive capabilities. Lescott and Jagielka were yet again outstanding, as were Hibbert and Baines. To earn a fully-deserved draw with a team like Arsenal just proves the point about how far Everton have come as a team and a unit. If only we could have kept possession in injury time it would be a different story and an even better result. Sadly, that was not meant to be, and we tried to be fancy in the last few minutes. I wish we had the ability to finish games off. There has so often been the opportunity for us to make sure in games, but it has not been taken.
End of an era for ex-Everton and Real Madrid star Thomas Gravesen
Jan 29 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
THOMAS GRAVESEN hung up his boots this week – just eight months after his 149th and final appearance for Everton. The Danish international, still only 32, said: “I have had 12 fantastic years playing football in four different countries, and if I could, I would do it all again. “But I have accepted that it is the right thing for me to end my career, before age and possible poor health force me to do so.”
Still described as “combative” in many retirement reports, the Dane was never the tough-tackling holding player he was often portrayed as being, but was a skilful playmaker of often under-rated ability. He was signed by Everton from Hamburg in the summer of 2000 for a bargain £2.5m, but despite proving a popular and influential figure, it was still a shock when Real Madrid snapped him up for £2m midway through Everton’s successful 2004/05 season. He later moved on to Celtic, before coming back to Goodison on a 12-month loan in the summer of 2007, but his pace had been eroded and he was a peripheral figure. His most significant impact was when he was introduced in the final minute of the UEFA Cup tie with Fiorentina purely to take a penalty in the looming shoot-out. He scored. Although Gravesen had been linked with a return to his original club, Superligaen side Vejle BK, the player’s agent John Sivebæk explained: “It would have taken a lot for Thomas to get back to his top level.” Gravesen had two seasons with his home-town team Vejle between 1995 and 1997 before spending three years in the Bundesliga at Hamburger SV.
Everton snapped him up following Euro 2000 before his move to Madrid.
He won the league title with Celtic in 2007.
watched Dixie Dean hit 60, but Everton's 1930s heroes were best
Jan 28m 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
JOHN NORMAN will take his place in the Bullens Road Stand tonight when Everton face Arsenal ... 81 years after he first watched the same two sides lock horns!
A lifelong Blue, from Crosby, John celebrated his 90th birthday this month, and still remembers his first ever visit to Goodison Park – although it would be a shock if he’d forgotten it. “It was the match when Dixie Dean scored his 60th league goal,” he explained. “I was only nine and my uncle and my dad took it in turns to put me on their shoulders. “I only have a vague recollection of the game now, but I do remember being puzzled when Dean went off before the final whistle and asking my dad where he’d gone. “I actually went over to the Dublin Packet pub to meet him years later, where he was landlord, and was surprised when he signed my photo “Dixie Dean” because I’d always heard he disliked the nickname.” As a veteran of most of the great sides to have graced Goodison, John is perfectly placed to give his opinion on which was the best. Asked to choose between Howard Kendall’s all-conquering side of the 1980s, Harry Catterick’s School of Science of the 60s or the goalscoring galacticos of the 1930s, he responds instantly. “The best Everton side for me was the one which played from 1930 through to the outbreak of war,” he declared. “They were a top class team then. We had won the league in 1928 scoring more than 100 goals, then got relegated. No-one could believe it. “But we came straight back up and marmalised everyone. “George Green used to do cartoons in the Echo and that season he had one which depicted Everton as a tank and called them ‘the Everton scoring machine’.
“We scored nine against Plymouth, nine against Southport in the FA Cup and seven against Charlton home and away! “The next year we won the league. Then we won the FA Cup. We also won the league at the end of the 1930s and held it for six years when War broke out. “There were great players like Ted Sagar, Ben Williams, Warney Cresswell and TG Jones. Joe Mercer was a wonderful player who was never away from Dixie Dean’s house. Then there was Ted Critchley, Tommy Johnson, Jackie Coulter. “It was a great side. I used to watch them from the Boys Pen, then I moved to the Gwladys Street when I got older. “In the 1950s they introduced a season ticket for the enclosure and I got one there and have had one for years. “When I became a pensioner the reduction in price was such that I would have been foolish not to have taken it up so I moved to the Bullens Road. “Back in the Gwladys Street days it was all standing, but you could walk to the same spot every home game, put a chalk spot down and the next week you’d be on exactly the same spot – with the same people around you every match. “But while that was my greatest Everton team, it wasn’t my greatest match. That was definitely the FA Cup final of 1966. We’d got to Wembley without conceding a goal then went 2-0 down. So to come back and win was incredible.” If John is single-minded about his best-ever Blues side, he also had no doubts about his most disappointing moment as an Evertonian. “The Clive Thomas derby,” he raps straightaway. “I had Liverpudlian work mates who couldn’t tell me why Bryan Hamilton’s goal was disallowed. “Clive Thomas couldn’t tell us. He just kept saying ‘an infringement occurred’. He still hasn’t told us why. “I read Tommy Smith in the Echo the other night say that he hated Clive Thomas because he was the only referee to send him off. I think Evertonians hated him more though. “The 1953 semi-final when we trailed Bolton 4-0, Tommy Clinton missed a penalty and we got it back to 4-3 was a bad day, too.” John celebrated his 90th anniversary with a surprise birthday party at his local pub, The Vic in Waterloo – and there was a surprise guest, too. “Gordon West came along to wish me happy birthday,” he said. “It was great to see him again, although I told him off for letting Liverpudlians wind him up with those handbags!” He was also a guest of the Blues at the Hull City match, and after 81 years watching the action, John was invited to have a wander round the pitch pre-match. But tonight he’ll be back in the stands watching an Everton team take on Arsenal – hoping for another hat-trick from an Everton striker.
Blue boys: Late goal denies brave Everton fightback
Jan 29 2009 by James Pearce, Liverpool Echo
COACH Neil Dewsnip admitted defeat was tough to take after watching Everton Under-18s suffer a last-gasp 3-2 defeat at Manchester United. The Blues trailed 2-0 early in the second half but goals from Nathan Craig and Luke Powell looked set to earn them a point before United grabbed a late winner. Ravel Morrison opened the scoring in the first half and Nicky Ajose added a second six minutes into the second half. However, the Blues reduced the deficit when Craig converted from close range after Lewis Codling’s effort was parried. An error from United keeper Conor Devlin allowed substitute Powell to pull Dewsnip’s side level but there was a cruel late twist.
A long throw-in was only half cleared and Morrison smashed home the winner.
“It was an outstanding youth game and a great advert for academy football in this country,” Dewsnip said. “Credit to Manchester United because after they scored midway through the first half they played some great stuff. “They ran all over us until half-time and could have score quite a few but our lads showed unbelievable resilience. “Goalkeeper Adam Davies made a number of excellent saves and helped ensure we were only 1-0 down at the break. “We were excellent in the second half and their second goal came against the run of play. “After the resilience we showed in the first half followed by the way we fought back in the second, to come away with nothing fwas difficult to take. “But there were a lot of positives and I was delighted by the way we didn’t cave in under severe pressure.” The Blues are back in Premier Academy League action on Saturday when they entertain Liverpool at Finch Farm (11am). Dewsnip’s side will be looking to avenge the 2-0 defeat they suffered when the rivals met at Kirkby back in November. “It’s a great time to be playing them after what’s happened recently between the clubs’ senior sides,” he added. “The whole area is waiting for derby number three and we’re going to nip in before the FA Cup replay with our own version. “I’m sure the players will feel caught up in the derby spirit - probably more so than normal. “It certainly adds something to the game and it should be a good occasion.” * Everton’s FA Cup replay with Liverpool has led to the Blues switching their FA Youth Cup clash at home to Norwich City from Goodison to Widnes’ Stobart Stadium. The fifth round tie will be played on Thursday, February 5 (7pm).
Name: James McCarten
Born: Liverpool – 08/11/1990
BORN in Netherton, McCarten has now forced his way into Everton’s reserve side.
The commanding central defender has made an impact for the Academy side, being a real threat at set-pieces. He signed a professional deal with the Blues in October 2008.
Marouane Fellaini salute to Everton goal hero Tim Cahill
Jan 29 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
MAROUANE FELLAINI today paid tribute to Everton’s newest centurion – then promised an instant reaction to their last-gasp calamity against Arsenal.
Tim Cahill notched the 100th goal of his professional career at Goodison Park last night and his thumping header looked set to give Everton a fully deserved three points. However, Robin van Persie’s spectacular intervention ensured Everton had to settle for a share of the spoils and left Fellaini and his team-mates totally deflated – they remain in sixth place, five points behind the Gunners. The Blues’ record signing, though, feels Saturday’s tussle with Manchester United offers a perfect chance to get over this disappointment and he is confident of a bold show. “It was awful to give the goal away and we are so disappointed but we’ve got a great opportunity ahead of us,” said Fellaini, who returned to the starting line-up after serving a two-match ban.
“We are a good side – we have shown that on many occasions – and we are capable of going to Old Trafford to get a good result. “It is never easy when you go to a place like that but this is a chance for us to show what we are made of and I’m sure the boys want to put things right. “We proved what we can do against Arsenal, so why can’t we play the same way in Manchester? We hope to win but the main thing is to keep working hard. “We will stick together and we won’t let this affect us. We have to remember that we dominated the game and we will keep fighting.” Cahill is one man who epitomises that ethos and he was Everton’s outstanding performer last night, once again relishing the role of being the lone front man. He left the field to a standing ovation after taking a bang on the foot and the Belgian made no secret of his admiration for Cahill. Fellaini is eager to get as many tips from Cahill as possible and he hopes the Australian is fit to face United at Old Trafford. “Timmy knows where the ball is going to land every time,” said Fellaini. “If I could learn how to do that, it would be great. “I’m learning from all my team-mates. They are all older than me with greater experience and I am picking up things off them. “But Tim has a similar role to me and I watch him very closely in games and during training. He’s the main man and is so decisive in front of goal. Long may that continue.”
Kirkby residents slam Everton stadium bid at inquiry
Jan 30 2009 by Richard Down, Liverpool Echo
RESIDENTS objected to Everton FC’s new stadium plans on the last day of evidence at a nine-week public inquiry. Caroline Pethard, chairwoman of Grange residents association, said the £400m Destination Kirkby plan would disrupt many lives.
She said it would hit people living along Whinberry Drive to the south of the proposed stadium and shopping development while it was being built and once the 50,000-seater ground was completed. Ms Pethard criticised developers’ three attempts to design an acoustic “bund” aimed at cutting down the amount of noise coming from the stadium. She also claimed the stadium would limit natural light to the homes on the estate. Ms Pethard said: “It is believed that our health is being compromised for the greater good of everyone else.”
Everton wait on Tim Cahill fitness ahead of Man Utd clash
Jan 30 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON will give man-of-the-moment Tim Cahill every chance to prove his fitness for the latest instalment of their big game trilogy. The Blues’ talisman scored the 100th goal of his career in Wednesday night’s 1-1 draw with Arsenal but hobbled off late on following a collision with Johan Djourou. Cahill underwent a precautionary scan yesterday to determine the extent of the damage to his right foot but it revealed nothing more sinister than heavy bruising. Now David Moyes must decide whether to pitch Cahill into battle against Manchester United tomorrow night or save him for next Wednesday’s FA Cup replay with Liverpool. That is the manager’s main selection dilemma, as Everton attempt to extend their unbeaten run to a tenth game at Old Trafford, but he will not rush into the decision. Though there is a question mark hanging over Cahill’s inclusion, one man who is certain to be in the Blues’ starting line-up is skipper Phil Neville. He has been in terrific form this season and is arguably playing his best football since leaving United in August 2005.
“Phil has gone about his job very quietly and effectively,” said Moyes. “He went into the middle of the park just before Christmas and has done really well. “I think when he has played with Mikel (Arteta) in the centre, they have been smashing but he’s also been fine when he has played at right-back, too. “He is finding himself doing a lot of jobs for us. The team is in a good run of form and Phil has played his part in that. He’s a good team player and always has been.” However, Neville hasn’t always enjoyed overwhelming popularity on the terraces and there were occasions last season when he bore the brunt of some frustrations. Yet, slowly but surely, the tide has turned in the 32-year-old’s favour and Moyes has been thrilled with the example Neville has continually set. “In my eyes, Phil has always done a really good job,” Moyes said. “But I can even see a maturity in his play now. He has always been a really good captain. He’s come from a good background and does good things on and off the field. He looks as if he’s enjoying life.” Blues midfielder JP Kissock, meanwhile, has joined League Two Accrington Stanley on an initial month-long loan. Keeper John Ruddy has been allowed to go on loan to League One outfit Crewe.
Ambitious Everton star Marouane Fellaini out to topple Man Utd
Jan 30 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
FINDING a way past Edwin van der Sar in the last three months has been impossible, but Marouane Fellaini might be forgiven if he wondered what all the fuss has been about. Manchester United’s goalkeeper set a new Premier League record on Tuesday night when an eleventh consecutive clean sheet took the time since he conceded his last goal up to a staggering 1,032 minutes. The Dutchman, though, could be feeling a little apprehensive about coming up against Fellaini at Old Trafford tomorrow evening as the last time they locked horns, van der Sar was left sprawling on the floor after a thumping header from the 21-year-old. That, of course, was the goal which came during a 1-1 draw at Goodison Park which many believe kick-started Everton’s campaign; momentum has been gathering since Phil Neville’s hefty challenge on Cristiano Ronaldo in the second half of that game. Neville’s tackle might be the standout memory from the last meeting between these old rivals in October but it would be wrong to overlook the significance of what Fellaini’s goal did for him personally. He went on to follow up four days later with the only goal against Bolton Wanderers and has not looked back, thanks to a string of exuberant performances that have enabled him to become something of a cult hero on the Gwladys Street.
A unique dress sense and an impossible hair style shows there is little orthodox about the giant Belgian, but he is certainly effective and he is just the type of individual who could easily cause more trouble for van der Sar. “It’s about three months since I felt as if I was at home here,” said Fellaini, who endured some early traumas after his record breaking £15m move from Standard Liege. “It’s normal that it takes you a bit of time to get settled into a new team and a new way of life. “But I am gaining confidence all the time. I understand my team-mates, they know how I like to play now and I’m feeling much more comfortable in my role. I’m really enjoying it and I’m hoping we can end the season in the best possible fashion. “Everything in England is so much quicker and faster; the games are always really powerful affairs. You have got to be 100 per cent committed and the speed of the game was something that I had to work on. “But now I feel as if my own speed across the ground has improved and I’ve gained some weight and strength to help. But I know I’ve got to keep working hard and there is still an awful lot for me to do here.” One aspect of his game that needs brushing up is his disciplinary record and collecting 10 yellow cards in Fellaini’s first 18 matches confirms that he has been a little rash in some of the decisions he has made. There were some signs against Arsenal, though, that he had taken things on board during his recent ban and it was significant that his disappointment after that performance was all to do with the result. Everton should have taken three points from Arsene Wenger’s men but paid the price for a split-second lapse in concentration. Yet Fellaini hopes they can atone in the best possible manner when they travel down the M62. “When you see points taken away from you as we did the other night, it is hard at first to assess things in a positive light but we have to remember that it was another good performance,” said Fellaini, who has chipped in with four goals from midfield so far. “We have had quite a few of those since I have been here, particularly over the last five or six weeks; we deserved our draws against Chelsea and Liverpool and we should really have beaten Arsenal. “It’s a case of working together and staying together and if we do that, I’m sure we will get many more good results in the future but, unfortunately, you can only say you have had a really top performance when you take all three points. “We have a great opportunity against Manchester United to show our true worth. Our confidence won’t be affected and we will look to go there and get a good result. But, obviously, it’s never easy when you go to somewhere like Old Trafford.” Everton travel to Manchester with confidence soaring on the back of a nine-game unbeaten run and manager David Moyes hopes another positive result can take his team a step closer to their first major objective. “We have to keep that gap between ourselves in sixth place and the team behind us and I’ve always said at worst that we want to finish sixth,” said Moyes, who is hoping to oversee a first Everton win at Old Trafford since August 1992. “But if we can get a bit of momentum – and a team ahead of us loses its way a little bit – then we have to look to see if we can catch them. That has to be the goal. Hopefully we had our bad period at the start and we can keep our really good run going.”
Born: November 22, 1987.
International caps: 12
International goals: 2
Born in Belgium to Moroccan parents, he was snapped up by Anderlecht at the age of seven. Aged 10 he joined Mons and three years later made the switch to R. Francs Borains. After a spell at Sporting Charleroi he signed his first pro contract with Standard Liege at the age of 17. Helped Liege win the Jupiler League title last season.
Represented Belgium at the Beijing Olympics, where he was sent off in the opening game for two yellow cards against Brazil. Made 84 appearances for Liege, scoring 11 times. Won the Ebony Shoe in 2008, an award given to Belgium’s best player of the season of African descent. The Belgium midfielder has said he will not be visiting the barbers until the end of the season, even though his nickname at Goodison is Screech because he resembles a character in the kids’ TV programme Saved By The Bell.
HOWARD KENDALL: Everton can finish above Arsenal
Jan 30 2009 by Howard Kendall, Liverpool Echo
WHEN the fixture list is revealed, there are several games you look for at Goodison.
The derby is obviously one that everyone circles, followed by Manchester United’s visit, but the tussle which has captured my imagination in recent seasons has been when Arsenal come to town. Arsene Wenger’s side have always been a joy to watch and invariably entertain with their expansive style, but has the point arrived where they no longer thrill the masses? It certainly seemed that way on Wednesday night.
I’m still trying to work out how they managed to take a point from a game in which they were dominated for long periods and showed about as much intensity as you would in a gentle training ground five-a-side. They were as poor as I have seen them in a long time but, take nothing away from Everton’s performance; sure, it was hugely disappointing to draw the match but we are certainly moving in the right direction.
You have to take the positives and I believe that Everton can overtake Arsenal in the Premier League before the end of the season; The Gunners may have quality but they don’t have our spirit. After conceding a last-gasp midweek goal, many sides would find it impossible to recover in time for their next gamebut I’ve got no worries about the Blues being up for tomorrow’s trip to Old Trafford. Sir Alex Ferguson may have been eulogising about his team finding their killer instinct against West Brom in midweek but he will know better than anyone that Everton will provide a much sterner test of their title credentials. Many will expect United to have the Premier League wrapped up in a couple of months but I wouldn’t go that far.; I will, however, make one prediction – Arsenal won’t be anywhere near them at the finish.
Reds replay so exciting
WHILE Manchester United is uppermost in everyone’s thoughts this weekend, it’s hard not to get excited about next Wednesday’s FA Cup replay.
There is no doubt Goodison will be bouncing for Liverpool’s visit and I’m quite optimistic we can book a place in the fifth round.
Aston Villa or Doncaster await there but David Moyes will be telling his players to forget all thoughts of that and just focus on the job of beating the Reds. Fingers crossed that will happen!
The invisible man
TIM CAHILL reached another milestone in his career against Arsenal and he is becoming something of a Scarlet Pimpernel. Defenders know all about his talents in the air but the moment Cahill steps into enemy territory, it’s almost as if he becomes invisible and that’s why he has scored 100 goals in his career. He isn’t a giant by any means but the way he comes alive and gets such a spring to score these headers is a joy to watch and he has been absolutely terrific as a striker during the past two months. Long may it continue.
DAVID PRENTICE: Everton's Tim Cahill need not face Man Utd
Jan 30 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
TIM CAHILL must be left out of Everton’s trip to Old Trafford tomorrow . . . and that’s by way of tribute, not criticism. When Cahill limped off on Wednesday night after another warrior’s performance, Goodison winced. Not because he’s proved himself useful at popping up with the odd timely goal. But because he’s now become indisputably vital to Everton’s entire cause. Fans may argue whether he can play in a 4-4-2, they may dispute whether he’s better as a striker or a midfielder, and they may discuss exactly what qualities he brings to the side. But what is indisputable is that Everton are better with him in the team than without. Since the start of last season Everton have played 34 matches with Tim Cahill in their starting line-up. They have won 21. Without him in the side they have played 26 matches. The number of wins drops to eight.Nice though a hard earned point might be at Old Trafford tomorrow, the future well-being of Everton’s season hinges on the FA Cup replay.
Remember the crushing psychological blow the disappearance of the last piece of silverware had on Everton last season? Everton’s chances of FA Cup progress will improve considerably if Tim Cahill is there at kick-off next Wednesday.
* IN Sunday’s FA Cup derby match Everton conceded their first free-kick . . . after 24 minutes and 40 seconds. That’s an astonishing statistic. Everton’s industry and application may be admirably intense, but Dogs of War they are not. So when Rafa Benitez says: “When it is a crazy game you can’t control things. “In the last three games there has been something in common that I don’t like” it can’t be an overly aggressive approach
Duncan Ferguson to fly in for Everton Hall of Fame induction
Jan 30 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DUNCAN FERGUSON will take a bow at the final Gwladys Street Hall of Fame gathering on March 19. Inducted by a landslide vote into the Evertonian elite, Ferguson has indicated to organisers that he will attend the Adelphi Hotel dinner to receive his induction in person. Now living in Majorca, Ferguson’s return visits to Merseyside are rare – but because the Gwladys Street poll is voted for by fans he has agreed to make a flying visit. “We’re delighted that Duncan has agreed to come in person,” said organiser Brian Snagg. “This is the final Hall of Fame event.
"It’s always a raucous occasion and it’s great that somebody who captured the imagination of the fans so much will be there.” More than 6,000 supporters voted in the poll to select the final inductees to the Gwladys Street Hall of Fame.
Ferguson collected 1,020 votes – 68 per cent of the total. He was joined on the final list of inductees by Graham Stuart, David Unsworth, chairman Bill Kenwright and Tony Kay. The Gwladys Street Hall of Fame was created by David France in 1996, when 75 peerless players and five distinguished club officials were elected.
Several celebrated Blues have been added year after year, with the final admission bringing the total up to 126 Hall of Famers. But after the March dinner, the doors will close for good.
Man Utd v Everton: Marouane Fellaini and Tim Cahill in fitness race
Jan 31 2009 David Prentice
DAVID MOYES must try to plot a way past the Premier League's meanest goalkeeper tonight - with even his emergency strikers now falling victim to the club's injury curse. With frontline forwards Yakubu, Louis Saha and James Vaughan already injured, the Blues boss now faces losing Tim Cahill and Marouane Fellaini - the men who have deputised so effectively - at Old Trafford tomorrow. "They are major doubts," admitted Moyes. "Tim has a bruised foot and Marouane got a stud through his shin on Wednes- day and neither of them have trained. "Wednesday won't come into my thinking at all. I won't risk anybody, but not because of the Liverpool game."
If both miss out, youngsters Jack Rodwell and Dan Gosling will come into contention, along with Ecuador international Segundo Castillo. Moyes admits that using the youngsters is a double-edged sword. "The boys here know the situation. If people aren't going to be fit other people will come into the team and they are more than ready to do so," he declared. "We have had to use the younger players and that can be a good thing or a bad thing. "The good thing about it is they get blooded into the team early and get opportunities. There's a route through to the first team here and if they're good enough to take it that's good for them. "The downside is are they ready for it at that age?" Alex Ferguson has injury problems of his own to contend with, but can still send out a multi-million pound team packed with internationals. But Moyes is relishing locking horns with a fellow Scot he rates as his nation's second best export!
"I've said many times that whisky first and then Sir Alex are the best exports from Scotland. "He's held in high regard in Scotland. "For such a small nation to have produced so many great managers - Sir Alex, Bill Shankly, Jock Stein, Sir Matt Busby, is an unbelievable achievement for such a small country. "No, I don't think I've been on the receiving end of any mind games from him, but when you are from Glasgow, you understand. It's a wee bit of Glasgow trademark there. "Sir Alex's experience and confidence in his players means he's happy to challenge all comers.
"I wouldn't say I particularly have more of an affinity with Sir Alex than some other managers. I think because we are both from Glasgow, people assume that. "Do I model myself on him? "I remember as a player at Celtic when he was manager at Aberdeen, I would look at him and think 'gee whizz, he was rough and tough and intense and focused'. He had a great drive and had good players and built a really good side at Aberdeen and challenged the top teams, tried to challenge Rangers and Celtic and won competitions. "I look at him and think there is a different man now than there is then, but that comes from experience and the club he is at." Meanwhile, one Everton official praying that the Blues manage to beat Edwin van der Sar at least once tonight, is goalkeeping coach Chris Woods. He holds the British clean sheet record of 1,196 minutes set during his time with Glasgow Rangers. If Van der Sar keeps out Everton for 72 minutes tonight he will break the Football League record of 1,103 minutes, set by Steve Death for Reading in 1979. Should Van der Sar make it 12 consecutive shut-outs he would have the opportunity to topple the British record for all competitive games, established by Woods who went unbeaten for 1,196 minutes for Glasgow Rangers in 1986-87. That record was set in all competitions, however, while Van der Sar's is just league games. "I didn't know he was that close to breaking Woodsy's record," said Moyes. "I haven't mentioned it to him yet but I will do now!"
Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard‘s power of positive thinking
Jan 31 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
TIM HOWARD has turned Edwin van der Sar’s remarkable run of clean sheets for Manchester United into a positive. “At least they got rid of me for a legend!” he laughs. Everton travel to Old Trafford tomorrow seeking to become the first team to pierce United’s rearguard in the Premier League since Samir Nasri did it for Arsenal on November 8. Eleven teams have tried – and failed – and now the Blues go there seeking to find a way past the giant Dutch goalkeeper. “Edwin’s done very well since he’s arrived,” explained Howard. “But it’s not only him. He’s fantastic, but that defence is rock solid. “They really put pressure on you to try and score because they don’t give you any chances. “But we’ve been taking our chances when we get them.
“We gave them a good game when they came here so we’ll be looking to do the same again.” That ‘good game’ saw the Blues come from a goal behind to earn a draw with Marouane Fellaini’s header at Goodison. The Blues also hit back at Old Trafford last season after Ronaldo had scored an early goal, Tim Cahill’s header threatening to earn Everton a point until Steven Pienaar suffered an 87th minute brainstorm and conceded a penalty kick. It’s in games against the Premier League’s top sides that concentration has to be maintained for 90 minutes and beyond. Everton have suffered last minute heartache already this season against Aston Villa, and last season experienced injury time angst at Chelsea. Wednesday night’s dramatically late leveller from Arsenal underlined the harsh lesson. “We did well on Wednesday and dominated the game for the most part,” added Howard. “But we didn’t see it out so I guess we got what we deserved. “Arsenal can produce that kind of magic after 94 minutes which is why they’re the club they are and where they are. We have to take that. The manager and Steve Round both told us we have to fight for 94 minutes – that was the exact number they said and they were right. “We did it for 93 and a half and have to put that right. Our endeavour, our effort, our skill set with some of our players, and the ability to take the fight to teams is all there. “We just fell a little bit short in the areas of trying to kill the game off when we had it won – and that shows.” Tomorrow’s United trip comes in the middle of a gruelling run of fixtures against three of the Premier League’s top four sides. If David Moyes adopted his United counterpart’s conspiracy theory mindset, he might raise an eyebrow at being forced to face Liverpool, Arsenal and United in successive games. But Howard believes such intensity of fixture planning can be beneficial. “I think so,” he admitted. “It’s hard on us, but when you play in those atmospheres and get that experience it can’t be taken away from you.
“It hardens you as a group, makes you mentally strong. We’ve come together and got a good spirit. “Obviously, Saturday is a massive challenge. “Every game is tough, but this is a big game and the next week and a half there will be some other big ones.
“If we can come out of this with our heads above water then we can really start pushing on and looking up.”Everton go to Old Trafford expecting to be put under extreme pressure. And if Ferguson ends the evening complaining about Everton parking a bus in front of Tim Howard’s goal the Blues keeper will be delighted.
“That happens when you’re the away team,” he said. “You have to take a lot of pressure and sometimes you have to see games out and try and defend. “Against Arsenal was a night we had to entertain and we did that. We took the fight to them which was natural because we were at home. “But the late goal was a sickener.”
At least Arsene Wenger left Goodison singing Everton’s praises. “I have seen something that has underlined what I have always felt. Everton are as big a threat to us as Aston Villa,” he declared. “Everton are a very good side, and they are our rivals for a top four place just as much as Villa. “They play with a fantastic spirit, and in Tim Cahill they have a player who is very intelligent, he always knows where to be. That is something that is hard to teach, but he always seems to be in the right place.”
Howard will be happier if Ferguson is less magnanimous tomorrow evening . . . because that will mean the Blues have extended their unbeaten record to a 10th match – and van der Sar’s long unbeaten record might finally have fallen.
David Moyes has done 'an incredible job' - Man Utd boss Alex Ferguson
Jan 31 2009
ALEX Ferguson does not feel David Moyes is getting the recognition he deserves for again steering Everton into the Premier League’s top six. Over the past couple of weeks the Blues have held Liverpool at Anfield twice and were only denied a win over Arsenal by Robin van Persie’s last-gasp equaliser at Goodison Park on Wednesday. Everton have also drawn with Chelsea and Ferguson’s Manchester United side this season and head to Old Trafford tomorrow looking to maintain that impressive run. Yet, on each occasion the post-match analysis has concentrated on the frailties of Everton’s opponents rather than the achievement of Moyes’ side.
Ferguson feels it is time to put the record straight. “David Moyes has not got the credit he deserves,” said Ferguson of his fellow Glaswegian. “When you take everything into consideration, he has done an incredible job. “He has not had the resources of other clubs but he got all his younger players on long contracts and built round them with the likes of Phil Jagielka, Tim Cahill and Joleon Lescott. “The signings he has made have been terrific and it means that he has continuity for the next few years.”
Not that Everton’s resurgence has been seen in the results they have gained at Old Trafford in recent years. Since their last triumph in 1992, the Merseyside outfit have mustered just three draws from 15 visits. Another victory for the Red Devils tomorrow will take them five points clear of nearest challengers Liverpool and Chelsea, who meet at Anfield 24 hours later. United’s progression, on the back of 11 successive clean sheets and six wins on the trot since they returned from Club World Cup action in Japan, has fans hoping for a title hat-trick next May which Ferguson refuses to get drawn into. During his 23 seasons at Old Trafford, the United manager has seen plenty of different scenarios unfold. He will never forget the collapse that gifted Leeds the league in 1992, or the failure to score a second goal on the final day at West Ham three years later that allowed Blackburn to finish top. “The one thing that is inevitable about this league is that there will be shocks,” he said.
“Football can kick you in the teeth, so the best way to handle it from our perspective is not get carried away and not make any predictions. “By doing that we can concentrate on each game and treat it seriously.” For all Ferguson’s caution, the return from injury of Rio Ferdinand and Wes Brown for the five-goal hammering of West Brom on Tuesday only reinforces United’s strength. Confirmation that Patrice Evra and Nani have returned to training, and that Wayne Rooney will do so on Monday after a hamstring injury, highlights the depth of the squad. All three should be available to face West Ham at Upton Park on February 8, while Rooney would make England’s friendly with Spain in Seville three days later. Having failed to capitalise on United’s pre-Christmas journey to become world champions, at which time they were seven points behind, Liverpool and Chelsea have only brought their current problems on themselves. “I didn’t really think we would be back at the top so quickly,” admitted Ferguson. “When we came back from Japan we had a recovery mission.”
“I knew that when we went there in 1999 we came back and beat Everton 5-1. This time we had an away game at Stoke on Boxing Day, which was a different kettle of fish altogether after an arduous trip from Japan. “It was a concern. But we managed to squeeze through, which was crucial because it allowed us to get the Japan thinking out of the way. “Then it was a matter of seeing how much we could close the gap.
“What we are doing at the moment is kicking on and getting good results.”
DOMINIC KING: Words which signal Everton's touch of style
Jan 31 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
IT is easy to be magnanimous after getting something you scarcely deserve but there is something significant when Arsene Wenger adopts that frame of mind. Arsenal’s manager is not the type of person to liberally dish out praise if his team have been outpointed and, usually, he will find a gripe with the opposition’s playing style, a referee’s performance or an intimidating crowd. But, on Wednesday evening, Wenger could not have been more complimentary about Everton after a pulsating game ended with Robin van Persie’s howitzer freeing Arsenal from jail. “I still think Everton can be as much of a rival for fourth place (to us) as Aston Villa will prove to be,” Wenger observed. “They are an excellent side, progressing well, and they played some fine football.” Those words were given to the media but, shortly after that, Wenger sought out a disconsolate David Moyes and expanded on the reasons why he believes the Blues are making considerable progress. His words should strike a chord. Cast your mind back three years to when the urbane Wenger brought Arsenal to Goodison Park for another game that was decided by a solitary James Beattie goal. After that match, Wenger stomped from interview to interview, raging about Everton’s rough house tactics, complaining that passing the ball was an afterthought and generally showing little grace; he adopted a similar tone in March 2007, too. Now, though, he felt compelled to doff his cap to Everton and recognises there is far more to them than simple brute force; it might not be as well received as another two points would have been but it is something of which to be proud. A few years ago, Everton’s only hope of beating one of the teams in the top four was to hustle and bustle them, make every 50/50 challenge count, keep a clean sheet and hope they would make a set piece count. The victory over Manchester United at Goodison Park in April 2005, for example, was hardly an example of how the beautiful game should be played nor were the derby triumphs in December 2004 and September 2006. Surely, however, it is only a matter of time before Everton register a win against one of the Champions League quartet that is as much about style as it is substance. Wednesday’s efforts simply added weight to that argument. Statistics proved Everton dominated possession, forced more corners, won more tackles, committed less fouls and had double the amount of shots at goal – when was the last time that happened in a tussle with Arsenal? Yes, it was sickening to concede in the dying seconds but, having reflected on the game, the positives infinitely outweigh any negatives and there is definitely a chance of the Toffees being in the mix for a Champions League spot come May.
Would you have said that after the draw at home with Newcastle on October 5 or following the debacle at the JJB Stadium on November 24? Not a chance. It may have taken time to build up a head of steam but this squad certainly has momentum now.
As Phil Neville wrote in his programme notes prior to Arsenal’s visit: “From an indifferent start, we’ve become a side that nobody will look forward to facing. Much is made of our spirit but there is more to us than that.” Yet the big question those on the outside – and, possibly, one or two on the inside – will be asking is can Everton sustain this effort? Playing at such intensity with so few options, may catch up with them at some point. Here’s another question: why worry? After tonight’s trip to Old Trafford, Everton will have faced Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool twice and with 14 games left, the most difficult assignments on paper seem the trips to Stamford Bridge and Villa Park. Of course, it doesn’t always work out like that and Moyes could easily see his side have more problems against Bolton or Wigan at Goodison Park than when they tackle Chelsea. For the moment, they are ticking along quite nicely and the display against Arsenal shows that Moyes has completely altered Everton’s style. One wonders, then, what a certain Rafa Benitez made of Wenger’s opinion – maybe on Wednesday we’ll find out.
Woods’ record is safe
MUCH has been made of Edwin van der Sar standing on the verge of a new clean sheet record but he still has a long way to go before matching one Evertonian.
Chris Woods, the Blues’ goalkeeping coach, currently holds the accolade for longest time spent without conceding a goal - 1,196 minutes - and Manchester United’s keeper moved to 1,032 minutes after Tuesday night’s shutout at West Brom.
There is, however, a slight discrepancy in the record that people are expecting van der Sar to break and the one that Woods currently holds: following some diligent research by Everton’s official statistician Gavin Buckland, allow us to explain.
While the Dutchman has kept 11 consecutive clean sheets in the Premier League, it is being conveniently forgotten that he actually conceded three times when United won the Club World Cup in Japan. In actual fact, van der Sar has ‘only’ gone 720 minutes since he was last beaten, meaning he still has a long way to go to beat Woods.
And with a bit of luck, United’s number one will be back to square one after the Blues have been to Old Trafford today.
Places are available for coaching from Blues
EVERTON In The Community will be holding the first soccer school of the year at St Edwards College, West Derby from February 16 to 18. A typical day runs from 10am to 3pm and is open to boys and girls aged five to 14, catering for every level of ability. Places, though, are limited and cost £50. Anyone with further inquiries should call 0151 330 2307.
BARRY HORNE: David Moyes should rest hero Everton hero Tim Cahill
Jan 31 2009 by Barry Horne, Liverpool Echo
WE are halfway through the most intensely testing and gruelling run of fixtures in this season’s Premier League calendar – and it’s so far, so good. Some supporters bemoaned our luck in midweek against Arsenal, but everyone knows it’s a 94 minute match these days and you have to give The Gunners credit for their perseverance.
I don’t know if it’s just a perception or an acknowledged fact, but there seem to have been more late goals in matches everywhere this season. But Wednesday’s late body blow should not be allowed to cloud the fact that we got another excellent performance from a group of players who have really come together in the past few months. One of the downsides of the match in midweek was the sight of Tim Cahill limping off. It would seem that Cahill’s injury is not serious, and that he even has a chance of being available for selection for today’s game. Whether or not David Moyes chooses to risk him is another matter. I know where I stand on the issue.
We are not chasing the Premier League title. After an indifferent start to the season, finishing in the top four and securing a Champions League place will also be difficult.
But qualifying for the UEFA Cup once again would be regarded as a success – and a sixth place finish or higher is not going to hinge on the outcome of a trip to Old Trafford. I am not suggesting for a second that David Moyes would forfeit the result. But having seen how valuable Tim Cahill has been in recent weeks I would not jeopardise his fitness by starting him tonight. It would be ironic for a manager to leave a player out of a Premier League match to ensure his availability for an FA Cup tie, but in many respects Wednesday’s replay could have a bigger impact on the remainder of Everton’s season. Quite how Rafa Benitez would view such a decision is another matter altogether – especially in a week when he has hinted at some sort of conspiracy to prevent Liverpool winning the title. Selection pay-off
TIM CAHILL’S excellent form apart, one of the most impressive aspects of Everton’s recent play has been the performances of Phil Jagielka and Joleon Lescott.
They have provided a magnificent platform for the rest of the side to build on, and their rock solid displays have produced knock-on effects. Leighton Baines has also been in excellent form, and maybe he realises that as long as Jagielka and Lescott continue to perform so well together, David Moyes will be less likely to move Lescott.
If nine or 10 players were always reasonably confident that they would be playing the following week, the side’s confidence would grow parallel with their own. Everton look confident and much of that has to be down to consistency of team selection.
Jack’s the lad in future
I WAS surprised to see Segundo Castillo get the nod at Anfield last weekend ahead of Jack Rodwell. David Moyes obviously preferred the experience of Castillo ahead of Rodwell’s youth. Being a local lad, I believe Rodwell would have relished the occasion – and Castillo’s disappointing display means that next time Moyes has to make a similar decision, I think the youngster may get the nod.
FELLAINI AND CAHILL RACE FOR FITNESS
Jan 31 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES must try to plot a way past the Premier League's meanest goalkeeper tonight - with even his emergency strikers now falling victim to the club's injury curse. With frontline forwards Yakubu, Louis Saha and James Vaughan already injured, the Blues boss now faces losing Tim Cahill and Marouane Fellaini - the men who have deputised so effectively - at Old Trafford tomorrow. "They are major doubts," admitted Moyes. "Tim has a bruised foot and Marouane got a stud through his shin on Wednes- day and neither of them have trained. "Wednesday won't come into my thinking at all. I won't risk anybody, but not because of the Liverpool game."
If both miss out, youngsters Jack Rodwell and Dan Gosling will come into contention, along with Ecuador international Segundo Castillo. Moyes admits that using the youngsters is a double-edged sword. "The boys here know the situation. If people aren't going to be fit other people will come into the team and they are more than ready to do so," he declared. "We have had to use the younger players and that can be a good thing or a bad thing. "The good thing about it is they get blooded into the team early and get opportunities. There's a route through to the first team here and if they're good enough to take it that's good for them. "The downside is are they ready for it at that age?" Alex Ferguson has injury problems of his own to contend with, but can still send out a multi-million pound team packed with internationals. But Moyes is relishing locking horns with a fellow Scot he rates as his nation's second best export!
"I've said many times that whisky first and then Sir Alex are the best exports from Scotland. "He's held in high regard in Scotland. "For such a small nation to have produced so many great managers - Sir Alex, Bill Shankly, Jock Stein, Sir Matt Busby, is an unbelievable achievement for such a small country. "No, I don't think I've been on the receiving end of any mind games from him, but when you are from Glasgow, you understand. It's a wee bit of Glasgow trademark there. "Sir Alex's experience and confidence in his players means he's happy to challenge all comers.
"I wouldn't say I particularly have more of an affinity with Sir Alex than some other managers. I think because we are both from Glasgow, people assume that.
"Do I model myself on him? "I remember as a player at Celtic when he was manager at Aberdeen, I would look at him and think 'gee whizz, he was rough and tough and intense and focused'. He had a great drive and had good players and built a really good side at Aberdeen and challenged the top teams, tried to challenge Rangers and Celtic and won competitions. "I look at him and think there is a different man now than there is then, but that comes from experience and the club he is at." Meanwhile, one Everton official praying that the Blues manage to beat Edwin van der Sar at least once tonight, is goalkeeping coach Chris Woods. He holds the British clean sheet record of 1,196 minutes set during his time with Glasgow Rangers. If Van der Sar keeps out Everton for 72 minutes tonight he will break the Football League record of 1,103 minutes, set by Steve Death for Reading in 1979. Should Van der Sar make it 12 consecutive shut-outs he would have the opportunity to topple the British record for all competitive games, established by Woods who went unbeaten for 1,196 minutes for Glasgow Rangers in 1986-87. That record was set in all competitions, however, while Van der Sar's is just league games.