£50m for Ross Barkley? Not a chance says Martinez
1 Jan 2014 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
Superstar Blues midfielder is going nowhere says boss
Bullish Blues boss Roberto Martinez has “guaranteed” that Everton will be stronger after the January transfer window – and the Everton manager insists he wouldn’t accept even a £50m loan fee for his prodigiously talented midfielder Ross Barkley . Manchester United have been speculatively linked with a £50m bid for Barkley this month, but Martinez joked about the possibility at yesterday’s Finch Farm press briefing. “Is that £50m? No, we wouldn’t let anybody go out on-loan (for that) in January,” he smiled. “That’s a real compliment when all the other clubs are looking at your players.
“But what is clear is that I can guarantee you that we will be stronger going into the second half of the season. “That’s a clear focus from our point of view and if we can we will add a couple of new faces and make sure that we close the window in a stronger position than we are now.”
The Everton hierarchy were irritated by United’s cut-price attempts to land Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini during the last transfer window, labelling a joint £28m offer for both players as “derisory and insulting.” But Martinez insists that further speculation surrounding United interest in Everton’s players would be welcomed. “Believe me I want admiration for our players rather than no-one keeping an eye on the progress of our young players and how well we have been performing,” he explained. “That is not a problem. If anything it is a compliment and should give us an extra boost going into every game. “Is it an irritation? Not at all. Not when we are in a strong position financially. “When you are in a position where you have to bring money in then it can be a real difficult position. You can be anxious and frustrated, but when you can make football decisions rather than financial positions then you are in a strong position. The stability we have at the club allows us to make football decisions.” Martinez also believes that Barkley himself would not be distracted by transfer speculation. “I think his role in the team has changed. Everyone has seen that,” added the Blues boss. “In the first half of the season it has been a real joy to see him grow into the role and enjoy his football and in the second half of the season it is going to be even better.
“This transfer window is as crucial as any other. “We need to use every window to our advantage and make sure that when we close the window we are in a stronger position than when we opened it. “That’s the way we did it in the summer and the way we have been working since then to identify personalities more than the players. “There are one or two situations that we will look at – players who have personal positions regarding the World Cup – but as a squad we are going to make sure that we are in a stronger position when the window closes.” Those personal positions are likely to be Johnny Heitinga, who is talking to West Ham this week about a potential move , and Nikica Jelavic – neither of whom have featured prominently under Martinez. But the Blues boss explained that the final word on transfers – incoming and outgoing – remained with him. “We are fortunate in that we are a traditional football club, where the football decisions come from myself and we work closely with the chairman, the chief exec and the recruiting department which has a lot of people involved,” he explained. “We are in a very, very good position where there are reasons for us making changes in the January window. “The problem at a football club is when finances force you to make decisions. “Whatever happens in January I can guarantee will strengthen the squad and strengthen the football club.”
Romelu's title talk welcomed by Martinez
1 Jan 2014 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
"It's natural" says Blues boss as on-loan striker reaches for the stars
Roberto Martinez has welcomed Romelu Lukaku ’s title talk at Everton – and insisted that it is “natural” for footballers to have lofty ambitions. Nine-times champions Everton have not challenged for the ultimate prize for more than two decades – but after Sunday’s victory over Southampton sent Everton fourth, matchwinner Lukaku declared: “You can say we are outsiders for the title now. You don’t need to be shy about that. You have got to when you look at our points. I knew from the first day I arrived on the training ground and trained with the team. I called my agent and dad and said: ‘We did something very good here’. “I was so impressed. Chelsea was top but Everton is getting there. There is not a lot of difference and that is why I think I made a good choice. I knew after that first training session, after seeing the quality in the squad. “I didn’t want to say anything to the players, but then I spoke to Phil Jagielka on the bus after the West Ham game, and said: ‘This year we will do something special because you are all special players. And I am not saying this because I want to be friends with you guys, but I have trained with the best players, in my eyes, in the country, and I’m telling you, you are not far from it’. “Phil just laughed, but I was very serious and now we are showing a lot of great performances. In the New Year we have to be consistent and work and work and change those draws into wins and then we will be up there. “If we are more ruthless we will end definitely in the top four. Definitely. We have two losses and a lot of wins. In the games we drew we weren’t ruthless enough, so if you change that and become more ruthless it becomes more wins, and then we are up there.” Martinez has constantly played down expectation at Goodison, refusing to set targets for his squad. But he said of Lukaku’s ambitious aim: “I think it’s something natural. When you are a footballer and you come off the pitch and you feel satisfied with the players around you and the way you work as a team it is only natural to have that forward thinking if you want. “When you are five points from the top halfway through the season, why not?
“In football you should always have big aspirations, you should always have big dreams and in the same way you should have a real humble approach about your work and work as hard as you can to improve on a daily basis. “And I can guarantee you that is the theme in our squad.
“The workrate is incredible and you need to have a dream and have a long-term aspiration and I think that is positive. “We have enough negativity around foo tball. It’s good when you have a real fresh, healthy dream to fight for.” Martinez was more circumspect about his targets for the second half of the season, however. The Blues boss said, quite simply: “I don’t think we have fulfilled our potential. I think the group is excited and we want to push each other to get even more points in the second half of the season. “It’s an exciting position to be in.” He did, however, admit to keeping an eye on the fixtures some of the teams widely recognised as title chasers face.
“Our targets are exactly the same,” he said. “Manchester City have been sensational with their home form but in the second half of the season they have to visit all the top sides away from home, apart from Chelsea. “All the teams will have different challenges and it is very open to what you can do in the second half of the season. Remember the league campaign is a demanding road and all we have seen so far is how the first half has worked out. “The margins are very small and we have to work internally to be as strong as we can.”
Stoke 1 - Everton 1: Baines nets late on to earn Toffees a point
LEIGHTON BAINES' late penalty secured Everton a share of the spoils against Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium.
1st January 2014
The Toffees went close in the first half of the Barclays Premier League contest, with Kevin Mirallas twice shooting against the woodwork. But it was Stoke who went ahead in the 49th minute when on-loan Liverpool winger Oussama Assaidi collected the ball from John Stones' failed attempted clearance and smashed it past Tim Howard. The Potters looked set to make a winning start to 2014, but substitute Jermaine Pennant fouled another player who had come off the bench, Leon Osman, in the box in stoppage time and Baines swept in the resulting penalty. Everton slip from fourth to fifth in the table, while Stoke stay 12th. The first real attempt on goal of the match came in the 11th minute from Charlie Adam, whose shot appeared to take a deflection on its way to Howard, and a minute later Gareth Barry was penalised for climbing over his marker as he headed a corner over the bar. Assaidi then brought a parry out of Howard, but the whistle had gone again, with Adam having been judged to have pushed Stones as he headed on Jon Walters' cross to the Morocco international. Peter Crouch looped a header wide from another Walters delivery, before James McCarthy's low shot called Thomas Sorensen into action at the other end. Mirallas' first effort against the goalframe came in the 30th minute when he cut inside and let fly with a strike that came back off the crossbar. Assaidi threatened again, chesting down a Geoff Cameron cross and seeing his shot deflect behind off an Everton man. Ross Barkley then put a first-time effort over from a cut-back by the lively Mirallas, who went within inches once more to breaking the deadlock in first-half stoppage time as his free-kick connected with the post. Certainly Stoke had survived some scares before the break, but shortly after the restart, they snatched the lead as Assaidi notched his fourth goal since joining the Potters on loan from Liverpool earlier in the season. Stones - on his first Premier League start - tried to head clear a Glenn Whelan cross, but the ball only went as far as Assaidi, who rifled it in from the edge of the area. The Toffees looked to respond and after Steven Pienaar had skewed off-target, Jack Butland - who had come on for Sorensen at the interval to make his Stoke debut - got down to save a Romelu Lukaku shot. Adam turned and sent an effort at Howard and Erik Pieters then made a last-ditch tackle to deny Mirallas, before a Barkley strike deflected into the stand. Everton continued to pressurise towards the end of the game and after Steven Naismith and Mirallas had seen efforts blocked on the line, Pennant upended Osman, allowing Baines to seal a point for the Toffees by converting from the spot.
Stoke City 1, Everton 1: Match report
By Martin_Spinks January 01, 2014
STOKE’S new year started pretty much as the old one had ended after suffering late heartbreak on their return to the Britannia Stadium. They were within a couple of injury-time minutes of a gutsy victory when substitute Jermaine Pennant conceded a penalty after a needless challenge which left Leighton Baines equalising from the spot. That was so harsh on a Stoke side recovering superbly from the various bumps and bruises suffered on their travels to either end of the country over Christmas. Everton were staring down the barrel of only their third league defeat of the season once Oussama Assaidi buried another fine strike, his third in six Premier League appearances, with an effort only marginally short of those crackers against Chelsea and Newcastle. Stoke’s defence of their narrow lead bordered on the heroic at times as they manfully protected Jack Butland following his half-time arrival for his club debut in place of the injured Thomas Sorensen. But Pennant, all too desperate to make an impression after lengthy spells out of the first-team picture, duly did just that at the wrong end of the pitch. Stoke, with Glenn Whelan and Marc Wilson back from their one-match bans, couldn’t be faulted for an early approach that was to mirror their entire efforts throughout the afternoon in the wake of those bad beatings at Newcastle and Spurs. Charlie Adam, the third change to their line-up which saw Stephen Ireland, Wilson Palacios and Andy Wilkinson drop out, was at the hub of an energetic first 10 minutes in which his deflected shot into Tim Howard’s waiting grasp was the only direct attempt on either goal. Perhaps Stoke fancied the look of an Everton defence minus both Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin at its heart. Adam was also in the thick of things when shoving John Stones to concede a foul as he tried in vain to meet a Jon Walters cross as Stoke threw bodies into the area to momentarily disconcert their visitors. Stoke’s bright and inventive link play was certainly currying favour with a home crowd happy to offer its new year services. And City’s enthusiastic power down the sides was evident again when Walters centred from the right and Peter Crouch, hovering in the wind almost, just failed to guide his header on target after Howard decided to remain at home. Everton weren’t shy in prodding away in the attacking third, but they usually found a light-footed Ryan Shawcross in their midst during a frustrating opening quarter of the contest for the visitors. Adam continued to be the game’s most promising attacking influence, turning his man before sliding a through ball a fraction too strong for Crouch. Stoke’s failure to turn their promise into an opening goal came within inches of being cruelly punished at the other end when Kevin Mirallas, a peripheral figure for the first half-hour, cut in from the left and crashed a 25-yarder against the bar with Thomas Sorensen a beaten man. Talk about a shot out of the Blues. With the rain cascading like a sea mist, Geoff Cameron delivered yet another testing ball from the Stoke flanks, but Assaidi’s shot was deflected a couple of yards wide of the far post. No neutral could begrudge the home side a goal during a robust first period in which no quarter was being asked or given by either side. And yet it was Everton so very nearly bagging that first goal just before the break when Mirallas struck the woodwork on a second occasion – this time with a curling 25-yard free-kick over the wall and against a stranded Sorensen’s right-hand post – before the play continued for Romelu Lukaku to eventually head wide of the near post. An escape Stoke deserved on the balance of play in the opening 45. And one they well and truly exploited four minutes into the second half when Assaidi struck his almost obligatory goal. His chance came when a Glenn Whelan cross from the Stoke right was headed to the edge of the area for Assaidi to control before lashing a familiar right-foot shot past Howard’s flailing, futile dive to his right. Everton, visibly rattled, took some six minutes to offer any kind of response, breaking upfield for Lukaku to eventually force a first save out of Butland diving routinely to his right. Howard’s reactions were put to more severe use at the other end 40 seconds later when Adam’s shot on the half turn forced him to save in front of his face. Everton showed signs of stepping on the gas as the clock had ticked past the hour mark – but Stoke were showing every sign of living with them. Stoke were having to rely on a mix of foul means and fair to stifle their visitors as Whelan chopped down a marauding Steven Pienaar, while Erik Pieters typified his team’s resilience at the back with blocks on shots from both Mirallas and Ross Barkley. Everton’s plight was becoming anxious enough for Roberto Martinez to throw on Nikica Jelavic and Leon Osman to try to intensify the pressure on Stoke’s robust defences inside the last 20. The hosts then dredged up a threatening little spell from their memory banks as Assaidi and Pennant, introduced for Walters, both centred into menacing territory for Crouch to narrowly fail to line up a shooting chance and Howard to punch clear respectively. Everton remained the more dominant force in possession, however, as Pieters continued to provide a particularly prominent defensive presence. Stoke’s passing was beginning to look tired inside the final 10 minutes and their fans, perhaps sensing as much, offered necessary support in the closing stages to accompany their on-going derision at much of the decision-making. Still Everton pressed, still Stoke tackled with numbers and tenacity, and yet again Pieters came to their rescue with quickfire blocks to deny Steven Naismith and then Mirallas as the tension mounted. There was a near siege on the Stoke goal by the time Pennant nibbled at Osman on the left-hand edge of his own area to provoke optimistic cries of ‘penalty’ from the visiting fans – then hacked him down recklessly to leave the referee no alternative. Baines sent Butland the wrong way with a cool penalty to hand Everton the point they might have deserved, but shouldn’t have got.
Stoke 1 - Everton 1: Last gasp Leighton Baines penalty denies Mark Hughes' side
LEIGHTON BAINES converted a last-gasp penalty kick to thwart Stoke.
January 1 2014 The Daily Express
By Charles Perrin
A second-half belter from Oussama Assaidi looked to have been enough to have provided Stoke all three points but Baines rammed home his spot kick to salvage a point. Stoke registered their first effort of the game in the 19th minute when Jon Walters delivered an inviting first-time ball onto the forehead of Peter Crouch, who sees his effort drift just past of the post. Everton grew more into the game and hit the woodwork in stoppage time of the first-half when Kevin Mirllas' 25 yard free-kick smacked the post. Thomas Sorensen was forced to make way at half-time after sustaining an achilles injury. Despite the blow for Mark Hughes, Stoke drew first blood through Oussama Assaidi.
The loanee from Liverpool, who scored a sublime winner in the 4-3 win over Chelsea at the back end of last year, added another excellent goal to his collection. Four minutes after the restart, John Stones' clearance fell nicely into the path of the Moroccan winger who lashed home from just outside the area. Everton's draw sees them trail Liverpool by one point in fifth spot.
Stoke City 1 Everton 1: match report
Read a full match report of the Premier League game between Stoke City and Everton at Britannia Stadium on Wednesday Jan 1, 2014.
By John Percy
1 Jan 2014
Roberto Martinez has admitted Everton's hopes of challenging for the Premier League title is a "healthy dream" and this provided further encouragement after Leighton Baines's late penalty preserved a point. Everton appeared on course for only their third defeat of the season after Oussama Assaidi's goal but Mark Hughes was again left to rue a refereeing decision after substitute Jermaine Pennant fouled Leon Osman in the area. Pennant's challenge was reckless but Baines's equaliser deprived Stoke of victory in added time and underlined why optimism is building that Martinez can take Everton to the dizzy heights that proved beyond David Moyes.
Kevin Mirallas struck the woodwork twice in the first half and Everton did not look capable of finding a way past an admirably resilient Stoke defence, with goalkeeper Jack Butland finally making his league debut as a substitute after Thomas Sorensen's injury. But Baines had the last word to further frustrate Hughes after an absorbing second half. Stoke's Christmas has not been memorable. After travelling over 700 miles for two away games, they suffered heavy defeats blighted by what they perceived to be poor refereeing decisions. They were the better team in the opening half an hour but their lack of cutting edge proved why Hughes is scouring Europe for a new forward.
Everton were menacing on the counter-attack and Mirallas struck the crossbar from 25 yards before bending a free kick against a post. Sorensen, the Stoke goalkeeper, did not move for either incident and was replaced at half-time by Butland, with the England international making his league debut nearly 12 months after signing from Birmingham. Butland had only been on the field four minutes when Stoke took the lead. Everton failed to adequately clear after Charlie Adam's charge forward and Assaidi produced a clinical finish with a low shot past Tim Howard. Everton responded, with Ross Barkley proving increasingly influential. Stoke's defending was typically resilient, epitomised by a desperate block by Erik Pieters that denied Mirallas a certain goal from close range.
Martinez introduced Nikica Jelavic and Leon Osman in an attempt to find an equaliser and it was a question of how much pressure Stoke could withstand. It was nervy and edgy and it seemed they had done enough but Pennant lost his head and brought down Osman in the area, with Baines making no mistake.
Stoke (4-5-1): Sorensen (Butland half-time); Cameron, Shawcross, Wilson, Pieters; Walters (Pennant 72), Nzonzi, Adam (Palacios 82), Whelan, Assaidi; Crouch. Subs (not used): Butland, Muniesa, Jones, Arnautovic, Ireland.
Booked: Cameron, Shawcross, Whelan
Everton (4-2-3-1): Howard; Coleman, Stones, Alcaraz, Baines; Barry, McCarthy (Osman 72); Mirallas, Barkley, Pienaar (Jelavic 72); Lukaku (Naismith 82). Subs (not used): Robles, Hibbert, Oviedo, Vellios. Booked: Mirallas.
Referee: Andre Marriner (Birmingham)
Stoke 1-1 Everton: Last-gasp Leighton Baines penalty denies the Potters the points
Jan 01, 2014 17:32
By Mirror Football
A late penalty from Leighton Baines secured Everton a point at the Britannia Stadium.
The Toffees went close in the first half, with Kevin Mirallas twice hitting the woodwork. But it was Stoke who went ahead in the 49th minute when on-loan Liverpool winger Oussama Assaidi seized on John Stones' attempted clearance and smashed it past keeper Tim Howard.
The Potters looked set to make a winning start to 2014, but substitute Jermaine Pennant fouled another player who had come off the bench, Leon Osman, in the box in stoppage time and Baines swept in the resulting penalty. Everton slip from fourth to fifth in the table, while Stoke stay 12th.
The first real attempt on goal of the match came in the 11th minute from Charlie Adam, whose shot appeared to take a deflection on its way to Howard, and a minute later Gareth Barry was penalised for climbing over his marker as he headed a corner over the bar. Assaidi then brought a parry out of Howard, but the whistle had gone again, with Adam having been judged to have pushed Stones as he headed on Jon Walters' cross to the Morocco international. Peter Crouch looped a header wide from another Walters delivery, before James McCarthy's low shot called Thomas Sorensen into action at the other end. Mirallas' first effort against the goalframe came in the 30th minute when he cut inside and let fly with a strike that came back off the crossbar. Assaidi threatened again, chesting down a Geoff Cameron cross and seeing his shot deflect behind off an Everton man.
Ross Barkley then put a first-time effort over from a cut-back by the lively Mirallas, who went within inches once more to breaking the deadlock in first-half stoppage time as his free-kick connected with the post. Certainly Stoke had survived some scares before the break, but shortly after the restart, they snatched the lead as Assaidi notched his fourth goal since joining the Potters on loan from Liverpool earlier in the season. Stones - on his first Premier League start - tried to head clear a Glenn Whelan cross, but the ball only went as far as Assaidi, who rifled it in from the edge of the area. The Toffees looked to respond and after Steven Pienaar had skewed off-target, Jack Butland - who had come on for Sorensen at the interval to make his Stoke debut - got down to save a Romelu Lukaku shot. Adam turned and sent an effort at Howard and Erik Pieters then made a last-ditch tackle to deny Mirallas, before a Barkley strike deflected into the stand. Everton continued to pressurise towards the end of the game and after Steven Naismith and Mirallas had seen efforts blocked on the line, Pennant upended Osman, allowing Baines to seal a point for the Toffees by converting from the spot.
Baines keeps nerve to salvage late Stoke point for Blues
1 Jan 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keefe
Full-back converts from twelve yards two minutes into stoppage time to deny Potters
Leighton Baines saved a point for Everton FC with a dramatic late penalty against Stoke City just as it seemed they were destined to be denied at the Britannia Stadium. The Blues dominated possession on a cold, windy and rain-swept afternoon in the Potteries, but their fortunes seemed set to remain as dismal as the weather after Oussama Assaidi's second-half goal gave Mark Hughes' side the lead.
Everton threw everything at the hosts as a difficult contest became one-way traffic in the closing stages, but struggled to find a way past the resolute home defence. However, in the 92nd minute Jermaine Pennant upended sub Leon Osman, and Baines held his nerve to grab some comfort from an otherwise frustrating New Year's Day clash. Roberto Martinez 's men had proved on Sunday that they could cope without key men, and they were tasked with doing so again in the absence of both Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin, as the Frenchman joined his team-mate on the treatment table with a ham-string problem. It was a cagey start for both sides, with neither troubling the respective goalkeepers although Stoke were predictably eager to pile the pressure on Everton's makeshift central defensive partnership of John Stones and Antolin Alcaraz. The Blues had enough to worry the home defence too however, with Baines and Steven Pienaar rekindling their dynamic duo with some smart inter-play, and Romelu Lukaku making some threatening runs despite the close attentions of Ryan Shawcross. Eventually Assaidi did test Tim Howard with a vicious strike that the American parried solidly, but ref Andre Marriner had already blown for a blatant shove by Charlie Adam on Stones. In reply James McCarthy forced Thomas Sorensen into a diving save at his near post with a low drive from Baines' pass, and Ross Barkley began to draw a string of fouls in advanced areas. The game remained wide open, as Peter Crouch sent a header wide from Jon Walters' cross and then as sheets of rain began to fall, Baines had to block a long range effort from Steven Nzonzi that appeared goalbound. The Toffees remained patient in their own build-up, beginning to dominate possession and try to find an opening, which almost arrived when Kevin Mirallas cut inside from the left and saw his thumping right-footed strike beat Sorensen but crash back off the bar.
At the other end Assaidi found himself unmarked on the edge of the area, and tried his luck with a dangerous strike that hit Alcaraz and deflected just past Howard's right post.
Then Barkley stabbed a volley wide from Mirallas' pin-point diagonal pass. Everton were building a steady momentum, and they were denied by the woodwork again just before the break when Mirallas' 25-yard free-kick this time hit the post. It seemed only a matter of time before they broke the deadlock, but gallingly that decisive moment came for Stoke, four minutes after the restart.
Stones cleared Glenn Whelan's cross into the area, but the ball fell to the unmarked Assaidi who lashed a right footed drive beyond Howard. The former Liverpool man had already signalled his threat, and Martinez will have been frustrated that he was not dealt with better.
Nevertheless Mirallas might again have struck when he seized on Baines' pull-back only to be denied by Erik Pieter's sliding block. The Blues really began to pile on the pressure in the search for parity, pouring forward and finding plenty of dangerous positions around the Stoke area but time and time again their final ball was a shade ineffective. Pieters was called upon to produce another fine block when Barkley's quick feet saw him glide through two challenges and aim for goal.
The Dutch left back was in inspired form and made another double block from substitute Steven Naismith and Mirallas with the clock ticking down. Hope seemed forlorn but then Jermaine Pennant, who had just been booked, brought down Osman and Baines sent Jack Butland the wrong way from the spot. Everton may move back down to fifth place in the table, with Liverpool rising a point ahead of them, but once again they showed their indomitable spirit on a testing afternoon.
STOKE CITY: (4-4-1-1) Sorensen (Butland, 45), Cameron, Shawcross (Capt), Wilson, Pieters, Walters (Pennant, 72) Nzonzi, Adam (Palacios, 82) Whelan, Assaidi, Crouch.
Subs not used: Muniesa, Jones, Arnautovic, Ireland.
Bookings: Cameron, Shawcross, Whelan, Pennant.
Goals: Assaidi (49)
EVERTON: (4-2-3-1) Howard (Capt), Coleman, Stones, Alcaraz, Baines, Pienaar (Jelavic, 72), McCarthy (Osman, 72), Barry, Barkley, Mirallas, Lukaku (Naismith, 82).
Subs not used: Robles, Hibbert, Oviedo, Vellios.
PGoals: Baines (pen, 92)
Referee: Andre Marriner.
Persistence pays off for Everton FC as they get late point at Stoke
2 Jan 2014 Daily Post
Leighton Baines spot kick in injury time makes sure the Blues don't come away from the Britannia empty handed
Point made. If anybody thought the festive period would prove the undoing of Everton’s top-four challenge, such belief received a firm rebuttal yesterday. Persistence paid off at the Britannia Stadium as Roberto Martinez’s side netted a late leveller to bring in the New Year in dramatic fashion and maintain their quest for Champions League qualification. There was something unerringly inevitable about the manner in which the Goodison outfit knocked and knocked at the door before finally finding a way in with Leighton Baines’s injury-time equaliser from the spot.
The festive period is renowned for separating the wheat from the chaff at the top of the Premier League and, even allowing for the Boxing Day aberration against Sunderland, Everton stand just a point off fourth place. Yes, Martinez’s men weren’t at their best here. But the character, patience and self-belief demonstrated are the hallmarks of any aspirant side. Until Baines’s late intervention, it appeared Everton would fall victim of the loan system that has proven so profitable for them this season with Oussama Assaidi, on a temporary switch from Liverpool, having fired Stoke into the lead shorty after the interval. The visitors merited their point. Twice Kevin Mirallas struck the woodwork from range while Stoke left-back Erik Pieters produced a succession of heroic goal-saving blocks as the visitors knocked loudly on the door during the closing stages. But it wasn’t all positive. Romelu Lukaku, having ended his goal drought against Southampton at the weekend, was back on the periphery, and there was a sense Everton were running out of ideas as the clock ticked down. Credit, then, to Martinez for the substitutions that ultimately helped extract a point from a testing afternoon, most notably the introduction of Leon Osman whose enthusiasm and direct running coaxed the needless foul from Jermaine Pennant that won the injury-time penalty. This has been a Christmas of extremes for Osman, from villain against Sunderland to hero within the space of a week. The hectic run of fixtures has stretched many squads, and Everton were no different yesterday. With Sylvain Distin joining fellow hamstring injury victim Phil Jagielka on the sidelines, it was the first time the Blues had been without their first-choice centre-back pairing since the home win over Manchester City on January 31 2012. A big day, then, for John Stones, who, with John Heitinga on his way to West Ham United, was brought in to partner Antolin Alcaraz in the heart of defence for his full Premier League debut having previously made five top-flight appearances from he bench. Given Alcaraz had only achieved that landmark for the club in the weekend win over Southampton, it meant there was a distinctly unusual appearance to what has proven the foundation for Everton’s success during recent times. Unsurprisingly, Stones was targeted by Stoke during the early exchanges but dealt well with the succession of crosses pumped into the box, the only danger from which came when Peter Crouch’s tame header dropped harmlessly wide from a Jonathan Walters delivery. Everton enjoyed plenty of possession towards the final third but lacked a real cutting edge, James McCarthy’s shot from range easily fielded by Thomas Sorensen. But the Stoke goalkeeper was grateful for his woodwork on the half-hour when Mirallas cut in from the left and unleashed a blistering drive that crashed against the crossbar and bounced back into play.The home side responded when yet another cross found Assaidi unmarked at the far post and his shot deflected off the head of Alcaraz and drifted wide with Howard beaten. Everton, however, appeared the more threatening, and five minutes before the interval Ross Barkley stabbed an improvised effort narrowly over from 12 yards having been found by Mirallas. The woodwork was rattled against in final minute of the half when, after Leighton Baines was felled by Steven Nzonzi 25 yards from goal, Mirallas curled a right-footed free-kick against the post with Sorensen rooted to the spot. The goalkeeper failed to emerge for the second half, replaced by England youngster Jack Butland. But Everton hadn’t had a chance to test the new man when they fell behind four minutes after the interval. While Stones met Glenn Whelan’s cross from deep with a solid enough headed clearance, he was unfortunate to see it land at the feet of the unmarked Assaidi 20 yards from goal who thumped a shot beyond Howard before Seamus Coleman could reach him. Everton responded. Having already driven an inviting free-kick into the defensive wall from 20 yards, Mirallas then saw a goalbound effort brilliantly blocked by Pieters after Gareth Barry and Baines carved open the Stoke defence. Pieters then produced another excellent block after Barkley slalomed his way beyond two defenders inside the penalty area to fashion a shooting opportunity. The extraordinary Pieters was proving unbeatable, twice blocking from substitute Steven Naismith and Mirallas in the space of seconds before another substitute, Nikica Jelavic, saw a shot smothered clear by the Stoke defence.Everton were running out of ideas. But then, as the clock ticked into injury time, the visitors were given a lifeline when, having already had a nibble at Osman, Stoke substitute Jermaine Pennant couldn’t resist another hack leaving referee Andre Marriner no option but to point to the spot.Baines kept his nerve, and the point was secured. Happy New Year? The jubilant Evertonians that bounded out of the Britannia would find it hard to disagree.
Roberto Martinez hails impact of Leon Osman after point at Stoke
2 Jan 2014 Daily Post
By Ian Doyle
Midfielder comes off the bench to earn the late penalty which see them take a point away from the Britannia
Relieved Roberto Martinez hailed the “magic feet” of Leon Osman that helped earn Everton a dramatic draw at Stoke City. Osman came off the bench to win an injury-time penalty from which Leighton Baines scored the equaliser in a 1-1 draw at the Britannia Stadium yesterday Stoke winger Oussama Assaidi, on loan from Liverpool, had seemingly consigned the Goodison outfit to only their third Premier League defeat of the campaign with his 49th-minute opener. And Martinez was thankful for Osman, whose topsy-turvy festive period had already seen him at fault for Sunderland’s shock winner on Boxing Day before skippering the side to victory over Southampton. “I was really pleased with Leon Osman,” said the Everton manager. “Football is a game of risks, you will make mistakes and it’s all about how you react to things like that (his mistake v Sunderland). “Osman is one of the reliables in the dressing room. He represents Everton and you know when you are facing adversity, you can rely on him. “The way he has coped with what happened over Christmas is magnificent. I’m delighted with him and he’s set those standards and I’m pleased he has shown those magic feet in the box at the right time.” Despite the late equaliser, Everton have dropped out of the Champions League qualification places and now stand a point adrift of fourth-placed neighbours Liverpool. Martinez, though, believes his side deserve credit for the manner in which they responded to Stoke’s opener and was disappointed not to snatch all three points. “It would have been tough for us not to have got anything from the match,” he said. “I thought that whoever scored the first goal would be final. When we hit the woodwork twice then you start to feel it isn’t going to be your day. “Stoke’s first proper chance drops to them outside the box and ends up in the back of the net and it seemed that was the worst possible case at that moment. “We weren’t at our best by any stretch of the imagination but what we showed was an incredible, incredible reaction. “To have then had two balls cleared off the line and won the penalty thanks to the magic feet of Leon Osman, was a good reward and has left me left me feeling we have dropped two points.” With Sylvain Distin joining Phil Jagielka on the sidelines and John Heitinga negotiating a transfer to West Ham United, John Stones was handed the first Premier League start of his career alongside Antolin Alcaraz at centre-back. And Martinez was delighted with the way in which the makeshift pairing performed. “I couldn’t be happier with centre-back partnership,” said the Catalan. “Young John Stones is going to be one of the best defenders in the English game. “I was so impressed with him against Juventus in pre-season and he has been working hard since, so I knew he was ready. “He is a born leader and we are going to see something special in his career. He has played right-back many times but John has everything to be a good modern centre-half. He is good on ball and in the air and reads the game well, but more importantly is a leader.” Of Distin’s injury, Martinez added: “Sylvain felt his hamstring against Southampton and kept playing in the second half. “He won’t be out for too long, 10 to 12 days perhaps. It’s just a little nick in his hamstring.” Stoke manager Mark Hughes insisted his team deserved three points but bemoaned the rash challenge by substitute Jermain Pennant that gave Baines the chance to equalise from the spot.“We are disappointed not to get the maximum points as our performance deserved that,” said the Welshman. “We put our bodies on the line and when you get to a few minutes from the end you expect to see it out, but we made a mistake and they got a penalty. “Jermaine made a mistake, and when a right decision was required he miscalculated and it was a stonewall penalty. “Only a few weeks ago we were beaten comprehensively at Goodison, so we have turned that around.”
Stoke City: Fans have their say on Stoke's draw with Everton
By The Sentinel January 01, 2014
THIS is the first game this season when I felt we were playing as a team, fighting for possession, playing with passion and defending as though our lives depended upon it.
We played like Stoke City of a few seasons ago and looked as though we really wanted to win.
Our passing game is getting better, and the defensive partnership of Marc Wilson and Ryan Shawcross is beginning to work well. Shawcross was superb and had his best game of the season.
After the poor refereeing we witnessed over Christmas Andre Marriner was slightly better but still poor. At least we have been able to stop the slide down the table, but Jermaine Pennant was very poor and his rash tackle cost us the three points. Maybe it's time for him to move on.
Well done to Jack Butland who came on at half time. He looked confident in goal and made a class save. If both goalkeepers are injured then I'm sure we are in safe hands.
SUE BRYAN, Meir Park
WE shouldn't be too disappointed with a point against a strong Everton side, but I admit to leaving this game feeling somewhat frustrated. We conceded yet another penalty and picked up a further handful of bookings. Pennant's challenge which led to the spot-kick was silly and needless and gifted the Toffees a point. Still, a draw was probably a fair results. My man of the match was Oussama Assaidi, who excited the fans with almost every touch of the ball. The cherry on the top of his fine performance was a really well-taken goal. Charlie Adam also looked up for the game, which is more than can be said for Peter Crouch who, in my view, had a poor game. Admittedly, he was feeding off scraps, but he looked off the pace and laboured. Perhaps more concerning is that I can only remember one decent cross into the box from a Stoke player; we simply can't seem to centre the ball at the moment. Defensively, we were resolute, but Erik Pieters had another disappointing game, continually losing out to Seamus Coleman who frequently bypassed him like he wasn't there.
JAMES KING, Trentham
Stoke City 1, Everton 1: Mark Hughes refuses to blame Jermaine Pennant after late penalty
By The Sentinel January 02, 2014
SO CLOSE: Stoke City's players show their dejection after Everton's 92nd-minute penalty denied them all three points at the Britannia Stadium yesterday. Picture: Malcolm Hart
MARK Hughes went easy on Jermaine Pennant after seeing him needlessly concede the late penalty that cost Stoke two points against Everton at the Britannia Stadium yesterday. Hughes refused to heap much blame on his winger, instead saying he was simply the wrong player in the wrong place when lunging recklessly to bring down Leon Osman in stoppage time. Hughes even defended Pennant after Stoke's 1-1 draw when claiming he should have had more protection from referee Andre Marriner during his contribution as a late sub. "The referee didn't really help him," said Hughes. "There were a number of occasions when Jermaine was knocked over in challenges which I thought were a little bit harsh on him, but he made a mistake by making a challenge in the box. "You want full-backs and defensive-minded players in that position. Unfortunately, he's miscalculated and it's a stone wall penalty. "He's an attack-minded player and it's not one of his strengths trying to stop opposing players. He made a mistake, but it's unfortunate for him." Hughes, pictured, said he was delighted with his team's performance after taking a 49th-minute lead through Oussama Assaidi before defending to the bitter end. "We are disappointed not to get maximum points because I thought our performance deserved it," he stated. "In the first half we played really well and created some good scoring opportunities with quality balls into the box. "In the second half we got a goal through Ossie, who's playing really well at the moment and showing the threat he's got. "We knew Everton would throw people forward and try to make things happen, but I was pleased we showed what was required by putting bodies on the line. "Only a few weeks ago we were beaten comprehensively at Goodison Park, so we turned that right on it's head. "And after a difficult time over Christmas, but we have picked ourselves up and put in a really good performance." Hughes faces a possible goalkeeping crisis after Thomas Sorensen, already filling in for the injured Asmir Begovic, failed to make the second half because of an Achilles tendon problem requiring a scan today to discover the extent of the damage. Jack Butland made his club debut in the second 45 and now seems certain to start against Leicester in the FA Cup on Saturday, with young Austrian Daniel Bachman on standby for the bench. "He's got an issue with his Achilles which he's had before," revealed Hughes. "He felt it just prior to the end of the half and it was getting progressively more painful. "The good thing is we have an outstanding young keeper and he showed real confidence and the benefit of going out on loan. He knows what's required at this level." Sorensen's misfortune is nothing new for the veteran Dane because he has now failed to finish, a Premier League record 13 matches during his English career with Sunderland, Aston Villa and Stoke. STOKE winger Brek Shea made his debut for Barnsley yesterday after joining the club on a month's loan. He played 75 minutes of the Tykes' 1-1 draw at Birmingham City.
Blues show grit and polish - Greg O'Keeffe's big match verdict
2 Jan 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keefe
Roberto Martinez's men show never say die attitude to claim late point
It was the sort of afternoon that could so easily have seen Everton’s top four credentials swept away in a deluge of torrential rain and thwarted chances. A combination of the Britannia Stadium woodwork and a stubborn Stoke City rearguard looked to have inflicted a New Year’s Day hangover.
But the Blues made their point – and salvaged one in the process – thanks to a never say die attitude which is just as vital as the other stylish refinements of Roberto Martinez’s reign so far.
With their rivals for the Champions League qualifying positions enjoying positive results, Everton were handed the thorny challenge of beating the Potters in their intimidating back yard with an untested and raw central defensive partnership. There is rarely home comfort for Everton on the first day of the new year, it has been over a decade since the last time this fixture was at Goodison.
And true to form there was very little comfort on offer in the cold, wet, and windy Potteries until Leighton Baines’ decisive last-gasp penalty. Martinez’s men had proved against Southampton that they could cope without key men, and did so again in the absence of both Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin, as the Frenchman joined his team-mate on the treatment table with a hamstring problem. It was a cagey start for both sides, with neither troubling the respective goalkeepers although Stoke were predictably eager to pile the pressure on Everton’s makeshift defensive duo of John Stones and Antolin Alcaraz. The Blues had enough to worry the home defence too however, with Baines and Steven Pienaar rekindling their dynamic duo with some smart interplay, and Romelu Lukaku making some early threatening runs. Oussama Assaidi tested Tim Howard first though, with a vicious strike that the American parried solidly, even though ref Andre Marriner had already blown for a blatant shove by Charlie Adam on Stones. In reply James McCarthy forced Thomas Sorensen into a diving save at his near post with a low drive from Baines’ pass, and Ross Barkley began to draw a string of fouls in advanced areas. The game remained wide open, as Peter Crouch sent a header wide from Jon Walters’ cross and then as sheets of rain began to fall, Baines blocked a long range effort from Steven Nzonzi that appeared goalbound. The Toffees remained patient in their build-up, beginning to dominate possession and strive for an opening, which almost arrived when Kevin Mirallas cut inside from the left and saw his thumping right-footed strike beat Sorensen but crash back off the bar. At the other end Assaidi found himself unmarked on the edge of the area, and tried his luck with a dangerous strike that hit Alcaraz and deflected just past Howard’s right post. Then Barkley stabbed a volley wide from Mirallas’ pin-point diagonal pass. Everton were building a steady momentum, and they were denied by the woodwork again just before the break when Mirallas’ 25-yard free-kick this time hit the post. It seemed only a matter of time before they broke the deadlock, but gallingly that decisive moment came for Stoke, four minutes after the restart. Stones cleared Glenn Whelan’s cross into the area, but his header fell to the unmarked Assaidi who lashed a right footed drive beyond Howard. The on-loan Liverpool man had already signalled his threat, and Martinez will have been frustrated that he found the time and space to pull the trigger.
Nevertheless Mirallas might again have struck when he seized on Baines’ pull-back only to be denied by Erik Pieters’ sliding block. The Blues really began to pile on the pressure in the search for parity, pouring forward and finding plenty of dangerous positions but time and time again their final ball was ineffective or their decision-making faltered at the crucial moment. Pieters was called upon to produce another fine block when Barkley’s quick feet saw him glide through two challenges and aim for goal. The Dutch left-back was in inspired form and made another double block from substitute Steven Naismith and Mirallas with the clock ticking down. Hope seemed forlorn but then Jermaine Pennant, who had just been booked, brought down Leon Osman and Baines sent sub goalkeeper Jack Butland the wrong way from the spot. A sigh of relief for all in Blue, and particularly Osman who has enjoyed mixed fortunes during the festive period. From the ignominy of the misplaced pass on Boxing Day that led to Everton’s second defeat of the season, to the typically clever run that helped avoid a third yesterday. Everton may move back down to fifth place in the table, with Liverpool rising a point ahead of them, but once again they showed their indomitable spirit in a testing fixture. They could certainly do with extra attacking reinforcements this month, as they continue to miss the mercurial influence of Gerard Deulofeu. Another striker to share the burden with Lukaku would help, and Spartak Moscow’s Premier League-bound winger Aidan McGeady could provide extra incision from the flanks. But in the twists and turns of a Premier League season this last-gasp draw could prove crucial come May. Some myopic broadcasters (hello BT Sports) declined to even include the Blues in their analysis of the top four contenders recently. But those who are poised to dismiss them and see ‘plucky little Everton’ back in their box will have to keep waiting.It might be a New Year, but it’s that old Blue defiance which remains in healthy supply.STOKE CITY (4-4-1-1): Sorensen (Butland, 45), Cameron, Shawcross (Capt), Wilson, Pieters, Walters (Pennant, 72) Nzonzi, Adam (Palacios, 82) Whelan, Assaidi, Crouch. Subs not used: Muniesa, Jones, Arnautovic, Ireland.BOOKINGS: Cameron, Shawcross, Whelan, Pennant.GOAL: Assaidi (49)EVERTON (4-2-3-1): Howard (Capt), Coleman, Stones, Alcaraz, Baines, Pienaar (Jelavic, 72), McCarthy (Osman, 72), Barry, Barkley, Mirallas, Lukaku (Naismith, 82). Subs not used: Robles, Hibbert, Oviedo, Vellios.
GOAL: Baines (pen, 92)
REFEREE: Andre Marriner (Birmingham)
Martinez delighted with defensive deputies
2 Jan 2014 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
Stand-ins put on top class display against Stoke
Roberto Martinez revealed that Everton FC are likely to be without their first choice central defensive pairing for the next 10 to 12 days – but the Blues boss was delighted with the performances of deputies Antolin Alcaraz and John Stones at Stoke yesterday. And in 19-year-old debutant Stones, Martinez believes he has a youngster who can become “one of the best defenders in the English game”. Sylvain Distin joined Phil Jagielka on the injured list after injuring his hamstring against Southampton on Sunday. With Johnny Heitinga talking to West Ham about a possible move, that left a pairing who had never played together before. But Martinez said: “I couldn’t be happier with the partnership. I thought Antolin Alcaraz, after five months out injured, has come back and faced two of the hardest tests you’re going to get in the league – one because of the dynamic play of the Southampton strikers and then today, with the threat of the direct play into Peter Crouch and the movement around him and the physicality, but I thought Antolin was magnificent. Then you’ve got young John Stones who I think is going to be one of the best defenders in the English game. “I was so impressed with him in pre-season when he played in our friendly against Juventus, and from that point on he has been working hard and I knew he was ready.
“I couldn’t be happier with his performance, right up to clearing the final corner which shows you he is a born leader. “I think we’re going to see something special in John Stones’ career.
“He has played right-back many times for the Under-21s but centre-half is his natural position. John Stones has got everything to be a good, modern centre-half. He is good on the ball, is good in the air, he can read the game exceptionally well, but more importantly he has a leader inside of him and I think he will be one of the best centre-halfs in the English game.” Stones and Alcaraz are likely to continue in Saturday’s FA Cup visit of Queens Park Rangers to Goodison, with Martinez revealing: “Sylvain felt his hamstring against Southampton and he kept playing in the second half. It was too much for him to play today but I don’t think he will be out for too long – probably 10 days, 12 days.”
But the Blues will go into the tie in good heart after salvaging a point at Stoke with Leighton Baines’ clincally converted penalty kick in time added on. Martinez admitted he wasn’t sure if the goal was ever coming. “With the conditions and the weather, combined with the busy Christmas period when squads are getting really stretched, I thought that whoever scored the first goal would be final,” he explained. “When we hit the crossbar twice in the first half you feel it’s not going to be our day, and the first chance that Stoke had they scored with a good strike from outside the box.
“I don’t think we were at our best by any stretch of the imagination but what we showed was an incredible, incredible reaction once we conceded the goal. “We forced Stoke back into their own box and what I was pleased with was we didn’t play into their hands. “They had nine players defending the box and it would have been all to easy to become predictable.
“But we had two balls cleared off the line then we got the penalty through the magic feet of Leon Osman and it was a good reward, even though it left us felling that we dropped two points.
“But I couldn’t be happier with the way we finished the game.” Martinez was delighted that it was Osman who won the saving penalty after his experience against Sunderland on Boxing Day.
“We need to remember that football is a game of risks and you’re going to make mistakes. It’s how you react to them and Leon Osman is one of the most reliable footballers you can have in that dressing room,” said the Blues boss. “He represents Everton and you know that when you are facing adversity you can rely on Leon. “The way he has coped with what happened in the Christmas period is magnificent. “I’m delighted for him. He is someone who sets standards on a daily basis and I am very very pleased he showed those magic feet in the box at the right time.”
I want Jags' place in team, says Stones
2 Jan 2014 Liverpool Echo
Blues youngster praises mentor, while admitting aim is to "give manager a problem" when Jagielka is fit again
John Stones insists he has the perfect mentor in Phil Jagielka – but his ultimate aim is to challenge for the Everton FC skipper’s place in the team. The highly-rated 19-year-old made his Premier League debut during yesterday’s 1-1 draw with Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium, with both Jagielka and Sylvain Distin sidelined with hamstring problems. England U21 international Stones produced a mature and composed performance alongside Antolin Alcaraz in a makeshift central defensive pair, and he explained how learning from Jagielka & Co has helped him progress rapidly since he joined the Blues from Barnsley for £3m in January 2013. He said: “It’s his desire to become the best he can. There’s always little things that Jags will tell me or I see him doing in training that I pick up on – if it’s positionally or even a pass I see him playing. Things like that. His experience is rubbing off on me and I can’t thank him enough for that. “I just need to take my chance now and embrace it. I want to give the manager a problem to choose his side when Jags is back fit. That’s all I can do really. “It’s nice to hear the faith the manager has in me. It puts a lot of confidence into us and playing me against Stoke was a special moment for me.” The defender, who can also play at right-back, reserved praise for Alcaraz too, after the Paraguayan made only his second start in a blue shirt since joining in the summer. “Me and Antolin have played a few behind closed doors games together so we know how each other works and he’s such an experienced guy as well,” he said.
“It’s a big learning curve for me, but the pros I have around me make it easier to come into a game like this. “I love getting on the ball and trying to make things happen from the back. The manager has put his stamp on how we train and how we play and it suits me as a player and all the dressing room. “Every week we’re trying to better ourselves and looking at the stats and trying to improve on them. They’re a key part in everyone’s game now and it’s a good indicator for how we’re coming on.” Stones had to be at his best during the first half in particular, when the Potters piled pressure on Everton’s new defensive duo, and although he was pleased with how he coped in testing wintry conditions, he admitted he was frustrated that the Blues were denied a victory by a combination of the woodwork and Oussama Assaidi’s second half goal. “I’ve always heard about the weather conditions at the Brit and what it’s like and it was a big test,” he said. “The wind and the rain made it tough and added extra pressure. “Then with the height they have I thought we coped really well. To grind out that result was good but I felt we should have had three points.”]
Stoke City 1, Everton 1: Jack Butland delighted to make Premier League bow for Potters
By The Sentinel January 02, 2014
JACK Butland says he will stand proud after making his Stoke City debut, despite missing the chance to be an injury-time hero. The 20-year-old was called on at half-time against Everton after an Achilles tendon injury to Thomas Sorensen. He thought he was going to help the Potters to three points after Oussama Assaidi gave them the lead four minutes later. But the Toffees finally found a way past him two minutes into injury-time, when Leighton Baines struck a penalty into the bottom left corner after Leon Osman had been felled by Jermaine Pennant. Butland said: "Shortly before half-time Andy Quy, the goalkeeping coach told me to make sure I was ready. Hopefully Tommy's all right and it's not too bad. "It was a brilliant experience, fantastic to make my Stoke debut and first appearance in the Premier League as well, it's just unfortunate we couldn't seal it with a win.
"It was a grind at the end and the lads did well to keep them out for as long as we did.
"Unfortunately it was a penalty. It would have been the icing on the cake if I'd saved it so it was disappointing in the end but, overall, I was really pleased with the day." Butland got the nod to return to Stoke from a loan spell at Barnsley on Boxing Day when Asmir Begovic broke a finger in training. He says his three months at Oakwell were key to him staying match-fit.
"It was important that I played in the Championship with Barnsley. I got that run of games to get my confidence and consistency up," he said. "And I felt really comfortable coming on. I didn't feel out of my depth at all, and the loan spell really helped with that. "I enjoyed it at Barnsley. It was a brilliant experience with a great bunch of lads, and we won some important games. "It was a tough grind, but it was what I needed. I needed to be playing games, and even though it was the bottom of the Championship, games are what are important at any level. It all set me up to come in ready for Stoke." Sorensen will have a scan today on his Achilles tendon while Begovic is expected to be still out for another month. Butland added: "It's the nature of the beast. It's incredible that Tommy and Asmir have both got injured. "Hopefully they'll return quickly and get back to full fitness. In the meantime I'm really pleased I've made my debut. "We'll see what happens. Hopefully I'll be able to keep my place for Saturday (and the FA Cup third round tie against Leicester City).
"I'll keep my head down and put in some good work on the training ground. I just need to keep concentrating, be relaxed and be ready to put in good performances." Butland's debut came 11 months after he signed for Stoke from Birmingham City. He says he knew he would have to be patient and he has not spent the past year idly kicking his heels. He said: "I knew I wasn't going to be thrown straight into the first team. It was never a case of that happening, it was very much about development and training with two of the best goalkeepers around. "Tommy is one of the best keepers there has been in the Premier League and Asmir is the same. His performances for Stoke over the last couple of years have been sensational. It's been incredible to work with them and improve."
Stoke City 1, Everton 1: Oussama Assaidi hails boss Mark Hughes after latest goal
By The Sentinel January 02, 2014
ALL SMILES: Oussama Assaidi starts the celebrations after putting Stoke ahead against Everton at the Brit yesterday. Pictures: Malcolm Hart OUSSAMA Assaidi says Mark Hughes has given him the confidence to rediscover his scoring boots. Assaidi's 49th-minute goal in a 1-1 draw with Everton was his fourth in his last 11 appearances, reminiscent of the form he was showing for Dutch side Heerenveen to catch the eye of Liverpool a couple of seasons ago. He netted 10 times in 28 outings in his last year in Holland before being stuck on the sidelines for the best part of 12 months at Anfield. And he is relishing the regular action and a chance to get back on the goal trail on the left flank at Stoke. "The manager here has given me a lot of confidence," said the 26-year-old winger.
"He told me to get hold of the ball and take the defenders on, be direct and run in at goal. That's the way I like to play football and I'm enjoying myself. "I almost scored in the first half too. If my shot wasn't blocked I think it would've gone in. "As soon as I got the ball (for the goal) I fancied my chances. It's a shame it didn't win us the game, though. "I think I played well against Everton. It was a hard game and we worked very hard. In the end we were unlucky not to pick up the three points."
It was Assaidi's second strike in front of the Boothen End, following up a belter in the last minute to beat Chelsea last month. "I like to score for the fans," he added. "The crowd at Stoke is brilliant. We wanted to win the three points for them, they deserved them." Leighton Baines' 92nd-minute penalty – after Jermaine Pennant's foul on Leon Osman – meant Stoke had to share the spoils, having looked on course for victory for most of the second half. Assaidi added: "It's very disappointing. Everyone was upset, but I think we played well; we defended well and we used the ball well. "Everybody was thinking we were going to hold out for the win, but we have to move on to the next game." Defender Marc Wilson says the Stoke players will not let Pennant dwell on his mistake in giving away the penalty in the closing stages. He said: "Everyone makes mistakes and Jermaine will know that. "He was upset in the changing room, but the lads will pick him up.
"It's a game of football, you make mistakes. It's how you respond to those mistakes that's important moving forward."
Stoke City 1, Everton 1: Pain game puts paid to Thomas Sorensen's chances
By The Sentinel January 02, 2014
THOMAS Sorensen admitted there was no chance he could have played through the pain barrier as his comeback to first-team football took another unfortunate twist.
Sorensen has regained the number one jersey at Stoke in the past week after Asmir Begovic broke a finger, but was on the wrong end of two heavy defeats before his appearances against Everton ended prematurely yesterday. The 37-year-old suffered an Achilles tendon injury in the first half and was replaced by Jack Butland at the interval. He said: "I felt it go on a through-ball. I sprinted off the line and felt a pain. It felt like a recurrence of an injury I suffered towards the end of last season and it's painful. "I tried to play on, but by half-time I couldn't put any weight on my right leg, so there was no way I could continue. "I have to let it settle down and then I'll have a scan. We will have to see. From past experience I know it can be pretty tricky to treat."
Stoke looked on course to gain a win after Sorensen's departure, with Oussama Assaidi's goal only cancelled out two minutes into injury time after Jermaine Pennant fouled Leon Osman and Leighton Baines netted a penalty. Sorensen said: "The display from everyone was superb after two tough results. "It was always going to be a hard game, but we showed we were well up for it.
"It was a bit of a soft penalty to give away and a it was a heartbreaker to see the win slip through our fingers. But we have to take the positives and move on." The draw leaves Stoke in 12th with 22 points from their opening 20 games. That is five points clear of the relegation zone and one point adrift of the top half. Sorensen said: "As long as we keep picking up points, that's the most important thing. "It was a massive change from when we played Everton a couple of months ago (and were thrashed 4-0) andwe were the stronger team. "We worked hard and almost pulled off a very good win."
Stoke City: Has Jermaine Pennant used up his last chance?
By The Sentinel January 02, 2014
JERMAINE Pennant was apparently kicking himself last night after conceding the stupid penalty which cost Stoke City two points against Everton. About 25,000 people who had been in the Britannia Stadium would have gladly given him a hand. Everyone in the ground could see that Everton were trying to win fouls down their left side to steal a late equaliser from one of Leighton Baines' impressive set-pieces. Pennant himself had already conceded two free-kicks in a matter of minutes, one particularly soft as Baines gently leant into the winger before chucking himself to the ground. So when Leon Osman drove into the area and down a cul-de-sac, the 30-year-old – a veteran of 348 professional games – should surely have known exactly what to do.
There should have been a voice in his head shouting: "Come on Jermaine, two minutes remaining, just don't do anything silly".
He got away with one clumsy swipe as Osman went forward before throwing himself in for ungainly lunge which gave Baines an opportunity to level from 12 yards. He may have been starved of senior action recently, but he is not a rookie. Mark Hughes went relatively easy on him in his post-match interview, acknowledging that defending was not the best part of Pennant's game. But it would have been interesting to be a fly on the wall in the Stoke changing room to see how the team-mates who had worked so hard to get so close to victory were reacting. Peter Crouch had run himself ragged to the point that he collapsed on the pitch at full-time and needed to be helped back to his feet by an opponent. Erik Pieters had dived around the goal-mouth blocking all manner of shots with all parts of his body, but there were ultimately tears to go with the blood and the sweat.So perhaps more telling for Pennant's future than Hughes' calm appraisal was coach Eddie Niedzwiecki talking about the fella on the opposite wing, Oussama Assaidi. "Oussama is doing it for us at the moment," he said. "And the pleasing thing is that he's doing it both ways. "It's not only going forward, he's coming back and defending as well against one of if not the best right-back in the Premier League at the moment in Seamus Coleman. "It was a terrific battle between the two of them." That is the kind of compliment Pennant was receiving back in 2010/11, the purple patch of his spell with Stoke and probably his whole career. That was the kind of attitude he needed to show to claw his way back into anything like first team contention. The next time Stoke are 1-0 up with the backs against the wall will Hughes be glancing over at the bench thinking Pennant is just the man he needs? Pennant's contract is up in the summer and we are already in January, with the manager taking stock of where he needs to make improvements in his squad.
Is it already too late for redemption?
His chances are being ticked off by the week and sooner or later one of them is going to be his last.
A NEW Sentinel gizmo measured the wind speed at nine metres per second before yesterday's match kicked off. It did not reach the Brit Special standards that forced a 10-minute break during the Capital One Cup quarter-final against Manchester United last month. But to be honest, it still felt like nine miles per second as this intrepid reporter stood getting soaked in the shadow of the incinerator. And it looked a great deal windier mid-way through the game when a mist descended over the stadium, linesmen shivered and front rowers took early leave to the concourse. Volunteers who are prepared to stand out in the elements taking measurements are welcome to get in touch.Hughes will have had recourse for the "hairdryer" – a term he invented to describe tellings off from his old boss Sir Alex Ferguson – in more than one way.
Redknapp out to beat West Ham to the signing of Jelavic – report
By West London Sport
QPR boss Harry Redknapp is looking to beat his former club West Ham to the signing of Everton striker Nikica Jelavic, The Guardian say. Rangers and Everton are expected to discuss a deal for the Croatian today at Goodison Park, where they meet in the FA Cup third round.
Both Redknapp and Everton manager Roberto Martinez revealed on Friday that Rangers had expressed an interest in Jelavic, who has been out of favour this season. Related West London Sport story: QPR boss hints at bid for Everton striker The Guardian say both QPR and West Ham are prepared to pay an initial £3.5m, while the Daily Mail say Redknapp will pay up to £5m.
Royal Blue: A Happy Blue Year to everyone!
4 Jan 2014
Everton FC kicked off 2013 in exactly the same way they finished it – with an excellent 2-1 win over a team which wears stripes. But in between the 2-1 away win at Newcastle and the 2-1 defeat of Southampton was an eventful and highly significant 12 months.
Here’s my, highly personal, take on the highs and lows of 2013.
PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR
There were plenty of contenders. The stylish 2-0 dismissal of West Ham on an afternoon when David Moyes still commanded the affection of Evertonians, a deserved 2-0 defeat of champions Manchester City – despite losing Steven Pienaar to a red card – and a stunning afternoon when Everton outpassed the pass masters of Arsenal on their own turf.
That performance actually prompted receipt of a text message from an Evertonian analyst renowned for his cynicism.
“Wow. Just wow!” It read. “We’re back!”
So it had to be some performance to top that. And it was.
Four minutes from the end of Everton’s 22nd visit to Old Trafford without victory, a left-back was still making penetrating runs into the United penalty area.
Bryan Oviedo’s adventure was rewarded with one of the most wildly celebrated Everton goals in recent memory.
GOAL OF THE YEAR
Leighton Baines’ St James’ Park piledriver wasn’t just Everton’s first goal of the year, it was one of the best. Seamus Coleman staged his own personal goal of the year competition with wonderful efforts against Cheltenham, Swansea and Southampton, while Kevin Mirallas’ solo goal against Stoke was voted the Blues’ goal of the 2012/13 season.
It was excellent, but for me Seamus Coleman’s dazzling run, dribble and finish against The Saints last weekend was even better.
QUOTE OF THE YEAR
“When David first came to see me 11 years ago, and we were in a bad state, he said: ‘We’re not going down’. Almost Roberto’s first words to me were: ‘I’ll get you in the Champions League’.“
How we smiled when Bill Kenwright detailed Roberto Martinez’s ambition at his introductory press conference. How we nodded knowingly. And how we’ve been made to look foolish as Everton entered 2014 in fourth place in the table.
MAN OF THE YEAR
A manager with the uncanny knack of finding positivity in even the bleakest situations, a manager who demands football true to Everton’s School of Science roots and a boss who engineered a first win at Manchester United for 20 years.
Step forward Roberto Martinez.
THE ‘WORTH GETTING UP EARLY FOR ‘MOMENT OF THE YEAR
John Stones’ Pirlo-style chip from the penalty spot, on the night Pirlo himself actually missed from the spot, as Everton beat Juventus on penalties in a pre-season tour match in the USA.
THE DUNCAN MCKENZIE AWARD FOR MAKING FANS SIT UP AND TAKE NOTICE ON YOUR HOME DEBUT
SuperMac scored twice on his home debut against Birmingham back in 1976, and dazzled the Blues fans with an array of dribbles and tricks. The reaction to Romelu Lukaku’s home debut against Newcastle on September 30 was just as jaw-dropping.
The night a new hero was born.
DISAPPOINTMENT OF THE YEAR
Only one winner. Everton got the home draw they wanted against opposition they fancied in an FA Cup quarter-final – and didn’t turn up.
Wigan were worthy 3-0 winners, and to add insult to injury then drew Millwall in the FA Cup semi-final.
BLUE MOVIE OF THE YEAR
Anyone who failed to smile at the club’s Christmas ‘Bring Me Sunshine’ video has got a cold, hard stone for a heart.
MATCH OF THE YEAR
Match of the year? The 3-3 derby draw in November was the match of a lifetime. Both sides could have scored three times apiece ... in time added on. A thrilling, sensational, rollercoaster ride of a football match – and a match that proved that derby matches don’t have to be tense and brutal.
SUBSTITUTION OF THE YEAR
Gerard Deulofeu for Leighton Baines just five minutes into the second half of the above match. If Evertonians had a Damascene conversion moment about Roberto Martinez – or Saint Bobby as he henceforth became known – it was then.
SIGNING OF THE YEAR
James McCarthy, Romelu Lukaku and Gerard Deulofeu will all have their supporters – and understandably so – but for me Gareth Barry has exerted an enormous influence of Everton’s season. It’s no coincidence that the Blues have lost only one match in which he has played – and even then when they were down to 10 men for an hour.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
He scored in his first match of 2013 – and he scored in his last game of the year.
He’s his country’s best full-back – and he’s not Leighton Baines.
The left-back enjoyed another outstanding 12 months, but he’s just pipped by the wonderful Seamus Coleman.
The Irishman’s appearance at Stoke on New Year’s Day – when he was excellent again – was the 35th time in 36 matches he had completed 90 minutes – and been superb almost every time.
Happy New Year – and more of the same in 2014 please!
Barry Horne: Blues being shown a lack of respect
4 Jan 2014
Between Christmas and New Year we had the usual end of year debates on the television and radio. It’s the halfway point of the Premier League season so we had the annual ‘Who Will Win The League?’ round-ups – and the usual who will finish in the top four discussions.It’s all knockabout stuff, but I listened to one, on what in the old days you would call a medium wave radio station, which I really took exception to.The pundits were asked to discuss the league title contenders – and the conversation went something like this.Liverpool – Great strike force, but squad a bit thin.Chelsea – Jose Mourinho and talented players.Manchester City – the best squad, fantastic forward line but suspect defence.Arsenal – lasting longer than people expected but need a signing in January. And then someone said, there is one other team of course.That was Manchester United, with nobody willing to write them off even at this stage. At that point I should mention that Everton were fourth in the table, had only just failed to go a whole calendar year unbeaten at home, had lost just two games all season – and most telling of all, in a mini league table between the top eight teams lay second behind Manchester City. I was annoyed not only because I am an Evertonian, but because it was disrespectful and unprofessional to dismiss one team in such fashion. I am sure that if I was in the dressing room and was aware of this it would have had the effect of strengthening my resolve and bringing the squad even closer together. I am sure that Mr Positive himself, Roberto Martinez, would see it the same way and be glad that people are not talking about us.But it still made me angry!
Lukaku has time on his side
4 Jan 2014
Romelu Lukaku has youth on his side says boss Roberto Martinez, as he tries to come to terms with the unique demands of British football.During his first season of Premier League football, on loan at West Bromwich Albion, the Belgian striker made 38 appearances – but he completed the full 90 minutes only seven times.He matched that figure in seven of his last eight appearances at Everton – a late substitution at Stoke on New Year’s Day giving Lukaku his only break since a 79th minute substitution against the same opposition in November.
But Martinez believes the youngster is learning from the experience, rather than suffering, and he would have no concerns at asking Lukaku to start his 16th successive match against Queens Park Rangers this afternoon.“Sometimes you forget that he is 20-years-old and when you’re 20 you’re still learning about how you react in certain situations,” explained Martinez.“You need to remember that when Rom arrived into the British game he was only used in seven full games in the whole season.“All of a sudden he has come to Everton and he is finding out how to cope with fatigue, how to cope with the concentration levels when you’re tired. And I thought he has coped with that really, really well.“I know that to have so many games can take a little bit of freshness away, but what he brings now is a real understanding to the attacking line and more importantly he worries the opposition and always attracts two or three players – so I am very, very pleased that Romelu has the opportunity to experiment with his new position and that will help him fulfil his potential.“He is only 20 but I think he has the energy to cope with him being stretched to the maximum and I think it is going to help his development in his career.”After starting his Everton career with eight goals in nine-and-a-half games, Lukaku has now scored just once in his last seven outings.And the player himself has admitted to feeling a lack of sharpness.
“I have found it hard at some points,” he explained. “After the United game I felt I wasn’t as sharp and as fresh as at the start when I had something like seven league goals in eight games.”But Martinez believes that Lukaku can handle the physical and mental demands of so much football – his only concern being the increased potential for injury to a player who is clearly crucial to his plans.“Remember that as a player what you love is playing football. If you ask a player ‘do you prefer to do two hard sessions in training and one game, or three games?’ they will all tell you they want the games,” added Martinez.“But in the same way, the way that the modern game is you need at least three days to recover from a game and sometimes you go from game to game with fatigue and you haven’t fully recovered. It means that you lose a little bit of freshness to your play and more worryingly the risk of injuries is really high. That’s what we need to manage as a team and a squad, but the player will always tell you he loves to play football and he loves to be out there.“It is just about managing the demands and making sure that we are always a fresh team, because the way we want to play we need to be fresh. We want to control games, we want to take the responsibility of keeping possession and dictating the play.“To do that you need to be fresh, If you’re going to be more of a defensive unit and keep the distance and hit teams on the counter, maybe you don’t need to be that fresh. But we do - and certain positions always need to be fully recovered.”Nikica Jelavic figured in the closing stages of two of Everton’s last three matches – and even though the Croatian could well move on in the January transfer window in order to further his claims for a place in Croatia’s World Cup squad, Martinez would have no concerns about using Jelavic while the transfer window is open.“I think Niki is experienced enough to know that when he is on the pitch it is an opportunity to enjoy his football, it is an opportunity to help the team and it is an opportunity to show what he can do,” explained the Blues boss. “I have got no worries about Niki having to start a game, never mind coming on.“I understand that Niki is at a very important moment of his career but the most important thing in football is the team and the football club.“If we can help Niki on the way we will do, but always keeping in mind that we need to keep the squad in a strong position.“Niki is in a great position to help the team. He has been training really, really well and I think he showed that when he came on against Stoke. He looked really fresh and strong, he looked ahead of the pace and that’s always a good sign.”Likewise, with the Blues now down to their last two fit central defenders in Antolin Alcaraz and John Stones, Martinez would have no qualms at using Johnny Heitinga should the need arise.The Dutchman turned down a move to West Ham this week and is exploring other options, but Martinez explained: “The big advantage of Johnny and Niki is that they are very experienced. With Johnny you are talking about someone who has played 86 games for Holland and has been in a World Cup final. That doesn’t happen too often. He carries the experience really well and he can use it in the right moment. I need to be well aware of the situation and help him, in the same way that I know January is going to be a very important moment in Johnny’s career.“But we are here to help him.“We were the first ones to understand that if he doesn’t feel it’s the right move he shouldn’t go anywhere and he should stay here and fight for his place and carry on affecting the team’s development with his daily work.
Blues thrash QPR in 4-0 FA Cup stroll
4 Jan 2014
Everton FC progressed confidently into the fourth round of the FA Cup with a stylish rout of QPR at Goodison.The Blues were never troubled during a one-sided tie when Harry Redknapp's Championship side failed to muster a shot on target and simply couldn't cope with their midfield dominance.
Long overdue goals from Nikica Jelavic, who failed to score a hat-trick when his second-half penalty hit the bar, Ross Barkley and Seamus Coleman, did the damage and there could easily have been more.Everton bossed possession in the early stages, moving the ball around nicely and creating a string of half chances after patient build-up play but there was little to really trouble Julio Cesar.Steven Naismith and Jelavic tried to rekindle the instinctive partnership of their Ibrox days, and the spark was there even if the rust was clearly evident at first.The visitors threatened rarely, although when they did John Stones was more than equal to the task, seemingly unflappable and playing like a defender with a decade in the top flight under his belt rather than a rookie making only his second start. One moment, when he slid in to dispossess Armand Traore before setting up a dangerous attack with a savvy pass, nicely illustrated why he is so well thought of at Goodison.As the Blues found increasing space in midfield their edge became sharper, as James McCarthy showed great vision to pick out stand-in skipper Leon Osman, and the midfield in turn released Coleman who got to the byline speedily and almost converted the rebound of his own pass.Then Barkley picked out the right back again with another superb ball and this time Jelavic was inches from connecting to the cross with his attempted header.Next Cesar had to push Barkley's fierce drive away and the ball fell to Osman, who prodded it just over the bar from eight yards.The Blues midfield prodigy had been settling into the contest by the second, and it seemed inevitable that he would make an impact somehow. Cue a smart exchange of passes with Bryan Oviedo and a classy right-footed finish to open the scoring after half an hour.
In response Matt Phillips carried the fight to Everton for the Londoners, and Charlie Austin tried his luck from range, but Everton were winning the ball back impressively as they tried to build on their lead.Karl Henry helped with a careless pass that Jelavic latched onto before dispatching his first Goodison goal since March with a powerful 20-yard strike. The Croatian has struggled for so long, appearing so shorn of confidence that some wondered if he would ever hit the target in a blue shirt again, especially with the January transfer window offering a route to more first team football.Indeed, QPR have been tipped as one keen suitor. But the Goodison crowd have never lost their affection for him, and they shared his delight at a long over-due moment of satisfaction.Everton's dominance continued after the break, with Naismith and Coleman both going close. Such was the relaxed mood around the Old Lady, that Evertonians even chanted former striker Andy Johnson's name when he replaced Henry.There was even time for a few oles as the imperious Antolin Alcaraz swapped passes with McCarthy and Oviedo deep in his own half.Oviedo, in the absence of Leighton Baines again, was another slick performer. He did the hard work down the left and delivered the perfect cross for Jelavic to snaffle his second, prodding in from close range after he got across Benoit Assou-Ekotto.He should have had a hat-trick from the penalty spot after Oviedo was felled, but his cockily chipped attempt hit the bar, then Clint Hill headed another of his goalbound strikes off the line.No matter, Coleman made it fourth – and took his tally of the season to six – with a typically confident right-footed finish across Cesar after being fed by Barkley.Martinez gave Tony Hibbert a run out as the clock ticked down, and even afforded John Heitinga a likely farewell.The Toffees boss could afford to be generous. The first obstacle in his quest to defend the trophy he won with Wigan last May had been ever so comfortably navigated.
EVERTON: Robles, Coleman (Hibbert, 82), Stones, Alcaraz, McCarthy, Barry (Heitinga, 82), Naismith, Osman (Capt), Barkley (Mirallas, 89), Jelavic.
Subs not used: Howard, Lukaku, Pienaar, Vellios.
Goals: Barkley (35) Jelavic (44, 68) Coleman (76)
QUEENS PARK RANGERS: Cesar, Simpson, Traore (Kranjcar, 45), Hill, Phillips, Austin, Onuoha, Barton (Capt), Henry (Johnson, 58) O'Neill, Assou-Ekotto.
Subs not used: Murphy, Dunne, Johnson, Onyewu, Zamora, Benayoun.
Referee: Howard Webb.
Everton 4 QPR 0: Toffees ease past Harry Redknapp's promotion-chasers
04 January 2014
London Evening Standard
Nikica Jelavic scored twice and missed a penalty as Everton comfortably progressed into the FA Cup fourth round with a 4-0 win over Sky Bet Championship promotion-chasers QPR at Goodison Park.Ross Barkley put the Toffees - the 2009 beaten finalists, whose last trophy was the 1995 FA Cup - ahead in the 35th minute, collecting Bryan Oviedo's pass and slotting home.Nine minutes later Karl Henry lost possession in the R's half and Jelavic capitalised by taking the loose ball and smashing it past Julio Cesar from outside the box.
On his first start since September, it was the Croatia international's first goal since March and he soon had another, finishing from close range in the 68th minute.Jelavic should have then completed his hat-trick in the 75th, but he struck his spot-kick against the bar having chosen to take it with a chip.The striker is a reported transfer target for QPR and it will be interesting to see what the future now holds for him.A minute after Jelavic's missed penalty, Seamus Coleman wrapped up the scoring with a delightful first-time effort.When Everton manager Roberto Martinez, who guided Wigan all the way to victory in last season's FA Cup final, was asked in the build-up to this match if winning the competition or securing a decent finish in the Barclays Premier League would be more important to him, he replied: "I don't think you can choose - it's like asking who you prefer, mum or dad."
The first XI he subsequently selected for the contest showed five changes from the New Year's Day top-flight draw at Stoke.Jelavic replaced the benched Romelu Lukaku, while in Joel Robles, Antolin Alacaraz and James McCarthy, Martinez started three players that had been part of the Latics triumph at Wembley in May.R's boss Harry Redknapp - manager of Portsmouth when they won the 2008 FA Cup - also made five adjustments to his team, which was captained by life-long Everton fan Joey Barton.QPR had an early attempt on goal when Gary O'Neil fired wide but Everton were soon on top - although it took them a while to create much that was really incisive.Jelavic saw a strike come off Cesar into the side-netting before Osman shot off-target and efforts from Barkley and Gareth Barry were saved by the goalkeeper with relative ease.
There was a warning at the other end as the ball flashed across Robles' area, with QPR just unable to apply a finishing touch, but Everton were soon back on the attack, Cesar being called upon to cut out a delivery by Coleman and then blocking the follow-up shot from the same man.Just after the half-hour mark Barkley brought a diving save out of Cesar, with Leon Osman prodding the rebound over, and it seemed only a matter of time before The Toffees broke the deadlock.Two minutes later, they duly did as Oviedo came in from the left and played a ball through a clutch of QPR men to Barkley, who escaped Danny Simpson in the box before curling his shot around Cesar in to the corner.It was the England midfielder's fourth goal of his impressive season and he was soon seeking out the fifth, sending the ball dipping into Cesar's hands.Certainly, it seemed Everton needed no assistance from their opponents, but they got some with a minute of normal time remaining in the first half as Henry miscontrolled, allowing Jelavic the opportunity to rifle the ball past Cesar.Barkley looked to punish some more sloppy play by the visitors shortly after the break, latching on to a misplaced pass by a QPR man and shooting across the face of goal.Everton continued to pressurise, with Cesar touching a Coleman shot just wide, and Jelavic then made it 3-0, sliding in to convert Oviedo's cross.Keen to get his treble, Jelavic took a free-kick soon after which deflected over, and he was then presented with a golden chance when Oviedo, tracked by Nedum Onuoha, was brought down in the box by Cesar and referee Howard Webb pointed to the spot.Jelavic got things all wrong with the penalty, though, suffering the embarrassment of seeing his cheeky effort connect with the woodwork.Everton were not done and Coleman deservedly got on the scoresheet within seconds, meeting Barkley's pass and sending a sweet, rising shot past Cesar - his sixth goal of the season, and fourth in six games.And the Toffees might have had another, with Clint Hill clearing off the line twice in quick succession to deny Steven Naismith and Jelavic.
Everton 4 QPR 0 match report: Toffees smash Rangers to show clear gulf in class
Everton put four past Harry Redknapp's side to book their place in the draw for the next round
January 4 2014 The Independent
Nikica Jelavic scored twice and missed a penalty as Everton comfortably progressed into the FA Cup fourth round with a 4-0 win over Sky Bet Championship promotion-chasers QPR at Goodison smashing it past Julio Cesar from outside the box.
On his first start since September Park.
Ross Barkley put the Toffees - the 2009 beaten finalists, whose last trophy was the 1995 FA Cup - ahead in the 35th minute, collecting Bryan Oviedo's pass and slotting home.
Nine minutes later Karl Henry lost possession in the R's half and Jelavic capitalised by taking the loose ball and , it was the Croatia international's first goal since March and he soon had another, finishing from close range in the 68th minute. Jelavic should have then completed his hat-trick in the 75th, but he struck his spot-kick against the bar having chosen to take it with a chip.
The striker is a reported transfer target for QPR and it will be interesting to see what the future now holds for him. A minute after Jelavic's missed penalty, Seamus Coleman wrapped up the scoring with a delightful first-time effort. When Everton manager Roberto Martinez, who guided Wigan all the way to victory in last season's FA Cup final, was asked in the build-up to this match if winning the competition or securing a decent finish in the Barclays Premier League would be more important to him, he replied: "I don't think you can choose - it's like asking who you prefer, mum or dad."
The first XI he subsequently selected for the contest showed five changes from the New Year's Day top-flight draw at Stoke. Jelavic replaced the benched Romelu Lukaku, while in Joel Robles, Antolin Alacaraz and James McCarthy, Martinez started three players that had been part of the Latics triumph at Wembley in May. R's boss Harry Redknapp - manager of Portsmouth when they won the 2008 FA Cup - also made five adjustments to his team, which was captained by life-long Everton fan Joey Barton. QPR had an early attempt on goal when Gary O'Neil fired wide but Everton were soon on top - although it took them a while to create much that was really incisive. Jelavic saw a strike come off Cesar into the side-netting before Osman shot off-target and efforts from Barkley and Gareth Barry were saved by the goalkeeper with relative ease. There was a warning at the other end as the ball flashed across Robles' area, with QPR just unable to apply a finishing touch, but Everton were soon back on the attack, Cesar being called upon to cut out a delivery by Coleman and then blocking the follow-up shot from the same man. Just after the half-hour mark Barkley brought a diving save out of Cesar, with Leon Osman prodding the rebound over, and it seemed only a matter of time before The Toffees broke the deadlock. Two minutes later, they duly did as Oviedo came in from the left and played a ball through a clutch of QPR men to Barkley, who escaped Danny Simpson in the box before curling his shot around Cesar in to the corner. It was the England midfielder's fourth goal of his impressive season and he was soon seeking out the fifth, sending the ball dipping into Cesar's hands. Certainly, it seemed Everton needed no assistance from their opponents, but they got some with a minute of normal time remaining in the first half as Henry miscontrolled, allowing Jelavic the opportunity to rifle the ball past Cesar. Barkley looked to punish some more sloppy play by the visitors shortly after the break, latching on to a misplaced pass by a QPR man and shooting across the face of goal. Everton continued to pressurise, with Cesar touching a Coleman shot just wide, and Jelavic then made it 3-0, sliding in to convert Oviedo's cross.
Keen to get his treble, Jelavic took a free-kick soon after which deflected over, and he was then presented with a golden chance when Oviedo, tracked by Nedum Onuoha, was brought down in the box by Cesar and referee Howard Webb pointed to the spot. Jelavic got things all wrong with the penalty, though, suffering the embarrassment of seeing his cheeky effort connect with the woodwork. Everton were not done and Coleman deservedly got on the scoresheet within seconds, meeting Barkley's pass and sending a sweet, rising shot past Cesar - his sixth goal of the season, and fourth in six games. And the Toffees might have had another, with Clint Hill clearing off the line twice in quick succession to deny Steven Naismith and Jelavic.
Moyes battling to break free from the past
January 4 2014 Manchester Evening News
Manchester United manager David Moyes is still being haunted by comparisons to his record at Everton six months into his Old Trafford reign. MEN Sport's Rob Dawson uncovers an uncanny statistic 20 games into the Premier League season.
You don't have to wander around the forecourt at Old Trafford for long, or eavesdrop on a conversation in the south stand, before you hear a frustrated Manchester United fan grumble that 'we're basically Everton'. United fans are unhappy, they're lying if they tell you otherwise. But it's only to be expected when a club so used to success is languishing in seventh place in the Premier League, counting the points between themselves and fourth instead of assessing their lead at the top of the table. The frustration at six league defeats, four of them at home, haven't turned into a collective out-pouring of vitriol yet. For now the fans who attend the games – the ones who count the most – are still following Sir Alex Ferguson's advice to back their new manager, David Moyes.
But it's still there, whispered in corners, only ever discussed in hushed tones under the cover of darkness. Criticising Moyes for turning the champions of England into Everton is an easy dig.
Everton were a serial mid-table side under Moyes and after six months under the same man, United find themselves there, too. With a smaller budget, Moyes was considered to be over-achieving at Everton. But his time at Goodison Park can only really be analysed now he's gone, much like Ferguson's achievements at United can only be truly appreciated now he's retired.
It certainly doesn't help Moyes' cause that Everton under Roberto Martinez are challenging for a place in the Champions League. But Moyes is battling against a mentality that developed over 11 years at Goodison Park. You hear it a lot from United's new signings who arrive from smaller clubs. They'll often say it's a huge culture shock when they discover that drawing away from home is no longer considered a good result. Get a point away from home and some Premier League clubs are having a party on the bus on the way home. United's players under Ferguson would have got the hair-dryer in the dressing room. Moyes has tried to be ambitious at Old Trafford. He's usually played with two strikers, abandoning the five-man midfield and lone frontman he used at Everton.
But the stats don't look good. In the first 20 games of last season, Everton under Moyes collected 33 points, scoring 33 goals and conceding 25. After 20 games this season, United have got 34 points, scored 33 goals and conceded 24. Everton were sixth after 20 games last season and hadn't moved by the end of the season. If United were to finish seventh this season it would be hard for Moyes to spin it as anything other than a disaster. He at least has the chance to put another unwelcome stat to bed in the coming weeks. A United win at Stamford Bridge on January 19 would be Moyes' first at Chelsea in the Premier League. As manager of Everton he never won at Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool or United in 46 attempts and has already lost at Liverpool and Manchester City as manager of United this season. It was a stat thrust into sharp focus when Martinez won at Old Trafford with Everton on his first attempt. It was something else Moyes didn't need for a variety of reasons. Halfway through his first season at Old Trafford and Moyes is still struggling to shake the tag of an Everton manager in charge of United. It's only natural that Moyes would to introduce elements of what he felt was successful at Everton into his new team at United. After all, it would be foolish to try to be something your not simply because you've got a new job. But six months into his reign, the comparisons will be stretching a little further than Moyes comfortable with. He faces a fight to make sure they don't stretch all the way to May.
Everton close to Aiden McGeady transfer as Roberto Martinez looks to secure pre-contract agreement
January 5 2014 The Sunday Mirror
By Alan Nixon
The Spartak Moscow winger is set to return to British shores and could join the Toffees during this transfer window if they two clubs can agree a fee First Aid: McGeady is set to join the Toffees
Everton boss Roberto Martinez is closing in on a pre-contract deal for Republic of Ireland winger Aiden McGeady. The Spartak Moscow wide man can sort out terms with the Goodison club now as his deal with Russian side Spartak Moscow expires in the summer. McGeady has almost completed an agreement on wages - and if he signs Martinez can try to agree a fee with Spartak to take him in this window. The former Celtic man signed joined Spartak for £9.5million in 2010.
Jelavic's double strike message
EVERTON striker Nikica Jelavic hopes the way he used his first full 90 minutes of the season will convince boss Roberto Martinez to give him more game-time.
Glasgow Evening Times January 6 2014
Playing all Saturday's FA Cup third-round home clash with QPR, the former Ranger scored twice - and missed a penalty - in his side's 4-0 win. On his first start since September it was the first time the Croatia international had netted since March. He has spent much of this term on the bench as Romelu Lukaku, on loan from Chelsea, has impressed leading the Everton line with nine goals.
With Jelavic, 28, hoping to play at this summer's World Cup, Martinez says he must listen to offers for him. Clubs said to include QPR have made inquiries but the manager also says he does not want to lose Jelavic, stressing he won't go "on the cheap". While the player is keeping an open mind about his future, he has emphasised he is looking for more of a chance with Everton: "It's been difficult," Jelavic said. "But Romelu is on fire - I'm delighted for him if I'm being honest.
"I'm training hard and every day I have been waiting for my chance. "Now the manager saw that he can count on me as well, so we will see … but I hope he is going to give me more chances."
Everton 4 - QPR 0: Nikica Jelavic will be a star buy
WHOEVER snaps up Everton's Nikica Jelavic in the January transfer window is getting themselves a top-class hitman, according to midfielder Gareth Barry.
January 6 2014 The Daily Star
Jelavic, 28, scored twice and missed a penalty for his hat-trick as Everton eased past Championship high-flyers QPR. But despite the Croatian forward's outstanding display, Everton boss Roberto Martinez is preparing to let Jelavic go this month. QPR manager Harry Redknapp is among those hoping to sign he 28-yearold, who is desperate for action ahead of this summer's World Cup.
Barry said: "Niki has been unfortunate this season, the way Romelu Lukaku has come in and played and the way the team has been getting results. "It's hard sometimes, but the manager has kept Niki smiling. That showed because he still wanted to come in and do a job for Everton.
"I think the manager deserves a lot of credit. With a squad, it's important you keep the players hungry who haven't been playing and Niki is a great example of that. "He's had to be really patient and wait for his chance and today he got it." Jelavic bagged nine goals in his first 10 starts after joining from Rangers two years ago. However, he has fallen out of favour this season after a barren spell which meant his opener in the 44th minute was the first time he had netted for Everton since March 2013. His second strike meant he equalled his tally for the whole of 2013. On-loan midfielder Barry added: "Niki has trained well all season. He's had no injuries and he's looked sharp in training.
"It's just been a case of the team have been doing well, Romelu has been doing well and as a footballer it's sometimes hard, but Niki has shown what a great professional he is because he's kept going. We don't know what's going to happen to him in the future, but the fans showed their appreciation for him because he's done a great job for them, not just this season, but in years gone by." QPR - captained by life-long Evertonian Joey Barton - never looked like pulling off a shock from the moment Ross Barkley curled in for the hosts before Jelavic lashed in from distance just before the break. Bryan Oviedo's centre gave Jelavic an easy second but the Croatian fluffed his chance to grab a hat-trick when he chipped a spot-kick against the bar. Seamus Coleman continued his impressive goalscoring form when he thumped in from Barkley's pass for his fourth goal in six matches to seal the victory. Hoops defender Nedum Onuoha reckons Jelavic would be a good addition to Redknapp's squad as they look for a quick return to the Premier League. Onuoha said: "I think he's a very good player and with the World Cup coming up in the summer, he will want to play as much football as possible. "He was sharp and he's a top player and I enjoy playing against players like that. "He did really well and from a defender's perspective, he's clever in his movement. His finishing is very good and he has a real desire to score goals. "Top-quality players like him, with the right attitude, are the type of player you want to play with week in, week out. "This was a wake-up call for a lot of us because they played so well and we were just half a yard short. We've seen where we need to be this season and going into next season, otherwise we will have no chance at all."
Everton 4 QPR 0: Greg O'Keeffe on a welcome Goodison revival for Nikica Jelavic
6 Jan 2014 The Liverpool Echo
All smiles as Blues striker rediscovers scoring touch
Before the game Roberto Martinez lauded the magic and unpredictability of the FA Cup in his programme notes. They are certainly qualities he harnessed to lift the trophy barely eight months ago as Wigan Athletic manager. But while there was certainly something magical about Everton’s football at times on Saturday, their comprehensive rout of a side 18 places beneath them in the footballing ladder was wonderfully predictable. The Blues were odds-on favourites to power past Harry Redknapp’s men at Goodison , a place where they almost went a calendar year without suffering defeat, and they ensured there were no surprises. In fact, the only pleasant eyebrow-raiser was the belated resurgence of exit-bound Nikica Jelavic , who rediscovered his goalscoring instinct against a side believed to be one of his January suitors. There was a time the popular frontman looked like he couldn’t miss, but over the last 10 months he has looked more like Croatia’s answer to Brett Angell. However it’s to his credit that he has never given up, just as the Goodison crowd hasn’t turned its back on him – so it was a case of smiles all round when he notched a brace on what might be his farewell performance. Indeed the 28-year-old should have had a hat-trick, but decided to try a cocky chip with his second-half penalty and watched it whack the crossbar. A bad decision,” was how Martinez described the effort, but in Jelavic’s defence the undiluted confidence coursing around Everton these days is infectious. The festive fixtures might not have yielded the perfect points haul, but there were mitigating circumstances and the Blues are still right in the mix for the top four. Even with several changes to what is arguably their strongest line-up, they are performing with machine-like precision, and that extended to the diversion of the cup which gave Martinez a chance to rest some key men. The squad’s ability to thrive under the passing system implemented by Martinez becomes more evident with each passing game. If you simply study the stats, QPR look like mugs. No shots on target, only three at goal throughout and just 37% possession. But there was no lack of endeavour or even quality among their ranks. The Londoners’ squad still has a veneer of top flight class, however they were made to look like out-of-depth minnows at times because they had to contend with a team that so rarely gave the ball away and, when they did, won it back so hungrily. As the ever straight-talking Joseph Barton tweeted afterwards, ‘No disrespect to any Championship teams..but we won’t play many teams as good as that every week’.
The Loftus Road midfielder had time in hindsight to savour something Evertonians are becoming more convinced by each week. Their team bossed the early stages, moving the ball around nicely and creating a string of half chances after patient build-up play, but at first there was little to really trouble Julio Cesar. Steven Naismith and Jelavic tried to rekindle the instinctive partnership of their Ibrox days, and the spark was there even if the rust was clearly evident at first. The visitors threatened rarely, although when they did John Stones was more than equal to the task, seemingly unflappable and playing like a defender with a decade in the top flight under his belt rather than a rookie making only his second start. One moment, when he slid in to dispossess Armand Traore before setting up a dangerous attack, illustrated why he is so well thought of at Goodison.
Another who can do little wrong at present, James McCarthy, showed great vision to pick out stand-in skipper Leon Osman, and the midfielder in turn released Seamus Coleman who got to the byline and almost converted the rebound of his own cross. Then Ross Barkley picked out the right-back again with another superb ball and this time Jelavic was inches from connecting to the cross with his attempted header. It seemed inevitable that Barkley would make an impact either as provider or finisher eventually. Cue his smart exchange of passes with Bryan Oviedo and a classy right-footed finish to open the scoring after half an hour. In response Matt Phillips tried to carry the fight to Everton, and Charlie Austin attempted a strike from range, but the Blues were not to be ruffled.
Karl Henry helped with a careless pass that Jelavic latched onto before dispatching his first Goodison goal since March with a powerful 20-yard strike. Everton’s dominance continued after the break, with Naismith and Coleman both going close. Such was the relaxed mood that the home crowd even chanted former striker Andy Johnson’s name when he replaced Henry. Soon it was time for the ultimate smug cliché of a one-sided game. The ‘oles’ were rolled out when the imperious Antolin Alcaraz swapped passes with McCarthy and Oviedo deep in his own half as QPR chased the ball.
Oviedo, in the absence of Leighton Baines again, was another slick performer. He did the hard work down the left and delivered the perfect cross for Jelavic to snaffle his second, prodding in from close range after he got across Benoit Assou-Ekotto. It didn’t even matter when he fluffed his hat-trick.
Coleman made it four – and took his tally of the season to six – with a typically confident right-footed finish across Cesar. Martinez gave Tony Hibbert a run-out as the clock ticked down, and even afforded John Heitinga a likely farewell. The Toffees boss could afford to be magnanimous. The first obstacle in his quest to defend the trophy he won last May had been comfortably navigated.
Kick-off may have been delayed because of crowd congestion, but Everton’s progress into the fourth round was delightfully free-flowing.
Everton 4 QPR 0: Gareth Barry praises manager Roberto Martinez for FA Cup performance from striker Nikica Jelavic
Barry says the Spaniard deserves credit for keeping the Croatian smiling despite stint among substitutes
Monday 06 January 2014 Independent
Midfielder Gareth Barry feels Everton boss Roberto Martinez deserves credit for keeping Nikica Jelavic “smiling” during what has been a generally frustrating season for the Croatia striker.
Following his appointment as Toffees manager over the summer, Martinez selected Jelavic in his first XI for the club's opening five Barclays Premier League games this term, but the frontman's involvement in the competition thereafter has amounted to only four appearances, all as a substitute. He came into the team on Saturday for his first start since September and scored for the first time since March, netting twice as the Merseysiders defeated Sky Bet Championship promotion-chasers QPR 4-0 at home in the third round of the FA Cup. And regarding Jelavic's performance, Barry, who is on loan with Everton from Manchester City for the season, said: "I think the manager deserves a lot of credit for that. "It is important with a squad that you keep the players that haven't been playing hungry, and Niki is a great example. "He has had to be really patient, waiting for his chance, and it is not easy to come in sometimes. But he has shown a great hunger and scored twice. "Niki has been unfortunate with the way Romelu (Lukaku, the striker who is on loan at Everton from Chelsea and has nine goals for the Toffees this season) has come in and played, and with the way the team has been getting results. "But the manager has kept everyone hungry and he has kept Niki smiling. "At times it can be tough, but it showed (in the QPR game) that he still wanted to go and do a job for Everton." Jelavic's career with Everton, who are currently fifth in the Premier League, began impressively, with him scoring 11 times for them in the second half of the 2011/12 season after joining in January, and he managed to net eight more Toffees goals last term.
Yet it seems his spell at Goodison Park could be coming to an end, with Martinez - mindful that the 28-year-old hopes to play at this summer's World Cup - having made it clear he thinks it is only fair he listens to offers for Jelavic. There have been inquiries from other clubs, with QPR reportedly among them. But Martinez has also said he does not really want to lose Jelavic's services, stressing he will not be sold "on the cheap", and while the player himself has indicated he is keeping an open mind about his future, he has also emphasised he is looking for more of a chance under the Spaniard. Barry, meanwhile, sees it as a very happy camp overall at Everton, from which he would be surprised to see players depart during the transfer window. The 32-year-old, who has 53 England caps, said: "We don't know what is going to happen with his (Jelavic's) future, but the fans have showed their appreciation for him, because he has done a great job for Everton - not just this season, but in years gone by. "I'd be very surprised if we lose any players. For me, this is one of the best clubs to be learning your trade at at the moment - I think all the players will say it.
"They look forward to going to training and working with this manager, and the results have been showing that too." In Martinez, Everton - without a trophy since the 1995 FA Cup - have a boss who won the competition last season as manager of Wigan. The Toffees team that took on QPR featured Joel Robles, Antolin Alcaraz and James McCarthy, three players from that Latics triumph at Wembley in May, as well as Barry who won the FA Cup with City in 2011. Certainly Everton have considerable relevant experience to draw upon as they look to break their own trophy drought in this year's FA Cup, and Barry said: "I think for any club, when you go so long without a trophy, it does weigh on you a bit and that first trophy is always the hardest one to get, as it showed with Man City a few years back. "The FA Cup is a tricky competition - you need a lot of luck along the way. But if we produce performances like (they did against QPR), and with the squad we have, we have every chance of going all the way. "We have not spoken about winning it yet to be honest. But there is enough experience there for us to go on a great run and you never know - the FA Cup can bring glory." Everton face League One side Stevenage away in round four.
Everton boss Roberto Martinez represents a tactical test and one that Stevenage manager Graham Westley is relishing
GRAHAM Westley is relishing crossing swords once again with the manager of last season’s FA Cup winners in the shape of Roberto Martinez.
January 6 2012
By Allan Scott The Hertfordshire Advertiser
The Stevenage manager saw his team drawn at home to Everton for the second time in a cup competition this term. Boro will host the Toffees, managed by Martinez, in the FA Cup fourth round on Saturday January 25. The Spaniard won the FA Cup last term when he led Wigan to a fantastic triumph against Manchester City. Stevenage and Everton met in the Capital One Cup in August.
The Premier League side recorded a 2-1 win in extra-time in a game marred by the injury to Boro’s Darius Charles. He only returned from an ankle ligament injury to score the winner in the 3-2 win over Doncaster Rovers in the third round last Saturday. Westley said: “It won’t be easy to play against the cup-holding manager or his excellent Everton team. They have some outstanding talent.
“We tested ourselves against them at Goodison Park and came up just short over 120 minutes; that will be good for our confidence. “We will certainly not be intimidated by the challenge, tough though it is,” he told the Stevenage club website. Speaking straight after the win over Doncaster, he said: “It was a better start to the New Year than we have had. It has been a tough time. We had a few players back today and it was a terrific performance from the team. “I thought we were in control of the game. We came with a strong game plan. They played on Wednesday and we hadn’t. We had a little bit more of a freshness. We had the extra time to get ready for the game.
“We felt that we had an advantage and it seemed to be that way. We took control of the game. We were solid and strong at the back. “The rest of the team played with a lot of confidence. The two boys in the middle of the park I thought were excellent. Two youngsters, but really took a grip of the midfield. “We came out after half-time, we got the goals and we looked dangerous.
They were sloppy goals we conceded but Darius [Charles] finished off with aplomb at the end.”
Charles earned special praise from Westley. “I’m sure he will have enjoyed the moment. It’s been a long road back for Darius. Great to have him. He’s a tremendous player. We all know what a miss he has been. In our situation there’s no better player to pull on the shirt and get a reaction.”
There was some anxious moments near the end against Doncaster. “That 27 minutes of added time was difficult,” Westley joked. “It was good to see the side face that pressure, to deal with that pressure and come through.” The Boro boss was also pleased to see Peter Hartley return and score after four games out injured. “Peter Hartley - an experienced lad, one of three senior players who have joined the club. And with Jimmy Smith and [Francois] Zoko, we have three experienced lads and it’s always good to have them out there. “When our best players are available we can compete - even with Championship sides. “The FA Cup is essential because it’s the lifeblood for us and the further we go helps the club prosper. “I hope it has a knock-on effect in the league.”
Hartley was delighted with his goal. He said: “I wasn’t going to do the dance, but the fans were chanting for it, so I just gave them a little taste of what I’ve got,” the Sunderland-born defender said.
“I’m just delighted for the boys. We left everything out there on the pitch, which thankfully was enough to put Stevenage in the hat for the next round. “It did get a bit hairy towards the end, twice we went two goals up and got pegged back, but that’s the FA Cup, that’s why everyone loves it.
“Thankfully we managed to hold on and if we play like we did today, we can be really tough opposition.” The emotions of the Stevenage manager and his players were in stark contrast to Rovers boss Paul Dickov, who was furious with his team’s lacklustre display, coming just a week after they were minute away from holding QPR at Loftus Road in the league. “I’m not just disappointed with the defeat or the manner of it – I’m raging. It’s the cup and obviously we want to do well. But we were devoid of ideas and everything. In fact we were totally inept and I was disgusted with the performance. “It’s all about maintaining high standards and we are not doing that so I’m going to have to sort it out. If it comes to getting one or two players out, or even five or six, then we are going to have to do that because they’ve all had a chance. “We’ve had horrendous luck with injuries and this performance was a massive contrast to how we played against QPR on New Year’s Day when we should have had something from the game. “We had three quality players out today but there are no excuses whatsoever. I’ll back my players to the hilt but there comes a time when you start to look stupid doing that. The performance simply underlined how much we need to strengthen the side.”
Everton 4 QPR 0 analysis: Stones could be Moyes' parting gift to Blues
6 Jan 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keefe
Martinez missed out on young defender but says 'I'd have bought him back'
It is getting hard to find someone with a good word to say about David Moyes around Goodison Park these days, so quickly does modern football move. But as Everton cruised – and I mean cruised – into the fourth round of the FA Cup on Saturday , Blues fans could be grateful for what may well turn out to be the Scot’s final gift to the club that is now so eager to forget him. John Stones was Moyes’ last signing as Everton manager. And though his Goodison career remains very much in its infancy, the early signs are that he could well turn out to be a very good one, too. The final days of January 2013 were pretty fraught at Everton. A deal to sign Leroy Fer from FC Twente had fallen through in mysterious, some would say convenient, circumstances, whilst there was always something not quite right about the club’s “interest” in Alvaro Negredo, then of Sevilla and valued, apparently, at around the £13m mark. Moyes, desperate to bolster his squad for a Champions League push, had found himself frustrated at every turn. Against that backdrop, Stones’ capture, on the final day of the window, flew under the radar somewhat. No fanfare, no hype, no spontaneous combustion from Jim White, just something approaching a collective shrug of the shoulders. " Sure, he had shown plenty of potential during 26 senior games with Barnsley, his home town club, but was a callow, teenage defender what Everton really needed at that point? Especially at £3m?
Stones didn’t feature at all during the last four months of Moyes’ reign, instead being nurtured carefully in the gym and on the training field. Now, a year on, it is Roberto Martinez who looks set to benefit from those hard yards. Martinez had actually been keen to sign Stones for Wigan Athletic this time last year. Indeed, going into that final day of the window, the Catalan believed the youngster was heading for the DW Stadium. Moyes and, probably, Wigan’s precarious league position then intervened. “I would have bought him back anyway,” was Martinez’s reply when he was asked whether he was glad he did miss out last January. Little wonder. Everton are a squad awash with young talent at this present moment, but Stones is up there with the best.
Martinez believes he is the best young centre-back in England, and his quality was on full display here. Queens Park Rangers may have provided gentle opposition, to put it mildly, but this was an impressive showing from the 19-year-old. Tall, upright in his stance, and with composure in abundance, Stones read the game like a veteran, covered the ground with elegance, and used the ball with confidence. An early turn away from Armand Traore in the right-back position set the tone. As did a perfectly-timed tackle on the same player soon after. Goodison, suitably impressed, sounded its approval. Together with Antolin Alcaraz, whose own positional play and assuredness stood out a mile, Stones swallowed up the threat of Charlie Austin with ease, and ensured Everton attacks began with accuracy and regularity. He conducted his defensive duties with ease and, as the game wore on, showed himself willing to step into midfield, at one point laying a short pass out to Seamus Coleman before continuing his run forward, screaming for the return in a right wing position. He began the move which led to Everton’s third goal, drifting past Joey Barton on halfway, exchanging passes with Ross Barkley and moving the ball on neatly. Genuine ball-playing centre halves are a must in a side which plays the way Everton do, and, deprived of his first-choice pairing, Martinez now knows he has at least two he can call upon. There could well be an interesting selection dilemma brewing, once Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin return to full fitness later this month. Of course caveats are needed. Stones does not turn 20 until May, he still has plenty of developing to do and, as mentioned earlier, QPR were hardly the most taxing of foes. In fact, one suspects Martinez could have played himself, tan brogues and all, alongside Alcaraz and picked up a clean sheet bonus here. But few things excite football folk like potential, and the promise of what is to come. It’s why Barkley’s emergence has been so warmly received, why Gerard Deulofeu’s return is so eagerly awaited, and why Blues supporters are daring to dream right now. Stones has shown, albeit briefly, that he has the tools to go a long way in this game. Everton could well have another gem on their hands in the Yorkshireman. Now, if only he can teach Nikica Jelavic how to dink a penalty.....
McNamara relaxed about Everton boss’s scouting mission to Tannadice
The Dundee Courier
January 6 2014
Dundee United manager Jackie McNamara says he will not be fazed by speculation linking his rising stars with moves away from the club — although he admits he will be pleased when the January transfer window closes. Everton boss Roberto Martinez was at Tannadice on Sunday to see United come from behind to secure a 2-2 draw with in-form Hibernian thanks to substitute Brian Graham's last-gasp equaliser. United's kids such as Ryan Gauld and John Souttar have been the centre of much attention already this season but McNamara is not fretting at the prospect of his men being linked with moves elsewhere in January. He does concede, though, that he will be happier when the transfer window closes again. McNamara said: "It's part of the game these days. You can't get away from it. There will be more of it in the next few weeks so I'll be happy when the window shuts. "As far as I'm concerned, it's important that we keep them all so they can continue to learn their trade here.”
Everton FC's John Stones tipped for big future by team-mate Antolin Alcaraz
6 Jan 2014 Daily Post
Young defender can have big impact on the Premier League
Everton FC's John Stones has been tipped for a big future by fellow defender Antolin Alcaraz following some impressive recent performances. Injuries mean 19-year-old John Stones has started the last two games alongside the Paraguay international and was man of the match in Everton FC's 4-0 FA Cup win over QPR on Saturday. Stones has made just nine appearances this season but has hardly put a foot wrong when called upon, due to the squad beginning to get stretched.
Everton FC boss Roberto Martinez last week said the England Under-21 international was “going to be one of the best defenders in the English game,” and Antolin Alcaraz fully agrees.
“John was great. He is a young lad who has a long future and he had a great game against Stoke and QPR,” he said. “He has a great future, he has really good quality. “He is a young guy and he needs more games to prove himself. If he carries on playing that way he can make a good impact on the Premier League.” Stones, a £3million signing from Barnsley almost a year ago, is enjoying his run in the side and admits he is learning plenty from the experienced trio of Alcaraz and the currently injured Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin. “Antolin is a great footballer," said Stones of his colleague. "You can see he is so calm on the ball and I thought we gelled quite well in the two games we have played with each other. “Jags and Sylvain are top players so I hope it is rubbing off on me and Antolin. They speak to me day-in and day-out giving me advice." Stones added: “Hopefully I will become a big fans’ favourite here. I love the club to bits.” Antolin Alcaraz is finally starting to prove his worth to the side having been sidelined by injury for five months since he followed Roberto Martinez to Everton FC from Wigan in the summer. He made his first competitive appearance in the 2-1 win over Southampton on December 29 and has played every minute of their subsequent two games. “It is never easy. I am working hard to make it easy,” Alcaraz said. “To come back from a long period out is never easy but the players have helped me a lot. “It is different and I try to do my best and enjoy it.” The 31-year-old played a key role in Wigan’s FA Cup final win over Manchester City in May and he wants to return to Wembley once more. “It was a good memory to go the final last year and one I want to repeat again. It was great,” he added.
Blues to check on Baines and Distin fitness
7 Jan 2014 Liverpool Echo
Defensive pair could return for Norwich game
Everton FC will check on the fitness of both Sylvain Distin and Leighton Baines ahead of Saturday’s home game with Norwich City. The defensive pair missed last weekend’s FA Cup win over Queens Park Rangers, but are expected to return to training this week. Baines suffered a back spasm after the draw with Stoke City on New Year’s Day, having previously missed a month with a fractured toe.“Leighton was going to play against QPR,” said Roberto Martinez. “He played the 90 minutes against Stoke and played really well but then had a back spasm the day after. “Unfortunately he couldn’t be available today but I don’t think it is going to be any later than Tuesday so I’m hoping he will be able to train in view of the Norwich game.” Distin, meanwhile, has missed the Blues’ last two games with a hamstring problem, but should also train at Finch Farm this week. Phil Jagielka, Distin’s regular defensive partner, is expected to miss out again with his own hamstring injury, as is Gerard Deulofeu. Arouna Kone and Darron Gibson are long-term absentees.
Martinez dilemma over Stones
7 Jan 2014 Liverpool Echo
Everton manager says headache is exactly what he wants for Blues
Roberto Martinez admits the form of John Stones could give him a selection headache in the coming weeks and months. And the Everton FC boss has tipped his young defender to develop into a “special centre-half” for both club and country. Stones excelled as the Blues cruised into the fourth round of the FA Cup with victory over Queens Park Rangers on Saturday. Alongside Antolin Alcaraz, the 19-year-old, making just his fourth start for the club, was a confident, assured presence at the heart of defence. With Phil Jagielka expected to miss at least another two weeks with a hamstring problem, and Sylvain Distin struggling with a similar complaint, Everton are currently without both their first-choice centre-backs. Martinez, though, says the emergence of Stones means there is now fierce competition for places, with Jagielka and Distin by no means guaranteed an instant return to the starting line-up. “That is the sort of problem I want as a manager,” said Martinez. “Young John Stones has had to bide his time and now that he has taken the opportunity he doesn’t want to lose his place, and that is what you want. “I will never have a problem having 22 players for 11 positions. The problem is when it is the other way round, when you have injuries, suspensions and are struggling to put a side out. “Stones and Alcaraz were magnificent against QPR, and have an incredible understanding after just two games together.” Martinez knows all about the qualities Stones possesses, having tried to sign him from Barnsley last year whilst manager of Wigan Athletic. And the Catalan believes the youngster is set for a bright future in the game. He said: “He has a clear understanding of making the right decision when on the ball. He is very conscious about when to play and where the angles are. He has got everything. “He is a confident boy. He knows that he is quicker, stronger and more athletic than the striker he is marking at any time. John will develop into a special centre-half for England. “When he was at Barnsley he was developing as a right-back, but with the way we want to play, he will become a top centre-half. “Slowly we have been playing him in a back three to allow him to understand the concepts of a centre-half but he is now ready to play in a back two and I do feel he has an incredible future in his hands.” Stones is one of a number of young talents blossoming at Goodison under Martinez, who believes developing from within will be key if the Blues are to continue to challenge the Premier League’s elite. “It is the only way we can compete against money,” Martinez said. “Developing our own youngsters and getting players a little bit earlier, before they are attracting teams with big budgets. “It is a way of being creative and not needing the big amounts of money to be able to compete against the top sides.”
Asked if his group were the best set of young players in the Premier League, Martinez said: “I don’t know enough about the other squads to be honest, but Southampton, I must admit, have got a very good group of youngsters. “I have been working with (academy manager) Alan Irvine for the past six months and he is doing an incredible job. “I do feel we are going to get more youngsters through and everything set up at Finch Farm is geared towards that. It would be stupid of me not to open that door and developing a path for our youngsters. “It is something quite special for a group of players to be playing together and enjoying their football in that manner.”
Ian Snodin: Fantastic to see Everton FC win so comprehensively in the FA Cup
7 Jan 2014 Liverpool Echo
Blues could have had a tricky time against high flying QPR but Roberto Martinez's men dispatched them with ease
It might not have been in keeping with the romance and the magic of the FA Cup, but how great it was to see Everton negotiate their third-round tie on Saturday. It was probably as comprehensive a victory as you are likely to see at this stage of the competition. QPR are only a division below us, but the gap looked a hell of a lot bigger on the day. It’s reassuring that Roberto Martinez is able to make a number of changes to his starting line-up without having a detrimental effect on performance.
Okay, so Joel Robles wasn’t tested at all in goal, but the performances of Antolin Alcaraz and John Stones will give fans real comfort. Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin have both been mainstays for many years, and rightly so too. They’ve both still got plenty of football left in them as well.
But Everton now know that if one or both of those two are missing, they have two defenders who can step up to the plate. I was very impressed by Stones, as I’m sure everyone in the ground was. He’s such a cool, calm customer. The way he moves the ball and the way he covers ground defensively, means he has got a very bright future ahead of him. It must be great for a central defender in this side. You have so many options once you receive the ball. You can go wide to one of two great full-backs or you have Gareth Barry and James McCarthy dropping deep to take the ball off you. Even if you want to go long, you’ve got Romelu Lukaku as a target man. There are options galore and that can only help a young defender like Stones. He came from Barnsley having been a right-back, but there’s no question centre-half is his position. He has the build, he has the athleticism and, judging by his early few games, he has the talent too. I know Roberto rates him very highly, and it is easy to see why. Roberto is a big fan of Alcaraz too, and the Paraguayan has also made a fine start to his Everton career. I must confess I didn’t know too much about him when we signed him, but you can see why Martinez was so keen to get him, especially on a free. Distin and Jags have a job on their hands just to get back in the side. If Everton keep winning, and Norwich on Saturday provides an ideal chance to, then I’m sure the manager would be reluctant to change things.Stones and Alcaraz showed a good understanding at Stoke and again on Saturday. They have the shirt at the moment and they won’t want to give it up without a fight – which is how things should be, too. Competition in football has never been a bad thing. Everton have it.
Ross Barkley 'nailed on' for place at World Cup 2014 according to Everton teammate Gareth Barry
Barkley made his international debut towards the end of 2013 and Barry claims that his form in the Premier League should see him named in Roy Hodgson's squad for Brazil 2014
Phil Medlicott , Independent
Tuesday 07 January 2014
Barkley, who came through the Toffees' youth ranks, has put in plenty of eye-catching performances for them this season, with the latest coming in the 4-0 FA Cup win over QPR on Saturday, a game in which he scored his fourth goal of the campaign. And the 20-year-old's progress has certainly not gone unnoticed by England boss Roy Hodgson, with Barkley having made his debut for the senior Three Lions side in September and now being in possession of three caps. With regard to his own prospects of being selected for the World Cup, Barry - who is on loan at Everton for the season from Manchester City and has also done well this term - has made it clear that being involved is something he cannot really foresee, pointing to the fact that he won the last of his 53 England caps in May 2012. But what he can definitely envisage is Barkley causing a stir at the tournament in Brazil. Asked about the possibility of both him and Barkley being on the plane with England to South America this summer, the 32-year-old said: "I'm not too worried about that at the moment.
"I'm just looking forward to the second half of the season with Everton. I've not been involved with England for 18 months. "But Ross, for me, should be absolutely nailed on to be on that plane. And if he continues like this, I'm sure he will be. "I'm sure the England manager knows enough about Ross to know that he could go out there and surprise a lot of teams, because he has that natural ability."
Barry and Barkley have been among a host of impressive Everton performers in a hugely promising looking season overall for the club under the management of Roberto Martinez, who succeeded David Moyes over the summer. The Toffees have earned plaudits for their flowing football and they are currently fifth in the Barclays Premier League, a point behind fourth-placed Liverpool and seven behind leaders Arsenal. Barry has no doubt Barkley will continue to improve as time goes on, and feels Martinez is a particularly good boss for him to work with. "He is just growing in confidence as the season goes on," Barry said. "I think working with this manager, it is going to have that sort of impact on him. "And the more he learns about the game and his position, the more he is going to improve."
Why Everton boss Roberto Martinez shouldn't be so hasty in ditching Nikica Jelavic this January
Jan 06, 2014
Roberto Martinez is willing to let his fringe players go for the sake of their World Cup hopes, but could Nikica Jelavic be the solution to his lack of depth up front?
As well as being a top manager, Roberto Martinez is a great guy. He's not a Rafa Benitez or Roberto Mancini who like to keep an aloof distance from their players. He's in the midst of them every day, talking to them, offering them advice and encouraging them. Because he empathises with them, he fully understands the frustrations of Nikica Jelavic and John Heitinga about not playing.
Both have big summers ahead of them at the World Cup and are desperate to get more game time.
That's why he's prepared to let both leave this month to play more regularly. But while, I would happily wave Heitinga goodbye, I would hang on to Jelavic. Letting Heitinga go makes sense on various levels. As experienced as he is, the Blues' squad can afford to do without him and John Stones showed on Saturday that he can be a fine centre-half. Antolin Alcaraz has slotted in seamlessly at Goodison after injury delayed the start of his Everton career and these two are excellent cover for Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin. The Dutchman also picks up around £65,000-a-week and so letting him go now will save Everton around £1.5million in wages.
Jelavic is a different matter. He is not paid as much and therefore is not as big a drain on Everton's finances. The striker is also more useful, as he proved against QPR. As good as Romelu Lukaku has been for Everton, the Blues do need back-up. Arouna Kone is injured long-term, while Magaye Gueye and Apostolos Vellios are not even on Martinez's radar. That leaves Jelavic as Martinez's only other option up front. The problem for the Croat is that apart from Saturday, he hasn't done enough to impress Martinez. But on Saturday he turned the clock back to two years ago when he first came and scored 11 goals in the second half of 2011-12 season. He looked hungry, he was winning the ball in the air and his finishing was lethal. He was far too casual for his penalty, which would have given him his hat-trick, but we'll not dwell on that. If he plays like he did against QPR, then Martinez will not want to let him go. But it is up to Jelavic to keep performing at this level and show he can still have a future at Goodison.
Ian Snodin: Blues defensive duo face fight for places
7 Jan 2014 Liverpool Echo
Stones and Alcaraz will provide serious competition to Jagielka and Distin
It might not have been in keeping with the romance and the magic of the FA Cup, but how great it was to see Everton negotiate their third round tie on Saturday. It was probably as comprehensive a victory as you are likely to see at this stage of the competition. QPR are only a division below us, but the gap looked a hell of a lot bigger on the day. It’s reassuring that Roberto Martinez is able to make a number of changes to his starting line-up, without having a detrimental effect on performance.
Okay, so Joel Robles wasn’t tested at all in goal, but the performances of Antolin Alcaraz and John Stones will give fans real comfort.
Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin have both been mainstays for many years, and rightly so too. They’ve both still got plenty of football left in them too. But Everton now know that if one or both of those two are missing, they have two defenders who can step up to the plate.
I was very impressed by Stones, as I’m sure everyone in the ground was. He’s such a cool, calm customer. The way he moves the ball, and the way he covers ground defensively, means he has got a very bright future ahead of him. It must be great for a central defender in this side.
You have so many options once you receive the ball. You can go wide to one of two great full-backs, or you have Gareth Barry and James McCarthy dropping deep to take the ball off you. Even if you want to go long, you’ve got Romelu Lukaku as a target man. There are options galore, and that can only help a young defender like Stones. He came from Barnsley having been a right-back, but there’s no question centre-half is his position. He has the build, he has the athleticism and, judging by his early few games, he has the talent too. I know Roberto rates him very highly, and it is easy to see why. Roberto is also a big fan of Alcaraz, and the Paraguayan, too, has made a fine start to his Everton career. I must confess I didn’t know too much about him when we signed him, but you can see why Martinez was so keen to get him, especially on a free. Distin and Jags have a job on their hands just to get back in the side. If Everton keep winning, and Norwich on Saturday provides an ideal chance to, then I’m sure the manager would be reluctant to change things.
Stones and Alcaraz showed a good understanding at Stoke, and again on Saturday. They have the shirt at the moment, and they won’t want to give it up without a fight. Which is how things should be, too. Competition in football has never been a bad thing. Everton have it.
Why I was pleased for Jelavic
I was absolutely delighted for Nikica Jelavic on Saturday.
Ten months is far too long for a player of his quality to go without scoring. Ten months!
When he first came, he looked like he would never miss, but that’s what happens in football sometimes. Form fluctuates, and it takes confidence with it. The one thing I have always respected about Jela is how hard he works for the team. He always gives 100%, he always runs the channels and shows for the ball, and that should not be overlooked. On Saturday, he finally got some reward. His first goal was a fine strike, and the movement and finish for the second was impressive too, as it showed that his penalty-box instinct is still there. Okay, there was a lot of disappointment at the way in which he missed his chance for the hat-trick. Chipped penalties look great if they go in, but you can look very foolish if they don’t. I’m sure Roberto will have had a quiet word with him about that. That said, he did still score twice, and it shows confidence that he would even try such a thing. I’m not sure how long Jela will be at Goodison, but he will leave a positive memory if he does go.
Norwich will hold no fears
NORWICH are next up for Everton, and surely that is as close to a home banker as you can get in the Premier League. Mind you, I think I said something similar about the Sunderland game!
The Canaries are an okay side with some decent players – I like Snodgrass, especially – but they should not pose this Everton side too many problems. The Blues don’t fear anybody at this moment in time. They’re relaxed and confident, and they are playing with a real freedom.
Norwich are not an aggressive side. They try to play and they try to pass the ball, and I think that will play right into Everton’s hands. If we can get the first goal of the game, then it could be another nice, comfortable afternoon at Goodison. Home form is vital at this stage of the season. Dropping points on your own soil can be very costly, and Everton have a lot of big teams to come to Goodison in the next few months. It’s great though, because the fans know there is something to play for in every game. Everton are right in the midst of a challenge, and that can only be a good thing for the club.
Expect that challenge to continue at pace this weekend.
Rangers let their fans down
I have to say, I have no affection or affinity with QPR, but I felt angry on behalf of their supporters on Saturday. I look at that squad, and it is full of big names. Even on the bench – they brought Niko Kranjcar and Yossi Benayoun in the second half! Yet they offered nothing. They didn’t get stuck into Everton, they didn’t have a go at all. Everton played well, but those QPR players let Harry Redknapp and the supporters down. If I was a QPR fan, I would be entitled to voice my displeasure. And I would make sure I did.
No joy for old clubs
It wasn’t all joy in the FA Cup this weekend.
Everton may have been the first result I looked for, but I always check my other teams too.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t the best of weekends. Oldham Athletic, Doncaster Rovers and Leeds United were all dumped out. Of those three, the Leeds result is the most galling. Credit to Rochdale, who played superbly, but Leeds have to be going there and winning. They took a great support across to Spotland, and they will have let Brian McDermott know how they felt.