Everton face battle with Newcastle over Steve Round
July 1 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON must resolve a compensation wrangle with Newcastle before Steve Round can be unveiled as the Blues' new assistant manager. The former England coach only has one day remaining on his contract on Tyneside, but the Magpies are still demanding compensation from Everton. The Blues return to pre-season training on Thursday and Moyes – who returns from a family holiday tomorrow – hopes the impasse can be resolved before then. Everton were given permission to speak to the 37-year-old last week, but cannot progress the appointment until the compensation wrangle is sorted out. A small group of Everton players will return to Finch Farm on Thursday, but the club’s African contingent will not be among them following their exertions in a series of World Cup/African Nations Cup qualifiers this summer.
Striker Yakubu, who scored against Equatorial Guinea last weekend, credits the influence of Everton’s African stars for helping him settle so quickly in his debut season at Goodison. “In the beginning it’s not easy,” said the Nigerian striker. “I’m so lucky to have (Joseph) Yobo, (Steven) Pienaar and (Victor) Anichebe here with me. And they’re team players too. “I’ve been here for a year already and when you have players like them it helps you a lot. “They make me feel at home and I enjoy it, and when I’m scoring and helping the team it’s good. “When you have people from your own country getting together it helps a lot and they talk to you and see if you're okay.
“They also want to do things after training and that helps you settle down quickly to be part of the team.”
Tom Huddlestone's new Spurs deal dents Everton hope
July 1 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
TOTTENHAM'S Tom Huddlestone has signed a new five-year contract at White Hart Lane - denting Everton's hopes of recruiting the 21-year-old midfielder as a replacement for Lee Carsley. Everton boss David Moyes is an admirer of the holding midfielder and has considered a move. But Spurs pre-empted any interest yesterday by announcing the 21-year-old, called up by England for the recent friendlies against USA and Trinidad and Tobago, has committed his future to the club until 2013.
Huddlestone, signed from Derby for £2.5million three years ago, has made a good impression on manager Juande Ramos during the Spaniard’s first season at the club.
He made 43 appearances in all competitions last season, scoring four goals and featuring as a substitute in the Carling Cup final win over Chelsea in February. He also took his tally of England Under-21 caps to 26 before the end of the season.
Former Everton defender David Unsworth, meanwhile, has left Burnley after turning down a player-coach’s role which would have required him to take a significant drop in wages. The 34-year-old had been offered the dual role by the Clarets after his initial one-year deal expired this summer. However, the former Everton, Sheffield United and Wigan defender is keen to extend his playing career and is now a free agent.
Burnley manager Owen Coyle said: “There was an offer on the table that would have meant David taking a significant hit financially, but equally would have given him the opportunity to move into coaching. However, after having a chat we have amicably decided on a parting of the ways.”
Everton face waiting game over Steve Round
July 2 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
STEVE ROUND'S agent is "confident" Everton will get their man.
But the Blues may have to be patient before the coach can begin his new role as assistant-manager to David Moyes. Everton have yet to resolve the compensation wrangle with Newcastle after the coach’s Tyneside contract expired yesterday.
The highly-regarded coach was on a roll-over contract from year to year and agent Colin Oliver said: “It’s quite flattering for Steve to be approached by a manager of the calibre of David Moyes and be offered the assistant manager’s job at a club the size of Everton. “Steve’s obviously at a big club already, but this is a good opportunity for him. “But Steve is not out of contract. His deal at Newcastle is a roll-over one from year to year. “The clubs have been talking, though, and we hope they can come to a compromise. I’m quite sure that things will get sorted.” Everton start their pre-season preparations tomorrow, although a number of players will be missing following international commitments, including goalkeeper Tim Howard, who was involved with the USA until 10 days ago. The Blues African quartet have all been given extended breaks, while a number of players including Leighton Baines, Mikel Arteta, Tim Cahill and Tony Hibbert are not ready to resume full training after summer ops.
Everton set to finalise Steve Round deal
July 3 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON were expected to name Steve Round as their new assistant manager today.
The Blues returned to pre-season training this morning with manager David Moyes expecting to have 37-year-old Round at his side. Round will leave Newcastle after one season on their coaching staff to join Everton, where Moyes has been working without an assistant since Alan Irvine took over as boss of Preston in November. Late night negotiations between the clubs are understood to have thrashed out a compensation deal to allow Round to leave the north east. Previous attempts to tie up the move had been blocked by Newcastle, who insisted Round was not out of contract. Everton believed the former Middlesbrough and Derby coach’s deal at Newcastle had ended this week without the need for compensation. But Round’s contract with the Geordies was discovered to be a rolling agreement and they, in effect, had a year option on the man who had also worked under Steve McClaren in the England set-up.
It had seemed this problem would stop Round being involved at Everton with the senior players this week. But Round’s agent Colin Oliver was convinced a deal could be struck, and the word, certainly from the Newcastle end of the negotiations is the one-time full-back is now on his way to start his new job. Round moved from Middlesbrough when Gareth Southgate took over and was Sam Allardyce’s first appointment to his own coaching staff at Newcastle this time last year.
Liverpool & Everton hail a city football legend
Jul 3 2008 by Thomas Martin, Liverpool Echo
RED and blue top brass joined together to pay tribute to Liverpool’s footballing forefather. The Rev Ben Swift Chambers was the driving force behind the birth of Everton in 1878. Liverpool came along 14 years later after a row about money.
But despite his crucial role in the creation of two of the world’s greatest football clubs, the grave of Mr Chambers lay undiscovered and unloved for decades.
Amateur historian Peter Lupson eventually discovered his overgrown resting place in a quite corner of a sleepy graveyard near Huddersfield. And yesterday representatives from both clubs attended a service in Shepley to mark the rededication of Mr Chambers’s grave. Former Everton striker Graeme Sharp said: “When you look at the history of both clubs and how they started, he was so influential. “This is an ideal opportunity for us to get together and remember that. “The relationship between the fans has deteriorated to an extent, but if we can show them there’s a unity going back all those years, maybe we can restore some of that.” Former Reds midfield ace, and now club official, Brian Hall added: “It has reminded me of the wonderful rapport between Everton and Liverpool fans over so many years.” The memorial ceremony at Shepley Methodist Church was exactly 131 years since Mr Chambers became minister at St Domingo Methodist Chapel in Everton.A keen believer that sport could teach young men important values, he started a cricket team, but advised the players to play football during the winter. St Domingo Football Club was formed, later to be named Everton FC. Everton chaplain Henry Corbett said: “Why did he found the football clubs? If he were alive today, he would say because of love and compassion.
“He saw that people could be helped by sport.” Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry said: “Through cricket and football Ben Chambers showed his commitment to getting young boys off the street. He did not see football and faith as incongruous, but rather as complementary.” Mr Lupson, who researched the history of the clubs for his book Thank God for Football, said: “There are so many wonderful points of contact between these two clubs and that’s why I’m so excited about today, because we are bringing it right up to date.” Mr Chambers’ grave was cleaned and given a new headstone with funding from the two clubs. The new epitaph reads: “Ben Swift Chambers, who set the ball rolling that led to the birth of Everton and Liverpool football clubs.” Everton director Sir Philip Carter said: “To honour a gentleman who was so pivotal to the creation of football in our city is entirely appropriate. Ben Chambers was a visionary and everyone with an interest in football in Merseyside owes him a tremendous debt of gratitude.”
Andy Van der Meyde will miss out in Bury blow
July 4 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
I'VE not been so shocked by a postponement since I stepped off a tube train into bright South Wimbledon sunshine - and discovered Plough Lane was waterlogged.
But the handy Press Association list which details these things confirmed it for me in black and white: “1 SOCCER Postponed. Saturday, 12th July 2008 FRIENDLY Bury v Everton Postponed (Postponed).” Why? In recent seasons the Blues have kicked off their pre-season friendly fixtures with a double-header. Last season it was Bury and Coleraine, the year before Port Vale and Bury, while in 2003 tormented Toffees fans had to toss up between the twin attractions of Spotland or Gresty Road. But this season Everton are playing Sion in Switzerland on July 12 but not, it seems, Bury any more. True, the weather hasn’t been great this month. But I suspect the real reason for Everton’s single-minded fixture planning is more simple. With four Africans and an American still on holiday, another four players recovering from operations – and replacements still being sought for Lee Carsley, Thomas Gravesen, Steffan Wessels and maybe Manuel Fernandes, the Blues can’t field two teams on the same day.
Shame. Andy van der Meyde might have finally got 90 minutes under his belt.
Everton dismiss Mehmet Aurelio interest
July 4 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON are not in the hunt for Turkish midfielder Mehmet Aurelio, despite reports today claiming he had flown to Merseyside for talks. Blues boss David Moyes is desperate for central defensive cover following the departure of Lee Carsley to Birmingham. But Turkey’s vice-captain, out of contract at Fenerbahce, is not likely to be his replacement. Everton did show some interest in the 30-year-old, but Aurelio always preferred a move to Spain and got his wish when Real Betis agreed terms.
Finding an adequate replacement for Carsley is David Moyes priority this summer, and Carsley had some words of praise for the Blues boss this week. Now preparing for the new Championship season at Birmingham, Carsley said: “David Moyes turned round Everton completely from being a club at the bottom of the league to a club in the Champions League. The job he’s done there is fantastic. “Alex McLeish reminds me a lot of him in the way he speaks. He’s very single minded.” Moyes, meanwhile, has confirmed the appointment of new assistant Steve Round. The former Newcastle coach was at Finch Farm yesterday to start work with the Blues’ first team squad.
He will travel with the Blues next week to a pre-season training camp in Switzerland, with Everton due to face Sion next weekend in their first pre-season fixture.
Everton Kirkby switch - new threat
July 4 2008 by Nick Coligan, Liverpool Echo
LIVERPOOL councillors are joining forces in a new bid to block Everton FC's move to Kirkby. They are set to agree a cross-party call to lobby cabinet minister Hazel Blears MP to “call in” the £400m Destination Kirkby scheme for detailed investigation. Government officials are currently examining the Blues and Tesco’s proposals for Kirkby town centre after they were backed by Knowsley council last month. Now it seems inevitable Liverpool council will formally request Ms Blears orders a public inquiry as senior councillors believe the plan breaks strict planning laws. The call, which will be made next week, is likely to stoke up tensions between the neighbouring councils over Everton’s hope to relocate. Councillors Warren Bradley and Joe Anderson, both season-ticket holders at Goodison Park, are desperate to keep the club in the city. Their joint motion, with minority party leaders John Coyne and Steve Radford, includes a request to Everton to hold fresh discussions about a “plan B” to stay in north Liverpool. Labour leader Cllr Anderson said: “The political parties are jointly opposed to this move. “Quite simply, we believe it would have a huge impact on Walton and north Liverpool. “It is a business with a £51m turnover and historic links to the city and we should be doing everything we can to keep it. “We also have to make sure we try to work with Everton and other people to put forward an alternative proposal to keep the club inside the city boundaries or at Goodison.” Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Warren Bradley added: “We believe this proposal clearly breaches planning policy, so if a public inquiry is not held, it will set a precedent. “What is the point of having a policy if people can ride roughshod over it? “We feel like the groom at the altar – we need the bride, Everton, to come to us and discuss plan B. They cannot keep denying they need one.” Knowsley council’s planning committee overwhelmingly approved Everton and Tesco’s proposal.
The Blues have repeatedly said a public inquiry, which would take about a year, would increase costs and jeopardise the entire project. Ian Ross, Everton’s head of PR, said: “While we remain fully committed to the Destination Kirkby project, we are disappointed but not surprised by this news. “As we said after the planning committee approved the project by a majority of 20-1, we believe a decision really should be left on a local level.” Knowsley council declined to comment.
Former Blues keeper signs Leyton Orient deal
July 5 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
YOUNG goalkeeper Jamie Jones has ended an 11-year association with Everton to join Leyton Orient. The 19-year-old from Kirkby had been with the Blues since he was seven and signed his first contract at just eight, after being spotted playing for junior league team Keyways. He was released by the Everton Academy at the end of last season but is hoping to bounce back into the big time. “Maybe you have to drop down to go back up again and hopefully we can achieve that here,” said the 6ft 2ins stopper, after signing a two-year deal. “I feel that I’m ready for first team football and I’m looking forward to challenging for a first team place. “The chance of being more involved at first team level is something which excites me. I wasn’t getting that at Everton – at that level managers play more experienced goalkeepers. “Last year working with the likes of Tim Howard, Steffan Wessels and Chris Woods was unbelievable, the best learning I’ve ever had. “Hopefully I can take what I learned from them on to this club and be the best I can.” Orient boss Martin Ling was delighted with his latest signing. “I’m very pleased to have signed Jamie,” he said. “He has an excellent pedigree. “Jamie is a good size and will provide excellent competition for Glenn Morris. He will be able to learn from being around a first team set-up and it's pleasing to complete another piece of the jigsaw. “He first came on to our radar from our northern scout watching him for Everton’s reserves on a couple of occasions last year. “He also spent time on trial at Yeovil last season and they were keen to sign him - and the fact that another League One club were in for him shows that he is of good quality.”
French defender Sebastien Bassong keen on move to Everton
July 5 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
FRENCH defender Sebastien Bassong is hoping to secure a summer move to Everton.
The Metz defender turned down a move to Dinamo Bucharest last week and is trying to attract interest from Goodison. The 22-year-old, under contract for a final season with Metz, claims that Everton, Hamburg and Wolfsburg have approached him but are yet to make an official offer for his services. “I have approaches from Germany and in England,” Bassong said. “To me the reality is that there are more contacts abroad than in France. “There is Everton in the Premier League as well as Wolfsburg and Hamburg in the Bundesliga. "But it’s only touches; I’m waiting to see what’s going to happen in the future. “I don’t want to leave just to leave. I’m waiting for a real project.
"There’s no hurry but I want to leave, to see something elsewhere, but I still have time. "There’s no emergency. Negotiations are just starting.” David Moyes’ priority in the transfer market this summer is a replacement for departed midfielder Lee Carsley. But he also wants defensive cover and more options on the flanks.
The Blues go to Switzerland on Monday for a week-long training camp and no new arrivals are anticipated before they return.
Right-hand man will always hold the key to success - Howard Kendall
July 5 2008 by James Pearce, Liverpool Echo
FORMER Everton manager Howard Kendall knows all about the importance of a good assistant. His double act with Colin Harvey guided Everton to the most successful period in the club’s history. As players in the 1960s, the midfielders formed part of the Blues’ revered ‘Holy Trinity’ alongside Alan Ball and two decades on the duo proved to be equally formidable when it came to coaching. Harvey was already at the club when Kendall took over at Goodison as player-manager in 1981. He progressed from youth team coach to managing the reserves and in 1983 he was promoted to first team coach. The pair complemented each other perfectly and the Blues went on to land two Championships, the FA Cup and the European Cup Winners’ Cup before Kendall quit in 1987 to manage Athletic Bilbao. Kendall admits Harvey’s support and expertise were crucial to the club’s stunning run of trophies.
“Colin was very enthusiastic and very meticulous,” he said. “He would spend hours long before modern technology came along watching videos, stopping and starting bits of footage and analysing what had gone on. He would then show the players on a Monday morning what they had done wrong. “Colin and I were very different characters, but we both enjoyed going out and working with players on the training ground rather than standing on the sidelines. “Maybe we couldn’t run as fast as when we were players, but we could still demonstrate the points we were looking to get across. “We both enjoyed going out there together and mixing with the players and I think that was appreciated by the lads.”Kendall believes Harvey’s impressive record as a player helped him quickly establish himself on the coaching staff. “I think it helps if the person has had a good career himself and the players recognise his achievements,” he said. “It’s not vital and of course you still have to prove your worth on the training ground, but it helps at the beginning to ensure you are accepted and enables you to get the players’ respect quickly.” Blues boss David Moyes acquired a new right-hand man this week with the acquisition of Steve Round from Newcastle United. The 37-year-old fills the gap which was created by Alan Irvine’s departure to manage Championship outfit Preston last November. And Kendall believes if Round is going to be successful at Goodison he can’t be afraid to speak his mind.
“The manager has got to be the decision maker and the buck stops with him, but the number two has got to voice his thoughts,” Kendall added. “The worst thing that can happen is having someone who is just going to nod his head in agreement all the time. You want someone who isn’t scared to give his honest opinion. “Of course Colin and I didn’t always agree and that was a good thing. “Sometimes you might have a situation where as manager you’ve been critical of a player’s performance. There may be certain aspects of his game you aren’t happy with and the player concerned might be disappointed and angry with the manager. “In that situation a number two is able to step in, calm the player down and smooth things over. It’s vitally important to work as a team.” Kendall, 62, is confident Moyes has got the right man but admits he was disappointed to see reserve team coach Andy Holden not selected for the role. Holden acted as Moyes’ assistant following Irvine’s departure last season.
“I’ve not come across Steve before but you have to back David Moyes’ decision,” he said. “Since Alan left he has certainly had long enough to draw up a shortlist and then choose the ideal candidate.
“I feel a bit sorry for Andy, who has worked with David since Alan left. He looked to me like he had done a tremendous job but he didn’t get the post.
“But it’s a big compliment to Andy that the manager didn’t just go out immediately when Alan left and make a rash decision. David knew he had a quality, loyal man on the staff who he could rely on.” After last season’s impressive fifth placed finish in the Premier League, Kendall is hoping the Blues can go even higher this time around.
But he admits a lack of activity in the transfer market this summer is currently a cause for concern. He said: “I think all the fans are obviously looking at the financial situation. Is David Moyes able to go out and strengthen his squad before the new season starts? “I totally agree with the club not coming out and saying how much he will have to spend this summer because once you do that it immediately inflates the asking price when you go for a player. “But the fans would like to know that there is money available and that David will be able to make some additions. In fact I’m sure fans want to hear that a lot more than any news about a stadium move.
“I think David will be looking to bring in two or three players but if Everton want to move forward they’ve got to be better than what he’s already got. If they realistically want to challenge for the top four then that’s going to need big money.”
STEVE ROUND FACTFILE
Date of birth: 9/11/70
Place of birth: Burton upon Trent
* Round was a full-back with Derby County but was forced to retire through injury in 1995 after just nine league appearances and joined the Rams’ coaching staff.
* When Steve McClaren took over as Middlesbrough boss in 2001 he appointed Round to his coaching staff.
* He spent five years at the Riverside before McClaren added him to England’s backroom staff.
* Round landed the job of first team coach at Newcastle in July last year when he became manager Sam Allardyce’s first appointment.
Sir Paul McCartney’s Everton ‘secret’ was no surprise
July 5 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
IT was, apparently, the “best kept secret in Beatles history.” Unless you’re a long-time reader of this column. Paul McCartney’s preference for all things Blue has been discussed, debated and nailed firmly to a Goodison goalpost on this page years ago . . . the clincher being his presence at the 1968 FA Cup final in an overcoat and winkle-pickers. He even referred to his Royal Blue leanings in a Radio Merseyside interview ahead of his Anfield appearance last month. But just for the record, here’s the interview he gave to the Observer Sports Monthly magazine. “Here’s the deal: my father was born in Everton, my family are officially Evertonians, so if it comes down to a derby match or an FA Cup final between the two, I would have to support Everton. “But after a concert at Wembley Arena I got a bit of a friendship with Kenny Dalglish, who had been to the gig and I thought ‘You know what? I am just going to support them both because it’s all Liverpool and I don’t have that Catholic-Protestant thing. “So I did have to get special dispensation from the Pope to do this but that’s it, too bad. I support them both. “They are both great teams. “But if it comes to the crunch, I’m Evertonian.”
The man who began a proud football heritage
HE didn’t know what he had started . . . But 130 years after the creation of St Domingo’s Football Club, both Everton and Liverpool have paid tribute to Reverend Ben Chambers, the man who founded St Domingo’s FC. The gravestone of the pioneering churchman was re-dedicated on Wednesday at a service of commemoration at Shepley Methodist Church, near Huddersfield. Blues’ Life President Sir Philip Carter and representatives from the Everton Former Players’ Foundation and the Everton Academy, were present at the ceremony.
Blues chairman Bill Kenwright said: “Both Everton and Liverpool have a proud footballing heritage and the history of the two clubs is a source of immense pride to supporters whatever colour they choose to wear. “Therefore, it is entirely appropriate that we honour such a man especially in Liverpool’s Capital of Culture year.
“Ben Chambers was clearly a man of vision and real enthusiasm – thus demonstrated by the unique role he played in the formation and development of football in the region. “Everyone whose lives have been touched by either club owes him a debt of gratitude.” Ben Swift Chambers was born on August 30 1845 in West Yorkshire.
He became the Methodist minister at St Domingo’s Church in Everton. He changed the football landscape of Liverpool in 1877 when he was appointed circuit superintendent and minister of St Domingo Chapel in the Everton district of Liverpool. After forming the St Domingo Cricket Club, Reverend Ben Chambers turned his hand to forming a football team to keep the cricket team fit during the winter months of 1878. The St Domingo Football Club was soon attracting players from churches outside the parish and by November 1879, the football section of the cricket club was renamed Everton. Ben Swift Chambers died on November 28, 1901, aged 56.
Jumping in at the deep end
LEAGUE TWO crisis club Bournemouth have appointed former Everton commercial manager Alistair Saverimutto as chief executive. The Cherries remain in administration with debts of £5 million and are facing a 15 point deduction when their season gets under way next month.
Craig Short sails into new life on the crest of a wave
July 5 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
AS a player, Craig Short’s interests famously extended no further than heavy metal music and the occasional round of golf. But as a recently retired ex-pro, the former Blues favourite has now found a new passion. As he showed with a 20-yard howitzer in the Mersey Masters mini-mini derby last weekend, Short can still find his way around a football field. But that’s now very much a secondary passion to plotting a course around the world’s oceans. Short co-owns a business, outrunsailing.co.uk, which teaches sailing on Lake Windermere and also helps to deliver new boats to their owners. “It started when I was playing for Everton and lived in Southport,” he explained. “There was a little sailing lake – I had a couple of lessons there and really enjoyed it. “Whenever I was on the team coach I would sit there with my sailing magazines, or books about people who had sailed around the world. “But it really took off at Blackburn: the training ground's only a 50-minute drive from the Lake District, so one day I finished training, drove up to Windermere, walked into an office and thought: ‘Right, I’m gonna treat myself.’ “I thought I'd get laughed at, because I hadn't done much at all, but they sorted me out with my first boat. I really enjoyed it and knew that when I finished football it was something I wanted to do. “After that I'd spend afternoons after training at the lake, then sleep on the boat and drive back the next day. It became a bit of an obsession. “The business is mostly corporate stuff. We teach them the ropes in the morning, then let them race in the afternoon, but we also do Royal Yachting Association training. “As well as that I crew on delivery trips, taking boats to their new owners. I did one recently from Sweden to England, and that really interests me. “I’m learning all the time. One night on the way back from Sweden we were hit by a storm and that freaked me out. I just thought that was it. Once you get through something like that, though, it's great. The next step for me is racing, but that's completely different. “I found football very pressurised, but you need something to replace that feeling you get after winning, that big competitive edge in your life. “But it’s not just about that – it’s a completely different world. I sailed the Atlantic in November and that was something I'd always dreamed of doing. I saw minke whales, caught marlin – it was the most incredible experience of my life. I had quite a cosseted life as a footballer and it’s something so far removed from that.”
Leighton Baines aims at Everton's USA tour
July 7 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
LEIGHTON BAINES is ready to hand David Moyes an early pre-season fitness boost by taking his comeback from ankle surgery up another level. Everton’s left-back was operated on days after the most recent campaign ended to rectify a long-standing problem, but there were fears he could be out for as long as four months.
Given that he missed so many games last season due to a number of niggling injuries, that would have been a huge blow for Baines, who cost the Blues £6m when he arrived from Wigan. However, his rehabilitation has gone better than expected and while he is not yet ready to kick a ball, Baines has set his sights on a return to action during Everton’s USA tour later this month. “Before the lads came back in, I was doing light stuff, such as jogging and bits and bobs on the machines, but since last Thursday I’ve taken part in every running session,” he said today. “We did a hard session on Saturday morning and I took part in that, so I’m pleased with the way things are going at the minute. “Pre-season is so important and the good thing is that I’ve been able to take part in all the running we have been doing, so I’m not going to be that far behind the rest of the lads. “When I first had the operation, I was looking at not doing anything at all now, so it’s great to be at the stage I am. David Moyes takes his squad to Switzerland for a week-long training camp today that will culminate with a friendly against FC Sion on Saturday. Baines will not be involved in that game – nor is he likely to figure in the matches against Cambridge, Preston and Nottingham Forest – but he can see light at the end of the tunnel. The Blues will face Chicago Fire and Colorado Rapids when they head to the States in three weeks and Baines hopes to launch his comeback there. “We are going to be doing a lot of work in Switzerland and that will help, but hopefully I’ll be able to get a few minutes on the pitch when we go to America,” said Baines. “I know I’ve just got to be careful at the minute. I know I’m not too far away but I don’t want to do too much and suffer a setback. Fingers crossed there won’t be any problems.” Fitness issues restricted Baines to just 17 starts last season, but while that was a new experience, he was determined to take positives from the situation. “The most games I’d ever missed during a season at Wigan was two or three, so it was unusual,” said Baines. “But you learn from these things and hopefully things will be better this year.”
Steve Round delight as Everton deal is signed
July 7 2008
By Richard Williamson
STEVE ROUND has revealed how Everton’s ability to challenge the top four in the Premier League without the same resources was a motivating factor in his move to Goodison Park. The former Middlesbrough and Newcastle coach has signed in as Everton’s new assistant manager and is delighted at the prospect of working alongside David Moyes. Round had the chance to watch Moyes at work as part of his England coaching responsibilities and was impressed by what he observed.
The 37-year-old explained: “I knew David from the circuit and playing against him with teams, and I’ve always admired the way his teams played.
"When I was with England one of my remits was to go around the clubs and watch training. I spent a few days at Man Utd, Arsenal, Chelsea, then I came to Everton because there are a few England players at Everton.
"I went to Bellefield, watched training, and spent a few days with David and I was really impressed.”
Everton offer help in Joseph Yobo's brother's kidnap ordeal
July 7 2008 by Kevin Core, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON FC today gave their support to defender Joseph Yobo after his brother was kidnapped in Nigeria. Norum Yobo was dragged from his car as he returned from the Illusions nightclub in Port Harcourt, Rivers state. He was one of three men taken at gunpoint at around 4am yesterday. The other two, Barry C Lakara and Ifeanyi Nwa were later released, fuelling fears that his family connection to the Blues defender may have made him a target. Joseph Yobo, 27, is on holiday in Lagos, Nigeria, and was due to return to pre-season training next week. However, the club said he would not now be coming back to Merseyside as expected. Everton spokesman Ian Ross said: “The thoughts of the players, management, staff, fans and everyone connected to Everton FC are with Joseph and his family at this time. “We have sent a couple of messages to Joseph offering any assistance that we can provide him. “He had been given leave to return late to pre-season training next week because of his international duties for Nigeria this summer – obviously, this family misfortune means he will stay out there for the foreseeable future. “Things like this put football and life in perspective. “We can only hope that Joseph’s brother is released without harm.”
Details of the abduction were confirmed by Cyril Dumite, deputy chairman of the People’s Democratic Party, the ruling party in Rivers state. Ransom demands usually follow kidnappings in the oil-rich Niger Delta region of the country, although no contact has so far been made. Police said that the kidnappers have yet to make contact with them. Nigeria is Africa’s biggest oil producer and the area has seen a rise in kidnappings by militants targeting the industry for more of the profits.
Frustrated Mikel Arteta targets new start with Everton
July 8 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
MIKEL ARTETA is ready to put his injury nightmare behind him and be fighting fit for the start of the new Premier League season. Everton’s influential Spanish midfielder experienced a dip in his fortunes during the most recent campaign and only featured in fits and starts from February onwards due to the effects of an abdominal problem that eventually required surgery. However, he returned to Finch Farm last week in positive spirits and though Arteta has stayed on Merseyside while the rest of the squad headed to Switzerland for a training camp yesterday, he is pleased with the progress he is making. “Gradually the groin got worse and the pain was bigger,” Arteta explained. “I did everything I could not to miss as many games as other players with the same injury in the past. “But, in the end, we thought the best way to resolve the problem was surgery. I’ve been doing rehab all summer so fingers crossed I’m going to feel much better. We’ve got a long pre-season and I plan to play at some point.” Though he started brightly, Arteta’s form dipped dramatically from the standards many have come to expect and only scored four goals in 37 appearances but, as he was unable to train for long periods, the former Rangers man felt that was inevitable. “When you play with pain you can’t train in the week and obviously that affects your fitness levels and your confidence,” he said. “It was tough – all the hours I had to spend on treatment and on different exercises instead of training outside.
“It does affect you because you are out of the game. You lose that sharpness and that confidence, and every time you want to kick the ball and do something special you are very limited. And it’s not an excuse. I am the first one to criticise myself.
“I had to get used to expecting the pain all the time. The only thing I’m asking now is not to have the pain because I know if that is the case I have a lot to offer. Hopefully this season is going to be a big one.” But as Arteta nears a comeback, Tony Hibbert is facing another lengthy spell on the sidelines after he was operated on yesterday to cure the medial ligament he damaged in his knee during a 1-0 defeat against Arsenal on May 4. The right-back has had his knee in a brace all summer, which Everton’s medical staff hoped would rectify matters but, while he can run in a straight line, Hibbert is still feeling discomfort when he twists and turns, meaning surgery is the only option. “Now is the optimum time to get it sorted and get it pinned back into place,” said physio Mick Rathbone. “Hopefully he will be there or thereabouts for the start of the season. If we had waited longer then it would really impact on the start of the season so it is the right decision.”
Everton fans' anger at new kit delay
July 8 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON fans today voiced their frustration after it emerged they must wait another two weeks for the club's new home kit. The launch of the Blues’ new strip was put back until Thursday, July 24 – something the club today said was due to circumstances beyond its control. Any customer who has pre-ordered their 2008 home shirt or kit online, via the mail order service or in store will now receive their order on Wednesday July 23 – 24 hours ahead of the official release date. Club spokesman Ian Ross said: “We have been working closely with supplier JJB and manufacturer Umbro to attempt to minimise the disruption since being made aware of the issue.
“It is deeply unfortunate that this situation has occurred but the distribution issues have simply meant the merchandise would not be in the UK in time for its original launch date. “Umbro have apologised to the Club for the inconvenience this causes our supporters and together with JJB and Everton will be doing all in their power to ensure the kit launch does not experience any further problems.” All customers who have pre-ordered online or via the mail order service will be contacted shortly.
Any supporter who has pre-ordered in store will be contacted by the store management. Ian MacDonald, from Everton independent supporters, said: “This is a big deal. Everton is a big name and it needs to be shown off around Europe.
“It is a big thing for kids to go on holiday with their families and show off their club colours. “Liverpool, on the other side of the city, have had their kit since the beginning of summer. “We finished fifth in the league. Why can’t we have our new colours in summer? We should have got this right five years ago.”
Everton eye Darren Fletcher and Diego Milito
July 8 2008 EXCLUSIVE by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON are eyeing a double swoop for Darren Fletcher and Diego Milito - as Andrew Johnson is poised to end his Goodison Park career. Wigan and Sunderland have both been in contact with the Blues and are prepared to pay in the region of £10m for the former club record signing, who travelled with the rest of David Moyes’ squad to a training camp in Switzerland yesterday. Though Everton have publicly stated that Johnson is not for sale, privately they are resigned to a parting of the ways and the player’s reluctance to uproot his young family, who are settled in the North West, means he is almost certain to move to the JJB Stadium. While there will be concerns that an already small squad is going to be reduced further, plans are already afoot to strengthen – and Manchester United star Fletcher plus Real Zaragoza frontman Milito are high on Moyes’ wanted list. Finding a top class midfielder has long been the manager’s number one priority and Fletcher, who has made 172 appearances at Old Trafford since making his debut in a Champions League tie against Basel in March 2003, fits the bill. Alex Ferguson has made it clear that he does not want to lose the 24-year-old and promised that Fletcher will “play his part” for United next season but the player must decide whether he wants to figure sporadically or enjoy regular starts at Goodison Park. Moyes has checked on a number of targets to fill the void created by Lee Carsley’s move to Birmingham City – notably Tom Huddlestone of Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City’s Michael Johnson – but Fletcher has ticks in all the right boxes. Having signed Phil Neville and Tim Howard in recent years, Everton enjoy cordial relations with United and must now wait and see if their pursuit of Fletcher – who has 12 months left on his current contract – reaches a successful conclusion. Finding a striker, though, is of equal importance and Argentina international Milito, a clever forward with outstanding aerial ability, has emerged as front-runner to take over the soon to be departed Johnson’s mantle. Real Zaragoza were relegated from La Liga last season but that did not stop Milito maintaining an outstanding average of scoring a goal every two games. He was second top scorer in Spain in 2006/2007 with 25, just two behind Ruud van Nistelrooy. Everton – who are also keeping tabs on Tottenham’s Darren Bent – could face competition for Milito’s signature from newly promoted Stoke City but they would be favourites to sign the 29-year-old on a 12-month loan deal.
Everton waiting for Andrew Johnson decision
July 9 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON were today waiting to hear from Andrew Johnson whether he has reached a decision about his future plans. The Blues have steadfastly declared that they do not want to sell their former club record signing, but now want to know whether Johnson feels the same way. Wigan Athletic head the pack of six clubs who have enquired about the England international and are ready to pay £10m to take him to the JJB Stadium. Boss Steve Bruce returned to work today and it is understood the Latics would, ideally, like any potential transfer to be completed by the time they go on a training camp to Austria next week. Sunderland are also waiting in the wings but, with Johnson and his young family settled in the north west, a move to Wearside is unlikely to appeal. However, Everton - who have not been ruffled by fresh comments attributed to Real Zaragoza’s Diego Milito, claiming he favours a move to Genoa over the Premier League - want to know Johnson’s intentions before they proceed with any deal. During the two years he has been at Goodison, Johnson has not been a stranger to transfer speculation, but whenever stories have linked him with moves away, he has been quick to issue emphatic denials. That has not been the case on this occasion.
For the time being, Johnson is still with the rest of David Moyes’ squad in Switzerland and is preparing for Saturday’s friendly against FC Sion. One man hoping to launch his campaign in that game is Leon Osman and he hopes that, come next May, he will be celebrating the first major piece of silverware in his career.
Though they enjoyed lengthy runs in both the Carling Cup and UEFA Cup, Everton could not end a trophy drought that stretches back to 1995 but Osman would love nothing more than for that statistic to change. “The aim is the same as it is every year and that is to win something,” said Osman, who was one of Everton’s most consistent performers last season. “I’ve been at Everton Football Club for half my life now and it would be fantastic to win some- thing,” he added.
Atletico Madrid end their pursuit to sign Mikel Arteta
May 10 2008
By Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily Post
ATLETICO MADRID claim to have ended their interest in Everton midfielder Mikel Arteta. The Spaniards have been long-time admirers of the 26-year-old, who is currently recovering from an operation to cure the groin and abdominal that hampered him last season. Indeed, reports last week suggested Atletico were ready to launch a £12million bid to take Arteta back to his homeland.
The midfielder, though, has consistently dismissed any suggestion of a move away from Goodison Park and signed a new five-year deal last summer.
And now Atletico sporting director Jesus Garcia Pitarch has ruled out a move for the Everton man. “We will try to sign a top player by the end of the summer for the new season but to be honest we are not too worried as our team is pretty much complete,” said Pitarch yesterday. “Arteta? Yes, we were interested in him but the club cannot go for that sort of player.”
Everton may go for Turkey star Mehmet Topal
July 10 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON are considering a move for Turkey international Mehmet Topal.
The 22-year-old, who plays for Galatasaray, made four appearances for his country during their run to the semi-finals of Euro 2008. A tall, strong, powerful midfielder, Topal occupies a role just in front of the back four and is the type of player manager David Moyes requires following Lee Carsley’s recent move to Birmingham.
Topal joined Galatasaray in September 2006 and made 26 starts last season as they won Turkey’s Süper Lig for the 17th time. He signed a new deal in April that means he is contracted to the Ataturk Stadium until 2013, but, along with Manchester United’s Darren Fletcher and Joao Moutinho of Sporting Lisbon, he is on the Blues’ radar. One midfielder, meanwhile, who is certain to start the season at Goodison Park is Mikel Arteta, and Evertonians will be breathing much easier after Atletico Madrid publicly declared they have ended their interest in him. The Spaniards have long been admirers of Arteta and some reports last weekend suggested they were ready to launch a £12m raid to take him back home, even though he has declared on many occasions that he has no wish to leave Merseyside. While Arteta was troubled by injury last season, he signed a new five-year deal at Goodison 12 months ago and now Atletico sporting director Jesus Garcia Pitarch has ruled out any bid for the 26-year-old.
“We will try to sign a top player by the end of the summer for the new season but, to be honest, we are not too worried as our team is pretty much complete,” said Pitarch. “Arteta? Yes we were interested but the club cannot go for that sort of player.”
Meanwhile, Wigan Athletic are expected to up their interest in Andrew Johnson in the next 48 hours after Steve Bruce spoke to the England international’s representatives over a move to the JJB Stadium. The Latics will need to spend £10m to have any chance of prising Johnson away, but the indications are that they are ready to meet Everton’s asking price and have put together a lucrative package for the 27-year-old.
James Vaughan is like a caged tiger ready to roar - Phil Neville
July 10 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
JAMES VAUGHAN has endured more injury misery in the past three years than most footballers experience in a lifetime but his team-mates feel he is ready to start making up for lost time. The England Under-21 international has not kicked a ball in anger since Everton beat Reading 1-0 on February 9 due to his needing another operation to repair cartilage in his left knee. Add into the equation that Vaughan also dislocated his shoulder last year – which resulted in him missing three months – and also severed an artery in his ankle in April 2007, few would begrudge Vaughan a change in fortunes.
However, he has given the impression during the Blues’ training camp in Switzerland this week that he is in rude health, charging around the training pitches with plenty of zest and providing colleagues with a reminder of his talents. “Vaughany is raring to go,” observed Everton captain Phil Neville. “He’s like a caged tiger at the moment and I think the physios are having to rein him back just now. It’s the same for Leighton Baines. “This is a big season for him as well. So we have got players who are hungry, which is good because we have got teams around us who, after last season, are going to be after our (fifth) place. We need to perform even better.”
Though many supporters will be encouraged that Vaughan is back up and running again, it would be presumptuous to say that he will be ready for the Premier League opener against Blackburn on August 16 and Everton’s medical staff will continue to keep a close eye on him. Ironically, though, Vaughan is one of the more experienced members of the squad David Moyes has taken with him to Switzerland, as youngsters such as Lee Molyneux, Jose Baxter, Jack Rodwell, Kieran Agard, Lukas Jutkiewicz and John Paul Kissock have travelled. They, along with Cory Sinnott, John Irving and Euan O’Kane, seem certain to get some minutes under their belt when the Blues face FC Sion on Saturday in Martigny and Neville believes they all have bright futures.
“We’ve got nine young professionals over here with us and, for me, some of them look like they are nearly ready to join the first team squad, which is exciting,” said Neville. “I think Everton fans would prefer to see a youngster coming through the ranks than a foreign player.”
Wayne Rooney agent Paul Stretford’s fury over FA fine and ban
July 10 2008 by Ben Turner, Liverpool Echo
WAYNE Rooney’s agent Paul Stretford has been fined £300,000 and given an 18-month ban by the Football Association. Today Streftord described the verdicts of the FA’s disciplinary commission as “a travesty” and said he will be launching an immediate appeal. The sanctions follow charges brought by the FA against Stretford, founder of Proactive Sports Management. It related to how he acquired the right to represent Rooney shortly before his £30m transfer from Everton to Manchester United in 2002. Stretford was at the centre of a blackmail trial in 2004, claiming John Hyland, his main rival for Rooney’s signature, had intimidated him. But the case collapsed after Stretford was branded an unreliable witness. Now, the FA’s commission ruled as “proved” seven of nine charges brought by them against Stretford for breaches of the FIFA players’ agent regulations. Charges included failing to protect Wayne Rooney’s interests and failing to respect the rights of third parties.
The commission found Stretford encouraged Rooney and his parents “to enter into a representation agreement with Proactive Sports Management Limited on July 17, 2002” even though he knew the England striker was still then under contract with Pro-Form Sports Management Limited. A charge of enticing Rooney away from his previous agent was not proven. The commission found Stretford guilty of entering into a representation contract with Rooney for eight years, six years over the two-year limit. Two other charges of failing to lodge representation contracts with the FA were also proved, but a third was not. Stretford has fought a long legal battle against the FA over whether they had the jurisdiction to charge him and believes if the case had been heard in public, the outcome would have been favourable. He thanked Rooney and his family, who gave evidence on his behalf, for their support, and added: “I will be lodging an immediate appeal and continue to maintain my complete innocence of charges brought against me.” The ban will not come into force until after any appeal.
Everton keeps tabs on Diego Milito as Genoa are ‘priced out’
July 11 2008
By Ian Doyle, Livwerpool Daily Post
EVERTON’S pursuit of Diego Milito has taken another twist when Genoa ruled out a move for the Real Zaragoza striker. Argentina international Milito is expected to leave the Spanish club following their surprise relegation from the Primera Division last season. Everton have been tracking the 29-year-old, but their hopes appeared to have been severely dented earlier this week when the player declared a desire to return to his former club Genoa. However, the Serie A club have now admitted they cannot afford to sign the forward. “I know that it would be a dream for all Genoa fans that Diego Milito returns to the club,” said Genoa president Enrico Preziosi. “But that dream is impossible for several reasons, mainly that Milito has a contract that is beyond the parameters that this club can offer.”
New coach Steve Round impresses Phil Jagielka
July 11 2008 by Dominic King in Switzerland, Liverpool Echo
PHIL JAGIELKA today backed Steve Round to play a major role in shaping Everton's fortunes as the new assistant manager prepares to make his debut in the dugout.
While Round may not have been well known to the vast majority of Evertonians, that was not the case among the playing staff and Jagielka was one of a number of players who gave his appointment an immediate thumbs up. The Blues’ central defender worked with Round when he was called up to represent England ‘B’ in a friendly against Albania in May 2007, so had experience of the former Middlesbrough coach’s innovative ideas. Round has only been in his role for just over a week but has already made a positive impression on Jagielka, who believes signs of his influence will be seen in tomorrow’s opening friendly against FC Sion in Martigny. “Steve has taken a few sessions and it’s clear already that he will help improve us,” said Jagielka.
“I had worked with Steve before when I played for England ‘B’ during my time at Sheffield United, so I had an idea of what he could do. “He loves his football and that enthusiasm rubs off on all the lads. I’m sure he will help freshen things up.
“He has seen Everton from a different perspective in the last few years and he is obviously going to help the Gaffer,” Jagielka went on. “Although he has worked at such a high level, he is still very young in terms of being a coach and I’m sure he is going to have an impact through the course of next season and beyond.
“It’s nice for the Gaffer to have someone to take a bit of the pressure off.”
Everton have been on an intensive training camp in Switzerland this week.
Tomorrow’s friendly comes a week earlier than normal yet Round still feels they will acquit themselves with credit. “It is very early for us,” said Round, who arrived at Goodison Park from Newcastle. “It’s our first game in our first week. You normally don’t have a game until the end of the second week. “We will still be up there and competitive, though.” Meanwhile, Everton are continuing to monitor Diego Milito’s situation after his former club Genoa ruled themselves out of a move for the Real Zaragoza striker. He had said earlier this week that he favoured a move to Serie A but that now looks highly unlikely. “I know it would be a dream for all Genoa fans that Diego Milito returns to the club,” said Genoa president Enrico Preziosi.
“But that dream is impossible for several reasons, mainly that Milito has a contract that is beyond the parameters that this club can offer.” Aside from looking to strengthen his strike force, Moyes also needs to sign cover for goalkeeper Tim Howard, and reports in Portugal have linked the Blues with a one-year loan move for Sporting Lisbon’s Vladimir Stojkovic.
David Prentice: One Blues deal needed more than any other
July 11 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
ACCORDING to boffins with too much time on their hands, the saddest day of this year was officially calculated as January 22. Something to do with dark mornings, Christmas debts and distant holidays. Evertonians, however, beg to differ.
For a start, January 22 happens to be the birthday of their club’s greatest ever player, which is surely a reason to celebrate. And there are other reasons for believing that some time in July is the day most Blues get the blues – notably the angst-ridden calls which deluge the Old Hall Street branch of the Samaritans (i.e. my desk phone).
It’s been like that for years. Every year, even when the sun does decide to shine, a vocal number of Blues fans are engulfed by the darkest of depressions at exactly this time of year. And they seek reassurance from the ECHO. The questions rarely change.
“Where’s the money gone?” “Why no signings?” “Is Andy van der Meyde still there?”
Last season I even had a “We’re a club in crisis!” before the Blues proceeded to romp back into Europe, reach a cup semi-final and enjoy the best UEFA Cup run in the club’s history. The wails reached such a crescendo last July that I even appealed on these pages for the phone-in moaners to stop whingeing, wise up and be patient. And happily the Toffees’ performances proceeded to make such advice look sensible.
The nay-sayers have been at it again this week. But this time I’m more sympathetic.
Goodison is not as settled a ship as a side which has just finished fifth should be.
For a start, four players have gone, one a hugely influential figure whose contribution I fear will become increasingly apparent as the season progresses.
And as of last night there were still no signs that Everton can even afford a replacement, let alone land one. Then there are key figures recovering from surgery, the unfortunate delay to a kit launch, a pre-season fixture postponed because there weren’t enough bodies to fulfil it, and a transfer policy which appears to be dictated by Hazel Blears. The biggest concern, however, is that David Moyes has still not put pen to paper on a new contract. And even more worrying is the lack of dialogue about that delay. David Moyes has been back in training for more than a week, and hasn’t publicly uttered a single sentence about anything. Bill Kenwright admits he has conversations with his manager 10 to 15 times a day, but still can’t pin down a date for David to pop in and sign on the dotted line. Moyes and, whether you like it or not, the man who brought him here, have been key to the steady rise which sees the Everton of 2008 unrecognisable from the March morning six years ago when he first crossed the Goodison threshold. Forgive me for repeating the words printed in the Guardian newspaper that day, but they are resonant. “Nil Satis Nisi Optimum. Loosely translated the Everton club motto means that nothing but the best is good enough. It is now a joke. “The history of the club was once a continual challenge for the leading trophies. For the past 15 or so years it has been a sad tale of steady and seemingly unstoppable decline. “Preston’s David Moyes would be well advised to give Everton the widest of berths. “Little money, few prospects. Even the shirt sponsorship deal with One 2 One has not been renewed. With players such as Paul Gascoigne, David Weir, Kevin Campbell, Alan Stubbs and David Ginola in the squad, the most appropriate new sponsor would be Age Concern.” That miserable, yet accurate summary has steadily been dissected and dismantled. Everton have started to challenge for trophies. The direction of the club is now upwardly mobile and the average age of the squad is much closer to teenager than pensioner. The Blues are now in an outstanding position to try and push on and break up the established order of the top four. But to do so would take another injection of quality. And quality doesn’t come cheap. But while new signings would be welcome, the most important signing Everton can make this summer must be their manager. And that would surely put a smile back on a few Blue faces.
Everton sponsors Chang in deal to build Thai football
July 11 2008 by Ben Turner, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON’S main partner Chang has struck a new deal to help develop football in Thailand. In partnership with Liverpool university, Chang will fund a scholarship for young Thai professionals to undertake the Football Industries’ MBA qualification.
The renowned qualification combines professional development on the field with a look at the business and marketing side of football. Chang, who extended their shirt sponsorship deal with the Blues in January in a deal worth £8m over three years, will fund all costs of the course, including travel and accommodation. Blues’ deputy chief executive officer, Robert Elstone, who, with Khun Thapana, president of Thai Bev, the makers of Chang Beer, visited Thailand to oversee the agreement, said: “Football in Thailand is growing in popularity and it is important to recognise off the field activities that go on in football in order for the game to achieve its longevity in the region.”
Dixie’s ribbons for Joseph Yobo
July 12 2008 by Ben Turner, Liverpool Echo
YELLOW ribbons were placed outside Goodison Park in support of defender Joseph Yobo, whose brother was kidnapped in their native Nigeria. Norum Yobo was snatched at gunpoint along with two other men in the early hours of Saturday morning as he made his way home from a nightclub in Port Harcourt. As a show of support Everton organised for yellow ribbons to be placed on the Dixie Dean statue at Goodison. The gesture came as The Nigerian Tribune newspaper said a group had demanded Joseph pay a £5,500 ransom for his brother’s release. Everton’s head of PR and external affairs Ian Ross said: “As we await patiently the release of Joseph’s brother Norum we thought it would be a nice gesture and something to show Joseph and his family that we are thinking of them at this desperately hard time.
“Our chairman Bill Kenwright has been in constant contact with Joseph in Nigeria as we continue to do all we can. Joseph is aware he has the full support of everybody connected at Everton.” Nigeria’s Rivers State government has said it is confident Mr Yobo will be safely released.
Everton close in on Vladimir Stojkovic signing
July 12 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON could be close to making Sporting Lisbon goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic their first signing of the summer. The Serbian international’s agent Zoran Stojadinovic claimed yesterday that the Blues have made an approach for Stojkovic and only red tape is holding up a one-year loan deal. Sources at Goodison Park and in Lisbon, however, have suggested that it would be presumptuous to say he is about to become Tim Howard’s deputy. Stojadinovic is currently in Zagreb trying to obtain the necessary paperwork that will allow Stojkovic – a 24-year-old who has also played for Red Star Belgrade – into the UK and there is no time scale on how long that will take.
What’s more, any potential deal may be complicated by the fact Stojkovic is going to the Olympics next month to captain Serbia’s side – meaning there is a possibility he would miss the first three weeks of the Premier League. At this stage, it appears likely that Stojkovic will be asked over to Finch Farm for a week’s trial before a final decision is made but that has not stopped the player’s agent talking about making things permanent in 12 months’ time. “I can confirm that Everton have made a bid for Stojkovic,” said Stojadinovic. “The offer is a season-long loan, with an option to purchase the player definitively at the end of this period. The transfer fee is likely to be between 2.5 and 3 million euros. “At this moment we’re just waiting for the visa to be able to travel. “It was David Moyes who spoke to me. What Stojkovic wants is to play and if he goes to Everton he will fight hard with (Tim) Howard to earn a starting place.” Another of Everton’s transfer targets, however, has dismissed a move to Goodison Park. Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher last night insisted he was focused on his future at Old Trafford despite being used sparingly by boss Alex Ferguson. “The most important thing is I’m focused on Manchester United,” said Fletcher. “The target is to play in more matches than last season.” The Blues, meanwhile, must deal with wholesale changes to their fixture list after the two major television broadcasters announced which matches they will broadcast before Christmas. The trip to Stoke City will now be played on Sunday, September 14 with a 1.30pm kick-off, while the Merseyside derby a fortnight later at Goodison Park has been given the Saturday slot of 12.45pm. Two changes the following week mean the Newcastle United home fixture will be played at 4pm on Sunday, October 5, while police have advised that the Manchester United home game on Saturday, October 25 kicks-off at noon. November starts with the Goodison tussle against Fulham kicking-off at 12.45pm, the visit of Middlesbrough has been put back 24 hours until Sunday, November 17 (1.30pm), while Everton’s trip to Wigan now takes place on Monday, November 24 (8pm).
Run your heart out – for Bally
July 12 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
THE memory of non-stop Everton dynamo, Alan Ball, will be commemorated on Sunday, August 10 in the most appropriate manner imaginable . . . a run around a Mersey football ground. The playing fields at Walton Hall Park will be used for the Big Heart 5k Fun Run when Merseysiders are being asked to celebrate the life of the Goodison legend, and raise money for Heart UK, the Everton Charitable Trust and the Marina Dalglish Appeal. Blues and Reds are being asked to take part, with all Blue competitors given a blue T-shirt bearing Ball’s name and famous number eight on the back, and Red racers handed a red T-shirt, with the name Dalglish and Anfield’s celebrated number seven. Everton and Liverpool legends Dave Watson and John Aldridge will be running ambassadors on the day. Aldridge said: “Alan was clearly one of the greatest players the country has ever produced, but more than that he was a pleasure to be with. “I met him many times at functions and his enthusiasm and dedication to the sport, as well as Everton, was first class. “I’m delighted to be part of this and I’m sure Liverpudlians will take part just as much as Evertonians. Alan deserves that regardless of who you support.” To enter the Big Heart 5k visit www.runliverpool.org.uk where there is a link to an online entry facility or contact Alan Rothwell on 0151 427-7117.
Joseph Yobo's plight is in mind
July 12 2008 Dominic King
FOOTBALL in these parts is for many the be all and end all but while many Blues are wondering which players will be signed and when, it is hoped Joseph Yobo will not be too far from their thoughts at present. In normal circumstances, Yobo would have been enjoying the final few weeks of his family holiday before returning refreshed for the new campaign but right now it is impossible to say when ‘Big Joe’ will be back on Merseyside. He is still waiting to hear news on the plight of his elder brother, Norum, who was kidnapped in Port Harcourt last week. You cannot begin to imagine what emotions the 27-year-old is currently enduring and it goes without saying that he is in the thoughts of everyone at Goodison Park.
Why there's still nobody better than Mikel Arteta
July 12 2008 Dominic King
THERE is nobody better, as the song declares, than Mikel Arteta but that, unfortunately, was not the case last season for the best little Spaniard that Evertonians know. While there occasional flashes of magic – the exocet that secured parity against Fiorentina and a terrific finish at Derby County being the standout moments – not even Arteta’s biggest fan would think of claiming he scaled the heights of during the two previous campaigns. Tormented by groin and abdominal injuries, he was a pale shadow of the player who had led Everton’s charge to Europe and the last time we saw him in a Blue shirt – a scrappy 1-0 win over Derby on April 6 – Arteta angrily gestured at the crowd after a cross had gone askew. As someone who, more often than not, is seen walking around with a smile on his face and is one of life’s more chirpy souls, to see Arteta scowling and with furrowed brow was alarming. Not surprisingly, there were fears in some quarters that he had played his last game for Everton.
This week, though, the spectre that has loomed around him for the best part of two years was banished when Atletico Madrid’s sporting director Jesus Garcia Pitarch announced that they would not be moving for Arteta this summer. Throw into the equation that Arteta has been gradually stepping up his efforts in his bid to recover from the operation he underwent in Barcelona in May, then there is every reason to believe that he will once again produce fireworks. "When you play with pain you can’t train in the week and obviously that affects your fitness levels and your confidence," said Arteta, recalling his fitness ordeal. "It was tough – all the hours I had to spend on treatment and on different exercises instead of training outside. "It does affect you because you are out of the game. You lose that sharpness and that confidence. Every time you want to kick the ball and do something special, you are very limited. And it’s not an excuse. I am the just the first one to criticise myself. "I had to get used to expecting the pain all the time. The only thing I’m asking now is not to have the pain because I know if that is the case I have a lot to offer. Hopefully this season is going to be a big one." For both player and club. If Everton are going to build on their excellent fifth placed finish that yielded a club record Premier League points haul, having Arteta firing on full cylinders – both physically and mentally – is an absolute must. While one of the most encouraging aspects of last season was seeing so many different individuals assume his match-winning role, if you were to hold a poll among Evertonians about who would be the first name on the team sheet, Arteta would surely dominate the vote. Ayegbeni Yakubu might be the team’s assassin and Tim Cahill is loved for his happy knack of scoring vital goals at the right time, plus his infectious enthusiasm and attitude, yet an on-song Arteta has the ‘x-factor’. Now he needs to show it again. Certain footballers are never better than when they feel as if they have something to prove to supporters, managers, the media or themselves and if the fires are burning within Arteta at this early stage, come 3pm he will surely be a potent weapon. With Cahill easing himself back into action from the broken metatarsal he suffered in March, there is certainly room in Everton’s midfield for star quality - regardless of any potential signings the manager makes in the near future - and Arteta will be welcomed back with open arms. Sure, there will come a day when he returns home to Spain - after all, everyone moves on eventually - but, for now, Arteta is to be enjoyed; he more than anyone in the current squad has the ability to spread the crackle of excitement when he gains possession. Long
Phil Jagielka roars into the fast lane
July 12 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
THE dust has barely had time to settle on an outstanding first season at Goodison Park but, five weeks after making his England debut, Phil Jagielka is back in the swing of things. This time last year, Jagielka had only just arrived on Merseyside following a protracted £4m move from Sheffield United and was faced with the task of winning his new team-mates’ confidence, not to mention showing that he deserved his place in the squad. Given that his first month as an Everton player was anything but settled – in the space of three weeks, Jagielka visited St Andrews, Florence, Salt Lake City and Los Angeles with the Blues and moved house – it was no surprise that it took time to find his feet. Now, though, the situation is completely different. Having proved himself to be a top class addition with a string of imperious displays in the centre of defence, Jagielka is looking forward to building on that platform in the new campaign.
David Moyes’ steps up their preparations this afternoon in the picturesque town of Martigny with a friendly against FC Sion and with memories of his first England appearance fresh in the mind, the 25-year-old is hoping 2008-09 brings more of the same. “The holidays were very short, but it’s good to be back in now. It’s going to be a few weeks before the full squad is together again but it’s great to be around friendly faces,” said Jagielka, who came on as substitute when England won 3-0 in Trinidad last month. “It’s a bit different to last year when I had a few first week nerves. But I was lucky in the fact that we had a couple of trips away early on to Scotland and Italy that helped me to get to know everyone and I’m now looking to get a good pre-season under my belt. “It’s been hard work so far. We’ve been doing a lot of running but the scenery has been stunning and it takes your mind off the hard work you are doing. It’s nice to have a break away from Finch Farm, too. “When you are there nearly every day for eight months, you need a change of scenery and that’s why this week has been so beneficial. The main thing about this first match is to get your touch and get some fitness and that’s what everyone will be trying to do.” Jagielka will be one of the more familiar faces in the starting line-up here this afternoon as Moyes has taken nine young guns on the trip, most notably Jack Rodwell, Jose Baxter, John Paul Kissock and Lukas Jutkiewicz, and all should figure at some point. “Obviously there are a couple of lads who everyone has heard about but the others have certainly not let themselves down,” said Jagielka. “They don’t seem to have any nerves and I’m sure they will be desperate to perform if they get half a chance. “You try and give advice to them if they need it, but the one thing you need to do as a senior professional is make them feel at home and welcome them into the fold, so there are no nerves.
“It’s not about all the old professionals sitting in one corner while the younger ones do their own thing. We are all here together and having a laugh and a joke now will help through the rest of the season.” With the first Premier League assignment against Blackburn Rovers just 35 days away, this contest against FC Sion is primarily centred on the players obtaining match fitness, but, as Jagielka points out, professional pride means they will be going all out for a win. “We don’t know a great deal about them, other than the fact that they are close to the start of their season and will be flying,” he noted. “It goes without saying that we want to play well, but the main objective here is to get a good run out under our belts.” One man who will be desperate to impress if the chance arrives is young goalkeeper Iain Turner. A serious hip injury decimated his chances of making progress last season and he knows the pressure is on to perform.
With Moyes making no secret of the fact that he is looking to bring in cover for Tim Howard, Turner hopes to give his manager a welcome headache in the near future, but, for the time being, getting back between the posts is his top priority.
“I am dying for a game,” he said. “The whole of last season I think I played three-and-a-half games, so I just want to get games under my belt. I just want get back in the team, prove myself and show everyone what I can do.”
Full Name: Philip Nikodem Jagielka
Born: Manchester, August 17 1982
England debut: versus Trinidad & Tobago on June 1 2008
Position: Jagielka’s favoured position is centre-back. But he has played midfield, right-back and even in goal for Sheffield United!
Everton appearances: 48 - 2 goals
Miscellaneous: Jagielka was named Sheffield United Supporters Club’s Player of the Year for the third successive year in April 2007. He was also the inaugural Championship Player of the Year for the 2005-06 season.
When promotion to the Premiership was confirmed on Saturday, April 15, 2006, it was a double celebration for the Jagielka family with older brother Stephen Jagielka celebrating promotion to the Football League with Accrington Stanley. Steve currently plays for AFC Telford United. The £4m Everton paid Sheffield United for Jagielka was The Blades’ record transfer fee. Jagielka is a former member of the England under-21 team, and scored in a 2-0 victory over Slovakia at the Stadium of Light in June 2003. On May 10, 2007, Jagielka was named in the England squad for the first time, to play a 'B' international against Albania. Starting on the bench, he replaced future Everton team mate, Phil Neville at right back at the beginning of the second half.
Beatle mania - or just a Holden oldie?
July 12 2008 Dominic King
SIR Paul McCartney recently pledged his allegiances to Everton FC and, given last Thursday was National Beatles Day, it was no surprise to see that landmark recognised at Finch Farm. But while Mikel Arteta, Phil Jagielka and Andrew Johnson can all rightly be described as ‘Fab’, it would take a stretch to describe a the fourth member of the Evertonian wig-wearing quartet in the same way. Clearly Andy Holden - who, according to sources at Finch Farm, is so old that he failed auditions for the Quarrymen - had cotton wool in his ears when a request was made for volunteers for this photograph. As one unnamed observer put it: "Taffy obviously thought they said Flab Four." A desperate attempt to recapture his youth? Who knows. But, needless to say, John Paul Kissock was less than impressed when told that the Blues reserve manager had gone for some follicle assistance to copy the young midfielder’s carefully styled locks.
True Blue Steve Jennings keen on Liverpool clash
Jul 12 2008 by Nick Hilton, Liverpool Echo
STEVE JENNINGS can’t disguise the relish of a true blue Evertonian about the prospect of testing his skills against the international players of Liverpool this afternoon. No matter that the Tranmere midfielder’s first ever senior encounter with the Reds is a friendly. The absence of a competitive edge has not deterred more than 15,000 ticket holders from making today’s pre-season clash, which is being screened live by satelite television newtwork Setanta.. Kirkby-born Jennings said: ”Everyone here is excited about the chance of playing against Liverpool. “But it’s especially good for the boys who come from this area. “Trying to match ourselves against players of the calibre they have at Liverpool can only do us good. “There’s a lot we can get out of it. We’ve got to give it our best shot, regardless of the result.
Jennings proudly boasts of “having a season ticket at Goodison for the six years before I went full time with Tranmere”. The 23-year-old is about to embark upon his sixth season as a professional at Prenton Park and after playing close to 50 league and cup games in the 2007-8 campaign, is now well past the 100 appearance mark with Rovers. Jennings’ future is by no means certain. His long-term contract with Tranmere expired during the summer and while Tranmere offered him a new deal, other clubs are also reported to be showing an interest. For the moment, Jennings is on week to week terms with Rovers and keeping his options open. Meanwhile, former Manchester United and Blackburn defender John Curtis is training with Tranmere on a trial basis. And manager Ronnie Moore says he could use the experienced 30-year-old against Liverpool today. Curtis began his career at Old Trafford in 1997 and played in the European Super Cup Final against Lazio in 1999. He joined Blackburn for £1.5m in 2000 and made more than 60 appearances for the Premier League side before joining Leicester City. He moved on to Nottingham Forest in 2005 and was a regular at the City Ground for two seasons. He played for QPR last season prior to being released. Moore said: “John has been doing some pre-season training with us.
“He’s a quality right back with a lot of experience.” Curtis could well be thrown into midfield action against Liverpool alongside this week’s new signings - Edrissa Sonko, George O’Callaghan and Bas Savage. Midfielder Sonko, 28, a Gambian international, joined Rovers on a one-year contract from Walsall, where he spent last season.
O’Callaghan signed a two-year deal after leaving his home town club Cork City this week. The 28-year-old has league experience with Port Vale, Ipswich and Brighton.
The well-travelled Savage, a tall target man, secured a two-year deal with Rovers after parting company withMilwall this week. The 26-year-old Londoner has also played for Reading, Bristol City, Gillingham, and Brighton.
Everton's Andy van der Meyde says, I still have Blue dream
July 14 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo, with the Blues in Switzerland
ANDY VAN DER MEYDE is determined to prove he can play a part in Everton's future as he dismissed reports linking him with a summer move to Red Bull Salzburg.
The former Holland international has endured a disastrous time on Merseyside since his £2m move from Inter Milan in August 2005 with a catalogue of fitness, personal and disciplinary problems restricting him to just 21 appearances. He has not played at all for the first team since a seven-minute cameo against Manchester United in April 2007 and van der Meyde only managed to appear in five games for the reserves last season, which suggested he would be moved during the transfer window. He knows he has a long way to go before he gains redemption from manager David Moyes but he took his first tentative steps towards that by playing the full 90 minutes in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat against FC Sion and is up for the challenge. “I need to stay as fit as I can and not get any more injuries,” said van der Meyde today. “If I can do that, then maybe everything will be all right. I want to do my best. “It’s difficult but I hope I can still be important for Everton. I don’t want to get too carried away. There is still lots of work to be done and there is big challenge ahead.” When asked about moving to Salzburg, van der Meyde replied: “I’m not looking to go anywhere else. I want to stay with Everton and that has always been the case. “I have had difficult times but I want to give something back to everyone. “I also want to do it for myself. It has been too long since I played well. I’ve been thinking about pre-season all summer and now I just want to get myself right.” Everton’s players now face a week back at Finch Farm following their training camp in the Alps but, having been subjected to three sessions a day, there is unlikely to be any let up to the intensity of Moyes’ programme.
It may be tough but van der Meyde has no intentions of complaining as he knows it is vitally important to be involved in all the work at this stage if he is to have any chance of winning Moyes’ around. “It was so nice to be playing again,” said van der Meyde. “It is such a long time since I have had that feeling. I played 90 minutes, we lost but the result doesn’t count. “Right now things are all about getting yourself into good physical shape and we had a really good week. “If you put the hard work in now, you will get things back later on. Pre-season isn’t nice for footballers but you have to get on with it and do your very best.”
We'll learn from FC Sion rollover, pledges Everton boss
July 14 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES believes his Everton players will reap the benefits of their Alpine training camp after a satisfactory opening performance against FC Sion.
Rarely, if ever, is Moyes content after a defeat yet on this occasion here in Martigny, the manager had no cause for complaints as the Blues got an ideal workout against a team who kick-off their domestic campaign this Friday. Everton’s squad only reconvened after the summer break on July 3 but were put through the mill in Switzerland last week, doing three intense fitness sessions every day, so they were inclined to run out of steam at the weekend. Moyes was concerned that the game would be too much too soon but the way his players finished the contest augured well for the future and he will now be looking for further improvement when they face Cambridge United on Saturday. “It was fine. It was probably as good as we could expect for the time we’ve been back and where we are really,” said the manager after the 1-0 defeat. “Maybe it was a little bit early for us but I’m actually glad that we took the game. It’s been a good week. We’ve trained really hard and there has been no let up.“It was probably a bigger shift for the senior players as they had more responsibility but it was great that some of the young boys realised the level they have to get to. A lengthy list of absentees - including Andrew Johnson and Leon Osman who both picked up knocks in training - gave some of the younger members of Everton’s squad an opportunity to impress and Moyes was complimentary about their efforts. “We know bits about them already but there are some - like Jose Baxter who is only just out of school - who we are still learning about. “But Jose played 65 minutes and did very well. We know a bit more about Jack Rodwell and I have to say those boys have been excellent. “Kieran Agard had a couple of chances when he came on but, in truth, the work last week was all about running and preparation.”
David Moyes opens talks over new Everton contract
July 14 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES confirmed today that talks have finally started over a new long term contract. The Blues boss flew back to Britain to meet chairman Bill Kenwright after Saturday’s opening pre-season fixture in Switzerland. The pair met yesterday and Moyes confirmed this morning: “We’ve started talks and we’re hoping things will be wrapped up quickly.” The news will give a huge lift to Blues fans. The manager has just one year left on his existing Goodison deal and supporters were becoming increasingly nervous at the apparent lack of progress. There had been suggestions that Moyes was waiting for evidence of transfer funding before committing himself, but while he refused to comment on transfer policy, fans can be reassured that talks have now started and no problems are anticipated. The news is a signal that Moyes is now in a position to start adding to his squad, and he confirmed that Switzerland’s Euro 2008 right-back, Stephan Lichtsteiner, is a potential recruit. The defender would cost a fee in the region of £300,000 and would offer a new defensive option while Tony Hibbert recovers from surgery. The 24-year-old currently plays for French side Lille and played all three games for his country at the European Championships, where he kept new Anfield full-back Philipp Degen on the sidelines. He rose to prominence during the 2001/02 season at Grasshoppers, becoming an established member of the first team a year later and helping the club to the Swiss league title. Grasshoppers were unable to hold onto him and in the summer of 2005 he completed a move to Lille, where he appeared in two Champions League campaigns. Tall for a right-back, he can also operate in the centre of defence or further forward in midfield.
FC Sion 1, Everton 0 (D,Post)
July 14 2008
By Ian Doyle at Stade D’Octodure Liverpool Daily Post
THERE would seem few places more appropriate than the glorious surrounds of the Alps for Everton to start climbing their pre-season mountain in earnest.
And while Saturday’s scoreline was not as easy on the eye as the scenery, there were enough positive sights for David Moyes to be satisfied with his team’s Swiss sojourn. The week-long training camp served to blow off the cobwebs on the available senior professionals while handing a clutch of young hopefuls the chance to stake their fledgling claims. Moyes will lose little sleep over the eventual 1-0 defeat to FC Sion in Martigny’s quaint, picturesque Stade d’Octodure at the foot of the Swiss Alps. Their opponents are much further down the line of their pre-season preparations, this being Sion’s seventh summer friendly ahead of their domestic campaign, which begins on Friday. And, having ultimately been unable to call on 12 first-team members, Everton’s line-up was top-heavy with young reserves and Academy players. Moyes believes that, overall, the hopefuls made the most of their opportunity. “This is a good launchpad for our pre-season,” he says. “It was a game that was maybe a little bit early for us, but I’m glad that I took the game on. “We’ve trained really hard and we haven’t left up. “It was perhaps a bigger shift for the senior players here because they had a bigger job, but it was great that some of the young boys discovered the level that they have to step up to. “I think I’ve learned a bit more about some of the youngsters although we knew bits about them already.”
FC Sion 1 Everton 0
July 14 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo, in Martigny
THEY may have started their preparations in the back of beyond, but Everton’s first pre-season game provided a glimpse of the future. While Everton are unlikely to play in a more picturesque venue in the next few months than the one in which they faced FC Sion on Saturday – Stade D’Octodure is at the foot of the Alps – it’s safe to say we haven’t heard the last of the personnel on duty. Injuries, departures and holidays meant David Moyes was without 15 members of the squad which ended the last exhilarating campaign with a 3-1 win over Newcastle. Yet that provided a chance for some of his novices to advertise their credentials. A 1-0 defeat may suggest the Boy Blues fluffed their lines but nothing could be further from the truth; after an energy sapping week in the mountains, Jack Rodwell, Jose Baxter and company acquitted themselves with great credit. Add in the fact Sion’s domestic campaign starts this Friday and that they fielded a full strength team and it becomes even more apparent why Moyes was so content as he headed home. “If you had seen the kids in training, you would not have had any worries,” skipper Phil Neville observed. “Sion are four weeks ahead of us, so it was a really good run out. “The message that the manager sent out to them before the game was ‘What a chance you have got to stake a claim’ and I think they can all feel tremendously satisfied with their efforts. They certainly didn’t let anyone down.” Quite right. Some Evertonians had harboured concerns beforehand that they were in for a drubbing but, with a back four including England internationals Phil Jagielka, Joleon Lescott and the wily Nuno Valente, that was never going to be the case. As well as those three performed, it was right-back John Irving who caught the eye, while the imposing Rodwell – he will be some proposition when he grows into his frame – linked well in midfield with Neville, snapping into tackles and using possession adroitly. Up front, Lukas Jutkiewicz was a willing runner – as was his half-time replacement Kieran Agard – while John Paul Kissock was all hustle and bustle, scampering after lost causes and refusing to accept defeat.
Baxter, meanwhile, might have only just left school but he neither looks like a 16-year-old nor did he play like one. Hopes are high that this young man will flourish and his debut appearance in the first team will have done him the world of good.
That last sentiment could even apply to Andy van der Meyde. Goodison Park’s forgotten man played from start to finish and experienced what could best be described as an eventful 90 minutes. Booked for dissent and nearly sent off for an over-exuberant tackle, he went from sublime to ridiculous, baffling defenders with some glorious touches but enraging Moyes when failing to show enough discipline to hold a position on the flank. If – and it is a gargantuan ‘if’ – only he could get it all together, the one-time flying Dutchman could add a new dimension to Everton’s attack. He lacks pace at the minute but a good pre-season could bring that back.
Of course, his many critics will argue that a leopard never changes its spots and they are awaiting the moment he presses the self-destruct button again; but it’s possible this is the first step on the long road back to redemption. We shall see.
Like the rest of his team-mates, there was nothing wrong with van der Meyde’s attitude but, in the end, Sion’s extra fitness and sharpness was enough to get them over the line thanks to Didier Crettenand’s 52nd minute goal.
Everton waiting on firm bids for Andrew Johnson
July 15 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON were still waiting to hear today whether any of the clubs who have expressed an interest in Andrew Johnson will follow up with a concrete bid.
The England international’s future has been the subject of intense speculation for the past month with Wigan, Sunderland and Fulham heading his list of suitors.
All three clubs have indicated that they would happily take Johnson from Goodison Park but, as yet, none have made direct contact with the Blues. What’s more, Everton will not let Johnson leave until they have found a suitable replacement; the targets at this stage are Diego Milito of Real Zaragoza and Tottenham’s Darren Bent.
The need to sign a striker, however, is going to become even more pressing as Victor Anichebe has been provisionally named in Nigeria’s squad for the Olympics.
A 26-man squad was confirmed by the Super Eagles boss Samson Siasia and will meet up for training in South Korea on Tuesday, August 5 – the date Everton are due to return home from their pre-season tour of the United States. Nigeria’s first match in Beijing is against Netherlands on August 7 and if Anichebe does travel, he could miss the first two games of the Premier League season against Blackburn Rovers and West Brom. Given that James Vaughan is still some way from match fitness – Everton will not rush his rehabilitation – and Ayegbeni Yakubu has not yet returned from his summer break, Moyes will not weaken his squad by hastily selling a player who is only nine months into a five-year contract. But while the Johnson saga rumbles on, there has been good news for David Moyes as Mehmet Topal has issued a ‘come and get me’ plea to the Everton boss. As revealed by ECHO sport last Thursday, Topal – who played four times for Turkey during their run to the Euro 2008 semi-finals – is high on Moyes’ wanted list. The midfielder would fill the void created by Lee Carsley’s move to Birmingham City and his club Galatasary would be looking for a fee in the region of £2.5m for him. Topal said: “I am aware of their (Everton) interest and if Galatasary felt it would be good for them to do a deal then I would be more than willing to go there.” Meanwhile, Vladimir Stojkovic – Sporting Lisbon’s Serbian international goalkeeper – was due at Finch Farm today to start a short trial with a view to making a 12-month loan move.
Vladimir Stojkovic on trial with Everton
July 16 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
VLADIMIR STOJKOVIC was set to start a three-day trial at Finch Farm today with the hope of winning himself a place in Everton's squad for next season.
The Serbian international obtained the necessary paperwork required to allow his entry into the UK on Monday and will now be put through his paces at the Blues’ training base by goalkeeping coach Chris Woods. Boss David Moyes has been searching for an experienced campaigner to provide back-up for Tim Howard and Stojkovic – capped 15 times by his country and who numbers Red Star Belgrade among his former employers – has ticks in the right boxes. He is currently with Sporting Lisbon, but his representatives claim to have already held discussions with Moyes about moving to Goodison Park. If Stojkovic impresses, it is likely he will sign a one-year loan deal with a view to a permanent transfer. Howard is still away on his holidays, as his season did not finish until the end of June when the United States played their final World Cup qualifier. He is not expected to join up with his team mates until just before the Blues head to Chicago for their pre-season tour.
Iain Turner was between the posts during Saturday’s 1-0 defeat in FC Sion, but John Ruddy may be given his chance to stake his own claims this weekend when Everton travel to his former club, Cambridge. Blues youngster Dan Gosling, meanwhile, was in the England Under-19 side which lost to hosts Czech Republic in the opening match of the European Under-19 Championship. The youngsters now face Italy tomorrow in a game they can’t afford to lose.
Liverpool to show off beautiful game to mark Culture year
July 16 2008 by Caroline Innes, Liverpool Echo
AN exhibition of priceless footballing memorabilia is coming to Liverpool to mark Capital of Culture. Uefa’s Only A Game? display tells the personal stories of some of Europe’s best-known players and uses football to highlight the 50th anniversary of the European Union. It features a set of giant table-football figures and an interactive sphere which uses teams competing in the Champions League as locations for a hi-tech geography lesson. Memorabilia on show includes shirts, medals and trophies of great European players such as former Reds captain Phil Neal, and items from the official Everton FC Collection and Liverpool FC’s museum. Uefa chiefs today confirmed Only a Game? will be based in Liverpool’s World Museum from October to February 2009, its first visit to the UK. A spokesman for the organisation said the city was chosen for its inherent passion for football, because it is home to Everton and Liverpool, and to mark Capital of Culture. It has yet to be confirmed who will open the exhibition, which is timed to coincide with the National Football Museum’s Hall of Fame dinner at the ECHO Arena on October 8. But it is rumoured Uefa president Michel Platini will do the honours after attending the dinner, which is also being held in Liverpool for the first time. Olivier Guilbaud, who designed the exhibition, which is currently on show in Brussels, said: “It is great to be able to take Only A Game? to Liverpool, because it is a city whose passion for football remains second to none in Europe.” John Millard, executive director of collections management at National Museums Liverpool, said: “Liverpool is the perfect place to host this fantastic Uefa exhibition. “The exhibition features rare objects from legendary matches, top European trophies and memorabilia from star players, which will draw people from the north west and the UK to explore Europe through football.” Current Reds captain Steven Gerrard said: “There is no city in Europe where football means more than it does to the people of Liverpool. “I think it is great that we are having a European football exhibition as part of 2008.”
Highlights of Only A Game? include: Memorabilia from the National Football Museum, including shirts, medals and trophies of European greats such as Phil Neal, George Best, Ferenc Puskas, Franz Beckenbauer, Bobby Moore, Stanley Matthews and Petr Cech. A display of Uefa trophies, including the Champions League trophy and Uefa Cup Giant football figures telling the evocative personal stories of players including Liverpool legend Kevin Keegan, Bernd Trautmann and Johann Cruyff.
Items from the Everton Collection and the Liverpool FC museum.
Tim Cahill out of season opener
July 17 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
TIM CAHILL will miss the start of the new Premier League season - but Everton received a welcome boost as Mikel Arteta returned to full training.
Cahill has been sidelined since breaking the fifth metatarsal in his left foot for the third time on March 22 but was successfully operated on in Australia in May.
His rehabilitation is going to plan but Everton boss David Moyes has confirmed that Cahill will not be ready for the curtain raiser against Blackburn. The influential midfielder will head back Down Under tomorrow to see the specialist who performed the surgery on him and, after a final check up, he is expected to give Cahill the green light to start light jogging again. Better news, however, surrounds Arteta. The Spaniard was also operated on at the end of last season to rectify a long-standing abdominal problem but has now recovered and could launch his comeback this Saturday when Everton face Cambridge United. “Mikel is training with us again and that is a boost,” Moyes said today. “We are pleased with the progress that he has made and there is an outside chance that he will be involved when we play Cambridge.
“James Vaughan is coming on all the time but it is a slow process with him. It is the same for Tim Cahill and I am not expecting him to be fit for the start of the season. He is going over to Australia to see the specialist for a last check but it is so far, so good.”
While Arteta is limbering up to return, Moyes will not be making too many changes to the side that was beaten 1-0 by FC Sion last Saturday simply because he doesn’t yet have the resources to do so. “We’ve got a few injuries to deal with,” said Moyes. “Leighton Baines and Tony Hibbert are in the crew that have had operations, too, don’t forget. Bainesy is ahead of schedule but we also know that we have got to be careful with them.” Johnson’s future, meanwhile, continues to be the subject of intense speculation and reports in Wigan suggest they are ready to up the stakes today to sign the striker. As yet, though, the Blues are still awaiting an official approach.
Joseph Yobo brother released by kidnappers
Jul 17 2008
KIDNAPPERS have released the older brother of Everton and Nigeria defender Joseph Yobo after almost two weeks in captivity. Norum Yobo was snatched at gunpoint with three other men on July 5 as they made their way home from a nightclub in Port Harcourt in Rivers State, Nigeria. After a 12 days of uncertainty, Norum Yobo’s release was confirmed by John Ola Shittu, who manages Joseph’s affairs. Shittu told www.kickoffnigeria.com : “Yes, I can confirm to you that Norum has been released. “He was released last night and he flew into Lagos this morning to meet his brothers. “He is now at home resting and just trying to recover.”
'Nuno Valente is the ultimate professional' - David Moyes
July 18 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES paid Nuno Valente the ultimate compliment as he explained the decision to retain the Portuguese defender's services for another year.
Valente, who will be 34 in September, is currently the oldest member of Everton’s playing staff and has been restricted to just 58 appearances since his £1.4m move from FC Porto in August 2005, due to a number of fitness problems. The Blues’ boss, though, had no hesitation in offering Valente a 12-month contract extension at the end of last season as Moyes believes the left-back is the “best” professional he has ever signed from overseas and can continue to make his presence felt in the squad.
With Leighton Baines still not ready to play a game after ankle surgery, Valente will be given the chance to build on his pleasing run-out last Saturday against FC Sion when the Blues travel to Cambridge United tomorrow, and Moyes is delighted to see him back in action. “Nuno is probably the best player I have ever worked with who has come from abroad in terms of his attitude, commitment and the way he gets on with things,” said the manager. “He’s just a top professional, someone you can always rely on. “He’s had a couple of injuries but, when he is fit, he never misses training and he is also a very good footballer. He’s a great lad to have about the place. Nuno recognised last year that we would be bringing another left-back in and that’s what we did with Bainesy.” Once Baines is back up to full speed, it is likely that he will be given the opportunity to get a significant run of games under his belt, with Phil Jagielka and Joleon Lescott the likely pairing in central defence, as it is still unclear when Joseph Yobo will return to the club. But even if Valente is restricted to the role of being an able deputy, Moyes knows there won’t be any grumbles from the player. “He’s been very good about the situation and has never let us down,” Moyes added. “That’s the reason we wanted to have him around here for another 12 months with us.”
David Moyes turns back clock as Everton hit the road
July 18 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
THINGS may have changed beyond recognition since his days there as a player but memories will come flooding back tomorrow when David Moyes walks into the Abbey Stadium. To most Evertonians, there is little – if any – significance attached to a pre-season friendly against Cambridge United but that is certainly not the case for their manager, who spent two eventful seasons there after crossing the border.
On leaving Celtic in 1983, Moyes had a number of options but chose to take the one from Cambridge, who were then playing in the old second division and locking horns with clubs who are now firmly established in the Premier League. Yet while it was terrific experience to battle with, for example, Kevin Keegan, then in the final throes of his career at Newcastle United, Moyes’ first year at the Abbey Stadium ended in relegation. To make things worse, they suffered a similar fate the following season.
So, after 86 appearances and one goal, he left for Bristol City in October 1985 but Moyes does not look back at his time there and squirm. Far from it. Indeed, he experienced the other side of the coin when clinching the League One Championship there with Preston in 2000. The stakes, of course, won’t be anywhere near as high tomorrow as they were the last time he took a side to Cambridge but, that said, Moyes will still be demanding maximum effort from his players as they bid to step up on their opening pre-season performance against FC Sion. “I’m looking forward to it,” Moyes said. “I’ve been back plenty of times before and I won promotion with Preston there. Hopefully it will be another good run around for us and the team will be similar to the one against Sion. “Cambridge was the first move I made away from Scotland and I joined when they were playing at a really good standard, they were in the equivalent of the Championship now and there were some great teams in there.
“Chelsea had David Speedie and Kerry Dixon playing up front, Derby were in there, so too where Manchester City, while the Newcastle team had an attack of Keegan, (Peter) Beardsley and (Chris) Waddle.“The game I made my debut in was against Portsmouth, who had Mark Hateley playing for them and he scored a hat-trick before getting a move to AC Milan. It was a tough division but a great one to play in.”
Given that he is juggling with so many injury problems, the side Moyes selects to face Cambridge will not be too dissimilar to the one he sent out at Stade d’Octodure last weekend and that should provide another opportunity for Jack Rodwell to shine.
He played with a maturity that belied his years in Switzerland, sticking close to Phil Neville to protect Everton’s defence, but the 17-year-old’s sole target at this stage of affairs is simply to work on his condition. “Fitness-wise I’ll get better,” Rodwell said. “The first game of the season is always hard. It was a tough game to play in the midfield but I think we did all right. But the manager was reasonably pleased with the performance and it gets our fitness a bit better.”
Andy van der Meyde at the crossroads of his Everton career
July 19 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
IT was a story that, not surprisingly, was met in some quarters with screams of “we’ve heard it all before!” and howls of derision. However, the indignation was not universal. Upon hearing that Andy van der Meyde still has a “Blue dream” his upbeat words captured the imagination of a certain section of supporters and left them wondering if he will finally realise that potential. Few players have ever polarised opinion quite as much as this colourful Dutchman, but, in an age when feel-good stories are few and far between in football, wouldn’t it be nice to think that after more false starts than a clapped out car, van der Meyde will deliver? Two theories abound. One is that the former Ajax flyer will continue to knuckle down during pre-season, maintain the positive approach he has shown since returning, play in most of the games and become a fully paid-up member of David Moyes’ squad again.
The other, though, sees van der Meyde pull his calf/groin/hamstring (delete as applicable) in training, take too long to get fit, do something stupid in terms of discipline and enrage Moyes so much that the manager has no choice but to jettison him. Predictably - rightly - the majority will be waiting for the latter scenario to unfold, pointing to the fact van der Meyde has only made 21 appearances since his £2m move from Inter Milan in August 2005. Damningly, he has never completed a full 90 minutes. Don’t bother attempting to work out how much it has cost Everton for every second he has been on the pitch, as the maths would calculate an eye-watering set of figures and, at time when the Blues are not exactly flush, vex his detractors even more. “If he wants to give something back,” one poster on an internet message board wrote earlier this week, “why doesn’t he start with the wages he pilfered last season for five appearances for the reserves?” Ouch. Yet, for some reason, those who still hold a place for him in their affections prefer to see him cast as the loveable rogue, a man with a special talent who will score a wonder goal just when Everton need it most. Maybe that is living in fantasy land. Maybe, as has happened so often in the past, van der Meyde will slip off the radar again and fulfil the dark prophecy that the majority expect. Placing too much faith in van der Meyde has proven a risky proposition in the past. Listening to some of his team-mates, however, they have been impressed by his attitude and could not find fault in anything he did during the training camp in Switzerland or since he returned to Finch Farm. A few even made the bold claim that if - and there’s the word - again he can put it together, he could just turn out to be a potent weapon. After all, they can see at close quarters the kind of things he can do with a football. In shooting practice, whether it is right foot or left foot, van der Meyde is invariably Everton’s deadliest marksman, crashing drives, volleys and free-kicks beyond the flailing arms of those who happen to be in goal.
That said, the modern game demands a footballer to have athleticism, fitness and stamina and - at present - van der Meyde cannot tick all those boxes. Until he gets in perfect trim, he won’t be looking at anything other than a substitute’s spot when the new season starts. Should he get himself up to speed, though, can Moyes afford to overlook him? This is the campaign, after all, when seven substitutes will be on the bench and with the amount of injuries Everton have, like it or not van der Meyde - if fit - will be in contention when Blackburn Rovers arrive at Goodison Park four weeks from now. Too often in the past three years, these pages have been filled with stories and comment pieces about van der Meyde’s personal misfortunes, his self-inflicted travails and wretched luck with injuries. This correspondent is not so naïve to think that everyone will feel the same way, but for the moment, wouldn’t it be nice to believe that van der Meyde can stop walking down the road to perdition and instead head up the road to redemption? Watch this space.
Steve Round can make a big impact says Everton boss David Moyes
July 19 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has hailed the addition of Steve Round to Everton’s coaching staff and backed him to make an impact during the new season. Round has quickly settled into the role of Moyes’ assistant since his appointment was confirmed two weeks ago and Everton’s players have been impressed with the ideas he has imparted on the training ground. Moyes had been without an assistant since Alan Irvine left to become Preston manager last November, preferring to see through the most recent campaign with his trusted lieutenants Andy Holden, Chris Woods and Jimmy Lumsden.
But it was always his intention to make another appointment and Round was always his number one choice. “Steve has been well received since he came in,” said Moyes.
“He was well recommended and it’s clear to see already that we have made a good appointment. He is still relatively young in terms of being a coach but already has good experience. “We had thought about pursuing a couple of different avenues, but I felt that Steve’s credentials stood out. He is a good coach, a good organiser and I’m sure he is going to help us considerably. “It was tough towards the end of last season and we had a lot on at times, but I’ve got to say a big thank you to Jimmy, Taffy (Holden) and Woodsy for the way they helped me. It worked well with us.
“If I had thought that we could have coped that way again, I wouldn’t have had any hesitation leaving things the same, but I just felt we were under-staffed and that we would benefit from having someone extra around. Meanwhile, Joseph Yobo has expressed his thanks to Evertonians for the well wishes he received following the kidnap of his brother. Norum Yobo, happily, was released safely on Thursday and the defender is understandably over the moon. “The fans have been very concerned for my brother and for me and my family and I thank them for that,” he said. “I love them all and the only way I can repay them is to do what I know best and that’s to play football to the best of my ability. “I am more determined than ever to do my best for them and to help the team do even better than we did last year. I still have things to sort out with my family but once they are done I will be back. “Nobody needs to worry about my fitness because I will be ready for the start of the season,” he added.
Leon Osman switches over to the dark side
July 19 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
LEON OSMAN dipped his toe in to the world of journalism last weekend in Switzerland - and immediately found out that you need to watch what you say at all times. Osman is regarded by many as Everton’s prankster-in-chief but, whilst acting as co-commentator with the gregarious Darren Griffiths on Everton TV in Switzerland, the joke was at his expense. The Blues’ website was broadcasting live coverage of the friendly against FC Sion and were inviting emails to the commentary box for Osman’s perusal; some arrived from the USA, others were from Australia, while another came from the Great Wall of China. However, it was one closer to home that left Osman squirming. Mum Carol sent a message to say hello to her son at which point Griffiths - never one to pass up the chance to engage in a wind up - informed her the state of the room in which Osman was staying. By all accounts, so messy was the dwelling he and Phil Jagielka shared that maids who cleared up after their departure found Lord Lucan feeding hay to Shergar while in conversation with one time Everton midfielder Danny Williamson. To long-suffering Carol, though, this was nothing new, as the second e-mail proved. “Don’t worry,” she wrote. “He moved out of home five years ago and we still haven’t managed to tidy up.”
McArdle’s long range stunner
BEND it like Beckham? One Everton Academy starlet is trying to do just that.
Playing against Carlisle United for the Under-18s last weekend, Lee McArdle successfully attempted to do what Beckham did for United in 1997 at Wimbledon by scoring from inside his own half. Carlisle boss Eric Kinder explained: “If you think back to the David Beckham goal against Wimbledon, then that's what this lad did to us. “He had only just got to the half way line, and I could see him look up and have a look at where Mark Gillespie (Carlisle goalkeeper) was. “As soon as he spotted that he was off his line, he let one go and it sailed in to the back of the net. We're talking about 55 or 60 yards here, and our keeper has had no chance. It was an absolutely incredible goal for a young lad to score.”
Kirkby stadium talks claim by Everton fans
July 19 2008 by Vicki Kellaway, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON FC fans claim they have gathered enough support to force an emergency meeting on the club’s future. Shareholders Mark Grayson and Tony Bennett petitioned fellow Blues to gain support for a discussion on the club’s proposed move to Kirkby.
They say they have more than 350 shareholders in favour, enough to force an emergency general meeting on the stadium plans. The £400m proposal includes a 50,000-seater stadium and a Tesco store south of Kirkby town centre. It was approved by Knowsley council last month, and is in the hands of government officials who are deciding whether it needs to go to a public inquiry. Mr Grayson, 38, said: “We think something as important as this needs to be debated by all the shareholders. “We think there is a difference between what the club originally promised and what it now being proposed. “We were told it would be a world-class stadium with no debt, and now it appears to be a middle-quality stadium with £78m to pay. “We are also concerned the public transport and parking provision might discourage Evertonians from attending.
“Parking could be 45 minutes from the ground – how will that encourage a grandfather and grandson?” Five people own about 85% of Everton FC, but there are 1,400 shareholders in total. Everton spokesman Ian Ross said the club was still awaiting confirmation the pair had gathered the required amount of support to force the meeting. He said: “We are the same as any organisation or football club with shareholders. “If they have gathered the required support of 20%, then there will be an emergency general meeting.” The club has 21 days to respond, then a further 28 days to arrange the meeting. Yesterday, Walton MP Peter Kilfoyle, whose constituency includes Goodison Park, publicly announced his support for a Kirkby move.
firstname.lastname@example.org 0151 472 2376
Councillors still opposed
LIVERPOOL’S Labour councillors say they disagree with Walton MP Peter Kilfoyle’s support for Everton’s proposed Kirkby move. Blues fan Mr Kilfoyle, whose constituency includes Goodison Park, yesterday called the scheme a “timely boost for the local economy” and said it was the club’s only option. But Liverpool council’s Labour group today reminded Mr Kilfoyle of their stance on the £400m joint project.
Cllr Paul Brant, deputy leader of the group, said: “Peter Kilfoyle is entitled to his personal view. However, Liverpool’s Labour councillors remain committed to keeping Everton in Liverpool and will continue to do all we can to ensure this historic club does not leave our city.” Earlier this month, the council’s Labour group even joined forces with its Liberal Democrat rivals for a cross-party demand to the government to hold a public inquiry into Everton’s Kirkby stadium plan.
Everton goalkeeper John Ruddy happy to play waiting game for first team
July 19 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
NOTHING sets the mind racing like a football trivia question, so here’s one to get you thinking: which two players were unveiled by Everton on the same day in June 2005 but only managed a combined total of 257 minutes of action for the Blues?
To simplify things, one is John Ruddy. Cast your mind back to February 2006 and the then 19-year-old was a focal point in one of the most remarkable games in which the Blues have played in recent seasons. He was only picked to sit on the bench the day Blackburn Rovers visited Goodison Park as Richard Wright and Nigel Martyn were injured but when Iain Turner was sent off after nine minutes, Ruddy defied his inexperience to help Everton register an unlikely 1-0 win. Since then, though, he hasn’t really been near the first team and has led a nomadic existence to get first team football; two spells at Stockport County, one at Bristol City and another at Wrexham have been beneficial but now Ruddy is hungry for more. This afternoon, he is likely to be between the posts as Everton play their second pre-season friendly against Cambridge United, the club they signed him from, and it is not surprising that Ruddy wants to make a big impression. After all, he has entered the final 12 months of his current contract and knows the time has come for him to emerge from the shadows. What better place to start than at the Abbey Stadium? “We are two weeks into the season but already it feels like two months,” said Ruddy. “We’ve been working really hard but the lads have knuckled down and tried to clear the obstacles that the Gaffer has put in front of us. “The main thing is now getting some games under our belt, especially now that the games are coming thick and fast. It will be nice to go back and I’m really looking forward to it; I’ve known it was coming ever since I signed the contract. “It’s taken a while - I’m in the last year of my four-year contract! - and hopefully I’ll get a few minutes. Obviously Iain played in Switzerland, so maybe it will be my turn this weekend. Fingers crossed I’ll get a good reception.” David Moyes’ pursuit of an experienced goalkeeper to provide cover for Tim Howard, however, means that both Ruddy and his good pal Turner are likely to be on their travels again in the near future, but the former Cambridge man does not see that as a chore. With his contract up for renewal 12 months from now, Ruddy wants to show Moyes he deserves to stay at Goodison for a good deal longer and, with Howard the model of consistency, the only way he will do that is by playing games elsewhere.
“Of course there is everything to play for,” said Ruddy. “I think I did well at Stockport last year, I got some good experience under my belt and now hopefully I can start to kick on. I’m still young but I really want to be playing now. “It’s the same for Iain. He’s experienced as well. I’ve played nearly 100 games in the lower leagues and now it’s time to push on as a person and a player. Maybe this year, if I get out on loan, I’ll get to a Championship club. “Iain and I would like to be number two or, failing that, on loan but the Gaffer likes to have a certain amount of keepers. Maybe we’ll go out for three months at a time. Realistically, I don’t think we’ll get a season or six months anywhere. “But the longer we are out, the more games we will play and that can only be beneficial to both ourselves and Everton. I know I have got to bide my time. It’s been frustrating - it’s nearly three years since the game against Blackburn.
“To have only had that outing in the Premier League, I feel a bit disappointed in myself. But time is on my side. This year is important and the following years are important. I’ve got to be pushing Tim and Iain all the way. If a new man comes in, I’ve got to push him too.” Yet even if it appears he is currently at the back of the queue, Ruddy is in no way disillusioned; quite simply he is ultra determined and while he is looking forward to seeing some old faces at Cambridge, he won’t be doing anyone any favours. “I’ve just got to push as hard as I can and if I thought it was going to be impossible, I wouldn’t have joined,” said Ruddy. “It’s been three years and I haven’t really moved up the pecking order but hopefully that can change.
“That’s why we need to get out on loan, play as many games as we can and prove that we can do it. We want to break into the first team in the future. If I make a start by keeping a clean sheet against Cambridge, that would be even better.”
The second part of the answer was Per Kroldrup. Safe to say Ruddy’s hopes of success at Goodison are infinitely better than the not so Great Dane.
Cambridge United 4, Everton 2 (D,Post)
Liverpool Daily Post
July 21 2008
By Nick Smith at the Abbey Stadium
DAVID MOYES began the afternoon taunting opposite number and lifelong Evertonian Gary Brabin for sporting colours more associated with the other side of Stanley Park. But it wasn’t the last time the Everton manager saw red on Saturday – and it was Brabin who certainly had the last laugh as he sent his team crashing to a second successive friendly defeat. It has to be pointed out that in both those games – against Sion and Cambridge United – Moyes has been forced to name sides that aren’t even halfway towards what should be on his teamsheet when Blackburn Rovers descend on Goodison Park in four weeks’ time. But that didn’t stop the Scot being mightily disappointed with the fact that those who did ‘grace’ his old Abbey Stadium stomping ground conceded four goals to a non-League team and were unable to cancel them out due to a succession of wasted opportunities. Moyes admitted afterwards that he couldn’t take many positives from it all. But one would undoubtedly have been Lukas Jutkiewicz, the teenager helping his side recover from going behind after just 19 seconds with two well-taken first-half goals But then Everton took a leaf out of Sandy Lyle’s book and gave up at the halfway point. It was a calamitous second period in which the only high point for the visitors was the reappearance of Mikel Arteta. Scampering across the turf, generating a buzz of anticipation as the blue hordes burst into that familiar song – and that was just his warm-up behind the goal.
His eventual 18-minute cameo produced brief flashes of the magic, with one particular pirouette proving that, for all last season’s inconsistencies, he can still elude defenders in a phone box. What followed was more indicative of Everton’s overall afternoon, however. Arteta’s pull-back teed up a clear shooting chance for Jack Rodwell, but he ballooned the ball into orbit – and with it went his team’s chances of recovering the result. That moment summed up the error-strewn nature of the performance. And even though the rustiness can easily be smoothed out in the next month, it’s easy to see why Moyes wore a concerned look at the final whistle. He knows that he still has 10 first-team regulars to add to the squad as well as the “five or six” he wants to bring in to give the numbers a badly-needed boost. But certain facts from Saturday were inescapable
Cambridge United 4 Everton 2
July 21 2008 by James Pearce, Liverpool Echo
THERE was one Evertonian who left the Abbey Stadium with a smile on his face.
It was Gary Brabin’s first home game in charge of Cambridge United and the lifelong Blue enjoyed a day to remember. Brabin, who quit as Southport boss last month after just seven games in charge, saw his Blue Square Premier outfit cash in on a desperately disappointing second half performance from David Moyes’ side.
Of course, the defeat has to be put into context, and there is certainly no need for anyone to start reaching for the panic button. Everton were without no fewer than 10 of their first team squad and Moyes was again forced to field a host of youngsters.
However, the fact that a defence which boasted three internationals in the form of Joleon Lescott, Phil Jagielka and Nuno Valente shipped four goals against non-league opposition is a cause for genuine concern. The players on show should have been good enough to secure a first pre-season win, but they paid the price for a glut of spurned first half chances and some careless defending after the interval.
It was an unhappy return to the Abbey Stadium for both Moyes and goalkeeper John Ruddy. Moyes got his first taste of English football with the Us in the early 1980s after the defender was snapped up from Celtic. He also won promotion on the ground when he was in charge at Preston, but there was little to celebrate on this visit.
Saturday’s friendly was part of the deal which saw the Blues sign Ruddy from Cambridge for £250,000 in the summer of 2005. Ruddy got his chance to shine in place of Iain Turner as Moyes made three changes to the side beaten 1-0 by FC Sion a week earlier. Northern Ireland under-18 international Eunan O'Kane came in for fellow youngster Jose Baxter and Andy Johnson, who missed the pre-season tour of Switzerland, returned from injury to replace John Paul Kissock. Positives were thin on the ground but Johnson got 90 minutes under his belt and Mikel Arteta proved his problems are behind him as he came off the bench late on. There was also a two-goal contribution from Poland Under-21 international Lukas Jutkiewicz, who provided the ruthless streak Johnson lacked in front of goal. Ruddy had waited three years for this match but endured a nightmare start as he was beaten inside 20 seconds.
The Blues failed to clear a cross and former Tranmere Rovers midfielder Andy Parkinson’s shot from the edge of the box looped over him.
Parkinson recently signed for the Us after being released by Notts County and the ex-Liverpool trainee was a thorn in Everton’s side throughout.
Andy van der Meyde was lively early on and provided a threat from the right with some decent deliveries into the box. But the Dutchman’s input dwindled as the afternoon went on and he became a largely peripheral figure.
The Blues went on to boss long periods of the first half, with both Johnson and Jutkiewicz going close, before the equaliser finally arrived on 20 minutes.
Valente's ball forward picked out Jutkiewicz and the youngster flicked the ball past Wayne Hatswell before coolly beating keeper Danny Potter.
Johnson should have scored after racing on to Jack Rodwell’s pass, but Potter blocked, and then Josh Coulson somehow kept out the rebound.
Lescott had a header clawed away by Potter and Jutkiewicz nodded just over but the pressure finally told just before the half hour mark as Jutkiewicz steered a header into the bottom corner. The young striker’s hopes of a hat-trick were dashed early in the second half as he limped off and was replaced by Baxter.
It was a frustrating afternoon for Johnson who missed a hatful of chances.
Potter thwarted him again and as the second half wore on the home side grabbed the initiative. Parkinson equalised after 64 minutes when he brought the ball down just inside the box and unleashed a stunning strike over the stranded Ruddy.
Johnson should have restored the Blues' lead but when he finally got a shot past Potter, Dan Gleeson got back to hack it off the line. The biggest cheer of the day from the 1,500 travelling army of fans arrived when Arteta emerged from the dugout.
The Spaniard got on with 18 minutes to go in place of O’Kane, while youngsters Kieran Agard and Lee Molyneux replaced Van der Meyde and Valente.
Arteta did produce one moment of magic near the byline to create a great chance for Rodwell, but he blazed over. As the Blues faded, Cambridge pressed forward and secured victory with goals from Robbie Willmott and Mark Beesley.
Brabin, who once supplemented his income by working as a nightclub bouncer in Liverpool when he was on the books at Runcorn, could hardly contain his glee.
“It was a great first home game for me against my boyhood heroes,” he said.
“They had a strong side out and I thought we played some great football.
“Everyone might say it’s pre-season and it’s only a friendly but I know David Moyes and he won’t like getting beaten.”
EVERTON: Ruddy, Irvine, Jagielka, Lescott, Valente (Molyneux 72mins), Van der Meyde (Agard 72mins), Neville, Rodwell, O'Kane (Arteta 72mins), Johnson, Jutkiewicz (Baxter 51mins).
Subs not used: Turner, Sinnott
Everton drop plan to host LFC fans
July 21 2008 David Bartlett
EVERTON FC have pulled out of a surprise scheme to allow their city rivals Liverpool to use part of Everton’s Goodison Park stadium for corporate hospitality on match days. The plan - which could have provoked reactions from both fan bases - was to use the corporate hospitality area known as The Marquee, at the Park End of Goodison, which would have been decked out in Liverpool branding when the Anfield club were using their rival’s ground. Liverpool said that, due to extraordinary demand for corporate hospitality at Anfield, it had been forced to look elsewhere for additional high- quality entertainment space. After dining at Goodison, fans would have been transported across Stanley park to watch Liverpool play at Anfield.
A Liverpool FC spokesman said: "It will look like and feel like getting hospitality at Anfield." An Everton spokesman had confirmed that the deal was under consideration, but said that it had not yet been signed off. But, after issuing the fairly positive statements, Everton decided against the idea on Friday. On Friday evening, Ian Ross, the club’s director of communications, said: "We were approached by Liverpool FC about the possibility of them using our marquee on their match days for corporate guests, but we did not feel it would be appropriate." He would not go into further detail, but it is likely that Everton would have probably taken into consideration a possible backlash from their own officials and fans. The idea of Liverpool guest speakers giving speeches at their ground in an official capacity, or the European Cup being paraded before corporate guests at Goodison, or even people wearing Liverpool’s colours at the ground, would always have been highly controversial. There was a risk that it may have even caused bigger rivalry between the two sets of fans. However, Liverpool FC had earlier admitted that the scheme had been on the cards. A spokesman said: "There is obviously a huge demand to match day hospitality at Liverpool."We looked at a number of locations, but the major factor is the convenience of getting to Anfield. "It will look like and feel like getting hospitality at Anfield."
Steven Pienaar and Yakubu give Everton a lift
July 21 2008 by James Pearce and Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
STEVEN PIENAAR and Yakubu were due to return for pre-season training as Everton boss David Moyes vowed to step up his efforts to strengthen his squad.
The South African international and last season’s top scorer will be a welcome sight at Finch Farm following Saturday’s 4-2 friendly defeat at Cambridge United.
Moyes’ options are currently severely limited and he admits he needs to bring in “five or six” new players before the start of the Premier League campaign. The Blues have been tracking Rennes’ powerhouse midfielder Stephane M’Bia and are also in the hunt for Real Zaragoza striker Diego Milito. Cameroon international M’Bia, 22, is looked upon as an ideal replacement for Lee Carsley, while bolstering the club’s strike force is a priority with Andy Johnson edging closer to a £10million move to Wigan.
“It will be good to have the African boys back,” Moyes said. “We are missing injured players as well. Our numbers are so short. “We need to probably bring in five or six players and we haven't brought anyone in yet so we need to be quite busy in the coming weeks. “I think we will need to be working right up to the end of the window, but everyone will be.” The Blues have lost both their opening friendlies and Moyes was unimpressed with his side’s performance at the Abbey Stadium. However, he insists there is no reason for supporters to be concerned. “More disappointing than the defeat is the goals we lost,” Moyes said. “I wasn't happy with that, especially when we have top players playing in those positions. They should do better than that.
“We probably should have scored 10 ourselves, but we didn't. “We're probably keeping them for the start of the season. “There were not an awful lot of positives. We created some chances and it was only in the second half where it looked as if we went under a little bit. “But I'm not overly concerned. Anyone who watches Everton will tell you it was nothing like the team that will start the Premier League season.”
One positive for the Blues boss was the return from injury of Mikel Arteta.
Moyes confirmed: “It was good to have Mikel back but you can see he's got a lot to do. “We probably brought him back a bit earlier than we thought,” he added.
Mikel Arteta's delight at Everton comeback
July 21 2008 by James Pearce, Liverpool Echo
MIKEL ARTETA admitted it was great to be back after coming off the bench in Saturday's 4-2 defeat at Cambridge United. The 26-year-old Spaniard returned for the Blues ahead of schedule after having surgery to cure an abdominal problem.
“I wanted to play 15 or 20 minutes and I’ve done it,” he said. “I didn’t feel anything at all so it’s good news. “I expected to play my first game in America so I am two weeks ahead of schedule, so I need to take it easy as well. “I can’t just go over there and do crazy things because I’m still just about returning from the injury, but I’m so happy to be back. “I am trying to get my fitness levels up and trying to get used to playing with people around me because it’s different when you are training on your own.”
The Blues were severely depleted on Saturday, but Arteta insisted that was no excuse for the manner in which they lost, and is looking for a big improvement ahead of this week’s friendlies against Preston and Nottingham Forest. “I am not happy with the result – to concede four goals in a friendly is bad,” he added. “We only played four or five first team players from the start and that’s not enough. We have another two games this week and we need to be ready.”
Alan Irvine urges Everton fans: back David Moyes
July 22 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
ALAN IRVINE urged Evertonians to ignore their side's early friendly defeats - and backed David Moyes to have the Blues primed for when it really matters.
The Blues have lost their opening pre-season fixtures against FC Sion and Cambridge United, with Moyes now demanding a positive response from his players when they travel to his former club Preston this evening. It will be the first time he and Irvine have gone head-to-head since Irvine ended his five-and-a-half year spell as Moyes’ trusted lieutenant to take over the hot seat at Deepdale. And the Preston boss is relishing the contest. Regardless of the final score this evening, Irvine believes the side that opens the new Premier League campaign against Blackburn on August 16 will once again be competitive at the top end of the table - especially when Moyes has made some signings. “David will be unhappy about the result at Cambridge but it is still very early days,” said Irvine, who also made 79 appearances for Everton as a player. “There are still a lot of important players who have to come back into the team and I know the side that plays tonight will be unrecognisable from the one that starts the season. “I’ve no doubts that things will turn out fine because he has done such a good job over the years. “Everton have moved on a great deal since he took over and that is because David has been prudent, careful and thorough when he’s entered the transfer market and, without doubt, he’ll get a couple of good players in again.
“I don’t think anyone should be panicking just yet. David has never had massive amounts of money to throw around but that has never proved a hindrance.”
Irvine - a hugely popular figure among everyone he worked with - was missed last season after heading to Preston but while he would have happily stayed on, the lure of making his own decisions was impossible to resist. “It was a massive wrench to leave, as I realised how fortunate I was,” said Irvine. “I had a fantastic job, probably one of the most secure you could have in the Premier League, and I was really enjoying the experience of being involved in Europe. “I was never looking to leave but when this job was offered to me, I really had to think. Yes. I could have stayed where I was but I would probably have ended up thinking ‘what if’ forever and a day, so I knew then that I really had to have a dabble at management.” That decision was vindicated as Irvine comfortably led Preston away from relegation trouble and his side have returned from their summer break in good form, disposing of an Austrian side 11-0 two weeks ago, and he will use tonight’s game to see how far Preston have come.
“I’m really looking forward to the game though I don’t see the scoreline being 11-0!” Irvine quipped. “Seriously, though, it will be great to see David, the staff, the players and particularly the fans, as I never got a chance to say goodbye. “The fans have always been very good to me and I hope that they are still good to me even if I’m now sitting in a different dugout.”
Everton kit failed quality control
July 22 2008 by Neil Hodgson, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON had to shelve the launch of the club's new kit because the first batch was not good enough. The ECHO understands strip manufacturer Umbro decided to pull the original set of shirts after suffering problems with its producers in the Far East.
The firm is said to have cut its workforce back after a big fall in demand for its England shirts after the home nation failed to qualify for this summer’s European championships. It is understood there were subsequent quality problems with kits produced for Everton and two other Premier League clubs. The Blues postponed the launch of its 2008-09 strip until this Thursday earlier this month, for reasons the club described as being beyond its control. Fans reacted angrily when the original July 10 launch date was put back, pointing out that Liverpool’s new kit has been on sale for some time. Today, Umbro would not comment specifically on the quality of the first batch of Everton strips, although the club promised fans that kits going on sale this Thursday would be “of the highest possible standard”. An Umbro spokesman said: “The Everton kit delay was due to logistical issues in the Far East. “We are 100% dedicated to providing clubs and supporters with the highest-quality kit and this will always be our number one priority. “We produce millions of licensed products per year and take every step to ensure the highest-quality product is delivered to clubs and supporters.” An Everton spokesman said: “Historically, going back many years, Everton and Umbro merchandise has always been of the highest possible standard.
“Despite the issues experienced this year, we can assure our supporters the 2008-09 home shirt will be of the same standard as previous seasons.” Ian MacDonald, from Everton independent supporters, said: “This is a perennial problem which has started to become shambolic. “People are consistently complaining about not enough merchandise being in the shops and if a deadline is not met, contracts should be made null and void. “Fans want to get their season ticket and their new shirt so they go on holiday with pride, punch the air and show the world the team who they love to support.”
Preston North End 0, Everton 1
July 23 2008 by Nick Smith, Liverpool Daily Post
BOTH sets of fans gave Alan Irvine the occasions he craved by uniting to chant his name at Deepdale last night. But it was left to David Moyes to show his former number two who was boss. And not before time during this pre-season friendly campaign too, as Phil Jagielka headed in the eighth-minute goal that halted Everton’s run of two successive pre-season friendly defeats. The surprise omission of Andrew Johnson ahead of kick-off meant they achieved it with, for the most part, a hugely inexperienced front six in which only 17-year-old Jack Rodwell played in the Premier League last season. But their performance meant their manager, unlike his friend and opposite number Irvine, could be pleased with the result he achieved against his former club – and it was certainly a huge improvement on the last game
Moyes’s previous visit to one of his old haunts came just three days earlier, meaning the 4-2 defeat at Cambridge United was still painfully raw in the memory.
But with his current squad being as depleted and incomplete as Preston’s new main stand, there wasn’t much he could do about shaking up the personnel last night.
All except goalkeeper Iain Turner and Dan Gosling – back from England under-19s duty – were involved in the debacle at the Abbey Stadium but they took this instant chance to redeem themselves. With Moyes expressing his dismay with how a back four full of international experience allowed a Blue Square Premier side to stroll through it on Saturday, it was clear the manager was expecting a far more cohesive unit to be on show. And he took no chances on that score by telling Phil Neville to skipper the side from right-back as he made a good defensive display his priority.
No surprise either, given that last night’s back four might not be too dissimilar to the one he names when the serious business gets under way in 25 days’ time.
Moyes could ask for no more than a clean sheet. Joleon Lescott and Jagielka looked more like their old selves, with the lines of communication well and truly open once again following the weekend breakdown. Given that Jagielka’s form at centre-back alongside Joseph Yobo was one of last season’s real success stories it meant Lescott was often utilised at left-back. Of course, it didn’t hinder him in his attempts to clean up the player of the season awards but it did mean he and Jagielka had no chance to form any kind of partnership in the middle of the back four. But at least if Moyes has to call on them to strike up an understanding at any point in the future, he will be a lot more encouraged by last night than he was four days ago. Turner was only called into serious action on a couple of occasions and aside from a brief first-half flurry, pressure from the Championship side was kept at bay. Even the determination Neil Mellor had to build on his prolific pre-season as well as put one over on his former Merseyside rivals couldn’t rattle the Everton back four. He even helped them out by blocking Richard Chaplow’s goal-bound drive.
But the tight-knit display at the back, helped in no small part by Neville’s influence and organisation, provided the manager with his biggest plus point of the evening.
Another one will have been the way that the youngsters – just as Lukas Jutkiewicz was with his double strike at Cambridge – were again keen to impress and this set the tone for the decisive first half.
Jose Baxter gave the most convincing audition early on when his curling free-kick bounced back off the crossbar after six minutes.
And just two minutes later he delivered an excellent corner from the right-hand side which needed only a glance off Jagielka’s forehead to make its way past Andrew Lonergan. But even the presence of Neville in place of John Irving couldn’t prevent Everton being exposed on the left side – as Cambridge had managed to do so often – and from here Callum Davidson found space to create a chance for Barry Nicholson which Turner did well to parry away. Preston had responded well to going behind and it was Nicholson who again almost exposed Everton’s inability to cut down delivery from the flanks, this time meeting a ball from the right at the far post and heading just wide. At this stage, it was perhaps little surprise the home side were on top in terms of possession, especially as their opponents were so generous with theirs.
Still, this didn’t stop Kieran Agard causing a few problems and, with a touch more composure, the threat he hinted at during his cameo at the weekend could have transferred into goals when he forced his way into promising positions in the penalty area on a couple of occasions. But in the opening period the only Special One called Jose was Baxter. Always eager for the ball and constantly inventive when he got it, not least when he saw off two markers and almost caught out Lonergan with a chip that drifted just wide. But such youthful exuberance is merely a bonus for Moyes. In the absence of Johnson, he was even more short of senior attacking options so will have been pleased to see Andy van der Meyde finish off a surging run with a drive that Lonergan had to fingertip over the bar. He will also have been encouraged by another appearance for Mikel Arteta, managing 10 minutes more than he did at the weekend as he continues those tentative steps towards a first team comeback.
One irritant Everton failed to shake off from Saturday, however, was the wastefulness in the final third and in front of goal as they attempted to add to their lead, especially when Gosling dragged his effort woefully wide when clean through. But on this occasion it didn’t prove costly and the capitulation at Cambridge remains as mystifying as why so many PA announcers are obsessed with blasting out the nauseating ‘Chelsea Dagger’ by The Fratellis. However, the familiarity of Preston was a fitting venue for Moyes to finally see a more familiar Everton emerge in his pre-season planning.
Preston 0 Everton 1
July 23 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERYONE who has ever sat in the stands at Goodison Park will at some point have dreamed about playing for Everton. Doubtless many, whether young or old, still do dream – and if the chance presented itself to have just two minutes wearing a Royal Blue shirt - they would give all they could afford to do so. No prizes for guessing where this is going. If, as looks increasingly likely, Andrew Johnson heads for pastures new, do not spend too much time mourning his departure or make accusations that the club he is leaving lacks ambition. Some will regard this as propaganda, so perhaps it is best to draw your own conclusions and find an answer to this question: Why would you want to leave a club set for another European campaign to join one that was nearly relegated last year? Johnson has been a good servant for Everton, scored two of the most wildly celebrated goals Goodison has seen in modern times, and if for some reason his £10.5m move to Fulham collapses he will return to the fold and continue to play a part. But the fact he left Deepdale last night when Everton – shorn of so many first team players – needed him tells its own story.
It is for good reason that rumours of his departure have swirled around all summer.
Johnson – who has kept his own counsel – may simply yearn for a return south but if his decision is based on football, don’t shed too many tears. With respect, Fulham and Everton do not occupy the same stratosphere and David Moyes needs a squad full of committed individuals if recent progress is maintained. Fortunately, he has the nucleus of a strong squad in place. Granted the right investment, the Blues should continue to flourish and in registering their first pre-season friendly win over Preston, we once again saw evidence that the kids are all right – one in particular.
If Jose Baxter continues like this, Moyes is going to have a problem but, happily, not the kind to have him tearing his hair out. One does not wish to put unnecessary pressure on this 16-year-old but it is quite evident he is going to mature into a ‘player’. There were signsagainst FC Sion that he knew what the game was about, even though he had only just left school, and he built on that impression last night, again showing that there is a devilment in his play. Should there be a loose ball that needs winning, Baxter will not hesitate to launch in for it, while he can also pick a pass. With better luck, he would have had a goal to celebrate but, unfortunately, the crossbar thwarted a terrific, dipping free-kick on six minutes. Still, an assist was ample compensation as Baxter’s perfectly delivered corner moments later was given the finish it demanded by Phil Jagielka, who crashed a header past the helpless Andrew Lonergan. It would be unfair and unrealistic to expect Baxter to start the new Premier League campaign. Moyes will surely wrap him in cotton wool.
But do not be surprised if, come next May, this young man from Bootle has played in the top flight. That brief flurry aside, Everton’s main objective during the first period seemed to be keeping their back four’s equilibrium following the shambolic efforts at the Abbey Stadium three days earlier. This was certainly much more like it.
Other than a drive from Barry Nicholson which he tipped away, Iain Turner was well protected.Preston might have passedthe ball nicely, but they couldn’t create any real moments. Then again, it would have been hugely disappointing if a rearguard of Neville, Lescott, Jagielka and Valente – who between them have almost 100 international caps – had been given another chasing. The foundations for last season’s success were built on a rock-solid defence and that will be needed again in the new campaign, so it was satisfying to see a return to ‘business as usual’ soon the Cambridge calamity. A similar pattern followed after the break. Given Alan Irvine’s footballing philosophies, Preston do play the game as it is meant to be, but Everton always threatened to grab a second. Twice the eye-catching Dan Gosling sent drives fizzing wide of the post, while Andy van der Meyde threatened to send the packed visiting enclosure wild with a 25-yard howitzer. It would have been fitting had he done so – after all, he’d driven Moyes wild all night. The skill is there but whenever van der Meyde was confronted by a full-back, he was reluctant, maybe unable, to go past, much to his manager’s obvious dismay. If he has no pace, there will be no starting place when the phoney war stops. But, if we are looking for positives, van der Meyde did at least complete the full 90 minutes. That has to be seen as another beneficial evening. It was also pleasing to see Mikel Arteta get another half-hour under his belt. But Moyes needs more than his walking wounded to return. As he stated at the weekend, six players are required to bolster the ranks, preferably, before Blackburn arrive at Goodison three weeks on Saturday. At least, though, those who arrive at the club will want to be part of what Moyes and Co are trying to achieve.
Anyone who doesn’t fancy the battle need not apply.
PRESTON (4-4-2): Lonergan; Hurst, Mawene, St Ledger, Davidson (Jones (78); Nicholson (Anyinsah 78), McKenna (Carter 74), Chaplow (Sedgwick 74), Neal (Whaley 50); Ormerod (Hawley 62), Brown (Mellor 42).
EVERTON (4-4-2): Turner; Neville, Jagielka, Lescott, Valente (Molyneux 74); Baxter (O’Kane 81), Gosling, Rodwell. Van der Meyde; Agard (Arteta 62), Jutkiewicz (Irving 89).
REFEREE: G Salisbury. ATTENDANCE: 10,322.
Andrew Johnson set to leave Goodison as Everton accept £10.5m Fulham bid
July 23 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
ANDREW JOHNSON was on the brink of ending his Everton career today after Fulham had a £10.5m bid accepted by the Blues. The England international travelled to Deepdale with the rest of Everton’s squad for last night’s 1-0 win over Preston North End but was not included in either the starting line-up or among the substitutes.
He will now be given permission to discuss terms with Fulham over a move to Craven Cottage and it is now inevitable that Johnson will bring the curtain down on his two-year stay at Goodison Park in the next few days. Wigan Athletic and Sunderland had lead the chase for Johnson, who has scored 22 goals in 74 appearances, but Fulham are the only side prepared to make Everton an offer that will provide them with a healthy profit on the £8.6m they paid for him in May 2006. Blues boss David Moyes – who wants to make “five or six” new signings – will now intensify his own search to find a new striker, with Real Zaragoza’s Diego Milito and Darren Bent of Tottenham Hotspur high on his wanted list. Moyes had stated less than a month ago that he wanted to keep Johnson – who signed a five-year contract extension last October – but has sanctioned his imminent departure after it became quite apparent that Johnson was keen to leave. Phil Jagielka, meanwhile, was a relieved man today after he scored the only goal against Preston but – more importantly – played his part in helping Everton keep their first clean sheet of pre-season. Having felt the wrath of Moyes following the 4-2 defeat against Cambridge United last Saturday, there was a determination amongst Everton’s defenders not to put a foot wrong and they comfortably kept Preston at arm’s length. “Yes, we got a bit of a telling off from the Gaffer on Saturday,” Jagielka confirmed. “Rightly so. We didn’t perform well, it wasn’t good but the boys showed their character out there and it wasn’t just the older lads.
“The younger lads played their part in a nice victory. When we got 2-1 up against Cambridge, we should have put the game to bed. But it was the pre-season blues. It was warm, the pitch was dry and I don’t think everyone was concentrating 100 per cent. “Four or five mistakes later, we found ourselves 4-2 down. But with the back four we put out last night, it was Premier League standard. The Gaffer put a lot of emphasis on that beforehand and we were delighted to keep the clean sheet.”
*Everton have confirmed they have ended their interest in pursuing a deal for Serbian goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic.
Everton young guns earn salute from Steve Round
July 23 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
STEVE ROUND hailed Everton's young guns after they played a significant part in helping the Blues register their first win of pre-season. Having learned a few harsh lessons in the 4-2 defeat against Cambridge United last Saturday, Everton bounced back at Deepdale to see off Alan Irvine’s Preston, thanks to Phil Jagielka’s first half header. The England international played a key role in helping the Blues keep a clean sheet, but it was the trio of Dan Gosling, Jack Rodwell and the impressive Jose Baxter who really caught the eye, and Round was effusive in his praise of them. “The effort was fantastic from a young team,” said Round. “The back four, who were all senio, were excellent, especially after the Cambridge game. They didn’t live up to their reputations in that game and the manager was quite tough with them afterwards. But, in this game, they were outstanding. “From the other perspective, Dan Gosling put in a great performance after coming back from England duty and the young trio of him, along with Jack Rodwell and Jose Baxter, who are just 18, 17 and 16, in particular, did well.” While those three continue their footballing education, James Vaughan is stepping up his rehabilitation work and has targeted being ready for the opening match of the new Premier League campaign. Vaughan dislocated his shoulder at Deepdale 12 months ago then saw his season ended by knee trouble in February. “Hopefully, in a couple of weeks, I will be back training and then get as many games as I can before the start of the season,” said Vaughan.“I am hoping to be fit for the start.”
David Moyes challenges Phil Jagielka
July 24 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has challenged Phil Jagielka to take the form that caught Fabio Capello's attentions up another level when the new season begins.
Though Jagielka endured a shaky spell at Goodison immediately after his £4m move from Sheffield United, he blossomed when given the opportunity to play as a central defender and he was called into England’s squad at the end of last season.
But if the 25-year-old is going to add to the solitary cap he won against Trinidad & Tobago, he cannot afford to dip below the standards he has set himself and Moyes thinks Jagielka will probably have to raise them again. Moyes, though, has every faith that Jagielka - who scored the only goal in Tuesday night’s 1-0 win over Preston - is more than capable of doing so, particularly as his attitude on the training ground cannot be faulted. “The call up last season was all down to his performances,” said Moyes. “When he got in the team from November and December onwards, he was very reliable, possibly our most consistent player and he deserved his chance.
“Of course we are pleased when we see the lads get the recognition we feel they deserve, particularly at that (international) level. “Jags took the jump up in his stride but also knows that he has got to keep hitting those levels again. “It took him a while to get settled but I’m sure he can do just as well again in the new season. “You could see his progress in the games that he played, in his attitude on the training ground. He’s a good lad to have around the place.” Having failed to cover themselves in glory last Saturday against Cambridge United, both Jagielka and Joleon Lescott were much like their old selves at Deepdale two days ago but Moyes is aware that both still have a bit to do before they can be described as the finished article. That’s why he will be looking for more of the same when they link up again when they face Nottingham Forest tomorrow evening to show they have learned from their mistakes at the Abbey Stadium that led to Everton losing 4-2. “Jags and Joleon are both really good defenders, they are quick, strong and form a good partnership,” said Moyes.
“When you have those qualities at the back, it gives you a great advantage. What they need to do now is mature and that will come with age. “Both lads are still relatively young to be playing central defence but I hope over the coming few months, you will see that maturity in their play and that wold help us tremendously.” Everton, meanwhile, are prepared to drag out Andrew Johnson’s move to Fulham after the striker missed the win at Preston. It now appears likely he won’t be allowed to leave until a replacement has been found, even though the Echo understands that, despite reports to the contrary yesterday, a bid from Fulham has been accepted.
Phil Neville signs new four year deal at Everton
July 25 2008 EXCLUSIVE by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
PHIL NEVILLE today urged Evertonians to place their trust in David Moyes' judgement - as he put pen to paper on a new long-term contract. Though the Blues have yet to dip their toe into the transfer market this summer, Neville - who has signed a deal that will keep him at Goodison Park until June 2012 - does not believe there is any reason to push the panic button yet. He knows that Moyes will not part with any of his kitty until he is absolutely certain a new arrival will improve the quality of his squad, and Everton’s captain has seen that approach reap rich rewards in the past. That’s why he is confident Moyes will have once again come up trumps before the window closes on August 31 - and sees no reason why Everton cannot make further progress again, especially as so many important, injured players have yet to return. “The one thing you have to do at this time of the year is trust the manager to do his job,” observed the former England international. “He is one of the best around and everyone knows this club is in safe hands with him. “He knows what he wants and he knows the players he needs. "There is a good squad here already and what we have to do as players is make sure we help the manager by concentrating on our jobs and preparing for the new season as best we can.” Neville graduated from Manchester United’s youth ranks and made his debut as an 18-year-old in a 3-1 defeat against Aston Villa in 1995, going on to make a further 388 appearances and winning six league titles, two FA Cups and the Champions League. But after Sir Alex Ferguson could not guarantee him a regular place, he joined Everton in August 2005 in a £3.5m deal and he has become one of the most influential players at Goodison. He was made club captain after David Weir joined Rangers in January 2007. There have been rapid changes - both on and off the field - during his time on Merseyside but he believes the Blues, who visit Nottingham Forest this evening (7.45pm), are set for bigger and better things in the future. “When I had a meeting with the manager at the end of last season, I wanted to know what direction the club was going and his words made the decision to stay here an easy one,” explained Neville, who was capped 59 times by his country. “He is a young manager and wants the best for this club. We all do. Signing this deal had nothing whatsoever to do with money. The next four years are hopefully going to be some of the best and most important of my career and I know we can progress. “It was a bit difficult at first when I left my old club but once I settled in here, I can honestly say I have loved every minute of it. This is a special club and being around good people makes you want to immerse yourself even more in the fabric.” Moyes will name a side at the City Ground similar to the one that beat Preston on Tuesday, even though Ayegbeni Yakubu and Steven Pienaar are back in training after their summer break.
Nottingham Forest 1, Everton 1 (D,Post)
Liverpool Daily Post
July 26 2008
By Ian Doyle At the City Ground
THE phoney war is over. Now David Moyes can begin his pre-season preparations in earnest. Everton’s summer cocktail of experienced defenders and youthful forwards enjoyed a last hurrah with a hard-fought 1-1 draw at Nottingham Forest last night. After Nuno Valente had inadvertently given Forest the lead 10 minutes after the interval, 16-year-old Jose Baxter underlined his burgeoning potential with a spectacular equaliser. Injuries and unavailability have forced Moyes into so far working with a small squad top-heavy on Academy and reserve players.
Late substitute appearances from Leighton Baines, Yakubu and Steven Pienaar brought a welcome degree of familiarity to the Everton line-up at the City Ground that will be extended into the tour of the United States. But, as results have improved along with fitness levels, the club’s youngsters have demonstrated promise for the future. In particular, Jack Rodwell and Dan Gosling, two players that have long been tipped to make their mark
Nottingham Forest 1, Everton 1
July 26 2008 by Ian Doyle, Liverpool Echo
THE phoney war is over. Now David Moyes can begin his pre-season preparations in earnest. Everton’s summer cocktail of experienced defenders and youthful forwards enjoyed a last hurrah with a hard-fought 1-1 draw at Nottingham Forest last night.
After Nuno Valente had inadvertently given Forest the lead 10 minutes after the interval, 16-year-old Jose Baxter underlined his burgeoning potential with a spectacular equaliser. Injuries and unavailability have forced Moyes into so far working with a small squad top-heavy on Academy and reserve players.
Late substitute appearances from Leighton Baines, Yakubu and Steven Pienaar brought a welcome degree of familiarity to the Everton line-up at the City Ground that will be extended into the tour of the United States. But, as results have improved along with fitness levels, the club’s youngsters have demonstrated promise for the future. In particular, Jack Rodwell and Dan Gosling, two players that have long been tipped to make their mark, can expect regular first-team exposure this coming season.
It wasn’t all encouraging news for Moyes last night, however. Mikel Arteta was forced off after just half-an-hour of his first start after surgery, although fears over an extended lay-off were allayed by Moyes afterwards. And while Andy van der Meyde’s departure with a hamstring injury earlier in the game was less worrying, the last thing the Goodison manager needs is for an already busy treatment room to be further clogged up with the start of the Premier League season only three weeks away.
As at Preston three days earlier, the pre-match buzz concerned Andrew Johnson. The striker courted controversy by leaving Deepdale before kick-off on Tuesday, but last night he didn’t even make it as far as the ground. Johnson’s absence from the squad – and subsequent flight to Chicago this afternoon – must surely be taken as a signal that the England international’s Goodison career is drawing to a close. It’s a parting of the ways that has grown increasingly inevitable in recent weeks, although it wasn’t without justification that Moyes was so unhappy at Johnson’s decision to duck out of Tuesday’s friendly. With Fulham happy to spend £10.5million on his services, Johnson’s imminent departure will at least help facilitate some serious squad strengthening. Diego Milito of Real Zaragoza, Tottenham Hotspur’s Darren Bent and Sporting Lisbon playmaker Joao Moutinho remain high on Moyes’s wanted list.
And, despite the fine contribution from the youngsters so far this pre-season, it’s clear why Moyes believes "five or six" new recruits are required before the transfer window slams shut at the end of next month.With his resources again limited last night, Moyes made only one change from the team that started the 1-0 win at Deepdale.
It was a notable one, however, with Arteta taking the latest step in his rehabilitation from surgery to eradicate the troublesome abdominal and groin problems that dogged him last season. But the Spaniard lasted only 30 minutes before being substituted as a precaution after undergoing treatment on the touchline to an injured left leg. The lengthy absentee list has given van der Meyde plenty of playing time this summer. But his evening was curtailed by injury after only 12 minutes when he hobbled off the field and out of the tour to America – and who knows when, if ever, the Dutchman will be seen again in an Everton shirt. Almost 10 years have passed since Everton last played a competitive game at the City Ground, Forest having subsequently dropped down two divisions before last season’s promotion back up to the Coca- Cola Championship. The home side, eager to impress against Premier League opposition, didn’t hold back in the tackle and, as such, Everton were given a thorough work-out.
But, save a few penalty-box scrambles in which Everton’s experienced defence held firm, Forest’s first- half highlight was an overhead kick from Robert Earnshaw that was more spectacular than threatening. Instead, it was the visitors who were the more lively going forward, the pace and unpredictability of Kieran Agard – partnering Lukas Jutkiewicz in attack for the second successive game – keeping the Forest back line on their toes. Agard had the game’s first meaningful effort on 16 minutes with a shot that ruffled the side-netting before Forest goalkeeper Paul Smith was required to turn over Rodwell’s deflected effort from range. With his composed performances in central midfield, Rodwell has been the most impressive of the youngsters given their chance by Moyes this pre-season, and the 17-year-old will surely improve on his three senior appearances in the coming campaign. Gosling, again operating alongside Rodwell in the Everton engine room, became a more prominent influence as the half progressed. From an Agard lay-off, the 18- year-old solicited another save from Smith before, amid a crazy melee in the home box, Gosling was denied a certain goal by a brave block from Lewis McGugan. The Forest midfielder then played an integral role in Everton falling behind on 55 minutes when the unfortunate Valente, under pressure from Earnshaw, turned McGugan’s low, driven cross from the right into his own net.
Parity was restored in spectacular fashion 10 minutes later. Baxter, who had replaced Arteta, gained possession in midfield, raced forward then unleashed a spectacular left-foot shot from 20 yards that flew into the top corner. Everton now head to Chicago this afternoon for the first leg of their American tour. And as on their previous visits Stateside, Moyes will hope his real team can begin to emerge.
Nottingham Forest 1 Everton 1
July 26 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
THERE has been a recurring theme for Everton this pre-season and once again - just when it was needed - David Moyes found he can rely on youth. A lack of new signings may be causing anxiety in some quarters but it needs emphasising that things are not all doom and gloom at the minute, particularly as a young man by the name of Jose Baxter is blossoming. Having starred in the Blues’ win at Preston, Baxter salvaged a draw against Nottingham Forest last night with a wonderful goal midway through the second half after Nuno Valente had put through his own net.
The only negative for Moyes was injuries to Mikel Arteta and Andy van der Meyde but he will at least be assured there is more to come from his young guns, who are coping so well in the face of adversity. It has been well documented in recent weeks how threadbare Everton’s squad has been but things at least started to look a little better here with the sight of Steven Pienaar, Ayegbeni Yakubu and Leighton Baines working enthusiastically in the warm up. Those three will certainly provided an injection of quality once they are fully up to speed and the same can also be said of Arteta, who has impressed observers at Finch Farm over the last few days with the way he has gone about his business. After 15 minutes at Cambridge and half-an-hour at Preston, Moyes was happy to give Arteta his first start in a Blue shirt since April 6 but, infuriatingly, it was to be a short lived affair as his evening’s work was over before it had chance to really start. There seemed little wrong when he collided with Arron Davies but the Spaniard soon beckoned to the bench that treatment was needed and head physio Mick Rathbone wisely decided not to take any risks. Fingers will be crossed that it is not too serious. Arteta’s presence in the starting line-up, though, was the only change Moyes made to the side that had beaten Preston three days previously and that gave youngsters Dan Gosling and Jack Rodwell to form an alliance in the centre of midfield. Of the pair, Rodwell - understandably - is the one best known to Toffees’ supporters but there is plenty to like about Gosling, a energetic, powerful figure with an abundance of stamina. Yes, his edges may need polishing but there is something there to work on. He figured prominently in the opening exchanges, listening to the orders Moyes bellowed out from the touchline, yet for all the energy Everton showed there was still something to dampen the spirits. Those who said it was only a matter of time will be on good terms with themselves today after van der Meyde pulled up lame with just eight minutes on the clock, clutching his thigh and hamstring following his own shot on goal. As had been the case against Preston, the Dutchman showed some nice touches, fluffed a couple of passes and - most significantly - never threatened to take a man on - only time will tell if he figures again before the big kick-off three weeks from now. One man, however, who is certainly doing all he can to be involved when Blackburn Rovers arrive at Goodison Park is Rodwell. Each game he has played this summer has brought him on significantly and the 17-year-old almost opened the scoring. Goalmouth action had been scarce until Rodwell pilfered the ball off Forest skipper Ian Breckin on the edge of the opposition area and, in a flash, he had dug the ball out of his feet to clip a shot that was heading for the top corner until keeper Paul Smith intervened.
Smith was needed to save his side again shortly after when on 38 minutes Lukas Jutkiewicz and Kieran Agard did well to create an opening for Gosling but his stinging drive lacked the accuracy to cause real trouble. Everton looked the side most likely to open the scoring and Gosling should really have put the Blues in front on 42 minutes when a quick break down the left ended with him receiving possession six yards from goal but he somehow shot straight at Breckin. It was a miss that Everton were left to rue. Having gone into the break all-square, they tried to re-assert themselves after the re-start but eventually found themselves trailing to a freak goal on 55 minutes. Forest had not threatened to fashion an opening to trouble Iain Turner yet that soon changed when Lewis McGugan skipped down the right-flank and fired in a dangerous cross that Valente could only turn past his startled keeper. Happily, though, Everton were soon level and their equaliser was scored by a young man whom plenty will be written about in the future - this will not be the last time Baxter finds the net in a Royal Blue shirt. There seemed little on when he ghosted in behind Gosling 25 yards from goal but that soon changed - picking up the loose ball, Baxter hardly lifted his left foot but generated enough power to send a shot speeding past Smith.
Typically, the goal was wildly celebrated by the 2,152 Toffees who had made the trip to the Midlands and they nearly had another to celebrate when Baxter picked out Jutkiewicz but the latter’s header lacked conviction. A couple of late skirmishes apart, neither side really threatened to snatch a winner and now attentions switch to the tour of America, where Everton’s young brigade will continue their education.
NOTTINGHAM FOREST (4-4-2): Smith; Perch, Breckin (Chambers 62), Wilson, Bennett (Heath 46); McGugan (McCleary 80), Moussi, Hughes (Thornhill 62), Davies (Reid 80); Cole (Sinclair 46), Earnshaw.
EVERTON (4-4-2): Turner; Neville, Jagielka, Lescott, Valente (Baines 66); van der Meyde (Baxter 13, Irving 89), Rodwell, Gosling (Pienaar 77), Arteta (Molyneux 30); Jutkiewicz, Agard (Yakubu 77).
REFEREE: K Friend.
Why Andrew Johnson could live to regret leaving Everton
July 26 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
AS has been the case all summer, one transfer story has dominated matters at Goodison Park, namely the future of Andrew Johnson. After weeks of speculation and conjecture, things came to something of a head in midweek when Johnson withdrew from the team to face Preston North End after a concrete bid of £10.5m was lodged for his services. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and if everyone could live by it, we would never make mistakes and always choose the right option. That’s why Johnson has been left to rue and regret his decision to leave Deepdale at a time when he was needed. No disrespect to Lukas Jutkiewicz and Kieran Agard, who admirably filled the void left by his absence, but, with injuries and holidays leaving senior professionals thin on the ground, Johnson had a duty to fulfil against Preston.
For some reason, though, his wires became scrambled and while he has no doubt apologised for his actions – Johnson is not an arrogant or malicious character by any stretch of the imagination – he can’t change the fact that he upset a lot of people.
Not surprisingly, manager David Moyes was – to put it mildly – furious and that is why it will not be the greatest shock if the transfer is dragged out. You don’t need to be a genius to work out the logic. If someone messes you around in life, why should you help them? Another reason why Moyes won’t hurry Johnson out of the exit door is simply because he doesn’t want to weaken a squad that is already thin on the ground. Once a replacement is found then - and only then - will the England international be on his way. Yet, Everton find themselves in a curious position. Heaven forbid that fitness issues become a problem but just say Johnson picks up an injury - the nightmare scenario sees the deal scuppered and the player left in limbo.
It will be interesting, then, to see if he is part of the squad that travels to the United States. Things happen quickly and unexpectedly in football and he could well find himself waiting to board a plane to Chicago if Everton have not made any headway on a deal. If, for some reason, he does stay on Merseyside, it wouldn’t be the end of the world by any stretch of the imagination. After all, Johnson’s pace, voracious appetite for work, diligence and instincts around the box could well be utilised next term.
Bringing in a new striker, however, has been one of Moyes’ top priorities since the most recent campaign ended – hence the interest in the Brazilian Jo, Manchester City’s powerful new recruit from CSKA Moscow – and making £2m profit on Johnson would be good business. Yes, Johnson has made a big contribution since he arrived from Crystal Palace in 2006 and many of his 22 goals have been riotously celebrated – think of the two in his first derby, one at Tottenham which secured a first win at White Hart Lane since 1985 and another against Arsenal that helped secure Everton’s return to Europe. The arrival of Ayegbeni Yakubu, however, gave the Blues a different dimension last season and if – once Tim Cahill is back firing on all cylinders – Moyes is going to stick with one man up front, then the Nigerian is more suited to the role than Johnson. With all things considered, it would take a dramatic u-turn to see Johnson playing for Everton after the transfer deadline closes, especially as – contrary to some suggestions – Fulham’s bid was accepted and they thought they had their man on Tuesday evening. It will be a shame to see Johnson go but the cyclical nature of football means he isn’t the first and won’t be the last to move in such circumstances. Expect Moyes, as always, to invest the money he receives wisely.
Everton's Kirkby stadium saga set to roll on all summer
July 26 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
ANOTHER week has passed by and still we are no nearer to knowing whether Everton’s proposed move to Kirkby will be given the green light by the Government.
Not surprisingly, the ham-fisted way the Government have gone about things – you get the impression they are waiting until the very last minute to announce their decision before heading off on their summer break – has left some at Goodison Park exasperated. The decision of whether or not to “call in” is unlikely to be announced by the Department for Communities and Local Government until early next week but it begs the question - why the delay? After all, the announcement should have been made at the start of this month and, like anything, when you are waiting for news, the longer it is delayed, the less likely it is to be positive when it is eventually delivered.
Whatever happens, if and when the EGM that has been called for by a group of shareholders takes place, it promises to be even livelier than the most recent AGM.
Under Everton’s articles of association, a mandate from 20 per cent of shareholders is required for an EGM to be called and the reasons this group have called for it is totally reasonable. This is no maverick ‘say no to Kirkby regardless’ group; the argument they put forward is clear, concise, well researched and raises some excellent points. It could be a long, hot summer, then, in the corridors of power at Goodison Park.
Fans in fitting salute to true servant Irvine
PITCH invasions have been commonplace at Preston’s Deepdale home in recent seasons, but Evertonians showed the true side to their character last Tuesday evening.
As always, they made the short hop down the M6 in huge numbers and, with no new signings on show, only one man was going to be the focus of their attention.
Alan Irvine was a proud servant at Goodison Park, both as player and coach, and the ovation he was given from the visiting end reflected that. It was to Irvine’s great regret that he didn’t have a proper chance to say ‘goodbye’ when he took the Preston job last November. But this was a chance to rectify matters. Anyone who has ever had the pleasure of spending time in Irvine’s company will tell you he is one of life’s true gentlemen and the recognition he received was fitting. With some luck in the draw, it would be perfect if Irvine could bring Preston to Goodison in one of the cups this season – giving plenty more Blues a chance to express their thanks for all his efforts down the years.
American dream is perfect route to Everton progress – Phil Neville
July 26 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
SUPERSTITION plays a role in football almost as much as tactics, fitness and psychology – if, say, a player scores a goal after putting his left sock and boot on first, it is unlikely he will break the pattern. To some extent, you could suggest that superstition also governs the decision David Moyes makes when he picks the destinations for Everton’s pre-season. Riches may be on offer in Africa and the Far East but nothing, in the manager’s eyes, beats America. Four summers ago, a week in Houston provided the catalyst for the Blues to defy the odds and finish the season with a top four place and two years ago, games in Dallas and Columbus set them on their way to securing a spot in the UEFA Cup. It was the same again 12 months ago. After training camps in Salt Lake City and Los Angeles, Everton returned to wrack up their best Premier League points tally (65) and set up another crack at European football.
Can history repeat itself? Phil Neville certainly thinks so. To some, it may seem a long way to go when they could be doing something similar in Europe, but Everton’s captain is an advocate of these transatlantic trips. That’s why he fully expects his side to come back in completely different shape after their nine-day tour to Chicago and Denver is over, primed to build on the progress that has been made in recent years.
“I think the tours to America in the last couple of years have really been the key to the success we’ve ended up having,” said Neville. “There are so many benefits from going over there and it really pulls everyone together. “We can be anonymous over there. Nobody really pays much attention to us. “ But we train in absolutely top class facilities, the pitches are perfect and we also play games against very good opposition.
“The other important aspect is the team bonding. People might hear a lot said about it but it really makes a difference. When we travel away during the season, we all have our own rooms but in pre-season the manager makes it two to a room.
“There aren’t little cliques or anything like that and we have a couple of nights out.
“As everyone probably knows, one evening is the initiation ceremony for the lads who haven’t been there before and they’ve got to get up and sing in front of everyone.”
Ah, the singing. Nobody who joins Everton can escape the harrowing experience of performing in front of their new team-mates but while some are natural entertainers – Mikel Arteta, for example – Neville recoils at the ordeal he went through.
“If I’d known before I’d signed what I had to go through, I probably wouldn’t have come here,” said Neville, wincing at the memory. “I actually had to do the deed in the Lake District but, to start with, me and Simon Davies made a pact that we wouldn’t sing. “As the night wore on, we hadn’t said a word but then, with some Dutch courage, Digger (Davies) jumped up and belted out something by Oasis to stitch me up. Everyone loved it. So I got up then and sang the first few lines of Hey Jude, thinking everyone would join in. “But I can still remember the silence that followed. I ended up being pelted with potatoes and everyone hammered me. Put it this way, I’m glad I haven’t got to do it again.” All jokes aside, this invariably is the week when preparations step up a gear and there is a different intensity to the daily double sessions compared to anything else that has gone in pre-season. What’s more, the games they play are also extremely competitive as the opposition from the MLS want to knock their Premier League counterparts down a peg or two and Everton found that to their cost 12 months ago against Real Salt Lake. The Blues were never able to get into their stride at altitude and were comfortably beaten 2-0. Moyes, for one, will not want to see any repeats when they tackle Chicago Fire on Wednesday night and Colorado Rapids a week tomorrow. “The pressure might be off us, but the work is serious,” said Neville. “We know we are going to be in for a couple of tough games out there and we will have to improve anything that’s been produced so far to get good results. “First and foremost, you know American teams are going to be ultra-fit and the standard is rapidly improving. Last year we played Salt Lake City, who hadn’t won in eight games but they gave us a chasing. We know this time we are going to have to up the ante.”
Liverpool FC at Goodison: Welcome to the worst idea of the week
July 26 2008 by Tony Barrett, Liverpool Echo
HAD it not been for Gordon Brown agreeing to a state funeral for Margaret Thatcher, Liverpool's idea to use Goodison Park for corporate entertaining would be comfortably the worst idea of the week. And, whereas Maggie's coffin being paraded through the streets of London would mean she could no longer do this country any more damage, there are no silver linings to the proposed joint initiative by the Mersey rivals. Thankfully, the ridiculous idea has been shelved as word leaked out that it was about to happen, and Everton officials failed to hold their nerve upon realisation that a massive public backlash was about to come their way. But what the hell were they thinking about in the first place? How could Everton even consider decking out a marquee at Goodison in L iverpool colours so that the red-shirted overflow from Anfield's own prawn sandwich brigade could munch their way through seafood and quaff champagne in the shadow of the Gwladys Street on a match day? And what possessed Liverpool to believe their high rolling fans would want to part with fortunes to spend pre-match at the home of their greatest rivals? Had this story broken on April Fools Day everyone would have seen straight through it as a wind up – and not a very good one at that. The fact that it came out in mid-July and actually turned out to be true is as scary as a night out with Amy Winehouse. As soon as football turned into a corporate cash cow many fans believed it was the end of the game they love, with many foreseeing a future in the needs of traditional supporters being trampled on by a mad dash for money. It is ideas like this one which make such fearful forebodings seem visionary. Everton are clearly in need of the cash and when you're desperate for money it is easy to make bad decisions. Just ask Nick Leeson. But, if anything, Liverpool's avarice is even more worrying because the club is already making vast fortunes from corporate entertainment but was still willing to sell its individuality and separateness for a few more pieces of silver. For both sets of fans, this would have amounted to the ultimate deal with the devil. If one positive has come out of such a sorry situation it is that at least the clubs knew this one was going to be the hardest of sells and that's why it was kept so quiet before finally being exposed.
The reason they knew this is because fans of both clubs are mobilising like never before as they try to protect the heritage of their clubs and ensure that the pursuit of riches does not become the be all and end all. It is no coincidence that groups like Keep Everton In Our City, Reclaim The Kop and the Spirit of Shankly have all sprung up in recent years. It may not exactly amount to an open fans revolt, but it is a clear expression that local supporters are determined to have a say in how their clubs are run at a time of massive change and upheaval. Earlier this week, Blues fan and shareholder Mark Grayson appeared on Sky Sports News to explain why he had pushed for an EGM to debate the club's plans to quit Goodison and move to Kirkby.
His argument was so articulate and well reasoned it put many of those charged with running the national game to shame and proved once again that supporters in the modern age who have been politicised by the footballing revolution they have witnessed since the birth of the Premiership can no longer be taken for granted.
All they are asking for is to be listened to and for their needs to be taken into consideration – something that was certainly not the case when both clubs entered into a dialogue aimed at sharing corporate facilities. This was an idea that was so bad it was offensive, and the only saving grace is that it is now unlikely to happen.
Liverpool-Knowsley International Youth Soccer Tournament: David Moyes salute to event with worldwide appeal
Jul 26 2008 by Tim Johnson, Liverpool Echo
THOUSANDS of youngsters from across the globe will head for the city next week for the 13th Liverpool-Knowsley International Youth Soccer Tournament.
The annual festival received the welcome backing of Everton manager David Moyes when he launched the event last week. He said: "Youth football is something that is close to my heart and I know the value of well organised tournaments.
“A lot of work goes into competitions such as this and the number of teams taking part this year is a testament to the enthusiasm and dedication behind this one. I am sure everyone involved will enjoy it." The tournament, which kicks off at the University of Liverpool Geoffrey Hughes (Wyncote) sports ground on Mather Avenue, Allerton, on Tuesday (10.00am), is the biggest in the UK and is expected to attract 3000 youngsters across the world. Confirmed entrants include teams from USA, China, South Africa, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Germany, France and the United Kingdom. Around 190 sides will take part in the qualifying stages in 10 age categories for boys and girls, with the successful sides graduating to semi finals/finals day on Saturday and Sunday. The tournament organisers also aim to showcase the city off the field with an action packed itinerary. Visits are planned to Anfield and Goodison, together with trips on Mersey Ferries and tours of the Albert Dock and Liverpool Museums, plus Alton Towers. The social highlight of the week is predicted to be a Football Fiesta, a performance of arts, theatre and dance at Liverpool University's Carnatic Halls of Residence on Tuesday. Eddie Connor, representing Leisure and Culture at Knowsley Council, is well aware of the opportunities the competition provides. He said: "The tournament is an asset to our events calendar and a fantastic opportunity to develop international relations. “ I'm sure it will be highly competitive and will generate a great atmosphere.'' The event has been sponsored by the New Football, with managing director Ted Taylor adding: "It's crucial that we work hard now to harness the talent and quality of these young players and coaches.”
Andrew Johnson left out of Everton's USA tour
July 27 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON will fly out to the United States today without Andrew Johnson as the striker moved towards an inevitable exit from Goodison Park. Johnson stayed at home yesterday as the Blues’ drew 1-1 with Nottingham Forest and will not be joining up with his team-mates when they head to Chicago late this afternoon. Speculation has raged all summer about Johnson’s future and he now appears to be on the brink of £10.5m move to Fulham. Everton’s former club record signing has been on the brink since he left Deepdale on Tuesday evening before his side’s 1-0 win over Preston after claiming he was not in the right frame of mind to be involved. Johnson, though, is not the only member of Everton’s first team squad who will remain on Merseyside while the rest are in Chicago and Denver. Andy van der Meyde is also on the casualty list after pulling his hamstring at the City Ground last night. He was substituted after only 12 minutes and Mikel Arteta - making his first start of pre-season - quickly followed when he was kicked on the shin, but there is no significant damage and he will travel.
Young prodigy Jose Baxter secured a draw for the Blues after Nuno Valente had put through his own net and with Dan Gosling and Jack Rodwell also shining, Moyes was thrilled with his teenagers. “It was another good workout,” said Moyes, who refused to make any comments about Johnson. “With what we have available, the young players have done remarkably well in coping. “We have not got many goalscorers in the team at the moment but the young players are getting practice which will help them and help us as the season goes on.”
Blues hope on Joao Moutinho as Andrew Johnson exits
July 28 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
ANDREW JOHNSON was due to undergo a medical at Fulham to complete a transfer that could eventually net Everton more than £12m. The England international was left at home on Saturday to sort out his future as Everton - who are plotting their next move over Joao Moutinho - jetted out to the United States for their annual pre-season tour. It has been widely expected since he missed last Tuesday’s 1-0 win at Preston that Johnson would end up at Craven Cottage, but Everton were adamant that he would only be allowed to leave on their terms and they look to have reaped their rewards. Fulham will initially pay £10.5m for Johnson, who scored 22 goals in 74 appearances following his move to Goodison Park in May 2006 from Crystal Palace, and that figure could swell significantly with further add on clauses. David Moyes - the beneficiary of a pleasant surprise yesterday when Tim Cahill flew in from Australia to do his rehabilitation work in Chicago with the first team rather than back in Liverpool - will now step up his efforts to sign a replacement. The manager is also waiting to see how his pursuit of Portugal international Moutinho will turn out after a dramatic turn of events yesterday that saw the player state his desire to move to Merseyside and his club Sporting Lisbon rebuff Everton’s opening gambit.
Moyes will at least be heartened by the fact that the 21-year-old told Portuguese newspaper O Jogo that “Sporting already knows my will, I have already transmitted it to the people. What is my will? With the reasons that I have, I want to leave Sporting.” Sporting, though, are prepared to play hard ball and issued a statement on their website outlining five key points why the transfer had not gone through, not least because Everton have not met their asking price of £19.7m. The Portuguese side were also deeply unhappy that Moutinho - one of several targets on Moyes’ midfield wish list that includes Galatasary’s Mehmet Topal - claimed he wants out of Lisbon for “personal reasons”. Whatever happens, Everton are clearly prepared to smash their transfer record for the fourth time since January 2005 but it is understood there is still much to be done before Moutinho gets his wish of a move to the Premier League.
Meanwhile, the Blues were put through their paces for the first time since touching down last night and Mikel Arteta took part in the full session, allaying fears that he had picked up a serious injury at Nottingham Forest on Friday. Arteta was substituted in that 1-1 draw after being kicked on the shin but he should be fine for Wednesday’s tussle with Chicago Fire; one man, though, who is facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines is Andy van der Meyde. The hamstring injury which forced him off after just eight minutes at the City Ground is going to see him spend at least a month on the sidelines.
Dan Gosling profits from Everton injury pile-up to play into David Moyes' plans
July 28 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
CHICAGO: The Windy City, a bustling metropolis where Al Capone first attracted the FBI's attentions and home to the Sears Tower, America's tallest building.
To even the most experienced traveller, a trip to this part of the world would set the pulse racing. Imagine, then, how it feels for an innocent 18-year-old who is slowly getting to grips with everything that accompanies being a Premier League footballer.
Dan Gosling is only seven months into his career at Goodison Park but, given the injury list David Moyes is contending with at present, he finds himself in the thick of things with a chance to advertise his credentials. Happily, there is no sign of him being overawed. Just like fellow teenagers Jack Rodwell and Jose Baxter – both of whom have also made the trip Stateside – Gosling’s form has been a real plus for Moyes so far this pre-season and he is again likely to figure in Everton’s friendly against Chicago Fire on Wednesday. But even if he has to settle for a minor role at Toyota Park, the whole experience of being on this trip – in both professional and personal terms – is something Gosling is going to immerse himself in and is adamant it will accelerate his development. “I’ve been really looking forward to this trip,” Gosling enthused. “It’s not a holiday – we know that by the amount of training we’ll be doing – and we know there is going to plenty of hard work plus a couple of tough games to play. “But the lads have been talking about coming here for ages.
“The ones who have been every year have been telling me how much they enjoy it because when we have a bit of downtime, it’s an amazing chance to see some parts of America.” It’s also the end to a frantic few weeks for Gosling, whom Moyes signed from Plymouth Argyle in January. Prior to heading off to Chicago en route to Denver, he spent the first part of the month with England’s Under-19s in the Czech Republic.
Though their bid to win that age group’s European Championship ended in frustration, Gosling returned to Finch Farm seven days ago in high spirits and figured prominently in the 1-0 win at Preston, as well last Friday’s 1-1 draw with Nottingham Forest. “It’s been busy, having only just come back from being away with England,” he said. “That didn’t go too well because of results but it’s been a great pick up to come back here and start playing club football again. “I’ve enjoyed the games I’ve played in. It’s been a massive step up for me. “The players here are exceptionally good but they all help you get along when you are on the pitch with them and they give you good advice and lots of encouragement.” As does the manager.
Moyes can definitely see something to work on with Gosling, who is blessed with stamina, can pass the ball well and is not afraid to venture forward if an opening arises. So it was no surprise to hear him say that Gosling – who started England’s first match against the Czech Republic but only saw another three minutes of action in the rest of the tournament – should have been in his party that travelled to Switzerland.
“I don’t think going away with England was any benefit to him,” Moyes said. “I think he would have been better off with us. But he is getting better in the games and he is having a taste of what it is like. “He was poor in the first half against Forest on Friday but he got better and it was the same against Preston; maybe he could have had four goals. “But he is doing well and maybe he wouldn’t have had this experience if we had everyone fit and well.” Ironically, fitness – or, more accurately, a lack of it – probably scuppered Gosling’s chance of making his Premier League debut late last season. He was in Moyes’ thoughts before cartilage trouble struck in March and he never totally recovered. But, thankfully, things are looking much better now and the chance to improve his physical condition in facilities that are second to none appeals as much to Gosling – who was coveted by Chelsea – as getting a new stamp on his passport. “This is the most important time of pre-season,” said Everton’s number 32.
“If you miss anything now, you know you will be playing catch up later on in the year.
“I had some knee problems when I first came here but, since January, I’ve played a few games. “I’ve been reasonably happy with my form but I’m always trying to improve every day and I know that training with these players will help me do that.
“This is a great club to be at and I’m loving every minute, really. “The step up has been massive. No disrespect to Plymouth Argyle as I learned my trade there; the people there helped me along tremendously. “But the tempo of the Premier League is just completely different. “You see it every day in training. It is just so much faster, the players are technically better and you can see why the Premier League is the best in the world with the quality that is around you all the time.”
Andrew Johnson to seal record Fulham deal
July 29 2008
By Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily Post
ANDREW JOHNSON is today expected to complete a transfer to Fulham that could earn Everton up to £13million. Johnson underwent a medical yesterday and discussed personal terms at Craven Cottage after the Londoners agreed a deal for the striker.
The 27-year-old is poised to become the most expensive player in Fulham’s history by moving for a fee that could eventually rise to £13m given add-ons and incentives.
Wigan Athletic and Sunderland were early front-runners for the England international, but neither were able to match Fulham’s offer. While Johnson only agreed a new long-term Everton contract in November, it has become increasingly apparent in the last few weeks that a parting of the ways was inevitable. Matters came to a head at Preston North End last week when the striker opted not to play in the friendly, a decision that infuriated Moyes. Johnson subsequently missed last Friday’s 1-1 draw at Nottingham Forest and did not travel with the squad to Chicago for their US tour.
David Moyes pledge over Jose Baxter
July 29 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES is ready to wrap Jose Baxter in cotton wool to ensure Everton's latest budding young talent has every chance to maximise his potential. After making his first senior start against FC Sion, the 16-year-old starred in the win over Preston and followed that by scoring the equaliser against Nottingham Forest last Friday, having come on for the hamstrung Andy van der Meyde. Those efforts played a part in Moyes including him in the party that has travelled to the United States but is wary of him being overexposed to too much football too soon. “He’s done an awful lot of good things,” Moyes said. “We need to make sure we are careful with him. That’s part of the reason why we didn’t start him at Nottingham Forest. Jose is a young boy who has been doing all the training the older lads have been doing. We have got to make sure we look after him just now but he could quite easily be in the side on merit.
“I would have liked him to have gone with England to the Nordic tournament which he was supposed to be involved in. “But he is here with us now and I feel that’s right because of our lack of numbers. The youngsters have started to grow into things. Maybe now they are starting to limit the amount of mistakes they have been tending to make.” The Blues play Chicago Fire here tomorrow evening but the starting line-up is likely to be more experienced than it has been, with Yakubu, Steven Pienaar and Tim Howard all putting themselves into the manager’s thoughts. Leighton Baines may also get an opportunity to build on his run out at the City Ground as he continues his rehabilitation from ankle surgery in May.
It's important I'm training with the team - Tim Cahill
July 29 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
NIGHT draws in on another sultry Chicago day and on the outskirts of this sprawling city there are sighs of relief as another typically intense Everton training session ends.
As the sweating, chattering players catch their breath and prepare to do some final stretches, physio Mick Rathbone is squeezing the last bit of effort from two players whom he has been coaxing back to fitness. One is Leon Osman, who has been on the sidelines since picking up an injury in Switzerland, but the identity of the other comes as something of a surprise – after all, he should have been 3,500 miles away doing similar work at Finch Farm. Tim Cahill, however, had no hesitation of suffering jetlag and flying across the international date line when the chance to link up with his team-mates came about – never mind that he can’t yet kick a football – but being among familiar faces is a tonic in itself. “I flew from the UK to Australia, stayed there for four days then flew straight here via Los Angeles,” says Cahill, taking up the story. “I’ve done quite a lot of travelling but it is all going to be beneficial in the long run
“I feel it’s important that I’m training with the team. I could have stayed back at Finch Farm but it’s just good to be among the lads, even if I’m not joining in the football stuff just yet. Everything is really positive.” As encouraging as it is to see Cahill back in the fold, though, don’t expect him to go full throttle in the next couple of weeks, just so he can be fit for the Premier League curtain raiser against Blackburn Rovers.
Having broken the fifth metatarsal in his left foot on three occasions in the space of 12 months – the last was against West Ham in March – there is no chance the Blues’ influential Australian will jeopardise his long term future by doing something rash now. With the final hurdle in sight, some players, understandably, would hurry through the final weeks to get going again. But maturity has taught Cahill to look at the bigger picture and he is relishing the next stage of his career. “I knew straight away that it had broken,” he said, recalling the moment he hobbled off at Goodison after just seven minutes of that 1-1 draw. “The physios weren’t convinced, but I’ve done it a few times and I’m lucky that I know a lot about the human body now.
“It’s all fate. Everything happens for a reason. I came back last year and played 28 games and scored 10 goals. I made an impact and I’ll do the same again this year. Whether it means I’ll play less games or more, we’ll see. “I’ve worked closely with some of the best physios in the world, so basically I just dealt with it. I was upset, sure. But at the end of the day, I’ve got a great family, three beautiful children and I was able to stay positive. “I am a confident person and have worked hard to come back. I make the most of what I have got. Being finished? That never even crossed my mind. I know how fortunate I am – I play for a terrific football club with some fabulous players. “I’m thankful I’ve got this opportunity to recover and get myself back to the highest peak of fitness and form. I did it last year and the season before. I’m not fazed by the test. We get paid to be the best at what we do. Hard work is no sacrifice. “Now, the whole process is more about prevention and recovery than actually playing. You have to know when to stop. I feel like I’m fresh now. It’s such a buzz to be back involved in things again.” After discussing his striking new tattoo – Cahill spent an agonising day in the summer getting a traditional Samoan family timeline etched on to his left arm – talk, inevitably, turns to where the journey he has been on with Everton will lead to next. A ratio of 37 goals in 126 appearances underlines his importance to David Moyes and would make him a priceless commodity if he was on the market, but this summer’s dealings have left Cahill perplexed. Of course, he wants to see the manager strengthen, but at the same time Cahill understands the dilemma Moyes faces: What is the point of paying vastly inflated sums for someone just for the sake of it? “I think this is going to be our hardest season since I’ve been at the club,” said Cahill. “It’s got nothing to do with expectations. What we have achieved in the last four years is exceptional.
“When you have finished fifth, you have got to be looking to go up again and we will be doing that. But you ask yourself questions. How do I become a better player? How does Mikel (Arteta) find that extra level? How does the team get better and how does the Gaffer make the team better? “ It is so difficult to sign players in this market. It’s a terrible market, really. Teams are out-pricing their players just to get more money in.
“There are a lot of great players in this team who care a lot for the club they play for. I suppose he is sensitive to that. What does he go out and buy? What’s out there? What’s the difference between a £5m player and £20m player?” With that thought in mind, Cahill cost Everton £2m. In the four years he has been on Merseyside, he has more than repaid that fee back but, in his mind, there is still more to do.
“I’m a very happy chap at the moment,” he said. “I don’t want to spoil it by rushing to get back sooner than I’m ready for. If I have to run for an extra two months without touching a ball, I’ll do it. It’s just all about being sensible.”
Everton committed to new stadium and investment after Keith Wyness shock exit
July 30 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON today said they remained committed to a new stadium move and investing in players after Keith Wyness's shock resignation. The Blues parted company with their chief executive late last night after a day of intense speculation. But club officials today insisted Wyness’s departure would not hinder their plans to move to Kirkby or recruit new players. Speaking exclusively to the ECHO today Everton chairman Bill Kenwright said: “Keith is going but the club is unaffected. “In the short term we have a terrific team in place at Goodison so it's business as usual.” Ian Ross, Everton’s head of PR and external affairs, stressed it was still business as usual with Wyness’s departure not changing any plans. “We remain totally committed to the Destination Kirkby project and await the government’s decision on a possible call-in.
“The departure of Mr Wyness has absolutely nothing to do with this project.”
Knowsley council was also unperturbed about Wyness’s abrupt departure.
A spokesman said: “Along with Everton Football Club and Tesco we remain 100% committed to Destination Kirkby. “As far as Knowsley council is concerned, that an employee has left Everton Football Club does not affect proposals.”
Many supporters speculated Wyness left because there was no transfer money available. But it is believed that David Moyes has a substantial kitty at his disposal and Everton will not baulk at the prospect of smashing their transfer record to sign Portugal midfielder Joao Moutinho. The terms of Wyness’s contract stipulated he must serve a 12-month notice period. But he has been released with immediate effect and it now looks increasingly likely he will take over a similar role at Real Mallorca.
No crisis at Everton over Keith Wyness exit
July 30 2008 Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
NO new signings, no chief executive, but it would be wrong to say today that Everton have no hope. With an EGM looming that threatens to be tempestuous, Keith Wyness’ decision to quit his post suddenly last night may have stunned Goodison Park’s hierarchy yet it has not plunged the club into crisis, as some will be speculating.
For the past 18 months at least, Wyness’ sole focus has been driving forward the plans behind the hugely controversial move to Kirkby and he has been increasingly marginalised with regards to football matters. If you are looking for an example, cast your mind back seven short days to the story which this newspaper carried regarding Fulham having a multi-million pound bid accepted for Andrew Johnson. When news spread, Wyness did himself no favours by stating that a bid had not been accepted, nor were discussions going on, when that wasn’t the case. He subsequently ended up losing credibility among supporters who were already highly sceptical after a similar episode with Thomas Gravesen in January 2005. Don’t, though, believe for one minute that Wyness’ departure leaves the club in disarray and incapable of making any deals for new players. The opposite is true and Bill Kenwright and David Moyes will carry on with business as usual. As has been the case in recent seasons, there is a commitment to bolster the squad by bringing in the best available players and the Blues certainly won’t baulk at the prospect of smashing their transfer record for the fourth time in four years. Portugal’s Joao Moutinho edges closer to a move to Merseyside with each passing day and it would be no surprise if he were to be followed by another two, possibly three, arrivals before the Premier League season begins on August 16. Sources close to Wyness have suggested that he has walked because he had grown exasperated with a lack of investment in the club and run out of patience with regards to footballing matters. Perhaps, though, the impending offer of a similar role with Real Mallorca was too good to turn down, regardless of the work he had put in regarding the Destination Kirkby Project and how often it brought him to loggerheads with supporters. Wyness is good friends with Paul Davidson, the 55-year-old Lancastrian who has just bought Mallorca, and maybe he felt the chance is too good to turn down. However, it should be stressed that his own feelings remain unknown, as for the past 24 hours he has not answered any calls. It would be wrong to say that Wyness – who was drafted in from Aberdeen following Trevor Birch’s resignation after just six weeks at the helm – was a failure because he achieved a number of commercial successes. The suspicion remained, however, that he never really had a feel for the club nor understood what its fans were thinking.
He was once accessible to supporter groups and would field calls on certain matters but recently the lines of communication came down. No man is bigger than Everton Football Club and though Wyness’ resignation is big news, it is not a fatal blow to anything the Blues want to achieve in the coming years, particularly on the pitch.
Wyness is leaving behind a club that is on sound financial footing and while it is less than ideal that they are looking for a third chief executive in four years, they will take their time to appoint the right man.
Flashback: Keith Wyness' first Echo interview, 2004
July 30 2008 by Paddy Shennan, Liverpool Echo
ECHO chief feature writer Paddy Shennan recalls the first interview Keith Wyness gave the ECHO, a week before taking up his post in 2004.
THOSE Evertonians who believe their club is accident-prone probably despaired after Keith Wyness introduced himself to ECHO readers. In September 2004, the larger-than-life character cheerfully recalled surviving Hurricane Andrew while living in Miami in 1992 – before adding that he later broke his neck back in the UK after slipping on one of the photographs he had taken of the storm. His introduction to life at Goodison Park, before he had officially taken up his post, was a stormy Extraordinary General Meeting called by a distinctly disgruntled Everton Shareholders Association – but Wyness wasn’t put off. “What came across was the passion of the people,” he told me. Asked for his first impression of the club, he said: “It’s just the hunger and frustration to get the club back to where it should be that comes through. Everyone is poised, waiting.” Regarding his personality, “outspoken” was a word that continually cropped up when he was at Aberdeen FC. But Wyness said: “That’s the Glasgow media. Anyone outside Glasgow who says anything is outspoken!
“But certainly, I will speak up on an issue if it is appropriate. I think innovative is a word I’d prefer to see used.” He described himself as a “massive football fan”, having supported Aberdeen since childhood. He later adopted an English team – although he didn’t want to say which one (but no, it wasn’t Liverpool). An extremely keen golfer (he was down to a handicap of 10 and said it could have been lower, but for the aforementioned accident), he revealed he also dabbled in screen writing in his spare time: “I’ve finished two film scripts, but I won’t be offering them to the chairman, Bill Kenwright – it’s just a pastime.” Bet he’s got plenty of material for Everton: The Musical . . .
David Moyes set to unleash Yakubu as Everton face Chicago Fire
July 30 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON boss David Moyes is preparing to unleash Ayegbeni Yakubu from the start of tonight's friendly clash with Chicago Fire. The Nigerian international only returned to training last Monday and had a 15-minute run out in Friday’s 1-1 draw against Nottingham Forest but he has given the impression in training here that he is primed for action. Yakubu scored 21 goals in his debut campaign on Merseyside following his £11.25m move from Middlesbrough and Moyes is hoping for more of the same when the real business begins two weeks on Saturday. “Yak has come back in terrific shape and has looked in good condition on the training pitch,” said Moyes.
“Steve Round was with Yak at Middlesbrough longer than we’ve had him here and he said he’s never seen him looking better. “He had a great season last time around but we aren’t going to set him any targets. The only targets I will be setting are for the team. “Maybe some of the players have got their own personal targets but as long as he keeps scoring, I’ll be happy.” Moyes also revealed he is “very close” to signing a new contract with the Blues. He admitted that trying to bring new faces to the club recently had delayed him from agreeing terms. “Hopefully in the next week or so I will get it tied down and get it done,” he said. “I want the best for Everton and I do not want to let the players down. “I have told them that there will be more players coming to help them along the way. I want to make sure that is done before anything else.
“That is more important to me just now. But it is very close.” Moyes has not yet decided who will be in his starting line-up for the first friendly of their US tour but he knows that the Blues will be in for a thorough workout at Toyota Park.
“We are looking forward to the game,” said Moyes. “It’s going to be another good test – we just have to decide what we do with Yak, Steven Pienaar and the rest of the lads who are a bit behind the main group. “We know we need to get bodies back and get the lads who have been injured up and running quickly. “We’ve been so short on numbers that it has been difficult in training but we’ve just got to look after the group.”
Everton beefing up team spirit in Chicago
July 30 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
THE Cheesecake Factory– three words that are guaranteed to get anyone who has ever visited one of these restaurants in America salivating. With steaks as thick as telephone directories, pizzas the size of dustbin lids and signature desserts – there are 30 different types of cheesecake – that are crammed with more calories than average daily allowance, there is no secret behind this chain’s success. Taking all that into consideration, it should not come as a surprise to learn that Everton’s players unanimously decided to hold their annual pre-season meal in the Chicago branch earlier this week. “They’ve been running twice a day ever since then, though,” quipped manager David Moyes. No wonder. When you consider that some of the hamburgers threatened to cause lunar eclipses, you get an idea how big these portions are. As indulgent as the food undoubtedly is, the big thing for the 15-man squad was being out together, able to enjoy each other’s company and not worry about the attention that occasionally comes with being a Premier League star. “This why we come here (to America) and that’s why the boys love it,” Tim Howard explains. “Nights like that build the team camaraderie that catapults you through a season and gets you through the difficult times, plus the food is unbelievable! “But you build on that stuff, you know? Three or four months down the line, someone will shout out something that somebody else said or did at the dinner table back in August and they are the little things that are priceless. “Let’s be honest, how often would all the guys get to do this together back home? Never. A lot of the guys have families; we play so many games and it would be difficult for us to go into a city centre and not get recognised. “We just don’t have the kind of opportunity to do it during the season because things are so structured. We don’t even get Christmas because it so busy, so a night like that when the young boys are out with the older boys can’t be underestimated.” This is Howard’s third pre-season as an Everton player and the winds of change mean he is now one of the more senior members, so he has been anxious to keep an eye on the development of Jack Rodwell, Jose Baxter, Lucas Jutkiewicz and Dan Gosling. “We’ve all been talking about how they are doing,” he said. “Travel is part and parcel of football but when you get on the plane and hear the kids saying things like they’ve never been to America, you think ‘What? How’s that possible?’ “But they are only just kids and what a chance this is for them. They really get to experience everything. “They integrate with guys, they can go see new places and do some shopping. It’s awesome for them; a great opportunity.” A great opportunity, though, is something Howard feels is ahead of Everton this season.
While he will be happier once Moyes has strengthened – “we read the papers and scour the web like fans now to see who we’re buying” – the situation is not desperate by any means. Slowly but surely, the numbers of those training at the University of Illinois have swelled since the Blues touched down here and this evening the majority will get another 90 minutes under their belts against Chicago Fire. For Howard, it will be his first action following his belated return from a summer break and he is not going to be in for the kind of night he experienced against Real Salt Lake 12 months ago when only his heroics prevented a 2-0 defeat turning into a drubbing. That set the tone for another ultra-consistent year between the posts – he kept 18 clean sheets in 47 appearances – and so reliable is he now you would not bet against him dampening Fire’s attack at Toyota Park even though he’s only had three days’ training.
“The hard part about playing MLS teams in the summer is the fact you are playing through your training while they are match fit,” Howard explained.
“They are in mid-season form, so no matter what level they are they’ll be blazing on all cylinders. “Chicago will be ready for it and they’ll want to prove a point. I played in the MLS and came up against Bayern Munich and AC Milan and you see it as an opportunity to show what you can do. They’ll definitely want to test themselves.
“This my first week back in and already my body is screaming at me. All the aches and pains are coming back. “But it’s good to be back in and I need it. I had a real good break. I literally put my feet up every day. After the Newcastle game at the end of last season, I had 10 days off then four-and-a-half weeks on the road, but the Gaffer was great. “I had the best part of five weeks off and then hooked up here with the boys on Saturday. I feel really recharged and now I’m ready to go again. “We’ve got another massive season coming and we are all hungry for more of the same as last year.”
Safe to say, however, they are not hungry for another visit to the Cheesecake Factory. Not just yet, anyway.
Chicago Fire 2 Everton 0
July 31 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
AFTER 24 hours of subterfuge, politics, claim and counter-claim, football returned to the top of the Evertonian agenda today. Of course, the politics that accompanied Keith Wyness’ abrupt departure from his role as chief executive will provide an intriguing - and potentially explosive - backdrop to the new campaign and it is a story that could run and run. Each party has only issued terse statements on the matter and there is no doubt Wyness and Everton will be scrutinising each move the other makes in the coming weeks. You do not have to be a genius to figure that there are huge amounts of bad blood around. Boardroom machinations, however, are not something that figure high on the agenda in the dressing room, particularly at this time of year, and the only thoughts on the minds of Everton’s players are how preparations are ticking along ahead of the big kick-off. And just how are they going? In all honesty, not as well as David Moyes, his players or supporters would have hoped for, to put it mildly.
A run of three defeats in five games paints a bleak picture, regardless of the mitigating circumstances. We have known for weeks now that Everton’s paper-thin squad has been stretched to breaking point, but at Toyota Park in the early hours of this morning, we were given a true idea of how desperate the situation actually is. Moyes was only able to name four outfield substitutes and one of those - Leon Osman - had not done anything resembling proper work since he damaged a foot in Switzerland three weeks ago. Another – Joseph Yobo – had only returned to training on Monday. First and foremost, credit must be given to the players who have soldiered on diligently in the meantime and they certainly won’t be lacking for sharpness when Blackburn Rovers arrive at Goodison on August 16.Yet one wonders what effect playing nearly every minute of every game in the warm-up will have on them months from now. After all, we saw towards the tail end of last season the effect limited resources and maximum effort had on results. What’s more, this latest outing against a hard-working but limited MLS side in the form of Chicago Fire could actually be described as a backward step. The sight of the manager glowering at the final whistle spoke volumes.
Quite simply, it is absolutely imperative Moyes makes new additions and not just the big names - such as Sporting Lisbon’s Joao Moutinho - that supporters crave or the players that can turn draws into victories.
What Everton need are good, solid professionals who can come in to beef things up and add a depth that simply is not there now.
Never mind welcoming injured players back - they are needed and more besides to lighten the load.
Wyness going makes no difference to the club’s dealing in the transfer market as he has had very little to do with that anyway, but those who remain in the corridors of power must know that decisive action is needed - and fast.
If things continue as the way they are and the nightmare scenario of nobody arriving before the tussle with Blackburn unfolds, minor miracles are going to be needed to repeat any of last season’s efforts.
That may sound harsh, particularly as Moyes hasn’t had a chance to work with a full compliment yet, but the players he selected here should have been good enough to deal with whatever Chicago threw at them.
Unfortunately, Phil Jagielka inadvertently heading against his own post with just 53 seconds played set the tone for a wretched contest that ended on the worst possible note when James Vaughan was rightly red carded for a dreadful tackle.
Chances were few and far between in the opening period, but Everton never really threatened to take the game by the scruff of the neck and there was always the suspicion that the home side might nick something on the break. So it proved after 42 minutes when Gonzalo Segares and Justin Mapp worked an opening down the right flank that resulted in the former crossing for Chris Rolfe, whose side footed effort whistled past Howard. The introduction of the sprightly Osman after half-time saw Everton raise things a bit and his performance - coupled with Leighton Baines finishing the 90 minutes - was a highlight. But it wasn’t enough to galvanise any sort of pressure, as too often passes were wasted or the wrong option picked.
The closest the Toffees came to scoring was when Ayegbeni Yakubu had his effort tipped wide. That was just after the hour but any hopes an equaliser might follow were snuffed out when Fire burst forward in numbers and worked an opening that saw Peter Lowry’s shot parried into the path of the gleeful Tomasz Frankowski, who did the rest. Everton did, at least, keep going and Joleon Lescott nearly grabbed a consolation when he surged forward to shoot but his effort was plucked off the line by Nick Noble after the substitute keeper initially let the ball squirm from his grasp. Squirming, though, was something everybody in the stadium was doing when Vaughan let his frustration boil over and he chopped Daniel Woolard in two with a woeful tackle.
A miserable end, then, to a miserable couple of days and if it is not going to turn into a miserable season, ideas all around the club need bucking up. Swiftly.
Chicago Fire (4-4-2): Busch (Noble 46); Conde (Banner 46), Soumare (Brown 46), Prudeaux (Gutierrez 46), Segares (Herron 46); Mapp (King 46 Kasiguran 83), Thorrington (Lowry 46), Pause (Woolard 46), Pappa (Plotkin 46); Rolfe (Washington 46), Nyarko (Frankowski 46).
Everton (4-4-2): Howard; Neville, Jagielka, Lescott, Baines; Arteta (Vaughan 63), Rodwell, Gosling, Pienaar (Yobo 84); Yakubu (Jutkiewicz 79), Baxter (Osman 46).
David Moyes slams sorry Everton after Chicago defeat
July 31 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES pulled no punches as he delivered a damning verdict on Everton's latest defeat and needless red card for James Vaughan. The Blues lost for the third time in five pre-season games in the early hours of the morning - this time a 2-0 defeat against Chicago Fire - and Moyes’ mood was darkened further by an awful tackle from Vaughan, for which he was rightly sent off. His worries, though, are unlikely to be cured any time soon, as Moyes admitted Everton are still no closer to making their first signing of the summer nor does he expect a lengthy injury list to suddenly clear up. What is concerning him most, however, is the fact that so many players are so short of the form they showed last season and Moyes has admitted it is giving him cause for concern, particularly as the new season starts in just 16 days.
“We take very few positives, only Leon Osman’s performance really,” said Moyes.
“We are a long way away from where we think we are going to be but that is due to several different circumstances. “We are having to use some of the lads more than we’d like to but some of them are just not playing well. “Some of them are going to have to start looking at their own performances because we don’t have any competition just now. “Maybe it is a little bit easy for them. We don’t have enough players to cope with what we have got just now. It’s a big concern. “We can’t hide the fact that we need new players. Everybody knows it. We have to get five or six players in before the season starts.” When asked if he could see any imminent movement in the transfer market - Sporting Lisbon’s Joao Moutinho tops the wanted list - Moyes replied: “Not at the moment, no. We are in a poor, poor situation regarding going forward.” Poor was one of the kinder ways to describe the challenge with which Vaughan flattened Daniel Woolard in injury time and the Chicago Fire midfielder needed lengthy treatment after the 20-year-old - making his first appearance since February 9 - was banished. “It was a terrible tackle and I have told him that,” said Moyes. “I just won’t accept the kind of tackle that he put in. “He has apologised but he should have been apologising to the player not me.”
We must get winning habit - Everton's Leighton Baines
July 31 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
LEIGHTON BAINES believes it would be a mistake for anyone to make rash predictions about Everton's potential, even though they are struggling to find their true form. The Blues’ left-back was one of the few players to emerge with credit after his side were beaten 2-0 by Chicago Fire in the early hours of this morning and hopes this is now an end to his injury woes. However, results are troubling him at the moment as he has watched Everton draw one and lose three of their opening five friendlies, much to the growing displeasure of manager David Moyes. But Baines feels Everton will be a different proposition once Moyes is able to pick from a full complement of players and even reckons there will be a noticeable difference when they face Colorado Rapids on Sunday. “We have got to be looking to come to a place like this and win,” he admitted. “You might say it is only a pre-season game, but it is important to get in the winning habit. Everyone is pretty disappointed. “The manager has had a go at us and rightly so. Everyone is trying to do the right things and we are all training hard, but we haven’t really looked as if we are going to set any games alight yet.
“But there are people coming back from injury and the squad is small. When we have got everyone back and a couple of people in, I’m sure that we will be fine. There is plenty of improvement to come. “Normally in pre-season a big group comes back in and you go through everything together, but it is a bit different this year. It’s been dribs and drabs coming back at different times and from the Gaffer’s point of view, that’s not the best.” Baines, meanwhile, revealed that James Vaughan is distraught about the tackle for which he was sent off. “Vaughany is so upset with himself and he knows what he’s done,” said Baines. “It is difficult to defend him because it was a bad tackle. He is a passionate lad but he needs to learn to control that enthusiasm.”
Fans-tastic football camera show focuses on life off the pitch
July 31 2008 by Vicki Kellaway, Liverpool Echo
THE highs and lows of being a Liverpool or Everton fan have been captured on camera for a city exhibition. Tabitha Jussa spent much of last season at Anfield and Goodison, but her target was not the action on the pitch, but the spectacle in the stands. She snapped everyone from children, stewards and diehard fans to the scores of ex-footballers who turn up to support their former teams. Ms Jussa’s photographs, entitled The 12th Man, are about to go on display at Liverpool’s Central library, alongside part of a priceless collection of Everton memorabilia. She said she wanted to give an insight into Merseyside’s unique community of football supporters.
Ms Jussa said: “Football is such a major part of Liverpool’s culture and the city’s passion for the game is famous all over the world. “The 12th Man aims to show the spiritual beliefs, hopes, loyalties and unmovable support that comes from the twelfth men and women of each team.” Retired Everton players Kenny Birch, Tommy Jones and Fred Pickering, and Tony McNamara, the first man to play for Liverpool and Everton, are among fans featured in the exhibition, which opens tomorrow.
It will run alongside a display of memorabilia taken from the Everton Collection, which contains more than 6,000 items dating back from the club’s birth.
It includes programmes and player contracts. Everton Collection project officer Max Dunbar said: “The items show the history of Everton and Liverpool supporters.”
The 12th Man show runs until August 31.