Brentford manager Uwe Rosler chasing Everton FC Jake Bidwell deal
By Greg O'Keeffe
Jun 1 2012
BRENTFORD manager Uwe Rosler is pursuing a permanent deal for Everton’s England U-19 defender Jake Bidwell – just weeks after he completed the signing of Toffees midfielder Adam Forshaw.The pair have both spent time on loan at Griffin Park last season and played regularly under the tutelage of former Manchester City striker Rosler. Bidwell made 24 appearances for the Bees in League One last term, and Rosler is keen to build for the future by making him his third summer signing, after Everton’s reserve player of the season Forshaw and Harlee Dean.He said: “It is no secret that we would like to get Jake back to Brentford — whether it would be on a season-long loan or permanently is out of our hands. “David Moyes is now on holiday. They know we are very keen, but you can't push everything in the first three or four weeks — good things come to those who wait.“But I have said all along that most of the time we bring players in on loan we want to sign permanently, as we have seen with Adam Forshaw and Harlee Dean, because we don't want to keep starting from scratch.”Bidwell’s chances of being allowed to sign for Brentford hinge on whether David Moyes sees him as potential first-team material.Everton need cover for Leighton Baines at left-back, with only Sylvain Distin able to deputise in that role, and Moyes will also make a decision over Luke Garbutt - who missed out on play-off glory with Cheltenham last weekend.Garbutt, 19, is determined to try and force his way into the senior squad at Goodison, and admitted earlier this week he is unlikely to return to the League Two play off final runners-up.Moyes is unlikely to allow both to leave, but could sanction further loans.Southport-born Bidwell made his reserve team debut for the Blues in April 2009. In December that year he made his first-team debut at Goodison Park versus BATE Borisov in the Europa League, becoming Everton's youngest ever player in a European game in the process.
David Prentice: Duncan Ferguson is on Twitter
Jun 1 2012
IT was like hearing that Ollie Reed had joined the AA, that Mario Balotelli had gone on a crash course in diplomacy or that Joey Barton and Carlos Tevez had just tumbled out of the Newz Bar, arms round each other’s shoulders, crooning a chorus of the Queen classic: “You’re My Best Friend!”Duncan Ferguson is on Twitter.Yes, really. The Tartan Trappist, the man who famously took a vow of silence, the man who refused even to appear on Question of Sport – at his brother-in-law John Parrott’s request, is tweeting . . . 361 times so far to be precise.And it follows his first interview for 18 years with the Daily Record, a rare TV interview before Everton’s trip to Old Trafford and a webchat on Everton’s official website. And every time the big fella’s been good value.Which makes you wish he’d spoken more often when he played.He’d occasionally say one word during the days when I visited Bellefield daily. It was usually ‘Boo!’ – after I’d scaled the stairs and he popped his head round the corner of the canteen door.And yes, it did frighten the life out of you.He even agreed to do an interview once.It was on a Friday afternoon before the Toffees travelled to Arsenal and I must have looked surprised.“No, I mean it,” he said. “See me on Monday after training.”The following day Ferguson suffered one of the harshest of his nine red cards, for shoving John Jensen with the kind of force that wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow on a crowded tube.As he disappeared down the Highbury tunnel, so did my hopes of an interview.He was only ever interviewed in the ECHO once, the day after he re-signed from Newcastle.And he was articulate, entertaining and interesting.Maybe he’s making up for lost time now. Follow @DuncanFerguson1 for Tartan tweets.
Joseph Yobo wants Everton FC future sorted out
By Greg O'Keeffe
Jun 1 2012
JOSEPH YOBO has urged Everton FC and Fenerbahce to come to an agreement over his future quickly after declaring he feels at home in Turkey.The Blues hope that the defender’s public admission he wants to remain at the Superlig giants permanently will put pressure on them to finally do a deal.Negotiations between the two clubs have dragged on for almost two years, with Fenerbahce twice taking the 31-year-old on season-long loans.But Everton chairman Bill Kenwright is determined Fenerbahce, who have finished first and second during Yobo’s spell in Istanbul, will not get the Nigerian captain on the cheap.Reports emerged yesterday suggesting the Yellow Canaries’ chairman Aziz Yildirim had tabled a £2m bid to his Everton counterpart, amid rumours Leicester City boss Nigel Pearson was also interested.But the Blues, who want to improve their summer financial landscape by bringing money in early, will not listen to offers of less than £3m for a player who had made 69 appearances while on loan.The ECHO understands Everton have not received any contact from Leicester over Yobo, although other European clubs are believed to be interested – even if Yobo’s high wage demands could deter some of his admirers.“I am very happy in Turkey and at Fenerbahçe it is my family,” Yobo is reported to have told Turkish media.“I feel at home here, hopefully an agreement will be reached and I can continue playing at the club,” he said.Despite a corruption scandal which saw Fenerbahce investigated on match fixing allegations, and withdrawn from the Champions League in 2011, they still wield financial muscle. Only last week they were linked with a move for Bolton Wanderers midfielder Stuart Holden, as they prepare for next season still smarting after bitter rivals Galatasaray drew level on 18 championships with them last term.Yobo is currently injured and has been ruled out of next month's 2014 World Cup and 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.The former Bruges centre back sustained an injury during the Turkish Cup final, which Fenerbahce won by trouncing Bursapor 4-0. According to Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi,Yobo will be out for more than a month, but he has otherwise had an impressive fitness record in Istanbul.
Big hair, big man, big heart... Fellaini will be a tall order for England
By Dominic King
1 June 2012 (The Mail)
I rang David and the first thing I said was ‘Is he there?’ and he replied ‘Yes’. So then I asked ‘What’s he like?’ and there was a pause . . . then he simply uttered: ‘Big!’ — Everton owner Bill Kenwright, September 2008
David Moyes may have conjured up more imaginative descriptions during his career but never has a word been more apt than the one Everton’s manager picked for Marouane Fellaini when they met in a hotel near Brussels airport.
From the shock of frizzy, black hair to his giant 6ft 4in frame, those broad shoulders and his telescopic legs, everything about the Belgium midfielder is big — not least his talent and reputation.But, then again, it always has been. It is why, on deadline day in the summer of 2008, Moyes had his chairman charter a private jet so he could fly to Belgium to seal a £15million deal for the Standard Liege midfielder that shattered Everton’s transfer record.At one stage it looked impossible but, with seconds remaining, the business was completed and now Moyes and Kenwright smile when recalling that frantic night.The real joy, though, stems from how Fellaini has blossomed into one of the Barclays Premier League’s hottest properties.Inevitably, all eyes will be on the Chelsea-bound Eden Hazard when Belgium stride out at Wembley, but in a team that is crammed with the talent of Vincent Kompany, Thomas Vermaelen and Mousa Dembele, it will become apparent that Fellaini is the Rode Duivels’ standard-bearer.‘People just tend to notice “Felli” for his hair,’ said England and Everton left back Leighton Baines.‘But there is so much more to him. He is a lovely lad and such a good professional. He gives you everything that he has got and his work ethic is second to none. ‘He is versatile and does whatever you ask him. He is a great asset when we defend and a total nuisance when we attack. You saw that when we played Manchester United (and drew 4-4 at Old Trafford in April). He ran the game and scored a great goal. Any team in Europe would want him.’ And they do. Chelsea have cast covetous glances at Fellaini, who signed a new five-year deal at Goodison last November. Paris Saint- Germain are known to be admirers, while Real Madrid have monitored his progress.It is easy to see why. Fellaini, in many respects, is the perfect modern midfielder. He brings athleticism and power to Everton’s engine room, versatility and, as a record of 20 goals in 137 appearances shows, an attacking threat.Above all, team-mates enthuse about his single-mindedness and ferocious will to win.‘He never, ever cuts corners and never moans,’ said Everton captain Phil Neville. ‘He is first into training and loves his work. He is totally driven and a top, top player. He goes box to box and he must be a manager’s dream.’Perhaps that has something to do with his upbringing. He was born in the town of Etterbeek and his father, Abdellatif, has been hugely influential and used to encourage him to run to school while his classmates used to make their daily journey by bike, bus or car.Abdellatif, who played professionally as a goalkeeper for the Moroccan side Raja Casablanca, took early retirement to oversee his son’s career.Marouane had spells at the academies of Anderlecht, Mons, R Francs Borains and Charleroi before settling in Liege.When he broke into Standard Liege’s first team, word quickly spread about his talents and, after a highly impressive performance against Liverpool in a 2008 Champions League qualifier, it became inevitable Fellaini would be spirited away. He was named young player of the year at the end of his first season at Goodison Park but it is during the past 12 months his influence has told. No Everton player covered more distance than the 130 miles Fellaini devoured last season, completed more passes (821) or made more tackles (87).‘The fact that we signed him for such a big fee was a big deal,’ said Baines. ‘It meant that there was pressure on him straight away but he just came in and got on with it. It was quite unusual, really. In his first week, he kept going around smashing into people with these wild tackles.‘Some of the lads did not know what to make of it and wouldn’t go near him. The last thing you want in training is to get a volley off someone, but Tim Cahill definitely received a few. I think he just wanted to show that he shouldn’t be taken lightly.’Occasionally impulsive but always fiery, Fellaini, 24, has been criticised for lacking discipline — he was booked 10 times in his first 17 Everton appearances — but the traits that have shaped him as a player are not evident off the pitch. ‘He has immersed himself in Everton’s culture,’ says Neville. ‘A couple of years ago we went on a mid-season break to France and the plan was for us all to travel in tracksuits. But I told Felli he needed to come in his club suit, complete with shirt and tie. When he turned up, he knew straight away he’d been stitched up and everyone burst out laughing but he took it brilliantly.‘The lads love him and we know the fans do, too, because we see them wearing those Afro wigs for him everywhere we go. When we bought him, we got a £15million snip.’
Joseph Yobo wants Everton FC agreement over his future
Jun 1 2012
JOSEPH YOBO has urged Everton FC and Fenerbahce to come to an agreement over his future quickly after declaring he feels at home in Turkey. The Blues hope that the defender’s public admission he wants to remain at the Superlig giants permanently will put pressure on them to finally do a deal.Negotiations between the two clubs have dragged on for almost two years, with Fenerbahce twice taking the 31-year-old on season-long loans. But Everton chairman Bill Kenwright is determined Fenerbahce, who have finished first and second during Yobo’s spell in Istanbul, will not get the Nigerian captain on the cheap.Reports emerged yesterday suggesting the Yellow Canaries’ chairman Aziz Yildirim had tabled a £2m bid to his Everton counterpart, amid rumours Leicester City boss Nigel Pearson was also interested.But the Blues, who want to improve their summer financial landscape by bringing money in early, will not listen to offers less than £3m for a player who had made 69 appearances while on loan.It is understood Everton have not received any contact from Leicester over Yobo, although other European clubs are believed to be interested – even if Yobo’s high wage demands could deter some of his admirers.“I am very happy in Turkey and at Fenerbahçe it is my family,” Yobo is reported to have said. told Turkish media.“I feel at home here, hopefully an agreement will be reached and I can continue playing at the club,” he said. Despite a corruption scandal which saw Fenerbahce investigated on match fixing allegations, and withdrawn from the Champions League in 2011, they still wield financial muscle.Only last week they were linked with a move for Bolton Wanderers midfielder Stuart Holden, as they prepare for next season still smarting after bitter rivals Galatasaray drew level on 18 championships with them last term.Yobo is currently injured and has been ruled out of next month’s 2014 World Cup and 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.The former Bruges centre back sustained an injury during the Turkish Cup final, which Fenerbahce won by trouncing Bursapor 4-0. According to Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi, Yobo will be out for more than a month, but he has otherwise had an impressive fitness record in Istanbul.Meanwhile, Brentford manager Uwe Rosler is pursuing a permanent deal for Everton’s England under-19 defender Jake Bidwell – just weeks after he completed the signing of Toffees midfielder Adam Forshaw. The pair both spent time on loan at Griffin Park last season and played regularly under the tutelage of former Manchester City striker Rosler.Bidwell made 24 appearances for the Bees in League One last term, and Rosler is keen to build for the future by making him his third summer signing, after Everton’s reserve player of the season Forshaw and Harlee Dean.He said: “It is no secret that we would like to get Jake back to Brentford — whether it would be on a season-long loan or permanently is out of our hands.“David Moyes is now on holiday. They know we are very keen, but you can’t push everything in the first three or four weeks — good things come to those who wait.“But I have said all along that most of the time we bring players in on loan we want to sign permanently, as we have seen with Adam Forshaw and Harlee Dean, because we don’t want to keep starting from scratch.”Bidwell’s chances of being allowed to sign for Brentford hinge on whether Moyes sees him as potential first-team material.Everton need cover for Leighton Baines at left-back, with only Sylvain Distin able to deputise in that role, and Moyes will also make a decision over Luke Garbutt, who missed out on play-off glory with Cheltenham last weekend.Garbutt, 19, is determined to try and force his way into the senior squad at Goodison, and admitted earlier this week he is unlikely to return to the League Two play off final runners-up.Moyes is unlikely to allow both to leave, but could sanction further loans.Southport-born Bidwell made his reserve team debut for the Blues in April 2009. In December that year he made his first-team debut at Goodison Park versus BATE Borisov in the Europa League, becoming Everton’s youngest ever player in a European game in the process.
Royal Blue: Everton FC ladies Toni Duggan ready for England step-up
by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
Jun 2 2012
CONGRATULATIONS to Everton Ladies rising star, Toni Duggan, who was recently called up to the England squad for the first time for the Euro 2013 qualifying double header against Holland and Slovenia in June 2012.The Everton forward, who also pioneered the set up of a Ladies League at the Goals Soccer Centre in Liverpool North, will meet up with the rest of her England team mates in the next few weeks ahead of the match with Holland on Saturday June 17, which takes place at the Salford City Stadium.“It’s a real honour to be selected and to say I’m delighted is an understatement,” she said.“I just hope I can prove myself at that level and then continue to be selected for future squads. “It’s always been my ambition to play for the seniors and now I have been given the opportunity I’m absolutely delighted.I have loved playing for England throughout the youth set up but the seniors is a different level.“It’s the top of the pyramid and I have finally reached my goal but the hard work is just beginning.“I’m getting a bit nervous but in football that’s natural, ask anyone who plays the game.“I know most of the girls in the team so I’m sure I will be ok. Let’s hope we get the win.”
Everton FC hit hole in one with inner-city golf project
by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
Jun 2 2012
IT’S normally football which is associated with breaking down barriers and connecting people - but now you can add golf to the list.And a PGA professional has demonstrated the power of sport to do just that in an award-winning inner city project in Liverpool.Craig Thomas teamed up with Everton and Liverpool City Council to deliver a community project aimed at connecting with youngsters in Norris Green.But such has been the impact of the initial six week Swingz scheme that it has now been running for nearly a year, and earned the Golf Foundation’s prestigious MacKenzie Award at its annual awards at Wentworth, presented by Colin Montgomerie.Paul Nagle, social inclusion manager for Everton in the community, said: “The project has been fantastic, we are working in a very difficult and challenging area of the city where many didn’t have a clue what golf was. But Craig has broken down barriers that no one else could. To get kids taking part, never mind playing, has been extraordinary.”
Royal Blue: Fake Duncan Ferguson Twitter profile is baffling
by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
Jun 2 2012
FAKE Twitter profiles are one of life’s irritating mysteries.Like why does dropped toast always fall down on the buttered side, or why whenever you run for a bus is it guaranteed to pull away?But why on earth anybody creates a Twitter identity pretending to be someone else is beyond a rational mind. Perhaps we at the Echo should have known better when Duncan Ferguson, suddenly appeared as an avid Tweeter.The Echo’s deputy head of sport Dave Prentice even wrote about how incongruous it seemed. Sure enough, it turned out to be false. God help the imposter should he ever bump into the Big Man himself.
Royal Blue: Leighton Baines Everton FC exit stories are premature
by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
Jun 2 2012
ANOTHER week, another rash of stories appear in the media linking Leighton Baines with a move away from Everton FC this summer.Evertonians are used to the pattern by now and should not expect it to change any time soon.However, there’s something about the incessant speculation about the Blues’ left back that doesn’t quite ring true.It’s not that he isn’t good enough to play for United, based on form last season Baines was better than their skipper Patrice Evra and offers a far more attacking threat than the French international.And certainly, Alex Ferguson is looking to strengthen in that position with Evra aged 31, and seemingly no suitable successor to him currently on the books at Old Trafford.Yet the stories have stated a whole range of inaccuracies; from claims talks between the two clubs have started, to players David Moyes is ready to swoop for should Baines wave farewell. Even more strangely, the FA media team allowed Baines - when on press conference duties on Tuesday - to be asked about the stories.Anyone familiar with the machinations of such international football press conferences will insist it’s rare for questions to be allowed on players’ club futures. It’s not considered fair game, and it’s hard to imagine Steven Gerrard or Frank Lampard having to answer similar questions while doing their Three Lions media obligations.But putting aside that little indication of top four club special treatment, even the 27-year-old’s answers were taken and spun into further stories that he fancied a move. It’s almost as if there is a will for the deal to happen, regardless of whether there’s actual will for it at Goodison or Old Trafford.But the truth is, that so far, there isn’t. Obviously Everton don’t want to sell, no matter how much they need to trade players if they are to add to their squad this summer.And while United have certainly considered Baines, the last time they have bought a player aged 27 or older was Dimitar Berbatov in 2008.At just four years younger than Evra, United may well be reluctant to part with the money to sign a player with minimum potential re-sale value.And the money? Forget £12m as the reports say. Think between £15m and £20m.
Everton FC midfielder Marouane Fellaini set to make his mark against Blues team-mates
by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
Jun 2 2012
HE WAS the so-called £15m misfit who initially had Everton FC supporters wandering whether David Moyes had lost his golden touch in the transfer market.Marouane Fellaini’s arrival in summer 2008 didn’t immediately convince the Goodison faithful, despite the glowing reports of Liverpool fans who had recently watched him dominate their own midfield in an edgy Champions League qualifier.And even though the Belgian international scored nine goals during that first season on Merseyside, he was still perhaps more remarkable for his curly hair and penchant for indiscipline.Yet four years later, as the towering midfielder prepares to take on England at Wembley, the only remarkable thing is how on earth a team containing Everton’s man-mountain - alongside Eden Hazard, Vincent Kompany, Steven Defour and Axel Witsel - isn’t also preparing to head to Euro 2012 this month?And more than a few covetous managers around Europe will be paying extra attention to the wild-haired dynamo in midfield, with rumours circulating again that Chelsea, Paris St Germain and Real Madrid are contemplating trying to sign him.At just 24, Fellaini already has 34 caps for Belgium, and will be hoping to add to his fearsome reputation when he could face teammates and Three Lions internationals Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka.And in the week that David Moyes spoke in ever admiring terms of how fundamental Fellaini is to his Everton vision, that importance was not lost on his team-mates either.“People just tended to notice Felli for his hair,” said Baines. “But there is so much more to him. He is a lovely lad and such a good professional. He gives you everything that he has got and his work ethic is second to none.“He is versatile and does whatever you ask him. He is a great asset when we defend and a total nuisance when we attack. You saw that when we played Manchester United (and drew 4-4 at Old Trafford in April). He ran the game and scored a great goal.”And the more you listen to the glowing endorsements of his fellow players, a picture emerges of Fellaini as the sort of professional who would make any manager beam with pride.“He never, ever cuts corners and never moans,” said club captain Phil Neville.“He is first into training and loves his work. He is totally driven and a top, top player. He goes box to box and he must be a manager’s dream.“He has immersed himself in Everton’s culture.“A couple of years ago we went on a mid-season break to France and the plan was for us all to travel in tracksuits. But I told Felli he needed to come in his club suit, complete with shirt and tie. When he turned up, he knew straight away he’d been stitched up and everyone burst out laughing but he took it brilliantly.“The lads love him and we know the fans do, too, because we see them wearing those afro wigs for him everywhere we go.”Baines recalls how Fellaini wasted little time making his mark at Finch Farm after arriving on Merseyside, and certainly did not allow a club record price tag make him feel ill at ease despite that mixed first campaign. “The fact that we signed him for such a big fee was a big deal,” added the left-back.“It meant that there was pressure on him straight away but he just came in and got on with it.“It was quite unusual, really. In his first week, he kept going around smashing into people with these wild tackles. “Some of the lads did not know what to make of it and wouldn’t go near him. The last thing you want in training is to get a volley off someone, but Tim Cahill definitely received a few.“I think he just wanted to show that he shouldn’t be taken lightly.”Indeed, Fellaini’s performance statistics stand up to comparison with any midfielder in the English top flight.Toffee blog Executioner’s Bong summed up his heroic contributions last season.‘Fellaini’s athleticism is there for all to see; he is in the top 1% of midfielders in terms of energy and distance covered during matches,’ it said.‘He has the fourth highest average distance run per game in the top flight, clocking up a whopping 6.65 miles per match. His notable marathon matches this season include 7.5 miles in the derby defeat and 7mile+ outings in the away games at Man City and Fulham’.It seems that the boy who was once forced to run behind his father’s car to school in order to boost his fitness, is ready to reap the rewards for all those hard miles.
Nikica Jelavic's scintillating Everton FC form increases Euro 2012 expectations
by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
Jun 2 2012
NIKICA Jelavic admits his scintillating form since signing for Everton FC has heaped expectation on his shoulders ahead of Euro 2012.The 26-year-old Croatian international striker scored a remarkable 11 goals in 15 Premier League appearances since joining from Glasgow Rangers in January, and is one of just four strikers in Slaven Bilic’s squad for Poland and Ukraine.But Jelavic insists he will not let the pressure bother him, as he has already absorbed David Moyes’ doctrine of putting the team before personal pride.He said: “Behind me are a couple of excellent months at club level and I am aware that people expect a lot of me, but that is a challenge.“We’ll travel to Poland as a team, not as individuals, and I wouldn’t mind a bit if I score only a goal or two, and Croatia becomes the European champions. We want to make Croatia proud.“We have four very good strikers in the team and there are no tensions between us.”Such is former Blues player Bilic’s belief in Jelavic and his fellow forwards; Ivica Olic, Eduardo, and Mario Mandzukic, that he opted to leave Bolton’s Ivan Klasnic and Hamburg’s Mladen Petric, who have each scored 12 international goals, at home.And Jelavic is likely to get a taste of the action when he comes face to face with Goodison team-mate Darron Gibson in Poznan in just nine days, as Croatia kick off their European Championship campaign against the Republic of Ireland.But it is reigning World and European champions Spain who represent Jelavic’s biggest test in Group C, and the £5.5m forward is not taking them lightly.“Spain is the team that has to deal with the biggest pressure, however,” he said. “They are professionals and they will not be tired. They have plenty of motives to succeed.”Even though two of Jelavic’s Toffees team-mates, Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines, will be on duty with England during the tournament, he does not hold out much hope for them lifting the trophy. “Generally, I don’t have much faith in England,” he said. “England always seem to fail at big tournaments.“I’ve been following them for years and it’s always the same: they aim high, but end up disappointed. I don’t count them among the favourites.”Everton will travel to Scotland to play a friendly against Dundee United at Tannadice on Wednesday, July 18.
Everton FC's Nikica Jelavic says he's under pressure at Euro 2012
by Greg O'Keeffe, DPW West
Jun 2 2012
NIKICA JELAVIC admits his scintillating form since signing for Everton FC has heaped expectation on his shoulders ahead of Euro 2012.The 26-year-old Croatian international striker scored a remarkable 11 goals in 15 Premier League appearances since joining from Glasgow Rangers in January, and is one of just four strikers in Slaven Bilic’s squad for Poland and Ukraine.But Jelavic insists he will not let the pressure bother him, as he has already absorbed David Moyes’ doctrine of putting the team before personal pride.He said: “Behind me are a couple of excellent months at club level and I am aware that people expect a lot of me, but that is a challenge. “We’ll travel to Poland as a team, not as individuals, and I wouldn’t mind a bit if I score only a goal or two, and Croatia becomes the European champions. We want to make Croatia proud.“We have four very good strikers in the team and there are no tensions between us.”Jelavic is likely to face Goodison team-mate Darron Gibson in just nine days, as Croatia kick off against the Republic of Ireland.But it is Spain who represent Jelavic’s biggest test in Group C.“Spain is the team that has to deal with the biggest pressure, however,” he said. “They are professionals and they will not be tired. They have plenty of motives to succeed.”Even though two of Jelavic’s Toffees team-mates, Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines, will be on duty with England, he does not hold out much hope for them lifting the trophy.“Generally, I don’t have much faith in England,” he said.
Phil Jagielka hopes Everton FC can keep Marouane Fellaini
by Our Correspondent, DPW West
Jun 4 2012
PHIL JAGIELKA accepts Everton could lose key midfielder Marouane Fellaini this summer – if the price is right. Jagielka was impressed with the performance of Fellaini when in action for England against Belgium on Saturday. The central defender knows how crucial Fellaini is to the Toffees but is realistic about their chances of keeping him. He said: “Unfortunately, with the way the club is, if somebody comes in with a £20m-plus offer, the chances are he’s going to be sold. “We love Felli and we’d love him to stay. There’s not been that much transfer talk but we know the situation we’re in. “We bought him for £16 million and I don’t think the club would take a loss. “He’s developed in that time, especially in the last few games of the season, just behind the front one, and he’s destroyed teams.” Jagielka added: “In terms of marking Felli, he’s faster than I remember.
“He must have put a yard on. I can’t stop laughing when I see him and it’s not just his hair.”
Jagielka is relishing the prospect of his first tournament at Euro 2012 and admits to feeling comfortable alongside former Everton team-mate Joleon Lescott. The pair were reunited against Belgium after John Terry (hamstring) and Gary Cahill (jaw) were both substituted. He said: “Gary went down early and we made one defensive substitution so I wasn’t expecting to get on but JT (Terry) had a little niggle so it was nice to get another cap. “Myself and Joleon have played together a lot, we know each other, we get on well off the pitch. “When you play together it does feel comfortable. “We had some good seasons at Everton. “Joleon moved on and has done well for himself since. But when you’ve played with someone 100 times or so, it makes it that little bit easier.”
Don't price me out! Pienaar fears Spurs could scupper dream return to Everton
11:54, 4 June 2012
Steven Pienaar is concerned that he could be priced out of a return to Everton by Tottenham.
The Spurs midfielder hopes to secure a permanent return to Goodison Park after spending much of this season on loan at his former club. Pienaar struggled to make an impact in north London, but hit sublime form during his loan spell on Merseyside. Yet Spurs owner Daniel Levy is determined to make a profit on the South African. Tottenham bought Pienaar for £3million in January 2011, Levy hopes to double that figure if they were to sell him. The £6million asking price could prove too much for cash-strapped Everton.
Struggle: Pienaar impressed for Everton and South Africa but failed to do so for Tottenham
Pienaar does not feature in Harry Redknapp's plans, and appeared for a paltry 14 minutes in Spurs colours this season. According to The Sun, Redknapp has fallen out with owner Levy over Pienaar.
Redknapp has requested cash to bolster his midfield, but has failed to utilise the talents of Pienaar - something which Levy has taken issue with. This disagreement threatens to disrupt the 30-year-old's move back to Everton, with Redknapp's valuation being lower than Levy's.
Olympics countdown, number 53: Tim Cahill
by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
Jun 4 2012
TIM CAHILL made his Everton debut in the spectacular setting of Old Trafford on August 30, 2004 – thanks to a little known Iraqi striker called Emad Mohammed! In the summer of 2004 Cahill had been snapped up from Millwall by David Moyes for the bargain fee of £1.5m. But while his new team-mates were bouncing back from an opening day mauling by Arsenal to beat Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League, Cahill was playing his football in Greece at the XXVIII Olympiad. Evertonians would have to wait until Australia’s Olympic involvement ground to a halt to see their new signing, but that moment came sooner than expected. Iraq were the surprise package of Athens 2004. In the group stages they managed to upset Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal and Costa Rica to book a quarter-final spot – and there they lined up against Cahill’s Socceroos. Australia were confident of their chances of bringing home a medal from Greece. After a 1-1 draw with Tunisia they hammered five past Serbia and Montenegro, one of them coming from the head of Everton’s new signing. Already qualified for the last eight, the final group game against Argentina decided whether they would go through as group winners or runners up. Against an Argentina side containing glittering talent like Saviola, Tevez, Mascherano, Heinze, Ayala and Coloccini, and destined for the gold medal, a narrow 1-0 win for the South Americans proved significant.
Argentina went through to face the Group D runners up Costa Rica, and romped to a 4-0 victory, while Australia had to face Group D’s surprise winners, Iraq. The Iraqis proved their group results had been no fluke, and a spectacular overhead kick by Mohammed ensured Cahill was on an early flight to Merseyside. That was on August 21st. Nine days later he made his debut in a creditable goalless draw at Manchester United, then the following week gave Evertonians a foretaste of the kind of goal they would come to expect from the little Australian on a regular basis – a flying header which proved the matchwinner at Manchester City. Iraq’s run in Greece came to a halt in the semi-final. Another surprise in Athens had been Paraguay, who had never won an Olympic medal prior to 2004. In the semi-final against Iraq (themselves with just a single Olympic medal in 1960), Paraguay triumphed 3-1. Iraq failed to end the tournament on a high, losing against Italy's more experienced players for the bronze. Overall, the 2004 Olympic football tournament was not deemed to have been a great success. Most of the matches were very poorly attended, and the quality level of the tournament was low. But Iraq’s surprise tournament at least meant Evertonians got to see their new Australian signing sooner than expected.
Phil Jagielka keen for Everton FC to keep hold of Marouane Fellaini
by Philip Kirkbride, Liverpool Echo
Jun 4 2012
PHIL JAGIELKA hopes Everton FC can keep Marouane Fellaini at Goodison Park – but knows a big money offer could force the club’s hand. Fellaini produced a powerful display at Wembley on Saturday but could not prevent Belgium slipping to defeat against England. Roy Hodgson’s side completed their preparations for the European Championships with a 1-0 win thanks to Danny Welbeck’s first-half strike but were left counting the cost as Gary Cahill became the latest injury casualty. A double fracture of his jaw means the Chelsea centre-half will miss out in Poland and Ukraine but that misfortune increases the chances of Jagielka adding to his 12 caps.
John Terry was taken off with a slight hamstring problem during the second half so England played the final 20 minutes with former Everton pairing Jagielka and Joleon Lescott at the heart of their defence. The duo also helped ensure England kept a clean sheet in Hodgson’s first game in charge last weekend against Norway and Jagielka believes that because their partnership was forged over two seasons at Everton, it sets them apart from other combinations. Jagielka replaced Terry on Saturday at a time when the game started to open up and with Belgium pressing hard for the equaliser. Full-back Guillaume Gillet struck the outside of the post with a rasping half volley and Fellaini tested goalkeeper Joe Hart from close range, but England would hold onto their lead.
But Jagielka knows club-mate Fellaini helped put the Three Lions under serious pressure and several of his national team-mates commented on how well the former Standard Liege man played.
Twenty-five-year-old Fellaini was bought for a club record £15m in 2008 and Jagielka knows that if Everton are offered the chance to make a sizeable profit on their investment, then they may have to take it. But the 29-year-old is keen for Fellaini to go nowhere. “Unfortunately with the way the club is, if someone comes in with a £20m offer for someone the chances are he is going to be sold,” said Jagielka. “It’s unfortunate. We love Felli and would love him to stay. There’s not been that much transfer talk but that’s the situation we are in. “We bought him for £15m and I think he’s developed into a top player at our place. In the last few games of the season, in that role behind the frontman, he destroyed teams.” “He is faster than I remembered,” Jagielka said on facing Fellaini.
“He was a handful but we know that from training. “I always laugh when I see him. Not just because of his hair, it’s just the type of character that he is. “He is a fantastic player and Belgium have got a few players for the future and it looks like they could kick on in the next couple of years. They will be a team to watch.” Cahill’s withdrawal from the Euros has upped Jagielka’s chances of featuring in Poland and Ukraine this month but the Everton man was simply delighted to earn another cap on Saturday. But performances against Spain and Norway have made a compelling case for the Everton man to start alongside Lescott against France in Donetsk a week today. “It’s just familiarity,” said Jagielka on his partnership with Lescott. “We get on well off the pitch as well and so when we play together it’s comfortable. “We had a good few seasons at Everton, Joleon moved on and done well for himself, but when you play with someone 100 times, it makes life a little easier.” And on England’s form heading to the Euros, he said: “Two clean sheets is brilliant. “I wouldn’t say we played amazing again but we created one or two decent chances and Wels but in a fantastic finish. We obviously been looking to sharpen up at that end of the pitch and put in a performance against France. “I’ve never experienced this, we train on Tuesday and then fly out on Wednesday so it should be good.”
No frills or thrills but England take heart from draw with Belgium
by Philip Kirkbride, Liverpool Echo
Jun 4 2012
ENGLAND, it seems, will not be packing flair or abandon for their trip to Poland and Ukraine.
Instead, the national side head for the European Championships with pragmatism and a clear understanding of their limitations. This tournament is one where ambition remains high, but expectancy is much lower than normal. Though new manager Roy Hodgson leads England into the Euros with consecutive victories, their preparations have hardly had the pulses racing.
Hodgson will make no apology for making the Three Lions stubborn, obdurate and just plain hard to beat. Saturday’s 1-0 win over Belgium at Wembley followed the prototype laid down in Hodgson’s England bow, a one- goal victory over Norway. The blueprint is to make the formation solid and dependable with the players well-drilled, disciplined and primed for counter-attacking football.
So far, the system has come up trumps. An early strike from Ashley Young in Oslo last week gave England the perfect platform to stifle the game, while Danny Welbeck’s fine finish at the weekend gave England a lead they barley deserved but, crucially, one they always looked like preserving.
After centre-halves Phil Jagielka and Joleon Lescott took the plaudits against Norway, full-back Ashley Cole probably stood out in white at Wembley, though Steven Gerrard’s contribution was typically excellent. But is it a method to win major international competitions? Who knows? But the real test will come when the opposition take the lead. See, even when Wayne Rooney returns from his two-game ban, England appear lightweight up front. And worse still is that when Rooney is no longer under censure, Hodgson’s men could find qualification from Group D beyond them.
When Welbeck lofted the ball over Belgium goalkeeper Simon Mignolet in the 36th minute, Andy Carroll was probably sat a little less comfortably on the substitutes’ bench. There is little doubt the striking position in front of Ashley Young remains up for grabs ahead of the opening game against France a week today, and, having done next to nothing before then, Welbeck showed the manager an attractive clinical streak. But the 53 minutes the Manchester United striker played on Saturday were his first since the Manchester derby in April and, either side of the goal, he was hardly scintillating. The alternative is, of course, Carroll and though we would be pleasantly surprised to see him serve up a goal as deft, there is little doubt he offers more at present.
If the mood takes Carroll towards a performance as good as he produced in the FA Cup final, then France will fret. In that form, he offers a more persistent threat than Welbeck, but it remains to be seen what the manager is thinking. Hodgson’s team selection did, however, strongly hint at how he will line-up elsewhere in Donetsk, which means no place for Leighton Baines, Stewart Downing or Jordan Henderson in the team. Baines must be among the most talented of understudies in the world, and can have done little more to press his claim for the left-back berth. Twelve months ago, Cole’s decade as an England servant looked to be reaching a natural conclusion, with the Everton man the heir to the throne, but his Chelsea rival deserves credit for his longevity as a top-class full-back. Glen Johnson could have been forgiven for thinking his international career was all but over, when Hodgson replaced Fabio Capello, but common sense looks like prevailing, with the Liverpool man ready to start against France. The heart of the England defence, however, appears a less straightforward pick after Saturday. John Terry and Gary Cahill started the game, but would not hear the final whistle as both went off injured. Terry held his hamstring, but the injury does not appear overly serious, though yesterday it was confirmed Cahill is out of the tournament after suffering a double fracture of his jaw. Many on Merseyside would say the centre-half pairing of Jagielka and Lescott, which played out the final 20 minutes together, should be Hodgson’s first pick, but his thoughts are different. The minds of the 85,000 supporters inside Wembley no doubt began to wander on Saturday, especially in a turgid first-half. A sure sign of international football boredom – the Mexican wave – went round the ground before the Belgian fans came under attack from a squadron of paper aeroplanes, descending from the upper tiers. The game was so dull that supporters made their own entertainment. As much as this game was about having another look at England under Hodgson, the intrigue also came in the form of a youthful and vibrant Belgian side.
The focus was on Chelsea-bound Eden Hazard but Axel Witsel, Dries Mertens and Marouane Fellaini all impressed; the Everton man most of all. But, other than Guillaume Gillet’s half volley which struck the outside of the post, and the odd Fellaini effort, the visitors rarely looked like breaking England down after Gerrard’s industry started the move Welbeck finished. The Liverpool skipper also had shots blocked by Timmy Simons and Gillet in a frenzied spell towards the end of that first half. Much earlier, Alex Oxlade- Chamberlain’s eyes must have lit up when James Milner rolled a cross invitingly into his path, only for his standing foot to give way as he was about to shoot, leaving him to beat the ground in frustration. Belgium’s only opportunity was created for Witsel by Mertens, who was also responsible for the incident that ended with Cahill needing his X-ray.
Cahill was trying to shepherd the ball back to Hart when he was shoved in the back by Mertens and went crashing into his keeper. It was a nasty collision and Cahill did not even try to continue, looking groggy as he ruefully rubbed his jaw on the way off. Indeed, the whole contest was far more physical than Hodgson would have wanted. Cahill’s replacement, Lescott, finished the game sporting a Terry Butcher-style bandage, after sustaining a nasty cut above the eye.
Under the circumstances, Rooney might have been well out of it. Hodgson brought him on, though, utilising his star man for the first time, and the last until England face Ukraine on June 19, as Welbeck’s input was brought to an end seven minutes after the restart. Rooney ended the game as captain, too, suggesting he will end up being Gerrard’s deputy as skipper.
Fellow substitute Jermain Defoe later almost profited from Theo Walcott’s lay-off as he rasped a shot against the far post. Largely, though, Belgium dominated, with Gillet’s long-range effort and Fellaini also coming close. Hazard sparkled at times without finding a breakthrough, and it seems Hodgson’s England will settle on a policy of being difficult to beat when they depart for their Krakow base on Wednesday.
ENGLAND (4-4-1-1): Hart, Johnson, Cahill (Lescott 19), Terry (Jagielka 70), Cole, Milner, Parker, Gerrard (Henderson 83), Oxlade-Chamberlain (Walcott 67), Young (Defoe 66), Welbeck (Rooney 53). Subs not used: Green, Jones, Baines, Downing, Carroll, Butland.Goals: Welbeck 36.Booked: Parker
BELGIUM (4-2-3-1): Mignolet, Guillaume Gillet, Simons, Vermaelen, Vertonghen, Hazard, Fellaini, Witsel, Mertens (Lukaku 72), Mirallas (Chadli 59), Dembele. Subs not used: Renard, De Camargo, Pocognoli, Benteke, Vossen, Odoi, Nainggolan, De Ceulaer, Defour.Booked: Mertens
Referee: Peter Rasmussen (Denmark)
Everton FC striker Nikica Jelavic even more key to Croatia’s Euro 2012 hopes after Ivica Olic was ruled out of the tournament
by Our Correspondent, Liverpool Echo
Jun 5 2012
CROATIA were dealt a major blow yesterday when striker Ivica Olic was ruled out of Euro 2012.
Scans have revealed the full extent of the departing Bayern Munich frontman’s thigh injury and he is expected to be out of action for between four and six weeks. His place in the Croatia squad, who provide the Republic of Ireland’s first opponents in Group C, will be taken by Dnipro’s Nikola Kalinic, with Everton striker Nikica Jelavic vital to providing a goal threat in Olic’s absence. A statement on the Croatian Football Federation’s official website, said: “Unfortunately, Ivica Olic will not participate at the European Championships in Ukraine and Poland, and as his replacement, coach Slaven Bilic has called Nikola Kalinic.” Olic, who is to join Wolfsburg, suffered the injury in a friendly draw with Norway at the weekend. He is due to fly home from Croatia’s training camp in Munich later yesterday. The Croatians open their campaign against the Republic in Poznan on Sunday evening.
Ross Barkley believes he’s ready to make a big impact at Everton FC next season
by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
Jun 5 2012
ROSS BARKLEY believes he is ready to make an impact for Everton next season – after David Moyes’ careful nurturing has helped him feel fitter than ever. The talented 18-year-old midfielder was able to get crucial playing time under his belt last term, for the first team, reserves and under-18s.
And even though his stint in Premier League games was brief, Barkley knows the chance to get experience under his belt away from the lime light has done him good. He said: “I have had a full season of playing – as I have been injured for three seasons before that – and I feel much better and fitter so hopefully next year I can push on. “This year I learnt that working hard gets you places. I worked really hard to get over my injury and get fit and that really paid off at the beginning of the season.” The highly-rated youngster was given the Keith Tamlin Award at the Academy’s end of season prize-giving in recognition of his progress, and admits it was a whirlwind campaign for him.
“I think the season has been a successful one for me because I have made my Everton debut and also my debut for England Under-21s,” he said. “I have had little injuries but have mainly been fit all season and have caught up a bit with some of what I had missed.” And Barkley still has not forgotten how proud he felt making his Everton bow, on the first day of last season against QPR.
It was the first of nine senior appearances last term, and Barkley is relishing the prospect of trying to add more to that tally next season. “I had actually dreamt about it beforehand”, he said. “So it was the best feeling and hopefully when I score a goal it will be even better. “Next season hopefully I can play more and break through and hopefully score a few as well. I am really looking forward to next season and staying fit, staying strong and working hard.”
Leighton Baines: I’ll bide my time on England duty in Euro 2012, says Everton FC defender
by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
Jun 5 2012
LEIGHTON BAINES admits patience will be the key as he bids to shine in England’s Euro 2012 mission.
Chat, Make Friends & Play Bingo at Mecca The Everton defender did not make it onto the pitch during Saturday’s 1-0 win over Belgium at Wembley, with Three Lions boss Roy Hodgson preparing to give first-choice Ashley Cole a full run-out instead. Baines, 27, was voted into the PFA team of the year ahead of Cole last season, but has yet to dislodge him in the national set-up, despite featuring during Hodgson’s first game in charge against Norway. However Baines accepts that Cole’s impressive form for club and country, with the Chelsea man having recently lifted the Champions League trophy, has made it harder than ever for him to feature – and he is prepared to bide his time.
He said: “I don’t really think that much about it. I just try and play as well as I can for my club and hopefully keep getting called up. That’s what I have been doing, but Ashley is a top player so I will just bide my time and keep myself as focused as I can. “I knew where I stood beforehand, so it’s nothing new really. It’s about physically and mentally keeping yourself as fresh as possible so you are ready when called upon. “It’s disappointing not to get a run out, though it was understandable because the manager was probably wanting to play his back four together for what will be his back four in the tournament. “It’s my first tournament so I’m just buzzing to be going over there and it will be a fantastic experience for a lot of us who have never been before.” Even though he was unable to go head to head with team-mate Marouane Fellaini during England’s 1-0 win over Belgium, Baines was suitably impressed with the midfielder’s all-action display. “I thought Felli was different class and I think a lot of our lads said the same when they came off. They were saying how good a player he is,” he said. “He stood out and Belgium are going to be a top side in a few years.
“He’s been fantastic over the last few years for the club, a great signing really. It is important to keep people like that though I’m sure there will be a few admiring glances because his performance was fantastic.”
Everton FC at Euro 2012 - John Heitinga of Holland
by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
Jun 6 2012
NOTHING fazes John Heitinga off the football field, where the Everton FC defender is the epitome of the laid-back Dutchman. Yet on the pitch, Goodison regulars can attest to his full-blooded intensity and penchant for the dramatic. They are qualities which have helped the 28-year-old stand out on the international scene too, amassing 75 caps for Holland as he progressed from Ajax’s fabled youth teams to World Cup finalist. His rise to international prominence for the Oranje has not been without controversy – whether it was a red card in his very first tournament, Euro 2004, or a similar fate in 2010’s World Cup final – but the fact remains that Heitinga is a first choice central defender for one of the world’s elite footballing nations. This summer, he will be bringing his brand of committed tackling and astute distribution to Poland and Ukraine with a spring in his step, after being named Everton’s Player of the Year. Indeed such was his superlative form last term, he managed to keep Phil Jagielka, himself a late addition to the Euro mix, out of the team in the second half of the season. Former Everton skipper Barry Horne believes Heitinga’s hero status at Goodison is deserved. “Heitinga, though, is a hard worker,’ he wrote in his column after the Everton end of season awards. “A passionate player who has a little touch of needle about him. The crowd respond to players like that. He is a deserving recipient of such an award.” And in a web-chat with supporters before the season ended, Heitinga answered a variety of questions about what makes him tick. Admitting that Dutch team-mate Wesley Sneijder was the best performer he has played alongside, and Lionel Messi the best he has featured against. Then, asked about the distinctive black band design tattoos on his arms, he explained: “The big one is for my wife and the smaller ones are for my daughter Jezebel and my son Lennox.” Heitinga added that he fancies being a manager when he retires, most enjoyed playing at the Bernebeu, and wears Nike Tiempo boots. And his favourite goal harked back to his roots in Holland’s Eredivisie. “It was one for Ajax against Feyenoord,” he said. “From the edge of the box into the bottom corner. I enjoyed that one a lot.” Self-belief is one of Heitinga’s big strengths, so much so that he will not lose sleep over criticism he received from Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk after the Everton man’s stray pass allowed Bulgaria to complete a shock victory in a warm-up game. “The last 30 minutes has annoyed me. A pass like Heitinga’s is just forbidden. You just don’t do that. Now we have lost and that’s not good,” said Van Marwijk, although Heitinga is unlikely to be ruffled. As ever, Mr unflappable is concentrating on the positives: “I think we’re among the favourites for the tournament but it is a tough group and we will need a bit of luck also,” he said.
Everton FC at Euro 2012 - Leighton Baines of England
by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
Jun 6 2012
IT WAS the year Chelsea became Kings of Europe, propelled by an epic performance from Ashley Cole – but on the domestic front, there was only one left-back who produced unparalleled quality all season. In the eyes of his fellow professionals, Leighton Baines was simply the best.
That’s why the 27-year-old became the first Everton player in 22 years to be included in the PFA top flight team of the year. He’s the full-back with the exquisite poise and ability of a creative midfielder, and the set-piece threat any forward would kill for. Now after a string of seasons when Baines’ presence has made Everton’s left flank one of the most feared attacking formations in the Premier League, England recognition is arriving on a consistent basis after past disappointments.
And Baines is relishing the prospect of his first senior tournament with his country even though he recognises the size of his task to replace Ashley Cole in Roy Hodgson’s side as well as the esteem of Premier League players. He said: “To go to any tournament is great. Hopefully the disappointment of missing out last time is wiped away a bit for me. “I was a bit of a late runner and only came into the squad a couple of months before so it was a strange situation. “Six months before I was nowhere near, was never in the squad, and then you make the 30 and have a chance. You get your hopes up and then you miss out and have the disappointment. “I think this time I’ve been involved in pretty much all the squads leading up to it. It was just nice to make the final cut.” In terms of displacing Cole, Baines said: “It probably couldn’t get any tougher, could it? He is such a good player, has such vast experience for club and country. “It probably couldn’t be any tougher trying to get ahead of someone. “The last couple of seasons I’ve just tried to play as well as I can for my club and keep getting in the squads. “Every now and then you get the chance of a game, but they are normally few and far between when you have a top player in the same position. “You don’t take for granted you’ll be in the squad so you make sure you do enough to get picked and you come away and try to train as well as you can. It’s about all you can do sometimes. “You bide your time and it’s been a slow burner for me. But you can’t have too many complaints when there is such a top player there.” Baines admits he takes inspiration from Cole even though his presence has denied him the opportunity to win many more caps. He said: “Ash has always has been an inspiration. In my position, he has always been my favourite player from when I was a young lad. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for him. “Before I was making my way myself in the game, then it was Roberto Carlos, who was doing the free-kicks and all that stuff. “But, once you start to look at things as a proper player, then Ash has always been a good role model for any player in that position, whether you be 17 or 18 establishing yourself or late 20s, he is the best. “There is always something to learn and you never stop looking for things. It’s not just Ash I look at. It’s every player in my position who is at the top of their game. You are always looking at what they are doing and pick up their strengths and learn from that.” Baines may be buzzing at the moment – but it will be the England fans smiling if he can recapture his fine form for the Toffees should he be called upon in Poland and Ukraine.
Everton FC at Euro 2012 - Phil Jagielka of England
by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
Jun 6 2012
FROM struggling to regain a previously guaranteed place in Everton’s team as his England Euro 2012 hopes wilted, Phil Jagielka has had a Hollywood couple of months. In footballing terms – Jags is the Three Lions Cinderella Man. Rewind to April, and few would have backed the 29-year-old to be in serious consideration for a starting role under Roy Hodgson in Poland and Ukraine. Certainly being left on the bench for Everton’s biggest game in two years, that painful semi-final defeat by Liverpool at Wembley, must have come as a crushing disappointment. But the never-say-die spirit which Jagielka has in abundance enabled him to bounce back, first with a string of excellent performances as Everton finished seventh, and then with a display for England that secured him a late call into the 23-man squad. While some might sulk, snipe and complain, Everton FC’s Phil Jagielka is the type of player to take set-backs in his stride, with a smile on his face. It’s the first-class professional attitude which has won over each manager he has played for, and convinced Hodgson to select him in Gareth Barry’s place. The Everton vice captain refused to let his head drop at initially being included only on the stand-by list. The way he sparkled alongside Joleon Lescott again, as Hodgson’s reign began with a win and a clean sheet against Norway was noted across the nation. Indeed former Everton star Stuart McCall is one of Jagielka’s many admirers, and has know the Sale-born player since he was a raw 18-year-old at Sheffield United – and always saw an international in the making.
“He knew the game properly back then and reads it even better now,” said McCall. “I was delighted when he got his move to Everton and always suspected that once he’d settled down, he had every chance of playing for his country.” “I was 38 when I went to Sheffield United and I was beginning to feel it. Fortunately there were some great young lads like Michael Tonge and Jags there. Phil was right-back then and always did well. “We beat Leeds in the League Cup when he was only 18 and he smashed a belter in. After I retired he moved into central midfield and I joked with him I had to hang up my boots for him to get a go there. “But he was great. A box-to-box midfielder and in the Championship he was solid and comfy there, although his strengths always seemed best at the back.” McCall believes Jagielka’s intelligence set him apart from others. “We would do set piece practices in training and even when he was young he’d say his part, and come up with input which was worth listening to,” he said. Now, with John Terry perhaps tiring after a late end to his season with Chelsea, and Gary Cahill missing through injury, Jags could well have forced his way into the mix for regular action this summer. Few will deserve it more.
Everton FC at Euro 2012 - Nikica Jelavic of Croatia
by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
Jun 6 2012
MANY glowing words have already been written about Nikica Jelavic since he joined Everton but invariably, they boil down to one theme – goals. They are the currency the Croatian deals in, and they are what sets him apart. Other strikers in the Premier League may share his impressive work rate, yet more could match his eye-catching ability on the ball. But few are capable of combining all these things with a voracious and unerring habit of making the net bulge. The 26-year-old has been prolific for each of his three clubs; Rapid Vienna, Glasgow Rangers and now Everton, while he is fast beginning to hit his stride on the international scene. Being compared in his homeland to Croatia’s all-time top goal scorer Davor Suker is no small achievement, and Jelavic could even be a dark horse to win the Golden Boot at Euro 2012, just like his idol did at the 1998 World Cup in France.
Certainly Suker has been impressed with what he has seen so far from his compatriot. “I have seen the goals,” he said. “He is really enjoying the Premier League and I am sure he will do a great job for Everton. “It is not a surprise that he is doing so well. I know him from Croatia, I know him from Rapid Vienna. I know he works very hard and is a player with a great future.” “I remember when I spoke with him when he was at Rapid Vienna,” recalled Suker, 44. “He had an excellent coach in Peter Pacult and I told him he is better for staying a couple of years with Peter. “He is a guy who works very hard on the preparation of the team and I am sure Nikica will remember this. Sometimes you need to not rush your career; you need to lay good preparations and now he can move on to the main goal of his career. “He is a goalscorer and he is a good person. He can do a great job for Everton. The confidence of the team improves when you know you have a striker who can score goals. When people realise he can score in the first or the 90th minute, it is a good thing.
“Goals today are the difference. Everyone can play football but less people can score goals. It is not basketball where anyone can score. That is the big difference between the best players.”
The loss to injury of Bayern Munich striker Ivica Olic is a tough one for Croatia – but it might work in Jelavic’s favour. With former Arsenal forward Eduardo in the mix, and Mario Mandžukic also in fine form for Wolfsburg, there is plenty of competition for a starting role. Fortunately, national coach Slaven Bilic is an ardent admirer. “He never panics, he’s such a cool finisher. It doesn’t surprise me how well he’s doing,” said the former Everton defender. “When I read about £20m transfers, getting him for £5m looks like a bargain for Everton. On one hand he’s a model professional and so down to earth, that’s how he’s been brought up. “But on the other Nikica is so self-confident he never has any fear. I’m expecting him to improve even more – he has no limits. His best years are still to come; I think he can become one of the most important strikers in the league next season.”
Rio Ferdinand shock but Phil Jagielka can do a great job for Hodgson, says Everton FC defender John Heitinga
Jun 6 2012
HOLLAND’S stars, including Everton defender John Heitinga, have reacted with bemusement to England boss Roy Hodgson’s decision not to take Rio Ferdinand to the European Championship.
The shockwaves from Hodgson’s latest snubbing of Manchester United star Ferdinand have reached England’s Euro 2012 rivals, with the Dutch camp taken aback by the news. Tottenham forward Rafael der Vaart branded the decision “strange”, adding: “It surprised me because I think he’s still one of the best defenders in England, and maybe in the world. “Of course, he’s a little bit older now, but he’s still fit and fresh and he played for Manchester United.” Wesley Sneijder, who was heavily linked with a move to United last summer, said: “I think it was a big surprise.” Heitinga felt the same about Ferdinand’s omission but backed Everton team-mate Phil Jagielka and Manchester City star Joleon Lescott to fill the void. Heitinga said of Ferdinand’s snub: “Yes, I’m quite surprised.
“But then, on the other hand, Phil Jagielka, my partner in the defence for Everton, is doing very well.
“There are no more centre-halves in the England squad but it’s up to those who are there to perform. “I was quite surprised in the beginning that they’re going this way and hopefully they’re going to play a good tournament. “Lescott is there as well so they’ve still got a few good centre-halves.” Dirk Kuyt, who quit Anfield for Fenerbahce on Sunday, defended his former team-mate Martin Kelly’s selection. “Roy Hodgson is the one who decides who he selects for the national team,” Kuyt said. “There’s only one decision to make – he has to make the best possible team.
“I’m sure Martin Kelly and Jordan Henderson will do well. “They are young but they’re both very talented and I’m sure they will help England moving forward.”
Everton FC midfielder Tim Cahill has not ruled out ending his career in the Middle East – but is keen to stay at Goodison
by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
Jun 6 2012
TIM CAHILL has not ruled out ending his career with a lucrative stint in the Middle East – although he remains likely to prefer another season at Everton before leaving the Premier League.
The Australian is reportedly a target for mega-rich Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr this summer, with speculation mounting that he could be offered a deal worth up to £2.5million for one season if he completed a move. Cahill’s image is particularly strong in the Middle East, where he has played plenty of football due to the Australian national team’s membership of the Asian Football Confederation, and his signature would be seen as a major coup for ambitious sides like Al Nassr, who play in the Saudi capital Riyadh. Although the 32-year-old is contracted to Goodison until 2014, he hinted that he would be open to living in a region he is fond of – but only when he feels ready to call time on his Everton spell. As reported in the ECHO last month, David Moyes does not want to lose the midfielder who he still sees as a key member of his squad, and Cahill reiterated his loyalty the Toffees as he insisted that for now he wants to focus on Australia’s World Cup qualifying campaign “I know what the experience is like. I have lived and breathed it,” he said. “I have played in two Asia Cups and I have got great connections with a lot of important people overseas.
“I come on holiday in the Middle East a lot and I embrace the weather and the culture.
“All these sort of elements of speculation will be dealt with after camp. “I don’t need to say anything about Everton. My relationship with the manager and chairman has always been first class for me. I am very, very lucky to have their backing.” Cahill did, however, admit he was flattered by the link, during a press call ahead of Australia’s final stage of World Cup qualifying against Oman on Friday, with both sides hoping to secure direct qualification to the tournament in 2014 in Brazil.
“It is always a compliment. I am a massive fan of the Middle East, the cultures, the people,” he added. “I have travelled a lot and I respect them a lot. For me, it is just to focus on the Socceroos and we will see what happens later. This is the final push for a lot of players, a lot of the boys will be 35 or 36 ... and a lot of guys are moving to the Middle East and this is our last crack at it.”
Everton FC told to pay right price for Steven Pienaar if they want him by Spurs manager Harry Redknapp
by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
Jun 6 2012
SPURS boss Harry Redknapp accepts Steven Pienaar wants to join Everton FC permanently – but challenged the Blues to make the deal happen as he insisted the Londoners won’t be pressured into a transfer that doesn’t suit them. The South African playmaker has made no secret of his desire to stay at Goodison Park, where he spent a successful three-month loan spell at the end of last season - just a year after originally leaving Merseyside for White Hart Lane. Pienaar, 30,who is currently away on World Cup qualifying duties with Bafana Bafana, had to plead with Redknapp to allow him to return at the start of this year, and knows his hopes of a long-term resolution depend on Everton being able to match Spurs’ valuation. Tottenham originally paid £3m for the South African skipper, and their chairman Daniel Levy is understood to want to recoup double that figure for a player who still has more than two years left on his contract. Whether the Blues can afford to make that happen remains to be seen, with the likelihood being they will have to sell before they can resolve Pienaar’s fate. Redknapp is sympathetic to Pienaar’s personal frustration, but warned that sympathy is unlikely to stretch to unfavourable business for Spurs. “Steven Pienaar is a good player,” he said. “I would think in all honestly he’s going to want to stay at Everton. He seems to have produced his best form there. “He’s a good player, a very, very good player. It’s just I had Gareth Bale playing on the left-hand side and you can’t dislodge Gareth Bale. He’s one of the best left-sided players in the world, without a shadow of a doubt. If he’s going to want to stay at Everton and Everton want him, then obviously the deal is going to have to be right for Tottenham.”
Everton FC’s Tim Cahill tempted by Saudi transfer
Jun 6 2012
TIM CAHILL has not ruled out ending his career with a lucrative stint in the Middle East – although he remains likely to prefer another season at Everton before leaving the Premier League.
The Australian is reportedly a target for mega-rich Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr this summer, with speculation mounting that he could be offered a deal worth up to £2.5m for one season if he completed a move. Cahill’s image is particularly strong in the Middle East, where he has played plenty of football due to the Australian national team’s membership of the Asian Football Confederation, and his signature would be seen as a major coup for ambitious sides like Al Nassr, who play in the Saudi capital Riyadh. Although the 32-year-old is contracted to Goodison until 2014, he hinted that he would be open to living in a region he is fond of – but only when he feels ready to call time on his Everton spell. David Moyes does not want to lose the midfielder who he still sees as a key member of his squad, and Cahill reiterated his loyalty the Toffees as he insisted that for now he wants to focus on Australia’s World Cup qualifying campaign “I know what the experience is like. I have lived and breathed it,” he told AAP. “I have played in two Asia Cups and I have got great connections with a lot of important people overseas. “I come on holiday in the Middle East a lot and I embrace the weather and the culture. “All these sort of elements of speculation will be dealt with after camp. “I don’t need to say anything about Everton. My relationship with the manager and chairman has always been first-class and for me. I am very, very lucky to have their backing.”
Cahill did, however, admit he was flattered by the link during a press call ahead of Australia’s final stage of World Cup qualifying against Oman on Friday, with both sides hoping to secure direct qualification to the tournament in 2014 in Brazil. “It is always a compliment. I am a massive fan of the Middle East, the cultures, the people,” he added. “I have travelled a lot and I respect them a lot. For me, it is time just to focus on the Socceroos and we will see what happens later. “This is the final push for a lot of players, a lot of the boys will be 35 or 36 ... and a lot of guys are moving to the Middle East and this is our last crack at it.”
Everton FC academy boss Alan Irvine ready to get back where he belongs
by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
Jun 7 2012
HE ONCE studied to be an insurance broker, but Alan Irvine’s true vocation has always been on the football pitch; whether it’s competing as a player or putting professionals through their paces.
The Everton academy director this month celebrates a year back at the club he loves – after returning to Goodison to replace respected former academy director Ray Hall. And even though Irvine, 53, is loving every minute of being back, he admits there has been too many office hours and not enough time on the pitch for him during the last 12 months. Irvine is responsible for completely restructuring the Toffees academy, in line with the FA’s new Elite Player Performance Plan or EPPP.
Voted in by the Football League and backed by the Premier League, the new EPPP rules have been designed to produce the next batch of World Cup winning players from these shores. The new system has not been without its detractors as it involves a grading scheme based on staff numbers and facilities, and means many lower league clubs could lose their best players to the top Premier League clubs for a fraction of the compensation paid under the old scheme. For Irvine it has meant a mountain of bureaucratic work – however, the Scot insists he would not want to be anywhere else.
“It’s been too much of an office job really,” says Irvine, who made 60 appearances for the Blues between 1981 and 1984. “I didn’t come back to be an office worker, I came to be a coach, so that was a blow but everyone knows the EPPP is an important thing and is about putting a structure in place which will make us better. “I have kept myself sane by telling myself this is short term and I will be out on the grass again next year, because that is where I want to be and it’s where I’m happiest. “Having said that it’s great to be back. Coming into work every day and working with a lot of very good people at the club I love is special. “That’s the positive side of it.” Of course Irvine – who left Goodison in 2007 to be manager of Preston before taking over at Sheffield Wednesday in 2010, a role which he was in for 13 months before being dismissed when the Owls were 12th in League One – has also had the challenge of working with a teenager regarded as one of the brightest talents in the country. Ross Barkley was given the Keith Tamlin award, named after the popular former director, to represent a period of impressive progress which saw him make his England U21s debut and six first team appearances for Everton in the year he turned 18. “He was a deserved winner,” says Irvine, of the midfielder. “Anyone who plays for the first team has got to be a contender to win it because that’s what it’s all about. “He has done that this year from within the academy group and we’re pleased for him. I don’t think it could have gone to anyone else, it was a good decision.” Irvine insists Everton’s reputation for producing good young players will continue. “We have got a lot of talented young lads in the system; players we’ve got high hopes for,” he says.
“But the problem with youth development is that you’re never quite sure what will happen along the way. “Things can go wrong. But if I wanted to stick my neck out I could name a few that I think have a chance of making it all the way through for sure. “You’ve just got to bear in mind a lot can happen along the way.” For now, Irvine hopes that next season, he’ll be there on the Finch Farm pitches making a practical difference.
Everton FC end of season survey 2011/12 - your views on the Blues
By Sean Bradbury
Jun 7 2012
AT the end of the season we asked for your views on how Everton FC fared during the 2011/12 campaign. Here are your thoughts on the past 10 months:
Player of the season 2011/12
Pretty much a four-way split. John Heitinga came out of top with 28.9% of the vote, the rock in the Blues defence helping his side conceed just 40 goals this season in the league. Leighton Baines was a close second with 22% and Marouane Fellaini was third on 18.1%. Nikica Jelavic's goalscoring exploits in the second half of the campaign saw him make a big impression and weigh in with 13.5%.
Your views on Heitinga:
"Drastically improved given valuable playing time in his favoured position and remained impressively consistent since his opportunity came, more so than any other player."
"Attitude, commitment and playing the ball out from the back. Quality player."
"Tireless, leads by example, not interested in the limelight, proper team player, & he's no softy."
Young player of the season 2011/12
Greek forward Apostolos Vellios, with 13 appearances and three goals in the league this season, took your award with 34% of the vote.
Magaye Gueye, who enjoyed a few lively cameos for the Blues towards the end of the campaign, was just behind on 31.7%. Ross Barkley was next with 18.8% and there were a few honourable mentions for Shane Duffy after being recalled from loan and slotting back into the team.
Goal of the season 2011/12
Darron Gibson's blistering strike to sink Man City at home (18.7%) and Nikica Jelavic's looping header from an unlikely angle against Man United (15.3%) were contenders, but it was Steven Pienaar's finish after a sweeping Blues move to equalise late on at Old Trafford (37.0%) that took the spoils.
Performance of the season 2011/12
Two candidates here. The rousing fightback against Man United to earn a 4-4 draw at Old Trafford was on 26.3%, but leading the way on 33.3% was the dominant display in the 2-0 FA Cup sixth-round replay win away to Sunderland.
Nikica Jelavic was a clear winner here (37.5%), arriving from Rangers in January and hitting the back of the net on a regular basis ever since. His end of season tally of 11 goals in 16 games has Blues looking forward to August already.
Darron Gibson was next in this category on 18.9% and player of the season John Heitinga was third on 14.3%.
Worst display of the season 2011/12
No surprise to see derby defeats here. The 3-0 loss to Liverpool at Anfield received the highest share of the vote (48.8%) followed by the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley (23.8%).
Player who underachieved 2011/12
For a man who has set such high standards in terms of performances and goal return during his Everton career so far, three goals in 41 appearances from Tim Cahill (31.1%) was judged to have been a below par campaign.
Seamus Coleman (18.8%), Jack Rodwell (16.4%) and Royston Drenthe (11.6%) were next on the list.
Which area should be a transfer priority for Everton?
With Royston Drenthe flattering to deceive and Steven Pienaar's future still unclear, Blues fans see a new winger as top priority (64.3%) followed by a striker (17.3%) then a central midfielder (4.7%).
Which players would you like to see EFC target?
Apart from the wishfully vague answer of "some unknown European player that costs next to nothing, but is fantastic" there was a small group of names which cropped up again and again.
Top of the list by a long way was loan star Steven Pienaar - clearly a man Blues believe must kept at all costs. Clint Dempsey, Junior Hoilett and Victor Moses were also mentioned numerous times.
David Moyes' performance during 2011/12
With his shrewd dealings in the January transfer window as well as guiding the Blues to the FA Cup semi-final and a seventh-placed finish after a surging second half of the season, David Moyes has been given top marks by fans for his performance this campaign.
His season was rated 'very good' by 34.1% of those who took the survey, 49.3% said 'good', 13.9% said 'average' and 2.6% said 'poor.'
What was your most memorable moment of 2011/12?
"The man chaining himself to the goalpost at the City game. Hilarious. And Tim Howard's goal against Bolton."
"The win against Man City as it proved to be a massive turning point and the feel good factor returned to Goodison Park that night."
"Signing Jelavic. It was nice to be involved in the transfer window in a positive way for a change. Normally we are worried who will be sold, in January it was exciting to see who was coming in and I think it gave the whole club a lift."
"Destroying Sunderland away at the Stadium of Light in the FA Cup replay. The fans brought up by Kenwright were incredible and almost made it into a home game. After the draw at home, I didn't have much hope but the boys went out and bossed the pitch."
"The day out at Wembley. I know we lost, but I flew in on the off-chance and picked up a ticket at the last minute. It was a great day, and both sides of the city can be proud."
"Coming back from FA Cup heartache with a rousing fight back against United."
"Fergie's face when our 4th went in."
"Finishing above Liverpool on the last day."
How would you sum up 2011/12?
"Not enough Jekyll, too much Hyde."
"Terrible start, decent middle, fantastic end. We can't have realistically hoped to break into Europe this year with the squad the way it was at the start of the season but thanks to Jelavic, hopefully the permanent summer signing of Pienaar and hopefully no sales of our top players in the summer, we can look forward to a good season next year."
"Productive, with a strong case for a Europe-chasing campaign next season."
"Wish we started in August and not January."
"Frustrating. Again a great finish but we could have matched Chelsea and Newcastle with a better start."
"So close, but yet so far."
"Although it's followed the same script as the last few years (horrible start, great finish), I feel much more confident going into the next because of one man, Nikica Jelavic. If we can get some creativity and support for him, we can surely reach Europe."
"Slow start, sprint finish, subdued by the FA Cup semi-final."
Phil Jagielka just needs chance in group stages of Euro 2012 to convince nation, insists Graeme Sharp
by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
Jul 6 2012
PHIL JAGIELKA just needs Roy Hodgson to give him a chance in the group stages of Euro 2012 for the Everton man to convince the nation, insists Graeme Sharp. The Toffees defender is edging closer to contention for regular playing time in Poland and Ukraine, following Gary Cahill’s withdrawal with a broken jaw on Sunday. And Sharp believes the 29-year-old can be a revelation during the tournament, but only if he is allowed to get a string of games under his belt. Everton’s fan liaison chief Sharp said: “I’d like to think he’ll play a big part. “I think his performance against Norway was good. "Since he’s come back into the Everton side, he’s been top-drawer. “I think he just needs a chance at the top level, and by that I mean three or four games on the trot so he can build up his experience and get used to international football.” Jagielka enjoyed a successful partnership with Joleon Lescott at the heart of the Blues defence before the latter joined Manchester City in 2009.
And it is understood Hodgson is toying with the idea of reuniting them, as doubts continue over the complete match fitness of John Terry. Meanwhile, Portuguese striker Joao Silva has hinted he wants to leave Everton and play first team football in his native Portugal. The 22-year-old, who signed for Everton in 2010, has been back on loan in his home-land since signing, and wants to return permanently after not making a single appearance for the Blues. “Everton won’t make it easy to leave but it’s something that interests me,” he said. “Guimaraes is a club that I’ve always liked.
“I don’t know too much about it but I won’t dismiss the possibility.” Silva has falling down the pecking order at Goodison after the signing of Apostolos Vellios, and last season’s addition on loan of Denis Stracqualursi.
Phil Kirkbride: Phil Jagielka only said what everyone knows about Everton FC
by Philip Kirkbride, The Liverpool Post
Jun 7 2012
PHIL JAGIELKA’S honesty appears not to have gone down well with some. After playing the final 20 minutes of England’s friendly against Belgium on Saturday, the Everton FC defender stopped for the waiting media to talk through the game. The discussion moved onto club-mate Marouane Fellaini, who had produced a powerful display at Wembley, and what it was like to play against him.
Jagielka was then asked how important it is for Everton to keep Fellaini at Goodison Park this summer. He responded: “Unfortunately with the way the club is, if someone comes in with a £20m offer for someone the chances are he is going to be sold. “It’s unfortunate. We love Felli and would love him to stay. There’s not been that much transfer talk but that’s the situation we are in.”
Honest and straight to the point. Who can argue with that? Isn’t that what supporters want from all their players? It may not have been exactly what they would like to hear but Jagielka is not the sort to sugar coat anything. He’s an adult speaking to adults. Some Evertonians this week have criticised the 29-year-old for what they see as unwanted negativity. Others have welcomed his comments and used them as further evidence in their grievance against the club’s owners. But all Jagielka did was offer an honest response to a question. But more importantly it was a common sense answer.
Although Everton would perhaps value Fellaini at more towards the £25m mark, if the right offer comes in, of course they are going to consider it. Why wouldn’t they? Rightly or wrongly, the club work on a tight playing budget. Everyone knows that and Jagielka’s comments are not going to alter that situation.
Tim Cahill could be sacrificed by Everton FC to help secure Steven Pienaar deal
by Chris Beesley, The Liverpool Post
Jun 7 2012
TOTTENHAM’S insistence that Everton make them a significant offer to re-sign Steven Pienaar could lead the Goodison Park outfit to cash-in on Tim Cahill. Manager David Moyes has made Pienaar one of his top priorities this summer after the South African international’s hugely impressive loan spell back at the club during the second half of last season. Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp has acknowledged that the 30-year-old would prefer to go back to the club that launched his Premier League career rather than remain at White Hart Lane where he has remained a peripheral figure. However, Redknapp knows that there will be other suitors and he has challenged Everton to make him an offer he deems suitable. With funds tight at Goodison, Moyes could decide to help fund the transfer by off-loading another of his big earners in the shape of Cahill. The Australian midfielder has been one of the Scot’s best value signings since his arrival from Millwall in 2004 but with the 32-year-old’s goal threat seemingly dimmed – he netted just twice last season – the manager may be tempted to cash-in. The manager has so far insisted Cahill remains part of his plans but the player has attracted the attention of several well-backed clubs in the Middle East and has refused to rule out a future move to the region. Meanwhile, Leighton Baines is unlikely to be joining Napoli. The Italians are admirers of the England left-back but would be unable to meet the £20million plus asking price for a player who was named in the PFA Premier League team of the Year.
Mark Lawrenson: Busy summer could be in store for David Moyes and Everton FC
by Our Correspondent, The Liverpool Post
Jun 7 2012
LIKE Liverpool, Everton will be well-represented player-wise at this summer’s finals but it’s a bit of a double-edged sword because people are already talking about possible moves away from Goodison Park for some of their stars. Belgium haven’t qualified for Euro 2012 but after England’s friendly with them at Wembley on Saturday, Phil Jagielka was going on about the fear somebody would come in and make a big bid for Marouane Fellaini. We’ve also had the stories about Manchester United sniffing around Leighton Baines but I suppose you’d rather have that than nobody being interested in your players. It means that Everton’s players are doing well and if David Moyes does have to sacrifice one of them to bring in fresh faces then hopefully it will be for decent money.
The likes of Wayne Rooney, Joleon Lescott, Steven Pienaar and Mikel Arteta have all done great jobs for Everton in the past and then been sold on for tidy profits – that’s the way it’s been for Everton.
Moyes has always been able to find replacements and he might well find himself back in the same boat this summer.
Everton FC: Is a wealthy foreign owner all it’s cracked up to be?
The Liverpool Post
Jun 7 2012
As Bill Kenwright keeps striving to find new investment for the Blues, Christopher Beesley looks at how Blackburn Rovers and Aston Villa have fared after taking on foreign owners IN SIZE and stature, Everton and Aston Villa are similar clubs and as the only two teams to have played over 100 seasons in the top flight, their meetings are the most played fixtures at the highest level of the English game. Along with Blackburn, they are they only clubs to have been founder members of both the Football League in 1888 and the Premier League 104 years later. In the past decade, both have tried to challenge the established elite in an attempt to break into the Champions League places but despite outspending David Moyes’ Everton during this period, Villa, who have just appointed their fourth manager in less than two years, narrowly avoided relegation last month.
Villa’s previous owner Doug Ellis was under far greater pressure than Bill Kenwright to sell his shares in the club and when he finally relinquished control in August 2006, selling up to American billionaire Randy Lerner for £63million, most Villa fans were pleased. Like both Liverpool’s current and previous US owners, Brooklyn-born entrepreneur Lerner also owns a team in American sport, in his case the NFL franchise the Cleveland Browns, but with an estimated personal wealth in the region of £800million he seemingly has the financial muscle to take on both tasks. A senior source who has an intimate knowledge of the workings of the Midlands club said: “Doug Ellis was viewed by many as being like Arkwright the corner shop owner and they were glad to see the back of him.
“However, subsequently he’s remembered more fondly because while he had a reputation for thriftiness he did actually spend money and he kept Villa in the top flight. Many fans look at what Sheffield Wednesday, a club with many similarities to Villa, have gone through and are now relieved at what Ellis did. “When Randy Lerner first came in there was an air of mystique about him but he impressed supporters by seemingly doing his homework on the traditions of the club.
“He organised some 25th Anniversary celebrations for Villa’s 1982 European Cup-winning team, ensuring they were properly honoured and saved the Holte pub which is a symbol closely associated with the club. “The PR was brilliant in the first couple of years and going along with the motto ‘Proud history – bright future’ free scarves were given out.” Lerner’s arrival coincided with the appointment of the highly-rated Martin O’Neill as the team’s manager but while the Ulsterman was heavily backed in the transfer market, the club remained just short of honours and on the eve of the 2010/11 campaign he resigned, seemingly unhappy over his budget. Our source said: “Lerner spent more than he would have wanted in pursuit of success but while he’s a multi billionaire he was never going to risk his personal future. “It was a bit like somebody keeping on putting the pennies in the slot machine hoping that they were on the brink of them all tumbling over but they never quite got there. “Lerner had seen Villa as a big club in a good catchment area but since Manchester City burst onto the scene and Tottenham with their financial backing to a lesser extent the goal-posts have been moved.
As Bill Kenwright keeps striving to find new investment for the Blues, Christopher Beesley looks at how Blackburn Rovers and Aston Villa have fared after taking on foreign owners
“I don’t think Lerner has lost interest but he realises that you can throw £30million at the team and not get any closer to qualifying for the Champions League. “There’s had to be some prudent housekeeping over the past couple of years with the wage bill – which was 85% of the club’s turnover – being brought down to a more sustainable figure of around 60%.” Since O’Neill’s abrupt departure, Lerner has brought in three new managers with Norwich’s Paul Lambert the latest to take the reins earlier this week. First there was Frenchman Gerard Houllier, formerly of Liverpool, but after he had to depart his post due to health concerns Villa controversially appointed Alex McLeish last summer who had just taken bitter local rivals Birmingham City down into the Championship.
Our source said: “People can understand why Lerner has turned off the money tap but the appointment of McLeish was an all-time low. To be fair, it wasn’t so much that he’d come from Birmingham City but the fact that he’d been relegated twice with them. “Lerner hasn’t really suffered any personal abuse for that appointment – people still appreciate the amount of money that he’s ploughed into the club – but it certainly made the halo slip and his popularity has taken a kicking. “There does seem to be a certain lack of football nous on the board and none of them have any previous knowledge over running a football club. So many people often ask ‘does this American know what he’s doing?’ “At the time Lerner and O’Neill were being hailed as the perfect chairman-manager relationship but now Lerner’s rating is probably down to a six out of 10.”
Following the depths of last season when McLeish almost made it a hat-trick of Premier League relegations, Lerner has bought himself some more time with the popular appointment this week of Lambert as manager with the Scot having comfortably guided Norwich to top flight safety after consecutive promotions. Our source said: “Lerner had to get it right this summer but realistically all the new guy has to do is finish above where Villa came last season and play slightly more attractive football. “Villa fans want to know what the long-term plan is from Lerner though. Is there going to be a fresh wave of investment? “Nobody knows as he’s a very reclusive figure – he’s not done his annual Press briefings for the past two summers and he never does broadcast media interviews.
“Lerner is no longer a visible presence on match days – he only attended about half a dozen games last season. Villa fans are asking him ‘show us you still care’.”
Possible targets for Liverpool FC and Everton FC at Euro 2012
The Liverpool Post
Jun 7 2012
David Moyes and Brendan Rodgers already have 13 players between them at Euro 2012 – now Christopher Beesley looks at the potential buys that might interest them
BRENDAN RODGERS’ priority is to revamp Liverpool’s midfield. He will also be looking to bolster his goal-shy forward line, while Jose Enrique’s difficult end to the season ensures that left-back, Liverpool’s long-time problem position, may need reinforcing. As an advocate of possession football to wear down the opposition, Rodgers’ eye could well be drawn to Portuguese pass master Miguel Veloso (who will wear number 4 in the finals). Just turned 26, he is in the prime of his career and his shrewd football brain provides a protective shield for his centre-backs as he dictates play from deep.
Rodgers loves hard-working players and while Veloso was sometimes accused of being lazy at former club Sporting – he left youth team Benfica for being slightly overweight – he has reinvented himself at Genoa, where he is regarded as a model professional. With 24 caps to his name, he may be eager for a new challenge after his current side narrowly avoided relegation last season, finishing 17th in Serie A.
One central midfielder widely tipped to be on the move this summer is France’s Yann M’Vila (number 17), providing he overcomes a fitness scare.
Like Veloso he is a disciplined ‘sitter’ in the centre of the park and as well as being a winner of the ball, his ability to distribute cleverly could attract Rodgers to him.
Described as possessing a ‘fantastic work rate’ and being robust in the challenge, playing for Rennes he led the French League last season in passes attempted and completed.
Turning 22 later this month, his best years should still be ahead of him but he already has 19 caps and is on Arsene Wenger’s radar.
Netherlands’ Kevin Strootman (number 17) has enjoyed a meteoric rise. In the space of six months the central midfielder went from the Dutch Second Division to Bert van Marwiijk’s national side.
Starting with Sparta Rotterdam, the 22-year-old had less than a year with Utrecht before being snapped up by PSV Eindhoven.
He is regarded as an intelligent player with good passing ability and vision and he has been capped 10 times.
Ukrainian striker Andriy Voronin might have been something of an enigma at Anfield but namesake Yarmolenko (number 11), 10 years his junior at 22, is one of the hottest properties in the co-hosts’ domestic league. The younger Andriy, currently at Dynamo Kiev, has been recommended to Milan by Andriy Shevchenko.
A powerful forward who can also operate down the left flank, Yarmolenko has netted eight times in 20 internationals. A lack of goals for Liverpool was a major problem last season – the tournament’s other co-hosts, Poland, could provide the answer in the shape of Robert Lewandowski (number 9).
Linked to Blackburn when he left Lech Poznan in 2010, the 23-year-old has since become a massive star in the Bundesliga, helping Borussia Dortmund to a league and cup double. Netting 22 times in the league, he also grabbed a hat-trick in the 5-2 win over Bayern Munich in the cup final. He has 14 goals in 42 internationals. WHILE funds are expected to be tight again this summer for David Moyes and the signing of impressive loan returnee Steven Pienaar remains a priority, the Scot will also be on the lookout for more support up front for his free-scoring Croatian striker Nikica Jelavic.
With Phil Neville and Tony Hibbert both the wrong side of 30 now, fresh options in the right-back berth may be desired while another wide midfielder would be of interest too. At just 21, 6ft 2in striker Luuk de Jong (number 18) is one of the Netherlands’ brightest prospects.
Although he remains an understudy for Robin van Persie and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar with the Dutch national side, he netted 25 goals for Twente last season.
He has struck once in seven games at international level but having penned a new three year deal with his club in April, Everton might find his potential price tag off-putting.
Hoping to earn a move this summer is diminutive French right-back Mathieu Debuchy (number 2).
Now 26, he feels the time is right for a new opportunity having spent his entire career with Lille.
With four caps to his name he can also operate as a deep-lying playmaker and caught the eye in France’s friendly win over Germany in February when he set up both French goals.
Also in the right-back berth is the Czech Republic’s Theodor Gebre Selassie (number 2).
Aged 25 and an energetic athlete who likes to push forward, the son of an Ethiopian father he is the first person of colour to represent the Czech national side. Playing his club football with provisional outfit Slovan Liberec he could well be within Everton’s budget and has been capped eight times over the past year. One of the main supply lines for him in the Croatian national side, perhaps Nikica Jelavic could convince Ivan
Rakitic (number 7) to come and join him at Goodison Park?
The 24-year-old who can operate on either flank represented Switzerland at youth level before pledging his allegiance to his parents’ country for whom he has now won 39 caps, scoring eight international goals. Has been on the radar of top scouts since he was a teenager and having started at Basel he came to Sevilla in January 2011 via a spell in Germany with Schalke and he is also a dependable operator when it comes to defensive tasks. Also busy down the flanks is Sweden’s Rasmus Elm (number 6).
A dead-ball specialist noted for his good vision and accurate passing, he enjoyed a good season last term in the Dutch league with AZ. Aged 24, Moyes has been a long-time admirer of him and looked at signing him in 2009, with the player even given a tour of Finch Farm before opting for a switch to the Netherlands. Now with 23 caps and three years in Alkmaar under his belt he may be tempted to step up into the Premier League.