Stoke City v Everton FC preview: Blues hope to take advantage of Potters' fatigue
By Ian Doyle
May 1 2012
IF Everton FC don’t want the season to end, then Stoke City are a team for whom the finishing line cannot come soon enough. Such are the contrasting Premier League fortunes of two sides that have represented two polar extremes over the course of the campaign. When, just a week before Christmas, Everton’s home draw with Norwich City left them a mere four points above the drop zone, Stoke’s defeat of Wolverhampton Wanderers kept them on the brink of a European qualification berth. Since then, while Stoke have plummeted to mid-table after winning just four of 19 league games, Everton have lost only four times in 20 top-flight matches to stay on course for a second successive seventh-place finish. The Potters have no doubt been affected by their Europa League exertions – tonight’s meeting between the teams at the Britannia is their 54th game of the campaign – and David Moyes believes fatigue is finally beginning to tell. “It has been a long old season,” says the Goodison manager. “They have had a lot of games, they got through the group stage of the Europa League and they will be disappointed their league position is not further up.
“European football was a great achievement for them but it does take its toll when you are in the Thursday-Sunday scenario. But I would take it. “I think nowadays it does (make a difference) because I think the players think about it the number of games they play.” Everton had a run to the FA Cup semi-final but Moyes feels his squad is relatively fresh after they had injury problems in the first half of the season. “Near-enough from just after January it has helped us not having many injuries,” he admits. “It has offered us a little bit of freshness. Earlier in the season we couldn't get enough players in the team. “We have been in decent form since January and have kept ourselves going despite having lost a game here or there.” Goals have been Stoke’s main issue this season, with their tally of 33 in 35 games the lowest in the Premier League this season. That has not been a concern for Everton since the arrival of Nikica Jelavic. Indeed, Everton have scored 23 goals in their last 12 league games since Jelavic made his debut on February 4; it took them 23 matches to score their first 23 league goals this season. A strong finish following an indifferent first half has become commonplace in recent years for the Goodison outfit, with Moyes accepting that the summer will once again prove crucial in shaping the opening months of the next campaign. “It’s like deja vu with the same questions for the last two or three seasons,” he admits. “In the main over the years we haven't brought people in over January, we've maybe had injured players coming back and this year we definitely needed the improvement of new faces. “I’ll just try and do what I can and look at different things. Definitely, recruitment plays a big part of it and when you get players in it makes a big difference.” Moyes adds: “The players who came in January will be ready for next season, but when you’re starting a new season you always need fresh faces and a new impetus can make a big difference. “The last couple of summers we haven’t been able to do that much, and if we have it’s been very late. So I do think it’s partly important to get it done early. “The summers have been difficult times at Everton. In the end we've tended to finish the season strongly, but we’ve sometimes let it peter away in the summer – so we'll try and learn from our mistakes and get it right this time.” After 4-0 home wins against Sunderland and Fulham sandwiched the 4-4 draw at Manchester United, Everton are tonight aiming to score at least four times in a fourth successive top-flight game for the first time ever. And Moyes says: “The team’s playing really well at the moment. There’s a confidence which hasn't been in them for most of the season, and belief is growing. “We went into an FA Cup semi-final with the same confidence but couldn't produce it on the day, but if you take that away in the main Everton have performed well in the games.
“We came back from 3-1 and 4-2 at Manchester United and played well. To come back top 4-4 was good. We’ve scored four goals a few times. “I am enjoying watching it. Earlier in the season there were bits I wasn’t but the players have really stepped up. The players have really raised their game.”
David Moyes and Jack Rodwell set to decide on Everton FC midfielder's Olympic prospects
By Ian Doyle
May 1 2012
DAVID MOYES will sit down with Jack Rodwell later this month and decide whether the injury-plagued Everton FC midfielder’s Olympic dreams have been dashed. A succession of niggling hamstring injuries have restricted Rodwell to just 218 minutes of action since exploding on to the international scene for England during their friendly double header against Spain and Sweden in November. The 21-year-old, who has been absent for the past six weeks, has already been ruled out of appearing at this summer’s European Championships but still harbours hopes of playing at London 2012. Rodwell, one of the faces used to promote the launch of the new Team GB kit earlier this year, and Phil Jagielka are the only Everton players in Stuart Pearce’s preliminary 80-man squad.
But Everton manager Moyes does not want the youngster’s chase for a gold medal to jeopardise his long-term fitness. “Jack is running quite a bit but I’m not quite sure how far along he is and I’m not sure yet what would benefit him,” said Moyes, whose team visit Stoke City in the Premier League this evening. “He’d certainly benefit from having games here. We will be on tour or having pre-season friendlies, so Jack can play for Everton. “And we are going to be short of players at the start of the season because of players coming back from the Euros. “I’d not be mad keen on him going if I didn’t think he was going to be right. He’s pulled his hamstring now three or four times.
“When the season finishes, he’ll have plenty of time to recuperate, but won’t have had any practice. He won’t be saying ‘I know my leg is okay,’ so where does he get the practice? Everton is where his priority should lie.” Rodwell has made only 14 starts for Everton this season with his last outing in the 3-0 derby defeat at Anfield in mid-March. And while Moyes will give the player every chance to prove his fitness, the manager admits he must put Everton’s interests first. “I wouldn’t want to rule him out of an opportunity to play in the Olympics,” added the Scot. “But I wouldn’t want him to be going there if I thought he had a hamstring problem. “We are not discouraging people from playing in the Olympics. We would like to make sure they’d be fit to do their best – but we also want that to be the same for Everton.” Everton travel to the Britannia Stadium tonight aiming to extend their impressive end-of-season form of just three defeats in their last 20 games. Rodwell remains joined on the sidelines by Leighton Baines who, while edging nearer to fitness after a hamstring problem, is expected to miss out for a third successive game. “Leighton Baines is getting better,” said Moyes. “He'll have a chance for maybe next week but we'll need to wait and see. “Otherwise, we've got a couple of knocks and bruises from the weekend so we'll see how we are come the game.”
Stoke City boss Tony Pulis’s sweet spot for Everton FC
May 1 2012
STOKE boss Tony Pulis has urged his players to stay alert to the challenge as their lengthy season draws towards its conclusion. The Potters have just three games remaining of a memorable campaign which has already included 53 fixtures and a run to the last 32 of the Europa League.
Everton are the season’s penultimate visitors to the Britannia Stadium in the Premier League tonight ahead of a trip to QPR and a home clash with Bolton. And after a creditable draw with Arsenal on Saturday, Pulis is pleased that his players are still fighting as they push for a top-half finish.
Pulis said: “It’s been a long season but the players are still going. We’ve got a very difficult game here to night “Everton, along with Arsenal, are one of the real form teams at the moment.
“We will have to be really on it to get anything out of it and then we finish with QPR and Bolton, both fighting for their lives. “In one respect it makes that difficult for us but in another respect it is a challenge we have to pick up.” Stoke are 14th but have a game in hand on most of their mid-table rivals and are just six points off eighth-placed Liverpool.
Everton are two points further ahead and, after overcoming the disappointment of their FA Cup semi-final loss, are pushing strongly for a place in Europe. Pulis would expect nothing other than a stern test from the Blues. Pulis said: “I don’t know what David puts in their water but they tend to start very slowly and then they drive forward in the second half of the season. That is what they have done. “They will be desperately disappointed they never got to the cup final – I know David and I know he will be. But he is a good lad, a good football man. He is sensible and he gets the job done without too much fuss and attention. That is what he has continued to do. He has stabilised them.
“I have a lot of time for him, he is a top manager. It is a traditionally top, top club and he has done a fantastic job.” One area where Pulis has been particularly impressed with Moyes this season has been in his January recruitment. After more than two years of limited activity due to financial constraints, Moyes was able to bring in Darron Gibson, Nikica Jelavic and Steven Pienaar during the last transfer window. Pulis said: “If you look at their squad, they have got some very good players.
“Gibson, Jelavic and Pienaar have really helped him this year – three great signings after Christmas.
“People say you shouldn’t make signings then, but have a look at what David has done.” Pulis anticipates a good occasion with the game a near sell-out and the Coates family, who own the Potters, having a soft spot for the Toffees. He said: “It will be a great atmos-phere.
“Their supporters are very good, so it gives us a really good challenge. “Every time you go to Everton you get well looked after. “It is the Coates family’s second favourite team, so Deidre (chairman Peter Coates’ wife) will have half of the family over from Ireland. “They are always welcome, as we are when we go to Goodison Park.”
Can David Moyes cure those summertime Blues for Everton FC?
by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
May 1 2012
HE’S busy plotting the formidable task of tackling Stoke City in their vociferous backyard, but David Moyes cannot avoid questions about the summer. The Everton boss is feeling like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day when asked for the umpteenth time what he can do to prevent his team starting next season poorly. It is, he concedes, an obvious but understandable question, and if only the answer was equally straight forward? While Moyes wants his team to continue their fine form right up until the finishing line this term, including a victory tonight over a Stoke side which has become a thorn in Everton’s side, he must also soon address the task of warding off the summer blues.
“It’s like deja vu – the same questions from the Press for the last two or three seasons,” he says, after hearing the line of enquiry multiple times since before Saturday’s emphatic triumph over Fulham. “The summers have been difficult times at Everton. In the end we’ve tended to finish the season strongly, but we’ve sometimes let it peter away in the summer – so we’ll try and learn from our mistakes and get it right this time. “I’ll just try and do what I can. Look at different things. Definitely recruitment plays a big part of it and when you get players in it makes a big difference.”
Not for the first time either, Moyes admitted that his ability to sign players early in the post-season will be crucial – especially given the boost his January recruits have given to the last four months.
“In the main over the years we haven’t brought people in over January,” he says. “We’ve maybe had injured players coming back and this year we definitely needed the improvement of new faces.
“The players who came in January will be ready for next season, but when you’re starting a new season you always need fresh faces and a new impetus can make a big difference.
“The last couple of summers we haven’t been able to do that much, and if we have it’s been very late. So I do think it’s partly important to get it done early.” He may be keen to make some additions to his squad, but the Blues boss is not plotting any grand overhaul. “I don’t think we would have been in a position to make a massive over haul anyway,” he says. “We’ve got players who are getting older, so we’ve got to be replacing from underneath and bringing in some younger legs as well. But we also need players who can go into the team so to get that balance right is where it would probably cost a lot of money.” Moyes admits he has been thrilled watching recent displays – a stark contrast to his mood before Christmas. “The team’s playing really well at the moment,” he smiled. “There’s a confidence which hasn’t been in them for most of the season, and belief is growing. We went into a semi final with the same confidence and couldn’t produce it on the day, but if you take that away in the main Everton have performed well in the games. “We came back at Manchester United and played well. We’ve scored four goals a few times. “I am enjoying watching it. Earlier in the season there were bits I wasn’t, but the players have really stepped up. We’ve got competition at centre-backs, we’re without Leighton Baines who most people would have said was our best attacking player, and we’re scoring goals without him now. “Tony Hibbert has even stepped up in recent weeks creating goals. We’ve had to alter things and the players have really raised their game.” By contrast, Moyes hopes to exploit any lack of vibrancy among the weary Stoke ranks tonight. In four fixtures against Tony Pulls’ team Everton have found the net just once. But with the campaign in its final throes, Moyes wonders whether Stoke’s Europa League exertions – tomorrow’s match is their 54th of the campaign - may finally begin to tell. “It has been a long old season,” said the Scot, whose side’s distant ambitions of European football were ended at the weekend despite that win over Fulham. “They have had a lot of games, they got through the group stage of the Europa League and they will be disappointed their league position is not further up.
“European football was a great achievement for them but it does take its toll when you are in the Thursday-Sunday scenario – but I would take it. “I think nowadays it does make a difference because I think the players think about it the number of games they play.” Tired they may be, but Moyes knows Stoke’s style of play will pose his men a tough test. “Over the years Stoke have been a good side and have improved year-on-year,” he says. “When you look at the opposition you always look to see what they do and try to make sure you deal with it. “But we will go there and try to play our own game.”
Everton FC are your priority, David Moyes warns Jack Rodwell
by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
May 1 2012
Jack Rodwell, Team GB
DAVID MOYES has not ruled out allowing Jack Rodwell to play for Great Britain in the Olympics this summer – but he warned the injured midfielder that Everton FC must stay his priority.
Rodwell remains on the sidelines with a hamstring problem which has so far left club medics perplexed, and means he has hardly figured for the Blues since before Christmas. However, the 21-year-old is one of two Everton players, alongside Phil Jagielka, who have been selected in Stuart Pearce’s 80-strong preliminary GB squad, and Moyes is yet to decide whether it is in his best interests to allow him to take part. The Toffees boss believes that unless the England international has a completely clean bill of health, he could benefit more from playing a gradual role in Everton’s pre-season games, as the club looks to help him shine again next season He e said: “He is running quite a bit but I’m not quite sure how far along he is. "I’m not sure yet what would benefit Jack. "He would benefit from having games here. "We will be on tour or having pre-season friendlies, so Jack can play for Everton. “We are going to be short of players at the start of the season because of players coming back from the Euros. “I wouldn’t be mad keen on him going if I didn’t think he was going to be right. "He has pulled his hamstring now three or four times. I’ve got to make sure that he is going to be right. I will need to see how he develops. “When the season finishes, he will have plenty of time to recuperate. But he won’t have had any practice and he won’t be going away saying “I know my leg is okay”. Where does he get the practice? “Everton is where his priority should lie. But I wouldn’t want to rule him out of an opportunity to play in the Olympics. But I wouldn’t want him to be going there if I thought he had a hamstring problem. We would feed him in to non-competitive games better than those really competitive ones. “We are not discouraging people from playing in the Olympics. We would like to make sure that they would be fit to do their best but we also want that to be the same for Everton.”
Hull City owners refuse to comment on rumours ex-EFC & LFC player Nick Barmby has been suspended
May 1 2012
HULL owners Assem and Ehab Allam have refused to comment on rumours the club have suspended manager Nick Barmby over alleged comments he has made about the Tigers’ finances.
Barmby, 38, who took over from predecessor Nigel Pearson in November, has stressed in recent weeks that team strengthening was vital if Hull were to mount a serious promotion challenge next season after missing out on the play-offs. But speculation over the future of Barmby and head of football operations Adam Pearson was mounting last night after a brief club statement failed to confirm or deny the rumours. In a statement the Allems said: “We are aware of the press speculation and we are not in a position to make any comment.” The majority of fans have already expressed their outrage at Barmby's treatment on local radio, while a small minority believe the former Tigers player has antagonised the owners. The Allam family have climbed to 214th in the UK Rich List. Egyptian-born Assem, who owns generator firm Allam Marine in Melton, has ploughed £51million into the Tigers since taking control from Russell Bartlett in December 2010.
The Allams failed to buy the club’s KC Stadium from Hull City Council last year and it is understood they were reluctant to make any further major investment in team strengthening, with head of football operations Pearson recently confirming most new summer arrivals would be free summer signings. Barmby joined his hometown club as a player in 2004 following Leeds’ relegation from the top flight and played a key role in the Tigers’ rise to the Premier League in 2008. The former Tottenham, Middlesbrough, Everton and Liverpool midfielder remained loyal to Hull following relegation and was made player/coach under previous manager Nigel Pearson during the 2010/11 season. Pearson quit Hull to return to former club Leicester in November last year and local hero Barmby was installed as a popular caretaker-manager, steering the Tigers to an eighth-placed finish, seven points adrift of the top six.
Stoke City: Pre-match stats for Stoke's Premier League clash with Everton
Tuesday, May 01, 2012
The StaffordshireDecember 4, 2011: Barclays Premier League
STOKE CITY 1
STOKE won at Goodison Park for the first time since 1981 thanks to Robert Huth's tidy finish from a half-cleared corner. Stoke's victory, preceded by a pre-match tribute to ex-Evertonian Gary Speed, was their first after a Europa League fixture following four defeats out of four in previous games played in the wake of European ties.
Everton: Howard, Hibbert (Gueye, 83), Baines, Heitinga, Jagielka, Coleman, Cahill, Osman, Fellaini, Bilyaletdinov (Rodwell, 63), Vellios (Stracqualursi, 76).
Stoke City: Sorensen (Begovic, 74), Woodgate (Wilkinson, 53), Wilson, Shawcross, Huth, Shotton, Whelan, Whitehead, Etherington (Upson, 90), Walters, Crouch.
Stoke City: LWDLD
WHO WE'D LIKE TO SIGN
Nikica Jelavic: Ten goals in his first 13 appearances since signing for Everton from Glasgow Rangers is the kind of scoring rate Stoke could do with.
WHO TO BOO
Marouane Fellaini, pictured right: That hair is the biggest fire hazard in these parts since George Berry first swaggered into town three decades ago.
MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Anthony Taylor (Manchester): Sent off three players in his first game of the season between Leeds and Middlesbrough. Was last at the Britannia Stadium for January's home defeat to West Brom.
Stoke City: Begovic, Huth, Wilson, Shawcross, Upson, Shotton, Palacios, Delap, Etherington, Walters, Crouch.
Everton: Howard, Hibbert, Heitinga, Jagielka, Distin, Neville, Gibson, Pienaar, Fellaini, Osman, Jelavic.
NIKICA Jelavic strikes twice in the first half, but Stoke storm back to level with goals from Peter Crouch and Ryan Shawcross.
Stoke City: Prodigal son hoping he's back to stay at Goodison
Tuesday, May 01, 2012
STEVEN Pienaar says he wants to remain at Everton when his loan spell finishes in a fortnight.
And that will disappoint the likes of Stoke after they were among those clubs expressing an interest in the South African international in January. Pienaar has recently recaptured his old Everton form after returning on loan to the club three months ago following a fruitless spell at Tottenham.
Everton boss David Moyes is hoping the figures will add up in the summer because he insists Pienaar himself is keen to remain at Goodison Park. "I don't know if we have or haven't got a chance of keeping Steven Pienaar yet," he said. "We'll try after the season finishes. I'm sure we would all like to keep him, and I actually think Steven would like to stay. "If that's the case, it gives us a chance to make it happen. Obviously he's owned by Tottenham Hotspur, but he's told me he wants to stay.
"You can see how terrific he was against Fulham (on Saturday). He created two goals and all around he looks as if he enjoys his football and feels appreciated. What he does is exceptional."
Meanwhile, Moyes says he is leaving no stone unturned in his quest to hit the ground running at the start of next season and buck their trend of poor starts. "I've tried everything with pre-seasons. Some teams have started the campaign very well and ended up fading away. We don't start it well and pick up. "It's a hard league to be really consistent the whole way through and not have bad periods. "Ours unfortunately tends to be the first half and then we get better. But maybe most people would have probably said Everton would be roughly where they are now." Everton go into tonight's game looking to create daylight between themselves and Liverpool by way of some consolation for their FA Cup semi-final defeat to the Reds. And Everton's current form – unbeaten in their last six league games – at least leaves Moyes optimistic for August. "It fills me with confidence for the start of next season. "You think, 'Hey we're a decent team and can we keep it going and add to it?' We'll see what we can do."
Lou Macari: Fans can power Potters past Everton
Tuesday, May 01, 2012
STOKE will need another rousing rendition from their supporters if they are to get a result against Everton tonight. Motivation is a genuine problem at this stage of the season when you are safely placed like Stoke. One look at that league table and they know the season is effectively over.
As a manager, you can say all you want to try and convince players how important the next fixture is.
But they are only human, believe it or not, and so you are going to have to sound like Winston Churchill and Martin Luther King to really get them going before kick-off. Saturday's home game against Arsenal took care of itself because of the history between the two clubs. I was there at the Britannia and sensed this was no ordinary fixture. And I can only thank my lucky stars I had my earphones on because I'm sure I would have been offended by all that nasty chanting and booing.
I came away from the game thinking there was next to no controversy for once between these two.
But then I was astounded to hear people on radio phone-ins going on about the awful chanting against this player and that. Blimey, we'd better start issuing ear phones for everyone.
Chanting – good, bad and downright tasteless – has been going on in football for years and has always been part of the game. It just goes to show how relatively incident free the game itself was if everyone has to start banging on about what is shouted from the terraces. At least is must have generated quite an atmosphere and that, as I say, wouldn't do Stoke any harm this evening.
I thought one or two of the players did well against Arsenal, while one or two others didn't cover themselves in glory. Peter Crouch was always a handful for the Arsenal back four, while Stoke's own defence did well for the most part against the likes of Robin van Persie. Some people might have expected to see Everton walking round with a black arm band after losing that FA Cup semi-final to Liverpool, of all teams. But if they'd got anything about them, I think they were always going to try and bounce back to make amends for those supporters making that fruitless journey to Wembley.
That's exactly what I saw at Old Trafford when they had already played their part in an entertaining game – even before their late comeback for a terrific 4-4 draw. The Toffees are finishing strongly, as they often do, and there is no ignoring the impact of striker Nikica Jelavic since joining in January.
We all saw him score plenty for Rangers, but could he do the same south of the border? Well, we are getting our answer. Everton seem to be a lot of people's second favourite club because they always appear to be battling against the odds. But for me, they are a club that should be finishing in the top eight every season and should be challenging for cup finals. It's as if expectations have been lowered and they always seem to be in the doldrums, so when they string some wins together everyone seems surprised and get the flags out to celebrate.
Stoke City: TP's loss Everton's gain as Pienaar return inspires revival
Tuesday, May 01, 2012
TONY Pulis, who inquired about signing Steven Pienaar on loan in January, reckons the South African's contribution to Everton's revival has been somewhat overlooked. Nikica Jelavic has grabbed most of the headlines since his January move from Rangers to Everton after bagging 10 goals in his first 13 appearances. Pienaar, meanwhile, has added a sparkle to Everton's previously pedestrian efforts after deciding to leave Tottenham to return to Goodison on loan until the end of the season. Throw in a third January signing, Darron Gibson from Manchester United, and it's easy to see why Everton have pocketed 22 points from a possible 36 since the start of February.
"He's been a very good signing," Pulis says of Jelavic, "but I think Pienaar has done well too. He's got a lot of quality and that's helped them along. "Bringing in three players in January has really helped them because they are three great signings. "It just goes to show that you can do good business in January, despite what some people say." Everton's surge up the table is simply following an Everton tradition, certainly under David Moyes, of dragging their heels for the first half of the season before slipping on their running shoes in the second. "I don't know what David puts in their water," Pulis continued, "but they start slowly and then drive forward in the second half of the season.
"I know they are disappointed not to get to the FA Cup final, but you've got to admire how well they've bounced back since then after drawing at Old Trafford and then winning again on Saturday."
Moyes recently completed a decade as boss at Goodison Park and, given his healthy relationship with chairman Bill Kenwright, it is easy to draw parallels with events at the Britannia Stadium.
"He's a good football man," Pulis says of his opposite number. "He's sensible and gets the job done without too much fuss. "He's been there 10 years and it's testament to him and the football club that he's stayed so long. "I think he's got a lot of respect for the place and for the city. He's had some good times and some bad times, but they have stuck together and reaped the rewards.
"Everton is a club with stability and, traditionally, it's a top, top club." Pulis is desperately hoping to hear Stoke fans replicate Saturday's atmosphere against Arsenal as the club continues winding down towards the summer. He admits motivation is a problem in Stoke's position, but is hopeful for plenty of noise from the sidelines. "It will be a great atmosphere, as it always is when you bring the likes of Liverpool or Everton to the Britannia. "Our fans rise to that kind of challenge and that always helps our players. We wouldn't be where we are today without our supporters." But Pulis admits there could be slightly divided loyalties in the boardroom this evening as the chairman's wife has plenty of relatives with Everton leanings. "It's the Coates family's second favourite team," he jokes, "so Deirdre will have half her family over from Ireland."
Ian Snodin: Signing Steven Pienaar must be Everton FC's priority this summer
May 1 2012
I KNOW it could be difficult but for Everton, keeping hold of Steven Pienaar this summer could be the most important deal in a long time. To say he’s changed Everton’s fortunes since he came back in January would be an understatement. The stats tell their own story, and you realise just how massively influential he’s been. Seven direct assists in the space of four months is impressive, more so considering he did not play in any of the cup games. The headline grabbing antics of Nikica Jelavic have been enormously rewarding, but would the big striker have hit the net so many times without Pienaar’s incisive passing and probing? I look back at when he was sold to Spurs in January 2011, and wonder if we really knew just how vital he was to the team, and what we were losing?
Of course, Everton had tried to keep him and in the end the lad went to North London for better money and a crack at playing Champions League. At the time it was understandable, and I don’t think there was much anger aimed at him from the Everton fans, although some pockets of the crowd were still unforgiving when he initially re-signed. Any of that has long gone now, because Pienaar has done it where it matters. Who knows what would have happened if we’d had him available for selection against Liverpool in the FA cup semi final? His style and ability has lifted the fans and players. Having a player with that ability back in your ranks, as a player really inspires you.
You watch him in training and suddenly it rubs off on the lads around hiom. Maybe they try to raise their games that extra bit, or they do their best to get the ball to Pienaar in advanced positions on the field. They certainly know the South African won’t lose the ball. I don’t think I’ve seen him give it away once since he came back. That in itself is a boost, especially when it’s a highly pressurised game and you can give it to him in tight areas and he’ll retain it, or better still set up an attack. Obviously he has a great partnership with Leighton Baines, but we’ve seen over the past few weeks that Steven can still shine even without that combination. The great fear is that for some reason Spurs could turn around and say ‘no deal’. Who knows what’s going to happen at White Hart Lane this summer. With the talk of Gareth Bale hinting he might want to go and play elsewhere, ironically for Champions League football, maybe they will want Pienaar back? Certainly if they’ve had scouts watching him lately they’ll wonder why they didn’t play him more often. We have to hope that there is a sensible approach from them. The lad wants to stay at Goodison, maybe his style will never fit into their requirement for pace down the flanks, so let’s hope they agree on a reasonable price.
Much respect for Sylvain Distin
MOST people who have ever kicked a ball in a competitive game know it can be difficult when you’ve made an error which has cost your side a result. That’s why the immense response of Sylvain Distin to his error in the FA Cup semi-final has impressed me so much. He’s been playing at left-back and has never once looked like hes lost his self belief or composure. It takes a maturity and perspective to react the way Distin has, and says much about his obvious strength of character as far as I’m concerned. He’s a top competitor.
Everton must make subtle changes to deal with Stoke
STOKE CITY’S Britannia stadium beckons tonight and as usual it’s going to be one of those games when the flexibility of your players is tested the max. Everton have been used to playing teams lately who try to play football, and in return the Blues can play theirs. But Stoke, as we all know, have a very specific approach, focused on getting crosses into the box and onto the forehead of Peter Crouch. It’s been a profitable method and they’ll make life hard for Tim Howard.
But should the Toffees ignore Stoke’s approach, dead-ball threat etc and just play their own game?
I think you run a big risk if you do that. Most sides will take into account the way Stoke play and make some minor adjustments to deal with them. For the Blues it may be playing with a high defensive line to limit the amount of crosses Stoke can get into their area, and it might mean pressing less at their back four and more at their midfield. If Jermaine Pennant is unavailable to play for the Potters it’ll be a considerable loss for Tony Pulis. He’s a talented wide player and one of the reasons they profit in wide areas. Three points will be hard earned.
Tim Howard second to none
YOU’VE GOT TO hand it to Tim Howard, when the time comes to make a vital contribution in a game – he’s almost always focused and ready. Just look at the save he made in the dying minutes at Old Trafford while the Blues were defending and trying to hold onto their hard sought after point.
He is a great athlete and had great reflexes – perfect for a goalkeeper – and he kept us in it.
Then he was at it again at the weekend against Fulham, when a rare attack from the Cottagers almost looked like yielding a goal and sure enough he managed to tip it over the bar, much to the relief of his back four. Tim is such a reliable figure, it must give David Moyes incredible belief to know he has him there, still at a good age for a keeper and recently signed up to a bumper long-term contract which likely means he’ll finish his career on Merseyside. It is no consolation to the likes of Jan Mucha, who probably wanted to force his way into the first team when he first signed, but he is being kept out by one of the best in the business. The young keepers at the club have the perfect man to learn from, and I’m sure Chris Woods is enjoying his split role now where he also coaches with the US men’s national soccer team. He has helped Tim develop too.
Matt Jarvis gives Wolves a fitness boost
by Bill Howell, Birmingham Mail
May 1 2012
MATT Jarvis has given Wolves a boost by declaring he should be fit for Sunday’s final home game of the season against Everton. The flying winger limped from the Liberty Stadium pitch in the latter stages of the 4-4 draw at Swansea having netted his second goal to make it five under Terry Connor’s stewardship. But he believes he will be okay to face David Moyes’ in-form Toffees, who have taken 14 points from six matches and scored eight goals in their last two. “My groin tightened up a little towards the end but I should be fine,” said Jarvis. He revealed the magnificent comeback at the Liberty Stadium was evidence of the fighting spirit still in existence within the dressing room despite relegation being confirmed. “It was a horrible start to the game,” he said. ‘‘It just shows the fight and determination in the squad that we were able to get back involved. “When you score it breeds confidence and that’s what’s happened after Fletch’s header. “We then realised we could get back into the game. “It was nice to score and I think I could have got another one in a similar situation shortly afterwards. “It gave us more confidence and got us back into the game a little bit more going into the second half. “That was when we really showed what we can do.
“We gave it our all and made sure we were pressing high up the pitch and not to let Swansea play.
“It worked and carried on with the attitude we could get something out of the game and that’s what we went on to do. “For the equaliser I ran inside and Fletch went out wide and he rolled the ball across perfectly.” Jarvis says the players take ‘pride’ in playing for Wolves and are determined to end the season on a high. “The pride in the club is still there,” he said. “We are all very proud of playing for Wolves and want to show what it means to the club to get results.”
Everton loss killer blow admits Manchester United boss Ferguson
by Will Swanson.
Tue 01 May 2012 Manchester Click
Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson is still fuming about his side’s inexplicable capitulation at home to Everton. After watching his side concede the title initiative to bitter local rivals Manchester City, losing 1-0 at the Etihad Stadium, Ferguson pointed to the loss of two goals in the final seven minutes at Old Trafford as the turning point. The shock result allowed City back into a title race they appeared to have lost when they were eight points behind just four matches ago. "You can look back at all sorts of games but you've got to look at the Everton one," he said. "That was a ridiculous performance for the last seven minutes to lose two goals. That's maybe cost us the league.
"We know we need to win two games of football, that's another way of looking at it. Of course, we're certainly not in the driving seat anymore."
Cameron Jerome rescues a point for Stoke City against Everton
May 2 2012
Paul Wilson at Britannia Stadium
An inspired substitution by Tony Pulis rescued a point for Stoke against Everton, Cameron Jerome equalising two minutes after taking the field in the second half and leading many to wonder why the home side had persisted with the aerial onslaught for so long on an evening when little went right for Peter Crouch or Kenwyne Jones. It would not be strictly true to say Jerome's goal was the only bit of football Stoke played all night, but it was the first time they had taken on Everton's defenders for pace down the middle. "Cameron is a great player to be able to send on when the game is getting stretched," Pulis said. "I can't take too much credit for the triple substitution because you never know what people will do until you put them on the pitch, but I felt we lacked energy so I knew I had to change something. Everton had been the better team in the first half." From the outset the visitors Everton out-muscled Stoke and pushed them off the ball in most of the 50-50 challenges, but though the home side looked tired they made the first significant openings, when Matthew Etherington volleyed narrowly over Tim Howard's bar then Robert Huth put a header in the same place from a Rory Delap long throw. Everton countered with two Leon Osman shots straight at Asmir Begovic, the second more powerfully struck than the first after Stoke dispossessed Magaye Gueye on the left flank, then contrived to give him the ball back. Gueye's next involvement almost produced a goal, when the substitute expertly beat Jon Walters to make room for a cross from the left then picked out Nikica Jelavic near the penalty spot, only for the ball to strike the normally reliable Croatian on the knee and fly over the bar. Following an amusing cameo in which the Stoke fans demanded to know whether David Moyes was Arsène Wenger in disguise, after a peevish reaction to the referee halting a corner-kick routine for no apparent reason, Everton took a half-time lead with a candidate for scruffiest goal of the season. Peter Crouch was the guilty party, though Tony Hibbert's cross never actually reached its intended target of Tim Cahill, and was deflected on to Crouch and thence past Begovic by Marc Wilson after the scorer had appeared to win the original header. Phil Jagielka had to come to his side's rescue with a diving header at the start of the second half after Walters rounded Hibbert to get a shot on goal, though Everton could have pulled further ahead when Osman and Steven Pienaar worked the ball brilliantly down the right, for the former to snatch at a shot when Marouane Fellaini was better placed alongside him. Some of Everton's close passing was tying Stoke in knots and Ryan Shawcross was correctly booked for a hefty challenge on the elusive Pienaar before Pulis sent all three of his substitutes on at once with just over 20 minutes to go. It was a ploy that brought an instant and spectacular reward, Jerome turning both Everton's central defenders in a determined run from the half-way line before clipping a shot past Howard. After over an hour spent matching Crouch and Jones in the air, perhaps Jagielka and Johnny Heitinga were simply taken by surprise to be confronted by such mobility on the ground. "We just got caught out once but a point's not a bad result here," Moyes said. "If it helps us to a top 10 finish, I'll be happy with that."
Stoke 1 - 1 Everton: Stoke sub Jerome ensures share of the points
2 May 2012
CAMERON Jerome netted two minutes after coming off the bench to secure a point for Stoke against Everton in the Barclays Premier League at the Britannia Stadium. The Toffees had gone in front in the 44th minute thanks to an own goal from the hosts’ former Liverpool striker Peter Crouch, whose unfortunate last touch sent the ball over the line after Tony Hibbert has delivered a cross into the box. Jerome levelled in the 69th minute, making a forward burst and holding off two defenders before firing past Tim Howard. While seventh-placed Everton will be disappointed not to make off with all three points, they have extended their unbeaten run in the league to seven games and, perhaps even more satisfyingly, their lead in the table over Merseyside rivals Liverpool - who are eighth and lost 1-0 to Fulham tonight - to three points with two games remaining. Stoke, meanwhile, are up a place to 13th, two points away from the top half in which they are aiming to finish for the first time since their promotion to the division in 2008. Rory Delap - back in the Potters side fresh from signing a new contract extension - delivered an early trademark long throw which Robert Huth met, only for the referees’ assistant to raise their flag, and at the other end Sylvain Distin nodded a corner wide. Stoke’s Jon Walters was next to try to connect with a delivery, this time from Matthew Etherington, but his reward was a collision with Distin which led to him receiving treatment and having his head heavily bandaged. Etherington then lofted an effort over before Huth headed another Delap missile too high. Everton were struggling to handle the hosts’ aerial bombardment, with Howard just able to fist a cross away from Kenwyne Jones’ head, but when the Toffees pushed forward themselves, Leon Osman managed to get a couple of shots away in quick succession, both of which were saved by Asmir Begovic. After Delap caused another scramble with a throw which Huth met to prompt Howard to punch the ball behind, the visitors went on the attack again, a cross from Magaye Gueye - who had come on a substitute in the 22nd minute for the injured Victor Anichebe - cannoning off Nikica Jelavic and over. Steven Pienaar then saw his fierce strike helped over the bar by Begovic, Gueye drilled wide from the resulting corner, and moments later, Everton snatched the lead. It came in freak circumstances a minute before the break, Pienaar playing a short free-kick to Hibbert, whose cross struck Stoke’s Marc Wilson and then his team-mate Crouch before bouncing past Begovic. A quiet start to the second half was punctuated by a succession of penalty appeals which amounted to nothing, while Osman fluffed his lines after being teed up Pienaar. Stoke boss Tony Pulis refreshed things by deploying his three substitutes in one fell swoop in the 67th minute as Jerome, Ricardo Fuller and Glenn Whelan replaced Walters, Crouch and Delap, and his decision paid off almost immediately as the Potters pulled level. Jerome showed great determination to power forward and he got the better of Phil Jagielka and John Heitinga to force the ball past Howard and in. Jelavic attempted to restore the visitors’ lead in the final 10 minutes but miscued and Stoke might have won it themselves late on, Jones shooting over and Howard getting down to save a deflected Huth free-kick.
Pulis happy as Jerome rewards fightback
Stoke City 1 Everton 1
The Britannia Stadium
Wednesday 02 May 2012
Peter Crouch, no doubt hopeful Roy Hodgson's appointment as England manager will revive his prospects of going to Euro 2012, marked the new era by finding the net last night. Unhappily for Stoke, it was an unwitting own goal, but the win Everton needed to move five points clear of Liverpool in seventh place was transformed into a draw by Cameron Jerome's sublime finish.
Three minutes after replacing Crouch midway through the second half, the former Birmingham striker burned off both centre-backs before chipping Tim Howard with aplomb for his eighth goal of a season in which he has played only five complete games. Jerome's pace and panache ensured a just outcome, with Everton, having been the more composed side, looking weary in the later stages and being relieved to see Howard smother Robert Huth's shot in the final seconds. Stoke's run now stands at one victory in nine Premier League fixtures, yet manager Tony Pulis hailed "a great result". He added: "I thought Everton were the better side in the first half. Their goal was a bit fortuitous but they deserved it. We were better in the second half and deserved the draw." Praising Jerome, a £4m recruit last summer, Pulis added: "He's been fantastic, a credit to himself and professional football. He never moans and groans, and he's a great player to bring on when the game's getting stretched." Stoke now face two "cup finals" according to the Welshman, their final games being against relegation-threatened Queen's Park Rangers and Bolton. David Moyes, his Everton counterpart, shrugged when asked whether finishing above Liverpool was now the main objective. "I'll be pleased if we finish in the top 10," he said, unaware this relatively modest target had been achieved. "If you'd offered me that at the start of the season, I'd have taken it. I thought we played very well and were unlucky not to take more from it." Everton built more eye-catchingly but were denied a sight of goal until the 27th minute when Leon Osman's drive drew a diving save from Asmir Begovic. When early substitute Magaye Gueye skipped past Walters in the 35th minute, the cross flashed into the penalty area before hitting a surprised Nikica Jelavic on the knee and looping over. Steven Pienaar was next to threaten, Begovic tipping his 20-yard shot behind.
The pressure reaped an improbable reward in the final minute of the first half following a short free-kick played wide by Pienaar. Tony Hibbert's cross struck Marc Wilson in a congested six-yard box and hit Crouch on the back before rebounding into the net. Pulis went for a triple substitution, Jerome announcing his arrival by chasing Matt Upson's ball out of defence and muscling between Phil Jagielka and Johnny Heitinga as they chased back. His shot clipped the lunging Jagielka before drifting past Howard to send the decibel levels soaring around the stadium.
Man of the match Pienaar.
Match rating 7/10.
Referee A Taylor (Cheshire).
Pulis hails triple substitution... but blames fatigue on Stoke's sluggish performance against Everton
May 2 2012
Stoke boss Tony Pulis admitted tiredness in his team had prompted his bold triple substitution in the Barclays Premier League clash with Everton - and was delighted with the way the move paid off.
The Potters, who were playing their 54th game of a gruelling season, fell behind in the 44th minute at the Britannia Stadium through Peter Crouch's own goal. At that stage the hosts had only really threatened with efforts stemming from the long throws of Rory Delap, but they were reinvigorated in the 67th minute when Pulis chose to make all three substitutions at once. Tough it out: Pulis blamed tiredness for Stoke's below-par performance Crouch, Jon Walters and Delap were replaced by Cameron Jerome, Ricardo Fuller and Glenn Whelan and within two minutes, Stoke were level.
Jerome was the man to net the equaliser, powering through Phil Jagielka and John Heitinga to force the ball past Tim Howard, and the much-improved Potters might have gone on to win it from there.
In the end it finished 1-1, to the satisfaction of Pulis, who was reluctant to take too much praise for the second-half intervention he said he had made simply because his side were looking so weary.
Referring to the substitutions, Pulis said: 'Sometimes you get them right, sometimes you don't.
'I'm standing here and I'm no genius - you don't know until they come on what effect they will have, and if anybody tells you any different, well then I'm telling you the truth. 'I just felt Crouchy and one or two of them looked tired tonight. It was always a case of giving Rory an hour and then bringing him off because he hasn't played for a while. I just felt it was right to do. Jon Walters has had a long season. 'That is 54 games now. We played Arsenal on Saturday (another 1-1 home draw) and the top teams take a lot of energy out of you. Everton are a top team, so it is a great result for us tonight.' Reflecting on the game as a whole, Pulis added: 'I thought Everton were the better team in the first half without a doubt. Their goal was a little bit fortuitous, but they deserved it. 'In the second half I thought we came more into the game. We looked a little bit tired and jaded in the first half, but second half I thought we deserved to get a point out of it.' The result moved Stoke up a place to 13th with two games to go, two points away from the top half in which they are aiming to finish for the first time since their promotion to the Premier League in 2008. Seventh-placed Everton, meanwhile, stretched their unbeaten run in the league to seven games. Making a point: Jerome's effort ensured the hosts earned a share of the spoils Making a point: Jerome's effort ensured the hosts earned a share of the spoils Perhaps even more satisfyingly, they also extended their lead in the table over Liverpool - who are eighth and lost 1-0 to Fulham tonight - to three points, but Toffees manager David Moyes insists his focus is also just on making the top 10.
Asked about the prospect of finishing above Liverpool, Moyes said: 'I feel that if we can just try to keep winning, I will be pleased that we finish in the top 10. 'I think tonight's point might just about get us that. If you said that to me at the start of the season, I would have taken that all day long.
'Certainly our form from January might be better than top-10, but at the start of the season, I would have said "no, I'm happy with that".'
STOKE 1 - EVERTON 1: CAMERON JEROME STRIKES KEY BLOW IN POLLS
The Daily Express
Wednesday May 2,2012
By John Wragg
PETER CROUCH scored a goal in front of Stuart Pearce, but it will not do his England or Olympic hopes any good. Pearce, now solely in charge of the British Olympic team and scouting for new England boss Roy Hodgson, saw Crouch put Everton ahead with a first-half own-goal. Crouch came off the pitch shaking his head. Not the best way to impress Hodgson after being ignored for so long by his predecessor Fabio Capello. For Cameron Jerome it was a great night, starting his 200th league game from the substitutes’ bench and getting a magnificent second-half equaliser within two minutes of coming on for Crouch. Everton arrived with enough goals to their name – 12 in three games – to worry the home side.But instead it was that old Stoke weapon, Rory Delap’s long throw, which caused all the early danger. Every time Delap hurled in the ball it caused problems in Everton’s defence and closest was Robert Huth in the 17th minute with a powerful header that sped just over the crossbar. Everton’s form in the second half of the season has been outstanding with only two defeats in 15 league games, but they did not look that confident as Stoke bombarded them.
Jermaine Pennant was left out of the Stoke squad after being arrested for drink driving at the weekend, and it was left to Matthew Etherington to use the flanks on either side to help out Delap with a few crosses into the middle. But when Ryan Shawcross made a 35th-minute error it almost gave Everton a fortunate goal. Shawcross tried to clear a squared pass from substitute Magaye Gueye but the ball deflected up and off Nikica Jelavic’s knee to clear the bar A superb fingertip save from Asmir Begovic as Steven Pienaar tried an angled shot in the 41st minute was an Everton warning. Inside another three minutes Everton were ahead. It was lucky and scruffy, Tony Hibbert’s cross deflecting off first Marc Wilson and then Crouch for an own-goal. An attempt to up the pressure and pace gave Stoke more momentum in the second half, but it was still laboured football, giving Everton time to cover and smother the danger. Maybe they were getting their money’s worth out of Delap, having just given him a new 12-month contract, as he kept wiping the ball on his red undershirt and throwing it at Everton in the hope of breaking through. Boss Tony Pulis lost patience and in the 66th minute tried something different with a triple change, including taking off Delap. It paid off inside two minutes with Jerome taking a through ball in his own half and running away from defenders John Heitinga and Phil Jagielka to score a superb solo equaliser.
Stoke 1-1 Everton: Peter Crouch scores 1,000th Prem goal of the season... in his own net
May 2 2012-05-02 The Daily Mirror
Quick fire striker Cameron Jerome took just five minutes to prove a point to Tony Pulis by snatching Stoke a draw. The frustrated striker arrived last summer expecting to lead the line for the Potters but has spent most of the season stuck on the bench. That's prompted talk of a showdown meeting with Pulis in the summer and he will go into that pow-wow armed with plenty of ammunition following this effort. Stoke were slumping to a rare home defeat courtesy of a Peter Crouch own goal when Jerome was ordered into action as a sub. And his first spot of action five minutes later brought the leveller as he chased down a long punt and muscled his way to the ball ahead of two Everton defenders. He charged his way into the box and beat Tim Howard with a shot that took a slight deflection off Phil Jagielka as the defender tried to rescue the situation. His combative introduction had given Stoke an edge they had been missing before his arrival. Until then Peter Crouch and Kenywne Jones had lumbered their way through the opening 65th minutes. Although Crouch did get his bid for an England recall off to a goal scoring start - by sticking the ball into his own net. And on the day of Roy Hodgson's appointment Crouch had the perfect opportunity to press his claims by adding to his tally of 14 goals this season. Instead he only managed to hand Everton the upper hand in their tribal battle to beat Liverpool to a higher spot in the table. The Toffees never looked like matching the four goals they scored in each of their past three games but a draw at Stoke is a creditable performance these days. They were forced to weather an early battering from a Potters team minus Jermaine Pennant following his arrest for alleged drink-driving on Sunday morning. Matty Etherington tried to catch Tim Howard by surprise with a quick volley and Robert Huth twice narrowly missed the target with headers from Rory Delap throws. But Everton soon found their feet. Unfortunately the normally prolific Nikica Jelavic could not locate his boots when presented with a chance - letting the ball bounce off his knee and over instead. But with Steven Pienaar having a fierce shot deflected over and Magaye Gueye blasting wide, Everton were beginning to look like their old selves again. They might not have expected their lead to arrive in such comical fashion though. Pienaar fed 45th minute free-kick out wide for Tony Hibbert to cross towards Tim Cahill. Defender Marc Wilson got in first but his unconvincing clearing header smacked into Crouch's back and bobbled in for the 1,000th Premier League goal of the season. For a long time it looked like the winner. In the end they nearly lost. Howard had to be sharp to hold a Huth free-kick and secure the draw.
Stoke: Begovic 6, Huth 6, Upson 6, Shawcross 6, Wilson 6, Walters 7 (Fuller 65th, 5), Whitehead 6, Delap 5 (Whelan 65th, 5), Etherington 6, Jones 5, Crouch 5 (Jerome 65th, 6) Subs: Sorensen, Shotton, Woodgate, Palacios
Everton: Howard 7, Hibbert 6, Heitinga 5, Jagielka 5, Distin 4, Anichebe 4 (Gueye 23, 7 (Stracqualursi 78th, 4), Osman 7 (McFadden (88th, 4), Fellaini 5, Pienaar 7, Cahill 6, Jelavic 6. Subs: Mucha, Barkley, Coleman, Duffy
Referee: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire)
Stoke 1 Everton 1
02nd May 2012
The ex-Liverpool striker suffered the ultimate agony when he scored a freak own-goal just before half-time against his old Mersey foes. And the England striker looked set for a miserable night when manager Tony Pulis replaced him after 67 minutes in a TREBLE substitution. But it took Jerome no time at all to get Crouchy off the hook, as he bundled in Stoke’s 69th-minute equaliser for his eighth goal of the season. Jerome, 25, has made just six league starts since his £4m summer move from Birmingham. But City boss Pulis praised his sub rather than his substitutions, admitting: “Sometimes you get them right, sometimes you don’t. “I’m not a genius and you don’t know how effective substitutions are going to be. Anyone who tells you different isn’t telling the truth. “Crouchy looked tired, as did one or two of them. We played Arsenal last Saturday and the top teams take energy from you. “But Cammy has shown a fantastic attitude every time he has come in and is a credit to himself and professional football.” The Potters spent too much of the first half relying on Rory Delap’s long throws, though Matthew Etherington’s volley from the edge of the box dipped just over. At the other end the usually deadly Nikica Jelavic cursed himself as he failed to reach a Victor Anichebe cross and then kneed another centre from sub Magaye Gueye just over. The opener came after Tony Hibbert aimed a cross at Tim Cahill. Marc Wilson headed downwards but could only smash his attempted clearance off Crouch’s back and the ball rolled cruelly past Asmir Begovic.
Pulis’ treble substitution saw Crouch, Delap and Jon Walters replaced by Jerome, Glenn Whelan and Ricardo Fuller. Two minutes later, Stoke were level as Jerome burst between Johnny Heitinga and Phil Jagielka to beat Tim Howard with a shot that went in off Jagielka’s leg. Toffees boss David Moyes was just happy to have secured a definite top 10 finish. He said: “At the start of the season, I’d have settled for that.”
STAR MAN — STEVEN PIENAAR (EVERTON)
STOKE: Begovic 6, Huth 7, Upson 7, Shawcross 7, Wilson 6, Walters 6, Whitehead 6, Delap 6, Etherington 7, Jones 6, Crouch 5. Subs: Jerome (Crouch 67) 7, Fuller (Walters 67) 7, Whelan (Delap 67) 6. Not used: Sorensen, Shotton, Woodgate, Palacios. Booked: Shawcross, Whelan.
EVERTON: Howard 7, Hibbert 7, Heitinga 6, Jagielka 6, Distin 6, Anichebe 5, Osman 7, Fellaini 6, Pienaar 8, Cahill 6, Jelavic 6. Subs: Gueye (Anichebe 22) 6, Stracqualursi (Gueye 79) 5, McFadden (Osman 89) 5. Not used: Mucha, Duffy, Barkley, Coleman. Booked: Pienaar.
Moyes is hot on £8m Rod
May 1 2012-05-02 The Sun
Rodriguez, 22, has one year left on his deal and is also attracting interest from Fulham and newly promoted Southampton. But Toffees boss Moyes is keen to snap up the 21-goal hitman to play alongside Nikica Jelavic. Everton will be reluctant to pay the Clarets’ asking price but the fee is being forced up by the rising interest in the youngster. Saints had a £5.5m bid KO’d in January and Newcastle also made an enquiry for the England Under-21 striker. Moyes could raise the money by selling Three Lions midfielder Jack Rodwell to Chelsea.
Liverpool FC and Everton FC fans in court after FA Cup semi-final Wembley arrests
by Ben Rossington, Liverpool Echo
May 2 2012
LIVERPOOL FC and Everton FC fans arrested at the FA Cup semi-final last month have appeared in court. Buy Liverpool Memorabilia from Ebay Supporters from both sides were held by the Met police for alleged offences before, during and after the Reds’ 2-1 victory at Wembley on Saturday, April 14. They all appeared at Hendon magistrates court this week where some accepted their guilt while others challenged the charges. Liam Cartmel, of West Oakhill Park, Old Swan, threw a coin at rival supporters while watching the game, the court was told. The 28-year-old admitted throwing a missile at a spectators area, an offence under the Football (Offences) Act, and was fined £300 with a £15 victim surcharge and £85 prosecution costs. Anthony Corrie, 34, of Eaton Road, West Derby, also appeared in court and admitted being drunk and disorderly at the stadium. Corrie was fined £50 with a £15 victim surcharge and was ordered to pay prosecution costs of £50. Everton fan Stephen Gibson was caught with a lit firework during the match, magistrates were told. The 22-year-old, of Moorland Road, Maghull, admitted possession of a firework or flare at a sporting event and was fined £200, and ordered to pay a surcharge and prosecution costs totalling £100. Goodison Park season-ticket holder Keith Davies, 49, of Queens Drive, Walton, denied racially or religiously aggravated common assault and assault by beating in Olympic Way, in the shadow of the stadium, after an incident before the match. He was granted unconditional bail to stand trial on July 5 at Willesden magistrates court. Michael Duffy, a 22-year-old Everton supporter, is accused of causing criminal damage to a car but had his case adjourned until May 9. Duffy, of Beresford Street, Everton, had not yet entered a plea and his bail requires him to stay at least a mile from Goodison Park for the four hours before kick-off of a home game and for two hours after. A Chelsea fan and two Tottenham Hotspur supporters also appeared in court after being arrested following their semi-final.
Stoke 1 Everton FC 1: Draw edges Blues closer to target of finishing above Liverpool
May 2 2012
IN THE esteem of the pub bore it’s the acid test of any footballing side – can they do it on a rainy Tuesday night in Stoke? For Everton the answer was almost but not quite, as a game of two disparate halves summed up their season and neatly underlined the areas David Moyes needs to strengthen in the summer if his team are to prosper. A point at the Britannia was certainly not disastrous. Not when you consider that the Potters have gone unbeaten at home against Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool and both Manchester clubs this season. Plus, Liverpool’s loss to Fulham means they now have three points on their Merseyside rivals with just two games left.
But the cavalier way the Toffees have unpicked sides recently was not enough to fell these most obdurate of opponents. With Darron Gibson’s steadying presence in the centre of the park missing through injury, not to mention being deprived of Phil Neville’s experience, the Blues still played the prettier football but were ultimately unable to widen the gap on Liverpool to five points in the contest to finish seventh. Everton’s manager is still determined to win that particular race, even if his thoughts may also soon turn to the summer and planning as best he can to do early business – just like most ambitious clubs will, before the European Championships distort the market.
Pace and creativity down the flanks, and a player capable of playing the number 10 role to complement Nikica Jelavic would seem to be priority items at the top of his shopping list, and both might have made a difference last night. Victor Anichebe has made regular goalscoring contributions from the bench this season, but called to start this game he lasted barely 25 minutes before limping off to uncharitable howls from the home fans, who were unhappy an injured player did not sprint off the pitch. It was typically tough luck for the big forward, who had nearly created an opening for Nikica Jelavic after five minutes when he used his strength to turn in the area and drilled a low ball across goal which the Croatian almost latched onto. At the other end Robert Huth crept ahead of Everton’s central defenders to head straight at Tim Howard from a Rory Delap throw. Then Matthew Etherington seized on John Heitinga’s defensive header to volley narrowly over with his first touch. The early stages were surprisingly open, with Sylvain Distin taking his cue from injured team mate Leighton Baines to jink his way down the left flank, and fire a tasty cross which just evaded Jelavic’s head at the far post. Typically, Delap’s throws had been causing Everton a few nervy moments, but they almost benefited from their own version, when Tony Hibbert’s almighty hurl dropped to Marouane Fellaini. The Belgian’s shot was blocked, but Leon Osman picked up the loose ball and tested Asmir Begovic with a low shot. Certainly the visitors were keeping the ball far more adeptly, but Pulis’ men were also asking questions with a string of set pieces. While Everton’s backline dealt manfully with the barrage they faced, their new goal scoring hero was working hard to run the channels and hold up the ball, ably supported by Pienaar – switched in Anichebe’s absence to a central attacking role. And their endeavour was rewarded when Jelavic was fouled by Matthew Upson. As Stoke’s defence steadied for a punt into the area, Pienaar shuttled the ball to Hibbert who whipped another dangerous delivery into the box. Cahill’s mere presence unsettled Delap, who headed down but the ball skewed off Peter Crouch’s back and past Begovic. It was a scrappy goal at odds with Everton’s otherwise patient passing approach, but nobody was complaining. They started the second half in similarly impressive fashion, as Osman combined nicely with Pienaar down the right flank only for the former to snatch wildly at his shot after cutting into the penalty area.
But that was to be the highlight. It was plan B time for the Potters; on came Glenn Whelan, Ricardo Fuller and Cameron Jerome, and the changes yielded almost an instant impact. Stoke took a short throw in their own half, and Jerome burst forward bypassing Everton’s midfield to charge past the wrong-footed Phil Jagielka, and score with a deflected shot off the unfortunate England defender.
The Blues seemed shocked by Stoke’s injection of pace, and looked increasingly weary as the game dragged on, with their attacking efforts on the decline as Kenwyne Jones almost volleyed a late winner from a corner. The hosts might have scored right at the death too, after they broke from their own area and only a canny professional foul by Pienaar halted Fuller’s ominous run on goal. Then Tim Howard saved smartly from Huth’s deflected free-kick. The point means Everton are guaranteed a top 10 finish at least, although few will be celebrating too wildly at that. The manner in which the Blues played in the first half was infinitely more promising, but they remain a work in progress in need of some subtle flavouring before they can rise to the challenge of such rainy nights in Staffordshire.
STOKE CITY (4-4-2): Begovic, Huth, Shawcross, Upson, Wilson, Walters (Fuller 67), Delap (Whelan 67), Whitehead, Etherington, Crouch (Jerome 67), Jones. Subs: Sorensen, Shotton, Woodgate, Palacios.
Cards: Wilson, Shawcross
Goals: Jerome (68)
EVERTON (4-4-2): Howard, Hibbert, Heitinga, Jagielka, Distin, Osman (McFadden 89), Cahill, Fellaini, Pienaar, Jelavic, Anichebe (Gueye 21, Stracqualursi 79). Subs: Mucha, Barkley, Coleman, Duffy.
Goals: Crouch (own goal, 44)
REFEREE: Anthony Taylor
Everton FC have surpassed David Moyes expectations with top-10 finish
By Greg O'Keeffe
May 2 2012
Everton's Leon Osman in action against Stoke City's Matthew Upson during the Premiership match at the Britannia Stadium. DAVID MOYES admits Everton FC have surpassed his expectations for this season – after their draw with Stoke guaranteed them a top 10 finish. The Toffees were held 1-1 by Tony Pulis’ men at the Britannia Stadium last night, although the point widened the gap over Liverpool in the Premier League table to three points, and ensured they will finish no lower than 10th. Moyes, who insisted his side were unfortunate not to secure another three points after Peter Crouch’s own goal gave them a first half lead, was in pragmatic mood afterwards.
“We will just try to keep winning, and I’ll be pleased with top 10,” he said. “I think the point just gets us top 10. Certainly our form from January might be better than the top 10, but I would have taken that all day long at the start of season. “I thought we played very well, and we were a wee bit unlucky not to take more from it. But taking a point here is not the worst result. “It was a fortuitous goal, but we deserved to go ahead, I felt. We played well, I was really pleased with how we performed.” The Blues comfortably played the more stylish football in the face of their host’s trademark tactics, and Moyes welcomed his side’s display – even if they were unable to maintain their free-scoring streak. He said: “I felt we started well. We moved Steven (Pienaar) in, brought Magaye on, and kept playing some nice football, keeping the ball. “I think our style has improved as the season has gone on, partly because of the introduction of Steven Pienaar. The loss of Mikel Arteta was always going to affect us, but if you watch Everton over the past few weeks, you can see the confidence in the side. “Players are taking the ball, passing and they now believe they have a centre-forward (Nikica Jelavic) who can nick them a goal, though he couldn’t do it tonight.
“So we’re happy with the style of play.” Stoke equalised when sub Cameron Jerome scored a deflection off Phil Jagielka on 69 minutes, and Moyes admitted he was disappointed his side didn’t cope better with the Potters’ raft of second half substitutions. “You know Stoke are always a threat,” he said. “And they threatened two or three times with throw-ins that were headed over. That was the main threat we had to deal with in the first half. “I thought in the main the boys played really well at the back. “You will always have to deal with different bits of play with Stoke, and if you are not on your guard they can catch you out. “We were just caught out a wee bit for their goal. Though it was a bit fortuitous, in that it took a touch off Jagielka. “In the second half Stoke were better, but I always felt we were liable to score a second goal. We were just unable to craft it at the end. But I am pleased with the performance, there was nothing wrong with the way we played.”
Stoke 1 Everton FC 1: EFC in seventh heaven
May 2 2012
SEVENTH-HEAVEN looks to be Everton FC’s after a battling point against Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium. The Toffees extended their lead over Merseyside rivals Liverpool – who lost 1-0 at home to Fulham – to three points with just two league games remaining. Boasting a superior goal difference, Everton can all-but ensure they finish above their neighbours for the first time since 2005 with victory at Wolves this weekend. David Moyes’ side are now unbeaten in seven Premier League games, losing just two of their last 16 since January. It has been an impressive run of form. They will, however, view this as two points lost, having led through an own goal by Peter Crouch – a former Liverpool striker – and having looked in control for much of the match. Moyes made two enforced changes from the side which had won so convincingly against Fulham at the weekend. Both Phil Neville and Darron Gibson picked up minor knocks in that 4-0 success, and were replaced in the starting eleven by Tim Cahill and Victor Anichebe. Tony Pulis, who had spoken in his programme notes of how Stoke were hoping to “emulate” the Everton model of affording their manager time and patience, made three changes following his side’s 1-1 draw with Arsenal.
Out went Glenn Whelan, Ryan Shotton and Jermaine Pennant, with Matthew Upson, Kenwyne Jones and long-throw specialist Rory Delap all introduced. Pennant, charged with drink driving following a collision in the early hours of Sunday morning, was not included in the 18-man squad.
Everton had scored at least four goals in each of their previous three Premier League fixtures prior to kick off. And though there were few glimpses of the early whirlwind which had blown Fulham away last time out, the visitors’ passing was neat and tidy, with Steven Pienaar, Cahill and, in particular, Anichebe offering decent support to the in-form Nikica Jelavic early on. The Nigerian international saw half-hearted appeals for a penalty turned away in the sixth minute as he tumbled under Ryan Shawcross’ challenge, while at the other end Sylvain Distin produced an excellent defensive header to deny Jon Walters. It was Matthew Etherington who had the game’s first real chance on 14 minutes, volleying over after John Heitinga’s header had fallen to him 25 yards out. Robert Huth then sent a header onto the top of the net from a Delap throw. Anichebe would be forced off after just 21 minutes, following a challenge with Upson. He was replaced by Magaye Gueye, with Pienaar pushed into a more central role behind Jelavic. Leon Osman forced a save from Asmir Begovic in the Stoke goal with a first-time effort after Tony Hibbert’s cross had landed at his feet in the box, and then again moments later after collecting Cahill’s pass in his stride. Tim Howard was forced to turn a looping Huth header over the bar under pressure on the half-hour mark, with Jelavic unable to adjust his feet quickly enough to convert Gueye’s cross four minutes later, as Everton monopolised possession. Distin’s physicality was a welcome addition against the powerful Walters, but Everton patently missed the width and quality of Leighton Baines down the left hand side. Pienaar forced a fingertip save from Begovic on 41 minutes, with Gueye driving wildly wide soon after. Stoke, meanwhile, were left with little option but to look long to Jones and leading scorer Crouch. It was a tactic that seldom threatened, though Jones did send one header wide from yet another Delap missile. Everton’s general play deserved reward, and a minute before half time, it duly arrived. Pienaar worked a short free kick to Hibbert, whose cross caused confusion in the Stoke box, with Delap’s attempted clearing headed bouncing off the unaware Crouch and trickling past Begovic’s dive to give the visitors the lead. Stoke had offered little by way of threat during a sterile first-half performance but, after a half-time talking-to from their manager no doubt, were in more aggressive mood after the break. They had appeals for handball against Hibbert waved away by referee Anthony Taylor, while Osman slashed Pienaar’s cut back wide at the other end, with Marouane Fellaini better placed to meet the ball behind him. It was a tepid affair, illuminated only by flashes of inspiration from Pienaar. Stoke made a triple change midway through the second period, sending on Cameron Jerome, Ricardo Fuller and Glenn Whelan for Delap, Walters and the unfortunate Crouch. And within a minute, it had paid dividends. Jerome beat Heitinga to a loose ball in the middle of the pitch, and drove at Phil Jagielka and scored with a left-foot strike that flicked off Jagielka on its way past Howard. The former Birmingham City man was clearly in the mood, beating Jagielka again to send a header over the top on 71 minutes, while the unpredictable Fuller was causing problems of his own as the home side enjoyed their best spell of the match.
Moyes sent on Denis Stracqualursi for Gueye as his side sought to regain some initiative late on, but too often their neat approach play was not matched by a final finish. The sight of Stracqualursi and Fellaini colliding as they both went for a Jelavic cross late on summed up a nothing second-half performance. Indeed, they were eventually indebted to the profligacy of the woeful Jones, who hooked over the bar in stoppage time from close range, and to the safe hands of Howard, who repelled Huth’s deflected free kick with the game’s last act.
Stoke vs Everton: Sub Jerome makes his point
May 2 2012
This is Staffordshire
Cameron Jerome netted two minutes after coming off the bench to secure a 1-1 draw for Stoke against Everton in the Barclays Premier League at the Britannia Stadium. The Toffees had gone in front in the 44th minute thanks to an own goal from the hosts' former Liverpool striker Peter Crouch, whose unfortunate last touch sent the ball over the line after Tony Hibbert has delivered a cross into the box. Jerome levelled in the 69th minute, making a forward burst and holding off two defenders before firing past Tim Howard. While seventh-placed Everton will be disappointed not to make off with all three points, they have extended their unbeaten run in the league to seven games and, perhaps even more satisfyingly, their lead in the table over Merseyside rivals Liverpool - who are eighth and lost 1-0 to Fulham - to three points with two games remaining. Stoke, meanwhile, are up a place to 13th, two points away from the top half in which they are aiming to finish for the first time since their promotion to the division in 2008. Rory Delap - back in the Potters side fresh from signing a new contract extension - delivered an early trademark long throw which Robert Huth met, only for the referees' assistant to raise their flag, and at the other end Sylvain Distin nodded a corner wide. Stoke's Jon Walters was next to try to connect with a delivery, this time from Matthew Etherington, but his reward was a collision with Distin which led to him receiving treatment and having his head heavily bandaged. Etherington then lofted an effort over before Huth headed another Delap missile too high. Everton were struggling to handle the hosts' aerial bombardment, with Howard just able to fist a cross away from Kenwyne Jones' head, but when the Toffees pushed forward themselves, Leon Osman managed to get a couple of shots away in quick succession, both of which were saved by Asmir Begovic. After Delap caused another scramble with a throw which Huth met to prompt Howard to punch the ball behind, the visitors went on the attack again, a cross from Magaye Gueye - who had come on a substitute in the 22nd minute for the injured Victor Anichebe - cannoning off Nikica Jelavic and over. Steven Pienaar then saw his fierce strike helped over the bar by Begovic, Gueye drilled wide from the resulting corner, and moments later, Everton snatched the lead. It came in freak circumstances a minute before the break, Pienaar playing a short free-kick to Hibbert, whose cross struck Stoke's Marc Wilson and then his team-mate Crouch before bouncing past Begovic. A quiet start to the second half was punctuated by a succession of penalty appeals which amounted to nothing, while Osman fluffed his lines after being teed up Pienaar.
Stoke boss Tony Pulis refreshed things by deploying his three substitutes in one fell swoop in the 67th minute as Jerome, Ricardo Fuller and Glenn Whelan replaced Walters, Crouch and Delap, and his decision paid off almost immediately as the Potters pulled level. Jerome showed great determination to power forward and he got the better of Phil Jagielka and John Heitinga to force the ball past Howard and in. Jelavic attempted to restore the visitors' lead in the final 10 minutes but miscued and Stoke might have won it themselves late on, Jones shooting over and Howard getting down to save a deflected Huth free-kick.
Stoke City: Subs help ailing Stoke achieve the goal standard
Wednesday, May 02, 2012
TONY Pulis made a rare triple substitution to inspire Stoke's comeback in last night's 1-1 draw against Everton, but insisted: "I'm no genius." Pulis swung the game decisively Stoke's way as super sub Cameron Jerome netted their equaliser three minutes after stepping off the bench.
"Sometimes you get them right, sometimes you don't, I'm no genius," said Pulis. "Every manager will tell you that you don't really know what you are going to get until they come on.
"Cammy is a great player to have coming on when the game is getting stretched. "When it opens up and there's space behind, he will exploit it because of his power and pace. "Every time he comes on his attitude is a credit to himself and everybody in the dressing room. "He never moans and groans. He gets on with it and is very good in lots of respects. "It was also lovely to see Ric doing one or two magnificent things. It was a great reminder of what Ric has been like over the last five or six years."
Stoke were chasing the game after a rather lacklustre first half had seen them fall behind in cruel circumstances when the ball ricocheted off Peter Crouch and into their goal. "I thought Everton were the better team in the first half," Pulis continued. "The goal was a bit fortuitous, Crouchy knew nothing about it, but they deserved that. "Crouchy looked tired, in fact one or two looked tired. It was always a case of giving Rory (Delap) an hour, while Jon Walters has had a long season. We played Arsenal on Saturday and the top teams take a lot of energy out of you. "But in the second half we came more into the game and deserved the point. "It's another three-game week … we should be used to it now. "But we've got two cup finals coming up now. QPR away will be a bearpit, while Bolton will come here fighting for their lives on the last day. "The important thing is they rest, it's more mental and physical. Now they will have a couple of days off." Jermaine Pennant, who has recently been charged and questioned over alleged motoring and assault offences, was missing from last night's squad. But Pulis said the 29-year-old winger was absent because of a slight hamstring injury picked up against Arsenal. "He came off on Saturday with it," he said. "He trained lightly yesterday (Monday) and then felt it again this morning (Tuesday)." Meanwhile, Delap has put pen to paper on a new one-year contract extension to the end of next season. "I think I've always kept myself in decent nick," said the veteran midfielder, "and always wanted to extend my contract here.
"Now it's down to me to make sure I am playing and not just sitting on the substitutes' bench."
Pulis added: "Rory is the ultimate professional and it's vitally important we look after certain players at this club who started all this off."
Stoke City: Is honest the best policy? Frustrated Jerome will soon find out
Wednesday, May 02, 2012
I'M SUMMARISING here, but Cameron Jerome reckons he's spent so much of this season as a spectator, he hasn't known whether to get his hopes up for the next campaign or just invest in an "Early Bird" season-ticket. That was the gist of the striker's after-match comments which get full marks for honesty, but suggest he's not looking for a career in the diplomatic service when he hangs up his boots. To be fair, the 25-year-old backed up his opinions with his performance on the pitch last night as he scored a stunning 69th-minute goal to earn Tony Pulis's side a draw with Everton.
His eighth of the campaign turned the tide just three minutes after Pulis made a triple substitution, bringing on Jerome, Ricardo Fuller and Glenn Whelan for Peter Crouch, Jon Walters and Rory Delap.
The impact was as explosive as Jerome's post-match views as the striker picked the ball up just inside his own half, burst between two defenders and hammered it past Tim Howard.
The superb individual strike came out of nowhere but, overall, was no less than Stoke deserved against one of the form teams in the Premier League. It was reward for Pulis and reward for supporters who got right behind their side after Everton's 44th-minute opener appeared to have dented City's chances of finishing in the top 10. Last night was 10 years since Souleyman Oulare fired Stoke to promotion by scoring at Cardiff City with his bum. The play-off goal remains one of the most celebrated in Stoke's history – particularly because Potters and Cardiff fans aren't known for turning the other cheek – but we could have done without the anniversary special last night.
If Oulare's winner had an element of fortune about it as he deflected home James O'Connor's free-kick with his rear end, that was nothing on last night's opener as Marc Wilson headed an Everton free-kick against an unsuspecting Peter Crouch, who didn't know what had happened until the ball had bobbled off his shoulder and over the line. The goal was more than a little harsh on Stoke, who weren't as slick as Everton on the ball, but had threatened whenever Rory Delap wound up on the touchline and unleashed hell in the visitors' six-yard box. Everton mostly kept their cool under pressure, although chants of "Are you Wenger in disguise?" rained from the Boothen End when Steven Pienaar flapped his arms in disgust after being made to retake a corner. Three days on from the Arsenal game and it's clear that Arsene Wenger's tantrums are the gift that will just keep on giving. Some entrepreneurial City fans have even had T-shirts made featuring the Wenger tantrum and bearing the slogan "Let's All Do The Wenger". "They're selling like hot-cakes," said the Rob Ledgar, the man behind the shirts. No-one took the mickey out of David Moyes in this manner, although it's hard to see what "doing the Moyes" would be. Staring ferociously without blinking, arms folded for 90 minutes perhaps, but frankly 25,000 Stokies doing that would just look weird.
Instead, the City fans re-launched an old favourite as strains of "Robert Huth, Huth Huth, He's a massive German Youth" were heard around the ground. Whether that will be the clincher in persuading Huth to sign a new contract remains to be seen, but you can't blame the Stokies for trying. The defence could be a major issue for Pulis who would no doubt love to also keep Matthew Upson, but can't guarantee him regular football while he has the formidable partnership of Huth and Ryan Shawcross. Upson was a worthy man of the match having been given his chance last night, while Huth showed his versatility with a solid display at right-back. However, in the long term, Stoke's defence without Huth in the middle would be like Bonanza without Hoss Cartwright.
Bar the freak goal, the back four were excellent against an Everton side who are finishing the campaign in their best form of the season. With apologies to Newcastle, Everton are the side every club outside the traditional big six have to try to emulate. Consistently competitive despite not spending fortunes, they are an example of what might be achieved. The difference is that while Stoke have had four years running in the top flight to build a side, Everton have been there every season since 1954. Pulis will be looking to continue his impressive work this summer ... and Cameron Jerome will no doubt be taking more than a passing interest in his plans.
Stoke City: Jerome has a ton of fun as he comes of the bench to rescue Stoke
Wednesday, May 02, 2012
TAKE a bow Cameron Jerome for netting Stoke City's 100th Premier League goal at the Britannia Stadium. And take a bow Cameron Jerome for sparing the blushes of Peter "OUCH".
Poor old Crouchy looked like he could have won the game for Everton after the ball bounced off him for a bizarre own goal just before the break. But Jerome, one of three second-half substitutes chucked on to enliven an already livelier Stoke side, brought the house down with a rampaging run through the middle to deservedly level. Stoke weren't always quite so lively and effective, especially during the first period, but they got their act together in time to deny a typically resilient Everton outfit happy to take the draw well before the end. City's performance certainly possessed admirable effort and durability after following hard on the heels of another thoroughly decent offering three days earlier against Arsenal. The end of their season can hardly be said to be ending with a bang, but nor is it ending with the whimper we once feared. Stoke, showing three changes after Matthew Upson, Rory Delap and Kenwyne Jones were handed rare starts, saw their first-half attacking threat centred largely, but not exclusively, around Delap's throw and Robert Huth's head. It was a combination causing Everton plenty of duress as Delap, fresh from signing a new contract, sought to tee up his first goal of the season from that once prolific throw of his. He was pinging them in like days of old as Huth met his first with a goal-bound header that struck Ryan Shawcross standing offside in front of Everton keeper Tim Howard. Another right-wing missile had Everton staring at the stars once more as Huth connected with a header which passed no more than a yard over the bar.
Matthew Etherington, having just enjoyed a fine left-wing raid and cross, was suffering similar ill luck after controlling a half-clearance from another Stoke attack before volleying just beyond both keeper and crossbar. Stoke were grateful to see that Asmir Begovic's handling and reactions were in far healthier form than his kicking in the first 45. The Stoke keeper took time off from peppering the touchline to drop smartly and prevent Leon Osman's snapshot from causing problems.
Begovic was forgivably helpless when substitute Magaye Gueye's left-wing cross reared off the turf and struck Nikica Jelavic's knees before looping just over. But the Bosnian keeper was back in impressive action towards the end of the half when little more than a fingernail was applied to Steven Pienaar's rasping effort to ensure a corner instead of a goal. There was to be no such reprieve in the 44th minute, however, when Begovic was beaten in the most unfortunate circumstances imaginable by what was apparently the 1,000th goal in the Premier League this season. Tony Hibbert's cross from the Everton right was missed by a leaping Tim Cahill, but the ball struck Marc Wilson and then cannoned against Crouch before creeping past a helpless Begovic as he dived low at his near post. Crouch couldn't have looked more non-plussed had Fabio Capello picked him for England. Stoke's support tried admirably to arouse their somewhat subdued players at the start of a second period that could have seen Everton double their lead had the referee not ignored ambitious shouts for handball against Huth. Everton had far more cause to rue events five minutes later when Pienaar pulled the ball back for Osman to slice wastefully wide of an inviting target.
Jon Walters, his head bandaged after a first-half collision with Sylvan Distin, swapped wings with Etherington and showed signs of attacking with purpose as the home side strove to raise their tempo in the final third. Jones twice went down in the Everton penalty area to inspire vociferous shouts from the Boothen End, but on each occasion the referee offered nothing more than a contemptuous glance. Stoke were certainly building up a head of steam past the hour mark, but that didn't prevent a triple substitution that saw Jerome, Ricardo Fuller and Glenn Whelan all thrown into the mix. And the change bore almost immediate dividends. A long ball down the middle in the 69th minute left Jerome careering goalwards and taking Everton's two centre-halves with him.
The ball wasn't always under control, in truth, but he maintained sufficient balance to eventually exploit any good fortune by unleashing a shot that clipped off a diving defender to help confound Howard's low dive. Jerome made a beeline for the bench he had only recently vacated by way of a celebration rarely bettered for those previous 99 goals at the Britannia. The force was now with Stoke, not least in the twinkle-toed Fuller on the left flank, as the Boothen End roared their players goalwards. At the other end, meanwhile, Osman remained Everton's most likely goalscorer as the inventive Pienaar picked him out again for a neat shot deflected into Begovic's waiting arms.
It was the hosts going closest to snatching the points during four added minutes, but a Huth shot was blocked at close quarters and the follow up was volleyed over by Jones. Fuller's trickery on the ball earned one last opportunity from a long-distance free-kick that Huth powered off target before his wayward effort deflected off a defender to force Howard into a fine low save. Just how crucial a save became apparent two seconds later when the referee called time.
Stoke City: Goal hero Jerome in Brit blast at lack of opportunities
Wednesday, May 02, 2012
CAMERON Jerome has put a question mark over his future at Stoke City by saying he doesn't believe he has been given a fair chance at the Britannia Stadium. The 25-year-old came off the bench last night to score his eighth goal of the campaign in all competitions and earn Stoke a 1-1 draw with Everton. But after the game, the striker said he was not happy with only starting six Premier League games since his £4m move from Birmingham City last summer. Jerome, pictured below, says he wants to play regularly, and hopes talks with manager Tony Pulis at the end of the season will resolve his future. He said: "I think I have made a big impact this year. In the Europa League I have played most of the games and scored a few goals, and I have scored in the domestic cups.
"I have not been given a fair crack of the whip – what I think would be a fair run in the side.
"That's just my personal opinion. I train hard and I see what goes on in training. The rotation policy has not been fair in my eyes, but that is the manager's decision. "Everyone else has to get on with it. You just have to try to make an impact when you get your opportunity on the pitch.
"But with coming on for 10 minutes here and there, it is very hard to make an impact in the Premier League." Jerome, who has three years of his contract still to run, says he hasn't discussed his frustrations with Pulis so far. He added: "I have not really spoken to him about playing since I have been here. He picks the side and you just get on with it. "As a player you work hard in training and try to break into the team I suppose, but it seems no matter what I do I can't get in. That's something I will have to address in the summer. "To be honest, I am unhappy about not playing, but there are probably 10 or 11 other players in the same position as me. "It is not about being selfish, it is a team game. That's what you have a big squad for. "There will be a lot of changes in the summer with players going and then strengthening in certain departments, so we'll see what that brings and then have a conversation with the manager if, and when, appropriate." Jerome says he hasn't considered leaving, but won't be happy unless he gets more opportunities next season.
He added: "I have not thought about leaving, but being the age I am and in my prime, I want to play first-team football week in, week out. "If it was a case of rotation fairly and on form, then I would probably be happy. "But when you are just not getting a look in regardless of how other people perform, or how the team performs, then obviously you have to ask yourself questions.
"I just want to play football. I love doing that and coming in with a smile on my face every day."
Jerome struck in the 69th minutes last night, just three minutes after replacing Peter Crouch.
His effort cancelled out an embarrassing own goal conceded by Peter Crouch a minute before the break. The point lifted Stoke one place to 13th in the Premier League table. It also means they will need to win their final two games of the season – at QPR on Sunday and at home against Bolton on May 13 – if they are to break the 50-point barrier in the Premier League for the first time.
Match action: Pages 44 to 47
Former Everton FC striker Wayne Clarke recalls his title-winning goal 25 years on and his time at Goodison
by Chris Beesley, Liverpool Echo
May 3 2012
Against all the odds, Howard Kendall’s injury-ravaged Everton squad delivered the Blues their ninth League Championship 25 years ago. Now, a quarter of a century on, the ECHO commemorates their achievements with a special three-part series highlighting Goodison’s Boys of 1986/87. WAYNE CLARKE scored the spectacular goal that swung the title pendulum back in 1987 but claims to have never have watched it back since – because he doesn’t need to. Blighted by injuries throughout the season, Everton went into March three points adrift of leaders Liverpool but a sequence of seven consecutive victories saw them charge to the summit after the Wolverhampton-born striker’s arrival. Arguably their most impressive result during this spell was a 1-0 win over Arsenal at Highbury on March 28 which gave Howard Kendall’s side the belief they could retain the title they’d won two years earlier – especially given that the Reds crashed to a 2-1 home defeat to Wimbledon on the same day. The Blues secured the three points thanks to a pinpoint long range effort from Clarke who calmy placed the ball into Arsenal’s net from over 35 yards out after keeper John Lukic had scuffed a clearance under pressure from Adrian Heath. Clarke said: “I knew he (John Lukic) was out of his area. My first thought was to have a good first touch and I knew exactly what I was going to do and put it in there. When it went in, I suppose a little bit of it was down to good fortune but if I’m honest it just seemed to take an eternity to drop in. “Believe it or not, that’s the only time I’ve seen the goal. I don’t know why I’ve not watched it, I’ve just not had access to it. I can relive it now in my mind though so nothing can take that away.” Clarke netted five goals in 10 games for Everton that season having joined from Second Division strugglers Birmingham City and puts a big part of his success down to the warm welcome he received at Goodison Park. “All goals for me are important but it was good that the lads took me on board and really welcomed me. “Obviously there was the goal at Highbury. I think everyone knows the course of that season changed on that day because Wimbledon went to Liverpool and beat them 2-1 and it gave us a bit of a gap. “The hat-trick against Newcastle was pleasing being a new lad coming into the club and s howing the home fans what I could do.” Clarke added: “It was a great period in the club’s history and I just happened to play a little part in it. I played with some great players. When I first came to the club and looked around the dressing room there were some big names in there. There was Reidy (Peter Reid), Neville (Southall), Raters (Kevin Ratcliffe), Trevor (Steven) and Gary (Stevens) – all international players. A lot of people could have forgiven me for thinking ‘what am I doing here?’ I was looking forward to being part of it.
“I was having a great season at Birmingham City before that – I was on 19 goals and ready to break Trevor Francis’ record as the last player to hit the 20-goal barrier, I was going to smash that.
“So I was coming in full of confidence and I carried that on when I came to Everton.” While Clarke has happy memories of playing against Liverpool during his time at Everton – he scored the winning goal in the 1-0 success at Goodison Park on March 20 1988 that prevented the Reds from becoming the first side to go 30 games unbeaten from the start of a top flight season – he is bemused by the current team’s apparent issues when tackling their neighbours. He said: “I thought there was a mental barrier against Liverpool, it’s quite strange. I went down to Wembley with the Former Players’ Foundation and I was amongst the supporters. “I really did feel sorry for them. Taking a step back from the playing side and going as a supporter I know how passionate they are – they’re second to none in the country and are crying out for success, especially against them (Liverpool).
“It’s a psychological barrier. For me, they’re not a good team, Liverpool, and they were there for the taking. “Everton just didn’t come out in the second half unfortunately – it does happen. But there’s no reason why we should have any kind of inferiority complex against them we’ve got some good players at the club now. “There’s definitely some kind of inferiority complex there now and I don’t know why. “I don’t whether it’s coming from the club itself, the supporters, the amount of money that Liverpool have been spending in comparison to Everton but Evertonians certainly shouldn’t think that way.” Like Clarke, another striker who has become an instant hit at Goodison after arriving midway through a season from another league is new Blues idol Nikica Jelavic.
The £5.5million fee Moyes paid Rangers for the Croatian international is looking like a bargain with his 10 goals to date already making him the club’s top scorer this season. Clarke said: “Jelavic is a quality striker, you can see he’s a goalscorer. He can get you tap-ins and that’s the art of a natural goalscorer. “As a striker you want to hit the ground running, fortunately I was able to do that because I needed to at that time. He’s what Everton have needed for many years now.
“Hopefully we can gel more players in if David (Moyes) gets the funds to complement him further.”
Sylvain Distin happy with how he has adapted to new left back role at Everton FC
by Neil Jones, Liverpool Echo
May 3 2012
SYLVAIN DISTIN admits he has been surprised at how quickly he has adapted to his new role as Everton FC’s left back – and revealed he has been asking regular incumbent Leighton Baines for tips.
The Frenchman has been shuffled across from his usual central defensive station in recent weeks, with Baines’ hamstring having ruled him out of the Blues’ previous three games. And the 34-year-old has responded positively, bouncing back in style from the mistake which cost his side dearly in their FA Cup semi-final defeat to Liverpool at Wembley. “It’s a new job for me,” said Distin. “The last time I played at left back was about six or eight years ago. I was a lot skinnier back then too, so it was easier! I’m getting used to it. The lads make it easy for me as well. “I speak with Bainesy a bit and get some tips from him, but I don’t expect to be as good as him, he’s an amazing player. I just give my best, and that’s it.” He added: When you play left back you have to try and link up play a bit more. Obviously I know I’m not going to get forward as much as Bainesy. But I’ll be honest I’m enjoying it more than I thought. “I thought it would be really difficult, but I feel like I’ve adapted quite well. I feel comfortable. Distin impressed as Everton FC were held 1-1 by Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium on Tuesday. The result extends the Blues’ unbeaten Premier League run to seven games, and means they can virtually ensure they finish above Liverpool this season if they can beat already-relegated Wolves at Molineux on Sunday.
“Our target is to remain seventh in the league, and we are doing well in that,” said Distin. “It’s a good run, and that’s the most important thing. “Wolves are not going to give up. No team in England gives up, no matter what the score, what the game or where they are in the league. “They will fight, there is a lot of pride in English football. It will be difficult for them because they have gone down, but they will fight I’m sure. Of the Stoke draw, Distin added: “There is a bit of disappointment. We knew what would happen against Stoke, with the gameplan they have, and I think we did quite well.
“We conceded a goal, the kind we didn’t expect to concede to be honest. But at the end of the day a point was a good result. We were away from home, and we are still on a good run. But we are still a bit disappointed because that is the kind of game we expected to win.” Everton are unlikely to have striker Victor Anichebe available for selection for the trip to Wolves. The Nigerian international hobbled out of action after just 21 minutes at Stoke with a groin problem, and could miss the rest of the season as a result.
Everton FC Blue Watch: The future is still looking bright for thrifty David Moyes
by Our Correspondent, The Liverpool Post
May 3 2012
I QUIPPED the other day had David Moyes been in charge of the Icelandic Banks a few years ago then the country would not be in the mess it is now. Call ASDA for an Over 50s Life Cover Quote
Some laughed but there maybe some hidden truth in that line. Give Moyes a 50p and send him to Greggs and I’m sure he will unearth a sugary treat which was on offer and come back with change.
Life at the moment seems to be full of people telling you how you can save money with experts on our televisions every day. Surely though they should be asking David Moyes on how to save and spend wisely! The signings of Cahill, Martyn, Arteta, Jagielka ,Lescott, Baines etc are just a few names which have proved to be absolute bargains. Yet again back in the January transfer window he found a gem of the highest order in Nikica Jelavic and follow that up with the acute signing of Darron Gibson and the return of Steven Pienaar – it transformed Everton’s campaign. Up until then we couldn’t score a goal for love nor money with Tim Howard at one point being near the top of our leading goalscoring chart, things did look bleak. Fast forward three months and boy, how things have changed. So much in fact it has been mentioned that Everton last week broke a Premier League record scoring four goals in three consecutive league games. Jelavic has been at the heart of this transformation, he simply knows how to score and does it with ease. Our fear, and we do as Evertonians, is clubs will no doubt be knocking at Bill’s door in the summer enquiring about his availability. We hope and I am positive it will be the case but those such suitors will be meet with a firm No! All of a sudden the squad is beginning to look healthy for 2013. Hopefully Pienaar can be added on a permanent deal and we need another forward. If there ever was a future Blue in the making then the fans would have caught a glimpse of him last Saturday. While his team put in their usual non display at Goodison, Clint Dempsey again showed he is a perfect replacement for Tim Cahill. Four years younger and with that same eye for goal coming from deep. The American would be perfectly suited to life at Goodison Park. With Tim Howard already being there and having Landon Donovan singing Everton’s praises, that could sway Dempsey come the summer.
The only issue would lie with his transfer fee with only have a year remaining on his contract.
Fulham will no doubt be holding out for a double figure sum and if Moyes is showing an interest in him then no doubt Harry Redknapp will be too. Other options could see the club going for Kevin Doyle from Wolves who will be looking to stay in the Premier League next season, all will become clear over the next few months. There is no better manager out there to spend the little cash we have and as fans we will all be hoping for more sugary treats on the pitch.
Everton FC pair Phil Neville and Victor Anichebe may have ended season already
by Ian Doyle, The Liverpool Post
May 3 2012
PHIL NEVILLE and Victor Anichebe are both poised to miss Everton FC’s sprint to the finish line of the Premier League season. Anichebe hobbled off midway through the first half of Tuesday’s 1-1 draw at Stoke City after suffering a groin problem. The 23-year-old was making only his sixth start of a campaign that saw him sidelined for much of the autumn after sustaining a serious groin injury while on international duty with Nigeria. While Anichebe then sat out a further five weeks in February and March, the striker has still managed to net six times making this the most profitable season of his career. But now he is set to miss Everton’s final two games at relegated Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday and at home to Champions League-chasing Newcastle United a week later.
Goodison skipper Neville is also expected to have kicked his last ball of the campaign after injuring his hamstring during training earlier this week. The problem was enough for the 35-year-old to be absent from the Britannia Stadium, only the fourth time this season Neville has been missing from a matchday squad for David Moyes’s side. Everton FC head to Molineux on Sunday aiming to register their 100th away win during the Premier League era. Moyes said: “Finishing above Liverpool is not desperately important, the important thing is to finish in the top 10 and the point might just about secure that. “If we can win the last two games and finish up there it will be a good season for us.”
Everton FC fans jury on Nikica Jelavic, finishing seventh and David Moyes
by Our Correspondent, Liverpool Echo
May 3 2012
Everton FC juror Mike Drummond
THE one difference we’ve had in the team from the semi-final defeat to the recent results is Steven Pienaar. It is a MUST that we sign him in the summer – simple as. I would be happy even if it meant he was our only signing. He was everywhere at Old Trafford where he got a goal and assisted in another two against Fulham last Saturday – and not in the usual left wing position which just proves his versatility. The Britannia Stadium is a hard place to go to and get maximum points so I’m not massively disappointed in the draw on Tueday evening, but it’s sod’s law that Wolves will turn up against us on Sunday! But if we keep on with what we’re doing then seventh place in the Premier League will be ours. Everton FC juror Tony Scott: Blues supporters wanting Everton FC manager David Moyes to go should get real FANS calling for David Moyes’s head last week need to get real about the current financial state the club is in. In August, when Yakubu, Beckford and Arteta were sold, a top eight finish with a good cup run was more than what was asked of the manager.
Remember 2002 when we were doing cartwheels at the thought of staying in the league and thoughts of top six finishes, European football and FA Cup finals were a distant dream?
If someone would have offered you all that on a net spend of £3m a year over the next 10 years there wouldn’t be a single Blues’ fan who would have argued. Moyes has made several mistakes but which manager hasn’t? The root of our problems lie firmly above the manager, who, if they don’t pull their finger out this summer, some Evertonians may get what they want.
Everton FC juror Lee Molton: A strike partner for Nikica Jelavic would be great
IT has been a good few games for the Blues with the goals coming thick and fast. Jelavic has raced away to 10 goals for the season in just a couple of months. It is so good to have a top class goal-scorer to rely on; it would be great if we could play a partner alongside him, but David Moyes won’t play two up front! The Fulham game was very good with great displays from Jelavic, Fellaini, Pienaar and Howard too. At Stoke, Jelavic was often isolated up front. We do need to get support for him and Fellaini is the best player for that. The Stoke fans must still have stiff necks from watching the ball in the air so much; they may be effective but it is not enjoyable to watch.
It would be good to end the season with two wins to keep our seventh place in the Premier League. We can do it! Everton FC juror David Wallbank: How different would Everton FC’s season have been if Nikica Jelavic had been at Goodison Park at the start of the seaon? THE Toffeemen have again displayed grit and determination in recent weeks, and collecting four points from six against Fulham and Stoke is very much in the realms of respectability. With two games to play and the battle for seventh place Everton’s only real motivation. Nikica Jelavic deserves special praise for his impact since arriving on Merseyside; how different would our season have been if he’d signed at the start of the season? Jelavic isn’t blessed with great pace, nor is he over-complicated on the ball. But he has an outstanding ability to score goals with precise one-touch finishing. Wolves, next up on Sunday, are a real old fashioned English side with lots of history drenched both in glory and failure. I am sure they can bounce back at the first time of asking.
Mark Lawrenson: Everton FC set to be rewarded for their post-Wembley strength
by Our Correspondent, The Liverpool Post
May 3 2012
EVERTON FC are now almost certain to finish above Liverpool in the Premier League table.
And that will surely be a big thing for David Moyes and his players, particularly given how poorly they started the season. I’ll be honest, I did fear for Everton after they lost the FA Cup semi-final to their neighbours last month. I thought they would completely dip. But they haven’t, and if anything, they have emerged stronger. Speaking to Everton supporters after the Wembley defeat, many of them thought that perhaps time was up for Moyes, that he had taken the club as far as he could and both parties would relish a new challenge. Instead, his stock is now arguably even higher than it was going into the semi-final. That’s down to Moyes and his coaching staff rallying the players and getting a response from them. The target of finishing ahead of Liverpool has certainly helped, not least because everyone knows the difference in resources between the teams. To finish seventh with what they have would be like shooting a round of golf four or five under par. And Moyes manages to do that year after year. Victor Anichebe’s injury at Stoke City was untimely given his entire dynamic has changed because of the success of Nikica Jelavic. Before then, the lack of a main striker meant Anichebe knew he would always get a chance somewhere along the line. But not now.
Everton may now look at the Nigerian and think they are not getting value for money.
He is too often injured. That’s not his fault, of course. But the club may have to be ruthless about it. And I don’t think there is any more scope for Anichebe to be given a chance to prove himself.
Everton’s goal-laden end to the season has come despite being without Leighton Baines. Earlier in the season, it would have been a major blow not just to the defence but to the attack. But with Everton playing so well in other areas, they can, at least going forward, make up for the loss of the left-back.
Everton FC and Liverpool FC fans unite to celebrate the life of Gary Ablett
by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
May 4 2012
TEAM-MATES, former managers and friends of Gary Ablett will celebrate the life of the Everton and Liverpool FA Cup winner at The Adelphi Hotel on Friday, May 18. A host of Blues and Reds stars will pack out the city centre venue to share their memories of the defender. And all proceeds from the event will go towards providing a local school or organisation with a Variety Club Sunshine Coach bearing Gary’s name. Ablett lost a brave battle with cancer earlier this year, aged just 46.
The only player to win the FA Cup with both Liverpool and Everton, he lost a 16-month fight with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Ablett was a Liverpool apprentice before making his debut for the club in 1986 during current boss Kenny Dalglish's first spell in charge. Under Dalglish, he helped a sparkling Reds side win the League title in 1988 and 1990 and the FA Cup in 1989. Sold to Everton for £750,000 in January 1992, he went on to lift the FA Cup a second time in 1995 after a Wembley win over Manchester United. Entertainment on the night will be provided by two comedy mpressionists, Dead Ringers star Kevin Connelly and Liverpool’s own rising star, Mark Langley.
The evening is expected to sell out, with cost of tables £600 for a table of ten or £60 per single ticket.
There will also be a limited number of VIP tables at £1,000 for a table of ten. VIP tables include a champagne reception in a VIP suite prior to the event and prime seating for dinner. Said Liverpool fan Jim Donaldson, who has co-organised yhe event with Evertonian Ray Parr: “Gary was such a wonderful man, respected by everyone who knew him and by both fans of Everton and Liverpool. “We want to pay tribute to him and raise enough money to buy a sunshine coach in his name to give to a disadvantaged school. “It should be a great night. “It’s not often that Reds and Blues fans get the chance to come together fro an evening like this. But they can on May 18 and will be supporting a very worthy cause in honour of a terrific footballer and a wonderful family man.” Tickets for the event can be bought from Jim 01704 550705 or 07855 968861 and Ray on 07802 622466.
Revealed - the science behind the school of science, or how Everton FC use Prozone data to flourish
by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
May 4 2012
NEVER mind the school of science – you would be forgiven for thinking a masters degree in maths is required to understand the data on Steve Brown’s computer. To the uneducated eye, the columns of numbers, percentages and other impregnable statistics make as much sense as the shipping forecast. But even though the ordinary match-going Evertonian might not take in all in, Steve’s work is part of the reason they’re celebrating in the ale houses after a Toffees win. Based at Finch Farm, he’s the first team performance analyst at Everton – a role which developed greater importance since David Moyes joined the club 10 years ago. Now most Premier League clubs use information provided by Prozone and StatDNA to help them plan for games, but Moyes was one of the pioneers.
Renowned for his methodical, fastidious approach to preparations, it is a tool the Everton manager would not be without, and over the years his players too have learned to embrace it.
“Moyes wanted something in place to provide him with extensive information because he’s so detailed, thorough and methodical in his work,” says Steve, in an interview with Sport’s Illustrated magazine’s Jen Chang. Brown and his team build data on Everton’s players activity during games, from miles covered, sprints, tackles, passes completed, and have access to similar information on their opponents. And while in the past some players might have questioned the necessity, now briefings on analytics are as much a part of an Everton player’s training at Finch Farm as ball drills and fitness work. “I think initially some players were sceptical toward it,” says Brown. “I’ve had past experiences where people have viewed it as a negative tool and if it’s used wrongly it can be damaging in the coaching process. “Some of the older generation of players weren’t as familiar with working in a detailed analysis process – of which we do a large amount of at Everton.
“At Everton, they’ve had to buy into the process and if they don’t buy into the process, they’ll just get frustrated because of the way the manager works here.” WHEN the Blues take on Wolves at Molineux on Sunday, their approach will be based on far more than a few DVDs of Terry Connor’s beleaguered side, explains Steve. “Now we tend to examine at least 5 games [of the team we’re facing], break them down, link them up with the scouting reports we have and the stats we get from ProZone. “[From that] we build a detailed picture of how we think the opposition play, and what we think their style, strengths and weaknesses are, what their intricacies are in terms of what they’re doing positionally, and if their individual players have trends and tendencies to in their play.”
Early in the week Brown meets with Moyes and his coaching staff for several hours to develop a game plan, which is then simplified into a shorter version for the players. Brown also lists specific character-istics of opposition players to discuss with Everton’s team. “We will identify certain trends of a player, for example a winger, and show our fullback what we think they’re more likely to do in certain situations,” he says. “It’s the small detail which we are meticulous in. “We examine if the players have certain patterns to their play which we think we can expose or need to be aware of.
“Do certain wingers have a style of attacking play in order to create a crossing position? Something that we might be able to predict and counter. The idea is to give them a picture of what the opposition [player] is doing.” It gets more complicated still, to a point where Moyes excels, according to Brown. “At times we’ve used certain ‘without possession’ shapes which have negated the opposition,” he says. “At times the manager has come up with a specific system, making subtle positional changes which has then allowed us to negate the problem or allowed us to capitalise – it’s those kind of intricacies which Moyes is brilliant at.” BROWN also undertakes extensive one-on-one work with the Everton squad – operating an open-door policy where players can come and request anything. Two especially keen stars are USA internationals Tim Howard and, during his 10-week loan spell, Landon Donovan “With Tim, it is more about providing him with the information to make him aware of patterns he may come up against,” says Brown. “He likes to be as informed as possible going into matches. “Landon was eager to find out information on the fullbacks and wingers he was likely to be playing against – especially with him coming into a new environment and not necessarily knowing the players. “He was keen to know his positional requirements to aid our defensive work; i.e. making sure he was in the right position to help our full-back and ‘double up’ on the opposition winger. “He also wanted the information on the opposition fullbacks he was coming up against ... at times when Landon felt it was right, he’d come and say ‘can you give me some information on their strengths and weaknesses? Where I can get at them?’ “Landon was looking to compare where he was in relation to the Premier League average for his position and where he was compared to opposition players. “It was just for self-assurance, but I’ve no doubt that when Landon came in, our data picked up a level. It moved up a notch which we knew it would from previous anyway. We knew what we’d be getting, his work rate is phenomenal.” THE processes around player recruitment are evolving all the time with teams like Everton – who cannot afford to waste transfer fees – applying greater diligence in the sourcing and signing of players. However, the use of performance data in player acquisition is nothing new at Everton. David Moyes used Prozone analysis to complement the feedback from his scouts during the purchase of Tim Cahill back in 2004.
James Smith, Everton’s head of technical scouting, explains on the Prozone website how important their data is to the club when it moves for a player. “This consistency of information allows us to compare and benchmark possible transfer targets using like for like performance data. This ultimately makes the findings from RECRUITER more intuitive, and player recruitment more reliable and efficient.” The club first started using Prozone’s RECRUITER package before the 2010 World Cup, to get access to detailed performance statistics on every player at the tournament.
It gave them the opportunity to assess whether recruitment targets would be suited to the demands of the Premier League and whether they fit within the parameters of Everton’s recruitment policy.
“Everton are interested in younger players with a resale value and who have the potential to be moulded, improved and developed in a way older players can’t be. We focus on a narrow band, based on age, quality and price,” said James.
Neil Pointon remembers Everton FC battle to play in 1987 title-winning team
by Chris Beesley, Liverpool Echo
May 4 2012
In the second of the ECHO’s three-part series on Everton’s 1987 championship-winning side, Neil Pointon recalls the intense battle for places in the Blues side in his position.
LEIGHTON BAINES has made the left-back position his own at Goodison Park in recent years, earning England call-ups and this season being named in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year.
Before being rested for Everton’s Easter Monday clash with Sunderland ahead of the Blues’ FA Cup semi-final clash with Liverpool, Baines had turned out in 99 consecutive games for David Moyes’ side. Back in 1986/87 though, Howard Kendall had three separate specialist left-backs to choose from so with Neil Pointon starting the campaign sidelined through injury, the Mansfield-born player knew he would have a job on his hands getting back into such a successful side. Pointon arrived on Merseyside in the autumn of 1985 to join Kendall’s champions in a £65,000 deal from Scunthorpe United and wore the number three jersey in 20 consecutive matches between December and March as Pat van den Hauwe covered for the injured Derek Mountfield at centre-back. However, Mountfield’s return to fitness saw Pointon benched for the remainder of the campaign and he could only watch from the stands at the Blues finished runners-up to Liverpool in both league and FA Cup.
Injury then curtailed Pointon’s hopes of getting back into the team at the start of the 1986/87 title-winning season and by the time he was fit again there was even more competition for the left-back berth with Kendall having recruited veteran Paul Power from Manchester City. Pointon was relieved to finally get his first start of the campaign in a 3-1 win at Maine Road on November 29 with Power switching to midfield against his former club and netting the third goal. The highlight for me was just getting back playing. The other players were coming in day after day in the treatment room saying ‘come on Neil, get well soon we want you back in the team and out there training’, recalls Pointon.
“The players – every single one of them – helped push me through the hard times. Neville (Southall) was also on the treatment table and everyone wanted to get back playing as soon as possible.
“We used a lot of players that season and everybody played their part but in training we really pushed each other week-in, week-out because we all wanted the same thing. “I started that season on the treatment table then Pat (van den Hauwe) joined me and Howard (Kendall) comes along and says ‘I’m signing another left-back (Paul Power) – he’s only playing one year. But what a year!
“I looked at Paul throughout his career as a stalwart left-back who was very consistent then he came up with the performances at Everton that everyone was amazed by. He won his title medal and deservedly so – it was a fitting end to a great career.” Pointon is delighted with current Everton left-back Baines’ progress at Goodison having watched him develop over several years. Despite becoming the club’s most expensive defender when he signed from Wigan Athletic for £6million in 2007, Baines struggled to hold down a regular spot in Moyes’ starting line-up in his early Blues career, often playing second fiddle to Joleon Lescott but his rise was highlighted by his inclusion in the PFA’s Team of the Year this season. Pointon said: “He’s a cracking player. My son is a season ticket holder at Wigan and watched him when he was coming through. “You could always sense he had that style about him. He had a great left foot, the right attitude and he’s proven it now going ‘back’ to Everton. “I can’t see anyone taking his place off him for a good few years.
“When he first came, he was used to playing a certain role. He’s very adventurous and people would say ‘there’s little Wigan coming along’ and you play with no fear whatsoever. “But when you join a club like Everton, there are certain things that you need to do and have to do. “Everyone finds it difficult when you go to a top club, myself included. You play so much on your adrenalin and enthusiasm. “When you’ve got 11 other internationals showing the pedigree of what Everton needs then it does take you a little bit of time to settle into that and know your role. “Leighton has come through that now and he will go on to better things. “I don’t think there’s a lot of people knocking on the door for when Ashley (Cole) hangs up his boots at international level. He’ll definitely be pushing for World Cup qualifiers and finals.” Further up the pitch, Pointon believes the upheaval of Mikel Arteta’s departure to Arsenal on transfer deadline day affected Everton in the early months of the season but he reckons that there is still plenty of quality in the Blues midfield. He said: “At the start of the season some players weren’t performing and others left. The loss of Mikel Arteta knocked everyone. “The players must have thought ‘we’ve done all this work and he’s our playmaker and he’s not here any more.’ “Leon Osman has filled that role very well, I think he’s a cracking player in midfield. Marouane Fellaini is so talented but he could do a bit more for me. He could really grab the midfield by the scruff of the neck and say ‘come play round me and hold it all together.” Since the 1986/87 side Pointon played in finished League Champions, Everton have finished above their neighbours in the table just once when they came fourth in 2005 but the 47-year-old, who now works as an Academy coach at Bolton, admits he’d be delighted for his former side to take some consolation from the campaign by repeating that feat this month.
He said: “Every Evertonian would love Everton to finish above Liverpool in the league just for a bit of bragging rights. “Liverpool have won one cup and reached the final of another by knocking Everton out but if Everton were to finish above them when you look at how much money the respective clubs have spent then it’s a positive end to the season. “The players will be up for every game, everyone is fighting for next year and wants to be part of David Moyes’ squad for next season.”
Phil Neville praises John Heitinga as pick of Everton FC centre-backs
by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
May 4 2012
PHIL Neville believes Everton FC’s central defenders could play for any team in the Premier League – but John Heitinga has been the pick of them this season. The Blues captain reckons the club are lucky to have the experience and ability of Sylvain Distin, Phil Jagielka and Heitinga.
But it is the Dutchman – widely tipped to win Everton’s player of the season award next week – who is in the form of his career on Merseyside, according to Neville. “I think we have three unbelievable centre-backs that would walk into any other team in the Premier League,” said the former England international. “We have got competition for places and I think that is why we have got the level of performance that Johnny is producing. “He has been unbelievable, using his experience and composure on the ball. I think it has been his best form since he came to the club.”
The Dutchman arrived from Atletico Madrid in 2009 and has become a key part of the Blues’ squad this season. Heitinga, 28, is contracted at Goodison until summer 2014, and Neville believes he has grown to love the club since he joined three years ago. He said: “He loves playing for Everton Football Club and as someone who plays at the top level for Holland, that is fantastic.
“It does take players a while to settle in. “I think the thing is he is playing in his best position. He played in midfield and he always said playing at centre-back is his best position.” Meanwhile, reserves boss Alan Stubbs has hailed his young side after a superb run of from since Christmas saw them finish third in the Barclays Premier Reserve League Stubbs said their performance in overcoming Arsenal 2-0 on Wednesday was the culmination of a season’s hard graft.
He said: “It was an impressive win. We’ve done really well recently. The players have done everything we’ve asked them to do and they’ve been great with their attitude. “Earlier on in the season we would definitely have drawn or lost that game, which is a good sign that they are learning and starting to take things on board. “We were patient. If you’re going to go and chase Arsenal all night, you’re in for a long night. And you can see that at all levels, they can make it tough for you like that. “We spoke before the game and worked on the right times to press and the right times to sit off and let them have the ball, and that seemed to be the case last night. They chose the right moments to go and close down and when it wasn’t right, we were back into a good shape and patient. “That’s one defeat in 14 games and no matter what level of football you play, to do that is really good and the players have got to take all the credit for that.”
Dave Prentice: Everton FC success in the January sales show David Moyes should be backed
by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
May 4 2012
THE reason for the upturn in Everton FC’s Premier League fortunes since January is obvious.
Everton sold two under-achieving players and brought in three – who all hit the ground running.
While Darron Gibson’s steadying, ball retaining influence is more difficult to quantify, the impact Nikica Jelavic and Steven Pienaar have had is there in the stat sheets. Jelavic’s 10 goals in 11 starts has been bettered only by the remarkable Papiss Cisse (who cost twice as much – or as a Goodison press box regular joked “Everton have mugged a Big Issue seller”) while Pienaar has brought seven assists and three goals in just 12 games, to a squad starved of the creative input of Mikel Arteta for four months. The message is clear. If Everton want to start a season the way they usually start the year, they will need to find some money for their manager. Then they will have to hope that David Moyes can continue to dig out and polish rough diamonds from elsewhere.
Howard Kendall: Messi is majestic but Dixie Dean is still number one
by Our Correspondent, Liverpool Echo
May 4 2012
WHAT an achievement for Lionel Messi, scoring 68 goals and breaking Gerd Mueller’s formidable record. The Barcelona forward eclipsed the 67-goal mark Mueller set for Bayern during the 1972-73 season, and has made fans all around the world sit up and take notice. I was watching the coverage about Messi when I was delighted to see Dixie Dean’s name up there. They call Messi superhuman so imagine what they made of Dixie when he scored all those top flight goals. He was on the list as one of the top five goal scorers in the world ever, but most of a royal blue persuasion will say he was the best ever. Evertonians are still proud to this day of his exploits, if only they could find another like him.
Howard Kendall: Worth staying tuned for Everton’s final push
by Our Correspondent, Liverpool Echo
May 4 2012
EVERTON FC’S final two games of the season are poised to be interesting affairs, even if in many ways there doesn’t appear much to play for. It would give the fans a kick if they finished above Liverpool but only a little kick – I don’t think it’s a case for over the top celebrations.
Instead they’ll be taking heart from the way the Blues have played in recent weeks and hoping they can build on that style from the start of next season. It’s always the way isn’t it? We’re back to talking about making a strong start to the season, but as fed up as we are of hearing it, just imagine what the club could achieve if they did? Look at what Newcastle stand close to doing.. More of that later, but first Wolves. Terry Connor has had a terrible run of results since he took over from Mick McCarthy, and obviously their fate is sealed. But players who have struggled under the pressure and tense grip of relegation can often rediscover their ability when that pressure is gone. Witness their 4-4 draw with Swansea last weekend to realise that the Black Country side should not be treated lightly on Sunday. Everton will have to go full throttle and forget all about their opponent’s woeful season. As for Connor – I hope the top brass at Molineux keep him on. You don't become a bad coach just because of what he inherited. Newcastle will be a different prospect. I am still a member of the League Managers Association, and Alan Pardew gets my vote as manager of the year.
Brendan Rodgers and Paul Lambert have both dome ever so well, but Pardew has surprised everyone by signing such high quality players on a limited budget. Who knows if he can sustain it but he’s done a hell of a job!
Everton FC captain Phil Neville says John Heitinga has found his best position
By Ian Doyle
May 4 2012
PHIL NEVILLE is convinced John Heitinga has this season proven why centre-back is his best position for Everton FC. Heitinga has been a driving force behind Everton’s New Year revival after forcing his way back into the first team in his preferred role at the heart of defence. Previously, the 28-year-old had operated in a variety of positions including right-back and in a defensive midfield role.
Heitinga has played alongside Sylvain Distin, Phil Jagielka, Shane Duffy and Tony Hibbert at centre-back as the Goodison outfit have produced their trademark strong second half to the season.
The Dutchman is expected to be in the running for Everton’s Player of the Season award when the winner is announced at a gala dinner next week. And club skipper Neville believes the 28-year-old is reaping the benefit of the strength in depth within David Moyes’s squad. “We have got competition for places and I think that is why we have got the level of performance that Johnny is producing,” said the veteran. “I think the thing is he is playing in his best position. He played in midfield and he always said playing at centre-back is his best position. “He has been unbelievable, using his experience and composure on the ball. I think it has been his best form since he came to the club.”
Heitinga has become a popular figure among the Goodison fanbase, not least with his regular interaction with supporters on Twitter. And Neville says the Holland international has bought wholesale into the Everton ethos. “He loves playing for Everton Football Club and as someone who plays at the top level for Holland, that is fantastic,” said the 35-year-old. “It does take players a while to settle in. I think we have three unbelievable centre-backs that would walk into any other team in the Premier League.”
Team news: Wolves wait on Sebastien Bassong for Everton clash
May 4 2012
Wolves interim boss Terry Connor is hopeful on-loan Tottenham defender Sebastien Bassong will be fit for the home Barclays Premier League clash with Everton on Sunday. Bassong missed last weekend's 4-4 draw at Swansea with a hamstring injury and will be given a late fitness test.
Winger Matt Jarvis suffered a tight groin at the Liberty Stadium but is confident he will be available as Wolves search for their first win under Connor at the 12th attempt. Keeper Wayne Hennessey (knee), midfielder Jamie O'Hara (groin) and Jody Craddock (hip) remain long-term casualties.
Provisional squad: De Vries, Ikeme, Zubar, Foley, Bassong, Stearman, Johnson, Berra, Ward, Kightly, Henry, Davis, Milijas, Edwards, Jarvis, Doyle, Ebanks-Blake, Fletcher, Jonsson, Gorman, Price, Forde, Hunt.
Connor looking to finish Molineux season on a high
Friday 4th May 2012, Express & Star
Terry Connor today challenged Wolves’ players to finish on a high at Molineux – even though Everton have found their form. Wolves’ final home game of the season on Sunday sees them host the in-form Toffees, who are in their traditional second half of the season flourish.
Connor is keen for his side to offer some belated home comforts after relegation and a wretched run of nine straight defeats in front of their own fans, a club record. Last week’s amazing 4-4 draw at Swansea, when Wolves hit back from 3-0 and 4-1 down to gain a point, confirmed the players remain determined to do their best despite the drop. And Connor is looking to carry on in the same vein as they prepare to sign off their Molineux campaign. He said: “Maybe on the back of the Swansea performance, we come out and play in that manner from the start. “We know it’s our last home game and we want to go out on a positive finish. “And whether it’s Everton or Wigan, we want to try to win the game.” Unbeaten in their last seven in the league, Everton have won seven and drew five of their last 14 in the top flight since January 31, and rattled in four in each of their last three before Tuesday’s 1-1 draw at Stoke. Asked if anyone wants to play Everton, Connor said: “Not in the second half of the season, no! “They seem to come good in that time every year.
“But the fixture is there to be played at this time and always has been there on the calendar to play.”
At Goodison Park on November 19, Wolves lost 2-1 after leading through Stephen Hunt’s penalty, conceding a late spot-kick from Leighton Baines after slight contact from Stephen Ward on Louis Saha. Connor believes that sort of decision has summed up their season. He said: “There are loads of incidents like that. “They happen. It’s been a season where everything has gone against everything we have tried to do.”
Everton game may cost Manchester United title, says Sir Alex Ferguson
• 'If we lose the title, it's the Everton game that did it'
• We were careless in last 10 minutes, says manager
By Jamie Jackson
The Guardian May 5, 2011
Sir Alex Ferguson has pinpointed the 4-4 draw with Everton as the "killer" result that could cause Manchester United to lose the title race to Manchester City. The champions lost Monday's derby 1-0 at the Etihad to allow City to go top on goal difference, having clawed back United's eight-point lead, but Ferguson is clear that the dropping of two points against Everton in the previous home game was crucial in allowing City side to place the destiny of the championship back into their hands. United twice held a two-goal lead and Ferguson said: "The Everton game was the killer for us. It was an absolutely ridiculous performance in the last 10 minutes of the match. Just absolute carelessness. It's all right saying the history of the club is to attack all the time but it was a stupid performance and it's put us on the back foot, no question about that. If we lose the league, we'll have to accept it's the Everton game that did it." Regarding the defeat by City, Ferguson said: "We didn't test the goalkeeper, let's be honest. We started the game very well – they didn't make any chances but the goal on half-time is a killer for us. To score in injury time they could set their stall out the way they did, playing a bit of counterattack and making sure they weren't going to lose a goal." Ferguson criticised Chris Smalling for his marking of Vincent Kompany at the corner from which the City defender scored. "Young Chris Smalling got caught under the ball," he said. "Straightforward. I don't think the goalkeeper had any chance with that." United are without Jonny Evans and Danny Welbeck for Swansea City's visit on Sunday with the latter suffering a foot injury following a second-half Nigel de Jong challenge on Monday. "I thought it was a bad tackle," the manager said. "I didn't think it was a red card and when I saw it again I thought a yellow card was sufficient. It put him out of the game because at the time he was looking as if he was going to do something. I couldn't take him off, of course, because I'd used all our substitutes." City are at Newcastle on Sunday lunchtime conscious that victory heightens the pressure on United, who kick off later against Swansea. The Scot was critical of the different times the games were being played: "Well, you're not going to get that with television today, are you? You look at the FA Cup final with a 5.15pm kick-off. Absolutely ridiculous. Stupid. The whole reason is to get an audience, so they dominate the actual kick-off time of the FA Cup final, which is the most prestigious cup tournament in the world. It's bedlam down there now. Bedlam. "We owe so much for the revenue that television can bring to us that they can dominate it. The only saving grace we've got is the last games of the season are all played at the same time [on the final day]. Now that is vital." Ferguson was reluctant to say whether City being potentially only two games away from the title is the most difficult type of pressure to handle. "There's pressure on everyone, including the teams at the bottom of the league," he said. "We worry about pressure for ourselves but you think about these teams at the bottom. You get near that Championship, although you get the parachute payments going down there, the revenue and the players' ambitions are washed away." Regarding the return of Darren Fletcher, who has a long-term illness, Ferguson added: "We're hoping he starts pre-season training. He's on a recovery road at the moment in the sense of some work he's doing but we're not able to assess that because we don't know enough about it. Darren's medical people are dealing with that. Our doctors have got a good idea about the situation but at the moment the boy's doing his best to come back."
We won't sell stars in summer, insists Everton manager Moyes
May 5, 2011
David Moyes has warned any clubs hoping to cherry pick Everton's best players that he has no interest in breaking up his squad this summer. Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain have been tracking key midfielder Marouane Fellaini, while Leighton Baines - Everton's top performer for the last two seasons - has been linked with Manchester United. Moyes, who has no intention of sacrificing any big names, is tracking Heerenveen striker Bas Dost and said: 'It will be important that we keep hold of our best players. 'We lost Mikel Arteta last year but I don't want to sell. So I'm not going out there as a salesman to try to sell them. We have had no contact from Chelsea (on Fellaini).' Everton have been linked with Bayern Munich forward Dale Jennings but, although scouts were at a recent game, they were not specifically looking at the 19-year-old.
Jelavic and Martinez scoop top gongs for April after brilliant month
May 5, 2012
Everton's Nikica Jelavic has scooped the April player of the month gong while Wigan boss Roberto Martinez has taken the managerial award. Striker Jelavic scored six goals last month in just three Premier League appearances, including a spectacular header in the 4-4 draw at Manchester United.
The Croatian, who has only been at Goodison Park since January, began the month by scoring both of his side’s goals in a 2-2 draw away to Norwich City. He bagged two at Old Trafford, and then two more in the 4-0 thrashing of Fulham, taking his tally to eight for the season. He said: 'I'm really pleased to have won the award. Everyone at Everton has been very good to me since I arrived at the club and I am glad that I have been able to reward the fans for their fantastic support. 'Awards are always nice and this one shows how well the team is doing just now. We are playing some great football and we are creating chances, which for a centre-forward is obviously very important.
'We are finishing the season really well and we hope to end with two more wins from our last two games.' Meanwhile, Martinez has got his hands on the manager of the month award for the first time in his career after an outstanding April including wins over three of the league's top five teams.
Martinez’s men began the month with a controversial 2-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge, but bounced back with wins over Arsenal and Manchester United. They concluded April by crushing Newcastle at the DW Stadium.
EVERTON GOAL A SIR ALEX FERGUSON ‘KILLER’
Saturday May 5,2012
By Richard Tanner
IF HIS prayers are not answered tomorrow by Newcastle, then Sir Alex Ferguson will have no hesitation in pointing to the moment that killed Manchester United’s title hopes.
It was not the defeat by Manchester City in the derby, nor the surprise setback at Wigan – it was the 4-4 draw with Everton at Old Trafford when his team tossed away a 4-2 lead in the final eight minutes. If United had won that game they would still hold a two-point advantage over City going into the final two matches, regardless of Monday’s defeat at the Etihad Stadium. Now, though, they are relying on the Magpies getting a result against City to rescue their chances – and the boss’s frustration is that they only have themselves to blame. “The Everton game was the killer for us,” he said. “They had something to prove after losing against Liverpool in their FA Cup semi, but it was a ridiculous display by us in the last minutes of the match. It was absolute carelessness.
“It’s all right saying the history of the club is to attack all the time but it was a stupid performance and it has put us on the back foot. “If we lose the league, we will have to accept that it was the Everton game that did for us.” Ferguson hit back at claims from City manager Roberto Mancini that United face “easy” games against Swansea at home tomorrow before a final-day trip to Sunderland.
Neither of those sides have anything to play for, but Ferguson believes Mancini is being disrespectful, and tipped Swans manager Brendan Rodgers as a leading candidate for the Manager of the Year award. “I don’t think you get easy games,” he said. “You certainly don’t expect an easy game if you are going to Sunderland on the last day of the season when you consider the support they have and the manager they have. “And the way Swansea have played this season has been admirable. When you talk about how you pick your Manager of the Year, you have to take into consideration the resources you have. “Brendan Rodgers came up from the Championship and he has been rewarded with fantastic performances. He and Paul Lambert at Norwich have both done fantastic jobs.” Ferguson is tipping Rio Ferdinand for a recall to the England squad for the European Championship under Roy Hodgson. There are concerns that Ferdinand’s back problems might not stand up to the demands of tournament football – as well as fears that he has lost half a yard of pace. But Ferguson said: “Rio has been fantastic. I played him three games in seven days at the end of January and the beginning of February. “Apart from that we have been playing him every seven days and he has coped very well. He has had a fantastic season and has helped Jonny Evans. That partnership has grown really well. “I don’t know what Roy is thinking – I haven’t spoken to him – but experience is going to be really important in the Euros. “Phil Jones and Chris Smalling should go to the Euros, but they have not played a lot of football for us this season in terms of centre-back play.
“The derby match was Smalling’s first game at centre-back for a long time because of his injuries along with the superb form of both Ferdinand and Evans. “You go back to what you’ve got left – John Terry, Rio, Gary Cahill, Jones and Smalling. There’s not a lot after that.”
DAVID MOYES: PHIL NEVILLE’S STILL MOY TOP BOY
5th May 2012
By Chris McKenna
DAVID MOYES reckons Everton captain Phil Neville still has plenty to offer the Toffees, before he moves into a coaching role. Neville, 35, has been talked of as a possible assistant to England boss Roy Hodgson. The former England international had a taste of coaching at national level, helping England Under-21s in their Euro qualifier against Belgium in February. Everton boss Moyes wants his captain to stay focused on the club, but admitted he has the right qualities for coaching.
He said: “I’ve always thought Phil would get involved in coaching, but he still has a lot to do and has his badges to earn. “Phil still sees himself as a player though and he has played as well as anyone here this year.” Everton face relegated Wolves tomorrow and the Midlanders have been told to try and send their supporters home with a smile on their face. Stand-in boss Terry Connor said: “We know there is a lot of hurt but we want to end on a positive. “We will applaud the fans and hopefully sow the seeds for next season.”
Everton’s 1987 championship winning skipper Kevin Ratcliffe reflects on playing injured in golden age
by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
May 5 2012
IN the final interview of our three-part series on Everton’s last title-winning side, the Goodison skipper of the time reveals the lengths he went to in order to keep playing. HE PLAYED every single league game of Everton’s title success in 1987 but Kevin Ratcliffe concedes there was no secret to his durability. In fact, the former Toffees skipper admits he often played with various injuries – and once even took to the pitch despite having been ruled unfit for action. Already a Blues legend having lifted the FA Cup, First Division title and European Cup Winners', ‘Rats’ was named in Howard Kendall’s starting XI for all 42 fixtures in the 1986/87 campaign, playing 54 games in total.
“You don’t even think about it at the time,” he says, remembering that golden age 25 years ago. “Everyone has their own pre match rituals or things they do to stay fit and injury free, but I did nothing out of the ordinary. “Maybe nowadays the players don’t play when they’re injured as much, but we did. I was fortunate in that I didn’t have any big injuries that season, and neither did Paul Power. “You had niggles but you just got on with it. “Once I was rooming with Kevin Sheedy before a cup game against West Brom. We went out for a fitness test on the Saturday morning before the game and we both failed it. “I had an ankle problem and he had a strain on his thigh. But then when we saw the team-sheet Howard had named us both in the team! “We were a bit bemused but we just got on with it, and I think Kevin scored the equaliser which took the tie back to Goodison and eventually we won. “All of our lads scrapped for the team then. It wasn’t just us – the collective spirit was immense.” Ratcliffe was one of the quickest centre-backs around at his peak, and was at the height of his powers in that era. “People ask me if I got tired, but when you’re playing that amount of games, it means you’re successful, so I never did,” he says. “The only time I was tired was when we won the title at Norwich City. Once the job was done, everyone was just mentally, emotionally and physically drained. We’d done what we’d set out to achieve and the adrenaline just went when we won it. We were exhausted.” The former Wales international goes with the general consensus that the triumph was more of a squad effort than the previous title victory two years earlier. He said: “If you looked back now, nine times out of 10 people would get the team wrong and the starting positions players played in. “Myself, Neville Southall and Graeme Sharp would be in their normal positions, but the likes of Adrian Heath, Alan Harper, Trevor Steven and Gary Stevens were often played in different positions. “People like Paul Wilkinson played a part, and we had some good squad players around, who didn’t throw their dummies out the pram if they got left out after having a good game.” In fact Ratcliffe is refreshingly honest in revealing another motivation to keep playing. “Of course partly you’re doing it for the team, for the ambition and for the manager but partly you’re doing it for the match bonus too. “A big part of your wage was your appearance bonus. “Maybe it was even more than your wage, so you wanted to play whether it was against Coventry or Liverpool. “By the time it got to May you were focused on winning something, but equally your mind was on the summer. “Then when you got back in July it was wondering whether the gaffer was going to bring someone in to play in your positions. Howard had a tendency to freshen it up in the summer and January. “You were thinking, ‘Will he be competing with me for my place?’. You’re never really thinking about the long-term or whether what you’re doing will be remembered in 25 years time. “We were just lucky that we had a good team, and we managed to win some silverware which meant we went down in history.” IT IS a bittersweet weekend for Evertonians, with Liverpool contesting the FA Cup final at Wembley today after beating their rivals in the semi-final there last month. And Ratcliffe, 51, believes his beloved Blues face a transitional phase in the coming seasons, if they are to once again regain local superiority. The the former Chester City and Shrewsbury Town manager said: “Sooner or later the squad is going to need freshening up. “The players have kept producing, but the main me we rely on are not getting any younger. There will come a time when they will need replacing. “Phil Neville, Tim Cahill, Leon Osman, Tony Hibbert and players of that ilk are all past 30. They have done it again and again but they can’t go on forever. “They just won’t be able to play as many games year on year, so the focus needs to be on who you can sign to fill their boots? “With the finances we’ve got you might not be able to start again in one clean sweep. It might be a case of topping up the squad over a few seasons. “David Moyes is unlikely to ever be able to spend £20m on a Stewart Downing or £18m on a Jordan Henderson. “David would need to be more cautious, as he is, and keep pulling rabbits from the hat. If anyone can do it, he can but it’s not straight forward.”
Barry Horne: If Harry Redknapp can be upset at England ‘snub’, then what about David Moyes?
by Barry Horne, Liverpool Echo
May 5 2012
SO Roy Hodgson is the new England manager. Best of luck to him. I’ve met Roy on a number of occasions at coaching courses and seminars, and he is as often described; intelligent, thoughtful and a decent man. There is nothing in his background - despite what certain sections of the media will suggest - that says he cannot make a success of this opportunity. But, similar to when he took over at Liverpool, Roy is up against it from the word go. Certain members of the Press have got it in for him, not so much for what he has done, but because of the concerted Press campaign backing Harry Redknapp for the job. The Press clearly feel it is they, as much as Redknapp, who have been snubbed by the FA’s decision – which was made in a very impressive, business-like manner, incidentally, with no leaks, no half-baked statements, and no procrastinating. The FA did what they had to do, and they did it well, for me. You would expect some negativity, some cheap shots, from the tabloids. That is par for the course, unfortunately. But the heavyweights have been wading in too – albeit in less obvious form. And if, as some seriously respected writers have suggested this week, Redknapp has been treated “appallingly” by his FA snub, then might I suggest that so too has David Moyes, who was not, to my knowledge, considered for the role despite his excellent achievements over ten years at Goodison Park. I wish Roy Hodgson every success in his new role, but I fear that unless he has a spectacular start to his England career, the Press will give him little room to manoeuvre, and will not afford him the time required to build the Team England setup the FA so clearly desires.
Royal Blue: Toffee Lotto set to make one fan a big winner
by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
May 5 2012
THIS MONTH Everton will be drawing its annual end of season lottery and handing over a cheque for £10,000 to one very lucky winner. For more than 50 years the club has been running a host of lotteries, raffles and prize draws of some form to raise funds. Initially, the money was originally used to help with the up keep of the stadium and fund youth development, but more recently they are used to support charity initiatives. The weekly Lotto SuperDraw, which was established six years ago and the end of season £10,000 draw, have paid out over £1m in prize money between them.
All the proceeds are donated to Everton in the Community and in the last year alone, fans have helped to raise over £70,000. To play is simple and there are over 40 great cash prizes to be won every week including a weekly jackpot of £1,000 for just £1 per week. Plus one Evertonian will win £10,000 in the end of season draw, which is one of the biggest lottery jackpots in the Premier League. For details call 0151 530 5266.
Royal Blue: David France, OBE - mes que un fan.
by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
May 5 2012
KUDOS to Ed Bottomley of the Dixie’s Sixty Everton website for coining the term ‘Més que un fan’ in honour of David France, OBE. Ed’s twist on the famous Barcelona plaudit ‘more than a club’ nicely sums up Dr France, who most certainly is ‘more than a fan’. Accompanied by his wife, and friend, the Echo’s deputy head of sport Dave Prentice, the man behind the incomparable Everton Collection travelled to Buckingham Palace yesterday to receive his accolade from the queen. Typically, Dr France says his award stands for ‘One Big Evertonian’, a sentiment few could disagree with.
Congratulations to him.
Royal Blue: Everton FC still thriving at reserve and youth levels
by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
May 5 2012
IT REMAINS to be seen whether Everton’s board can support David Moyes in the transfer market this summer. But even if he is unable to make more than a few signings unless he sells a top player, there is at least continued good news at all levels beneath the first team squad at Finch Farm.
Under Alan Stubbs’ steady tutelage the reserves have embarked on a 13 match unbeaten streak since Christmas, taking some notable scalps along the way including - in their final game - Arsenal.
Marshalling Everton’s second string in the same assured way he did the club’s back four, Stubbs has guided them to third in their league, and helped the development of players like Adam Forshaw, Tyias Browning, Conor McAleny, Jose Baxter and quietly impressive January new-boy Francisco Junior. Meanwhile, Kevin Sheedy’s u-18s have had another progressive campaign, which could yet end with winning the Liverpool Senior Cup. They might not have repeated their title winning coup, but this season has seen players like Hallam Hope, Ross Barkley and Matthew Pennington grow in stature - with Hope in particular displaying the type of fine goal scoring form which may even save inShare David Moyes a few million quid in the future. Long may it continue.
Royal Blue: Everton FC should resist FA overtures for Phil Neville
by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
May 5 2012
LIKE some benign parent proudly raising their child before patting them on the back and sending them off to a better life, Everton FC are too often cast as patsies when it comes to players leaving.
Lonely Planet: Sign Up for a 20% Discount! Aside from the fact that Mikel Arteta was desperate to join Arsenal, many at Goodison expressed the sentiment that he deserved his chance at the Emirates after ‘doing his bit’ on Merseyside. Despite the fuzzy logic that equates playing for a club that revived your career, gave you a European stage to shine upon, and made you its highest ever paid player equates to some form of ‘service’, nevertheless there was rightly little in the way of ill-feeling towards the Basque when he kissed adios to Goodison last summer. Arteta had been an exceptional player, a gentleman and a dedicated performer - even after his dream of achieving Champions League football with the Blues had died. But it’s a trend the club must be careful to guard against.
The appointment of Roy Hodgson as England manager last week was quickly followed by articles in the broadsheets written by journalists who are well-connected at Soho Square, suggesting that Phil Neville is being lined up as part of Hodgson’s new coaching set-up. Neville, who impressed many at the FA with his brief stint helping coach England's Under-21s in February, is set to complete his Uefa A coaching licence soon. His reputation as an honest and articulate pundit is growing nicely too, even if for now it’s in the shadow of his older brother. But at the same time he remains a regular and top level Premier League performer, who Everton miss when he is absent. So it’s not hard to understand why Hodgson might see Neville as the ideal conduit for building relationships with younger players in the England camp. However, Everton owe England nothing. And while the club certainly owes Neville gratitude for the exemplary way he handles himself as an ambassador, that does not mean they are duty bound to push him into Hodgson’s arms. A top career in coaching for Neville will certainly come, but hopefully not while the 35-year-old remains such an important player for Everton, who is not ready to hang up his boots.
Everton FC striker Nikica Jelavic says Toffees style helped him win Barclays Player of month award for April
by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
May 5 2012
NIKICA JELAVIC has vowed to stay on the goal trail for Everton FC's remaining two Premier League games after he won the Barclays Player of the Month Award for April. Enter to win a trip to Spain!
The Croatian striker scored six goals in the three league games he played in last month, and quickly established himself as a favourite of the Goodison faithful since joining the club from Scottish side Rangers in the January transfer window. He said: “We are playing some great football and we are creating chances, which for a centre-forward is obviously very important. “We are finishing the season really well and we hope to end with two more wins from our last two games.” “I am really pleased to have won the Barclays Player of the Month award. Everyone at Everton has been very good to me since I arrived at the club and I am glad that I have been able to reward the fans for their fantastic support. “Awards are always nice and this one shows how well the team is doing just now.” The 26-year-old began the month by scoring both of his side’s goals in a 2-2 draw away to Norwich City. Having sat out the 4-0 home win against Sunderland, the former Rapid Vienna striker returned to the Everton starting line-up for the game against Manchester United at Old Trafford, where he struck twice to earn the Toffees a thrilling 4-4 draw against the current champions.
Jelavic ended the month by helping himself to yet another brace of goals in the emphatic 4-0 win at home to Fulham, taking his tally to eight Barclays Premier League goals for the season. The decision was made by the Barclays Awards Panel, which includes representatives from football’s governing bodies, the media and fans. Jelavic becomes the first Croatian to receive the accolade.
Everton FC manager David Moyes says Newcastle have proven teams can sell stars and still succeed
by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
May 5 2012
AS EVER, the focus in line with that well-worn footballing cliche, remains on the next game - but Everton FC manager David Moyes cannot help thinking several steps ahead. Everton could all but cement seventh place in the Premier League by beating relegated Wolves on Sunday, yet their manager is already pondering the options open to him in the summer transfer window.
So too, according to the tabloid headlines, are his opponents who perhaps covet some of Everton’s top players, according to stories linking Marouane Fellaini, Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka with big-money transfers away from Goodison. Recently selling to buy has been Moyes’ only option, and it remains the only likely way he can generate funds this summer, although the Scot admits it does not have to be a bad thing. He readily acknowledges that high-flying Newcastle United, who the Toffees host next weekend in their season curtain-closer, have excelled by selling top players in Andy Carroll, Jose Enrique, and Kevin Nolan and replacing them with cheaper stars such as Yohan Cabaye, Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse. “You’re always looking ahead but I think you’re always looking short term as well,” says Moyes. “I’m guessing with a club like Everton that we may have to trade more.
“I still think it will be important that we keep hold of our best players. We lost one last year in Mikel Arteta and Joleon (Lescott) a few years earlier, but we’ve tended to be not too bad. I hope they get encouragement from how well the team has been playing. “I’ve never been comfortable doing it as my job is to build a team but I’ve got to make sure there is a football club and if that means trading then well that’s fine, that has to happen. “There can be a way forward that way.” The challenge for Moyes is to try and do the trading on Everton’s terms, avoiding the late deals which can scupper his summer plans. “The two trades we’ve done couldn’t have been later if we tried,” he says. “We’re not out there to sell our players so we can’t tell clubs to come in earlier because I don’t want to sell.
“So I’m not going out there as a salesman to try to sell them. If people come in late then there’s not a lot I can do about it.” For now though, Moyes says his only motivation for the remainder of the season is finishing as high as possible in the League. The Toffees are well placed to end up in a better position than their neighbours Liverpool for only the second time since their last title win of 1987. With two games remaining, Moyes’ side have a three-point advantage over their rivals and can take a big step towards a higher finish with victory over Terry Connor’s side on Sunday. That would at least provide some comfort for supporters after losing to Liverpool in the FA Cup semi-finals but Moyes’ chief aim is to keep the current seventh spot, the best they can now attain.
The Scot said: “It is not something I am overly talking about. We have got two games to go, so it is running out. “We have got a couple of points ahead so because of that we would try to stay above anybody, but it wouldn’t matter if it was Liverpool or any other team in the division. “You just want to stay as high up the league as you can. “If you had given me this at the start of the season I would have taken it because it’s close to where we have been in recent seasons. “But I can’t turn around and say I am happy finishing seventh or eighth because that is no ambition. “That is why, at the start of every season, I say I want to win the league - and I do want to win the league. “If I can’t finish first I’ll try to finish second or third or fourth. “But the best we can do at the moment is seventh.
“I would have taken that but it is not great ambition if that is all you have got.” So Moyes will attempt to focus solely on the trip to Molinuex, where he is looking forward to further impressive performances from his key men. “The introduction of Steven Pienaar has helped us play much better and encouraged others to play better,” he says. “Leon Osman has come into form and Marouane Fellaini is enjoying his football. You can see that in the last three or four months. “Overall, we are playing much better and you can see the confidence flowing through the team.” If they can secure that seventh spot, Moyes believes Everton will be unfortunate not to be playing in Europe next season. Many times in the past that would have been rewarded with Europa League qualification but – as was also the case last season – it won’t be good enough this time around with only the top six likely to And Moyes said: “At the start of the year if you had said you’ll be seventh at this point then I would have probably said 'that is good'. “A lot of years that would have given you a real chance of finishing in a European position but unfortunately that will not be the case this season.”
England can wait for Phil Neville, Everton FC still need him says David Moyes
by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
May 5 2012
ENGLAND will have to be patient if they want to lure Phil Neville into a coaching role – because he remains a vital performer for Everton FC, says David Moyes. Speculation has gathered in the wake of Roy Hodgson’s appointment as England manager, that the new national Supremo fancies the Toffees skipper as part of his new back-room staff. Neville, 35, is expected to complete his Uefa A coaching licence this summer, and harbours ambitions to become a manager, but is also contracted to the Blues until summer 2013. And even though Moyes has no doubt his skipper will make a good coach, he believes is confident that he wants to continue playing for the time being. He said: “I’ve always thought in time Phil would get involved in coaching. “But I think Phil still sees himself as a player and I think Phil has played as well as anyone at Everton this year. “Like us all he had a sticky start, but whether it be in midfield or full back he has always been consistent and reliable. “At the moment he wants to play. He is such a good guy and knowledgeable and understands what it takes for players to win. “If you go about your business as he does then he is very well respected. From players, managers and coaches alike and supporters.” Moyes gave Neville permission to help coach England’s U-21s before their European Championship qualifier with Belgium in February, and believes he would benefit from further similarly gradual experiences. “I think that was good for him,” he said. “That’s good for his development. I think players respect him because of his level of professionalism and because he has 50 odd caps for England. But I think even he would admit he has got a lot to do. He has his badges to earn, and see what’s out there. Neville remains an injury doubt for tomorrow’s game with Wolves, alongside Darron Gibson, while Leighton Baines (ham-string) and Victor Anichebe (groin) will definitely miss out. But the Blues boss was equally keen to praise the development of another of his players, at the other end of the learning curve. Ross Barkley, 18, will continue to play a part in the club’s last two games from the bench, after earlier being withdrawn from the first team set-up by Moyes. And the Scot has been pleased with how the England U-21 midfielder has matured during what has been an eventful season for him. “He has been involved in the team,” said Moyes. “He has got some minutes on the pitch and he will continue to be around the squad. “He’s needed the games. He need the 30 games in the youths and reserves. “I see him beginning to settle down a bit and he is beginning to find his form again. “At first he played as if he was just playing with his pals and it is just a bit more serious than that. He had to go and learn his trade because he missed so many games. “He’s coming on and coming back and he’s just beginning not to look like the boy he was in the early part when everything was just a little too much about him.”
Wolves v Everton FC: We’re not bothered where Liverpool finish says David Moyes
by Our Correspondent, DPW West
May 5 2012
EVERTON FC boss David Moyes says his only motivation for the remainder of the season is finishing as high as possible in the Premier League. The Toffees are well placed to end up in a better position than their neighbours Liverpool for only the second time since their last title win of 1987.
With two games remaining, Moyes’ side have a three-point advantage over their rivals and can take a big step towards a higher finish with victory at relegated Wolves tomorrow. That would doubtless provide comfort for supporters after the Blues lost to Liverpool in the FA Cup semi-final, but Moyes’ chief aim is to keep the current seventh spot, the best they can now attain. The Scot said: “It is not something I am overly talking about. We have got two games to go, so it is running out.
“We have got a couple of points ahead so because of that we would try to stay above anybody, but it wouldn’t matter if it was Liverpool or any other team in the division. “You just want to stay as high up the league as you can.” It has been a difficult campaign for Moyes, beginning against a backdrop of fan protests against the board over a continued lack of investment in the squad. For more than two years Moyes was forced to rely largely on free transfers and loans to strengthen his side, but again he has battled through to achieve respectability. The purse strings were loosened a little in January as he brought in striker Nikica Jelavic from Rangers and the Croatian has proved an instant hit, fuelling the Blues’ strong finish with 10 goals in 14 appearances. With two other cheap arrivals in midfielder Darron Gibson and loanee Steven Pienaar also having made an impact, Moyes feels the season is heading towards a satisfactory conclusion, even if he wants better. Moyes said: “If you had given me this at the start of the season I would have taken it because it’s close to where we have been in recent seasons. “But I can’t turn around and say I am happy finishing seventh or eighth because that is no ambition. “That is why, at the start of every season, I say I want to win the league – and I do want to win the league. “If I can’t finish first I’ll try to finish second or third or fourth.
“But the best we can do at the moment is seventh. I would have taken that, but it is not great ambition if that is all you have got.” Everton, who made another slow start with only three wins in their first 10 Premier League games, are unbeaten in their last seven and were particularly impressive in thrashing Fulham 4-0 last weekend. They then drew at Stoke in midweek in another performance which impressed Moyes and he feels they are now a much better side than they were in the opening months of the season. He said: “It has made watching much easier. “At the start I was saying I didn’t know how to watch it at times because it was so bad, but I think at this moment in time I would. “The play is good, we are playing some really good football. We’re mixing it up, we can go long or pass it through the middle. “The introduction of Steven Pienaar has helped us play much better and encouraged others to play better. “Leon Osman has come back into form and Marouane Fellaini is enjoying his football. You can see that in the last three or four months.
“Overall, we are playing much better and you can see the confidence flowing through the team.”
Everton will again be without influential left-back Leighton Baines this weekend, despite the England international making good progress in his recovery from a hamstring injury. Moyes said: “Bainesy might have a chance against Newcastle, but he won’t make this game. “He is coming on fine, his injury isn’t too serious, but with hamstrings you don’t want to take a risk too soon.”
Forward Victor Anichebe is also missing after suffering a groin injury in midweek and joins midfielder Jack Rodwell (hamstring) on the sidelines.
Versatile captain Phil Neville and midfielder Gibson could be doubts.
Wolves: De Vries, Ikeme, Zubar, Foley, Bassong, Stearman, Johnson, Berra, Ward, Kightly, Henry, Davis, Milijas, Edwards, Jarvis, Doyle, Ebanks-Blake, Fletcher, Jonsson, Gorman, Price, Forde, Hunt.
Everton FC: Howard, Heitinga, Jagielka, Distin, Hibbert, Neville, Coleman, Fellaini, Osman, Gibson, Jelavic, Gueye, Duffy, McFadden, Stracqualursi, Pienaar, Cahill, Barkley, Hahnemann, Mucha.
Wolves 0 Everton 0: Profligate Toffees held by relegated Wanderers
By Sportsmail Reporter
6 May 2012 Daily Mail
Molineux bade farewell to the Barclays Premier League with a goalless draw as Wolves avoided an unwanted place in the record books.One more home defeat would have made it 14 for the season and 10 in a row, equalling records both held by Sunderland, but Terry Connor's side battled hard to deny an Everton side fighting for seventh place. The visitors certainly had the better of the chances and twice had the ball in the back of the net, but Nikica Jelavic and Denis Stracqualursi were both denied by offside flags. Despite the scoreline, it was an open game with chances for both sides, and arguably the best of the first-half opportunities came in only the fifth minute when Marouane Fellaini's flicked header landed at the feet of Tim Cahill 10 yards out but he shot straight at Dorus De Vries.Jelavic had scored six goals in his last four league games and he had his first sight of goal in the 14th minute when he was found by Phil Jagielka's long diagonal pass, but Richard Stearman stayed with the striker and did very well to block his shot.Kevin Doyle and James McFadden both snatched at chances while Leon Osman wanted a penalty when he went down under a challenge from Michael Kightly, but referee Lee Mason was unmoved. It would have been a very memorable day for Tony Hibbert had he netted his first goal for Everton after more than 300 games, and his fierce volley would certainly have tested De Vries had Stephen Ward not got his body in the way. Wolves had their best opening in the 26th minute when Stephen Hunt's free-kick was header just over by Christophe Berra, but Everton, and Steven Pienaar in particular, were starting to take a grip on the game. The midfielder might have done better than fire over when well placed, while his clever ball found Jelavic but he was flagged offside as he shot past De Vries in what looked a marginal decision. The hosts were living dangerously, and Ronald Zubar would have been very grateful to see his header from Hibbert's cross drop just past the post, while at the other end an isolated Steven Fletcher blazed over the bar. Wolves threatened right at the start of the second half as Hunt and Fletcher combined to play in Stearman on the left of the area but the ball had just too much pace on it and the defender could not control his cutback.Hibbert had been a real thorn in Wolves' side down the right and another pinpoint cross should really have been buried by Fellaini instead of placed over the bar. De Vries was then forced into his first real save of the match from a Jelavic free-kick 25 yards out, the keeper plunging to his left. Boss David Moyes sent on Stracqualursi for McFadden and he was into the action immediately with a shot that was well blocked by Ward, while Sylvan Ebanks-Blake replaced Fletcher for Wolves. The Scot, who is likely to be a target for Premier League clubs in the summer, received a very warm reception from the home fans. There was a real lack of intensity about the game but a burst from Karl Henry provided a shooting opportunity for Kightly, who pulled his effort well wide. Jelavic had been pretty quiet but he certainly should have tested De Vries in the 72nd minute when he beat the defence to a long ball only to pull his shot wide of the far post. The visitors had the ball in the net for a second time moments later as Jelavic's cross was turned in by Stracqualursi at the far post but again it was ruled out for offside, although it was Fellaini, who had also lunged for the ball, who was the culprit. Everton continued to press but the Wolves defence held firm to earn their first home point since December.
WOLVES: De Vries, Zubar, Stearman, Berra (Elokobi 54), Ward, Kightly (Forde 71), Henry, Edwards, Hunt, Doyle, Fletcher (Ebanks-Blake 60). Unused subs: Ikeme, Johnson, Milijas, Jonsson.
EVERTON: Howard, Hibbert, Heitinga, Jagielka, Distin, McFadden (Stracqalursi 58), Cahill (Gueye 68), Osman, Pienaar, Fellaini, Jelavic. Unused subs: Mucha, Gueye, Barkley, Coleman, Duffy, Baxter.
Referee: Lee Mason
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 Everton 0: match report
By Telegraph Sport
06 May 2012
Molineux bade farewell to the Premier League with a goalless draw as Wolverhampton Wanderers avoided an unwanted place in the record books. One more home defeat would have made it 14 for the season and 10 in a row, equalling records both held by Sunderland, but Terry Connor's side battled hard to deny an Everton side fighting for seventh place. The visitors certainly had the better of the chances and twice had the ball in the back of the net, but Nikica Jelavic and Denis Stracqualursi were both denied by offside flags. Despite the scoreline, it was an open game with chances for both sides, and arguably the best of the first-half opportunities came in only the fifth minute when Marouane Fellaini's flicked header landed at the feet of Tim Cahill 10 yards out but he shot straight at Dorus De Vries. Jelavic had scored six goals in his last four league games and he had his first sight of goal in the 14th minute when he was found by Phil Jagielka's long diagonal pass, but Richard Stearman stayed with the striker and did very well to block his shot. Kevin Doyle and James McFadden both snatched at chances while Leon Osman wanted a penalty when he went down under a challenge from Michael Kightly, but referee Lee Mason was unmoved. It would have been a very memorable day for Tony Hibbert had he netted his first goal for Everton after more than 300 games, and his fierce volley would certainly have tested De Vries had Stephen Ward not got his body in the way. Wolves had their best opening in the 26th minute when Stephen Hunt's free-kick was header just over by Christophe Berra, but Everton, and Steven Pienaar in particular, were starting to take a grip on the game. The midfielder might have done better than fire over when well placed, while his clever ball found Jelavic but he was flagged offside as he shot past De Vries in what looked a marginal decision. The hosts were living dangerously, and Ronald Zubar would have been very grateful to see his header from Hibbert's cross drop just past the post, while at the other end an isolated Steven Fletcher blazed over the bar. Wolves threatened right at the start of the second half as Hunt and Fletcher combined to play in Stearman on the left of the area but the ball had just too much pace on it and the defender could not control his cutback. Hibbert had been a real thorn in Wolves' side down the right and another pinpoint cross should really have been buried by Fellaini instead of placed over the bar. De Vries was then forced into his first real save of the match from a Jelavic free-kick 25 yards out, the keeper plunging to his left. Boss David Moyes sent on Stracqualursi for McFadden and he was into the action immediately with a shot that was well blocked by Ward, while Sylvan Ebanks-Blake replaced Fletcher for Wolves. The Scot, who is likely to be a target for Premier League clubs in the summer, received a very warm reception from the home fans. There was a real lack of intensity about the game but a burst from Karl Henry provided a shooting opportunity for Kightly, who pulled his effort well wide. Jelavic had been pretty quiet but he certainly should have tested De Vries in the 72nd minute when he beat the defence to a long ball only to pull his shot wide of the far post. The visitors had the ball in the net for a second time moments later as Jelavic's cross was turned in by Stracqualursi at the far post but again it was ruled out for offside, although it was Fellaini, who had also lunged for the ball, who was the culprit. Everton continued to press but the Wolves defence held firm to earn their first home point since December.
Wolves 0 Everton 0 – match report
Sunday 6th May 2012, Express and Star
Terry Connor’s side achieved something they haven’t done since the first home game of the season back on August 21 against Fulham – achieve a clean sheet in front of their own fans.But they were second best for most of the game and Everton, who had one legitimate-looking effort ruled out for offside, will be kicking themselves after missing several chances.Wolves failed to force a single save from visiting keeper Tim Howard in a feeble show going forwards.There was also a mixed reaction to the players’ ‘lap of appreciation’ at the final whistle in the final home game of the season.Connor made two changes to the side that drew 4-4 at Swansea eight days ago.Both were enforced, with Ronald Zubar and Stephen Hunt replacing the injured Kevin Foley (hamstring) and Matt Jarvis (groin).Hunt made his first Premier League start since Bolton away on December 31 while Jarvis lost his ever-present league record, leaving left back Stephen Ward as the only Wolves player to have figured in every league game this season.ction was thin on the ground in a largely flat first half.Everton had the better of the chances and certainly controlled most of the possession, with Wolves careless, giving the ball away too often.The unmarked Tim Cahill missed a superb opportunity to put the visitors ahead in the fifth minute when he rolled a lot shot straight at keeper Dorus De Vries from six yards out.Kevin Doyle had Wolves’ first sight of goal on 18, shovelling wide from close range after a scramble following a corner.Everton were next to show, Steven Pienaar seeing a curling shot expertly plucked out of the air by De Vries in the 24th minute.Wolves threatened again via a setpiece two minutes later, Christophe Berra heading wide at the far post from Hunt’s free kick.But a minute later, Pienaar missed the chance of the half, blazing high and wide after a slip by Richard Stearman left him bearing down on goal.With action as flat as the atmosphere, Steven Fletcher tried to lift the gloom after heading on Michael Kightly’s crossfield pass for himself to run onto four minutes before the break.But the 11-goal top scorer could only rifle a left-foot drive high into the South Bank.Wolves looked to threaten at the start of the second half, but Stearman could only send the ball where it had come from when Fletcher headed Hunt’s free kick across the face of goal.Everton again most of the opportunities in the second half during which substitute George Elokobi, back from his loan at Nottingham Forest and on for the injured Berra in the 54th minute, played an increasing role.Nikica Jelavic, who went into the game with 10 goals in 10 matches, had De Vries gathering down low at the near post from a free kick 25 yards out on 58.Nine minutes later, Wolves’ best move of the game ended with Kightly drilling wide from 20 yards after Karl Henry teed him up.Everton continued to look the more dangerous side and Marouane Fellaini was a few feet wide with a fierce low shot from 25 yards before they had an effort disallowed.Technically, it should have stood as Fellaini, who was flagged for clearly being offside from Jelavic’s cross, wasn’t interfering with play before substitute Denis Straqualursi bundled home at the far post.Pienaar curled into the sidenetting from a tight angle after a tenacious run but just as the visitors looked set to go for the jugular, they appeared to stop attacking.Instead it was Wolves who rounded off the chances through substitute Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, who drilled wide after running from the halfway line.Two Everton fans, one carrying what looked like a homemade FA Cup, ran on the pitch in the last few minutes and it took a few minutes before stewards caught up with them and restored order.
Match report by Tim Nash
Wolves hold out to end Molineux losing run with draw against Everton
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 6 May 2012
Terry Connor was pleased to give the Wolves fans some recompense at the end of a season of lows as they held Everton to a goalless draw at Molineux. The result ended a run of nine successive home defeats in the Premier League and ensured they avoided an unwanted place in the record books. Another loss would have equalled the Premier League marks for longest home losing run and most home defeats in a season (14), which are both held by Sunderland.Wolves had to ride their luck in a game largely dominated by Everton, who twice had the ball in the net but then saw Nikica Jelavic and Denis Stracqualursi denied by the offside flag.Connor, whose tenure as interim manager ends with the trip to Wigan Athletic next week, said: "Everton have not lost in seven, they've scored four goals in three of their last four games, they're a team bang in form, so to get a clean sheet from our point of view is a good effort."It was important to try to leave the fans with something. If we couldn't win it, then we wanted to take something from the game so they had something positive to go home with for the summer, and come back next year to support the club in its quest to be back in the Premier League."We tried to stay with the game, not concede goals, and nick something if we could.. We took a point today and if we can go to Wigan and do the same then that's three games without defeat. That would stand us in good stead for next year."The draw kept Everton a point above Fulham in the race for seventh place, with Liverpool a further three points behind but with a game in hand.Everton had a good early chance when Tim Cahill shot straight at Dorus De Vries, and they were left with a feeling of injustice in the 28th minute when Jelavic was flagged offside as he fired past the keeper, with TV replays showing the Croatian was level with the last man.Wolves' best chance was a header from Christophe Berra which went over the bar, and the pattern continued after the interval, with Marouane Fellaini and Jelavic particularly wasteful when presented with good openings.Jelavic thought he had made amends in the 73rd minute, when his cross was turned in by Stracqualursi at the far post, but Fellaini, who had also lunged for the ball, was a yard offside.The Everton assistant manager, Steve Round, admitted the side had paid for a lack of composure in front of goal, saying: "The players are disappointed in the dressing room. We had enough dominance in possession and created enough opportunities definitely."We just couldn't take that defining moment, whether it was the pass or the final shot, and obviously we had a really good goal disallowed. I thought the second one was offside, Fellaini doesn't touch the ball but he does go for it, which makes him interfering. Recently we've been playing as well as that but taking the chances, and today we didn't."Connor was again reluctant to discuss his own future after his winless record since taking over from Mick McCarthy in February stretched to 12 games. "I finish on 13 May. I'll give the club a full review of the season and the club will decide what path to take and how they want to regain their Premier League status. I'll abide by whatever decision is made."
Final Whistle Report: Wolverhampton Wanderers FC 0 Everton FC 0
by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
May 6 2012
EVERTON FC squandered a pivotal chance to almost cement a seventh place finish in the Premier League with an agonising stale-mate against relegated Wolves at Molineux.The Blues comfortably dominated possession and created a string of openings, but were ultimately left to rue the incorrect off-side decision given against Nikcia Jelavic’s first half strike.It should not have proven so costly, however, with David Moyes’ men missing too many chances and often over-doing it as they attempted to pass the ball into the net.The pressure was off for Terry Connor’s men, and the home fans took great delight in Everton’s woes in front of goal, as they waved goodbye to the top flight.Everton could not be accused of lacking offensive intent, as they poured forward at will in a one-sided first half, as ever inspired by the sparkling Steven Pienaar.Leon Osman, Jelavic, Tim Cahill and James McFadden all missed gilt-edged chances, yet the longer the game hung in the balance, Everton’s attacking finesse dwindled and passes started to go astray.Suddenly that certain feeling of victory started to ebb away. Just to add to the worryingly ominous feeling, Michael Kightly shot just wide after a break from the home side.Everton had been guilty of trying to score the perfect goal, and at least Fellaini showed some urgency when he had a crack from outside the box and his venous effort flew just wide.Then the Belgian’s towering header unleashed Jelavic who nipped ahead of Wolves defence and seemed odds-on to convert, but shot wide under pressure from sub George Elokobi.And the visitors had the ball in the net again a moment later, when sub Denis Stracqualursi scrambled home at the far post but Fellaini had strayed a yard off-side in the build-up.Wolves were defending in numbers and making Everton seem tired, but substitute Magaye Gueye added fresh potency and Pienaar was not ready to stop tormenting the Midlanders, as he twisted and turned in the area before fizzing a low drive into the side netting.But they must now hope results go their way elsewhere, and then beat Champions League chasing Newcastle United at Goodison Park next Sunday, if they are to finish above neighbours Liverpool in the table.
Leighton Baines 'to choose between Man United and Bayern Munich'
The Metro, 06/05/12
Both Manchester United and Bayern Munich are interested in signing the Everton left-back, who looks ready to leave Goodison Park for a new challenge.According to the Daily Star Sunday, the old foes will cross swords as they each attempt to lure Baines to their clubs in readiness for next season.Sir Alex Ferguson had initially planned to make a cut-price £5 million bid for the England defender, but it seems the price tag attached to the player is actually in the region of £15million.Regardless of the fee, United face a battle with Bayern to sign the 27-year-old, as the German giants have already tried to capture him. They made a bid two years ago but failed to seal a deal.It is believed Sir Alex sees Baines as the ideal long-term successor to Patrice Evra, while Bayern also have a spot to fill at left-back.However, with more than three years remaining on his contract on Merseyside, Everton are under no immediate pressure to sell and may only do so for the right amount of cash.
Connor sees a silver lining after goalless draw with Everton
By Sportsmail Reporter
6 May 2012 , The Mail
Terry Connor was pleased to give the Wolves fans a crumb of comfort at the end of a season of lows as they held Everton to a goalless draw at Molineux.Sunday's result ended a run of nine straight home defeats in the Barclays Premier League and ensured they avoided an unwanted place in the record books. Another loss would have equalled the Premier League marks for longest home losing run and most home defeats in a season (14), which are both held by Sunderland. Wolves had to ride their luck in a game largely dominated by Everton, who twice had the ball in the net but saw Nikica Jelavic and Denis Stracqualursi both denied by the offside flag. Connor, whose tenure as interim boss ends with next week's trip to Wigan, said: 'Everton have not lost in seven, they've scored four goals in three of their last four games, they're a team bang in form, so to get a clean sheet from our point of view is a good effort. 'It was important to try to leave the fans with something. If we couldn't win it then we wanted to take something from the game so they had something positive to go home with for the summer, and come back next year to support the club in its quest to be back in the Premier League. 'We tried to stay with the game, not concede goals, and nick something if we could. We took a point today and if we can go to Wigan and do the same then that's three games without defeat. That would stand us in good stead for next year.' The draw kept Everton a point above Fulham in the race for seventh place, with Liverpool a further three points behind but with a game in hand.The Toffees had a good early chance when Tim Cahill shot straight at Dorus De Vries, and they were left with a feeling of injustice in the 28th minute when Jelavic was flagged offside as he fired passed the keeper, with replays showing the Croatian was level. Wolves' best chance was a header from Christophe Berra over the bar, and the pattern continued after the break, with Marouane Fellaini and Jelavic particularly wasteful from good openings. Jelavic thought he had made amends in the 73rd minute when his cross was turned in by Stracqualursi at the far post, but Fellaini, who had also lunged for the ball, was a yard offside. Everton assistant manager Steve Round admitted his side had paid for a lack of composure in front of goal, saying: 'The players are disappointed in the dressing room. We had enough dominance in possession and created enough opportunities definitely. 'We just couldn't take that defining moment, whether it was the pass or the final shot, and obviously we had a really good goal disallowed. 'I thought the second one was offside, Fellaini doesn't touch the ball but he does go for it, which makes him interfering. Recently we've been playing as well as that but taking the chances, and today we didn't.' Connor was again reluctant to discuss his own future after his winless record since taking over from Mick McCarthy in February stretched to 12 games. He said: 'I finish on May 13. I'll give the club a full review of the season and the club will decide what path to take and how they want to regain their Premier League status. I'll abide by whatever decision is made.'
Wolves 0 Everton FC: We didn't take our chances says Steve Round
May 6 2012
Everton FC assistant manager Steve Round admitted his side had paid for a lack of composure in front of goal as they drew 0-0 at Wolves in Sunday's Premier league clash.Wolves had to ride their luck in a game largely dominated by Everton FC, who twice had the ball in the net but saw Nikica Jelavic and Denis Stracqualursi both denied by the offside flag.Steve Round said: "The players are disappointed in the dressing room. We had enough dominance in possession and created enough opportunities, definitely."We just couldn’t take that defining moment, whether it was the pass or the final shot, and obviously we had a really good goal disallowed. "I thought the second one was offside, Fellaini doesn’t touch the ball but he does go for it, which makes him interfering. Recently we’ve been playing as well as that but taking the chances, and today we didn’t."Wolves boss Terry Connor was again reluctant to discuss his own future after his winless record since taking over from Mick McCarthy in February stretched to 12 games.He said: "I finish on May 13. I’ll give the club a full review of the season and the club will decide what path to take and how they want to regain their Premier League status. I’ll abide by whatever decision is made."
Wolves 0 Everton 0: Blues must face visit of Newcastle to secure seventh place
by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
May 7 2012
MAYBE there’s something to be said for the approach of the Wolves fans, who quickly gave up taking this scoreless draw seriously and began to invent goals. As their gallows humour went into overdrive, the Molineux faithful chanted about their made-up 2-0 lead, and a couple of Everton supporters invaded the pitch – one holding aloft a cardboard FA Cup. Pure fantasy? Maybe, but it certainly beat reality. In the end, even ref Lee Mason gave up and blew the whistle early, with the four minutes of extra time not yet elapsed. It was about the only thing the official called right all day, after denying Everton a legitimate first half goal and decent penalty claim. Yet such had been the unappetising combination of pent-up frustration from the dominant visitors, and hapless, careless play from the hosts, nobody will be phoning the BBC to complain about this game’s late billing on Match of the Day. It might have been a faintly amusing, even surreal ending then, but not so funny was the amount of chances the Toffees wasted, as the opportunity to all but secure a seventh place finish above Liverpool in the Premier League table went begging. Suitably the game’s first shot on target fell to Everton, and suitably they wasted it. A tame right-footed effort from Tim Cahill at the far post was saved comfortably by Dorus De Vries, after the ball was headed down by Marouane Fellaini. And the bold Toffees enjoyed most of the early attacking possession, as they set about putting pressure on the worst defence in the top flight hoping it cracked quickly.
Next James McFadden, enjoying a rare start in place of the injured Victor Anichebe, flashed a shot across the face of De Vries’ goal. Then the away fans almost got a rare treat when the over-lapping Tony Hibbert sized up a chance, and his fierce volley deflected off Christophe Berra for a corner.
It seemed only a matter of time before the Blues breached the hosts’ shaky back line, as Richard Stearman slipped and allowed Steven Piennar to charge through on goal, but the defender did just enough to harass Pienaar into lashing his shot over the bar. Nikica Jelavic looked sharp, and confidently left his marker flat footed to finish coolly only for an erroneous off side flag to deny him, much to David Moyes’ understandable ire. They were lining up to test De Vries, as Leon Osman forced the Dutch keeper into a low stop next, while as ever Pienaar was joyously pulling the strings.
Tim Howard was a virtual spectator at the other end, although when Wolves did threaten it was inevitably through the hard-running Steven Fletcher. Yet the frustration factor continued as Mason denied Osman a penalty after he appeared to be upended by Michael Kightly in the last moments of the first half. After a belated flurry of Wolves chances once the second period was underway, normal service resumed as Hibbert crossed and Fellaini headed over the bar. Yet the longer the game hung in the balance, Everton’s attacking finesse dwindled and passes started to go astray. Suddenly that certain feeling of victory started to ebb away. Just to add to the worryingly ominous feeling, Kightly shot just wide after another break from the home side. Everton had been guilty of trying to score the perfect goal, and at least Fellaini showed some urgency when he had a crack from outside the box and his venomous effort flew just wide. Then the Belgian’s towering header unleashed Jelavic who nipped ahead of Wolves defence but shot wide under pressure from sub George Elokobi. And the visitors had the ball in the net again a moment later, when Stracqualursi scrambled home at the far post but Fellaini had strayed a yard off-side in the build-up. Wolves were defending in numbers and Everton seemed tired, but substitute Magaye Gueye added fresh potency, and Pienaar was not ready to stop tormenting the Midlanders, as he twisted and turned in the area before fizzing a low drive into the side netting. It wasn’t enough, so Moyes’ men must instead turn it on for the visit of Newcastle next weekend. But since when did they do things the easy way? Seventh place might not be something to wildly celebrate, but if they can topple Alan Pardew’s Champions League chasing high-flyers to secure it, it will have been hard earned. After the frustration of seeing his 11th goal of the season chalked off in the Black Country, Nikica Jelavic may yet be in the mood next Sunday to outshine Papiss Cisse and prove he was the best buy of the January transfer window.
"He Michael (Kightly) has clipped Ossie in the box and he (referee Lee Mason) is right there. We can’t understand why he hasn’t given a penalty for that.” STEVE ROUND bemoans one of ref Lee Mason's costly decisions. “Everton have not lost in seven, they've scored four goals in three of their last four games, they're a team bang in form, so to get a clean sheet from our point of view is a good thing.” Wolves caretaker boss Terry Connor was satisfied with his side's display.
WOLVES (4-4-2): De Vries, Zubar, Stearman, Berra (Elokobi, 54)Ward, Kightly (Forde, 71), Henry (Capt), Hunt, Edwards, Fletcher (Ebanks-Blake, 60), Doyle. Not used: Ikeme, Johnson, Milijas, Jonsson.
EVERTON (4-2-3-1): Howard, Hibbert, Jagielka (Capt), Heitinga, Distin, Fellaini, Cahill (Gueye, 68) Osman, Pienaar, McFadden (Stracqualursi, 58 ), Jelavic. Not used: Mucha, Barkley, Coleman, Duffy, Baxter.
REFEREE: Lee Mason.
Wasted chances cost us at Wolves, admits Everton FC boss Steve Round
May 7 2012
Frustration for Steven Pienaar as a chance goes begging against Wolves STEVE ROUND lamented the wastefulness in front of goal against Wolves which cost Everton the chance to move within touching distance of a seventh place finish in the Premier League. The Blues missed a string of chances in their 0-0 draw with the relegated Midlanders at Molinuex, and also had a first-half goal by Nikcia Jelavic wrongly ruled offside. But assistant boss Round believes the Toffees are more than capable of making up for their disappointment by beating Newcastle United at Goodison next Sunday.
And he reckons on-fire Jelavic can be the man to secure local bragging rights by helping his side finish above Liverpool. He said: “The players are very disappointed they didn’t win. They had enough dominance in possession and opportunities to win the game definitely. But we were a bit wasteful in front of goal, or we didn’t make the right final pass. We just couldn’t take that defining moment. "Obviously we had a perfectly good goal disallowed. I’ve seen it again and he’s definitely onside. The form Nikica is in at the moment is fantastic. We expect that of him and we’re more surprised when he doesn’t score. His return for the price we paid is incredible. "He is quick, dynamic, can take the ball, hold it up, create and finish. He’s given us that cutting edge, and has got 27 goals this season if you include the Rangers goals. Long may that continue. We’d be happy if he could score 27 goals for us next season – that’d be nice. “We just couldn’t take the chances. Recently we’ve been playing as well as that but scoring, and we just didn’t.” Round believes the quality of some of Everton’s attacking play bodes well for the visit of the Magpies, who will be in the hunt for Champions League football. “From our penalty box to theirs we played good attacking football and had intelligent movement and retention. The Fellaini, Piennar and Jelavic link-up was fantastic and McFadden produced a wonderful cross that Fellaini should have scored from,” he said.
“You have to make sure you don’t lose to one on the break though, and I didn’t think that was going to happen because Jagielka and Heitinga were immaculate, especially Jagielka who was outstanding.
“We always thought it would be tough, but next week it’s at Goodison. We’re formidable at Goodison and no team would want to come there on the last day of the season having to win. We go into it confident, playing well and knowing if we win we’ll finish seventh. “The players want to finish as high up the league as they can, and if they can finish above Liverpool even better. It’s in our hands, we have to win next week.”
Wolves 0 Everton 0 – match analysis
Monday 7th May 2012, The Express & Star
First the good news – a home clean sheet for the first time in the league since the opening home game of the season. That was some consolation against an in-form team that had rattled in 13 goals in its previous four games. A draw at least ended a club-record nine defeats on the spin in front of their own fans and avoided a Premier League record for most home defeats in a season.
Now the rest. Wolves signed off their home campaign by producing a poor show in arguably the drabbest contest seen by the long-suffering supporters this season. It’s just as well they’re going back to the Championship because this was a poor advert for Premier League football.
The players looked as if they can’t wait for the season to end; the fans had enough many weeks ago. There was only one thing those who stayed to the end for a muted ‘lap of appreciation’ ever wanted. But not for the first time this season, they left disappointed as they were never going to get an on-pitch address from Steve Morgan. Quite sensibly, the chairman resisted the temptation to grab the microphone, as he has done at this time before. Maybe he will choose his moment at a less emotional time to give his side of the story as to how Wolves have gone backwards. But the silence speaks volumes and it’s a void that needs to be filled. Wasn’t it just a year ago that Morgan stood on the pitch, drinking in the emotion of that successful Survival Sunday, and said Wolves wouldn’t be in that situation again? Well, he was right on that score. For months, the club have ensured there would be no last-game drama at Molineux as they have plummeted like a stone.
One win in 23 league games tells its own sorry story. Morgan entered the dressing room for a second time, after relegation was confirmed following the previous home game against Manchester City, to give a rallying speech to the players, speaking about the need to stick together and win promotion. But it’s his paying public, not the players, who need to hear from him now. They need reassuring that the mess made of the managerial search in February won’t be repeated in the summer, and much, much more. That search may be avoided if the dressing room and certain sections of the boardroom get their way and Terry Connor’s stay is extended. Since the Manchester United game, those players have done everything they can to improve his wretched record and the response has come in improved performances. But those improvements haven’t translated into enough points to win him the fans’ vote, hence the sarcastic ‘Connor for Albion’ chant from the South Bank yesterday. There was a jaded look to the team that failed to force Everton keeper Tim Howard into a single save as Wolves made it seven blanks in their last 11 games. If the home side were celebrating a clean sheet, then Everton were left kicking themselves after failing to turn their superiority into goals. Tim Cahill should have punished slack marking after just five minutes when he attempted to sweep the ball home at the far post. But from six yards out, he only succeeded in rolling the ball straight at the solid Dorus De Vries. Steven Pienaar, whose curling shot was comfortably gobbled up by the Dutch keeper, then blazed high and wide after Richard Stearman’s slip left him with a clear run on goal. That chance on 27 minutes proved to be Everton’s best chance.
But it was the effort they had disallowed in the 72nd minute which they had good reason to feel aggrieved about. The linesman on the near side flagged Marouane Fellaini offside from Nikica Jelavic’s cross. Yet technically under the current laws of the game, the Belgium international wasn’t interfering with play when substitute Denis Stracqualursi bundled home at the far post. For once then, Wolves benefitted from an official’s decision. But they were rarely in a position to make it count in front of goal themselves. Christophe Berra, who limped off with a calf injury in the 54th minute to give the returning George Elokobi a lively last 36 minutes, went closest with a far-post header from Stephen Hunt’s free kick that flew over. Wolves’ best move of the game came in the 67th minute when Kevin Doyle chased a long ball and held up play to lay the ball off to Karl Henry, who teed up Michael Kightly for a drilled shot which flew wide. Sylvan Ebanks-Blake had their only other opportunity, finishing similarly to Kightly after running from just inside his own half as Wolves broke. More entertainment came from two Everton fans, who ran on the pitch, one carrying what looked like a homemade FA Cup. It’s going to take more than that to lift the long-suffering fans.
Sorry season drags on as fans vent frustration at Moxey
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 Everton 0
Monday 07 May 2012
Everton's hopes of confirming themselves as Merseyside's top team this season were put on hold after this stalemate with already-doomed Wolves, where the gallows humour of a demob-happy home crowd often provided better entertainment. Midway through the second half, by which point it was becoming clear even Everton's desire to finish above Liverpool could not trick them into a breakthrough, supporters on the South Bank began going through a repertoire of self-mocking songs and chants to ensure the faithful departed in good cheer after a season of desperate disappointment for Wolves. It began with ironic calls of "Ole!" whenever their side put together a coherent move, which was not very often, and continued with chants of "Let's pretend we've scored a goal" followed by two sustained outbursts of cheering and a refrain of "Two-nil to the mighty Wolves". Then came a tongue-in-cheek chant of "Connor for Albion", aimed without apparent malice towards Wolves' interim manager Terry Connor, and the darker "F*** the team and we'll build a stand", a swipe at the owner-chairman, Steve Morgan, and chief executive, Jez Moxey. When the public-address announcer informed spectators that there would be four minutes of added time, booing broke out before the cry of "We want three" rose up from the South Bank. Earlier, to add to the sense of unreality, two pitch invaders had broken out of the stand housing Everton's followers, one brandishing a cardboard cut-out of the FA Cup. Pursued by orange-clad stewards they jinked around the pitch like 1950s Scottish wingers being apprehended. To compound the end-of-season atmosphere, the Everton manager, David Moyes, ducked his post-match press conference, sending in his assistant, Steve Round, to reveal that his players were "disappointed" not to have scored after creating "enough chances to win the game". Moyes, he explained, was tired of being asked about the possibility of finishing ahead of their neighbours for only the second time in 25 years. "The players want to come as high as they can. If that's above Liverpool, even better. If we beat Newcastle at Goodison next Sunday, we've done it." Round justifiably suggested Everton had "a perfectly good goal disallowed" during the first half, when Nikica Jelavic's pace deceived a linesman into incorrectly flagging for offside before he fired past Dorus De Vries. "From our penalty box up to theirs we played some intelligent, attacking football, but the final pass or shot wasn't quite there," he added. "It was always going to be a tough game because Wolves wanted to send the fans home happy." Connor's assessment confirmed as much. "It was important to try to leave them with something positive to go home with for the summer," said Mick McCarthy's former assistant, who has achieved four draws and no wins in 12 matches since the latter's sacking in February. Connor's contract expires at the end of the month, although he will take the team at Wigan next Sunday. "We signed up for a 38-game season, so we have to make sure for the integrity of the league that we do our job properly. If we can win or draw that will be three games without defeat."
A dignified figure who remains popular with the players, Connor at least avoided the indignity of seeing Wolves equal the Premier League record of 14 home losses twice posted by Sunderland. Everton, for whom England's Phil Jagielka was imperious at centre-back, had the more clear-cut chances but, given the fragility of Wolves, this, surely, was an opportunity squandered.
Wolves: DE VRIES 7/10; ZUBAR 6; STEARMAN 5; BERRA 6; WARD 5; KIGHTLY 5; EDWARDS 4; HENRY 7; HUNT 5; DOYLE 6; FLETCHER 6
Everton: HOWARD 7; DISTIN 7; HEITINGA 7; JAGIELKA 8; HIBBERT 7; PIENAAR 7; CAHILL 6; OSMAN 6; McFADDEN 5; JELAVIC 7; FELLAINI 6
Substitutes: Wolverhampton Wanderers Elokobi 5 (Berra, 54), Ebanks-Blake 5 (Fletcher, 60), Forde (Kightly, 71). Everton Stracqualursi 5 (McFadden, 58), Gueye 6 (Cahill, 68).
Man of the match Jagielka. Match rating 5/10.
Possession: Wolves 48% Everton 52%.
Attempts on target: Wolves 1 Everton 10.
Referee L Mason (Greater Manchester).
Wolves 0 Everton 0
By DAVID MOORE (The Sun)
07th May 2012
While relegated Wolves and seventh-placed Everton were showing every sign of end-of-season apathy, at least the fans created their own special brand of entertainment. Home supporters chanted ‘Let’s pretend we’ve scored a goal’ followed by a mass of cheering in mock celebration. The topic of management came next, with Jose Mourinho’s name suggested as the next boss, while current caretaker Terry Connor was being touted for hated neighbours West Brom. Sending Connor to the Albion does not suggest Wolves fans feel he is the best person to bring them straight back up. But Connor said: “I’m pleased our people were enjoying themselves. “I hope they are also pleased with another point and another clean sheet against opponents who are bang in form. “We’ll be trying to make it three games without defeat when we go to Wigan on Sunday. We signed up for 38 fixtures and we’ll try our hardest the same as always.” There were few clear-cut chances in the game but the best opportunity came on 31 minutes when Everton’s Marouane Fellaini failed to make a proper connection with James McFadden’s inviting centre from the right. Toffees assistant boss Steve Round said: “We all know the importance of finishing as high as possible and I’m certain the players will be very pleased if that includes having Liverpool below us. “In fact, they would be delighted.”
SUN STAR MAN — STEVEN PIENAAR (EVERTON)
WOLVES: De Vries 6, Zubar 6, Stearman 6, Berra 5 (Elokobi 6), Ward 5, Kightly 6 (Forde 6), Henry 6, Edwards 6, Hunt 5, Doyle 7, Fletcher 6 (Ebanks-Blake 6). Subs not used: Ikeme, Johnson, Milijas, Jonsson.
EVERTON: Howard 6, Hibbert 6, Heitinga 6, Jagielka 6, Distin 6, McFadden 6 (Stracqualursi 6), Cahill 6 (Gueye 5), Osman 6, Pienaar 7, Fellaini 6, Jelavic 6. Subs not used: Mucha, Barkley, Coleman, Duffy, Baxter. REF: L Mason 6
Wolves 0-0 Everton: Moyes still on course to finish above Liverpool
07/05/2012, By Mirror Football
The Toffees had the best of the chances and twice had the ball in the back of the net, but Nikica Jelavic and Denis Stracqualursi were both denied by offside flagsDavid Moyes is so sick of being asked about the prospect of finishing above Liverpool that he ducked the chance to talk after this game.But Moyes is still on course to secure the Merseyside bragging rights for the first time since 2005 despite watching his troops waste a string of chances in this grim stalemate.The game was so dreadful that the only highlight came five minutes from the end when two Everton supporters invaded the pitch, with one holding a mock FA Cup, in tribute to Liverpool’s defeat at Wembley on Saturday.That only illustrates just how much ending the season as top dogs would mean to Everton, even if Moyes himself is refusing to get excited about it.Liverpool are four points behind their bitter rivals ahead of tomorrow night’s chance of revenge against Chelsea but the maths for Moyes are simple.Win against Newcastle on the final day and he will have recorded yet another significant achievement during his spell in charge of the Toffees - especially when you consider how much cash Kenny Dalglish has spent in the last three transfer windows.His No. 2 Steve Round said: “The players want to finish as high up the league as they can and if they can finish above Liverpool then even better.“David said it’s all he gets asked about at the moment! It’s in our destiny and we have to win next week against Newcastle.“We’re formidable at Goodison and no team would want to come there on the last day of the season having to win. If we win that game we’ll finish seventh.“The players are disappointed because we created enough opportunities to win and were a little bit wasteful in front of goal.“We’ve been playing as well as that recently but we’ve taken the chances and today we didn’t.”Everton had scored four goals in three of their last four league games but their finishing deserted them here, as Wolves avoided equalling a Premier League record of 11 successive home defeats.Molineux has been a house of horrors for Wolves this season and their last home win, over Sunderland on December 4th, seems light years away.At least their fans waved goodbye to the Premier League in style, with a selection of chants sprinkled with the best in Black Country gallows humour.When the fourth official indicated four minutes of injury time, the South Bank sang “we want three!”, and there were cruel chants of “Connor for Albion” as Wolves secured only their third point under Mick McCarthy’s replacement.This should have been another defeat but somehow Everton failed to make their total superiority count.Tim Cahill and James McFadden both wasted chances while the visiting fans nearly experienced an “I was there” moment when Tony Hibbert came agonisingly close to ending his drought.Hibbert has made over 250 appearances without scoring and sent a deflected drive onto the roof of the net, nearly causing a riot in the away end.Steven Pienaar should have punished Richard Stearman for a defensive slip soon after but skied his shot high over the crossbar before Nikica Jelavic had a goal incorrectly ruled out for offside.Wolves improved in the second period but never looked like securing a first victory for Connor.And Jelavic, who has proven so deadly since his £5m switch from Rangers in January, missed another glorious chance late on to complete an excruciating afternoon for Moyes.But the glorious prospect of finishing above their rivals across Stanley Park remains very much alive.
Sorry season drags on as fans vent frustration at Moxey
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 Everton 0
Monday 07 May 2012 (The Independent)
Everton's hopes of confirming themselves as Merseyside's top team this season were put on hold after this stalemate with already-doomed Wolves, where the gallows humour of a demob-happy home crowd often provided better entertainment.Midway through the second half, by which point it was becoming clear even Everton's desire to finish above Liverpool could not trick them into a breakthrough, supporters on the South Bank began going through a repertoire of self-mocking songs and chants to ensure the faithful departed in good cheer after a season of desperate disappointment for Wolves.It began with ironic calls of "Ole!" whenever their side put together a coherent move, which was not very often, and continued with chants of "Let's pretend we've scored a goal" followed by two sustained outbursts of cheering and a refrain of "Two-nil to the mighty Wolves". Then came a tongue-in-cheek chant of "Connor for Albion", aimed without apparent malice towards Wolves' interim manager Terry Connor, and the darker "F*** the team and we'll build a stand", a swipe at the owner-chairman, Steve Morgan, and chief executive, Jez Moxey.When the public-address announcer informed spectators that there would be four minutes of added time, booing broke out before the cry of "We want three" rose up from the South Bank. Earlier, to add to the sense of unreality, two pitch invaders had broken out of the stand housing Everton's followers, one brandishing a cardboard cut-out of the FA Cup. Pursued by orange-clad stewards they jinked around the pitch like 1950s Scottish wingers being apprehended.To compound the end-of-season atmosphere, the Everton manager, David Moyes, ducked his post-match press conference, sending in his assistant, Steve Round, to reveal that his players were "disappointed" not to have scored after creating "enough chances to win the game". Moyes, he explained, was tired of being asked about the possibility of finishing ahead of their neighbours for only the second time in 25 years. "The players want to come as high as they can. If that's above Liverpool, even better. If we beat Newcastle at Goodison next Sunday, we've done it."Round justifiably suggested Everton had "a perfectly good goal disallowed" during the first half, when Nikica Jelavic's pace deceived a linesman into incorrectly flagging for offside before he fired past Dorus De Vries. "From our penalty box up to theirs we played some intelligent, attacking football, but the final pass or shot wasn't quite there," he added. "It was always going to be a tough game because Wolves wanted to send the fans home happy."Connor's assessment confirmed as much. "It was important to try to leave them with something positive to go home with for the summer," said Mick McCarthy's former assistant, who has achieved four draws and no wins in 12 matches since the latter's sacking in February. Connor's contract expires at the end of the month, although he will take the team at Wigan next Sunday. "We signed up for a 38-game season, so we have to make sure for the integrity of the league that we do our job properly. If we can win or draw that will be three games without defeat."A dignified figure who remains popular with the players, Connor at least avoided the indignity of seeing Wolves equal the Premier League record of 14 home losses twice posted by Sunderland. Everton, for whom England's Phil Jagielka was imperious at centre-back, had the more clear-cut chances but, given the fragility of Wolves, this, surely, was an opportunity squandered.
Wolves: DE VRIES 7/10; ZUBAR 6; STEARMAN 5; BERRA 6; WARD 5; KIGHTLY 5; EDWARDS 4; HENRY 7; HUNT 5; DOYLE 6; FLETCHER 6
Everton: HOWARD 7; DISTIN 7; HEITINGA 7; JAGIELKA 8; HIBBERT 7; PIENAAR 7; CAHILL 6; OSMAN 6; McFADDEN 5; JELAVIC 7; FELLAINI 6
Substitutes: Wolverhampton Wanderers Elokobi 5 (Berra, 54), Ebanks-Blake 5 (Fletcher, 60), Forde (Kightly, 71). Everton Stracqualursi 5 (McFadden, 58), Gueye 6 (Cahill, 68).
Man of the match Jagielka. Match rating 5/10.
Possession: Wolves 48% Everton 52%.
Attempts on target: Wolves 1 Everton 10.
Referee L Mason (Greater Manchester).
WOLVES 0 - EVERTON 0: BLUES FOR DAVID MOYES IN STALEMATE
David Moyes refuses to get excited about the prospect of finishing above Liverpool
Monday May 7,2012
By John Percy (The Express)
DAVID MOYES refuses to get excited about the prospect of finishing above Liverpool, but his team wasted a glorious chance against relegated Wolves to virtually guarantee it.The Everton boss fidgeted with fury for most of this insipid encounter as his players missed a string of chances.Moyes can still secure Merseyside bragging rights for the first time since 2005. But he knows that this was an opportunity missed as Wolves picked up only their third point in 12 matches under interim manager Terry Connor. Wolves had lost 10 in a row at home and this would have been No11 but for wayward finishing from Everton and a suspect offside flag.Liverpool, who face Chelsea tomorrow, are four points behind their rivals across Stanley Park, with Everton playing Newcastle on the final day of the season.Moyes is so sick of being asked about finishing above Liverpool that he ducked the press yesterday. But his No2, Steve Round, said: “The players want to finish as high up the league as they can, and if they can finish above Liverpool, then even better. “David said it’s all he gets asked about at the moment. It’s in our destiny and we have to win next week against Newcastle. We’re formidable at Goodison, and no team would want to go there on the last day having to win. If we win, then we finish seventh.“The players are disappointed because we created enough opportunities but were a bit wasteful in front of goal.”Everton should have been out of sight before half-time. Tim Cahill and James McFadden both wasted chances while Tony Hibbert came agonisingly close to ending his drought.Steven Pienaar should have punished Richard Stearman for a defensive slip soon after but skied his shot high over the crossbar, before Nikica Jelavic had a goal incorrectly ruled out for offside.Molineux has been a house of horror for Wolves this season and their victory over Sunderland on December 4 seems light years ago.They improved in the second half but never looked like securing a first victory under Connor, who said: “We will go to Wigan and try to win because it’s important that we have something on which to build.”
Wolves (4-4-2): De Vries 5; Zubar 5, Stearman 4, Berra 5 (Elokobi 54, 5), Ward 6; Kightly 7 (Forde 71), Edwards 5, Henry 6, Hunt 5; Fletcher 5 (Ebanks-Blake 60, 5), Doyle 6.
Everton (4-5-1): Howard 6; Hibbert 7, Jagielka 8, Heitinga 7, Distin 7; McFadden 6 (Stracqualursi 58, 6), Osman 6, Cahill 6 (Gueye 68, 6), Fellaini 7, Pienaar 7; Jelavic 6.
Referee: L Mason (Lancashire).wolves 0
WOLVES 0 - EVERTON 0: FAN-TASY FOOTBALL
7th May 2012
By Ralph Ellis, The Daily Star
TERRY CONNOR might not have found a way to win a game, but at least Wolves fans have come up with an answer.Midway through the second half of a dire afternoon, the South Bank started singing “Let’s pretend we’ve scored a goal” – before cheering and leaping up and down in -unbridled joy.They did it again five minutes later before taunting visiting fans with a chorus of, “We’re winning 2-0.”Then, just to complete the afternoon of fantasy, two Everton fans ran on the pitch with a silver paper FA Cup – the trophy ¬Liverpool failed to get the day before – and set off on a lap of honour. You could hardly blame any of them for looking for a parallel universe. In the real world, it was pretty dire stuff.Connor at least saw his side end a run of nine consecutive defeats at Molineux – but it was as much thanks to Everton’s ¬wastefulness plus a bad offside decision as his own team’s improved defending.Tim Howard hardly touched the ball, let alone made a save, but at the other end Everton didn’t turn possession and dominance into goals.Boss David Moyes sent his No.2 Steve Round to do the talking and he said: “We should have won.“The players are disappointed that we haven’t collected three points because we had enough chances.“But while we played well up to the edge of their penalty box, the final pass or shot was never quite of a high enough quality.”Everton did have a good goal disallowed – Nikica Jelavic was a yard the right side of the last defender when he ran on to Steven Pienaar’s 28th-minute pass to score, only for the assistant’s flag to go up.But there was also a sense that they found it all too easy to dominate the game, so ¬never felt they needed to find a bit of ¬extra urgency.Marouane Fellaini constantly bullied the Wolves defence, while Pienaar worked ¬busily right across the front line.But somehow Wolves survived and the nearest they came to conceding was when Fellaini was unmarked to meet a cross from James McFadden but headed the ball against Ronald Zubar.Forced deeper and deeper, Wolves left front man Steven Fletcher more and more isolated and their only chance of note was a 36th-minute volley by Stephen Hunt which was way off target.Fellaini had another good chance after the break but headed over from Tony Hibbert’s cross and even goal machine Jelavic failed to function properly as he couldn’t convert a one-on-one chance late in the game.Connor said: “I heard the fans singing for 2-0. I wasn’t sure what that was about, but I’m glad they were enjoying themselves.“It was important to try to leave them with something positive and if we couldn’t win, we wanted to get a point. “They can go home for the summer, ¬recharge their energy, and come back to support the club trying to get back into the Premier League.“I don’t know if I will be part of that. We have our last game next week. I will give a full review and then it is up to the club to make the right decisions for the future.”