Ian Doyle: Why change is now inevitable at Goodison
1 May 2016 Liverpool Echo
Sports writer Ian Doyle
Everton face a decision over Roberto Martinez - but the reality is there can be only one outcome
Time is running out for Roberto Martinez Who in their right mind would be a football manager?
Here’s a profession in which you often don’t get paid as much as the people of whom you are supposedly in charge. People who, on a surprising number of occasions, are ones your own superiors brought in against your better wisdom. A profession in which, if things go well, you are usually among the last people to be credited. Yet if matters go awry, you’re the first in line.
A profession in which for all but the very, very chosen few, there’s only one certainty.
Owners and chairmen are often left with a simple choice in times of trouble.
Ship out underperforming players. Or ship out the manager.
And given how expensive it would prove to relieve those on the pitch of their duties, the axe inevitably falls on one man rather than several.
Martinez on the protests Ratings Fans react to protests Verdict What we learned Plane protest Anti-Martinez tweet After-match protest This is the crossroads at which Everton chairman Bill Kenwright and chief investor Farhad Moshiri now stand as a desperate Premier League season limps to an end under beleaguered Blues boss Roberto Martinez. It's a time of change at Goodison. Of matters reaching a natural conclusion.
The passing from the Kenwright to Moshiri era has begun. First-team stalwarts such as Tony Hibbert, Leon Osman and Steven Pienaar are likely to move on. Leading talents Romelu Lukaku and John Stones are being heavily courted by potential suitors.
And then there's the manager.
This column has been fortunate to spend time with Martinez away from the mandatory press briefings. The Catalan is a hugely engaging man. He loves football. And he has come to genuinely love Everton. It is, as he might put it, in his DNA now. That's why this desperate, demoralising season will hurt. You only have to view the photographs to see just how much the job has aged Martinez over the last six months.
Roberto Martinez was stubborn over Tim Howard
He's always had his critics among the Blues faithful, the doubters who wondered why a manager who'd just taken a club out of the top flight could possibly improve on David Moyes's legacy.
For the first season, though, he did, in thrilling fashion. But since then, the more reliant he has become on his own methods and his own recruitment, so Everton have regressed in the Premier League. His insistence this week he should be judged not on the last two months but the last three years has served only to sharpen the blade. Martinez's stubborn streak has ultimately cost him. And not just regards his style of play. His continued refusal to address Tim Howard's alarming drop in form earlier this season brought into the open the fan unrest and frustration that has only been exacerbated by the worst home record in Everton's history.
Martinez has lost the fans. And if the shameful second-half performance at Anfield a fortnight ago is any barometer then some of the players are, at the very least, struggling to motivate themselves under the Catalan.
There is no way back from that.
Everton fans protest at the final whistle against Bournemouth
Ask yourself this. Should Martinez depart shortly, would he leave a stronger or weaker squad than the one he inherited? Answer yes, then the finger must be pointed at the manager for successive campaigns of chronic achievement. Answer no, then it's down to the players he has brought in.
And here's the rub. Having worked within the same financial restraints as his predecessor, Martinez is now within weeks of being given access to Moshiri's millions.
But will the Iranian billionaire really want to hand a sizeable transfer kitty to the man who, with each passing day, is increasingly alienating himself from the fanbase? Whenever a new owner or investor arrives at a club, they want to make an early decision to ingratiate themselves with supporters.
And that's why, whether it's this week, next week or the end of the season, a parting of the ways with Martinez is inevitable.
Ian Snodin: Everton starlet Matthew Pennington has a future in the game
1 May 2016 Liverpool Echo
Our ECHO columnist sees good things for young defender - and believes Roberto Martinez was brave to start with Oumar Niasse
Matthew Pennington did well on his debut against Bournemouth on Saturday
It was quite a surprise to start with Oumar Niasse. He wasn't on the bench at Wembley but he's come into the fore for the first 60 minutes. Niasse showed some nice touches, he ran around, but it was hard for him because I didn't think that we gave him much service in the first half.
We all know that the manager is under a lot of pressure so it was a tough call to go with Niasse and start with Romelu Lukaku on the bench. He just felt Rom needed the rest and let's see what the boy is all about, we have paid good money for him with a £13.5million fee and the crowd wanted to see a little bit of him. It was a brave decision to play him and the boss knows there's a lot of pressure from the terraces at the minute but he picked a side he felt could do a job and it worked.
It was a hard-fought game, they had to dig in at times, and it was a welcome three points – especially at Goodison. Matty Pennington had to come in at centre-back but I always knew that he wouldn't let anyone down. I've seen him several times in under-21 games, he's got experience in League football with Coventry and I knew he'd be able to handle it. We had two centre-backs both aged 21. John has played a lot of games now and is an England international but the beauty for Matty was that he was playing on the left-hand side and had Leighton Baines alongside him.
I'm sure Leighton was talking to him all through the game about his position.
He just seems as though he wants to defend. You don't get many players like that now in the Premier League who just want to defend from the back. Matty showed he's willing to put his head in and he nearly put one clearance over the stand. I don't mind that, it's the same as Tony Hibbert who came on for the second half. The art of defending, and Hibbo showed that again.
Oumar Niasse wasn't given enough service
Pennington for me has got a future in the game and I was delighted he showed the Evertonians and himself what he can do. It must have been a proud moment for himself and his parents.
At the other end of the scale, Tim Howard got a chance to say farewell to the Goodison fans and they showed their support when his name was read out as skipper. He got a great ovation and rightly so. He's been a great servant for 10 years, he is an Evertonian and he loves the club. I thought it was fitting that Roberto did that. We could hear the protests after the game but I was pleased to see all the fans supporting the team during the match.
It was only a small minority but we did see the banners and you're always going to get that but for 90 minutes they were great.
Disappointments make it tough for Martinez
Roberto Martinez is facing a really tough time.
Things have not gone great for him despite reaching two cup semi-finals.
People will always look towards the Premier League form more than anything else and that has not been successful in the eyes of many of the supporters. We’ve all looked at the Premier League table this season and the ways things have panned out and thought that given the amount of talent in this Everton squad, they should have been up there challenging for a top-four place.
Everton fans make their point at Goodison on Saturday
It’s not been brilliant and sometimes you feel sorry for the manager and it’s only natural that people are going to start asking questions about what went wrong and why it went wrong.
You don’t like to see anybody suffering like that, especially someone like Roberto who is such a gentleman and he’s been trying his hardest to try and turn things around.
Ultimately it’s a results business though and every manager within the game will be judged upon his results. I know that Martinez has regularly attended Everton’s under-21 games and over these final couple of weeks of the Premier League season I’d like to see a few more of the club’s youngsters given a chance to impress and show us what they’re capable of in the first team picture.
I’m delighted that families have finally got justice
I was absolutely delighted for the Hillsborough families to finally get the justice that they and the city have fought for over the past 27 years. Thousands turned up outside St George’s Hall the following evening to show their support and pay their respects which was a marvellous sight. Merseyside as a whole has always shown its togetherness over this issue. We all know what Evertonians feel about Hillsborough and the support that they have shown Liverpool over the issue. Although I didn’t play, I was involved in the other semi-final with Everton against Norwich City and then afterwards I tied the first Everton scarf on the Kop alongside Peter Beardsley. Everton players wearing shirts to commemorate the Hillsborough disaster victims ahead of Saturday's game against Bournemouth
That same kind of camaraderie between the players was displayed at a golf day for former Blues and Reds at the West Lancashire course on Friday as we competed for the Paisley Kendall Cup. Robbie Fowler organised the event and while I’m afraid to say it was another Liverpool derby victory, all the lads remain the best of friends of the pitch even though there’s a fierce determination to beat each other whatever game we’re playing. The conditions were terrible with the weather, particularly in the morning and it was very difficult for everyone out there. There was a really good mix of different eras though involved, going from those who have only recently finished their football careers to us older boys who used to play in the 1980s.
Jagielka gives you everything
Some people tell me that they don’t think Phil Jagielka is a great captain but we saw at Wembley that he gives you everything. It’s been a long old season and we probably won’t see Jags in the team now until the new campaign because he he did his utmost to try and pull his team through to the FA Cup final even though he wasn’t fit. Phil Jagielka put his body on the line in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley He realised it might be his last opportunity to get to the final and didn’t want to let his team down. I didn’t expect Jags to play but knowing the kind of fella he is you always knew that he’d have half a chance.
Football Echoes: Everton's James McFadden was becoming the 'finished article'
1 May 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Chris Beesley
Kanchelskis tips Blues for the top and earmarks unlikely key man
Everton captain David Weir reckoned James McFadden was close to becoming the 'finished article' after his fellow Scot struck the winner for the Blues in a 1-0 victory at Middlesbrough.
The tricky frontman had struggled to fulfil his early promise for a long time at Goodison Park but the game at the Riverside Stadium was his 10 consecutive start – his longest run in the side since joining from Motherwell. Weir said: “It was a good finish by James and you know when he gets an opportunity like that he is going to finish it... “This is the first real run he has had to show what he can do. From that he gets confidence. “He's still only a young lad but he's not far away from being the finished article. “He has all all the attributes and it is nice to see him getting rewarded.”
Although there was little riding on the game with Everton stuck in mid-table and Middlesbrough safe from relegation danger, Dominic King paid tribute to the Blues fans who saluted former captain Brian Labone in the club's first game since the Goodison giant had passed away and said: “Just days after Brian Labone laid his head down for the final time, Everton's travelling supporters again showed why their legendary former skipper mischievously suggested with a glint in his eye that 'one Blue was worth 20 Liverpudlians.' “If Labone was looking down from on high at affairs on Teesside, he would certainly have been moved by the tribute from fans who had congregated in their thousands at the Riverside Stadium paid to him.” After leading Everton to their first top half finish in the Premier League (and what would ultimately prove to be their only one in the new look top flight's first decade), 16-goal hero Andrei Kanchelskis vowed that the Blues would be making a title challenge th
e following season. Following his protracted club record £5.5million switch from Manchester United the previous summer, the flying Russian winger, fresh from a hat-trick in a 5-2 win at Sheffield Wednesday, was looking to raise the bar even further. In an exclusive interview with the ECHO, Kanchelskis told Philip McNulty: “If everybody is fit when we start next season, and there are no more bad injuries, I think we have a very good chance of being in the top three of the league.
“We could be a very good team next season if the manager can sign a couple of players that he wants. “I'm very happy to have signed for Everton. The club have been very good to me, as have the fans. “It would be nice to do something for them, and maybe win a trophy.”
Everton's Andrei Kanchelskis
Kanchelskis offered a surprise verdict when asked which player could become the Blues' most important the following year. He said: “Granty [Tony Grant] is the player with the best potential. He is a good person with good vision on the field. “He gives great passes and can also score goals.
“Tony is technically a very good player, as we see in training and in games. He can be a very important man for us next season.” Everton manager Howard Kendall was left reflecting on the sudden goal famine that had edged his side out of the driving seat in the most exciting title race for years as the Blues were beaten 1-0 at Oxford United. A second consecutive blank following a stalemate at Nottingham Forest four days earlier had seen Everton drop to third in the table and hand the initiative to neighbours Liverpool. With the Reds heading to Stamford Bridge on the final day of the season, Kendall quipped: “Let's just say that I'm a Chelsea fan now.” Bobby Mimms was deputising for the injured Neville Southall He added: “It's not that long ago that we were the top scorers in the League. “We have fallen short of that standard recently and it has put added pressure on the defence and the goalkeeper. “Bobby Mimms has done brilliantly for us again but if you are not s
coring there is always the fear that one slip will prove costly. “The League is still not lost, although we accept that it's not in our hands now, which is disappointing. “We desperately wanted to beat Oxford and I felt we had to throw caution to the wind. “People kept shouting from the crowd to keep us in touch with the Liverpool and West Ham games, but it didn't interest us. We were only concerned by our own result.” With Everton's season already over by this time in 1976, and no Echo out on May 1, 1966 because it was a Sunday, we've gone back 60 years to 1956 for our final instalment this week. In his notes on sport, 'Ranger' was bemoaning the fact that Merseyside's big two were not meeting in the Liverpool Senior Cup final the following evening. The Blues had endured a three-year spell in the Second Division between 1951-54 before swapping places with the Reds, and with Liverpool remaining out of the top flight until 1962, there would be a record 11-year drought be
tween league derby matches. The pair had met in an FA Cup fourth round clash at Goodison Park the previous season with Second Division Liverpool running out shock 4-0 winners in front of a crowd of 72,000 but that would prove to be their only competitive clash throughout a period of over a decade. Ranger wrote: “In saying that it is disappointing to thousands of Liverpool folk that the final of the Liverpool Senior Cup has again failed to provide a 'Liverton' final (or should that be Everpool?), no reflection meant upon Tranmere Rovers whom I am sure will give Everton a good fight. “A meeting between Liverpool and Everton would have ensured a big crowd and an exciting game if arranged when both could field first teams.
Tommy Jones fired Everton ahead from the penalty spot
"While the attendance tomorrow will not be so big under the existing circumstances, it should still be a very good one. “Though Everton must be favourites they may have a tougher job than they expect. Tranmere present holders of the cup –which is one of the finest of all football trophies usually, contrive to, put up a good show in cup games and nothing would please then more than to best the strong side which Everton will put in the field. “There will be a big contingent of Tranmere supporters at Goodison to cheer their team on and loyal Evertonians will also be there in good strength for a last view of the Blues before they set off on their American and Canadian tour. This game promises to provide a good finale to the season.”
As it turned out, the Blues edged out their Third Division opponents 2-1. Playing in front of an 11,000 crowd they took the lead through a Tommy Jones penalty before doubling their advantage through Jimmy Harris. Rovers pulled one back early through the second half through Terry Stephens but the big news of the day was Everton's appointment as 'chief coach' of the former Loughborough physical training instructor Ian Buchan to replace manager Cliff Britton who had stepped down in February.
Everton fans make Farhad Moshiri aware of their feelings on London train
1 May 2016 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
What the Sunday papers said
Everton fans continued to make their feelings known to new investor Farhad Moshiri, long after the post-match protests had finally cleared. We kick-off today's round up of the Sunday papers, with the Sunday Times' Paul Rowan reporting that some Blues fans engaged with Mr Moshiri on the train back to London after Everton's 2-1 victory over Bournemouth.
The Sunday Times
"Everton fans made their thoughts plain on Martinez to owner Farhad Moshiri on a train to London last night," wrote Paul Rowan "but the Iranian dismissed reports that a board meeting was held on Friday to discuss Martinez’s position. "He appeared reluctant to rush into any managerial change."
Rowan added: "A particularly loud rendition over the public address system of Elton John’s I Guess That’s Why They Call it The Blues drowned out the knot of disgruntled Everton fans who stayed on afterwards chanting for the removal of Roberto Martinez, and the manager’s cause was also helped by his side’s first victory in eight league games. "Goals from Tom Cleverley and Leighton Baines gave Everton a narrow victory, and a rare one at home this season. Everton’s board, said to have lost confidence in the manager, probably won’t put too much store in this result as his side laboured at times against opponents whose levels have dropped since they were all but guaranteed Premier League safety."
The Mail on Sunday
The Mail on Sunday's Joe Bernstein continued with the 'too little too late' theme.
He reported: "Leighton Baines ended Everton’s horrible run with a welcome winner but the prevailing mood among supporters remains a case of ‘too little, too late’ towards their manager Roberto Martinez. "Though the Everton fans made a point of backing their players while they earned a first victory in nine matches, around 200 stayed behind afterwards to unfurl anti-Martinez banners and chant for him to ‘get out of our club’. Many stayed for more than an hour.
"Chairman Bill Kenwright studiously ignored the temptation to glance over as he made his way up the stairs from his seat in the directors’ box to the boardroom at the final whistle but the club’s new owner Farhad Moshiri couldn’t have missed it as he walked around the perimeter of the pitch.
"The operators of the club’s PA system were forced to blare out loud music for 20 minutes to drown out the fans and if Martinez had looked upwards during the game, he would have seen an aeroplane trailing the banner ‘Time to go Roberto’."
The Sunday Express
Peter Oakes, of the Sunday Express, appeared oblivious to the supporter unrest. He wrote: "The expected mass protests never came as the Everton board mull over whether they should prolong their Spanish manager’s time in charge or drop the guillotine. If Martinez does survive then he can thank England full-back Leighton Baines, who clinched only the Toffees’ fifth home win of the season with his first goal in 17 months. "His 63rd-minute left-foot strike stymied any rebellious outbursts to send Evertonians home happy for the first time since their 3-0 win against Newcastle nearly three months ago. "Everton did what they have been doing most of this dismal season – struggled to put on any sort of a razzle-dazzle show."
Daily Star Sunday
The Daily Star's Chris McKenna was clearly unimpressed by his first prolonged exposure to Everton signing Oumar Niasse. "Just what did Everton boss Roberto Martinez and his scouting staff see in this striker to pay £13.5m for him in January?" he wrote. "Everton fans are not the only ones wondering, but the rest of the Premier League is laughing. "He made his first start for the club since his move from Lokomotiv Moscow and it was like Everton were playing with 10 men for most of this game."
The Daily Telegraph's Chris Bascombe showed some empathy for the pressure Martinez is enduring at the moment. "The most any manager can hope for these days is a dignified exit," he reported.
"They know the end will come eventually – later rather than sooner for the more successful - but when it is nigh it makes for unsettling viewing. "Roberto Martinez will never cease to believe staring into the abyss is no guarantee that’s where he is destined, but it felt like this victory merely offered hope of being ushered rather than hounded out of Goodison Park at the end of the season.
"They were politely requesting blood rather than baying for it, but 75 minutes after the final whistle around 100 fans would not be moved from the Gwladys St. Surrounded by stewards they hung their banners calling for Martinez to be sacked. The resident DJ kept playing music to drown out the chants."
Chris Brereton of The Independent
The Independent on Sunday's Chris Brereton offered an ominous analysis of Everton's current status.
"They cheered his name far and wide around Goodison Park when it was announced just after half-time. "Here was the man to brighten up Everton’s afternoon, to improve their fortunes.
"They were celebrating a player who had been unavailable for a full 510 days since his last outing in December 2014. "The man receiving all the acclaim – as opposed to Everton manager Roberto Martinez, who took all the abuse, especially after the final whistle by a smattering of protesters – was none other than Tony Hibbert.
"And, with all due respect, if a 35-year-old veteran right-back is the answer, then the current question at Everton is far bleaker than Martinez can ever have feared.
"Hibbert’s last first team outing was so long ago, Leicester City were bottom of the Premier League by 10 points. "Whatever happened to them? "Whatever happened to Everton?"
Tim Howard says Everton's failings are down to players - not the manager
1 May 2016 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
Goalkeeper defends under-fire Roberto Martinez
Tim Howard insists Everton's failings this season lie with the players and not manager Roberto Martinez. There were protests against the Toffees boss during the 2-1 win over Bournemouth on Saturday, with a plane trailing the message 'Time to go Roberto' followed by around 100 fans armed with 'Martinez Out' banners remaining inside Goodison Park for over an hour after the final whistle. It remains to be seen whether the Spaniard can ride out the storm as only a fifth home league win in the last 12 months has done little to change the minds of a growing number of disgruntled supporters. Martinez has come under fire for his style of play - something he was lauded for in his first season which accrued a club-record Premier League points tally - contributing to them dropping points from winning positions.
The players have escaped almost scot-free as the manager has borne the brunt of abuse, but goalkeeper Howard said that does not reflect reality. "Everyone talks about the manager but he hasn't kicked one ball this season," said the United States international. "It is down to us as players. We are the ones who have to be resilient and dig in. If that hasn't been good enough, fair dos.
"We have to take that on the chin. The table doesn't lie.
"Everyone is entitled to their opinion so I don't want to comment on planes and banners but we have to kick the ball, try to save it, try to score. "Whatever happens on the outside is where the game has gone, whether that is right or wrong people have a right to voice their opinion and that is what people do.
Everton manager Roberto Martinez and goalkeeper Tim Howard "Every manager needs to be given time. People can't have it both ways. "Often you get everyone outside of a club talking about players who are not loyal but it works the other way too. "People need to be given time when they come to a club - players, managers, the board, it is no different." There have been murmurings that Martinez has lost key members of the dressing room and that players are no longer playing for their manager.
Howard takes that as an insult to their professionalism however. "I love this club and I feel it is the greatest club I have ever played for but we have no divine right to win games and we have to roll up our sleeves and dig in, and we haven't done that enough," he added. "When you play professional sports you are open to criticism good and bad and I always say you are never as good or bad as people say you are. "One thing I can assure everyone is we are going to work and we try our tails off to win football matches, no-one chucks it in. "I think as senior players you try to protect the younger ones because they've not seen it before but I'm an old dog and I've seen it all before. "No criticism fazes me; not from the media, outside sources or social media. It is just words. "We have to go to work every day and try to get it right. "It isn't fantastic and we will try to reel off three more wins and try to get ourselves up the table."
Everton Talking Point: Now Oumar Niasse knows what it's all about
1 May 2016 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
Jury still out on Everton's third most expensive signing
BEFORE Everton’s FA Cup quarter-final against Chelsea a frustrated Oumar Niasse moaned: “I have to be on the pitch to know exactly what’s going on in the Premier League. When you don’t start, you never know.” Now he knows. Boy does he know. The career of the third most expensive purchase in Everton’s history has been a slow burner. When he was introduced to the Goodison crowd on February 3 before the visit of Newcastle United, he ignored the usual practice of walking to the centre sport, waving to the crowd and maybe holding a scarf aloft. He pulled on a football shirt and a pair of tracksuit bottoms and ran around the centre circle. If it was a gesture designed to suggest “I mean business” it backfired. A wrist problem meant the Senegalese striker wasn’t seen in action again for three weeks.
Then apparent issues with his fitness restricted him to a sum total of 29 minutes of action from the substitutes’ bench - the longest cameo being a much criticised 14 minute appearance against West Ham.
It was criticised not for his own contribution, but because Everton were leading 2-0 and desperately needed to shore the points up rather than chase a third. They lost 3-2. Fifty-six days from that chastening experience and 87 days after that energetic introduction, Niasse was finally handed a Premier League start against Bournemouth on Saturday. Curiously it came six days after he wasn’t even considered for bench duty in the FA Cup semi-final. The messages he left behind were mixed. He didn’t touch the ball for six minutes. When he did he won a throw in, but was rarely involved after that. Then just before the half hour Everton launched a counter-attack and suddenly the ball made its way to his feet. He turned, looked up to see where his team-mates where and passed the ball straight to Bournemouth midfielder Harry Arter. Evertonians have had more than enough to complain about this season. This time they laughed. Worse still, he looked well short of fitness, frequently stopping to place his hands on his knees and take in deep lungfuls of air. For 30 minutes he bore all the hallmarks of becoming a Bernie Wright for the millennium. If you are unaware of the cult hero called Bernie the Bolt, he was a centre-forward signed from Walsall in 1972 and proved a rumbustious character. Bernie Wright tales are legion - and mostly true - although this one I’m about to relate may be apocryphal. Legend has it that on one of his rare Everton appearances Wright paused from chasing down a defender to put his hands on his knees, relieve himself of the contents of his stomach on the side of the pitch, then turned and carried on as if nothing had happened.
Niasse wasn’t quite that knackered.
Just a fortnight ago Roberto Martinez had said it would be a “bonus” if the striker played again this season because of his fitness levels. But on the half-hour mark he came to life. He chased back and won possession for Ross Barkley to mount a quickfire counter. He ran with the ball a couple of times and linked up play, then he flicked an unorthodox volley narrowly wide of the Park End goal with the outside of his foot. His aerial prowess was non-existent, but there were at least signs of a footballer fighting to show himself. After all, this was a man who was voted Russia’s Player of the Year for 2015 and a player who reportedly attracted the interest of Jose Mourinho before his Chelsea sacking. The Goodison experiences of Diniyar Bilyaletdinov. Brazilian Jo, Lacina Traore and Aiden McGeady - all successes in Russia - indicate the dangers of dabbling in the Russian market. It’s been a long time since a winger called Andrei Kanchelskis arrived on these shores from Shakhtar Donetsk and lit up the Premier League.
But Everton desperately need an effective alternative to Romelu Lukaku. The Belgian has been magnificent for much of this season. But when he has been less than wonderful Everton have struggled.
Romelu Lukaku and Oumar Niasse arrive ahead of Everton's clash against Chelsea during the quarter-final of the FA Cup at Goodison Park. Photo by James Maloney
And he appeared to run out of steam six weeks ago.
Since his one-man rescue act against Chelsea in the FA Cup quarter-finals Everton have played eight matches. He hasn’t scored in any and Saturday’s was the first Everton had won. There has been much talk of this current Blues squad being the best Everton have boasted for years. But it is still light in some key areas - especially up front. Kevin Mirallas has been cold-shouldered for much of this campaign, while Arouna Kone elicited widespread laughter with his attempts at an overhead kick in a recent match against Southampton which Lukaku was rested for. He hasn’t been seen in a squad since. If Roberto Martinez’s Everton tenure is to stretch beyond this summer - and that’s subject matter for a different article altogether - he needs Oumar Niasse to succeed. Even three months after signing it’s far too soon to predict whether that can happen. At least Niasse now knows what it’s all about.
Roberto Martínez cuts lonely figure while Everton fans make views clear
• ‘It’s not about winning the fans over with talking; it’s about doing it with wins’
• Everton supporters not placated by 2-1 win over Bournemouth
Richard Jolly at Goodison Park
Sunday 1 May 2016 Guardian
Roberto Martínez may not realise he has talked his way into trouble but even the Everton manager appears to accept he will struggle to talk his way out of it. He has twin audiences to convince and the added difficulty that minds, particularly those of the supporters, already seem to be made up. He may be making a concerted attempt to persuade the new majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri but actions, as he admitted, speak louder than words. “It’s not about winning the fans over with talking; it’s about doing it with wins,” he said. Yet with three games remaining there may be too few opportunities to procure them before an end-of-season review that must have the potential to double up as an inquest.
Martínez nevertheless suggested his conversations with Moshiri are amicable. “We all work together really well,” he said. “For the moment, there is a constant dialogue in the usual way. We won’t do anything different. There will be enough time at the end of the season to sit down and prepare for whatever is ahead of us.” Managers who have underachieved in successive seasons rarely survive in the Premier League, least of all when ambitious new investors materialise. The tide has turned against the eloquent Spaniard with a bold blueprint and Martínez almost seemed to accept the gamble would be keeping him on. “It’s not about making safe decisions,” he said. The popular move would be to curtail his three-year reign. Displays of dissent bookended the defeat of Bournemouth. The first was embarrassing for Everton, when fans’ tweets calling for his dismissal were shown on a big screen outside Goodison Park; the second lasted long after the final whistle as supporters protested not at a team who have underperformed but at Martínez. He usually projects an image of harmony but has been isolated by his critics. “Being a manager is a lonely job and it has to be a lonely job,” he said. He refrained from using the word unique but his use of such adjectives has backfired at other times. The gap between rhetoric and results is a prime problem for Martínez after a season when his more outlandishly optimistic comments have jarred in a city where there is a strong strain of downbeat realism.
Now he is trying to show empathy as well as humility. “It is an honour to be Everton manager,” he said. “I know the history and expectation we have, but I bring that on myself anyway.” While referencing the past he argued he was the futuristic choice. Everton’s points totals have diminished since an outstanding first season in 2013-14 but Martínez took pride from other declining numbers. “The average age was nearly 30, now it’s around 26,” he said. “I think we have five or six players in the under-21s that will make the grade to be an Everton player.” The centre-back Matthew Pennington’s ultimately encouraging league bow was a source of pride but modern-day managers are often judged more on their prowess in acquiring players than developing them. Moshiri’s money, plus the possible windfalls from the sales of Romelu Lukaku and John Stones, could give Everton a sizeable summer transfer budget. The prolific Belgian at least provides proof Martínez can be trusted with funds but Lukaku’s deputy could offer an alternative impression. Oumar Niasse’s belated first start evidenced few clues £13.5m was invested sensibly in him. “The fans were able to see our player,” Martínez said. “He was voted best footballer in the Russian league and can be very important for us.” Yet while the Senegalese striker’s subdued display was ill-timed and one of Martínez’s better signings Gerard Deulofeu has seen his season ended by a training-ground knee injury, there were other examples of the manager’s acumen: Tom Cleverley scored the opener, Aaron Lennon set up Leighton Baines’ winner and James McCarthy proved reliable in midfield. Martínez argued he has the potential to transform and not by reinventing traditional top-eight finishers as lower-half teams. “I arrived in 2013 in a very important moment because we lost probably the most important goalscoring threat in the team with [Marouane] Fellaini and [Victor] Anichebe,” he said. Another rebuild beckons. The surprise would be if Martínez is the man overseeing it. Man of the match Leighton Baines (Everton)
Roberto Martinez says he does not need Oumar Niasse to be an instant success
1 May 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Chris Beesley
Everton manager on his £13.5m signing's full debut
Roberto Martinez was delighted to finally hand Oumar Niasse his first start against Bournemouth on Saturday - but he does not feel the Senegalese striker needs to justify his £13.5million fee before the end of the season in order for the Everton manager to be trusted with Farhad Moshiri’s transfer war chest. Serious doubts persist whether the Catalan will still be in charge come the summer to spend the new Blues shareholder’s cash injection on the squad but he denies that his future hinges on Niasse’s fortunes. Martinez said: “I arrived at the club in 2013 in a very, very important moment because in that transfer window we lost probably the most important goalscoring threat we had in the team with Marouane Fellaini and Victor Anichebe. “We bought Romelu Lukaku, Gareth Barry and James McCarthy. The average age was 30, now it’s 26. “The record is there, I don’t think it’s about the last signing, it is on the work that we have done over the last six windows and the way we have developed young players.”
Given that Saturday’s visit of Bournemouth was seen as a must-win game for Everton, many were surprised that Martinez chose to hand Niasse his first start with top scorer Lukaku dropped to the bench. The Blues boss said: “We brought Oumar Niasse in, he was voted the best Footballer in the Russian League. “He is a player who can be very important for us. When he arrived in January it was a moment in which he needed to work on his fitness. “Finally now we’ve been able to put him on a level in which he’s been able to compete. “He’s not the finished article because he’ll need a bit of an adaptation period but I thought his contribution was important. “Rom has played 44 games, it was a really demanding game both physically and mentally in the semi-final. “The impact of sharing the roles worked really well with Rom coming on for the last half an hour. “Games change a little bit, especially at this stage of the season and Rom made a massive, massive impact. Romelu Lukaku and Oumar Niasse arrive ahead of Everton's clash against Chelsea during the quarter-final of the FA Cup at Goodison Park. Photo by James Maloney “Oumar worked his way in for an hour in which he started to develop a relationship with certain players and the fans were able to see our player. “It’s going to take a bit of time but it was important for him to start to get that introduction.” Martinez added: “You need to have a belief in all the players that you’ve got in the squad and I’ve got that belief with Oumar. “It was a day that we had to win but we had to do it not in the normal way that we do it because we had big players missing. “It was about finding that character and that togetherness and that extra desire to get a win.
“I thought Oumar could bring us that freshness and that different approach and overall the team performed in that manner.”
Roberto Martinez says only results not promises will save his job
1 May 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Chris Beesley
Gerard Deulofeu ruled out for the rest of the season
Everton manager Roberto Martinez concedes the only way he can save his job is by winning matches rather than verbal promises. The were protests from some fans after Saturday’s 2-1 win over Bournemouth calling for the Blues boss to be sacked but he said: “Being a manager is a lonely job and it has to be a lonely job. All I want is the best for Everton Football Club. “It’s not about making safe decisions it’s about believing in what we have to do in order to progress and in order to reach where we want to get. “Clearly we’ve had eight defeats at home, it’s a painful stat. Away from home we’re very strong and very consistent. “I can understand the frustration of the fans. My job is to be lonely but also to try and prepare the team to win.” Martinez added: “We all work together really, really well. This isn’t a moment to do anything different other than carry on, going step by step with the games in front of us.
“I’m sure there’ll be enough time at the end of the season to sit down and prepare whatever is ahead of us but at the moment we’re just working in a normal way with constant dialogue with a real focus on the games we’ve got in front of us. “I am very, very privileged and honoured to be Everton manager. I bring the expectations on myself. “I know the history that we have and I don’t expect people to be happy if we don’t reach the results that we all want. “My focus is not to try and win the fans over by talking, I want to get the team back the winning feeling.” One player Martinez is set to be without for the remainder of the campaign is fellow Catalan Gerard Deulofeu. He said: “Gerard Deulofeu is out for the season. On Friday he got a knock on his knee. “He doesn’t need an operation, it’s a medial ligament grade one tear. He could maybe have a chance for Norwich but I doubt it.”
Roberto Martinez remains positive after Everton beat Bournemouth despite supporter unrest
Everton manager resolves to sort out situation at end of season after win over Bournemouth on Saturday
By Chris Brereton Goodison Park
Sunday 1 May 2016 Independent
SEASONED observers of Roberto Martinez, the Everton manager, may have noted a slight change in his demeanour in recent weeks. A much needed change as well. Half of the opprobrium heaped on the Spaniard this season by Everton’s disgruntled fans has come as a reaction to the feeling that they are being taken for mugs. Martinez’s press conferences and post-match briefings have rarely contained anything other than sunshine this term, even during a year containing eight home defeats in the Premier League and the ongoing erosion of so much pre-season optimism. For too long, Martinez could only see roses in the Goodison garden when it has been clear to all that his side have fallen woefully short of where they should be.
Everton board meeting set to seal Martinez's fate
Just give it to them straight – heaven knows they have seen enough these past two dry decades to be able to accept more bitter truths. Saturday’s win over Bournemouth, courtesy of fine finishes from Tom Cleverley and Leighton Baines, may have arrested some of the anger and the clamour for Martinez’s dismissal but a banner trailing from a light aircraft still claimed ‘Time to go Roberto NSNO’ at half-time.
The sword of Damocles then looks as sharp as ever. But Martinez has clearly heard and heeded the message from the Gladwys Street End and beyond. “Being a manager is a lonely job and it has to be a lonely job,” he said, with far more candour than even a fortnight ago.
“All I want is the best for Everton Football Club.
“It's not about me, it's not about making safe decisions, it's about believing in what we have to do to progress and reach where we want to go. “It is an honour to be Everton manager. I know the history and expectation we have, but I bring on that myself anyway. It's not about winning the fans over with talking, it's about doing it with wins. “I'm sure there will be enough time at the end of the season to sit down and prepare for whatever is ahead of us.” Apart from the tear-jerking reception given to 10 Hillsborough families ahead of the kick-off, this was an entirely forgettable afternoon. Cleverley’s early goal was a neat and tidy example of shooting from 20 yards but Everton’s defence crumpled two minutes later to allow Marc Pugh to equalise at the back post. Everton's Premier League debutant Matthew Pennington was easily brushed aside by Callum Wilson for Bournemouth’s goal but settled into the game and looked a decent bet alongside fellow defensive whipper-snapper John Stones.
Pennington’s fellow new starter, Oumar Niasse, looked less assured and the £13.5m Martinez paid for him in February continues to look like woeful business, despite Martinez’s urgings that he simply needs time to bed in. Baines’ clever second-half finish – a rifled top corner effort – was the only other highlight, it brought Everton the victory and it again delayed Bournemouth’s Premier League security.
They will not go down but, equally, they would like to put the calculators away and start the party before a massively important close-season. “We're looking to do some business in the summer,” Eddie Howe, the Bournemouth manager, said. “If you're not careful in this league it can very quickly swallow you up.” He is right there. Just ask Martinez.
Dynamo Kiev say they will let Yarmolenko leave - but not to got to Everton
2 May 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Joe Rimmer
Dynamo president rules out moves to 'Everton or Stoke' for Yarmolenko
Andriy Yarmolenko celebrates a goal for Ukraine Everton's hopes of signing Andriy Yarmolenko could be dashed after Dynamo Kiev's president ruled out selling the forward to the Toffees. The Blues have been long-time admirers of Yarmolenko but failed in a bid to land the 26-year-old last summer. After last eek admitting that they would finally let the Ukraine international leave , Kiev president Ihor Surkis has reiterated his stance - but added that if Yarmolenko was to depart, it won't be to 'Everton or Stoke'.
He reportedly told UNIAN : "If I get an offer that will suit Dynamo and Yarmolenko wants to go to this club, I'll let him. All talk of a transfer will begin after the Euros. "He is already a top player, so he should go to a top club. “My position is that we should not let Yarmolenko go to such clubs as like Everton and Stoke City. Dynamo is Dynamo and Stoke City is Stoke. We're playing in the Champions League, and Stoke City are fighting for survival." Surkis also revealed that Yarmolenko could move to a Chinese club - but says the player would prefer to play in England or Germany. He added: "If we receive an offer that will suit the club and suit of the player, no one will hold (him back). "I, as president of the club, (had a) winter offer from China completely arranged, but Yarmolenko did not even come to the meeting with the sports director of the Chinese squad. "Andriy said that dreams to play in the Bundesliga and the English Premier league. "The situation compared to last year is completely different, for example, Borussia Dortmund came to us two days before the transfer window closed." Everton boss Roberto Martinez made a personal check on Yarmolenko last month when Kiev faced Manchester City in the Champions League at the Etihad Stadium. It has been claimed that the Blues would have to pay £20m to secure the forward, who is reportedly also being tracked by Arsenal and City.
Who faces Everton axe in the big summer Goodison clear-out?
2 May 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Joe Rimmer
It's not just Roberto Martinez who could be on his way during the close season
Waving goodbye? Romelu Lukaku, Kevin Mirallas and Tony Hibbert could be on their way
The winds of change are blowing at Goodison. Possibly off the pitch this summer – and certainly on it.
The fans have made their feelings known – and many want to see a new man in the dug-out.
But while Roberto Martinez is under pressure after a miserable Premier League season, there will definitely be changes elsewhere. With a new man, with deep pockets, still settling into a role in Everton’s boardroom, the club could soon be unrecognisable to the one that started 2015-16.
A number of players are out of contract in the summer, while others face uncertain futures as Farhad Moshiri’s millions burn a hole in his pocket. And then there are a few players Everton who will need to convince to stay put. Tim Howard, of course, is already off. The American departs Goodison for a return to his homeland, joining MLS outfit Colorado Rapids after more than 400 appearances – and one goal – for the Blues. But who else could leave Everton this summer? We look at the probables, the possibles and the hopefully nots...
One of a number of players out of contract in the summer.
He too could join Howard in moving back to his homeland, with the 34-year-old expressing a desire to move back to the club where he started his career, Ajax Cape Town. Has the call come for Steven Pienaar to leave?
“It would be a dream come true to finish my career in South Africa, preferably at Ajax Cape Town because it’s always good to end it where you started,” he said recently. Pienaar has scored 24 goals in over 200 appearances for Everton during two spells with the club. This year, form and fitness has restricted him to just five appearances in competitions.
Two more appearances will put Leon Osman inside the top 10 of all time appearance makers at Goodison Park, alongside the legendary Dixie Dean on 433. Leon Osman's first-team outings have been few and far between this season And Osman, who is out of contract at the end of the season and expected to depart, will be eager to bid farewell to the fans who have watched him for more than 16 years at Goodison.
2015-16 was to be a crucial campaign for Darron Gibson – with a new contract, and therefore his Everton future, on the line.
But sadly more injuries have limited the Irishman to just six league appearances, and they appear to have come too late to save his Blues career.
Everton fans never got to have their riot.
And unless Tony Hibbert finds a way to bag himself a goal in the final three games of the season, then they never will. Tony Hibbert made his long-awaited comeback against Bournemouth at the weekend
Nevertheless, Hibbert has been a great servant to Everton in the 16 years he has enjoyed with the club, making more than 300 appearances.
He might not be a part of the farewell tour during the last three games of the season, but Aiden McGeady is still expected to depart Everton in the summer.
The Irishman has never been able to fulfill his potential with the Toffees, making just one appearance, in the League Cup, this season, before being farmed out to Sheffield Wednesday on loan.
A permanent move to England’s second tier could beckon for the Irishman, otherwise a transfer back north of the border to his former club Celtic has been mooted.
Despite only signing a new three-year deal with Everton last summer, speculation has continued over Kevin Mirallas’s future at Goodison. It hasn’t helped the Belgian’s cause that he’s struggled to get a prolonged run of games under Martinez this season.
Things could, however, change for Mirallas should Martinez leave the club in the summer.
His future could well go hand-in-hand with Martinez’s own.
The Ivorian is a favourite of the Spaniard having followed him from Wigan Athletic to Everton in 2013.
Arouna Kone's future could be linked to that of Roberto Martinez
The 32-year-old started the season well, excelling at Southampton and in the win over Chelsea before scoring a hat-trick at Sunderland.
But since then he has struggled to impress.
Perhaps a long shot, but what odds on Goodison’s mystery man making a swift departure from Everton this summer? Niasse has played very little football since his £13.5million move from Lokomotiv Moscow, with Martinez pointing to the striker’s lack of fitness as the reason behind his lack of game time.
Evertonians have speculated that there is more to it, however, and that the forward has failed to convince staff of his worth.
A trio of bids from Chelsea were knocked back last summer, but Everton will surely face another battle to hold on to their talented centre-back.
Granted, the Toffees won’t need the money this summer. Moshiri will see to that.
John Stones is a target for several leading clubs
But will they be able to convince Stones to stay put at Goodison Park after such a poor season?
Chelsea, with Antonio Conte incoming, may return, and Manchester City have been strongly linked with the 21-year-old.
It feels like every time Romelu Lukaku departs on international duty he discusses his Everton future.
This time he enlisted the help of his dad, Roger, who said that his son should move to Manchester United or Bayern Munich.
Romelu Lukaku has made no secret of his desire to appear in the Champions League
Blues fans are going to have to put up with a full month of it soon enough, with Lukaku away with Belgium at the European Championships. Lukaku has been one of the few success stories in a miserable campaign for Everton. Blues fans will be hoping that an eye-watering price tag will put off would-be suitors.
Probably the least likely of the trio to seek a move to pastures new, you would expect Farhad Moshiri, and any potential new manager, to want to build a team around the boyhood Evertonian.
Ross Barkley is being courted by other clubs
The Wavertree-born player is another who has been linked with a number of clubs – but with Moshiri’s investment, Everton will have no intention of allowing him to depart.
Everton's Brendan Galloway eyes first-team return after comeback from injury
2 May 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Ian Doyle
Youngster makes long-awaited comeback for under-21s
Brendan Galloway appeared the Everton's under-21s today
Brendan Galloway is ready to ease Everton’s defensive crisis after making his return to action for the under-21s. Galloway made his comeback after more than two months out with a knee injury by featuring for David Unsworth’s side against Chelsea at Aldershot Town’s Recreation Ground.
The 20-year-old played the full 90 minutes as the young Blues ended their campaign with a goalless draw. Galloway will now hope for an opportunity in the senior side during the final three games of the Premier League season. Having made his debut towards the tail end of the previous campaign, the defender impressed during the first half of this term, making 16 starts – 14 of which were in the top flight. However, Galloway last featured for the first team as a late substitute in the 3-0 FA Cup fourth round win at Carlisle United in January, while he hasn’t featured in the Premier League since the 4-3 home defeat to Stoke City on December 28. Indeed, his last appearance of any note had been when playing and scoring for the U21s in their 3-1 win over Southampton on February 15. Galloway’s prolonged absence exacerbated a defensive injury crisis for Blues boss Roberto Martinez, with fellow youngster Tyias Browning missing much of the season and Seamus Coleman and Phil Jagielka currently sidelined. The Blues will also be without Ramiro Funes Mori for Saturday’s visit to title-chasing Leicester City with the Argentina international serving the final match of his three-game ban following his red card in last month’s Merseyside derby defeat at Anfield.
Everton Fan Q&A: Why Roberto Martinez isn't solely to blame for this season
2 May 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Rue Murphy
Blues supporter Rue Murphy believes Blues boss is out of time... but says finger can also be pointed elsewhere
Roberto Martinez hasn't been able to see the best of Leighton Baines over the past two seasons
What do you make of Roberto Martinez’s situation?
In all honesty, I believe it is time for him to go.
But when you look at Everton’s situation a bit deeper, there are a numerous issues for which the manager alone isn’t responsible. Such as? Martinez wanted seven players the previous summer and called out the numerous positions over multiple press conferences. In the end, he didn’t kick up a fuss when the board didn’t back him. He just gave a soundbite regarding how great the squad is.
For those who believe Martinez has spent more than David Moyes, the fact is that, up until now, we have had to largely sell to buy. Everyone seems to forget that, and instead have a pop at Martinez whenever he talks about having little investment and managing assets. The squad needs a massive overhaul which stretches back to last summer again. Any new manager would need time to access the squad whereas Martinez is lucky having earmarked players to sign or move on.
The fans weren’t happy at Wembley...
Those using the semi-final as a way to say he should go, there are better reasons than that.
Everton haven’t been successful in cup competitions for 21 years – 11 of those under David Moyes.
The fact we’ve reached the semi-final of two competitions really shouldn’t be seen as something to celebrate, but it’s hardly a negative going against previous years.
Martinez doesn’t help himself by being stubborn though, does he?
Maybe, but his ‘philosophy’ and ‘mantra’ have attracted a higher standard of player to Everton – whether they stay due to the failings is another matter. Looking at the squad, many have regressed massively, especially when you look at what happened since to those who went to the World Cup in 2014. Seamus Coleman has been dogged by injury problems in the last few months
Leighton Baines (who injury has caught up with), Seamus Coleman (lacks any completion), Tim Howard (think enough been said), Phil Jagielka (shocking until Christmas), Ross Barkley (clearly a confidence player), Romelu Lukaku (lacked match sharpness until January), Kevin Mirallas (always hit or miss), Muhamed Besic (signed off the back of a World Cup and continually injured) and Bryan Oviedo (before his injury many were calling for Baines to fight for his place as Oviedo was performing so well, but is now too injury prone). Some players have picked up form over the two seasons – like Jags and Lukaku – but its safe to say certain players may have peaked in Martinez first season and aren’t consistent enough.
And players people are suddenly clambering for like Sylvain Distin and Steven Pienaar are ones many were happy to see phased out the team, or in Distin’s case released.
There have been plenty of questions about Everton’s character this season...
Everton are literally two defeats away from doubts in the dressing room.
There are no characters at Everton, the side is full of ‘gentlemen’ and the lack of backing in the window has left the squad a year or two older, with players still seeking to find form in a team that’s lost.
You can name on one hand (probably) all the players who have performed over the previous two seasons. The pre-season to be fair was poorly organised – that’s being kind – but at the end of the day our squad seem fragile when criticism hits them.
Is this really the best Everton squad in a generation?
As much as Martinez overindulgent comments grate, I think we have all bought into the fact this is a great side. It is not. Minus the starting XI there really isn’t a team there. When Martinez took over it was ageing side but had a degree of depth (and defensive nous), but too many players need replacing in the summer for this to be a fantastic squad.
Ross Barkley still hasn't found his best position
The lack of summer activity beyond buying previous loans and investing player sales we haven’t invested in the team. That alone lies with the board – square pegs and round holes is literally how Everton have shaped up for near on two seasons.
Can you give us an example of those square pegs in round holes?
As much as I can see the potential in Barkley for a simple example (and contentious) about square pegs, he is not a number 10. I think he is accommodated into the team given he can change the game at any moment, but his positional play is really poor. Barkley is either two yards away from the winger, 30 yards away from Lukaku, or between Barry/McCarthy leaving a massive hole in middle which numerous teams have exploited. I think this is a reason why we really play two out-and-out wingers, the amount of times we sacrifice the middle of park means we need a winger willing to cover more than one job.
This results in side to side to side passing, as there is no outlet ball.
I personally can’t pin a position for Ross, at the same time the formation doesn’t suit him so that’s no his fault.
Isn’t that down to the manager, then?
The formation doesn’t get the best out the players we have – we should be built around creative players and let the defenders defend. It’s a bit of perspective given not everything is Martinez’s fault.
It doesn’t change the fact it’s time to go, but I think some players we seemingly adore need a massive wake-up because responsibility also lies heavily with them and the board.
There were plenty of protesters at Goodison on Saturday
At the end of the day, football is a results business. There is no doubting Roberto has truly brought into Everton Football Club, but in any walk of life if your unwilling to adapt its time to move on.
Yes the issues mentioned cover players and board but the buck stops at the manager, whether its fully his fault or not. The board have gone into hiding and regardless the consensus on Roberto its an undignified way to treat someone who in fairness is trying his best.
And what about the protesters?
The fans have rightly or wrongly expressed an opinion via a protest, but those calling out others who left is wrong. Not everyone is open about expressing a view, but that does not mean they are ‘happy to settle mediocrity’ or however else it is put. Nor should supporters who ‘don’t go the game’ have opinions case aside. The same sentiments are echoed for those who mock the protest whether you agree or not. For the ‘people’s club’ to have allowed friction between fans and manager to reach that point is shameful. Both Roberto and the fans deserve better.
Everton U21s end season with goalless draw at Chelsea
2 May 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Ian Doyle
David Unsworth's side scrap to stalemate
Everton under-21s ended their Barclays U21 Premier League campaign with a goalless draw at Chelsea.
Brendan Galloway played the full 90 minutes on his return from a knee injury as David Unsworth’s side failed to register a fifth successive victory. The young Blues required an excellent block from Galloway that denied Chelsea’s Kasey Palmer to preserve their clean sheet at Aldershot Town’s Recreation Ground. The draw was a fair result after a fiercely competitive match, although Blues goalkeeper Mateusz Hewelt was not forced into any notable saves. Unsworth included recent first-team debutant Callum Connolly in his starting line-up, along with Mason Holgate and David Henen.
Calum Dyson had arguably the best chance for the Blues, denied at the last second by defender Jake Clarke-Salter. Chelsea came closest with an Ola Aina drive which whistled inches past Hewelt’s left-hand post. Dyson’s opening came in the first half. Antony Evans sent the teenage striker clean through but after the striker went around Chelsea goalkeeper Nathan Baxter, he was denied a certain goal by an excellent sliding challenge from Clarke-Salter. EVERTON U21s: Hewelt, Connolly, Foulds, Baningime, Galloway, Holgate, Charsley, Williams, Dyson, Evans, Henen. Subs: Thornley, Gray, Graham, Lavery, Holland.
Michael Ball: Everton fan protests should be club's cue to get closer to support - and tell them Martinez's fate
2 May 2016 Liverpool Echo
Plus: Why the kids are alright, there's no point in fringe benefits and a poignant Hillsborough tribute
Everton fans hold protest signs in the stands despite victory after the Barclays Premier League match at Goodison Park, Liverpool. It was pleasing Everton won a home game finally, just their fifth in the league this season, but ultimately it was similar to the way we have performed all season. When the game kicked off, we started brightly, but it was disappointing to concede so soon after. After we regained the lead, I just had that feeling, if this was a game with something riding on it, we would have caved in again. We were under pressure near the end and in danger of conceding, mainly from our own mistakes, and we let Bournemouth dictate and bully us a little. Fair play though, we dug in and held on.
Roberto Martinez selected a different line up for the game and Oumar Niasse up front was a surprise, to be honest. The game bypassed him a bit – he was trying, but he looked like a lad who had just joined a new team, he didn't know which way to run or where the ball was coming. Still, the lads got the result, and now we are mathematically safe! I shouldn't laugh, I suppose.
But there was more talk about what was happening off the pitch.
Martinez on the protests Ratings Fans react to protests Verdict What we learned Plane protest Anti-Martinez tweet After-match protest The fans conducted themselves well throughout the game and supported the team inside Goodison during the game, and then unfurled banners afterwards to make their feelings known. I've said before this sort of thing isn't my cup of tea and I'm not a massive fan but the fans are obviously frustrated. With the age of social media, and the Premier League being so big now, people have a vehicle to let their opinions known. Things like the media and Match of the Day mean the fan frustrations are obvious. The club can't ignore this and they need to learn to get closer to the fans, letting them in more, and being more open with them. You can learn from the fans, they are the lifeblood of this club. Give them they the answer they are seeking. If the club are going to back Martinez, say it. Let the fans come to terms with it – or not, as the case may be – and then we can all sing from the same hymn sheet, and get behind the team. The rumour mill is in full swing, just sort it one way or another – Bill Kenwright or Farhad Moshiri need to come out and let them know their plan of action. The fans will always turn up, happy or not. But Everton should use these protests as a sign they need to get closer to the fans.
The kids are alright
It was nice to see Matthew Pennington and Kieran Dowell get time on the pitch against Bournemouth.
Congratulations to Pennington, who was given his first start for the club, and had a good game against difficult opposition. He handled it very well at centre back and the crowd responded to him.
I would have liked Dowell to get a little bit more playing time, though. We have seen him do so well for the Under-21s and he should have been given 20 minutes, half an hour, to show what he can do on the big stage. When he came on, he showed a great first touch, some good movement, and that's what the fans want to see. That sort of enthusiasm can be infectious. Hopefully in the final few games of the season they get a chance to show the manager what they're capable of. It will be their last chance before the summer when the transfer window opens, and it gives them the opportunity to let the club know they're in contention for consideration next season. I am hoping three or four of these youngsters are blooded together. You can't play an entire team of kids - you have to mix and match with experience a little bit – but we have seen what these players are capable of at youth level. Give a batch of them a chance to show it at senior level, too.
No point in fringe benefits
I don't really understand the point in giving the fringe players so much playing time as the season draws to a close. Martinez is clearly giving them a final chance to prove themselves, and that's fair enough, but we're not really learning anything new. He's seen them in training for the past nine months, and there's a reason why they haven't been getting into the team this season. You want to finish the season on a high but we know we have underachieved, and it has not been a success. I was listening to Neville Southall this week and he has the same mentality as myself – you want to be winning games, no matter what stage of the season. But is playing these sort of the players the way to do it? At the very least, the kids will bring some enthusiasm to the proceedings, and there might be a few great performances to look back on and take into the next campaign.
Bring on the champions
So, we'll be facing the Premier League champions on Saturday. Who would have thought we would say that in August? It's obviously a Roy of the Rovers story, to win the league is better than any other competition as you have to do it over nine months. You need a bit of luck, not many injuries and suspensions, and credit to them – they have shown no fear and Claudio Ranieri got them following his instructions to a tee. They are not the most exciting side to watch but definitely the most effective – they win points, and that's the name of the game. They are not the best individually, but what a team ethos they have, and it's going to be a really difficult game. The world will be watching it so we have to put up a performance, we need to learn off our last game at Goodison, and not be susceptible to the counter attack. We have to be difficult to break down but that's something we haven't been all season.
It should be galling Leicester have done this and Everton haven't, but they will give every team hope. This has never been done before, but they have capitalised on so many teams above them not being at their best. This also stops managers having that excuse of being unable to compete with the big boys and Ranieri has shown it is all about working with what you have.
Emotional Hillsborough tribute fitting
The most touching moment of Saturday, of course, was before the game. I would like to commend the fans and the club for their tribute to the victims of Hillsborough, as well as the families who fought for justice for so long. It was a fantastic gesture from the club, and a really nice idea to have the families on the pitch beforehand. The fans' reception for them was magnificent, and rightly so. Bournemouth also added their own lovely touch to the afternoon.
'Roberto Martinez is human and this is bullying' - Everton fans react to abuse Martinez received outside Goodison
3 May 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Kristian Walsh
Despite the fans who want Martinez to leave, many don't agree with the abuse as he left Goodison
A number of Everton fans want Roberto Martinez to leave his position as Everton manager - but it's fair to say fewer agreed with saying it to his face. After Saturday's 2-1 win over Bournemouth on Saturday, a number of supporters remained inside Goodison to unfurl anti-Martinez banners and chant for the removal of the Catalan as manager.
Footage has emerged of the Blues boss being heckled by supporters outside the ground as he left on Saturday evening - including one supporter who believes Martinez is "taking us backwards".
Yet despite the anti-Martinez groundswell on social media, fans took to it to criticise the fans who shouted at him as he left Goodison - though some did agree, too.
Kath Gregg: Bang out of order that. He's not a criminal and it was unacceptable mob behaviour. Lying in wait to throw insults at him on his way from work?? Nah, not Everton that. John Vanderwerff: Absolutely disgraceful. Would any of these individuals expect to be heckled at work in this manner? Embarrassing at best. Let RM get on with his job and the Board take action if they feel it's required. Building teams takes time and has ups and downs. It sounded like a small minority thankfully, just like the protests inside the ground. Don't get me wrong I believe everyone has the right to protest, it is the manner of the protest I abhor. Jim Shields: Yes I believe he should go, no I don't believe that sort of abuse is anyway appropriate. It is not Everton's way. Peter Baird: I support the protests and want Martinez gone but this is going too far. He is a human being at the end of the day and what's seen in this footage is bullying! David Griffiths: Sad that Everton's spineless and dysfunctional hierarchy have allowed it to come to this, and realistically it will only get worse. Martinez is a hopeless manager who is also hopelessly out of tune with the feelings of supporters. He should have been put out of his misery a long time ago. Matt Cook: Fans forget that professional sports people including managers and players are paid immensely well, when they sign that contract they must take the pressure and responsibility that comes with such a wage. Mike Jones: Not nice, he doesn't deserve to be treated like that he may not have done a very good job but he is a decent man. Colin Hodson: I applaud this. WE have the right to protest. WE keep the club alive by paying to follow them. Without US the club could not survive.
Ray Hughes: Martinez had left fans no option, entirely out of his depth.
Everton transfer rumours: Rafa Benitez considered as Martinez replacement?
3 May 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Joe Rimmer
A round-up of transfer rumours and speculation from around the web
They couldn't, could they?
According to the Daily Mail, Rafa Benitez is on a shortlist of replacements should Everton sack Roberto Martinez this summer. That is, as long as Newcastle go down.. They believe that Benitez has been discussed by the Everton board, but have yet to make contact with the 56-year-old former Liverpool manager. Benitez has committed to Newcastle should they stay in the Premier League, but if not he could, according to the Mail, be willing to talk to Everton because his family are still settled on the Wirral. The pressure continues to mount on Martinez at Everton after a miserable Premier League campaign and defeats in the FA Cup and League Cup semi-finals.
Everton fans stayed behind after the win over Bournemouth to protest against the Spaniard, and many let him know how they felt after the game . Elsewhere this morning, according to Guillem Balague, Everton turned down the chance to sign Atletico Madrid’s Champions League hero Saul Niguez some years back. The young Spaniard scored the winner for Diego Simeone’s side against Bayern Munich in the semi-final first leg, but he could have been elsewhere, according to Spanish journalist Balague.
Balague explained: “Saul was offered to Everton when he was 18, and they said no, and he was offered to Manchester United a year-and-a-half ago and United decided not to go for him."
Everton fans urged to renew season tickets before deadline
3 May 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Ian Doyle
Last chance today to ensure current seat at Goodison
Everton supporters are being reminded today is the last chance for Season Ticket holders to guarantee their seat for next season. With a number of existing Season Ticket holders wanting to move into better seats, current holders are being urged by the club to not run the risk of losing their current seat.
Anybody wishing to purchase a new Season Ticket for 2016-17 will continue to be able to purchase at the Early Bird price until May 25. And, from 8am on Monday, May 10, the very best seats not renewed by current Season Ticket holders will be released on general sale for new fans to purchase.
The Box Office will remain open until 6pm tonight, while the ticket booth at Everton Two open until 7pm. There is also the option to renew online until midnight. Season Ticket prices for 2016-17 have been reduced in price by more than 5% for all adult Season Ticket holders while prices for junior Season Tickets have been slashed with an extension to the upper limit from 16 to 18 as part of Everton’s commitment to making football affordable. For more information on buying and renewing Season Tickets, the reduction or freeze on all season ticket prices, full pricing details or payment options, visit evertonfc.com/1617 or call 0151 556 1878.
Ross Barkley: Stones can become England captain - and the former Everton man whose tapes I watch
3 May 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Kristian Walsh
The Everton midfielder has special praise for his team-mate as he prepares for Euro 2016
John Stones and Ross Barkley are two of Everton's growing international brigade
Ross Barkley is backing team-mate John Stones to captain his country and become an England centurion.
And the Blues midfielder has revealed he has been watching tapes of a former Everton player to inspire him ahead of this summer’s European Championships. The 22-year-old is almost certain to be on the plane to France this summer, as is centre-back Stones, though both will have a battle to be included in Roy Hodgson’s starting XI against Russia on June 11. Barkley himself is eyeing up a long-term future in the England midfield alongside Spurs man Dele Alli, but has reserved special acknowledgement for his fellow Blue. “I feel more important to the squad now, and more confident when I go into England camps because I’ve played over 20 games,” he said. “I think I’ve matured as a player since the World Cup. “I definitely believe we (him and Alli) can play together if asked, in this tournament and in the future. It’s up to Roy what he sees in each game, whether he needs both of us, or one attacking midfielder with a bit of balance.” On Stones, he added: “Yes (he can captain England). At a young age he’s a leader at club level – he talks a lot and leads by example. “He’s not your typical English defender, he’s more of a ball-playing centre-half, and at international level that’s what you need from your central defenders, as well as being solid at the back. “He’s the type of player you would normally see in a Spanish side. He’s an unbelievable player, he’ll probably play for England for the next 10 or 15 years and reach over 100 caps.” Barkley enjoyed a strong start to the season but his form has tailed off – along with that of his club – since the turn of the year. Ross Barkley has welcomed comparisons with Paul Gascoigne, here celebrating for England after scoring against Scotland at Euro 96 Despite that, he has been one of the Blues’ brighter stars throughout the campaign, scoring more goals and registering more assists than in his previous league seasons combined. Not content with that development, the midfielder revealed he has been watching videos of Paul Gascoigne at Euro 96 to inspire him.
He told the June edition of FourFourTwo: “I’ve watched clips of him playing against the Netherlands and Scotland, because I like the way he played. He was unbelievable in that tournament. He was the complete player. “It means a lot that people say that (I’m like Gascoigne). Gazza is a legend of English football because of the type of player he was. “He liked being on the ball, he liked dribbling, and he scored some unbelievable goals. It’s similar to what I like to do. “I don’t deliberately look to play like anyone else, though.”
Eddie Howe: My Everton dream - and how I started supporting the Blues
3 May 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Kristian Walsh
The Bournemouth boss talks about how he became an Everton fan
Bourmemouth manager Eddie Howe and Everton counterpart Roberto Martinez - and Howe has spoken about supporting the Blues Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe has revealed his love of Everton – and his dream of watching the Blues at Goodison. The Cherries boss was in the away dugout for his side’s 2-1 defeat on Saturday, but he has told of how he would occasionally be in the away end when Everton headed down south. With Roberto Martinez’s position under scrutiny, Howe has been one of the names touted as a potential replacement after keeping the South Coast side up in their first season of top-flight football. The 38-year-old, who is in his second spell at the Vitality Stadium, spoke of where his love affair with Everton began. “I remember my first football being one of those plastic ones which had all the names of the Division One teams in it,” he said. “You would spot them all and I was an Everton fan growing up, so I would always look for them when I picked up the ball. “I was a passionate Everton fan as a kid. I lived near Watford – born in Amersham, raised in Chesham – so I used to watch Watford.
“Watford were playing in the 1984 Cup final, so I turned it on being a Watford fan, and then watched the game and there was just something that said I have to support the blue team. “It was the kit, the name... and that was it. I was hooked. That inspired my following of them and I followed them ever since. "When I moved to Bournemouth, when I was 10, I went to watch them being my local team. Watford, Everton, Bournemouth – they were the teams.” Howe returned to Bournemouth in 2012 and led them to promotion to the top tier of English football for the first time in their history. With 41 points from 36 games, his side sit in 15th, well away from the current relegation battle beneath them.
The defeat at Goodison saw him achieve a lifetime ambition as he managed at the Old Lady for the first time. He told Graham Hunter’s Big Interview podcast: “I didn’t get to Goodison until I was at a late, very late, age. We basically couldn’t (afford it), so that didn’t happen. That was my dream to go to Goodison as a kid, never got there until later in life. Everton beat Watford at Wembley in 1984 - and acquire a new fan “But what we would do was follow them when they went to Watford, the London clubs, I used to go to Southampton, that was my way of following them. "In the away end, but I didn’t sing. I’ve never been much of a singer. I’ll sit and watch but I don’t get vocally involved.” Howe also spoke of his admiration for former Blues striker Tony Cottee, who bagged 99 goals during his time on Merseyside.
“I don’t know whether it is in my nature but (I like) supporting the underdog,” he said. “He signed for big money, had a big reputation, scored a hat trick on his debut, and everyone thought he was the next best thing. “From that point, he scored loads of goals but he was never really given the credit he deserved for his goalscoring ability. “Every fan loves a goalscorer, so I loved him, his movement, the way he scored. He didn’t quite get the credit he deserved for the amount of goals he scored.”
David Price makes joke about his career and ending up at Goodison Park
3 May 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Micheal McKenna
Pricey makes his comeback on May 29
David Price says he has been given a new lease of life with his new setup under trainer Dave Coldwell and he certainly looked a much happier man at Tuesday's press conference at Goodison Park.
A massive Liverpool fan, Pricey wasn't afraid to humour the crowd at the home of the Blues, with a summary of his career. "It's a great stage for my return but obviously I would have preferred Anfield," admitted Price, with a smile on his face. "For years I harboured hopes of fighting at Anfield in front of thousands and the way my career has ended up going, I've landed up at Goodison on an eight-rounder," laughed the former British heavyweight champion. "But it's not over yet, the best days are yet to come, let me tell you." He continued: "It's a great event for the city. We've had discussions with Tony, we've been sat around a table, locked in deep conversation about my ring entrance music. We're at a bit of a deadlock; he's saying I can't come out to You'll Never Walk Alone but my argument is I wear the colours of Liverpool and when people come to see me fight, it's like going to the match. It's like an away game for the Liverpool fans but we'll get to the bottom of that." Putting all jokes aside, Price, who has fallen only to drugs cheats, wants to rebuild a career that got so many people in Liverpool excited. It was recently announced that his defeat to Erkan Teper last July will now be registered as a no contest.
"It's great to be back," said the 32-year-old. "I've had plenty of time out but I've a new trainer, new setup, it's a fresh start. Not so much a fresh hunger because I've always had that. "I've said a few things in the past few weeks which resonated with a lot of people. The only times I have slipped up, I've been the victim of someone who has been on a banned substance. "It has given me that extra drive to achieve what I believe I am capable of, starting on May 29, that's the new beginning for David Price."
Is Everton's Phil Jagielka about to miss out on another tournament for England?
3 May 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Ian Doyle
Blues defender fears Euro 2016 axe - but is this fair?
Phil Jagielka is handed the captain's armband by James Milner in England's most recent game against Holland in March - but could now miss out the Euros? Phil Jagielka’s already had enough to contend with during the past month. First there was the hamstring injury at Watford that threatened his participation in Everton’s FA Cup semi-final. Next came the despair of having to watch helplessly as the Blues crumbled to a Merseyside derby embarrassment at Anfield. Then, having somehow patched himself up to lead Everton heroically at Wembley, followed the heartbreak of conceding an injury-time winner to Manchester United. So Jagielka would be forgiven for letting out more than just a sigh when news emerged on Tuesday he was in line to miss out for England at this summer’s European Championships.
Roy Hodgson is widely reported as considering including only seven defenders in his 23-man party for the finals in France next month. It’s an approach the England boss used during the World Cup in Brazil two years ago when, rather than take the usual eight defenders, he opted to include seven by selecting only one specialised right-back in Glen Johnson. This time around, Hodgson is thought likely to follow the same pattern, but while taking only three centre-backs. Nathaniel Clyne and Kyle Walker are expected to be the right-backs, with Ryan Bertrand and Danny Rose on the opposite flank.
Gary Cahill and Chris Smalling have become mainstays under Hodgson – indeed, reports suggest they have been slated to start the tournament against Russia on June 11 – which leaves Everton team-mates Jagielka and John Stones competing for the one remaining centre-back slot. And Stones, despite a number of high-profile errors including a costly slip in England’s 2-1 Wembley friendly defeat to Holland in their last outing in March, is highly regarded by Hodgson.
Gary Cahill could stand in the way of Phil Jagielka's place at Euro 2106
“Not long ago he was being touted as the best centre-half in the country and touted that all the best teams wanted him,” said the England boss recently. “He is comfortable, composed and look how good he is bringing ball out and then he makes a couple of mistakes and we want to put it back on his head.
“I will stay consistent. I expect him to keep doing what he’s good at.”
What’s happened in the past?
Jagielka has endured a topsy-turvy relationship with major international tournaments in the past.
Since making his debut for England in 2008, the centre-back narrowly missed out on a place in the 2010 World Cup despite recovering from 10 months out with an anterior cruciate knee ligament injury.
He was then named only on the standby list by Hodgson for Euro 2012 until being promoted to the main squad when future Blues team-mate Gareth Barry was ruled out with an abdominal injury.
Phil Jagielka in action for England against Luis Suarez and Uruguay in 2014
Jagielka, though, failed to feature in any of England’s four games in Ukraine.
The Everton man made the final cut for the 2014 World Cup having featured heavily during qualifying, and started the opening defeat to Italy. But after being at fault for Uruguay’s late winner that eliminated England, he was dropped for the dead rubber against Costa Rica. Nevertheless, Jagielka remained integral during the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, and in the 3-0 win in Lithuania in October became the first Everton player to captain England.
So what could happen now?
Approaching his 34th birthday, Jagielka will know this is realistically his last chance to feature in a major tournament for England. While clearly not 100% fit at Wembley, Blues boss Roberto Martinez believes Jagielka will be available for the final game of the season. “Phil will probably be back for Norwich,” said Martinez. “He will be okay for the Euros.” That game on May 16, though, comes four days after Hodgson names his 23-man squad – a week on Thursday – leaving the centre-back reliant on his fine form for Everton since the turn of the year. Everton team-mates John Stones and Phil Jagielka appear in competition for a place in England's squad for Euro 2016 Even if he doesn’t make the final cut, Jagielka is likely to be named on the standby list and will have three warm-up friendlies – against Turkey at Manchester City on Sunday, May 22, against Australia at Sunderland on Friday, May 27 and against Portugal at Wembley on Thursday, June 2 – to prove his fitness.
Everton fans, of course, won’t mind their club captain having a summer with his feet up, given his importance to the Blues defence. For Jagielka, though, being overlooked could signal the end of an international career that has yielded 39 caps thus far. And given his experience – of those defenders slated to travel to France, only Cahill has made more finals appearances than Jagielka – it would surely be unwise for Hodgson to jettison a steadying influence.
Champions Leicester City should annoy Everton - and eliminate any excuse for poor season
4 May 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Kristian Walsh
Leicester City won the title against the odds... why couldn't it have been Everton?
Gareth Barry challenges Jamie Vardy of Premier League champions Leicester City back in December
When Everton arrive at the King Power Stadium on Saturday evening, they will be doing so in the midst of a party - most probably led by Jamie Vardy. Their ankles strewn in discarded confetti, there will be a real intent from the away side to become chief party-poopers. With the world watching, a chance to show Leicester they will not have it all their own way on their day of celebration. But ultimately, what does it matter? Is that any real consolation for the suffering Evertonians, who have had a watch another season of underachievement at Goodison Park?
Of course, Everton will head to Leicester and want to win. Beating the Premier League champions would be a notable scalp. As the footballing world continue to take in the Foxes’ achievement and figure out how they did it, Everton should contemplate how it wasn’t them, rather than Leicester, in this position.
Other clubs should do similar, of course. Leicester’s title win is more galling to the likes of Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United. But in an event that proves anything can happen, the Blues should ask why it couldn’t have happened to them. Here’s five reasons Everton should be angry Leicester won the league – and why there are no excuses for their own poor campaign.
The 39-point swing
The obvious annoyance is just how easily Everton relinquished their superiority over Leicester in the space of 12 months. The gap between the pair was at six points at the end of last season, albeit the Foxes managed to win seven of their last nine games and therefore had the momentum. This season, Leicester sit 33 points ahead of the Blues, having played an extra game.
Leicester draw 2-2 at Goodison on February 22 last year - they were 10 points behind Everton at this point. They're now 33 points above them That is a swing of 39 points. That isn’t down to luck or injuries; it cannot be written off as simply some sort of paranormal activity, never to be seen again. Leicester were not just better than Everton this season, they were streets ahead of them. Even accounting for Leicester’s strong end to 2014-15, and even accepting how good they have been this season, for the Blues to be so far away from them is a real sign of their struggles.
Dynamic winger and top goalscorer?
Riyad Mahrez and Vardy have been the stars of the season. While the likes of Kasper Schmeichel, Wes Morgan and N’Golo Kante have been superb throughout, it is their electric winger and top-class goalscorer who have fired them to the summit. Sound familiar? In Gerard Deulofeu and Romelu Lukaku, Everton could potentially have had a similar sort of dynamic on the front foot. That is not to suggest Deulofeu and Lukaku are similar players to Mahrez and Vardy, but they could fulfil a similar sort of role the Leicester duo have.
Leicester City's version of Gerard Deulofeu and Jamie Vardy
Indeed, for a short while this season, the pair were unstoppable. But the momentum has halted; Deulofeu has faded away and Lukaku is now feeling the effects of shouldering the goalscoring burden.
What Leicester also had was a cohesion around them, a tactical plan to get the best out of their star men. That didn’t happen, this season, on Merseyside.
In case of the defence
Everton, on paper, have a strong back four. Phil Jagielka, John Stones and Leighton Baines are all in the England squad, while Seamus Coleman has been one of the league’s more consistent right-backs.
They have all had their issues their season – injuries, loss of form, speculation over their future – but they are still good defenders. Better, one would have suggested, than the back four that have helped Leicester win the Premier League. It is almost incredulous that Wes Morgan and Robert Huth have formed the axis on which the title has been secured.
They deserve it, of course. Both have been fantastic; so, too, Christian Fuchs and Danny Simpson. They have benefited from a regular run of games together, as well as protection from the midfield. The Foxes have conceded just 34 goals in 36 games – the third-best record in the league, and 15 fewer than the Blues’ leaky defence. In theory, Everton’s defence was a match for many teams, but it has not developed as such.
Ranieri knew when, and where, to change
Leicester hardly changed their line-up throughout the campaign, but their manager, Claudio Ranieri, was very astute with his own adjustments. The old Tinkerman did his tinkering with tactics, rather than personnel, to lead his side to glory. At the start of the season, their attacking intent was superb, but their defence was being left exposed. He changed that, and would register 11 clean sheets in 17 games since the start of the year. Over Christmas, his side were starting to struggle to cope with the high intensity counter-attacking football, so that was also altered.
Not much tinkering from Claudio Ranieri this season...
It says much about their season that different parts of it have seen different heroes emerge. At the start, it was Vardy. Then, Mahrez. Since the turn of the year, Morgan and Huth. Only Kante, really, has been the constant performer. Compare that to the criticisms levelled at Roberto Martinez and the Blues. The Catalan has been called stubborn, with his side steadily deteriorating as the season has progressed, but there has been little sign of development in the style or set-up of the squad. It all feels a little stale at Goodison right now. It couldn't be more different at the King Power.
Bargains used to be Everton’s forte
The Blues’ reputation in the transfer market used to be founded on their ability to sniff out a bargain. In seasons past, a £400,000 bid for Mahrez or £1m outlay on Vardy would have been the sort of business the Blues conducted. Now, the fees are bigger, though their success in the transfer market no better for it. The £13.5m on Oumar Niasse remains a head-scratcher, though it is still early days for the Senegalese striker. Everton's Oumar Niasse on the attack from Tommy Elphick. Photo by Colin Lane
The lesser-spotted Oumar Niasse
Not that Leicester are paupers, of course. In fact, their net spend was higher than Everton’s this season.
But after the Blues showed what could be done with good scouting and smart negotiations, Leicester have taken it to the next level.
Phil Jagielka insists Everton intent on restoring battered reputations
4 May 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Blues skipper says pride and not prize money is the driving force over last few games of the season
Phil Jagielka has called for a strong finish to the season for Everton
Phil Jagielka insists Everton are intent on restoring their battered reputations between now and the end of the season. The Blues won for the first time in eight matches on Saturday as goals from Tom Cleverley and Leighton Baines helped to see off Bournemouth. Everton can only finish the Premier League season as high as ninth and Jagielka says the team’s focus is not the prize money on offer.
Instead the Blues captain, who hopes to be fit enough to face Norwich City on the final day of the season, says they are playing to rebuild their pride after a poor season. “We’ve got some young players in our squad but we’ve also got no shortage of experience and we all know that the last (few) games of the Premier League season are important,” said Jagielka.
“And not just for the fact that every position in the table means more money for the club.
“There is pride at stake here.
“There is no such thing as a game that doesn’t matter when you play for this football club.
“Every time you pull that Royal Blue jersey over your head you are expected to give nothing less than 100% to try and win the game. “That’s the way it has to be and believe me, the lads on the park will live up to that and try to deliver in these last four games.” Everton head to champions Leicester City on Saturday before a trip to Sunderland on May 11 and the visit of Norwich on May 15.
Everton hero Duncan Ferguson pays visit to Zoe's Place to hand over £10,000 car
4 May 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Ian Doyle
Everton first-team coach makes donation from funds raise from his testimonial year
Duncan Ferguson paid a visit to Zoe's Place – to hand over a £10,000 car paid for by funds raised from his testimonial year. Everton hero Ferguson popped in to the baby hospice on Monday to meet the staff and children at the centre in West Derby. He handed the keys to the car, which will be used to enable the children and parents to get to and from the centre. Ferguson has been donating funds from his testimonial year to several good causes. The former Scotland international was awarded a testimonial in recognition for his two spells at the club as a player, and his role on the backroom staff where he is now first-team coach.
Everton's John Stones turns from apprentice to master for Blues youngsters
4 May 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Centre-back reveals growing maturity by assuming mentor role
John Stones has been helping Everton's emerging stars make the step up to the first team
John Stones has revealed his growing maturity after becoming a mentor to Everton’s emerging players.
The Blues have handed Premier League debuts to Callum Connolly, Tom Davies and Matthew Pennington recently and Stones has been helping them make the next step up. Stones made his senior debut for Everton in August 2013 but with Phil Jagielka out injured and Ramiro Funes Mori suspended, the 21-year-old has been forced to adopt the role of experienced head at the back.
And the England international has enjoyed passing on advice. “I was over the moon for them,” Stones said of Connolly and Davies’ debuts. “When Callum and Tom came on, I was just telling them to relax and play their game because they deserve to be there and that’s why they were on the pitch.
“I know there will have been a few nerves; we’ve all been there, coming on for the first time.
“But as soon as they came on I thought they looked like they’d played a lot of games at that level, so credit to them. “That’s what I wanted to feel - I wanted that advice off an experienced pro when I first got on the pitch, so I took that and gave them the advice that was short and simple really. Matthew Pennington made his Premier League debut for Everton at centre-back alongside John Stones on Saturday “They don’t want to be hearing too much off everyone and a few simple words can calm nerves. “I hope I did that.” Everton will be without Jagielka and Funes Mori again for this weekend’s trip to newly-crowned champions Leicester City at the King Power Stadium. Stones is likely to line-up alongside Pennington, who was named man of the match in Saturday’s win over Bournemouth.
Everton players enjoy Chester races day out - in pictures
4 May 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Ian Doyle
Phil Jagielka, Tim Howard and Gareth Barry among those to take in an afternoon at the Roodee
Everton's players were out and about today – taking in the afternoon at Chester races.
A group of Blues stars were at the Roodee for today's Betway Chester Cup Day. Among those present were skipper Phil Jagielka and his wife Emily, Gareth Barry and wife Louise, and Darron Gibson with wife Danielle. Also pictured were goalkeeper Tim Howard – who will leave the club at the end of the season to join MLS side Colorado Rapids – along with centre-back John Stones and Goodison stalwarts Tony Hibbert and Leon Osman. The Everton players will be back at Finch Farm tomorrow morning to continue their preparations for Saturday's Premier League match at newly-crowned Premier League champions Leicester City.
Sheedy's pride at Everton U18s after title-decider thriller
4 May 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Ian Doyle
Young Blues narrowly miss out after 4-4 draw with Manchester City
Nathan Broadhead scored for Everton under-18s in their 4-4 draw with Manchester City
Kevin Sheedy expressed his pride at Everton under-18s after they narrowly failed to keep alive their hopes of lifting the championship. The young Blues twice fought back from behind but were ultimately held to a 4-4 draw at Finch Farm by Manchester City on Tuesday evening, a result which handed the title to the visitors. Everton were ahead at the interval after goals from Nathan Holland and Nathan Broadhead had cancelled out Jaden Sancho’s opener. But City struck back with three quickfire goals through Lukas Nmecha, Tom Dele-Bashiru and Aaron Nemane before Holland again and the Callum Lees capped a fine fightback and ensured a share of the spoils.
“The lads gave everything they’ve got and more,” said U18s coach Sheedy. “I couldn’t be more proud of them. “Sometimes, yes, you do want to win the league, but the way they’ve conducted themselves and the effort and commitment they put in – I’m delighted with them. “We are also delighted with some of the individual performances tonight. Nathan Holland was absolutely outstanding. He was the best player on the pitch, he scored two fantastic goals and his work-rate was excellent. “Overall, there are lots of good things to look back on and ultimately it’s about the players’ development and they’ve certainly got better since the start of the season.”
Everton starlets to face Benfica, Celtic and Real Sociedad this summer
4 May 2016 Liverpoop Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Blues invited to take part in U21 version of SuperCupNI - formerly known as the Milk Cup
Everton under-21s will take part in a prestigious summer tournament as part of a ramped-up pre-season schedule. David Unsworth’s side are one of the four teams in the SuperCupNI - formerly known as the Milk Cup - in Northern Ireland. The tournament has launched an U21 section for the first time and Everton will face Benfica, Celtic and Real Sociedad. The SuperCupNI takes place between July 24-29 and will form the centrepiece of the Blues’ preparations for the 2016-17 season.
Unsworth has confirmed that Everton are exploring the possibility of lining up friendlies with Football League opposition. Last summer, the Everton second string faced non-league sides such as Burscough, Southport and Tranmere but Unsworth wants to test his talented U21 group further this pre-season.
“Pre-season will maybe go up a notch,” Unsworth said. “We are going to keep ramping it up a gear, even if it’s just five or 10%.” Everton are in the final of the Lancashire Senior Cup and the semi-final of the Liverpool Senior Cup but have yet to receive dates for these ties.
Everton 'greedy for more' as youth development moves ahead of schedule
4 May 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Kieran Dowell latest of increasingly long line of youngsters to make first-team grade - and Unsworth says there's more to come
Kieran Dowell replaces Ross Barkley to come on for his Premier League debut against Bournemouth on Saturday Everton believe Kieran Dowell’s Premier League debut is proof their youth development programme is ahead of schedule. But the club are refusing to allow the pace of producing homegrown talent to drop. Blues’ under-21s boss David Unsworth has helped guide nine players from the second string into the first-team in his two years as manager. Six youngsters have graduated from the Academy and made their Premier League debuts with Dowell and Matthew Pennington the latest to play in the top flight for the Blues. Unsworth had set a target of “seven or eight” graduates when he took over from Alan Stubbs in the summer of 2014 and is now eyeing yet more to come through. Everton’s U21s finished off an impressive campaign with a 0-0 draw at Chelsea on Monday night, which extended their unbeaten run to six games. “The players have been outstanding and are getting so many plaudits, and quite rightly so, but they are getting them as a group,” Unsworth buzzed. “I always say that if the group is strong then the individuals in that group will shine. “When I got the job two years ago I said that if we don’t seven or eight through then we are failing. “That is what we looked at two years ago and this group have been successful together and we can get more through. “We still want more, that is the greedy side of doing my job.” Five of Everton’s Academy made their senior bows in the Europa League dead-rubber in 2014, and Unsworth said: “The Krasnodar game was pretty special when the manager decided to go that way, and there’s also been Brendan Galloway and Matty Pennington and then we had Kieran Dowell, Tom Davies and Callum Connolly - those are big numbers. “It was something I wanted to do when I got the job at Preston and something I wanted to do when I got the job here.
“Getting one or two through is great but when you get big numbers like that it is really, really powerful.”
He added: “We know that our top players, when they get an opportunity with the first-team, they won’t let anybody down. “When they got the opportunity it is then up to them.”
Everton View from the Gwladys St: 'Majority of fans feel Martinez's time is up'
4 May 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Ian Doyle
Flying banner was 'a little cheesy' though
For this week's View from the Gwladys Street, we speak to Blues fan Kyle Anderson.
Demonstrations. Flyovers. The manager being berated after the match before heading home. Does everything point to the end of the road for Roberto Martinez? It certainly seems that way but I don’t agree with the banner hovering above the stadium before the Bournemouth game, a little cheesy to be honest. I think it's quite clear that the majority of the fans feel that his time is up including myself although it was only after Christmas that my patience eventually ran out.
Are you a bit perturbed we've not heard anything from the club so far, whether that be backing the manager or not? I think the board is now well aware that there is a lot to do to get the fans back on side, it would not surprise me that something is in motion behind the scenes. I would suggest that once the final game is out of the way with, an announcement would be made just after.
Leicester on Saturday. What are your feelings at seeing them win the league? Can Everton learn anything from it? If there is ever an example of hard work and team spirit prevailing, Leicester are it. Something we are sadly lacking at present, it all good and well having the talent in the squad but if you're not going to play as a team with the togetherness Leicester have shown you won't get very far as we have proven this season. I couldn’t help but look on with envy watching the Leicester players celebrate in Jamie Vardy's house after the Spurs game and wishing that was us. I am delighted for them and well deserved too. Wags have been saying Everton will probably concede from the guard of honour at the King Power on Saturday. Has the Blues defence been the problem this season, or is it something else? 100%, we have probably been one of the easiest teams to play against at Goodison this season and that is something you don’t associate with Everton. There is no question that our home form has been our biggest downfall this season as well as too many individual mistakes being made, overall we just haven’t performed as a team and had no backbone about us all season.
It's a time for reflection. Is this really the best Everton squad of a generation?
In terms of the talent we have, I believe it is the best squad we have had for some time. You only have to look from back to front and they are full of internationals who are regularly picked for their national teams, we never used to have that a few years back. But I will say it again if the manager is not getting the best out of them then there is clearly an issue somewhere down the line. The closing date for fans to guarantee their season ticket seats passed this week. Have you got one, and have you renewed?
I haven’t yet renewed mine, biggest reason for this is because of the manager. I am just not convinced any more he is the right man for the job and in particular playing at home the atmosphere amongst the fans is probably the worst I have experienced this season, no effort, no passion, no togetherness and the biggest disappointment of all no expectation to even at home which quite frankly is just unimaginable.
Finally, any other business?
I would just like to state on record that I think Roberto has come across a really decent person but unfortunately the 'incredibles' and 'phenomenals' wear off in the end! I don’t think his style of football is suited to the Premier League, he is a Spanish manager all day long. If he does go at the end of the season, I wish him all the best for the future.
Everton: Ross Barkley wants to team up with Dele Alli
4 May 2016 Livewrpool Echo
By Chris Beesley
Blues midfielder eyes youthful midfield partnership
Everton midfielder Ross Barkley wants to team up with Dele Alli.
The Blues ace hopes to forge a youthful partnership with the Tottenham Hotspur man in England's engine room throughout this summer's European Championship finals. Barkley, now 22, burst on to the scene at Goodison when he was just 17 while has also become a teenage Premier League star during his debut season at White Hart Lane, turning 20 last month. “I definitely believe we can play together if asked, in this tournament and in the future”, said Barkley. “It’s up to Roy what he sees in each game, whether he needs both of us or one attacking midfielder with a bit of balance. “Dele’s done really well. He is a great lad and has settled into the squad easily. “He scored a great goal against France and that allowed him to go into all of the other games with a lot more belief.” Barkley has netted 12 goals for Everton this season, providing eight assists while he has also bagged two strikes for England this term.
He told FourFourTwo magazine: “I bring a no-fear approach of trying to create something, trying to get a shot away. “If we are under the cosh in a game, then creating something out of nothing and getting a goal, or taking someone on and creating a chance can help build momentum for the team.”
Meanwhile, Barkley has tipped Everton team-mate John Stones to become a mainstay of the national team. He added: “John will probably play for England for the next 15 years and reach over 100 caps.”
Everton transfer rumours: Blues chasing Ligue 1 hotshot, face Monaco battle for Mandanda
5 May 2016 Liverpoool Echo
By Neil Jones
A French special in today's transfer gossip column, bringing you all the latest from around the web
It's a Ligue 1 special today on the rumour mill, as Everton apparently look to add some Gallic flair to their ranks next season. It'll cost them, mind. Cost them £15m, according to Le10 Sport, who reckon the Blues are in for Marseille winger Georges-Kevin Nkoudou. Never heard of him? He's a French U21 international who has enjoyed a stellar first season with Marseille after joining from Nantes. He was born in Versailles, and is tipped as a future senior international. And Arsenal are supposed to be keen, too. Which means he might be quite good.
Elsewhere in Ligue 1 (and in Marseille, actually) links with Steve Mandanda have been persistent for a good few months now, but reports across the Channel suggest Everton will face competition from Monaco for the 31-year-old goalkeeper. Although why anyone would want to live tax-free in Monte Carlo is anyone's guess, as far as I'm concerned.
Everton won't copy Leicester City says Roberto Martinez
5 May 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
Everton boss Roberto Martinez insists he won't try and follow style of new champions Leicester
Roberto Martinez insists Everton won't copy Leicester City's style of play - and suspects their stunning Premier League title win won't be repeated easily. The Blues face Claudio Ranieri's newly-crowned Champions at the Kingpower Stadium on Saturday, and will form the customary guard of honour before the Foxes are presented with the title after the game. Leicester have won plaudits for their economical counter attacking style of play, in marked contrast to the possession game favoured by Martinez and other teams such as Arsenal. But asked whether he thinks other clubs will now change to become more like Ranieri's outfit the Catalan said: "I don’t think clubs work at what others are doing, you have your own structure, plan and process. "Everyone will have an opinion, but I just see it as an inspirational example, to be celebrated. You haven’t seen a story like Leicester in the Premier League.
"It’s an interesting debate. It’s an incredible achievement. You can see it as the exception, or as something that changes the landscape. It's too early to say. "It’s a great inspiration for any team sport, to dream high. But you need to be realistic. It won’t be repeated easily.
Ross Barkleyin action with Leicester at Goodison
Leicester's celebrations started on Monday night when Chelsea held title contenders Tottenham Hotspur to a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge, meaning they couldn't catch the Midlanders at the top.
And Martinez reckons it could have an affect on their performance on Saturday. “They're deserved champions” he said. "But any celebrations have to affect your performance. “It has been a remarkable journey for Ranieri and his man to maintain their intensity and concentration. They’re a real inspiration not just in football but in sport. It has been a fairytale in the modern game. ”Ranieri deserves incredible credit and plaudits. Everything has been well measured, showed good experience to protect the squad. What Leicester has achieved is an incredible reward and a deserved reward in probably the most competitive league. "It’s no accident."
Martin O'Neill favourite for Everton job say bookies - and Kevin Kilbane
5 May 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
Republic of Ireland boss touted as the most likely to take over at Everton if Martinez is sacked
Martin O'Neill is currently the bookies favourite to take over from Roberto Martinez at Everton
Martin O'Neill is the bookies favourite to take over if Roberto Martinez is sacked by Everton - and ex-Blue Kevin Kilbane believes the Goodison job would suit him. Uncertainty remains over Martinez's future as a desperately disappointing season draws to a close with no comment from the Toffees board.
And bookmakers have installed former Aston Villa and Sunderland manager O'Neill, 64, as the favourite to succeed the Catalan, with Bet Victor offering 13/8. The nearest other contender is Southampton manager Ronald Koeman, who Betfair rate as 3/1 - but a spokesman for Boylesports went as far to say O'Neill is "nailed on." Liam Glynn, BoyleSports’ spokesman said: "With the support that we have seen for Martin O’Neill to replace Martinez at Goodison Park in the past 48hours it now looks like the current Republic Of Ireland manager is nailed on for the job. Martin O'Neill manager of the Republic of Ireland talks to Seamus Coleman during a Euro 2016 Group D Qualifier last year “We have laid O’Neill at 10/1, 5/1 and 2/1 and despite cutting him into Evens he is still seeing support. David Moyes could see himself back into another sticky situation if he was to return to Goodison Park, but so far his current price of 6/1 isn’t attracting support as its all one way traffic for O’Neill.” And former Republic of Ireland midfielder Kilbane , who spent three years at Goodison, believes O'Neill would be a good fit, especially as the Football Association of Ireland have been unable to get O’Neill to put pen to paper since qualifying for the European Championships with his contract due to expire this summer. Last week O’Neill hinted that he would wait until the end of Euro 2016 before deciding on his future.
Everton winger Gerard Deulofeu to avoid surgery after Oumar Niasse clash ends season
5 May 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Everton star suffered knee ligament damage after accident in training last week
Everton's Gerard Deulofeu was hurt in a collision with Oumar Niasse
Everton remain confident Gerard Deulofeu will not require surgery on his season-ending knee injury.
The 22-year-old suffered a grade one tear of his medial knee ligament after a freak training ground accident with Oumar Niasse last Friday. Deulofeu missed the win over Bournemouth at Goodison and Roberto Martinez has confirmed that he is highly unlikely to play again before the end of the season.
Everton have told the former Barcelona winger to focus on returning to full-fitness ahead of pre-season in July after he came off worse in a tackle for the ball at Finch Farm last week.
“At the moment, no,” Martinez said when asked if Deulofeu would require an operation.
“But it is a tender area. Everytime he kicks the ball, he opens up that area.”
The Everton boss added: “Him and Niasse had a clash, a very accidental challenge for the ball and he opened his knee up. “The medial ligament normally gets effected when the inside of the foot gets a lot of strain and then the knee opens up. “It is difficult (to put a time frame on his return) but I would still be confident that probably mid-May he will be fine but the Norwich game is probably a little too early.”
Everton at near full strength for training ahead of Leicester City trip
5 May 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Everton's prospects on fitness front looking up after Finch Farm session
Everton were at near full strength for training today ahead of the weekend's clash with champions Leicester City. Only Gerard Deulofeu (knee ligaments) was absent from the session at Finch Farm this morning as the Blues look to finish a disappointing season with an upturn in form. Gareth Barry and Phil Jagielka are unlikely to be fit to face Leicester on Saturday or Sunderland on Wednesday night but Roberto Martinez is hoping to have them back for the final day of the season, when the Blues host Norwich City. Seamus Coleman, who has been out since mid-April, also took part in the session as did Uruguayan striker Leandro Rodriguez. A clutch of Everton's young players, including Kieran Dowell, Tom Davies and Courtney Duffus, were involved as well.
Everton tell Oumar Niasse he must toughen up to cope with Premier League refs
5 May 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Niasse won't get as much protection from referees says Martinez
Oumar Niasse won't get the same protection from refs in England as he did in Russia
Oumar Niasse has been told he will receive less protection from referees in England than he did in Russia. The £13.5m January signing has struggled to adapt to life in the English game but started his first match for Everton last weekend. Niasse lasted an hour against Bournemouth at Goodison yet remains well off the pace as he strives for full fitness. The 26-year-old striker arrived from Lokomotiv Moscow with a wrist injury and having not played since early December but now appears to be making some progress. Roberto Martinez had hoped the Senegal international would be up to speed by mid-late February but last month admitted it would be a “bonus” if Niasse featured again before the end of the season. The Blues boss believes last weekend’s appearance represented a “very good step” but says Niasse still has to get used to the rigours of the league - and the referees. “It is more the tempo of the game, the physicality of the game in general. The referees allowing more contact a bit more. Attacking players get a bit more protection in other leagues but that’s normal, that’s what a foreign player has to go through when they come to the Premier League in general,” Martinez says.
“Oumar had to find that physical element. He has always been a very physical player and powerful player that can use spaces really, really well and when he arrived he was at the back of six weeks without playing with his previous team and his individual situation was very much specific and, now, he is in a completely different position. “He has been working really, really well and got the benefit of that work and the 60 minutes at the weekend have given him an incredible feel and appetite of wanting to carry on helping the team. “He is in a good frame of mind now.”
City have the third meanest defence in the division this season but Martinez insists he won’t shy away from handing Niasse a second start of his Blues career. “In football, as a manager, you have to assess what you see and Oumar had a very good step with his first start and first 60 minutes in the Premier League, showing positive signs that he is getting ready for that battle and that physical battle,” he said.
“You can’t just anticipate what is going to happen in many ways, Oumar has been working really, really hard behind the scenes and you cannot replicate what you get in a football game and in a match environment. “What he did on Saturday was to show you that he is desperate to fight for his place, desperate to help the team and desperate to achieve his dream. His dream was to play for Everton and probably that dream was also at Goodison. “But it is more about where he is every single game and every single week of work and assessing where he is personally, rather than the opposition we will be playing.”
Everton: Oumar Niasse still looks well short says Kevin Ratcliffe
5 May 2016 Liverpool Echo
You shouldn't be taking a punt on a £13million striker
We finally got a decent look at Oumar Niasse against Bournemouth but I’m afraid the lad still looks well short of the mark at the moment. Hopefully he can come good next season - it’s sometimes amazing what a proper pre-season can do for you - but I think he has found that the fitness levels required for the Premier League are somewhat more demanding to what he was used to in Russia. I’m not sure what Niasse’s strengths and weaknesses are as a player or what he’s been like in training but I’ve seen first hand players who have been brilliant on the training pitch but just down’t deliver on match day.
If you’re Everton you shouldn’t be taking a punt on a player if you’re going to pay £13.5million on them.
I’d have hoped for that kind of money that they’d actually watched him play in the flesh and you’ve got to question just how detailed they’ve been in scouting him. If they’ve only watched a DVD then that’s poor because it’s like getting a pop group’s Greatest Hits, they’re not going to put the rubbish in there.
Everton have always cherished their centre-forwards but they expect great things of them too, whether they’re wearing the famous number nine jersey or not. There’s a lot of weight being carried on Niasse’s shoulders because he’s following in the footsteps of the greats. Romelu Lukaku has proven that he’s up there with some of the best that we’ve had at Goodison but now Niasse must try and do the same.
It’s interesting that they have at least potentially identified where he needs to improve with Roberto Martinez telling him he needs to toughen up. That might not sound encouraging but it does give the player and club something to work on. Lineker in his kecks on Match of the Day? I thought he did that already! So Gary Lineker says that he’s going to present Match of the Day in his underpants now Leicester City have won the Premier League - I thought he always did that anyway! I also heard that Lineker reckoned that he wouldn’t have wasted a pound on betting on Leicester to win the league at the start of the season and it just goes to show what a big shock it has been. It’s another guard of honour for Everton to perform and I think we’ve done more of them than anyone else but what Leicester have done is an absolute bonus for everyone in the Premier League and it’s a truly historic achievement.
They’ve kept their work rate up for the entire season from start to finish. Could any other manager have done better with that group of players?
Blues will be out to spoil the party
At least Everton’s trip to Leicester means they won’t be last on Match of the Day for once and they’ve got to go to the King Power Stadium and try and spoil the party. Although there’s nothing riding on this particular game, we can still have a massive say in the relegation battle with our last two matches coming against Sunderland and Norwich City. It’s good for our players to be involved in such high profile matches at this stage of the season because given that we no longer have anything to play for, there could have been a danger that our lads might have just cruised through the last couple of weeks and ended up with egg on their faces. I don’t have a preference out of whom I’d like to stay up but we could shape the destiny of a few sides.
Everton transfer rumours: Another giant Belgian transfer for Blues?
6 May 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Chris Beesley
Bjorn Engels, Club Brugge
Everton could be planning yet another giant Belgian transfer with the Blues reportedly eyeing a move for Bjorn Engels. The Club Brugge centre-back has compared himself to current Goodison defender John Stones and Het Laatste Nieuws say that Everton have watched him several times.
Everton's two biggest signings - £28million Romelu Lukaku and £15million Marouane Fellaini – are both Belgians and like that pair Engels, is also a giant of a man, standing 6ft 4in tall.
The 21-year-old says it would be a dream for him to play in the Premier League and coincidently his surname Engels means 'English' in Flemish. A Tweet from HLN's correspondent in England Kristof Terreur had a quote attributed to Engels declaring: “I recognise a bit of myself in John Stones. Similar in height, in stature, and also a defender who's looking to play out from the back. “Comfortable with the ball at his feet, strong in the air, occasionally scoring a goal. I look at him when he's playing. What's he doing? How is he positioning himself on the pitch?”
Meanwhile, off the pitch, Paul Merson believes that Roberto Martinez is in his final weeks as Everton manager and has named the man he expects the Blues to target to replace the Catalan.
Speaking to the SkySports Fantasy Football Club podcast, the former Arsenal midfielder has earmarked Southampton's Ronald Koeman as the ideal candidate. Merson said: “I don't think it will be long [until Martinez goes]. But he's a good manager, he will do well abroad. I think they may go for someone like Koeman.”
Leicester v Everton Behind Enemy Lines: Midfield is Blues biggest weakness
6 May 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Chris Beesley
Club has young talent but Gareth Barry can't go on forever
For this week's Behind Enemy Lines we speak to Leicester City fan Matt Palf (@MattPalfFP) who is feature writer, editor and draft analyst for @FootyProphet. Matt has had to enjoy the Foxes' historic Premier League triumph this season from afar as he is now based 10,500 miles away from the King Power Stadium in Melbourne. Firstly, what has the reaction been to Leicester winning the league over in Australia and how does it feel being over there when they've done it? It's been amazing to see how Leicester City have become more and more recognised as the season has progressed. I remember getting excited when a small column in the papers mentioned the club at the start of the year, yet by the end they have been getting nearly a full page in the sports section. For me personally, while it's been nice being almost a minor celebrity with the amount of congratulations I've been getting, it doesn't make up for not being there - homesick doesn't nearly describe it.
Most people outside the club are debating whether this is the biggest upset in the history of English football, what's your take on it?
Without a doubt! I don't think anyone even within the club thought this was going to happen. No sporting event in history has been won by a contender who started at 5000-1, so I'd go as far as saying it's one of the biggest upsets in the history of sport.
Everyone asks about Leicester's 'secret'. Is there one as such?
Apart from the two players in one that is N'Golo Kante, I don't think it's a secret as such.
It has been a combination of the right people in the right place at the right time.
A lot of that has to go down to the scouting staff, who have found players with the technical abilities and personalities to form a cohesive and efficient team - with team being the most important word.
Add to that some amazing luck with injuries and we find ourselves where we are.
Arguably, much of Claudio Ranieri's success has been down to him learning from his experience at Chelsea and adapting his methods. Do you think this is where Roberto Martinez has struggled at Everton with accusations of stubbornness and an inability to change his playing style?
Focusing on a particular playing style isn't a bad thing, but it needs patience. Nigel Pearson spent four years building Leicester around a traditional 4-4-2 formation. When Ranieri came in he recognised this and worked with it, and brought the experience of a manager that had been a runner up four times in three of the biggest leagues in world football. There's no doubt that Ranieri's influence took Leicester to where they are now, but it was a squad that was mainly built by a very stubborn manager we had for the four years prior. Just as Leicester have greatly exceeded expectations, how do you view Everton's current position given the players they possess in their squad? I think what Leicester have proved this year is that with with a plan, a unit that works for one another and a little luck and belief, then anything is possible. Everton have some really talented young players such as Ross Barkley, Romelu Lukaku and Ramiro Funes Mori, and Brendan Galloway looks a real talent, but players such Gareth Barry can't go on forever and don't have any real successors in waiting. I think the midfield is Everton's biggest weakness.
Action from Leicester City's game with Everton at Goodison Park in December
Is this just a glorious one-off, or do you think Leicester's triumph gives genuine hope in the future for those outside the Premier League's moneyed elite such as Everton?
I think it will be a tough ask to replicate this next year.
As I said, it was a right place, right time situation. I think I speak on behalf of any Leicester fan though when I say that what has happened this year is all I could have ever dreamed of. Whatever happens from now on will never take away from us the fact that we were Premier League Champions 2015/16 (It even made me laugh typing that).
Kieran Dowell thanks Everton fans for their help after Premier League debut
6 May 2016 Liverpool ERcho
By Phil Kirkbride
Academy star admits to feeling nervous before making first appearance
Kieran Dowell has thanked the Everton fans for helping to settle his debut nerves.
The talented teenager made his Premier League bow as a late substitute against Bournemouth last weekend. Dowell had already enjoyed a taste for first-team action, playing in last season’s Europa League dead-rubber against Krasnodar, but says playing in the league meant more to him.The 18-year-old admitted to feeling nervous as he stood on the touchline but says the welcome he received from the Goodison faithful settled him down. “Obviously there’s nerves, you are a bit anxious about what’s going to happen,” Dowell said. “But once I started warming up and the crowd gave me a good reception, it made it a lot easier for me. And the players helped as well.” Dowell says fellow Academy graduate Ross Barkley, who he replaced in the game, offered him plenty of sound advice during the build-up to the game. “Ross Barkley has been through it and been on the same path I’m going through so he gave me a few little tips,” Dowell said. “He knows the score and knows how I feel, so he has been good with me.” Dowell is expected to be named in the squad for tomorrow’s game at champions Leicester City and though the eyes of the world will be on the King Power Stadium, the Ormskirk teen is only interested in impressing those at Everton. “We don’t just want to go there and let them enjoy themselves. We want to win and put a bit of a downer on it, if that makes sense,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to the game, it’s going to be a big occasion and hopefully we will enjoy it.
“Any opportunity I get, it’s the people in the club you want to impress. Yes, it’s on Sky and everyone will be watching, but I just want to impress the people who matter. “I’m happy to be in and around the first team towards the end of the season and I’m trying to take any opportunity I will get.”
Why Everton won't be experimenting with John Stones in midfield
6 May 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Defender has range of passing and comfortable in possession - but he's staying where he is
Everton won’t be experimenting with John Stones in midfield anytime soon, says Roberto Martinez.
Blues fans have debated whether the 21-year-old could swap his centre-half role for a more advanced position. But Everton boss Martinez insists he his best deployed in defence despite his range of passing and comfort in possession. “In the modern game, you have footballers with that technical ability and you can play them in many different positions but John’s best position is centre-half and he is someone that, for me now, looks refreshed. “It has been a tough season for everyone but especially for John for the amount of games he had to play early on. “It’s 28 starts in the Premier League, at the age of 21, he has never played that amount of minutes in his career, his body has to adapt and he looks refreshed and looks ready to finish the season strong. England manager Roy Hodgson has mulled over the idea of playing Stones in midfield, saying earlier this year: “I brought the subject up with him.
“Have you ever played there [midfield]?”
“How would you feel about it?
“He said, as you’d expect, that he could do that job.”
Stones could line-up alongside Matthew Pennington at centre-half again tomorrow as Everton head for champions Leicester City (5:30pm). The Blues are without injured captain Phil Jagielka and Ramiro Funes Mori, who serves the last of his three game ban.
Why Everton striker Leandro Rodriguez must come through a full pre-season
6 May 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Blues striker has managed just a few minutes of first-team action in injury-blighted campaign
Everton need Leandro Rodriguez to come through a full pre-season before assessing his first-team chances. The 23-year-old striker has managed just five minutes for the Blues’ senior side after joining from River Plate Montevideo in September. Rodriguez scored in his opening two games for the under-21s but his hamstring problems began in late October. The £500,000 signing managed to get fit just before Christmas and made his first-team debut as a last minute substitute against Dagenham and Redbridge in January’s FA Cup third round tie at Goodison. And in March, Everton secured Rodriguez a month long loan with Championship side Brentford where he was lined up to play seven games.
But half-way through the Uruguayan’s stint with the Bees, he injured his hamstring again and returned to Everton. Asked if Rodriguez had encountered similar problems as Oumar Niasse in trying to adapt to English football, Martinez said: “Leandro has been different. “Leandro has picked up a lot of soft tissue injuries which is a sign when you have to change the physical requirements of a league and the intensity work you need in this league. “He is still a young man, that his body is still developing and Leandro will need a full pre-season now before we can see where he is. “His period with Brentford was a real shame because he picked up an injury when those games were very good for him. “He played against Blackburn for 90 minutes and played just before 45 minutes against Nottingham Forest where he got injured and those seven games programme for him in the Championship was what he needed.
“Leandro is still a very young man, he is a goal-scorer but in order to get in the positions he normally gets he needs to get that physicality and I feel that after next pre-season we will know exactly where Leandro is.” Everton have looked to guard against January recruit Shani Tarashaj suffering a similar fate to Rodriguez by checking up on their £3m purchase. The Swiss playmaker was loaned back to Grasshopper Zurich for the rest of the season but was at Finch Farm last month to undergo medical tests ahead of joining the Blues in the summer.
Everton: I prefer proper defenders to players without a defined position - Horne
6 May 2016 Liverpool Echo
Hibbert showed why he's still a master of his craft
There were two Everton players at either end of their careers who caught my eye in the Bournemouth game and they were Tony Hibbert and Matthew Pennington. Maybe it would be a little bit naughty to name him as man of the match but half-time substitute Tony Hibbert really impressed me.
Hibbo has been out of action for so long and the older you get, the harder it is to go straight back into the team because your power and your reflexes go but what we saw from him was a demonstration in the art of defending. He’s not as quick as John Stones who was playing alongside him or even Pennington but his positioning and timing of his tackles was excellent and he hardly gave the ball away.
At the other end of the age spectrum there was the aforementioned Pennington who was starting a Premier League game for the first time. While he was found lacking somewhat for Bournemouth’s goal, he reacted well to that initial error and produced a fine debut. He’s been at Everton since he was a young boy but has benefited from judicious periods out on loan to play competitive football.
As for Oumar Niasse, let’s just say the jury is very much out on him.
When Everton pay £13.5million on a 26-year-old you’re expecting him to come in and play straight away. I’m also concerned when I hear that Niasse is described as an attacking midfielder/forward.
That suggests to me they’re not pretty enough to be a winger, not disciplined or aggressive enough to be a traditional midfielder and not sharp enough to be a striker. Although Niasse had one or two nice touches later on, he didn’t effect the game in any significant way.
Football still taking a back seat to off-the-field matters
The overriding feeling coming away from Goodison Park last weekend had nothing to do with football.
While prompted, the period of applause for the Hillsborough families was also a spontaneous act and you felt it could go on forever. When the game actually kicked off, it felt incidental. In other ways, this Saturday’s game at Leicester City also has that feel about it. If Everton still needed the points to stay clear of danger then you’d be rubbing your hands with glee. Going to play at the home of a team who has just clinched the title against all the odds would be set up as an away banker. As it is, the start will be great with the guard of honour and the reception for the Leicester team; the end will be great when they get the trophy and without being too flippant, I’m not sure if anyone is that bothered about what happens in between. There was a lot of talk last weekend that Roberto Martinez might field a few youngsters but we didn’t see too many. Maybe now with that victory under his belt, this is an oppportunity.
Decision on Steven Pienaar's Everton future must wait until end of season
6 May 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Roberto Martinez refusing to look at new contracts for players until games completed
Roberto Martinez is adamant that Steven Pienaar’s future will not be resolved until the end of the season. The 34-year-old is out of contract this summer and says he would like to finish his career in South Africa. Pienaar is one of five senior players out of contract at the end of the season and Martinez insists the future of all those players will be decided once the Premier League season is over - and no sooner. Former Ajax and Borussia Dortmund man Pienaar said he had yet to make a decision on his future but said would like to return home before calling time on his career. “It is a period now where we need to concentrate on the next three games and at the end of the season we will review the playing squad and review every player that is out of contract and Stevie P is in that group,” Martinez said.
Pienaar, who has endured two injury-ravaged seasons, was not in the matchday squad for last weekend’s win over Bournemouth at Goodison. But Martinez is hopeful of having the veteran available for selection for the final three games of the season. “He should be fit to be considered for the squad. He has been working now for a good period and he should be available for selection,” the Blues boss added.
Royal Blue: Why Everton need to unearth a 21st century Dave Watson
7 May 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Former skipper a throwback to days when defenders were feared
Walking underneath the new stand at Anfield on derby night, an Evertonian spotted a familiar face.
It may have been 15 years since he last played the game but he still walked around at his fighting weight, lean and in shape. “Now there’s a proper defender” the Blues fan said.
He had spotted Dave Watson.
The former Everton captain walked past and into the ground to take his seat for the 226th Merseyside derby. What he witnessed would have sent a shiver down his spine as the Blues unravelled at an alarming and shocking rate. Sure, Watson lost derby matches but never was he part of a side to suffer such a comprehensive thrashing at the hands of Liverpool.
But he’s from a different era at Goodison.
A time and mindset when the defenders were just that, players whose focus was to stop the opposition, not to try and take the them on. Evertonians have been bred on defenders such as Watson, such as Kevin Ratcliffe, Brian Labone and more - and it’s what they are used to seeing. They expect their side to be as tough as anyone around, drilled and organised and as hard to beat as they can possibly be.
Goodison doesn’t want to see uncultured brutes but they long for their defence to be feared once again.
And with three games to go this term, it is highly likely that the Blues will reach a half century for goals conceded for a second successive season, seasons in which they have been well off the pace in the race for Europe. It won’t surprise you to learn that the Premier League’s five meanest defences belong to the teams in the top five positions. Tonight, Everton face the third meanest and one that has been built on a core of, well, proper defenders. Robert Huth will be missing as Leicester City get their hands on the Premier League trophy but he and Wes Morgan tick so many of the boxes you’d want checking off the list. Strong, good at winning headers, brave and tough in the tackle they have been the bouncers at the door to the Jamie Vardy party. That’s not to say Everton don’t have any of that in their side, Phil Jagielka is cut from that cloth and the way he put his body (and head) on the line at Wembley typified his character. It’s just that they don’t have enough of it. It’s just that they are too easy to play against.
John Stones has the potential to have everything, the ability to defend well but also to be that modern centre-half who plays out from the back, but he’s special, a rarity even, and he’s also still learning the game. Ramiro Funes Mori is new to the league, one week impressive and the other less so, and then that’s it. Everton are currently relying on talented but unproven youngsters such as Matty Pennington, who could start at the King Power Stadium this evening. And so Everton must enter the start of next season with at least four senior centre-halves but add only the defenders in the Watson, Ratcliffe and Labone mould because now is the time to return to basics at the back. Rediscover what Blues’ defences are meant to represent, how they are meant to be and the way they are supposed to defend.
The proper way.
Make sure you find your way home from Leicester
Leicester City have left the rest of the Premier League behind this season.
But they are at least making sure Everton fans don’t find themselves stranded tonight.
The Foxes have released some handy travel information for those heading home by road.
City said: “A new bridge is currently under construction and as a result, the M1 will be closed in both directions between junction 21 and 22 from 9pm on Saturday 7 May until 11am on Sunday 8 May.
“Those attending the fixture are asked to factor this closure into their travel plans in plenty of time so as to avoid delays. The M69 slip road onto the M1 northbound, the A46 from its junction with the A50 to where it merges with the M1 and Leicester Forest East service station will also be closed overnight during the work. “Diversion routes for local journeys include the A563, Leicester outer ring road, and the A50. Motorists travelling from further afield will be directed onto the M6 or M69, and M42/A42.”
For further information visit www.leicestershire.gov.uk/M1closure , email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0116 305 0001.
For live traffic updates follow @ATCLeicester on Twitter.
Read more at http://www.lcfc.com/news/article/important-travel-information-everton-3095339.aspx#AH2Dt06wSuwIDB1k.99
Recipe for success at Blues
The head chef at Goodison is in the running for a top award.
Gareth Billington, executive head chef at the home of the Blues, has been shortlisted in the People’s Choice category of the Craft Guild of Chefs awards. Gareth made the finals after being nominated by chefs across the UK and will now join more than 700 of the industry’s elite for the awards presentations at a gala dinner at the Lancaster London on Wednesday, June 1.
“It is a genuine honour to be a finalist in these awards,” Gareth, said.
“As it is always very special to achieve recognition from my peers within the industry.
“I know I will be up against some steep competition from the other finalists, but may the best man, or woman, win.” As well as providing match and non-match day hospitality for the thousands who head for Goodison each year, the father of two has provided the catering at events such as Royal Ascot, the Olympics and Paralympic Games 2012.
Everton transfer rumours: Blues linked with Sporting Lisbon striker
7 May 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Joe Rimmer
A round-up of transfer rumours and speculation from around the web
Islam SLIMANI, Algeria Sunday, June 15, 2014
Everton have been linked with a move for Sporting Lisbon striker Islam Slimani on many occasions - and, according to reports in Portugal today, the Blues are one of a number of clubs who will compete for his signature in the summer. And the forward, who has notched 30 goals this term, has failed to commit his long-term future to the Portuguese club. He's reported to have said: "The fans know me and know my commitment and dedication to Sporting. "I can assure the fans I'm here to give them happiness, and we will strive to get the title.” Everton, Tottenham, Crystal Palace, Leicester City and Newcastle United have all been linked with a move for the player.
Elsewhere this morning, Everton have been linked with a £10m move for a soon-to-be League One defender. According to TalkSport the Toffees are set to make a second bid for defender Rob Holding after seeing an initial bid turned down. The 20-year-old was voted the club's Player of the Year as Bolton were relegated from the Championship this term - and he is expected to depart the club in the summer.
Leicester City 3 Everton 1: Claudio Ranieri's side run riot to complete the King Power party
By Sam Wallace, Chief Football Writer, King Power Stadium
7 May 2016 Telegraph
It was not something we have seen at past Premier League title-winning parties: two men of a certain vintage stood side-by-side, like long-departed Italian emigres on the prow of an ocean-liner as the country of their birth looms on the horizon, while the credits roll and the beautiful music plays. Claudio Ranieri alongside his old friend, the tenor Andrea Bocelli, who lost his sight as a child playing football, and was at the King Power to sing Nessun Dorma and then Con te partiro as a pre-match mood-setter. When the title is won and the silly wigs are donned, the party can occasionally grate a bit – but this was a profound moment that was emotional and mesmerising. It was a title-celebration for grown-ups, unusual and profound. Con te partiro – or, “Time to say goodbye” – is a reality that Ranieri has confronted many times in his career. Time to say goodbye has been said to him at many clubs, and this Leicester job is his 16th appointment of a 29-year managerial career,
but there will be no goodbye this summer as he looks forward to the Champions League next season. As for Roberto Martinez, however, it must have felt like they were playing him out. When Bocelli started singing, how did Ranieri keep his emotion in check. “I’m a strange man,” he said later at his press briefing, still drying his glasses after a champagne dousing from Christian Fuchs. “I said to myself ‘Claudio, stay calm, the cameras want to see if you cry’. I thought today … ‘No’ [I won’t cry]. But the emotion inside me was at the very top.”
A historic, joyful day for Leicester and their supporters, one in which they could finally celebrate with their trophy and taste what it is like to be one of those clubs that lifts major cups and does laps of honour for its supporters. Equally, it was a disastrous day or Martinez and Everton. There were times when you wondered whether the Everton manager would keep his job long enough to face Sunderland on Wednesday and then Norwich City at Goodison Park a week on Sunday. The nature of the occasion meant that his team were always likely to be a side-note on a great day for Leicester but no-one could have predicted they would be this bad. After the game, Martinez gave a press briefing that lasted 1min 44secs to a room that was close to empty while the trophy presentation went on outside. This usually most loquacious of managers simply said that his team “never turned up, we never understood what was needed”. Martinez will have read the signs from his vantage point on the touch
line: this was a team who were not playing for their manager, and might even have been ensuring that he would not be their manager for very much longer. The banner calling for him to go was raised near the end and it is has long been a question of when not if. Without the injured Phil Jagielka and the suspended Ramon Funes Mori, Martinez paired John Stones with Matthew Pennington in central defence, the latter making just his second Premier League start. While it is encouraging to see two young Englishmen play together, you cannot help but think that Pennington would benefit from a better guide, as he takes his early steps in first team top-flight football, than Stones in his current state. The England international is finding himself in the wrong place so often these days, you have to wonder how much Roy Hodgson will be prepared to trust him at Euro 2016. Like Martinez has been this season, Hodgson is a manager who needs results to stay in a job this summer and he would be doing
himself no favours entrusting his future to Stones in his current form. Leicester set about the task as if it were just another home game in March that had to be ticked off the list and three points taken. They have been calibrated so perfectly that even the absence of the suspended Danny Drinkwater and Robert Huth made no difference to the side who were ahead within five minutes through Jamie Vardy. It was a special occasion for Andy King who has a winners’ medal now with Leicester for League One, the Championship and the Premier League but has had to settle for a more peripheral role in this season of seasons. Not this afternoon when he crossed the ball for Vardy’s first goal and then scored the second himself on 33 minutes, his second league goal of the season. Everton were dozing badly for the first goal when Riyad Mahrez threw the ball to King and he picked out Vardy as Stones drifted away from the striker. Later Vardy would lash his first penalty past Joel Robles after
Pennington fouled the striker. King’s goal on 33 minutes was made by Mahrez who was tackled by Leighton Baines, which inadvertently put the ball on a plate. Leicester won a second penalty on 71 minutes when Darron Gibson horribly mistimed a challenge on fellow substitute Jeffrey Schlupp. This time Vardy sent the ball wildly over the bar with his hat-trick there for the taking. Otherwise, this was one of those days when, if it could go wrong for Martinez, it inevitably did. There was a late goal from the substitute Kevin Mirallas after a siege at the other end by Leicester but it was mostly all the other way. When Ross Barkley was substituted with nine minutes left, he headed straight down the tunnel. That said a lot about the relationship of one of the two most talented players in this Everton side with the manager who would claim to have overseen his development. Afterwards no-one could be sure whether Everton’s new billionaire majority investor Farhad Moshiri will still hav
e Martinez in charge for Wednesday’s game against Sunderland. As for Ranieri, he occupies a different realm when it comes to the outrageous fortunes in the life of a manager. How do you follow this, he was asked. “Oh, there are so many things,” Ranieri said, “this has been a magical season but can you imagine if Leicester start well again next season? What happens then?” He was laughing by that point, but he not dismissing the possibility. He says he will go to the sea to “recharge batteries” and then all his focus will be on next season.
Jamie Vardy kickstarts Leicester City’s title party by sinking Everton
Leicester 3 - 1 Everton
Daniel Taylor at the King Power Stadium
Saturday 7 May 2016 Guardian
These are the moments Leicester City’s supporters will never want to forget. They had longed for this day, and after all the emotion at the start, the dewy-eyed speech from Claudio Ranieri and the guard of honour that ushered his team on to the pitch, their heroes quickly set about showing everyone why they now go by the title of champions of England. Their only minor disappointment, amid all the colour and cacophony, is that Jamie Vardy did not manage a hat-trick to nab the ball as a souvenir and move alongside Harry Kane as the Premier League’s leading scorer. Vardy’s wild penalty miss felt incongruous to the story of the day, especially as he had scored one eight minutes earlier, but it was only really a footnote. Vardy has more than done his bit and it probably summed up the mood that the crowd had been singing for one of the other players to take it anyway. Kasper Schmeichel waved politely, took a couple of steps forward then decided to hang back, after all.
Leicester City’s title-winning season summed up with bonkers party No matter. They reckon this ground hit 0.3 on the Richter scale earlier this season. This time, the noise was different. These were victory songs, rather than the impassioned pleas that have been heard at other times. Mexican waves snaked round the ground. The rain came down but, with apologies to Morrissey, this was anything but a humdrum town. “Les-tah”, as the T-shirts say, may never throw a more colourful, vibrant party and Ranieri’s men played as though absolutely determined to show that the best week of their professional lives would not affect their focus. The world was watching, and they played as if they knew it. Unfortunately for Everton, it was also true that the party could probably not have had more obliging guests. Even when Kevin Mirallas scored a late goal that his team scarcely deserved, the home supporters joined in with the half-hearted cheers from the away end. The pressure is growing on
Roberto Martínez, and the sleepwalking nature of this defeat makes him look even more vulnerable. The truth is that 3-1 barely did justice to the home side’s superiority. Leicester could probably have been excused if a little weariness had crept in – nobody, Ranieri said, had slept a great amount over the past week – and for the first time this season it was the occasion, perhaps, rather than the result, that mattered. And yet Ranieri’s men quickly made it clear they were not going to let the game pass them by. Perhaps it suited them as well that the pressure had finally been released.
At one point in the first half, long before he got his hands on that trophy, Wes Morgan danced through the visitors’ defence before striding into the penalty area and, perhaps realising how ridiculous it all was, tried to find a team-mate when he probably would have been better letting a shot fly off his boot. Leicester attacked with wit, enthusiasm and penetration and, more than anything, they looked as though they were enjoying themselves. They played football like it made them happy. Everton, in stark contrast, looked shot. Martínez’s side have now won only seven out of their 29 Premier League games since 28 September and, astonishingly, that includes two against Aston Villa, two against Newcastle and one against Sunderland. They look what they are: an unhappy, confused side, in the bottom half of the table. Their body language was as unsatisfactory as their passing and, on this evidence, it is not easy to see how Martínez saves himself. His only possible mitigation is t
he club’s extensive list of absentees, but it was still alarming to see the way his players stood off the ball, the absence of marking for the first two goals and the rashness that led to the giving away of two penalties in quick succession. Matthew Pennington was fortunate not to be sent off for the first one, bearing in mind he had already been booked, and it was a senseless tackle from the substitute Darron Gibson that gave Vardy his hat-trick chance. Vardy’s shot flew over the crossbar but the England striker can still reflect on another fine performance when his pace and directness made him a continual threat to a beleaguered Everton defence. After five minutes, Andy King was unmarked at a throw-in, with the time and space to pinpoint his cross, and Vardy was quicker than his opponents, in speed of thought as well as across the ground, darting between Bryan Oviedo and John Stones to turn a first-time shot beyond Joel Robles. This kind of defending has been a recurring th
eme for Everton and it was the same again when King was left in far too much space to make the score 2-0 in the 33rd minute. Riyad Mahrez, a constant menace, had wriggled through a couple of half-hearted challenges from Leighton Baines and Tom Cleverley. King, deputising for the suspended Danny Drinkwater, was anticipating the pass and supplied an assured finish. For Everton, it was another reminder that, at this level, a team cannot expect to get away with marking so negligently. It flattered them, late on, when Mirallas eluded a couple of challenges to slot the ball past Schmeichel, and it must be startling for their supporters that Leicester are 36 points ahead. Martínez talked after the game about his team playing “like individuals”, of them not understanding what was expected of them and, in short, the exact opposite of what Ranieri said about his own players. Outside, a party was going on – a hell of a party, featuring ticker-tape, tears and a trophy Leicester never
once imagined could be in their possession.
Leicester City 3-1 Everton: Terrible Toffees torn apart by Champions as fans call for Martinez to be sacked
7 May 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Woeful Everton fell to a 3-1 defeat against newly crowned champions Leicester City today.
Jamie Vardy and Andy King profited from desperate Blues defending to give the Foxes a 2-0 lead at the break before Vardy added a penalty in the second-half. Everton pulled back a consolation through Kevin Mirallas with only a few minutes to go but it failed to mask what had been another disappointing performance from Roberto Martinez's men. Leicester even afforded themselves the luxury of missing a second spot-kick, with Vardy blazing over the bar, and should have finished the game with a bigger margin of victory. Defeat sees Everton drop to 12th in the Premier League table with just two games remaining and manager Roberto Martinez was again the subject of chants calling for him to be sacked.
Leicester 3-1 Everton analysis: Time to say goodbye for Martinez after Blues surrender at King Power?
7 May 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Chris Beesley
Given that Everton's previous trip to the King Power Stadium came on the opening day of last season, as fixtures in back-to-back campaigns go, their last two visits to Leicester couldn't have come under much more different circumstances. Apart from the obvious passage of time – the games were played 21 months apart – so much has happened at the respective teams. Back in August 2014, the Foxes were newly-promoted having spent a decade outside the top flight while expectations at the Blues were sky high following a club record Premier League points haul the previous campaign. A torrent of water has passed under the bridge since then – Aiden McGeady scored his only Everton goal that day and hopes remained high that moment could be the spark to ignite his Goodison career – but the disappointment suffered by the visitors at only coming away with a 2-2 draw was the start of the decline after an impressive debut year for Roberto Martinez.
The following week Arsenal were mauled at Goodison for over 80 minutes but still fought back to snatch another 2-2 draw and it's been downhill since for the Blues. Everton have no suffered a couple of hugely disappointing seasons. Leicester, in contrast, despite all the odds are Premier League champions.
Time to say goodbye?
The driving force for that enormous surge in fortunes for the Foxes of course has been the stewardship of Claudio Ranieri, the former 'Tinkerman' who has learned from his previous spell on these shores with Chelsea and decided to keep things simple at Leicester. Patient build-up play and possession football certainly aren't in their locker but that hasn't prevented them from pulling off the biggest shock in English football history. In contrast, Martinez has not been for turning. Steadfastly refusing to deviate from the footballing philosophy he follows with dogmatic rigidity.
The manager would argue that he gives his players the freedom to express themselves and such a fresh approach initially worked a treat after over a decade under David Moyes. However, after that impressive first season, it's been two years of chronic underachievement. The manager's permanently sunny nature cannot mask a serious shortcoming in results and you can't say Everton weren't warned from his previous tenure at Wigan Athletic. Martinez actually inherited a squad who had finished 11 under Steve Bruce but went on to record Premier League finishes of 16, 16 and 15 at the JJB Stadium before eventually succumbing to relegation in 18 place in 2013 despite the FA Cup win. Winning more friends than matches might wash at Wigan but not at Everton, and certainly not when you've assembled the club's most talented squad for a generation. When Andrea Bocelli sang 'Time to Say Goodbye' before the kick-off, it sent a shiver down the spine of everyone inside the King Power Stadium but for
Martinez the words might have caused more of a shudder.
All right on the night
Bryan Oviedo is a decent Premier League player who is versatile enough to operate effectively in several positions but again he looked all at sea in the right-back berth. Billed as a left-back/left winger when drafted in by David Moyes at the start of the Scot's final season at Goodison, the Costa Rican international has battled back from the cruellest of injury setbacks with a double leg break ahead of the 2014 World Cup finals his country went on to do so well in. Since then he has performed in a variety of roles for Martinez and he is comfortable with both feet but positionally he is continually found lacking when employed defensively on the opposite flank to his natural side.
Just five minutes in, he and John Stones both failed to notice the considerable presence of FWA Footballer of the Year Jamie Vardy who was presented with a simple toe-poke.
Jamie Vardy's having a party? He must have been laughing. But Evertonians weren't.
Leicester seemed to be clearly targeted that side of the Everton team, just have several opponents have in recent weeks. Normally, right-back is the most straightforward position to fill in a football team but the Blues have looked desperately exposed in this area since Seamus Coleman's injury and missing out on Sam Byram in January looks like a big miss now. Muhamed Besic has also been deployed as an auxiliary option in the position but has hardly fared much better.
While Jamie Vardy cost Leicester City barely £1million plus add ons, Everton were able to field a £41.5million strikeforce at the King Power Stadium as club record signing and top scorer Romelu Lukaku was restored to the starting line up to partner Oumar Niasse up front.
It was an intriguing combination to see the two of them operating together from the off for the first time but no sort of genuine partnership appears to have been forged in the three months since the Senegalese international arrived at Finch Farm. After what has been a hugely-impressive season on a personal note, Lukaku appears to have gone off the boil in recent weeks, highlighted by his series of misses when it really mattered in the FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United including his telegraphed penalty run-up. The vagaries of form? Perhaps? The cynics might point to an impending Euros with Belgium that could prove a shop window to a club that can offer him the Champions League football he covets. So long as it's not Leicester City! If the Belgian is to depart Goodison this summer that presents the prospect of Niasse even being the main man up front next season. He is after all the third most expensive signing in Everton history. Based on what Evertonians have seen, or h
aven't seen, from the former Lokomotiv Moscow man so far, that remains a distinctly unpalatable prospect.
Niasse tried a spectacular overhead kick in the first half but it was off target and his contribution was minimal. He suffered the ignominy of Kasper Schmeichel saving one of his shots with his head and was given the hook again on the hour mark for the second successive weekend.
Baptism of fire
After making his full Premier League debut at home to Bournemouth last weekend, it's fair to say that this assignment was much more of a testing one for rookie defender Matthew Pennington.
Although the lad from Warrington is only a few months younger than his current centre-back partner John Stones, there is obviously a vast chasm in experience between him and the England international who attracted a £38million bid from Chelsea last summer. Pennington didn't exactly enjoy a stroll in the park against the Cherries, being shrugged off the ball for the visitors' equaliser but he recovered well to produce a solid performance in front of his own fans. Stepping into the Foxes' den however was a chastening endurance test for far more seasoned campaigners in the visiting line up than Pennington. A player he wants to defend first he 'took one for the team' late in the first half when he prevented a goal by chopping down Riyad Mahrez in an action that showed clever if crude game management. There were calls from the home fans for Pennington to be shown a second yellow when he brought down Vardy but referee Andre Marriner was in charitable mood. Vardy slotted that one away
but missed the chance to complete a hat-trick when skying another spot-kick after a ridiculous challenge by substitute Darron Gibson on Jeffrey Schlupp – bottler – but Everton were in disarray. The rest of the world had quite rightly come to see Leicester crowned Premier League champions in the climax of the greatest season of upset in English football history. Everton were just the stooge team, the Washington Generals for the Harlem Globetrotters to run rings around. But while this was the pinnacle of an era at one club, it appeared to ring the death knell for the other.
Leicester 3-1 Everton Ratings: Oviedo shocker but he wasn't only one and thank God for Robles
7 May 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Chris Beesley
Chris Beesley runs the rule over Everton's woeful losers
Bryan Oviedo endured a difficult afternoon during Everton's defeat at Leicester City
Joel Robles 6
Saved well with his feet a few times to spare Everton further embarrassment but was rooted to the spot for Jamie Vardy's first penalty, not attempting a dive.
Bryan Oviedo 4
For all his versatility he struggled badly at right-back again and as well as being caught out for the first goal, was given a torrid time by a Leicester side who seemed to identify him as a weak link.
Leighton Baines 6
Named as captain, he didn't deserve this kind of limp display from his team-mates. Everyone knows he was right when he said this team are lacking chemistry.
John Stones 5
As the senior centre-back in the side he should have got much closer to Vardy for the opener and continued to get a chasing for most of the evening.
Matthew Pennington 6
At least he had a go by sticking in a few determined challenges. Is having to learn quickly in a difficult environment.
Riyad Mahrez of Leicester City and Matthew Pennington of Everton compete for the ball
James McCarthy 5
Covered plenty of ground as always but Mo Farah could do lots of running for you. Would like to be contributing much more.
Tom Cleverley 5
Deployed in a deeper role he was unable to make any real impact on the contest.
Aaron Lennon 6
Tried to make things happen down the right flank but often found himself going down blind alleys.
Ross Barkley 5
Has enjoyed a much better season overall after the disappointments of last term but another quiet display here like so often in recent weeks.
Oumar Niasse 5
Operating down the left just off Lukaku, he again struggled to get going and was given the hook on the hour for the second straight week. Ouch.
Oumar Niasse runs with the ball
Romelu Lukaku 5
Suffering - like many of his team-mates - from a sorry end-of-season slump.
Mirallas (on for Niasse 63) 7
Another consolation goal from the Belgian but like so many things this season, too little too late.
Gibson (on for Cleverley 63) 4
Only contribution was to chop down Jeffrey Schlupp in ridiculous fashion for the most blatant penalty you'll ever see.
Osman (on for Barkley 81) 5
With the likes of Kieran Dowell and Callum Connolly on the bench, you struggle to think what Roberto Martinez learned from bringing on the veteran rather than one of the kids.
Leicester City vs Everton match report: Day of high emotion as fearless Foxes get their crowning moment
Leicester City 3 Everton 1
May 7 2016 Independent
By Samuel Stevens King Power Stadium
Leicester City have waited 132 years, or 4,555 matches, for this. For those who struggle to rationalise their remarkable ascension as Premier League champions, Andrea Bocelli serenading the King Power crowd before kick-off would have done little to reassure them they hadn’t slipped into an alternate universe last August. The home faithful provided a fitting touch of context as Everton were defeated with little afterthought about their plight. Chanting the names of past greats - Gordon Banks, Gary Lineker and Esteban Cambiasso – the delirious Leicester fans went through their repertoire of songs from halcyon days of old. It fell to today’s heroes to see off a poor Everton team and thus punch another – perhaps the final – nail into Roberto Martinez’s coffin. A Jamie Vardy double, either side of the interval, was garnished with a fitting, emotional strike from local hero Andy King. Kevin Mirallas’s neat curler two minutes from time didn’t dampen the party spirit.
Leicester celebrates team's triumph on a day of opera and hysteria
Perhaps surprisingly to some, King is regarded in the same vein as Banks, Lineker and Cambiasso among the Foxes crowd. The Welshman has featured sparingly under Claudio Ranieri, proving an understudy to Danny Drinkwater and N’Golo Kante. But King is the only player in the eclectic Italian’s squad to remain from the side who helped lift the League One title in 2009. This was Ranieri’s Leicester at their devastating best, luring the opposition in before breaking in an instant. Riyad Mahrez gambolled down the flanks; N’Golo Kante stitched the midfield together; Vardy, fresh from a two match suspension, terrorised the Everton defence at warp-speed. Hitherto a club of near misses – more frequently with disaster than success – Leicester’s battalion of bargain buys have enchanted the world with a unique blend of throwback defending and bewitching forward play. Denounced as a freak glitch in a nonsensical season, it took until after Christmas for those now infamous 5,000/1 od
ds to shorten to four figures. With all four stands rocking on their foundations, it took just five minutes for the Leicester pressure to tell. King floated an exquisite cross from the right flank into Vardy with John Stones and young debutant Matthew Pennington affording him enough time to slot it past Joel Robles. Sparking now familiar scenes of delirium at the King Power, any suspicion that Ranieri’s boys might have partied too hard this week were quashed.
Everton read the title party script and were happy to oblige without complaint. It got better for Leicester just after the half-hour mark. Mahrez, likely to stay this summer despite interest on the continent, then ghosted past Leighton Baines following Kasper Schmeichel’s pin-point clearance. The Algerian’s trademark trickery rendered the England left-back invisible, forcing him to unwittingly poke it into King’s path in the box. Leicester were as good as their visitors were bad. The East Midlands heavens opened and the floodgates did so, too, for Everton. King turned back the clock to League One and Championship promotion seasons, just eight and two years ago respectively, to curl it beyond Robles in the Everton net.
Martinez stuck with a tactical stratagem which earned him positive appraisals two years ago but now threatens to be his undoing. As a direct consequence, the Toffees threatened occasionally in attack but alarmed often at the back. The Spaniard will hope Bocelli’s pre-match rendition of Time to Say Goodbye doesn’t prove to be an ironic sticking point of his final match in charge. Martinez was static in his technical area alongside the enigmatic Ranieri. Pennington, meanwhile, was handed his Premier League debut but had an afternoon to forget. The 21-year-old bundled Vardy to the deck inside the penalty area in the 65th minute. The former Halifax Town and Fleetwood Town striker drilled his spot-kick to the Everton stopper’s bottom right corner. After forcing Robles into a low save at his near post just moments later, however, Vardy sampled the unfamiliar taste of 12-yard failure. Darren Gibson hacked a galloping Jeffrey Schlupp to the turf, thus handing referee Andre Mariner wi
th no option but to award another penalty. With Harry Kane’s 25 goal tally in sight, Vardy would have gone level with his England team-mate had he converted. Perhaps focussing too heavily on a personal battle of wits with Robles, one which had simmered all game, Vardy blazed it over, fluffing his lines in front of the Spion Kop. Everton were mere extras in Leicester’s big day but made a brief cameo two minutes from time. Marcin Wasilewski was twice dumfounded by a tidy Kevin Mirallas side-step. The Belgium international then cut inside Kante to score a goal befitting a better overall performance from his team-mates. Many expect the established order to regain control of English football next season. This was Leicester's shooting star moment, to be consigned to history next season.
Leicester unveil the kit in which they will defend their title
But nobody can take this away from them now. Their emphatic title triumph is the exception and not the rule. Semper eadem, ‘always the same’, is the city’s motto. Leicester and English football, for all the money which may get thrown at it, will never be the same again.
Leicester City (4-4-1-1): Schmeichel, Simpson, Wasilewski, Morgan, Fuchs, Mahrez (Gray 91'), King, Kanté, Albrighton (Schlupp 67'), Vardy, Okazaki (Ulloa 62').
Everton (3-5-2): Joel, Oviedo, Baines, Stones, Pennington, Cleverley (Gobson 63'), McCarthy, Lennon, Barkley (Osman 81'), Niasse (MIrallas 63'), Lukaku.
Referee: Andre Marriner
Match rating: 7/10
Martinez admits Everton can take "no positives at all" from Leicester defeat
7 May 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Chris Beesley
Everton manager Roberto Martinez admitted that his team got caught up in the occasion at Leicester City and “never turned up” in the 3-1 defeat to the newly-crowned Premier League champions.
A late Kevin Mirallas consolation goal put a somewhat artificial gloss on the scoreline in a match that the rampant hosts dominated from start to finish and the margin of defeat from the limp visitors could have been far worse if it hadn't had been for a series of Joel Robles saves and Jamie Vardy penalty miss. Martinez said: “First and foremost it's just a day for Leicester City to celebrate them. They've achieved an incredible, incredible feat winning the Premier League and deservedly so.
“From our point of view it was a disappointing day. We never turned up, we never understood what was needed. “I think we thought we were part of a footballing occasion and a celebration.
“We looked like a group of individuals. We never showed the basics, we didn't have any intensity or any concentration and when you do that against any team you're going to get punished, especially Leicester because they've probably won the league of being very, very intense.”
On a day that a group of players who are arguably individually less talented than his own squad were nevertheless crowned champions of England while Martinez's team languish in the bottom half of the Premier League, the Catalan was asked if there was anything Everton could learn from their opponents. He said: “Leicester are the champions and deservedly so, and we congratulate them and wish them well for the future and the Champions League. “In any team you have to have certain aspects that will allow you to grow in a performance and get a win. We had that last week against Bournemouth. The disappointment for us that we looked like to contrasting teams with two completely different mentalities.” When questioned whether there were any positives to take out of the day for Everton, Martinez added: “None at all.”
Leicester City 3-1 Everton The Verdict: Rudderless, clueless, ragged and broken - Martinez must bear brunt of blame but players can't hide their failings
7 May 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Phil Kirkbride sees anonymous Everton sink to a sad new low after gifting Leicester City a dream title party
Vardy missed from the penalty spot but it didn't matter - Everton were never in the game
There was never any danger of Everton spoiling Leicester City's Championship party – nobody knew they were even here. Although another anonymous display in a nothing season will not have registered with many outside of Merseyside, it certainly was not lost on the away fans. In fact, this rudderless, latest capitulation will have deeply hurt the 3,337 Everton supporters who left the Foxes' knees-up in a stupor - and not because of any celebratory champagne. Some would even have called this Everton display clueless . Injured captain Phil Jagielka called for his side to try and restore their battered pride before the end of the season but for far too long in this dreary display, they lacked exactly that. They also lacked leadership, purpose and fight - you name it - and isn't it truly a sad state of affairs when your team cannot even muster such basics?
Blues legend Derek Mountfield perhaps best summed it all up, when he took to social media to vent his frustrations at the latest, in a series, of woeful performances. “All credit to Leicester City...fight, belief, spirit, desire, energy...Everton..weak, no belief, shape, leaders, or direction,” he wrote.
Losing to the champions is rarely a disgrace but to do so with little more than a whimper is never acceptable and Everton made Leicester City look like a side ready to conquer Europe, nevermind England.
Martinez must bear brunt of blame but players can't hide their failings
Roberto Martinez, again the subject of fan chants and a banner calling from him to be sacked, has to bear the brunt for a performance that was all at sea but the players simply cannot hide behind their under-fire manager.
This squad have always had major flaws but they've managed to turn themselves from a slick, attack-minded operation into a ragged, disjointed rabble in double-quick time.
A team that looked ready to stay the pace fell apart at the seams with only the slightest of unpicking and on this evidence a major overhaul is required, home truths demanded and changes inevitable.
This Everton side look a million miles off. But then that has been clear for some time and Martinez's side should have grabbed their coats and left at half-time. Two-nil down (it could have been more) the Blues were a mere sideshow in City's big day. Some in the away end will have simply considered them a show. Everton had served up a poor first-half performance, one that was booed by the travelling Blues, and had the look of a team which wanted to be anywhere other than the King Power Stadium. This was always going to be Leicester's day, the eyes of the world were on them, but the Blues owed it to their supporters sat in the corner of the ground to produce a performance to be proud of.
They didn't come close.
Only Kevin Mirallas' fine effort in the closing stages, which saw him slalom through a clutch of Leicester defenders before slotting calmly past Kasper Schmeichel, gave the away fans anything to cheer. It had been yet another miserable day out. Agonisingly slow, lethargic and devoid of movement and ideas, Everton's attacking display was only marginally better than their defending.
Matty Penningiton ended up enduring a difficult second-half , giving away one of the penalties, but he can hold his head up high after a largely promising performance.
He will learn from the mistakes he made but the rest of his team should know better.
If Leicester's title triumph was the shock of a lifetime then there can be no surer thing in football right now than this Everton team conceding goals from crosses into the box.
Jamie Vardy was the latest recipient of the Blues hapless attempts at defend, stealing in between John Stones and Bryan Oviedo, to convert Andy King's centre in the fifth minute.
It was nice of Everton to present Leicester with a gift for winning the league, wasn't it?
Although they didn't stop at one, and just past the half hour mark City doubled their lead when the unmarked King smashed home from inside the area after Riyad Mahrez's jinking run was halted by Leighton Baines, only for the ball to fall into his path. That Everton's players looked at each other, with nonplussed expressions on their faces, said much for the way they've defended this season and maybe where their heads are at right now. They haven't been attacking with any great threat recently either and Mirallas' goal gave the scoreline a false look because though this game ended 3-1, it probably should have finished 5-0. They did waste a great chance inside the first minute of the second-half, Ross Barkley's through-ball pierced the City defence, Schmeichel rushed out of his area but Oumar Niasse chipped the ball only as high as the keeper's head. He should have scored, plain and simple. It was a gilt-edged chance but this wasn't an occasion to put the struggling striker at the
centre of the storm because at least he'd been having a go. Oumar Niasse had a go at least
Not all of those in white could say they had tried as hard as Niasse this evening.
And with such a lack of fight and desire, it made it harder to understand why Kieran Dowell was not given the chance to play from the start here. But as the desperation of this game wore on and it became clear that he'd be a on hiding to nothing, you can perhaps grasp why Martinez decided to protect the talented teenager because he doesn't need tarnishing with this brush. It was a performance that left another stain on the season. One that makes you fear it'll be a long time before Everton are hosting their own party.
Roberto Martinez admits Everton caught up in Leicester City's Premier League celebrations
By Leicester Mercury_Sport May 07, 2016
By James Sharpe
Plumb Images Roberto Martinez admits it was a very disappointing day for Everton
Roberto Martinez admits it was a very disappointing day for Everton
Roberto Martinez admitted his Everton side got wrapped up in Leicester City's Premier League celebrations as they slumped to a 3-1 defeat to the champions. It was a party atmosphere at the King Power Stadium and the Everton boss said his team had failed to focus on the on-field action.
Two goals from Jamie Vardy either side of a strike from Andy King secured a convincing win for the champions, despite a late consolation from Kevin Mirallas. The result heaps even more pressure on Martinez, whose side were booed by the Everton fans at the final whistle. "First and foremost it is just a day for Leicester City and to celebrate them," said Martinez. "I think they have achieved an incredible feat of winning the Premier League and deservedly so. "From our point of view, it was a very, very disappointing day. We never turned up; we never understood what was needed.
"I think we felt that we were part of a celebration – it was a footballing occasion that you could just concentrate on what you were doing on the ball." Everton produced one of the worst away performances all season at the King Power Stadium, and were punished early on when Vardy took advantage of lacklustre defending to give City the lead after just five minutes. King doubled their lead after 10 minutes before Vardy added his second from the spot. Vardy blazed a second penalty over the bar before Mirallas scored the late consolation. "We looked like a group of individuals," said Martinez. "We never showed the basics that you need in any performance. "I thought off the ball we didn't have any intensity, any concentration and when you do that against any team you're going to get punished, but especially against Leicester. "They won the league on the basis of being very, very intense and having a real intent in the box. "In the first half, two actions they get into the 18-yard box and we didn't show any defensive awareness, which makes for a very, very disappointing performance throughout."
Roberto Martinez analysis: Everton boss refuses to defend players after Leicester humbling
7 May 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Phil Kirkbride on the press conference when Everton manager Martinez told it straight
Roberto Martinez during an Everton press conference Despite only a handful of journalists gathering in the King Power media room after the game it was not easy to hear Roberto Martinez clearly.
One of the television screens was still showing Leicester City's title celebrations on the pitch and the blaring noise was drowning out the Everton manager.
But he was trying to tell it straight.
Amid a backdrop of glory and triumph, Martinez was attempting to explain a performance that was nowhere near good enough . Increasingly of late, the Blues boss has known not to try and sugar coat what is already stale because nobody wants to hear it. And neither did he. Martinez's usual stance is to try and protect the players, shield the dressing room from criticism and take the heat off them by creating a different narrative of the game. Not tonight. How could he? Martinez has to take the blame for this but Everton's players had produced such a gutless performance that even he could not defend them.
What we learned Ratings Social media As it happened Martinez interview The Verdict Martinez analysis He didn't lay into them, rip them to shreds or single out individuals but his words were as pointed as they have maybe ever been in his time at Everton, and the message is sure to have got through as they sat on the team coach just yards from where he was speaking. Clearly feeling the strains of the past weeks, months and of a torrid 90 minutes here, Martinez was in no mood to hang around. He talked graciously about Leicester's win, but wanted to get as far away from here as quickly as he possibly could.
He spoke for no more than two minutes.
Asked if there were any positives he could take, Martinez bluntly replied: “None at all.”
Where in recent weeks he has talked about the hurt and pain everyone has been feeling, there was none of that. This time he squarely focused his post-match assessment on his players. It was as if he has had enough of protecting his players from the flak when their performance was down to more than just poor tactics. He remains at the centre of the storm , with renewed calls from supporters for him to be sacked, but this time he was in no mood to let his players off the hook.