Royal Blue: Leighton Baines is the hero in a supporting role
Nov 1 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
Blues left back has set up ten of last 20 goals in league and Europe
Is there a more consistent footballer in the Premier League than Leighton Baines?
The Everton FC left-back has been transcending the limitations of his position for some time now, and is currently in the middle of another productive streak to go alongside the regularly superb execution of his other duties. And in an age when there are neatly-packaged stats for everything, few streaks get over-looked by the boffins at Opta and elsewhere.
As noted by ESPN, Baines’ assist for Samuel Eto’o’s opener at Turf Moor last weekend, meant he has directly contributed to 10 of Everton’s last 20 goals across the league and in Europe, over 10 appearances. And whoscored.com, a goldmine of data and analysis, have released a study which underlines just how impressive the England international has been since a move to Merseyside.
“It’s true that the full-back has always been an integral player to the Toffees’ attacking forays,” they write. “But his crossing game has been tempered to a degree under Roberto Martinez, with a more balanced approach that allows Seamus Coleman to prove just as
“Under Moyes, Everton were often extremely lopsided, constantly looking to Baines to produce the sort of delivery that he’d become renowned for following a move from Wigan. Over the course of Moyes’ final two seasons at the club, Baines attempted a massive 595 crosses in 71 appearances (8.4 per game). In that time he registered a relatively modest seven assists.
“Martinez certainly has a different view of how best to play and, it seems, has asked Baines to offer more variety in the final third, now looking for late runners to slide in rather than constantly trying to cross. “He’s still getting into positions to deliver into the box, evidence by the 44 crosses he’s attempted this season, but it’s a significant drop to 4.9 per game. He’s registered just one fewer league assist (six) in 62 fewer appearances than the aforementioned sample under the former Everton boss. “To look at his statistical strengths, which include key passes, crossing, passing and dribbling, is effectively to look at a blueprint for the modern-day offensive full-back.
“The quality of Baines’ final ball is instead improving now that he’s picking his moments to cross with more care. It would also be easy to attribute such figures to his set-piece duties, but since the start of the 2009-10 season he’s picked up just five assists directly from corners.
“Few defenders in the Premier League era could match his figures when it comes to goal contribution. Over the last six seasons, Baines now has 36 league assists, fewer only than David Silva (41), Wayne Rooney (40) and Steven Gerrard (37). “If he can maintain anything close to his current form, then he may be challenging the likes of Silva and Co. at the top of the assist leaderboard before too long. The fact that he’s presently anywhere near the top of the pile, let alone fourth, remains an unbelievable achievement for a player of his position.”
Fright Night for junior fans at spooky Goodison Park There were scares aplenty at Goodison Park on Wednesday night as ghosts of Everton’s past came out for the club’s special ‘Fright Night’ tour.
In the lead up to Halloween, a selection of junior season ticket holders were invited to go behind-the-scenes at the Blues’ famous old stadium – and they encountered phantoms, spirits and even zombies along the way! Armed with just a handful of torches, former Everton stars Graham Stuart and Ian Snodin joined the youngsters on their walk around Goodison once darkness had descended. Along the way, they stumbled upon the ghosts of Jemima Bushell – the first ever Everton Toffee Lady – and Blues great Dixie Dean who regaled the tale of his record-breaking goalscoring season of 1927/28. It was one big Everton history lesson for those on the tour as apparitions of supporters from the 1970s and 80s, who were seated in the Gwladys Street and Family Enclosure, recalled the times that legendary strikers Bob Latchford and Graeme Sharp were gracing Goodison. A visit to the home dressing room was also in order, and it was here that Stuart and Snodin spoke about what life was like at Everton in the 1990s. Leon Osman’s fascinating book deserves to be read
Leon Osman received some concerted stick this week after excerpts from his new autobiography, printed in the ECHO, were misinterpreted as a scathing attack at Tim Cahill. Osman actually speaks glowingly of the Aussie in other parts of the book but this passage, in which he makes a reasonable point about how the entire team teased Cahill over his top billing on the Goodison pitch when David Moyes was supposed to be bidding farewell, irked the keyboard warriors no end.
Cahill seemed peeved too, and decided to not-so-subtly express it by favouriting tweets criticising Osman. While it’s clear Cahill is a fans’ favourite who scored some crucial goals and fought tirelessly for the Blues, it seems grossly unfair that Osman, who has spent his whole career at the club and fought just as hard, was so pilloried. His book is an absorbing read, full of anecdotes and searingly honest insight into what it was like to play for Everton over the last decade. It’s also often hilarious. Those who took umbrage to the passage about Cahill are entitled to their opinion of course but could at least read it before judging a man who is Blue through and through.
Everton FC boss Roberto Martinez always confident results would come
Nov 01, 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
Toffees won just one and lost three of their opening seven Barclays Premier League games
Everton FC boss Roberto Martinez is delighted at his side’s recent upturn in league results but insists there was always plenty to be encouraged by in the way they were playing this season.
The Toffees won just one and lost three of their opening seven Barclays Premier League but have registered convincing victories in their last two top-flight fixtures, a 3-0 home defeat of Aston Villa and then a 3-1 triumph at Burnley. Martinez admits his team, who conceded 13 goals in their first five matches of the campaign, were “a little bit soft defensively” initially.
But he has also pointed to the attacking threat they were posing at the same time – they scored 11 goals during that sequence – and is in no doubt, particularly now the defending has improved, that Everton have made a decent start this term. Asked if he felt his team’s league campaign was now picking up momentum, the Spaniard said: “It is from a results point of view. But I always felt this season that we started really well in our attacking play. “When you look at it, as a team we have been able to score in every single game in the Premier League. “I felt the three goals we scored against Chelsea (in a 6-3 defeat) showed that we are ready to hurt anyone.
“The only disappointment early on in the season was that we were a little bit soft defensively, and we were conceding goals that affected results. “When that happens, the table will show that and then there is a little bit of negative talk around the team, and that is understandable.
“But I think now we are a lot tighter, a lot stronger defensively as a side and we are carrying on with our attacking threat. “To get back-to-back wins in the league has been good and I think it has created a really good platform for our campaign. It has been a good start to the season, and now I think that is starting to show from a results point of view – but the signs were there all the way through from the beginning.” Martinez’s men host his old club Swansea today, having been beaten 3-0 by the Welsh club in the Capital One Cup at the Liberty Stadium earlier this season.
The Toffees boss has been quick to stress that, while some lessons will be taken from that game, the starting XI he selects this weekend is set to be very different from that cup tie, where he made eight changes. “I think every game you play against opposition not too long ago can help you prepare a game,” said Martinez, who was Swansea boss Garry Monk’s team-mate and then manager at the Welsh outfit. But our team is probably going to be quite different to what it was that night.
“I think we know everything about Swansea, and I think they know everything about us – I don’t think there are any secrets there between the two sides. “That game, if you had played it 10 times, I think the scoreline would be very, very different.” Everton remain with the same quartet of players unavailable ahead of today’s match. Kevin Mirallas and John Stones have been sidelined by hamstring and ankle problems respectively, while Bryan Oviedo and Arouna Kone are set to play in a practice game next week as they continue to work their way towards first-team action.
Martinez has said the knocks Romelu Lukaku sustained in the Burnley win and that Darron Gibson suffered in training should not prevent them from being selected.
City EDS 3-1 Everton: Patrick Vieira's youngsters go top
Nov 1 2014 Manchester Evening News
By Samuel Luckhurst
Blues youngsters coasted to victory at Ewen Fields on Halloween
City's EDS youngsters recovered from their 6-2 thrashing at Leicester on Monday afternoon with a 3-1 victory over Everton. A merciless first-half showing ensured the Blues' fourth win of the season and propelled them up to first in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League.
On a mild Halloween evening at Hyde the only thing scary was Jindrich Stanek's goalkeeping.
The Everton stopper had already nervously denied Olivier Ntcham and on 18 minutes he calamitously punched Seko Fofana's shot into his own net. It was Stanek's latest howler after he dropped two clangers at Leicester in August and City soon beat him again.
Thierry Ambrose made it two from Pablo Maffeo's pinpoint cross just on 23 minutes before some more slapstick Everton defending. Stanek's careless pass to Brendan Galloway was intercepted by Brandon Barker inside the Evertonians area, and he coolly ended the contest to make it 3-0.
Ambrose was inches away from making it four but rattled the crossbar in stoppage-time.
City goalkeeper Angus Gunn merely had to catch a harmless Matthew Pennington header in a commanding first-half for the EDS. Everton emerged seven minutes ahead of the re-start yet the their horror show looked set to continue. Bytyqi forced a save from Stanek and Ambrose's shot was cleared off the line by substitute Joseph Williams. EDS coach Patrick Vieira sent Jose Pozo on but City struggled to recapture their intensity of the first-half. Hallam Hope reduced the deficit in the 79th minute but there was no hope of a comeback.
Samuel Eto'o says Everton FC's Ross Barkley can be a better player than Wayne Rooney
Nov 1 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
“He has the same type of quality as Wayne Rooney had when he was here and he can even be better"
Samuel Eto'o believes Ross Barkley can become an even better player than former Everton FC sensation Wayne Rooney. The vastly-experienced striker has played with more than his fair share of talented youngsters during stints in Spain, Italy and Russia before coming to the Premier League.
But Eto’o, who has scored four goals in nine appearances since signing for the Toffees in the summer, rates England international Barkley amongst the very best.
The ex-Barcelona and Inter Milan forward has been charged with helping to develop Everton’s exciting youngsters by manager Roberto Martinez , and has taken equal pleasure in tutoring Romelu Lukaku. Yet he admits that it was the prospect of working with 20-year-old Barkley that particularly excited him in the summer. “I knew of Ross before I came here and when I met Roberto to talk about the team he was one of the people I was asking about,” said Eto’o. “It is a pleasure and an honour for me to play with him and I think he can become this unique player that everyone dreams of. “He has the same type of quality as Wayne Rooney had when he was here and he can even be better. He’s still young so it’s our work now to be around him and make sure he improves and delivers what he should deliver. “I think we need to wait until the end of the season to see the kind of impact my advice will have on the younger guys. Not only on Romelu Lukaku, but a lot of the talented younger players in the dressing room that I think can benefit. We will see then what influence I have been able to have. “ Eto’o can perhaps help Lukaku the most, by directly showing the £28m club record signing how to become a world-class poacher.
But he is keen to emphasise that the Belgian, who was already leading Anderlecht’s attack by the age of 15, should not look too far ahead as he continues to develop.
“The problem in football is that you can be too keen to project yourself a few years into the future,” he said. “But the reality is that you have to live the moment. That’s the moment that really counts.
“The moments that you live everyday will be the ones that will carry you to become a great player.
“Now the important thing for Romelu is to focus on all these moments that will maybe lead him to be the great player that everyone hopes him to be. “I think what is important is not to compare him to other players because he has skills and qualities that other players don’t and vice versa.
“The important thing is not to put pressure on him so that he can focus on himself and his own improvement rather then putting this kind of pressure on where he’s looking at other players and who does what.”
Barry Horne: Samuel Eto'o the perfect signing for Everton FC
Nov 01, 2014 Liverpool Echo
Horne on Samuel Eto'o, Leon Osman and diving
I remember writing in this column about how many Evertonians were viewing Samuel Eto’o ’s signing in the summer.
For many, he didn’t fit the bill as an Everton player in terms of his age and of the history of the club in wanting to develop young players. He hasn’t had much game time but he has been proving his value both on and off the pitch. Eto’o has been a very, very successful player and is a wealthy man and many wondered, to put it bluntly, if he had come for one last payday.
But I was always of the mindset that we had to let Eto’o have the chance to prove us wrong.
And so his performances of late, capped off with that man-of-the-match display at Burnley, came as little surprise to me. The signs were there, of course. Roberto Martinez will always do his homework on a player and, if reports are to be believed, Eto’o rejected the chance of higher wages in order to play for Everton.
These were telling indicators for me.
He has quickly dispelled any doubts about this remaining ability or passion for the game.
But it is off the pitch as well, we hear, that he has been making an impact at Everton.
Eto’o is a three-time winner of the European Cup, an African Player of the Year and a World Player of the Year contender, so what would he have left to prove? I could understand those who were sceptical and those wondering about his desire. He did not appear an atypical Everton player.
But his qualities have certainly come to the fore. Well done Roberto Martinez . Well done Samuel Eto’o. And long may it continue.
My admiration for Ossie
Anyone who reads this column will be well aware of my long-standing admiration for Leon Osman.
The way he went on loan to Derby, came back and worked hard to establish himself as a first-team regular at Everton is something that always impressed me about him.
He did it the hard way. And whenever he was played out of position he never moaned or made a scene. Osman got his head and got on with the job at hand - he is a model professional. And because of this, some people have voiced their shock at Leon’s book this week in which he has candidly provided into an insight into his 11 years at Goodison.
They were taken aback by tales of his honesty at being dropped at key moments in his Blues career and the bitter disappointment he felt. But these passages just make my admiration for Osman grow stronger. He has the right attitude in football. He wants to play and he will never be happy with sitting on the bench. Too many players these days are content with collecting their wages and playing only a handful of times a season.
Not Ossie. And because of this, because the desire still burns strong in Osman and because his love for the club remains as fierce as ever, I hope the club can continue to find a place for him. Monk's outburst had an impact on Moses I was asked this week if I had any concerns about Garry Monk’s recent outburst at officials affecting today’s game with Everton.
People were worried that Monk, who has strongly highlighted some poor decisions in recent weeks, would influence the official at Goodison this afternoon. Whatever a manager may say, I don’t believe a referee will influenced by that. But what Monk’s comments have highlighted is that a manager’s words can impact on a player. Monk spoke out about Victor Moses’ act of deception against his side the other week as he cut into the box.
I was at Stoke’s following game and despite coming under some firm challenges, Moses, this time, stayed on his feet. For me, Monk’s words had influenced the player - and for the better.
Barclays Premier League: Everton 0 Swansea City 0
South Wales News November 01, 2014
SWANSEA City clung on for a hard-earned draw at Everton after playing the final 18 minutes with ten men. Jonjo Shelvey became the fourth Swansea player of the season to be sent off, dismissed for two bookable offences. The first yellow came after he petulantly kicked the ball away midway through the first period before the midfielder blocked Ross Barkley’s run in the second period.
After that Swansea sank deep looking to protect their point. And though Everton enjoyed sustained pressure in the closing stages, they failed to carve the visitors open. The closest that they came to a winner in the second 45 minutes was when Aiden McGeedy flashed a shot wide following an Ashley Williams mistake. That came 13 minutes after Jonjo Shelvey was fed by Wilfried Bony and dragged his effort. The first half ended goalless after an entertaining 45 minutes.
Swansea’s defence creaked at times as Everton came at them with pace, but it was Monk’s men that probably had the best chances. In only the sixth minute, assist king Gylfi Sigurdsson played in Bony and the in-form striker drilled just wide of the near post after dwelling on his shot.
An MGeedy long shot was spilled by Lukasz Fabianski and the ball slipped behind for a corner before Leighton Baines’s free-kick flew just wide of the post. But the big talking point arrived in the 20th minute when Everton’s Antolin Alcaraz appeared to dive and handle a goal-bound Shelvey shot.
Only Shelvey appealed for a penalty, which replays suggested Swansea deserved, as Swansea again saw a major decision go against them.
Everton FC 0-0 Swansea City final whistle report: Frustration for Roberto Martinez's men as the Blues can't find a way past the Swans
Nov 1 2014
Swansea, down to 10 men in the second half, held firm to stop Everton in Martinez's 200th Premier League game
So much for a happy anniversary.
Roberto Martinez 's 200 game as a Premier League manager proved a forgettable one as current club Everton FC drew a blank against former charges Swansea City at Goodison.
But while a frustrating afternoon for the Blues, there could be few complaints at the final outcome.
Swansea were reduced to 10 men in the 72 minute when former Liverpool midfielder Jonjo Shelvey was dismissed for a second bookable offence. Everton, though, struggled to find a cutting edge against a well-drilled visiting defence despite a stirring injury-time in which substitute Romelu Lukaku almost snatched victory. The Blues were looking to extend a proud record of having never lost to Swansea in 18 previous league meetings. However, Martinez's men were thumped 3-0 in South Wales when the teams met in a Capital One Cup third round tie in September.
It was also a landmark match for Ross Barkley , the youngster returning to the starting line-up for his 50 Premier League appearance for the Blues. Making way was Lukaku, the Belgian dropped to the bench despite scoring in last week's victory at Burnley with Samuel Eto'o, who netted twice at Turf Moor, the lone striker. The only other change saw Aiden McGeady back on the right flank in place of Leon Osman. Everton created the first chance after only 25 seconds. Swansea struggled to clear their lines but a shot of the half-turn from Eto'o was comfortably claimed by visiting goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski. But the Blues had a lucky escape when Swansea spurned a glorious chance to take the lead on five minutes. Gylfi Sigurdsson found space between the Blues defence and midfield to play in Wilfried Bony. The striker, played onside by Leighton Baines , took a moment to steady himself but then directed his shot the wrong side of Tim Howard's near post. A relieved Everton swiftly regained the initiative, but the longer the first half progressed the more the sense of frustration grew inside Goodison at their inability to seriously threaten Fabianski.
The keeper, though, was a little fortunate on nine minutes to fumbled the ball out for a corner rather than over his own goalline when making a meal of a speculative low show from McGeady.
Eto'o was then brought down by Ki 25 yards out, but Baines curled the free-kick harmlessly wide from 25 yards. Fabianski then made a routine stop to deny Gareth Barry from range, while Angel Rangel produced a fine clearing header to reach a deep McGeady cross before the loitering Eto'o.
While content to soak up pressure, Swansea were not without their chances.
James McCarthy was alert to break up a counter-attack involving the dangerous Jefferson Montero and Wayne Routledge. And Swansea had strong claims for a penalty when, after McGeady cheaply coughed up possession, a Jonjo Shelvey shot was blocked by the arm of the grounded Antolin Alcaraz. Alcaraz was involved in a penalty incident in the other box when caught heavily by Bony when challenging for a header. Referee Kevin Friend waved away appeals. Alcaraz, though, needed lengthy treatment on the field and ultimately departed clutching his shoulder.
With Sylvain Distin not on the bench, Muhamed Besic was introduced as Barry dropped to centre-back alongside Phil Jagielka. Barry was almost caught dozing by Routledge shortly after the interval as Swansea began to threaten. A fine turn and pass by Bony released Shelvey but the midfielder rushed his shot wide with Montero screaming for a pass, while Sigurdsson had time to bring the ball down inside the area instead of volleying well over. McGeady cut inside to curl a shot wide on 64 minutes, his last action before joining Steven Naismith in being given the hook as Martinez introduced Lukaku and Steven Pienaar. And Everton were handed much-needed impetus eight minutes later when Shelvey, earlier booked for kicking the ball away, was given a second yellow when obstructing the marauding James McCarthy 30 yards from goal. Jagielka bounced a header on to the roof of the net as the Blues finally began to build some momentum. Williams did brilliantly to reach an inviting Pienaar cross before Lukaku could pounce, while the Belgian got in the way of a goalbound Baines shot. And in the final seconds of injury time, a sliding Lukaku should have connected with a driven Eto'o cross with the goal at his mercy, Frustrating.
Greg O'Keeffe's analysis after Everton FC are held at home to Swansea City
Nov 1 2014 Liverpool Echo
Greg says that the Blues wasted a big opportunity against 10-man Swansea
Opportunity knocked at the Old Lady, but Everton FC locked the door and offered neither trick or treat the day after Halloween. It wasn't quite a horror show this afternoon, but neither were the Blues compelling enough to deserve the three points which would have seen them rise to seventh above Liverpool in the Premier League table. It had looked like being plain sailing in the early stages.
Everton came flying out of the blocks and seemed to have too much for Swansea City.
With James McCarthy on top form, they were winning the midfield battle and getting plenty of possession in and around the visitors' area. Continuing where he left off at Turfmoor last weekend, Samuel Eto'o, dubbed a gift from the Gods by his manager, had a chance to test Lucas Fabianski in the first minute but couldn't beat the former Arsenal keeper. Even though they continued to press and dominate after that, the Toffees just couldn't find the killer ball against an obdurate defence.
They were entitled to feel aggrieved when denied a penalty after Winfried Bony wiped out Antolin Alcaraz in the area and forced the defender to go off injured in the process.
But that maybe evened things up after ref Kevin Friend failed to spot a handball in the area by Alcaraz at the other end. Everton continued to huff and puff in the first half but just couldn't find a way through. Ross Barkley, restored to the starting line-up but asked to play on the left of midfield, struggled to have an impact. Steven Naismith was preferred in the centre behind Eto'o but he too had a quiet afternoon. It was the story of the contest. McCarthy aside, none of the Blues influential performers were at their best. Even when switched inside Barkley appeared laboured by his mercurial standards. No amount of changes could do the trick and in the second half Garry Monks' men began to really threaten and look value for more than a point. The last gasp chance to grab victory though came to Everton. Romelu Lukaku stuck his leg out but just couldn't connect with Eto'o's cross. It was that sort of day. The Blues will have to be more cohesive and make their possession count if they want to take advantage when rivals slip up.
Garry Monk salutes Swansea City - but bemoans yet another bad refereeing call in Everton stalemate
By South Wales Evening Post November 01, 2014
By Gareth Vincent
GARRY Monk insisted ten-man Swansea City could be proud of their performance as yet another contentious refereeing decision went against his team at Everton.
Swansea emerged from Goodison Park with a precious point after a battling goalless draw.
They could not claim to have deserved victory, for Everton had the majority of the play - although Swansea did create the game's best chances before Jonjo Shelvey's 73rd-minute red card.
Monk had no complaints over the dismissal, with Shelvey shown an inevitable second yellow for blocking off James McCarthy having earlier picked up a silly booking for kicking the ball away.
But Swansea were unhappy with referee Kevin Friend's failure to award them a 20th-minute penalty when Antolin Alcaraz handled Shelvey's shot. "I didn't know you were allowed to play with two goalkeepers," Monk said. "I thought it was a great save (by Alcaraz) - I will be showing my keepers that in training. It's a clear penalty - he actually saves the ball. "We all saw it, but unfortunately the ref didn't." Monk held a "good meeting" with refs' chiefs Mike Riley and Howard Webb on Friday, and tried hard not to turn his post-match press conference into a rant against officials.
Instead the Swansea boss praised his team for a courageous effort on a ground where they have had so little to celebrate in the past. "I thought we were brilliant defensively after the red card - in fact we were brilliant defensively today," he added. "I said to the boys that they will probably never earn a harder point in terms of the way the game went. "They can be proud of themselves and the fans can be proud too." Swansea might have given themselves a chance had Wilfried Bony and Shelvey made more of presentable chances. At the other end, Everton were restricted mainly to long-range efforts, with Aiden McGeady coming closest with a drive which was well saved by Lukasz Fabianski.
Monk, meantime, conceded that Shelvey must eliminate the needless cautions as the midfielder gets set to sit out next weekend's clash with Arsenal through suspension. "You can't kick the ball away - that's the booking I'm disappointed with Jonjo about," he said. "It's something he needs to learn very quiclly, especially the way we are at the moment. When we get one yellow, it becomes highly likely that any sort of contact will result in a red."
Roberto Martinez bemoans 'pedestrian' Everton FC as Antolin Alcaraz faces more woe injury
Nov 1 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Ian Doyle
Blues held to goalless draw at home to Swansea
Roberto Martinez bemoaned his “pedestrian” players after Everton FC drew a blank against Swansea City – as unlucky Antolin Alcaraz faces another lengthy spell on the sidelines.
The Blues were held to a frustrating goalless draw despite the Swans being reduced to 10 men by the 72nd-minute dismissal of Jonjo Shelvey. Substitute Romelu Lukaku was inches away from prodding home the winner in injury time but Martinez admits his side were below their best.
“It was a frustrating game for us,” said the Blues boss. “We were a bit pedestrian with the way we moved the ball. “We weren't quick enough. We didn't have our usual tempo.
“We can score goals when we get behind teams in numbers but we didn't have that.
“Sometimes we didn't make the right calls. Sometimes we didn't get the fortune. But we weren't at our very best.” Alcaraz was forced off during the first half after suffering a shoulder injury in a strong aerial challenge with Swansea striker Wilfried Bony. And Martinez revealed the Paraguayan, whose time at Everton has been hampered by injury, will join fellow centre-back John Stones in the treatment room for a significant period. “Antolin has damaged the joint in his shoulder,” he said. “We will assess it overnight but he will be out for a long spell. “It's a shame as he had to work really hard to get back to fitness and fought hard for his place. “Sylvain Distin has been working really well, he did well in the Europa League. Tyias Browning and Brendan Galloway can also play centre-back, so we have some options.” Alcaraz had earlier been fortunate not to concede a penalty when clearly handing a shot from Shelvey. And Martinez said: “Maybe they should have had the penalty, scored early and it opened the game up. “It was a bad game from an attacking point of view.
“Before the red card, Swansea had no corners or shots on target. It was less open than I expected. Everything was a counter-attacking action. “We had to work really hard to stop Swansea but in terms of the way they were trying to run the clock down, they were very focused on defending well and did it extremely well. “But it was a good clean sheet. We are building up and don't look too far away.” Swansea boss Garry Monk was adamant Alcaraz should have been penalised.
“I didn't know you were allowed to play with two goalkeepers, to be honest with you,” he said.
“I thought it was a great save by Alcaraz, a very strong wrist. I'll have to show it to my goalkeepers.
“It's a clear penalty. He basically saved the ball. It was quite strange. All the players saw it but the referee didn't.” Of the game, Monk added: “I thought the red card might cost us, but I thought we were brilliant defensively. “I said to the boys they would probably never earn a harder point again.
“I don't have any objections with the red card particularly. Jonjo needs to learn he can't kick the ball away, it was very disappointing."
Europe can create big memories for Everton FC - Roberto Martinez
Nov 1 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Chris Beesley
Blues boss determined to forge Goodison legacy
Roberto Martinez is hoping to create some ‘big memories’ for Everton FC and believes that Europa League success can do that for the Blues. Come next May it will be 20 years since the Goodison Park trophy cabinet was last opened for major silverware when Joe Royle’s side won the FA Cup by shocking Manchester United. As someone who knows all about creating such memorable moments having guided Wigan Athletic to a surprise success against United’s neighbours City in 2013, Martinez acknowledges it’s time for some new chapters to be written in Everton’s history.
He said: “I’ve always thought that as a football club and as a group of players you need to fight to create big memories. “It’s important that we look forward to winning something. The players deserve that and the fans deserve that. “Everyone who is connected with Everton, we are so rich in our history we should start thinking about working hard every day to try and get a trophy.
“Not as an obsession or a matter of urgency but as an aspiration. “There are different words you can use like legacy and memories but when you saw our fans at Lille that will be a very special memory for all of us forever.” With no trophies since 1995, almost a whole generation of Evertonians have grown up with no cup to cheer. The longest the club has ever gone without winning silverware is 24 years between 1939-1963 but seven years of league action were lost during this period due to the Second World War. For almost a century, 24 years was also the longest the Blues had gone without being crowned champions with their successes twice curiously following a pattern of a 24-year wait followed by four titles in the next 24 years (champions in 1891, a wait until 1915 followed by titles in 1928, 1932 and 1939 then a wait until 1963 followed by titles in 1970, 1985 and 1987) but their current drought of 27 years and counting has become their longest barren spell.
For the first decade of the Premier League Everton finished in the top half just once. This was improved upon under David Moyes with nine top half finishes in 11 full seasons but the Scot was ultimately unable to end the wait for a trophy. Martinez acknowledges that ultimately you need to win things to be remembered in the game. He said: “The only way we’ll get respect from outside of our environment is through winning titles. “We need to embrace the idea that we’re a top club and a big football club. Slowly we’re working hard to develop a big club mentality within the squad and that’s where the excitement lies. “We know how difficult it is. You look at the investment in the league there are a lot of clubs thinking ‘we have to win a title’. “We’re not in that bracket but we’re a club that can aspire to win a title because we’ve won them in the past, it’s in our DNA.
Martinez added: “That’s something that is supported by our fans. I don’t think they feel a massive pressure or the weight of expectation of having to win a title that’s not the case.
“We just want to develop a way of playing that can take us to aspire to bring some great memories for our football club and that’s how we can use the fans in our favour.
“It’s very important not to get a mixed message in that respect. “We want to be as good as we can and we know if we do that on a daily basis we’ll have a great opportunity with the support that we have to bring some great times for this football club.” Halfway through the group stage of Everton’s first continental campaign since 2009/10 the Blues – who were in the third pot of seeds out of four for the draw – are sitting pretty at the top of the group with five points (one above second place Wolfsburg who they thrashed 4-1 in their opening game). Victory over Lille on Thursday would put Martinez’s men five points above the French side with six points left to play for and therefore in the box seat for a place in the knockout stages. With Martinez making his own debut on the European stage having sacrificed a place in the Europa League with his FA Cup winners Wigan Athletic to join Everton last season, the Catalan is satisfied with his team’s progress to date.
He said: “I’m really pleased with how things have gone so far. They are good opponents and we’ve had two away games. “We’re really looking forward to having another two home games and being able to enjoy them with our fans which is important.” He added: “It’s fair to say they’re really tough opposition. It’s not like you’re talking about opposition who are not up to the level of European competition. “Wolfsburg and Lille are teams who have been flirting with Champions League football and have won titles in their countries in recent years while Krasnodar are a new team arriving a little bit into a new level but I think they are going to get stronger – they beat Real Sociedad.
“They’ve been a really enjoyable fist three fixtures but we’re really looking forward to the next three because the fans will make all the difference.” European games are helping us to fulfil potential
Everton's Europa League campaign has been an education for their manager as well as their players.
Delighted to be testing himself on the European stage for the first time, Martinez is embracing the experience. He said: “I’m learning a lot myself. “The opportunity to be involved in a competition like the Europa League gives you so much information about how far we can be stretched and gives you a lot in knowing how far we can go. “The big advantage you have as a manager is to be able to see how we react in extreme conditions and how individuals react when they’ve got a lot of travelling and preparations between games is harder. “There are different environments like being able to perform away in Russia and France – that’s invaluable information that I could never get in any other way. “It has very much been an ambition for me but it allows us to become wiser, stronger and fulfil our potential.” Martinez acknowledges that the nature of the games have thrown up different challenges to the domestic fare his players have previously been used to but believes they are prepared for the task. He said: “It’s very much different to the Premier League.
“As you can imagine, it’s a little bit less physical and more about oppositions trying to stop the amount of possession that you have. “It has been very interesting. We got a lot of benefit from the amount of opposition that we got in pre-season. We always tried to pick teams that had a different tactical approach. “I think it’s been very beneficial for the Europa League because over the past two pre-seasons we’ve faced all types of foreign opposition and that has really helped us in being able to cope. “We’ve developed into a team that can be quite flexible and we can play different formations and we can adapt to different needs which has made it quite natural for us to adapt.”
Lee Carsley: It was a frustrating day for Everton FC - but there's no need to be worried
Nov 02, 2014 Liverpool Echo
Carsley on Everton's frustration, Phil Jagielka and Samuel Eto'o
What a frustrating afternoon for Everton FC at Goodison Park.
I wouldn’t be too worried right now that we are not quite able to recapture our excellent home form of last season. But it’s definitely something of which the players will be aware.
You don’t want to get to the point where the team becomes nervous playing on their own patch because results haven’t been quite right. It just wasn’t happening against Swansea City yesterday.
Home games aren’t ones you take for granted, but they are where you look to take the majority of your points. At the moment, though, we appear to be doing better away from home.
We need to transfer that effectiveness on the road back at Goodison.
To be fair, it’s always difficult when an opposing team goes down to 10 men, particularly if it’s towards the latter stages and they’ve already decided to dig in for a point.
I know fans expect you to make the most of a numerical advantage but it isn’t always so straightforward. It a team is well organised, losing a man is simply going to make their mind up to sit back and make it that little bit more difficult. Swansea were reluctant to come out and play, and you couldn’t really blame them. Ross Barkley wasn’t at his best but I’m not entirely surprised.
When he returned from injury against Aston Villa, adrenaline got him through. But he was quiet against Lille the other week and was restricted to a late cameo at Burnley.
We’ll just have to be patient with Ross. The main thing is keeping him fit. That consistency will come with time, and when he regains his sharpness. He is a match winner, but he isn’t going to be able to win a match every week. Nobody can do that.
And how unlucky is Antolin Alcaraz?
Just at a time when he was finally showing why he was brought to the club by Roberto Martinez last year, he faces another long spell on the sidelines. Sylvain Distin has been strangely on the fringes in recent weeks, but this is now a chance for him to get himself right and win back a regular place in the team. We need him to forge a partnership again with Phil Jagielka. That’s something we have lacked this season, it has been a real mix-and-match situation in central defence.
Phil Jagielka is quick with his feet and head
A few people have said they were surprised that Phil Jagielka has been found to be the quickest player in the Premier League but it wasn’t much of a shock to me.
I’ve played alongside Jags and he’s really quick.
He can certainly get around the pitch.
I don’t know what his weight is but I reckon he was heavier when he first came to Everton than he is now – he looks in great shape. He’s been in great form recently and has shown great character to bounce back from his difficulties at the start of the season. It can’t be easy when you’re dropped by your country and like all the England players he was in the spotlight after the World Cup but he’s very level-headed and takes it all in his stride.
It’s a little victory for the over 30s players too.
As a footballer you used to think it was all downhill after 30 but I had three or four of my best seasons after I turned 30.
Technically and tactically I knew what I was doing.
Add to that all the help with conditioning and diet that the players now have and it all adds up to staying fitter for longer.
Samuel Eto'o shows he's prepared to work hard to help Everton
The biggest thing for me to come out of the win at Burnley last weekend was Samuel Eto’o and I’m not just talking about his goals. Of course they were fantastic – we all know that he is a genuine world class player.
What impressed me was his attitude.
Just after Everton had scored the first goal there was a period in which Burnley were putting us under pressure but Samuel was doing his bit to try and help out his team-mates, closing down opponents and making tackles. He was a brilliant example with his work-rate.
Kids see these big stars and they think about the flashy boots and the flashy cars but Eto’o showed just hard he works to be a success. He had some lucrative offers to go and play in the Middle East but he wanted to stay in the Premier League and prove himself.
Given what he has already achieved in the game it is only himself that he needs to prove things to but how refreshing to see someone like that really put a shift in.
Ian Doyle: Tim Cahill played the right tune - but he's no Everton FC legend
Nov 02, 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Joe Rimmer
Doyley on why, despite his heroics, Cahill will not go down as a Blues legend
It’s always the quiet ones. Having hardly proven a controversial figure throughout his lengthy Everton FC career, Leon Osman has certainly ruffled a few feathers with the publication of his autobiography last week. Chief bone of contention are the midfielder’s seemingly contrary views regarding Tim Cahill. “It was sad to see him go,” says Osman of the Australian’s departure. “Tim Cahill, Mr Everton, a fans’ favourite. He was a big part of my time at the club.”
But despite other favourable comments elsewhere in the book, supporters have taken offence at Osman also questioning Cahill – whether it was intentional or not – for upstaging David Moyes’s Goodison farewell. “He’d come to watch the game and should have been out first, but he was last as though he was the big draw for the day,” says Osman. “I just couldn’t believe it. It was incredible.
“I know Tim hadn’t actually asked for it to be done that way but [he] should have declined the offer.” To the Australian’s adoring fanbase, such criticism is heresy.
But is Cahill’s apparent status as an Everton legend deserved?
Moyes made no secret Cahill was one of his best-ever signings and admits he built a team around the Australian’s inspirational goal-poaching, rabble-rousing attributes.
His flag-punching, all-action style played to the gallery, and since his exit Cahill has done much on social media to help preserve his Blues legacy. As an attacking midfielder with a penchant for scoring important goals (most notably against Manchester City and Liverpool) Cahill was surpassed by very few of his Premier League peers. However, when employed elsewhere, such as in the central pairing of a 4-4-2, he struggled to make anywhere near the same impact.
Indeed, his clearly specialist role was at odds with many of his team-mates for whom versatility proved so important under Moyes. It would be interesting to see how Cahill, not the most technically gifted of footballers, would have fared under the charge of Roberto Martinez.
Make no mistake, Cahill was a brilliantly effective player for Everton, a talismanic presence on and off the field. The Australian, though, falls short of standing alongside true legends such as Ball, Harvey, Kendall, Labone and Royle.
No amount of online baiting is going to change that.
Reasons for cheer in Everton accounts
Further signs of progress at Everton came with the release of their latest club accounts last week.
An increase of profit up to £28.2million and turnover breaking through the £100m barrier for the first time were the chief highlights. Of similar encouragement was the lowering of the net debt from £45m to £28m. Okay, the Blues were helped massively by the huge injection of cash thanks to the new television rights deal. But there were still plenty of reasons for cheer.
Which made it all the more confusing the accounts were released almost as an after-thought without warning late on Thursday night. Perhaps the club didn’t want to make a big fuss about it.
But having been pilloried in the past for financial and commerical mis-steps, here was something for Everton to shout about. It’s a surprise they did not.
Everton FC transfer gossip: Blues to move for ex-Arsenal star Carlos Vela; Samuel Eto'o 'agreed' Liverpool move
Nov 02, 2014 Liverpool Echo
A round-up of today's transfer rumours from around the web
Roberto Martinez could look to strengthen his forward line in January with a move for ex-Arsenal man Carlos Vela, according to caughtoffside .com.
The 25-year-old is reportedly looking for a new challenge after a spell at Real Sociedad, where he scored 21 goals in all competitions last term.
The Mexican scored just 11 goals in 62 games during his stint with the Gunners. He was loaned out a number of times before joining Real Sociedad on a permanent deal in 2012.
He's scored an impressive 29 goals in 49 games in all competitions for the Spanish outfit.
Everton forward Samuel Eto'o had agreed terms and passed a medical at rivals Liverpool before joining the Blues, that's according to a report in the Daily Express .
Liverpool chose to sign Mario Balotelli from AC Milan and Eto'o moved to Goodison Park, where he has struck four goals in 10 games. However Everton boss Martinez says the club spoke to Eto'o's representatives weeks before his eventual move. Martinez said: "I don't think that was the real story. I had spoken to Samuel long before, and my chairman had conversations with his representatives some weeks before. "Look, it doesn't matter. What matters is that for whatever reason he's here and I see him as a gift from the footballing gods, and I am happy for him to continue to enjoy it."
Everton 0 Swansea City 0 - five talking points
By Sport_Steve November 02, 2014
1. The wait for a win at Goodison Park continues
Swansea City have still never won a game at Goodison Park or beaten Everton in the league, but this time they will be happy with a draw. The Toffees lost to Swansea for the first ever time in any competition in September when Garry Monk’s men claimed a 3-0 Capital One Cup victory. Chances were at a premium this time as Swansea hung on for a hard-earned point.
2. Swansea are still not getting decisions
After a series of games in which major refereeing calls have seemingly gone against Swansea, there was more controversy at Goodison Park. Antolin Alcaraz appeared to dive and handle Jonjo Shelvey’s goal-bound shot in the first half of Saturday’s game, but referee Kevin Friend did not award a penalty. Although hard to spot first time around, the offence looked deliberate and cynical when replayed.
3. Another sending off
Jonjo Shelvey’s dismissal on Saturday was Swansea’s fourth already this season. Wiilfried Bony, Angel Rangel and Federico Fernandez have also seen red, though Fernandez’s midweek card was quashed. Shelvey can have few complaints about getting his marching orders after first kicking the ball away to before then blocking Ross Barkley.
4. Everton drew a blank
Roberto Martinez’s side failed to score a goal for the first time in 10 Premier League games this season. And in truth they didn’t come that close to beating Lukasz Fabianski. Swansea produced a solid defensive effort that contained their hosts, particularly in the final 20 minutes when down to 10 men. The Toffees had plenty of possession, but few chances.
5. Roberto Martinez was not happy
Swansea City’s former boss suggested the manner in which Garry Monk’s men secured a point at Everton was at odds with the free-flowing style they have become renowned for, an approach he helped implement. Swansea were not at their silky best on Merseyside, but they showed a steely edge to come away with a share of the spoils.
Analysis: Gareth Barry shines in emergency central defensive role
Nov 02, 2014 Livewrpool Echo
By Neil Jones
Could the veteran midfielder solve a problem for Roberto Martinez, short term?
When someone like Roberto Martinez uses words like “disappointing” and “pedestrian” to describe a football match, you know it has been an underwhelming afternoon.
The Everton manager’s default setting is to search for the positive, but even he was left struggling after this one. He still found one, mind. “Pristine,” is a word the Catalan uses a lot, and he did so again here. The recipient on this occasion? Gareth Barry.
“I just think he represents everything that we are here at Everton,” Martinez added.
Certainly, the 33-year-old showed, as he often does, the value of having an experienced, intelligent, versatile footballer in a squad such as this. Barry began the game in his usual midfield role, orchestrating from deep while James McCarthy, his partner, buzzed around in front of him. So far, so normal. But Antolin Alcaraz’s injury, half an hour in, forced a significant reshuffle. And with no natural central defender in reserve – Martinez strangely insisted afterwards that Sylvain Distin was “not someone I would use on the bench” - it was Barry who dropped in alongside Phil Jagielka, with Muhamed Besic on in midfield. Centre-back is not an alien position to Barry, of course. It is where he made his professional debut for Aston Villa, and where he spent a lot of his early career – though as Martinez pointed out, that was usually as part of a back three, rather than an orthodox two.
Still, it was impressive the manner in which the veteran handled the switch here. A swift booking aside, the transition was seamless. Wilfried Bony, strong, quick and aggressive, had already caused problems for both Jagielka and Alcaraz in the early stages, and had already spurned Swansea’s best chance of the game, but Barry rarely looked too troubled by the Ivorian. All of Bony’s best work came well away from the Everton penalty area, with Jagielka taking the lead in the physical duels, and doing a pretty good job at it. Martinez confirmed afterwards that Alcaraz, who has damaged the joint in his shoulder, is facing “another long spell” on the sidelines, joining John Stones, whose ankle is still covered by a protective boot. It means he has a decision to make, in the short-term at least, over who to use alongside Jagielka. He namechecked the youngsters Tyias Browning (20) and Brendan Galloway (18) here, though it would be a big ask for either to step up to the plate, with crucial domestic and European fixtures approaching. He could, of course, bring Distin in from the cold. The Frenchman has not started a league game since the defeat to Crystal Palace on 21 September, but produced a perfectly-competent performance (and kept a clean sheet) against Lille in the Europa League last month. He looks, at face value, the obvious choice to step in.
It is clear, though, that the manager’s faith in the 36-year-old has waned, despite public protestations to the contrary. His partnership with Jagielka, so reliable for so long, was exposed badly earlier in the season. Everton shipped 13 goals in the four league games the pair have started together this term, turning in performances littered with individual errors.
With that in mind, could Barry be an option to fill in temporarily?
“It’s great to have players like that, who can adapt to so many positions,” Martinez said. “I think you saw today, he cruised it. “He had one action when he was unaware (Wayne) Routledge was behind him in the area, but apart from that he was pristine. He can certainly play there.”
He would certainly bring qualities with him. His calm nature and solid distribution would be assets, as would the natural balance provided by his left foot. Here, he won all of his aerial duels, made three interceptions and completed an impressive 91% of his passes.
Whether moving Barry back would have an impact further forward, however, is another consideration. It is arguable that Everton, for all their control, missed his nous and positional discipline as Saturday’s game wore on. Besic, clearly, is a fine midfield prospect, and did little wrong in his hour on the field. The Bosnian, however, lacks Barry’s reliable short passing game, and his tendency to do everything at full-pelt and abandon his station can actually affect his side’s rhythm, rather than assist it, at times. Everton already have McCarthy to snap into tackles and inject energy and power, and Barry, holding his position, reading the game, is the ideal foil for the Irish international. Their partnership is one of the strongest around. All-in-all, plenty for Martinez to ponder, with his side facing two testing fixtures in the space of of three days later this week. Lille, and then Sunderland, will challenge his side. Whether Barry at centre back is something he considers for those games remains to be seen. One thing is for sure; the England international did enough here to suggest it would not be such a risky move.
Everton manager Roberto Martinez "surprised" by negative Swansea City approach after Blues held to goalless draw
Nov 02, 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Neil Jones
The Everton manager said he expected to see the two teams fighting to get on the ball
Roberto Martinez admitted he was surprised by Swansea City’s approach during their goalless draw at Goodison Park on Saturday.
But the Everton manager insists his side will never complain if sides come to Merseyside simply to defend. Martinez was left frustrated by his team’s inability to break down a stubborn Swansea outfit, despite controlling the majority of the game, and playing the last 19 minutes of the game with a man advantage following the dismissal of Jonjo Shelvey. The visitors failed to have a shot on target or force a corner. And with Everton boasting two-thirds of the possession without ever really looking like creating too much, it made for a rather sterile spectacle. “It is like when you go to the cinema expecting to see an outstanding film, and the hopes are so high that you end up disappointed,” Martinez said. “I expected two teams fighting to get on the ball. Swansea were very well organised, they were quite deep and tried to hit us on the counter. “They had a couple of actions, as you would expect, but they had no shots on target and no corners, which is quite strange. And I think the sending off has, in the last 10 or 15 minutes, given them a stronger role in trying to just see the game through. “It was a frustrating performance, with a slow and pedestrian tempo. A strange game, really.” Everton have now won just one home league game since April, leading to suggestions that more teams who visit Goodison may follow Swansea’s lead, by packing their midfield and looking to hit the Blues on the counter attack. “I take that as a compliment, and I think we have adapted to that over the past months,” Martinez said. “We enjoy when teams come and they are defensive minded, we never moan about that. “In football you have to find a way. I was surprised that Swansea did that, but they are allowed to do that. You choose how you want to play.
“I think we got a little bit frustrated with ourselves. We usually move the ball a lot quicker, and we are a lot more penetrating in the final third. “But you get days like that, and we need to make sure we don’t get frustrated with ourselves in future.” Martinez confirmed defender Antolin Alcaraz is facing “a long spell” on the sidelines, after injuring his shoulder in a challenge with Wilfried Bony in the first half. It could lead to a recall for Sylvain Distin, who has not featured in the league since September, and was not even among the substitutes on Saturday. “Sylvain played against Lille and I was really happy with his performance,” Martinez said.
“But Sylvain is not someone who I would use on the bench, at 36.
“There are certain positions that you need on the bench to make an impact. Other positions, it is more to make up the numbers, and I don’t think that for Sylvain at his age, to make him get changed and get ready if he is not starting the game is fair. “He’s a very important player for us, and that has never changed.”
Everton boss Roberto Martinez: That's not what I expect from a really good Swansea City team
By South Wales Evening Post November 03, 2014
ROBERTO Martinez has irked Swansea City by taking a swipe at his old club after Saturday's stalemate at Goodison Park.
Martinez had irritated Garry Monk in the build-up to the game by suggesting the Swansea manager was wasting his time complaining about refereeing decisions.
And he took another dig at 10-man Swansea after they battled hard to claim a creditable goalless draw. Monk was delighted by the determination and defensive nous on show as his team stifled Everton both before and after Jonjo Shelvey's red card. But Martinez was less impressed, claiming this was a "strange" Swansea performance because Monk's men had focused too much on defending and not enough on playing a possession game. "It was like going into the cinema expecting to see an outstanding film and you don't get it," said Swansea's former manager and captain. "I expected to see two teams fighting to get the ball, but overall, it was a frustrating game and a frustrating performance. "In football you need to find a way to compete, but I was surprised that Swansea did what they did. "We were frustrated with ourselves — we could have moved the ball a lot quicker. We are a lot more penetrating in the final third than we were here.
"But we had to work really hard to stop Swansea because of the way they were trying to run the clock down. "I just felt they were clearly very focused on defending well, and they did defend extremely well. "After the red card, Swansea had a clear role in the game — they played with nine men behind the ball plus the goalkeeper. "They were well organised and defended with real intensity, but that's not what I would highlight from a really good Swansea City team.
"They are always exceptional in terms of what they do with the ball, so it was strange to see a Swansea City performance like that. "Even before the sending off, the stats show you they had no shots on targets and no corners, so it was a game that was less open than I expected."
Everton were restricted to long-range efforts for the most part, with Aiden McGeady going closest to scoring with two shots from outside the box. Swansea created the best opportunities of the game, with Everton failing to carve the visitors open even after Shelvey's dismissal.
"We were not at our best on the ball," Martinez added. "We didn't move it quickly enough and didn't have our normal tempo. "Sometimes we didn't make the right decisions, and sometimes we didn't have that bit of fortune. "But it's a good clean sheet for us so we take that and move on to the next game."
Swansea City midfielder Ki Sung-Yueng hails defensive effort at Everton
By South Wales Evening Post November 03, 2014
KI Sung-Yueng hailed Swansea City's defensive effort after he and his team-mates held on for a battling draw at Everton.
Swansea had the best chance of the match in the first half of Saturday's match when Gylfi Sigurdsson played in Wilfried Bony and the striker fired wide. In the second half Swansea created less, and when Jonjo Shelvey was sent off in the 72nd minute Garry Monk's men had to dig deep.
They absorbed sustained Toffees pressure in the closing stages, though Everton failed to carve out clear-cut opportunities. The goalless stalemate banked an encouraging point for Swansea, who stay sixth in the Premier League. "It was maybe the toughest game of the season," said Ki.
"After the sending off, everyone had the desire and we did it which was unbelievable and it was a massive point. "We have done all the defensive stuff in training and for 25 minutes we didn't really get a chance to go forward, but it doesn't matter — with 10 men we didn't concede which is really good for us and also we showed even with 10 men we can stay in the game.
"We had chances in the first half and if we score you are not sure how the game goes, but they would definitely have a chance as well because they have one more player and quality as well.
"The way they play it's quite tough to stop them. " Swansea might have been awarded a penalty before the break when Antolin Alcaraz appeared to dive and handle Shelvey's shot inside the area.
But referee Kevin Friend failed to point to the spot as another crucial decision went against Monk's side. "It was definitely a penalty. Everyone saw that. The ball goes to his hand, but it is already gone so I don't need to say anything about the referees," said Ki. "Everton is always tough. They know how to control the game and break the defensive line. I think the defensive shape was perfect, especially after the sending off. Everyone was very focused. "It's all about mentality. If your mentally get stronger you can concentrate more. If you have 10 men it doesn't matter."
Swansea face Arsenal at the Liberty on Sunday before an international break.
Then comes a trip to face Manchester City. And Ki believes Swansea are capable of getting results in those two matches. Swansea have made an encouraging start to the season, though there is a feeling that more points could have been banked. After being in control against Newcastle, the game ended in a draw, while Swansea lost at Stoke when another controversial penalty decision went against them. "I think we have done well so far this season," added Ki.
"Maybe some games we should have won, but I think Arsenal is massive for us.
"Also after the international break against Manchester City away I think we have the possibility to go and fight so I think these two games are crucial."
Garry Monk hits back at Roberto Martinez in row over Swansea City's approach at Everton
By South Wales Evening Post November 03, 2014
By Gareth Vincent
GARRY Monk has hit back at Roberto Martinez after his swipe at Swansea City, claiming the Everton boss should take a look closer to home.
Martinez questioned Swansea's tactical approach after their creditable goalless draw at Goodison Park this weekend. The ex-Swansea manager claimed his old club failed to play their trademark possession game because they were more focused on defending.
He also suggested Monk's men were guilty of timewasting and branded their performance "strange".
Monk was a little annoyed before the game when Martinez suggested his former skipper was wasting his time complaining about referees — and defended PGMOL chief Mike Riley.
And Monk was further irritated by Martinez's take on Swansea's determined effort on Saturday.
"I just think what Roberto said was born out of frustration at his own team's performance and the fact they were unable to break us down or have a meaningful shot on our goal," said the Swansea boss. "I'm disappointed because I think Roberto's deflecting attention from his own team by blaming the opposition. "Everton didn't have a shot on target in the second half.
"If it was my team who had 25 minutes to break down 10 men and we didn't have a shot on target, I would have been more disappointed with myself as a manager because I didn't give my team the knowledge to break the other team down or even have a shot on target." Jonjo Shelvey will be suspended for next weekend's meeting with Arsenal after being sent off for two bookable offences at Everton, and Monk has told the midfielder the needless cautions must stop.
Everton 0 Swansea City 0: Roberto Martinez not impressed by former club – but Garry Monk is delighted
By South Wales Evening Post November 03, 2014
ROBERTO Martinez likened watching Swansea City this weekend to seeing a disappointing movie.
Garry Monk might ask his old mate to lend him a few DVDs, because he must feel he has seen some pretty good films.
Okay, so this was not an Oscar-winning display from Monk's Swansea side, for they can undoubtedly be better on the ball than they were here. But the battling performance they delivered was good enough to ensure that even with ten men for the last 22 minutes, they came away from a ground where they have earned very little down the decades with a precious point.
The truth is Martinez did not like the way Swansea played because Everton did not win.
Monk, by contrast, was rightly delighted with a gritty, committed effort which strengthened the argument that he has made Swansea considerably harder to beat this season.
It may not have been Swansea's prettiest showing, but it was one that featured plenty of positives nevertheless. "That meant more to me than the three points we got against Leicester last weekend," Monk said. "You can play free-flowing football all you want and you can play in great teams but, when you strip it back down to basics, it's about a team effort and a team working together. "You saw that here. You saw a team not willing to just keel over.
"There was a mentality that we would not get beaten, and the players deserve the point for the effort, the commitment and the work-rate they put in." Martinez did offer Monk's side credit for their defending, but suggested this was not the kind of performance Swansea have become known for in recent years. Or, in other words, since he was made manager at the Liberty in 2007.
Swansea have of course made giant strides by playing the kind of attractive, possession football that Martinez adores. But for the Spaniard to criticise his old club for not being at their eye-catching best at Goodison Park was surprising, particularly given their miserable record on this ground.
Some might suggest that Martinez had a go at Swansea in order to divert attention from the fact that Everton, who have been potent for the most part this season, failed to deliver in the final third.
The fact is that if Monk can add some extra steel to a team whose ability to turn on the style is not in question, Swansea's fans will be thrilled. Everton had scored in every Premier League game they had played this season until the weekend. Had they kept that sequence going, Martinez's post-match swipe at Swansea would almost certainly not have materialised. The Blues boss was frustrated because while his team had controlled the ball for the majority of this contest, they did not take charge of the scoreboard. It is a line that has applied to Swansea many times in recent seasons. For the shoe to be on the other foot must have been refreshing for Monk.
There was actually a hint of disappointment in the visiting camp after this second stalemate of the season, because at times a first ever victory on Everton's patch seemed possible.
Swansea created what would prove to be the game's clearest chance inside the first six minutes, when Gylfi Sigurdsson's latest delightful ball sent Wilfried Bony through on goal.
But the in-form striker fired wide — possibly with the aid of an unseen deflection — and Everton were off the hook. Bony turned provider for what was arguably the second best opportunity of the game, but this time Jonjo Shelvey pulled his shot past the post. The miss was all part of a poor day for Shelvey, who picked up a second yellow card for blocking off James McCarthy having earlier been booked for needlessly kicking the ball away. Daft cautions come all too often with Shelvey, and that must change because his issues with referees are hindering his team. "Jonjo will have to sit out the Arsenal game next week (through suspension) and then it's the international break, so he's probably got three weeks to think about it now," Monk said. "I am not going to go too hard on Jonjo because he is a good lad and a good person for us who is playing well, but he has got to cut out the silly bookings. "We have all got passion and commitment, but you have got to be clever with it.
"You have to play with a cool head, and that first yellow is one that could be avoided."
Shelvey could not grumble about the first sending off of his Swansea career.
But, as so often seems to be the case right now, Swansea did have one major gripe with the referee on Saturday. And once again, their complaints were entirely justified.
When Shelvey shot from 20 yards, centre-back Antolin Alcaraz did goalkeeper Tim Howard's job for him, dropping to his left and pawing the ball with his arm.
Martinez took the Arsene Wenger approach, claiming he "didn't see" the incident.
Monk insisted he'd had a clear view — and was in no doubt that Swansea should have been given a penalty. "I didn't know you were allowed to play with two goalkeepers," he said.
"It's a great save — one I will be showing to my keepers in training this week."
Monk held a meeting with refs' chiefs Mike Riley and Howard Webb on Friday, where he showed them the various key decisions he feels have gone against Swansea this season.
They assured him that referees do their best to get them right, and then came another howler 24 hours later. A Swansea penalty may have changed the course of the Everton game.
With no spot-kick awarded, Monk's team ended up holding on for a point rather than, perhaps, all three. They got the job done thanks to a defensive effort which was full of desire and determination — and which was so successful that Lukasz Fabianski made only one sharp save all afternoon.
The Pole repelled Aiden McGeady's fierce long-ranger, then watched as another shot from the wideman curled beyond the post. Leighton Baines was also off target with a free-kick, and that was about it. "The greedy part of me thinks that if we had kept 11 men on the pitch, maybe we could have got more than a draw because we were just starting to create a few things in the second half," Monk said. "But my sensible head says that a point here, where we haven't done too well, against a very good Everton side is more than enough." Martinez felt otherwise, but for Swansea, satisfying was the word.
Everton FC goalkeeper Tim Howard insists Blues still on the up despite frustration against Swansea City
Nov 2 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
The USA shot-stopper remains upbeat after the goalless draw at Goodison
Tim Howard lamented Everton’s ability to find a breakthrough against Swansea City - but insisted their attacking flair remains undiminished. The Toffees had to be content with a point at Goodison on Saturday after a lacklustre 0-0 draw with Garry Monk’s men, who defended solidly despite being reduced to 10 men. But Howard maintains that Everton still head into their next fixtures, against Lille on Thursday and Sunderland next Sunday, with confidence high.
He said: “It was a frustrating game for both sides. We kept a clean sheet against a tough opponent and we tried, but it keeps us on our unbeaten run. “We’re doing well and we’ve got two big games this week. We’re not too disappointed - it was a tough draw and if you’re getting a draw, you want it to be 0-0. “We’re not a team that doesn’t score many goals. We’re always knocking on the door and creating chances - I think our record shows that. It was just one of those days, but we’re encouraged by how much ball retention we had, particularly in the final third. On most days, you win those games. “We like to score lots of goals but we kept a clean sheet, which is a positive and a draw at home keeps us going. “We are playing well. We are in the middle of a pretty good run. Of course we would have liked to have won but we have got two other big games this week and this keeps us ticking over, and keeps us unbeaten in a few games.” Everton must prepare for the visit of Lille without Antolin Alcaraz, who was injured in the first half and faces a potentially lengthy spell on the sidelines. “It’s bad luck,” said Howard, “Anto’s done brilliantly to come in and be prepared, always playing well. It’s tough on the squad, but since the manager’s been here, we’ve not been a team to look back worried on injuries. “We just get on with it, try to get those people back healthy and encourage them, using the guys ready for the opportunity. We’re devastated for Anto but we’ll get through it.” Without Alcaraz on Saturday, Gareth Barry dropped into defence, and Howard was impressed with the performance of his experienced team-mate. He said: “That’s what you get with a top-quality player; the ability to play different positions. Clearly it’s not his preferred position, but the fact he can go in there and be astute enough to read the game, while being strong enough to deal with Bony and Gomis - he was superb today. “Every bone in his body is a number six, so I was having to make sure we reeled him in and kept him in position. He reads the game well so we were happy.”
Everton FC 0 Swansea City 0: Greg O'Keeffe's verdict on a match which was anything but a blockbuster
Nov 03, 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
Goodison snooze-fest won't have anyone clamouring for a sequel
Roberto Martinez likened it to a decidedly anti-climactic trip to the cinema.
But if it was stretching it to imagine the visit of Swansea City would yield a block-buster, Everton fans were entitled to expect more than a snooze-fest which had nobody clamouring for a sequel.
“It is like when you go to the cinema expecting to see an outstanding film, and the hopes are so high that you end up disappointed,” said the Blues boss. Martinez is proud to have given the Welsh side their footballing blueprint when he was in charge, but there was little evidence of that passing philosophy from Garry Monk's men on their second visit to Merseyside in a week.
Instead they largely sat back, got numbers behind the ball, and looked to hit Everton on the counter-attack. It wasn’t the bold, possession-based style which Martinez set in stone all those years ago at the Liberty Stadium, but then his current team hardly beguiled with their usual fluency either.
“I expected two teams fighting to get on the ball. Swansea were very well organised, they were quite deep and tried to hit us on the counter,” said the Catalan. “It was a frustrating performance, with a slow and pedestrian tempo. A strange game, really.” The extra frustrating thing about Saturday was that Everton didn’t actually start at the plodding pace with which their manager summed up the afternoon. They came out of the blocks quickly, and seemed capable of blitzing Swansea with their attacking football and the home crowd behind them. But, unable to get an early goal, they wilted.
While the all-important cutting edge was present in abundance at Turf Moo The onus is on Everton to break down sides who present an obdurate wall of defence at Goodison, and by failing to find a way they missed an opportunity to progress. With Liverpool and Manchester United both dropping points the Toffees might have cemented their upward curve. Instead they remain in the congested middle ground of sides yet to really get their seasons going. It might even have been worse.
Were it not for an uncharacteristic lack of composure in front of goal from Wilfried Bony, who went one on one with Tim Howard in the first half, and then ref Kevin Friend’s failure to spot Antolin Alcaraz ‘saving’ a shot with his arm, the contest might have been memorable for all the wrong reasons. Conceding a penalty would not have even been the low-point of the luckless Paraguayan’s afternoon. He had shown some impressive glimpses of his ability to play the ball out of defence before being smashed by Bony in the area, another penalty Friend missed, and having to leave the pitch in agony. It’s a good job James McCarthy’s signing has been such a bona-fide success otherwise Martinez’s raiding of his old club last summer might seem well and truly cursed.
Arouna Kone is less a squad member, more half-remembered enigma to most Evertonians. Joel Robles’ ability to really rival Tim Howard is debatable, and Alcaraz just can’t seem to stay fit.
The centre-back certainly can’t be faulted for his latest set-back of course. It was rotten luck that he landed awkwardly on his shoulder, appearing to dislocate it in the process.
But it does leave his manager with something of a dilemma. Does he now turn back to Sylvain Distin, who wasn’t even afforded a place on the bench against Swansea, or explore untested prospects such as Brendan Galloway? Distin’s return would seem the most logical conclusion, because the option of asking Gareth Barry to deputise - as he did on Saturday - deprives the midfield of his guile and craft.
When the midfielder dropped into the back line after half an hour it was no coincidence that the Toffees attacking tempo dipped. It’s something for Martinez to ponder, along with how to get the best out of Ross Barkley. On this evidence, asking the England midfielder to operate on the left of midfield isn’t the way. The idea presumably was for the 20-year-old to cut inside on his right foot, but he struggled to open up Swansea’s defence - even when they were reduced to 10 men - and he wasn’t alone. Apart from McCarthy, who presented his usual display of ceaseless motion and immaculately timed interventions, none of Everton’s influential men really clicked.
The return of Kevin Mirallas can’t come soon enough. His ability to create something from nothing is often the difference in games such as these. Last season Gerard Deulofeu helped in that respect too, but this time around we’re yet to see if Christian Atsu proves to be a decent replacement.
Just in case anyone wasn’t paying attention during the closing credits, Everton conspired to miss a chance to grab the points. Samuel Eto’o, who purred with his usual elan but failed to hit the back of the net this time, delivered a late cross and Romelu Lukaku just couldn’t connect at the back post.
In terms of consolation it was, at least, another clean sheet. Such ongoing defensive solidity is a welcome return. It would be nice if that was matched by the return of enough potency to break down similarly well-drilled outfits. The table is so tight almost anything is still up for grabs. Everton just need to get a winning streak going and they could find their prospects looking up.
Why Everton youngster Ryan Ledson was happy to miss a Blues milestone
Nov 03, 2014 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
The talented teenage is following in Wayne Rooney's footsteps by tasting international success before his club first team debut
Everton FC youngster Ryan Ledson is hoping to follow the same path to stardom taken by one of the greatest players of his generation. In the spring of 2002 a prodigiously talented teenager was named by Everton manager Walter Smith in his first team squad for an end of season trip to Southampton.
With Everton hanging onto a 1-0 lead Wayne Rooney failed to make it onto the pitch – and his hopes of becoming the youngest player in the club’s history were put on ice for four months.
Everton still had two fixtures remaining, but Rooney’s country needed him for an Under-18 tournament and it was decided to continue his education at international level.
Fast forward a decade and talented teenager Ryan Ledson faced exactly the same dilemma.
Named on the Blues substitutes bench for an April trip to Southampton earlier this year, Ledson didn’t make it onto the pitch. And with two games of the season remaining it was decided England’s need was greater.
It was a wise decision.
Ledson went on to skipper England’s Under-17s to a famous European Championship triumph, scoring in the penalty shoot-out success over Holland. But the young midfielder still sometimes wonders ‘what if?’ “It was a decision Gareth Southgate and the manager had to make about me going,” he said. “They had to decide whether I made my debut for the first team at Hull at the end of the season or went to the European Championships. “Personally I would have liked to have made my debut, but you can’t take away winning the European Championships. It was unbelievable.
“I’ve just got to keep working hard for the Under-21s now and hopefully it might come this season.
“Wayne Rooney’s a great player and I don’t think I’ll have the career he’s going to have! But I just have to keep my head down. “I travelled to Russia recently in the Europa League and I hope I’ll have a few more.” An industrious and accomplished midfielder, 17-year-old Ledson admits that there are several players at Finch Farm he looks up to – including a couple of players who have recently stepped up from the Under-21 ranks to senior duty. “We train sometimes with the first team but we always see the lads around the building and they are all good lads,” added Ledson.
“I probably look towards James McCarthy – the same position as me, the same type of player. He’s brilliant. Last season he was probably one of our best players. “But if you also look at the likes of Tyias Browning and Luke Garbutt now who are in the first team changing room now and training with them every day. “The gaffer likes bringing young players through. He did it at Wigan and he’s doing it at Everton. It gives all the lads in the 21s a boost.” The man helping push the club’s youngsters towards first team duty is a familiar one to Evertonians, 1995 FA Cup winner David Unsworth. The defender made 350 appearances in two spells for the Blues, scoring 40 goals, and Ledson added: “I’ve seen a few things on television about him. He was a good player, very tough and very strong and I think that’s what he ‘s trying to instil in us. “He’s always in the gym and keeps as fit as anything and I think that sets an example for us, makes us work hard. “He’s a great coach. We look forward to coming into training. He’s always dead bubbly and lively and he has us playing really well.” The bubbly exterior is not an act. Unsworth is genuinely thrilled to be working at the club he loves. He has been guiding the club’s Under-21s for two years now.
“It’s great to be back. It’s where I want to be. “It was like the Holy Grail for me coming back to Everton. “It’s just got this ridiculous magnetic pull. When you’re not there and you’re not involved you just want to be there. “I had some great times at different clubs – but winning at Everton always meant a bit more on a Saturday evening – it really did - and losing just hurt a bit more on a Sunday morning and that has never changed, even when I’m coaching.
“I want our Under-21s to be a world class facility and the sort of group that the manager can call on whenever he needs to. “Our aim is to produce players for every position on a regular basis and we won’t stop until that has happened. “Every single one of them has an opportunity. How far they go will be down to them. “They know how hard it’s going to be but they certainly work hard enough to fulfill that potential – and some of them have had a little taste of it already.
“Ryan travelled to Krasnodar, Tyias Browning made his debut in the derby and then played at Manchester United and that lifts everybody in the group because they’re a tight knit group.
“We’re not a stand alone group because the manager integrates the Under-21s into his first team group and it’s brilliant they get that exposure. “There’s a lot of top clubs I know of that don’t do that. “Tyias is a shining example of the value of that. He is one we have all known about for years and years but up until this season Roberto has had him training with the first team from day one of pre-season and the difference it makes training with the best players is incredible.
“Our young players are very lucky they get that exposure.” They will be hoping for even more exposure in the first team this season, following in the footsteps of a 16-year-old who is now on the brink of becoming his country’s top goalscorer.
Everton FC transfer gossip: Blues eye Ayew January swoop, Martinez on defence, Carlos Vela link as Moyes looks to Spanish hot seat
Nov 03, 2014 Liverpool mEcho
By Peter Guy
Blues boss turns sights to January transfer window
Everton FC have are to swoop for former Liverpool target Ghana forward Andre Ayew in January.
According to fresh reports, the Blues want to sign the 24-year-old, who is free to enter a pre-contract agreement with any club in January. Ayew will be one of the most attractive transfer targets as he is out of contract at Marseille next summer. The Ghana international has also rejected an offer to renew his contract with the French Ligue 1 leaders to further endear him to suitors.
Ayew has featured in all ten of Marseille’s league games so far this season and has helped lift the club to the top of the table, seven points clear of big spending PSG. Blues boss Roberto Martinez has revealed he will not dip in the transfer market in January for another centre-back following the 0-0 draw against Swansea. The Toffees are without promising England defender John Stones, who damaged ankle ligaments against Manchester United earlier this month. Martinez said: “Centre-back is an area where we are strong with Phil Jagielka, Slyvain Distin, Antolin Alcaraz and Tyias Browning coming through so I’m happy with that we’ve got. "Also John Stones will be fit again in the not too distant future.” Meanwhile, Everton have expressed an interest in signing former Arsenal striker Carlos Vela, according to reports. The Mexican international, now plying his trade at Real Sociedad, scored 21 goals in all competitions for the La Liga outfit last season.
Finally, ex-Manchester United and Everton manager David Moyes could be set to make a surprise return to football management in La Liga. Reports suggest the Scot on the list of candidates to replace Jagoba Arrasate at Real Sociedad after a 1-0 defeat to Malaga this weekend spelled the end for the Basque club’s coach.
Everton FC captain Phil Jagielka says Ross Barkley has to learn to cope with being a marked man
Nov 03, 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Neil Jones
20-year-old was halted by the Swansea's commitment to a packed defence
Phil Jagielka says Everton FC teammate Ross Barkley will need to learn to deal with being a marked man as his career goes on. And the Blues skipper hopes to see his young colleague add to his senior England caps tally later this month. Barkley cut a frustrated figure at times during Saturday’s goalless draw with Swansea City at Goodison Park. The 20-year-old was halted by the Welsh outfit’s commitment to a packed defence, with the man-marking of Swans midfielder Ki-Sung Yeung meaning his influence on proceedings was limited. Jagielka, though, believes these are the kind of problems that Barkley will face as his career takes off, but tipped the youngster to overcome such difficulties. He said: “That is what happens to the best players.
“They (opponents) watch the videos of him and they do target him to make sure if they keep him quiet in a game it can affect his team. “He is going to have to deal with it and I can’t see it getting much easier for him as he goes on in his career - but he’s more than capable of dealing with it.
“Nothing gets him down. If you look at Saturday’s game, I wouldn’t say it was his best game but he kept on going, kept on going, kept on going. “A lot of people in that situation can hide and not want the ball but I’d never expect Ross to be one of those players.” Barkley has recently returned to action after more than two months on the sidelines with a knee injury. It has meant he has been unable to add to his tally of nine senior England appearances. But with a Euro 2016 qualifier against Slovenia, as well as a friendly against Scotland up at Hampden Park, to come later this month, Barkley is likely to be back in Roy Hodgson’s thoughts in the next few days.
And Jagielka, for one, is glad of that. He said: “It will be nice for Ross to get away and hopefully get some game time for England, get his confidence up and kick-start his season. “We all know how much ability he has. It is nice for him to have some lessons or learning curves along the way so the manager is open to him playing at international level as most managers should do.”
Ian Snodin: Time for Sylvain Distin to come in from the cold
Nov 04, 2014 Liverpool Echo
by Ian Snodin
Experienced defender still has plenty to offer
He's been out of favour of late, but he’s definitely going to be needed in the coming weeks; it’s time for Sylvain Distin to come in out of the cold at Goodison Park.
I feel for Antolin Alcaraz, because his Everton career has been defined by injuries rather than anything else, but one person’s misfortune is another person’s opportunity, and this is Distin’s chance to re-establish himself as first choice. He has to come back into the side for the game with Lille on Thursday, and with a tough trip to Sunderland coming up on Sunday, I expect he will stay there too. It’s clear that he has been struggling this season, and has fallen down the pecking order. I was surprised that he wasn’t even named on the bench for the weekend game with Swansea - and thought Roberto Martinez’s explanation of that was a little bit strange, if I’m honest - but I’m sure he will get the call this week. Listen, Gareth Barry did a good job in there against Swansea. He had one little moment where he didn’t realise Wayne Routledge was closing in on him, and got the hurry-up from the crowd, but other than that he was faultless. He’s a good footballer, Barry. He reads situations well, and that compensates for his lack of pace. As Roberto said, he cruised through the game really, though Swansea could certainly have done more to test him.
I know the manager spoke afterwards about Tyias Browning and Brendan Galloway as being possible options at centre back, and I suppose Tony Hibbert could deputise there if needed, but for me it has to be Distin, with his experience and his know-how.
I won’t lie, I was very disappointed with Saturday’s game. And disappointed in Swansea as much as I was Everton. I think they’re a good side, Swansea, and they’ve been going well in the league this season. They outplayed us in the League Cup a few weeks back, and I expected them to come to Goodison and look to play. Instead, they set their stall out early, with 10 men behind the ball and Wilfried Bony on his own up front. It looked to me like they came for a point, and fair enough they got it. I just expected more from Garry Monk’s side. That said, it was up to Everton to break them down, and we just weren’t at our best on the day. We had enough of the ball, and worked some decent positions, but that final ball just wasn’t there. One or two players were below their best, and credit to Swansea’s defenders, they handled them well. I was asked afterwards if I was a little surprised to see Romelu Lukaku on the bench Saturday. The honest answer is that I wasn’t. I just think the squad is so strong at the minute, that you will see changes made week from week.
Rom did well at Burnley, but I thought Aiden McGeady, who replaced him against Swansea, did well also. He had our best effort of the second half, and was unlucky with a couple of others.
That’s the way it is now at Everton, there is competition, and players will have to take any chances that come their way. I’m sure Lukaku will be back against Lille and Sunderland, and hopefully he will bring goals with him.
A tough trip to Sunderland
As I have said elsewhere, I think Sunday’s game at Sunderland will be a tough one for Everton.
I know Gus Poyet’s side have been in dire form of late, and making some horrendous defensive errors along the way, but I’m always wary when facing teams like that. Their luck has to turn sometime, and Everton have to make sure they are not the victims of that.
The key is to keep the crowd quiet in games like that, and give them a chance to get on the home team’s back. Once that happens, the game becomes a whole lot easier. Everton looked very good in their last Premier League away game, against Burnley.
More of the same at the Stadium of Light, please.
No resting players
Whenever a Europa League tie pops up, I get asked the same question; how many players would I rest? The answer, this week, is none. Not one. This is a chance for Everton to pretty much wrap up qualification for the knockout stages. Victory over Lille would pretty much sort that, for my money.
Therefore, I would go with my strongest available side. Get the job done, and then you can rest players in the last two games, as and when needed. Sunderland away on Sunday will be difficult, but they will still have a day or two to recover after the Lille game, which I am sure will have a terrific atmosphere by the way. I’d go in with all of the big guns, myself.
Hibs look to extend winger Matthew Kennedy's loan stay at Easter Road beyond January
Nov 04, 2014 Daily Record
EVERTON youngster Kennedy has been used sparingly by Alan Stubbs this season but the Easter Road gaffer is eager to extend the 20-year-old's stay in Leith.
HIBS boss Alan Stubbs wants to extend the loan deal for Everton’s Matthew Kennedy beyond January. The former Kilmarnock winger has made just five starts since arriving in August and has been forced to warm the bench. But the 20-year-old is still in the plans of Stubbs, who worked with Kennedy in the reserve team at Everton. And the Hibees gaffer is planning to talk with his old club in a bid to keep the youngster all season. Stubbs said: “Matty’s had the impact that I knew he would. He has done well and been unlucky not to be in the team more often.
“We changed formation to one which didn’t incorporate Matty. We felt it wouldn’t see the best of him, which is why he hasn’t started so much lately. “But he was smashing against Dundee United. When he came on, we changed to 4-3-3 with him and Jason Cummings out wide and he had an effect. “He’s here until January but if there’s a possibility of sorting something else out with him then we would be interested. “He’s a good option off the bench but I don’t see him just as a bench player. He has attributes that others don’t but there are elements he knows he has to work on.”
Kennedy missed one of the penalties as Hibs lost out to Dundee United in a thrilling League Cup
shoot-out last week. But Stubbs is backing the kid to bounce back and said: “I was proud of him taking a penalty. He’s a young lad and, even though his kick was saved, he’ll learn.
“I’ve said all along, ‘Wait for your chance then take it.’ I know he will because he has ability.”
Hibs will be looking to go further in the Scottish Cup and they were paired with either Ayr or Alloa in the fourth-round draw. Stubbs, whose side lost 2-1 to the Wasps in the league, said: “It’s going to be a tough game for us, whether we face Ayr or Alloa.“The opposition will present us with different challenges but we’ll make sure we’re ready for it. “You always prefer a home tie but we will prepare correctly and are looking forward to the challenge.” Meanwhile, Hibs and Queen of the South will join forces a week on Saturday to mark The Great War’s 100th anniversary. Hundreds of free tickets for the game at Easter Road will be made available to veterans and current servicemen while Hibs will wear one-off shirts which will then be auctioned on-line to aid Help 4 Heroes.
Everton FC Romelu Lukaku insists he is over injury problems and ready to go on scoring spree for Blues
Nov 4 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
I could barely run at start of season but now I don't want to stop - says £28m man
Everton FC striker Romelu Lukaku has described how injury prevented him from finding his feet at the start of the season but declared: “Now I’m 100% ready to go.”
The 21-year-old striker revealed that he needed three injections in his foot just to play at the onset of the campaign, when a troublesome toe injury plagued his attempts to make an impact.
Lukaku has started all but one of the Blues Premier League fixtures this term despite the complaint, as Roberto Martinez admitted his £28m summer signing was restricted from hitting top form due to the problem. However, the former Chelsea forward has still scored four goals and now feels ready to start on a spree which will help the ninth-placed Toffees climb the table.
“The first two months I was injured but I wanted to play because my team mates needed me,” he says. “It was an experience for me, for the future. I tried to help them but I wasn’t 100% so I couldn’t be as dangerous as I wanted. “I’d taken a knock in training. The tendon underneath my toe was shut down completely and the joint on top badly bruised. “I couldn’t push off to sprint because the tendon would almost explode. I had to have three injections before the Arsenal game and then the same against Chelsea. It was difficult for me because I’m a runner. That’s a big part of my game.
“Once you lose your main quality it gives you a real challenge. “I needed to play more as a target man because I’m tall and very strong. But nowadays in football you need pace. Defenders are so quick; guys like Sylvain and Jags - when I spring against them in training onto balls down the channels it’s difficult for me and them. “I’ve always been a player who is about movement, making runs all day long. I will do everything I can to always stay like that.
“So now I’m 100%. There are exciting weeks ahead for me. “I’ve been training well and scored two in the last three games. I feel well.” Lukaku has been challenged with scoring 20 goals this season if he is to immediately start justifying his hefty price-tag, and he feels confident he will flourish in tandem with his team’s fortunes. “Personally I have my own objectives,” he says. “I know one thing though - I’m ready to go now. 100%. The way my team-mates are playing as well, for the club in total we’re going somewhere now. The future looks good. “We’ve had 10 games and I’ve scored four goals. We’re eighth in the league. Everything is pretty tight in the table. Two results on a bounce and you’re up there. “Imagine if the situation was after 10 games I had one goal and we were maybe 14th. That’s different. But we’re getting there now. We’re building up.
“I am starting to get there at the same time.” After tomorrow’s home Europa League tie with OSC Lille the Blues travel to Sunderland on Sunday, with the chance to maintain their upward progress in the league. “At this moment in time we need three wins on the bounce. Just wins,” says Lukaku. “That would really count. Then we’ll be in the top five and we can go into the international break strong. We can come out of it and really crack on. “Sunderland won’t be an easy game. I remember last season it was really hard but we won because of our character and mentality. It will be hard but if we show our desire and hunger to win I think we’ll be OK.” Lukaku and Barkley meet Pudsey Bear
Lukaku and Ross Barkley met an extra special guest on Tuesday when they welcomed Pudsey Bear to the Blues’ training ground. The Children in Need mascot visited Finch Farm to meet the young Blues stars and Everton’s very own mascot Changy the Elephant. The quartet had a kickabout before Romelu and Ross taught Pudsey and Changy how to head the ball and perfect their keepy-ups.
Lukaku said: “It’s great to welcome Pudsey down to the training ground and for the club to show our support for such an incredible charity.” Pudsey was at Finch Farm ahead of Children in Need’s appeal day on Friday November 14 and to celebrate the news that Everton in the Community has been awarded three years of funding from the national charity to continue its uplifting daily workshops at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. The Blues’ world-renowned disability programme has benefitted from Children in Need contributions in previous years and will now further develop its sports provision for disabled children across Merseyside. Steve Johnson, Everton in the Community Disability Manager, said: “We deliver a number of after school sport clubs where we work on social interaction and opportunities for disabled children as well as competitive opportunities. “Our work in Alder Hey Children’s Hospital sees us we deliver fun activity workshops on the wards and in the day clinics to help the children relieve the stress of everyday hospital life. The funding granted by Children in Need will help us to continue the great work that we do with disabled children right across the region.”
Strachan says fans can boo McGeady and McCarthy . . . but only for right reasons
Wednesday 5 November 2014
GORDON Strachan has no ¬problem with Scotland fans booing Aiden McGeady and James McCarthy in the game against the Republic of Ireland next week so long as it is done for purely football reasons.
McGeady and McCarthy were regularly abused verbally by rival fans when playing for Celtic and Hamilton Academical respectively, after both chose to commit their international careers to Ireland rather than the country of their births, Scotland. Some attributed the booing to anti-Irish discrimination but others insisted it happened only because fans were upset that two excellent players had chosen another country ahead of Scotland. McGeady left Celtic in 2010 and is now at Everton, and McCarthy left Hamilton in 2009 and is also at Goodison Park, but the pair of them are two of the highest-profile names in the Republic team likely to start against Scotland in the Euro 2016 qualifier at Parkhead next Friday night. Strachan said he had no issue with the home fans booing the pair of them so long as it was done harmlessly, and in recognition of the threat both players posed to Scotland's prospect of winning the game. Asked if he would appeal to supporters to lay off them, he said: "No. They can do what they want! Are you going to ask them to pay 60 quid and then they cannae say something? As long as you don't have that nastiness about it then that is fine. But we have all been booed. I used to come here [Parkhead] regularly and get booed; it didn't bother me. And that was when I was the manager . . . "It is part of football. It's pantomime humour. As long as it is pantomime humour then we don't mind that. If it goes beyond that then that's not fine. Do you know why they'll get booed? It is because they are good players. If they were useless the fans would not boo at them. "As long as you keep it to the boos and leave it like that, so it is pantomime booing, that is what I like. That is good fun. They are getting booed because they are terrific, terrific players. Is Aiden the type to cower away? Absolutely not. It will not bother him.
"It will not bother him. And it will not bother James McCarthy because he is a top, top player."
McCarthy was born and raised in Scotland but his grandfather was Irish and he committed himself to them when they made an approach to him before the Scottish Football Association did. Irish grandparents also enabled McGeady to play for the Republic and he was selected for their under-15s schoolboys team. Strachan said the two players' decisions were entirely down to them.
"You play for whatever country you feel you are [from]. If you feel Irish then you play for Ireland and if you feel Scottish then you play for Scotland. That's the main thing. Whatever you feel you are, wherever you feel you come from, you do that. I don't have a problem with that."
Strachan yesterday named a 27-man squad for the Republic of Ireland game and the friendly against England four days later, which is also at Celtic Park. Stoke City's Phil Bardsley, who won the last of his 13 caps in May, 2012, was called in as a replacement right-back in the absence of the injured Alan Hutton. The 20-year-old Rangers midfielder, Lewis Macleod, was also given his first call-up as Strachan continued his policy of granting experience of the international scene to emerging young players such as Callum McGregor and Ryan Gauld.
View from Gwladys Street: an Everton FC fan's verdict on Swansea, Lille and Leon Osman's Tim Cahill comments
Nov 5 2014 Liverpool Echo
By David Triggs
Mark Finnegan of EFCFeelinBlue.com gives his take on the Blues' week
Every week, the ECHO gets the views of an Everton fan to gauge the feeling among supporters of the week that's been and the week ahead.
Today we speak to Mark Finnegan from the EFCFeelinBlue.com fansite about the draw with Swansea and two tough matches which lie ahead for the Blues. The draw with Swansea was a bit of a snooze-fest. What did you make of it?
Mark Finnegan (MF): Very frustrating. Swansea were so negative and we just couldn’t find that cutting edge. We huffed and we puffed but never created as many chances as we would have liked and missed a real opportunity to build on our previous three results. I suppose the positives are another clean sheet and point but overall we expect better from Everton, especially at Goodison, and we were left tearing our hair out as the Blues failed to break down a stubborn Swansea who looked happy to play for a point. I thought McCarthy was class - so much energy and hunger - but it wasn’t a vintage display from Martinez’ side who now need to focus on Lille and Sunderland before the break for internationals.
Who would you prefer at centre-back, Gareth Barry or the lesser-spotted Sylvain Distin?
MF: Distin. Simply because Barry is so important in the midfield. I thought we missed him there once he was pushed back due to Alcaraz’s injury and I just can’t see Martinez starting with Barry at the back. Although Distin has hardly filled us with confidence this season but he did well away to Lille and I believe he will feature alongside Jags on Thursday night and again on Sunday at the Stadium of Light. Hopefully Alcaraz isn’t out for too long because we are so short on numbers in that position and we can’t afford to lose any more centre halves to injury. Maybe after the international break we will see a couple of players returning from knocks, Kevin Mirallas the obvious name that stands out.
Have you picked up Leon Osman’s book yet?
MF: If I’m honest I haven’t, and I probably won’t. Ossie has been a great servant to the club and nobody could question his professionalism but you can’t always get by on these factors. He can be brilliant one minute and so disappointing the next and with age has come some really frustrating performances - but I don’t believe some of the grief he gets off some of our supporters is always warranted. As for his comments regarding Cahill, I haven’t read into that too much. A lot happens at football clubs that we don’t see or hear about and just because he has wrote a book it and mentioned a few things it doesn’t rattle or worry me in the slightest. Cahill will always be a favourite at Everton and I’d like to think Osman will also be remembered fondly too once he moves on or retires. However, the latter does divide opinion among our supporters so I know not everyone will miss him when he eventually does.
It’s Lille next, followed swiftly by Sunderland away. Are there signs the Blues are getting better at handling their heavy fixture programme?
MF: I think so. Martinez has been chopping and changing in different areas and he has to do that with a busy fixture schedule to contend with. Injuries hit us hard earlier in the season and the theme has unfortunately continued (Stones, Pienaar, Alcaraz, Kone) but overall the squad looks in good shape and when you look at our bench we do have options there. I think Eto’o has given us all a boost and I like the way Roberto is using him, Naismith and Lukaku - our attack hasn’t looked as good for many a year. With Mirallas to come back we will be bolstered in our creativity department and Ross Barkley’s return from a long lay-off has been a big positive too. Others like McGeady, Pienaar and Osman have been alternating and as I say, Roberto has to do this to keep people fresh and utilise what personnel he has as he sees fit. At the back is a worry, though. We cannot afford any more absentees at the heart of our defence.
How would you set up for both games? And how do you think both will finish?
MF: I think we’ll see changes from the Swansea game for Lille and again for the trip to Sunderland on Sunday. On Thursday I expect to see a decent game against a Lille side who are one of the better in the competition. We managed to score four times against Wolfsburg and although I can’t see us getting that many against Lille I can certainly see us beating them at Goodison and I’d expect the old master Eto’o to again be a factor in our European campaign. When we faced Lille away we struggled at times but came away with a point, I can see this Thursday being a more open affair and I think we will edge it 2-1. Barkley against a European side at Goodison is an exciting prospect. Bring it on.
Last season at Sunderland it was painful to watch at times and we eventually scraped a 1-0 win - I think all Evertonians would take that scoreline again just so we go into the international break with a victory and continue our decent run of League form. Sunderland are hit and miss and they got a good result on Monday night but I think we have enough quality to go there, dictate the play and come away with all three points. Again I’d expect changes. Lukaku might be on the bench for Lille and start at Sunderland, whereas Eto’o could be the other way round, Pienaar/McGeady will probably be alternated in each fixture as Martinez continues to shuffle his pack. Anything less than a victory would be disappointing against a lowly Sunderland but as cliché as it does sound there is no easy games in the Premier League and we can’t take anything for granted. I’ll go 1-0 the Toffees.
Any other business?
MF: After a frustrating start we’ve showed signs of improvement since the win over Villa but the game against Swansea was our chance to show consistency and keep winning. We obviously haven’t done that and need to focus on getting back on track but we should take heart from not losing in our last four and putting in some better defensive displays. Three clean sheets from four is brilliant and thankfully our defenders have got their acts together after a shaky opening couple of months. The Lille game is an exciting challenge and one that we should embrace, whereas Sunday will be very different against an unpredictable Sunderland side. The goal is obviously six points and I feel confident that we can achieve this, but there is no denying that it will be tough.
Everton FC v Lille: three key questions
Nov 5 2014 Liverpool Echo
By David Triggs
The big talking points before the Blues’ Europa League clash at Goodison
How will Roberto reshuffle his attack?
Swansea City ‘parked the team bus’ at Goodison on Saturday - and from what we know about Lille, the Blues can expect to face plenty of French resistance on Thursday.
After failing to break down the Swans, a formula must be found to unlock a stubborn defence which held out well at State Pierre-Mauroy a fortnight ago.
Lille will try to stifle and suppress, rather fight fire with fire.
So Roberto Martinez must choose his attacking line-up wisely. But with an important Premier League game against Sunderland looming on Sunday, expect more rotation. The guessing game begins…
Everton’s leading attacking lights this season have been Romelu Lukaku and Steven Naismith (joint-leading scorers with four goals apiece), followed closely by Samuel Eto’o (a player whose European experience makes him an obvious choice for such assignments). Ross Barkley is also now back from injury and surely desperate to play his first European game under the Goodison lights.
But will all four start against Lille? Unlikely. Space could be found for all four in a 4-3-3 set-up (with Barkley in midfield) or a 4-2-3-1 (with either Lukaku or Eto’ as the spearhead), but Martinez is likely to want to keep one or two members of that quartet in reserve for Sunderland.
Steven Pienaar, Leon Osman and Christian Atsu (the latter pair both unused subs against Swansea) come into the mix for Lille, while of course Aiden McGeady - the player who (twice) came closest to scoring against the Ligue 1 side in France - is another option. Even with Kevin Mirallas out injured, the Blues have attacking options aplenty. How Martinez deploys his match-winners is a decision only he can make.
Will Sylvain Distin return?
With John Stones and Antolin Alcaraz out injured, you’d expect the answer to be a straightforward ‘yes’ as Everton have only two fully fit senior centre-backs on their books.
But the Frenchman has not started a league game since the defeat to Crystal Palace in late September and was not even in the squad for the draw with Swansea, meaning Gareth Barry had to drop back and partner Phil Jagielka once Antolin Alcaraz was injured. Will Distin win a recall on Thursday? You’d expect him to. Last month, Martinez publicly dismissed rumours of a fall-out with the 36-year-old and explained that the defender’s absence from the side following the 3-0 Capital One Cup loss to Swansea was for his own good.
“Sometimes he is such a professional he works too hard,” said the Everton boss. “He is someone who is not just happy with what he does with the team, he has his individual programmes and he works too much.” Everton shipped 13 goals in the four league games Jagielka and Distin have started together this term, but the pair worked well in tandem in the 0-0 draw with Lille last month, Distin’s only first-team outing in the last six weeks.
He is surely the leading contender to step in on Thursday.
Barry has can be an effective stop-gap centre-back but, when he plays there, Everton lose his influence and authority in midfield. Youngsters Tyias Browning (20) and Brendan Galloway (18) have been name checked by Martinez, but the boss will surely go with experience against Lille.
Bottom of Form
What can we expect from Lille?
While Everton have slowly begun to recapture some of last season’s fine form (the Swansea game being an exception to the recent rule), Lille have been a pale reflection of the side which finished third in Ligue 1 last season. They currently sit 12th, with just 16 points (and only nine goals) from 12 matches, drawing 1-1 with St Etienne at the weekend. Last season’s success was built on a rock-solid defence (just 26 goals conceded in 38 games) and they are still pretty miserly at the back (letting in 10 in 12 league games this term). But the goals of Saloman Kalou, 16 in 38 last season, have been missed following the Ivorian’s departure to Hertha Berlin.
The chances of a high-scoring thriller on Thursday, then, look remote. It’s clear where Lille’s strengths lie. And while Everton’s defence has been hit by injury, Kevin Mirallas is their only attacking casualty - so there are plenty of options for Martinez as he looks to break down a defence which kept his team at bay a fortnight ago.
Police to carry out enhanced searches at Everton v Lille after troubled away tie
Nov 05, 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Amy Browne
Blues fans were tear-gassed by French police ahead of last month's fixture
Police are warning fans attending Everton’s match against Lille that they will take action against anyone causing trouble, after the away fixture was marred by violence.
Fans are being advised to arrive early as officers will be carrying out enhanced searches and confiscating fireworks and flares. Up to 100 hooligans swarmed on a pub where Blues fans were gathered the night before last month’s Europa League tie. Supporters were then sprayed with CS gas by police who ignored their cries for help. The following day, just hours before kick-off, Everton fans were tear-gassed by French police after trouble erupted in the Lille’s main square, in what was described by one fan as “45 minutes of chaos”. Grandfather Vernon Thomas, 66, who had travelled to watch Everton, was left badly injured after he was shot in the head by a suspected rubber bullet.
Everton FC has demanded answers from the French authorities on the “unacceptable experience”.
Fans of the French team will be arriving into Liverpool ahead of the tie at Goodison on Thursday night and authorities are keen to avoid a repeat of what happened in Lille.
Match Commander Superintendent Simon Irving, said: “Merseyside Police has an operation in place, alongside Everton Football Club, in preparation for Thursday’s match. It will be policed in a similar way to other matches in the city. "We are expecting a good atmosphere at the game but our intention is that at the end of the day we will be talking about the match and what happened on the pitch, as opposed to off the pitch. "As always, my officers will be dealing with both sets of fans as they would expect to be treated themselves. Watch - Everton fan tells of being hit by a gas spray in Lille: "We work closely with both clubs and the Football Supporters Federation. Our policing style will be firm, fair and friendly, but we will take action where necessary against those individuals who may seek to cause problems or misbehave.” Police also confirmed that they will be taking measures to stop fans bringing fireworks or flares into the ground. Supt. Irving said: “People attending Goodison are advised to arrive in plenty of time to gain entry to the ground because of the enhanced searching procedures taking place. "We recognise that the majority of supporters are well behaved and we are all committed to making this a fun, safe and memorable match for everyone.”
Antolin Alcaraz may require surgery says Everton FC boss Roberto Martinez
Nov 5 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Defender injured shoulder in game with Swansea City
Antolin Alcaraz may require surgery on the shoulder injury he sustained against Swansea City.
Everton FC manager Roberto Martinez has revealed that he fears the defender could be sidelined for up to 12 weeks. And Martinez says the next decision the Blues need to take is whether Alcaraz needs to go under the knife or not. “He [Alcaraz] has dislocated the AC joint in his shoulder and is going to be out for a while, so it’s another opportunity for another player,” said Martinez.
“The decision now is if he needs surgery or not. “That’s a decision we’re going to measure well and make the right call. It could take six to 12 weeks depending on the route we take.”
Martinez, meanwhile, expects Bryan Oviedo and Arouna Kone to be available for first-team action again after the international break. Midfielder Darron Gibson, who missed the Swansea game at Goodison last weekend, is fit again and could be included in the squad for Thursday night’s Europa League Group H clash at home to Lille.
Everton FC defender Leighton Baines says Europa League is stepping stone on way to Champions League
Nov 05, 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
Defender wants Blues to continue to next level by learning from tough Group H campaign
Leighton Baines believes Everton FC’s tough Europa League group is the perfect learning environment for a club with ambitions of playing at the highest level.
The Blues face Lille at Goodison tonight with a chance to consolidate their position as leaders of Group H, and favourites to progress to the competition’s knock-out stage.
Baines, 29, who turned down Manchester United in January to sign a new four-year deal with the Toffees, hopes the experiences of playing on the continent this term will mean the club’s young band of performers will be ready when Champions League football beckons. Everton might already have been playing in Uefa’s top club competition after a close fight with Arsenal to finish fourth last season. But the England defender believes the level of ambition across the board at Goodison means everyone has their sights set on progress. “Obviously we’d have preferred to finish fourth than fifth,” said the left-back. “But I think this season is great experience for all of us, particularly those involved in European competition for the first time. “We’re in a really strong group. In another season our points tally in the league could have made the Champions League. Some of the other sides in our group could have been there too. “But not just for that standard of opposition but also the strains of playing three games a week for a period, then having internationals. It’s all good experience for the younger lads. “You start to realise you can’t cut corners when you’ve got a schedule like that. You’ve got to tick all the boxes in terms of preparation; recovery, diet, sleep, rest periods etc. “You want to be able to perform at optimum levels as often as possible. You don’t want to leave anything to chance. The second you do is when you maybe have that last 15 minutes when you can’t quite move as well as you’d like. “You may think back to something and realise ‘Maybe I shouldn’t have gone shopping or whatever it was that day’. They’re the little things sometimes that can make a difference. That’s why it’s such a useful experience for us all but especially the youngsters. “For all of us though, myself and the players I’ve talked about it’s an added incentive. We want to keep playing at that level and be a part of something bigger. To go onto that next level of football as well. That’s the motivation; Champions League and silverware. “We don’t just want to do well, we want to create really special memories. These nights at the moment are great - seeing the fans on the road and the support we get is unbelievable. We’d like to excite them even further if we can.” Baines admits that a major influence on his decision to spurn United and commit his future to Everton back in the new year was the promise of success on the horizon.
And he reckons the crop of youngsters in Roberto Martinez’s squad will ensure the Blues can move on to the next level while he is still playing. “We have got a really good young group of players here now as well,” he says. “I am part of the senior group if you like, with Jags, Tim Howard, Leon Osman and Hibbo, and there is also a secondary core group now of Seamus, Ross, John Stones and James McCarthy who are all key players in the squad and are the real future now.
“It is part of the senior group’s job and responsibility to help them move forward because they are the future. “Me staying, then Seamus, Ross and Stonesy, who have all signed to long-term contracts, is a real sign of where the club is at. They are all top players and the future of this football club. That is why we are heading in the right direction.” Everton have taken well to European football so far, unbeaten as they head into tonight’s game. That, says Baines, is testament to their bright young manager’s philosophy.
Everton FC training at the Kuban Stadium in Krasnodar Russia ahead of their Europa League game. Roberto Martinez chats to Leighton Baines. “We are trying to develop our style into a way that isn’t limited,” he says. “So there’s no ceiling to it if we continue to improve on what we do, and we know we have still got to do that. “It’s the style the top teams will also be playing. And we will be well suited if we can improve to the levels that we want. And then if we go on to the Champions League, it would be well suited that level of football. “It’s a continual progression really. We had a good season last season and we just want to keep building on that. We are all working towards bumping our levels up and getting to that level where we know what we are as a minimum.”
For the time being Baines’ mind will be focused on stopping Lille’s attack, including Kopite in the camp Divock Origi, from upsetting their momentum. And based on what he saw of the young Belgian starlet in France he knows that will not be easy. “He’s certainly a threat and showed that in flashes during the game,” says Baines. “He’s really explosive and he’s got that unpredictability to his game. That’s always dangerous, when you have players like that. “He’s certainly someone we will have to be mindful of going into the game.”
Roberto Martinez insists Everton FC must cope with European demands
Nov 05, 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Blues are back in the Europa League after a five year absence
Roberto Martinez insists Everton FC must embrace the demands of European competition if they are to fulfil their potential. The Blues are back in the Europa League after a five year absence and Martinez’s long-term plan is to elevate the club into a Champions League regular.
But the Everton manager says they must first learn to cope with the burden of playing in Europe’s second tier club competition before they can dream of mixing it with the continent’s elite.
Lille are the visitors to Goodison on Thursday night for matchday four in the Blues’ Group H campaign and victory will cement Everton’s place as leaders – and edge them closer to qualifying into the knockout stages. “In terms of our aspiration, absolutely,” Martinez said, when asked about the importance of regularly qualifying for Europe. “Our work last season was to make sure that we were busy this season with the amount of games because we want to be in Europe and we want the expectations that we have to win games. “We are starting to get into a position where we are strong as a team and are looking at every game as an opportunity to win. “You have to be a strong football club to cope with those demands. “When you are consistently in Europe you are a team that can make better football decisions. “You have certain targets that allow you to develop as a football club and staying in Europe is what we need at Everton. “To reach our goals you need challenges to push you and Europe is what we need.” Martinez believes there has been a shift in outlook at Goodison over the last season and agrees that the Blues can no longer be considered a ‘selling club’. “It has changed,” the Catalan said. “Financially we are on a very strong footing.
“I’ve always said that in football it’s not about how much money you have but how little money you need to run the football club. “When I say that, I mean we don’t need to sell players to get the club close in every season and that is a big strength. “Now we are in a strong financial position it means any decision that is made about players is a football decision. “That doesn’t mean we aren’t going to sell or buy players, it means the decision will be based on football and not finances and that is a real strength to have. “We have such a talented Academy and we can produce our own talent through the first team. We are not a club that needs to sell to survive and that’s a big strength.”
Martinez is having to learn on the job in Europe as he embarks on his first ever season as a manager in continental competition. And the 41-year-old has quickly learnt about the scope of tactical approaches in Europe but has been delighted by the way his players have coped.
“The biggest difference is the approach from a tactical point of view,” Martinez said.
“The game is played in a different way abroad and when you face French sides or Russian sides it’s completely different. “You get a good bit of variety. But we try to prepare for games from our point of view and I think it’s how we’ve adapted towards that, I think we’ve done well in that so far.”
Everton are a point clear of Wolfsburg in the Group H standings after three games.
The Blues dispatched the German side 4-1 on matchday one at Goodison before draws in Krasnodar and Lille and Martinez is hoping home advantage can strike again with the French side in town.
“We really enjoyed our last game at Goodison against Wolfsburg,” the manager added.
“The two away games have been phenomenal experiences but the idea of playing at Goodison under the floodlights and facing French opposition for the first time in our history is really exciting.
“In the last two home games in the Premier League we had sell-out crowds, so you can imagine there is a real buzz around Goodison when we play our football. “We really look forward to our home games, especially now we know the group inside out. We are looking to make our home an advantage.”
Merseyside MP and shadow cabinet minister reveal how they were caught up in Lille Everton tie terror
Nov 06, 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Marc Waddington
Andy Burnham and Steve Rotherham write to French ambassador to complain about treatment by police inside and outside ground
The scene in the centre of Lille, with riot police and Everton fans
A senior shadow cabinet minister and Merseyside MP have revealed their terrifying experience of being caught up in the chaos in Lille after French police tear gassed Everton FC fans.
Liverpool-born shadow health secretary Andy Burnham and Walton MP Steve Rotheram - who both traveled to the Europa League tie - have written to the French ambassador in London to complain at the treatment of travelling Blues’ supporters both outside and inside the ground. They recounted their experience of armed police lying in wait inside the ground with weapons bared, and said female supporters were searched in an “inappropriate” manner. Their letter comes ahead of tonight’s home leg of the Blues’ tie with the French side. The pair wrote to Madame Sylvie Bermann to give their first hand experience of the chaos that ensued in Lille on October 23.
They said: “On our arrival at the stadium, half an hour before kick-off, we joined the growing numbers outside the entrances allocated to the visiting supporters. “It soon became apparent that the delay in the gaining access was caused by a line of stewards forming a human chain restricting the flow of people to the ground and causing a dangerous bottleneck. “No attempt was made to manage the crowd properly or organise queues. “As only a small number of people were let through at a time, the crowd swelled and began to sway towards the temporary metal fencing.
“We witnessed children and a disabled person in a wheelchair at risk of being crushed against the fence. “It was a frightening experience for them and, in our view, completely avoidable.
“On arrival inside the ground, we were greeted by a site we have seldom witnessed in four decades watching football. “Beyond the turnstiles, there were three banks of riot police who proceeded to search supporters in an intimidatory manner, with weapons prominently displayed.
“This was a disconcerting experience for many - particularly children - and it has been brought to our attention that a number of female supporters found the manner of the searches upsetting and inappropriate. “Whilst many clubs carry out body searches of fans, it is not clear to us why innocent people coming to watch a football match were treated in such a provocative and disrespectful manner.” Blues fan Mr Burnham and Mr Rotheram have also written to Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson and chief constable Jon Murphy, to ask that Lille fans visiting Liverpool “feel as welcome as possible and are treated with dignity and respect at all times”.
Blue Boys: Derby draw could have been more for Everton youngsters
Nov 06, 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
All square at Liverpool's Academy
Everton U18s’ impressive unbeaten run continues after a 1-1 draw in the Merseyside derby at Liverpool’s Academy on Saturday morning.
The hosts opened the scoring through a Sergi Canos goal before striker George Newell, son of former Blues forward Mike, equalised but it could have been more for the Blues after Joe Williams had his penalty saved late in the second half. Everton controlled the early exchanges but went behind against the run of the play on 13 minutes when a misunderstanding in the Blues backline allowed Canos to intercept and fire past goalkeeper Mateusz Hewelt. Just minutes after falling behind Everton thought they had got themselves back into the game but Calum Dyson’s effort was ruled out for offside. The Toffees continued to apply the pressure with Willams and Liam Walsh controlling the game from midfield and Nathan Holland went close to getting an equaliser with two chances in quick succession. But it wasn’t long before Everton were rewarded for their work-rate.
Harry Charsley, fresh from playing 30 minutes for the under-21s on Friday evening, beat his man on the right-hand side before whipping in a cross for Newell to stoop low and head into the bottom corner. Everton began the second half on the front foot and after a strong run from defence James Graham created an opportunity for Dyson but the striker’s effort was fired well wide of Liverpool’s goal. And Graham was heavily involved once again when he was brought down in the box from an Everton corner and the referee awarded the Blues a penalty with 15 minutes to go. Williams took the spot-kick but it was fired straight at Firth and the game stayed level.
Heading into the latter stages of the game and the Blues played the last quarter of the game with 10 men after substitute Michael Donohue suffered an injury. Liverpool could have grabbed the three points in the dying minutes but Hewelt saved at point-blank range to deny Yan Dhanda from scoring what would surely have been the winning goal and Everton left with a share of the spoils on derby day. The U18s – now unbeaten in six games – take on Manchester United in two weeks’ time hoping to continue their run.
Leon Osman to sign new one-year Everton FC deal
Nov 06, 2014Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
The midfielder has scored 59 for the Blues in 398 appearances
Leon Osman has signed a new one year contract extension to keep him at Everton FC until 2016.
The 33-year-old midfielder, who was given a testimonial at Goodison in the summer, is valued by Roberto Martinez after appearing in every one of the club's Premier League games last season.
Osman's current deal was set to expire in the summer and in his new autobiography, which was serialised in the ECHO , he spoke of his desire to continue playing for the Blues beyond then.
On Saturday the academy graduate repeated his wish to prolong his Goodison career in a speech to thank guests at his testimonial evening event at the Titanic hotel.
In a precursor to today's news about the deal, Martinez also spoke at the charity event and said: "I agree with you Ossie. You're not finished yet!" Osman, who has made a total of 398 appearances for Everton over his 11 year spell at the club, scoring 59 goals, has already been used nine times this season by Martinez.
Ross Barkley returns to England squad as Everton FC teammates Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka also called up
Nov 6 2014 Liverpool Echo
By David Triggs
Midfielder is back after sitting out last four internationals
Fit-again Ross Barkley is back in the England fold - and he is joined in Roy Hodgson's squad by Everton teammates Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka.
Barkley, 20, has missed the last four internationals due to a knee injury sustained during a pre-season training session with his club, but he made a successful comeback against Aston Villa last month. John Stones' injury means the Everton centre-back misses out this time but fellow defenders Baines and Jagielka are in. England take on Slovenia in a Euro 2016 qualifier on Saturday, November 15 at Wembley before facing Scotland in a friendly on Tuesday, November 18.
Stewart Downing's recent fine form has earned the West Ham winger a recall - he hasn't played for his country since May 2012 - while Manchester United's Michael Carrick has also returned to the international fold and West Brom's Saido Berahino is promoted from the Under 21s.
Meanwhile, Romelu Lukaku is in the Belgium squad for their Euro 2016 qualifier against Wales and friendly against Iceland while Luke Garbutt has been called up for England Under 21s' friendlies against Portugal and France.
The full England senior squad is as follows:
Fraser Forster, Ben Foster, Joe Hart
Leighton Baines, Gary Cahill, Calum Chambers, Nathaniel Clyne, Kieran Gibbs, Phil Jagielka, Luke Shaw, Chris Smalling
Ross Barkley, Michael Carrick, Stewart Downing, Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana, James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Raheem Sterling, Andros Townsend, Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott
Rickie Lambert, Wayne Rooney, Daniel Welbeck, Saido Berahino
Everton 3 - Lille 0: Toffees on brink of Europa League last 32 after Goodison stroll
EVERTON are on the verge of the last 32 stage of the Europa League following a comfortable home victory over Lille.
By Alex Harris 6th November 2014 Daily Star
Toffees boss Roberto Martinez made four changes from the side that drew 0-0 with Swansea in the Premier League last weekend.
One of the players brought in was Leon Osman and the midfielder celebrated signing a new one-year deal by firing Everton ahead in the 27th minute. Winger Aiden McGeady was played in down the right-hand side in the 27th minute and his cross found it's way to Osman, who arrowed a volley past Lille keeper Vincent Enyeama. The hosts soon doubled their lead as Ireland international McGeady whipped in a corner and Phil Jagielka evaded his marker to emphatically head home.
Everton controlled possesion in the second-half and were rarely put under threat by the lacklustre French visitors. Steven Naismith then completed the comfortable win in the 61st minute with a powerful strike after being played in by Leighton Baines. Martinez's men remain top of Group H and know victory in their next fixture away at Wolfsburg will see them qualify for the last 32.
Everton 3 Lille 0: Roberto Martinez suggest his side can Europa League after impressive victory
Everton vs Lille, Europa League match report - hosts top Group H thanks to Leon Osman, Phil Jagielka and Steven Naismith
By Si Hughes, at Goodison Park
Telegrapgh 06 Nov 2014
So far this season, Roberto Martínez has flawlessly executed the basic formula that leads to success in Europe. That is, draw your away games even if it means compensating for entertainment; then blow opponents away at home, starting too briskly for any recovery to be possible.
Having held Lille to a scoreless draw in France last month, Everton put the second part of that approach in full operation again here, with the opposition taken care of as convincingly as Wolfsburg were when Everton thrashed them 4-1 at home in the opening game of the campaign.
The Germans hammered Krasnodar 5-1 on Thursday night, with substitutes Aaron Hunt and Nicklas Bendtner scoring two goals apiece. The result means Everton need only a draw in their next fixture away to the Bundesliga club to secure qualification with a match to spare from what initially seemed a tricky group. Martínez spoke of his pleasure at the way his players have “embraced” the mental, physical and technical challenge that comes with European football. He suggested the competition presents a realistic opportunity of silverware. “We are in November and when you talk about winning competitions you can look foolish,” Martínez said. “But our squad is large enough and has enough quality to cope with the number of games.” Everton engulfed Lille and their domination was rewarded when Leon Osman, who signed a new one-year contract earlier in the day, opened the scoring with an angled volley that was too fierce for defender Simon Kjaer to block on the line.
Such was Everton’s authority, it would not have been inappropriate for the half-time scoreline to have been overwhelmingly in their favour. Instead, it was just 2-0 after the unmarked Phil Jagielka scored his fourth goal in 10 matches with a header that was again too powerful for the man on the line trying to stop it. The average age of Lille’s forward line, which included Liverpool-bound Divock Origi, was 21 and while for Everton’s defence it was almost 33. But, with James McCarthy hoovering up all the space in midfield, there was no opportunity for Lille to get in behind.
The French side became the first Ligue 1 club to visit Goodison Park in Everton’s competitive history. Many of their supporters had made the journey from northern France by car and by the hour mark they must have been thinking about starting the long drive home. René Girard, the Lille manager, admitted his team have some way to go before they meet Everton’s “higher standard” and the gulf was made clearer when Steven Naismith swept in a third in front of the Gwladys Street Stand.
McCarthy, too big strong and skilful for those chasing after him, was later withdrawn to a standing ovation. Certainly, the Irishman ranks alongside the best midfielders to have graced the club. “You talk about the holy trinity of Ball, Harvey and Kendall and I look now at James, Gareth Barry and Ross Barkley and I feel really proud,” Martínez said.
Everton (4-2-3-1): Howard; Hibbert, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; McCarthy(Besic 83), Barry (Gibson 65); McGeady (Atsu 64), Naismith, Osman; Lukaku.
Subs not used: Robles, Eto'o, Barkley, Pienaar.
LOSC Lille (4-3-3): Eneyama; Corchia (Rodelin 76), Kjaer, Basa, Souare; Gueye, Mavuba, Balmont; Mendes (Beria 64), Frey (Roux 64). Origi.
Subs not used: Elana, Meite, Rozenhal, Traore.
Referee: Bas Nijhuis (Netherlands)
Leon Osman marks new deal with a goal as Everton cruise to win over Lille
The Guardian, Thursday 6 November 2014 22.04 GMT
Roberto Martínez said it would be “foolish” to talk of winning the Europa League before the onset of winter but the noises coming from Everton are clear. The manager believes his team can reach Warsaw in May, the captain Phil Jagielka claimed likewise and their words were given substance by a convincing victory over Lille. Everton require one point to qualify for the knockout phase following a second successive home win in Group H and a performance against Lille, who arrived in the competition via defeat in the Champions League play-offs, that demonstrated intent. Leon Osman underlined his enduring importance to the club on the day he signed a one-year contract extension with the game’s opening goal, the defender Jagielka scored his fourth goal in 10 games and Steven Naismith completed the victory after another incisive Everton move.
The positives were not confined to the scoresheet. Romelu Lukaku led the line with a vastly improved display, Sylvain Distin made an assured return to the heart of an injury-hit Everton defence and James McCarthy was imperious in the middle of the park. A huge picture commemorating “The Holy Trinity” of Howard Kendall, Colin Harvey and Alan Ball adorns the main stand here and Martínez had no hesitation in praising the Republic of Ireland international as a worthy successor to that revered Everton midfield. “James McCarthy does not surprise me,” said the Everton manager, who brought McCarthy with him from Wigan Athletic for £13m. “He fits so well at Everton. You talk here about The Holy Trinity, everything about that midfield, and I look at James McCarthy, Gareth Barry and Ross Barkley and I am proud of that sort of midfielder. People forget James is still only 23. He does the things that managers appreciate and fans don’t always see too easily but he is a vital part of this football club.” Everton were dominant from the off against a Lille team who had drawn their three previous Europa League fixtures and demonstrated why they languish 12th in the French league. The Nigerian goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama produced a fine save to deny Lukaku after 22 seconds as the home side began brightly but Everton, unlike against Swansea City on Saturday, remained patient and purposeful against opponents content to absorb pressure.
Aiden McGeady was instrumental in helping them to a comfortable interval lead. Patience does not seem in plentiful supply for the former Celtic winger at Goodison but his willingness to take a man on, and delivery from both flanks, was a valuable outlet that Lille could not contain. Barry started the move with a ball through to Lukaku, who in turn released McCarthy. The midfielder sent his Republic of Ireland team-mate scurrying away on the right and though McGeady’s inviting cross evaded the in-rushing McCarthy and Naismith, it dropped perfectly for Osman at the far post. The 33-year-old enhanced his day with a sweeping finish into the far corner.
McGeady created chances for Naismith and Lukaku, albeit both with the same result as his colleagues missed the target, and it was from his corner that Everton doubled their advantage. Jagielka, who wrote in his programme notes that Everton could win the Europa League, lost his fellow central defender Marko Basa in the six-yard box and converted the winger’s delivery with an emphatic diving header. This was the first appearance on Merseyside for Divock Origi since his £9.8m summer move to Liverpool, a transfer that came with the condition he remains with Lille on a season-long loan. It was also the first time a French club had played a competitive fixture at Goodison. Both debuts failed to impress. The Belgium striker, preferred to Lukaku for his country’s final games at the World Cup against the USA and Argentina, showed glimpses of pace and more intent as the contest wore on. He was either isolated or shackled by the experienced defending of Tony Hibbert otherwise. In contrast to Brazil, Lukaku was the sharper, more influential Belgium forward on display. Everton’s £28m record signing was again thwarted by Enyeama when he unleashed a venomous free-kick from 30 yards and it was his astute pass, not always his strongest point, that led to the team’s third. Lukaku showed good strength to hold up play then released Leighton Baines on the outside. The England international picked out Naismith and the Scot sent an unstoppable finish into the top corner from close range. “We are at a football club that is expected to win things,” said the Everton manager. “OK, it is a long time since we won a trophy and you can look foolish if you talk about winning competitions in November, but we want to go as far as we can in this competition. All we can do is keep testing ourselves.”
Everton FC 3 Lille 0: Rate the players after smart Europa League win
Nov 6 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Kristian Walsh
Your chance to have a say on who impressed for the Blues as they edge nearer to Europa League's last 32
Everton FC took a big step towards qualification into the Europa League last 32 with a routine 3-0 win over Ligue 1 side Lille. Goals from Leon Osman, Phil Jagielka and Steven Naismith gave Roberto Martinez's side an easy three points as they stayed top of the group. The Blues now only need one point from their final two games, with a trip to Wolfsburg up next. Everton are now on eight points and sit a point ahead of the Bundesliga side. This is now your chance to say who impressed at Goodison Park on Thursday night. Whether you were at the game, watched on television, listened to the radio or followed our online coverage, you can rate the Blues' starting 11 and three substitutes out of 10.
Ian Doyle analysis: Everton FC thump Lille to take stranglehold of Europa League Group H
Nov 06, 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Ian Doyle
Goals from Osman, Jagielka and Naismith give Blues comfortable 3-0 win
Nobody likes the Europa League anthem. Nobody.
The person who penned it – should they readily own up to the fact – probably knocked it off in five minutes before their lunch break. As a piece of music, it is about as rousing as a bout of flu.
Roberto Martinez, though, would be forgiven for requesting the ditty be played before every Everton FC home game. Because when the tune blares out around Goodison, the Blues are a team transformed. Gone are the travails on their own turf – defeat to Crystal Palace, last Saturday's disappointing draw with Swansea City – that have prevented their Premier League campaign from achieving lift-off. The Europa League has instead become a platform from which to build confidence and give the matchgoing faithful something to cheer. Having thumped Wolfsburg in their opening group game in September, Everton dismissed Lille in similar fashion to take a significant step towards the knockout stages. Five points ahead of third-placed FC Krasnodar and still unbeaten in the competition, only a point is required from their final two games to progress.
Indeed, it would take a monumental collapse for that not to happen. Efficient on their travels and ruthless at home, Martinez's men have proven themselves by some distance the most impressive team in Group H and a genuine danger in this competition. The only negative from an otherwise encouraging 90 minutes was the sight of Gareth Barry hobbling down the tunnel having injured himself making a foul challenge on Lille right-back Sebastien Corchia. With compatriot Divock Origi in opposition – the man who nudged him out of Belgium's World Cup starting line-up in the summer – there was ideal incentive for Romelu Lukaku, making his first Europa League start since the group opener against Wolfsburg, to deliver. Lukaku revealed this week he was learning from Duncan Ferguson how to become a classic Everton striker. A shot after only 21 seconds that drew a good save from Lille goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama hinted Lukaku was in the mood, but it was only after the break when the gloves came off. Literally. Dispensing with his handwear after being fouled 25 yards from goal, Lukaku picked himself up and drew an even better save from Enyeama with a well-struck free-kick. Goals, though, are a striker's currency. And here's where Lukaku, despite his lively second-half showing, has still to regain his potency of last season. The Belgian was involved in the build-up to Steven Naismith netting Everton's third and twice had efforts chalked off for offside, but has now netted only four times in 17 appearances for club and country this campaign.
That's as many as Phil Jagielka has scored in his last 10 outings, the centre-back nodding in a corner from the lively Aiden McGeady for Everton's second. Naismith, meanwhile, had clearly shaken off his mini-lull given a typically energetic performance that was capped by taking his tally to five for the season with a delightful shot on the turn. Everton had been set on their way by Leon Osman, the midfielder celebrating the signing of his new contract extension by notching a first European goal since February 2008. And Osman wasn't the only Blues veteran to enjoy his evening.
Antolin Alcaraz joining John Stones in the treatment room meant there was another chance for Sylvain Distin to reprise his centre-back partnership alongside Jagielka. Distin has been curiously under-utilised during the past six weeks, but impressed in the goalless draw in Lille a fortnight ago.
While Martinez has suggested youngsters Tyias Browning and Brendan Galloway could have an opportunity, Distin is the only realistic option.
And he did his claims no harm here in helping shut out the French side for a second time, one trademark sliding challenge to dispossess Lille's on-loan Liverpool striker Origi prompted a huge ovation from the home crowd. A good night for Distin. A good night for Osman. And a good night for Everton. And Martinez now has the perfect suggestion for a finale to the Goodison dressing room pre-match playlist.
Everton FC 3 Lille 0: What we learned as Blues put themselves in contention for Europa League glory
Nov 06, 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Kristian Walsh
The big talking points after Roberto Martinez's side take a big step towards the knockout stages of the Europa League
The Blues are bang in Europa League contention
Lille manager Rene Girard was a French international and a member of their World Cup 1982 squad. He also won three Ligue 1 titles with Bordeaux in the 1980s. That experience as a player has served him well in his managerial career. He has coached in the France national set-up, including the Under-21s, before his glorious achievement of winning the title with unfancied, unfashionable Montpellier.
He knows the score, then – which is why his post-match comments should be listened to and used as a real warning sign to the rest of Europe. “We were up against a far stronger side,” he said. “We couldn't match them. They were stronger, faster and better than us.
“Everton can give a good account of themselves and go far in the competition. It bodes well for them.” Lille are a side struggling this season, but they are still a good team and one with plenty of European experience. But much like Wolfsburg in the competition's opening game, Lille couldn't handle Roberto Martinez's side. In both home games, Everton have looked the class act. These were sides who have, in the past five years, won their domestic titles – and while that doesn't necessarily reflect their teams of today, it does show the pedigree the Blues have to deal with.
Yet that's no problem for Martinez's exciting side. If the Wolfsburg performance made Europe sit up and take notice, this would have made it slump back behind the sofa. Two big European names belittled at Goodison Park. As Girard said: faster, stronger, better. It is dominant home showings like this which successful campaigns can be founded on. The Blues are bang in contention to win this competition. McGeady finally becomes the man to rely on James McCarthy was the man of the match for most observers, but this was the game when Aiden McGeady finally became the man Everton can rely on. He has had a curious start to his Blues career. There are flashes of brilliance – a quick turn of pace, a trick up his sleeve, a footballing brain – but all-too-often they are clouded by his poor final ball. Against Lille, he finally delivered – literally. He created four chances in 66 minutes having created just 10 in his previous 10 games this season.. Most importantly of all, two assists which came within 18 minutes of each other. He hadn't managed one in his previous 683 for the Blues. His first set up Leon Osman to lash home; his second was a corner, a beautifully delivered one, which the prolific Phil Jagielka nodded home. Romelu Lukaku also spurned a good chance created by his cross out wide. More of the same is needed for McGeady. After this glimpse of his end product, more will be wanted, too. Barkley absence makes heart wander towards McCarthy
Martinez continues to manage the return of Ross Barkley. Indeed it is a nice, if not somewhat strange feeling to be happy about not seeing the fantastic midfielder. But with the score at 3-0 and the game won, Barkley could remain on the bench. The midfield selected did a fine job in retaining possession and creating chances.
What more can be written of the McCarthy-Barry axis? Lille fielded three midfielders of defensive inclination, which could have stifled Everton and a similar game to the one in France two weeks ago.
But McCarthy took the initiative, driving forward and looking to supply Romelu Lukaku and Steven Naismith, who moved around in front of him. The three-man central midfield of Lille looked to control the game, but the £13m man was everywhere, breaking up play. He won seven of his eight attempted tackles – including three on the edge of his own area. That he also operated so far forward at times shows what an engine he possesses – and how that engine can purr.
He wasn't the only one who filled the Barkley void. Osman celebrated his new contract by scoring; McGeady, as mentioned, supplied killer deliveries; Naismith, buzzing around and finding space where it didn't exist, was excellent also. That Barkley can still come into the fold brings optimism. That the midfield, especially McCarthy, can perform in such a manner in his absence brings excitement – and a welcome spotlight on players who deserve it.
Everton FC boss Roberto Martinez sets his sights on winning Europa League
Nov 06, 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Ian Doyle
We are at a football club where we are expected to win things - Martinez
Roberto Martinez has set his sights on winning the Europa League after Everton FC moved to the brink of the knockout stages. Leon Osman, Phil Jagielka and Steven Naismith all netted as the Blues romped to a 3-0 win over Lille at Goodison. Everton lead Group H from Wolfsburg and need only a point from their final two group games to progress. And Martinez said: “We are at a football club where we are expected to win things. “It has been a long time since we won a trophy, but the relationship between Everton and European competitions goes back to the 50s. It's in our DNA.
“We are in November and when you talk about winning competitions you can look foolish.
“But our squad is large enough and has enough quality to cope with the number of games.
“We want to stay in the Europa League as long as we can. “There are top teams in this competition and all we can do is keep testing ourselves and keep fulfilling our potential.”
Martinez's ambition echoed comments from Lille boss Rene Girard, who said: “We were up against a much stronger rival and we couldn't match them. “Everton can give a good account of themselves and go far in the competition. It bodes well for them.” The Blues are a point clear of Wolfsburg, who thrashed FC Krasnodar 5-1 in last night's other Group H game. And Martinez added: “We played really, really well. What pleased me the most is that every player is ready, every player embraces the opportunity of playing in Europe. “We showed an incredible maturity playing in Europe.
“We looked like we had been playing in it for many seasons where in reality it is a new experience for us.” Martinez also hailed a man-of-the-match performance from midfielder James McCarthy, and believes he can form part of a modern-day Holy Trinity alongside Gareth Barry and Ross Barkley.
“I keep repeating myself by saying James McCarthy doesn't surprise me,” he said. “He's someone who fits so well with Everton. “You talk about the Holy Trinity, everything about that midfield three.
“I look at James McCarthy, Gareth Barry and Ross Barkley and I'm really proud of that midfield.
“I believe James is still growing, he's still only 23. His performance tonight was at the level he has been showing week in, week out. “Sometimes as a fan you don't see what he offers too easily, but he is a vital player for us.” The only blemish on the evening was an injury to Barry, who is a doubt for Sunday's Premier League trip to Sunderland after hobbling off midway through the second half after a heavy challenge. “He had a knock to his ankle and long cut to his shin,” said Martinez.
“It is too early to tell if he is available for Sunday but it's not too serious.”
Greg O'Keeffe hails Everton FC's James McCarthy as a "Rolls Royce of a player"
Nov 06, 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Kristian Walsh
"James McCarthy was unbelievably good, as ever," says the Blues correspondent after good win in Europe
Everton FC correspondent Greg O'Keeffe has hailed James McCarthy as a “Rolls Royce of a player” - and says the Blues may now be dreaming of the Europa League final in Warsaw.
Roberto Martinez's side took a big step towards qualifying for the last 32 of the Europa League with a convincing 3-0 win over Lille. The French club had no answer to the pace and movement of the Blues – and Greg singled out midfielder McCarthy for special praise.
“It was a wonderful night,” said Greg. “There were many performances in blue that were worth celebrating. James McCarthy was unbelievably good, as ever, a Rolls Royce of a player if ever there was one. “Those dreams of Warsaw may just start taking off.”
Greg also hailed the entire squad's performance. “It was absolutely superb,” said Greg. “Leon Osman set the tone on the day he signed his contract extension with a move typical of the way Everton played. “He was even able to rest people in the second half, giving time to people like Christian Atsu, Mo Besic and Darron Gibson – an important player who hasn't had many minutes some key time on the pitch.” We also spoke to some Everton fans outside Goodison Park after the full time whistle.
Sunderland have to ignore injury woes against Everton
by Chris Young
07 November 2014 Sunderland Echo
JOHN O’SHEA says Sunderland have to shrug off their paper-thin options to maintain forward momentum this weekend.
Sunderland will be without SIX members of the first-team squad for Sunday’s visit of Everton after Gus Poyet was hit by another couple of absentees in Monday night’s victory at Crystal Palace.
The suspended Lee Cattermole and injured Patrick van Aanholt have joined the crocked quartet of Billy Jones, Emanuele Giaccherini, Ricky Alvarez and Sebastian Coates on the sidelines – forcing Poyet to turn to the Under-21s to make up the numbers in the squad this weekend.
Captain O’Shea admits Sunderland cannot survive with such meagre resources for long, stressing that competition for places is the key to the Black Cats’ fortunes this season.
But after moving out of the bottom three with victory against Palace, O’Shea says Poyet’s men need to make light of their absentees, before the fortnight’s international break provides an opportunity for respite. O’Shea told the Echo: “We have a small squad and we’re picking up injuries now. We have to make sure we look after everyone and get everyone back as quick as we can.
“The important thing is competition. You need that to keep everyone on their toes.
“The manager made changes the other night, with Costel (Pantilimon) coming in.
“But unfortunately, we’ve lost Pat to a shoulder problem.
“We realised Catts was suspended afterwards too, but Liam (Bridcutt) will probably come into contention now and hopefully just slot in. “Competition is needed, but ultimately we need to keep winning games.” With so many key figures sidelined, O’Shea says it is imperative that Sunderland keep Steven Fletcher fit. A rejuvenated Fletcher netted his third and fourth goals of the season with a brace at Palace after returning to the form he showed at the start of his Sunderland career, following last year’s injury problems. “The manager put him out of the team for a bit and he’s reacted brilliantly. That’s what we want,” O’Shea said. “The big thing is to just keep him fit.”
Victory against Palace eased the pressure that had been building on Sunderland after back-to-back defeats, including the 8-0 rout at Southampton. But with so little separating the sides outside of the top flight’s heavyweights, O’Shea believes composure may be the key attribute for those battling in the bottom half. “We spoke about not panicking,” added the 33-year-old.
“We’d started the season, not brilliantly, but solidly. “Obviously the Southampton result took the gloss off everything and rightly so. “There were a couple of mistakes against Arsenal when there wasn’t much in the game. “But we bounced back against Palace and now it’s about carrying that forward. “It’s about keeping your cool, keeping it basic and playing when you can. If we can do that and keep players fit, we’ll be OK.” We have launched a FREE football app covering Sunderland AFC, Newcastle United and Hartlepool United. For all the latest news, gossip and match coverage straight to your mobile and tablet, download the Football Echo now from here:
David Prentice: What makes an Everton legend?
Nov 7 2014 Liverpool Echo
After the spat between Tim Cahill and Leon Osman, our man ponders what sets some players apart
What makes a legend?
It was a discussion sparked last Saturday night at a testimonial dinner for a player who would never claim to be one. The number of players past and present who attended Leon Osman’s evening at the city’s new Titanic Hotel underlined the esteem in which he is held. Respected, admired – under-rated perhaps? All of the above. But a legend? Of course not. Neither is his former team-mate Tim Cahill, a man who appeared to take offence to an isolated excerpt from Osman’s autobiography and retweeted some less than flattering comments about his old pal.
But then legendary status is a curious quality to identify.
Fans of the Australian national team would probably consider Cahill to be a legend – and you wouldn’t find any argument here. He scored his nation’s first goal at a World Cup finals – and their second too – and added one of the most spectacular strikes ever seen by a player from any country at this summer’s tournament. But an Everton legend? That’s a different set of criteria. He did score 68 goals, which puts him just two behind undeniable legends like Tommy Lawton and Bobby Parker.
But those men won league titles, while the closest Cahill came to silverware was the FA Cup Final in 2009 when Everton lost to Chelsea. There is no rule which confers legendary status.
Do you need to win a trophy? Of course not. Dave Hickson and TG Jones are two of the most celebrated names in Goodison history, and finished trophyless. So did Tom Finney and Matthew Le Tissier – but try to tell Preston or Saints fans that those two aren’t legends.
Longevity? Not in my book. Andy Gray spent barely 18 months at Goodison, started 61 games and scored 22 goals. But he is a 24-carat, gold-plated Everton legend – a catalyst for a trophy-winning era, a man who scored goals in FA Cup and European Cup Winners’ Cup finals.
Younger fans say Duncan Ferguson. Hmmm. He did play a bit-part in Everton’s last trophy triumph as a late substitute – but do three winning goals against Liverpool and Manchester United constitute legendary status?
It’s all opinion.
I had the good fortune to be part of a judging panel which was asked to nominate 10 Everton Millennium Giants on the eve of 2000 – one for each decade of the century about to pass.
Names like Brian Labone, Howard Kendall and Sir Philip Carter were all involved – and the air turned blue when the sixties was discussed. Only one name could be selected – but how could you choose between Young and Ball? The Golden Vision got the nod. Howard was appalled that Bally wasn’t selected. A list of Millennium Giants was produced without possibly the second greatest player in Everton’s history! That’s legendary arguments for you. It’s all in the eye of the beholder.
You need some indefinable magic to be considered a legend.
I just consider myself fortunate to be old enough to have witnessed many genuine Everton legends in my lifetime.
Behind Enemy Lines: a Sunderland fan's view on Everton FC and Sunday's clash at the Stadium of Light
Nov 07, 2014 Liverpool Echo
By David Triggs
A Love Supreme fanzine editor Chris Thompson answers our questions
Sunderland manager Gus Poyet celebrates his side's third goal at Crystal Palace
Which Sunderland will turn up at the Stadium of Light on Sunday?
Guy Poyet's side have been consistently inconsistent so far this season, with the 8-0 aberration at Southampton the result which leaps out of their fixture list so far. But the Black Cats won well at Crystal Palace on Monday, setting them up for this weekend's meeting with Everton.
So what can the Blues expect from Sunderland? We spoke to Chris Thompson, editor of fanzine A Love Supreme, to get his views on the Black Cats and Everton, and find out the mood in the opposition camp before Sunday's game. The Premier League table is looking a little better after the win against Crystal Palace. What have you made of Sunderland's start to the season?
Chris Thompson (CT): The answer to that question quite literally changes game by game. Following the win against Stoke, Sunderland had a solid defensive record, had managed draws against the 'big teams' and had scored a reasonable amount of goals. However, fast forward past the burdensome international break and to the Southampton match, we all know what happened there.
An 8-0 defeat, then a 2-0 defeat against Arsenal made Sunderland's start to the season look a lot worse, just one win in nine games - that's relegation form, and appropriately Sunderland were in the relegation zone. I imagine the aim this season was for Sunderland to stay out of the bottom three, and as soon as they're down there then the manager starts to feel the pressure. A lot of the fans feel the squad isn't an improvement upon last season, but I disagree, I just think the team has been very unlucky with injuries so far this campaign and have suffered because of that. Ricky Alvarez, who was brought in on loan from Inter Milan, will no doubt have been in Gus' attacking plans but the loss of him has left the squad deficient of creativity. Equally, Jack Rodwell is yet to find his feet in the team, whether that's due to him lacking match fitness or that he's being played in a more attacking role than he's best suited to is a moot point. I personally think that he was a strange buy given that there were already have capable defensive midfielders at the club, and he's been deployed in a role he's not comfortable with, a role for which Sunderland should have brought in a player who has experience playing there. I'm sure Poyet will figure out where to play Rodwell, but it's already 10 games into the season now, and Sunderland's £10m man is no closer to form than he was on day one. How do you expect Gus Poyet to set his team up against Everton? Who in the Sunderland side should the Blues be most wary of? CT: Gus is a coach who likes to persevere with a winning formula, and therefore I assume he will name an unchanged side from the Crystal Palace match, with the exception of Anthony Reveillere playing left back and Santiago Vergini playing on the right, in the absence of the injured Patrick van Aanholt. Sunderland also have to cater for Lee Cattermole's suspension, and despite expressing my doubts about Rodwell, I would bring him back in the side for this match. I think his presence is of benefit against the more attacking teams and with Everton being his boyhood club I feel he might play with more purpose. Playing in the Cattermole role is probably a better fit for him as well. I'm wary of labelling Steven Fletcher 'the man in form' given that he has scored four goals this season, in comparison to other teams and players that is rather pitiful, but he is by far Sunderland's biggest goal threat at the moment and Everton would be wise to double mark him at set pieces and crosses. He possesses the rare ability to peel off defenders and create his own space in the box. If his teammates get the ball to him within 18 yards of the goal then he will usually find the net, but it's doing so which is the problem for this Sunderland side.
Have the memories of that 8-0 defeat at Southampton been banished yet, or is confidence still fragile? CT: That match certainly changed a few things, specifically who Gus considers his first choice goalkeeper. There was speculation that Vito Mannone's confidence was knocked by the 8-0 defeat and his mistake against Arsenal the week after. Subsequently he was dropped for the Crystal Palace match, a decision which I disagreed with, but with his replacement Costel Pantilimon having a great game, I can only concede that he got the decision spot on.
While individual players may still be suffering however, Sunderland's win against Crystal Palace should be considered a team recovery. You can't win a game of football if you're riddled with self-doubt, and therefore we can only assume that the players have gotten over the humiliation of St Mary's. Coming off the back of a tough away win, confidence will be high against Everton.
What have you made of Everton so far and the work Roberto Martinez did in his first season at Goodison? Hoping they'll still have a Euro hangover by Sunday?
CT: I'm a big fan of Martinez and he deserves the credit he received for his first season at Everton. His triumph came not only in his tactical decisions but his ability to get performances out of key individuals throughout the season. I'm sure they will have been disappointed not to qualify for the Champions League but perhaps slow progression may benefit them more in the long run than taking the step up to the premier European competition only to suffer demoralising defeats to the continent's elite. Everton haven't had a fantastic season so far either so definitely shouldn't be considered untouchable, the two sides are only two points apart in the league after all, although as the question alludes to, it's no mystery as to why they aren't as high in the league as they perhaps should be. Everton can be a very ruthless side, especially given the talent they have at their disposal now, their strike force is incredible. A Euro hangover will be something Sunderland will try to take advantage of though, even if the players have to sacrifice their Sunday day off for that privilege.
If you could sign one Everton player for Sunderland (with money no object), who would it be?
CT: The obvious answer would be Romelu Lukaku, and for good reason. He is a complete forward. Strong as an ox, deceptively quick given his size, intelligent, great in the air, great with his feet. He's a player who Sunderland could only dream of, a striker who can create their own chances as well as poach the ones set up for them. It remains to be seen why Jose Mourinho never rated him, although I suppose if you're battling with Diego Costa for a starting place then it's not the worst decision in the world to leave that club anyway. Lukaku is the type of player who can't be marked, you can try and put him off his game but if the opportunity strikes, there will only ever be one winner. He's a lot like Drogba in that sense. The last player Sunderland had who was as physically dominant as Lukaku is Niall Quinn, who could pluck balls out of the sky like apples from trees, and shield off defenders as if they were toddlers. Some players are different class and Lukaku is more than comfortable in that category.
CT: I think it would be naive to expect a Sunderland victory. Coming off the back of a good performance is always a confidence booster but tired legs or not, Everton are a force to be reckoned with and a draw would be more than sufficient for the home side. Sunderland have a difficult run of fixtures coming up, although ironically due to Poyet's tactics, they tend to do better against the top sides. With that in mind, it would stand Sunderland in good stead to get a win against Everton, but it's unrealistic. Lee Cattermole has been the glue holding this team together so far this season, and the absence of the ball winner will be a massive blow. It will be a real test without him, and a great indication of how good the side actually is when devoid of their main man. He's a player who isn't flattered by highlight shows, but his importance to the side can't be stressed enough, and without him Sunderland are already at a disadvantage before they kick off. Prediction: 1-1.
Sunderland v Everton FC: Scouting report
Nov 07, 2014 Liverpool Echo
By David Triggs
A detailed look at the Black Cats as the Blues head to the Stadium of Light
Match: Sunderland v Everton
Date: Sunday, November 9 (1.30pm)
Manager: Gus Poyet. A fine goal-scoring midfielder in his playing days, the Uruguayan had successful spells in Europe with Real Zaragoza, Chelsea and Spurs before cutting his coaching teeth as right-hand man to Dennis Wise at Swindon Town and Leeds United. He also worked as number two to Juande Ramos at Spurs before taking up his first managerial assignment at Brighton in 2009.
The 46-year-old steered the Seagulls to promotion to the Championship in his first full season there and led them to the play-offs in 2013, before an acrimonious departure.
He took charge of Sunderland in October 2013 and led them to the Capital One Cup final, where they were beaten by Manchester City, while also engineering a late escape from the clutches of relegation. Poyet’s Brighton side was known for playing free-flowing football and he has tried to put a similar imprint on the Black Cats.
Form: Predictably unpredictable, consistently inconsistent, the Black Cats are a tough team to fathom. They lost only one of their first seven Premier League matches this season, against QPR, but picked up only one win in that time too (against Stoke).Then came a calamitous 8-0 reverse at St Mary’s - a result which threatened to make or break Sunderland’s season, even at this early stage. The response since has been mixed. Two individual errors in the next game allowed Arsenal to pick up a 2-0 win at the Stadium of Light, but the Mackems halted the slide with a 3-1 victory in Monday’s televised match at Crystal Palace. What will they do next?
How they’ll set up: Gus Poyet is a manager who likes to stick with a winning team - but he has no option but to make changes to the side which picked up three points at Crystal Palace. Midfield anchorman Lee Cattermole is suspended and left-back Patrick van Aanholt injured, so tweaks will be required. Poyet has already hinted that Liam Bridcutt - rather than £10m man Jack Rodwell - will deputise for his skipper. The defence requires a reshuffle too after Dutchman van Aanholt dislocated his shoulder at Selhurst Park. It all means right-back Anthony Reveillere, the experienced France international, will probably switch over to the left, with centre-back Santiago Vergini filling in on the right so John O’Shea can partner Wes Brown in the centre.
Ahead of that, Poyet has been operating with a five-man midfield - Bridcutt being the likely partner for Sebastian Larsson in the middle - with Connor Wickham and Will Buckley filling the wide slots and Jordi Gomez playing in a free role supporting striker Steven Fletcher. Costel Pantilimon has taken over in goal after Vito Mannone paid the price for some shaky displays, notably against Southampton and Arsenal.
Sum them up in 140 characters: The Premier League’s great unpredictables. When will the real Sunderland stand up? Your guess is as good as Gus’.
Player to watch: Steven Fletcher. The Scot has been plagued by injury problems since signing from Wolves in August 2012 - a shame because, when fully fit, Fletcher has proved to be an effective leader of the line. His double against Palace took his Premier League tally to four goals in seven starts this season, the others coming in last month’s 3-1 victory over Stoke City.
In Sunderland’s 4-5-1 system, Fletcher is the focal point of the attack - holding the ball up and bringing others into play. Particularly adept in the air, he averages just 0.3 dribbles and 0.6 key passes per game, stats which underline the fact he is not a player expected to carve defences open with silky skills. His strengths lie elsewhere.
Everton FC to assess Gareth Barry ankle worry over next 24 hours
Nov 7 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Midfielder was injured during Europa League win over Lille
Everton FC will assess Gareth Barry 's ankle injury over the next 24 hours – as Roberto Martinez reveals Antolin Alcaraz will not undergo surgery.
Barry was replaced in the second-half of Thursday night's Europa League win over Lille after damaging his ankle and sustaining a cut on his shin. Martinez says Barry's shin injury will not stop him being fit for Sunday's trip to Sunderland but the Blues medical staff need to take a closer look at his ankle complaint. Everton will also wait to make a call on the fitness of Seamus Coleman who missed out in midweek. Martinez has revealed that the right-back suffered a cut on his Achilles during the 0-0 draw against Swansea City last weekend and the manager is unsure if Coleman will be passed fit for the game at the Stadium of Light. Martinez said of Barry: “We came through the game with just a knock on Gareth Barry. This morning he was showing a long cut on his shin, which is nothing to worry about. For the weekend, the only thing maybe to worry about is his ankle. He had a massive knock and we need to give it another 24 hours.” On Alcaraz and Everton's defensive options, Martinez said: “Sylvain Distin came in last night and looks refreshed and ready for the challenge ahead. “Young Tyias Browning is ready and even Brendan Galloway. We have got our centre-half positions well covered. “In Antolin's case, we decided not to go through surgery. The specialist feels it is the best way to approach the injury which is great news because it reduces the period Antolin is going to be out. “We will find out over the next few days how he responds but we are now probably looking at a period of three, four or five weeks maximum, which is fantastic from what we had earlier thought.”
Contract extension will give Leon Osman peace of mind says Everton boss Roberto Martinez
Nov 07, 2014 22:47
By Greg O’Keeffe
Midfielder’s previous deal was set to expire in the summer
Roberto Martinez has revealed that he gave Leon Osman his contract extension to avoid him becoming unsettled as the January transfer window approaches.
The Everton FC midfielder’s previous deal was set to expire in the summer, and Martinez was concerned the uncertainty would be damaging for one of his most influential squad members.
Osman, 33, celebrated the new deal to keep him at Goodison until 2016 with the opening goal against Lille at Goodison on Thursday. Martinez had previously hinted he would only discuss new terms with players approaching the end of their contracts in the new year, but he hopes the peace of mind will help Osman continue to thrive. He said: “It was the right time to allow him to concentrate on football and only football. Now is his testimonial year, his book is out, and everything he does - the first question is “What are you doing next year?” It brings a degree of uncertainty that I don’t think is healthy and he doesn’t need it. “He was the only player who played in every Premier League game last season and he deserves the extension. “Now that doesn’t mean anything. I think he wants to fight for another contract and show that he can play for many years to come. We welcome that.” Martinez believes there would have been no shortage of other clubs trying to lure Osman away from Goodison in January if his situation had remained unresolved.
He added: “I think it would have been really negative for him to have had two months thinking about his future and what’s going to happen. “Then you have other teams interested and all of a sudden you get distracted. Now he can enjoy his football. “He knows he’s here for the long run and he can hit the best level that he did against Lille on a consistent basis. That’s a real clarity for a footballer and he deserves that.” Osman is 16th on the Blues all-time appearance record having played just shy of 400 games. And the midfielder was just pleased to have his immediate future secured. “There is only one place I wanted to play football and that’s here.” he added.
“To be told I can do that for another year, I’m delighted. “We have been talking about it for a couple of weeks now so I am glad to get it sorted.”