Been there, done that...Blues benefit from Samuel Eto'o and Aiden McGeady's Russia experience
Oct 1 2014 Liverpool Echo
Duo's know-how will help in Krasnodar
Roberto Martinez revealed he has asked Samuel Eto’o and Aiden McGeady to speak to the Everton squad about what to expect when they play in Russia against Krasnodar tomorrow.
The Blues will today begin the 4,000-mile round-trip to Southern Russia to face Aleh Konanaw’s side in their second Europa League Group H game. Little is widely known about Krasnodar, who were only formed in 2008 but have risen to the Russian Premier League over the last six years.
And with many of the Toffees squad having never played in Russia before, it means tomorrow’s tie is something of a journey into the unknown in more than one way. However, summer signing Eto’o and January arrival McGeady have both played there, for Anzhi and Spartak Moscow respectively, and Martinez has been keen to consult them on what may lie in store. He said: “Of course we’ve spoken to them. Samuel played for Anzhi and Aiden played for Spartak and they have told us that although it’s quite a new league they are at a good level and there is a lot of investment. It’s good to have that first hand experience. Everything else is on paper or on video but to get that live feeling is great and they’ve been influential on that. “Away from home you’ll get completely different kinds of games. We can’t be effected by the environment and we must adapt to it and be ourselves. We need to try and perform like we did against Wolfsburg. It’s not what we’re used to but that is what Europe is like. We’re only thinking about Krasnodar.” The meticulous Blues boss has not just relied on the accounts of two of his players though. He he has been compiling a dossier of background information, tactical DVDs, and scouting reports on the Russians since the draw was made.
“We have done our homework on Krasnodar,” he said. “We’ve watched them a lot. They surprised us in the manner they performed against Real Sociedad over two legs, and then the way they played against Lille in the first group match was quite impressive. They’re a stylish team with some talented footballers in between the lines. I’ve been very impressed. “We are facing a side which are unknown to some degree because they were established not so long ago but they are a side which knows exactly what they are doing. They play expansive football with a lot of energy and we will have to be at our best if we want to get a positive result against them.”
James McCarthy misses Everton FC's Europa League tie with Krasnodar
Oct 1 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Blues also travel without Distin, Pienaar and Coleman
James McCarthy has not travelled with the Everton FC squad to Russia ahead of tomorrow’s Europa League tie with Krasnodar.
The Republic of Ireland international is understood to be suffering with a hamstring injury and did not board the Blues plane at John Lennon Airport this morning. Roberto Martinez is also to be without Seamus Coleman, Sylvain Distin and Steven Pienaar for the Group H fixture in Stadion Kuban tomorrow evening (5pm). The ECHO’s Greg O’Keeffe is travelling with the squad to southern Russian and tweeted the following team news updates. “Seamus Coleman, Steven Pienaar and Sylvain Distin have not travelled with team for Krasnodar game. Neither has James McCarthy,” Greg wrote. “McCarthy seemed to pick up injury towards end of derby. Possibly hamstring. Waiting to speak to Martinez at presser in Russia for more detail.” It is understood that Martinez has decided not to risk either Coleman or Pienaar to increase their chances of being fit to face Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday while Distin has not been involved since the Capital One Cup game with Swansea City. McCarthy picked up his knock in Saturday’s derby and was due to be assessed by the Everton medical team today. Youngsters Tyias Browning, Luke Garbutt and Ryan Ledson have travelled with the Blues to Krasnodar. Greg tweeted: “Waiting for take off enroute to Krasnodar with #EFC. Congrats to @RyanLedson97 who is with the squad. “Luke Garbutt and Tyias Browning also onboard after recent first team appearances #EFC.”
Why Everton should be wary of Europa League newcomers FC Krasnodar
Controversial club were formed just six years ago but have risen rapidly to Russia’s top flight and show no sign of slowing down
• Jagielka hopes Anfield equaliser can kickstart season
• Everton beat Wolfsburg in Europa League opener
Wednesday 1 October 2014
It is not an unfair generalisation to state that football on the other side of the old iron curtain has, where domestic leagues are concerned at least, atrophied painfully over the last two decades. With a few exceptions, old powers continue to decline amid a wearying litany of mismanagement, misappropriation and plain indifference, not aided by a rapacious market further west.
There are, though, tentative signs that a new way is emerging – that, away from the old power centres, there is space for clubs and individuals to work within more sustainable and transparent models. The Bulgarian side Ludogorets, who ran Liverpool close at Anfield two weeks ago, are one example; now it is Everton’s turn to come up against an emerging power when they travel to the Russian city of Krasnodar on Thursday for a match that writes another page in their opponents’ short, unusual story. Roberto Martínez’s side will not be supported in huge numbers. Everton elected to cancel their customary official fans’ travel plans due to insufficient sign-up, unsurprising given that Krasnodar – situated 50 miles from the Black Sea and around 100 from the Winter Olympics host city, Sochi – is a 4,000-mile round trip away. Those who do make the journey will be visiting a club that did not exist until 2008, when the retail billionaire Sergey Galitsky decided to set up a new football operation in the city close to his birthplace. FC Krasnodar rose from the third tier to the Russian Premier League almost straight away in a run that was not bereft of controversy, their promotion to the Premier League in 2010 coming largely as a result of their having greater financial clout to take up a late vacancy (Saturn Ramenskoye had withdrawn owing to financial difficulties) than two of the teams that had finished above them. But their rise has been implacable and, last season, a fifth-placed finish won them European football for the first time. That, in a country whose football fans set great stock in continental representation regardless of club rivalries, has only added to their reputation as something of a fairytale. “At first it bothered me, but now I do not care,” Galitsky told Sports.ru in August, referring to this perception. “We are not sentimental; we just try and keep on the right path. And it’s not down to us, but a lack of good examples.”
The last sentence sums up why the club, privately owned by Galitsky and thus not beholden to big business (Zenit St Petersburg and Gazprom are the obvious, and generally loathed outside their city, example) or local administration, is viewed as a breath of fresh air despite the budget that has been available to them over the last six years. While private ownership is not necessarily a panacea – Anzhi Makachkala, after Suleyman Kerimov ended their Samuel Eto’o-led experiment and cut their budget to shreds, are proof enough of that – there is space for the right individual to come up with a genuinely innovative approach. “Galitsky is an unlikely type of businessman for Russia,” explains Ivan Kalashnikov, the UK correspondent for Sports.ru. “He’s pretty open and he understands the media. Most club presidents won’t speak to them but Galitsky uses it as the chance to speak to people, speak to the fans, and express his opinions on football. It’s normal in other parts of Europe but definitely not for Russia. “He has built a proper football club in one of the provinces from scratch basically, investing his money in a stadium – which is almost complete – and a good youth academy rather than big signings.” Krasnodar’s academy is the jewel in their crown and has been the focus of Galitsky’s attentions; Fabio Capello, currently the Russian national team manager, has visited and proclaimed it to be one of the best in the world. And Galitsky, who has expressed a dream that his club can one day field an entire homegrown XI, is ready to wait for the fruits of his labours. “The most relevant age for us is [those who were born in] 2003,” he said in the Sports.ru interview. “They are the ones who have been engaged in our academy from their first steps in football. “Everyone says ‘Galitsky, the best school, the talents will come through in two days’. Two days later, nothing happens. The results will come in 10 years, and then I will be ready to see anyone who has laughed at me. I get much more pleasure from the academy than out of the first team, because the first team is much less dependent on me.” It is an unusual approach and one that reinforces the widely-accepted view that Galitsky is in this for the love of football – not to make money or even with a fixation upon winning major trophies. But the first team has come close to doing the latter, losing on penalties to FC Rostov in last season’s Russian Cup final, and Everton must beware. Krasnodar scored eight goals without reply in their home fixtures during the Europa League qualifying rounds, a 3-0 win over Real Sociedad was the head-turner among them.
“They play really good football, attacking football,” says Kalashnikov. “Sometimes it doesn’t come off and they lose to an underdog, but unlike with Anzhi, who had all those expensive players, it can be allowed for. Their style is really appealing to Russian fans.” A 4-0 win over Spartak Moscow in August was a further example of what Krasnodar, who sit sixth in this season’s league after nine games, can achieve. Not uncommonly for a contemporary Russian club, much of their threat comes from Brazilians: the trio of Ari, Wanderson and Joãozinho give defenders little peace and the former pair scored in Sunday’s 3-0 win over Arsenal Tula. A perhaps more familiar name is the former Wigan defender Andreas Granqvist, who arrived from Genoa a year ago and has captained the team.
The world of Krasnodar and Galitsky is not a perfect one – not yet. They continue to play in the stadium of far more established neighbours Kuban, who are reluctant landlords, until their own home opens next year. They have had to build a fanbase from scratch; Kuban supporters accuse them of bussing in workers from Galitsky’s firm, Magnit, to bolster numbers and the owner does not deny that Krasnodar have to create a groundswell their own way. They have also been criticised for the amount of army members seen at their home games, with Galitsky keen to tap into the city’s large numbers of students and soldiers. Krasnodar is the 17th-largest city in Russia and its long-term prospects for sustaining two top-flight clubs are unclear. Another problem is looming. Last week, Krasnodar were one of seven clubs that Uefa announced were to be investigated for possible breaches of financial fair play regulations. Galitsky has told local media that this may be on account of what, to the outsider, would be anomalously high spending on the academy; there is also a school of thought that Krasnodar may be the kind of up and coming club that the new rules force back into their box. It is an elephant in the room and, while it seems wrong that they could be bracketed with serial miscreants such as Red Star Belgrade, there is a danger that Krasnodar may have to enjoy European football while they still can. They are clearly doing so regardless and, however many Everton fans brave the journey to Russia’s south, a point would go down as a good result against a side who drew their first group stage game in Lille. Galitsky may scoff at demands for instant success, but he and Krasnodar are enjoying plenty of it.
FK Krasnodar v Everton FC: Three key questions ahead of the Blues trip into the unknown
Oct 01, 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Joe Rimmer
Who will step up in the absence of Mirallas and McCarthy? And how will the Blues handle the unknown?
Who will step up in Kevin Mirallas absence?
Phil Jagielka may have etched himself into Merseyside derby folklore with his thunderbolt equalizer on Saturday afternoon, but the real turning point in the game came when Kevin Mirallas pulled up lame in the first half - throwing Roberto Martinez's gameplan into tatters in the process.
The Belgian winger had been an outlet for the Blues, forcing Liverpool to be a little more cautious throwing players forward for fear of being caught out by his pace on the break. Aiden McGeady came on to replace him, but the threat seemed to evaporate and Liverpool grabbed a hold of the game. Now it's up to the likes of McGeady and Mirallas's Belgian team-mate Romelu Lukaku to ensure that Everton do not suffer in Mirallas' absence. McGeady, for all his flashes of brilliance, is yet to produce his best form consistently in a Royal Blue shirt and the Irishman returns to Russia for the first time since leaving Spartak Moscow, where he endured a frustrating spell. Meanwhile, Lukaku has also endured a somewhat frustrating time since he signed a permanent deal at Goodison Park. Perhaps the weight of expectation is weighing down on both men, but Martinez, with a small squad, needs both men to produce on a regular basis. Krasnodar are no pushovers, and will no doubt be tough to break down in their own stadium and Everton will have to remain patient in order to find a breakthrough. Then it's up to the likes of McGeady and Lukaku to deliver the goods.
How will Everton handle the unknown? FK Krasnodar aren't the biggest name in European circles, after all the Russians were only founded as a football club in 2008 - just a year before Wolfsburg would become Bundesliga champions. The Russian club would only enter the top flight in 2010 - the season in which Lille would go on to clinch the Ligue 1 title. Despite just six years of existence, and just four in the top flight, Krasnodar could represent the toughest challenge to Everton's ambitions of qualification from Group H. That's because the Blues simply don't know enough about the Russian side. Roberto Martinez has admitted he's turned to Samuel Eto'o and Aiden McGeady to find out more about Krasnodar and no doubt the Blues boss will have studied the DVD the Russian's previous Europa League tie with Lille. In that game, Krasnodar gave the French side a scare, taking the lead in France after the half hour mark and ending the game with a creditable draw.
Familiar faces in the side include former Wigan defender Andreas Granqvist and Russian international Marat Izmailov, who played for both Sporting and Porto. How Everton deal with the unfamiliarity of Krasnodar, and whether they impose their own style on the game, will decide who wins the points tomorrow evening and takes the advantage in Group H.
How will the Blues fill James McCarthy's shoes?
Roberto Martinez had no qualms throwing Muhamed Besic into the deep end when he handed the 22-year-old his very first Premier League start in the Merseyside derby.
The Bosnian responded with a hard-working performance and did well at Anfield.
Now he finds himself with even bigger shoes to fill after James McCarthy was ruled out of Everton's trip to Russia, meaning, in all likelihood, Besic will start in midfield alongside Gareth Barry against Krasnodar. Besic seems to have little problem putting himself about, and in that respect the Blues have a ready made replacement for McCarthy's workrate and effort. But the Irishman is underrated with the ball, and his incisive passing in the final third will be missed. McCarthy simply oozed class against Wolfsburg, cutting the German side to shreds with his combination play with Everton's attacking players - before sprinting back to break up any danger to the Blues backline.
To the likes of John Stones and Phil Jagielka, he's a godsend. Besic has shown glimpses of his talent so far. But the Bosnian has a tendency to try something over complicated, whether it be the back-heel against Chelsea, or some of the cross-field passes he attempted at Anfield.
Martinez will stress the importance of keeping possession tomorrow evening, and Besic's energy and cultured left-boot can help the Blues do exactly that. He must keep his head and ensure that the Blues are not left to rue McCarthy's absence.
Which Everton FC player has been substituted the most?
Oct 1 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Kristian Walsh
The Trinity Mirror data unit looks at whose number flashes up most frequently for Roberto Martinez's side
The expectant gasp around Goodison Park is a regular one. The fourth official trots to the sideline, electronic board in hand, and flashes up Roberto Martinez's next substitution.
The most frequent numbers since the start of last season, it has been revealed, belong to Leon Osman and Kevin Mirallas. The Trinity Mirror data unit have compiled a full list of substitutions used by Everton since the start of the 2013/14 season, with the two midfielders taken off 19 times apiece.
Which Everton FC player has been subbed most since start of 2013/14?
Leon OsmanKevin MirallasSteven PienaarRoss BarkleyRomelu LukakuGerard DeulofeuAiden McGeady02468101214161820
Steven Pienaar made way for a team-mate 15 times, while Ross Barkley was subbed in 13 matches; record signing Romelu Lukaku was taken off a total of 12 times in the Premier League.
Gerard Deulofeu (7), Aiden McGeady (7), Steven Naismith (5) and Nikica Jelavic (4) are also high up the list. Midfield axis James McCarthy and Gareth Barry, meanwhile, have been substituted three times combined, with Barry being taken off just the once.
Everton have unfinished business with Champions League, says Blues legend Duncan Ferguson
Oct 02, 2014Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
Ferguson admits the club's failure to qualify for the Champions League group stage in 2005 still rankles with him
Duncan Ferguson insists Everton FC have unfinished business with the Champions League – and sees their continental comeback this season as ideal preparation for the next level of elite European action. The Blues legend admits the club's failure to qualify for the Champions League group stage in 2005 still rankles with him, and he will never understand Italian referee Pierluigi Collina's controversial decision to disallow his headed goal during a finely balanced second leg decider against Spanish club Villarreal. Ferguson, now a first team coach who is in Russia helping Roberto Martinez's men prepare for their Europa League Group H tie with Krasnodar, even reckons the Toffees should target winning the competition in order to grab the prize of a place in next season's Champions League. He said: “Everton definitely belong in Europe. Our history suggests that with the great runs we had back in the Eighties and before. This is where we want to be. “We need to be here, getting our name back out there and raising the club's profile. And of course this time around the winners get a Champions League spot. We're always hoping and striving to get into that Champions League.
“We've been close before. It was bad memories for us in 2005. We thought it was a poor decision then and we still think it was a poor decision now. “People still talk about it to this day. If the referee had given the goal that night I believe we'd have beaten that team, and they went on to play in the semi-final that year so they weren't bad at all. “We had them on the wrack that night and but for one disgraceful decision to disallow a perfectly good goal we'd have gone into the group stages.
“It does still rankle me. It was a disgrace what that referee did. “He tried to make out that Marcus Bent was involved in some kind of incident but Marcus wasn't even in the picture. It was a shambles.
“We had a hangover from that going into playing the next team then in the Uefa League and Bucharest turned us over because we were still reeling. “I think in some way we're still feeling that game even now. We want to put it to bed.” The 42-year-old believes Martinez is right to embrace Uefa's second-tier club competition, as it is the perfect training ground for the next step.
“Our manager always speaks positively about the Europa League and it's something we're all behind,” he said. “It's a great experience “This competition is a great grounding for the players, and we've got a lot of young players who will benefit. We've got lads who have been through it all before and they will help as well. “It's the next best thing to the Champions League so we do embrace it and it would be nice to go one further. “It's not easy and a lot of clubs spend a lot of money. But we're trying to be the best we can possibly be and for a good few years we've been there pushing for that fourth place. As long as we continue to do that I believe we will break through.
“Last season would normally have been enough points to get us there so it shows you we're progressing. “We've been close before too although we've only qualified that once for it when we finished fourth and everyone knows what happened next.” Ferguson is still relishing every moment of being involved with the first-team coaching set-up at the club he loves, and is eager to learn more form being involved in preparing for European action. “It's fantastic to be here,” said the Scot. “I love it. It's great to get this experience as a coach having experienced it as a player.
“It's a big part of my education but more importantly we want to do well for the fans. That's the main thing.”
Everton's Aiden McGeady hoping to do the business on return to Russia
Oct 01, 2014 Liverpoool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
Blues winger joined from Russian side Spartak Moscow in January
Aiden McGeady has already proved he can talk a good game in Russia – now he wants to show he can do the business back on his old stomping ground with his feet too.
The Everton FC winger, who joined in January from Spartak Moscow where he spent four eventful years, received a round of applause from impressed local media when he answered a question during a press conference in near perfect Russian. McGeady, 28, is clearly still a high-profile name in these parts. He was being asked to pose for selfies with airport staff moments after the Toffees touched down in Krasnodar. But as he bids to help Roberto Martinez's men to a successful return to competitive continental action tonight, he also hopes to reclaim his place in the manager's first-team plans. The Republic of Ireland international had to contend with a place on the bench for the Anfield derby last Saturday, and was only fitfully effective after replacing Kevin Mirallas.
Yet he is bidding for a chance to shine in a country he insists he enjoyed playing in far more than some believe. “Of course I want to impress while I'm here,” he said. “There are loads of games this season and we want to do as well as we can do in every competition. We've got a big squad but lots of competition for places and every time you get on the pitch you have to use it as a chance to impress the manager. “I think he does favour rotating the squad now and again too so that can only help us." McGeady had to contend with questions about the controversial end to his Spartak career last year, when he fell out of favour in the capital and was ordered to find a new club or be condemned to playing with the reserves. But he says that was only part of his experience.
“I enjoyed a lot of parts of it,” he said. “That journalist who asked the first question kind of killed me there by saying it was a nightmare for me, which it wasn’t. I enjoyed a lot of it, just towards the end obviously it got difficult. It was a great experience. “I’d actually encourage any player to go abroad and broaden your horizons. That’s kind of why I came out here. I was 24 at the time and I didn’t really know what to expect coming out here but it definitely opened my eyes and I grew up a bit. I adapted to life and got used to it and enjoyed the football. That was the main part. I enjoyed that.”
Money is often the driving factor for Premier League players heading to Russia, but McGeady – who earned around £75,000-a-week in Moscow, denies that was his sole motivation.
“Other players know that places like Russia, Turkey, China you're going to get good money and that's a big pull as well but for me it wasn't quite about that,” he said.
"Like I say I left Celtic when I was 24 and Spartak were obviously a massive club in Moscow. At first I wasn't too sure about going over but then I came and saw the city. They have a massive fanbase and there was Champions League football. I was drawn to that and after a year I was really enjoying it.
“It was a shame the way it ended. “I was told to go and train with the youth team for the last three weeks before the season finished. Then I was told if I didn't leave I was staying with the youth team for the rest of my contract and I had six months left. “I didn't want to do that so it ended on a bit of a sour note. I always kind of got on OK with the manager but that's just the way it ended. It happens in football and I moved on.” McGeady plays for a manager who really believes in him now, and he admits Martinez has pumped him for inside information on the Russian league, even if he concedes his knowledgeable boss was probably just being thorough. “To be honest he probably knows more about it than me, he knows football inside out,” he said. “He asked me about a couple of the players – the two I used to play with at Spartak, Ari (Krasnodar's Brazilian forward) and Dykan the keeper. He asked me what I thought of them and the way they played. I think he was just testing me, I think he already knew what they were like. “But like most Russian teams they sign a lot of foreigners and buy players who are technically good. I think this team the last few years they have been week but last season they have bought quite a few players and have done well in the league and done well in Europe this season as well. McGeady certainly told his manager that Krasnodar will be no pushovers this evening. “I played here a few times before and it's always a difficult place to come,” he added. “There are two teams here; FC and Kuban and it was always tough games against both teams. “It feels a bit strange being back. It was deja vu coming back and seeing the tea set out and the chocolate (in the stadiums). It just reminded me of every game here
Roberto Martinez will not blame European football for Everton's growing injury list
Oct 01, 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Micheal McKenna
Blues currently have five players sidelined
Roberto Martinez insists he will not blame European football as Everton FC's injury list grows – and he will aim for a win in Krasnodar regardless of his ailing squad.
The Blues currently have five players sidelined; with Seamus Coleman, Steven Pienaar, James McCarthy, Kevin Mirallas, and Sylvain Distin all back home in Merseyside recuperating from different problems. But the Toffees boss is adamant he will not complain about the club's congested fixture list – they travel to Old Trafford just over 24 hours after landing back in Liverpool tomorrow, as he embraces their European return. Asked if he is pointing the finger at Europe, and Everton's current glut of games, he said: “No, for example when you see the number of games Kevin (Mirallas) has played, it has been well managed. “That is not fatigue. If it was an injury in the 88th minute, you can go down the fatigue path, but this was a twist that sprinters get because of the speed he was going. Injuries and suspensions will happen over the course of the season. It just gives others the opportunity of being on the pitch and performing well. Of course injuries are concerns because you don’t want to lose any. When you plan a season you plan a squad that is capable of rotating and sharing demands. It goes from blocks of seven games from international break to international break, it means that players who come back have to pick up minutes. “We need to share it over the 10 months. As I say the concern is that someone like Kevin that was well rested in the Palace game and the Capital One Cup game [v Swansea], picks up an injury early on Saturday and if he would have stayed fit for the whole game he would have made a huge difference. That’s the disappointment but injuries and suspensions they are part of the game. “You can't question how seriously we take the Europa League. We got in Europe because we worked hard for 12 months. If we want to carry on developing and growing we need to develop a winning mentality and to do that we need to be ready for the next game." Martinez will rotate his options tonight, after the Merseyside derby took a tiring toll on Saturday. He said: “I thought on Saturday remember we ended up in a derby game with more possession than the home side. I thought we didn’t create enough in the final third and that was a mental fatigue. I just don’t think that is something you cannot overcome in the next three days. “We have recovered well. It was an exciting game. At Everton I always felt that European football is part of our DNA, we started back in this competition in the 50s and every opportunity to create a good memory we take it with both hands. It is the first time we have come to Russia, yes we will make changes but that does not mean we don’t want to win" While experienced summer arrival Samuel Eto'o is likely to figure at some point at the Kuban stadium, teenager Ryan Ledson is in the travelling squad simply to watch and learn. “Samuel has been working very well,” said Martinez. “Every time he has come on the pitch he has had an effect. Even when he came on at Anfield. He has an incredible knowhow even when the whole team is celebrating a goal, he is making sure the opposition don’t take a quick kick. His experience is vital. It is not about starting or not starting, he is ready to help the team. “He is more than a player in the dressing-room, he sets standards and the players look up to him because of what he has achieved in the game. “He always has the right advice and time to pass on experiences to youngsters. Then on the pitch it is a long, long season, he has missed pre-season, what I won't do is put him on the pitch for 90 minutes so he burns out and we don't use the full benefit of his quality. Samuel has been working very well in training.
“As for Ryan - he deserves to be here. He was involved with the first team last season and this is just a natural progression. I want some of the young players to understand what it means to travel in Europe and he will benefit from the experience even if he's not on the pitch.” Martinez explained that Distin's omission from the squad in Russia is to rest him, and he is unlikely to figure against Manchester United either. McCarthy and Coleman, however, have a chance of making the trip along the East Lancashire Road, as does Steven Pienaar. “Sylvain played against Crystal Palace and Swansea, he played two games and I want him to have a rest time until the international break to avoid any soft tissue problems. “John Stones, Phil Jagielka and Antolin Alcaraz are now fully fresh to face the next two games and Sylvain will be ready after that."
Duncan Ferguson: Everton's Europa League campaign can lead to Champions League
Oct 02, 2014 Daily Post
By Greg O’Keeffe
Blues coach says club have unfinished business with continent's top competition - and admits his disallowed goal in 2005 still hurts
Duncan Ferguson insists Everton have unfinished business with the Champions League – and sees their continental comeback this season as ideal preparation for the next level of elite European action. The Blues legend admits the club’s failure to qualify for the Champions League group stage in 2005 still rankles with him, and says he will never understand Italian referee Pierluigi Collina’s controversial decision to disallow his headed goal during a finely balanced second-leg decider against Spanish club Villarreal. Ferguson, now a first team coach who is in Russia helping Roberto Martinez’s men prepare for their Europa League Group H tie with Krasnodar, even reckons the Toffees should target winning the competition in order to grab the prize of a place in next season’s Champions League. He said: “Everton definitely belong in Europe. “Our history suggests that with the great runs we had back in the Eighties and before. This is where we want to be.
“We need to be here, getting our name back out there and raising the club’s profile. And of course this time around the winners get a Champions League spot. We’re always hoping and striving to get into that Champions League. “We’ve been close before. It was bad memories for us in 2005. We thought it was a poor decision then and we still think it was a poor decision now. “People still talk about it to this day. If the referee had given the goal that night I believe we’d have beaten that team, and they went on to play in the semi-final that year so they weren’t bad at all. “We had them on the rack that night and but for one disgraceful decision to disallow a perfectly good goal we’d have gone into the group stages. “It does still rankle me. It was a disgrace what that referee did.
“He tried to make out that Marcus Bent was involved in some kind of incident but Marcus wasn’t even in the picture. It was a shambles. “We had a hangover from that going into playing the next team then in the Uefa League and Bucharest turned us over because we were still reeling.
“I think in some way we’re still feeling that game even now. We want to put it to bed.”
The 42-year-old believes Martinez is right to embrace Uefa’s second-tier club competition, as it is the perfect training ground for the next step. “Our manager always speaks positively about the Europa League and it’s something we’re all behind,” he said. “It’s a great experience. “This competition is a great grounding for the players, and we’ve got a lot of young players who will benefit. We’ve got lads who have been through it all before and they will help as well. “It’s the next best thing to the Champions League so we do embrace it and it would be nice to go one further. “It’s not easy and a lot of clubs spend a lot of money. But we’re trying to be the best we can possibly be and for a good few years we’ve been there pushing for that fourth place. As long as we continue to do that I believe we will break through. “Last season would normally have been enough points to get us there so it shows you we’re progressing. “We’ve been close before too, although we’ve only qualified that once for it when we finished fourth, and everyone knows what happened next.”
Ferguson is still relishing every moment of being involved with the first-team coaching set-up at the club he loves, and is eager to learn more from being involved in preparing for European action.
“It’s fantastic to be here,” said the Scot. “I love it. It’s great to get this experience as a coach having experienced it as a player. “It’s a big part of my education but more importantly we want to do well for the fans.”
Behind Enemy Lines: An in-depth look at Everton FC's opponents Manchester United
October 2 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Kristian Walsh
We spoke to United We Stand writer Steve Armstrong ahead of Sunday's game between the two sides
Everton FC claimed their first victory at Old Trafford for 21 years with a memorable win last term - and got one over ex-manager David Moyes in the process. On Sunday they face Manchester United once again - but much has changed for their opponents. We had a chat with United We Stand writer and street seller Steve Armstrong, who contributes to the fanzine which is in its 25th year of production, to get his views on Everton's next Premier League opponents, and he believes things could be very different this time around. Before we look ahead, it is probably worthwhile looking back. David Moyes - what happened? I’ll try and be brief here. The most successful manager in history who’d won everything many times over retired and he convinced clueless owners and board members that someone who’d never won a thing and had next to no experience in the Champions League would be the perfect choice to take over. Something that made one half of Liverpool laugh loudly which was very soon followed by the other half.
The club then allowed the new manager to let go a stack of backroom staff who took with them decades of organisational history and replace them with people who’d failed at places like Leeds and Middlesborough. Then the manager of the champions by 11 points of 2013 started aspiring to be like City, plotting to make things difficult for Newcastle at Old Trafford, and suggesting to European and World Champions like Rio Ferdinand what he could learn from Phil Jagielka. Which sort of contrasted a little from what the club had become used to under the most successful manager ever and people in just about every corner of the club got a bit miffed about it. Then he got sacked leaving us all with the awful quandary as to who we’d rather win the league out of two teams that more often than not occupy the top two places in many United’s fans biggest rival list. I think that just about covers it.
The type of appointment that should have been made last year has now been made. He’s a man who likes himself lots and isn’t one to shirk a confrontation. We like all that. Ferguson may have upset many with his outbursts on touchlines and at press conferences but he was a born winner and box office while he was at it. A ruthless winner who wanted to fight the world no matter what as long as he won. As a fan if that is on your touchline, a 70 year old man offering the world out you can’t help but get embroiled in such passion. Van Gaal has certain similarities but I’m yet to see him boil over.
I’m a traditionalist, I want the manager ranting in the technical area with a big coat on. Not sat calmly while holding an expensive bag. Maybe another Leicester type performance will bring him into his own. Swansea at home, Sunderland and Burnley away from what I can remember were grim. Milton Keynes and their existence as a club doesn’t sit well with me so to go there and get handed a 4-0 hammering in a cup competition we needed to stay in to get game time made it a very long journey home. So up until then the answer was no I wasn’t happy with what I’d seen, and not a lot had changed. The transfer window doused the club in petrol and set it alight. Yes we spent a fortune that others perhaps can’t do, however that is what happens when something is neglected for so long. You eventually have to spend a fortune putting it right. United for years have under invested and relied on the absolute brilliance of Alex Ferguson. His title win in 2013 was just ridiculous really. We had no right to be even close. Last year exposed just how good he was and just how much surgery was needed. Di Maria is something very special. He’s brightened the place up. The bench, the pitch, the stands. Everywhere is smiling again. We look capable of scoring 10 going forward, and just as capable of letting the same amount in. That will get sorted when the defence return from A&E and maybe after the next transfer window. I’m just enjoying going home and away and not having a clue what might happen. Last year’s monotony has been replaced with chaos. We sort of like that. How has the season-long fall from grace affected the United fan base?
It’s hardly a fall from grace. It’s just a football club who’ve won loads for two decades now losing more frequently than we’ve become used to. I wrote ages ago that it wasn’t beyond the realms of possibility that United’s dominance would end when Ferguson left. Maybe it has. The season long assumption is another interesting one. We’re currently 8th and have won just 2 of 6 league games, taking 8 points from a start that should have yielded 15 or more so we’re far from back on that perch we took. Last season was a bit of a shock to a lot of people’s systems. Those born in the mid 80’s and started going in the mid 90’s have never seen United out of the top 3. Ryan Giggs has won a trophy every 29 games in his career or something like that. Imagine growing up as a fan and that being the norm? From that to getting rolled over three times a month and playing dreadfully was a lot for many to take. I started going in 1978. I remember once being on a coach home after a postponed game which came on the back of 4 games without a goal and the pools panel giving us a score draw. That felt like a win. If you can buzz off that like we did you can deal with a season like the one we just had. The support for Moyes all season meant a lot to him. He told United We Stand that and asked the Editor to thank the supporters for the backing he got. I want Moyes to pitch up somewhere and do well. Match going fans past and present recognise he was the wrong choice which wasn’t his fault and never did anything other than back him. Stunts like planes with banners on were just embarrassing and not the United way. Neither was the faceless ranting on twitter behind some childish pseudonym. What do you think of the attack-minded activity in the summer? Is it enough to bring success? All the really successful sides in my life have had one thing in common. Liverpool for the two decades they heaped on me, Arsenal in various parts, that superb Everton team of the early to mid 80’s. All of the really successful Ferguson sides at Old Trafford had superb defences. I haven’t forgot Chelsea and City by the way. I just mean sides where coaching and leadership meant more than being able to outbid everyone for anyone. It’s ludicrous for anyone to think that titles and honours can be won without a strong back line. Not only strong, but playing regularly together. Centre halves rarely get mentioned on their own. It’s always a pair like Thompson & Hansen. Adams & Keown. Bruce and Pallister. Success is defensive unit built.
So in answer to the question of will the attack minded approach be enough to bring success then the answer for me is no. In terms of what do I think of it? I love it. Players like what we have now get you out of your seat. They make grounds louder and they make going to the match an absolute buzz. I’ll take that over anything. United won’t win the league. I wasn’t of the opinion that we’d do enough to make the top 4 again but once you cut the top 2 out of it none of the others chasing the remaining two boardroom appeasing places look like they’re very well. United look like the ones who might get better the quickest so maybe that and not having any European Football to deal with might be a route in. I wanted to win the League Cup. Even if it has got three handles. I want us to win the FA Cup badly and I want to get back to travelling overseas with my mates. If Van Gaal delivers us that, he’ll get a drink out of me and I’ll class that as a successful step forward as opposed to success. On to Everton. The Blues won at Old Trafford last season. What do you perceive to be different from that day on both sides, and will it lead to a win for United? This is going to sound odd. When Everton rocked up at Old Trafford last season we’d just come back from a 5-0 win away in Leverkusen and were unbeaten in 12 games prior to that. This year they arrive with us having just scraped home against West Ham on the back of caving in against Leicester. We’ve been ditched out of the League Cup and failed to win away in 4 games. I think it says something about playing style that United fans are far happier now than we were last December. Despite what I’ve just said. United won’t have had European stuff to worry about midweek. Which might be good for on field stuff but I’m still personally sulking about that. I’ve got to go away with the missus now.
Everton playing away, pretty far away as well on Thursday and then being asked to play at noon on Sunday is just bang out of order. For players and for fans and I can’t see how that is fair to be honest. That’s going to make a big difference. United will go all out early to win instead of setting out to not be losing at half time. Just loads of little things are where the differences are really and it should lead to a United win. I think.
Who do you fear most from the Blues' side?
I mean this with the greatest respect but there isn’t anyone to fear.
What is there though is a tactically astute manager who thinks before and during games and a very good collection of players who are the example of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. Everton this year and last were a team I was wary of despite not really looking at one individual who might be the one who would change the outcome of the game. I was right to think that as in both games as they did the double over us. I’m not sure Tim Howard has been the same since he got off the phone to Barack Obama but he’s still capable of saving anything.
You’d think that the names on paper in the defence would look collectively strong but they’ve shipped in more than anyone in the whole league so that again shouldn’t fall into the ‘fear’ category.
Ahead of that you’ve got loads of people capable of being moulded by Martinez to cause United some difficulties but it’s something that at Old Trafford we should be able to deal with.
What's your prediction? We’ve a new UWS out on Sunday so we’re hoping for no rain, therefore it will likely hammer it down. That’s my nap of the day. As for the match, that win last week was a huge result for United. Had that nostril hair of Nolan’s not strayed offside and it ended 2-2 that would have sucked the life out of us. The fact that United battled and hung on after the captain’s moment of madness was an important shot in the arm. Everton won’t enjoy the Russia travel and the Thursday to Sunday thing so a lot rides on who plays there and who doesn’t. United will be fresh, albeit a bit injured. Everton have a leaky defence and United have for 18 months now let pretty much every shot on target in so that’s something I’m sure Martinez will want to expose.
United have a lot more firepower further up the field than Everton so while I think United will win, I expect that we’ll need to score at least three to do so. If we don’t score three I won’t be expecting as many points.
Manchester United vs Everton: Marouane Fellaini set to make return from ankle injury
Thursday 02 October 2014
Marouane Fellaini is set to give Manchester United a timely boost ahead of their match against his former team Everton on Sunday by making a return from an ankle injury.United's squad has been crippled by injuries this season, with currently nine players out injured.Fellaini returned to full training this week, and now has a chance to feature in the fixture at Old Trafford this weekend.The Belgian midfielder's United career has failed to ignite since his £27m move from Everton in September 2013, with the player still looking for that elusive first goal for the club.
He was linked with a transfer away from United during the summer, with Serie A side Napoli interested.Fellaini, however, recently confirmed his decision to stay and fight for his place at United.
Watch: Everton FC fans in Russia ready for Krasnodar Europa League clash
Oct 02, 2014 12:51
By Joe Rimmer
Our man Greg O'Keeffe took to the streets of Krasnodar to meet Blues that had made the trip
Our Everton FC reporter Greg O'Keeffe took to the streets of Krasnodar to meet Blues fans ahead of tonight's Europa League match with FK Krasnodar. Around 800 Everton fans have made the 3000 mile round trip to see the Toffees and despite the long haul flights they are in good spirits ahead of tonight's game, which kicks off at 5pm UK time and you can follow with our liveblog . Greg even managed to have a chat with a Russian Everton fan, Andrei, who revealed his love for ex-Blue Andrei Kanchelskis.Roberto Martinez's men are looking to establish control of Group H after thrashing Wolfsburg 4-1 in their opening game but are without James McCarthy and Kevin Mirallas for the game. Krasnodar, meanwhile, drew their opening game 1-1 with Lille in France.
Everton FC reporter Greg O'Keeffe chats to Blues fans who have made the trip to Krasnodar ahead of tonight's Europa League game
Oct 02, 2014 13:45
By Greg O’Keeffe
Everton FC reporter Greg O'Keeffe is out and about in Russia ahead of the game with Krasnodar later today and he has been chatting to some of the Blues fans that have made the 3000-mile round-trip about their travels and hopes for the match.The Toffees face Krasnodar looking to establish their grip on Group H after winning their first game in convincing fashion against Wolfsburg. Roberto Martinez's men face a tough ask against Krasnodar, who drew 1-1 with Lille in their opening game.John Appleyard, 55, is a warehouse installation expert from Corby, Northants, who is currently based in Paris for work.He has been a Blue since he was 10 and met up with pals in Krasnodar yesterday.He said: "We have managed to get flights and our hotel all in for just under £400 which we were made up with. We just wanted to be here and get behind the lads."I'm predicting a straight forward, easy win tonight. Onwards and upwards." Carl Knox, 23, is from Milton Keynes. He said: "We're going to every one of the group stage away games. I'm so happy we're back in Europe."I've travelled with my dad and his mates and we've had a great time so far. I'm usually a bit pessimistic but I think we'll edge it tonight." Andy Balmer, 50, from Morecambe, runs the Lancaster & Morecambe Everton Supporters Club and had a season ticket for years.His boyhood hero was Bob Latchford and he idolised the striker so much he decided to get his image tattooed on his back."My dad was a Carlisle fan and I remember him taking me to the game when I was a kid and watching them play Everton," he said. "I was blown away by how passionate theEverton fans were and the Latch was my hero."I used to try and model myself on him and he had this mop of curly hair so one summer holidays I persuaded my mum to let me get a perm to look more like him."It was great during the holidays but I got some stick when it was time to go back to school."It's great to see the lengths all these fans have gone to, to get themselves to a place like Krasnodar. You can hear scouse accents everywhere."I think we'll win tonight."Kate Morley and Paul Treble are Lower Bullens season ticket holders from Liverpool city centre.They decided to make a mini holiday out of Everton's return to continental action, and have already had a few stamps on their passport before arriving in Krasnodar.Kate said: "We flew from John Lennon airport to Rhodes first and had a couple of days there in the sun."Then we had to fly to Athens and from there we got a connecting flight to Sochi where they held the Winter Olympics."We decided to get the train to Krasnodar from Sochi and it took us five and a half hours. That was quite an experience! Not many people speak English."Kate and Paul were rewarded for their endeavours when they realised they were staying in the same hotel as Roberto Martinez and his team."We couldn't believe it when we saw the players there in the lobby with their tracksuits," said Paul. "Roberto is an absolute gent and was happy to chat, and Duncan Ferguson was posing for pictures with fans as well."They seemed relaxed and in great spirits. I think we'll win 3-1 tonight. I'm confident."
Everton’s Samuel Eto’o salvages late point against impressive Krasnodar
The Guardian, Thursday 2 October 2014
Roberto Martínez hailed an “incredible result” after Samuel Eto’o’s late strike earned Everton a 1-1 draw at Krasnodar.
Everton’s indifferent form appeared to be continuing in Russia as they were outplayed and fell behind to Ferreira Ari’s goal. But just like in the Merseyside derby at the weekend, Everton fought back. “I am pleased because Krasnodar played well, started with energy and pressed high up,” said Martínez. “I am pleased with the manner in which we stayed in the match. We showed incredible character to wait and get ourselves in the game. We finished the second half strong, energy levels were in our favour and it’s an incredible result for us.” With Everton back in Europe after a five-year absence, Martínez needs as much experience as he can – something the 33-year-old Eto’o provides. “It’s really important and that’s why this is such a fantastic learning curve for us,” the Everton manager added. “If you come to a place like today it’s easy not to be yourself and that’s where you need the experience of waiting for your moment. Samuel has that.” Eto’o enjoyed his return to Russia, with the former Anzhi Makhachkala player stabbing in Leighton Baines’s cross after 82 minutes to ensure Everton took a point from a game in which they had largely been second best.
Krasnodar took a deserved lead in the 43rd minute through the Brazilian striker Ari, who capitalised on a mistake by Phil Jagielka – the visitors’ goalscoring hero from Saturday’s derby draw at Liverpool – to fire in. The goal was a soft one to concede from Everton’s point of view. Odil Ahmedov lofted the ball into the box and it was inadvertently flicked by Jagielka into the path of Ari, who made no mistake in rifling past Tim Howard. Martínez introduced Romelu Lukaku for Christian Atsu at half-time but it was Krasnodar who again presented the danger as the second half got under way. They came close to making it 2-0 when the substitute Wánderson’s shot hit the crossbar.
Krasnodar, only founded in 2008, had enjoyed an impressive debut European campaign up to this point, scoring 21 goals and conceding only three in seven games, a sequence which featured a qualifying victory over Real Sociedad and a draw at Lille in the opening group game.
They looked dangerous from the off, with the winger Ricardo Laborde much to the fore. Mauricio Pereyra fired a shot too high, while Marat Izmailov’s flick from close range went just over.
Ahmedov had a strike deflected behind for a corner and Laborde flashed the ball across the area, with Ari just unable to apply a finish. Howard did well to dive and parry a drilled Izmailov effort, and after Ahmedov fired wide, the Everton goalkeeper got down again to ensure Artur Jedrzejczyk’s shot went past the post. Everton registered their first real attempt on goal when the former Spartak Moscow player Aiden McGeady tried his luck from outside the box with a shot that was turned behind by an alert home goalkeeper Andriy Dykan. Gareth Barry then curled a shot from similar range, bringing another diving save from Dykan and, with Everton looking like they were starting to dominate, John Stones looped a header off target from McGeady’s cross.
Krasnodar pressed again but the 400 or so Everton fans who made the 2,000-mile plus journey to the Kuban Stadium returned home happy thanks to the late intervention of Eto’o, an equaliser which leaves Everton with four points after two Group H matches.
Krasnodar 1-1 Everton FC: what we learned from the Europa League draw
Oct 02, 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Sean Bradbury
John Stones gives another demonstration of his class but Blues struggling on the right
Goals change games
Let's kick off with one of football's most obvious clichés.
Two late levellers have completely changed the complexion of Everton's week.
A 1-0 defeat at Anfield and the same scoreline in the first away trip of the Europa League campaign would have been tough for Toffees to take. But Phil Jagielka's thunderbolt from the blue and Samuel Eto'o popping up tonight have put a different spin on things. The Jagielka goal, celebrated wildly in the away end and beyond, was immediately hailed as a possible turning point in Everton's domestic campaign - the moment the season really started. And this evening was minutes away from turning into a difficult post-mortem for the Blues after what was largely a lethargic performance in Russia. Everton struggled to match the sheer energy of Krasnodar, the lack of dynamic talents such as Ross Barkley, Seamus Coleman and James McCarthy particularly telling.
But when Leighton Baines whipped the ball in and Eto'o found space in the middle, there was only ever going to be one outcome. Baines has now scored one and created two for the Blues in the Europa League so far this season, and his assist tonight takes his tally up to four in all competitions already this campaign. Eto'o even took time to give what looked like a quick team-talk to rally the troops after his goal. Class told - and crucially Everton can move on with a point in the bank.
Blues must get it 'right' The right flank is something of a weakness for Everton at present.
Tonight, Christian Atsu offered little going forward apart from a few bursts of raw pace and even less tracking back, which in turn put extra pressure on Tony Hibbert. The veteran full-back struggled early on, going in to the break having completed only 55% of his passes. With Kevin Mirallas and Steven Pienaar sidelined, Aiden McGeady was stationed on the left from the start against Krasnodar.
He had a solid match in the role, but his better games this season - Leicester and Wolfsburg to name but two - have seen him largely out on the right. Romelu Lukaku was tried on the wing against Liverpool. It was an experiment that didn't really pay off, even if there was a strong shout for a penalty when he was tugged down by Alberto Moreno. He replaced Atsu at half-time in Russia and looked a little livelier, but mostly when coming through central areas. Add the absence of Coleman in to the mix and it easy to see how the problem has mounted. It's a conundrum for Martinez at the moment, and the Blues boss will be hoping injuries to key men heal quickly to help him solve the puzzle. John Stones shows his class The young Blues defender simply seems to mature by the game. Tonight was no exception. In the first half, he twice stuck out a long leg to make crucial tackles on the edge of Everton's area. And he made a significant contribution to the equaliser, with a recovery tackle that repelled a Krasnodar attack and started a goalscoring one for the Blues.
As Phil Neville tweeted near the end of the match: "John Stones looks a leader at the back for Everton - drives the team forward when in possession." And he gives the impression that he thrives in big matches and raises his own game at key times. While Everton have certainly got issues to sort out at the back, Stones' composure played an essential part in securing a point tonight.
Krasnodar 1-1 Everton match report: John Stones the star as Blues snatch draw
Oct 02, 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
Greg O'Keeffe's verdict from the Europa League draw in Russia
They travelled more than 2,000 miles, paid hundreds of pounds and watched 82 largely turgid minutes of football from their team. But the Evertonians who embarked on the planes, trains and automobiles mission to Russia won't mind because of a solitary second of innate finishing from Samuel Eto'o. The veteran striker has played in more European games than most of his team-mates combined, and he showed his class with the goal which turned a faltering display into one which leaves the Blues nicely positioned in group H. Snatching a draw from this tricky encounter at the Kuban stadium was an achievement for a side still struggling to reach the levels of last season, when they qualified for the Europa League by finishing fifth Continuing the theme of last weekend's Anfield derby the Blues flattered to deceive, fell behind and then managed to save themselves as the clock ticked down. It might not be the triumphant football which had neutrals applauding last term, but this resilience is a useful habit nonetheless. They say travel broadens the mind, but in Everton's case it simply numbed it for the majority of this contest.
Krasnodar were always going to be tough opponents.
They might be relative unknowns on this stage, but Aiden McGeady – and anyone who watched them march past Real Sociedad to qualify for the Europa League – will have insisted that they were no mugs. If any of Everton's players had doubted the veracity of McGeady's warning they were swiftly corrected from the opening whistle. The Russians started at break-neck speed, pressing relentlessly and pouring forward at will to create a string of early opportunities which had Everton on the ropes. Marat Izmailov wasted his first opening when he back-heeled Ricardo Laborde's low cross over the bar from close range. Then the lively winger forced Tim Howard into a fine one-handed save with a fierce drive from outside the area. Having managed to survive the onslaught the Blues gradually got a foothold, and began frustrating the hosts with their possession game.
It was Krasnodar goalkeeper Andriy Dykan's turn to earn his roubles next with impressive saves from McGeady and Gareth Barry's curler from outside the area. Roberto Martinez had made five changes from the side which drew with Liverpool, largely tinkering with his midfield and attack where Darron Gibson, Leon Osman, McGeady and Christian Atsu were all given starts and Eto'o was asked to lead the line from the offset. However they couldn't break the stalemate and were punished as the hosts came on strong again in the closing stages of the half. Out of nowhere Ozil Ahmedov lobbed the ball towards Everton's area and defensive mishap, a frequent companion this season, reared its ugly head once again. Phil Jagielka miscued a hooked clearance, taking John Stones out of the game and diverted the ball into the path of Brazilian striker Ari. He was able to steady himself and lash the ball past Howard to give his side the lead at a crucial moment. Martinez asked Lukaku to provide some much needed cutting edge after the break, replacing the largely ineffective Atsu.
But it was the Russians who continued their bombardment, almost forcing Jagielka into another costly error when he lost possession and Ahmedov shaped to shoot, but the skipper quickly got back and put in the block to cover his own blushes. Such was his side's superiority by then, Krasnodar coach Oleg Kononov could afford the luxury of replacing the influential Ismailov with Wanderson.
But the Brazilian almost made it an inspired change when he waltzed past Stones and into the area only to strike the bar with his effort as Howard bore down on him. All the cold and fed-up travelling Toffees could do by this point was begrudgingly admire Krasnodar's energy, solidity and razor-sharp counter attacking. Thoughts in the away end were probably turning to the arduous journey home, when out of nowhere salvation beckoned. Leighton Baines delivered a pinpoint cross from the right, and Eto'o showed his innate ability to get across his marker and stab home with his left foot.
It might not have been hugely deserved on the balance of play but suddenly the Blues were emboldened. Lukaku saw a back post header beaten away by Dykan and Eto'o won a corner when he harassed Andreas Granqvist into heading behind from another Baines delivery.
At least the Blues finished with a flourish to suggest last season wasn't just an extended daydream.
Their manager called it a step into the unknown, but at least one thing was clear after the trip to Krasnodar. Everton are developing a knack of refusing to know when they're beaten.
Until they rediscover their free-flowing best, it is something to cling onto.
Star Man: JOHN STONES was calm and composed and turned in yet another eye-catching display at the heart of a defence put under some serious pressure.
FC KRASNODAR: (4-1-4-1) Dykan, Jedrzejczyk, Granqvist (Capt), Kaleshin, Sigurdsson, Gazinski, Ahmedov, Izmailov (Wanderson, 65), Laborde (Mamaev, 71), Pereyra, Ari.
Subs not used: Sinitsin, Martynovich, Burmistrov, Adzhindzhal, Petrov.
Goals: Ari (43)
EVERTON: (4-2-3-1) Howard, Hibbert, Jagielka (Capt), Stones, Baines, Gibson, Barry, Atsu, Osman, McGeady, Eto'o.
Subs not used: Robles, Browning, Alcaraz, Oviedo, Besic, Naismith, Lukaku.
Goals: Eto'o (82)
Referee: Huseyin Gocek.
John Stones praised Everton FC's never-say-die attitude
Oct 2 2014 Liverpool Echo
Blues defender happy to grab a point with Samuel Eto'o's late goal in Krasnodar
John Stones praised Everton FC’s never-say-die spirit as they rescued a point against Krasnodar to go top of Europa League group H. The Blues had to rely on Samuel Eto’o’s 82nd minute lifeline after a largely lacklustre display in Russia, but the draw leaves them in a strong position after their return to competitive continental action. Stones, 20, who has just been named in the England squad for next week’s Euro 2016 qualifiers, was impressive at the Kuban stadium, but Roberto Martinez’s men struggled to match the hosts attacking intent. However the centre back was satisfied with remaining unbeaten in the competition so far. He said: “It’s a very good point. We were a bit sloppy for the first goal but we showed character to come back and score the equaliser. We knew it was coming and we dug in there. “They pressed us really high and I think everyone who watched it will know it was a high tempo game. We found it hard to get into our stride and didn’t get into our pwn until the secind half. “It’s a big learning curve for me but a night I’ll never forget. The fans were brilliant. To see them in the hotel before the game and see them cheering us on from the away end was massive. A big thanks to them. “I think when you come away fro home you have got to at least take something from it. You can’t be losing and we showed our mental strength to get a point.”
Stones reserved praise for team-mate Eto’o who provided the equaliser from
Leighton Baines’ inch-perfect cross. “Bainsey’s ball was unbelievable but great strikers take up great piositions,” he said. “Samuel did that and he provided the perfect finish to a brilliant ball. I’m happy for him. This was a hard environment. It was strange for us and we’re not used to it. We were disappointed we took time to get into it. We’ve got great charcter in our dressing room. We could have turned around and said we’re just not going to get a goal here but to keep going like we did was credit to us.
Dave Prentice: It's tough for Liverpool and Everton goalkeepers to match greats of clubs' pasts
October 3 2014 Liverpool Echo
Simon Mignolet and Tim Howard are good goalkeepers, but Clemence, Southall and Grobbelaar were great
Neville Southall made many magical saves throughout his 20 year goalkeeping career – but one stood out above all others.
It was in London, in front of Fleet Street’s number one hacks, in an April showdown with Spurs labelled a title shoot-out. It was a save so spectacular it helped him win the Football Writers’ vote as their Player of the Year – yet Big Nev, in typical self-deprecating fashion, shrugged afterwards: “He put it straight at me.” Hmm. After a fashion. Mark Falco did direct the ball towards the Everton goalkeeper, but straight over his head, with bullet-like velocity, giving him a split-second’s reaction time. No-one expected Southall to get to the fierce header. But he did. As he did so often with so many seemingly goalbound shots. Everton won 2-1 – and the momentum of the 1985 title race was firmly with them. That’s the difference between good goalkeepers like, for example, Simon Mignolet and Tim Howard – and great goalkeepers like Neville Southall and Bruce Grobbelaar.
Great goalkeepers make the saves no-one expects them to, the stops which drop jaws, shake heads and win points.
Merely good goalkeepers don’t
That thought went through my head when Gary Neville, very harshly, pointed the finger at Simon Mignolet for failing to tip Phil Jagielka’s 58mph, top corner bound drive over the Kop crossbar on Saturday argument. Neville’s argument was impressive. He had spotted that Mignolet’s starting position for shots was a very low crouch – which was why he struggled to get up to that shot from Jagielka, ands also one from Aaron Ramsey last season and one from Alvaro Negredo at the Etihad.
It was plausible – although it didn’t cater for the fact that while a low starting position may prevent Mignolet from reaching a number of top corner strikes, it might also help him get down to more bottom corner bound efforts. And while Neville picked out efforts over Mignolet’s head from Jagielka, Ramsey and Negredo – he could just as easily have picked out a stunning tip onto the crossbar from Morgan Schneiderlin this season – Liverpool won 2-1, or an equally incredible save from Jay Rodriguez at St Mary’s in last season’s title run in when the Reds led 1-0.
Mignolet does make jaw-dropping saves. Just not enough of them to be considered ‘great’.
But that’s theories for you. There’s always a counter theory.
There’s little doubt, however, that the goalkeeper is still the most important individual position on the pitch – and in this country we have always under-rated their role.
It goes back to schoolyards when the worst player almost always ended up between the coats on the floor. They think differently abroad – and it’s a theory I’ve aired on these pages before.
The millennium was still in its infancy when Juventus splashed out £32m for a goalkeeper.
More than a decade on, the British transfer record for a keeper is still only 20m – and that’s Euros not pounds. David de Gea’s transfer to Manchester United is still the only time English football has broken even the £10m barrier for a number one, although Hugo Lloris’s fee could rise to £12.3m – and looks worth every penny.
Cutting back on keepers is clearly a false economy.
Critics scoffed in 1977 when Brian Clough paid a then world record transfer fee for Peter Shilton – and paid him a British record breaking salary. Clough was ahead of his time, and within two years Shilton had a League title medal and two European Cup winners’ medals in his safe grasp.
Everton had long been linked with Shilton. But even the Mersey Millionaires baulked at paying such a huge fee. They spent £150,000 instead on the promising, but unproven George Wood, and finished third behind Forest and a Liverpool team buttressed by the formidable Ray Clemence, snapped up cheaply from Scunthorpe. The Toffees scored more goals than anybody else that season. But Liverpool leaked 11 goals fewer, Forest an astonishing 21 goals less. The problem with goalkeepers has always been in quantifying their worth. When Blackburn paid a British record £3.6m for Alan Shearer in the summer of 1992, they were able to justify that exorbitant outlay by pointing to 112 goals in 138 games. It is impossible to say exactly how many goals a good keeper can save his side. But Tim Flowers was probably just as influential on that Blackburn side which won the title.
It was impossible to work out how many goals the £32.6m Gianluigi Buffon saved Juventus in 2001, but they clinched the Serie A title by a point, then cantered to another title the following season.
The Serie A runners-up? An Inter Milan side with £18m Toldo between the posts.
The role of goalkeeper is the most specialised – and the most crucial to any football team.
Everton and Liverpool either got lucky – or benefited from inspired scouting – with their bargain buy acquisitions of Southall and Grobbelaar. Southall was, quite simply, the best I’ve seen. Between 1985 and 1990 he was world class. Grobbelaar was labelled a “clown” because of his occasional eccentricities – and errors. But that overlooked the qualities of a goalkeeper who regularly produced miraculous, point-winning stops that no other goalkeeper was capable of.
Our current custodians aren’t doing that – as Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville pointed out on Monday night.
Before Saturday Tim Howard – a keeper who had a shots to saves ratio of 75.2 per cent last season, had seen his ratio slip to a worrying 38.1 per cent this term (his Wolfsburg heroics clearly not included in a Premier League only statistic).
Mignolet’s shots/saves ratio is a healthier 57.9% but still down on last season’s total of 68.2%.
Both are decent, solid, occasionally inspired shot-stoppers.
But they’re nothing like the greats we’ve been used to in these parts.
The likes of Clemence, Grobbelaar, Southall and the ridiculously under-rated Nigel Martyn – goalkeepers who made miraculous saves as a matter of routine.
Everton FC analysis: Samuel Eto'o's experience vital for the Blues after tough test in Russia
Oct 2 20145 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Samuel Eto'o's experience proves vital in Blues earning point in Krasnodar
Exactly what Samuel Eto’o said when he addressed the Everton FC squad this week is not clear.
But as the Cameroonian stood up in front of his team-mates and tried to prepare them for the club’s first ever visit to Russia he is sure to have reminded them of one thing.
Even at 33-years-old he remains a predator in front of goal. Eto’s best years may be behind him and he may have spent much of last night’s grim game on the periphery but old stager Eto’o came to life exactly when Everton needed him to. With eight minutes left at the end of a woeful game Eto’o stole a march on the Krasnodar defence and diverted Leighton Baines’ cross past Andriy Dikan to make it 1-1. The Blues scarcely deserved a point. They were lethargic, lifeless and sloppy on the ball and in a European backwater it was the type of performance that was giving critics of the Europa League plenty of ammunition. But Eto’o, the striker who has been to the peak of the European game three times in his illustrious career, refused to believe this tie was a lost cause and his poacher’s finish has given Everton a even firmer footing at the summit of Group H.
After their ruthless win over Wolfsburg on opening night came the Blues trip to southern Russia, to just north of the Black Sea and to a fast-rising club playing their first ever proper European home game. For 82 minutes it was proving a potent cocktail for an Everton side badly missing the energy of an injured James McCarthy. Roberto Martinez had clearly gone to Krasnodar with a policy of containment. The plan appears to have been to stifle and subdue the enthusiastic and technically sound Russian side with their sprinkling of Brazilian flair and then hit them on the counter-attack.
For much of the first-half it had, albeit unconvincingly at times, worked as John Stones and Phil Jagielka stood firm while Gareth Barry did an important mopping up job on more than one occasion.
But when Everton made a hash of chipped ball into the area and Ari capitalised on the confusion to put Krasnodar ahead, Martinez had to go on the front foot. Romelu Lukaku joined Eto’o in a front three for the second-half but Everton were still desperately poor. Krasnodar clipped the bar after the break and the visitors were just fortunate to only be a goal down. As every minute of a truly weary game dripped by the admiration from those Evertonians, watching at home on television, to their counterparts in the Kuban Stadium grew and grew. Those hardy souls had travelled by any means necessary and a great expense (apart from the tickets of course) to support Everton on the outer reaches of the Europa League. What was being served up in front of them, however, was not matching of their own ability to go the extra mile. Everton were laboured and slow and it had the feel of a European away trip from under the previous manger rather than one in this exciting, positive and fearless new era. Darron Gibson struggled to make an impact in McCarthy’s absence while Leon Osman toiled for much of the game. Aiden McGeady flickered in and out while Christian Atsu’s 45 minutes are best forgotten. The very same could be said of Eto’o as well who had started with lively intent but quickly faded into the malaise gripping Martinez’s side. ut ultimately he turned poor performance into a point-winning one. After Stones had brilliantly won possession back deep in Russian territory, Baines delivered a menacing ball into the heart of Krasnodar’s defence and Eto’o smelt blood. He has often been second best in the game but when he saw that opportunity to score he was the sharpest person on the pitch. It was his first real chance of the game and he snaffled it up. Eto’o has now scored 45 goals in 111 games of European competition and been on the scoresheet in Champions League finals. But to those 370 hardy souls that were in Russia last night his expert, first-time finish will have felt bigger than any of the others. It rescued a point and leaves Everton with a win and a draw from their opening two games of the Europa League - and not to mention a second week at the top of the group.
Certainly not a return to be sniffed at.
Eto’o’s heroics will have also helped Martinez sleep a little easier on that long flight back to John Lennon Airport. With Everton crying out for an injection of energy the Blues boss, understandably with Sunday’s trip to Manchester United in mind, kept Steven Naismith and Muhammed Besic on the bench. It was a bold move given the abject performance that was being served up in front of him but Eto’o, with his nous and cunning in and around the box, ensured it paid off.
On signing the former Barcelona man this summer Martinez told the ECHO: “You might get one chance and the team relies on you to take that chance. We’ll benefit from that.”
Everton most certainly did last night.
Manchester United v Everton FC: three key questions
October 3 2014 Liverpool Echo
By David Triggs
The ECHO examines the big talking points before the Blues’ game at Old Trafford
Will there be a(nother) Euro hangover?
This will be the second time this season that Everton have returned to Premier League action on the back of a Europa League game - and we all know what happened after the first.
The Blues followed the 4-1 win over Wolfsburg with a 3-2 home defeat to Crystal Palace last month, self combusting on the back of a error-strewn display. Roberto Martinez refused to blame the performance on his team’s midweek exertions, but the suspicion remained that the players who had given so much against Wolfsburg were suffering from their first dose of Euro fatigue. The danger is it could become more of an issue as the fixtures - and the air miles - clock up.
This time the Blues have a 4,800-mile round trip to shake out of their system. Plus they face a far more daunting fixture than Palace at home as they travel to take on a Manchester United side who are, for the first time in more than 20 years, not involved in European competition.
In fact, they no longer have the Capital One Cup to worry about either.
Roberto Martinez, who has voiced his concerns over the noon kick-off, will need to juggle his resources expertly if he is to conjure up a second win at Old Trafford in as many seasons.
What role will Eto’o play?
The Blues were far from at their best against FC Krasnodar, but the evergreen Samuel Eto’o struck late on to ensure a valuable point was salvaged. Will the 33-year-old drop back down to the bench at Old Trafford, or would Eto’o’s big-game experience make him a better option from the start?
Quite where Eto’o would fit in is down to Martinez - he could be a central front-runner or fill one of the attacking slots in behind a main striker - but there must be a temptation to hand him his second start in the space of a few days, despite his advancing years.
The Cameroon legend has been there and done it before against the Red Devils. He opened the scoring against them for Barcelona in the 2009 Champions League final in Rome and netted a hat-trick against them for Chelsea in a 3-1 victory at Stamford Bridge in January.
He’d surely strike fear into a youthful United defence.
Which Manchester United will turn up?
There has been something of the Jekyll and Hyde about United this season - more Hyde than Jekyll.
A tally of just two wins from seven games is a poor return considering the teams the Red Devils have faced so far (there have been defeats to Swansea and Leicester, draws with Burnley and Sunderland). But there have been flashes too of undeniable quality from Louis van Gaal’s expensively assembled squad of so-called ‘Galacticos’. Van Persie, Falcao and Di Maria would get into almost any team in world football. John Stones - imperios in Krasnodar - and his defensive colleagues will relish the battle.
Everton FC's Ross Barkley back in first-team training next week
Oct 04, 2014 07:00
By North Wales Daily Post
Everton FC midfielder Ross Barkley is expected to rejoin first-team training next week, manager Roberto Martinez has revealed.However, Martinez warned the Toffees’ rising star will still not be ready to make his comeback from a knee operation when the league resumes after the international break later this month.The Blues boss said: “Ross Barkley is developing well and I hope he will join the group next week to start working with the full team as early as next Wednesday.“I think it’s too early (to come back) after the international break.“He will be back to work with the team after the internationals. We don’t know how long it will take for Ross to be match fit.”Meanwhile, ahead of tomorrow’s Premier League clash against Manchester United at Old Trafford, Martinez has no doubts his counterpart Louis van Gaal will bring success back to the Red Devils.The Dutchman took over in the summer after former Toffees boss David Moyes lasted less than a season after paying the price for indifferent performances and results.Van Gaal’s track record – he has won league titles in Holland, Spain, Germany and also lifted the Champions League – means he arrived facing high expectations, but Martinez fully believes he will deliver.“When a new manager arrives with that sort of experience of winning the league in every country he has been managing in, it brings a real understanding of how to win games,” said the Spaniard, whose side did the double over United last season, registering their first league win at Old Trafford since 1992.“From my point of view, to fit the bill is to be able to win titles and that is what is expected when you go into a football club like Manchester United.“They have been so successful over the years that, with the budget and expectations they have, it is clearly what is expected from the manager.“You are talking about a person who has been through everything, been successful in every single project he has been involved and on top of that you saw what a big impact he had at the World Cup (Holland finished third in Brazil under Van Gaal).“If you are going to see it from the outside, it looks like a manager who will bring success into the football club.”Martinez believes Van Gaal’s experience has helped United through a tricky start to his reign and, whereas Moyes was tactically very rigid, the Dutchman has a more open approach.“The differences are many from where they were last season, due to the amount of new players coming in and the manager arriving and bringing a completely different way of playing,” he added.“They have been very flexible tactically. They have started with different formations and now, after the QPR game at home (4-0 win last month), they have found a way of playing and partnerships on the pitch that look really strong.“At the moment they score goals with ease – which is the hardest thing to achieve – and so now it is making sure they get that bit of consistency with players coming back from injury.”On the back of their 1-1 Europa League draw against Krasnodar, Everton have offered to pay for tickets for the Lille away match for any fans who made the trip to Russia.“All the away fans that travelled to Krasnodar will get free tickets for Lille,” Martinez said.“It’s not generous – it is to give them a big thank you.“It was a long way to wait to get back in Europe. It was a tough trip and we found out a few stories from the fans and the journeys were incredible: well worthy of some Hollywood scripts.“One fan took nine hours, two different flights, went around the Black Sea on a train before getting to the wrong hotel.”Midfielder Steven Pienaar is on the verge of a return to the squad for the trip to face United after a thigh injury which has sidelined him for a month.Late fitness checks will be done on defender Seamus Coleman and James McCarthy, who both missed the Europa League match in Krasnodar.United Captain Wayne Rooney will miss the game against his former club because of suspension.Defender Tyler Blackett is back from his ban, but manager Louis van Gaal has said 19-year-old Paddy McNair will keep his place in the starting XI following his impressive debut against West Ham.Jonny Evans (ankle), Chris Smalling (thigh), Phil Jones (hamstring), Ashley Young (groin), Michael Carrick (ankle), Jesse Lingard (knee), Ander Herrera (rib) and James Wilson (leg) are out, but there is a chance Marouane Fellaini could be on the bench after recovering from an ankle problem.
Royal Blue: Everton giving back to brilliant Blues
Oct 04, 2014 09:00
By Greg O’Keeffe
As ever, they were there.Despite what sniping online nonsense suggested may happen to the contrary.Despite the logistical headaches.Despite the sky-high costs to watch a game which was on TV back home anyway.The fans who Roberto Martinez once dubbed among the most loyal in world football didn’t disappoint.Just under 400 made the arduous journey to Krasnodar on Thursday; with most having to travel via Heathrow to Moscow and then onwards to this relatively unknown city near the Black sea.To anyone who knows Evertonians, and Merseyside football fans in general, it was perhaps no surprise that they still turned up.But when some newspaper commentators, who should know better, decided to wilfully misinterpret Everton’s decision to cancel their official club trip to Russia as some sort of evidence that the People’s Club has fans who can’t be bothered, it rankled.The fact is that articles like that one are click bait, to try and get supporters’ backs up and get hits for the website which peddles such tripe.It doesn’t make it any more palatable, but Everton fans responded with typical good grace when they a) laughed at the silliness of it and b) turned up to cheer on their team during a drab contest which was memorable only for the last 10 minutes when the Blues suddenly looked like a side going places in the Europa League.But as the hardy band of Blues began their long journey home, at least they were due to arrive back to some good news which suggests their loyalty and dedication isn’t taken for granted.Everton confirmed all supporters who travelled to Krasnodar will be given a free ticket for the fixture in Lille on October 23.The Toffees will face the French outfit in their next overseas trip, which is considerably less of an epic distance away.Ticket information for the fixture was announced on Thursday, but, as revealed by Martinez at his Friday press conference, the club will reward supporters who completed the 5,000-mile round voyage.The club looked after those who travelled while in Russia too, with friendly fan forum operatives dishing out tickets and special t-shirts to supporters. But now they’re making an added gesture.He said: “The initiative from the club is to try and give all fans who travelled to Krasnodar a free ticket to our next Europa League away fixture in Lille.“It’s a big thank you. It was a long time travelling around Europe. We found it tough and it was five hours for us, but then you speak to the fans and hear some of the stories they went through.“One fan had to get two flights and then a train around the Black Sea before he got to the wrong hotel and eventually the right one!“The journeys were incredible and worthy of some Hollywood scripts.“It’s just giving a bit back to our fans and letting them know we appreciate everything they do and the support they give us. We can’t wait to see them in Lille again.”Tickets will need to be purchased as normal at the advertised price before later being refunded. This is to protect the purchase history of each supporter. Non-Season Ticket holders who travelled to Krasnodar should contact the Fan Centre via firstname.lastname@example.org from Monday.
De Gea a fan of Tim Howard
Some pundits might not agree but according to one supporter survey, Everton’s goalkeeper has been one of their key men so far this season.Fan opinion app Forza Football, which has 2.5million regular users, has gathered data and opinions regarding all ten of this weekend’s Premier League football matches.They reckon the latest feedback says Manchester United’s key players this season have been Wayne Rooney, Angel Di Maria and Robin van Persie, while Everton’s have been Romelu Lukaku, Steven Naismith, and their American shot-stopper.Certainly Tim Howard’s opposite number at Old Trafford tomorrow is a signed-up member of the THow fan-club.David De Gea watched the Blues keeper’s performances at the World Cup with admiration and reckons he deserved every bit of praise he got from a grateful nation at the time,“Maybe, without him, they might have lost that [Belgium] game four or five-nil. He played really well,” De Gea told United’s official website.“When you have a game like that, your confidence just gets bigger. You always hope to have games like that.“He is a really experienced goalkeeper who has played many, many games in the Premier League. He is brave, quick around his goal and a great shot-stopper. He is a great keeper.”
Barry Horne: Tony Hibbert personifies old school values for Everton FC
Ocyober 24 2014 Liverpool Echo
Defender epitomises respect for club and fans in everything he does
Congratulations to Tony Hibbert on his achievement of playing 15 consecutive seasons – in an era where a lot of players don’t seem particularly bothered whether they play or not.
You rarely see Tony in the papers for anything other than football related matters.
Likewise the likes of Leon Osman, Leighton Baines, Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin.
They are players who never complain about being in or out of the first team, and always set fantastic examples to any aspiring young player. This week was another fine example of that. Leighton Baines played his eighth 90-minute match in nine fixtures. Leon Osman started only his second match of the season in Russia. While Tony Hibbert returned to the senior set up after a long absence, with three games in nine days in very different environments.
It was no surprise that he didn’t let anyone down.
I have always said that Leon and Hibbo are massively under-rated players. There’s something old school about the pair of them. In an era when all things modern are all too quickly embraced without even thinking, I prefer to be steadfastly old school. People may accuse me of being a dinosaur, but I am pretty certain that if you asked managers or coaches whether they would like their players to have old school values of discipline, determination and respect for club, fans and themselves in everything they do on the pitch and off it, they say ‘yes’ every single time.
Everton have been blessed with many great examples of that in their current squad and it seems like they always have been. You could go through the present squad and count on the fingers of one hand examples of players who have let themselves and club down. I know for a fact Everton have some fantastic talent within the Under-21s and the age group below that – and hopefully those youngsters will look to the likes of Hibbo, Leon, Jags and Leighton and aspire to be like them – rather than a host of other stars elsewhere that you could mention.
Puzzling over Everton's defence
Everton's defensive record is puzzling. For a team which for so long built its progress on a secure defence this season has been something of a curiosity. And it’s not just Everton. Average goals per game appears to be up and proper defending would seem to be fast becoming a dying art.
Where are the new Terrys and Adams, Boulds and Keowns, Hansens and Lawrensons, Bruces and Pallisters? Teams which dominated English football for long periods could always point at a dominant central defensive partnership and a great goalkeeper.
But look how tough Arsene Wenger has found it to replace his invincibles.
Or how difficult Louis Van Gaal, with his vast resources, has found it to find quality defenders.
Or look at Liverpool with their massive outlay over the last 10 12 years. Those defenders just don’t seem to be about any more. At Everton Phil Jagielka, Sylvain Distin and Tim Howard are still top class players. But in sport people talk about the accumulation of small margins – and while Howard, Jagielka and Distin are not finished, they are all coming to the twilight of their careers.
They might not necessarily be committing howlers.
But if you have a drop off of one or two per cent, in three or four players, then the net affect can be something more substantial.
Hoping for Old Trafford success
If you speak to most Evertonians there seems to be a subconscious belief that we always seem do well at Old Trafford. Well I was part of a winning team there in 1992, when we actually topped the league after winning 3-0. But since then i think we’ve only won once since – and that was last season. So even when United haven’t been at their best it’s a difficult place to go.
But this weekend is a great opportunity because United are so poor defensively.
I hope that Roberto Martinez won’t worry too much about the opposition and that attack will be the best form of defence. Travelling to Russia on Thursday and then Old Trafford for an early kick off is tough – but Roberto Martinez hasn’t complained. And I hope he gets his reward. Early Sunday afternoon kick-offs tend to put a dampener on most events. But I hope this one is highly entertaining and – successful.
Solid approach is reaping benefits for Everton
Oct 05, 2014 liverpool echo
It was good to see a more resolute Blues side again against FC Krasnodar
WE HAD to show plenty of resilience to dig deep and emerge with a point Krasnodar but ultimately we were good value for the draw.
Don’t get me wrong, I acknowledge that the first half display wasn’t good, our passing was slow and we looked very lethargic. However, I think the turning point was when the Krasnodar player hit the crossbar. That kind of stirred us into life and we built up a bit of momentum from then on.
Overall, the second half display was a lot better and we’ve got to give the lads credit for coming back from the club’s longest ever away day and a tough place to go to with a share of the spoils.
You can’t always play with top quality, we’ve just got to make sure we get enough points on the board to ensure we go through to the knockout stage and it doesn’t matter how we get them.
Anyway, four points from your first two matches is a fine start and it keeps us sitting pretty at the top of the group. We actually finished the game really strongly and looked the most likely side to go on and win it in the final minutes. After a shaky start to the campaign we’re starting to get back to showing the kind of solidity that was part of our success last season and it’s encouraging to see.
We’d been second best for long spells in our previous game at Anfield but again we stuck at it and got the reward for our efforts thanks to Phil Jagielka’s goal. Although he’d made some uncharacteristic errors against Crystal Palace, Tim Howard is back on form and made several good saves in Russia but given his strength of character, Tim was never one of the players I was going to worry about. Having played in Russia before – and impressing local journalists with his language skills – Aiden McGeady was always going to be in the spotlight and he was always an outlet down the wing and kept the home defence on their toes with his trickery. This could be a big opportunity for Aiden to prove his worth to Evertonians with Kevin Mirallas injured and he needs take his chance. It’s a squad game these days – particularly when you’ve got Europa League group matches coming thick and fast – and it was good for the likes of Tony Hibbert and Darron Gibson to get another game under their belts. Hibbo has come in over these past couple of weeks after a long spell out of the first team but has shown he can still cut it.
Samuel Eto'o finishing school is an education
Samuel Eto'o produced a masterclass in finishing with his goal in Krasnodar.
We all know what a world class talent he’s been in his heyday but he showed he’s still got plenty to offer with what could prove to be a crucial strike for Everton’s Europa League campaign this season.
If Eto’o’s predatory instincts had still not been razor sharp then we could well have returned from our mammoth trip to Russia with nothing but thankfully he found that little bit of magic needed just at the right time. The movement he came up with for the goal showed all the hallmarks of a frontman who’s been at the very top of the game for so many years now.
He knocked the ball out wide and then moved intto space, expecting the defender to go exactly where he did and then he could just nip in and get the crucial touch – no matter where the ball hit him. His fitness levels are also improving now and he can play a big role this season.
Let's take the confidence of last season to Old Trafford Given our midweek exploits we don’t exactly have much recovery time before today’s 12 noon kick-off at Old Trafford.
However, we played so well there last season there’s no reason why we can’t approach the game with confidence. We did the double over Manchester United last term against former boss David Moyes and our historic first victory there in over two decades will be a big factor in how both sides approach the match today. That success – thanks to Bryan Oviedo’s strike – will give our lads a sense of belief but you might also expect it to crank United up a couple of notches.
Having played with Wayne Rooney I know how disappointed he’ll be to be suspended for this one but United have still got lots of potential match-winners in what looks like quite a top heavy squad.
They’re rebuilding at the moment and I don’t see them winning the league this year.
Old Trafford doesn't hold any fear anymore, says Everton FC midfielder Gareth Barry
Oct 4 2014
By Ian Doyle
Midfielder is gunning for his fourth successive league win at the Theatre of Dreams against Manchester United on Sunday
THE mere mention of a trip to Old Trafford remains enough to make even the most seasoned professional tremble. Gareth Barry, though, is rubbing his hands in anticipation of the short trip down the East Lancs Road. Not for the Everton midfielder the apprehension which has crippled so many in the past. If the Blues rightly celebrated etching a notable piece of history by ending a 21-year wait for victory at the self-appointed Theatre of Dreams last December, for Barry it was merely business as usual. The 33-year-old is aiming for a fourth successive Premier League win at Manchester United when stepping out for the Blues’ high noon showdown today.
And with United still acclimatising to life after Sir Alex Ferguson and the brief reign of David Moyes, Barry is convinced Old Trafford no longer possesses the fear factor. “I think it has (lost that),” he says. “I can speak from my own experience and obviously Everton’s as well. “It was fantastic to win there last season. Everton hadn’t won there for many years and there was a great feeling in the dressing room afterwards to break that duck and put in a great performance at a fantastic stadium and a great team. “It took me probably 12 or 13 years to win a Premier League game there.”
When Barry did, it was Manchester City’s famous 6-1 thumping en route to winning the title in 2011-12. A 2-1 win was secured the following season, after which switching to Goodison brought last December’s triumph. “I have won the last three times there, it’s just my experience but it sort of shows you maybe it’s not what it once was,” adds the midfielder. “But at the same time we need to show them the respect they deserve. They have got loads of talent, and if they put it together on the day they can probably beat anybody. So it’s down to us to produce a good performance.”
Bryan Oviedo’s late winner last season didn’t just earn Everton their first win at Old Trafford since 1992 and give supporters the satisfaction of putting one over former Goodison boss Moyes.
It proved, not least to themselves, that the Blues were capable of going to the supposed bigger clubs, stay true to their approach and win. “It was a significant result,” admits Barry. “The manager was trying to drum into the players that we are good enough and the club is big enough to be going to places like this and getting results. “It wasn’t just Old Trafford, we went to Arsenal and could’ve easily won there. “That was a big focal point last season for the confidence of the club to come away from there with three points. “On Sunday I am sure we will be looking back at that result and doing it again. “Will we talk about last season? I think we can, yes. You can use examples like that to give you the belief to go there again and maybe look at the way we did it in clips and videos. But ultimately it’s this season we need to focus on.” Barry reveals a weight had been lifted off Everton by their Old Trafford triumph. “I think it plays on players’ minds certainly when records are there,” he says. “You certainly feel the pressure building and want to break that duck but the manager is very good at instilling belief and I am sure it was a new experience for the players here last season.
“The manager’s methods and confidence he has in you that we can go these places and win and that was the case when we went there last year.” Much like the Blues, the main issue for United this season has been in defence with the backline shipping five goals at Leicester City a fortnight ago and four at MK Dons in the Going forward, though, Louis van Gaal’s side have been much more dangerous, particularly at home where they have won their last two outings.
Even without suspended former Everton striker Wayne Rooney, United can boast Robin van Persie and new attacking duo Angel di Maria and Radamel Falcao. And Barry knows his defensive midfield qualities will be tested to the full. “We have said their attacking ability at the moment is a lot stronger than their defensive ability so we have to stifle their attacking game,” he says.
“We need to feel our way into the game not allow them too much time on the ball and then focus on our own game. “We used the counter-attack a lot last year with Romelu Lukaku causing them a lot of problems in the wider role the manager used him in last year so whether he does that again I am not sure but there are certain aspects from last season we can take into the game.”
Late equalisers by Phil Jagielka and Samuel Eto’o stole 1-1 draws at Liverpool and FC Krasnodar and demonstrated Everton’s battling qualities with Roberto Martinez’s side still searching for form this season. “We have played much better football than in the last two games and lost games – really dominated matches and come out with draws and even defeats,” says Barry.
“It is encouraging to not play well be a goal down and come back – you get a lot of confidence and belief from performances and results like that. “It’s good for the group not to roll over and keep going right until the end and get something out of the game. We want to get that right, grinding results but not getting away from the football we want to play.” And as Barry knows better than most, travelling to Old Trafford should be no barrier to that aim.
Man United 2 Everton 1 - final whistle report as Blues push Utd all the way
Oct 5 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Ian Doyle
Baines' missed penalty and amazing De Gea saves the difference
If Everton have shown themselves adept at getting out of jail during the past week, then Old Trafford proved their Alcatraz once more. Having ended one of the Premier League's most infamous droughts with victory at Manchester United last December, normal service resumed as the Blues slipped to a 2-1 defeat. After securing successive draws with late comebacks against Liverpool and FC Krasnodar, this was a step too far for Roberto Martinez's overworked side.
You can read Greg O'Keeffe's analysis from Old Trafford Everton, though, will feel they could at least have snatched a point. Not least with Leighton Baines having uncharacteristically missed a penalty on the stroke of half-time. Baines made amends by crossing for Steven Naismith to head home a fine equaliser on 55 minutes after Angel di Maria had shot the home side into the lead midway through the first half. But Radamel Falcao's first goal for United on 62 minutes proved decisive, along with two magnificent saves in the closing moments to deny substitutes Leon Osman and Bryan Oviedo netting a dramatic equaliser. In truth, a draw would have been undeserved with the Blues struggling for energy and powder-puff in attack for much of the match. The sight of John Stones leaving the pitch on a stretcher during injury time deepened the sense of gloom among the away supporters. While United's lack of European football meant they had a full week to prepare for the fixture, seven of the players who started in Russia were again in the Blues line-up.
Having played just 101 minutes of first-team football in the previous 13 months, Tony Hibbert made his fourth start in a fortnight, meaning only two players – Neville Southall and Brian Labone – have now made more league appearances for Everton at Old Trafford. The frankly ridiculous noon kick-off time Martinez had rightly bemoaned meant less than 60 hours had passed since his team stepped off the plane at John Lennon Airport. It contributed to an understandably slow start from the visitors during a largely one-sided first half. Hibbert's tussle with di Maria and Luke Shaw down the United left was pinpointed as a key battle before the match, not least with the attack-minded Aiden McGeady unlikely to offer huge protection for the veteran right-back.
Sure enough, United soon sought to mine down Everton's right flank.
In the fourth minute, a teasing cross by Shaw was met with a diving header from Falcao but Tim Howard, diving to his left, made a smart save. Shortly afterwards, this time di Maria delivered from the left and the incoming Robin van Persie volleyed wastefully over from eight yards.
Everton had an escape on 20 minutes when Falcao fluffed his lines and dragged horribly wide after United worked another opening inside the area. The Blues weren't so lucky seven minutes later.
Rafael was allowed far too much time and space to progress down the right and put in a cross the stretching Phil Jagielka could only divert to Juan Mata at the far post. The Spaniard then rolled the ball into the path of di Maria who, having cut in from the left flank, then curled a shot beyond Howard from just inside the area. Howard then had to be alert to turn the ball behind after di Maria's speculative free-kick from 35 yards deflected off Steven Naismith's head.
The foul had been harshly awarded against Gareth Barry, the umpteenth time a player on either side had been penalised by over-officious referee Kevin Friend, for whom almost all form of bodily contact was deemed illegal. That it took Everton until the 39 minute to register a shot at goal underlined how ineffective they had been going forward, Romelu Lukaku slashing disappointingly off target after doing well to accept a Baines pass and turn beyond young United centre-back Paddy McNair. So there was a real element of surprise when the Blues won a penalty in first-half injury time – and even more at who earned it. Hibbert played the ball in to Steven Pienaar and then burst into the area on to the South African's backheeled returned pass before being dumped to the turf by Shaw's sliding challenge. Replays confirmed it was the correct decision. Baines, though, directed his spot kick too near to United goalkeeper David de Gea, who saved diving to his right.
Everton still haven't scored a penalty at Old Trafford since 1962. A relieved United looked to press home their advantage after the interval, Falcao inches away from reaching di Maria's driven cross and then denied by a deflection off Stones after Shaw danced beyond Hibbert and cut the ball back from the byline. Everton, though, were level on 55 minutes as Baines atoned for his penalty miss by delivering a magnificent deep cross from the left that the flying Naismith, played onside by Rafael, headed into the corner. There could have been another four minutes later, Jagielka meeting a Baines corner from the left with a glancing header only for Falcao to hack off his own line.
And Everton were left to rue a telling impact from the Colombian at the other end on 62 minutes.
Howard's needless sprint from his area and subsequent failure to find touch with his clearance unsettled the Blues defence and set in motion a series of events that ended with di Maria's scuffed shot fortuitously falling into the path of Falcao, who fired home from 12 yards.
With three minutes remaining, substitute Osman struck at de Gea from Jagielka's knockdown.
And Osman came even closer in injury time when, fed by Naismith inside the area, he solicited a fine stop from the United goalkeeper. Then, after Barry saw a shot charged down, de Gea produced an incredible save to turn over a driven shot from Oviedo. Oviedo had been the matchwinner for Everton here last season. There would be no such joy this time around.
MANCHESTER UNITED (4-1-3-2): de Gea; Rafael, McNair, Rojo, Shaw (Blackett 71); Blind; Valencia (Fellaini 79), Mata, di Maria; van Persie, Falcao (Wilson 73). Subs: Lindegaard, Januzaj, Fletcher, Thorpe. BOOKINGS: van Persie, Blind and Valencia (all fouls).
EVERTON (4-2-3-1): Howard; Hibbert (Browning 78), Jagielka, Stones, Baines; Barry, Besic; McGeady (Osman 77), Naismith, Pienaar (Oviedo 64); Lukaku. Subs: Robles, Gibson, Eto'o, Alcaraz. BOOKINGS: Besic and Pienaar (both fouls) and Howard (unsporting behaviour).
REFEREE: Kevin Friend.
Manchester United 2 Everton 1: Radamel Falcao and David de Gea secure three points
Man Utd vs Everton Premier League match report: Angel di Maria and Radamel Falcao score and David de Gea produces three stunning saves to take United fourth
By Mark Ogden, Old Trafford
05 Oct 2014Guardian
It was one of those performances which summed up the modern world of football, with David de Gea receiving the plaudits of a Manchester United legend and the grateful thanks of a team-mate on Twitter before he had the chance to remove his gloves. Peter Schmeichel was sufficiently impressed to tweet praise for De Gea’s “heroic performance” and his “three extraordinary saves”, while the defender Luke Shaw, whose foul on Tony Hibbert had led to the penalty which was spurned by Leighton Baines, tweeted: “Thank you my friend for the penalty save,” attaching a rather melodramatic heart sign as a suffix to his expression of gratitude. A crucial save from Baines’s first-half penalty and two stunning stops from Leon Osman and Bryan Oviedo in the final seconds of stoppage time at the end of the game were enough for De Gea to send Everton back to Merseyside with nothing to show for their efforts at Old Trafford. De Gea, so often derided as hapless and hopeless during his error-strewn early days at United, has long since shed the ‘dodgy keeper’ tag which threatened to drag him down in English football. After all, the 23-year-old was the only senior player who could look David Moyes in the eye last season as the rest of his team-mates failed to deliver for the former manager, but his performance against Everton was a match-winning one and proof that the Spanish youngster is now one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League.
A day which should have been the story of Radamel Falcao’s first goal for the club and another bewitching performance by Ángel di María ultimately centred on De Gea, whose contribution was acknowledged by both managers. “De Gea was outstanding,” Roberto Martínez, the Everton manager, said. “There were some incredible saves, two were eye-catching, but throughout he was very strong and secure. Everyone in the ground was waiting for the net to bulge [with Oviedo’s shot] but he stopped us having a positive result.” “At the end of the first half he stopped a penalty so that was good,” Louis van Gaal, the United manager, said. “He also did very well in the last 15 minutes.
“I said to him, it is always good when a goalkeeper has such games. It shall improve his confidence. He was fantastic.” De Gea, one of the game’s more under-stated individuals, simply spoke of being “happy for the win” when asked about his performance, but his contribution once again highlighted the defensive frailties which continue to afflict United. Going forward, they have ability to tear any opponent apart, but anxiety and tension have developed a habit of sucking United towards their own goal in the latter stages of games and this followed the same path. With Everton only returning to Merseyside from Russia at 2.30am on Friday following their Europa League tie against FC Krasnodar, Martínez’s team hardly benefited from the best preparation for this fixture.
Having beaten United home and away last season, however, Everton at least arrived in Manchester without the doubts that had previously lingered over previous visits to United.
But with the home side now rediscovering their confidence and self-belief under Van Gaal, the visitors found United a different proposition from the team which performed so dismally under Moyes. United, perhaps keen to capitalise on the fatigue caused by Everton’s trip to Russia, started brightly and were unlucky not to open the scoring through Falcao after just four minutes. Shaw’s cross from the left found the Colombian forward six yards out, but his diving header was well saved by Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard. United went close again three minutes later when Robin van Persie volleyed over from Di María’s pinpoint cross. At £59.7 million, Di María arrived at United with the apparent burden of carrying the tag of Britain’s most expensive signing, but he barely looks troubled by the pressure. He delivered another example of his quality on 27 minutes when putting United ahead with his third goal since his August arrival from Real Madrid. Rafael da Silva’s cross from the right had found Juan Mata at the far post and the Spaniard teed up Di María, who beat Howard with a side-foot strike from 12 yards. It was a deserved opener for United, but they could not convert their pressure into a further first-half goal and they almost paid the price when referee Kevin Friend awarded Everton a penalty two minutes into stoppage time. Shaw’s foul on Hibbert resulted in Baines taking the spot-kick, but De Gea saved brilliantly, diving low to his right to keep it out. De Gea had no chance with Everton’s opener 10 minutes into the second-half, though, with the goalkeeper left exposed by his defenders' failure to deal with Baines’s cross from the left. Scotland midfielder Steven Naismith, one of the smallest players on the pitch, was left to run between Shaw and Rafael before heading unmarked past De Gea from six yards. But for a goal-line clearance by Falcao moments later, when the striker hacked Phil Jagielka’s header off the line, it could have been even worse for United. Up to that point, Falcao had endured a frustrating game, with chances going astray and his shortage of full fitness following a January cruciate ligament injury showing.
But just as the pressure of waiting for his first goal appeared to increasing, he produced the moment Old Trafford had been desperate to witness by putting United ahead.
It was a predatory finish from Di María’s cross-shot and the relief he displayed when celebrating showed how much the goal meant. But with De Gea saving brilliantly from Osman and Oviedo at the end, the plaudits were quite rightly reserved for the goalkeeper.
Everton analysis: Greg O'Keeffe on a faltering Romelu Lukaku and a 'directionless' team
October 5 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
Our Everton FC writer gives his immediate verdict from Old Trafford
Roberto Martinez insisted Everton's squad was ready for the challenge of playing so many games in such a small period of time.
He maintained the Blues could cope.
The evidence to the contrary at Old Trafford this lunchtime was overwhelming.
Shorn of too many key men, the Toffees never really looked like beating Manchester United in three consecutive league games for the first time since 1921. Yes, they conspired to miss a penalty and had a Phil Jagielka header cleared off the line by Radamel Falcao which would have given them a lead against the run of play. But in truth they were badly lacking of the penetration and passing conviction in the final third which became their calling card last season.
Apart from diving to save Leighton Baines' penalty just before the break United keeper David De Gea has precious little to do barring a late flurry when he finally had to work hard to deny Leon Osman and Bryan Oviedo. It was too little too late. Without Seamus Coleman once again Martinez asked Tony Hibbert and Aiden McGeady to strike up a partnership on the right and it didn't work.
McGeady's form is too diffident so far to justify his manager's faith in him. But if the Republic of Ireland midfielder must up his game, what of Romelu Lukaku? The striker failed to provide a shot on target. Too often Everton's build-up play faltered when it reached him. He is a considerable distance off the player who persuaded Martinez to pay £28m for him in the summer.
It made it all the more frustrating when Samuel Eto'o was left kicking his heels on the bench.
Puzzling - just like the alarming slump which has seen a side that finished fifth last season suddenly look splintered and directionless with only one win in seven Premier League games so far.
The best Everton can hope for is to use the forthcoming international break to patch themselves up, regroup and hope that by the time Aston Villa arrive they can recapture their swagger.
Man Utd 2-1 Everton: Falcao scrambles winner
Scotsman 05 October 2014
RADAMEL Falcao scored his first goal in English football as Manchester United recorded back-to-back victories for the first time under Louis van Gaal.
For most of the match, it looked as though Falcao was anything but a world-class striker as he missed four good chances to find the net, but he finally tucked a top poacher’s effort away in the 62nd minute to hand United a valuable 2-1 win over Everton at Old Trafford.
United dominated from start to finish and they deservedly took the lead through Di Maria, who curled a tidy finish past Tim Howard in the first half. Everton were allowed back into the game when Luke Shaw lost Steven Naismith and the Scot responded by heading past David de Gea.
Despite being second best in every department, Everton will feel they should have taken a point from this game. De Gea kept United in it with two fine late saves from Leon Osman and Bryan Oviedo, and earlier in the game Everton missed a penalty. Leighton Baines, who had scored 14 penalties from 14 attempts before Sunday, saw his spot-kick saved by De Gea after Shaw had clumsily hacked down Tony Hibbert. Van Gaal will face tougher tests after the international break - Everton were ravaged by injuries and clearly tired after a 4,000-mile trip to Krasnodar - but the United boss will be happy to have chalked up his third win, especially as it came without suspended captain Wayne Rooney. The only negative for the Dutchman was that Shaw hobbled off in the second half with an injury. United’s play at the start had all the hallmarks of a typical Red Devils performance under former boss Sir Alex Ferguson. The hosts flew at Everton from the first whistle with some high-tempo play that was easy on the eye. Tony Hibbert played just three minutes of Premier League football last year, but an injury to Seamus Coleman meant he was selected for his fourth successive game. The 33-year-old was given a torrid time as Di Maria and Shaw ran riot down the left. Shaw found Falcao with a perfect delivery in the fourth minute, but the Colombian mis-timed his header, which flew wide. Di Maria then created a yard of space on the left wing and sent over another perfect cross, but Robin van Persie blazed over the bar. Kevin Friend issued the first of seven yellow cards when a frustrated Van Persie slid in on Gareth Barry. Falcao wasted a chance in front of goal soon after following a lovely move which included a majestic mid-air flick from Di Maria. Marcos Rojo frayed a few nerves with a couple of risky passes, but otherwise United looked strong at the back thanks to a solid display from 19-year-old Paddy McNair.
After applying heavy pressure, United finally broke the deadlock in the 27th minute. Phil Jagielka attempted to hook Rafael’s cross clear, but instead it landed at the feet of Juan Mata, who squared to Di Maria and he tucked the ball beyond Tim Howard with a curling right-footed shot.
Di Maria would have added a second straight away had Howard not saved his deflected free-kick with a superb diving save. Romelu Lukaku, isolated up front for Everton, took down Baines’ long pass on his chest but volleyed wide. Shaw then put United’s good first-half work in jeopardy by clumsily bringing Hibbert down in the box from behind. Friend pointed to the spot, but Baines saw his impeccable record vanish before his eyes as De Gea flung his right arm out to push the penalty wide. United continued to press after the restart, but they failed to add to their goal tally immediately. Falcao was the most guilty party. The on-loan Moncao hitman somehow failed to turn in Di Maria’s flat ball into the box and he then shinned Shaw’s cross wide from eight yards out.
Everton then stunned the home crowd with an equaliser. Baines made up for his penalty miss by swinging a deep cross towards Naismith, who powered his header past De Gea after peeling off his marker Shaw. Everton sensed blood and looked for a second. They almost got it when Jagielka headed Aiden McGeady’s cross goalwards, but Falcao cleared off the line. Falcao then finally found the net at the other end to put United ahead. The Colombian timed his run inside the box to perfection and prodded in Di Maria’s mis-cued shot from close range. United then suffered a blow when Shaw hobbled off with an injury. Tyler Blackett came on in his place and Van Gaal also introduced James Wilson for Falcao, who received a standing ovation for his efforts. Osman broke through the United defence in the final minute, but once again De Gea rescued the hosts with a fine diving save. The Spaniard denied Oviedo with another acrobatic save and the match ended on a bad note for Everton when John Stones was carried off on a stretcher with an injury.
WATCH: Greg O'Keeffe discusses Everton FC's defeat to Manchester United
Oct 05, 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Kristian Walsh
"Romelu Lukaku in particular didn't look on it today and they seemed like a side missing key men," says Blues correspondent.
Everton FC reporter Greg O'Keeffe believes the Blues didn't deserve anything out of their trip to Old Trafford on Sunday. Steven Naismith's goal was not enough to salvage a point for the Blues, the strike coming either side of goals from Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao.
Leighton Baines also saw his penalty saved by David De Gea. Greg said: "Barring that late flurry when Osman went close and De Gea had to work for the first time in the game, I don't think Everton can complain. The Blues were without Seamus Coleman, James McCarthy or Kevin Mirallas, while John Stones suffered ankle ligament damage in stoppage time. But Greg was not impressed with Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku. "Lukaku in particular didn't look on it today and they seemed like a side missing key men," he added.
Manchester United 2 Everton FC 1: what we learned from Old Trafford defeat
Oct 5 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Kristian Walsh
The three major talking points following the Blues' defeat to United, including how the tale of two goalkeepers makes for unpleasant reading
Tale of two keepers gives Blues unhappy ending
For David De Gea, it was the best of times. For Tim Howard, it was the worst of times. Although there were plenty of peripheral stories in Everton's 2-1 defeat to Manchester United, this was very much a tale of two goalkeepers. One, a young Spaniard, silenced what critics remain with two breathtaking saves – not to mention stopping Leighton Baines' penalty.
The other, an American hero, is quickly finding it necessary to respond to growing criticism after conceding his 15th and 16th league goals of the season. His 16th was perhaps the one he's been most culpable for so far, his decision to keep the ball in-play ultimately costing Everton a goal.
It must be said, in an attempt to avoid revisionism, that Tim Howard made a very good save when Angel Di Maria's free kick was deflected in the first half; he also sprawled across his goal to keep out Falcao's header with the score at 0-0. But the timing of his error couldn't have been worse. Steven Naismith had put the Blues level and it was Roberto Martinez's side in the ascendency. With Steven Pienaar struggling with injury, Howard could have put the ball out for a throw in – a throw in that, in all likelihood, would have been returned back to him once the South African received treatment.
A moment of madness from one of Everton's most inexperienced players.
Timing was everything for De Gea. Two brilliant saves, first from Leon Osman and then Bryan Oviedo, ensured three points did not become one. Howard has been the difference plenty of times for the Blues, and can be in the future. But with a sabbatical from the United States national side, he has a long two weeks listening to the criticisms once more, and a long wait to make amends for his error. Striking balance needs addressing for sake of Lukaku
The disappointment in Romelu Lukaku's performance is evident. Blues correspondent Greg O'Keeffe spoke of how he “didn't look on it”. In a less reasoned arena of social media, Blues were quick to lambast, with one fan on Twitter giving him a mark of minus 10 out of 10. Two shots (neither on target), a number of missed headers from dangerous balls out wide, and just 43 touches overall (fewer than any outfield player who played 90 minutes). The statistics tell the story.
But in fairness to Lukaku, he spent 90 minutes unsure of where he should stand or what he should do. He began in a central position before being pushed out wide, with Naismith moving through the centre. This continued, even when United were forced to field inexperienced central defensive partnership Tyler Blackett and Patrick McNair. That is not to excuse the Belgian's lacklustre display. His strike partner Naismith exhibited everything required of an Everton striker.
But while the Scot seems to know what he does best, Lukaku – still just 21 – continues to discover how he's best suited to the team this season. Martinez, having utilised him across the front three, continues to do likewise. Both will hope it becomes evident sooner rather than later, and both will hope for better days.
Nothing lasts forever
To see Baines not wheel away in celebration after a spot kick was jarring. It was the moment the inevitable stopped being so.
Fifteen Premier League penalties out of 15 were converted before De Gea's save at Old Trafford. Only a League Cup miss against Chelsea blots his copybook overall.
It wasn't the best penalty he's ever struck. Indeed, it could potentially be his worst. De Gea only had to move the right way to save it. But all the best penalty takers – James Beattie, Matt Le Tissier, Danny Murphy – have missed one in their top-flight careers. Now Baines' great penalty record won't be mentioned every time he steps up. But that isn't always a bad thing. The pressure, in a strange way, might be off – and he can go back to doing what he does best from 12 yards.
Tony Hibbert - Everton will come good after international break
Oct 05, 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
Defender says Blues deserved more out of Manchester United game
Tony Hibbert is confident Everton can put their faltering start to the season behind them after the international break.
The defender played his fourth game in a row during yesterday’s 2-1 defeat at Manchester United, and won the Blues a penalty in the first half which Leighton Baines failed to convert.
Hibbert, 33, believes Roberto Martinez’s men deserved a point from their trip to Old Trafford as they bombarded David De Gea’s goal, but strikes from Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao meant they have only won one of their opening seven Premier League games. He said: “We grew into the game as it went on and started to play the way we wanted to. I felt we should have got at least a point from it. Their keeper was unbelievable towards the end. “I thought we adapted well to the pace they brought having had a rest in the week. They knew how to start and although we had tired legs there are no excuses. We want to be in Europe. “Football is funny. It’s hard to figure out why it hasn’t worked for us, it just happens. We haven’t started the way we wanted to but it will come. We’ll click again. We showed what we can do towards the end. “The games will come thick and fast again after the international break and we just need to get our confidence back and get going again.
“We just need a win. We’re not playing badly. We need to believe in ourselves more because we’ve still got the players we had last season. It’s only a matter of time. “Hopefully after next weekend we’ll have some of the injured men back. A little rest and then we’ll kick on again.”
Hibbert said he has relished being back in the first-team fold during Seamus Coleman’s continued absence, although he expects the Irishman to go straight back into the side when he is fit again.
“It’s been straight into the fire,” he said. “The manager showed faith in me and I’m grateful for that. I’ve been on the bench a lot last season but in and out this season and the manager has stuck with me while Seamus has bene injured. “It’s a bonus to have Tyias there as well. I’ll do anything for the manager and Everton so when he calls me I’m there. “I’m a footballer I want to be playing week in week out. I understand it’s a squad game though and there are players who deserve to play. Seamus is our number one right-back and he deserves it. It’s just one of them that you enjoy the way the club is going forward and hopefully feature every now and then when you can.”
On the build-up to his first half penalty, Hibbert said Kevin Friend was right to point to the spot after he was felled by Luke Shaw. “I felt the contact and don’t know whether he won the ball or not,” he said. “I tried to stay up but I couldn’t. “Unfortunately Bainsey then had an off day which you never normally see. You’d bet your mortgage on him scoring normally. “It didn’t work out for us but it’s nice to get into the box.”
Manchester United 2-1 Everton FC: Greg O'Keeffe's verdict as small margins equal big problems for Roberto Martinez's men
Oct 06, 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
A missed penalty, refereeing decision and a few great saves deny the Blues a point - but is it time that Everton take matters into their own hands?
Small margins – that’s what Roberto Martinez reckons are chiefly behind his side’s alarming start to the season. It’s one of football’s regular stock cliches in times of adversity to point out, correctly in this case, that such tiny factors are often decisive. Yet small as they are, they are causing big problems for Everton FC . Normal service was resumed as far as the Blues and Old Trafford are concerned yesterday. They arrived trying to prove that last season’s historic first victory at Manchester United in 20 years was a corner turned, and departed with nothing but questions.
If Leighton Baines hadn’t failed to score his first Premier League penalty, would they have taken something more? If referee Kevin Friend had halted play with Steven Pienaar injured in the second half would they have been spared Radamel Falcao’s winner? And if David de Gea hadn’t made such sensational saves from Leon Osman and Bryan Oviedo near the end, might they have taken something tangible from this contrasting contest? Small margins. But it’s about time Everton found a way of turning such things in their favour, rather than the increasingly familiar pattern of reflecting on fleeting but game-changing moments and their sizeable impact afterwards.
Last December when Oviedo’s goal secured that stirring triumph it was the second of a three-game fixture in the space of eight days. The challenge 10 months later, in the midst of another busy glut of games, was to do it all over again. It’s one thing reaching a certain level but it’s another staying there. Martinez publicly insists his squad is strong enough to deal with the volume of games they must navigate this term, but the evidence so far suggests otherwise. Make no mistake, the Blues were considerably disadvantaged by an injury situation which is becoming a crisis with John Stones’s late and costly setback to compound things. But every club must deal with injuries. United were missing most of their first-choice back four and they still found a way to take the points.
One glance at the Toffees bench suggested precious little in an attacking sense to get very excited about, aside from Samuel Eto’o . And when Everton needed some extra incision and punch up front, the veteran striker was left kicking his heels. Is that another case of small margins? Martinez’s first change of the game was forced when he had to replace the injured Pienaar with Oviedo.
Perhaps he had factored in a point when he would use Eto’o and had to tear up the plan when injury flared. Elsewhere, Tony Hibbert had a solid enough display to suggest he remains a passable option, defensively at least, when Seamus Coleman is out. But in Kevin Mirallas ’s place, Aiden McGeady was charged with providing some penetration and failed to deliver again. McGeady has more to do if he is to start convincing, but what of the man he was meant to be supplying with ammunition?
Romelu Lukaku is desperately short of form, but even with his considerable price tag, he can be forgiven that. What can’t be forgiven is the slightest evidence he is lacking application and desire. The Belgian appeared frustrated at times with the lack of service he received or options when he was on the ball. But there are question marks over his body language when things don’t go his way.
It’s not easy leading the line alone when you’re only 21, but then Lukaku was doing that for Anderlecht when he was 16 and he needs to start taking the fight to opponents.
Consider this – the Blues’ only shot on target in the first half was Baines’s unsuccessful spot-kick in time added on before the break. When Lukaku did fashion an opening with a neat turn, his subsequent effort was lashed wildly over the bar. Supporters, and indeed Martinez who pushed so hard for his significant purchase, are entitled to expect more. Lukaku always seemed to shine that much more last season when Ross Barkley was behind him. The pair have a natural rapport which can’t be resumed quickly enough as far as Everton are concerned.
Star Man: Gareth Barry
At least Steven Naismith showed the way. The Scot’s thumping header from Baines’s perfect cross right in front of the Stretford End offered the chance of salvation and, just as against Krasnodar, Everton began to play their best stuff as the clock ticked down. Before that, their passing had been too benign. Sideways, backwards, neat little triangles but just not enough genuine openings.
Defensively Tim Howard made some strong saves but might have been expected to kick the ball out decisively in the phase of play before Falcao’s pivotal strike,
He didn’t, and it intensified a panic among the Blues back four that pre-empted the Colombian’s opportunist goal from Angel Di Maria’s scuffed attempt. In Howard’s defence he was likely trying to play the ball in the precise manner his manager demands, and can’t be blamed for the momentary lapse in concentration from Stones that let Falcao in. For a change, this wasn’t a game defined by Everton’s defensive mishaps. The back five largely did their jobs. It’s in the final third where they must rediscover the swagger of last year, and fast if they are to start putting points on the board. The international break will offer much-needed respite for key men to be patched-up and rested. Then Everton must draw a line under this faltering start and click back into gear to prove they can maintain the arc of progress Martinez began so impressively last year.
Everton FC analysis: Romelu Lukaku spending too much time on the fringes
Oct 06, 2014 Liverpool Echo
"Blues fans are entitled to expect a little more from Lukaku than they are getting right now"
They're used to waiting for Romelu Lukaku, are Everton supporters.
They were made to wait last year, when his loan switch to Goodison was confirmed only in the dying minutes of an increasingly tetchy transfer window.
They were made to wait during the summer, too.
His club-record transfer from Chelsea was on and off, and off and on.
Even when it was on, it was still delayed. Paperwork problems meant his unveiling press conference was a late one. The deal went through in the end, of course, but since then Blues fans have been made to wait once more. Now, they sit and they wait, and they hope that the Belgian will begin to justify the money Roberto Martinez was so desperate to spend on him.
It’s a big fee, £28m. Big for any club, let alone one like Everton, which has had to cut its cloth accordingly for so long. And with a big fee comes big expectations. And Blues fans, as they sit and they wait, are entitled to expect a little more from Lukaku than they are getting right now.
For the second weekend running, in a big game, Everton’s frontman, their talisman, failed to deliver for his side. Lukaku delivered a performance which could best be filed in the box marked “quiet”.
In many ways, his start to the season mirrors Everton’s; flashes of promise interspersed with moments of infuriating laxness and baffling lapses in concentration, with no real consistency in between. It would be harsh in the extreme to place all the culpability for Everton’s slow start to the campaign at Lukaku’s door. There are plenty of other deficiencies in this side at the moment.
But there is no escaping the fact that more is needed from the most expensive player in the club’s history. They need more movement, they need more hold-up play. They need a better, more reliable first touch, and smarter pressing. They need a confident Lukaku, a purposeful Lukaku, a dangerous Lukaku. At present, they have a striker who spends too much time on the fringes, who seems to be waiting for something to click, instead of making it click himself.
The idea would have seemed absurd a year ago, but Lukaku could learn plenty from studying the work put in by his chief strike partner, Steven Naismith. Whether deployed centrally or out wide, as a No.9 or a No.10, Naismith continues to impress. He wins headers, he worries defenders and, increasingly, he takes the chances that come his way. His goal here, his fourth of the campaign, was reward for smart, threatening movement and a desire to get into a scoring position.
Lukaku, by contrast, simply failed to offer that threat. Deployed as an orthodox lone frontman in the first half, he was shifted out wide after the break, as he had been at Anfield the previous week.
It’s a tactic that has worked in the past – notably against Arsenal last season – but let’s be clear; if the £28m man was delivering up front, there would be no question of him being shunted to the flanks. Lukaku averages around two shots on goal per game in the Premier League this season. It is not enough, and yet he kept that record up here. Both of his efforts, one in each half, were off target. Of course any striker, whatever his price tag, needs service, and Everton’s was not great here – nor at Anfield for that matter. The loss of key supply lines, in the form of Seamus Coleman, Kevin Mirallas and Ross Barkley, has certainly affected the Blues’ ability to feed their frontmen.
But there are weaknesses in this Manchester United defence, big weaknesses. And save for a spirited late rally, in which David De Gea shone, Everton and Lukaku failed to truly test them. Paddy McNair, a 19-year-old making just his second senior start, had a largely untroubled afternoon.
Lukaku, of course, is just two years older than McNair, and so it may seem harsh that such high standards are demanded. But it is he who has set those standards; few who were at Upton Park for his Everton debut last season will forget the impact he made, as a substitute, that afternoon.
A fit, focused, hungry Lukaku can be nigh-on unplayable. He can drag excellent results out of average performances, and do so with style as well. At present, as with Tim Howard at the other end, it is just not happening. There are genuine questions as to whether Samuel Eto’o, with his instinct and class, might offer a better option at present. The Cameroon star was bafflingly left on the substitutes’ bench here. Perhaps the international break will come at a good time, allowing Lukaku to head off with Belgium and rediscover his mojo. Everton fans will certainly hope so. Judging by their reaction after this game, some of them are getting a little tired of waiting.
Manchester United 2-1 Everton FC: Greg O'Keeffe's verdict as small margins equal big problems for Roberto Martinez's men
What’s behind Everton FC’s slow start - and why the Blues can put it right
October 6 2014 Liverpool Echo
By David Triggs
A look at why Everton have made a stuttering start to the 2014-15 campaign - and why it won’t last forever
The small margins have conspired to create some big problems for Everton this season.
Roberto Martinez’s men sit fourth-from-bottom in the table after seven Premier League matches, with just six points to show from a possible 21.
They had double that at the same stage last season - and would spend the campaign pushing for a top-four finish.
So what has gone wrong?
Martinez blamed Sunday’s 2-1 loss at Manchester United on “very small margins”. Only the heroics of goalkeeper David de Gea on Sunday prevented the Blues from coming away with a point, maybe even three. But it was still another ‘L’ on Everton’s record this season - a campaign which has produced just one league win so far. It is not what Martinez or Everton fans expected, but there is hope. Here are five reasons the Blues have started so slowly... and five reasons why it should get better.
Why Everton have started slowly
Poor pre-season preparations
The Blues played only five pre-season friendlies, a figure which pales in comparison to some of their Premier League rivals. Chelsea played 10 warm-up games, Liverpool eight. Leicester City, who Everton faced on the first day of the season, played seven.
Were the Blues a little undercooked going into the new Premier League campaign? Quite possibly.
The only pre-season game which had been in place well in advance was Leon Osman’s testimonial against Porto. Games against Tranmere, Leicester, Celta Vigo and Paderborn were slotted in hastily as the summer wore on. The results weren't good either, with the Blues failing to win any of their games. Martinez was also eager to make sure his World Cup players got plenty of recovery time, with neither Mirallas or Lukaku (who reached the quarter-finals with Belgium) playing a single friendly.
It all added up to a fairly unsatisfactory pre-season campaign.
A World Cup hangover
“Any player that comes from the World Cup is going to have a period to get back to their best,” admitted Martinez last month. There are a few in royal blue who are still striving to recapture the kind of form which booked their tickets to Brazil.
Six members of Everton’s squad were on World Cup duty during the summer, and Leighton Baines seems to be the only one who has not suffered from either injury or a post-tournament loss of form.
Tim Howard - a model of consistency for so long and a man who gained national hero status in the USA on the back of his World Cup performances - has fallen below his high standards this season. Mistakes are creeping into his game, with errors against Crystal Palace and Manchester United proving particularly costly.
Martinez admitted last month that Phil Jagielka was going through a post-World Cup lull (his derby wonder goal was just what the skipper needed), while both Barkley and Mirallas have picked up injuries (the Belgian forward had been looking good too).
Romelu Lukaku wasn’t an Everton player while he was out in Brazil, but the striker made four World Cup appearances for his country before signing for the Blues in a club record deal upon his return.
He hasn’t quite looked the same player either. Leggy, lethargic displays have characterised the early games of his season so far. Everton fans expect more from their £28m spearhead. A return of two goals and one assist from seven matches is not good enough.
That World Cup hangover is proving difficult to shake off.
Injuries to key men
Injuries are part and parcel of football, but the Blues have been desperately unlucky to have suffered so many problems so soon. Ross Barkley hasn’t kicked a ball in anger all season after damaging medial ligaments in training the day before the new campaign was due to start.
Everton won 18 of the 34 Premier League matches Barkley played in last season, with the England man scoring six goals along the way. His ability to move with the ball at pace through the final third of the field has been missed, with no other player in the Everton squad possessing the same powerhouse qualities as the 20-year-old. Right-back Seamus Coleman - another player integral to the way the Blues play, offering attacking impetus down the right - has also missed plenty of football this season due to head and hamstring problems, starting just three of his team’s seven league games.
Steven Pienaar has been hampered by injury issues too, while Kevin Mirallas, Sylvain Distin and James McCarthy are also currently sidelined. There is no sign of the Blues’ luck improving either, with John Stones’ turned ankle at Old Trafford adding another big name to an ever-lengthening injury list.
Tough fixture list
The fixture computer wasn’t kind to the Blues.
After kicking off the Premier League season with an away match against a newly-promoted side in Leicester City (always a tough task), Martinez’s men faced Arsenal and Chelsea, two of last season’s top four.
West Brom and Crystal Palace offered some respite, on paper at least, before trips to Anfield and Old Trafford came along.
It’s been a tough, testing start - as Everton’s meagre points haul shows.
What on earth has happened to Everton’s defence this season?
A once-watertight unit is now leaking goals like a sieve.
Martinez has been struggling to explain why the third-best defence in the Premier League last season (39 goals conceded in 38 games) is now the most porous in the top flight (16 conceded from seven).
Injuries haven’t helped, but there is still enough experience in the royal blue ranks.
“It is something we need to address,” admitted the Everton boss after his side shipped three goals at Swansea City in the Capital One Cup.
Since then, there has been a slight improvement (single goals conceded against Liverpool and Krasnodar, two at Manchester United) so maybe the Blues are getting back to the kind of levels they reached last season.
But that injury to Stones could hardly have come at a worse time.
Why things will get better for the Blues
Barkley’s on his way back
There were fears Ross Barkley could be out for anything up to five months when he was injured in training back in August.
Thankfully, the England man’s recovery has put him on course for a return to action much sooner than that. Barkley is due to return to training with his teammates this week and, although he won’t be ready for the Blues’ first match after the international break, he is well on the road to recovery.
Steven Naismith has done an admirable job in filling Barkley’s boots, scoring four goals, and his form means there should be a place for him in Everton’s side even when Barkley returns.
But there is nobody quite as explosive as the 20-year-old from Wavertree on the Blues’ books. They will only be stronger when he returns.
… and Coleman's coming back too
Are there any right-backs in the Premier League as integral to their team as Seamus Coleman? Probably not. The Blues just aren’t the same side when the Irishman is missing, as he has been for four matches this season with injuries to both his head and hamstring.
Coleman offers a rare mix of defensive diligence and attacking flair down the right flank. Not many wide men get the better of him, while many spend games having to track his repeated raids upfield. Attack is so often his best form of defence. Roberto Martinez expects him to be fit again soon - and with Leighton Baines on top of his game again (he’s got five assists already this season), the overall balance of Everton’s side - both in attack and defence - can only benefit.
Naisy’s in the goals
Steven Naismith revelled in the nickname ‘Kid Goals’ when he was at Kilmarnock.
After his first two seasons at Goodison, Blues fans were left wondering how such a moniker was ever bestowed on the Scot. Naismith struggled to shrug off the perception that he was a bit-part player. He made more substitute appearances (18) than starts (13) in his first two campaigns at Everton, scoring four goals in 2012-13 and five in 2013-14. Kid Goals? You must be kidding.
But there were signs towards the end of last season that Naismith was finally finding his form, and the 3-0 win over Arsenal in April seemed to be a real watershed moment. He was substituted 10 minutes from time to a thunderous ovation from the Goodison crowd with the Blues on their way to a 3-0 win and, seemingly, in the box seat to qualify for the Champions League.
Although the Gunners would go on to pip the Blues for fourth spot, Naismith was finally breaking down those bit-part player perceptions and he was one of the bright spots in a disappointing pre-season campaign, scoring against Tranmere and Porto.
He’s carried that friendly form into the competitive action and already has four goals to his name - one away from last season’s tally.
Roberto Martinez saves the best till last
Everton’s late-season wobble in 2013-14 was out of character for a Roberto Martinez team.
Sides managed by the Catalan are usually strong finishers.
When he was at Wigan, Martinez led his team to four wins and three draws at the end of the 2010-11 season – with a success at Stoke City hauling them to safety, despite starting the last day 19th in the Premier League table.
The following campaign, Wigan were 19th with six games of the campaign remaining, but managed to record wins in five of their last six fixtures – including a victory over Manchester United – to end up 15th in the table. At Swansea, he took over mid-season in 2006-07 and lifted the South Wales club to the brink of the play-offs, ending the campaign with a run of one defeat in 11 gamnes.
Promotion was secured the following year.
The Blues might have got off to a slow start – but their boss is an expert at finishing with a flourish. Let's hope he doesn't leave it so late this time.
The games will get easier
The knock-on effect of having such a tough start is that the fixture schedule eases for the Blues through October to the new year.
In fact, Everton play only one game against a team from last season’s top four (Manchester City) between now and the end of December. It is a chance to make up for lost time and lost points. In their next five league games, Everton take on Aston Villa, Burnley, Swansea City, Sunderland and West Ham. It’s not a sequence to strike fear into royal blue hearts.
Everton's Steven Pienaar wants more matches after his 'surprise' Old Trafford return
October 6 2014 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
Pienaar limped off just nine minutes into Everton’s first home match of the season against Arsenal
Steven Pienaar admits that his return to the Everton FC starting line up at Old Trafford took him by surprise – but now he wants to build his sharpness by cramming in as much match action as possible.
The South African limped off just nine minutes into Everton’s first home match of the season against Arsenal with a thigh strain. The injury saw him miss seven games, but he returned to the starting XI at Manchester United after just a few days full training. Now it’s match sharpness he wants.
“It was a great feeling just to be back on a pitch after almost six weeks out,” he said.
“I didn’t expect to start but when you get an opportunity you have to grab it with both hands.
I’m thankful that the manager gave me a chance after only a few days of training.
“You can put all the graft in, running and stuff, but the thing I’ve missed is playing. It’s difficult just running and training, it’s not the same. I need more games. “It’s important for me to stay focused and stay fit. “After the last couple of weeks it’s been hard but I’ll stay positive and hopefully get more games.” Pienaar also hoped to be rejoined in the first team squad soon by fellow sickbay mates Ross Barkley, Seamus Coleman and James McCarthy. “Ross should be back soon, then hopefully Seamus and James,” added Pienaar “and we can push on and fight.
“There will be more competition in the team and I can sharpen up myself.
“It’s important to get a lot of games under your belt. “That’s the only way you get sharp and I need that.”
Everton FC hero Tony Cottee says Romelu Lukaku must put himself centre-stage again
Oct 06, 2014 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
Belgian ace is no wide boy says Cottee
Tony Cottee knows what it feels like to shoulder the burden of a huge transfer fee.
The free-scoring forward didn’t just become Everton FC’s record signing when the Toffees paid West Ham £2.2m in 1988, the deal broke the British transfer record too.
So while Cottee, who scored 99 goals in his 241 match Everton career, is sympathetic to Romelu Lukaku having to come to terms with being a £28m man, he thinks the answer to the Belgian’s patchy form this season is more straightforward: he needs to put himself back on centre stage.
Cottee was a master at giving himself the opportunity to score goals - an arch-penalty box predator - and he believes Lukaku needs to start being more selfish. “He appears, to me, not to be playing down the middle often enough,” said Cottee, now a successful analyst for Sky TV.
“He seems to be playing out wide or out left and a centre-forward can’t score goals if you’re spending all your time outside the box. “You need to be in the middle and in the penalty area. I think that’s where Lukaku needs to be playing. “Evertonians are fantastic supporters who know their football – and they certainly know their centre-forwards, which is why they are a bit frustrated at the moment. “They know a centre-forward needs to be in the middle of the pitch and my advice to Romelu Lukaku would be to play down the middle. “He seems to be working hard for the team – which is something I never did! - but no matter how hard you’re working you’ve got to be in the box if you’re going to score goals. “Everton have players like Steven Pienaar, Steven Naismith, Aiden McGeady and Leon Osman who can play either wide or around the penalty area. Lukaku needs to be in there where the chances are.”
Cottee is speaking from personal experience.
After his record breaking switch from The Hammers in the summer of 1988, he celebrated a famous hat-trick on his debut against Newcastle, then followed up with the only goal of the game the following weekend at Coventry – all from a combined range of less than 18 yards!
But Cottee recalls that those early goals only added to the pressure he felt at being Britain’s most expensive marksman. “I felt possibly more pressure than Romelu because I wasn’t just an Everton record signing, I was a British transfer record too,” he said. “I didn’t do myself any favours scoring a hat-trick on my debut - expectations soared after that! The pressure I felt was incredible.
“But I haven’t see Romelu speaking about his transfer fee creating any pressure for him – which is a good thing. “You can never dictate what a transfer fee is going to be. You’re just a piece of meat and worth whatever somebody is willing to pay for you. “You have to put it into perspective. Angel di Maria cost twice as much as Romelu and it doesn’t seem to be playing on his mind.”
Cottee also believes that Lukaku has to be cut some slack following his World Cup exploits with Belgium which left him playing catch up in pre-season. Lukaku faced Leicester on the opening day of the season without having played a single minute of Everton’s five pre-season matches.
Cottee added: “All the players who have been away on World Cup duty have to be given a bit of leeway. You can’t play for two years solid without a break without feeling tired.
“It’s no surprise that Romelu is still feeling his way back to form after the World Cup, as are several players. “I’ve been reading that Steven Gerrard was finished – which is absolute nonsense.
“Of course he isn’t finished. He’s still a great player and will continue to be a great player for years to come. “But after a World Cup summer it can take a little time to get going again.”
Ian Snodin: Everton must start as they mean to go on
Oct 07, 2014 Liverpool Echo
Blues gave United too much respect at Old Trafford
Everton were the stronger team in the last quarter at Old Trafford on Sunday; Everton ended the match in Russia as the team pushing forward – and Blues fans celebrated a last minute equaliser in the Anfield derby. But in all three matches we took far too long to get going which is why we failed to win any of them. If we’d performed at Old Trafford in the first half the way we did in the second I’m convinced we’d have won. We’ve got to start hitting the ground running.
I wouldn’t say we started slowly on Sunday because we gave Manchester United too much respect, because I don’t buy into that argument. We just didn’t move the ball quickly enough and our front four didn’t play high enough up the pitch or put enough pressure on United’s defence.
Aiden McGeady, Steven Naismith, Romelu Lukaku and Steven Pienaar were all too deep and as a result we made it comfortable for a back-four which has looked vulnerable this season.
We didn’t do enough offensively before half-time.
That changed after the break.
We did more in the first six or seven minutes of the second half than we had managed in the previous 45 in the first and in the end we deserved a draw. But for two unbelievable saves from David de Gea we’d have got one, too – not to mention that block from Tyler Blackett to get in the way of Gareth Barry’s shot. There’s a lot of understandable doom and gloom amongst Evertonians at the moment. The league table doesn’t make great reading, but if you’d said at the start of the week we’ll get a point from the Anfield derby, travelled all the way to Russia and come back with a draw – then took a point from Old Trafford – you’d be satisified. As it was we were two astonishing saves away from doing just that. It was disappointing to concede another two goals, but I’m not having the TV pundits’ argument that Everton’s defenders were too static for the winning goal while Radamel Falcao was on the move. Angel di Maria miskicked a shot at goal! You can’t blame defenders not being able to anticipate an opponent mis-kicking a shot.
I actually thought Phil Jagielka and John Stones handled the van Persie and Falcao threat well.
Our league position makes grim reading, but I’m sure once we get going again after the international break that will quickly change. People are pointing out that we have played four of last season’s top six in our opening six games, which is an unforgiving schedule. But I’d also have to point out that we were a top six side last season too – and Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United will have looked at the fixture list and anticipated a tough game as soon as they saw Everton’s name.
You don’t become a bad team overnight – and Everton haven’t suddenly become a bottom four team – but we need to get some points on the board as quickly as possible, starting with the visit of Aston Villa in a fortnight’s time.
Lukaku must do more
Romelu Lukaku is a young striker with a lot expectation on his shoulders.
He had a fractured pre-season after his exploits in the World Cup with Belgium – and the service to him has not been great so far. But having said all that, he’s got to start doing more in matches. Some supporters are starting to complain, and you can’t kid Everton fans.
They will accept that players can have bad games, so long as they see that player putting in a real shift and working his socks off. At the moment I don’t see Romelu putting defenders under pressure or busting a gut to get into the penalty area the way Steven Naismith does. If he does, goals will quickly follow I’m sure.
Baines should keep taking penalties
There’s no doubt who should now assume the penalty taking responsiblities at Everton following Leighton Baines’ miss on Sunday. That man is ... Leighton Baines.
I think his record is now 14 successful conversions from 15 penalties, which is outstanding – and he showed in a superb second half performance that he has the character to quickly put that miss behind him. I say ‘miss’ – but David de Gea also deserves credit for guessing correctly and diving the right way. If he’d guessed wrong Bainesy would be looking at a perfect 15 from 15.
He was always going to miss one – but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t carry on.
Everton FC loan watch: John Lundstram helps Blackpool to first win, Matthew Kennedy and Hallam Hope remain sidelined
Oct 07, 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Kristian Walsh
A round-up of how the trio of Blues on loan away from Goodison Park fared
Everton FC on-loan midfielder John Lundstram was pivotal in Blackpool's 1-0 win over Cardiff on Friday - their first Championship win of the season.
After 10 games without victory, Francois Zoko's second half goal gave the Tangerines the win at Bloomfield Road. Lundstram made 51 passes - the second-highest in the Blackpool side - while he also made three tackles and two interceptions in a great performance.
After a turbulent start to the season, Blackpool are now off the bottom of the league, a point ahead of Bolton Wanderers. Staying in the Championship, Hallam Hope did not feature in Sheffield Wednesday's squad for the trip to Leeds. After coming off the bench against Cardiff the previous week, the 20-year-old was not in the 18-man squad as the Owls drew 1-1 at Elland Road.
In Scotland, Matthew Kennedy was an unused substitute for Alan Stubbs' Hibernian side as the capital club drew 1-1 with Raith Rovers.
Parking permit blow for people living near Liverpool FC and Everton FC stadiums
October 7 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Marc Waddington
Charges of up to £100 to be put on residents who want to park more than one car outside their own homes - and scheme could go city-wide
Council leaders are to demand residents and businesses in North Liverpool already blighted by matchday football traffic pay towards the cost of alleviating the problems.
The council is planning to extend the matchday parking zone around both Liverpool and Everton’s grounds from next year, when the new Anfield stadium extension is likely to be under way, but will charge people with more than one car per household for a permit. The ECHO has learned the idea for paid for schemes across the city is now back on the table. An announcement on the first is expected on Thursday and will cover not just Anfield and Everton wards but County, Clubmoor, Warbreck and Tuebrook. Residents will get one parking permit free but families with more than one car will pay £40 for a second, another £60 for a third, up to £100 for four. They will also have to pay £40 for a visitor permit, limited to one per household. Despite the charges, the council will tell people there will be “no guarantee of parking outside your home.” Businesses will have to pay £50 for their first permit, as will people moving into the area for the first time and landlords who want to repair properties. Anyone without a valid permit on show will be given a fine.
At a planning meeting last month, where Liverpool FC was given permission to expand its stadium by more than 13,000 seats, committee members raised fears over how increased traffic would cause further chaos for residents. But while measures such as Soccer buses, road closures and an extension of the Fixed Match Day Parking Zone (FMPZ) were included in the report, there was no mention that residents would be expected to pay for parking permits to help alleviate the problems.
The plans, which have been worked up behind closed doors, were due to be revealed to the public on Thursday, when a consultation is set to begin. When city-wide paid-for residents parking schemes were proposed by a scrutiny panel in 2010, Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson dismissed the idea. Cabinet member for regeneration and transport Cllr Malcolm Kennedy said: “It’s been a number of years since we have made changes to parking permits, but faced with having to make a further £156m of cuts, we need to do things differently if we want to continue running and enforcing schemes efficiently. “The city council heavily subsidises reserved parking places and we need to make sure these schemes start to pay for themselves. We think, by providing the first permit for free for residents, and then introducing charges to people who want further permits we can deliver a fairer system and make it easier for residents, and their visitors, to find a parking place near to their home.” Highways bosses are nervous about the introduction of the scheme ahead of Thursday’s announcement, and are keen to try to distance it from developments at Anfield stadium.
An email to North Liverpool councillors, obtained by the ECHO, states: “It should be noted that this consultation has nothing to do with the recent press stories about the redevelopment of Anfield and Everton football stadiums, which is simply a case of unfortunate timing.”
But opposition leaders disagree and said the plans were entirely to do with the impact football matches have on the communities around the Anfield and Goodison stadia.
According to letters to go out to the public later this week: “The introduction of charges will help establish a better self-funding model for parking enforcement throughout the city.
“Parking demands result from all vehicle users in the area, including residents, and it is fair that they contribute to the running costs of administering, enforcing and maintaining residents parking schemes.” It goes on to remind people of the £156m the council has to cut over the next three years, but insists the move is not a revenue generating scheme.
Liberal group leader and planning committee member Cllr Steve Radford, whose Tuebrook ward will be affected, said: “In my view this is everything to do with Anfield and if it isn’t, it should be.
“At the planning committee we were told there would not be extra congestion because of football parking. “There was no mention residents would be charged.
“The need for this scheme would appear to contradict the misleading information we were given that the 5,500 extra car users predicted for match days would have no affect. And we were not even told about them until I raised a report I had asked for that the committee had not been shown.
“And even then I was reprimanded by Labour committee members for mentioning it.”
Everton FC sweat on John Stones fitness as defender set to see ankle specialist
Oct 07, 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
Stones was stretchered off against Manchester United on Sunday after hurting his ankle
John Stones will be sent to see an ankle specialist tomorrow as Everton FC anxiously try to determine how long the defender will be out. The 20-year-old pulled up in agony at the end of the 2-1 defeat by Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday, and had to be stretchered off in agony.Finch Farm medics suspect he has suffered ligament damage, but his ankle is still badly swollen and they want him to see an expert to learn the full extent of the injury. If the England international has torn his ligaments he could be facing up to two months on the sidelines.Roberto Martinez will be hoping for better news, especially with Kevin Mirallas, Ross Barkley, Seamus Coleman and James McCarthy all facing their own fitness problems at present.
Everton FC defender Bryan Oviedo set to undergo small procedure to remove screw from his leg
Oct 07, 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
Blues also unsure how long they will be without Kevin Mirallas
Everton FC defender Bryan Oviedo is to remain on Merseyside during the international break for a routine procedure to remove a small screw from his leg. The left-back, who suffered a double leg-break in January, returned to action after a nine-month lay-off for the recent Capital One Cup defeat at Swansea. Oviedo, 24, has reported no problems since and almost scored at the end of Sunday's 2-1 defeat by Manchester United, only denied by a stunning David De Gea save.
However, he requires a routine procedure to remove one of the screws holding a titanium plate to a bone in his leg, so will not travel to link-up with Costa Rica. Meanwhile, Everton are still unsure how long they will be without influential forward Kevin Mirallas. The club said today they are still assessing a series of scans on his hamstring before they can predict the length of his lay-off.
It is understood the forward suffered a similar injury to former loan star Gerard Deulofeu last term, which caused the Barcelona wide-man to miss eight weeks during the winter.
Everton FC have drawn a line under their fading habit says Roberto Martinez
Ocdtober 7 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
We're now finishing games strogly says Blues boss
Roberto Martinez believes Everton FC have proved they are not a fading force – by banishing the late slumps which were harming their season.
Questions were asked about the Blues fitness levels and concentration after they began the campaign with a damaging habit of conceding late goals. The Blues shipped late equalisers in their opening games with Leicester City and Arsenal, before being over-run by a potent Chelsea side at Goodison Park. But Martinez insists his players have grafted extra hard to find a solution, and are now finishing games on top of the opposition. Speaking after the Toffees rescued a point against Liverpool and Krasnodar, before finishing strongly at Old Trafford only to be denied by Manchester United keeper David De Gea on Sunday, he said: “It was an aspect we weren’t happy with.
“It’s about facing adversity full on. Probably our physical levels were dropping in the last 15 to 10 minutes of the games “The players we have at the club wanted to know the reasons why it was happening. They weren’t happy to accept it. So we adjusted a few things and now we’ve been finishing games stronger than the opposition with a good energy about our play and that’s been really important. “As a team you need to face what’s wrong, if there’s anything you don’t do too well, and then rectify it. “That’s been a big positive for us that we were able to adjust it.”
Martinez applauded the defiant spirit in his camp, which he believes will help them turn their current slump around when the Premier League resumes after the international break.
“We cannot lose character in our season,” he said. “We showed that determination and never say die attitude at Anfield. “We want to get better on the ball and we’ll always be critical of ourselves. We know what we can reach. WBut to have that attitude when you never accept defeat, even at Anfield when Liverpool score from a dead-ball situation at a critical moment, we didn’t accept it.
“We went to Russia and again the home side started well with energy and created momentum. But we never accepted that we were going to leave the ground with a negative result.
Watch: Greg O'Keeffe on Roberto Martinez and Everton “That spirit has to be our backbone. Earlier in the season we were magnificent opening teams up and scoring goals, but we were a little loose at the back. As a team we were a bit soft but we’ve got our solidity off the ball back.”
Martinez is hoping the break from action this weekend allows key personnel to recover from injuries which has contributed to Everton’s malaise. And he hopes the returning players will also allow over-worked team-mates to get a break. He added: “The injuries have prevented us from sharing the demands on the squad. “What we need to do with certain players who have put in a lot of effort lately is refresh them when we can use the players who are coming back from injury.
“I expected that over 10 months we would have demands. I don’t see it as a reason to drop our performances.”